“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Session 39.31 — Peril and pirates

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.31, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 13 January 2014:

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. The “Vanished Lands” were blessed by the gods and cursed by prophecy. Travelers became adventurers, and adventurers strove to be heroes in the face of many perils and wonders.

Various groups of mercenaries and diplomats have fought humanoids in the northwestern borderlands, encountered pirates on the Sea of Nagendwa, and wandered the hostile Halmed Desert and the wide Plains of Sathendo….

“Vistel’s Circus,” Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s ” Vanished Lands ” heroic fantasy campaign, using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, as of spring 2014:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda (proto-Germanic) human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 6
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 6
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 6
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with Banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 6
  • Sir Torrel [Alex W.]-male Hifalendorin human Paladin of Otih, the lord of the sun and justice; LGn, Lvl. 6
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 5

“4 to 10 February 1227 B.C.E.:” The onetime circus performers had traveled from the city of Falit to a former dragon’s lair on Tarvulis Island. There, they consulted arcane and divine spellcasters on how to rescue an Efreet held prisoner by a greater Devil, how to travel through time and space to free slaves, and how to fight the dreaded Ghost Fleet.

However, not everything went as planned. In a scrying chamber, Giacomo was temporarily overcome by the “Mad Mage” Ezra, trapped in a tattoo on his back. Hamfast and Tempestade briefly visited the barbaric port of Gisar, thanks to mischievous pseudodragon Tequila.

Scully played with a Giff’s blunderbuss, and Elsa compared notes on the accursed ailment known as Scourge and on the cult of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom, with Drow Wizard “Vasec” [Alex J./Non-Player Character] and Zarendo human Cleric “Tondra” [Rob A.S./N.P.C.].

Corwin asked for magic to help save Lady Shadira, the Efreet Polymorphed into a Shambling Mound by Pit Fiend “Schm*ckF*ck” on Salhonif Island. Sir Torrel had a run-in with a giant leech but fared better against a hydra.

Vasec creates a Lens of True Sight , which Scully carries for the adventuring party to find Lady Shadira. The explorers reboard the schooner Foamrunner, which Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elf) Capt. Scarlet takes south across the Sea of Nagendwa.

Scully takes a dip in the warm waters with some of the Foamrunner’s crew. Thanks in part to her magic items, the Flind is a strong swimmer, and she enjoys chasing tropical fish. Her friends are less happy about the smell of wet dog, but Elsa casts Create Water to help wash off the salt.

The Sea Elves pause on deck, and Capt. Scarlet later explains to Tempestade that they were praying as they passed over a holy site. Sir Torrel, who had recently joined the Order of the Golden Lion in Falit with Scully, casts Sense Weather and warns of an imminent change.

The swift ship’s passengers and crew are battered during a violent storm. Hamfast and Tempestade are bruised while being tossed around in their cabins, while Giacomo, Elsa, Scully, and Sir Torrel hang onto the main (top) deck.

When the storm eventually passes, Capt. Scarlet notes to Corwin and company that the moon and stars aren’t yet visible through clouds, so she doesn’t know how far off course they are. Elsa casts Know Direction to help resume their journey.

A day or so later, the sailors spot someone clinging onto a floating chest. Corwin, Elsa, and Sir Torrel take a dinghy out to investigate. Back on the Foamrunner, Hamfast spots the dorsal fins of approaching sharks.

As Corwin reaches out to the apparent shipwreck survivor, she tosses her hair back, revealing her beautiful features. However, Elsa, who has shifted into seal form, sees fins instead of human legs beneath the waves!

Sir Torrel casts Detect Evil, which reveals malicious intent. The woman gazes at Corwin, to no effect, so she starts singing, enthralling Hamfast and Scully. From the Foamrunner, Barbari human Tempestade hurls sling stones at the Siren.

Half-Elf Corwin draws his sword, drawing first blood from the amphibian. Hill Dwarf Elsa shifts to shark form and swims into battle. Albino Gnoll Scully fires arrows, and Zeda human Hamfast readies a harpoon for the sharks on the opposite side of the ship.

Hifalendorin humans Giacomo and Sir Torrel prepare spells. Giacomo’s Magic Missile misfires, turning his hands red. Torrel’s Protection From Evil deafens him to the alluring Siren’s song.

Meanwhile, Hamfast spots a sled or chariot behind the two sharks, and a Kuo Toa driver approaches the Foamrunner. Monk Tempestade maneuvers on deck to see both enemies. Bard Corwin begins a countersong to drown out the Siren and free his friends.

Still in shark form, Druid Elsa swims over to the other sharks and casts Calm Animal. They slow their approach, causing the aquatic chariot to sink. Ranger Scully stares helplessly at the Siren.

Hamfast fires a harpoon at the Kuo Toa, but the fish man pulls it out and throws it back at the Fighter. Wizard Giacomo’s Fireball also fizzles, but Paladin Sir Torrel’s Silence is effective in breaking the Siren’s spell. She dives beneath the rowboat.

Corwin casts Death Armor on himself, as Elsa swims around the Foamrunner. Scully looks for a foe who’s not submerged, and Hamfast again fires the harpoon at the Kuo Toa.

The Siren leaps out of the water at Corwin, and Sir Torrel slices her in twain, distracting the sharks. Giacomo casts Sphere of Force, killing the Kuo Toa, which Hamfast reels back to the ship. Those in the dinghy retrieve the bobbing chest.

Scully claims the Kuo Toa’s malachite locket before Capt. Scarlet orders it tossed back into the sea. In the chest, Corwin finds 50 silver pieces, and Sir Torrel claims a Potion of Fire Resistance. Elsa privately pays Capt. Scarlet extra for the risks to her crew.

The next night, Scully awakens in a panic. She hears leathery wings and slowly climbs to the crow’s nest. There, Scully finds Fingonel, a young Sea Elf sailor, cowering in terror. In the morning, Tempestade and Elsa attend to the panicked women, noting that a dragon or devil could have flown overhead.

Sir Torrel reiterates his vow to smite evil, and Capt. Scarlet notes that theFoamrunner is no longer passing over or through the Coral Kingdom. She warns of Aboleth, psionic and fiendish fish of the deep.

The away team prepares to go to the open port of Laguro on Bokor Island, where it hopes to consult an experienced plane traveler known as “Valoren.” Albino scout Scully recommends disguises and dyes her fur. Sir Torrel pulls on a hooded cloak and uses his new Amulet of Conceal Alignment.

Giacomo, Hamfast, Corwin, and Elsa say that their group is motley enough to blend in with corsairs and swashbucklers. Capt. Scarlet says she’ll return in a few days rather than draw too much unwanted attention.

The group finds a ramshackle but growing pirate town and walks to the “Otter’s Oil” tavern, passing a small arena on the way. The new arrivals see a mix of human nationalities, a few Reptile Folk, and a Shalverin (short aquatic humanoid). The rough crowd pays little heed to Bokor Island’s newcomers.

A wretched hive of scum and villainy
The “Otter’s Oil” in Laguro, on Bokor Isle

After chatting with innkeeper Tara MacAlister, Elsa tries a gelatinous drink — carrion crawler juice! Giacomo and Scully stick with berry wine, and Hamfast and Corwin taste slightly skunky ale. Sir Torrel orders milk and then is surly to maintain his cover.

Tara tells Elsa of her supplier, Ghalil ibn Rashid, and that Valoren can be found at “GlassCraft,” a shop selling spyglasses to ship captains. After reserving cheap rooms and finishing their meal, the travelers head back out into Laguro’s winding streets.

Ghalil turns out to be a tall Suthern (proto-Arabic) human whose shop is a tangle of copper pipes, hot cauldrons, and a mill grinding mash. He eagerly shows fellow brewer Elsa his exotic ingredients such as a dinosaur egg and rotten carcasses, which the rest of the group finds nauseating.

Elsa and Ghalil trade recipes, and she trades for potent potables including “Devil’s Piss.” At the large GlassCraft shop, Nubian archer Djekari escorts the visitors to a showroom. They see well-dressed pirates such as Chundo Arcil, the cigar-smoking captain of the “Hangman’s Skull,” ogling spyglasses, crystal balls, and miniature ships in bottles.

The former members of “Vistel’s Circus” are then taken past club rooms, where they see plush chairs and gambling tables. Giacomo is blocked by a “cold steel”-bound inner chamber. “Milos Volorn” [Beruk] welcomes the others and eventually explains that, like Tempestade, he isn’t originally from the “Vanished Lands.”

The Barbari human Rogue/Gatecrasher listens to Tempestade’s tale and suggests that there may be multiple ways home in addition to the obelisk in Gisar. Milos knows of Vasec, the devil at the the volcanic temple, the dreaded Ghost Fleet, and more.

He trades information for a letter of referral from Prince Corwin to set up a shop in the kingdom of Saganim. In addition, Milos says that he’ll see if there’s anyone who can guide the group to Queen Zapanga in Selifa.

Elsa agrees to help one of Milos’ contacts join Vistel’s Circus on the mainland. She also asks for a model of the Foamrunner. Milos provides coins from his homeworld so that contacts will recognize the party.

The associate of the “Liberators,” “Dragonslayers,” and “Holy Steel” gives the would-be heroes the following items:

  • Blindfold of Blindsight — Tempestade
  • Cold steel (antimagical alloy) warhammer — Hamfast
  • Dust of Dryness, in a glass sphere — held by Elsa
  • Hat of Disguise — carried by Corwin for the party
  • Quiver of Elhonna — Scully
  • Sword Brooch — Sir Torrel

Corwin and Elsa thank Milos for his generosity, and the party prepares to leave for its infiltration of Salhonif Island in the Zarendo Archipelago….

I hope that everybody enjoyed our three “Vistel’s Circus” sessions on consecutive Mondays! While Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario (using Icons) will begin in the next two weeks, I look forward to resuming our adventures on Feb. 3, weather permitting.

In the meantime, thanks again to Brian and Rich for hosting, and remember to use the Yahoo/eGroups message board between games. Some of you get to continue in the “Vanished Lands” with the “New Dawn” telecom team on Sundays.