“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Session 39.33 — Vistel’s expedition

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.33, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 17 February 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. 7
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda (proto-Germanic) human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 7
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 7
  • 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

“16 to 18 February 1227 B.C.E.:” While sailing from Bokor Isle to Salhonif Island, the “Foamrunner” fought a giant squid before arriving at the Zarendo port of Riku. The away teams made new friends and enemies, contacted a guide, and hired porters to enter the jungle, where it avoided a dinosaur attack.

The expedition arrives at Estu, where it witnesses a meeting between civilized apes and Wemics (centauroid leonines). Guide Makena Walabu helps translate for introductions. Orangutan scout Anwar Waheed is curious about the newcomers and brings them into the village.

A lost African city
Ancient ruins

Anwar introduces the onetime circus performers to Acturis Leontis, a gorilla chieftain, and Padmini Tanushi, a gorilla shaman. They politely bid farewell to Wemics Vathud and Tauret and share a meal with the humans and demihumans.

Giacomo is impressed that the primates have managed to avoid the rule of Schm*ckF*ck, the Pit Fiend ruling much of Salhonif Island from a temple on volcanic Mount Tilefa. Acturis says that his people trade with their neighbors but avoid larger conflicts. He agrees with Makena that Queen Zapanga in the city-state of Selifa would be a helpful ally.

Hamfast declines the temptation to test his strength against the apes in a wrestling match. Scully asks Anwar whether it’s better to cross the savannah or jungles to get to Selifa. The javelin-bearing scout says he prefers the dense forests, but the outlanders may be more comfortable in the open.

Tempestade enjoys the local cuisine, which is very similar to that of his distant homeland. Corwin performs some music for those assembled, who join in on drums. Elsa proffers gifts of maps and wine and receives fruit liquor in return. Sir Torrel is wary around the talking apes, but they seem honorable.

Giacomo notices on the high ceilings many geometric carvings, which Acturis attributes to the Reptile Folk who built the city during an age of harmony among beast kin. Scully surreptitiously uses the Lens of True Sight and sees bas reliefs of many-headed Tiamat, mother of chromatic dragons.

Acturis asks Anwar to take the explorers to a vacant house for the evening. Once the group has some privacy, conversation turns to its mission of rescuing Lady Shadira, an Efreeti transformed and imprisoned by the greater devil.

The would-be heroes acknowledge that if they’re successful, they’ll probably need to take the Foamrunner back to Tarvulis Island before continuing on to the barbaric port of Gisar, where Tempestade plans to use an obelisk to return to his own time and rescue fellow slaves.

Scully hears a sound outside. The albino Flind looks out into the alley and sees Waneta Malila, a chimpanzee servant. The eavesdropper runs, and Scully tackles her. Zeda human Hamfast holds the chimp as Giacomo casts Dispel Magic, temporarily transforming Waneta back into her true form, that of a Zarendo human.

Hifalendorin human Giacomo questions the woman, who is reluctant to cooperate until he explains that they have a common foe, her Pit Fiend master. She says he has spies everywhere and that his lieutenant is an Osyluth (bone devil). Waneta seems unaware of the location of the Eye of Heaven, a gem said to be protecting Estu.

After some discussion, Scully and company let Waneta go. She promises not to reveal what she has learned and reverts to simian form. The next morning, Tempestade, Corwin, Elsa, and Sir Torrel keep watch over Makena and the porters, while Giacomo, Hamfast, and Scully get a tour of Estu from Anwar.

They see other intelligent apes, Lizard Man ruins, and an abandoned ziggurat near the center of the village. Anwar says his people avoid the ancient edifice, but he doesn’t prevent the curious team from probing further.

Wizard Giacomo, Fighter Hamfast, and Ranger Scully find a ramp descending beneath the step pyramid. As they walk, they step on numerous bones, and Anwar warns them that there are likely traps. Scully glimpses a large idol with one intact eye.

The statue of the plum, red-skinned humanoid flickers in torchlight before the rumble of stones indicates that a trap has been triggered. Anwar leads the way back to the surface.

Classic D&D Player's Handbook
Dungeon idol

Giacomo casts Levitate to aid their hasty escape. They privately confirm that the Eye of Heaven is indeed at the center of Estu, possibly protecting the apes from the devil in the mountain….

While we missed Josh, Bruce, Rich, and Alex last week, I’m glad that Beruk, Brian, and Sara were game. Not only did we convert their characters to the latest D20/FATE house rules, but we also got some good role-playing in!

I look forward to seeing everyone at our next “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” and Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” sessions!