“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Session 39.35 — “Out-dumb the devil”

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” Session 39.35, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 10 March 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. 7
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with Banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 7
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 7
  • Sir Torrel [Alex W.]-male Hifalendorin human Paladin of Otih, the lord of the sun and justice; LGn, Lvl. 7
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed ]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 5

“25 to 27 February 1227 B.C.E.:” While crossing the savannah in Sahonif Island’s interior, the explorers encountered hyenas, zebras, and army ants for the first time. They arrived at the city-state of Selifa, bought supplies, and prepared for a royal audience.

Giacomo reminds Scully to periodically use the Lens of True Sight to look for spies of the greater devil ruling part of the island. Hamfast and Sir Torrel sweat in their armor, and Corwin readies the group’s request for help freeing Lady Shadira, the Efreeti (fire spirit) trapped by the Pit Fiend.

Elsa suggests talking with members of Selifa’s court before a formal meeting, but she is outvoted. Tempestade enjoys the local cuisine and is eager to return to his distant homeland.

Guides Akinwole and Makena Walabu bring the outlanders to the domed palace and help serve as translators. They recognize Tlachinolli, a Lizard Woman diplomat, and Gen. Kizhensi, an Ngoloko (Orc). Many of the Zarendo humans present are tall and wear colorful robes and headdresses.

Queen Zapanga greets her visitors. Hill Dwarf Elsa thanks the queen for her hospitality and presents a masterwork shield. Hifalendorin human Giacomo says that he wishes to forge a trade agreement with the Zarendo Archipelago and adds that negotiations would best be done in private.

Salhonif Island ruler
Queen Zapanga of the city-state of Selifa

Zedu human Hamfast strips off his chain shirt and presents it as a gift. Albino Gnoll Scully is not surprised that some humans are wary of her, but nobody insults her. Barbari human Tempestade is quiet, but Hifalendorin Sir Torrel is angered when a guard bumps into him and his Amulet of Conceal Alignment goes missing.

Queen Zapanga notes that such concealment magic is bad manners and surprises Prince Corwin by saying that she had encountered his father, now King Edmund II of Saganim, years ago on the Sea of Nagendwa. The queen agrees to meet with “Vistel’s Expedition” in her private chambers.

Elsa and Corwin explain that their company wants to find the contract binding Lady Shadira to the devil. Queen Zapanga says that it is likely kept in the volcanic Mt. Tilefa, which Schm*ckF*ck has turned into a Temple of Elemental Evil dedicated to himself.

Although the priestesses of the city have been able to fend off diabolic influence, Queen Zapanga is sympathetic to the visitors. She doesn’t trust Tlachinolli, who represents Artaxis and Zineida, the black dragons dominating Bokor Island.

Queen Zapanga orders that a secret passage into the Ibafen Mountains be briefly unsealed. She tells the visitors to be ready to leave discreetly the next morning. The regal woman also returns Sir Torrel’s amulet.

The onetime circus performers return to the “Agali’s Cape” guest lodges. Druid Elsa pays her respects at the temple of Buwalgo, the earth mother, and Paladin Sir Torrel meets with Ifreta Jwahir, a N’anga (Cleric) of Harrasse, the wanderer.

That night, the travelers have strange dreams. Schm*ckF*ck tempts Wizard Giacomo and Sir Torrel with false visions of acclaim. Hamfast sees himself commanding Gisar’s riders and raiders, but he rejects the devil’s offer of help. The beer wenches at the Fighter’s side transform into his friends.

Scully has a worse nightmare: The Ranger finds herself shaved and strapped to an altar, and cultists approach with sacrificial blades. Worse still, they wear masks that are actually the severed faces of her companions!

Thanks perhaps to prayer and meditation, Elsa and Monk Tempestade don’t suffer the same visions, and they try to comfort the group in the morning. Kwanobu Matunde, a Gamba (warrior) trusted by the queen, brings the team underground, where Mchawi (Wizards) have reopened an ancient tunnel.

The humans light torches and lanterns as the entrance is sealed behind them. Stealthy Scully scouts ahead, followed by brave Sir Torrel. Stolid Hamfast and pious Elsa come next, then Giacomo (bothered by his tattoo of the “Mad Mage” Ezra), his homunculus familiar Gerald, and Tempestade. Bard Corwin brings up the rear.

The spelunkers descend through a rough-hewn passage and turn right. They come to a circular chamber with four statues: a Girallon (four-armed gorilla), an Acephali (humanoid with his face in his chest), a vulture-headed Vrock, and a person being devoured by vines. The Girallon comes to life!

Elsa Wild Shapes into a gorilla herself, and Scully casts Call Lightning. Corwin’s Charm Monster succeeds in making a friend of “Herme,” at least temporarily. Giacomo, Hamfast, and Sir Torrel avoid the other statues as the Girallon climbs up to turn a dial in the ceiling. The floor opens up, and the adventurers slide down.

They stop at a ledge overlooking an underground river. The cave walls are covered in glowing green slime. The ooze extends pseudopods at the humans and their allies, so Sir Torrel invokes his deity Otih for Shard of the Sun.

Still in simian form, Elsa casts Endure Elements and Wall of Fire in a ring to protect the party. Scully swings her long sword, but that only splits one tentacle into two. Corwin casts Burning Hands, and Hamfast smacks the slime with his maul.

The ooze slams Sir Torrel, and acid burns his exposed flesh. Elsa helps the knight burn off the slime, while Scully fires a Light Arrow. Corwin finally kills the aberration with his first Fireball spell. Tempestade uses his Gloves of Spider Climb to take a rope upstream to belay the group.

With help from Herme, the infiltrators climb to a subterranean pool. Strange frogs spit at Hamfast, but Scully guides the rest clear of the water. The team hears chanting and approaches an unholy shrine. About two-dozen worshippers watch as a human is crucified upside-down and drained of blood.

Elsa identifies the cultists’ patron as Namonaji the Corruptor. Scully suggests getting some disguises. Corwin casts Sleep on four cultists near the back of the chapel, and Sir Torrel slays the evildoers. Giacomo, Hamfast, Tempestade, and Corwin take their black, hooded robes.

Corwin gives his Hat of Disguise to Torrel and explains the “Prisoner’s Gambit.” They wait until the sacreligious ceremony is over and walk through the shrine. A priest stops them, but thanks to Know Tongues, Corwin is able to respond in Infernal.

The Half-Elf says that he and “Sir Endo” are bringing new slaves to Schm*ckF*ck. The man waves them on and doesn’t raise an alarm. The wanderers see mine shafts and follow a spiral staircase up, toward the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Elsa, whom the others still tease about her visit with Barry the Gardener on Emein Island, is curious about a fungus arboreteum. The group is stopped on one landing by two garrulous gargoyles, who say that a dentist, nursery, spa, and shoe store can be found on their level.

Sir Torrel is tempted to start a fight with each monster in the dungeon, but thanks in part to the presence of Herme, Corwin is able to persuade the gargoyles to tell them where the Hall of Tablets is. The group grips its weapons and prepares to ascend another two stories….

I hope that everyone enjoyed our return to a classic dungeon crawl! While we have a few weeks before our next “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” session, don’t forget to review your character records on Obsidian Portal.

In the meantime, it was good to see some of you for recent movies, and I look forward to continuing Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den”superhero scenario tonight. I’ll also try to post my latest notes for the “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” telecom fantasy campaign within the week.