D&D5e “Vanished Lands” Session 41.2 — Motley crusaders

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 41.2 of our face-to-face D&D5e “Vanished Lands” game, which Drew and Divya S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 1 June 2015:

In one ancient world, there was a place 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.

Sometime after a group of former circus performers wandered aboard the airship Zephyr and a team of diplomatic escorts fought chaos in Tong Sheng, past heroes reunited, and another band gathered on the Sea of Nagendwa….

Initial Player Character roster for Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” face-to-face nautical campaign, using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, as of summer 2015:

  • Kamar Alazar [Beruk A.]-male Suthern human swashbuckler (proto-Arabic Bard) and former member of the “Liberators” and “Dragonslayers”; CG, Lvl. 1
  • Nuriel Earendil [Brian W.]-male Grey Elf acolyte of light (Cleric of Corellan Larethian); NG, Lvl. 1
  • “Cassy Keelnipper” [Sara F./absent]-female Otter-kin Rogue; NG, Lvl. 1
  • “Kaelen Northsea” [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf scout (Sylvan/? Ranger), seeking his father; NG, Lvl. 1
  • Eldamir Tempestborn [Rich C.G.]-male Atlantean human soldier (Theran/Minoan Barbarian), tattooed member of the Order of the Kingfisher, specialist in the net and trident; CG, Lvl. 1
  • “Barret” [Drew S.]-male Minotaur wrestler and gladiator (Fighter) with a crossbow; LG, Lvl. 1
  • Puliarus Aearion [Charles S.]-male Half-Elf sage (Thalassaquendi storm Sorcerer), seeking to befriend all; CN, Lvl. 1

Backup characters:

  • “Ludovico ‘Ludo’ Rosso” [Beruk A.]-male human ex-gladiator (Monk; see Bruce K.’s Pathfinder: Eberron/Reign of Winter); LN, Lvl. 1
  • “?” [Brian W.]-male Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human Fighter, pragmatist; LN, Lvl. 1
  • “?” [Sara F.]-female ?; NG, Lvl. 1
  • “Drogan” [Bruce K.]-male Half-Orc (Saganim) Barbarian, with a great sword; CN, Lvl. 1
  • Sebastian Leafsworn [Rich C.G.]-male Sylvan Elf Monk and sage, with forbidden lore; LG, Lvl. 1
  • “Vasco” [Drew S.]-male clockwork butler (Warforged), former member of the Zephyr’s crew, displaced in time and space; LN, Lvl. 1
  • Antoun Miner [Charles S.]-male Hill Dwarf Druid, healer curious about the sea; TN, Lvl. 1

“2 October 1227 B.C.E.:” A new band of mercenaries met in the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human port of Drunstimlos and decided to sign onto the naval cruiser H.M.S. Dauntless. Before coming aboard, however, they had to acquire some maps from a neglected temple in town.

Eldamir is curious about Father Gwydion, whom they met at the temple of Addoh, but Kamar is wary of the priest. Puliarus wants to ask around about the maps, and Kaelen and Barret agree to accompany him.

As the two teams leave the “Sailor’s Climb” pub, they see Nuriel walking on the beach contemplating the vastness of time and space. They also spot an Otter-kin darting about on the busy docks.

Kamar and Eldamir return to the temple of the sea lord and wait outside. They eventually see an elderly couple slowly climb the hill to the church and hesitate outside its decrepit doors. The two people then turn and start to walk away.

Cunmor and Elise tell the Bard and Barbarian that they blame Fr. Gwydion for the loss of their son, Gareth. Several years ago, Gareth ran away to join a pirate named “Lord Lucius,” and the priest didn’t try to talk him out of it, they say. He was later killed at sea.

The Saganim townsfolk are surprised to learn that Fr. Gwydion has returned, and they say that the sorry state of the temple is a sign that Addoh has abandoned the people of Drunstimlos.

Innkeeper Geraint directs Puliarus to Rowan Thorne, a local mage. He, Kaelen, and Barret find a thatched cottage at the edge of town. A woman emerges, clutching packets of herbs. Puliarus knocks, and a voice lazily invites him in.

The visitors meet a thin, pale human with lank blond hair and a loosely tied robe. When Thorne notices that Minotaur Barret is having trouble entering the crowded cottage, he Shrinks him from 7 feet in height to 3 feet!

Ranger Kaelen observes the well-stocked alchemical supplies and components drying in the rafters and concludes that Thorne isn’t as dissolute as he appears. “Minitaur” Barret befriends Nelly, the Wizard’s large wolfhound.

Sorcerer Puliarus shows Thorne symbols that he has copied from Fr. Gwydion’s maps, which Cmdr. Maxwell expects as a condition for coming aboard the H.M.S.Dauntless. The magic user easily identifies nearby barrows (tombs) and says that the wolf’s head image likely refers to outlaws accused of witchcraft.

Thorne says that he’s thirsty, which Barret understands as a request for payment before he’ll share more information. The Fighter runs off to a nearby pub to fetch a bottle of wine and a sausage for Nelly. The bartender is so bemused that he doesn’t haggle.

Kamar and Eldamir, among others, spot shrunken Barret on his way back to the Wizard’s cottage. Thorne then associates the tower symbol with the manor of Lord Caerdon. A house with a moat could refer to a heretic’s holdout with a monster-stocked pool, he says.

He also says the symbol of trees could refer to the Tulvey Woods, which are good for occasional hunting of small game, or the Bonerattle Woods, which are to the east and said to be haunted. Puliarus and company thank the Wizard and leave.

Barret is interested in checking out the woods, but he outvoted by those who favor checking out the barrow mounds. The group gathers its gear and hikes north, onto the wide Plains of Sathendo.

Kaelen leads the way as would-be adventurers carefully ford a stream. Eldamir, Kamar, Puliarus, and Barret follow through fields and moors. They decide to camp for the night a few miles away from the tombs.

On the first watch, unshrunk Barret and Half-Sea Elf Puliarus sit near the fire to avoid mosquitos. During the second watch, Kamar and Kaelen hear something large splashing in the stream. The Suthern human goes to wake the others, while the Half-Sylvan Elf scout creeps closer, spotting a seal-like creature.

Mythical seal-like creature

As the motley crusaders arrive, the strange animal panics, roars, and lurches toward the people on land. Atlantean human Eldamir’s tattoos begin to glow blue as he rages. Kaelen draws two short swords and attacks. Barret is briefly scared by the bellowing beast, which lunges at Puliarus but misses him.

Puliarus casts Magic Missile and maneuvers, while Kamar also hesitates because of the animal’s noises. Eldamir charges and throws his net, slowing his opponent. Kaelen scores two hits, but Barret misses.

The beast, which sage Puliarus identifies as a Bunyip, frees itself from Eldamir’s net. Kamar provides Bardic Inspiration to Kaelen, and raging Eldamir cries out “For Atlantis!” Horned Barret ends the fight with a goring rush.

Barbaric Eldamir and Barret butcher the carcass and claim razor-sharp teeth for future arrowheads. Each party member gets two Bunyip teeth. Eldamir spends an uneventful third watch before breaking camp in the morning.

The wanderers reach the barrows and see three large tombs, as on the old map, surrounded by many lesser mounds. Kaelen and Kamar search the tumbled-down entrance to the largest barrow. Eldamir, Barret, and Puliarus check the perimeter and find a few tracks in the high grass.

After some trial and error amid trapped or blocked doorways, Kaelen and Kamar find a door into the ancient catacombs. A stone lintel includes a carving of a symbol of a cloud blowing wind. Barret, who has a good sense of direction, leads the way, followed by Kaelen, Kamar, Puliarus, and Eldamir.

Celtic tomb mound
Barrow entrance

The explorers traverse narrow tunnels and follow three left forks. They come to a closed door and an oaken archway that hasn’t rotted despite the passage of time. Barret senses a fleeting breeze at his back and glimpses a white gown disappearing around a corner.

The Minotaur mapper wants to pursue it, but Kamar recommends staying together as he, Eldamir, and Puliarus try to decipher the door mechanism. When they do, they are surprised to see a large tree in a flowery meadow, despite the fact that they are many feet underground.

Kaelen and Eldamir notice that the tree is rather gnarled, and the butterflies actually look more like moths, but they shrug and follow the others through the enchanted portal….

Don’t worry — we’ll get to the agreed-upon nautical adventures soon enough! I think starting out with a classic dungeon crawl has worked out well so far, and I look forward to new party’s (mis)adventures!

In the meantime, remember to finish equipping and uploading your characters (and their backups), and I look forward to seeing most of you at upcoming “Star Wars: Dark Timesor “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” sessions.