“Vanished Lands” Update T3.37 — Elves and Ettin

Fighting an Ettin
Fighting an Ettin

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session T3.37 of the latest adventuring party in my “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 1 January 2012, and has been using Pathfinder, Skype, and an online dice roller.

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. After “Holy Steel‘s” journey to the distant empire of Khemet, another motley group gathered in the northwestern “Vanished Lands” to explore a world full of perils and wonders….

After meeting in the Wisalef Forest, an unlikely band of adventurers encountered the hostile Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja on the Plains of Sathendo….

>>Telecom party Player Character roster, as of spring 2012:

-“Asish Chen Ti” [Byron V.O.]-male Tsucharim human archer (Mongol-style Ranger), escaped from the kingdom of Gokuri; owner of Akita dog Genghis and horses Onimusha and Gashmu; NGl, Age 20, Lvl. 4

-“Jovinda Halflight” [Sammy H.]-female Half-Elf (Grugach/Hifalendorin) Cleric of Mekkil, goddess of nature; owner of horses Wyth-Amoi and Meth-Fenna; NGl, Age 23, Lvl. 4

-“Kazuo Takenaga” [Taum D’A.]-male Nezumi (Rat-kin) Monk from the Zedu kingdom in the Therud Forest; LNg, Age 20, Lvl. 4

-“Favelhorn Riftbringer” [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Mountain Dwarf Summoner; CGn, Age 51, Lvl. 1

-“Gawain Keary” [Paul J./absent]-male Saganim human Illusionist (proto-Celtic Wizard); NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 3

-“Kovar” [Beruk A./absent]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras, god of contracts and brotherhood; LGn, Lvl. 3

-“Davven ‘Digger’ Hollysharp” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 3

>>”10 to 13 August 1229 B.C.E.:” On the way northwest from the haunted hamlet of Alarn to the city of Alfendi, the party met a band of Elven hunters deep in the Wisalef Forest. They rode together for a time and traded news of threats in the borderlands.

Asish tells Caliran Gelos that he is a fellow scout and asks for contacts at the Rangers’ Guild. They also tend to the horses and dogs, including Cooshee, an Elven breed. The rugged woodsfolk refrain from commenting as Asish and Jovinda discuss rituals for their animal companions.

Jovinda explains to Delvalatar Juteriel that she is looking for onetime traveling companions Digger and Kovar, as well as the retinue of “Jade” [Sammy/Non-Player Character]. The haughty Alvari (Sylvan Elf) says that the Waletku kingdom is unlikely to rush to aid displaced farmers in the (proto-Western European) human kingdom of Hifalendor.

Feldostram Owedoc and Aelwyn Kisto admit to Kazuo that they’d rather be hunting a dire boar and goat-horned stag than worrying about Goblin witches or Unseelie Fey followers of the mysterious Vappu Lahja. Feldostram challenges Kazuo to a spear-throwing contest, and the nimble Nezumi acquits himself well.

Asish, Jovinda, and Kazuo show their old map of border communities and Ley lines. Delvalatar notes that any abandoned fortresses should be approached from the northeast, in the direction of capital Alfhileno, rather than from the direction of the nefarious kingdom of Zuromm. He also says it’s possible that some Ley line nodes have been contaminated in much the same way one would poison a well.

Cleric Jovinda warns Feldostram to beware of unnatural beasts. Monk Kazuo describes how Vappu Lahja can turn even the chaotic Fey into her intolerant followers, worrying Caliran and Aelwyn. That night, the Elves share watches with the Tsucharim human, Grugach, and Nezumi.

Shortly before dawn, something crashes through the frosted woods. Kazuo quietly wakes up his companions, then creeps forward to see the source of the noise. The rat-kin sees a pair of giant legs swathed in hides, followed by a grizzly bear. He also soon hears two voices in conversation and realizes that the giant is a two-headed Ettin!

Brave Kazuo yells at the brute to divert it from the camp, and Delvalatar moves the steeds away. Priestess Jovinda is disgusted by the ugly giant, and Ranger Asish shoots arrows into the dark (the campfire was extinguished).

Feldostram hurls spears, and Caliran and Aelwyn draw their longbows. The Ettin debates with itself whether to smash the demihumans and swings huge clubs at Kazuo, hitting him painfully. The bear charges into camp and hugs and bites Asish.

Kazuo is surprised to be caught off balance and misses the Ettin. Jovinda casts Light on an acorn, throws it, and hides behind a tree. Asish struggles to break free from the bear‘s clawed embrace, as the Elven hunters continue to rain spears and arrows on the leather-armored giant.

The enraged Ettin again clubs furred Kazuo, who hits him back with a Flurry of Blows. Jovinda slides past the bear and invokes Mekkil, goddess of nature, to cast Sanctuary on Asish [see also Sammy’s prayer lyrics]. The Tsucharim archer does a backspring and draws his bow as his dog Genghis harries the grizzly.

Wise Jovinda tells the bear to leave and tags Kazuo with Aid and Shield of Faith. The martial artist also uses Ki to avoid further blows, and acrobatic Asish rolls to flank the Ettin. The wounded giant staggers on, swinging his clubs wildly. Asish finishes off the Ettin with his katana, and the bear ambles away, unhindered by the Elves.

Asish takes the giant’s leather and hide armor. The Tsucharim horseman also finds an idol of a pale woman carved in sandstone. The Elves are unable to identify it, but they say it could represent Sherma, lady of the night, or even Vappu Lahja.

Jovinda reclaims her acorn and uses Wood Shape to turn the Ettin’s clubs into a chair and a statue of her patron deity to leave behind. Kazuo and Asish are grateful for her healing. Now that they have fought side by side, Delvalatar tells the three wanderers about Cullen O’Shea, a former member of his household in Alfendi.

The hunters eventually leave Asish, Jovinda, and Kazuo to continue on their own on the trail to the Elven city. The trio soon beholds orchards around Alfendi‘s white stone walls….

I hope you enjoyed our first regular game of 2012. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the “Vanished Lands!” I look forward to getting back to a regular campaign — we meet next on Sunday, Jan. 8 — as well as to occasionally continuing the adventures of other parties, such as “Holy Steel” or the “Broken Chains.”

In the coming months, I also hope to try out Google+, Lorefinder (Gumshoe for Pathfinder), and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre. Boston-area role-players Sara F. & Josh C. may sit in on upcoming virtual sessions. The FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures: “Vortexspace opera game will resume next Monday, Jan. 9. Be seeing you, -Gene

“Vanished Lands” Update T3.36 — Into the woods, again

Devilish monster
A nasty barghest

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session T3.36 of the latest adventuring party in my “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 4 December 2011, and has been using Pathfinder, Skype, and an online dice roller.

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. After “Holy Steel‘s” journey to the distant empire of Khemet, another motley group gathered in the northwestern “Vanished Lands” to explore a world full of perils and wonders….

After meeting in the Wisalef Forest, an unlikely band of adventurers encountered the hostile Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja on the Plains of Sathendo….

>>Telecom party Player Character roster, as of autumn 2011:

-“Asish Chen Ti” [Byron V.O.]-male Tsucharim human archer (Mongol-style Ranger), escaped from the kingdom of Gokuri; owner of Akita dog Genghis and horses Onimusha and Gashmu; NGl, Age 20, Lvl. 4

-“Jovinda Halflight” [Sammy H.]-female Half-Elf (Grugach/Hifalendorin) Cleric of Mekkil, goddess of nature; owner of horses Wyth-Amoi and Meth-Fenna; NGl, Age 23, Lvl. 4

-“Kazuo Takenaga” [Taum D’A.]-male Nezumi (Rat-kin) Monk from the Zedu kingdom in the Therud Forest; LNg, Age 20, Lvl. 4

-“Favelhorn Riftbringer” [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Mountain Dwarf Summoner; CGn, Age 51, Lvl. 1

-“Gawain Keary” [Paul J./absent]-male Saganim human Illusionist (proto-Celtic Wizard); NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 3

-“Kovar” [Beruk A./absent]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras, god of contracts and brotherhood; LGn, Lvl. 3

-“Davven ‘Digger’ Hollysharp” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 3

>>”6 to 9 November 1229 B.C.E.:” The adventuring party lost nearly two months [of “game time”] and its steeds while enjoying baked goods in a Fey barrow. After resupplying at the Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human border village of Tarken, the group rode north in search of its missing animals and companions. However, it found Onimusha and Genghis under attack by a strange monster.

The creature has the hindquarters of a wolf, long forelimbs ending in talons, and a steaming skull that resembles that of a rabbit. Asish whistles to his dog Genghis, while Jovinda sends horses Wyth-Amoi (“Wind Spirit”) and Meth-Fenna (“Silver Mane”) away. Kazuo circles around, between the scattered trees.

Jovinda draws her bow but misses, and Asish hits the attacker with a leaf-headed arrow. Kazuo runs up and unleashes a Flurry of Blows. Genghis is unable to pierce the monster’s hide, and horse Onimusha (“Demon Warrior”) backs away.

The beast, later identified as a Barghest, turns its red, glowing eyes at the Grugach and Nezumi, but they shrug off its Crushing Despair. Jovinda yells to divert its attention from Onimusha, and Asish fires more arrows. The diabolical Goblinoid grabs Kazuo and threatens to rip his throat out, but the Monk is defiant.

Jovinda casts Spiritual Weapon and backs up, as Asish snipes from the saddle of new warshorse Gashmu (“Noble Servant”). The Half-Elf Cleric and Tsucharim Ranger injure the Barghest enough that it drops Kazuo, who hits it with another Flurry of Blows.

Surrounded, the Barghest tries to blink to evade more blows, but the trio finishes it off. Although Asish wants to decapitate and burn the devilish beast, Jovinda notes that its pelt may be valuable for trade. Kazuo agrees with Asish, so the scout uses his katana and Bead of Campfire to incinerate the remains. They then scatter the Barghest’s ashes while wondering who summoned it.

Priestess Jovinda invokes her patron Mekkil, goddess of nature, to consecrate the area. Scout Asish is happy to be reunited with his animals and follows the Barghest’s tracks deeper into the Wisalef Forest. Martial artist Kazuo quietly sniffs for other predators.

Kazuo‘s keen nose leads the trio to a rocky hilltop clearing. Asish spots a lean-to shelter and creeps ahead. He hears pots and pans and sees an old woman who is apparently packing to leave. The Tsucharim rider returns to his companions and formulates a plan.

Jovinda noisily walks straight into the campsite and greets the short woman, whose greenish skin, toothy maw, and long, pointed ears mark her as a Goblin. Kolija Ventramin invites the young Grugach to sit with her as they trade tales and gifts.

Stealthy Asish and Kazuo creep forward, bow and siangham drawn. They look at each other and eavesdrop while trying not to be seen by the Goblin. The Ranger left the steeds behind at the edge of the clearing. Jovinda declines Kolija’s offer of food, and Kazuo smells something foul in the overstuffed cauldron.

Jovinda Detects Evil, but the witch is unperturbed, openly casting her own protection spells. Kolija knows the fairy tales of Vappu Lahja, a beautiful woman who rejected three princes and bargained her soul for unspecified abilities. Jovinda and company wonder if this is the same unaging woman gathering Centaurs near the town of Kedetura and inciting Fey folk against humans on the Plains of Sathendo.

Kolija also hints that Vappu Lahja may have “renegotiated” the terms of her power arrangement. The crone calls out to Asish and Kazuo, who reply that they are not afraid of her even as they back away. Jovinda decides that although the Goblin is evil, she isn’t an immediate threat and can be left alone for now.

As a former slave to Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) sorcerers, horseman Asish is reluctant to let Kolija live, but wise Jovinda and Kazuo agree to move on. The trio continues northwest, following maps of Ley lines and abandoned border forts. Asish hopes for time to bond with Genghis, and Jovinda considers sharing her abilities with Wyth-Amoi or summoning an animal companion.

That night, the adventuring party keeps watch as fog and frost roll in. Jovinda hears a merry hunting party and sees four Alvari (Sylvan Elves), more rustic than their urban Quelanthi (High Elf/Eladrin) cousins but less nomadic than the Grugach (Wild Elves). They ride slender Elven horses and are followed by Cooshee — swift Fey hunting dogs.

After waking Asish and Kazuo, Jovinda and Genghis hail the hunters. Dark-haired Delvalatar Juteriel is courteous but reserved, and fair Caliran Gelos handles the mounts. Green-clad Aelwyn Kisto looks suspiciously at “barbarian” Asish, but spear-carrying Feldostram Owedoc surprises Kazuo by addressing the rat-kin as an equal.

Noble Delvalatar explains that he and his band are hunting a dire boar and goat-horned stags in the woods. He and rugged Caliran say they have heard how Vappu Lahja’s sway has spread from Kedetura, and haughty Aelwyn expresses concern about human corruptibility.

Asish defends his honor, describing how he escaped from the armies of Gokuri after the destruction of the dreaded Flying Citadel (two years ago in “game time,” six years ago in real time!). Feldostram respects the Ranger’s story, and the Elves agree to accompany the human, Grugach, and Nezumi for a little while as they head toward the city of Alfendi…

Since we probably won’t have quorum in the next few weekends leading up to Christmas, the next “Vanished Landstelecom game is tentatively scheduled for Friday, 30 December 2011. Let me know as your travel plans firm up.

In the meantime, Team 1 (the crew of the “Blackbird“) for the FATE 3e “Vortexspace opera meets next on Monday, Dec. 12, and Team 2 (the crew of the “Appomattox“) will play again on Dec. 19. Please remember to let me know when each of you will be available, weather permitting, in January 2012. May all your holidays be happy! -Gene

“VanishedLands” Update T3.34 — Unicorn trails

Tapestry
A unicorn and fair maiden

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session T3.34 of the latest adventuring party in my “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 6 November 2011, and has been using Pathfinder, Skype, and an online dice roller.

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. After “Holy Steel‘s” journey to the distant empire of Khemet, another motley group gathered in the northwestern “Vanished Lands” to explore a world full of perils and wonders….

After meeting in the Wisalef Forest, an unlikely band of adventurers encountered the hostile Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja on the Plains of Sathendo….

>>Telecom party Player Character roster, as of autumn 2011:

-“Asish Chen Ti” [Byron V.O.]-male Tsucharim human archer (Mongol-style Ranger), escaped from the kingdom of Gokuri; owner of Akita dog Genghis and horse Onimusha; NGl, Age 20, Lvl. 4

-“Jovinda Halflight” [Sammy H.]-female Half-Elf (Grugach/Hifalendorin) Cleric of Mekkil, goddess of nature; owner of horse Wyth-Amoi, or “Wind Spirit”; NGl, Age 23, Lvl. 4

-“Kazuo Takenaga” [Taum D’A.]-male Nezumi (Rat-kin) Monk from the Zedu kingdom in the Therud Forest; LNg, Age 20, Lvl. 4

-“Favelhorn Riftbringer” [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Mountain Dwarf Summoner; CGn, Age 51, Lvl. 1

-“Gawain Keary” [Paul J./absent]-male Saganim human Illusionist (proto-Celtic Wizard); NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 3

-“Kovar” [Beruk A./absent]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras, god of contracts and brotherhood; LGn, Lvl. 3

-“Davven ‘Digger’ Hollysharp” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 3

>>”7 September to 1 November 1229 B.C.E.:” On the way north from the haunted hamlet of Alarn, the adventuring party had been attacked by Twigjacks. After some discussion, the travelers reluctantly agreed to split, with one half of them continuing into the Waletku kingdom of the Elves and the other half returning to the (proto-Western European) human kingdom of Hifalendor.

Asish, Jovinda, and Kazuo plan to follow a map of Ley lines to see where Unseelie Fey might be gathering. They send Gawain, Kovar, and Digger to villages near Alarn to search for missing peasants and knights.

With his dog Genghis at his side, Ranger Asish scouts ahead into the autumn woods, followed at some distance by Jovinda and Kazuo. Genghis and Kazuo’s sensitive noses detect trails left recently by humanoids, but they find no other signs of passage in the fallen leaves and branches.

Asish finds a defensible position and pitches a “cold camp” — one without a fire. He sees what looks like a horse with a rider outlined in the moonlight and shares his observations with Jovinda and Kazuo, who sit chilly watches but see nothing.

The next morning, the trio is surprised to smell fresh bread! The Tsucharim human, Half-Elf, and Nezumi follow the scent to a grassy mound from which a plume of smoke emanates. They warily circle around until they see a low stone archway.

A creature with cloven hooves, a goatee, and a single, coiled horn greets them: “Good morning! I thought you’d never awaken — come get breakfast!” Jovinda is delighted to meet a talking unicorn, but Kazuo and Asish are confused until they recall legends of the Ki-Rin from their eastern homelands.

Corvaralus (or “Carlos” for short) leads the wanderers beneath the earth, where they find a stone hearth in the center of a white, vaulted chamber. Slender demihumans sit around the perimeter, talking quietly. The newcomers happily partake of the warm bread, fruit pies, and sweet cakes that remind them of temples of Yondolla.

Paelivi Rutteskina, an elegant Danaan Sidhe, introduces herself to Jovinda and company. Asish warns of the dangers posed by the aggressive followers of Vappu Lahja, and Vellamo Karjana notes that the mysterious woman has a Fey-sounding name.

Jovinda explains that the border community of Alarn has been abandoned after supernatural attacks, which seem to be coordinated, unlike the normal behavior of Centaurs, Satyrs, Korred, and similar folk. The inhuman members of the Seelie Court are disturbed and say they’ll be more careful in “crossing the paths between worlds.”

When Kazuo describes a reptilian scent that he had noticed in Vappu Lahja’s camp, Vellamo theorizes that a dragon could be involved, even if many of the magical beings aren’t especially subtle.

Paelivi initially declines to get involved in mortal concerns, but Carlos shames her into offering aid. Paelivi says that in return for showing the way once when it is unclear, Jovinda must either find and share Vappu Lahja’s true nature only with her or she must choose the “way of those who walk in the woods” when ultimately deciding between her human and Elven heritages. The priestess of Mekkil, goddess of nature, agrees.

Carlos asks fellow beast-kin Kazuo if he has ever fallen under the thrall of Vappu Lahja, and the Monk admits that he had once been so ensorcelled. The unicorn bids the Nezumi to touch his horn, granting him a moment of insight and strengthening his resolve against future mental attacks.

The tall demihumans disappear like morning mist, and Carlos bids his new friends farewell. He says he’ll keep watch for foes more organized that the occasional bandits or monsters. After filling their bags with baked goods, Asish, Jovinda, and Kazuo clamber outside and are surrounded by snow!

Asish studies the heavens and concludes that nearly two months have passed outside the barrow while only one afternoon seemingly passed inside! Too late, Jovinda remembers some of the warnings about dealing with the otherworldly Fey. Kazuo wonders about their companions and the state of their fact-finding missions.

Even more upsetting, Asish discovers that Genghis, horses Onimusha and Wyth-Amoi, and the pack mule have long gone. Rather than report to the Elves in the city of Alfhileno or immediately tackle enemy encampments, he recommends looking for their animals and companions back to the south.

The team trudges to Digger’s hometown of Tarken. Frost-covered farms surround neat Halfling burrows and human buildings of brick. Relieved that Tarken hasn’t yet succumbed to the same fate as Alarn, Asish and fellows go to an inn for a warm meal.

They eventually meet Digger’s brother Panros. The friendly pipeweed farmer says that Davven, who is not a favored son in their prosperous family, passed through town a few weeks ago. He was accompanied by a scholarly man (Gawain) who talked with the local mage and a burly, armored warrior who kept to himself and slept in the barn (Kovar).

Once he verified that some of the people fleeing Alarn had arrived safely in Tarken, Digger’s band continued north, according to Panros. The local militia has been alerted of the Centaurs massing near Kedetura and the strange beasts around Alarn.

Panros also reveals that an attractive woman followed Digger a few days later. “Jade” [Sammy/Non-Player Character] traveled with a Saganim warrior, a Hifalendorin duelist, and a Centaur. Asish is curious, but Jovinda and Kazuo are more wary.

Kazuo is pleased to learn that his erstwhile traveling companions are still alive, and Jovinda asks for an introduction to “Charon Galacticus” [Carlos R./N.P.C.], the Sylvan Elf Wizard who talked with Gawain. However, the Monk and priestess must first attend to Asish, who gets drunk on cider while missing his horse. They have to carry him up to his room…

Byron, Sammy, and Taum, it was good see all of you online after our latest break! Paul and Rob, let us know when you think you’ll be able to rejoin us, and I hope that Dexter and Beruk can eventually do so as well.

Our next virtual fantasy session is still on for Sunday, Nov. 13, and Team 1 (the crew of the Blackbird) for the FATE 3e Vortexspace opera will convene on Monday, Nov. 14.

Please note that we won’t be meeting on Nov. 20 because Byron will be visiting Boston in the nights prior to that date! Once again, let me know your availability for a possible game on Saturday, Nov. 19, and stay in touch, -Gene

“Vanished Lands” Update T3.23 — Leaving Alarn, again/Twigjacks

Twigjack
A Twigjack

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session T3.33 of the latest adventuring party in my “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 18 September 2011, and has been using Pathfinder, Skype, and an online dice roller.

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. After “Holy Steel‘s” journey to the distant empire of Khemet, another motley group gathered in the northwestern “Vanished Lands” to explore a world full of perils and wonders….

After meeting in the Wisalef Forest, an unlikely band of adventurers encountered the hostile Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja on the Plains of Sathendo….

>>Telecom party Player Character roster, as of autumn 2011:

-“Gawain Keary” [Paul J.]-male Saganim human Illusionist (proto-Celtic Wizard); NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 2

-“Davven ‘Digger’ Hollysharp” [Robert A.S.]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 3

-“Asish Chen Ti” [Byron V.O.]-male Tsucharim human archer (Mongol-style Ranger), escaped from the kingdom of Gokuri; owner of Akita dog Genghis and horse Onimusha; NGl, Age 20, Lvl. 3

-“Jovinda Halflight” [Sammy H.]-female Half-Elf (Grugach/Hifalendorin) Cleric of Mekkil, goddess of nature; owner of horse Wyth-Amoi, or “Wind Spirit”; NGl, Age 23, Lvl. 3

-“Kazuo Takenaga” [Taum D’A.]-male Nezumi (Rat-kin) Monk from the Zedu kingdom in the Therud Forest; LNg, Age 20, Lvl. 3

-“Kovar” [Beruk A./absent]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras, god of contracts and brotherhood; LGn, Lvl. 3

-“Favelhorn Riftbringer” [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Mountain Dwarf Summoner; CGn, Age 51, Lvl. 1

>>”4 to 6 September 1229 B.C.E.:” Upon returning to the haunted hamlet of Alarn, the wanderers found slain knights, Unseelie Fey among buildings damaged by a summoned tornado, and Assassin Vines in nearby woods. They then regrouped at an outlying barn.

Asish recommends comparing the map of the borderlands that Digger had obtained for mysterious mage Octavius Karstus, now that the Ley lines hidden on it have been enhanced. The scouts compare the intersections, or Ley line nodes, to the positions of villages and abandoned hill forts.

Gawain and Kovar note that the nefarious kingdoms of Zuromm or Gokuri could exploit the old forts to destabilize the frontier between the Waletku kingdom of the Elves and the (proto-Western European) human kingdom of Hifalendor. Jovinda and Kazuo agree that Vappu Lahja and the Unseelie Fey would also be attracted to such nodes.

The group focuses on one pair of mystical currents. One supernatural stream runs from northwest to southeast, roughly from Alfendi to Kedetura, while the other runs from northeast to southwest, from Alfhileno to Nadwi, parallel to the Aspar River. The Ley lines intersect a few miles north of Alarn, on the way to the Sandia family farm.

Rather than deal with the Redcap in Alarn’s ruined chapel, the rodent of unusual size, or whatever is lurking in the “Mellow Mule” inn, the adventuring party rides northeast. Ranger Asish helps his companions ford the Aspar River.

While hiking through high grass, Monk Kazuo hears the jingle of armor, and the group halts and quietly dismounts. A Halfling mercenary from Tarken, Digger’s hometown, breaks camp while chatting with a female Centaur. Wary of followers of Vappu Lahja, the team of six waits for them to leave before continuing its ride.

Rather than have everyone visit the Sandia homestead and potentially offend the peasants, Jovinda goes alone. The priestess of Mekkil recognizes the field hands from Alarn she had met previously and is greeted by Daisy, granddaughter of family matron Violet. Jovinda enters the main farmhouse as her allies watch from a safe distance.

Alyssa angrily calls down from an upstairs nursery to ask about Kazuo, “the only person who ever understood me.” Daisy says that childbirth has not improved her cousin’s disposition, although Violet is still more charitable toward her heir.

Other than the Centaur attack that Jovinda and her friends helped repel a month before, the farm has escaped Alarn’s fate. Violet explains that she “has an arrangement” that somehow keeps monsters away from her kin. The Half-Elf excuses herself to the outhouse, where she covertly casts Detect Evil.

The Cleric senses malicious intent coming from the nursery and politely declines Violet’s offer for her group to stay the night. Jovinda rides Wyth-Amoi back to her fellows, whom she informs of the strangeness at the Sandia homestead. Nezumi Kazuo is not surprised. As promised, Jovinda delivers some of the horses left behind in Alarn by the deceased Paladins of Urda and Otih before departing.

The setting sun casts long shadows as the travelers continue north toward the faerie rings that Jovinda had previously encountered. However, they find the edge of the Wisalef Forest difficult to pass through because of overgrown underbrush and brambles that they don’t remember. Kovar senses evil all around them.

Eight small stick figures emerge and surround the party! Asish whistles to his dog Genghis to guard Jovinda, as the tiny humanoids spray the Tsucharim rider with thorns. Kazuo hits one with a Stunning Fist, but Jovinda’s first arrow misses.

Digger readies his sling staff, and Illusionist Gawain identifies the Twigjacks as Unseelie Fey creatures. Kovar maneuvers, but the armored Half-Orc Paladin of Mithras finds the no easy trail for the horses to retreat.

Asish fires cold steel arrows, eventually destroying two of his foes. The Twigjacks press their attack, wounding the intruders with splinters. Kazuo unleashes Flurries of Blows, shattering another opponent, and Jovinda casts Shield of Faith on herself and Guidance on Kazuo.

Although Digger’s first sling stone goes wide, his Deadly Teamwork with Kazuo is successful, and the Halfling helps fell another rogue Fey. Gawain’s Color Spray spells stun some of the Twigjacks, and he casts Bull’s Strength on Kazuo.

Archer Asish badly damages the remaining ambushers, which badly injure his horse Onimusha. As martial artist Kazuo drops a fifth Twigjack, Jovinda invokes Mekkil for a Cure Light Wounds on Digger and to channel positive energy, healing all combatants.

Digger maneuvers to flank with Kazuo, and Gawain casts Aid Another and Bull’s Strength on the nimble Rogue. Jovinda casts Resistance on Asish, who refrains from using flames against the stick folk because he fears igniting the forest. The three remaining Twigjacks flee into the dense thorns.

Gawain and Digger pick up some branches left behind for later study. Perceptive Asish eventually deciphers them as a map of nearby caches of scavenged treasure. It includes a longspear and heavy wooden shield, probably taken from one of the knights’ men at arms; a bird Feather Token; and 250 crowns (gold pieces) in assorted coins and gems.

Jovinda notes that the Elves of the Seelie Court in Alfhileno and Alfendi had also offered money for scouting various threats in the borderlands. The group hastily finds a spot to camp for the night before venturing deeper into the forest…

Despite another slow start and a late and abrupt ending, I enjoyed seeing all of you online for the game. Since I’ll be traveling again this coming weekend, and Paul, Byron, Sammy, and Taum won’t be available on Sunday, 2 October 2011, our next session probably won’t be until Oct. 9. In the meantime, please take advantage of the Google Groups message board!

The FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Bulldogs: “Vortexspace opera teams will also continue in October. Take it easy, -Gene

“Vanished Lands” Update T3.32 — Redcap and vines

A 3-D landscape
Enchanted woods

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session T3.32 of the latest adventuring party in my “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 21 August 2011, and has been using Pathfinder, Skype, and an online dice roller.

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. After “Holy Steel‘s” journey to the distant empire of Khemet, another motley group gathered in the northwestern “Vanished Lands” to explore a world full of perils and wonders….

After meeting in the Wisalef Forest, an unlikely band of adventurers encountered the hostile Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja on the Plains of Sathendo….

>>Telecom party Player Character roster, as of late summer 2011:

-“Kovar” [Beruk A.]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras, god of contracts and brotherhood; LGn, Lvl. 3

-“Asish Chen Ti” [Byron V.O.]-male Tsucharim human archer (Mongol-style Ranger), escaped from the kingdom of Gokuri; owner of Akita dog Genghis and horse Onimusha; NGl, Age 20, Lvl. 3

-“Jovinda Halflight” [Sammy H.]-female Half-Elf (Grugach/Hifalendorin) Cleric of Mekkil, goddess of nature; owner of horse Wyth-Amoi, or “Wind Spirit”; NGl, Age 23, Lvl. 3

-“Kazuo Takenaga” [Taum D’A.]-male Nezumi (Rat-kin) Monk from the Zedu kingdom in the Therud Forest; LNg, Age 20, Lvl. 3

-“Davven ‘Digger’ Hollysharp” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 3

-“Gawain Keary” [Paul J./absent]-male Saganim human Illusionist (proto-Celtic Wizard); NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 2

-“Favelhorn Riftbringer” [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Mountain Dwarf Summoner; CGn, Age 51, Lvl. 1

3 to 4 September 1229 B.C.E.:” After finding Paladins of Otih and Urda slain near Alarn, the adventuring party regrouped at a barn on the outskirts of the Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human hamlet. The holy warriors had been sent ahead from the city of Nadwi.

Rather than disturb the scarecrow-like corpse constructs, Kovar, Jovinda, and Kazuo boldly decide to explore the abandoned community for clues to the whereabouts of the missing knights and peasants.

Scouts Digger and Asish ride out to check the perimeter and outlying farms for the spellcaster who recently summoned a tornado against them. Favelhorn and Gawain quietly study their arcane tomes and watch the steeds.

Armored Kovar notices relatively recent tracks in Alarn’s muddy streets, and Nezumi Kazuo keeps a wary eye (and nose) out for trouble. Jovinda spots a small demihuman running toward the ruined chapel, and the Grugach and her companions give chase.

As sunset lengthens shadows on the northern Plains of Sathendo, Jovinda casts Light on an acorn and tosses it into the temple. A wizened, bearded man about two and a half feet tall with a long, pointed cap growls in response. “Go away!” he says. “This is mine now.”

Undeterred, the Cleric of Mekkil, goddess of nature, enters the defiled shrine as Kovar dismounts and enters from the rear. Jovinda recognizes the creature as a Redcap, a murderous Unseelie Fae. He doesn’t give his name, but he sees Half-Orc Kovar and assumes that he’s in charge of the Half-Elf. Kovar wonders whether the fellow is something between a Gnome and a Goblin.

“Are you part of reinforcements?” the unnamed Redcap asks. Monk Kazuo notices that the Gnome-like man wears metal-tipped boots and has joined two sickles with a chain, like a kusari-gama. Wily Kovar plays along with the Redcap, trying to get more information, while priestess Jovinda notices smashed holy symbols on the dusty floor.

The trio manages to depart the desecrated chapel without a fight and continues walking through the village. The “Mellow Mule” inn is among the buildings left untouched by the tornado, but Jovinda resists the temptation to confront whoever she sees moving inside.

Kovar, a Paladin of Otih, lord of the sun and justice, believes that the inn may be the headquarters of an invading force. Kazuo notes, however, that no links have yet been found to secretive mage Octavius Karstus, the nefarious kingdoms of Zuromm and Gokuri, or the mysterious Vappu Lahja.

At the edge of nearby woods, Kazuo spots movement. A rodent of unusual size (no relation to the Nezumi) lopes away from abandoned Alarn. In an attempt to reconstruct where farmers or knights would have fled from the haunted inn, the Paladin, Cleric, and Monk enter the darkling woods.

Jovinda finds broken branches, and a little farther north, Kazuo sniffs human sweat of fear on shreds of clothing. The trees loom over the winding path, blocking out the emerging stars, and roots and rocks jut out from the damp earth.

Digger goes to check on those at the barn, while Asish follows his friends’ footprints into the edge of the Wisalef Forest. The Tsucharim Ranger whistles to his dog Genghis as he cautiously guides horse Onimusha through the scratchy branches.

Asish rejoins Kovar, Jovinda, and Kazuo just as they find another sign of refugees from Alarn — a shiny sliver of silver that turns out to be a bracelet around a wrist bone wrapped in roots. Jovinda is unable to explain how thick plants could have grown around a corpse in only a few weeks.

Her question is soon answered when grasping branches and vicious vines reach out in attack! Asish hops back into the saddle, recognizing the Assassin Vines from his servitude to the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elves). Jovinda casts Shield of Faith on Kazuo and is given a hand up to Onimusha.

Kazuo launches a Flurry of Blows, and Kovar draws his masterwork longsword and also backs up from the writhing roots. Leafy tendrils and clod-covered roots whip at the group. One woody tentacle grabs Jovinda’s ankle and pulls her from Onimusha!

Asish turns his horse around to grab Jovinda, but Onimusha is slowed by the entanglement. Kazuo leaps in to help his fallen ally before she is strangled, and Kovar slices the vine with his sword but is smacked in return.

Jovinda clears a path with Wood Shape, and Kazuo and Kovar follow. The Paladin lays on hands, but the fleeing foursome is unable to escape injury from the carnivorous plants. As they bind their wounds by torchlight, Asish recommends returning to the barn rather than spend the night in wilderness full of feral monsters…

After last month’s hiatus because of summer travel, it was great to see most of you! Dexter, Paul, and Rob, we still missed you, and note that Paul and Sammy & Taum won’t be able to attend some upcoming sessions. How does Sunday, 28 August 2011, look for each of you? Byron, I’m glad that you were eventually able to join us, but please try to let us know in advance of any future delays.

We still need to discuss alternate times and games, but in the meantime, to keep the current campaign going, I’ll be lowering the bar to three players for quorum, exploring Google+, and working on backup scenarios. Like the FATE 3e “Vortexspace opera, we should be able to overcome future scheduling disruptions with a little forethought and communication. Take it easy, -Gene