“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Sessions 40.37, 38 — Prisoners’ dilemma

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Sessions 40.37 and 38, which were held on 9 and 16 November 2014:

Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….

Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, and anonline dice roller, as of autumn 2014:

  • Moon Jung-Mo [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki; eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 9

>>”27 June to 7 July 1227 B.C.E.:” In Bazran Hai, capital of the Zedu kingdom, Jung-Mo talked with Desc Soo-Ann, or Desan, a fellow Nannuattan Ninja from the Gokuri Empire. He also fought four Kobolds in an ambush alongside Ember and Tokoro.

Bazran Hai in the Bamor Mountains
Dwarven city

Meanwhile, Sonny, Toshi, and Soske’ secured the “Dragon’s Beard” inn and divided party treasure, while Saigo Kasugi had a romantic rendezvous with Princess Nayoko before resuming the search for his grandfather, Gen. Shinso Saigo.

Saigo asks Wu Jen Toshi and Shukenja Soske’ for help wording a Limited Wish that he would use from an enchanted ring. The Samurai hopes to retrieve Gen. Shinso unharmed from wherever he is being held. Sonny notes that evenTeleport spells can be traced or reversed.

Jung-Mo informs the rest of the group about his recent encounters and warns everyone to be on guard because two Kobolds got away and are presumably reporting to other Ninjas from the Shadow’s Claw clan.

Tokoro and Ember consider getting and improving magical bows or arrows. The Hengeyokai Hulinyuan and Wu also keep watch outside and check on Jung-Mo’syoung wyvern and Toshi’s tiger companion Amaya.

Jung-Mo and Saigo interrogate Wah-Ree (“Larry”), a Kobold captured in the alley ambush. At Saigo’s recommendation, the Nannuattan disguises himself as a female Spirit Folk. Sonny and Toshi listen from just outside the makeshift cell.

Saigo gives the doglike reptilian humanoid some food and water. He thanks Wah-Ree for “helping to rescue his sister from some Nezumi” [ratkin]. The Kobold explains that the Shadow’s Claw clan hopes to redeem itself with Queen Kagejusko by hunting down traitors to Gokuri.

Wah-Ree says that he himself is dishonored by being captured. The spy also says that wily troublemaker Desan has used his cover identity as a courier to get access to Zedu’s royal court.

In return for the information, Saigo agrees to pay for Wah-Ree to leave the city. Jung-Mo says that his fellow Ninjas are likely working to undermine the leadership of Bazran Hai, and Sonny speculates that Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong might be in danger from her compatriots because of her truce mission.

Meanwhile, Tokoro notices someone loitering outside the rented inn, and he quietly follows the cloaked figure as the adventuring party escorts Wah-Ree to the docks. Ember stays behind to watch the wyvern, and Toshi continues his arcane research on creating items for his companions.

Saigo and Jung-Mo book passage for Wah-Ree on a boat headed south toward Sogewa. Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ keep watch, and Tokoro follows the suspicious tinkerer, who releases a pigeon from a wicker basket at the docks.

The quick-thinking Ranger looses some arrows, dropping the bird. Sonny works his way through the crowd to retrieve it before a stray dog does. The Kensai finds that the dove’s talons have been sharpened and coated in poison.

Tokoro continues following the would-be assassin and sends Mala, his otter companion, to fetch the others as he heads toward a lower tier of Bazran Hai. The carp Hengeyokai realizes that his quarry has shrunk to blend in with the Korobokuru (eastern Dwarves) in the subterranean city.

Tokoro shadows the tinkerer to a silversmith’s shop, as Saigo, Soske, Sonny, and Jung-Mo catch up. Saigo and Jung-Mo enter the shop, while Sonny and Tokoro circle around to the back. Soske’ keeps an eye on the front door.

The tinkerer talks with a Korobokuru craftsman and heads to the back of the shop. She throws a smoke grenade in an attempt to evade Sonny and Tokoro. Sonny strikes her with his flail, and Tokoro casts Abundant Ammunition and readies his Merciful bow.

The others arrive and encircle the tinkerer. Jung-Mo misses with darts from his blowgun, but Soske’s Remorse spell causes the mysterious woman to confess that she didn’t want to harm the pigeon. Saigo ends the tinkerer’s flight by knocking her out with his sheathed katana.

The Ninja reverts to her true form as a Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf). Jung-Mo and Sonny strip her of her gear, including the following:

  • Armor, Elven chain
  • Battle cloak (adamantium-laced, silenced, +1 AC)
  • Bracers, crossbow
  • Poison, two vials (death or sleep, DC 15)
  • Katana (long sword, masterwork)
  • Whip, Vorpal (1d8 plus beheading on crit)
  • Whippets, three (incendiary boomerangs, 1d6+6 fire)

Back at the Dragon’s Beard, Jung-Mo recognizes the latest prisoner as Oh Ok-Sun, a former lover! He checks her for suicide capsules, and the Nannuattan says that he is a defector who left Gokuri with a wyvern egg and without their master’s permission. She apparently knows nothing about the Scarlet Order, which has been sowing chaos in Tong Sheng.

Jung-Mo promises to return to the Underdark once he has found a way to restore their clan’s name and defend his own. Oh Ok-Sun retorts that he’ll have to take his chances, and Jung-Mo offers to release her in return for noninterference.

Saigo objects, saying that while he trusts Jung-Mo, he’s the exception among Nannuattan Ninjas. The Bamboo Spirit Folk (eastern Sylvan Elf) would prefer to execute the latest prisoner, but Soske’s Sense Elements (psychometry) on her weapons says that she is efficient and ruthless but honorable.

Sonny and Toshi agree that the group should keep her weapons, with the exception of a nonmagical sword. Saigo and Ember still don’t trust Oh Ok-Sun, but Jung-Mo sends her away.

Toshi says that he’ll need about a month to prepare enchanted items for his companions, such as a stealth suit for Jung-Mo, Crimson Moth silk armor for Sonny, a Scout’s Headband for Soske’, and improved armor and sword for Saigo. Tokoro considers Lesser Bracers of Archery.

In the meantime, the Wu Jen meditates, and Soske’ prepares a divination to aid Saigo in finding his kidnapped grandfather. Scouts Jung-Mo and Tokoro make sure that Oh Ok-Sun leaves the area and resume watch over the inn.

Several days pass, and Toshi aids Saigo with the wording of his Limited Wish. Ember continues to help Jung-Mo care for the wyvern hatchling.

Soske’ contacts Zao Kasugi, a scribe and ancestor of Saigo. The Shukenja learns that Gen. Shinso’s location is magically hidden, but Zao may be able to locate him with help from sacrifices at the ancestral shrine and the temple of Yen Yuang, the sleeping god.

The travelers go to Saigo’s family compound in Bazran Hai. The Bamboo Spirit Folk offers prayers and incense at the shrine and then takes the group to the relatively unadorned temple of Yen Yuang, deity of judgment and death. He briefly considers sacrificing rogue Gen. Wang Tung’s (+2) katana of Wounding.

Hirohata Kotaro, a white-robed priest, leads the supplicants to a private area. Soske’ begins with prayers, and Saigo writes a vow that he won’t touch another woman besides Princess Nayoko for two years. The knight errant hopes to marry her but believes that she is above his station.

He puts the scroll on an altar. All present see themselves in the heavens surrounded by clouds, who answer in the voices of Saigo’s ancestors. They approve of his quest and courtship of the princess.

Meanwhile, Tokoro has a vision of the slumbering god, who holds scales and a quill. His finger twitches, and the Ranger sees the symbol for “citadel,” meaning that Gen. Shinso is likely being held somewhere beneath Bazran Hai’s palace!

Saigo and friends find themselves back in the temple chamber, and Tokoro tells them about the clue from Yen Yuang. The scroll with the Samurai vow has disappeared. Sonny says that it would be nice to know more about who is holding Gen. Shinso.

Sonny and Saigo help with the expenses for making permanent Soske’sForbiddance spell, which protects one large room in the family compound from planar travel and summoned monsters. Toshi readies Arcane Sight, Break Enchantment, Dimensional Anchor, and a scroll of Circle of Protection From Evil.

Druid Ember readies Neutralize Poison, and Jung-Mo and Tokoro take up sniper positions in case the general is followed upon his rescue. Finally, Saigo takes his magical ring and utters the following Limited Wish:

“I wish that my grandfather Shinso Kasugi, general of the armies of the Zedu Kingdom, born of Takiko Kasugi, were phyisically present now in front of me, alone being whole in body and mind, free of any restraint or compulsion — physical, magical, or spiritual — healthy of spirit and without any remaining physical harm, able to stay so long as he would desire here with his grandson Saigo in the clan Kasugi stronghold, with no requirement or compulsion to return to bondage, imprisonment or where he is now and of the same mind, temperament and moral code as he was prior to his capture — without the knowledge of his enemies or any enemies of Saigo Kasugi or his grandfather appearing with his grandfather.”

Saigo’s grandfather appears in armor but unarmed and unharmed! However, because of the phrase, “of the same mind, temperament and moral code as he was prior to his capture — without the knowledge of his enemies,” Gen. Shinso has no memories of his months-long imprisonment.

Saigo and Gen. Hirokazu Saigo are happy to be reunited with the general, who explains that he was on a covert mission for Daimyo Hei Wan Ling on the northern frontier. Shinso says that while looking for foes within the Zedu kingdom, he was ambushed in the woods north of Hei Kuan.

Unfortunately, Gen. Shinso is unable to identify his attackers, but he also mentions that while traveling through the Dragon Pass in the Bamor Mountains, he saw a huge reddish dragon whose very touch corrupted the landscape.

Soske’, Saigo, and Ember believe that the dragon could be a source of thegrowing chaos and a leader of the unnatural Scarlet Order. Sonny and Toshi agree that it would be good to take the fight to the enemy, who is possibly from the Red Wastes to the northeast, while Jung-Mo and Tokoro are more cautious. The wanderers debate on when to leave Bazran Hai.

Still concerned about more Ninjas, archers Jung-Mo and Tokoro take up watch around Saigo’s manor. Kensai Sonny asks them to pay close attention to comings and goings in the demihuman neighborhood. Wizard Toshi resumes his enchantments, and shaman Soske’ rests after the rituals.

Saigo catches up with his family and Princess Nayoko, and Ember returns to the wyvern at the Dragon’s Beard. After a few days, Jung-Mo and Tokoro notice that Shijo Yoshifumi, a master landscaper, doesn’t enter the family gardens but sends underlings while waiting out in the street. Saigo concurs that this is odd behavior.

Tokoro sends his river otter Mala to dig up Saigo’s garden. When a servant notifies Shijo, the landscaper angrily dismisses him and leaves to supposedly get more helpers. Saigo and company stealthily follow him.

Shijo pays little heed to other pedestrians, bumping into them as he heads to a lower tier of the city. Sonny asks Toshi to shift into baza (small blackbird) form and follow. Soske’ notices that Shijo is looking down at the street, and Tokoro recognizes his snakelike pattern of walking.

Shijo moves a heavy cover and jumps into the sewers. The party follows [see middle leftmost entry on map]. Hengeyokai Tokoro leads, followed by Shengtese human Soske, Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo, Shan Sao Toshi, and human Sonny.

Sewer map
Part of Bazran Hai’s sewers

Tokoro tracks Shijo around some corners, across bridges over raw sewage, and to a square chamber, where he is talking to two reptilian Yuan-ti Abominations! They see the hunters and draw weapons.

Halfling Toshi casts Arc Lightning, badly injuring one of the scaled humanoids. Shapeshifter Tokoro fires four arrows at the two Yuan-ti, and Soske’ petitions his ancestors for an Ice Bow. Saigo attacks Shijo with the No Dachi of the White Scorpion but misses.

Chain master Sonny steps into the middle of the melee and swings his flail, hitting the enemy combatants. One Yuan-ti harms Soske’ with a glass, poison-filled arrow, and the other hits Saigo. Fortunately, the Samurai is able to resist the faux gardener’s Baleful Polymorph spell.

Toshi casts Snake’s Swiftness, Mass, and Tokoro shoots more arrows at the serpent folk. Soske’ also shoots them, and Saigo hits Shijo and cleaves into the Yuan-ti. Sonny’s Whirlwind Attack fells the enemy archer, and the other one swings a dao (scimitar) at Saigo.

Shijo casts Darkness and tries to escape, but Toshi counters with Dispel Magic. Tokoro knocks out the fleeing spellcaster with his Merciful bow. Soske, Saigo, and Sonny concentrate on the last Yuan-ti, quickly slaying it. They search the bodies and find the following:

  • Arrows, 12 glass, with hollow points (2d8 plus poison) — claimed by Tokoro
  • Bow, long, +3 — Tokoro to trade to improve his existing bow
  • Dao (scimitar/falchion) +4 — party to sell for 32,000 tael (16,000 gold pieces)
  • Ring of Charm Person — Saigo
  • Scroll of Mind Read — Toshi

While tying up Shijo, Tokoro realizes that he is also reptilian. The spelunkers leave the sewers, and Toshi shifts back to bird form to get Jung-Mo and his carriage to transport their latest prisoner back to the Dragon’s Beard inn….

I hope that everybody enjoyed our latest “New Dawn” games. Sara and Josh, I hope that your honeymoon is going well, and we miss “Ember!” Let me know if you have any further questions about advancement and treasure.

Note that we won’t be meeting next Sunday, Nov. 23, because I’ll be traveling, but I expect to resume on Nov. 30. I also look forward to seeing some of you at upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expeditionface-to-face sessions and the conclusion of Rich C.G.’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural miniseries!

“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” Session 39.47 — Black sails and the Nook & Cranny Council

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.47, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 15 September 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. One such band began as circus performers, rescued slaves, and seeks to fight the dreaded Ghost Fleet….

Vistel’s Expedition,” crew of the ZephyrPlayer Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing GameDungeon Crawl ClassicsPathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, as of autumn 2014:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) afflicted by a cursed tattoo; with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 10
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Flind (Gnoll) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and sailor, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 10
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, wandering noble, warrior, and mandolin player; CNg, Lvl. 10
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 10
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome (Minoi) clockwork gadgeteer and impetuous Rogue; TNcg, Lvl. 10

(See previous notes for “Hamfast” and “Brendan” [Brian W.], “Tempestade” [Josh C.], “Radius” [Jason E.R.], “Sir Torrel” [Alex W.], and “Brogar” [Brian S.].)

“1 to 4 April 1227 B.C.E.:” The commanders of the Zephyr oversaw the riverboat’s overhaul, recruited crew members, and bought supplies in the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human village of Drunstimlos.

They also Teleported to the capital of Thadenis to report to the king and queen. The adventurers learned of strife in neighboring realms, the whereabouts of Corwin’s enemies, and potential allies.

Giacomo visits the Harandrim Academy, the local Magisterium (magic school/library), and asks Maggie Oakleaf if she’ll join him aboard the Zephyr. The droll Sylvan Elf adept agrees.

Scully asks her companions to make her boyfriend, “Sir Niac Eden” [Mike F./Non-Player Character], the captain of their ship because of his nautical experience. Corwin is concerned that the Wolfen Paladin (and former “Dragonslayer”) might have divided loyalties, but Scully reassures him that his first duty will be to the ship.

Corwin meets with “Melchior Merryman” [Byron V.O.], a priest of Ulandt (and former “Seeker of Lore”) who offers to travel to Gisar to covertly find out what Corwin’s half-brother, Prince Daven, is doing in the barbaric port. They also hope to locate Lord Dalek, a Tiefling (demon-touched) Mage who once framed Corwin for murder.

Rhys decides against giving (former “Liberator”) “Ulrich Vandermoor” [Ted A.H./N.P.C.] at the Royal Society for Cartography full plans of his steamboat. He also purchases coal and carouses with new friend (and former “Lorewarden”) “Brother Cathal Duartbell” [Atilla C./N.P.C.].

Elsa excitedly shares a letter that she has received from Vistel’s Circus, which is performing in the nearby human kingdom of Hifalendor. The adventuring party agrees to sail east, first to meet Capt. Scarlet and the Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elf) schooner Foamrunner at Sanry and then to the city of Hesolin.

Before returning to Drunstimlos, Giacomo obtains components for Bracers of Armor, and Scully looks for specialized ammunition. Corwin tallies up vehicle expenses at about 5,000 crowns (gold pieces) so far and returns 1,500 g.p. to each of his peers.

Elsa checks with Miss Crevan on the establishment of the first office in her long-range communications network, and Rhys is eager to get back to the Zephyr to supervise its refit. The group Teleports back to the windy coast.

Capt. Niac reviews the crew roster as the now-seaworthy ship prepares for its shakedown cruise:

  • Sir Niac Eden [Mike F./N.P.C.]-male Wolfen Paladin, captain
    • Tiernan Saunders: male Saganim cabin boy, sailor 1
  • Prince Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, first mate and morale officer
    • Doyle Tunney: male Saganim (proto-Celtic) human apprentice, Bard 1
    • Evan Bradford: male Saganim fisherman and sailor 1
    • Fiona Chadwick: female Saganim sailor 1/Rogue 1
    • Gordon Selwyn: male Saganim sailor 1/Rogue 1
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome, engineer
    • Vasco: male clockwork butler
    • Automatons: dragon, scorpion, and spider
    • Cyric Ahearn: male Saganim carpenter and sailor 1
    • Emmet Banning: male Saganim sailmaker and sailor 1
    • Evelyn Morgwyl: female Half-Elf tinkerer and sailor 1
    • Ronan Teague: male Saganim blacksmith and sailor 1
  • Giacomo Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Wizard, scholar and mage
    • Gerald: male homunculus familiar
    • “Dread” Maggie Oakleaf: female Sylvan Elf adept, apprentice
    • Almaric Dorimus: male Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human navigator, Lvl. 2 sailor
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female Flind Ranger, animal handler, security/marine, scout, sniper
    • Owlicious: male owl companion
    • Glynnis Shannon: female Saganim sailor 1/Fighter 1
    • Holt Chapman: male Saganim farmer/stablehand and sailor 1
    • Reginald Seward: male Saganim pirate, served aboard the Mad Saber and theBloody Manta; sailor 1/Fighter 2
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid, cook, chaplain, and healer
    • Penryn: male Banuq (winged cat), animal companion
    • Audrey Driscoll: female Saganim (proto-Celtic) human cook and sailor 1/Fighter 1
    • Kaitlin Ellis: female Saganim acolyte of Ghanki/sailor 1

As the Zephyr gets under way, Corwin presents himself to the crew as the “good cop” to Niac’s “bad cop.” Rhys shows his team how to feed coal to the boiler as well as hoist the sails. Giacomo stays in the map room, both because he hasn’t yet gotten his sea legs and because he wants to create a crystal ball that can project images.

Elsa double-checks provisions in the galley and blesses the ship and its new crew. Scully checks on the horses in the cargo hold and borrows Rhys’ spyglass. After several hours out on the Sea of Nagendwa, she spots something from the crow’s nest.

A four-masted ship with black sails approaches from several miles away. It alters course to bear down on the Zephyr, and Capt. Niac calls for battlestations and sets the helm to intercept. Corwin relays commands and encourages the Saganim sailors with song.

Black Sails
The Cruel Cutlass

As the Zephyr and the pirate ship close, Niac gives the order for a warning shot. Scully loads the forward ballista and fires across the other vessel’s bow. It returns fire, skewering Kaitlin Ellis, an acolyte of sea lord Ghanki.

Corwin casts Fireball at the Cruel Cutlass’  forecastle, killing four Saganim pirates. Niac orders the crew to prepare for broadsides. Corwin defensively casts Mirror Image, creating seven illusory duplicates of himself.

Giacomo casts Magic Shield, and Rhys fires his crossbow but misses. Scully fires another ballista bolt, scattering enemy crewmen on the opposing deck. Shots from the Cruel Cutlass narrowly miss Corwin, thanks to his Mirror Image.

Cleric Elsa rushes to aid Kaitlin, and Capt. Niac exhorts the crew to stand firm. Bard Corwin Disintegrates part of the foe’s main mast, which falls and kills another pirate. Wizard Giacomo inflicts madness on some of the commanders of the Cruel Cutlass with Emrikol’s Entropic Maelstrom.

Engineer Rhys turns his attention to fire control and reloading ammunition. Ranger Scully casts Call Lightning, injuring another pirate. The Cruel Cutlass breaks off and flees. While some aboard the Zephyr want to pursue and loot the damaged craft, Capt. Niac Lays on Hands to help heal Kaitlin and congratulates his crew on a successful shakedown cruise.

The Wolfen Paladin of Otih, lord of the sun and justice, also sternly warns them not to get too confident, since the dreaded Ghost Fleet has numerous ships and has magical protections. “Vistel’s Expedition” sails north.

That night, those on watch hear and glimpse something with a feathered wingspan of more than 20 feet fly overhead. They theorize that it could be a gryphon, like the one ridden by Prince Daven.

During the second watch, Scully and Corwin notice Niac pacing about the captain’s quarters. On the third watch, Giacomo banters with his cursed tattoo of the “Mad Mage” Ezra, resisting its attempts to take him over and confusing members of the crew with an apparently one-sided conversation.

In the engine room, Rhys convenes the first meeting of the “Nook and Cranny Council” with similarly diminutive Vasco, his clockwork butler, and Gerald, Giacomo’s homunculus familiar.

The Zephyr safely arrives at the Saganim village of Sanry. Giacomo and Maggie busy themselves in the ship’s map room, leaving others to go ashore. Scully and Niac go to the “Steed’s Stream” inn to see if there are any additional sailors worth recruiting.

Corwin wanders around, thinking of lost loves and the homeland he may not see again for a while. Elsa and Audrey Driscoll procure supplies for the galley and tend to the Druid’s banuq (winged cat) Penryn.

Rhys keeps Cyric, Emmet, Evelyn, and Ronan busy with repairs and training, as the explorers wait to rendezvous with the Foamrunner to ask about the Sea Elven history of conflict with Drunstimlos and participation in a naval alliance against the Ghost Fleet….

Thanks again, Drew, for hosting, and we missed you, Rich! I hope everybody enjoyed your shakedown cruise, and I look forward to continuing your seaborne adventures. As you can see, I’ve revised the crew roster on Obsidian Portal, and remember to make sure that your characters’ spells and possessions are up to date.

I look forward to our next “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” telecom session, as well as character generation for Rich’s “Tunnel Vision” miniseries (using StorytellerWorld of Darkness — Hunterthe Reckoningat Brian S.’s place next Monday.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.23 — Bulettes, battle axe, and back to Silado Palace

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.23, which was held on Sunday, 14 July 2014:

Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….

Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of summer 2014:

  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; LNg, Lvl. 6
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O./absent]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 6
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest of Shang-ti and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things; LNg, Lvl. 6
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 6
  • Moon Jung-mo [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki, eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk Yakuza (eastern Grey Elf Rogue); LNg, Lvl. 6

“9 to 12 May 1227 B.C.E.:” After accepting a mission to scout out an unidentified army approaching Sogewa, the capital of Tong Sheng, a band of explorers fought Ninjas and three creatures cursed for intemperate desires. The group continued across the wide Plains of Sathendo.

Sonny recommends approaching the army as a band of merchants and discreetly asking about its intentions. Saigo notes that he and Ember could pose as a Spirit Folk couple, with Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ as locals.

Ember wants to return to the skies to continue scouting; she had previously seen signs of large burrowing beasts. Soske’ points out that the adventuring party is too well armed and doesn’t have enough trade goods to pass as peasants.

Jung-Mo, who usually presents himself as a wealthy wanderer, stays out of sight to watch the band’s back for more foes. Toshi studies arcane spells and offers to accompany Ember in bird form.

Ember shifts into crane form and flies east over the steppes. The Hengeyokai again sees the upturned earth from bulettes, or land sharks, and she stays out of arrow range as she passes over numerous rows of armored soldiers. Ember observes a foo creature battle standard and heads back to her companions.

To cross the wilderness quickly, Saigo removes any extra gear and supplies from the horses and leaves Jung-Mo and Toshi to guard the cache. The Shan Sao Wu Jen casts Gaseous Form and Haste to help the others avoid the bulettes.

Even so, one of the land sharks leaps up and manages to take two bites out of Soske’ as he carries Sonny and Saigo across the grasslands via Wind Walk. Wu Ember leads the way to rocky ground.

Shukenja Soske’ heals himself while waiting for the army to approach. Samurai Saigo identifies the heraldry that Ember saw as that of the Shang Empire, based in distant Yin.

A high-ranking scout with a fierce steed and large bird of prey rides up to the group. Sonny warns the imperial officer about the bulettes and asks to be taken to his leader. Gen. Hou Gao personally escorts the explorers through the ranks of thousands of troops.

Most of the Shang soldiers wear banded bronze armor and carry spears and broad swords. Chariots and archers march alongside wagons of supplies. The elite troops wear scale and carry a variety of weapons. Sonny recognizes the chrysanthemum standard of the imperial house.

Shang army
Imperial army

Gen. Gao brings the newcomers before the august presence of Lady Fu Hao, who commands about 10,000 men and is a priestess as well as Emperor Zi Zhao’s favored concubine (out of 60). She wears fine armor and listens to the group’s formal introductions.

Kensai Sonny reports that Prince Zu Ji has assumed control over Sogewa, the provincial capital, and Lady Fu says that is not the will of his father, the emperor. Soske’ describes the Undead and other manifestations of growing chaos that he has encountered, and the oracle says that she has sensed similar problems.

The empress compliments Ember’s manners from the Celestial Court, and the exile uses a magical mirror to reveal her true nature as a dragon to her friends and Lady Fu. They are surprised but supportive.

Lady Fu recognizes the Saigo family name and asks about his grandfather Shinso, who the knight says is missing. Wu Ding’s concubine offers to help in any way she can, but she is determined to destroy any traitors first.

The diplomats ask the queen for time to avoid a bloody siege of Sogewa, in which many innocents would suffer. Lady Fu acknowledges that it may take her forces a few additional days to cross the lands of the bulettes, but she promises to inflict her full wrath against any who oppose the mandate of heaven.

Lady Fu leaps up, draws a battle axe from her back, and cuts the head off a standard before gracefully landing on her feet. She gives the brass piece to Ember as a token of her command.

Soske’ agrees to swear fealty to the empress, but the priest hesitates when he recognizes her axe, which he saw in a vision that indicated that the blade would change the course of history. Lady Fu offers a whistling long sword instead, and as Soske’ puts his hand on it to swear, he glimpses armies clashing on the way to his prophesied destiny.

Saigo and company depart and ride back to Sogewa, collecting Jung-Mo and Toshi on the way. Ember is upset about revealing herself as a draconic outcast, but the entire group is unwavering in respecting the Druid’s honor.

Soske’ casts Air Walk upon his horse to avoid the bulettes. Sonny, Saigo, and Jung-Mo follow at full gallop, and Ember and Toshi fly overhead. Saigo gets bitten but manages to keep running, and Sonny and Ember distract the monster with artillery.

The scouts and their exhausted horses eventually return to the rice paddies and wheat fields surrounding Sogewa. Six sentries stop them and ask for identification. Armored Saigo says that he was sent by Duke Kou Fei Seng to investigate the approaching army.

The guards decide to ride with the party into the city, and Soske’ recognizes akatar (punching dagger) of the Scorpion Clan. The travelers are wary as they are brought to the inner tiers and sprawling Silado Palace.

Flanked by aristocrats from numerous clans, Prince Zu Ji greets the team. Saigo reports on the bulettes but claims that he did not directly engage the approaching army. The crown prince orders the militia to muster more troops for the realm’s defense.

Sisters Bai Lei Qing and Dao Lei Qing again offer to bring the travelers to their quarters, but Sonny asks to speak with Lady Yun Aei-Yong first. Smiling Li Keng brings them to the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) emissary of Gokuri.

Soske’ asks Lady Yun, whom the group had been assigned to escort, how she has been for the past few days. The sly delegate says that she has met more potential allies in the Crab, Crane, and Dragon clans and that Prince Zu Ji has agreed to extend trade between Gokuri and Tong Sheng.

Sonny and Saigo think that Lady Yun might be useful in helping them get closer to the prince, but Soske’ and Jung-Mo don’t trust her. Ember and Toshi warn their friends to watch out for clan politics, which could complicate opening the city to Lady Fu’s army peacefully.

After a brief rest, Saigo says that the next thing to do is to visit Duke Kou Fei Seng, the prior ruler of Sogewa, who had taken rogue Gen. Wang Tung into custody before being placed under house arrest himself….

It was great to resume our adventures, and Dexter and Byron, we missed you! Note that I’ve added recent acquisitions to my bibliography, including the retro-clone Arrows of Indrathe BRP-based Celestial Empireand the FATE-based Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade.

Speaking of which, I’ve updated my D20/FATE house rules slightly; let me know what you think. I look forward to Bruce’s “PathfinderEberron/Reign of Winter” miniseries, starting tonight, and remember to watch the scheduling threads on our message boards.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.21 — Scouting the steppe

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.21, which was held on Sunday, 8 June 2014:

Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….

Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game andAdvanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of summer 2014:

  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; LNg, Lvl. 6
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 6
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest of Shang-ti and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things; LNg, Lvl. 6
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 6
  • Moon Jung-mo [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki, eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk Yakuza (eastern Grey Elf Rogue); LNg, Lvl. 6

“5 to 7 May 1227 B.C.E.:” The travelers prepared to leave Sogewa but were ambushed by Ninjas. They defeated 14 assassins and captured one, whom Saigo interrogated and Ember turned into a turtle. The scouts rode east across the Plains of Sathendo….

As the adventuring party surveys the steppes, Sonny looks for high ground. Toshi casts Animal Companion, summoning a young female tiger he names “Amaya” (“Night Rain”).

Atruaghin clans
Tiger and caravan

Ember shifts to crane form and flies ahead, while Jung-Mo stealthily watches the rear. Saigo meditates to collect his thoughts about various clan and court intrigues, and Soske’ attends to the horses.

Shengtese human Soske’ asks his companions if they have a plan for the approaching army that Duke Kou Fei Seng asked them to investigate. Fellow human Sonny recommends posing as peasants, and Shan Sao Toshi says he can fly close as a baza (blackbird) or cast Invisibility.

Hengeyokai Ember and Spirit Folk Jung-Mo are too far away to participate in the conversation, but share Toshi’s abilities. Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo thinks the army’s intentions should be clear from a distance.

That night, the wanderers pitch camp far from any village. Toshi works with Amaya away from the horses, and Ember spots another fire a few miles ahead. She overhears an aged couple — Li Jo and Shi Ling — talking and presses onward for another hour.

Before turning back, Wu Ember sees long mounds of recently upturned soil and stone, but no direct sign yet of the army. Rogue Jung-Mo inspects the wyvern egg he’s covertly carrying for further signs of growth.

Soske’ notices two large bats flying close to the camp. The Shukenja’s True Sightreveals that they are vampiric. Wu Jen Toshi casts Steam Breath, and Samurai Saigo cleaves the creatures with his katana, badly injuring them.

Kensai Sonny readies his chain, and Ember sees the commotion as she returns. Saigo throws a dagger but misses, and Toshi casts Mass Snake’s Swiftness on his allies. Soske’ falls back to the horses and requests an Ancestral Weapon from mocking spirits.

Sonny entangles one vampiric bat with his chain, preventing it from turning to mist. Ember dives in, slashing at the remaining airborne rodent with her beak. The bats bite Ember and Saigo, draining their life force to heal themselves.

Wizard Toshi casts Dragon’s Breath, distracting Druid Ember. Weapon master Sonny chokes the bat in chains, enabling knight Saigo to finish it off. Cleric Soske’ fires arrows, as Jung-Mo keeps the other horses from bolting into the night.

Toshi’s Enchanted Blade fells the second bat, and Soske’ takes a fang from each beast before throwing the carcasses in the fire. He also casts Restoration on Ember and Saigo. The spellcasters determine that the bats weren’t Undead but were probably servitors of a true vampire.

Ember reports on what she has seen. Toshi says the mounds could have been made by large burrowing animals such as bullettes (“land sharks”). Saigo wonders if they and the bats could be connected to the army headed toward Sogewa.

The next morning, Soske’ surprises everyone by casting Heroes’ Feast, which creates more than enough good food and drink for everyone. Halfling Toshi and itinerant warrior Sonny work their way around the table and bicker over leftovers.

Toshi’s tiger jumps onto the table, amusing shapeshifter Ember but annoying Soske’ and Jung-Mo. Saigo is grateful for the blessings, especially since they protect him from vampirism.

Back on the trail, the caravan soon overtakes the two elderly hikers Ember had seen the night before. Li Jo introduces himself as “Happy Joe,” and his wife Shi Ling as “Celine.” Saigo identifies himself as “Reiko Takahara,” Toshi as “Master Roshin,” Ember as “Lady Kanara,” and Soske’ as “Disciple Greywind.”

Souji Nobuto Yoshimitsu uses his nickname “Sonny,” and Jung-Mo again slips away. “Reiko-san” claims to be heading south toward some hills, but Happy Joe says that he knows they are walking in the same direction and that he can’t allow that.

“Disciple Greywind” casts Detect Evil and senses that Joe has malicious intent, but Celine does not. “Lady Kanara” readies a Wall of Fire spell, and Soske’ again parleys with abusive spirits for an Ancestral Weapon. Saigo draws his katana and charges, but Joe has begun to change in size.

The old man’s clothing stays the same, but it now hangs on a horned, tailed Oni or giant. Celine’s skin turns to marble. Toshi prepares to cast Invisibility, and Sonny agrees with Saigo to focus on giant Joe….

Dexter, we missed you this past weekend! Note that we won’t be meeting virtually on Sunday, June 15 — Happy Father’s Day to Dex, Byron, and Bruce!

It was good to see some of you at Jason E.R.’s final “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero game for now, and I’m looking forward to Bruce’s “Pathfinder: Eberron/Reign of Winter.” I’ll see some of you at upcoming “Vanished LandsVistel’s Expedition” sessions.

In the meantime, remember to update your character records on Obsidian Portal, including spells and possessions, and let me know.

“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” Session 39.39 — Sea quest

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.39, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 26 May 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 D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and FATE3e Legends of Anglerre, 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. 8
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda (proto-Germanic) human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 8
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 8
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 8
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 8
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with Banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 8
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome (Minoi) clockwork gadgeteer; TNg, Lvl. 8

(See previous notes for Paladins “Radius” [Jason E.R.] and “Sir Torrel” [Alex W.].)

“5 to 9 March 1227 B.C.E.:” After debating how to proceed through the Temple of Elemental Evil, the expedition distracted Ogres, defeated a Beholder, and destroyed the contact binding an Efreeti to the Pit Fiend ruling Mt. Tilefa. The group made a hasty retreat to Tarvulis Island.

Giacomo worries that the devil Schm*ckF*ck will send minions to pursue the onetime circus performers. He recommends entering the city of Gisar overland. Hamfast is eager to return to the barbaric port, which he briefly visited thanks to Tequila, the pseudodragon familiar of Drow archmage “Vasec” [Alex J./Non-Player Character].

Scully reminds her companions that they have agreed to help Tempestade get to an obelisk beneath Gisar so he can return to his own time and free slaves from his former plantation.

Corwin would prefer to visit the Gusorin Confederation as briefly as possible, and Elsa is curious about rumors of evil Druids, the cult of Krakas, and fighting the dreaded Ghost Fleet. She wishes that Paladins Radius and Sir Torrel could help deal with the scourge of Undead on the high seas.

After sending an urgent magical message to Capt. Scarlet on the Sea Elven schooner Foamrunner, the wanderers prepare to return to the mainland. Wizard Giacomo talks with “Tondra” [Rob A.S./N.P.C.], a Zarendo Islander human shaman (East African Cleric), about getting the accursed tattoo of the “Mad Mage” Ezra removed from his back.

Fighter Hamfast waits outside and pounds on a leech with his maul on behalf of recently departed Sir Torrel. Ranger Scully sends a love note to Wolfen Paladin “Niac” [Mike F./N.P.C.] and allows Vasec’s scribes to copy her maps of the temple on Salhonif Island.

Martial artist Tempestade explains that he wants to resettle fellow escapees and that he hopes to help clear Gisar of evil upon his return. Bard Corwin buys a potion of Water Breathing and scrolls of Invisibility to Undead and Restoration.

Elsa writes several letters. She asks Baskor Steadyhand, a roustabout in Vistel’s Circus, about how owlbear Oswald is doing. The Druid also sends soil samples to Barry the Gardener on Emein Island and warns the Royal Cartographer’s Society in Thadenis about Mt. Tilefa.

Tondra, who is packing for a seasonal visit to the Hifalendorin human capital of Hesolin, gives Giacomo a Periapt of Wisdom (+2) to help him fight Ezra’s control. Hamfast and Tempestade find her zombie gardeners unsettling.

Vasec and his students bid “Vistel’s Expedition” farewell as the team boards Capt. Scarlet’s sleek catamaran. About a day’s sail north, however, the Foamrunner ’s crew and passengers are tested by a storm.

Giacomo casts Rope Work, and Scully and Corwin help the Sea Elven sailors in the rigging. Hamfast and Tempestade stay with the oarsmen below decks, but Elsa comes up from the galley to cast Calm Winds. After being tossed around by huge waves, the Foamrunner manages to ride out the tempest.

Sometime later, a lifeboat with six storm survivors is spotted. Hifalendorin human Giacomo readies spells, and Zeda human Hamfast waits in reserve. Scully readies a grapple and casts Detect Evil, but the albino Gnoll senses no malicious intent from the castaways.

Brazilian human Tempestade helps cast lines to the dinghy, and Corwin casts Detect Magic and then Fly to help rescue the newcomers. The Half-Elf spots a Gnome clutching a wooden chest and slowly carries them to safety.

Elsa summons a water elemental, but it turns on the Hill Dwarf, saying, “We’ve been looking for you,” no doubt in reference to the Pit Fiend’s followers. Capt. Scarlet orders her crew to maneuver, while Vistel’s Expedition tries to get the six shipwreck survivors aboard and fights the Grue.

Elsa invokes Mekkil (Gaia), goddess of nature, to Call Lightning. Corwin drops off the Gnome and begins lifting the Suthern human corsairs. Hamfast comes up to the main deck, and the evil elemental slams Scully.

Giacomo casts Dispel Magic, to no effect, and Scully misses a rope, landing one of the Suthern sailors in the drink. Tempestade runs on the side of the ship with his Boots of Spider Climb and grabs the man. Rhys, the Tinker Gnome, opens his chest and readies a fancy crossbow.

Pious Elsa Wild Shapes into an orca (killer whale) and rams into the Varrdig. Flying Corwin and nimble Tempestade continue pulling castaways aboard the Foamrunner. Mighty Hamfast grazes the Grue with his maul but also gets slammed by a blast of water.

Clever Giacomo casts Scorching Ray, seriously wounding the elemental, which sniper Scully finishes off with a Flamestrike. Rhys is disappointed that he didn’t get to show off his repeating crossbow or clockwork creations.

Capt. Scarlet and the travelers welcome the gadgeteer and promise to drop off the Suthern sailors soon. Divine spellcasters Elsa and Scully attend to the wounded.

Sometime later, Rhys spots a second rowboat with his telescope, and Giacomo casts Wizard Sense to get a closer look. Scully dives into the Sea of Nagendwa and Wild Shapes into a dolphin. Elsa shifts into squid form and Channels Positive Energy to turn a large skeletal barracuda.

Giacomo reports that the people on this dinghy are contagious Undead, so Capt. Scarlet orders that it be set ablaze from a distance. Scully supervises the arbalests and ammunition, as Corwin watches for other ships from the crow’s nest with Araswe, one of his lovers.

The Foamrunner sets its passengers ashore about two days’ march from Gisar. Saganim Prince Corwin gives Capt. Scarlet several hundred crowns (gold pieces) in thanks. The rescued sailors scatter and head west, back toward the distant Halmed Desert. Vistel’s Expedition begins hiking east to the city.

Approaching Gisar
Any port in a storm….

On the wide central Plains of Sathendo, the adventuring party hears the thunder of approaching hooves. Ten Wolven in Tsucharim (Mongol-style) armor lower spears and surround the group. Mads, their leader, is not impressed by the outlanders but offers to trade for fellow canine humanoid Scully.

When she resists, the Wolven close in. Elsa casts Charm Animal on Mads’ horse, and Corwin incinerates three riders with a Fireball. One raider picks up Scully, and others stab at Hamfast and Tempestade.

Scully breaks free and draws her long bow, as Tempestade runs toward the Wolfen who had grabbed her. Giacomo slays two more foes with Magic Missiles, and Hamfast smites another. Rhys fires bolts with his crossbow.

Elsa Wild Shapes into a dire boar, causing the horse to throw Mads to the ground. Corwin kills two Barbarians with Ice Storm and dodges another. Scully angrily looses arrows, while Tempestade unhorses one Wolfen and kicks him.

The Wolven hit Hamfast and Tempestade and badly hurt Scully. Giacomo drops Tempestade’s opponent with a Lightning Bolt, and Corwin finishes off Mads. Scully claims a tooth and the tail of one Wolfen as trophies and a warning to other would-be slavers.

Hamfast says the corpses should be left for the carrion fowl as his friends search the steeds. Each one has a masterwork saddle, and the warriors had chain shirts, spears, hand axes, and long swords. The group also finds two short bows, 40 arrows, 140 silver coins, 200 crowns, and 10 platinum pieces.

Now with horses, the expedition continues toward Gisar. That night, Elsa castsGrove of Respite for shelter, food, and rest. Saddlesore Hamfast and inventive Rhys take the first watch as the moon comes out from behind light clouds.

Corwin and Scully, with her owl Owlicious, take an uneventful second watch. Elsa Wild Shapes into dire ape form to watch with her winged cat Penryn and Tempestade. Giacomo studies tattoo magic, aided by his homunculus familiar Gerald.

Elsa and Tempestade hear children’s voices in the tall grass around their camp. Elsa walks to the edge of the grove, while Tempestade wakes the others. Giacomo successfully Detects Evil and warns his companions.

Hamfast turns over in his bedroll, and Rhys readies his clockwork devices. Scully casts True Seeing and finds that the children are actually doglike reptilian Kobolds. The small humanoids turn down Elsa’s offer of food, as the fears of a trap are reversed. They disappear into the grasslands.

The next day, the party sees the ruined outer walls of Gisar, a long-suffering city plagued by Barbari tribes and the Undead. Rutted streets wind through crowded neighborhoods of narrow houses. The mostly human population wears drab clothing and avoids direct eye contact.

Giacomo reminds the Corwin that the locals don’t like arcane spellcasters. Hamfast recommends staying near the Mahadi Racetrack, where a restless crowd cheers on a polo match using someone’s head. As “Gareth Greywind,” Corwin pays 10 crowns to stable and feed the horses for a week.

Hamfast, Scully, and Elsa buy beets, cabbage, and turnips on their way into the port, but Tempestade tenses up as they pass a slave market. The group passes saloons, shrines, and vacant shops.

A map from the “Seekers of Lore” from Thadenis indicates that there is a way beneath the House of Xia to the ruins of the local Magisterium (magic school/library) and the magical obelisk.

Corwin, Elsa, and Rhys argue in favor of immediately entering the sewers. Giacomo, Hamfast, and Scully want to scout out the area, which includes a temple to Tiamat guarded by Draconians, but the others say that’s looking for trouble.

Tempestade ultimately decides to head straight to the obelisk. The spelunkers hide Rhys’ chest with a Stone Sphere, and he and Scully agree to travel with Tempestade through the portal, even as their companions prefer to stay behind.

Vistel’s Expedition makes its way to an alley between the House of Xia and the Angkir’s Oars bar, where a sewer spills into the Bedoni River…. Meanwhile, far to the northeast, a new band travels on the Balef River….

Drew, I hope that you and everybody else enjoyed your first regular session as “Rhys!” Don’t forget to keep your characters up to date on Obsidian Portal, especially as we approach “name level.”

I look forward to continuing our adventures next Monday, June 2, before we wrap up Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario and begin Bruce’s Pathfinder: “Eberron/Reign of Winter” miniseries.