“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.18 — Raven and revelations

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.18, which was held on Sunday, 4 May 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 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of spring 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. 5
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 5
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 5
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 5
  • 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. 5
  • 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. 5

“27 to 28 April 1227 B.C.E.:” A feast with Soske’s family revealed his prophesied destiny, information about Mt. Gruldar, and a potential assassination plot. The diplomatic escort began visiting various clan leaders, and the Shang crown prince arrived in the city of Sogewa.

Jung-Mo and Ember accompany Lady Yun Aei-Yong as the Gokuri emissary meets with more aristocrats in the capital of Tong Sheng. Sonny gives Soske’ 300 tael (150 gold pieces) for masterwork bracers.

Toshi asks Peng Arong, a Shengtese human earth elementalist from the Phoenix Clan, to look into the defense of Prince Zu Ji, who arrived with only 20 men rather than hundreds of soldiers as expected.

Soske’ asks Kiyoshi Takahashi, a priest at Our Fathers’ Steps, about his numerous encounters with Undead in his travels. After consulting with ancestral spirits, Takahashi says that although it’s not surprising that there are many corpses after recent wars, it’s possible that the dreaded Ghost Fleet on the Sea of Nagendwa is partly responsible for stirring up the unquiet dead.

At Silado Palace, Saigo keeps watch for the end of a meeting of Tong Sheng’s ruling council that Duke Kou Fei Seng hastily called after Zu Ji’s arrival from distant Yin. Instead of imperial guards, a band of mercenaries prevents any interlopers from entering the prince’s quarters.

After meeting with the Dragon and Lion clans, Jung-Mo, Sonny, and Ember join Lady Yun to the manor of the Crab Clan. Shengtese human Sonny recalls seeing an armored Samurai from that clan with a geisha at the House of the Red Lotus, but he keeps it to himself.

Spirit Folk Jung-Mo is surprised that Isamu Yasuki is rude to Nannuattan Lady Yun, but the Crab Clan chief’s candor about the end of hostilities between Tong Sheng and Gokuri is refreshing. Meanwhile, Hengeyokai Ember is curious about Jung-Mo’s frequent absences.

Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo spots Gen. Wang Tung and Zedu ambassador Saionji Yoshio leaving the council chambers. Gen. Wang, who once fought alongside Saigo’s missing grandfather Shinso, says little about the meeting.

Saionji discreetly tells Saigo that he and Lady Yun may soon be reporting to a different authority in Tong Sheng, hinting that Zu Ji may force Duke Kou Fei Seng to step aside. Shan Sao Toshi talks with Budoka Yoshimitsu, a Kitsune (fox person) gardener, and You Mi-Sook, a Kenku (raven folk) herbalist on the palace grounds.

At Kiyoshi’s recommendation, Soske’ consults Ye-Seng Yang, a Yamabushi of nature goddess Ami Koshi. The Shengtese human walks beyond Sogewa’s outermost canals to a lush garden, where he finds his fellow Cleric fishing and relaxing. They talk about finding peace and smiting unnatural monsters.

At the Crane Clan estate, Lady Rekai graciously welcomes Lady Yun, and they soon chat like old friends. Sonny is suspicious of the matron of Daidoji House, which maneuvered his own in the Lion Clan to disgrace. The Kensai makes a few pointed comments to Lady Yun to raise doubts about Daidoji’s honor and standing.

Wu Ember observes that members of the Crane Clan dress in a manner similar to crane Hengeyokai, probably to honor a common ancestor, even though they are not shapeshifters themselves. Merchant Jung-Mo arranges for dinner with Ember, who has also been courted by Kamachi Yushiro, a Lion Clan Samurai.

Samurai Saigo uses a combination of bluffing and stealth to get past Zu Ji’s entourage into his quarters. Wu-Jen Toshi shifts into black baza (bird) form to keep watch outside and notices a raven sitting on a nearby branch.

At first, Toshi is reminded of You Mi-Sook, but the raven gives him a sideways glance. The eastern Halfling Wizard flies to the ground as the raven changes to its true Nezumi (ratling) form.

Toshi casts Magic Missile and Steam Breath, injuring the would-be assassin. The Nezumi uses a blowgun to fire poisoned darts at Toshi before switching to shurikens. Toshi shakes off the paralytic and casts Cone of Cold.

Inside, Saigo eavesdrops on Zu Ji, who tells his men, “It’ll be anytime now,” but he doesn’t hear Toshi fighting outside. The Samurai tries to disbelieve, but the prince is who he says he is.

The Nezumi Ninja quaffs a healing potion but is held in place by Toshi’s Web spell. He hurls more shurikens before being slain by Enchanted Blade and Lightning Bolt spells.

Shukenja Soske’ reluctantly goes to the shrine run by his Uncle Jiro, who has heard all about his adventures, thanks to other nosy relatives such as Soske’s cousin Yao-Ren Hu. Soske’ is alarmed when Jiro suggests that perhaps someone murdered the priests serving the villages beset by Undead to enable such attacks.

At dinner, Jung-Mo gives Ember a bracelet with dragon charms, indicating that he suspects her true nature. He finally reveals his identity as a Nannuattan to the banished gold dragon. In addition, Jung-Mo shows Ember his wyvern egg.

Toshi casts Camouflage and climbs the tree to search the Nezumi. He finds three shurikens, a vial of poison, 2 platinum pieces, a pouch of gems, and a Ring of the Raven (shape change 3x/day, but violent handoffs).

Saigo manages to slip out of the barracks, and he and Toshi go to rejoin their companions and compare notes. They find only Sonny, who has been staying with Lady Yun and Oh Kum-Ja, her Draconian bodyguard.

Soske’ prays to the ancestral spirits for guidance. He uses Commune With Lesser Spirit to ask about the agents of Chaos and plague of Undead. The Shukenja learns that there are some in the palace, both recent arrivals and a longer-term presence.

Soske’ is also concerned when he finds out that his group is the only one fully aware of the imminent danger to the Principality of Silado….

It was great to see everyone online after a few weeks! We’ll likely be facing another break, with Mother’s Day, travel, and Memorial Day fast approaching. See my earlier post regarding one-shots and other options for when we don’t have quorum.

Let me know your availability, and I look forward to seeing some of you at upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” games and continuing our adventures! -Gene

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.13 — Tower and Tong

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.13, which was held on Sunday, 9 March 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 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of spring 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. 4
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 4
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 4
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 4
  • 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. 4
  • 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. 4

“12 to 16 April 1227 B.C.E.:” The wanderers questioned bandit Shiskikura Eiji about Undead farmers, and they smote ghoulish children at another abandoned farm. After confronting an angry mob of villagers, the group found and slayed three witches before deciding to leave Chin Mok.

Rather than stop in the villages of Chung Kwang Shui or Honeize, the team escorting Nannuattan emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong decides to head directly across the eastern Plains of Sathendo. The town of Kuan Chou is 540 li (about 120 miles) east of Chin Mok, and a canal leads 224 li (50 miles) from it to Sogewa, the capital of Tong Sheng.

For the first time in weeks, the party rides across the wide-open grasslands without being attacked by bandits, Undead, or summoned monsters. The spring rains, however, slow their horses and Jung-Mo’s carriage, in which Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja ride.

That night, Ember finds a campsite partly sheltered from the rain. While on first watch, Saigo notices Jung-Mo looking at a large egg inside a lacquered box. Saigo inquires about the unidentified brown and blue egg, and Jung-Mo asks him to keep it between them.

Later, during a thunderstorm, lightning illuminates a tower on a nearby hill. Sonny and Ember wake Saigo to report what they saw, and he agrees that it may be worth investigating on the way the next morning.

Toshi and Soske’ spot lights in the pagoda during the third and final watch of the night. The next morning, Jung-Mo and Toshi scout ahead. The Yakuza is stealthy, and the Wu Jen casts Chameleon for camouflage.

Jung-Mo senses movement within the stone tower and begins scaling it. Toshi casts Know History and learns that the pagoda is named Kai Sou Xian Haknam, or “the castle of Master Haknam.”

Unfortunately, Jung-Mo kicks out a loose brick and has to use Levitate to keep from falling or being seen by a guard. Toshi hides and Detects Magic from a number of sources. Wu Ember shifts into crane form and flies overhead to check on her companions.

They regroup with Saigo, Soske’ and the horses. The adventuring party decides to give the tower a wide berth. Samurai Saigo recognizes a pennant flying from the top as belonging to Zhan-Shi Hu Ho, a disgraced officer in the Shengtese army.

The next night, Spirit Folk Saigo and Jung-Mo hear animals but are not attacked during their watch. The caravan continues eastward, with no other people in sight. The Kwang Shui, Hothe, and Kuo Lui streams are easily forded, and the diplomatic escort arrives at the bustling town of Kuan Chou.

Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ know their way around. The Kensai is wary of certain clans, and the Shukenja hopes to avoid his meddling family. Shan Sao Toshi practices his martial arts in the morning with Sonny and asks about a Magisterium (magic school).

Saigo talks with Lady Yun about her plans for Sogewa. The representative of Gokuri says that she shouldn’t need an escort as she relays the truce to Duke Kou Fei Seng, but she will eventually need to travel north, to Bazran Hai in Saigo’s homeland of the Zedu kingdom.

Like Jung-Mo and Saigo, Ember hasn’t been to a large human city before, so she hopes to go sightseeing. While Saigo is still searching for his missing grandfather, Hengeyokai Ember wants to evade notice.

Saigo, Toshi, and Soske’ report to the local garrison at Kuan Chou. They meet Hiroshi Sanlang, a young warrior who recommends the “Happy Duck” hotel. The trio also passes vagrants and searches for a Magisterium but finds none.

Meanwhile, Ember, Sonny, and Jung-Mo stay with Lady Yun and Oh Kum Ja at the town gate. Chain master Sonny observes Monks among the street performers and acrobats, and Druid Ember looks out for fellow shapeshifters. Merchant Jung-Mo points out gangs of young men who might belong to the Tong or Yakuza.

Ember notices that the carriage’s curtain pulled aside, and Sonny asks Lady Yun to be more discreet. He leaves Jung-Mo at the reins as he runs after someone suspicious who has spotted the Dark Elf. After a brief chase, Sonny corners the man in an alley.

The goon tries to shove Sonny into a wall, but the Kensai dodges and punches him in the stomach. Despite being winded, the man calls for help and pulls a balisong (butterfly knife) from his orange sash.

Saigo, Toshi, and Jung-Mo return to the carriage and horses, and Ember sends Saigo and Toshi after Sonny. Ember and Jung-Mo look for a stable to get out of the street, while the others ask a beggar for directions.

Sonny tries to sweep his opponent’s leg, but he is nimble. Sonny strikes twice as Toshi and Saigo race members of the town guard to the scene. Wizard Toshi casts Updraft, lifting the man 30 feet and dropping him.

Saigo stalls the police by explaining how his friend was almost mugged. They find the man in the orange sash with broken bones. The sentries send for a healer and take the unconscious man into custody, but they also ask the knight and company to stay in town for a day or so in case they have further questions.

The travelers go to the “Happy Duck,” where they plan to take a barge on the canal between the Chuan Hosun and Chung Hsien rivers to speed their trip from Kuan Chou to Sogewa, capital of the Principality of Silado….

Remember to review your Player Character records on Obsidian Portal and let me know of any changes. In addition, note that our next “A New Dawn” virtual session on Sunday, 16 March 2014, will start a little later, around 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, because I’ll be getting back from a concert.

I also enjoyed last night’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” face-to-face game, and I look forward to resuming Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario next Monday. Don’t forget to reply to Thomas K.Y. regarding upcoming movies.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.11 — “Dude, you’re dead!”

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.11, which was held on Sunday, 23 February 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 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of spring 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. 4
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 4
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 4
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 4
  • 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. 4
  • 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. 4

“8 to 9 April 1227 B.C.E.:” After a giant flaming boar attack on the village of Chin Mok, the wanderers visited a desecrated grove. There, they met a strange girl, who turned into a horse-headed monster. They slayed the Tikbalang but had questions about who summoned it.

Jung-Mo and Toshi look for disreputable types who may know where Wolfen bounty hunter Ivor Bloodpelt may have gone. Jung-Mo poses as a Yakuza, and Toshi changes to baza (bird) form.

Meanwhile, Saigo and Soske’ visit the village elders. They report to mayor Fong Kien and militia leader Yang Kuang, who says that Ivor hastily left Chin Mok, do doubt feeling guilty over disturbing the nearby sacred grove while hunting Shiskikura Eiji, a Tsucharim human Yamen-Ren (Barbarian) bandit.

In addition, Sonny and Ember return to the “Pelican’s Chin” inn, where they check on Lady Yun Aei-Yong, the Nannuattan emissary from Gokuri, and Oh-Kum Jah, her Draconian guard. They also look for tea houses and other drinking establishments.

Jung-Mo and Toshi find three people rolling bones at the edge of the village — a female Wolfen trapper, a Tsucharim (Mongol-style) human lumberjack, and a dusty Tsucharim drover. Marina Snowcrunch, Yarin Gavrovich, and Vladek Ilyanov let Jung-Mo gamble with them.

Yarin repeats a rumor that Ivor left because he had fallen out of favor with the local council, and Vladek wins a few tael. Wu-Jen Toshi watches the dice but can’t communicate openly with Jung-Mo. Marina eventually mentions that she and Ivor frequented hunting camps not far from Chin Mok.

Yang Kuang directs Saigo and Soske’ to Takara Yoshifumi, a bowyer/fletcher occasionally patronized by Ivor. The Samurai and Shukenja find the archery shop ransacked, with three quivers of broad-headed, hollow-point, and flight arrows and some food missing. The Hulinyuan says that Ivor was a decent customer.

Sonny meets geisha Takabe Miho and acquires a room to talk. The thin woman says she wants to go to the city of Sogewa and performs for the Kensai. Ember, who posed as his companion, is accosted by an angry farmer’s wife. Ji-Sil Yuen accuses the Wu of low morals, saying that women like her and Miho have corrupted three missing peasants.

After losing a few coins, Jung-Mo wins 12 tael (6 gold pieces) and discreetly eases out of conversation. Toshi distracts the gamblers by flying in front of a horse-drawn cabbage cart, upsetting it, and they head back to the “Pelican’s Chin.”

Takabe says he has no enemies, but Saigo and Soske’ notice a broken window latch and tracks outside leading north. They also return to the inn to rendezvous with their adventuring party.

Jung-Mo, Toshi, Saigo, and Soske’ find Ember being yelled at by Ji-Sil Yuen. Ember stands abruptly, her honor as a former member of the Celestial Court insulted. Toshi loudly tells Ember that there’s no need to kill someone so far beneath her, and Yuen bows to Saigo before quickly retreating.

Jung-Mo stops Yuen outside the tea house and learns that a few farmers have been missing for days. Most wives assumed that they had fled for shame, but planting season waits for no man. Jung-Mo and friends suspect that the missing peasants are related to the Tikbalang summoning, Ivor, and Shiskikura.

Jung-Mo runs upstairs to check on Sonny, followed by Saigo, who asks Soske’ for holy water. They find Saigo and the geisha otherwise engaged but not in any obvious danger. Jung-Mo keeps watch, and Saigo goes back downstairs to strategize.

Toshi and Ember check on Lady Yun, who agrees that the missing bounty hunter, bandit, and farmers are worth investigating. Sometime later, the wanderers regroup and follow the tracks north, through untended fields.

Soske’ notices empty farmhouses and casts Protection From Evil on Sonny and Saigo. Toshi casts Detect Magic and senses something from one of the seemingly empty buildings. Jung-Mo prays to the ancestors, and Ember shifts to crane form.

Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo draws his katana, which Shengtese human Soske’ temporarily enchants, and kicks the door in. The room reeks, and three men are tied up to chairs. They have tried to kick at objects in the room to get the attention of passers-by. Shengtese Sonny watches the area.

Outside, Spirit Folk Jung-Mo sees movement behind the farmhouse, and stealthy Shan Sao Toshi casts Web, preventing someone in a furred cloak from retreating. Hengeyokai Ember flies ahead and Wild Shapes into a bear.

Saigo ungags the farmers, who claim that Ji-Sil Yuen captured them in vengeance for her husband’s infidelity. However, he notices that the three aren’t breathing and says, “Dude, you’re dead.” Sonny sees that they have been systematically bled over three days.

Jung-Mo and Soske’ fire arrows at the runner, whom Ember confirms is the Yamen-Ren. Toshi casts Magic Missiles, which appear as orange daggers.

Soske’ confirms that the three struggling men, who ask to be unbound, are incipient Undead. Sonny draws his kama, and he and Saigo behead them. Toshi is exasperated at not being able to question them, but Ember knocks down the Barbarian and restrains him.

Jung-Mo notes that there are still many unanswered questions, and the groupprepares to secure the farm and look for more clues….

Thanks again to everyone for your feedback as we convert your characters to the latest D20/FATE hybrid house rules! Note that the “A New Dawn” party is now Fourth Level. I’ll post the latest refinements separately.

I look forward to seeing some of you at Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den”superhero session tonight, and remember that the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” game resumes in mid-March.

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

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.33, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 17 February 2014:

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. The “Vanished Lands” were blessed by the gods and cursed by prophecy. Travelers became adventurers, and adventurers strove to be heroes in the face of many perils and wonders.

Various groups of mercenaries and diplomats have fought humanoids in the northwestern borderlands, encountered pirates on the Sea of Nagendwa, and wandered the hostile Halmed Desert and the wide Plains of Sathendo….

“Vistel’s Circus,” Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s ” Vanished Lands ” heroic fantasy campaign, using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, as of spring 2014:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 7
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda (proto-Germanic) human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 7
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 7
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 6
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with Banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 6
  • Sir Torrel [Alex W.]-male Hifalendorin human Paladin of Otih, the lord of the sun and justice; LGn, Lvl. 6
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 5

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

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

A lost African city
Ancient ruins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classic D&D Player's Handbook
Dungeon idol

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

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

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

“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Update 39.32 — “Almost too stupid to die”

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.32, which Rich C.G. hosted in Waltham, Mass., on Monday, 3 February 2014:

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. The “Vanished Lands” were blessed by the gods and cursed by prophecy. Travelers became adventurers, and adventurers strove to be heroes in the face of many perils and wonders.

Various groups of mercenaries and diplomats have fought humanoids in the northwestern borderlands, encountered pirates on the Sea of Nagendwa, and wandered the hostile Halmed Desert and the wide Plains of Sathendo….

“Vistel’s Circus,” Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign, using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, as of spring 2014:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda (proto-Germanic) human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 6
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 6
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 6
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with Banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 6
  • Sir Torrel [Alex W.]-male Hifalendorin human Paladin of Otih, the lord of the sun and justice; LGn, Lvl. 6
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 5

“11 to 15 February 1227 B.C.E.:” On the way from Tarvulis Island to Bokor Isle, the Sea Elven schooner Foamrunner encountered a violent storm, a Siren disguised as a shipwreck victim, and a Kuo Toa in a chariot drawn by sharks. Scully sensed a frightful presence, possibly a dragon.

At the open port of Laguro, Elsa befriended fellow brewer Ghalil ibn Rashid. At the “GlassCraft” shop and officers’ club, experienced plane traveler “Milos Volorn” [Beruk] gave time-displaced Tempestade advice and provided more magic items.

The onetime circus performers then leave the pirate haven and sails eastward on the Sea of Nagendwa. The group decides to split into two away teams at the port of Riku on Salhonif Island.

However, Tempestade notices that the Foamrunner has slowed. He looks over the rail and is raked by toothed tentacles! Tempestade alerts Capt. Scarlet and the rest of the crew and passengers about the giant squid attack.

Cephalopod eats ship
Squid bait!

Mighty Hamfast swings his new war hammer at the beast, and Giacomo casts Magic Missiles in the form of force arrows. The northern humans sever two of the squid’s limbs.

Hill Dwarf Elsa summons a water Elemental, whom she nicknames “Puddles.” The cephalopod strikes Tempestade and Hamfast, but Sir Torrel misses with his sword. Gnoll Scully fires arrows from the crow’s next but also misses the writhing tentacles.

Tempestade dodges rubbery appendages, while Corwin struggles to help the Sea Elven sailors with damage control. Giacomo and Hamfast continue to pummel the squid, and Elsa sends “Puddles” to hit its center mass. She also readies Call Lightning.

In a burst of ink, the giant squid swims away. Sometime later, the Foamrunnerarrives at Riku and sends dinghys to bring the two squads ashore. Capt. Scarlet agrees to return in a week. Giacomo, Scully, and Tempestade enter the town first.

Mage Giacomo inquires about lodgings and finds the “Vine Inn” nestled among the roots of a giant banyan tree. Ranger Scully dons a piratical eyepatch and sells the severed tentacles. Dark-skinned Monk Tempestade enjoys the warm, humid surroundings and blends in with the local people.

The second away team consists of Elsa, Hamfast, Sir Torrel, and Corwin. Druid Elsa leaves her brewing gear on the Foamrunner and poses as a botanist collecting plant and soil samples. Fighter Hamfast and Paladin Torrel serve as guards, and Bard Corwin is easily distracted by attractive women.

Giacomo puts on scholar’s robes and sits down to a dinner of smoked goat and lentil stew with Tempestade. Scully talks with Layla Star-Eyes, a Zarendo human and captain of the Silver Manta. The corsair tries to recruit Scully and explains that most tribes in the archipelago are matriarchal.

On their way to the inn, the second squad stops in the market. Elsa notices trade in coffee, cocoa, and fruits and buys some mango wine. Hamfast is smitten with Tineka, an Ophidian N’anga (snake woman Cleric) of Tiamat who invites him to spend the night at her hatchery for the community’s Reptile Folk.

Sir Torrel notices something flying low overhead. The curious Hifalendorin knight follows the avian humanoid to a second-story ledge, where the Aarakocra passes a message to someone inside. Elsa overhears snippets of conversation in Infernal.

The two teams meet at the inn before going to a round rented house. Giacomo contacts Makena Walabu, the wife of a local hunter referred by Milos as a guide. Elsa and Corwin calculate costs in Riku at 20 gold pieces per person for food, lodging, clothing, and supplies for their tropical expedition.

That night, Giacomo, his homunculus familiar Gerald, and Tempestade go to a tavern. Hamfast helps Tineka keep the hatchery warm and shares his dream of making his name in the barbaric port of Gisar.

Scully stealthily follows Hamfast and keeps watch from a discreet distance to make sure the Zeda human comes to no harm from the priestess of the mother of chromatic dragons. Elsa arranges with Makena to hire porters for the jungle.

Sir Torrel and Elsa track down the Aarakocra. Colorfully plumaged Kito says he is a messenger. When the outlanders mention that they are headed to the city-state of Selifa for sightseeing, Kito recommends a slight detour to Estu, a ruined Lizard Folk village now inhabited by intelligent apes.

At the tavern, Giacomo introduces himself as “Mortimer,” and Tempestade names himself “Miguel.” Lizard Man prospector Nopaltzin [Brian W./ Non-Player Character] buys a round for everyone, but Keilana Sirocco [Sara/N.P.C.] steals some of his gold.

Overly friendly barflies Sridan Vasuprisan [Rich/N.P.C.] and Oyabu [Alex/N.P.C.] get Mortimer drunk and offer to bring him upstairs. Watchful Miguel shoves them back, starting a bar brawl. Nopaltzin happily wades into the mayhem.

Mortimer throws up, and curious Keilana lifts up his cloak, revealing Gerald. The thief screams. Miguel tosses banana beer at Sridan, and Mortimer shakily casts Sleep, incapacitating Oyabu. Sridan grabs Gerald by the neck and runs out.

Keilana searches Oyabu’s pockets and knocks him out a second time while Tempestade and Giacomo run after Sridan. Giacomo casts Magic Missile at Sridan, freeing winged marionette Gerald to fly back to him. Tempestade drags Giacomo and Gerald back to the rented house.

The next morning, Giacomo nurses a hangover, as well as a fever. Makena confirms that a tribe of apes lives in Estu and adds that they were rumored to have been drawn there by the “Eye of Heaven,” a magical gem.

As the group enters the rain forest, Druid Elsa casts Endure Elements on her companions. Hamfast applies “Satim’s Bane,” an alchemical insect repellent, but Sir Torrel suffers in full armor. The porters carry water, food, and camping gear on long poles.

The adventuring party hacks its way north into the jungle, surrounded by the strange sounds of birds, monkeys, and other creatures. Tempestade expresses doubts about whether he can persuade the group to help him free fellow slaves in his own time, but Giacomo notes that there are places for them to resettle.

Scully scouts ahead and climbs a tree for a better look. The tree canopy stretches east, while a grassy savannah is to the west, and Mount Tilefa smokes far to the north. Shedding fur, Scully climbs as high as the branches will bear her, and she spots pterodactyls circling overhead.

The Ranger is further surprised when she realizes that something large is munching leaves right next to her! She offers a branch to the placid brachiosaurus and hears another dinosaur approaching.

Makena identifies it as a “Mouth That Walks,” and the caravan scatters. Elsa sticks with Makena, Corwin, and the porters, as Tempestade uses his enchanted boots to ascend into the trees. Scully slides into sniping position and draws her bow.

A tyrannosaurus rex bites into the brachiosaur’s neck and leaps onto its back, tearing out hunks of flesh. Giacomo and Hamfast back away, and Sir Torrel readies a Spirit Hammer. Bloodthirsty pterosaurs and velociraptors arrive to share in the kill.

Elsa switches from Calm Animal to Wind Wall, pushing back raptors pursuing the retreating wanderers. Tempestade talks with animals to dissuade one scavenger from from attacking. Scully uses the Lens of True Sight to discern that the tyrannosaurus and some of the other reptiles are in fact people transformed by the Pit Fiend at Mt. Tilefa.

Another raptor runs after Hamfast and Sir Torrel, but Giacomo casts Sleep on it. The explorers are more cautious as they continue through the jungle toward Estu, where they see apes and Wemics….

It was good to see most of you last night, and thanks again, Rich, for hosting. Happy Birthday to Sara and Bruce! Sara, I hope you feel better soon, and Bruce, enjoy Winter Fantasy!

I look forward to resuming the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom campaign next Sunday. Jason E.R. and I will let everyone know when his “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” and my “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” games will meet in February.