“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Session 39.31 — Peril and pirates

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.31, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 13 January 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

“4 to 10 February 1227 B.C.E.:” The onetime circus performers had traveled from the city of Falit to a former dragon’s lair on Tarvulis Island. There, they consulted arcane and divine spellcasters on how to rescue an Efreet held prisoner by a greater Devil, how to travel through time and space to free slaves, and how to fight the dreaded Ghost Fleet.

However, not everything went as planned. In a scrying chamber, Giacomo was temporarily overcome by the “Mad Mage” Ezra, trapped in a tattoo on his back. Hamfast and Tempestade briefly visited the barbaric port of Gisar, thanks to mischievous pseudodragon Tequila.

Scully played with a Giff’s blunderbuss, and Elsa compared notes on the accursed ailment known as Scourge and on the cult of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom, with Drow Wizard “Vasec” [Alex J./Non-Player Character] and Zarendo human Cleric “Tondra” [Rob A.S./N.P.C.].

Corwin asked for magic to help save Lady Shadira, the Efreet Polymorphed into a Shambling Mound by Pit Fiend “Schm*ckF*ck” on Salhonif Island. Sir Torrel had a run-in with a giant leech but fared better against a hydra.

Vasec creates a Lens of True Sight , which Scully carries for the adventuring party to find Lady Shadira. The explorers reboard the schooner Foamrunner, which Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elf) Capt. Scarlet takes south across the Sea of Nagendwa.

Scully takes a dip in the warm waters with some of the Foamrunner’s crew. Thanks in part to her magic items, the Flind is a strong swimmer, and she enjoys chasing tropical fish. Her friends are less happy about the smell of wet dog, but Elsa casts Create Water to help wash off the salt.

The Sea Elves pause on deck, and Capt. Scarlet later explains to Tempestade that they were praying as they passed over a holy site. Sir Torrel, who had recently joined the Order of the Golden Lion in Falit with Scully, casts Sense Weather and warns of an imminent change.

The swift ship’s passengers and crew are battered during a violent storm. Hamfast and Tempestade are bruised while being tossed around in their cabins, while Giacomo, Elsa, Scully, and Sir Torrel hang onto the main (top) deck.

When the storm eventually passes, Capt. Scarlet notes to Corwin and company that the moon and stars aren’t yet visible through clouds, so she doesn’t know how far off course they are. Elsa casts Know Direction to help resume their journey.

A day or so later, the sailors spot someone clinging onto a floating chest. Corwin, Elsa, and Sir Torrel take a dinghy out to investigate. Back on the Foamrunner, Hamfast spots the dorsal fins of approaching sharks.

As Corwin reaches out to the apparent shipwreck survivor, she tosses her hair back, revealing her beautiful features. However, Elsa, who has shifted into seal form, sees fins instead of human legs beneath the waves!

Sir Torrel casts Detect Evil, which reveals malicious intent. The woman gazes at Corwin, to no effect, so she starts singing, enthralling Hamfast and Scully. From the Foamrunner, Barbari human Tempestade hurls sling stones at the Siren.

Half-Elf Corwin draws his sword, drawing first blood from the amphibian. Hill Dwarf Elsa shifts to shark form and swims into battle. Albino Gnoll Scully fires arrows, and Zeda human Hamfast readies a harpoon for the sharks on the opposite side of the ship.

Hifalendorin humans Giacomo and Sir Torrel prepare spells. Giacomo’s Magic Missile misfires, turning his hands red. Torrel’s Protection From Evil deafens him to the alluring Siren’s song.

Meanwhile, Hamfast spots a sled or chariot behind the two sharks, and a Kuo Toa driver approaches the Foamrunner. Monk Tempestade maneuvers on deck to see both enemies. Bard Corwin begins a countersong to drown out the Siren and free his friends.

Still in shark form, Druid Elsa swims over to the other sharks and casts Calm Animal. They slow their approach, causing the aquatic chariot to sink. Ranger Scully stares helplessly at the Siren.

Hamfast fires a harpoon at the Kuo Toa, but the fish man pulls it out and throws it back at the Fighter. Wizard Giacomo’s Fireball also fizzles, but Paladin Sir Torrel’s Silence is effective in breaking the Siren’s spell. She dives beneath the rowboat.

Corwin casts Death Armor on himself, as Elsa swims around the Foamrunner. Scully looks for a foe who’s not submerged, and Hamfast again fires the harpoon at the Kuo Toa.

The Siren leaps out of the water at Corwin, and Sir Torrel slices her in twain, distracting the sharks. Giacomo casts Sphere of Force, killing the Kuo Toa, which Hamfast reels back to the ship. Those in the dinghy retrieve the bobbing chest.

Scully claims the Kuo Toa’s malachite locket before Capt. Scarlet orders it tossed back into the sea. In the chest, Corwin finds 50 silver pieces, and Sir Torrel claims a Potion of Fire Resistance. Elsa privately pays Capt. Scarlet extra for the risks to her crew.

The next night, Scully awakens in a panic. She hears leathery wings and slowly climbs to the crow’s nest. There, Scully finds Fingonel, a young Sea Elf sailor, cowering in terror. In the morning, Tempestade and Elsa attend to the panicked women, noting that a dragon or devil could have flown overhead.

Sir Torrel reiterates his vow to smite evil, and Capt. Scarlet notes that theFoamrunner is no longer passing over or through the Coral Kingdom. She warns of Aboleth, psionic and fiendish fish of the deep.

The away team prepares to go to the open port of Laguro on Bokor Island, where it hopes to consult an experienced plane traveler known as “Valoren.” Albino scout Scully recommends disguises and dyes her fur. Sir Torrel pulls on a hooded cloak and uses his new Amulet of Conceal Alignment.

Giacomo, Hamfast, Corwin, and Elsa say that their group is motley enough to blend in with corsairs and swashbucklers. Capt. Scarlet says she’ll return in a few days rather than draw too much unwanted attention.

The group finds a ramshackle but growing pirate town and walks to the “Otter’s Oil” tavern, passing a small arena on the way. The new arrivals see a mix of human nationalities, a few Reptile Folk, and a Shalverin (short aquatic humanoid). The rough crowd pays little heed to Bokor Island’s newcomers.

A wretched hive of scum and villainy
The “Otter’s Oil” in Laguro, on Bokor Isle

After chatting with innkeeper Tara MacAlister, Elsa tries a gelatinous drink — carrion crawler juice! Giacomo and Scully stick with berry wine, and Hamfast and Corwin taste slightly skunky ale. Sir Torrel orders milk and then is surly to maintain his cover.

Tara tells Elsa of her supplier, Ghalil ibn Rashid, and that Valoren can be found at “GlassCraft,” a shop selling spyglasses to ship captains. After reserving cheap rooms and finishing their meal, the travelers head back out into Laguro’s winding streets.

Ghalil turns out to be a tall Suthern (proto-Arabic) human whose shop is a tangle of copper pipes, hot cauldrons, and a mill grinding mash. He eagerly shows fellow brewer Elsa his exotic ingredients such as a dinosaur egg and rotten carcasses, which the rest of the group finds nauseating.

Elsa and Ghalil trade recipes, and she trades for potent potables including “Devil’s Piss.” At the large GlassCraft shop, Nubian archer Djekari escorts the visitors to a showroom. They see well-dressed pirates such as Chundo Arcil, the cigar-smoking captain of the “Hangman’s Skull,” ogling spyglasses, crystal balls, and miniature ships in bottles.

The former members of “Vistel’s Circus” are then taken past club rooms, where they see plush chairs and gambling tables. Giacomo is blocked by a “cold steel”-bound inner chamber. “Milos Volorn” [Beruk] welcomes the others and eventually explains that, like Tempestade, he isn’t originally from the “Vanished Lands.”

The Barbari human Rogue/Gatecrasher listens to Tempestade’s tale and suggests that there may be multiple ways home in addition to the obelisk in Gisar. Milos knows of Vasec, the devil at the the volcanic temple, the dreaded Ghost Fleet, and more.

He trades information for a letter of referral from Prince Corwin to set up a shop in the kingdom of Saganim. In addition, Milos says that he’ll see if there’s anyone who can guide the group to Queen Zapanga in Selifa.

Elsa agrees to help one of Milos’ contacts join Vistel’s Circus on the mainland. She also asks for a model of the Foamrunner. Milos provides coins from his homeworld so that contacts will recognize the party.

The associate of the “Liberators,” “Dragonslayers,” and “Holy Steel” gives the would-be heroes the following items:

  • Blindfold of Blindsight — Tempestade
  • Cold steel (antimagical alloy) warhammer — Hamfast
  • Dust of Dryness, in a glass sphere — held by Elsa
  • Hat of Disguise — carried by Corwin for the party
  • Quiver of Elhonna — Scully
  • Sword Brooch — Sir Torrel

Corwin and Elsa thank Milos for his generosity, and the party prepares to leave for its infiltration of Salhonif Island in the Zarendo Archipelago….

I hope that everybody enjoyed our three “Vistel’s Circus” sessions on consecutive Mondays! While Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario (using Icons) will begin in the next two weeks, I look forward to resuming our adventures on Feb. 3, weather permitting.

In the meantime, thanks again to Brian and Rich for hosting, and remember to use the Yahoo/eGroups message board between games. Some of you get to continue in the “Vanished Lands” with the “New Dawn” telecom team on Sundays.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.8 — New in town

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.8, which was held on Sunday, 12 January 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

  • 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. 2
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 2
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 2
  • 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. 2
  • 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. 2
Shang Tao
Shengtese river town of Shang Tao

“24 to 31 March 1227 B.C.E.:” The adventuring party had to fight its way out of a Gokuri outpost because Byong Sudae, its Nannuattan commander, was once a rival of diplomat Lady Yun Aei-Yong. The group narrowly escaped and returned to the Balef River.

The boatmen push the three barges southward, away from Dulthor. Saigo notices someone trying to keep out of sight and keep up on the western shore. Ember shifts to crane form to observe. She sees two Tsucharim (Mongol-style) human scouts and flies back to her companions to report.

Soske’ reassures Saigo that the two men won’t be able to keep up with the boats. He then serves tea while Jung-Mo provides impromptu entertainment by singing and dancing. Sonny and Toshi talk with Lady Yun, who says that pursuit is less likely as they travel eastward toward Sogewa, capital of the Principality of Silado/Tong Sheng.

After a day’s travel, the emissary and her escorts arrive at the walled town of Shang Tao. Su Yuwei and the other boatmen unload the horses and Jung-Mo’s carriage (discreetly containing Lady Yun and her Draconian guard Oh Kum-Ja). They bid farewell, since the team plans to head inland.

Shang Tao plan
Shang Tao from above

The party checks into the Ouzino Guest House. “River Spirit Folk” Jung-Mo and Shengtese human Soske’ share a room, but the former goes out to gamble while the latter looks for sake. Shengtese Sonny shares lodgings with Shan Sao Toshi, who builds a nest to sleep in.

Rather than spend more time with cloaked Lady Yun and Oh Kum-Ja, Hengeyokai Ember gets a room to herself, as does Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo. The group rests after its recent battles.

The next morning, the wanderers take turns guarding Lady Yun and exploring Shang Tao. Wu-Jen Toshi and Samurai Saigo visit Ii Yoshiyuki, a Korobokuru (eastern Dwarf) weapon smith.

Sonny walks by barracks by stone gate. The Kensai buys drinks for guards Yang Kong and Lo Jaini. The male Bushi (pikeman) is only too happy to chat about recent wars, while the female Ashigaru (archer) is more reticent, if less able to hold her liquor.

Wu Ember and Shukenja Soske’ attend to the steeds, including Toshi’s donkey Wako and Saigo’s warhorse Black Wind. Merchant Jung-Mo continues to flirt with Ember and spar verbally with Sonny.

Soske’ also asks Lady Yun and Oh Kum-Ja if there’s anything they want, since their movements are restricted in the human town. The Nannuattan asks for whatever is a local delicacy, and her Draconian follower requests a whole chicken.

Saigo trades excess knives, swords, and naginatas (pole arms) with Ii Yoshiyuki for arrows for the party. Toshi asks about shurikens (throwing stars), and the smith sends him to one Choi Gyong-Si. Saigo also asks where he can find a geisha and is referred to the “Wolf’s Den.”

With his priestly robes and staff, Soske’ is unsurprised by the friendly reception he receives in the marketplace. He haggles for charhar-aina (plates to wear over other armor) and a buckler (small shield). Fellow spellcaster Ember decides to hold off on buying lamellar armor, but fortuneteller Marala Soniakova and some jewelry catch her eye.

Toshi stops by the Ouzino Guest House to get Jung-Mo. They track down Choi Gyong-Si, who turns out to be a Bakemono (eastern Goblin) dung sweeper. They exchange not-so-subtle hints, and Choi takes the duo into an alley to show them his wares, including shurikens and Whippets (incendiary boomerangs).

Toshi then heads back to keep watch on Lady Yun, whom the party suspects of causing trouble on behalf of Queen Kagejusko. Sonny climbs to a quiet rooftop to practice with his chains.

On the recommendation of innkeeper Dao Ying-Ye, Soske’ buys freshly braised lamb and a chicken from butcher Yang Baio. He brings the food back to the guest house, where Jung-Mo and Ember return just in time for a lunch feast.

On his way to the “Wolf’s Den,” Saigo encounters triple-breasted Oni (Ogre Mage) Ahn Myng-Sun. He resists her amorous advances but buys her a drink. Saigo eventually meets Ikeda Hiroko, a River Spirit Folk musician.

From his perch, Sonny notices a group of Shengtese soldiers riding from the local lord’s tower. They ride about the town, and Sonny recognizes that they’re retracing his party’s steps. The martial artist jumps from roof to roof to warn those at the inn.

Rather than expose Lady Yun to awkward questions or worse, Soske’ stalls a guard at the door to their suite. Jung-Mo slips away and retrieves Saigo, who reluctantly rejoins the group.

A sentry explains that the visitors are summoned to an audience with “Jin Young” [John E./Non-Player Character], the local lord. They take their time getting to the tower. Saigo and Soske’ explain their mission to escort the representative of the kingdom of Gokuri to the capitals of Tong Sheng and Zedu.

Jin Young doesn’t believe that Gokuri will honor any truce with its neighbors, but he says that he’ll obey Gen. Shin Kyong-tsu and Duke Kou Fei Seng’s wishes. The local ruler considers attacking weakened Dulthor, but the wanderers recommend against prolonging border warfare.

Jin Young orders his troops to escort the visitors back to the Ouzino Guest House. Jung-Mo and Sonny keep a low profile, as do Lady Yun and Oh Kum-Ja. They prepare to leave the next morning.

Toshi and Soske’ pay their respects to the ancestors after talking to Phoenix Clan priest Zhan-Shi Yun at shrines to the Path of Order. Toshi later visits herbalist Lee Xiumin and is referred to Shan Sao woodworker Honda Maiko.

Ember buys a silver bracelet to match her magical necklace and accompanies Toshi to Honda Maiko’s shop. They buy ornately carved tiger and dragon talismans, which Toshi promises to animate. Meanwhile, Saigo goes back to Hiroko at the “Wolf’s Den.”

Among other things, Soske’ acquires the following supplies from River Spirit Folk trader Hojo Masaharu, whom he Blesses in thanks:

  • Bedrolls, blankets, and tents
  • Feed for the animals, wicker baskets
  • Food and water, six days’ worth for eight people (48 days)
  • Tools: axe, crowbar, rake, shovel, tinder box

After the party leaves Shang Tao, Soske’ suggests heading across the eastern Plains of Sathendo south to Chin Mok rather than east to Chung Kwang Shui, as the group had originally planned and told people….

It was good to see everyone online, and I’m glad to see the “A New Dawn” party back on the road! I also look forward to seeing some of you at tonight’s “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” face-to-face game or at next week’s character-generation session for Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario (using Icons).

“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Session 30 — Tarvulis Island: Tequila, tattoo, and Tondra

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.30, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 6 January 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

“1 to 3 February 1227 B.C.E.:” In the city of Falit, Giacomo claimed a favor from Darius Gaspar, Scully joined the Order of the Golden Lion, and Tempestade prepared to return to his former plantation. Corwin and Elsa verified objectives in the Zarendo Islands.

Sir Torrel met the Mamluks, the caliph’s elite warriors. Later on the Sea of Nagendwa, Hamfast and the passengers and crew of the Sea Elven schooner “Foamrunner” fought an Undead shark, possibly part of the dreaded Ghost Fleet.

At Tarvulis Island, the former circus performers consult “Vasec” [Alex J./Non-Player Character], a Drow Archmage and Loremaster. The onetime circus performers need help rescuing Lady Shadira, an Efreet (fire spirit), from a greater Devil on Salhonif Island.

Spellcasters Giacomo, Corwin, and Elsa conduct research in Vasec’s library. Restless Hamfast decides to wander around the tropical island, and Tempestade and Sir Torrel join him. Scully talks with Nevada Sphereskimmer, a Giff (hippo-like) adept.

Wizard Giacomo reads about dimensional magic such as Banishment but is interrupted by Tequila, Vasec’s curious pseudodragon familiar. Half-Elf Bard Corwin also copies arcane spells while keeping an eye out for Serina, a Tiefling (demon-blooded) student.

Dwarf Druid Elsa finds letters describing studies done by Vasec and others on the Undead pirates commanded by “Capt. Jack Kildare” [Randy K.M./N.P.C.]. They describe attempts to find a contagion that could affect bearers of the Scourge.

Scully and Nevada go outside so that he can demonstrate his blunderbuss. The Giff’s primitive firearm fires only on the third attempt, but its recoil almost knocks down the Gnoll Ranger.

Hamfast, Tempestade, and Sir Torrel leave the former “Liberator’s” stronghold and cross the caldera of Tarvulis Island’s inactive volcano. They see two other peaks. A balloon floats near one, dropping experimental explosives. They decide to head to the third one.

Unfortunately, Torrel falls in some mud, and a giant leech attaches itself to his neck. The Paladin’s friends bring him back to the Vasec’s Magisterium (magic school/library) in the former dragon lair, where Elsa, Goblin scribe Durange, and Akkadian human Dornamu can attend to him.

Fighter Hamfast and Monk Tempestade again venture into the jungle. They find fresh graves and decide to head back to the beach to hail the Foamrunner. However, Tequila appears and asks for rum. Tempestade shares some, and he and Hamfast suddenly find themselves in the gray streets of Gisar!

Hamfast is happy to be back north and buys a turnip from a passing cart. Although Tempestade hopes to use an obelisk in the barbaric port to get back to his distant homeland and rescue fellow slaves, he isn’t pleased about the cold weather.

After buying drinks at the “Broken Lance” bar, Hamfast and Tempestade join the raucous crowd watching two Wolven fight a Minotaur in the Vistani Arena, far from the Zarendo Islands.

Meanwhile, on Tarvulis Island, Serina senses that something is awry and tells Corwin that two of his companions have left the island. The Saganim (proto-Celtic) prince gathers the rest of his adventuring party and goes to Vasec’s scrying chamber.

Gerald, Giacomo’s winged homunculus familiar, peeks under the cloth covering a crystal ball. The group glimpses hellish flames. Giacomo begins acting even more strangely than usual, prompting Sir Torrel to Detect Evil.

The Hifalendorin (proto-Northwestern European) human’s aura has changed, and Elsa tries to cast Hold Person but fails. Corwin’s Dispel Magic temporarily suppresses Giacomo’s alternate personality, and Torrel punches the Wizard in the face, knocking him out. Scully notices that Giacomo even smells different.

Durange [Brian/N.P.C.] and Nevada [Josh/N.P.C.] help tie him up. Vasec appears and is displeased at the intrusion, but Elsa’s apology seems to mollify the Dark Elf. The Mage eventually agrees to determine what’s wrong with Giacomo, find the missing party members, and help with their missions.

Vasec redirects the crystal ball from its “default setting” and finds Hamfast, Tempestade, and Tequila (disguised in human form) in Gisar. The adolescent pseudodragon realizes that he has been found and Teleports the trio back to Tarvulis Island. Vasec punishes his wayward familiar by “grounding” him. Elsa berates Tempestade for leaving.

Scully holds onto Gerald, and Serina suggests removing Giacomo’s shirt. A strange tattoo on his back tries to speak with those in the room, but Vasec orders it to be quickly covered. He recognizes the Mad Mage Ezra, who has apparently been imprisoned but still seeks to thwart death.

Through Vasec’s crystal ball, Tempestade sees Lady Shadira, who has been Polymorphed into a Shambling Mound near the devil’s temple. The time-displaced capoeirista also tries to find his homeland relative to Gisar.

In return for an enchanted rod from the hoard of the late dracolich Daneira in Gisar, Vasec agrees to create a Lens of True Sight to help the onetime members of Vistel’s Circus spot Lady Shadira and others transformed on Salhonif Island.

Giacomo gradually returns to his senses and trades for Arcanist’s Gloves. Hamfast is disappointed to be away from the arena, and Scully asks him for a turnip. Vasec tells Tempestade that there are ways to get back to the “Vanished Lands” besides finding the obelisk in his own time.

Corwin asks the Archmage for Counterstrike Bracers and a Vanishing Cloak, which he hopes to get the next time he visits the island. Sir Torrel doesn’t trust the Drow or his followers.

Elsa asks Vasec about the Ghost Fleet and gives Durange her notes on the cult of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom, to copy. The priestess also acquires 10 Daylight Pellets against the Undead and inquires about a Crystal Mask of Languages.

That night, the travelers sleep fitfully. Sir Torrel has a dream in which he is covered by leeches and talks with Pit Fiend Schm*ckF*ck. Scully sees herself covered by the moving tattoo of a sorcerous puppet.

The next morning, the weary wanderers follow Vasec’s recommendation to visit “Tondra Mokae” [Rob A.S., R.I.P.], a wise Cleric also on Tarvulis Island. The entire team proceeds more carefully through the jungle, even as it hears a large beast crashing toward it.

Elsa invokes Mekkil (Gaia), casts Friendly Forest, and shifts into bear form. Sir Torrel prays to Otih, god of the sun and justice, and casts Protection From Evil. Strongman Hamfast is not afraid of death and readies his maul. Scout Scully releases owl “Owlicious” and readies her longbow.

Nimble Tempestade climbs a tree to get an idea of where they are and sees a giant frog. Wary Giacomo and Gerald hang back. Prince Corwin prepares Lighting Bolt. A three-headed hydra comes charging out of the woods.

Elsa “Bearbottom” responds in kind, striking the hydra. Tempestade throws a javelin but misses, and Sir Torrel lops off a head with his sword. Corwin’s spell does some damage, and he moves to the creature’s rear.

Hamfist swings, but he hits Torrel by accident. Scully fires arrows, and Giacomo casts a maximized Magic Missile, which appears as a force arrow. The hydra breathes fire on Hamfast and Sir Torrel. Elsa’s winged cat Penryn flies out of range while she claws and bites at the monster.

Tempestade hurls another javelin and wishes that he could have ridden Elsa in bear form into battle. Sir Torrel and Corwin keep slashing at the hydra, and Hamfast finishes it off.

Giacomo harvests a fire gland. Scully claims some claws and tracks the beast back to a lair, where they find the following pirate booty:

  • Coins: 100 copper pieces, 150 silver pieces (worth 15 gold pieces), 800 electrum (worth 400 g.p.), 700 g.p., 10 platinum (worth 100 g.p.), and 700 g.p. worth of gems and pearls
  • A “+1” mace (claimed by Sir Torrel)
  • A short bow +1, +2 vs. regenerating foes (given to Scully)
  • A scroll of Protection vs. Elementals (held by the group)

Corwin divides the coins to about 350 g.p. per person, with a share going to the party fund. Giacomo tells Sir Torrel that there’s something wrong with his magical mace. The adventurers again pass the fresh graves and eventually come to Tondra’s garden, which is tended by Undead.

They enter the herbalist’s house and meet the Zarendo Islander human priestess of Buwalgo, the earth mother. Tondra explains that she splits her time between Tarvulis Island and Hesolin, the capital of the kingdom of Hifalendor. Tempestade recognizes Tondra as being similar to the shamans of Brazil.

Elsa asks Tondra about the Scourge and its connection to the followers of Krakas. Tondra explains that Capt. Kildare, while initially appearing only on Midsummer’s Eve, has somehow renegotiated his curse, enabling the Ghost Fleet to keep growing and sacking coastal communities.

The cultists of Krakas are chaotic, she continues, while Capt. Kildare and the followers of the devil on Salhonif Island are more orderly. Tondra suggests to Scully that, rather than trying to find and fight numerous Undead pirates at their headquarters, the would-be heroes pick a time and a place to lure Capt. Kildare into battle.

Corwin and Elsa thank Tondra for her advice. Giacomo and Hamfast bring Sir Torrel forward, and Tondra takes the cursed mace off the Paladin’s hands. She also gives him an Amulet of Hide Alignment.

The former performers head back to Vasec’s tower and the Foamrunner, which they plan to take next to the open port of Laguro on Bokor Island. There, Tempestade hopes to question Valoren, an experienced plane traveler….

Weather permitting, I look forward to continuing our adventures on Monday, Jan. 13! The “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” telecom game should also continue this coming Sunday night.

Remember to post your character concepts for Jason E.R.’s upcoming “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario (using Icons) and for Bruce’s planned “Eberron” game.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 6 — Curing a curse

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.6, which was held on Sunday, 29 December, 2013:

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

  • 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. 2
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 2
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 2
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 2
  • 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. 2
  • 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. 2

“16 to 21 March 1227 B.C.E.:” After deciding to continue traveling on the Balef River, the group escorting a Gokuri diplomat stopped at the “Sandy Corner,” a tavern on stilts. They found mysterious skeletal warriors, an old curse, and giant amoebas.

Sonny and Saigo suspect Lady Yun Aei-Yong of being involved with the latest attack. The Nannuattan emissary tells the Kensai and Samurai that the monsters were likely attracted to the inn, but they could have been summoned by a ooze master.

Ember and Soske’ have tea and breakfast. The Druid talks about the wonders of flight, and the Shukenja blesses their meal. Merchant Moon Jung-Mo and Wu Jen Toshi help the boatmen reload the three barges.

Since the skeletons have been damaged, Sonny wonders if they should be rearmed, but Saigo doesn’t think it’s necessary. Soske’ suggests finding a way to resolve the fate on the Undead, who have been cursed to stand guard until their traitorous commander or his stolen gold return.

Saigo says that the team’s first duty is to covey Lady Yun safely to Sogewa, capital of Tong Sheng. The Mahotsukai (Sorceress), however, says she doesn’t mind a minor delay.

Ember notes that the skeletons have protected the “Sandy Corner,” but innkeeper Tan Shude says they indiscriminately attack anyone who is out at night. After some debate, the adventuring party decides to quickly check the nearby marshes.

Saigo asks Lady Yun to stay back with Toshi, Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum-Ja, and the boatmen. Hengeyokai Ember shifts into crane form to lead the way back to the rocky outcropping that she and Shan Sao Toshi had found.

Sonny, Saigo, and Soske’ cautiously proceed, with Jung-Mo quietly flanking in the snowy reeds. At the cave mouth, Ember, Saigo, and Soske’ hear snuffling and see a humanoid figure. Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo throws a rock and hears a yell. It throws something at them.

From the air, Ember spots the leg of a local man who had been partially eaten by a giant amoeba. Stealthy Jung-Mo sneaks ahead, while Shengtese human Sonny looks in the cold water for other threats.

Shengtese priest Soske’ casts Protection From Evil, and he and Saigo draw their bows. Their arrows hit the emaciated humanoid. Ember casts Entangle, but her spell and Jung-Mo’s sneak attack both miss.

Japanese ghoul
The Jikininki

The ghoul, which Soske’ later identifies as a Jikininki, swings wildly at Jung-Mo. Sonny swings a weighted chain at the Undead. Soske’s second volley misses, and Saigo drops his daikyu and runs to close the distance.

Jung-Mo nearly hits Ember with a whippet (incendiary boomerang), and Soske’ casts Weapon Bless on Saigo’s katana, helping him to destroy the Jikininki in one blow.

Ember, who has shifted back to humanoid form, helps Saigo search the cave. They find rotten armor, a broken sword, a small chest, and a bundle of rags. Saigo takes the arms, while Ember finds gold coins in the rags.

Sonny searches the Jikininki and notices scraps of an antique Shengtese military uniform. Jung-Mo torches the corpse before helping Ember examine the chest. The Spirit Folk Yakuza eventually finds a needle trap and a chop (seal) of office.

Soske’ uses Sense Elements — Psychometry on the clothing and chest to identify the Undead officer as the traitor Ba Lang Liangde. Satisfied, the travelers return to the tavern. The skeletal sentries climb down from their rooftop perches.

Soske’ tells them that their honor is restored. The warriors take the katana and chest and march off into the swamp. Tan Shude thanks the would-be heroes for their help.

Ember and Sonny notice the seal of the Dragon Clan on the coins, which have been left behind. Sonny notes that the innkeeper has already been reimbursed for damages, and Soske’ says he’d like to return the gold to the Dragon Clan. Given Ember’s interest, the others let her hold onto the booty.

The three boats continue south on the Balef River for a few uneventful days. Jung-Mo analyzes the poison from the chest as a paralytic. The courtier also continues wooing Ember and avoiding Lady Yun. Toshi studies his arcane scrolls.

Diligent Sonny punches tubs of water, as armored Saigo practices his swordplay and meditates. Cheerful Soske’ prepares flaming arrows and has tea with Lady Yun, Saigo, and Sonny.

The boats stop one night at Dulthor, a hamlet on the Gokuri side of the river. Two Tsucharim (Mongol-style) human guards greet Lady Yun as she, Oh Kum-Ja, and others come ashore. Seng Yip Wu welcomes Lady Yun to the Nannuattan outpost.

Seng orders servants to carry the visitors’ gear as they descend three levels into the hills. The obsequious scribe shows them to a small but luxurious suite and leaves. Jung-Mo tries to slip out of the chambers but is blocked by Oh Kum-Jah and two guards out in the hallway.

Soske’ finds extra coins in his purse, which Lady Yun says could be used to magically track his movements. The Shukenja again uses Psychometry and gets a brief vision of an old man with two noses, no doubt an Oni, and a Nannuattan woman in armor.

Saigo sets watches and sits the first one with Ember. Soske’ and Moon take the second, with Sonny and Saigo planning to take the third to let Toshi study and rest. During the second watch, Soske’ and Jung-Mo hear a servant girl roll something into their room.

Quick-thinking Soske’ grabs the grenade and tosses it back, incapacitating the two guards. He then drags Oh Kum-Ja back into the cell and tries to rouse the Draconian. Saigo tells Lady Yun that they’re leaving and draws his katana.

Ember studies the grenade and helps revive burly Oh Kum-Jah. Soske’ uses smelling salts on one of the serving girls and interrogates her. She reveals that her mistress is Byong Sudae, a former rival of Lady Yun demoted to the border outpost.

The group grimly prepares to fight its way through the Dark Elven outpost back to the surface….

I hope that everyone’s holidays were happy, and Byron, I hope your daughter’s birthday celebrations went well. I look forward to continuing our adventures on Sunday, 5 January 2014.

Note that I’ll probably be running the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” face-to-face game this coming Monday, and Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario (using Icons) will probably begin on Jan. 20.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.5 — Bones and blobs

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.5, which was held on Sunday, 22 December, 2013:

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

  • 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. 2
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 2
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 2
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 2
  • 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. 2
  • 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. 1

“11 to 15 March 1227 B.C.E.:” During a stop at the village of Wai Shih in the Balef River Valley, the team escorting Gokuri diplomat Lady Yun Aei-Yong fought human bandits and an Oni. The would-be assassins apparently had orders to intercept the party.

Sonny and Saigo have been infected by rats summoned by Oni (Ogre Mage) Simikage Haruhiko, so Ember gets local shaman Kajuji Manabu, a Carp Hengeyokai, to help Soske’ treat their wounds.

Ember also recommends that innkeeper Ho Sze be reimbursed for damages to the “Death’s Deck” tavern. Saigo deducts 10 tael (20 gold pieces) for Ho Sze from the Oni’s purse, leaving 23 g.p. for each party member — and Oh Kum-Ja, Lady Yun’s Draconian guard.

Toshi and company look at maps for potential routes from Wai Shih to Sogewa, the capital of Tong Sheng. They could travel southeast to the town of Beitien and cross the wide Plains of Sathendo, or they could take the Balef River farther south before turning east.

Although the river marks the border with the kingdom of Gokuri and the barbaric Gusorin Confederation, the group reasons that it would be faster than hiking overland, especially where there are few roads. After resting for a night, the group reboards its three barges and heads toward Shang Tao.

The travelers are relieved to have an uneventful day, as the spring thaw carries their boats. At the intersection of the Balef and Hei Ho rivers, they find a set of buildings on stilts at the edge of a marsh, as Soske’ predicted.

Moon Jung-Mo stays with Lady Yun, Oh Kum-Ja, the boatmen, and the horses, while the rest of the escort enters the “Sandy Corner.” Samurai Saigo is gruffly greeted by Tan Shude, a Shengtese human innkeeper from whom he acquires rooms for 2 g.p. per night.

Kensai Sonny walks around outside to check the perimeter. Wu Jen Toshi looks for obvious magic and casts a Clean cantrip on the rooms. Wu Ember notices some Bakemono (eastern Goblins) arguing over their tab with a barmaid.

Soske’ chats with a few fishermen. Jiki Yuwei claims that nothing out of the ordinary has happened recently, but his friends are evasive. The Shukenja casts Elemental Sight for psychometry and sees that their goods are scavenged. Jiki eventually warns Soske’ to stay indoors at night.

Sonny notices five armored skeletons at the corners of the “Sandy Corner’s” roof. Ember and Soske’ help Toshi clean the rooms, and Saigo agrees to bring Lady Yun, Oh Kum-Ja, and the boatmen in for the night.

Skeleton warrior
Skeletal sentry

Trader Jung-Mo gets provisions for the crew and horses as the others examine the roof. Sonny lowers a chain to help Soske’ and Saigo climb up, while Toshi and Ember shift to avian form together for first time.

Although the skeletal warriors’ armor and weapons are rusted, their posture and lack of decomposition are unnatural. As a crane Hengeyokai, Ember talks with a crow that’s interested in shiny things such as eyeballs. In return for a silver piece, it warns her of giant spiders in the swamps.

Baza (bird) Toshi casts Detect Magic , confirming that the skeletons and crane are magical. Soske’ senses something amiss and later uses his Phoenix Clan status to question Tan Shude. The innkeeper tells of how, many years ago, a military unit camped nearby.

Its commander had stolen money from his lord, who had summoned spirits to pursue the troops. Although five men fought honorably in ignorance, the thief escaped, leaving his followers to die. The skeletal soldiers are cursed to stand watch until their commander or the lost treasure returns.

Before dark, Toshi and Ember conduct aerial reconnaissance in bird form. They see webs at the edge of the marsh and a rocky outcropping that could be a cave mouth. They return and report to their companions.

Soske’, Jung-Mo, and Lady Yun are interested in helping the locals, but Sonny, Toshi, and Saigo say their mission to safely convey the Nannuattan emissary takes precedence. Ember is curious and sympathizes with Lady Yun’s restlessness.

Over a dinner of fish stew and mulled wine, Saigo sets watches for the night. Hengeyokai Ember and Shan Sao Toshi take first watch, followed by Shengtese human Sonny and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo. Shengtese Soske’ and Jung-Mo are set to take the third.

The first watch is quiet, but Sonny and Saigo hear movement during their shift. They wake their companions as the armored skeletons climb down from their perches. Soske’ casts Light , and Ember peeks out but sees nothing.

Toshi heads down the creaky stairs, followed by Saigo. They see a skeleton shoved into a pillar by an unseen foe. Sonny listens and readies his chains. Soske’ checks on Lady Yun and heads for the front door.

Ember hears sloshing and Wild Shapes into a bat to get a better view of the fight outside. The Druid sees pseudopods bursting from the water at the skeletal warriors, as well as the remains of a night watchman.

Soske’ casts Magic Weapon on his bow. The Cleric’s first arrow gets stuck in the giant amoeba. Martial artist Sonny looks for an oil lamp before heading outside.

Toshi shifts into bird form and flies to the roof for a better view. The Wizard and Ember return to humanoid form to help their companions. Samurai Saigo hacks at one of the aberrations with his katana and dodges acid-dripping extrusions.

The skeletons fight on all sides of the “Sandy Corner,” avoiding envelopment but taking damage. Soske’ uses tongs to grab a burning log from a fireplace in the inn, and Sonny wraps an oil-soaked rag around his chain. Together, they prepare flaming arrows to fire at the oozes.

Toshi casts Elemental Burst (water) on one amoeba, and Ember casts Entangle on another. Unfortunately, their spells have little effect as the group joins the melee on the deck. Saigo slices up Sonny and Toshi’s opponent but is slammed and burned.

One ooze hits Ember while others trade blows with the skeletons. Soske’ rips off his shirt, ties it to his staff with a bowstring, dips it in oil, and lights it on fire. Sonny swings his flaming chain at an amoeba taking an oil flask to Ember.

Toshi casts Elemental Burst (air) on Soske’s foe, and Ember casts Water to Wine in the river around the oozes. Saigo maneuvers to aid Soske’. The skeletons destroy one amoeba, leaving two remaining.

Soske’ lights the wine with his staff, and Sonny dumps the remaining oil onto an ooze. Toshi casts Light to aid his companions, as Ember throws fire but misses. Saigo’s sword continues to do some damage, but the skeletons do better.

Sonny grabs the firebrand from Soske’ and destroys the amoeba near Ember. The last ooze misses Saigo and is ripped apart by the skeletons, which then look at the adventuring party with empty eye sockets.

Soske’ bows to the Undead warriors and goes into the “Sandy Corner” rather than fight them. The rest of the group follows his lead and closes the doors….

Please remember to update your P.C. records to second level. Dexter, we missed you last night! Weather and traffic permitting, I hope to be home in time for our next virtual session, on Sunday, Dec. 29. I also expect the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” face-to-face campaign to continue on Monday, Dec. 30, at Rich C.G.’s place in Waltham, Mass.

In the meantime, I look forward to wrapping up Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Timesminiseries and to returning to his “Glassworks” noir superhero setting. May all of you have a happy holiday season!