“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Update 29.28 — “Who let the dogs out?”

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.28, which Rich C.G. hosted in Waltham, Mass., on Monday, 16 December 2013:

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 autumn 2013:

  • 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 18 January 1227 B.C.E.:” The wanderers continued their inquiries into time travel at Falit’s towers of sorcery and the Dhao Soukh. After a successful performance at the caliph’s palace, Corwin followed an alluring woman and was poisoned.

Giacomo isn’t surprised at the Saganim (proto-Celtic) prince’s proclivities and perils. Hamfast keeps a casual watch, while Scully throws cold water in Corwin’s face, helping him regain his senses. The Bard tells the Ranger that the courtesan isn’t worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, Tempestade continues his deep theological discussions with Ladan Taleghani, a Suthern (proto-Arabic) human priestess of Kardikea, lord of battle. Sir Torrel has similar conversations about orders of holy warriors with Sister Jamilah, an Amarati Ghaffir of Ishmas (Elf Paladin of Isis).

Elsa has young guide Salim take her to the bazaar, where she commissions marionettes of herself and former Owlbear companion Oswald. The Hill Dwarf buys wine to present to Tarzu, a Djinni who might help Tempestade find his way home.

The next morning, the onetime circus performers go to the Tower of Wind, where they meet Tanaz Srinivasan, a wise Shedu Medjai (winged leonine summoner). She takes them up round ramps to meet Tarzu, who is blue and mostly friendly.

Tarzu accepts Elsa’s gift of wine and tells Tempestade that there are dimensional portals scattered across the “Vanished Lands.” The Djinni agrees to explain how to use an obelisk in the barbaric port of Gisar, but only if the group vows to free an Efreet (fire spirit) from a diabolic temple in the Zarendo Islands.

Corwin asks for time to consider Tarzu’s offer, and the adventuring party returns to the Tower of Sight. After getting past the eyeball-lined walls and a grumpy Beholder janitor, the visitors offer dinars (gold pieces) in return for more information from blind seeress Lydia.

She confirms that a Pit Fiend controls a temple formerly dedicated to the Elemental Plane of Fire on Mount Tilefa, an active volcano on Salhonif Island. Lydia also says that Tarzu is a being of his word.

According to Lydia, Queen Zapanga in the city-state of Selifa might be helpful, but the many tribes of the jungle archipelago are diverse, from devil-worshipping cannibals and Reptile Folk to relatively peaceful humans.

Giacomo recalls that “Valoren,” a man who knows about dimensional travel, may be found at the port of Laguro on Bokor Island, which is on the way to Selifa and Gisar. However, the western islands are ruled by Artaxis and Zineida, two black dragons.

The team scatters before its next audience with Tarzu. Hamfast visits taverns in the soukh, where the Zedu human Fighter’s formidable appearance as a foreigner wins him free drinks.

Mage Giacomo asks Darius Gaspar whether Vizier Govar al Sarseh was angry with them, but the Rangsten Sha’ir (Halfling Wizard) says that the caliph’s aide is usually worried about affairs of state. Giacomo also begins the taxing Summon Familiar ritual.

Ranger Scully tries to avoid Anpur (jackal men), but she attracts the attention of Dunewalker “Kemosh-ket” [Byron V.O./Non-Player Character]. The Kahin (Druid) is fascinated by the albino Gnoll and says that they are among the few civilized canines in the Halmed Desert. Kemosh offers to show Scully how to track Undead.

Tempestade visits various temples in his search for allies against evil and meets Elsa and Sir Torrel at the temple of Ishmas. Sister Jamilah introduces the trio to Mother Bakhret. The priestess gives Druid Elsa a Philter of Time, which provides guidance for dimensional travel.

Bakhret also agrees to place a holy protection on Sir Torrel’s shield, since his and Tempestade’s patron, Otih, lord of the sun and justice, is complementary to Ishmas, matron of magic. A green ankh is painted on the shield, repelling Undead (DC 14, rounds/level/day).

Hamfast is urged by children and drunkards to show off, so he slams his shoulder into a tavern wall, destroying some of the mud bricks. Hamfast catches a would-be pickpocket while paying the barkeep for the damage. He then decides to go look for his companions.

Corwin brings rare chocolates to a private audience with Tarzu. The Djinni admits that the Efreet, Lady Shadira, is a kinswoman. Tarzu says that the Pit Fiend trades in souls and has spies and prisoners hidden in alternate forms around Salhonif Island. An item of True Sight would be useful, he adds.

While comparing notes at dinner, Giacomo’s associates are unnerved when a Homunculus offers to serve them. Apparently, the Wizard’s Summon Familiar spell imbued one of his patchwork leather puppets with a spirit. “Gerald” is friendly, but Sir Torrel and others want nothing to do with him.

Hamfast is loath to travel through time, even if it is to rescue Tempestade’s fellow slaves from their Brazilian plantation. He plans to follow up on Vanaka (Dune Dwarf) Dorf Sandblaster’s recommendation of Antar the Black, captain of the Ghul’s Breath, as an alternative to Sea Elf Capt. Scarlet and the Foamrunner.

Scully mentions how she has met Kemosh, and Elsa teases her that Wolfen “Niac” [Mike F./N.P.C.] would be jealous. Corwin shares what he has learned about the Zarendo Islands, and Sir Torrel still hopes to meet more holy warriors. The Paladin is eager to confront the monsters at Mount Tilefa.

The former members of Vistel’s Circus agree to help Tarzu in return for information on the obelisk in Gisar. As Lydia predicted, the Djinni needs merely their word to give them the instructions. Lady Shadira can be freed if the object binding her is found and destroyed.

To activate the obelisk, each side must be read aloud simultaneously from top to bottom, the Djinni says. According to notes from the “Seekers of Lore” in Thadenis’ Harandrim Academy, the carvings are in Celestial, Draconic, Infernal, and Quelanthi (High Elven).

Giacomo recuperates from his ritual, and Elsa spends 150 dinar (g.p.) on aBanuq (winged cat) she names “Penryn.” The travelers rest and and train before their next voyage….

I’m glad that we were able to meet, despite recent snowstorms. Don’t forget to level up your P.C.s. By now, you may also have seen my mostly favorable review of The Hobbit [Part 2 of 3]: the Desolation of Smaugand the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom game should resume next Sunday. We’ll see whether “Vistel’s Circus” is able to meet on Dec. 30.

In the meantime, I look forward to wrapping up Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” miniseries in advance of our return to his “Glassworks” superhero setting. I hope that all of your holidays are happy!

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.4 — Inn trouble

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.4, which was held on Sunday, 8 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. 1
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 1
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 1
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 1
  • 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. 1
  • 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

“10 to 11 March 1227 B.C.E.:” The would-be adventurers began their journey with an emissary from the empire of Gokuri to the capitals of their homelands. On the way, they encountered suspicious Kappa and visited a village along the Balef River.

eastern river village
On the banks of the Balef River

At the “Death’s Deck” tavern in Wai Shih, the travelers acquire rooms for the night. Sonny walks around the inn to make sure that it’s secure and that Lady Yun Aei-Yong, the Nannuattan diplomat, can’t leave without being seen.

Toshi finds a tree to keep watch from outside. In a common room, Ember notices two fellow Hengeyokai. Kajuji Manabu, a whiskered carp shaman, invites her to join him for prayers at an ancestral shrine the next morning. Aihara Naho, a Kitsune (fox) weaver, is one of the few female guests at the “Death’s Deck.”

Saigo is served tea and sake by Okubo Kita, a geisha. She performs music that fills the entire inn. Far from his meddling Uncle Manny, Soske’ is content to sip his sake alone and merely listen to the other patrons.

Moon Jung-Mo reserves a room for himself and makes sure that Ember is properly attended to. Since Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum-Ja won’t leave their room (and gear) unattended, the “Spirit Folk merchant” pays them a visit.

The Gokuri delegate asks Jung-Mo to find a musician. He goes to Saigo, but the Samurai won’t release Okubo. Jung-Mo and Saigo’s argument is interrupted as more people arrive at the tavern. Most of the local fishermen, loggers, and trappers head home for the night.

Sonny, who is on watch, and Ember, who is eating with Kajuji and Aihara, are the first to see the newcomers. Three giggling girls enter, followed by a few Shengtese and Tsucharim men. A tall being throws back his hood, revealing blue skin and three eyes.

Simakage Haruhiko, the Oni (Ogre Mage), sends innkeeper Ho Sze scrambling for rooms and drinks. Jung-Mo steps forward and offers a friendly greeting. Sonny and Ember hang back and watch, while Toshi changes into baza (bird) form and perches on a windowsill for a better look.

Saigo gets a massage from Okubo, and Soske’ tries to ignore the commotion. Lang Xiaoxuan, captain of the Angry Trout, says that he has brought a chef who will prepare food for all the guests. Lady Yun and Oh Kum-Ja leave their room to join the feast.

Jung-Mo goes to ask some Wolven about another musician, but he is distracted by Chol Byung-Soon, Chung Mi-Na, and Ri Myung-Hee. The stealthy exile notices that the Tsucharim women are well-muscled and carry naginatas (halberds).

Dao Ma Wu cooks dumplings, steamed vegetables, and rice noodles. Lady Yun, Oh Kum-Ja, Sonny, and Soske’ sit down to eat, but wary Ember and Jung-Mo decline. Saigo and Sonny listen for trouble. Simakage and the humans with him seem to suffer no ill effects.

However, Sonny sees Oh Kum-Ja signal Lady Yun, who pushes her food around but doesn’t eat it. Soske’ tastes a hint of poison, a precursor to an attack. Sonny jumps on the table and unfurls his kusari-gama (chain and sickle).

The Kensai swings his weapon at Simakage, Liang, and Kenmotsu Sadayoshi. Wu-Jen Toshi shifts back to Shan Sao form and enters the fracas. Shukenja Soske’ falls back to a corner, grasps prayer beads, and casts Protection From Evil.

Samurai Saigo scowls as he gets dressed and heads to join the fray. Wu Ember throws a dagger at the Oni, scratching him. Surrounded by the three women, Ninja Jung-Mo creates Darkness and dives out a window to go around to the front entrance.

The Ogre Mage swings at Ember but misses, and other tavern patrons flee before the human bandits. Oh Kum-Ja tries to lead Lady Yun away, but they are blocked by Chol, Chung, and Ri. The trio slashes the Draconian with its naginatas.

Liang and Kenmotsu draw zhibei dao (sabers) and square off with Soske’ and Sonny, who is hit but swings again at the Oni. Toshi casts Elemental Burst on the table, killing Kenmotsu. Soske’ draws his bow and tries to stay out of the other bandit’s reach. He kicks over a table and hits Liang with an arrow.

Saigo’s katana initially misses its mark against Simakage, and Ember Wild Shapesinto a panda bear. Jung-Mo hurls a boomerang-like Whippet, but the envenomed blade doesn’t bite into the Ogre’s hide. The three-eyed monster summons a swarm of rats, which crawl up through the broken floorboards and bite Sunny and Saigo.

Oh Kum-Ja and Lady Yun enter melee with the three women. After some misses, Liang renders Soske’ unconscious. Sonny entangles Simakage with his chain, and Toshi casts Magic Missiles, which appear as orange blades, at Chol, Chung, and Ri. The Wizard then heads to Soske’ and apologizes to Jung-Mo.

Samurai Saigo slashes at Simakage, and Jung-Mo stabs the Oni in the eyes with chopsticks. The large creature slams Sonny, knocking him out. Ursine Druid Ember circles the enraged Ogre and tells the rats to leave.

Lady Yun reveals herself as a Mahotsukai (Sorceress) by casting Chain Lightning from a scroll, killing Chol and Ri. Oh Kum-Ja finishes off Chung. Toshi throws dart shurikens to provide cover for his friends, and Saigo and Jung-Mo stab at Simakage.

Liang and Simakage go back to back as Toshi defends Soske’ and Sonny withTien Sha Pai (Red Cloud Kung Fu). Oh Kum-Ja slays Liang, and Saigo and Ember attack the Oni, who has been weakened by Lady Yun’s spell.

Jung-Mo finishes off Simakage with a wakizashi (short sword), and Ember searches for shaman Kajuji to help with the wounded. Saigo observes that cook Dao Ma Wu and other would-be assassins have fled and have likely gotten away on the Angry Trout.

Toshi and Jung-Mo dispose of the dead and confiscate naginatas, dao, leather armor, and several tantos (daggers). They also find 90 tael (180 gold pieces), a potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, and an unsigned note asking the Oni and company to intercept the delegation from Gokuri.

Kajuji tells Ember that even though Sonny and Saigo can be healed, they’ve been infected by the rats. The exhausted escorts rest in the ruined tavern before returning to the river….

It was great to see everyone online last night! I hope you enjoyed our latest session, and I look forward to continuing our perilous journeys.

In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” game tonight or at The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug this coming Sunday. Note that because of the movie and dinner, the next “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” session may be delayed.

“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Update 39.27 — Eye on the prize, or Hump Day

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” Session 39.27, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 2 December 2013:

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 autumn 2013:

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

“10 to 11 January 1227 B.C.E.:” The travelers had visited a strange garden on Emein Island, saved a sailor on the Foamrunner from a worm infestation, and arrived in Falit, capital of the Ebir Sheikdom. There, they freed a slave and visited towers of sorcery to ask about how to get Tempestade home.

Young Suthern (proto-Arabic) human guide Salim takes the onetime circus performers to Falit’s Harbormaster’s Tower. They see a Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elven) delegation and chat with Karnak Schroyar, a proud Assyrian merchant captain.

Hamfast Hammerfist inquires about the cult of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom. Adm. Nofret says that, unlike other ports, Falit has managed to minimize the threat from followers of the evil deity. However, he does suspect that foreign suppliers to the royal navy could compromise some sailors.

The admiral confirms stories about the barbaric port of Gisar, which has been ruled by vampires and the Undead dragon Daneira. The Skaevingol (proto-Scandinavian) and Vistani (proto-Slavic) inhabitants have also suffered the city’s sack by the dreaded Ghost Fleet. Tempestade hopes to find an obelisk in Gisar that the “Seekers of Lore” used to travel through time.

Corwin Windsong asks Adm. Kawab Nofret about the Zarendo Islands, where the Foamrunner may stop to find a man named “Valoren” with dimensional travel experience. The admiral explains that the port of Laguro on Bokor Island is a haven for corsairs and pirates. Each island is very different from the next, he says. Another dimensional portal is said to be on Salhonif Island.

Adm. Nofret responds to Elsa Fairbottom’s query on the Ghost Fleet by noting that “Capt. Jack Kildare” [Randy K.M./Non-Player Character] was a Saganim (proto-Celtic) human pirate said to have offended the Thalassaquendi by desecrating a temple about 30 years ago.

Capt. Kildare and his crew were cursed to appear on the Sea of Nagendwa only on Midsummer’s Eve, but he allegedly made a deal with Krakas to be able to sail anytime. In return for this ability, the pirates became Undead and the source of the mystical contagion known as the Scourge.

Giacomo du Vane wonders if the original curse re-emerges on Midsummer’s Eve, making Capt. Kildare mortal, but Adm. Nofret says that is a matter for arcane or divine experts. He also tells Sir Torrel that priests are now standard members of Ebir naval crews as a protection against the Scourge.

The adventuring party thanks the admiral and says that it will try to keep him informed of its inquiries. The group then returns to the Tower of Sight, one of three spires of sorcery in Falit. A gruff Beholder disintegrates trash around the tower and trades insults.

Beholder
Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder….

Elsa and friends banter with Darius Gaspar, a nervous Rangsten Sha’ir (Gnome Wizard). He invites them to perform at the caliph’s palace that night, and they accept. In the eyeball-covered tower, blind seer Lydia answers more questions.

Tempestade learns that the Djinni who cast him through time and space does not live in Falit and that Capt. Kildare’s base of operations is hidden from Lydia. Elsa promises to share maps with the library.

Giacomo, Scully, Corwin, Elsa, and Sir Torrel then go to the Tower of Alchemy in the center of town, while Hamfast and Tempestade go to bars in the Dhao Soukh. “Joolnar” [Jon W.P./N.P.C.], a Suthern Saher (Sorceress) greets those at the normal-looking but odiferous tower.

Joolnar takes the visitors downstairs, where they see Salima, an Ifrit (flame spirit) and Ragnekar Neidim, an alchemist who sells them Holy Water/silver grenades. Albino Gnoll Scully also buys sunblock.

Meanwhile, Hamfast and Tempestade leave the Wolven at the “Drunken Dragon” and try the “Frisky Unicorn,” which has more familiar Saganim (proto-Celtic) human sailors. They share drinks with Dorf Sandblaster. The Vanaka (Dune Dwarf) recommends Antar the Black, captain of the Ghul’s Breath.

The team regroups at an inn to prepare for the performance at the caliph’s palace. Ringmaster Corwin supervises the lineup of novelty acts, while Hamfast wonders what Darius had done to need to earn back favor in the court.

Logrun, an intimidating Lamassu (winged leonine), escorts the Vistel’s Circus members into the lavish palace. He introduces them to Sir Theudric, the Hifalendorin human ambassador; Djer Khemtope, the Khemti Pesedjer (Egyptian human) emissary from the court of Pharaoh Ramses II; and Firouz Kassem, a Vanaka member of the council of chiefs.

Heralds announce the arrivals to military commander Sultan Omar bin Khalil; Vizier Govar al Sarseh; and Caliph Hassan al Umid, son of Rashid, grandson of Gamal, and ruler of the Ebir Sheikdom in the Halmed Desert.

Corwin introduces each act and begins by juggling. The Half-Elf Bard casts Transfiguration and Mirror Image to make the balls appear to change into multiple chicks and then swords.

Hamfast is ready to perform feats of strength, but the Zeda (proto-Germanic) human Fighter can find nothing to lift. A burly Mul (Half-Giant/Goliath) harem guard steps forward, and “barbarian” Hamfast manages to pick him up.

Ranger Scully throws knives at “volunteer” Giacomo, grazing him only once. Fortunately, the Hifalendorin Wizard had cast Shield, as well as Transfigure for rainbow trails for the knives. Monk Tempestade serves as a roustabout and guard.

Giacomo, who had spent 25 dinars (gold pieces) on custom puppets, entertains the caliph’s children. Elsa’s Owlbear Oswald causes a brief scare, however, when he lurches toward the children before being restrained.

Dwarf Druid Elsa summons Water Elementals, whose jets Hifalendorin Paladin Sir Torrel changes to wine. Although the vizier leaves the performance early, the caliph and most of the people in his court are pleased by the carnival show.

Giacomo flirts with Sister Selma, a Suthern human Ghazi of Ishmas (Cleric of Isis) but remembers Maggie, a girl he left behind at the Harandrim Academy in Thadenis. The Mul, Hamfast, and Scully are the center of attention of the caliph’s children.

Tempestade has deep conversations with Ladan Taleghani, a priestess of Kardikea, lord of battle. Prince Corwin learns that while the kingdom of Saganim doesn’t have a full embassy in Falit, Dermot Chadwick has a consulate at the Court of Sighs.

Elsa thinks about relasing Oswald to the wild, and Sir Torrel starts to ask Sister Jamilah, an Amarati Ghaffir (Elf Paladin) of Ishmas, about various orders of holy warriors in the city. One is the Mamluks, former slaves turned soldier/bureaucrats.

Corwin obtains a suite at the palace, but Elsa takes Salim, one of Giacomo’s puppets, and Oswald back to the inn. Hamfast and Scully warily watch the palace guards. The group plans to meet Djinni Tarzu at the Tower of Wind the next day.

An attractive woman invites Corwin back to her room, and the ladies’ man follows her. Unfortunately, his drink is poisoned, and Corwin manages to stagger back to the others at their suite….

I hope everyone enjoyed our latest (mis)adventures, and feel free to update the open plot threads page on Obsidian Portal. We should keep an eye on the weather for JasonE.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” miniseries next Monday.

In the meantime, I look forward to Sunday’s “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” fantasy telecom session, as well as to upcoming movies and sorting out next year’s games.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.3 — Down the river

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.3, which was held on Sunday, 1 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 anonline 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. 1
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 1
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 1
  • 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. 1
  • 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

“4 to 9 March 1227 B.C.E.:” After exorcising spirits from some acquaintances and observing truce talks near a border village, a group of wanderers had volunteered to accompany an emissary of the empire of Gokuri to the capitals of neighboring kingdoms.

As representatives of Tong Sheng and the Zedu kingdom prepare to leave for Gokuri, Sonny recognizes Sister Li Ho Xiaojun, a Shengtese human Sohei (Paladin). She is the daughter of an influential member of the Daidoji house, a rival to his own in the Crane Clan.

Speaking of cranes, Ember returns from her scouting mission and tells her new friends of how birds told her about shadowy figures in the woods around the village of Hazokuwi. Soske’ begins looking for travel provisions in the Zedu army camp.

At Sonny and Soske’s request, Saigo asks his father about Sister Li Ho. As with Prince Mutsuhito, her diplomatic credentials are in order, says Gen. Hirokazu. The Bamboo Spirit Folk advises that his son travel with a smaller, more discreet group rather than with many soldiers.

Gen. Hirokazu also warns Saigo to watch for Lady Yun Aei-Yong. Even though the Nannuattan is on a mission of peace, the general says he expects some subterfuge when she reaches the cities of Sogewa and Bazran Hai.

Sonny’s sidekick Brother Jo and Soske’s meddling Uncle Manny get new assignments in Zedu’s army, thanks to Korobokuru (eastern Dwarf) Gen. Shin Kyong-tsu. Sonny, Ember, and Soske’ return to Hazokuwi to get their horses and more supplies.

Back at the “Swimming Ki-Rin” restaurant, Samurai Saigo studies maps for Lady Yun’s itinerary. Bazran Hai, the capital of the demihuman Zedu kingdom, is only a few days’ ride away, but it is through dangerous terrain.

By contrast, the route to Sogewa, capital of Tong Sheng/the Principality of Silado, is much longer but also through quieter human lands. The adventuring party decides to visit Sogewa before Bazran Hai.

As a Wu Jen and a member of Bazran Hai’s court, Toshi has no difficulty joining Lady Yun’s escort team. Moon Jung-Mo says he is also traveling east and notes that he should come along to help open trade with Gokuri.

Soske’ recommends following the Balef River south before turning inlandtoward Sogewa. The Shukenja also buys a chain shirt and a buckler (small shield). As a Kensai, Sonny says that he needs little more than grain for his horse.

Ember avoids Oh Kum-Ja, Lady Yun’s Draconian guard. The Druid acquires leather scale armor and a wooden shield. Saigo purchases good-quality rations, including rice cakes, fine teas, and plum wine, for 50 tael (25 gold pieces).

Jung-Mo offers his carriage for Lady Yun to use, but Sonny notices that the trader spends little time with her. Ember and Toshi check on the horses and keep watch for ninjas.

Saigo and Toshi vie for paper, quills, and ink, and the Samurai buys a shakuachi (flute). He also requisitions from his father three river boats with a crew of two Shengtese sailors each. The first day of travel is uneventful.

Chinese boat
A Shengtese river boat

The thawing snow and rocky rapids bounce the sampans, tossing one boatman overboard. Saigo extends a pole to unlucky Su Yuwei, but he is unable to reach it. Sonny uses a kawanga (chain) to grab the man’s arm.

Ember looks for a branch to throw to Su Yuwei to help him float, and Soske’ throws a rope to him. Sonny, Saigo, and Soske’ pull the chilled crewman back aboard. As night falls, the three boats pull into the bank of the Balef River.

Soske’ and Ember fish. The Phoenix Clan animist catches a few with rod, reel, and line, but Hengeyokai Ember skewers several with a spear. Sonny, Saigo, and Toshi invite the boatmen to join them at the campfire.

Lady Yun stays in Jung-Mo’s carriage, but reptilian Oh Kum-Ja goes for a quick swim. Jung-Mo suggests scouting the area around the camp, but he goes to sleep before watches are set. Ember Wild Shapes into an owl and flies around.

The Wu is about to turn back to the boats when she spots a second campfire. Around it are three turtle-like humanoids. Ember reports back to her camp, and Toshi identifies the creatures as mischievous Kappa. Saigo wants to go on the attack, but Sonny and Ember are reluctant to start a fight.

The travelers agree to doubling the number of people on guard. Soske’ and Jung-Mo notice nothing untoward during their watch. Later in the night, Ember hears someone leave the camp. She spots Lady Yun talking with the Kappa.

Saigo and Sonny debate whether to confront the Nannuattan emissary. After Sonny and Toshi sit their turn, Saigo wakens early to join them for martial arts practice outside the camp.

Over breakfast, Saigo mentions to Lady Yun that Kappa have been spotted nearby. She acknowledges that there may be bandits and spies in the valley, but she doesn’t outright lie or profess ignorance.

Ember is relieved to see no further signs of the Kappa as the three boats resume their course southward. Lady Yun recommends pressing past dusk to reach the village of Wai Shih on the starboard (western) shore.

There, a night watchman directs the team to the “Death’s Deck” tavern, a modest building with barbaric faces carved into its pillars but rooms divided by sliding doors. Saigo and Sonny negotiate with innkeeper Ho Sze for two rooms for 1 tael for the night.

Sonny, Saigo, and Soske’ share a room, with Toshi and Jung-Mo back at the boats. Monk Sonny turns in early, and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo spends 1.5 tael for entertainment by Okubo Kita, a River Spirit Folk geisha.

Restless Soske’ talks with other guests. Most are local loggers and trappers of Shengtese extraction, with a few Tsucharim and Wolven.

Ember is unhappy to be stuck with Oh Kum-Ja and Lady Yun, so she wanders among the tea rooms. The Wu spots the subtle bestial features of other Hengeyokai….

Byron and Dexter, we missed you, and I hope you’ll be able to rejoin our game next weekend! Let me know if any of you will be unavailable on Dec. 22 or 29 because of holiday travel.

In the meantime, I’ll write up my notes for the latest “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” face-to-face session, which also went well, and I look forward to Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” scenario next Monday.

“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Session 39.26 — Arrival in Falit

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” Session 39.26, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 18 November 2013:

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 autumn 2013:

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

“5 to 9 January 1227 B.C.E.:” The adventurers booked passage from Sileran to Falit on the Foamrunner, a Sea Elven schooner. On the way, they outran a Hobgoblin bireme and a pirate ship and played cards with humanoid pirates at the village of Naira on Emein Island.

While on watch one night, Elsa Fairbottom and Sir Torrel see a man pushing a wheelbarrow of soil across Naira’s docks. Barry invites Elsa to his garden, but Torrel is wary and wakens some of their companions.

While Hamfast Hammerfist and Tempestade stay asleep in their cabins, Giacomo du Vane, Scully Strongbow, and Corwin Windsong go to investigate and to protect Elsa and Sir Torrel. Barry happily leads the visitors along a narrow trail to the jungle island’s interior.

The away team meets “Alpa” [Brian/Non-Player Character], a strange Treant, and human cannibal nicknamed “Bob” [Josh/N.P.C.]. The animated catalpa mutters about a creature in his head. Scully offers to help, but Alpa swings tendrils at her.

Bob offers a severed human leg to Barry, who politely declines and says it should go to his plants instead. Despite her friends’ criticism, Elsa continues following Barry into his garden. As they had feared, it is full of giant carnivorous plants.

Barry and Elsa discuss fruits, vegetables, and herbs while surrounded by flora such as a hangman’s tree, yellow musk creepers, assassin vines, a giant Venus flytrap, blood roses, a huge pitcher plant, black lotus, and wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Giacomo makes notes of potential spell components, as Sir Torrel senses malevolent intent, and Corwin tries to stay on the path. Elsa agrees to search for fungi to add to Barry’s garden, and he escorts them back to the village.

The next morning, Capt. Scarlet orders the Foamrunner to set sail south. The Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elf) asks the onetime circus performers if they left their posts the previous night. Elsa and Torrel admit that they did, and they learn that a crewman came back ill.

Erasol’s stomach writhes, and Elsa diagnoses him as suffering from a parasitic infection. Scully suggests inducing vomiting, and Giacomo, Hamfast, and Sir Torrel help haul the hapless seaman to the rail of the catamaran.

As expected, Erasol spews seven large worms. Corwin quickly casts Sleep, affecting four of the creatures. Elsa invokes Gaia (Mekkil) to summon a water elemental. Sir Torrel slices a worm with his sword, but its pieces continue to wriggle on the deck.

Giacomo miscasts a Magic Missile, but Scully shoots an arrow through a worm. Sir Torrel soon finds himself grappling with another, which tries to get inside his armor. Hamfast simply smashes one parasite with his maul. Bard Corwin draws a blade and strikes another, and Monk Tempestade throws another overboard.

Druid Elsa directs “Puddle” the elemental to sweep the sleeping worms off the ship. Paladin Sir Torrel struggles, as Mage Giacomo and Ranger Scully try to grab the worm on him. Scully, Corwin, and Fighter Hamfast eventually finish up the flukes.

Capt. Scarlet is relieved to see Erasol weak but still alive. The Foamrunner arrives at Falit, which has magnificent minarets, shining domes, and multiple harbors and markets. Time-displaced Tempestade, who is eager to find a way to return to his homeland, disembarks as the others make plans.

Falit map
Falit, capital of the Ebir Sheikdom

Tempestade heads toward the Tower of Wind, one of three towers of sorcery in the capital of the Ebir Sheikdom. On the way, he stops in the slave market. Despite his hatred of slavery, Tempestade purchases sullen laborer Faroukh from Gozar for 20 dinars (gold pieces) in the hope of learning about the city.

Meanwhile, Elsa, Giacomo, Hamfast, Scully, and Sir Torrel get lodgings and stabling near the Camel Soukh. Corwin haggles the rate down to 20 dinars for three nights. The travelers agree to meet at Tower of Alchemy near the center of Falit if they get separated. At 3 dinars a day, they hire a guide, Salim, who takes them directly to the Tower of Wind.

The outlanders find Tempestade and Faroukh and come to a tall spire, honeycombed with entrances and exits up its entire height. Birds, flying carpets, and Djinn fly through the openings. Petitioners, familiars, and sages wander about the ramps inside the airy tower.

At a shrine to Vendrah, lord of the sky, the visitors meet Imam Ghurya. The Hakim (priest) listens to Tempestade’s questions about how to get home and says that he will consult with Tarzu, a wise Djinni. Imam Ghurya asks the adventuring party to return in a day for a possible audience.

In the bazaar, Gnoll Scully buys clothes for herself and Faroukh, whom Tempestade releases. The human Monk gives the fellow former slave 50 dinars and recommends that he seek passage out of the city. The wealthy wanderers give some coins in Beggars’ Alley.

Rather than follow winding streets to cross the city, Zeda human Hamfast suggests taking a ferry across Falit’s harbors to the Tower of Sight. At the docks, the warm northerners buy food from pushcart vendors and find that they like falafel and gelato.

The Tower of Sight is disconcertingly covered in blinking eyes. Curious Scully pokes one, only to incur harsh stares. After waiting in line, the group has an audience with blind seer Lydia.

In return for an as-yet-unspecified favor, Lydia tells Tempestade that there are a number of ways for him to return to Brazil. They include portals such as those in Emein Island (sealed), the lost city of Tel Silat, and the Zarendo Islands.

Lydia explains that some magical artifacts, Ley line nodes, and powerful beings can also aid with dimensional travel. The obelisk that Tempestade has learned of in the barbaric port of Gisar can send him home, Lydia says, but he’ll have to learn the proper combination of runes to operate it.

Giacomo tarries for a moment to ask Lydia about the “Mad Mage,” who is tied to the tattoo on his back. The blind librarian says that most of the evil Wizard’s peers are dead, but the Sorceress Zu and Lord Nemer at Mt. Gruldar know more about him.

Hamfast hopes to visit Falit’s drinking establishments, while Scully is still wary fellow canids such as Anpur and Wolven. Tempestade prepares to return to the Tower of Wind, and Elsa plans to inquire with the harbormaster about the dreaded ghost fleet and Gisar. Guide Salim asks for an order of places to go.

Although Lydia noted that the cult of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom, has not recruited in Falit as it has elsewhere, Corwin and company are cautious. Sir Torrel asks about the Pernicon (Thri-kreen), orders of holy warriors, and Falit’s three arenas.

Elsa writes a letter to Baskor Steadyhand in Vistel’s Circus telling him of her sightseeing and many deeds….

I hope that everybody enjoyed last night’s game, and thanks again, Rich, for “Elsa’s” notes. I look forward to seeing some of you at upcoming events, including this weekend’s Super MegaFest, the second “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” session, orJason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” next Monday.