"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.29 — Hatching in Yao Shung

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.29, which was held on Sunday, 7 September 2014:

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

Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.)/D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures  plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of autumn 2014:

  • Moon Jung-Mo [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki, eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk Yakuza (eastern Grey Elf Rogue); LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) with tiger companion Amaya and a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 7
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 7
  • 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. 7
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 7

“25 to 26 May 1227 B.C.E.:” The wanderers met a defender of the waterways, as well as two litter-borne imperial bureaucrats. A conversation with Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong revealed the diabolical duo’s true nature. The group learned that devils planned to take advantage of the growing chaos in the countryside, and it slayed the shapeshifters.

The diplomatic escorts continue following the Chieng Hsien stream northeast, toward Bazran Hai, the distant capital of the Zedu kingdom. They approach Yao Shun and see a recently erected bamboo barricade around a bridge into the village.

Sonny recommends riding straight in. Jung-Mo offers to comfort Ember, who is still shaken after the infernal inquisitors recognized her as an exile from the Celestial Court.

Toshi dons blue silk robes and avoids the gaze of curious farmers because his tiger steed Amaya is shorter than the fields of grain. Soske’ keeps an eye on the villagers as the group enters Yao Shun’s market.

Saigo wonders why defenses have been raised. An angry farmer recognizes Tokoro and yells at him for disrupting his irrigation dams. The Hulinyuan is unrepentant, and when Saigo steps in, Tah Sze backs down before the Samurai.

woman leads several wary villagers bearing pitchforks and flails. Dian Chen Yong tells the visitors that Yao Shun has already given most of its men and harvest to Tong Sheng’s army or to bandits.

Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo tries to reassure the Shengtese (East Asian) humans that he means no harm. Dian Chen Yong tells him that she will fetch the village elders. She also points out local shrines and eating establishments.

Jung-Mo brings the carriage with Lady Yun, her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja, Amaya, and Sonny’s talking horse Yip to the stables. The rest of the group goes to the Wonton Café for a late lunch. Shy adolescent Ye-Seng Szu ducks behind the counter, while her boyfriend Sun Yifu wishes that he could go off to war.

Shan Sao Toshi orders multiple dishes, and Shengtese priest Soske’ is concerned when he hears about children gone missing in nearby woods. Hengeyokai Tokoro makes a friend when young Dao Hu Yu, or “Hughie” for short, plays with his otter.

When there is a commotion at the stables, Sonny, Ember, and Saigo go to investigate. They find Jung-Mo sitting on a lacquered box, trying in vain to keep it from shaking. Lady Yun seems amused, and Oh Kum Ja is confused but doesn’t perceive any threat to her Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) mistress.

Jung-Mo takes the box and leaps from the carriage. The merchant begins to climb to a hayloft but realizes that there isn’t enough space. Ember and company pull him aside behind the barn and ask what’s going on. Jung-Mo reveals a large egg that has started to crack.

Back at the Wonton Café, Dian Chen Yong arrives with Yao-Ren Qeiqian, the village elder. Soske’ and Toshi begin asking about the missing children when Ember asks them to come to the stables. They excuse themselves, and Tokoro and his otter keep Hughie’s attention.

Jung-Mo explains to the group that he has a wyvern egg because the winged reptiles are the traditional companions of his clan. He also reveals his true visage as a Nannuattan shinobi (shadow warrior), or Ninja.

Shengtese human Sonny had been suspicious about the “River Spirit Folk’s” covert activities, and Toshi points out the logistical challenges of traveling with a growing wyvern.

Druid Ember and Shukenja Soske focus on helping the hatchling to emerge, and Tokoro fetches fresh water. Saigo is unhappy about traveling with another Nannuattan in addition to the duplicitious Lady Yun.

Jung-Mo says that he seeks adventure and justice for his clan, even though he is an exile from the empire of Gokuri. He swears on loved ones Ember and the wyvern that he won’t betray the party, mollifying Saigo somewhat.

Sonny asks Yip to help calm the other horses in the stable. The Kensai also distracts some of the local militia by asking the guards to help him get meat for hungry Amaya. Toshi offers to create a magical cage to conceal Jung-Mo’s hatchling.

Since the Wu Jen needs two days to enchant an enclosure, Soske’ wants to take that time to investigate the missing children. Sonny agrees, noting that helping the villagers should be enough to distract the villagers and Lady Yun from the young wyvern. Saigo says he is tired of pussyfooting around the emissary.

Hughie finds Tokoro and says that Dian Cheng Yong is ready to take the visitors to the local shaman. Jung-Mo, Ember, and Toshi go into the woods to tend to the wyvern. Sonny, Soske’, Saigo, and Tokoro go to a hermit’s hut outside Yao Shung.

There, they meet masked Han Yumei, who seems to know about their mission and individual destinies. She also tells the humans, Bamboo Spirit Folk, and Hengeyokai about evildoers deep in the woods.

The shaman says they are responsible for twisting nature, creating monsters, and probably abducting the children. Soske’ believes they are likely another cell of the Scarlet Order, which has been spreading chaos across the countryside.

The team regroups at the Red Reed Inn. Jung-Mo and Ember, relieved at sharing their true natures to their companions, feed and watch over the wyvern. Sonny brings a bottle of sake to Lady Yun to try to stay on her good side.

Toshi studies his scrolls and prepares Charm Monster, Speak With Dead, and Suggest for fellow spellcaster Soske’. The priest muses about the opportunity to strike at the Scarlet Order but worries that the would-be heroes will be walking into a trap.

Saigo notices Vineet Divarsi, a Vanara (monkey folk) pilgrim, but he joins Tokoro and a River Spirit Folk woman. It turns out that Hojo Etsuko is from the Bamboo Harbor and serves the same master as Ranger Tokoro. She gets very drunk, and Tokoro and Saigo have to help her to her room.

As the wanderers prepare to scout out the nearby woods, a breathless River Spirit Folk courier arrives from the north. Desc Soo-Ann, or “Desan” for short, says he has been looking for Toshi and Saigo for weeks and was redirected from Sogewa.

Desan brings letters from Suki, Toshi’s Bisan (Dryad) girlfriend, and Princess Nayoko, Saigo’s lover in the royal court. Suki writes that she misses Toshi but believes in his mission of peace. Nayoko wishes success to both Saigo and her brother Mutsuhito — who is currently in Gisokuri.

The Wu Jen and Samurai procure room and board for Desan and begin composing replies. The next morning, the adventurers prepare to head out….

I expect to be back from Vermont in time for our next “New Dawn” session. Remember to make sure that your Obsidian Portal records are up to date, and be ready to switch to a Google+ “hangout” if Skype acts up again.

I enjoyed Brian S.’s one-shot of Deadlands : Reloaded (using Savage Worlds), and I’ll see some of you at next week’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game!

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.28 — River defender and infernal bureaucrats

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.28, which was held on Monday, 1 September 2014:

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

Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game andAdvanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.)/D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures , plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of autumn 2014:

  • Moon Jung-mo [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki, eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk Yakuza (eastern Grey Elf Rogue); LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) with tiger companion Amaya and a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 7
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 7
  • 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. 7
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 7

“23 to 24 May 1227 B.C.E.:” As the diplomatic escorts rode across the eastern Plains of Sathendo, they encountered skeletal warriors riding stags. The Undead were not evil but were in service to a nature spirit searching for defilers.

The travelers helped the warriors defeat four evil Druids who had drained the area of life. Ember briefly returned to her true draconic form, Soske’ first learned about the Scarlet Order, and Sonny’s horse gained the ability to speak with him.

The caravan follows the Chieng Hsien upstream toward Bazran Hai, distant capital of the Zedu kingdom. It encounters relatively few other travelers on the rolling grasslands.

Given its recent battle alongside the skeletal warriors, the adventuring party is understandably wary when it sees another stag with a rider approaching from the north. The mustachioed man pulls off the trail to let the carriage and horses pass, but Ember is curious and greets him.

Tokoro Gawa is vague about where he comes from and says that he is riding to Sogewa, the capital of Tong Sheng, to complain about polluted waterways. Jealous Jung-Mo isn’t happy to see Ember being friendly to another man.

Sonny warns the newcomer away from the city because of the turmoil among its aristocracy. Toshi keeps his tiger Amaya from attacking the steed, and Tokoro maintains control over his nervous mount.

Soske’ is interested in comparing notes with Tokoro and explains that the group has encountered many monsters and increasing chaos in the countryside. Saigo watches out for a potential ambush.

Tokoro says that he will travel with the team, but Sonny is skeptical about his motives. Lady Yun Aei-Yong, the emissary of the Gokuri Empire, pokes her head out from Jung-Mo’s merchant carriage. The Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) points out that some dignitary is approaching.

Four men wearing Shang livery carry a litter and stop upon seeing the wanderers. An attractive woman in embroidered silk robes and a man wearing a tall red cap draw the litter’s curtain aside and ask the motley crew to identify itself.

Zeng Chen is apparently a scribe serving imperial inquisitor Zhu Xiaoping. The group is alarmed when they begin speaking with Lady Yun in Infernal. Even though he doesn’t speak the language, Jung-Mo memorizes as much of their exchange as he can.

Sonny pulls his companions aside and warns them to stay calm, since the minister and his aide outrank them and may be spellcasters. Oh Kum Ja, Lady Yun’s Draconian bodyguard, seems bored. Toshi studies the slack-jawed litter bearers, who aren’t moving as tired people should.

Ember covertly casts True Seeing and glimpses screaming visages behind the porters’ blank expressions. Restless Soske’ and Saigo maneuver to guard the carriage, which Lady Yun reluctantly re-enters at Jung-Mo’s request.

Tokoro notices that the litter bearers are wet to the knees, as if they have recently forded a stream, but they still don’t stamp their feet to dry. As Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo moves the carriage away from the trail, Toshi casts Detect Magicand sees that the duo from the litter is disguised.

Lady Zeng and Master Zhu look at Ember, who perceives their true forms — one has a featureless face, and the other has red skin! The woman’s nails grow into sharp talons, and the Red Minister pulls out a metal rod and threatens to “discipline” Ember, who is an exile from the Celestial Court.

Wu Jen Toshi casts Invisibility on himself and sends Amaya away. Zhu, or at least the devil posing as him, strikes at Wu Ember, but swift Jung-Mo diverts his blow with an enchanted ninja-to (short sword). Zeng alters her appearance to resemble Lady Yun.

Hulinyuan Tokoro draws his dao (sword) and swings at Zeng, who hisses that she’ll carve off his face for her collection. Kensai Sonny takes a flying leap from his horse but misses Zhu. Angered by the infernal bureaucrat, Ember Wild Shapes into an elephant.

Toshi summons an Air Elemental and identifies Lady Zeng as a Zunberabou or doppelganger. Red-bearded Zhu tries to pass hellish judgement on Ember, Jung-Mo, and Sonny, but they avoid his penance stare.

Shapeshifting Zeng swipes at Tokoro, while Jung-Mo takes a hit from Zhu’s sword breaker and slashes at the Red Minister. Tokoro backs away and draws his daikyu (great bow). Sonny kicks the Zunberabou and entangles her with his spiked chain.

Shapeshifter and infernal bureaucrat

Zunberabou and Red Minister

Elephantine Ember tramples Zhu and Zeng. The Air Elemental slams Zeng while Shan Sao Toshi casts Mass Snake’s Swiftness on his allies. Spirit Folk Jung-Mo switches to a short bow, and Hengeyokai Tokoro fires a volley of arrows.

Toshi casts Lightning Bolt, and Zeng hits the elemental with his iron rod. Ember knocks Zhu unconscious, and Shengtese (East Asian) human Sonny restrains the woman. The Hengeyokai finishes off the Red Minister, and Shengtese Shukenja Soske’ consecrates the fallen celestial’s remains.

The four porters return to their senses and ask where they are. Ember asks them what they remember, and En. Wu says they were in the village of Chung Kwang Shui. Soske’ says it’s best to send them home rather than on to Sogewa.

Wally, Yang, and Suko say they were assigned to some officials, but Toshi casts Know History on the litter and confirms that the real Master Zhu and Lady Zeng were murdered and replaced by the imposters.

The Wu Jen also casts Detect Evil and Detect Curse on the devil’s personal effects before they are claimed. Toshi takes scrolls of Charm Monster, Detect Good, Detect Lie, Detect Magic, Speak With Dead, and Suggest. Jung-Mo takes a Robe of Alter Self, and Sonny claims the iron rod [1d12+3 damage; crit parry destroys foe’s sword].

Jung-Mo and Sonny interrogate the Zunberabou. She admits to being an assassin serving the Red Minister, who answers to the lords of the Nine Hells. Faux Zhu says that the devils planned to take advantage of growing chaos by imposing their own order on the Principality of Silado.

The changeling is not intimidated by threats, but she reveals that she planned to infiltrate the provincial capital. Rogue Jung-Mo notes that the Zunberabou had copied Lady Yun’s face and that options include keeping her as a prisoner, dispatching her, or letting her go free.

Chain master Sonny doesn’t trust Zhu and suggests sending her to Lady Fu Hao, the Shang emperor’s favorite concubine, in Sogewa. Wizard Toshi casts Detect Lie to make sure Zhu is telling the truth. She has only heard of the Scarlet Order.

Druid Ember explains that the Celestial Court probably wouldn’t care about a lowly spy and says Zhu should be imprisoned. By contrast, freedom-loving Ranger Tokoro says the doppelganger should be set free if she vows not to carry out her mission.

The Zunberabou claims that she would be honorable, but Toshi’s spell proves otherwise. Samurai Saigo says the creature has outlived its usefulness, but priest Soske’, like Tokoro, values life. After some debate, the group executes the shapeshifter.

Toshi gives 20 tael (10 gold pieces) to the four soldiers and asks them to bring the Zunberabou to Sogewa with a letter explaining to Lady Fu the assassins they have intercepted. Meanwhile, Lady Yun professes gratitude that the group has eliminated a threat to her diplomatic mission, despite her apparent familiarity with the duo.

The caravan returns to the trail toward the Shengtese human village of Yao Shung….

Drew, I hope you’ll enjoy the “New Dawn” game, which is similar to “Vistel’s Expedition” but explores a different corner of the “Vanished Lands.” Bruce and Geoff, we missed you!

I expect our telecom game to continue on Sunday, Sept. 7, and I look forward to Bruce’s “PathfinderEberron/Reign of Winter” next Monday. In the meantime, please make sure that your character records on Obsidian Portal are up to date.

Seasonal SFTV shifts

I'm still catching up on reviews of recent genre entertainment, but last weekend marked a definite changing of the guard on television. No, I'm not talking about the Emmys, which I ignored, just as the academy has ignored Tatiana Maslany's excellent Orphan Black performances (with Person of Interest, among the best shows of this past year, IMHO).

First was the third season finale of Avatar: the Legend of Korra, which I watched online because Nickelodeon has dropped the animated fantasy. It was bittersweet, because this season has been that show's strongest yet in terms of character development and plotting.

Last Airbender/Korra wallpaper

The heroes of Avatar

 Sure, Legend of Korra has continued the spectacular world-building and action of its progenitor, Avatar: the Last Airbender, but its first two seasons lurched from one set-piece battle to the next, its leads took a while to mature, and its villains' motivations weren't well explained.

It's also a shame that Legend of Korra hit its stride just as Nickelodeon abandoned it. The finale was rushed, with the duel between the eponymous heroine and dangerous anarchists quickly wrapping things up, with no mention of the crossover between the physical and spirit realms that had marked the season opener.

I look forward to a fourth season, which is reportedly in the works, but it's too bad that the Avatar universe hasn't gotten the recognition (or the live-action adaptation) it deserves.

On a related note, I've almost finished watching the final episodes of the computer-animated Star Wars: Clone Wars, which has managed to maintain a high level of quality even after Cartoon Network dumped it online. If this is part of a trend, that's bad news for genre fans; even as a few shows such as Game of Thrones are mainstream hits, other worthy ones will again struggle to find audiences and sponsors.

Star Wars: Clone Wars Season 6

Another online-only wrapup

I've argued for a while now that, as with The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, George Lucas, Genndy Tartakovsky, and Dave Filoni's creation has patched any problems from the franchise's most recent films. There are more hours of well-crafted entertainment from Clone Wars than in any of the less-popular Star Wars prequels.

Even though Disney/Lucasfilm/Marvel has decided to ignore most of the so-called Expanded Universe, Clone Wars has put that space opera on solid storytelling ground, and I look forward to Disney XD's Star Wars: Rebels.

Last but not least was the latest season premiere of Doctor Who, with the first full episode featuring Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord. I like an older Doctor, who reminds me of the courtly Jon Pertwee with a bit of Christopher Eccleston's edge.

Peter Capaldi joins an elite fraternity

Doctors Who

On the other hand, the frenetic pacing and reuse of the "Paternoster Gang" and clockwork villains seemed to be an attempt by producer Steven Moffat to convince the BBC and some fans that elements from David Tennant and Matt Smith's popular runs will continue.

It's no surprise that Jenna Coleman will be leaving after this year's celebration and transition, even as her character, the plucky Clara Oswald, has had to come to grips that the good Gallifreyan no longer appears as a young swain. I hope that the stories are more tightly written in the coming series/season.

What genre TV shows were your favorites this past year, and what are you looking forward to this fall?

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.46 — Shore leave

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.46, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 25 August 2014:

In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. The “Vanished Lands” were blessed by the gods and cursed by prophecy. Travelers became adventurers, and adventurers strove to be heroes in the face of many perils and wonders. One such band began as circus performers, rescued slaves, and seeks to fight the dreaded Ghost Fleet….

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

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

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

“26 to 31 March 1227 B.C.E.:” The newly dubbed Zephyr arrived in the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human port of Drunstimlos. Corwin and Elsa Teleported for a quick visit to Thadenis and reported on their plans. Scully was happy to meet an Atlantean contact, as well as Sir Niac and other knights.

Giacomo worried about his accursed tattoo and the suspicious return of a long-missing priest. Rhys worked on the steamboat, filched a Sea Elven knife, and got into a bar brawl. Tempestade and his fellow Brazilian freedmen left for their new homeland.

Over the next week or so, “Vistel’s Expedition” continues working to make its steam-powered riverboat seaworthy. Ship’s mage Giacomo decorates the Zephyr ’s square mainsail with an avian coat of arms but recommends against flying any one nation’s flag.

Sailor and scout Scully helps boyfriend Niac [Mike F./Non-Player Character], who is also a shipwright. Bard Corwin, who has some experience as a seaman, performs in the “Sailor’s Climb” inn and recruits the following crew members (at a total of 150 g.p. per month):

  • Almaric Dorimus: male Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human navigator, Lvl. 2 sailor; LNg
  • Audrey Driscoll: female Saganim (proto-Celtic) human cook and sailor 1/Fighter 1; TNl
  • Cyric Ahearn: male Saganim carpenter and sailor 1; LNg
  • Emmet Banning: male Saganim sailmaker and sailor 1; NGl
  • Evan Bradford: male Saganim fisherman and sailor 1; TNg
  • Evelyn Morgwyl: female Half-Elf tinkerer and sailor 1; CGn
  • Fiona Chadwick: female Saganim sailor 1/Rogue 1; CNg
  • Glynnis Shannon: female Saganim sailor 1/Fighter 1; NGl
  • Gordon Selwyn: male Saganim sailor 1/Rogue 1; CNg
  • Holt Chapman: male Saganim farmer/stablehand and sailor 1; CNg
  • Kaitlin Ellis: female Saganim acolyte of Ghanki/sailor 1; LGn
  • Reginald Seward: male Saganim pirate, served aboard the Mad Saber and theBloody Manta; sailor 1/Fighter 2; CNe
  • Ronan Teague: male Saganim blacksmith and sailor 1; LNg
  • Tiernan Saunders: male Saganim cabin boy, sailor 1; NGc

Cook and healer Elsa ignores the case of the recently returned Father Gwydion, a priest of Ghanki, lord of the waters, who may be associated with pirates. Instead, she pays provisioner Lorne Alwinson about 200 crowns (gold pieces) for ship supplies and Halfling grocer Anika Hendriks 50 g.p. for a month’s worth of rations.

Engineer Rhys is most busy refitting the Zephyr, making the following enhancements with Niac’s guidance [see Classic Play: Book of the Sea and other D20/OGL nautical sourcebooks]:

  • ballistae, 4 (large crossbows, -4 to hit, 3d8 damage, 120 ft. range, 500 g.p. each, plus 50 g.p. for ammunition)
  • battlements (+2 to cover, 100 g.p. total)
  • dinghys/lifeboats/rowboats, 4 total (50 g.p. each, AC9, Hardness 5; 4 passengers each)
  • keel fin, retractable (1,000 g.p.)
  • masts and lanteen sails (triangular, under ship supplies)
  • wings, clockwork dragon’s (for future airship stabilizers)

The adventuring party reconvenes at the inn. Giacomo wonders about hostile relations between the kingdom of Saganim and the Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elves) of the Kelp Kingdom.

Scully offers Niac as a potential captain for the Zephyr . Elsa says another visit to Thadenis, the capital of Saganim, is in order before meeting with Capt. Scarlet of the Foamrunner, and Corwin agrees. They and Giacomo prepare Teleport spells.

In his quarters, Rhys pulls a robotic waiter that he had taken from Pais Doce, a plantation in future Brazil, out of his Bag of Holding. He is surprised when the boxy construct speaks. The Tinker Gnome asks Corwin for help translating Portuguese, and the Half-Elf casts Know the Words.

They learn that the clockwork automaton can learn simple commands. Rhys’ latest mechanical aide joins Giacomo’s leather-winged homunculus familiar Gerald among the team’s growing number of companions and followers.

The wanderers Teleport from Drunstimlos back to Thadenis. Elsa leads the way to the Royal Society for Cartography, where apparently indolent student Ilnadu Magevictor sleepily greets them. He fetches “Ulrich Vandermoor” [Ted A.H./N.P.C.], who is delighted to share travel notes.

medieval docks

Saganim seaport

Rhys, a first-time visitor to the large city, is pleased to find someone else interested in the Zephyr ’s plans. Ulrich pays 500 g.p. for a copy, as well as 100 g.p. apiece for recent maps of the Ebir Sheikdom, the Zarendo Archipelago, and the Gusorin Confederation from Flind Scully and Hill Dwarf Elsa.

Ulrich also mentions “Pruts…” [Patrick D./N.P.C.], another Tinker Gnome who once traveled with the “Dragonslayers” through the Ivory Mountains and Wisalef Forest. Scully studies maps of ports around the Sea of Nagendwa.

Rhys inquires about sources for coal to power the steamship. Ulrich replies that there are mines in the Zeda kingdom of the Dwarves and Gnomes, some of the Zarendo Islands, and the nefarious kingdom of Zuromm. Corwin expresses interest in buying a mine that’s readily accessible from the sea.

Corwin and company go to the Bardic College, where they meet Maeve Gallagher, a priestess of Brijitt. Corwin and Elsa donate hundreds of crowns to the temple of the goddess of fire and poetry. Giacomo excuses himself to visit Maggie Oakleaf, a droll Sylvan Elf adept he befriended at the Harandrim Academy.

Corwin gives an additional grant so that Daven’s Theatre, for which his exiled half-brother was a patron, is renamed after him. The prince also auditions Doyle Tunney as an apprentice. The young man performs on the harmonica, tambor, and harp and shows potential.

Maeve refers Elsa to Miss Crevan for setting up the first office in the Druid’s planned long-range communications network. Rhys shares tales he heard from the skalds in Gisar and gives the flame-haired priestess a copy of his notes.

The onetime circus performers are disturbed to learn that centaurs are allegedly fighting with Hifalendorin humans on the Plains of Sathendo. Maeve repeats rumors that Vappu Lahja, a pale woman from a fairy tale, has appeared and may be the cause of the unusual strife.

Sometime later, a chariot pulls up to the Bardic College, and Miss Crevan steps off. Elsa gives her 500 g.p. to set up the rental office and explains her ambitions for a stronger alliance against the dreaded Ghost Fleet.

Rhys asks “Brother Cathal Duartbell” [Atilla C./N.P.C.], the armored driver of the chariot, about enhancements that he notices. The Paladin of Edillon, lord of the sky, is happy to recount his heroic deeds with the “Lorewardens” and offers to give Rhys a ride. The curious Gnome agrees, and Ranger Scully sends owl “Owlicious” to keep an eye on them.

Duartbell and Rhys go careening through Thadenis’ busy streets, scattering scared pedestrians. As the two horses and the chariot charge through the mainAgora (market), Rhys presses a brass button, and scythe-like blades pop out of the wheels, obliterating several fruit stands!

Two members of the city watch stop the fancy chariot, and Sir Duartbell tells the “little man” to stay hidden while he offers apologies and recompense. The guards aren’t surprised to see the boisterous knight, and they warn him not to drive so recklessly again.

As soon as they’re out of the Agora, the Saganim human gives the reins to his new Gnome friend, and they speed back to the Bardic College. Bro. Duartbell names Hanuf Wazir in Falit and Guillaume Sixtus in Hesolin as craftsmen who supply him. Scully winks at Rhys, signaling that she knows about his latest mischief.

Corwin brings the party to the Hall of Thanes, where King Edmund II and Queen Margaret greet them while dealing with counselors asking for more security on the streets. The artist formerly known as Prince Berek asks for a more private audience, and they retire to a smaller hall for dinner.

Edmund the Strong is pleased with the party’s defense of Sileran against Undead giants and its escalating fight against evil. He gives each member an item from the royal armory:

  • Giacomo: Marvelous Pigments
  • Scully: Ring of Protection (+2 Armor Class)
  • Corwin: enchantment on his shark hide (+2 AC)
  • Elsa: helmet, horned (+2 AC)
  • Rhys: Gem of Tongues

Giacomo recommends against overuse of Teleportation because it could be tracked by a certain Pit Fiend in the Temple of Elemental Evil on Salhonif Island. Scully notes that removing Giacomo’s tattoo of the “Mad Mage” Ezra is another top priority.

Corwin warns the king about Lord Caerdon, who may be involved with an unauthorized feud with the Sea Elves in Drunstimlos. He also catches up with his younger sister Karenna, who has matured from being a spoiled aristocrat.

Elsa gets approval from the king for her communications mission. Rhys plans to use his magical gem to enable Vasco, his robot butler, to communicate with the party.

The team stays at the Gilded Keep for the night. Corwin broods in his childhood chamber, recalling how he was falsely accused of murder. The prince casts Limited Wish to learn the whereabouts of Lord Dalek, the court mage who framed him for the disappearance of his wife (and Berek’s tutor and lover) Katarina.

Corwin has a vision of the Tiefling (demon-touched) Wizard in a room with Sean Sable, the son of Lord Stefan Sable (whose family is suspected of necromancy) and a friend of exiled Prince Daven. They are in the barbaric port of Gisar, no doubt scheming.

Angry Corwin awakens his fellowship. Giacomo is wary, having heard at the Bardic College that Daven is gaining followers in the east. Scully points out that there are many evildoers worth fighting, and Elsa suggests notifying former colleague “Hamfast” [Brian W./N.P.C.], who is still in Gisar.

The priestess of Mekkil (Gaia) and Vulkan (Moradin) also prefers to travel to Falitfirst. Rhys reminds the group that the Zephyr isn’t yet ready and of the need for paying missions. Corwin still swears vengeance and goes to look for “Melchior” [Byron V.O./N.P.C.], a sympathetic Cleric of Ulandt, goddess of the night….

Thanks again, Drew, to you and your wife for hosting and feeding us! I hope everybody enjoyed our latest session. The face-to-face groups will be taking a week off for Labor Day, but I look forward to resuming Bruce’s “PathfinderEberron/Reign of Winter” miniseries.

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.27 — Skeletal sentinels and the Scarlet Order

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.27, which was held on Sunday, 24 August 2014:

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

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

  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) with tiger companion Amaya and a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 7
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 7
  • 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. 7
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K./absent]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Moon Jung-mo [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki, eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk Yakuza (eastern Grey Elf Rogue); LNg, Lvl. 7

“20 to 22 May 1227 B.C.E.:” Zu Ji, the rogue Shang crown prince, Teleported to Gokuri with some court wizards and guards, leaving Lady Yun Aei-Yong and her retinue to face Lady Fu Hao and her army. The emperor’s favored concubine angrily dismissed the Nannuattan emissary.

The adventurers promised to report on their progress in finding the sources of chaos in the countryside in return for the peaceful restoration of Duke Kou Fei Seng in Sogewa. They continue riding north across the eastern Plains of Sathendo to the demihuman Zedu kingdom.

Jung-Mo continues courting Ember, while Sonny is vindicated in his distrust of Lady Yun. Toshi and Saigo are eager to return to Bazran Hai, capital of their homeland. Soske’ recommends heading northwest, skirting the Therud Forest, rather than following the more heavily traveled Hei Kang River north toward Akilu.

The diplomatic escorts take a road along the Chung Hsien Stream toward the village of Yao Shun. They pass farms, rolling grasslands, and occasional copses of wind-swept trees. The caravan enjoys the pleasant late-spring weather.

Shengtese human Soske’ and Hengeyokai Ember find a campsite for the night. Shengtese Giacomo and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo practice their weapons skills and start a fire. Shan Sao Toshi lets his new tiger steed Amaya go hunting.

Spirit Folk Jung-Mo keeps a close watch on the carriage with Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja. Sometime later, Sonny and Saigo hear something while on watch.

They creep into the tall grass and dimly spot by moonlight three skull-faced warriors in bronze scale armor riding large stags. The Kensai and Samurai rouse their companions. Jung-Mo and Saigo hang back to guard the camp, and the others saddle their horses to investigate.

Wu Ember Wild Shapes into an owl and flies ahead. She talks with one of the stags, which are not Undead but have glowing eyes. The beast says that the “power of the night compels them to roam.” Soske’ doesn’t Detect Evil.

Soske’ casts Light to get a better look, and the skeletal warriors ride around the camp. The travelers ready weapons and spells, but Soske’ hails the riders. The strange soldiers say they are guardians of a holy site looking for defilers. The Shukenja offers to help, and they ride out together.

Kensai Sonny and Samurai Saigo grumble about taking on every seemingly random mission, but the team comes upon a bowl-shaped hollow with a pool at its center reflecting the starry sky. Animals gather around its perimeter, and a shimmering nature spirit appears.

She greets the newcomers and temporarily confers abilities of the animals on each rider. Sonny gets the Alacrity of the Snake (2 actions per round), and Toshi receives the Might of the Caribou (+4 Str). The glowing woman grants Ember theCunning of the Fox (can reroll any skill check) and Soske’ the Fangs of the Wolf(melee attacks do double damage).

The explorers ride on with the Undead sentinels, and the vegetation beneath their horses’ and stags’ hooves becomes black and swampy. Toshi identifies the cause as a ritual draining life from the area to empower some villains.

Soske’ casts Ancestral Weapon, and a summoned spirit gives him an ice bow and applies the Fangs of the Wolf in return for the promise of a shrine.

Four people appear atop a hill. They appear to be Shengtese humans, but they are dressed strangely. The skeletal warriors lower their lances and charge, followed by the adventuring party.

man wearing stone armor charges at two of the skeletal warriors. A naked Barbarian leaps into the air, grabbing Ember in flight and pulling at her wings. The woman wearing bark casts Warp Wood on Sonny’s items, but he manages to evade her spell.

woman in furs casts Charm Animal, wresting control of tiger Amaya from Toshi, who casts Invisibility on himself and runs. The skeletons attack the Sohei in stone but all miss.

Sonny swings a chain and entangles the Wu in bark. He drags Wei Lingjuan behind his horse, preventing the evil Druid from casting spells. Soske’ fires arrows at naked Fan Kien, injuring him.

Ember surprises everyone by reverting to her true form, that of a gold dragon! Fan Kien is thrown off and starts to flee. However, Xu Song’s stone plates protect him from the skeletons, and he smacks them with his club.

Qiu Ping first directs Amaya to find Toshi but then redirects the tiger toward Sonny, whose flying kicks miss the fur-clad woman. Toshi maneuvers so that Fan Kien is between him and the tiger and the young dragon, whose breath doesn’t affect anyone yet.

Sonny apologizes as he kicks Amaya away, and Soske’ shoots at Wei Lingjuan. Enlarged Ember pounces on the naked man, but the Yamen-ren briefly breaks free and keeps running. Ember pounces on Fan Kien and beheads him with a bite.

Wei Lingjuan casts Grease but is unable to wriggle out of Sonny’s chains. Toshi casts Lightning Bolt on Qiu Ping, who is slain by Sonny. The skeletal warriors eventually get through Xu Song’s stone armor.

Toshi calls to Amaya and gradually calms her. Ember briefly feels a pull to another plane and manages to revert from draconic to humanoid form without ill effect. Sonny whistles for his horse Yip, which drags the bark-clad woman toward him.

Soske’ stops it and asks Wei Lingjuan why she has summoned dark magic. The defiant Druid says that even if she is killed, the Scarlet Order will continue spreading chaos. The skeletons carry out their orders and execute the defiler of nature.

Sonny takes the hide, bark, and stone armor, and Toshi incinerates the corpses before returning to the nature spirit. She thanks them and offers blessings. Sonny interrupts and begs a boon — he says he would like to better communicate with his horse.

The spirit nods before disappearing, and Yip says, “Sonny?”

I hope that everyone enjoyed our latest virtual session, and let me know if you’ll be available next Sunday, Aug. 31. Bruce, I hope your fantasy football draft went well, and we missed you! Dexter, I’m sure you would have enjoyed the cinematic and comedic moments of our encounters.

I look forward to tonight’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game at Drew’s place, and we’ll play Memorial Day by ear….