Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session T3.37 of the latest adventuring party in my "Vanished Lands" heroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 1 January 2012, and has been using Pathfinder, Skype, and an online dice roller.
In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. After "Holy Steel's" journey to the distant empire of Khemet, another motley group gathered in the northwestern "Vanished Lands" to explore a world full of perils and wonders….
After meeting in the Wisalef Forest, an unlikely band of adventurers encountered the hostile Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja on the Plains of Sathendo….
>>Telecom party Player Character roster, as of spring 2012:
-"Asish Chen Ti" [Byron V.O.]-male Tsucharim human archer (Mongol-style Ranger), escaped from the kingdom of Gokuri; owner of Akita dog Genghis and horses Onimusha and Gashmu; NGl, Age 20, Lvl. 4
-"Jovinda Halflight" [Sammy H.]-female Half-Elf (Grugach/Hifalendorin) Cleric of Mekkil, goddess of nature; owner of horses Wyth-Amoi and Meth-Fenna; NGl, Age 23, Lvl. 4
-"Kazuo Takenaga" [Taum D'A.]-male Nezumi (Rat-kin) Monk from the Zedu kingdom in the Therud Forest; LNg, Age 20, Lvl. 4
-"Favelhorn Riftbringer" [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Mountain Dwarf Summoner; CGn, Age 51, Lvl. 1
-"Gawain Keary" [Paul J./absent]-male Saganim human Illusionist (proto-Celtic Wizard); NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 3
-"Kovar" [Beruk A./absent]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras, god of contracts and brotherhood; LGn, Lvl. 3
-"Davven 'Digger' Hollysharp" [Robert A.S./absent]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 3
>>"10 to 13 August 1229 B.C.E.:" On the way northwest from the haunted hamlet of Alarn to the city of Alfendi, the party met a band of Elven hunters deep in the Wisalef Forest. They rode together for a time and traded news of threats in the borderlands.
Asish tells Caliran Gelos that he is a fellow scout and asks for contacts at the Rangers' Guild. They also tend to the horses and dogs, including Cooshee, an Elven breed. The rugged woodsfolk refrain from commenting as Asish and Jovinda discuss rituals for their animal companions.
Jovinda explains to Delvalatar Juteriel that she is looking for onetime traveling companions Digger and Kovar, as well as the retinue of "Jade" [Sammy/Non-Player Character]. The haughty Alvari (Sylvan Elf) says that the Waletku kingdom is unlikely to rush to aid displaced farmers in the (proto-Western European) human kingdom of Hifalendor.
Feldostram Owedoc and Aelwyn Kisto admit to Kazuo that they'd rather be hunting a dire boar and goat-horned stag than worrying about Goblin witches or Unseelie Fey followers of the mysterious Vappu Lahja. Feldostram challenges Kazuo to a spear-throwing contest, and the nimble Nezumi acquits himself well.
Asish, Jovinda, and Kazuo show their old map of border communities and Ley lines. Delvalatar notes that any abandoned fortresses should be approached from the northeast, in the direction of capital Alfhileno, rather than from the direction of the nefarious kingdom of Zuromm. He also says it's possible that some Ley line nodes have been contaminated in much the same way one would poison a well.
Cleric Jovinda warns Feldostram to beware of unnatural beasts. Monk Kazuo describes how Vappu Lahja can turn even the chaotic Fey into her intolerant followers, worrying Caliran and Aelwyn. That night, the Elves share watches with the Tsucharim human, Grugach, and Nezumi.
Shortly before dawn, something crashes through the frosted woods. Kazuo quietly wakes up his companions, then creeps forward to see the source of the noise. The rat-kin sees a pair of giant legs swathed in hides, followed by a grizzly bear. He also soon hears two voices in conversation and realizes that the giant is a two-headed Ettin!
Brave Kazuo yells at the brute to divert it from the camp, and Delvalatar moves the steeds away. Priestess Jovinda is disgusted by the ugly giant, and Ranger Asish shoots arrows into the dark (the campfire was extinguished).
Feldostram hurls spears, and Caliran and Aelwyn draw their longbows. The Ettin debates with itself whether to smash the demihumans and swings huge clubs at Kazuo, hitting him painfully. The bear charges into camp and hugs and bites Asish.
Kazuo is surprised to be caught off balance and misses the Ettin. Jovinda casts Light on an acorn, throws it, and hides behind a tree. Asish struggles to break free from the bear's clawed embrace, as the Elven hunters continue to rain spears and arrows on the leather-armored giant.
The enraged Ettin again clubs furred Kazuo, who hits him back with a Flurry of Blows. Jovinda slides past the bear and invokes Mekkil, goddess of nature, to cast Sanctuary on Asish [see also Sammy's prayer lyrics]. The Tsucharim archer does a backspring and draws his bow as his dog Genghis harries the grizzly.
Wise Jovinda tells the bear to leave and tags Kazuo with Aid and Shield of Faith. The martial artist also uses Ki to avoid further blows, and acrobatic Asish rolls to flank the Ettin. The wounded giant staggers on, swinging his clubs wildly. Asish finishes off the Ettin with his katana, and the bear ambles away, unhindered by the Elves.
Asish takes the giant's leather and hide armor. The Tsucharim horseman also finds an idol of a pale woman carved in sandstone. The Elves are unable to identify it, but they say it could represent Sherma, lady of the night, or even Vappu Lahja.
Jovinda reclaims her acorn and uses Wood Shape to turn the Ettin's clubs into a chair and a statue of her patron deity to leave behind. Kazuo and Asish are grateful for her healing. Now that they have fought side by side, Delvalatar tells the three wanderers about Cullen O'Shea, a former member of his household in Alfendi.
The hunters eventually leave Asish, Jovinda, and Kazuo to continue on their own on the trail to the Elven city. The trio soon beholds orchards around Alfendi's white stone walls….
I hope you enjoyed our first regular game of 2012. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the "Vanished Lands!" I look forward to getting back to a regular campaign — we meet next on Sunday, Jan. 8 — as well as to occasionally continuing the adventures of other parties, such as "Holy Steel" or the "Broken Chains."
In the coming months, I also hope to try out Google+, Lorefinder (Gumshoe for Pathfinder), and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre. Boston-area role-players Sara F. & Josh C. may sit in on upcoming virtual sessions. The FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures: "Vortex" space opera game will resume next Monday, Jan. 9. Be seeing you, -Gene