"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Circus" Update 39.9 — Time to get smacked

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” Session 39.9, which Brian W. hosted at his home in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 25 February 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 theBasic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, as of spring 2013:

  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 2
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 2
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with owlbear cub “Oswald”; NGc, Lvl. 2
  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A./absent]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; NGc, Lvl. 2
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F./absent]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 2
  • Tempestade [Josh C./departed]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), roustabout; CGl, Lvl. 2
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 1
Dragon Magazine cover

Performers and peasants

“26 to 28 February 1228 B.C.E.:” In the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human village of Nobb, performers from Vistel’s Circus had met “Pita ‘Ol’ Pete’ Arborson” [Dan A./Non-Player Character]. The Barbari human Ollave agreed to guide them on a quicker path toward Thadenis, capital of Saganim.

On the way southwest, scouts from the caravan found two small but vicious outposts of Orcs and wargs from the nefarious kingdom of Zuromm. The circus troupe made a forced march through wintery woods to the hamlet of Baln.

Circus founder Orlando Vistel notes that the community is too small to be worth setting up for a full show. Corwin, Hamfast, and Elsa go to the “Sanir’s Trumpet” pub, where they try a variety of brews recommended by barkeep Angus.

“Melody” [Lori K.S./N.P.C.], a Skaevingol human Skald (Scandinavian-style Bard) in [former “Seeker of Lore”] Ol’ Pete’s retinue, performs a song from her homeland. Corwin plays his mandolin, and Gnome inventor Ashkator Bibbleshins joins in with his accordion.

Strongman Hamfast offers to wrestle the diminutive Gnomes in the pub for a round of drinks, as brewer Elsa samples the local ale, Fey wine, and Gnomish cordials. Hamfast returns to the wagons to help drovers Cerdwyn mab Ardain and Baskor Steadyhand set up and guard the camp.

Ol’ Pete’s young apprentice Caleb accompanies Elsa as the Druid feeds Oswald, her Owlbear cub, as well as other animals. Corwin warns Angus about the Orcs and invites Melody up to his room.

The next morning, Elsa overhears Ol’ Pete lecturing Melody about protecting her virtue, and Corwin avoids Tamara bint Yasmina, a dancer in the circus and onetime paramour. Elsa goes to console Melody, while Ol’ Pete confronts Corwin.

The Bard promises that he won’t hurt Melody and that he would take care of her and any potential children. Ol’ Pete is placated, and Elsa says that although she admires his paternal instincts, Ol’ Pete should give his followers more freedom.

The Saganim peasants and Gnomes of Baln bid a fond farewell as Vistel’s Circus departs. Scouts Scully and Ivy (another of Ol’ Pete’s band) walk ahead of the wagons. Giacomo studies spells in the tinkerer’s cart of the late Necromancer from the Sable clan, while Tempestade shivers and stays close to the other roustabouts.

Hamfast asks Ol’ Pete if there’s anything interesting in Thadenis, since he has never been in a city before. The Ollave mentions temples and arenas, the supposedly haunted Isle of Grief, and numerous bars. Ivy refers Elsa to the Royal Society for Exploration and Cartography.

Corwin asks Mama Vistel for hair dye and shaves his goatee. The Half-Elf reveals that “Corwin Windsong” is not his true name and that he is familiar with the capital of the kingdom of Saganim. Elsa concludes that he must be an exiled or disgraced noble.

Scully and Ivy signal the wagon train to halt and bring Hamfast, Corwin, and Elsa to a grim discovery. The Gnoll and Grugach (Wild Elf) have found the frozen bodies of three Sylvan Elves and seven Orcs. There are signs of magic, but no identifying heraldry on either side. If any Orcs survived, they fled without looting the bodies.

Pious Elsa casts Gentle Repose on the Elven corpses so that they can be brought to Thadenis. Corwin warns Orlando and Cerdwyn to beware of more bandits on the road, and Hamfast carries the fallen to a wagon.

That evening, the circus camps under the stars. Hamfast, Cerdwyn, and Baskor take the first watch and stoke the fire. During the second watch, Corwin and Ivy hear an eerie caterwauling.

Corwin wakes Elsa and creeps out to investigate. He is surprised by a mountain lion, but a quick Sleep spell neutralizes the danger. Druid Elsa and Ranger Scully are pleased at the lack of violence. Elsa and Caleb have an uneventful third watch.

The caravan crosses the Plains of Sathendo, as the terrain shifts from woods to hills and, finally, sheep pastures and frosty fields. Ol’ Pete, Caleb, Ivy, and Melody take their leave. The performers behold the gray stone walls and towers of Thadenis and join the throngs at the city’s gates.

They pay the blond Saganim sentries a weapons tax and head to the “Happy Brownie,” which is between the temple district and various consulates. Corwin spares no expense, paying innkeeper Doyle 30 crowns (gold pieces) for a week’s stay in a suite.

Elsa spends 2 g.p. each for midrange rooms for Miranda Barrowright, Halfling priestess of Yondolla, and her family, as well as few other members of the troupe. Hamfast is content to spend 1 g.p. for space in the “Happy Brownie’s” common room.

Hamfast, Corwin, and Elsa go to the Royal Society for Exploration and Cartography and find a brownstone in a quiet neighborhood. An apparently bored student greets them from behind a desk, but a voice from deeper within the building instructs Ilnadu Magevictor to show the guests in.

In a book-lined room, “Ulrich Vandermoor” [Ted A.H./N.P.C.] welcomes the trio. In return for a map of the Zuromm outposts within Saganim borders, former adventurer [with the “Liberators”] Ulrich agrees to arrange for an audience with King Edmund II so the group can investigate corruption within the realm.

The wanderers then go to the embassy of the Waletku kingdom, where they are greeted by Elven soldiers resplendent in mithril chain. The haughty guards are suspicious of the scruffy human, Half-Elf, and Dwarf but swiftly give them permission to bring the Elven remains into the white building.

Quelanthi (High Elf) consuls Annette and Valery are troubled by the group’s story of an Orcish ambush and promise to properly bury the dead and notify their families. The diplomats mention the shrine of Corellan Larethian in the Field of Grulla, the huntsman. Grateful for the service, Annette and Valery grant Vistel’s Circus safe passage through the Blackhorse Woods.

Hamfast later helps Cerdwyn and the roustabouts set up tents in the southeastern part of the Agora, or market square. Corwin goes to the Bardic College, where he sees redheaded priestesses of Brijitt, goddess of fire and poetry. Disguised Corwin also chats with Miss Crevan, a Half-Elf who has performed at the Cathedral of Edillon, lord of the sky.

At Corwin’s recommendation, Gnoll Scully and Lizard Woman Malinzel keep a low profile. Ol’ Pete had recommended that Giacomo check out the Harandrim Academy, the modest local Magisterium (magic school/library).

Elsa goes to the temple of Nersago, also known as Gobnihr, Vulkan, or Moradin. The Dwarf gives a generous tithe and is pleased to see Clerics of the mountain deity wielding hammer and tongs above massive anvils and passing around flagons of strong ale.

Speaking of liquor, Hamfast leads Cerdwyn, Baskor, clown Graham Tervin, and the Flying Perhutens on a pub crawl around Thadenis. The circus folk make themselves at home at “Ghanki’s Gin Pub,” which hosts a mix of sailors and gamblers from the nearby Ironhooves Arena.

They then pay the toll at the Cavalier’s Bridge to party at the “Crystal Goblet,” which turns out to be a stuffy officer’s club. The rowdies stagger back to the “Happy Brownie” and “Half Moon,” and their recollections become blurry after that.

Hamfast intends to lead the carousers to the “Silver Tankard,” the “Leprechaun’s Spittle,” and finally, the “Chalice of Pain,” but few make it that far. Meanwhile, Elsa visits the “Bulging Baldric” but is disappointed to find it full of swashbuckling Saganim swains.

The next morning, the performers groan amid hangovers. Hamfast joins Elsa at Nersago’s Forge, and Corwin awaits word from Ulrich about a royal audience at the Hall of Thanes….

Beruk and Sara, I’m sorry that you couldn’t join us, and I hope that Josh feels better! It was good to chat with you during the latest "VortexTerra’s Pride" telecom space opera, and I hope you’ll be able to attend Jason E.R.’s“Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” next week.

I may have to travel in the coming week, but I’ll try to let everyone know if it will affect our games. Note that Brian won’t be available on March 11, so we’ll have to meet at Rich’s place in Waltham, Mass. In the meantime, take it easy, -Gene

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