Category Archives: Games

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.51 — Sky cruise to Nadwi

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.51, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 18 November 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 Zephyr, Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing GameDungeon Crawl Classics, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, as of autumn 2014:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 11
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F./absent]-female albino Flind (Gnoll) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and sailor, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 11
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, wandering noble, warrior, and mandolin player; CNg, Lvl. 11
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 11
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome (Minoi) clockwork gadgeteer and impetuous Rogue; TNcg, Lvl. 11

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

“18 to 30 April 1227 B.C.E.:” With much help and planning, Giacomo finally rid himself of the “Mad Mage” Ezra through a complex and dangerous ritual. Corwin continued shopping, Elsa and Rhys met with the Zeda kingdom ambassador, and Scully and Niac recruited more crew members for the Zephyr in the city of Hesolin.

At the local Magisterium (magic school), Giacomo makes sure that no traces of his cursed tattoo remain. Lord Josiah Mearls offers the Hifalendorin human a faculty position and assigns excitable adept Vinod Fabrizio to be his assistant. Giacomo also celebrates his newfound freedom with droll girlfriend “Dread” Maggie Oakleaf.

Corwin finds Princess Priscilla practicing archery in the royal gardens. Under the watchful eye of guards and chaperones, the Half-Elf prince tells her a few stories of how their fathers, now King Edmund II of Saganim and King Akkon XII of Hifalendor, once adventured together on the Sea of Nagendwa.

Elsa and Rhys return to the embassy of their homeland, the Zeda kingdom. Elsa receives enchanted studded leather armor from fellow Hill Dwarf Wilhelm the Smiter. Lady Matilda, a Forest Gnome Paladin with a conical cap and a badger pelt cloak, asks Tinker Gnome Rhys if she can see his airship.

The Zeda emissary, Henrik Giantslayer, son of Boris, tells Elsa that he has received word from Zorch (King) Bertrand of Doru that their realm will join the alliance against the dreaded Ghost Fleet and participate in her nascent long-range communications network. Merchant Henrik also mentions an Orc attack on the remote Dwarven stronghold of Eagle’s Rest near Dosh Kar.

The wanderers regroup at their rented villa near the “Golden Horn” hotel in Castle Court. Flind Scully and Wolfen “Capt. Niac” [Mike F./Non-Player Character] supervise provisioning and training of the Zephyr ’s growing crew.

Giacomo agrees to look into legends about the mysterious Vappu Lahja at the Library of Memir. The Wizard finds some parallels between the fairy tales of a proud woman cursed to outlive her suitors and the Scourge of “Capt. Jack Kildare” [Randy K.M./N.P.C.], leader of the Ghost Fleet.

In between dates with Priscilla, Corwin checks in with fellow Bards at the temple of Brijitt, goddess of fire and poetry, in Hesolin’s theater district. He also helps Giacomo with his research and waits for letters from “Melchior” [Byron V.O.], who is shadowing his enemies in the barbaric port of Gisar.

Elsa loans her ring of Feather Fall to Rhys and casts Message to warn Orlando Vistel, founder of Vistel’s Circus, not to fight his captors. The Druid has learned that her former traveling companions are being held by the Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja who have been raiding human and Halfling villages across northern Hifalendor.

Rhys and Niac make the steamboat Zephyr airworthy by attaching a dirigible balloon to its masts and extending the wings retrieved from a clockwork dragon. Shipwright and Paladin Niac notes that hot air will provide lift, but more sails will still be needed for propulsion.

After about a week, “Vistel’s Expedition” leaves Hesolin and sails through the air northward, along the Aehonir River. To the west is the (proto-Celtic) human kingdom of Saganim, and Hifalendor and the broad Plains of Sathendo stretch to the east. Far to the north are the Wisalef Forest and the Ivory Mountains.

Giacomo serves as navigator, comparing the stars to charts and magically projected maps. As first mate, Corwin relays Capt. Niac’s orders to the crew in the rigging. Elsa helps the ship get under way by invoking Mekkil (Gaia) for a Gust of Wind. Rhys and his apprentices keep busy with the steam engine, and Ranger Scully watches for aerial foes.

From the ground, the wings of the floating Zephyr make the ship look like a dragon, scaring the occasional farmer. Niac asks Giacomo to plot a course from Hesolin to the Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human city of Nadwi and then east, to the villages under attack by Centaurs.

Corwin and Rhys aren’t especially surprised when stowaways Priscilla and Matilda emerge, but Giacomo and Elsa are incensed at the potential international incident. Corwin argues that the young women should be free to pursue their own interests, but Elsa warns that King Akkon may send pursuers.

Mr. Bernardo Tancredo, a Halfling herbalist under Elsa’s command, attends to Maggie and other crew and passengers who get airsick in the first day of travel. Elsa and Scully talk with chatty and hungry birds confused by their vessel.

On the second day out of Hesolin, the Zephyr passes over Androth, where some performers from Vistel’s Circus began their misadventures more than a year ago (in “game time”). The airship avoids the village, and Niac agrees to sail at half speed rather than stop at night. Giacomo casts Nondetection and Scry. Matilda enjoys the view from the top of the dirigible.

On the third day, the experimental airship passes Grenville and marshes. The sailors on watch spot a tree waving at them. Elsa Wild Shapes into a bird, and Corwin casts Fly and carries curious Priscilla to investigate. The rest of the crew of the Zephyr watches from a distance. Giacomo uses a spyglass.

Elsa asks the Treant for permission to land in her branches, and the “Old Missus” is happy for the company. Corwin casts a translation spell to understand Sylvan and translate for Priscilla.

The sentient tree says that Cooter, a human guide from the village of Keyans, occasionally passes through the area. Corwin notices some bones at the Old Missus’ roots and flies down for a closer look, despite her protestations of “being too messy for guests.”

Corwin and Priscilla see several humanoid skeletons covered in yellow mold. Elsa shifts back to Hill Dwarf form and climbs down to join them. The Old Missus asks them not to disturb the corpses, since they feed her.

Prince Corwin tentatively identifies the bones as those of Troglodytes, slimy reptile folk. Elsa manages not to inhale any spores as she collects a sample of the fungus, over Corwin’s objections. They bid farewell to the Treant and fly back to the ship.

Giacomo lectures the away team on parleying with a potential monster, but Elsa gives the sample to Bernardo and writes a note to Barry the Gardener, a strange being she met on Emein Island in the Zarendo Archipelago.

The next day, lookouts spot two Pegasi with riders approaching from Nadwi. The Zephyr has crossed more than 200 miles in a fraction of the time it would have taken going upriver or on horseback.

Northern Roman city

Nadwi from the air

Corwin casts Invisibility on Princess Priscilla, and Capt. Niac hails the airborne cavalry. The knights order the ship to follow them, because King Akkon wants his daughter returned home safely. Corwin and Elsa reluctantly comply.

Rhys retracts the Zephyr ‘s keel, and Scully helps furl the sails. The boat lands in the Aspar River, and another set of watchmen escorts the crew to the provincial governor’s palace. The visitors notice that there are more demihumans in the northern Hifalendorin city than in the capital of Hesolin.

The team is brought before Nadwi’s ruling council, and Prince Andre de Giles, a kinsman of King Akkon, recognizes Prince Berek. Grizzled Gen. Sixtus Aurelias berates the young nobles for making light of the disappearance of Princess Priscilla, whose invisibility drops after she smacks Rhys for an impertinent comment.

Elsa explains that the Zephyr has come to seek allies and help with the Centaur uprising, and Lady Elaine Valis says that their leader may have taken on the identity of Vappu Lahja to enhance her reputation. Sir Roderigo Adelmo notes that the northwestern borderlands have otherwise been peaceful lately, with few raids from the nefarious kingdom of Zuromm.

The aged Sir Mador Basored advises Prince Andre, who complains that he has been waiting in vain for reinforcements from Hesolin for several months. The feudal lord suggests that he will take his time replying to the king about the princess if the Zephyr’s crew deals with the Centaur threat.

Lord Clobard Thudoric, the mayor of Nadwi, gives the explorers permission to stay in his city for a few days, but he warns them that they will be under guard. The party leaves the palace and walks out into the cobbled streets….

I hope that everybody enjoyed our latest “Vanished Lands” sessions, and remember to make sure that your characters are up to date on Obsidian Portal. Remember that the “New Dawntelecom team won’t be meeting on Sunday, Nov. 23.

I look forward to continuing our adventures in December, as well as to concluding Rich’s Hunter: the Reckoning miniseries and preparing for Jason E.R.’s “Channel 37” dimension-hopping scenario! Other likely one-shots around the holidays include myStar Trek: Restorationand D&D5e demos by Dexter V.H. and others.

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Sessions 40.37, 38 — Prisoners' dilemma

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Sessions 40.37 and 38, which were held on 9 and 16 November 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, and anonline 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • 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. 9
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 9

>>"27 June to 7 July 1227 B.C.E.:" In Bazran Hai, capital of the Zedu kingdom, Jung-Mo talked with Desc Soo-Ann, or Desan, a fellow Nannuattan Ninja from the Gokuri Empire. He also fought four Kobolds in an ambush alongside Ember and Tokoro.

Bazran Hai in the Bamor Mountains

Dwarven city

Meanwhile, Sonny, Toshi, and Soske’ secured the “Dragon’s Beard” inn and divided party treasure, while Saigo Kasugi had a romantic rendezvous with Princess Nayoko before resuming the search for his grandfather, Gen. Shinso Saigo.

Saigo asks Wu Jen Toshi and Shukenja Soske’ for help wording a Limited Wish that he would use from an enchanted ring. The Samurai hopes to retrieve Gen. Shinso unharmed from wherever he is being held. Sonny notes that evenTeleport spells can be traced or reversed.

Jung-Mo informs the rest of the group about his recent encounters and warns everyone to be on guard because two Kobolds got away and are presumably reporting to other Ninjas from the Shadow’s Claw clan.

Tokoro and Ember consider getting and improving magical bows or arrows. The Hengeyokai Hulinyuan and Wu also keep watch outside and check on Jung-Mo’syoung wyvern and Toshi’s tiger companion Amaya.

Jung-Mo and Saigo interrogate Wah-Ree (“Larry”), a Kobold captured in the alley ambush. At Saigo’s recommendation, the Nannuattan disguises himself as a female Spirit Folk. Sonny and Toshi listen from just outside the makeshift cell.

Saigo gives the doglike reptilian humanoid some food and water. He thanks Wah-Ree for “helping to rescue his sister from some Nezumi” [ratkin]. The Kobold explains that the Shadow’s Claw clan hopes to redeem itself with Queen Kagejusko by hunting down traitors to Gokuri.

Wah-Ree says that he himself is dishonored by being captured. The spy also says that wily troublemaker Desan has used his cover identity as a courier to get access to Zedu’s royal court.

In return for the information, Saigo agrees to pay for Wah-Ree to leave the city. Jung-Mo says that his fellow Ninjas are likely working to undermine the leadership of Bazran Hai, and Sonny speculates that Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong might be in danger from her compatriots because of her truce mission.

Meanwhile, Tokoro notices someone loitering outside the rented inn, and he quietly follows the cloaked figure as the adventuring party escorts Wah-Ree to the docks. Ember stays behind to watch the wyvern, and Toshi continues his arcane research on creating items for his companions.

Saigo and Jung-Mo book passage for Wah-Ree on a boat headed south toward Sogewa. Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ keep watch, and Tokoro follows the suspicious tinkerer, who releases a pigeon from a wicker basket at the docks.

The quick-thinking Ranger looses some arrows, dropping the bird. Sonny works his way through the crowd to retrieve it before a stray dog does. The Kensai finds that the dove’s talons have been sharpened and coated in poison.

Tokoro continues following the would-be assassin and sends Mala, his otter companion, to fetch the others as he heads toward a lower tier of Bazran Hai. The carp Hengeyokai realizes that his quarry has shrunk to blend in with the Korobokuru (eastern Dwarves) in the subterranean city.

Tokoro shadows the tinkerer to a silversmith’s shop, as Saigo, Soske, Sonny, and Jung-Mo catch up. Saigo and Jung-Mo enter the shop, while Sonny and Tokoro circle around to the back. Soske’ keeps an eye on the front door.

The tinkerer talks with a Korobokuru craftsman and heads to the back of the shop. She throws a smoke grenade in an attempt to evade Sonny and Tokoro. Sonny strikes her with his flail, and Tokoro casts Abundant Ammunition and readies his Merciful bow.

The others arrive and encircle the tinkerer. Jung-Mo misses with darts from his blowgun, but Soske’s Remorse spell causes the mysterious woman to confess that she didn’t want to harm the pigeon. Saigo ends the tinkerer’s flight by knocking her out with his sheathed katana.

The Ninja reverts to her true form as a Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf). Jung-Mo and Sonny strip her of her gear, including the following:

  • Armor, Elven chain
  • Battle cloak (adamantium-laced, silenced, +1 AC)
  • Bracers, crossbow
  • Poison, two vials (death or sleep, DC 15)
  • Katana (long sword, masterwork)
  • Whip, Vorpal (1d8 plus beheading on crit)
  • Whippets, three (incendiary boomerangs, 1d6+6 fire)

Back at the Dragon’s Beard, Jung-Mo recognizes the latest prisoner as Oh Ok-Sun, a former lover! He checks her for suicide capsules, and the Nannuattan says that he is a defector who left Gokuri with a wyvern egg and without their master’s permission. She apparently knows nothing about the Scarlet Order, which has been sowing chaos in Tong Sheng.

Jung-Mo promises to return to the Underdark once he has found a way to restore their clan’s name and defend his own. Oh Ok-Sun retorts that he’ll have to take his chances, and Jung-Mo offers to release her in return for noninterference.

Saigo objects, saying that while he trusts Jung-Mo, he’s the exception among Nannuattan Ninjas. The Bamboo Spirit Folk (eastern Sylvan Elf) would prefer to execute the latest prisoner, but Soske’s Sense Elements (psychometry) on her weapons says that she is efficient and ruthless but honorable.

Sonny and Toshi agree that the group should keep her weapons, with the exception of a nonmagical sword. Saigo and Ember still don’t trust Oh Ok-Sun, but Jung-Mo sends her away.

Toshi says that he’ll need about a month to prepare enchanted items for his companions, such as a stealth suit for Jung-Mo, Crimson Moth silk armor for Sonny, a Scout’s Headband for Soske’, and improved armor and sword for Saigo. Tokoro considers Lesser Bracers of Archery.

In the meantime, the Wu Jen meditates, and Soske’ prepares a divination to aid Saigo in finding his kidnapped grandfather. Scouts Jung-Mo and Tokoro make sure that Oh Ok-Sun leaves the area and resume watch over the inn.

Several days pass, and Toshi aids Saigo with the wording of his Limited Wish. Ember continues to help Jung-Mo care for the wyvern hatchling.

Soske’ contacts Zao Kasugi, a scribe and ancestor of Saigo. The Shukenja learns that Gen. Shinso’s location is magically hidden, but Zao may be able to locate him with help from sacrifices at the ancestral shrine and the temple of Yen Yuang, the sleeping god.

The travelers go to Saigo’s family compound in Bazran Hai. The Bamboo Spirit Folk offers prayers and incense at the shrine and then takes the group to the relatively unadorned temple of Yen Yuang, deity of judgment and death. He briefly considers sacrificing rogue Gen. Wang Tung’s (+2) katana of Wounding.

Hirohata Kotaro, a white-robed priest, leads the supplicants to a private area. Soske’ begins with prayers, and Saigo writes a vow that he won’t touch another woman besides Princess Nayoko for two years. The knight errant hopes to marry her but believes that she is above his station.

He puts the scroll on an altar. All present see themselves in the heavens surrounded by clouds, who answer in the voices of Saigo’s ancestors. They approve of his quest and courtship of the princess.

Meanwhile, Tokoro has a vision of the slumbering god, who holds scales and a quill. His finger twitches, and the Ranger sees the symbol for “citadel,” meaning that Gen. Shinso is likely being held somewhere beneath Bazran Hai’s palace!

Saigo and friends find themselves back in the temple chamber, and Tokoro tells them about the clue from Yen Yuang. The scroll with the Samurai vow has disappeared. Sonny says that it would be nice to know more about who is holding Gen. Shinso.

Sonny and Saigo help with the expenses for making permanent Soske’sForbiddance spell, which protects one large room in the family compound from planar travel and summoned monsters. Toshi readies Arcane Sight, Break Enchantment, Dimensional Anchor, and a scroll of Circle of Protection From Evil.

Druid Ember readies Neutralize Poison, and Jung-Mo and Tokoro take up sniper positions in case the general is followed upon his rescue. Finally, Saigo takes his magical ring and utters the following Limited Wish:

“I wish that my grandfather Shinso Kasugi, general of the armies of the Zedu Kingdom, born of Takiko Kasugi, were phyisically present now in front of me, alone being whole in body and mind, free of any restraint or compulsion — physical, magical, or spiritual — healthy of spirit and without any remaining physical harm, able to stay so long as he would desire here with his grandson Saigo in the clan Kasugi stronghold, with no requirement or compulsion to return to bondage, imprisonment or where he is now and of the same mind, temperament and moral code as he was prior to his capture — without the knowledge of his enemies or any enemies of Saigo Kasugi or his grandfather appearing with his grandfather.”

Saigo’s grandfather appears in armor but unarmed and unharmed! However, because of the phrase, “of the same mind, temperament and moral code as he was prior to his capture — without the knowledge of his enemies,” Gen. Shinso has no memories of his months-long imprisonment.

Saigo and Gen. Hirokazu Saigo are happy to be reunited with the general, who explains that he was on a covert mission for Daimyo Hei Wan Ling on the northern frontier. Shinso says that while looking for foes within the Zedu kingdom, he was ambushed in the woods north of Hei Kuan.

Unfortunately, Gen. Shinso is unable to identify his attackers, but he also mentions that while traveling through the Dragon Pass in the Bamor Mountains, he saw a huge reddish dragon whose very touch corrupted the landscape.

Soske’, Saigo, and Ember believe that the dragon could be a source of thegrowing chaos and a leader of the unnatural Scarlet Order. Sonny and Toshi agree that it would be good to take the fight to the enemy, who is possibly from the Red Wastes to the northeast, while Jung-Mo and Tokoro are more cautious. The wanderers debate on when to leave Bazran Hai.

Still concerned about more Ninjas, archers Jung-Mo and Tokoro take up watch around Saigo’s manor. Kensai Sonny asks them to pay close attention to comings and goings in the demihuman neighborhood. Wizard Toshi resumes his enchantments, and shaman Soske’ rests after the rituals.

Saigo catches up with his family and Princess Nayoko, and Ember returns to the wyvern at the Dragon’s Beard. After a few days, Jung-Mo and Tokoro notice that Shijo Yoshifumi, a master landscaper, doesn’t enter the family gardens but sends underlings while waiting out in the street. Saigo concurs that this is odd behavior.

Tokoro sends his river otter Mala to dig up Saigo’s garden. When a servant notifies Shijo, the landscaper angrily dismisses him and leaves to supposedly get more helpers. Saigo and company stealthily follow him.

Shijo pays little heed to other pedestrians, bumping into them as he heads to a lower tier of the city. Sonny asks Toshi to shift into baza (small blackbird) form and follow. Soske’ notices that Shijo is looking down at the street, and Tokoro recognizes his snakelike pattern of walking.

Shijo moves a heavy cover and jumps into the sewers. The party follows [see middle leftmost entry on map]. Hengeyokai Tokoro leads, followed by Shengtese human Soske, Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo, Shan Sao Toshi, and human Sonny.

Sewer map

Part of Bazran Hai's sewers

Tokoro tracks Shijo around some corners, across bridges over raw sewage, and to a square chamber, where he is talking to two reptilian Yuan-ti Abominations! They see the hunters and draw weapons.

Halfling Toshi casts Arc Lightning, badly injuring one of the scaled humanoids. Shapeshifter Tokoro fires four arrows at the two Yuan-ti, and Soske’ petitions his ancestors for an Ice Bow. Saigo attacks Shijo with the No Dachi of the White Scorpion but misses.

Chain master Sonny steps into the middle of the melee and swings his flail, hitting the enemy combatants. One Yuan-ti harms Soske’ with a glass, poison-filled arrow, and the other hits Saigo. Fortunately, the Samurai is able to resist the faux gardener’s Baleful Polymorph spell.

Toshi casts Snake’s Swiftness, Mass, and Tokoro shoots more arrows at the serpent folk. Soske’ also shoots them, and Saigo hits Shijo and cleaves into the Yuan-ti. Sonny’s Whirlwind Attack fells the enemy archer, and the other one swings a dao (scimitar) at Saigo.

Shijo casts Darkness and tries to escape, but Toshi counters with Dispel Magic. Tokoro knocks out the fleeing spellcaster with his Merciful bow. Soske, Saigo, and Sonny concentrate on the last Yuan-ti, quickly slaying it. They search the bodies and find the following:

  • Arrows, 12 glass, with hollow points (2d8 plus poison) — claimed by Tokoro
  • Bow, long, +3 — Tokoro to trade to improve his existing bow
  • Dao (scimitar/falchion) +4 — party to sell for 32,000 tael (16,000 gold pieces)
  • Ring of Charm Person — Saigo
  • Scroll of Mind Read — Toshi

While tying up Shijo, Tokoro realizes that he is also reptilian. The spelunkers leave the sewers, and Toshi shifts back to bird form to get Jung-Mo and his carriage to transport their latest prisoner back to the Dragon’s Beard inn….

I hope that everybody enjoyed our latest “New Dawn” games. Sara and Josh, I hope that your honeymoon is going well, and we miss “Ember!” Let me know if you have any further questions about advancement and treasure.

Note that we won’t be meeting next Sunday, Nov. 23, because I’ll be traveling, but I expect to resume on Nov. 30. I also look forward to seeing some of you at upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expeditionface-to-face sessions and the conclusion of Rich C.G.’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural miniseries!

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.50 — Dead Wizard walking

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.50, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 27 October 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 Zephyr, Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing GameDungeon Crawl Classics, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, as of autumn 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. 11
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Flind (Gnoll) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and sailor, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 11
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, wandering noble, warrior, and mandolin player; CNg, Lvl. 11
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 11
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome (Minoi) clockwork gadgeteer and impetuous Rogue; TNcg, Lvl. 11

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

“15 to 17 April 1227 B.C.E.:” The crew of the Zephyr began training, shopping, and gathering information in Hesolin, capital of the (proto-Western European) human kingdom of Hifalendor.

King Akkon XII approved the team’s missions to establish a long-range communications network, investigate a centaur uprising near Nadwi, and inspect naval forces at the Gargoyle Headlands toward its goal of building up the alliance against the Ghost Fleet.

Still escorted by Paladins, Giacomo visits the local Magisterium (magic academy), the Library of Memir, and various temples while researching ways to remove his accursed tattoo of the “Mad Mage” Ezra. The Wizard also consults with Zarendo Islander shaman “Tondra” [Rob A.S./Non-Player Character] at her herbalism school.

After reporting to the Saganim embassy and studying at the Magisterium, Corwin spends most of his time browsing for enchanted weapons in the Istari Bazaar. He hopes to hunt down Tiefling (demon-touched) court mage Lord Dalek and his half-brother Prince Daven with help from Cleric “Melchior” [Byron V.O.].

Sea dogs Scully and “Capt. Niac” [Mike F./N.P.C.] recruit seven more sailors for the Zephyr:

  • Mr. Bernardo Tancredo: male Harfoot Halfling (Hobbit) herbalist — under Elsa’s command
  • Chloe Talar: female Phoenician (Iberian) human merchant — Rhys
  • Sir Manoj Andronicus: male Hifalendorin human explorer — Niac
  • Sacha Skegisson: male Skaevingol (Viking-style) human skald — Corwin
  • Siobahn Dearden: female Saganim human shield maiden — Scully
  • Svetlana Taildunker: female Wolfen marine — Niac
  • Trevor ap Carnech: male Saganim (proto-Celtic) human scout — Scully

Elsa and Rhys go to the embassy of their homeland, the Zeda kingdom in the distant Ivory Mountains. They meet Lady Mathilda, a Forest Gnome Paladin wearing a traditional conical hat and a badger pelt, and Wilhelm the Smiter, a Hill Dwarf Cleric of Vulkan (Moradin).

Lady Matilda flirts with Tinker Gnome Rhys, while Wilhelm samples Elsa’s brew and agrees to prepare some armor for the Druid. Elsa and Rhys then meet with Henrik Giantslayer, son of Boris, son of Bolag, a Mountain Dwarf merchant and representative of Zorch (King) Bertrand of Doru.

Meanwhile, Sir Louis and Sir Remy Hotspur recommend that Giacomo endure trials at the temple of Otih, god of the sun and justice. They remind him that both the Magisterium and their order have lost battles against the Undead “Capt. Jack Kildare” [Randy K.M./N.P.C.]. Sir Wotarif, a holy warrior of Urda, lord of the heavens, says that the priestesses of Ishmas (Isis) might be able to conduct a less invasive exorcism.

Tondra tells Corwin about necromantic items and tells Giacomo that his tattoo could be overwritten. “Dread” Maggie Oakleaf, Giacomo’s Sylvan Elf girlfriend, learns from Leon the Blasphemer at the Magisterium that containing the Mad Mage is just as important as separating his spirit from his Hifalendorin human host.

At the Zeda embassy, Henrik listens to Elsa’s plea for help with her communications network and for supplies for the burgeoning naval alliance against the dreaded Ghost Fleet.

The gruff Dwarf is not happy to learn that Elsa is from the rare matriarchal Fairbottom clan, but Rhys piques his curiosity by describing planned enhancements to the steel-hulled Zephyr, including alternate propulsion and submersibility. Henrik agrees to help.

“Vistel’s Expedition” regroups at its rented townhouse near the “Golden Horn” hotel and restaurant in Castle Court. The sometime circus performers agree that tackling Giacomo’s tattoo is their most urgent task, although Rhys notes that it saved his life in the barbaric port of Gisar.

Maggie reserves a large lecture hall at the Magisterium for the ritual. Scully and Niac agree to watch the ship and the adventuring party’s possessions. Tondra arranges for the dishonorable discharge of Giacomo’s mentor, who was implicated in the sack of the city by Undead pirates, to no longer apply to him, assuming the tattoo removal is successful.

Paladins surround the lecture hall, and Elsa and Rhys take up positions in Circles of Protection From Evil. Rhys uses his wand of Silence on his four automatons — a spider, a scorpion, and a dragon, plus clockwork butler Vasco.

The quieted constructs take positions just outside the hall, which is about 80 feet in diameter. Giacomo removes his gear and steps into the center. Corwin walks up to him and reads a scroll of maximized Mordenkainen’s Disjunction, which disrupts all magic in the area.

Ezra’s invisible spirit is driven from Giacomo, and the Half-Elf Bard runs for another magic circle of protection. Rhys uses Scully’s enchanted goggles to spot the Mad Mage and directs his clockwork devices toward him.

Elsa calls on Vulkan and keeps Ezra from teleporting away with a Dimensional Anchor. Rhys throws Silenced coins, eventually blocking the Mad Mage from spellcasting. Giacomo runs to a Circle of Protection From Evil and drinks a potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, which removes the base tattoo.

Scary face tattoo on back

The Mad Mage Ezra

Ezra manages to compel a hapless Paladin to shoot at Elsa, but he misses. Corwin casts Summon Monster V, calling two hound Archons. Hill Dwarf Elsa invokes Mekkil (Gaia) for Banishment, but the Mad Mage (who isn’t a typical Undead foe) resists.

Rhys readies more Silenced coins, and his devices encircle the evil mage. Giacomo grabs a dagger made of “cold steel,” a reddish antimagical alloy. Incorporeal Ezra floats above the jaws of the hound Archons and unsuccessfully casts Baleful Polymorph on Elsa.

Corwin casts Faerie Fire so that everyone can see Ezra’s ghostly outline. The Mad Mage shrugs off Elsa’s Ghostbane Dirge but succumbs to Prince Corwin’s Hold Person spell, dropping to the stone floor. Nature priestess Elsa casts Holy Smite, blinding Ezra.

Gadgeteer Rhys switches to his customized crossbow. Angry Giacomo forces his longtime nemesis back into corporeal form with Ghost Trap. Ezra grapples with knife-wielding Giacomo.

Corwin’s Finger of Death injures the Mad Mage, as do the hound Archons. ElsaWild Shapes into a bear and casts Spirit Sense to make sure that Ezra doesn’t call any invisible allies. She instead sees that the Paladins have summoned celestials outside the Magisterium.

MMO ritual

Casting into a magic circle

Rhys hits the Mad Mage with quarrels, and Giacomo finishes Ezra with his cold-steel blade. Corwin Disintegrates the Transmuter’s body, and Clerics of IsmiltarConsecrate the chamber.

Giacomo accepts the congratulations of his friends and allies, and Maggie brings Gerald, his winged homunculus familiar, who now looks less disconcerting. They return to the Golden Horn to recuperate.

Elsa worries about her former traveling companions in Vistel’s Circus, which is late to the Hifalendorin capital. Corwin casts Discern Location and learns that the caravan has been intercepted on the Plains of Sathendo by Centaur followers of the mysterious Vappu Lahja.

Capt. Niac notes that if the group spends thousands more crowns (gold pieces) and waits another several days for Rhys’ refits, the Zephyr could be turned into an airship and travel north even faster….

Now that your characters have reached Level 11, remember to finish updating your records on Obsidian Portal with their current skills, spells, and gear before our next session.

I look forward to Rich’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural game next week, and let me know about the November schedule for both “Vistel’s Expedition” and “A New Dawn.”

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.36 — "Kobolds of the Apocalypse"

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.36, which was held on Sunday, 26 October 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3eLegends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • 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. 9
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 9

“19 to 26 June 1227 B.C.E.:” The diplomatic escorts passed Korobokuru (eastern Dwarven) checkpoints in the Bamor Mountains and entered Bazran Hai, capital of the demihuman Zedu kingdom. They presented Lady Yun Aei-Yong, the emissary from the Gokuri Empire, to the daimyo and were temporarily relieved of their mission.

Sonny, Ember, and Tokoro fended off a curious Samurai and tracked down a squirrely Wu Jen. Toshi rented out the entire “Dragon’s Beard” inn, Saigo reported to his father about his missing grandfather, and Soske’ went sightseeing.

Jung-Mo spotted courier Desc Soo-Ann, nicknamed “Desan,” who had tracked him from Sogewa and stirred up trouble between human peasants and nature spirits in the village of Yao Shung. Jung-Mo stealthily followed Desan to an alley.

Jung-Mo steps into the alley and confronts Desan and what appears to be a Shan Sao (eastern Halfling). Although they are all in disguises, they speak in Bamoric, the language of the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elves) and humanoids of Gokuri.

While Saigo has gone off to covertly meet with Princess Nayoko, the rest of the adventuring party follows Jung-Mo at a discreet distance. Sonny tells Toshi, Ember, Soske’, and Tokoro that he senses something large passing overhead.

Desan says he knows that Msamaki left their homeland without permission from the disgraced Shadow’s Claw clan. Jung-Mo says that he will redeem its honor, but the other Ninja considers bringing him back to their cruel matrons.

Ember Wild Shapes into a silent owl and spots a storm wyvern, a full-grown version of the hatchling that she and Jung-Mo have been caring for. She flies back to inform the others.

Jung-Mo says that his friends are nearby and offers to stay out of Desan’s affairs if he’ll leave them alone. The “River Spirit Folk” (eastern Grey Elf) and “Shan Sao” say they’ll see him again soon and leave.

Wary of other assassins who might be watching, Jung-Mo circles back to his companions. The Nannuattan Ninja explains that his clan is operating in Bazran Hai in an attempt to regain honor on Gokuri.

Sonny suspects that the Shadow’s Claw infiltrators might try to undermine Lady Yun’s truce, which has yet to be ratified. Ember is concerned for Jung-Mo’s safety. Toshi agrees that the presence of Ninjas is bad news, but Soske’ and Tokoro prefer to wait and see what they might do.

Jung-Mo, Ember, and Tokoro follow Desan’s tracks to try to learn more, while Sonny, Toshi, and Soske’ return to their hotel to tighten security and check on supplies.

Hulinyuan Tokoro follows tracks that split. Desan turned north, and Wu Ember confirms from the air that the wyvern went in the same direction. The Shan Sao turned south and joined other small humanoids. Jung-Mo decides to follow the latter trail to a narrowing passage.

The trio notices that all the windows are boarded up and gets ready for an ambush. Four Kobolds step behind them, and one says in a high-pitched voice that Msamaki will pay for trying to follow Desan. Jung-Mo retorts that the small humanoids are not worthy opponents, and they draw weapons.

Kobold ambushers

Larry, Curly, and Moe

Hengeyokai Tokoro holds his action, but Jung-Mo draws his short bow and fires arrows at the leader, missing. Kobold Moezumi [“Moe”] pulls out a scroll and begins casting from it. Cheng-di [Geoff/Non-Player Character, “Shemp”] throws a packet at Tokoro, and it erupts into spiders.

Wah-Ree [Beruk/N.P.C., “Larry”] and Qu-Li [Bruce/N.P.C., “Curly”] throw smoke grenades and disappear. Crane Hengeyokai Ember disrupts Moe’s spellcasting with Silence, and Tokoro’s otter companion smashes the venomous spiders biting the Ranger.

Jung-Mo hurls whippets (incendiary boomerangs) at Cheng-di, who throws a stick at Tokoro. It turns into a snake and also bites the carp Hengeyokai. Silenced Moe tumbles past the melee into the alley. The two unseen doglike reptiles circle around.

Druid Ember Wild Shapes into a wolf and pounces on Moe, who rolls aside. Tokoro grabs the scroll and backs away to cast Abundant Ammunition. Jung-Mo drops Moe with a sleep arrow. Wah-Ree maneuvers, but Qu-Li slips and falls from his rooftop perch. Cheng-di hits Ember with poisoned shurikens.

Lupine Ember tosses unconscious Moe aside and tries to bite Cheng-di. Swift Tokoro looses a volley of four thorn arrows, killing Qu-Li. Wah-Ree tries to run away, but stealthy Jung-Mo catches up to the Kobold and knocks him out.

Cheng-di grabs Moezumi and dives into the sewers. Jung-Mo [Byron] drags Wah-Ree back to the others and reluctantly acknowledges that chasing the two surviving Kobolds into booby-trapped sewers is a bad idea. The Ninja later disposes of Qu-Li’s corpse.

As Sonny, Toshi, and Soske’ finish a relaxing dinner, Jung-Mo, Ember, and Tokoro arrive with Wah-Ree, who is bound and gagged for later questioning. The group splits up the Kobolds’ items from the surprisingly difficult skirmish.

Shengtese human Sonny claims a rubber chicken, and Ember attends to the wounded. Jung-Mo and Tokoro examine two ninja-tos (short swords), sixshurikens (throwing stars), and a vial of poison (5 doses, DC 14, – 1d4 Con).

Toshi and Soske’ determine that the scroll of Summoning came from Desan and would call a woman from Bazran Hai’s royal court. Soske’ treats Ember and says that he’ll pray for more healing in the morning.

After a romantic night catching up with Princess Nayoko, Bamboo Spirit Folk (eastern Sylvan Elf) Saigo uses Jung-Mo’s robe of Alter Self to appear as a palace guard and return to the Dragon’s Beard. Jung-Mo checks on his wyvern hatchling.

Toshi reviews the party treasure. He, Sonny, and Saigo have sold or traded two or three things each, for a return of about 36,000 tael (18,000 gold pieces, or one + 3 item) per party member. Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Tokoro say they’ll think about what they might need.

Kensai Sonny asks for Bracers of Blinding Strike (+2 init., +1 AT per day) and silk armor from one of the Crimson Moth cocoons (equivalent to chain). Wu Jen Toshi offers to enchant an Amulet of Mighty Fists (+2 to hit) so that Ember can strike with more accuracy in animal form.

Shukenja Soske’, who can guarantee the masterwork quality of any item, considers a Periapt of Wisdom (+4) and Bracers of Falcon’s Aim. Saigo asks to improve the No Dachi of the White Scorpion (from +1, Life Stealer, to +3) and his banded armor (from masterwork to +3). The Samurai also plans to buy anAmulet of Health (+2) and holds onto the traitorous Gen. Wang Tung’s katana (+2, Wounding).

While he awaits word of Lady Yun’s mission, Jung-Mo remains wary of Desan and the Shadow’s Claw clan. Sonny suggests checking in with the leaders of the Zedu kingdom or hunting down the Gokuri spies.

Toshi gets to work crafting various magical items, and Ember tries to dodge inquisitive Samurai Zhou Li. Similarly, Soske’ hopes to avoid more meddling family members. Saigo is eager to use his ring of Limited Wish to rescue his kidnapped grandfather, Gen. Shinso, but Toshi recommends waiting until they are fully equipped.

Tokoro tracks down court mage Murakami “Murray” Ryozo, whom he views as a potential threat for casting openly during their recent audience. The Ranger sends Murray new clothing to replace those stained when Jung-Mo had spilled wine on him. After a few days of training and shopping, the onetime diplomatic escorts regroup at their inn….

Remember to finish revising your characters to Level 9 and updating their equipment by our next virtual session! Let me know if you have any questions.

It was good to see some of you at last night’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game, and I look forward to continuing Rich C.G.‘s “Tunnel Vision” miniseries. We should also talk about Jason E.R.’s upcoming “Channel 37” scenario, D&D5e, and various one-shots.

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.35 — Into the Korobokuru capital

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.35, which was held on Sunday, 19 October 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3eLegends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • 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. 9
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 9

“14 to 18 June 1227 B.C.E.:” One night, Lady Yun Aei-Yong managed to get a band of foraging Bakemono and disrespectful Oni to leave her camp alone. The envoy and her escorts reached the walled town of Hsia Ling, where Jung-Mo and Ember had a romantic evening.

In addition, Sonny attended to Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja, and Toshi prepared a meal for his friends. Soske’s cousin brought him to more meddling relatives and entertained Saigo, while Tokoro went swimming and avoided gamblers and guards.

The next day, the adventuring party leaves Hsia Ling and climbs the winding trail toward Bazran Hai, capital of the Zedu kingdom. Hengeyokai Ember shifts into crane form and scouts ahead. Shan Sao Toshi and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo are eager to return to their homeland.

Jung-Mo rides in the bouncing carriage with Lady Yun and Oh Kum Ja, lest his true nature as a Nannuattan be exposed. Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ follow, with Hengeyokai Tokoro bringing up the rear.

The caravan leaves the Plains of Sathendo and the Therud Forest behind and makes its way into the Bamor Mountains. Tokoro spots the glint of sunlight reflecting from metal, and he signals Ember to investigate.

The winged Wu sees a detail of Korobokuru (eastern Dwarves) chiseling large stone blocks out of the mountainside, magically moving them, and assembling a fortification along the trail. Ember flies back to report to her companions.

Saigo decides to take the direct approach, and he is hailed by Hirata Ryuichi, a Korobokuru Bushi (Fighter). Ryuichi passes Saigo’s credentials to his commander, Fujimoto Masahiro, who allows the travelers to pass. He notes that they shouldn’t have to worry about any bandits as they approach Bazran Hai.

Hungry Sonny and Toshi notice Shengtese (East Asian) humans Sun Linwei and Huang Gangsheng preparing lunch for the camp. Shan Sao (eastern Halfling) Gorotsuki Eizo makes sure the Korobokuru soldiers have enough water and supplies.

Ember and Tokoro recognize feline Otani Maya as a fellow Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (shapeshifting scout). Soske’ sees Saito Matsu, a River Spiriti FolkSohei (eastern Grey Elf Cleric) building a shrine as part of the fort.

The wanderers hike for a few days before coming to a arching bridge over a deep chasm. Samurai Saigo talks to guards at various checkpoints, and the diplomatic team enters the stone city of Bazran Hai.

Toshi and Saigo lead the way through familiar streets. The surface layer of the Zedu capital is dotted with green gardens and parks, Spirit Folk and Shan Sao neighborhoods, temples, and the great citadel.

Japanese city

Fortified city

The Wu Jen and Samurai explain that the next two levels beneath the mountain include districts for merchants and craftspeople, as well as Korobokuru residences. Below that are mines and an underground river.

Most of the group dons formal robes as they head directly to the massive castle, but Sonny and Tokoro remain in their traveling garb. Stout armored Korobokuru, lithe Spirit Folk archers, and quiet Shan Sao sentries watch the new arrivals pass through several courtyards.

Zhou Li, a Shengtese human Samurai whom they had met back in the border village of Hazokuwi, recognizes and greets the delegation. He takes particular interest in helping Ember dismount, causing jealous Jung-Mo to palm a poison dart.

The solicitous knight asks about extraplanar encounters and offers to help arrange for an audience, and Jung-Mo bumps into him. Ember winks at Jung-Mo to reassure him. Sonny looks for a buffet, and Tokoro and Soske’ hang back.

Two women enter the reception hall, and Toshi excitedly runs to his belovedSuki, a Bisan Wu (Dryad Druid). Saigo bows politely to Princess Nayoko, a Bamboo Spirit Folk aristocrat he fears is above his station.

The party is joined by Nayoko’s brother Prince Mutsuhito and Baron Xin Pronunc Hu, representative of the human realm of Tong Sheng. They are pleased that Lady Yun has arrived safely, despite numerous hazards on the way.

Tokoro and Jung-Mo notice a human Wu Jen openly casting some spell. The Ranger and Ninja notify Sonny and Ember. The sly Hengeyokai creates a diversion by flirting with Murakami Ryozo. Jung-Mo spills a drink on him, but the group is summoned before Zedu’s rulers before it can inquire further.

Saigo and Toshi get on their knees and bow, and the others follow suit. Rows of demihuman officials flank the approach to three thrones. Ryushi Manabu, the Bamboo Spirit Folk shogun, sits next to Hei Wan Ling, commander of the Korobokuru armies. Between and behind them sits Hou Keung, the Dwarf daimyo and supreme ruler of the Zedu kingdom.

Lady Yun says that she has successfully petitioned the humans of Tong Sheng for a cessation of hostilities on behalf of the Gokuri Empire. The Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) asks the daimyo for Zedu to formally join the truce and end the recent war.

Skeptical military officers grumble, and Saigo Kasugi recognizes his father, Gen. Hirokazu Saigo. Hou Keung raises his fan of office and says that he and the shogun will review Gokuri’s terms. He also invites Lady Yun to stay in the palace, releasing the team of its duty to guard her for the time being.

Relieved, the group is dismissed. Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Soske’ go to look for accommodations. Sonny, Ember, and Tokoro try to find the mysterious mage they had spotted before their audience. Saigo meets privately with his father.

Gen. Hirokazu says that Prince Mutsuhito’s parallel mission to Gisokuri, capital of cruel Gokuri, went surprisingly smoothly. Saigo promises to give a full report on his misadventures to shogun Ryushi Manabu.

He also says that he has heard that Shinso Saigo, his grandfather and the general’s father, is secretly held captive somewhere around the capital. Gen. Hirokazu says that the dishonor must be avenged and that his son must pursue a search and rescue mission discreetly, since they don’t yet know who their enemies are.

Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Soske’ visit various inns, including the “Dead Mule,” the “Soiled Goose,” and the “Divine Plum,” before finding one that meets their expectations. Toshi pays Gakusho Haya 300 tael (150 gold pieces) to rent the entire “Dragon’s Beard” tavern for a week to start with.

The Shan Sao proprietess says that she’ll need the rest of the day to clean out the rooms, and she offers Gigi Han, a young Korobokuru, as a guide and messenger. Toshi also asks that a feast be arranged to celebrate the end of their journey, bringing Lady Yun from the haunted borderlands to the intrigue-ridden Shengtese capital of Sogewa and then to Bazran Hai.

Meanwhile, Sonny, Ember, and Tokoro ask about the Wu Jen they had seen casting in the reception hall. Tokoro’s otter follows the trail from Jung-Mo’s spilled drink, and they find Murakami Ryozo in a scriptorium with bureaucrats copying scrolls of civil records, spells, and news from around the kingdom.

The young mage says that he scanned the party as part of his official duties in the palace. “Murray” invites Ember out for drinks, and the mischievous Druid decides to play him off of nosy Samurai Zhou Li.

The wanderers spend the rest of the day exploring Bazran Hai. Jung-Mo asks Toshi to create an enchanted stealth suit from Crimson Moth cocoons. The Wizard tells the Rogue that he’ll need additional time and money to craft a jewelry box with the illusory image of two metallic dragons flying above a mountain.

Sonny and Soske’ are content to stroll about the exotic citadel, even as they hope to avoid curious kin. Ember finds a subterranean market and buys silk. Saigo visits his mother and sends a note to Princess Nayoko asking to meet. Tokorolooks for mountain streams around the city.

That evening, the would-be heroes regroup at the Dragon’s Beard for Toshi’s latest feast. Saigo heads from his family’s townhouse to a romantic rendezvous, but he notices that he is being followed. The quick-thinking Samurai stops by the inn and borrows Jung-Mo’s robe of Alter Self.

Saigo slips back out into the night, and Jung-Mo checks to see if he is still being tailed. The others follow at a discreet distance, with Ember Wild Shaping into an owl and Toshi shifting to baza (small blackbird) form. Tokoro helps Sonny in the dark.

Jung-Mo sees someone moving in the shadows, even as Saigo evades pursuit. The Ninja thinks he recognizes the movements of Desc Soo-Ann, the Spirit Folk courier who had tracked the group from Sogewa to the village of Yao Shung, where he had tried to stir up trouble for the human peasants.

Jung-Mo silently follows the eastern Elf into an alley and hears voices greeting “Desan” in Bamoric, the language of Gokuri. The exile suddenly realizes that the assassins haven’t been tracking Saigo; they’re Nannuattan Ninjas from the Shadow’s Claw clan hunting him!

Jung-Mo tries to back away and signal his friends for reinforcements, wary of wyvern air cover….

Good luck to Dexter and company as you plan your next move! Geoff, we missed Soske’ this week. Don’t forget to update your characters to Level 9 on Obsidian Portal! Also, let Byron know any items you plan to sell, trade, or enchant while in Bazran Hai.

I look forward to seeing some of you at Rich’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural miniseries tonight, and my “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game will continue at Drew’s place next Monday.