Category Archives: Games

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.32 — Gnarly grove and dispelling the Decapus

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.32, which was held on Sunday, 28 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • 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. 8
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 8
  • 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. 8
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 8

“1 June 1227 B.C.E.:” After interrogating Hojo Etsuko, a River Spirit Folk who served the same master as Tokoro and who had agreed to a scheme to drive human peasants off their land, the diplomatic escorts let her go and hunted in vain for courier Desc Soo-Ann.

The would-be heroes then ventured into woods near Yao Shung and encountered a giant moth and hellgrammite (water larva), and Soske’ had a vision of an evil Druid.

Jung-Mo sends the horses back to the village, but Sonny thinks the group has lost the element of surprise against the Wu warping the woods. Toshi wants to push on, even as the day grows late.

Ember agrees with Sonny’s suggestion to use her shapeshifting ability as a surprise, and she recommends scaring or drawing out foes. Soske’ is certain that someone is aware of the destruction of the Jimenju (carnivorous tree bearing hypnotic head-like fruit) and Crimson Moth.

Saigo urges the group to approach the center of the gnarled grove from multiple directions. Despite his secret amphibious abilities, Tokoro is worried about getting caught in magical backwash and prefers to hang back as a sniper.

Ultimately, Sonny, Toshi, Soske’, and Ember follow the direct path from the south. They see eight monkey goblins hanging in the trees to either side. The chattering creatures draw small throwing knives.

Meanwhile, Jung-Mo, Saigo, and Tokoro creep along a creek from the northeast. They see a chained Oni (Ogre Mage) and three small humanoids with crow’s heads. The big brute and birdlike beasts dance around a circle of standing stones.

Wu Ember casts Thorny Entanglment, which causes a tree to grow spines that it hurls at one monkey goblin, wounding it. The needle-toothed monsters hit Ember and Toshi with sharp blades. Kensai Sonny draws his bow but misses.

Wu Jen Toshi kills three monkey goblins with Cone of Cold and directs his tiger Amaya to pounce on another. Shukenja Soske’ shoots a goblin out of a tree with a flaming arrow from his Ancestral Weapon.

The horned Oni notices Tokoro, draws its great sword, and charges. The Hulinyuan retreats and draws his long bow, as the three Tengu (Kenku/dire corbies) hide behind a standing stone. Ninja Jung-Mo hits the Ogre with his short sword, and Samurai Saigo repeatedly slashes it with his katana.

The surviving monkey goblins scatter but still attack. Ember misses with her kama (sickle), but Sonny catches two with a Whirlwind Attack with his kau sin ke. Toshi unleashes Tien Sha Pai (Red Cloud Kung Fu) in front of his friends for the first time, finishing off a foe wounded by Sonny.

Soske’ eventually slays another monkey goblin, and Sonny draws shurikens. As the three remaining flee, Toshi takes down two with Magic Missiles , and Amaya chases the last one.

Over by the megaliths, the angry Oni misses Tokoro and Saigo with its large sword. Tokoro rapidly fires his bow, including a thorn arrow, but misses, as does Jung-Mo. Saigo continues striking the Oni with his enchanted katana.

Sonny, Toshi, Ember, and Soske’ see a robed man with a staff walking from a hut northwest of the main clearing. As Ye-sing Kien approaches, he summons stone armor and Enlarges himself. Hengeyokai Ember casts Silence on Amaya to interfere with the evil Wu’s spellcasting.

Shengtese human Sonny runs toward the spellcaster and swings his chain at the dark Druid but misses. Shengtese human Soske’ fires arrows at Ye-sing but also misses. Shan Sao Toshi casts Protection From Evil and Animal Growth on Amaya.

The Oni hacks at Saigo and swings wildly at Jung-Mo. Hengeyokai Tokoro casts Abundant Ammunition to keep up with his rapid fire. Although Nannuattan Jung-Mo misses on his second sneak attack, he does eventually strike the Oni, drawing its attention from injured Saigo.

Druid Ember runs over to heal the injured Bamboo Spirit Folk, casting Cure Serious Wounds. Sonny takes a flying leap from one set of standing stones but lands in the sandy pit in the center.

To move out of Amaya’s Silence effect, Ye-sing Wild Shapes into an air elemental, breaks free from weapon master Sonny’s chains, and floats out of reach. He then summons Nindenzigo, a fiendish Decapus. The tentacled horror narrowly misses Ember but snaps at Sonny with its claws and bites Amaya.

Shan Sao Toshi hits his opponent with a Lightning Bolt, and Soske’ isn’t put out when the corrupt Druid raises a Wall of Stone to seal Sonny, Saigo, and Amaya in the circle with Nindenzigo.

Ember Wild Shapes into a large eagle and claws at Ye-sing. Sonny uses his iron sword-breaker to fight defensively against the Decapus, and Saigo shoots arrows.

Jung-Mo Levitates and chucks a Whippet (incendiary boomerang) at the Oni, but he is surprised when it flies after him! The Ogre Mage hits Ember, Saigo, and Tokoro with a Cone of Cold. Soske’ Channels Positive Energy to heal his friends.

Sonny runs up a wall but is unable to reach the vaporous Druid, who Calls Lightning Storm against the adventurers. The martial artist climbs out of the circle with Nindenzigo. Cleric Soske’ successfully dispels the Decapus with a Holy Word.

Wizard Toshi casts Arc Lightning at the Oni and Druid. Rogue Jung-Mo defensively uses Darkness to evade the Ogre and maneuvers for another sneak attack. Ranger Tokoro and knight Saigo shoot the Oni out of the sky, disappointing Toshi, who is prophesied to kill many of the monsters.

Cleric Soske’ fires an arrow at the enlarged air elemental. Eagle Ember fights in the air. Toshi casts Mass Snake’s Swiftness on his allies and hits Ye-sing with aSound Lance. A volley of arrows from Tokoro and company finally brings down the evil Druid.

Jung-Mo discovers that the three Tengu have returned to human form. They are Jik Zeng Meizhu, Zhan-Shi Shude, and Dao Xu Tan — the children kidnapped from Yao Shung! Toshi is relieved that they can’t be used for some unholy ritual.

Ember and Soske’ attend to the wounded, while Sonny, Saigo, and Tokoro search the Scarlet Order’s camp. They find the following items:

  • Dagger, + 2 — to sell?
  • The Dancing Wasp, + 1 kusarigama (weighted chain and sickle), can be used to summon a giant wasp — claimed by Sonny?
  • Great sword, + 3 — Sonny?
  • Periapt of Health — Ember
  • Potion of Levitate — Saigo
  • Potion of Protection From Chaos — Toshi, who can also enchant other items
  • Ring of Feather Fall — Soske’
  • Scroll of Mirror Image — Toshi
  • Studded leather armor, + 2 to Armor Class and Resolve/Will checks — Tokoro, who will trade in his existing + 2 set
  • Wand of Magic Vestment, + 1 to AC per 2 caster levels, 12 charges — Soske’
  • The Whispering Shrike: + 1 wakizashi (short sword), can be used to Shield other; hilt contains letter addressed to someone at Bazran Hai — Jung-Mo

The triumphant team prepares to head back to the village before continuing on its diplomatic mission north….

I look forward to seeing some of you at tonight’s “Vanished LandsVistel’s Expedition” session! In the meantime, remember to make sure that your Obsidian Portal records for the “New Dawn” party are up to date.

Also, let me know who of you will be around for Byron’s visit to the Boston area next Wednesday, Oct. 8.

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.31 — Shamed Spirit Folk and enlarged vermin

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.31, which was held on Sunday, 21 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • 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. 8
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O./absent]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 8
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 8
  • 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. 8
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 8

“30 May to 1 June 1227 B.C.E.:” The wanderers investigated recent kidnappings, fought a Jinmenju (a tree with head-shaped fruit), and learned of a scheme to drive Shengtese peasants from their land and enslave them.

Jung-Mo makes sure that his wyvern hatchling is secure and checks on Lady Yun Aei-Yong, the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) emissary of the Gokuri Empire. Toshi continues his arcane research into a proper cage for the young wyvern.

In nearby stables, Sonny and Saigo continue the interrogation of Hojo Etsuko, a River Spirit Folk (eastern Grey Elf) who serves the same master as newcomer Tokoro. She defiantly admits that courier Desc Soo-Ann had tempted her with an offer, supposedly from Gokuri, to drive the Shengtese (East Asian) human peasants from their farms.

Ember and Soske’ bring Tokoro, who expresses sympathy with Hojo’s staunch defense of the wilderness. Tokoro draws a kunai (small knife), but Ember tries to calm him. Saigo asks the woman if she had anything to do with the children missing from Yao Shung.

Hojo says that she knows nothing of the woods to the north of the village and is shamed when Saigo angrily points out that Desc Soo-Ann, or “Desan” for short, could be a child killer as well as a slaver and a spy.

Sonny and Saigo pull Tokoro out behind the barn, and the Hulinyuan vouches for Hojo. Tokoro explains that their river spirit master is a few days’ ride to the southeast across the Plains of Sathendo. The Kensai and Samurai ask if he would approve of Hojo’s shift in mission from negotiating with the farmers to attacking them.

Ember and Soske’ talk with Hojo, who promises to plead with her master on behalf of the village if the true threat is from the woods or Gokuri rather than ignorant peasants. Nannuattan Jung-Mo and Shengtese human Soske’ play cards and stay with the prisoner, while the others look for Desan.

Hengeyokai Ember shifts into crane form to search outside Yao Shung. Shengtese human Sonny and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo go to the “Red Reed” inn to search the messenger’s room. The sleepy innkeeper tells them that Desan checked out before dawn.

Ember spots Desan’s clothing hanging from a branch. The Wu Wild Shapes into a wolf and follows footprints northeast until they end in high grass. She concludes that Desan may have magically transformed into a flying form.

The diplomatic escorts regroup at the stables. Tokoro’s otter darts over to Hojo, who is still tied up. Curious Shukenja Soske’ briefly picks up the squirmy otter. Ember reports on Desan’s trail, and her companions agree that he poses a bigger threat to Yao Shung than Hojo, who has abandoned his horse.

Saigo releases the River Spirit Folk with a stern warning to report to her master and not to attack the villagers. Tokoro gives some supplies to his colleague. Hojo wishes him well with his new adventuring party.

The group rests for a day before heading back into the woods. Druid Ember scouts ahead in crane form [not “airwolf”]. Warriors Sonny and Saigo eagerly follow on horseback. Stealthy Jung-Mo guards spellcasters Soske’ and Toshi, and Ranger Tokoro brings up the rear.

dark forest

Ensorceled woods near Yao Shung

The copse of gnarled tree grows dense with vines and underbrush, slowing the team’s progress. A giant moth hits Ember, and the rest of the group stumbles through the tangle to help her. Saigo takes time to aim his daikyu (long bow).

Soske’ calls upon quarrelsome spirits for an Ancestral Weapon, and Tokoro casts Abundant Ammunition. Sonny tells Yip, his talking steed, to advance, and he leaps onto a tree. The Crimson Moth buffets Ember with its wings and extends its proboscis to such her blood.

The injured crane misses with her talons and turns to lead the giant insect toward the party. Jung-Mo fires a volley of arrows but misses. Toshi explains to Tokoro that he and his friends have encountered many unnatural creatures in their travels.

Saigo and Jung-Mo hit with their next shots, but Soske’s flaming arrows miss the moth. Tokoro rapidly fires Tanglefoot arrows, slowing the monster. Sonny jumps onto it and hacks a wing with his axe, which is enchanted against giants.

The Crimson Moth is unable to shake Sonny from its back, and another sticky arrow from Tokoro drops it from the sky. Ember pecks at it with her beak, and Jung-Mo hits it with an arrow. Sonny notices sparks shooting from the dying creature’s razor-sharp wing tips, and he jumps off just before it explodes!

Ember is not so lucky, and Soske’ Channels Positive Energy to heal her and Sonny. The weapons master hacks off the moth’s wings so that priest Soske’ can sacrifice them to his ancestor spirits.

Wu Jen Toshi recommends looking for a nest or cocoons, and the wanderers find five. Wise Ember reminds them to check for the missing children, but each cocoon contains only a large larva, which are quickly dispatched. The travelers save the cocoons, because their silk can be turned into clothing as strong as steel armor.

Sometime later, the horsemen ride into a swampy area of the woods. As they back out, a giant crustacean springs from the water and fixes its pincers on Tokoro. He hacks away at it, but his blade bounces off the creature’s carapace.

Saigo draws his no dachi (great sword), and Sonny wraps a kusarigama (weighted chain) around the enlarged hellgrammite. Soske’ fires more flaming arrows, but Ember’s Hold Animal spell is unsuccessful. The jaws of the dobsonfly larva continue to constrict on Tokoro.

Armored Saigo sheathes his sword and helps nimble Sonny use his chain to pull the hellgrammite off of unlucky Tokoro. Ember slays it with Flame Strike, and Soske’ dismounts for closer investigation.

Soske’ uses Sense Elements (psychometry) on the water bug. The Shukenja has a vision of a human shaman in stone armor wandering the woods, warping the local flora and fauna. He is accompanied by crows, an Oni (Ogre Mage) in chains, and monkeys. Soske’ also sees something moving under a sandy pit and neatly folded children’s clothing.

Soske’ tells the party that the evil Druid and captive children are nearby. The would-be heroes leave their horses and ready for the next round of magical beasts as they approach the center of the grove….

Byron, we missed you, and Geoff, we’ll miss you next weekend! I’m glad that your team has gotten through various revelations and sticky situations, but more challenges are ahead! I’ll double-check each of your character records on Obsidian Portal to make sure they’re leveled up properly.

I also look forward to tonight’s start of Rich C.G.’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural miniseries (using Hunterthe Reckoning).

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.47 — Black sails and the Nook & Cranny Council

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.47, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 15 September 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 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. 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.], “Sir Torrel” [Alex W.], and “Brogar” [Brian S.].)

“1 to 4 April 1227 B.C.E.:” The commanders of the Zephyr oversaw the riverboat’s overhaul, recruited crew members, and bought supplies in the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human village of Drunstimlos.

They also Teleported to the capital of Thadenis to report to the king and queen. The adventurers learned of strife in neighboring realms, the whereabouts of Corwin’s enemies, and potential allies.

Giacomo visits the Harandrim Academy, the local Magisterium (magic school/library), and asks Maggie Oakleaf if she’ll join him aboard the Zephyr. The droll Sylvan Elf adept agrees.

Scully asks her companions to make her boyfriend, “Sir Niac Eden” [Mike F./Non-Player Character], the captain of their ship because of his nautical experience. Corwin is concerned that the Wolfen Paladin (and former “Dragonslayer”) might have divided loyalties, but Scully reassures him that his first duty will be to the ship.

Corwin meets with “Melchior Merryman” [Byron V.O.], a priest of Ulandt (and former “Seeker of Lore”) who offers to travel to Gisar to covertly find out what Corwin’s half-brother, Prince Daven, is doing in the barbaric port. They also hope to locate Lord Dalek, a Tiefling (demon-touched) Mage who once framed Corwin for murder.

Rhys decides against giving (former “Liberator”) “Ulrich Vandermoor” [Ted A.H./N.P.C.] at the Royal Society for Cartography full plans of his steamboat. He also purchases coal and carouses with new friend (and former “Lorewarden”) “Brother Cathal Duartbell” [Atilla C./N.P.C.].

Elsa excitedly shares a letter that she has received from Vistel’s Circus, which is performing in the nearby human kingdom of Hifalendor. The adventuring party agrees to sail east, first to meet Capt. Scarlet and the Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elf) schooner Foamrunner at Sanry and then to the city of Hesolin.

Before returning to Drunstimlos, Giacomo obtains components for Bracers of Armor, and Scully looks for specialized ammunition. Corwin tallies up vehicle expenses at about 5,000 crowns (gold pieces) so far and returns 1,500 g.p. to each of his peers.

Elsa checks with Miss Crevan on the establishment of the first office in her long-range communications network, and Rhys is eager to get back to the Zephyr to supervise its refit. The group Teleports back to the windy coast.

Capt. Niac reviews the crew roster as the now-seaworthy ship prepares for its shakedown cruise:

  • Sir Niac Eden [Mike F./N.P.C.]-male Wolfen Paladin, captain
    • Tiernan Saunders: male Saganim cabin boy, sailor 1
  • Prince Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, first mate and morale officer
    • Doyle Tunney: male Saganim (proto-Celtic) human apprentice, Bard 1
    • Evan Bradford: male Saganim fisherman and sailor 1
    • Fiona Chadwick: female Saganim sailor 1/Rogue 1
    • Gordon Selwyn: male Saganim sailor 1/Rogue 1
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome, engineer
    • Vasco: male clockwork butler
    • Automatons: dragon, scorpion, and spider
    • Cyric Ahearn: male Saganim carpenter and sailor 1
    • Emmet Banning: male Saganim sailmaker and sailor 1
    • Evelyn Morgwyl: female Half-Elf tinkerer and sailor 1
    • Ronan Teague: male Saganim blacksmith and sailor 1
  • Giacomo Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Wizard, scholar and mage
    • Gerald: male homunculus familiar
    • “Dread” Maggie Oakleaf: female Sylvan Elf adept, apprentice
    • Almaric Dorimus: male Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human navigator, Lvl. 2 sailor
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female Flind Ranger, animal handler, security/marine, scout, sniper
    • Owlicious: male owl companion
    • Glynnis Shannon: female Saganim sailor 1/Fighter 1
    • Holt Chapman: male Saganim farmer/stablehand and sailor 1
    • Reginald Seward: male Saganim pirate, served aboard the Mad Saber and theBloody Manta; sailor 1/Fighter 2
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid, cook, chaplain, and healer
    • Penryn: male Banuq (winged cat), animal companion
    • Audrey Driscoll: female Saganim (proto-Celtic) human cook and sailor 1/Fighter 1
    • Kaitlin Ellis: female Saganim acolyte of Ghanki/sailor 1

As the Zephyr gets under way, Corwin presents himself to the crew as the “good cop” to Niac’s “bad cop.” Rhys shows his team how to feed coal to the boiler as well as hoist the sails. Giacomo stays in the map room, both because he hasn’t yet gotten his sea legs and because he wants to create a crystal ball that can project images.

Elsa double-checks provisions in the galley and blesses the ship and its new crew. Scully checks on the horses in the cargo hold and borrows Rhys’ spyglass. After several hours out on the Sea of Nagendwa, she spots something from the crow’s nest.

A four-masted ship with black sails approaches from several miles away. It alters course to bear down on the Zephyr, and Capt. Niac calls for battlestations and sets the helm to intercept. Corwin relays commands and encourages the Saganim sailors with song.

Black Sails

The Cruel Cutlass

As the Zephyr and the pirate ship close, Niac gives the order for a warning shot. Scully loads the forward ballista and fires across the other vessel’s bow. It returns fire, skewering Kaitlin Ellis, an acolyte of sea lord Ghanki.

Corwin casts Fireball at the Cruel Cutlass’  forecastle, killing four Saganim pirates. Niac orders the crew to prepare for broadsides. Corwin defensively casts Mirror Image, creating seven illusory duplicates of himself.

Giacomo casts Magic Shield, and Rhys fires his crossbow but misses. Scully fires another ballista bolt, scattering enemy crewmen on the opposing deck. Shots from the Cruel Cutlass narrowly miss Corwin, thanks to his Mirror Image.

Cleric Elsa rushes to aid Kaitlin, and Capt. Niac exhorts the crew to stand firm. Bard Corwin Disintegrates part of the foe’s main mast, which falls and kills another pirate. Wizard Giacomo inflicts madness on some of the commanders of the Cruel Cutlass with Emrikol’s Entropic Maelstrom.

Engineer Rhys turns his attention to fire control and reloading ammunition. Ranger Scully casts Call Lightning, injuring another pirate. The Cruel Cutlass breaks off and flees. While some aboard the Zephyr want to pursue and loot the damaged craft, Capt. Niac Lays on Hands to help heal Kaitlin and congratulates his crew on a successful shakedown cruise.

The Wolfen Paladin of Otih, lord of the sun and justice, also sternly warns them not to get too confident, since the dreaded Ghost Fleet has numerous ships and has magical protections. “Vistel’s Expedition” sails north.

That night, those on watch hear and glimpse something with a feathered wingspan of more than 20 feet fly overhead. They theorize that it could be a gryphon, like the one ridden by Prince Daven.

During the second watch, Scully and Corwin notice Niac pacing about the captain’s quarters. On the third watch, Giacomo banters with his cursed tattoo of the “Mad Mage” Ezra, resisting its attempts to take him over and confusing members of the crew with an apparently one-sided conversation.

In the engine room, Rhys convenes the first meeting of the “Nook and Cranny Council” with similarly diminutive Vasco, his clockwork butler, and Gerald, Giacomo’s homunculus familiar.

The Zephyr safely arrives at the Saganim village of Sanry. Giacomo and Maggie busy themselves in the ship’s map room, leaving others to go ashore. Scully and Niac go to the “Steed’s Stream” inn to see if there are any additional sailors worth recruiting.

Corwin wanders around, thinking of lost loves and the homeland he may not see again for a while. Elsa and Audrey Driscoll procure supplies for the galley and tend to the Druid’s banuq (winged cat) Penryn.

Rhys keeps Cyric, Emmet, Evelyn, and Ronan busy with repairs and training, as the explorers wait to rendezvous with the Foamrunner to ask about the Sea Elven history of conflict with Drunstimlos and participation in a naval alliance against the Ghost Fleet….

Thanks again, Drew, for hosting, and we missed you, Rich! I hope everybody enjoyed your shakedown cruise, and I look forward to continuing your seaborne adventures. As you can see, I’ve revised the crew roster on Obsidian Portal, and remember to make sure that your characters’ spells and possessions are up to date.

I look forward to our next “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” telecom session, as well as character generation for Rich’s “Tunnel Vision” miniseries (using StorytellerWorld of Darkness — Hunterthe Reckoningat Brian S.’s place next Monday.

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.20 — Head fruit and bishonen Drow

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.30, which was held on Sunday, 14 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3eLegends of Anglerre, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • 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. 8
  • 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 and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 8

“27 to 29 May 1227 B.C.E.:” The team escorting Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong stopped in Yao Shung and encountered wary villagers. Jung-Mo’s wyvern egg hatched, and the Nannuattan Ninja was forced to reveal his true identity to his companions. The group also learned of missing children and a possible cell of the Scarlet Order in nearby woods.

Jung-Mo and Toshi work on an enchanted cage for the wyvern hatchling. Sonny tells Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja that the caravan is staying in the village for a few days to help find the children.

Ember suggests sending Jung-Mo and Toshi into the woods disguised as children. Soske’ suspects that a trap awaits them but is not worried. Saigo agrees to bypass the village elders and contact the families of the missing, while Tokoro follows Sonny’s suggestion and dons the guise of a local hunter.

The adventuring party decides to wait until nightfall for its initial scouting of the woods near Yao Shung. The entire group plans to enter the next day, with Nannuattan Jung-Mo and Shan Sao Toshi as bait.

In the meantime, crane Hengeyokai Ember helps attend to Jung-Mo’s wyvern. Toshi’s tiger Amaya guards Lady Yun, and Sonny reminds his companions of the value of discretion. The Shengtese (East Asian) human also asks his talking horseYip to covertly watch Lady Yun.

Saigo talks to the distraught families of Zhan-Shi Shude, Jik Zeng Meizhu, and Dao Xu Tan. The Bamboo Spirit Folk reassures them that he will help find the children and bring them home.

Shengtese human Soske’ prays to quarrelsome ancestor spirits for guidance. Tokoro and his otter companion go to the “Red Reed” inn to find Hojo Etsuko, who serves the same river spirit he does. The carp Hengeyokai finds the River Spirit Folk recovering from a hangover.

However, when Tokoro asks Hojo for help with the missing children, she excuses herself and staggers to her room. Tokoro and Saigo follow but find that the drunkard has climbed out a window and run away!

As night falls, Sonny, Ember, Soske’, and Tokoro walk to Yao Shung’s outskirts. Ember Wild Shapes into deer form, so that the others can pretend to be pursuing hunters in case members of the Scarlet Order are watching. They enter a small but dense copse of trees.

Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Saigo stay back at the village. Ninja Jung-Mo keeps his wyvern separate from Lady Yun, and Wu Jen Toshi continues his arcane preparations.

Saigo writes a reply to Princess Nayoko in the Zedu kingdom. The Samurai searches for Desc Soo-Ann, or “Desan” for short, the River Spirit Folk courier who brought letters to the party. Saigo spots him behind the inn talking with Hojo Etsuko.

Meanwhile, the people in the woods notice that the trees have grown gnarled, and the air is still. Fruits resembling human heads hang from one tree, and Sonny is compelled to taste one, which addles his senses. Wu Ember notices what the Kensai is eating and doubles back.

Head-shaped fruit

Jinmenju

Shukenja Soske’ prepares to cast Wall of Stone, but Hulinyuan Tokoro also falls prey to the strange fruit. Ember and Soske’ resist the plant’s sweet fragrance. The shapeshifting Druid casts Insect Plague, summoning termites to attack the tree.

Tokoro draws his wakizashi (short sword) and begins cutting down more fruit. Soske’ repeatedly casts Flame Strike, damaging the tree. Branches smack at Tokoro, and a toothy maw opens among the roots. It screams at Soske’ in vain, while Sonny draws his axe, which is enchanted against Giants.

Ember casts Warp Wood, but it doesn’t affect the monster, which she identifies as a Jinmenju. Ensorcelled Tokoro gathers up armloads of the head fruit and gorges himself on it. Soske’ casts Ancestral Weapon and, after some haggling, obtains a magical bow that shoots flaming arrows.

The Jinmenju slams Soske’ and grabs Sonny, dragging the weapon master to its gaping mouth. Sonny wedges his axe in it and manages to crawl away. EmberWild Shapes into an elephant, but Tokoro is too busy eating to notice the fight.

Back in Yao Shung, Saigo overhears Desan and Hojo talking about “being rid of them soon.” He interrupts the courier and the scout, and the River Spirit Folk both look at him with guilty expressions. They say they’ll meet him back at the inn in a little while.

Saigo quietly follows Hojo, knocks her out, and drags her to the carriage in the stables. He binds and gags the woman and then fetches Jung-Mo and Toshi to help with interrogation.

Elephantine Ember charges at the Jinmenju, but its branches deflect her tusks from its trunk. Tokoro continues devouring the fruit, becoming less perceptive as he does so. Soske’ fires flaming arrows and casts more Flame Strikes.

The evil tree bites Sonny and shouts at Ember. The weapon master slashes at the Jinmenju with his kama (sickle and chain). Soske’ notices that his teammates are injured, so the priest Channels Positive Energy. Sonny finishes off the burning tree, and Ember stomps on it to make sure it’s dead.

Sonny reclaims his axe, and Soske’ attends to dazed Tokoro. Ember records a carving on the charred tree trunk before the exhausted team heads back to the village.

To question Hojo, Jung-Mo uses his robe of Alter Self to appear as a Nannuattan, but as an eastern Dark Elf who doesn’t resemble his true form. Unfortunately, Jung-Mo’s comely appearance [“Bieber Drow”] doesn’t frighten the recalcitrant River Spirt Folk.

Toshi Polymorphs into a demon to scare answers out of Hojo, who admits to Saigo that she wants to drive the humans out of the northeastern Plains of Sathendo. She says that Desan offered her a deal on behalf of the empire of Gokuri.

That nefarious realm would take human refugees as slaves, and Hojo’s riverine masters would be able to reclaim the farmlands. Jung-Mo confirms, however, that Hojo knows nothing about Lady Yun. Toshi wonders if Gokuri and the Scarlet Order are connected.

Saigo points out that they need to track down Desan immediately to learn more about the scheme to drive the Shengtese peasants off their land. Bedraggled Sonny, Ember, Soske’, and Tokoro return and compare notes.

Tokoro surprises his fellow wanderers by agreeing with Hojo’s distaste for humans. He wants to free the River Spirit Folk, but Toshi doesn’t trust her. Saigo readies a hunting party, but Soske’ needs to rest before another foray into the forest.

Jung-Mo is reluctant to leave his wyvern unattended, while Ember says there’s no time to waste in rescuing the kidnapped children….

Remember to update your character records on Obsidian Portal to Level 8. I’ll also try to post the latest update for “Vistel’s Expedition” (a.k.a. the crew of the Zephyrthis week.

In the meantime, don’t forget to vote in the poll regarding Rich and Jason’s next games for the Boston-area groups!

"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!