Category Archives: Games

Where have I been?

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that my posts have been less frequent in the past year. In lieu of my usual holiday "snailmail" letter, here's an update.

Late 2014 turned out to be difficult. Janice and I traveled to Pennsylvania and New York City to visit an ailing uncle of hers and our college friend Steve A.L., respectively. Both of them died, so we drove back down to their funerals.

Mike H., the manager of the Compleat Strategist in Boston, also died, joining Robert A.S. and other role-playing friends whom we lost in the past few years.

After the usual holiday travel to see our families in Upstate New York and Virginia, Janice and I got sick in early January 2015, followed by a very snowy winter in the U.S. Northeast.

Valentine's Day weekend

Waltham, Mass., in February 2015

I then changed jobs in March 2015 (Janice had changed technical writer positions in September 2014). This has been the main thing keeping me from blogging.

After about six years as an editor managing a TT site about Windows enterprise desktops, I began working at EH/RBR as a writer covering robots. My former colleagues gave me a very nice going-away party, and a few have stayed in touch, joining former co-workers from BNA and IDG/CW.

Robotics has been an interesting beat, as I've learned a lot by trying to keep up with the business news around this rapidly developing technology. I've also had the good fortune to travel to events in Milan, Italy; San Jose, Calif., and soon, the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

In the coming months, I may also get to travel to Canada, Denmark, and Lithuania for work. While I don't particularly enjoy spending time in airports or cramped airplane seats, any chance to see the world, meet new people, and eat new food is a good one!

I got to tag along with Janice to Limerick, Ireland, and we really liked exploring the Cliffs of Moher, various castles, and the beautiful countryside. Janice and I have also returned to regular arts fairs such as the Lowell Folk Festival and the Christmas Revels.

In the meantime, Janice and I have kept busy, hosting college pal David I.S. & Sandra K. for last New Year's and the wedding reception of mutual friends Thomas K.Y. & Kai-Yin H.

We also hosted her family for Easter and her 50th birthday, grad school chum Erik B.L. and his family, and St. Louis-based gamer Byron V.O., who may be visiting again later this month.

In late August, we met my family in Ogunquit, Maine, to celebrate my mother's 85th birthday, my father's 80th birthday, and Janice's and my 20th wedding anniversary. So many milestones!

I also attended genre entertainment conventions including Anime Boston, the Tampa Bay Area Renaissance Festival, the Watch City Steampunk Festival, the Boston Comic Con, and the Rhode Island Comic Con. All of them had the usual cosplayers, fun panels and autograph sessions with celebrities, and tempting artist and vendor booths.

We recently spent Christmas at my brother and his family's new house in Northern Virginia, and we met some friends in Westchester, N.Y., on the way home. Some of us have started planning reunion gatherings to celebrate the 30 years since we graduated from high school and began college.

The "Westchester crew"

With the "Westchester crew," December 2015

Three nights a week, I've continued my role-playing games and historical weapons classes. My D20/FATE "Vanished Lands" fantasy campaign has given way to two adventuring parties using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition (D&D5e).

Fellow Game Master Jason E.R.'s "Star Wars: Dark Times" scenario (using Savage Worlds) just ended its latest chapter, and we're about to start Bruce K.'s D&D5e "Kings and Pawns" space opera miniseries. The latest "episodes" of my D20/FATE "Star Trek: Restoration" game also went well.

Gene's latest Trek uniform

"Capt. Tzu Tien Lung," Halloween 2015

Speaking of ongoing series, I've been enjoying the latest wave of fantasy, horror, superhero, and science fiction shows on television (more on that to come). I saw fewer movies in theaters in 2015 than in previous years, but I've gotten pickier, and time has been limited.

I've also been reading several SF magazines and Web sites, assorted pulp comic books, and various novels (mainly with the "Escapists" book club). So much to do, so little time!

I'll try to post more specific reviews in the coming year, and I wish all of you a healthy, peaceful, and Happy New Year!

D&D5e "Vanished Lands: Storm Riders" Session 41.14 — Dinner with Atlanteans

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 41.14 of our face-to-face D&D5e nautical game, which Drew & Divya S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 26 October 2015:

In one ancient world, there was a place where strange majicks and demihumans 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.

Sometime after a group of former circus performers wandered aboard the airshipZephyr and a team of diplomatic escorts fought chaos in Tong Sheng, past heroesreunited, and another band gathered on the Sea of Nagendwa….

The Storm Riders,” Party 41 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign, using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, as of autumn 2015:

  • Kamar Alazar [Beruk A.]-male Suthern human swashbuckler (proto-Arabic Bard) of the College of Valor, former member of the “Liberators” and “Dragonslayers”; CGn, Lvl. 3
  • Nuriel Earendil [Brian W.]-male Grey Elf acolyte of light (Cleric of Corellan Larethian); NGl, Lvl. 3
  • Kaelen Northsea [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf hunter and horde breaker (Sylvan/Saganim Ranger), seeking his father; NGc, Lvl. 3
  • Eldamir Tempestborn [Rich C.G.]-male Atlantean human soldier (Theran/Minoan Barbarian), tattooed berserker of the Order of the Kingfisher, specialist in the net and trident; CGn, Lvl. 3
  • Barret [Drew S.]-male Minotaur wrestler and gladiator (Fighter) with a wanderlust; a would-be Eldritch Knight; LGn, Lvl. 3
  • Puliarus Aearion [Charles S.]-male Half-Elf sage (Thalassaquendi storm Sorcerer), seeking to befriend all; CNg, Lvl. 3
  • Cassy Keelnipper [Sara F./absent ]-female Otter-kin Rogue, street urchin, and sailor; NGc, Lvl. 2

“8 to 10 November 1227 B.C.E.:” The “Storm Riders” sailed from the city of Hesolin to the Hifalendorin naval base at the Gargoyle Headlands. They rescuedpeople from Samhain mummers, and Eldamir found fellow Atlanteans. Barret had his new eldritch abilities analyzed at the chapel of Ismiltar, goddess of magic.

The travelers meet with some Atlantean (Theran/Minoan Greek) humans for a banquet. Kamar asks Cassia of Santoros [Beruk/Non-Player Character], a matronly priestess of Addoh (Poseidon), about the subversive cult of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom.

Charioteer Dion Xanthus [Brian W./N.P.C.] tells Kaelen that he wants to engage enemies such as the dreaded Ghost Fleet in proper battle with the Hifalendorin army rather than endless skirmishes.

Minoan warriors

Atlantean warriors

Capt. Khufu Ali [Bruce/N.P.C.], captain of the sloop H.M.S. Alatuk, represents the Order of the Golden Lion. The Khemtish (New Kingdom Egyptian) human is skeptical of Eldamir’s bold plan to reunite Atlantean exiles.

By contrast, navigator Janos Demas [Drew/N.P.C.] is interested in Eldamir’s proposal of creating a “new Atlantis.” The Sorcerer mentions that their people have traded with the Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elves) of the Kelp Kingdom and the Merfolk of Thellosia.

Capt. Theeros Vanimelda [Divya S./N.P.C.] is loyal to Hifalendor, which has welcomed refugees. However, the commander of the Pegasus carrier H.M.S. Ismiltar’s Quiver notes that an Atlantean colony is rumored to exist on an island in the southwestern Sea of Nagendwa.

Young Panos Nikomides [Charles/N.P.C.] knows relatively little about his lost ancestral homeland but is the first to accept Eldamir’s offer to join the Order of the Kingfisher. Panos and Cassia are also excited to meet Barret because Minotaurs were revered in Atlantis.

Eldamir tries to reassure Cassia that a new Atlantis would right the wrongs of their former naval empire. The studious Barbarian says that he saw a tablet in Hesolin of an ancient treaty between Atlantis and the (proto-Western European) human kingdom of Hifalendor.

Kaelen recounts his crew’s past battles against Merrows (aquatic Ogres) and aSea Hag. Kamar asks Capt. Ali about ports on the way east toward distant Lirgad. Nuriel learns of the “Grey Wind,” another mercenary crew.

Sometime later, Puliarus goes to the chapel of Ismiltar, goddess of magic, to investigate the scrimshaw that gave him his sorcerous abilities. Senmet bet Nirath confirms its extraplanar origin and notes that the script is ancient but not Draconic.

“Commodore Arthur J. Hudson” [Mark A.S./N.P.C.] provides fellow “Liberator” Kamar horses, a wagon, and a week’s rations. The adventuring party decides to leave immediately rather than wait to escort a caravan.

The grateful “Storm Riders” ride out from the Gargoyle Headlands across the wide Plains of Sathendo rather than take the dangerous sea route to the barbaric city of Gisar [see also telecom team’s notes].

Kamar rides “Baja II,” and Puliarus dubs his steed “Sparky.” Eldamir doesn’t name his horse, but Nuriel calls his “Sirocco.” Kaelen uses the variants “Scirocco” and “Shyrocco,” and Barret calls the beasts drawing the covered wagon “Clippity” and “Cloppity.”

Ranger Kaelen leads the way toward the hamlet of Bancea. Barbarian Eldamir, Cleric Nuriel, and Sorcerer Puliarus follow. Fighter Barret is happy to be back on land, and Bard Kamar sings as he brings up the rear.

The group sees a wooden palisade and a windmill/lighthouse. Kaelen is curious about a Sea Elf woman he glimpses in the tower, and Eldamir chats with Roger, the watchman at the gate.

Lighthouse/windmill

Windmill/lighthouse

Roger is suspicious of burly Barret but directs the group to the “Sandy Shoe” inn. Eldamir and Barret find themselves volunteered for a guard shift in the chilly night. Innkeeper Seonis tells Kamar that Bancea has about 40 full-time residents, led by one Tergan Nentor, a retired swashbuckler.

Nuriel is glad to rest in a bed but notices strange carvings of a tentacled brain under the straw mattress. Kaelen gets sick from some grog and then goes to the lighthouse to flirt with Mikkeli. Barret notices that Kaelen left the inn on his own and rushes to “rescue” him.

Eldamir notices that as he and Barret walk around the perimeter, the path seems to guide them in a spiral pattern, similar to Krakas’ holy symbol. He gathers his companions in their rooms as a precaution.

Suthern human Kamar casts Detect Magic and finds that the carvings under each bed and the tower radiate Transmutation. Nuriel suggests pretending to be subject to any enchantment. The Grey Elf points out that most of the residents may be ignorant of any cult activity.

Half-Elf Kaelen wants to burn down anything associated with the cult of Krakas, and human Eldamir starts packing. Minotaur Barret describes a nightmare of a huge frog with sharp teeth and says that he and Kamar should examine the lighthouse more closely.

Half-Elf Puliarus erases the symbols beneath the beds with a Mend spell. Kaelen eliminates Roger and Mikkeli as suspects. Eldamir tries to intimidate Seonis, who says that the lighthouse “will fall to the Old Ones.”

The enraged Barbarian knocks him out. The “Storm Riders” ask Roger and Mikkeli if Bancea will be safe as they prepare to continue their travels….

Sorry for the delayed update. I look forward to seeing some of you at tonight’s higher-level telecom game and to resuming our adventures tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 16!

I also look forward to Jason’s next “Star Wars: Dark Timessession and to discussing Bruce’s D&D5e “Kings and Pawns” sci-fi scenario and other proposals for next year.

D&D5e "Vanished Lands" Session 42.4 — Gisar gambit

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 42.4 of our higher-level D&D5e telecom game, which was held on Sunday, 25 October 2015:

In one ancient world, there was a place where strange majicks and demihumans 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.

Sometime after a group of former circus performers wandered aboard the airship Zephyr and a team of diplomatic escorts fought chaos in Tong Sheng, another crew gathered on the Sea of Nagendwa, and past heroes reunited….

Higher-level Player Characters for Gene D.’s “Vanished Landsteleconferencing fantasy campaign, using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, Skype, and the Rolz online dice roller, as of autumn 2015:

  • Kunal Sampat Rajiv Ramaprased” [Beruk A.]-male Harrappan (proto-Indian) human Rogue and cook, member of the (D&D3.5) “Broken Chains”; NGc, Lvl. 10
  • Amethyst IronSoul [Geoff C.]-male Warforged battle master (Construct Fighter) and mercenary leader; LNg, Lvl. 10
  • “Ember Talon [Sara F./absent]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court (see D20/FATEA New Dawn”); NGl, Lvl. 10
  • Eoghan, son of Kyndeyrn [Josh C./absent]-male Half-Elf (Saganim human/Fey-touched) Warlock (formerly Bard), associate of the “Broken Chains”; CGn, Lvl. 10

“6 to 7 November 1227 B.C.E.:” In the barbaric port of Gisar, the new acquaintances met an informant and were not surprised when Undead surrounded them in a market one night. A tough fight ensued.

Dangerous fantasy city

Gisar at night

Melchior casts Shadow Step to bring him and Kunal from a rooftop to Corwin, who is fighting a Jiang-Shi (hopping vampire) and a Wolfen Wight. Riki, the Nekojin (cat woman) contact, runs away.

Amethyst swings his maul at a Skaevingol (Viking-style) human Barbarian and ripostes against a skeletal Minotaur. Corwin creates three more Mirror Images. Bellanora wheels overhead on Dai-ru, her gryphon steed. She had already destroyed Irena Keshkova, a Vistani vampire.

The Barbarian, Fjodor Valisson, is unable to hit Amethyst, but hopping vampire  Jeung Kum-Ja destroys one of Corwin’s illusory duplicates. Minotaur Storn Redeyes misses Amethyst, as Wolfen Solveig Lodbjorn hits Corwin.

Cleric Melchior misses Jeung, while Fighter Amethyst damages Fjodor with a sonic attack and taunts him. Bard Corwin draws two swords and slashes Solveig.

Bellanora hurls her holy hammer at the Wight and fails to turn him. However, the hopping vampire flees from the Paladin’s holy symbol of Vulkan (Moradin).

Hapless Fjodor again misses Amethyst, as does skeletal Storn. Wolfen Solveig swings wide, and Kunal sneaks around the Minotaur. Melchior hits it with his Undead Bane rapier.

Amethyst finishes off Storn. Corwin lends Bardic Inspiration to Kunal and Bellanora, who leaps from Dai-ru to destroy Wight Solveig. Fjodor declines Amethyst’s demand to surrender and swings his great sword.

Jeung Kum-Ja tries to hop away, but Kunal and Corwin give chase. Skeletal Storn chops at Amethyst with a glaive. Quick-thinking Kunal throws a makeshift lasso around the hopping vampire and ties the other end to an Immovable Rod.

The Rogue then backstabs her with his Frost dagger before Melchior destroys her with Shadow Bolts. Amethyst gets his second wind to recover from the Minotaur’s blow. The Warforged eventually slays Fjodor.

Bellanora remounts her gryphon and sees a swarm of bats approaching. Melchior tells his new allies to meet at the prearranged rendezvous point, Gisar’s temple of Brijitt, goddess of fire and poetry.

Corwin casts Detect Magic to loot the fallen foes. He and Kunal retrieve the following items:

  • Skaevingol Barbarian Fjodor Valisson: Great sword (+1, +3 vs. Lawful), 30 platinum pieces, 50 gold pieces
  • Skeletal Minotaur Storn Redeyes: Glaive (2d8+2 damage)
  • Wolfen Wight Solveig Lodbjorn: Katars (2 punching daggers, +2, Necrotic +1d6)

Vampires Irena Keshkova and Jeung Kum-Ja leave no treasure. Corwin claims the coins and katars, while Amethyst takes the great sword and glaive. Dwarf Bellanora turns north to evade the bats, and Suthern human Kunal returns to the rooftops to meet Melchior.

Melchior uses Shadow Jumping and a cloak of Darkness to approach Brijitt’s temple. The human priest of Ulandt, goddess of the night, sees an angry mob gathered outside. It includes Barbari human warriors, shaggy humanoids, and spellcasting nobles.

Bellanora wonders about what is going on when she sees the flames from the temple siege and turns around on Dai-ru. Kunal extinguishes some of the fires with his Decanter of Endless Water and signals to the others.

Corwin, who still hopes to thwart his half-brother Prince Daven, Teleports to Melchior with Amethyst. The temple’s magical wards are still intact, but Skaevingol and Tsucharim (Mongol-style) archers are raining arrows upon it. Bugbears, Gnolls, and Oni (Ogre Mages) plunder surrounding buildings, and Vistani (proto-Slavic) vampires control the crowd.

Bellanora flies low to avoid detection, as Kunal tells the others that they should rescue whoever is left inside Brijitt’s temple. Melchior fires a crossbow bolt of Silence, neutralizing six of the 40 enemy spellcasters.

Corwin dons his hat of Disguise to look like a Gnoll and casts Stoneskin on himself. Amethyst would rather leave, but Saganim (proto-Celtic) citizens Melchior and Corwin offer to pay him to stay and help. But first, the group must stay ahead of the attackers and get past the wards to enter the temple….

I know it has been a while since we left this cliffhanger, but I look forward to resuming our telecom adventures tonight (Sunday, Nov. 15)!

See my other posts regarding Halloween, the Rhode Island Comic Con, and the “Storm Riders” and Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Timesgames. Stay in touch, -Gene

D&D5e "Vanished Lands: Storm Riders" Sessions 41.12, 13 — Mummers and marines

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 41.12 and 13 of our face-to-face D&D5e nautical game, which Drew & Divya S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on 5 and 19 October 2015:

In one ancient world, there was a place where strange majicks and demihumansthrived. 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.

Sometime after a group of former circus performers wandered aboard the airshipZephyr and a team of diplomatic escorts fought chaos in Tong Sheng, past heroesreunited, and another band gathered on the Sea of Nagendwa….

The Storm Riders,” Party 41 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign, using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, as of autumn 2015:

  • Kamar Alazar [Beruk A.]-male Suthern human swashbuckler (proto-Arabic Bard) of the College of Valor, former member of the “Liberators” and “Dragonslayers”; CGn, Lvl. 3
  • Nuriel Earendil [Brian W.]-male Grey Elf acolyte of light (Cleric of Corellan Larethian); NGl, Lvl. 3
  • Kaelen Northsea [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf hunter and horde breaker (Sylvan/Saganim Ranger), seeking his father; NGc, Lvl. 3
  • Eldamir Tempestborn [Rich C.G.]-male Atlantean human soldier (Theran/Minoan Barbarian), tattooed berserker of the Order of the Kingfisher, specialist in the net and trident; CGn, Lvl. 3
  • Barret [Drew S.]-male Minotaur wrestler and gladiator (Fighter) with a wanderlust; a would-be Eldritch Knight; LGn, Lvl. 3
  • Puliarus Aearion [Charles S.]-male Half-Elf sage (Thalassaquendi storm Sorcerer), seeking to befriend all; CNg, Lvl. 3
  • Cassy Keelnipper [Sara F./absent ]-female Otter-kin Rogue, street urchin, and sailor; NGc, Lvl. 2

“29 October to 7 November 1227 B.C.E.:” In Hesolin, capital of the human kingdom of Hifalendor, the “Storm Riders” accepted Lord Gideon Adams’ mission to explore Lirgad in the east. Kamar visited the Bardic College, Nuriel explored various temples and learned about Bokor Island, and Kaelen hit the “Saffron Scabbard” tavern.

Eldamir inquired into other Atlanteans and helped Barret at the arena, even as the “Masked Minotaur” gained arcane abilities. Puliarus visited the Istari Bazaar and got his scrimshaw analyzed.

Nuriel, Kamar, and Eldamir bid farewell to Itharides, a prominent Grey Elf adventuress and Nuriel’s grandmother. Itharides tells her kinsman to be careful in his travels and seems flattered by Kamar’s attention.

Eldamir inquires into Elven artifacts and learns of the Dragon Orbs, Bracers of Elemental Control, and Heart Bows, among other things. He also changes 5,000 crowns (gold pieces) into gems, platinum, and pearls.

Barret, Kaelen, and Puliarus visit the temple of Ismiltar. Lorna Travers, a priestess of the matron of magic, recommends that Barret undertake a quest to fully qualify to become an Eldritch Knight.

The people of Hesolin prepare to celebrate the autumn festival of Samhain. Eldamir recommends staying in the Golden Horn Hotel on Castle Court, but Kamar leaves to look for Itharides. He learns that the temples of dark goddesses Sherma and Ennenah are holding open houses.

Nuriel attends the lantern show at the temple of Corellan Larethian, head of the Elven pantheon. Kaelen, Eldamir, and Barret go to the “Bright Battlement” tavern in the theater district. They join a mummer’s parade in Bridge Plaza.

Out of the corner of his eye, Kaelen sees a mummer adjusting his mask, but there’s no face underneath! Two similarly garbed people guide nine revelers into a zone of Silence down a side street. Barret says the innocent must be protected.

The masked mummers begin sucking the life out of the hapless Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) humans. Eldamir rages and lunges for the ghouls. The Barbarian makes a reckless attack with his trident “Tempest,” strabbing one foe twice.

Two of the monsters miss Eldamir and Barret, who steps into the area of Silence.Kaelen casts Hunter’s Mark on himself, draws his short swords, and follows. Eldamir destroys one of the pale-skinned creatures, splattering black ichor.

The mummers rake Kaelen and Barret with long claws, and Ranger Kaelen responds with his blades. Fighter Barret gores and shoves his opponent before getting tangled up in the narrow alley. The revelers scatter.

Eldamir skewers Kaelen’s opponent, but the last masked villain scratches him. Barret gets a second wind and attacks. Eldamir helps finish off the last mummer.

Members of the city watch arrive, and Kaelen tries to explain what has happened in the absence of witnesses. Eldamir takes responsibility, but the guards are suspicious of the tattooed, long-haired outlander.

At a nearby watchtower, the guards pay 60 crowns as a bounty for the destroyed Undead. They explain that they’re overwhelmed with the Samhain celebrations around various temples.

Kaelen, Eldamir, and Barret then find Kamar talking to Yvonne Valetta at the Bards’ College and Nuriel with fellow Cleric Vellamo at the temple of Corellan. The next morning, Barret picks up the wooden armor he had commissioned for 40 crowns.

The next morning, the “Storm Riders” board the H.M.S. Alatuk at the recommendation of harbormaster Lord Adams. Capt. Khufu Ali orders the Hifalendorin naval vessel to head for the base at the Gargoyle Headlands.

Suthern human Kamar plays games of chance with off-duty crew members, while Grey Elf Nuriel enjoys the view from the prow. Half-Elf Kaelen has difficulty understanding the Khemtish (New Kingdom Egyptian) human captain’s orders.

Atlantean human Eldamir keeps to himself, and Minotaur Barret helps provide ballast. Puliarus studies charts of the Sea of Nagendwa. On the way east, they encounter the Raven’s Eye, a Hifalendorin longboat captained by Korvus Bracas. He is pleased to meet another honorable Minotaur in Barret.

The Alatuk approaches a cliff face with a fortified harbor at its base. Among the vessels docked there they notice one with a wide top deck free of rigging. Massive, mastaba-style walls tower above, with blue and gold Hifalendorin flags fluttering in the sea breeze.

Before the visitors can climb the narrow, winding path up to the Gargoyle Headlands, they must submit to a scan by Hai-Yuan Peihsi, a Shengtese (East Asian) priestess of the sea lords. At the plateau, the group sees charioteers practicing. Lt. Laurence Tertius takes the adventuring party into the fort.

Thick pillars frame sunny courtyards around the barracks, stables, command tower, and chapel to Ismiltar. While most of the personnel are Hifalendorin, there are several Egyptian, Atlantean, and Saganim humans.

“Commodore Arthur J. Hudson” [Mark A.S./Non-Player Character] is preoccupied with other duties and doesn’t recognize Kamar right away. An ensign adds insult to injury by mistaking him for “Westly the Wondrous” [Alex J./N.P.C.].

The crew presents its letter of introduction from Lord Adams, and Commodore Hudson agrees to support its mission to scout Lirgad, although he notes that it would be unwise to take a Hifalendorin vessel into raider-plagued waters.

Kamar later catches up with Arthur over dinner and drinks. The former “Liberators” reminisce about their adventures six years ago [in “game time”/D&D3.0, 2000 to 2002], including venturing into the Underdark, racing Orcish warlords for the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, and discovering the lost city of Eagle’s Rest.

Nuriel and Kaelen talk with Hei-Yuan Peihsi at a shrine to the Sea Lords. In the officers’ mess, Eldamir asks Capt. Theros Vanimelda, commander of the Ismiltar’s Quiver, about fellow Atlanteans. Barret and Puliarus go to the temple of Ismiltar, where they see depictions of the Ennead (Egyptian pantheon).

The Minotaur and Half-Elf meet Senmet bet Nirath, a priestess of the goddess of magic. She asks for a demonstration of Barret’s new abilities, and they go outside. The gladiator invokes Hendlir, guardian of travelers, and instinctively responds to a threat from Puliarus with a Magic Missile from his horns.

Fortunately, the storm Sorcerer is able to erect a magical Shield in response. Puliarus prays to Angkir, lord of storms. Senmet wonders if the gods have seen fit to share their powers. Kamar entertains the troops and acolytes with “Sympathy for the Minstrel.”

Sometime later, Barret reluctantly submits to a ritual conducted by Senmet. She tosses a quill at the Minotaur, which he disintegrates. The Cleric later explains that it’s a sign that he retains his free will and can still love and lose.

Senmet hits Barret with a pebble, which she interprets as proof that he can still be physically harmed despite his newfound powers. She sprinkles holy water on him, and it does not turn to steam, indicating that the enchanted brass orb on his horn isn’t diabolical or fiendish in origin.

The Egyptian woman shows Barret a mirror, and he poses, showing that he is capable (or not) of self-control. Those assembled have a vision of the moon between Barret’s horns, which Senmet says is a sign of Isis’ approval of his quest.

Barret wonders if he can recruit anyone for the “cult of the Masked Minotaur,” and Puliarus is grateful to learn that other Eldritch Knights may be able to help his friend learn to use his arcane abilities. They have a good Mediterranean-style meal.

Kamar rejoins his companions and suggests traveling over land toward Lirgad, hugging the coast to accommodate Puliarus’ Sea Elven blood….

I look forward to seeing some of you at tonight’s higher-level telecom session and to continuing the “Storm Riders’” travels tomorrow!

D&D5e "Vanished Lands" Session 42.3 — Unsurprising ambush

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 42.3 of our higher-level D&D5e telecom game, which was held on Sunday, 11 October 2015:

In one ancient world, there was a place where strange majicks and demihumans 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.

Sometime after a group of former circus performers wandered aboard the airship Zephyr and a team of diplomatic escorts fought chaos in Tong Sheng, another crew gathered on the Sea of Nagendwa, and past heroes reunited….

Higher-level Player Characters for Gene D.’s “Vanished Landsteleconferencing fantasy campaign, using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, Skype, and the Rolz online dice roller, as of autumn 2015:

  • Kunal Sampat Rajiv Ramaprased” [Beruk A.]-male Harrappan (proto-Indian) human Rogue and cook, member of the (D&D3.5) “Broken Chains”; NGc, Lvl. 10
  • Amethyst IronSoul [Geoff C.]-male Warforged battle master (Construct Fighter) and mercenary leader; LNg, Lvl. 10
  • “Ember Talon [Sara F./absent]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court (see D20/FATEA New Dawn”); NGl, Lvl. 10
  • Eoghan, son of Kyndeyrn [Josh C./absent]-male Half-Elf (Saganim human/Fey-touched) Warlock (formerly Bard), associate of the “Broken Chains”; CGn, Lvl. 10

“5 to 6 November 1227 B.C.E.:” After a lethal street brawl and spending the night at Gisar’s temple of Brijitt, the new acquaintances found Melchior at the Spice Square. They defeated three people pursuing the Saganim Cleric and inquired about Corwin’s enemies in the city.

Bellanora asks Corwin about his vendettas. The wandering prince explains that the late Lord Dalek, a Tiefling (demon-touched) mage, had framed him for the murder of Lady Katarina, a onetime lover.

Melchior reports that Corwin’s half-brother, Prince Daven, has been raising a mercenary army to challenge Prince Garamond right to the Saganim throne. Among Daven’s allies is young aristocrat Sean Sable, whose family is suspected of necromancy.

Kunal recalls a letter from Lord Dalek asking the Undead who rule Gisar for a boon. He recommends waiting until trouble dies down, but Amethyst is unconcerned with Corwin’s family problems. Kunal notes that the battle master could infiltrate Daven’s forces.

Bellanora still isn’t sure about whether Corwin’s cause is honorable, but the Half-Elf Bard says that the kingdom of Saganim’s security is tied to that of the Zeda kingdom. Bellanora agrees to wait to meet the recently defeated Nekojin (feline humanoid) assassin Riki.

Kunal takes to nearby rooftops to watch the neighborhood. The human Rogue notices that the Skaevingol (proto-Scandinavian), Vistani (proto-Slavic), and Tsucharim (Mongol-style) natives have been joined by Shengtese (East Asian) refugees from the Principality of Silado.

Dwarf Paladin Bellanora saddles Dai-ru, her gryphon steed, which Corwin will make Invisible as needed. Amethyst wonders how Daven would move an army west in winter across the Plains of Sathendo, since the kingdom of Hifalendor is between the former Gusorin Confederation and Saganim.

Melchior theorizes that Dalek knew about an ancient obelisk beneath the ruins of the local Magisterium (magic school/library). It could enable magical transit via ley lines to standing stones within Saganim, the human Cleric tells the Warforged Fighter.

Bellanora wants to keep a low profile and discuss strategy, while Kunal reports on what he saw in Gisar’s winding streets. Melchior suggests heading north to a monastery near Tekugi after meeting with Riki.

Corwin and Kunal head back to the Spice Square to scout out the rendezvous site. Bellanora assumes that Riki’s return is a trap, and Melchior readily agrees.

Amethyst offers his services to Prince Daven. Among the sell swords, he sees Wolven, Nezumi (rat folk), and a few Minotaurs. He returns to his new companions by dusk.

Bellanora rides Dai-ru and casts Protection From Evil on herself. Kunal enters the market from the southeastern corner, using a magical monocle to search for hidden foes.

Melchior uses a cloak of Darkness to hide near Kunal. Corwin casts Stoneskin on himself as he and Amethyst approach the empty market from the south. Riki arrives, followed by a tall Skaevingol warrior.

Corwin steps forward to learn about Daven’s whereabouts, which was a condition of the Nekojin’s release. Fjodor Valisson has disdain for the outlanders, but Amethyst studies his movements.

From their rooftop, Melchior and Kunal spot Undead surrounding the square. Bellanora notices a large bat, as well as a Tsucharim woman approaching from the east. She recognizes Jeung Kum-Ja as a hopping vampire.

Melchior uses his wand of Daylight to illuminate the area around Corwin, who casts Mirror Image, and Amethyst, who readies his maul. Bellanora tries to turn the bat, which resists. Fjodr swings at Amethyst but misses.

Jeung Kum-Ja destroys one of Corwin’s Mirror Images, as bat Irena Keshkova bites at Bellanora. Melchior casts Sound Lance at the winged vampire, and Amethyst slams his Barbarian foe. Corwin provides Bardic Inspiration to the Warforged.

Bellanora hurls her holy hammer at Keshkova, smiting the Vistani vampire. Valisson swings a great axe at Amethyst but again misses. Jeung Kum-Ja claws at Corwin and summons Storn Redeyes, a Minotaur Skeletal Warrior.

Solveig Lodbjorn, a Wolfen Wight, climbs out of the shacks surrounding the market and lurches toward Kunal, who throws his cold steel chakram at the hopping vampire. Cautious Melchior uses Shadow Jump to fall back.

Metal Amethyst gives ally Bellanora an extra attack with Commander’s Strike and taunts his Skaevingol opponent. Corwin carelessly casts Flame Strike, which the gryphon and its rider narrowly avoid.

Righteous Bellanora destroys the vampire in bat form, as Fjodor again misses Amethyst. Jeung Kum-Ja briefly hops out of reach, as Storn turns from Melchior to Amethyst. Solveig is unable to reach Kunal or Corwin.

Sneaky Kunal strikes the hopping vampire, as impetuous Bard Corwin casts Fireball at her. Bellanora wheels overhead on Dai-ru to survey the scene.

Corwin continues fighting Tsucharim vampire Jeung Kum-Ja and Wolfen Wight Solveig. Next to him, Amethyst battles Barbarian Fjodor and skeletal MinotaurStorn.

Kunal and Melchior offer ranged support and watch for more Undead from the surrounding buildings….

While I’m sorry that we’re not able to meet on Sunday, Oct. 18, I look forward to continuing our battle next weekend! Note my posts on the “Holy Steel” Google Group regarding updating your characters and our November schedule.

I’ll see some of you at tomorrow’s “Storm Riders” face-to-face session….