Category Archives: Games

"Land of Lost Souls" D&D5e Session 1 — Into the woods

Fellow role-players, here are some notes from our first full “Land of Lost Souls” teleconferencing session, which was held on Sunday, 18 January 2015:

Player Characters for the “Land of Lost Souls,” Dexter V.H.’stelecom fantasy miniseries, using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth EditionAD&D2/D&D3.5 Dragonlance, the Forgotten Realms, Palladium Fantasy, Obsidian Portal, Skype, and the Rolz.org dice roller, as of spring 2015:

  • Kalidren ‘Cal’ Haraishur [Gene D.]-male Qualinesti (Sylvan Elf) Paladin of Kiri-Jolith, god of valor; folk hero; and a potential member of the Legion of Steel; LGn, Lvl. 1
  • Redrik Stoneflow [Byron V.O./absent ]-male Neidar (Hill Dwarf) Cleric of Paladine, god of justice; outcast, guild artisan, and silversmith; LGn, Lvl. 1
  • Maddie Moonfang [Sara F.C.]-female wolfing Barbarian, skin changer from the plains and former thrall of evil wizard; TNc; Lvl. 1
  • Perogen Hawke [Josh C.]-male human Wizard of the White Robes, sage; NGc, Lvl. 1
  • Rowan Kar-Thon [Geoff C.]-male Half-Elf Skald (Bard), outlander and storyteller; NGc, Lvl. 1
  • Santiddio Sefrayn [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Rogue (thief), charlatan and professional treasure seeker; CNg, Lvl. 1

Late one spring, a group of wanderers meets at the logging village of Quarevarr, in the borderlands between the Wayreth Forest, the Kharolis Mountains, and the Plains of Dust. Santiddio swaggers into the “Whistling Stag” lodge and orders a “scorpion piss.”

"Dragonlance" borderlands

Northwestern borderlands

 

Shortly thereafter, armored Cal marches into the tavern and asks for a dandelion mead. Maddie stalks into the common room, ignoring stares at her bear pelt. Tall Rowan enters, orders a “unicorn piss,” and asks if anybody knows about the people waiting outside.

After a courteous dispute, a seemingly scrawny older man named Sam stiffly sits down and orders an ale. A young man in white robes clearly from the Tower of High Sorcery is the last to arrive. Perrogen also orders another ale.

Rennick says that some human villagers claim to have seen a ghost of a thin armored man. The retired scout recommends that the newcomers talk with witnesses Hurst and Drana. Rennick also says that Geldren Bressar, an Elf forester and mayor, is interested in any help they can give.

Cal recommends splitting up, so Sam and Maddie sweep the perimeter for tracks or signs of a hoax, but they find nothing. Cal and Perogen check out the local cemetery, where they detect faint signs of evil and magic leading north.

Rowan and Santiddio find young lovers Hurst and Drana at the well. The human and Half-Elf say they have seen the apparition heading northeast into the woods. The Skald and Rogue find the local Druid, Forestam Trienne, who says that dark-skinned figures have been seen in the same woods.

The priestess of Habakkuk also mentions the ruins of Methegrist, where the Moonwatch Paladins were subverted by a devil. Sir Jahar was the last one to stay true to the order’s ideals, says the Druid.

The would-be heroes regroup at the inn and agree to keep watch over Quarevarr for the night. The ghost appears and walks straight through Cal, who doesn’t Detect Evil. Santiddio follows into the woods. The others follow.

The Half-Elf sees two Orcs and an ebon-skinned woman. Heoverhears them discussing a pact between their tribe and the “Spider Queen.” Santiddio motions for his companions to advance, and Paladin Cal shouts, “For the realm of Qualinesti!”

Santiddio and Sam swing swords at Radfang, whom Perogen fells with Magic Missiles. Ripgut charges at Perogen but trips, and Cal kicks him. Rowan knocks out the second Orc with his staff. The bandits have a total of 110 gold pieces, or 22 g.p. per adventurer.

Sam realizes that the strange Elf has disappeared, and Cal asks Rowan and Santiddio to stay with the surviving Orc. They roughly interrogate Ripgut and kill him, but they are surprised by an arrow and magical Darkness.

Santiddio ducks but feels a dagger at his back, and lucky Rowan narrowly dodges another missile. They hear a female voice telling them to run as she summons white wolves to chase them.

Meanwhile, Perogen and the others continue following the ghost, presumably the shade of Sir Jahar, deeper into the woods. The Half-Elves soon catch up to them, with the winter wolves in hot pursuit.

Maddie strikes with a long sword, and Cal switches to javelins. Santiddio and Sam draw bows, while Perogen holds. The pack closes in, and the mysterious woman’s voice taunts the team through the trees before disappearing again.

Rowan uses two hands to wield his sword, and Forestam appears. The Druid disperses the wolves and tells the travelers to continue on their mission. They continue hiking toward Methegrist….

Dexter, let me know if these notes are sufficient, and Byron, I hope you’re feeling better! I look forward to continuing our adventures!

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.56 — Fighting frosty fey and Astral arrival

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.56, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 19 January 2015:

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 D20 Pathfinder and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, as of spring 2015:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) with a checkered past and homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 12
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Flind (Gnoll) Ranger, archer, and sailor, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 12
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, wandering noble, warrior/mage, and mandolin player; CNg, Lvl. 12
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, diplomat, and animal handler with banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 12
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome (Minoi) clockwork gadgeteer, ship’s engineer, and impetuous Rogue; TNcg, Lvl. 12
  • Tarwen Rinuendell [Dana S.]-female Avariel (winged Elf) Fighter, unflappable but secretive scout; LGn, Lvl. 12

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

“20 to 22 May 1227 B.C.E.:” The Zephyr’s command crew finished training and equipping in Alfhileno, capital of the Waletku kingdom of the Elves. It also met Avariel scout “Tarwen” [Dana S].

The adventurers then headed south to the Hifalendorin human town of Kedetura. They rejoined their airship and fought another nasty Grimm. Rhys and Tarwen snuck into Kedetura, where they found a tent city, many Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja, and Unseelie Fey running a twisted carnival based on Vistel’s Circus….

Giacomo uses a crystal ball to find the nexus of local ley lines, or currents of magical energy. The Wizard finds it near the center of Kedetura, where a statue of the pale lady siphons off mana. He recommends further investigation and possibly sabotage.

Scully says the group should sneak into the town to get as close as possible to the mysterious Vappu Lahja and identify her weaknesses. The Ranger reminds her companions that since troops from Nadwi or Alfhileno are far away, the crew of the Zephyr is their only backup.

Corwin urges his team to get close to the enemy leader, seize her, and thenTeleport away before her thralls can defend her. The Bard also begins preparingContingency spells to protect himself.

Elsa focuses on counterspells against Vappu Lahja. The Druid also Communes With Nature and learns that in addition to Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) humans, Centaurs, Satyrs, and Halflings, there are more extraplanar Grimms, Korred, and Redcaps in Kedetura.

Engineer Rhys says he would prefer to leave the occupied town rather than face Unseelie Fey again, but Fighter Tarwen is impatient for battle. Giacomo points out that the Gnome and Avariel (winged Elf) aren’t known as former members of Vistel’s Circus.

Giacomo casts a Contingency spell of Reverse Gravity on his homunculus familiar Gerald, and Corwin readies Resist Charm and Teleport. Elsa prays for Mass Hold Monster and Protection From Evil, and the group eventually agrees to walk into Kedetura.

Centaur sentries Nikodemus and Phyto escort the Zephyr ’s away team through the tent city and into the walled town. Giacomo, Corwin, and Elsa ask to meet with Vappu Lahja. Meanwhile, Tarwen uses her ring of Invisibility and flies behind them, carrying Rhys, upon whom Corwin has cast Improved Invisibility.

The Centaurs take the Hifalendorin human, Half-Elf, and Hill Dwarf to town hall, near the 10-foot tall alabaster statue. The Tinker Gnome has used a wand ofSilence to aid the Invisibility and defend against Charm. The winged Avariel narrowly avoids obstacles as she follows the others into a meeting room.

Meanwhile, aboard the Zephyr, Scully and boyfriend “Capt. Niac” [Mike F./Non-Player Character] ready ballista bolts that Rhys has coated with cold steel, a reddish antimagical alloy. The Flind and Wolfen Paladin prepare for Rhys and company to Teleport back to them with Vappu Lahja as prisoner.

The adventuring party meets the coldly beautiful Vappu Lahja, as well as her retinue, which includes Centaur chieftans, a Grugach (Wild Elf) shaman, and Gilean, a diminuitive and malevolent Redcap whom they had fought in the haunted hamlet of Alarn. He recognizes them, but no one draws weapons immediately.

Elsa steps forward and presents a mirror, and Corwin sings a ballad that puts the legendary Vappu Lahja in a more favorable light. The Saganim prince weaves a counterspell into his song in the hope of releasing some of the Centaurs from magical compulsion.

Invisible Tarwen keeps a hand on Silenced Rhys as they sneak up to Vappu Lahja. He touches the woman, and they become visible, but she resists the Teleport Contingency!

Elsa calls upon Vulkan (Moradin) and hits the evil Redcap with Holy Smite. Arcanists Corwin and Giacomo cast Mass Charm Monster, preventing five Centaurs and several hovering Faeries from attacking.

Vappu Lahja stands up, and her silk robes turn to bark and then flexible metal. She Bestows Curse on Rhys, weakening him, and Gilean turns Invisible to maneuver and stab Corwin.

Rhys manages to empty his Bag of Holding, so that his clockwork spider and dragon can hurl cold steel pellets at the Unseelie Fey. Vasco, an automaton butler, joins them, while Rhys’ clockwork scorpion tries to sting approaching reinforcements.

Tarwen fires Blinding bolts from her magical crossbow and puts her ring ofInvisibility back on. Elsa Wild Shapes into a bear and charges. Corwin casts Imprisonment, which successfully places Vappu Lahja in an underground cell that can be found only with Discern Location.

However, the would-be heroes still have to contend with her followers. Giacomo casts Shield and then See Invisible to locate the Redcap. Rhys throws a Tanglefoot Bag at Gilean but misses him.

The team hears rioting outside, as some Centaurs are freed from Vappu Lahja’s influence but other Fey folk fight them and Hifalendorin human townsfolk.

Tarwen flies up and sees numerous angry Sprites and five Grimms approaching the windows. She lands so that Giacomo and Corwin can Teleport the group out of the besieged town hall to Orlando Vistel, founder of Vistel’s Circus.

The adventuring party finds itself in a chilly tent, where “Papa” and “Mama” Vistel have been encased in ice! A “steward” greets them, as do several Ice Mephits. The Cold Rider hits Corwin with a frozen, shocking glaive and summons its steed, a large, unnatural elk.

Unseelie steward

Cold Rider

 

The Mephits brandish poisoned daggers, and Corwin defensively casts Displacement and Invisibility on himself. Elsa casts another Holy Smite, destroying half of the Mephits. The others climb into the rafters and begin chanting.

Giacomo casts Bungle on the Unseelie Fey, as Rhys sends most of his constructs to attack. The Tinker Gnome orders his clockwork dragon to thaw out the Vistels with its fiery breath, and Tarwen shoots more Blinding bolts.

The frost elk’s antlers nearly pin Tarwen, and the surviving Mephits swarm around Giacomo and Rhys. Bold Corwin casts Storm Bolts and Magic Missiles, and pious Elsa invokes Mekkil (Gaia) to Channel Positive Energy and heal her allies.

Giacomo the Mysterious destroys the Cold Rider and the Mephits with a Scorching Ray. Nimble Rhys and airborne Tarwen fire at the Unholy steed but miss. Still in bear form, Elsa finishes off the ice elk.

While they debate over whether to try to rescue other circus performers, Giacomo and Corwin thaw out the Vistels with Flaming Hands. Rhys helps find and retrieve the following items:

  • Antlers, from ice elk
  • Bead of Force
  • Daggers, Fey (1d4 + sleep, DC 15)
  • Glaive, frost (1d10 + 1d6 icy burst)
  • Witch’s Ice Shard (Trap the Soul) — to have Sir Niac destroy because it’s a Necromantic item

As the sounds of strife in Kedetura’s streets get closer, Giacomo and Corwin again cast Teleport. However, instead of taking the team back to Scully and the Zephyr, the travelers find themselves on an island floating in midair surrounded by a sea of stars.

The spellcasters quickly identify their new location as somewhere in the Astral Plane, which is better than in the Zarendo Islands or the Nine Hells, where a certain Pit Fiend has tried to trap them.

Elsa notes that since nobody has a silver cord, if anyone is killed on this plane of existence, they are truly dead, but they are also harder to track. The arcanists need some time to rest before safely casting higher-level spells again.

The scouts spot a vessel approaching. Rhys is excited to see a Spelljammer skiff, which lands on their island. Thin, robed, gray-skinned humanoids disembark, and one greets the newcomers with a smile.

Astral inhabitants

Githzerai

 

Rek’elma says that Modron Paladin “Radius” [Jason E.R.] told him to expect to find them. Giacomo and company ask how time flows in the Astral, and the Githzerai says, “Sideways.”

Rek’elma says that the “pale lady” has local allies and that she may try to head to a Githyanki fort to regain her powers. “Vistel’s Expedition” agrees to join Rek’elma in raiding the Githyanki tower….

Dana, I hope you enjoyed sitting in on our campaign, and Sara, I’m glad that you were able to Skype into our latest face-to-face session. Everybody should make sure that their characters and current item/spell lists are up to date.

I look forward to upcoming games of Dexter V.H.‘s D&D5eLand of Lost Souls” and Jason E.R.’s FAEChannel 37.” Let’s hope the weather cooperates for the latter!

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.55 — Thrown anchor and glass foot

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.55, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 12 January 2015:

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 Pathfinder and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, as of spring 2015:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 12
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F./absent ]-female albino Flind (Gnoll) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and sailor, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 12
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, wandering noble, warrior, and mandolin player; CNg, Lvl. 12
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 12
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome (Minoi) clockwork gadgeteer and impetuous Rogue; TNcg, Lvl. 12
  • Tarwen Rinuendell [Dana S./guest ]-female Avariel (winged Elf) Fighter, unflappable but secretive scout; LGn, Lvl. 12

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

“16 to 19 May 1227 B.C.E.:” The Zephyr ‘s away team traveled to Alfhileno, capital of the Waletku kingdom of the Elves. The wanderers continued their research into the legends of Vappu Lahja, sought allies against her belligerent Centaurs and the Ghost Fleet, and compared notes on Gnomish airships. “King Ereval I” [Steve A.L./Non-Player Character] approved their missions and agreed to join Elsa’s long-range communications network.

Giacomo prepares another Contingency spell to Polymorph his homunculus familiar Gerald into a dragon. Corwin readies a similar Invisibility for himself. Elsa recommends parleying for a truce with Vappu Lahja.

At the Royal Air Corps, Rhys compares notes on airships with fellow Gnome Artificer Flap… and tactics with Quelanthi (High Elf) Paladin “Jiriki” [Jon W.P./N.P.C.]. Scully continues talking with refugees at the Ranger Guild headquarters.

As the adventurers head back to “Tabby’s Tavern,” a rare Avariel (winged Elf) steps out of the shadows and accosts Rhys. Tarwen says that she has heard Elsa and company debating tactics and asks to join their quest.

Hifalendorin human Giacomo is wary, but Elsa notes that King Ereval is mobilizing the Waletku kingdom’s troops to defend its southern border against rebel fey. Half-Elf Corwin gives Tarwen glass and magical arrows, as well as a healing potion.

Rhys gets Tanglefoot Bags and Thunderstones in addition to the party’s Wand of Silence. Elsa casts Message to tell the Zephyr to meet the group on the northwestern Plains of Sathendo. The Hill Dwarf then uses Transport via Plants to get the team near the town of Kedetura.

Flind Scully is happy to be reunited with “Capt. Niac” [Mike F./N.P.C.]. The Zephyr and crew spend the night about a day’s ride from Kedetura. During the third watch, a slick-skinned humanoid Teleports onto the airship’s deck.

The first quarrels from Rhys’ and Tarwen’s crossbows miss, and the foul assassinCalls Lightning against the Avariel. Corwin dons his armor, and Elsa identifies the Grimm as similar to a creature they fought recently at the haunted hamlet of Alarn.

Giacomo heads up from his cabin, and Rhys and some sailors head to a ballista. Corwin quaffs a potion of Improved Invisibility and casts Displacement on himself. Elsa Wild Shapes into a bear and charges at the Grimm, which rakes her with its claws.

After missing again, Ranger Tarwen runs to another siege engine, and Wizard Giacomo casts Chains of Light. Rhys runs down to the Zephyr’s boiler and melts an ingot of cold steel. He and his assistants coat some ballista bolts with the reddish antimagical alloy.

Meanwhile, Bard Corwin closes and casts Displacement on Elsa. The Druid’s Gust of Wind doesn’t affect the Grimm, whose talons dig into the wooden deck. Ursine Elsa casts Sunbeam and bites the Unseelie fey.

The Grimm Teleports back and counters with Darkness. Frustrated with the ineffectiveness of regular bolts, Tarwen picks up an anchor and flies up. She drops it, splintering the deck, but the Grimm dodges the anchor.

Scully supervises damage-control efforts, and Capt. Niac tries to keep the crew out of harm’s way and the ship from further notice. Giacomo casts Mage Swordand Dispels the Darkness. Rhys runs up and begins firing the bolts tipped withcold steel .

Prince Corwin tries to distract the Grimm from Elsa with sword and dagger, as Elsa falls back to heal her allies with a Positive Energy Burst. The monster swings at Corwin, but Tarwen inadvertently shoots herself.

Giacomo successfully casts Ray of Enfeeblement, and Rhys’ ammunition gets help from Corwin’s Magic Missiles and Storm Bolts. Tarwen manages to finish off the Grimm. Corwin finds and reluctantly turns over a Sickle of Disembowelment to Niac so that the Wolfen Paladin can destroy the evil weapon.

At Giacomo’s recommendation, Rhys forge cold steel manacles to deal with Vappu Lahja or her followers. Corwin tells Tarwen tales of the pale lady, whom three warlords supposedly courted while their men killed one another when she refused to pick one. Elsa is unsure of how to proceed into Kedetura.

The next morning, two Centaur scouts hail the Zephyr. The command crew slides to the ground. Nikodemus and Phyto invite them to see the “Carnival of Tears,” which is performing in the town. The travelers ask for a day’s delay (so the spellcasters can rest).

While Giacomo, Corwin, and Elsa argue about the best way to approach and defeat Vappu Lahja, Rhys and Tarwen decide to infiltrate Kedetura. Giacomo disguises Gerald as another Gnome to join them.

Despite being invisible thanks to a magical ring, Tarwen encounters a faerie dragon while flying after Rhys and Gerald. It asks her for apples and then departs. The trio then passes through wheat fields and a tent city outside Kedetura.

The Hifalendorin humans and Harfoot Halflings displaced from their farms are strangely unperturbed to be living alongside Centaur and Satyr raiders. Rhys and Gerald pretend to be would-be followers of Vappu Lahja as they enter the walled town.

Medieval Italian town

Walled town

 

Gerald recognizes some performers from Vistel’s Circus whom they hope to rescue. Rhys and Tarwen strangely disregard the potential peril as they see carnival tents around the market square.

Tinkerer Rhys is curious about the “Modern Engineering” tent and enters, followed by invisible Tarwen and “Gnome” Gerald. They are horrified to see human lumberjacks and carpenters being tortured and executed in a makeshift saw mill by malevolent Ice Brownies.

Evil circus

Scary carnival

 

Less apathetic than other spectators, Tarwen flies to Rhys and Gerald and picks them up. The Unseelie fey see the two lifted in midair and try to close the tent flaps. Tarwen makes a narrow escape and heads back to the Zephyr.

Giacomo says the infiltrators have gathered good information, but they were susceptible to whatever compulsion is fueled by a nearby ley line node. Corwin wants to take the offensive, and Elsa acknowledges that peace talks are unlikely.

Gerald reports that survivors from Vistel’s Circus are scattered around Kedetura, and Rhys works on his clockwork automatons. Scully believes the Zephyr and its crew will be needed for any rescue mission. Tarwen mentions a statue of the pale lady near the center of town.

“Vistel’s Expedition” considers a plan to get close to Vappu Lahja and thenTeleport her away from her growing horde of followers

Dana, I hope you enjoyed your first full session, and I look forward to having you sit in on our next game! Sara, we missed you, but I hope you’ll be able to rejoin the face-to-face group soon. Everyone should remember to update their P.C.s to Level 12.

In the meantime, I look forward to the next sessions of Dexter V.H.‘s D&D5eLand of Lost Souls” and Jason E.R.’s FAEChannel 37,” while we take a break from the “New Dawntelecom team.

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.43 — River monsters

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.43, which was held on Friday, 2 January 2015:

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 AD&D1/D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinderand FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, and an online dice roller, as of spring 2015:

  • 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 Niruth; LNg, Lvl. 10
  • 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. 10
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) with tiger companion Amaya and a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 10
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 10
  • 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. 10
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 10
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion Mala; CGn, Lvl. 10

“11 to 15 August 1227 B.C.E.:” The onetime diplomatic escorts left the Zedu capital to hunt for a dragon spreading chaos and corruption. In the Bamor Mountains, they slayed a two-headed Oni. At Rodaki, they saw a strange Ki-rin said to be the “guardian spirit” of the Korobokuru (eastern Dwarven) hamlet, but they were suspicious of the Scarlet Order’s widening reach.

As merchant “Xiaoming Chida,” Jung-Mo spends 500 tael (250 gold pieces) in party funds on trade goods from Rodaki. He loads the metal ores and ingots onto a cart, being careful not to disturb young wyvern Niruth in its magical cage.

While posing as drunken bodyguard “Nobuto,” Sonny discreetly reminds his companions to maintain their cover identities. They hope to retain the element of surprise as they enter the dragon’s territory.

Soske’ is most successful in selling himself as soothsayer “Shishi.” Saigo hides his family crests as ronin (masterless Samurai) “Shiraso Takadashi.” He later composes a letter to his beloved, Princess Nayoko.

Tokoro has no trouble learning about local waterways as river trader “Mu Kawa.” Toshi finds few buyers for his wares as herbalist “Tiye Akamoto,” and he returns to studying spells on the trail. The Wizard writes notes to Suki Amarna and Lady Fu Hao.

Ember continues in her guise as “Jinsong Chida,” Xiaoming’s daughter, until the adventuring party is far from the hamlet. She then shifts into crane form to scout ahead in the rugged terrain.

During the third watch on the first night out from Rodaki, Jung-Mo and Saigo hear people approaching their camp and arguing in Therudic. Jung-Mo quietly climbs the rocky slope to get a better view, while Saigo puts a kettle of tea over the fire and carefully welcomes the newcomers.

A Korobokuru knight and his Shan Sao squire come around the bend and accept Shiraso’s offer of hospitality. Iwahara Yoshifumi appears to be another ronin, but Jung-Mo notices Tokudaiji Kiyoshi wearing the banner of the Spider Clan — not directly related to Dark Elf goddess Lolth.

At Iwahara’s request, Shishi pulls out bones for divining and casts Augury. The Shengtese human tells the Korobokuru that he will die in his next duel, but the warrior shrugs off the prophecy. Nobuto shares a drink with the Halfling.

Shiraso says he admires Iwahara’s weaponry and compares notes on the Orcs serving the Crab Clan. The Bamboo Spirit Folk sells the Dwarf an urgosh (double axe) taken from the Atamahuta Oni for 400 ch’ien (platinum pieces or 4,000 gold pieces).

Mu Kawa counts the unusual coins, which have a dragon stamped on one side and weblike tracings on the other, before handing them to Shiraso for safekeeping. The Korobokuru and Shan Sao claim they picked up the coins while traveling and avoiding money changers.

Jung-Mo stays hidden and keeps watch, while Tiye and Jinsong attend to the “bird cage” holding Niruth and keep Toshi’s tiger Amaya out of sight. In the morning, the two groups part ways.

After another hard ride, the team arrives at the mountain hamlet of Shangsan. It has one inn, the “Nuoti’s Tears,” with only one well-furnished room for visiting dignitaries. Soske’ casts True Sight and verifies that the other cells are filthy rather than haunted.

As the spellcasters try to clean the rooms, Tokoro finds fragments of orange silk in the fireplace, reminding some of the sashes worn by gang members back in Tong Sheng. Sonny says it’s likely just a coincidence.

During the first watch of the night, Sonny and Tokoro hear noise of carousing next door, but they resist the temptation to investigate. In the morning, the group hikes east through the Bamor Mountains before turning north through the edge of the Therud Forest.

Tokoro notices that there are fewer fish than usual in the mountain streams. The Hengeyokai shifts into carp form and swims to investigate. He sees a strange vine and shifts back to humanoid form, but the tendril wraps around his leg!

Saigo rushes to Tokoro’s side and hacks at vines from the bank. Ninja Jung-Mo readies his bow and watches for an ambush. Soske’ casts Spiritual Ally, while Sonny tosses his kawanaga (chain with hook) to help the Hulinyuan climb out of the water.

A carapaced, tentacled horror erupts from the reeds. Shukenja Soske’ and Wu Jen Toshi identify it as a Piscodaemon. The Outsider hits Samurai Saigo with its claws, but Tokoro cuts himself free.

Aquatic monster

The Piscodaemon

Samurai Saigo strikes the Neutral Evil creature with the no dachi (great sword) of the White Scorpion. After missing twice, Soske’ casts Ancestral Weapon to ask for a Demon Bane bow. Kensai Sonny switches to his Vorpal whip.

The Piscodaemon slaps at Tokoro with its poisonous tentacles and spits acid at Saigo. They fall back as Shukenja Soske’ casts Divine Might on himself. After a few swings, Sonny manages to slow the water spirit.

Still keen on devouring Tokoro, the Piscodaemon takes flight and releases aStinking Cloud. Fortunately, Sonny, Saigo, and Tokoro are able to hold their breath in time. Hengeyokai Ember and Shan Sao Toshi move the horses away from the stream.

Saigo slashes at the unnatural beast, and Soske’s spells help him injure it, despite a Dispel Magic. Tokoro casts Abundant Ammunition and fires arrows with his Thunderbow.

Sonny does an acrobatic leap off a tree onto the monster’s back. The Piscodaemon tries to strangle the chain expert with a tentacle before falling to Soske’s arrows.

The group has little time to rest, however, when a taloned Hydrodaemon swims up. Saigo wheels around with his katana and avoids the water bender’s attempt to drown him. Sonny swings his whip, and Tokoro fires a volley of flaming arrows.

Neutral Evil aquatic outsider

Hydrodaemon attack!

Soske’ Channels Positive Energy to heal his friends, even as the Hydrodaemon claws at armored Saigo. The shaman follows up on Tokoro’s shots with his own arrows, killing the daemon.

Tokoro swims to check the underwater lair, and Sonny and Saigo help him bring up the goods of past unfortunate would-be heroes. They find the following items:

  • Coins: 14,000 tael (7,000 g.p., or 1,000 g.p. each)
  • Fan, Feather Token (worth 400 tael /200 g.p.) — claimed by Soske’
  • Katana, “Thundering Blade” (+ 3, Neutral Evil Outsider Bane) — claimed by Saigo
  • Potion of Heroism — claimed by Tokoro
  • Scroll of Ray of Exhaustion — claimed by Toshi
  • Scroll of Water Breathing — claimed by Soske’
  • Shield, + 2 (worth 4,000 tael /2,000 g.p.) — inventory/Jung-Mo to sell

About two days’ ride from Hei Kuan, the caravan notices trees planted in rows. They bear no fruit, and no farms are nearby. Saigo recommends giving them a wide berth. As they make a detour, the explorers notice grave stones behind each tree. The riders continue north, wary of landscape warped by a dragon….

Byron and Sara, we missed you this past Friday, and I’m sorry that I’m not able to run tonight (Sunday, 4 January 2015). We’ll see if I’m well enough to attend Jason E.R.‘s “Channel 37” dimension-hopping session tomorrow, and I look forward to starting Dexter’s D&D5e miniseries soon.

Don’t worry — we’ll definitely get back to the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” and “Vistel’s Expedition” parties!

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.54 — Encountering "Ereval"

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.54, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 29 December 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, became defenders of the kingdom of Saganim, and voyaged aboard the Zephyr….

Vistel’s Expedition,” crew of the Zephyr, Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” campaign, using D20, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, as of spring 2015:

  • 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.], “Melchior” [Byron V.O.], “Sir Torrel” [Alex W.], and “Brogar” [Brian S.].)

“12 to 15 May 1227 B.C.E.:” “Vistel’s Expedition” slayed a gruesome Grimm and fought a band of Grugach (Wild Elves) while crossing the northwestern Plains of Sathendo. Both Unseelie Fey were apparently in league with Vappu Lahja, the mysterious woman stirring up strife among nearby Centaurs.

Druid Elsa prays to Mekkil (Gaia) for extra help with Transport via Plants, and the adventuring party arrives at the heart of the Wisalef Forest. The white walls and tall spires of Alfhileno, capital of the Waletku kingdom of the Elves, are visible through the trees.

Giacomo senses strong magical energies nearby. Scully sniffs and smells late-spring flowers before sending Owlicious off to hunt. Rhys secures his clockwork automatons in his Bag of Holding. Corwin leads the way to the nearest gate.

Unlike most human cities they have visited, the wanderers see relatively little traffic as they enter Alfhileno. Elsa Wild Shapes into a bird, and Corwin introduces himself to sentries as “Prince Berek, son of Lyrilian Moonshadow.”

Half-Elf Corwin points out the flets or talans, the arboreal platforms where most Quelanthi (High Elves) live. In the shadow of the lofty palace, the group scatters across broad, tree-lined lanes.

Arboreal residences

Talans or flets in Alfhileno

Giacomo visits the embassy of his homeland, the (proto-Western European) human kingdom of Hifalendor. The Wizard talks with Sir Nigel, who explains that the Centaurs have served as a buffer between Hifalendor and the barbaric tribes of the Gusorin Confederation.

Scully searches in vain for fellow members of the Order of the Golden Lion. She then goes to the headquarters of the Ranger Guild. At a large lodge, the Flind finds refugees from the villages that Vappu Lahja’s followers have raided.

Corwin checks in at the embassy of the (proto-Celtic) human kingdom of Saganim to get help obtaining a royal audience. He meets Lady Kaitlin Ashley, who turns out to be his aunt! They catch up, and she refers him to Arlas, a Sylvan Elf Bard at the temple of Brijitt, goddess of fire and poetry.

Back in Hill Dwarf form, Elsa walks to the Grove of Mekkil, where she meets other priestesses of the goddess of nature. Quelanthi Inrawel says that any who would follow Vappu Lahja rather than the Seelie Court should be dealt with severely, and Sylvan Elf Valine believes that as many as a third of Druids have been corrupted.

Rhys finds the bustling Gnomish guildhouse on Faerie Lane. The Minoi (Tinker Gnome) asks “Koja…” [Mark D.L./Non-Player Character] about experimental airships. The Rock Gnome metalsmith refers him to “Pruts…” [Patrik D’H./N.P.C.].

At the local Magisterium (magic school/library), Giacomo asks “Charon Galacticus” [Carlos C./N.P.C.], a onetime member of the “Children of the Elder Gods,” about the tales of Vappu Lahja and scrying her current whereabouts. They speculate that the Drow of Zuromm could be manipulating the Unseelie Court.

Scully accepts Soval’s offer to join Alfhileno’s Ranger Guild. The Grey Elf introduces her to “Rory” [Beruk/N.P.C.] and “Ewan” [Rich/N.P.C.], an angry Hifalendorin human and a Harfoot Halfling farmer, respectively, who lost their lands to militant Centaurs.

Scully also meets “Dionysus” [Bruce/N.P.C.], an older Centaur still loyal to the Waletku kingdom but sympathetic to his kin, and “Malekith” [Drew/N.P.C.], an armored Sylvan Elf.

Lord Galion Luincolla” arrives and wonders why nobody is alarmed at a Gnoll in their midst. Soval reassures his superior that Scully is a defender of the wilds and the innocent.

Arlas agrees with Corwin and Giacomo that there are similarities between the legends of Vappu Lahja and “Capt. Jack Kildare” [Randy K.M./N.P.C.], leader of the Ghost Fleet. Both were cursed decades ago but somehow found a way to gain followers despite their long exiles. Corwin thinks about visiting the consulate of the nefarious kingdom of Zuromm.

Meanwhile, Elsa talks with some exalted animals at the Grove of Mekkil. Badger “Tucker” [Drew/N.P.C.] reports that some forest animals have moved to follow the “White Lady” (Vappu Lahja).

Rabbit “Cracker” [Bruce/N.P.C.] says that the territory now controlled by Centaurs and Satyrs is strangely peaceful, which he doesn’t like. Elsa suspects witchcraft in addition to clever political appeals.

Wolf “Wynona” [Sara/N.P.C.] hates the rogue Fey who slaughtered her pack, but “Bob” the bear [Beruk/N.P.C.] smokes a pipe and tries to keep a mellow attitude.

Prince Corwin eventually receives a summons to palace. Lady Cynthia Acheson, a Quelanthi Paladin of Corellan Larethian in mithril armor, brings him and Giacomo through glittering halls. Soft music fills the air.

Beneath a scion of the Tree of Life are courtiers including Wizard “Xander Sunspot” [Rich/N.P.C.], representatives of various Elven tribes such as the winged Avariel, and proud Centaur tutor “Lord Naresh” [Drew/N.P.C.]. Most petitioners are surprised when a scruffy Half-Elf scout sits on the throne.

“Giacomo, king of jesters and jester to the king” [John Z.G./Beruk/N.P.C.; apologies to The Court Jester ] announces “Ereval I” [Steve A.L./N.P.C.], bearer of sword Black Razor and high king of the Waletku kingdom and the Seelie Court. The wise Ranger once known as “Mouse” tells Corwin that their fathers, Halikos Kelannir and Edmund the Strong, once traveled together.

Corwin asks the Elves to join the naval alliance against the Ghost Fleet. King Ereval notes that the Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elves) do not acknowledge him as ruler, but he agrees to provide materiel to neighboring realms.

Giacomo asks on Elsa’s behalf if the Waletku kingdom would participate in her nascent long-range communications network. Xander says the Quelanthi already have access to powerful magic, but Ereval grants “Vistel’s Expedition” access to Alfhileno. The king also orders the immediate mustering of troops to the border to contain Vappu Lahja’s followers.

Alchemist and former “Dragonslayer” Pruts… tells Rhys that his brother Flap… works for the Royal Air Corps. But first, the Tinker Gnome regroups with his companions at “Tabby’s Tavern” among the restaurants of the Halfling Quarter.

The command crew of the Zephyr compares notes on what it has learned in Alfhileno and how to help Hifalendor with the Centaur uprising as part of its strategy against the Ghost Fleet. Giacomo and Corwin prepare a Contingency spell of Greater Teleport for whenever they meet Vappu Lahja.

Scully, who is now a member of Saganim’s Royal Society for Cartography, the Order of the Golden Lion in the Ebir Sheikdom, and now the Waletku Ranger Guild, is eager to get back to “Capt. Niac” [Mike F./N.P.C.].

Elsa recommends trying to parley with Vappu Lahja, since her forces are numerous, and the Elves don’t want to fight fellow Fey folk. The diplomatic Dwarf considers commissioning a portrait of the pale lady or buying a magic mirror. Skeptical Corwin agrees to find or compose a favorable version of Vappu Lahja’s fairy tale.

Rhys invites Elsa to join him at the Royal Air Corps. They are awed by the pegasi, gryphons, and other steeds ridden by Quelanthi cavalry. Gilda Swanmay says that the Elves once had more contact with metallic dragons, but many were slain in past wars. The officer takes Rhys and Elsa into a large hangar.

“Sir Elandor Lightblade” [Mark B./N.P.C.] greets the visitors and offers curious Elsa a Pegasus ride. She quickly accepts and gets an aerial tour of leafy Alfhileno.

Rhys is happy to compare notes with Pruts’ brother Flap, who says other experimental vessels patrol the Waletku kingdom’s northern frontier. Rhys also shows off his clockwork butler Vasco, which attracts much Gnomish attention.

Mischievous Rhys also jokingly trades insults with “Jiriki i-Sansorei” [Jon W.P./N.P.C.] about how the wooden H.M.A.S. Longshot II is inferior to the Zephyr, which has a metal hull. The Paladin retorts that his vessel has been battle-tested and has a crew of Elven knights.

The Zephyr's away team prepares to head back to the Plains of Sathendo to rescue their former traveling companions in Vistel’s Circus from Vappu Lahja and deal with her minions’ growing raids on Hifalendorin farming communities….

This session is dedicated to the memory of Steve A.L. I look forward to seeing most of you at tonight’s “Vanished Lands: A New Dawntelecom game, Jason E.R.’s “Channel 37” dimension-hopping scenario tomorrow, or upcoming “Vistel’s Expedition” sessions.