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"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.46 — Shore leave

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.46, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 25 August 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 summer 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.], “Melchior” [Byron V.O.], “Sir Torrel” [Alex W.], and “Brogar” [Brian S.].)

“26 to 31 March 1227 B.C.E.:” The newly dubbed Zephyr arrived in the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human port of Drunstimlos. Corwin and Elsa Teleported for a quick visit to Thadenis and reported on their plans. Scully was happy to meet an Atlantean contact, as well as Sir Niac and other knights.

Giacomo worried about his accursed tattoo and the suspicious return of a long-missing priest. Rhys worked on the steamboat, filched a Sea Elven knife, and got into a bar brawl. Tempestade and his fellow Brazilian freedmen left for their new homeland.

Over the next week or so, “Vistel’s Expedition” continues working to make its steam-powered riverboat seaworthy. Ship’s mage Giacomo decorates the Zephyr ’s square mainsail with an avian coat of arms but recommends against flying any one nation’s flag.

Sailor and scout Scully helps boyfriend Niac [Mike F./Non-Player Character], who is also a shipwright. Bard Corwin, who has some experience as a seaman, performs in the “Sailor’s Climb” inn and recruits the following crew members (at a total of 150 g.p. per month):

  • Almaric Dorimus: male Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human navigator, Lvl. 2 sailor; LNg
  • Audrey Driscoll: female Saganim (proto-Celtic) human cook and sailor 1/Fighter 1; TNl
  • Cyric Ahearn: male Saganim carpenter and sailor 1; LNg
  • Emmet Banning: male Saganim sailmaker and sailor 1; NGl
  • Evan Bradford: male Saganim fisherman and sailor 1; TNg
  • Evelyn Morgwyl: female Half-Elf tinkerer and sailor 1; CGn
  • Fiona Chadwick: female Saganim sailor 1/Rogue 1; CNg
  • Glynnis Shannon: female Saganim sailor 1/Fighter 1; NGl
  • Gordon Selwyn: male Saganim sailor 1/Rogue 1; CNg
  • Holt Chapman: male Saganim farmer/stablehand and sailor 1; CNg
  • Kaitlin Ellis: female Saganim acolyte of Ghanki/sailor 1; LGn
  • Reginald Seward: male Saganim pirate, served aboard the Mad Saber and theBloody Manta; sailor 1/Fighter 2; CNe
  • Ronan Teague: male Saganim blacksmith and sailor 1; LNg
  • Tiernan Saunders: male Saganim cabin boy, sailor 1; NGc

Cook and healer Elsa ignores the case of the recently returned Father Gwydion, a priest of Ghanki, lord of the waters, who may be associated with pirates. Instead, she pays provisioner Lorne Alwinson about 200 crowns (gold pieces) for ship supplies and Halfling grocer Anika Hendriks 50 g.p. for a month’s worth of rations.

Engineer Rhys is most busy refitting the Zephyr, making the following enhancements with Niac’s guidance [see Classic Play: Book of the Sea and other D20/OGL nautical sourcebooks]:

  • ballistae, 4 (large crossbows, -4 to hit, 3d8 damage, 120 ft. range, 500 g.p. each, plus 50 g.p. for ammunition)
  • battlements (+2 to cover, 100 g.p. total)
  • dinghys/lifeboats/rowboats, 4 total (50 g.p. each, AC9, Hardness 5; 4 passengers each)
  • keel fin, retractable (1,000 g.p.)
  • masts and lanteen sails (triangular, under ship supplies)
  • wings, clockwork dragon’s (for future airship stabilizers)

The adventuring party reconvenes at the inn. Giacomo wonders about hostile relations between the kingdom of Saganim and the Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elves) of the Kelp Kingdom.

Scully offers Niac as a potential captain for the Zephyr . Elsa says another visit to Thadenis, the capital of Saganim, is in order before meeting with Capt. Scarlet of the Foamrunner, and Corwin agrees. They and Giacomo prepare Teleport spells.

In his quarters, Rhys pulls a robotic waiter that he had taken from Pais Doce, a plantation in future Brazil, out of his Bag of Holding. He is surprised when the boxy construct speaks. The Tinker Gnome asks Corwin for help translating Portuguese, and the Half-Elf casts Know the Words.

They learn that the clockwork automaton can learn simple commands. Rhys’ latest mechanical aide joins Giacomo’s leather-winged homunculus familiar Gerald among the team’s growing number of companions and followers.

The wanderers Teleport from Drunstimlos back to Thadenis. Elsa leads the way to the Royal Society for Cartography, where apparently indolent student Ilnadu Magevictor sleepily greets them. He fetches “Ulrich Vandermoor” [Ted A.H./N.P.C.], who is delighted to share travel notes.

medieval docks

Saganim seaport

Rhys, a first-time visitor to the large city, is pleased to find someone else interested in the Zephyr ’s plans. Ulrich pays 500 g.p. for a copy, as well as 100 g.p. apiece for recent maps of the Ebir Sheikdom, the Zarendo Archipelago, and the Gusorin Confederation from Flind Scully and Hill Dwarf Elsa.

Ulrich also mentions “Pruts…” [Patrick D./N.P.C.], another Tinker Gnome who once traveled with the “Dragonslayers” through the Ivory Mountains and Wisalef Forest. Scully studies maps of ports around the Sea of Nagendwa.

Rhys inquires about sources for coal to power the steamship. Ulrich replies that there are mines in the Zeda kingdom of the Dwarves and Gnomes, some of the Zarendo Islands, and the nefarious kingdom of Zuromm. Corwin expresses interest in buying a mine that’s readily accessible from the sea.

Corwin and company go to the Bardic College, where they meet Maeve Gallagher, a priestess of Brijitt. Corwin and Elsa donate hundreds of crowns to the temple of the goddess of fire and poetry. Giacomo excuses himself to visit Maggie Oakleaf, a droll Sylvan Elf adept he befriended at the Harandrim Academy.

Corwin gives an additional grant so that Daven’s Theatre, for which his exiled half-brother was a patron, is renamed after him. The prince also auditions Doyle Tunney as an apprentice. The young man performs on the harmonica, tambor, and harp and shows potential.

Maeve refers Elsa to Miss Crevan for setting up the first office in the Druid’s planned long-range communications network. Rhys shares tales he heard from the skalds in Gisar and gives the flame-haired priestess a copy of his notes.

The onetime circus performers are disturbed to learn that centaurs are allegedly fighting with Hifalendorin humans on the Plains of Sathendo. Maeve repeats rumors that Vappu Lahja, a pale woman from a fairy tale, has appeared and may be the cause of the unusual strife.

Sometime later, a chariot pulls up to the Bardic College, and Miss Crevan steps off. Elsa gives her 500 g.p. to set up the rental office and explains her ambitions for a stronger alliance against the dreaded Ghost Fleet.

Rhys asks “Brother Cathal Duartbell” [Atilla C./N.P.C.], the armored driver of the chariot, about enhancements that he notices. The Paladin of Edillon, lord of the sky, is happy to recount his heroic deeds with the “Lorewardens” and offers to give Rhys a ride. The curious Gnome agrees, and Ranger Scully sends owl “Owlicious” to keep an eye on them.

Duartbell and Rhys go careening through Thadenis’ busy streets, scattering scared pedestrians. As the two horses and the chariot charge through the mainAgora (market), Rhys presses a brass button, and scythe-like blades pop out of the wheels, obliterating several fruit stands!

Two members of the city watch stop the fancy chariot, and Sir Duartbell tells the “little man” to stay hidden while he offers apologies and recompense. The guards aren’t surprised to see the boisterous knight, and they warn him not to drive so recklessly again.

As soon as they’re out of the Agora, the Saganim human gives the reins to his new Gnome friend, and they speed back to the Bardic College. Bro. Duartbell names Hanuf Wazir in Falit and Guillaume Sixtus in Hesolin as craftsmen who supply him. Scully winks at Rhys, signaling that she knows about his latest mischief.

Corwin brings the party to the Hall of Thanes, where King Edmund II and Queen Margaret greet them while dealing with counselors asking for more security on the streets. The artist formerly known as Prince Berek asks for a more private audience, and they retire to a smaller hall for dinner.

Edmund the Strong is pleased with the party’s defense of Sileran against Undead giants and its escalating fight against evil. He gives each member an item from the royal armory:

  • Giacomo: Marvelous Pigments
  • Scully: Ring of Protection (+2 Armor Class)
  • Corwin: enchantment on his shark hide (+2 AC)
  • Elsa: helmet, horned (+2 AC)
  • Rhys: Gem of Tongues

Giacomo recommends against overuse of Teleportation because it could be tracked by a certain Pit Fiend in the Temple of Elemental Evil on Salhonif Island. Scully notes that removing Giacomo’s tattoo of the “Mad Mage” Ezra is another top priority.

Corwin warns the king about Lord Caerdon, who may be involved with an unauthorized feud with the Sea Elves in Drunstimlos. He also catches up with his younger sister Karenna, who has matured from being a spoiled aristocrat.

Elsa gets approval from the king for her communications mission. Rhys plans to use his magical gem to enable Vasco, his robot butler, to communicate with the party.

The team stays at the Gilded Keep for the night. Corwin broods in his childhood chamber, recalling how he was falsely accused of murder. The prince casts Limited Wish to learn the whereabouts of Lord Dalek, the court mage who framed him for the disappearance of his wife (and Berek’s tutor and lover) Katarina.

Corwin has a vision of the Tiefling (demon-touched) Wizard in a room with Sean Sable, the son of Lord Stefan Sable (whose family is suspected of necromancy) and a friend of exiled Prince Daven. They are in the barbaric port of Gisar, no doubt scheming.

Angry Corwin awakens his fellowship. Giacomo is wary, having heard at the Bardic College that Daven is gaining followers in the east. Scully points out that there are many evildoers worth fighting, and Elsa suggests notifying former colleague “Hamfast” [Brian W./N.P.C.], who is still in Gisar.

The priestess of Mekkil (Gaia) and Vulkan (Moradin) also prefers to travel to Falitfirst. Rhys reminds the group that the Zephyr isn’t yet ready and of the need for paying missions. Corwin still swears vengeance and goes to look for “Melchior” [Byron V.O./N.P.C.], a sympathetic Cleric of Ulandt, goddess of the night….

Thanks again, Drew, to you and your wife for hosting and feeding us! I hope everybody enjoyed our latest session. The face-to-face groups will be taking a week off for Labor Day, but I look forward to resuming Bruce’s “PathfinderEberron/Reign of Winter” miniseries.

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.27 — Skeletal sentinels and the Scarlet Order

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.27, which was held on Sunday, 24 August 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 andAdvanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rules,Skype, and an online dice roller, as of summer 2014:

  • 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./absent]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Moon Jung-mo [Dexter V.H./absent]-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

“20 to 22 May 1227 B.C.E.:” Zu Ji, the rogue Shang crown prince, Teleported to Gokuri with some court wizards and guards, leaving Lady Yun Aei-Yong and her retinue to face Lady Fu Hao and her army. The emperor’s favored concubine angrily dismissed the Nannuattan emissary.

The adventurers promised to report on their progress in finding the sources of chaos in the countryside in return for the peaceful restoration of Duke Kou Fei Seng in Sogewa. They continue riding north across the eastern Plains of Sathendo to the demihuman Zedu kingdom.

Jung-Mo continues courting Ember, while Sonny is vindicated in his distrust of Lady Yun. Toshi and Saigo are eager to return to Bazran Hai, capital of their homeland. Soske’ recommends heading northwest, skirting the Therud Forest, rather than following the more heavily traveled Hei Kang River north toward Akilu.

The diplomatic escorts take a road along the Chung Hsien Stream toward the village of Yao Shun. They pass farms, rolling grasslands, and occasional copses of wind-swept trees. The caravan enjoys the pleasant late-spring weather.

Shengtese human Soske’ and Hengeyokai Ember find a campsite for the night. Shengtese Giacomo and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo practice their weapons skills and start a fire. Shan Sao Toshi lets his new tiger steed Amaya go hunting.

Spirit Folk Jung-Mo keeps a close watch on the carriage with Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja. Sometime later, Sonny and Saigo hear something while on watch.

They creep into the tall grass and dimly spot by moonlight three skull-faced warriors in bronze scale armor riding large stags. The Kensai and Samurai rouse their companions. Jung-Mo and Saigo hang back to guard the camp, and the others saddle their horses to investigate.

Wu Ember Wild Shapes into an owl and flies ahead. She talks with one of the stags, which are not Undead but have glowing eyes. The beast says that the “power of the night compels them to roam.” Soske’ doesn’t Detect Evil.

Soske’ casts Light to get a better look, and the skeletal warriors ride around the camp. The travelers ready weapons and spells, but Soske’ hails the riders. The strange soldiers say they are guardians of a holy site looking for defilers. The Shukenja offers to help, and they ride out together.

Kensai Sonny and Samurai Saigo grumble about taking on every seemingly random mission, but the team comes upon a bowl-shaped hollow with a pool at its center reflecting the starry sky. Animals gather around its perimeter, and a shimmering nature spirit appears.

She greets the newcomers and temporarily confers abilities of the animals on each rider. Sonny gets the Alacrity of the Snake (2 actions per round), and Toshi receives the Might of the Caribou (+4 Str). The glowing woman grants Ember theCunning of the Fox (can reroll any skill check) and Soske’ the Fangs of the Wolf(melee attacks do double damage).

The explorers ride on with the Undead sentinels, and the vegetation beneath their horses’ and stags’ hooves becomes black and swampy. Toshi identifies the cause as a ritual draining life from the area to empower some villains.

Soske’ casts Ancestral Weapon, and a summoned spirit gives him an ice bow and applies the Fangs of the Wolf in return for the promise of a shrine.

Four people appear atop a hill. They appear to be Shengtese humans, but they are dressed strangely. The skeletal warriors lower their lances and charge, followed by the adventuring party.

man wearing stone armor charges at two of the skeletal warriors. A naked Barbarian leaps into the air, grabbing Ember in flight and pulling at her wings. The woman wearing bark casts Warp Wood on Sonny’s items, but he manages to evade her spell.

woman in furs casts Charm Animal, wresting control of tiger Amaya from Toshi, who casts Invisibility on himself and runs. The skeletons attack the Sohei in stone but all miss.

Sonny swings a chain and entangles the Wu in bark. He drags Wei Lingjuan behind his horse, preventing the evil Druid from casting spells. Soske’ fires arrows at naked Fan Kien, injuring him.

Ember surprises everyone by reverting to her true form, that of a gold dragon! Fan Kien is thrown off and starts to flee. However, Xu Song’s stone plates protect him from the skeletons, and he smacks them with his club.

Qiu Ping first directs Amaya to find Toshi but then redirects the tiger toward Sonny, whose flying kicks miss the fur-clad woman. Toshi maneuvers so that Fan Kien is between him and the tiger and the young dragon, whose breath doesn’t affect anyone yet.

Sonny apologizes as he kicks Amaya away, and Soske’ shoots at Wei Lingjuan. Enlarged Ember pounces on the naked man, but the Yamen-ren briefly breaks free and keeps running. Ember pounces on Fan Kien and beheads him with a bite.

Wei Lingjuan casts Grease but is unable to wriggle out of Sonny’s chains. Toshi casts Lightning Bolt on Qiu Ping, who is slain by Sonny. The skeletal warriors eventually get through Xu Song’s stone armor.

Toshi calls to Amaya and gradually calms her. Ember briefly feels a pull to another plane and manages to revert from draconic to humanoid form without ill effect. Sonny whistles for his horse Yip, which drags the bark-clad woman toward him.

Soske’ stops it and asks Wei Lingjuan why she has summoned dark magic. The defiant Druid says that even if she is killed, the Scarlet Order will continue spreading chaos. The skeletons carry out their orders and execute the defiler of nature.

Sonny takes the hide, bark, and stone armor, and Toshi incinerates the corpses before returning to the nature spirit. She thanks them and offers blessings. Sonny interrupts and begs a boon — he says he would like to better communicate with his horse.

The spirit nods before disappearing, and Yip says, “Sonny?”

I hope that everyone enjoyed our latest virtual session, and let me know if you’ll be available next Sunday, Aug. 31. Bruce, I hope your fantasy football draft went well, and we missed you! Dexter, I’m sure you would have enjoyed the cinematic and comedic moments of our encounters.

I look forward to tonight’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game at Drew’s place, and we’ll play Memorial Day by ear….

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.45 — Return and partings

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.45, which Rich C.G. hosted in Waltham, Mass., on Monday, 18 August 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.

Various groups of mercenaries and diplomats have fought humanoids in the northwestern borderlands, encountered pirates on the Sea of Nagendwa, and wandered the hostile Halmed Desert and the wide Plains of Sathendo….

Vistel’s Expedition,” crew of the Zephyr, Player Character Party 39, as of summer 2014:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, burned by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; with homunculus familiar Gerald and cursed tattoo of the “Mad Mage” Ezra"; NGc, Lvl. 10
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 10
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; 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; TNg, Lvl. 10

(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.].)

“21 to 25 March 1227 B.C.E.:” In a future Brazil, “Vistel’s Expedition” welcomed reinfocements as it helped about 100 slaves escape from a plantation. The adventurers fought automatons, overseer mechs, and a huge clockwork dragon. After a confrontation with an imp, the group took his steamboat and returned home.

Riverboat

Steamboat

Scully spots the coast of the (proto-Celtic) human kingdom of Saganim. Giacomo and Corwin shake off their disorientation from time travel. Elsa hopes to return to Thadenis, the capital. Rhys is pleased to have taken possession of Rogerio Ribeiro’s riverboat.

Radius bids farewell and pulls the reins of his cubist steed Tangent. Rogue Brendan and Barbarian Brogar hop onto Vector, the Modron Paladin’s chariot, and they depart.

Corwin recommends heading to the port of Drunstimplos, and Scully plots a course. The Bard and Ranger then set up sails, and Druid Elsa controls winds to help the overcrowded vessel. Wizard Giacomo keeps watch for nautical hazards, and artificer Rhys rations coal for the steam engine.

Tempestade and fellow capoeirist Armadeiras Fonseca attend to their fellow refugees. Elsa also Creates Food and Water for the numerous passengers. Corwin recommends that they stay below decks when they arrive in port so that local peasants aren’t alarmed by an influx of escaped slaves.

Scully reminds her companions that they need to make sure the mocambo (rebel band) is properly resettled. Giacomo allows his homunculus familiar Gerald to play with curious Rhys. The former circus performers tentatively name their ship the Zephyr.

The next day, the Zephyr docks at Drunstimlos. Albino Flind Scully stays behind to guard the boat as the other adventurers disembark. They give some silver coins to children for directions to the local lord and find his manor on a hill overlooking the bustling town.

Hill Dwarf Elsa introduces Half-Elf Corwin as a prince of the realm, and housekeeper Agatha Kettleworth brings them to Lord Caerdon. They trade tales about the dreaded Ghost Fleet but are interrupted by armored Brenda O’Connor.

The striking redheaded sentry asks about the strange boat in the harbor and reports that Father Gwydion, a high priest of Ghanki, lord of the waters, has returned after being missing for several years.

According to O’Connor, the Saganim human apparently disappeared after the crew of another ship (see notes for the Dragon’s Bane ) inquired about a pirate named Reilly and his girlfriend Irene, who was supposedly killed in a flood.

Lord Caerdon asks O’Connor to bring Father Gwydion to him. The frail-looking priest seems confused and claims that he has been conducting a wandering ministry. He does recognize the names of Reilly and Irene, but a crowd of happy townsfolk take him to the shrine of Brijitt before he can be questioned further.

Hifalendorin human Giacomo excuses himself to return to the Zephyr. Meanwhile, Rhys grows bored, so he wanders the manor’s halls and notices Sea Elven weapons on the walls. He’s not sure if they are trade goods or tropies of war.

The Tinker Gnome climbs onto a table and grabs a finely worked dagger. As Corwin and Elsa finish their audience with Lord Caerdon, they send the Rogue a magical message to tell him they’re leaving the manor. He rejoins them at the docks.

Rhys gives the Elven blade to Giacomo for safekeeping and analysis and then heads to the “Sailor’s Climb,” the nearest pub. Scully sighs and follows him. Corwin and Elsa Teleport to the Gilded Keep in Thadenis.

Members of the Tartan Guard harshly question the prince before allowing them entry, but Corwin is not offended since he knows of recent threats to his homeland. His sister Karenna is overjoyed to see him, and King Edmund II and Queen Margaret invite Corwin and Elsa to join them for dinner.

Meanwhile, Giacomo discreetly pays fishwife Shannon 25 crowns (gold pieces) for food for the Brazilian refugees. Rhys dances a shanty, while Scully makes contact with Alcander, an Atlantean (Minoan/Theran) human with the Order of the Golden Lion. He says her boyfriend “Sir Niac” [Mike F./N.P.C.] has been inquiring on her whereabouts.

Unfortunately, Rhys runs afoul of drunken sailors Eavin and Charas Thulba. Eavin and the pugnacious Gnome trade blows before the larger man swings a bar stool. Alcander tells humanoid Scully to wait in the shadows while he grapples with the thugs, as bruised Rhys slips back to the boat.

Corwin and Elsa tell Saganim’s rulers about their many misadventures, fighting Undead giants in the port of Sileran, sailing the dangerous Sea of Nagendwa, and making friends in the sorcerous city of Falit. They also mention potential allies in the Zarendo Islands, if not new foes such as a certain Pit Fiend.

King Edmund grants Tempestade and his compatriots 10 square miles (worth as much as 100,000 g.p.) about a day’s ride south of Drunstimlos for farmsteading. Corwin and Elsa also receive 2,000 crowns and a promise that Paladins are on their way to investigate the return of Father Gwydion.

Queen Margaret and Princess Karenna are disappointed that Corwin can’t stay longer, but he and Elsa say that fighting the Ghost Fleet is a worthy long-term mission.

The explorers Teleport back to Drunstimlos. Corwin looks for O’Connor, but she is out on patrol. Elsa stops by the shrine of Brijitt but can’t detect Father Gwydion’s intent.

Back at the Zephyr, the party members compare notes and set watches for the night. Elsa attends to Rhys’ injuries, and Giacomo is relieved that his cursed tattoo of the Mad Mage Ezra seems dormant.

Late the next morning, four knights ride into the Saganim town. They are accompanied by 10 men at arms. Scully runs out to embrace Wolfen Niac, and Lady Igraine Tegan salutes Corwin and company.

Giacomo recognizes Sir Sigmund Adelbard as a fellow Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human, while Sir Amir Abdul-Rahim is a Suthern (proto-Arabic) human Ghaffir from the Ebir Shiekdom.

Corwin and Elsa give Tempestade and the refugees the deed to the land granted by the king, as well as 200 crowns. Giacomo gives the Monk Boots of Elvenkind to replace the Boots of Spider Climb he lost to a Gelatinous Cube beneath the barbaric port of Gisar.

Lady Igraine and Sir Amir agree to escort Tempestade and his people across the southwestern Plains of Sathendo. The grateful Brazilians leave Drunstimlos and set out for their new home.

Sir Sigmund agrees to help look into Father Gwydion’s mysterious return and potential ties to Sea Elves, pirates, and the Undead. Niac and Scully catch up and begin plans to make the Zephyr more seaworthy.

Elsa says that removing Giacomo’s tattoo should be the team’s next top priority. The Druid also sends a Message to Capt. Scarlet aboard the swift Foamrunner asking to meet at the nearby village of Sanry as she begins building her communications network.

Corwin hopes that onetime traveling companion Hamfast is doing well back in Gisar. The prince also reports to Lord Caerdon and considers Vaughn Rikkar, a Sylvan Elf flute player among the knights’ followers, as a potential apprentice.

Rhys helps buy supplies such as coal and considers arbalests and other modifications to the party’s vessel…. Meanwhile, far to the east, another band fights its way out of the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elven) outpost of Dulthor….

Congrats again to “Vistel’s Expedition” on making “name level” and acquiring a mobile base of operations! I hope our lean team will soon be ready for new seaborne adventures!

The “New Dawn” telecom game will also resume this coming Sunday, Aug. 24, before we take a break around Labor Day. I also look forward to continuing Bruce’sPathfinderEberron/Reign of Winter” miniseries in September and perusing D&D5e….

"Vanished Lands: Vistel's Expedition" Session 39.44 — "Ride the lightning"

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.44, which Jason E.R. hosted in Reading, Mass., on Monday, 4 August 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.

Various groups of mercenaries and diplomats have fought humanoids in the northwestern borderlands, encountered pirates on the Sea of Nagendwa, and wandered the hostile Halmed Desert and the wide Plains of Sathendo….

“Vistel’s Circus,” Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s " Vanished Lands " heroic fantasy campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Pathfinder, and FATE3e Legends of Anglerre, as of summer 2014:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 9
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 9
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with Banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 9
  • Rhys Davies [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome (Minoi) clockwork gadgeteer; TNg, Lvl. 9
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K./absent]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 9

Guests:

  • Radius [Jason E.R.]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 5
  • Brendan Quinn [Brian W.]-male Saganim (proto-Celtic) human Rogue, explorer; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • “Brogar the Barbarian” [Brian S.]-male Skaevingol (Viking-style) human Barbarian, happy warrior; NGc, Lvl. 9

(See previous notes for “Hamfast” [Brian W.], “Melchior” [Byron V.O.], and “Sir Torrel” [Alex W.].)

“15 to 16 March 1884 A.D./C.E.:” The sometime circus performers had journeyed thousands of years to help Tempestade rescue fellow slaves from Pais Doce, his former plantation in Brazil. They met a priest and an imp and put on a magically enchanced show. The group also fought vampires and an Outsider while trying to avoid alerting mechanized guards….

Giacomo points out that the adventurers need to regroup before helping any of the human slaves escape. Scully returns from her fight with an assassin, and Tempestade leads the way to the workers’ huts.

Elsa wants to explore the manor’s cellar and possible tunnels for more Undead, but fleeing house servants have raised an alarm. Rhys is happy to have collected some clockwork, and Corwin translates and guards the rear.

Meanwhile, Radius senses another disturbance in the Multiverse. He stops by the kingdom of Saganim to pick up reinforcements to help his onetime traveling companions. Brendan and Brogar readily agree to join the good fight.

The trio travels through time and space aboard Radius’ chariot, Vector, drawn by his steed, Tangent. Upon arriving in a 19th century Brazil, the would-be heroes cross sugar fields and meet their first automaton.

Radius quickly introduces old and new friends. Rhys mistakes the Modron for an Atlantean, but Scully and Elsa realize that Brendan is a fellow member of the Royal Society for Cartography in Thadenis.

Rage against the machines
“Vistel’s Expedition” finds two overseer mechas and six automatons guarding the slave quarters. Brogar draws his great sword and charges. The ragingBarbarian badly damages one of the larger contraptions.

Ranger Scully fires arrows to support Brogar, and Druid Elsa casts Heat Metal , affecting five of the six drones! Wizard Giacomo, whose spells are spent, circles around. Martial artist Tempestade jumps onto the second overseer walker and cracks open its cockpit.

Rogue Brendan joins Tempestade but gets hit by bullets from an automaton. Artificer Rhys pulls out a wrench and gets to work on one of the metal walkers. Paladin Radius charges up the middle, destroying a drone with his flaming sword.

The slaves emerge from their huts but hang back and watch the battle. Bard Corwin magically explains that his group has come to free them. The driver of one overseer breaks out of Tempestade’s choke hold, but he gets thrown out of his vehicle.

Brogar and Radius lay waste to the remaining drones, and Scully finishes off one overseer. Elsa Wild Shapes into a dire bear and opens a path for the freed plantation workers. Corwin readies Disintegrate but doesn’t have a clear shot.

Giacomo recalls his alchemy and notes that Heat Metal may interact with the constructs’ power source and ammunition, and a few do explode, spreading shrapnel. Tempestade slays of the sentries with a punch, and Brendan uses his lockpicking skills to slow a walker.

Rhys takes control of one of the overseers and follows the 100 fugitives and their liberators across the fields. However, more sentry drones emerge from the perimeter, plus three more mechas and a huge clockwork dragon!

Pathfinder mini

clockwork dragon

Dragon duel
Hill Dwarf Elsa casts Call Lightning, which seems to damage the metal monstrosities more than weapons. Radius calls out the “interloper from Mechanus” and charges. Saganim human Brendan pole vaults onto the dragon’s back and covers its face with a bedroll, keeping it from taking flight.

Tinker Gnome Rhys operates the machine guns in his walker, firing at one of the late Yves d’Agneau’s other overseers. Local son Tempestade runs to the dragon to look for a hatch in case it has a pilot, but he doesn’t find one.

Skaevingol human Brogar charges, and with Half-Elf Corwin translating,summons the escapees as his horde. Hifalendorin human Giacomo cuts himself to cast Magic Missiles at the enemy mecha drivers. Flind Scully casts Heat Metalon one of the overseers.

The dragon slaps at Brendan on its back with its tail and claws at Radius and Tempestade. It also breathes fire through the bedroll, killing eight slaves. The overseers shoot two more and injure Scully. Corwin and the surviving freed slaves take down the smaller automatons.

Elsa invokes Mekkil (Gaia) for a Positive Energy Burst to heal her allies. Radius casts Blade Barrier to protect the Brazilian horde, and Rhys maneuvers against the other walkers. Tempestade sticks a dagger in some of the dragon’s gears, slowing it.

Brogar rages and hacks off one of the dragon’s wings with a mighty blow. Giacomo protects himself and sniper Scully with Shield as they move up one flank. The clockwork beasts and human slavers hesitate as Elsa and Radius Call Lightning, even as their spells affect some of their companions.

Brendan jams another dagger into the damaged dragon, which topples onto Brogar, who selflessly pushes Tempestade away. The group pulls them free before the clockwork construct blows up, but Radius is briefly knocked out. The remaining guards flee, and the former slaves cheer.

Giacomo casts Sleep on one mecha pilot, enabling Rhys to swap his nonfunctional walker for a less damaged one. Brogar and Corwin gather the survivors so Elsa can heal the wounded. Rhys tosses Elsa his Bag of Holding so she can gather up as many machine parts as possible.

Tempestade and Scully signal Armadeiras Fonseca, the leader of the Mocambos (rebel band) in the jungles of Mina Gerais. He and 20 capoeiristas take the growing group to the port of Rio de Cidade, where the sorcerous Rogerio Ribeiro waits with his steamboat.

Seizing the ship
However, Radius recognizes white-suited Ribeiro as an evil Outsider and draws his sword. Rhys and Brogar hold but are ready to follow the Paladin’s lead, even as the others are reluctant to break the deal they had made to return to their own time.

Scully and Tempestade move the escapees away from the duel on the docks, and Giacomo, Elsa, and Corwin prepare protective spells. Brendan realizes that this fight is out of his league.

Ribeiro casts Circle of Protection From Good, and Radius counters with Dispel Magic. The imp summons four Osyluths (bone devils), one of which hits Brogar, sending the Barbarian into another rage.

Radius casts Dispel Evil and charges. The diminuitive redhead shrugs off the spell and casts Finger of Death at Radius, who successfully resists. Brogar wades into the fight with his great sword, and Rhys uses his walker to shoot at the demon and devils.

Radius avoids Ribeiro’s Baleful Polymorph, and Brogar finishes the fight. The Osyluths disappear, and Giacomo verifies that the Outsiders are dead or at least banished back to their home planes.

A grateful Radius heals his allies, but Scully and Elsa worry that he has cut off their way back to the “Vanished Lands.” The Modron reassures them that he can use Vector and Tangent to evacuate everyone aboard the imp’s former ship.

Scully and Brendan check the steamboat and find several booby traps. Rhys is happy to claim the craft and confirms that the river vessel has enhancements that would allow it to become an airship, but Radius is needed to make it travel through time.

Tempestade and Armadeiras usher their friends aboard, and Elsa casts Find the Path to help Radius navigate. As the boat slips between worlds, arcanists Giacomo (whose cursed tattoo acts up) and Corwin become disoriented.

“Vistel’s Expedition” and the rescued slaves soon find themselves on the Sea of Nagendwa, with the green coast of Saganim in sight….

Thanks again, Jason, for hosting “JasonCon 2014 B!” I hope that you and Brian S. enjoyed sitting in on our fantasy session, and Brian W., we’ll miss you and “Hamfast.” Bruce, we missed “Corwin,” but as you see, all’s well that ends well!

Our groups decided to take next week (Aug. 11) off, but I look forward to continuing thePathfinderEberron/Reign of Winter” miniseries, eventually resuming the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom game, and starting the next chapter for “Vistel’s Expedition!”

"Vanished Lands: A New Dawn" Session 40.26 — Separating the nobles

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.26, which was held on Sunday, 3 August 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 andAdvanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rules,Skype, and an online dice roller, as of summer 2014:

  • 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; 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
  • 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
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K./absent]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 7

“18 to 19 May 1227 B.C.E.:” The wanderers prepared to leave Sogewa, capital of Tong Sheng. Jung-Mo checked in with a countryman, Sonny kept an eye on Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong, and Toshi contacted arcanist colleagues. Ember warned a Samurai suitor, and Soske’ prayed for guidance.

Saigo was attacked in the House of the Red Lotus, but Toshi helped him escape, heal, and shop. Back out on the eastern Plains of Sathendo, the group escorted Lady Yun and Prince Zu Ji’s retinue and notified imperial troops of its itinerary.

Shengtese human Sonny says he doesn’t trust the crown prince or Lady Fu Hao, whose army is approaching Sogewa. By contrast, Toshi thinks that the general, who is the favorite of Emperor Zi Zhao’s 60 concubines, is more honorable, if somewhat bloodthirsty. The Shan Sao suggests waiting to see how any confrontation unfolds.

Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo recommends ditching Prince Zu Ji as soon as possible, regardless of Lady Yun’s offer of asylum on behalf of neighboring realm Gokuri. Hengeyokai Ember doesn’t want the prince to be murdered by his stepmother, who may have her own plans for succession.

Shengtese human Soske’ agrees with the idea of sending the prince back to his father in distant Yin for judgment. Spirit Folk Jung-Mo is more concerned about his companions’ survival than who might win in a battle — Prince Zu Ji and Lady Yun Aei-Yong on the one hand, or Lady Fu Hao and part of her army on the other.

While disguised as one of the prince’s 50 armored guards, Jung-Mo observes that the troops are nervous, even if they are not privy to the conversations among the Shang nobles. Sonny takes watch as the caravan camps for the night, about a day’s ride north of Sogewa.

Toshi studies spells in a tent, while Saigo sleeps heavily after some late nights. Ember also stands watch, and she is not surprised when Jung-Mo just happens to bump into her during his own patrol.

Meanwhile, Soske’ slips out and pointedly asks the prince why he is fleeing.Prince Zu Ji admits that he is afraid of the warrior queen but doesn’t reveal the details of any differences between him and the emperor.

Scout Jung-Mo notices that the prince’s soldiers are on alert, and Druid Ember communicates with their horses, who don’t like being saddled at night. Kensai Sonny notices activity around the tent of the court mages, and he notifies Toshi.

The Wu Jen recognizes that they are preparing a Mass Teleport ritual, which can quickly transport about a dozen people hundreds of miles. Soske’ rejoins the group, which heads toward Lady Yun’s tent.

The Wizards and the prince disappear in a flash of light. Lady Yun confirms that Zu Ji has escaped to Gokuri, and the Nannuattan notes that she has not yet had any direct communications with Lady Fu Hao, so as a foreign diplomat, she cannot be held responsible for any disputes within the Shang/Shengtese aristocracy.

Saigo is frustrated and storms off, but Toshi reassures his friends that even if the noblewomen fight, they’re now less likely to use scapegoats for a potential assassination. Jung-Mo and Ember are confused by human intrigues and bellicosity.

The next morning, the remainder of the prince’s guards head back to Sogewa, leaving Lady Yun and her escort to continue north toward Akilu Castle. Ember flies ahead in crane form. The shapeshifter spots three men dressed as Tsucharim (Mongol-style) riders.

They stop the carriage, and Lady Yun steps out to introduce herself. The scouts are suspicious, but one seems swayed to trust the manipulative Nannuattan. His cohorts try to knock some sense into him.

A larger group of Shang troops arrives and lowers spears at Lady Yun. Lieutenant Xiu Yu says the eastern Dark Elf should be killed on sight, but Sonny informs him that the latest war is over, and Lady Yun presents her credentials as a diplomat negotiating the truce between Gokuri, Tong Sheng, and the Zedu kingdom.

Lieut. Xiu is still reluctant to let the party pass, and he asks Soske’ to cast an Augury. The priest communes with abusive ancestral spirits, who confirm that Lady Yun’s mission is one of peace, “insofar as any Nannuattan says what they mean.”

Soske’ also reiterates that the army’s quarry — Prince Zu Ji — has fled beyond its reach and won’t be captured with magic. Lieut. Xiu is about to order his soldiers to leave when Toshi suggests that Lady Yun request an audience with Lady Fu.

Lieut. Xiu and his liang (unit of 25) bring Lady Yun’s caravan to a larger force of two zu (about 250 soldiers). All prostrate themselves before Lady Fu Hao. Lady Yun introduces herself, but Lady Fu cuts the pleasantries short and angrily accuses the Gokuri emissary of aiding the errant prince.

The fierce Fu dismisses Lady Yun and Samurai Saigo, but Sonny and Ember suggest that she can restore order in Sogewa without casualties by reinstating Duke Kou Fei Seng. They also remind Lady Fu to beware of the Dragon and Crane clans.

She says she’ll consider their advice. Since Ember’s true nature as an exiled dragon was revealed in a previous meeting with Lady Fu, Jung-Mo hangs back. Lady Yun shrugs off the loss of face, implying that the general has spent too long at war.

As one oracle to another, axe-wielding Lady Fu offers Soske’ any aid he may need in quelling the chaos in the countryside, as long as he finds its sources. He realizes that he is one step closer to his visions of the future and prophesied destiny.

Toshi offers his services to Lady Fu, who accepts and orders him to provide regular reports on the mission to escort Lady Yun to the capital of his homeland, the Zedu kingdom….

It was good to see most of you at Guardians of the Galaxy or “JasonCon 2014 B,”and Bruce, we’ll need to figure out the rest of August. We missed “Saigo” (and “Corwin”), but at least your team avoided getting caught in a bloody confrontation!

Note that the “Vanished Lands” campaign won’t be meeting for the next two weekends, but I hope to resume on Sunday, Aug. 24.