Five gamers met with me on Saturday 9/20 to continue the adventures of the lower level characters on the island of Atras: Dallas returned with Barlyn (Dwarf CLC) (having left Anallia behind on Nabor to assist in guarding the pirates’ former base); Steven returned to run Alex’s henchman Lamitha (Human THF), although there were a couple of activities for his characters Cain (Human M-U) and Alex (Half-elf FTR/Acrobat) as well. Ray arrived with Vorrk (Human MNK). Matt brought two characters, Darthos (Elf FTR) and Dathos (Elf THF), who are brothers who don’t like one another much, and finally Don arrived with Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF).
The group began in the Howazdon village of Ko-tan, from which Barlyn led the group to the dwarven cavern he knew of deep in the jungle which contains a device capable, if fed the appropriate ingredients, of enchanting a weapon to +1. Unfortunately, Gerhardt (played by Derek) remained behind due to a disagreement with some Howazdon food; fortunately he already has a +1 trident.
En route to the cave the band encountered an extremely large Komodo lizard, which ambushed Darthos but which seemed unable to bite anyone successfully, and the lizard was slain and skinned without difficulty. The group continued on to the cave, which lies in the side of a steep hill. Unfortunately, because all ecosystems abhor a vacuum, the cave had been taken as a lair by a substantial group of ogres, and a battle ensued. This group being rogue-heavy, they attempted to use some stealthy methods: As Darthos and Barlyn advanced to confront the ogres directly, Dathos scurried to a treetop, while both Barton and Lamitha slunk through the jungle to climb the hillside and have ranged attacks from above against the foes, who continued to come out of the cave entrance; Vorrk stuck close to Darthos as he has no ranged attack at this time.
As Dathos fired arrow after arrow at an ogre that was pursuing him, Darthos quickly dispatched a couple, with some timely assistance from Vorrk. Barton, who had originally been attempting to line up multiple foes for a well-placed lightning bolt from his Staff of Lightning couldn’t get them to line up correctly and began firing arrows instead, while Lamitha fired bolts from her hand crossbows. This fire attracted the attention of several of the ogres, who scaled the hill to come to grips with them. In addition, Dathos’ foe reached the base of Dathos’ tree and began striking it with his club in an attempt to shake his tormenter out. Sadly, in his first attempt he missed the tree entirely!
While Darthos, Vorrk, and Barlyn were facing ogres on the ground and dealing damage to them, Barton faced his opponent with his short sword. Lamitha chose a different tack: She launched a kick which lifted her opponent off the ground and caused him to fall down the hillside to land on his back directly below her (Natural 20 on the roll to kick him in the goolies followed by falling damage) and in the next round put bolts from her hand crossbow through his head to finish him. But at roughly the same time the ogre facing Dathos finally succeeded in knocking him out of the tree; fortunately for Dathos he was able to get back up and put two more arrows into his foe, finishing him.
The group then proceeded to follow the process for enchanting some weapons using the magical trough in the cave, and all these characters now were in possession of a +1 weapon. [DM note: NOW we can throw lots of more fun things at them like lycanthropes and demons and suchlike.] They camped out and began to return to the village of Ko-tan.
The second evening of this journey, as they were preparing to camp for the night, they saw and smelled smoke to their north. Choosing to investigate, they sent their stealthiest members ahead first, and that group saw a group of orcs, with an obvious superior orc leader, and an elf dressed as a wizard and an elf-orc who appeared to be clerical, in a small circle of overgrown ruins in a small clearing. Dathos got close enough to hear the wizard say he was sure he could figure it out, but let’s wait until morning when there will be enough light. The scouts then returned to the main group to report and plan. At this point the party was not certain whether this rival band was friendly or enemy, so they crafted a plan by which they would be able to incapacitate their potential foes without killing any of them; they put a
silence spell onto an arrow, which Dathos would fire at the apparent wizard while he slept; Barton would web as many of them as he could, and Barlyn would use wyvern watch to paralyze any that weren’t caught. The plan worked perfectly, although to be sure the wizard was seriously injured by the critical hit Dathos got on the arrow! Barlyn was able to detect evil on several of them, and interrogation revealed that they were members of the Red Flag pirates, come to retrieve a magic weapon they were told is in the vicinity. They bound their foes and turned their attention to the ruins; on one wall they found the following words:
“Six groups of warriors were brought before the general. He immediately knew that one group consisted of traitors, knowing only that the first group had 3 warriors; the second group had 5 warriors; the third group had 7 warriors; the fourth group had 9 warriors; the fifth group had 11 warriors; and the sixth group had 13 warriors. Which group had the traitors?” [Answer below]
Darthos immediately blurted out a thought, which turned out to be incorrect, and everyone — party and prisoners alike — was hit with an electrical attack. Two of the orcs died from it. After some remonstration with Darthos the party immediately sat down to figure out the correct answer. It didn’t take long, although Vorrk left the circle entirely, and others searched through the other ruined walls for more messages. They did find that one wall had written on it “Om Shanthi Om,” which is a part of many of the mantras used by Vorrk’s ancient monastic order.
Once the correct answer was given the ruined wall slid away, to reveal stone stairs leading down into the ground. Barlyn chose to guard this, while the rest decided now would be a good time to interrogate the prisoners. Interrogation revealed that these were in fact members of the Red Flag Pirates who had been assigned to retrieve a magic weapon from the ruins. In addition they learned the name of the island where the Pirates are headquartered: Scrox.
While the interrogations were proceeding a creature came up the stairs to attack Barlyn! It was a skeletal form with rusty armor pieces hanging from it and a mace in its hand, but he attempted to turn it successfully and it fled back down the stairs. The group then proceeded to slay all the common orcs, and moved down the stairs themselves to see what lay within; Barlyn led the way, and they brought their three remaining prisoners down as well, with Darthos guarding them and bringing up the rear. As Barlyn entered the room he was immediately attacked by three creatures like the one he had turned earlier, and they would not be turned. After a round or two of battle, Vorrk and Dathos managed to perform maneuvers to get into the chamber itself, where they saw a fourth creature, this one with no rusty armor or weapon, but wearing unusual looking gloves, which immediately attacked Vorrk. As that duel went on Barton zapped at least two and sometimes three of the foes with lightning bolts which didn’t seem to do much good. [DM Note: These creatures had a partial immunity and were only taking 2 points damage, 1 if they saved.] The battle appeared to be going nowhere, so with Dathos attempting to help him Vorrk maneuvered into a position to do a quick scan of the walls of the chamber; unfortunately all he saw was a repetition of “Om Shanthi Om” on all the walls, and one section which had apparently had something chiseled away and then washed out with a liquid; at least there was a stain. There was also a stone coffer in one corner. Then the creature was attacking him again.
More of the party managed to squeeze into the room and attack the creatures, three of which seemed entirely focused on Barlyn while the fourth focused on Vorrk. Eventually, they began dropping one-by-one, and were dispatched. The group opened the coffer to obtain a reasonable amount of riches, and discovered that the gloves on the creature that had been fighting Vorrk were an unusual magic weapon which could improve a monk’s open hand attack ability.
[DM Note: These creatures were a variation on the “Heucava” from the Fiend Folio; they were modified to have additional hit dice and hit points, but the basic nature is the same — the three “heceuvae” would focus on any cleric to the exclusion of anyone else, and the single “monkeuva” would do the same to a monk.]
By this time the group had decided that they wanted to obtain the Pirates’ ship. So after killing the magic-user and the cleric (they were guilty of piracy after all) they had Barton attempt to charm the orc warrior (who saved, but pretended it had worked) and had him lead them to where the ship was anchored. Once they did so the orc saw his opportunity and bolted for the camp where the pirates had a boat, warned them and began racing to the ship. Unfortunately for the orc, a lightning bolt suddenly hit their boat and actually shattered it. The group then pooled their potions of water breathing and swam out to the ship, taking a page from the “fish men” who had attacked their own ship earlier. They grappled, with Lamitha working to disable the anchor chain, Darthos mounting at one end of the ship and the rest mounting the other. Barlyn took out the captain with a quick wyvern watch, and Barton took out the mate and several crewmen with a web. The rest fell quickly. Some interrogation revealed that the captain did not know the location of Scrox (very few do) but did know of one base the party has not yet found. Some discussion went forward regarding the new command arrangements, and it was agreed that Darthos would command this ship. He also argued in favor of an inappropriately obscene name (there being a reason he is called “Darthos the Deranged.”) At one point he dangled over the side of the ship to carve said name into the ship when Lamitha nonchalantly cut the rope that held him; after this he and the rest agreed on the name Zephros’ Siren, which is much better than Darthos’ original ideas!
In possession of the ship the group returned to rendezvous with the Razorwind and return to Kajalla.
Meanwhile, in Kajalla, Cain had spent 5 weeks passing his exam for Journeyman status. The written exam wasn’t too onerous, although he apparently has some test anxiety as he failed the easiest part of the exam miserably (rolling a 1 on the check) but passed the rest, for a respectable 80% (needed a 60 to pass,) However, the lab part of the test took much longer; he had to research a spell he did not know, and this took some time and money. Barton has also joined the Guild as an associate.
And on his way to visit his lady friend Fedrova, Alex got stabbed by an assassin and taken down! Fortunately for him, it was close to Fedrova’s chambers, and she was able to hear it and come out to drive away the assassin and nurse Alex back to health. No one knows where this assassin came from.
The group still needs to investigate the ruined dwarven temple on Nabor, and there is another pirate base they have located. They also have the name of the pirates’ headquarters, but not the location. And who is hunting Alex and why?
[Answer to the riddle above: The fourth group (9 warriors). 9 is the only number in the list that isn’t prime.]