The Survivors of Lemuria

Real Date 11/15/2014
Kansalla -- The First Sister

Five gamers met me at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday to continue the further adventures of the band of heroes: Don, playing Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF); Dallas, playing Anallia (Elf RGR/CLC) and Barlyn (Dwarf CLC); Steven, with Alex (Half-elf FTR/THF) and Cain (Human M-U); Derek running Gerhardt (Human PAL); and a newcomer joining us, Stevie, playing Kildion (Dwarf PAL) [As a side note, I didn’t see that allowing a dwarf to be a paladin would imbalance the game, at least not this game, and since they’re allowed to be clerics in this milieu.]

The group had some activities in Kajalla before setting out, while Stevie was creating his character. Barlyn, determined to assist the dwarves of several villages rebuild their populations, researched a new spell he called “plant the seed” which would increase their fertility. Cain researched a new spell of his own (name not yet determined) which would allow a magic-user to cast another spell with the effect as though he were one level higher. Barton obtained funding from his colleagues to start a small business, to wit a small tavern/inn/house of negotiable affection in the dockside area; his intent is to have several in various locations to use as sources of information. He also searched for additional rumors, discovering that the Five Sisters area had been the site of a major battle early in the Lemurian War, but that no record seems to have indicated which side won. In addition, he discovered that one of the islands contains the remains of a Khaurava fortress, which fell to the Pandavas some five years after the battle. And he heard that the islands were inhabited by a number of lizard men — the number he heard bandied about was 100000 although that seemed a little high. Due to the last factor the group decided to travel to the Tolepur area en route to the Five Sisters, to see if any members of the lizard man tribe Barton, Barlyn, and Anallia had befriended would be willing to travel with them to act as an intermediary.

The group arrived at Tolepur without incident, after which Barlyn travelled to Ferrara and used his new spell to assist the population in increasing their birth rate. The group then travelled to the lizard man village, where they were announced as 111 visitors. (There is a method to the madness of lizard man arithmetic, but no one has discovered it yet.) After meeting with the tribal leaders, the group got their first lizard man friend, one Vasily, to join their expedition. They then set sail for the Five Sisters.

Halfway to the islands, they discovered they were being followed by a creature, one which appeared to be very large and to have the head of a snake. It was overtaking the ship, and so Barton, Anallia, Barlyn, and Alex leaped into the sea to face it, roped to the ship. The creature (it was a plesiosaur) dove before the crew could fire at it, and prepared to attack those who had so brazenly come to face it in its own environment. Barton targeted its eyes with magic missiles successfully, enraging it and getting a serious bite for his troubles. (As a side note, targeting the eyes of a sea creature underwater is not an extremely effective tactic, but oh, well…) While this was going on, Gerhardt hurled a waterproof magical lantern he had into the water to try to see what was going on. At this point Alex maneuvered himself onto the base of its neck and drove his sword directly into its spine, scoring a crit! Now both enraged and fearful, the creature sounded rapidly, with Alex riding it, and the plesiosaur twisting its head backward to snap at him. In the interim, Gerhardt, unable to resist the lure of combat, had Cain cast strength onto him, drank a potion of water breathing, and leaped into the water with his normal armor on, thus sinking like a stone. The others loosed the ropes binding them to the ship, and pursued, with Anallia getting into range to stab at the creature as well. With Gerhardt and Alex striking as well, the creature succumbed quickly, and the group emerged from the water roughly two minutes before the sharks summoned by the smell of blood in the water showed up. Sadly, Gerhardt was unable to locate his lantern, and will no doubt have to get another one made.

The group proceeded to the archipelago without further incident. Arriving, and looking at the map of the Five Sisters, they chose to begin their investigation on Kansalla, the southwestern-most of the five. The ship anchored, and the group took one of the boats to shore to explore the island. They began trekking through the forest, and Anallia observed a large silk growth on the side of a tree…this led Barton to suggest they find another path, especially when several characters saw the large spiders crawling along the tree’s branches. They did so, and after an overnight rest approached a ruined tower they had seen from the beach. As the group approached the tower they were ambushed by a group of 5 giant carnivorous apes! The apes wounded Anallia, but were quickly routed (3 slain, the other 2 fled) by the rest of the group.

As the group came close to the tower both paladins detected the stench of evil coming from it. There was a door at ground level, and the group entered, finding nothing but bare walls, fragments of wood, a fireplace, a small kitchen area (in the same state as the other room) and stairs leading up. Kildion charged up the stairs, searching for the source of the evil, but it wasn’t on the second floor, which contained ruined shelves and books. The third and top floor had a ruined roof, and more scraps of wood. (The scraps of wood came from the old furniture in the building, which had rotted. The ruin was around 200 years old.) At this point they discovered something odd about the chimney — the only fireplace was on the ground floor, but the chimney became wider at the second floor (it was as though the fireplace had a stovepipe which was within the chimney.) Barton, looking up from the ground floor, saw movement inside the chimney, which prompted Kildion to decide to break through the wall on the third floor to find out what was inside. He had Cain cast strength on him, tucked his shield and his maul into a “cannonball” position, and charged across the room into the wall. He broke through the first wall easily, through the chimney, and through the exterior wall, and fell to the ground outside. Fortunately, he didn’t perish, and Barlyn was able to assist his own healing ability so that he was able to recover. The bird that had been inside the chimney flew away unharmed. The group did discover the 7th fragment of the Lemuriad on the second floor.

Meanwhile, Barton had, via meticulous examination and stomping, determined that there was a basement of some sort in the tower. Barlyn, examining the fireplace, discovered a mechanism to open one of the flagstones leading to a stairway that went down. Once this door was opened, the stench of evil rolled up over the paladins, and Kildion was unable to resist the temptation to charge down the stairs as fast as he could to face it, with Gerhardt following at a slightly more sedate pace. (Gerhardt is not a speed demon in any case; the group usually refers to him as a “glacier.” He’s usually the last to attack, but when he gets there, evil things die.) Sadly for Kildion, as he reached the bottom of the stairs he felt a pair of eyes boring into him, and realized that their owner was his best friend in all the world, someone for whom he would do anything….

Gerhardt, however, was made of sterner stuff, and resisted the eyes, swinging his longsword at the creature. Barton, following behind them, leaped over the stairs and into the basement room, seeing a stone sarcophagus at the other end of the room. Barton prepared to unleash his staff of lightning at the creature, as the creature itself commanded Kildion to attack Gerhardt! Fortunately for the peace between the paladins, he was not successful. As more of the party began coming down the stairs, the creature turned to mist and rematerialized behind Barton. Fortunately for Barton, he was on hold and was able to unleash a lightning bolt from his staff immediately before being attacked. The rebound off the wall injured Barton, but the creature was dispersed into mist and vanished.

The events caused Kildion to recover from his charmed state, and the party laid plans to finish off the vampire. Barton cast a web across the fireplace, and Gerhardt doused it with holy water, then went upstairs to prepare to pour more holy water down the chimney. (Unfortunately, while Barton, Barlyn, and Anallia all also had holy water, it was a special type of holy water developed by Barlyn, which has a rather — napalm — effect because he is a priest of Pyrros.) Alex and Kildion then opened the sarcophagus, and the vampire — now fully restored — came out to attack. At this point Barton was able to hit it again with his staff’s lightning, Alex plunged his sword into it, and Barton hit it with a second bolt of lightning before it could act. Cain finished it with a set of magic missiles, causing the creature to revert to mist form and attempt to escape — through the holy water soaked web blocking the chimney. This actually finished it.

The group then searched the basement they were in and found a fair amount of shiny valuables and magic items, including a longsword +2 defender, a +2 Maul, a suit of +2 scale mail, a cloak of the manta ray, a manual of bodily health, a wand of missiles, and a short sword +1, +3 vs. lycanthropes. [Yes, this was a larger than average haul of magic items, but there was some very good and lucky rolling involved. The +2 maul went to Kildion; most of the other items were distributed appropriately, and a couple were put into storage in the portable hole. I should also mention that this particular vampire was specifically NOT the original owner of the tower, as he was not very bright. An inferior vampire to be sure.]

View
Real Date 11/01/2014
Mummy Dearest

One thing I’ve learned recently: When Halloween is on a Friday, and a large number of your players are on the younger side, don’t expect a high turnout for game day the following Saturday!

Two stalwarts joined me at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday 11/01: Dallas, with Barlyn (Dwarf CLC) and Anallia (Elf CLC/RGR); and Don, with Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF).

Although the larger group had been tentatively planning to push on to the archipelago known as the Five Sisters in search of another base of the Red Flag Pirates, the abbreviated group didn’t feel they had enough numbers for something that ambitious. Especially when, while attempting to gather rumors, Barton learned that one of the islands is constantly overcast by dark clouds, leading to speculations that there may be more afoot there than mere pirates.

Another rumor Barton discovered was that the trade of iron, steel, and finished steel goods from Tolepur (2 days’ journey away from Kajalla along the coast) had dropped to almost nothing. This would seem to be a more reasonable avenue for them to pursue inquiries.

While Barton was seeking out rumors of things, Barlyn was searching for an acolyte to train in the ways of Pyrros, the fire god. He located a young elf woman called Dawn, who was to join them in the expedition. This might not have been the best expedition for a first level cleric to join…..

We concluded that while the others were engaged in affairs of their own in Kajalla, they would probably permit Barton and Barlyn to use their ships’ hold capacity to haul some trade goods to Tolepur, and so they did. Once they arrived in Tolepur, the group set about attempting to determine why the shipments had dried up. They quickly learned that the iron supply from the nearby village of Ferrara seemed to have stopped coming in, and so off to Ferrara went the group.

Upon arriving, they learned that the nearby iron mine had recently opened a new tunnel, which had led into tunnels that were already there, and that the first set of miners to enter had died mysteriously. A second group, sent in to find out what had happened to the first group, had lost all but one member. Barlyn went to visit the one survivor, whom he found to be deathly ill lying in his bed, with a wife not knowing what to do for him. Barlyn used a Cure Disease spell successfully, and this dwarf began to recover. His tale was that they had gone into the mine searching for the other miners, or at least for their remains, but were set upon by creatures which struck mighty blows, killing his three companions. The survivor ran fast enough to escape, but was extremely sick by the time he returned to the village. The only other thing he knew was that one of his dying companions’ last words had been “Beware of the toad……”

Into the mines the group went, fully expecting to face what they were to find, which was, of course, undead walking around covered in strips of linen cloth. Undead capable of causing a fatal disease with a touch, and of inflicting fear on any who saw them. Barlyn turned the first one they found away almost effortlessly, and then the four adventurers were in hot pursuit. When they caught up to the mummy it had found a friend, and the fear power caused Dawn to flee, screaming, back into the “safe” part of the mine. Sadly, Barlyn, despite his years of experience (and points of experience) joined her. Battle ensued, in which both Barton and Anallia were stricken with the disease, but rather than try to cure it immediately, they fetched Dawn back and continued to explore the mine.

They encountered more mummies, and again Dawn fled, but this time Barlyn remained stalwart. These mummies succumbed easily. They fetched Dawn back again and continued. Finally, the group encountered a lovely ambush with three mummies coming from three directions, and after fleeing once Dawn managed to put her fear back under control and come back to fire arrows at the enemy, though without a great deal of success. In the interim, the other three characters were able to take the remaining mummies down without much difficulty. Then they saw the Toad.

It wasn’t really a toad. It was more of a large humanoid with a toad-shaped head. (Type II demon). The battle to slay it really wasn’t much in doubt, and with the demon dead they continued to explore the tunnels. (They also observed that there were piles of raw iron ore in the chamber where the demon had been.) Shortly thereafter they found what appeared to be a midden, and began searching it when they found — an otyugh. This nasty creature succumbed without managing to make any other characters diseased, which was a bit of a disappointment.

Shortly after the midden pile where the otyugh had laired they found an exit; it worked out to being several miles away from the known entrance. Here there was another midden; it appeared that some sort of carnivore might lair here, but no one was home. Yet they had a distinct feeling of being watched. This feeling was accurate, as they found tracks of several creatures, one type identified immediately as trolls (the group is certainly familiar enough with them) and another Anallia was unable to identify. They followed the unidentified tracks through the jungle until they came upon a lizard man who would rather talk than fight. Fortunately, Barton had a tongues spell available. The lizard man told them that his tribe had moved to a nearby village some 10 years previously, after their original village was destroyed by fire from the sky. He also had some pithy observations about trolls hunting out all the game.

The group then offered to take care of the troll problem in exchange for some guidance, which Vasily (the lizard man’s name) was happy to offer. After he saw the group’s method of handling the trolls (this was truly sick — only one troll managed to save versus both the Web and the Wyvern Watch, and one Lightning Bolt from the Staff of Lightning pretty well did for him. The battle was over before it really began, and the trolls were part of a happy bonfire.) he was extremely happy to remain friendly with them.

Vasily guided the group to the old village site, where they found plenty of evidence that yes, it really had been destroyed by fire from the sky, since all the surviving wooden support poles were burned to a crisp at the top but more intact the lower one got. Of course, the piece de resistance was the large red scale that Dawn found in the dirt near where something had carried off one of the older lizard men…….

Finally, they returned to the mine to search for the bodies of the previous explorers. They found them, sadly quite dead (and interestingly, covered in strips of cloth) in a side room they hadn’t explored the first time. Deciding that it would not be worthwhile, and might well be dangerous, to carry the bodies out, Barlyn performed funerary rites right there and — of course given three clerics of Pyrros — they burned the bodies.

Returning to the village, they announced their findings, and hired some labor to haul out the ore they had discovered, and returned to Ferrara with a couple of shiploads worth of ore, to take to Kajalla in order to receive highly inflated prices before the cost of iron went back down to normal levels. It may not sound like a great deal of “treasure,” but they profited by several thousand gold pieces due to the timing of it.

Questions abound though. Why was there a demon in an iron mine? Why were there unmined tunnels in it? What destroyed the lizard man village? Why is one of the Five Sisters constantly obscured by clouds? And will the others still be hung over when the next adventure begins, giving their foes an unfair advantage?

View
Real Date 10/18/2014
The Abandoned Dwarf Temple

Six gamers met with me at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday 10/18, and we almost had two more, but the two newcomers elected to join another game, which was less crowded. (Hey, we’re all friends here, so everyone was perfectly happy.) Derek returned after a brief hiatus to play Gerhardt (human PAL); Steven was present to run Alex (half-elf FTR/Acrobat) and Cain (human M-U)l; Matt returned with Darthos (elf FTR) and his brother Dathos (elf THF); Dallas was present with Barlyn (dwarf CLC) and Anallia (half-elf CLC/RGR); Don returned with Barton (half-elf M-U/THF) and Ray was with us once more with Vorrk (human MNK).

The band had recently defeated a large number of troglodytes (some 72 plus some leader types) using effective tactics and terrain, and had discovered a chute leading down deeper into the caves. Having determined that the drop was nearly 100 feet. they tied some ropes together and began going down one at a time, with Alex in the lead.

When Alex hit the bottom he was immediately set upon by several ghouls, and by one extremely tall (roughly six-foot-ten) undead elf. The elf shouted “Don’t say the words!” as he slowly moved up to join the attack, and in the first blow he received Alex was paralyzed! Fortunately, Anallia and Darthos reached the bottom quickly, and were soon followed by the rest. Although Anallia also got paralyzed (she is perhaps known for taking it on the chin) the band was able to dispatch the ghouls without much more trouble. In addition, with Barton landing on top of and tackling the tall undead elf, he was slain without much additional difficulty, although as he was carrying an enormous two-handed scimitar (no one had ever seen such a weapon before).

Before being dispatched he repeated the following strange battle cry: “Don’t say the words! Don’t say SNEW! Don’t say EFWA!” Over and over he repeated those three shouts before going down.

The group found itself in a large circular room with corridors leading out in all four primary directions. A bit of exploration discovered that at the end of each corridor was an arch, with dressed stone directly behind it, and mysterious symbols carved across the top. In addition, to their right as they faced the arch appeared another arch, with similar dressed stone directly behind it, and different sigils on it. The pattern was repeated in all four corridors.

The group met in the middle and attempted to puzzle out what was going on… Eventually, Darthos went to the arch at the end of the eastern corridor and said “EFWA!” to which nothing happened. Then he said “SNEW!” The stone slid into the ground, revealing a small circular room with what appeared to be a well in the center. Looking into the well he saw smoke and vapor as far as he could see into it. When he dropped a stone into it he never heard it hit the bottom. He then went to the door on the side of the western corridor and said “EFWA!” (it should be noted that the symbols on the door on the side of the western corridor matched those on the end of the eastern, and vice versa. The north and south corridors were similarly symmetrical.) When he shouted, an air elemental flew out of the small chamber behind the stone, threw Darthos into the wall, and moved quickly and directly toward the eastern corridor. Alex attacked it, rolled a critical hit, and had no effect. Cain hit it with magic missiles and received a blow for his trouble. Eventually, everyone else got out of the way and the elemental went into the well and vanished.

Darthos then proceeded to open the door on the side of the south corridor, and was attacked by an earth elemental. Fortunately for the group, earth elementals are slow and ponderous, so they were able at this point to open the doors on the ends of the other three corridors before opening the doors on the sides, which freed a water and a fire elemental. All four went to their respective wells and vanished.

[As a side note, I was definitely off my game somewhat this time, as we were getting far too much confusion regarding who was going east — no, west! — and so forth.]

At this point the group managed to read all the additional dwarven runes carved into the wells themselves, which indicated “do not keep longer than fifteen days.” They then took some time to decide that if they were to summon elementals using the same words, in the correct order, possibly something good would happen. They did so summoning them using “South — North — East — West” (SNEW) and the new elementals — those who hadn’t been trapped for two thousand years and driven mad — went to the side rooms and prepared to do…..something.

At this point the group was on the horns of another dilemma, until the realized that to the north of the main troglodyte cave had been a passageway obstructed by rubble from a cave-in. They ordered the earth elemental to clear the rubble, which it did, and then returned to its place. (They wanted to see if the elementals would fight for them, but one of them replied in no uncertain terms that they would not.) So the group gingerly entered a large cavern covered in excellent dwarven dressed stone, with a stone throne in the center. Of course, it wasn’t empty….

A group of some six undead creatures advanced to attack them but was turned immediately by Barlyn. The group advanced farther into the room, with Vorrk and Dathos racing to see which of them could reach the throne first and try sitting on it! Vorrk won the race, Barlyn rolled his eyes, and someone made a gentle suggestion that since it was a dwarf place maybe Barlyn should sit on the throne. This was when the four incorporeal undead creatures attacked! They hit Darthos, Alex, and Dathos, but all of them managed to avoid having energy drained (I allow a saving throw rather than automatic level draining) and then Anallia turned…two of them. Barlyn rushed to the rescue, and turned the rest, whereupon Cain put a fireball into the middle of the wraiths — and didn’t kill any of them. However, a lightning bolt later the wraiths were dead, and the group was hacking away at the six remaining undead. This was where Dathos almost lost a level of his own; the group didn’t realize they were fighting wights! Fortunately, Gerhardt managed to skewer a couple of them with his trident, and soon the wights were no more.

At this point what remained was a riddle written upon one wall:

I am a hard subject.

I make no light, but shine anyway.
To know me anyone must pay.
A rhombus is me, but I am not it.
If you hear the clues and use your wit
You may reap a wondrous benefit.

I am a hard subject.

[Answer below]

Once the group figured out the correct answer (it’s really not that difficult) they were able to use their remaining oil of sharpness and oil of impact to enchant a longsword to +2 for Gerhardt (who now has a +1 trident and a +2 longsword) and a shield of Barlyn’s to +1 defense and +1 to attack with the spike in its boss. At this point the rest of the group thoroughly looted the place, coming out with a significant amount of pecuniary treasure.

Barlyn, though, was disappointed that he had not found the sacred hammer he thought would be there. He sat in the throne and put his own warhammer in the empty stone rack to his right. When he did so, he froze and had a vision: He saw the dwarven temple at its height, with great beauty and harmony, and he saw it attacked by elves and orcs. He saw one elf — an unusually tall one — take the sacred hammer and throw it to another elf at the entrance, an elf who fled immediately. Then he saw the elves and orcs and dwarves slaughter each other.

At this point he knows he has been someplace the hammer has been, and to which it needs to return. The group, however, determined that they needed to return to Kajalla, in part for training and in part to upgrade Darthos’ ship. They plan to seek out the pirate base in the Five Sisters islands next.

View
Real Date 10/04/2014
Into the Ancient Temple

The same five gamers met me at the Reaper Game Store to continue their adventures: Dallas, playing Barlyn (Dwarf CLC) and Anallia (Elf CLC/RGR); Steven, bringing Alexander (Half-elf FTR/Acrobat) and Cain (Human M-U); Matt, with Darthos (Elf FTR) and Dathos (Elf THF); Don, playing Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF); and Ray, playing Vorrk (Human MNK).

The story began with the return of Barlyn, Dathos, Darthos, Vorrk, and the crew of the Razorwind to Kajalla, where Alex was recovering from his recent assassination attempt. Most of the characters had business in the city to complete, including Barlyn paying a significant amount of money to get a wand enchanted so he could store healing spells in it, Darthos beginning to equip the ship he had recently acquired, and Barton doing some research and obtaining some trade goods. After some time with those activities, the group determined to sail back to Nabor, where they would meet up with Anallia and see if Barton could turn a profit in Jamsin. In addition, the group is attempting to recruit enough personnel — both colonists and soldiers — to turn the base they captured from the pirates into a going concern.

This trip passed without incident, and the group rendezvoused successfully with Anallia, after which Barton suggested searching for the tribe of Hooja, the barbarian they had met some time previously, to see if his people might be interested in helping to secure the base.

While searching for Hooja’s village the group, led by Anallia, was ambushed by three extremely large minotaur lizards. They fought a fierce battle, in which Darthos was severely injured, and Anallia was somewhat injured, but toward the end Vorrk leaped onto the back of the sole surviving lizard and “bulldog’ed” it to the ground. This move enable Darthos to slit its belly open, dispatching it. The group healed their wounded and soon encountered a warrior of Hooja’s village. The warrior escorted them to the village, where Hooja had recently become chief (following the defeat and exile of Terkoz, the were-smileodon). Hooja, after some discussion (he had to have the purpose of the shiny metal disks explained to him again) agreed to allow volunteers to assist the party’s base security, and he also agreed to try to settle any conflicts with the colonists by negotiation.

The party then set off to find the dwarf village they had assisted before, in order to obtain specific directions to the ruined temple. They had an uneventful march to the village and obtained the information, and Barton also obtained 4 dwarves to volunteer to assist in the copper mining operation he is getting set up at the cave of Azufallalaz. Having accomplished this much, the group set off for the dwarven temple.

They arrived at the location again without incident, and discovered it appeared to be a simple cave opening. Upon entering, with Alex and Dathos leading the way, they were immediately set upon by a guard force of 4 troglodytes. Alex and Dathos each managed, by getting a boost from the characters behind them (Barlyn and Darthos respectively) to leap over the troglodytes, and, having surrounded them, the group was able to take the guards out fairly easily. Of course, they discovered the troglodytes’ secret weapon at this point: a truly nauseating stench which sent Barton to find a place to lose his lunch. Entering the cave further, the group found a large chamber, apparently empty, but which actually held 8 more of the troglodytes; these were dispatched with minimal effort, and the band explored further. They discovered a small side chamber in which a single troglodyte sat, smoking a pipe — a fact which fascinated everyone. Behind that was a large chamber with a large number of the creatures (some 60 of them). As the group had been using stealth to obtain this intelligence they crafted a plan by which Dathos would put an arrow with a silence spell on it into the pipe smoker, who was suspected of being a shaman, and Barton would cast grease onto the floor at the entrance to the larger chamber. The group would then use arrows and spells to dispatch as many as they could.

The shaman fell without even being able to act in his own defense, and the slick entrance, with burning oil flasks cast upon it, and webs and wyvern watches put onto the creatures charging toward the entrance, took most of them down. Then the chief of the troglodytes arrived…..

Alex planned to rush toward him, slide through the grease, and gut him. The slide worked, but the gutting didn’t, and Alex found he had gone between the chief’s feet and was sprawled behind him. At this point Cain and Barton each sent a lightning bolt into the fray, taking out the remaining normal troglodytes and injuring the chief. A final arrow from Anallia finished him off.

For some reason, the group remained fascinated by the pipe, and had to go through a roll-off process to see who would get it. Cain won the roll-off, then proceeded to sell it to Barton for 300 gp. At this point Dathos managed to steal it from Barton and actually try it. Fortunately for him, he made his save versus the toxic weed the shaman had been smoking. In addition, Darthos had decided it would be a good idea to harvest the scent glands from dead troglodytes, and went through a dissection of a number of them, once almost filling the room with the noxious gas, and put his collection in the portable hole Alex carries; they plan on being able to weaponize them.

At this point their attention was drawn to the opening in the floor of the large chamber, and they dropped in a bead with continual light on it. Some forty feet down they saw another floor, but it appears the stone is more dressed there. Time running a bit short, this seemed like a good point to call it, so the next adventure will be a continuation of this one. First they must find a a way down the opening, and who knows what is down there?

View
Real Date 9/20/2014
"Om Shanthi Om"

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.]

View
Real Date 9/06/14
Return to Familiar Environs

Six gamers met with me on Saturday 9/06 at the Reaper Game Store: Steven, bringing Alexander (Half-elf FTR/Acrobat), Cain (Human M-U), and also Alex’s hence-person Lamitha (Human THF); Derek with Gerhardt (Human PAL); Don bringing Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF); Ray running Vorrk (Human MNK); Matt bringing Darthos (Elf FTR) and adding a new character, Darthos’ elder brother Dathos (Elf THF); Dallas arrived late with Barlyn (Dwarf CLC). Dallas’ other character, Anallia (Elf CLC/RGR) was left behind at the former pirate base on Nabor, along with Polcathir, whose player is unfortunately going to have to miss a number of sessions due to the horrible time sink known as Real Life.

The group began by sorting through the trade goods captured from the pirate ship they had recently sunk and those in the warehouse at the captured base, taking the most valuable in the Razorwind back to Jamsin. There, a long series of financial discussions ensued, with Barton attempting to convince the merchant Nikulu of the value of creating a colony at the former pirate base. Eventually they agreed to create a “joint-stock company” using the cargo as the initial investment. By this time the discussion was getting perhaps a bit more financial than many were comfortable with, and it was curtailed, but the investment has been made and the process begun. The group then proceeded to board the ship and make their way back to Kajalla, after an extended absence.

However, as the voyage to Kajalla from Jamsin takes roughly a week, a great deal of time had to be spent aboard ship. One night, when the weather was at an almost dead calm, the few remaining people on deck (including a horribly seasick Darthos) saw a number of the aquatic creatures (referred to commonly as “fish-men,” although they have a name of their own which has not yet been revealed) climbing the sides of the ship from all quarters. Shouting the crew to battle stations, Alex, Gerhardt, Barton, and Darthos moved to battle their enemies, Darthos beginning by being seasick directly in one “fish-man’s” face!. A battle on the deck ensued, with the result not really in question, but highlights included Cain leaning over the side of the ship and blasting one of the enemy leaders with a lightning bolt which caused him to tumble back into the water. After some 30 foes were dispatched the deck was clear, but the party noticed that the ship was riding lower and lower in the water.

They quickly reached a conclusion very close to the correct one, and most proceeded to take potions of water breathing and leap into the sea, with Barton invisible. Once submerged, they saw that more of the “fish-men” had managed to cut holes in the bottom of the Razorwind’s hull and were pulling it down with ropes. Barton went to cut the ropes while the rest of the party engaged the enemy in his own element. During the battle the “fish-men” managed to drop a net on top of Alex and Darthos, trapping both of them against the bottom of the sea. Cain enlarged the net holding Alex, to make it faster for him to cut his way out, while Darthos managed to tear his off my main strength. In the meantime Gerhardt skewered several of the “fish-men” while the bulk of them were attempting to slay the trapped Alex. Eventually Alex had freed himself, and this set of foes was slain as well. Cain used mending to assist with repairs to the ship, and they arrived without further incident at Kajalla.

At Kajalla there was a great deal of administrative work to be done. The most valuable of the party’s loot (gems, jewelry, raptor eggs, and dragon hide) was either sold or given to craftsmen to use in the construction of new specialized equipment. The hide of the blue dragon is now used for armor, and four of her bones have been used in the manufacture of two staves and two wands. (both staves and one wand shoot lightning bolts while the other wand shoots fireballs.) In addition, Cain is working with the Arcanists’ Guild to achieve Journeyman status; Barton is looking into joining the Guild, and Alex is spending time with his lady friend, Fedrova.

While Alex and Cain were involved in these matters, Barlyn decided to lead the newer members of the group to Atras to meet the tribe of Ko-tan and possibly get them a drink from the Silver Spring for the benefits it confers. The group traveled to Atras, but before reaching the village of Ko-tan they encountered a large group of eight trolls of varying sizes. (As a side note, the trolls in this campaign are nonstandard; they tend to come in varying sizes from 4 HD to 8 HD, with damage adjusted appropriately. Most of the characters fear them more than almost any other creatures. And rightly so.)

As often happens, the trolls managed to come out of the jungle on all sides of the group, although Dathos (who joined the group after their arrival in Kajalla) had been traveling through the trees and wasn’t attacked immediately. Lamitha immediately took to the trees; Barton immediately case invisibility on himself and began to maneuver for a shot with either a spell or his wand. Meanwhile, Darthos was engaged against the two larges trolls, Gerhardt was engaged against two more, Vorrk faced one alone, two more ganged up on Barlyn. Barlyn blessed the group and the fight was on. Lamitha, armed with two hand crossbows, got in successful shots on two of them (full backstab since she shot them from above and behind) and Darthos held his own against two of them, trying to set them ablaze with oil. Barton’s web immobilized three of them, and Dathos leaped from the tree to get a successful backstab on one of the largest ones. Gerhardt was taken out of action by the trolls’ first attack, and Vorrk launched a flurry of blows against one of them. As the battle continued, Barlyn managed to heal Gerhardt, and Dathos leaped to the back of one of the leaders, attempting to stab it in the eye with an acid-dipped arrow. Unfortunately, he missed the eye, and was then riding the back of a troll! A lightning bolt from Barton took down the bulk of the trolls (after he had carefully lined up his shot) and the rest were slain and the bodies burned.

The group then arrived at the village of Ko-tan, where they were praised for killing a group of trolls that had been giving the howazdon a difficult time, and escorted to the Silver Spring, where each member obtained its benefit. At this point the time sink called Real Life called, and the adventure ended. However, Gerhardt, Vorrk, and Dathos all reached second level (part of the point of doing it this way was to help these characters catch up a bit) and have now met Ko-tan and are on the same terms with him and his village as the rest. In addition, Vorrk has had a ring enchanted by the Guild, to which he hopes to get one of Ko-tan’s shamans (either Om-at or Pan-at-lee could do this) to put the shillelagh spell for him to use on his jo stick. Barlyn wants to lead this group to the ancient dwarven cave to the west, to gain them some improved weapons.

Questions remain, of course. The group will need to return to Nabor in the near future to explore the ancient dwarven temple where Barlyn hopes to find at least a clue to the ancient hammer. Darthos and Dathos are searching for the dragon that destroyed their family. And it is an interesting question why the “fish-men” seemed so focused on taking out Alex in their battle under the sea. And more fragments of the Lemuriad no doubt remain to be found.

View
Real Date 8/23/2014
Base Assault, Part II

Another large group joined me at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday 8/23 to complete the assault on the pirate base that was buried in the cliffside of Nabor. Dallas returned to play Anallia (Elf CLC/RGR) and Barlyn (Dwarf CLC); Steven continued the adventures of Alex (Half-elf FTR/Acrobat) and Cain (Human M-U); Don ran Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF); Joe played Polcathir (Elf-Orc RGR); Derek played Gerhardt (Human PAL); Matt returned with Darthos (Elf FTR); and Ray played Vorrk (Human MNK). This was the same size group as the previous time, but one character (Nate) had essentially been replaced with another (Darthos).

When we last left our heroes, they had eliminated a pair of higher level orc and elf-orc opponents (along with a large number of orc cannon fodder), and freed about 40 captives/slaves of the Red Flag pirates, and were in the middle of the base. Barton in particular was at the end of a short stretch of corridor, with doors to his north, east, and south, and with his mirror image still active. He examined all the doors, finding no traps or locks, and opened them in succession. The door to the south led to an empty officer’s quarters (one of the ones slain previously); the door to the north led to stairs going up, and the door to the east was supposed to lead to some fun — for me.

When Barton opened the door to the east he saw that it led into a large room with all the walls covered with weapons, and the middle of the room covered with orcs armed with bows as well as spears. The orcs fired, but of course 3/4 of the shots were aimed at mirror images; the ones aiming at Barton himself missed. He shouted and slid further into the room as Cain came running. After another volley of arrows which were mostly ineffectual, Cain had his innings, which consisted of one fireball placed in the center of the orcs’ formation. A quick examination of the area of effect showed that all the orcs were within it, and as the damage rolled was high enough to kill even any who saved, the battle was over before it had fairly begun. How disappointing!

However, as the group began to enter the room, a previously invisible foe cast his own fireball from the far end, seriously injuring several characters (but not killing anyone) and then ducked out a door on that side, slamming it shut behind him. Barton went in hot pursuit, with a number of others on his heels.

Once they opened the door they found a short corridor with a bend to the south, and doors on both north and south (a mirror image of the side they had entered on; what can I say — I tend to draw things symmetrically.) Not knowing where the mystery mage had gone, Barton began to pursue around the bend to the south, while a number of other party members went back the way they had come, on the (correct) assumption that the corridor bent around into the long east-west corridor they had already explored. Unfortunately, they found no evidence of the presence of the mystery mage. Looking into the doors they found more stairs up on the door to the north, and another empty officer’s quarters to the south. In the officer’s quarters they found an empty potion bottle with a tiny bit of liquid on its lip, indicating that it had been taken previously. (In fact, what had happened here was that the evil goomer had gone into the room, taken a potion of invisibility, gone through a secret door into the armory, and made his escape through a means to be described later.) A quick look through the two quarters chambers revealed desks, beds, chairs, and footlockers.

Still in a hurry to clear the base, the group met back in the armory to plan their next move. After some discussion, they decided to split up, with five characters taking the stairs up to the west, and the four others taking the stairs up to the east. Although Alex had some reservations about splitting the party (“it’s always a bad idea,”) Vorrk countered that argument by pointing out that some 3% of the time nothing bad happens. I suppose the expression “Never tell me the odds!” comes into play here…….

The western group consisted of Barton, Barlyn, Gerhardt, Vorrk, and Darthos. They went up the stairs until they came to a door. Opening the door they came face-to-face with a large elf-orc in heavy armor, another orc in armor, and a human wearing a dress. (Darthos wanted to know, “Is she hot?” Oh, she was hot all right, but not in the way he meant…) Barton immediately case a web at the group, and trapped the two armored ones; the woman managed to skitter out of the way and send a lightning bolt directly at them, killing Gerhardt and Vorrk outright and seriously injuring the other three. Barton, now seriously angry, case silence on the woman, and using his ring of free action strode through the webs to engage her in combat. Due to the effect of the silence she was unable to cast any of her spells, and her dagger didn’t match up well with his sword or Darthos’ arrows, especially with the special spider poison on them from his previous adventures. Shortly thereafter the orc was dead and the elf-orc captured.

Meanwhile, the eastern group of Alex, Cain, Anallia, and Polcathir went searching for their 3% of success. When they opened the door they discovered a human and an orc wearing splint mail, and a human behind them in leather. Polcathir immediately engaged with the orc, while Anallia fired arrows at the human. Alex had taken some of a potion of invisibility he had on him and was maneuvering for a backstab. In the meantime the human in leather drank a potion and became invisible himself! While the human fighter continued to advance on Anallia, who continued to retreat, firing at him, and Polcathir continued to hold off the orc, the human (who was an assassin) maneuvered himself behind Cain and made an assassination attempt — successfully! Cain was down at 0 hit points. Alex, however, maneuvered himself behind the assassin and made his own backstab attempt, and managed a successful kill of his own. (Cleaving the foe, like the Scottish thane of Glamis, from the crotch up to the head!) In the meantime, Polcathir was beginning to suffer in his fight (he is only 3rd level, and his opponent was 7th; he was doing well to hold up as well as he did) when Alex ran to the assistance of Anallia to steal her kill for once (backstabbing successfully once again) and Cain, though shaky after having a potion of healing poured down his throat, used his wand of missiles while urinating on the body of his assailant, saving Polcathir.

Fortunately for the dead party members, the orc in armor from the western fight was a cleric who had a scroll of raise dead with two iterations on him, so a badly wounded Barlyn was able to resurrect the two of them and heal them. At this point the observation was made that the 97% probability of bad things happening to a split party really does happen a lot more often than the 3% probability of good things. In addition, Darthos had removed the head of the female mage as a trophy, and was playing with it (including once using it as a bowling ball) through the rest of the mission. (He plans to have it shrunk or something to use as a trophy.)

The group searched that floor and found it contained officers’ quarters and two more stairs up; the stairs up apparently led to the guard posts on the surface that had previously been sealed off. They went back and searched for some secret passages, and found two additional ones, on the east and west, which led to the surface. Going up — all together this time — they found patrols of orcs at the top of each which were dispatched almost effortlessly. They re-entered the base, still concerned about the mystery mage and the means by which the illusion of the cliffside had been maintained. The group decided to send Gerhardt and Vorrk to the surface to order the marines and Lamitha to unseal the exits while they searched for more secret passages. Gerhardt and Vorrk encountered a patrol of three orcs, and each of them one-shotted one orc, and then slew the third as he attempted to figure out how to escape without running back into the marines. (Note: It’s actually pretty impressive when a 1st level monk one-shots an orc!)

There were in fact two more secret passages at the lowest level, which was the storage area. The one on the east led to nothing but an exit. The one on the west led to a small cave containing a small dinghy, a post where a second dinghy appeared to have been tied up, and a regular depression in a stone which appeared that some sort of device had been inside it. They also noted that the illusory cliffs had vanished. Cain cast strength on Darthos, putting his strength up to 23, and Darthos and Barlyn took the dinghy out to sea, where the group attempted to catch up to an odd irregularity they saw on the ripples of the water. Meanwhile, Barton, Anallia, and Cain ran along the beach to try to catch up. The two groups rapidly closed the distance on the odd ripples, and when Anallia put a flaming arrow into the middle of it the phantasmal force that there wasn’t anything there dissipated, revealing the dinghy and two unarmored men rowing for all they were worth. The boaters caught up and rammed as Anallia and Barton finished off the mystery mage with arrow fire, and the other apparent mage dived into the water, dropping a leather pouch at the same time. Darthos retrieved the pouch and discovered it contained an odd metal device that apparently should fit into the hollow in the stone back at the cave.

At this point interrogations revealed that the surviving mage was actually an illusionist named Targath, and that the device was used to amplify and make permanent a phantasmal force spell to create the illusion of the cliffs. Interrogations also revealed that none of the survivors knew the location of the pirate headquarters, as they seem to keep information tightly compartmentalized. The group obtained a large number of trade goods, a fair amount of gold, and no fewer than three spell books, and Targath, after some discussion, agreed to go to work for the side of the angels, as long as it could be made to appear that he was dead, as the pirates were holding his family hostage. At this point the group determined that they might want to keep the base for themselves, but not wanting to leave an understrength garrison, they decided to booby trap it and sail back to Kajalla, where they can repatriate the freed slaves. In addition, there was a sixth fragment of the Lemuriad, which appeared to give at least one character a little more of a clue to what is going on.

There still remains an ancient dwarf temple on Nabor that will need to be explored, with its possible clue to the location of the ancient dwarven hammer. The group will need to find the location of the pirates’ headquarters. In addition there are other mysteries going on, such as the crown and scepter. It seems reasonable that the group might want to take their new friends (Gerhardt, Darthos, and Vorrk) to the Silver Spring on Atras for its benefits, and Atras is always dangerous and exciting.

[Note: In addition, some encounters need to be created for the lower-level members of the group to get them some more experience and levels. I had thought that they would reach 2nd level after this adventure, but they didn’t quite get there, nor were they close enough that a “100 points for roleplaying” bonus would help. All of them are effective characters for their level, but there is simply the issue of 1st level characters adventuring with 6th level ones. sigh

View
Real Date 8/9/2014
Base Assault, Part I

Seven, count them, seven bold gamers joined me at the Reaper Game Store on 8/9 to participate in the planned assault on the pirate base located on the southern coast of Nabor. Dallas returned, to play Anallia (Elf RGR/CLC) and Barlyn (Dwarf CLC); Steven also returned, to play Alexander (Half-elf FTR/Acrobat) and Cain (Human M-U). Don came to play Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF), and Joe returned to play Polcathir (Elf-Orc RGR). In addition we had three newcomers: Ray playing Vorrk (Human monk); Edwin playing Nate (Human RGR), and Derek playing Gerhardt (Human PAL). With the added reinforcements of the Raworwind’s Marine detachment, led by First Mate Lamitha (Human THF) there should be enough firepower to defeat any base of pirates handily, right?

[DM note: This presents a difficult situation, in that there were three 1st level characters, one 2nd level, one 4th level, and four 6th level……the challenge level differs considerably for these.]

The group began by gathering aboard the Razorwind, the repairs to her having just been completed by the end of our last adventure. They proceeded to sail east from Jamsin, looking for landmarks that would remind Barton or Polcathir of the location where they had found the base. Unfortunately, neither of them was able to determine where it was. Fortunately, near the time they were prepared to turn back, Vorrk spotted an apparent shimmer of the cliffs that came down to the ocean and pointed it out to the rest. They believed they had found the base, but they weren’t the only ones.

Coming toward them from the east was another ship. Not wanting that ship to arrive at the base to give warning, the Razorwind attempted to pursue it, manning the oars with its crewmen. As they closed in they could see that it was a pirate vessel, that also had its crew on the oars. Now it was a question of which ship’s oarsmen would tire first; if the pirates tired first they would drop into close range for trebuchets, but if they did not they could get away clean. As it turned out, both crews ran out of endurance at the same time. It didn’t appear as though the chase would end anywhere near the base, but the heroes had one weapon in reserve: themselves. With several powerful fighters, rangers, and clerics manning the oars they were able to close the range and fire a trebuchet. And miss. The pirates returned fire. And missed. Then the Razorwind fired again. A shot that Anallia had primed with a Glyph of Warding and which Cain Enlarged as it was fired. And it hit. It didn’t hit the deck as it was being aimed…..it hit the hull. Which put a hole in the hull a small dragon could have flown through. Which caused the pirate ship to heel over and begin sinking immediately.

[Yes, they one-shotted a ship, via a combination of luck — had the shot missed both spells would have been wasted — and skill.]

Barton went over to the rapidly sinking ship to search for clues and/or survivors, while the rest of the group fished the survivors (all orcs) out of the ocean. He found one survivor in the hull, some of the cargo that was aboard, and a box in the captain’s cabin. The ship’s log contained in the box revealed that the pirates had taken several merchants and were on their way to unload the cargo. Interrogation of the prisoners revealed that the captain had been standing on the deck by their aft trebuchet — directly in the line of fire — when the killing shot came in. The secret of the Razorwind’s approach appeared to have been preserved.

Now the party came up with their plan to deal with the base itself. It would begin by scouting. Having had the Razorwind anchor off the coast to the east of the base, the party disembarked and sent Alex, with both Invisibility and Fly cast upon him, to reconnoiter. He observed five guard posts at the top of the cliffs, each separated from the others by roughly 600 feet. He then proceeded to swoop down to the bottom of the cliffs where the sea level entrance to the base was located; it was an opening in the face of the cliffs. He entered, and was immediately inside a crowded guard post. Staying invisible and silent, he determined that the room was a fairly small chamber with three doors on the walls in addition to the opening from the outside. He whispered in Orcish into the ears of a couple of guards and got some dissension sowed into their ranks, which allowed him to discover that one of the doors led to a storage area, and the other to stairs up. Having decided he was probably limited on the amount of time he could continue to fly, Alex managed to exit the base and return to the team, whereupon they planned the actual assault.

They began the assault itself later that same night with a three-pronged attack on the guard posts at the top of the cliffs. At the westernmost post, Gerhardt annihilated an orc with one mighty blow of his trident, while Polcathir shouted to the remaining guards that one of their other posts was under attack. Anallia put the Wyvern Watch on that one, and only one of the seven orcs there was left standing. Taking roughly three minutes, the group consisting of Gerhardt, Anallia, Polcathir, and Barton killed all but one of the guards, who fled toward the central guard post.

At the eastern end matters were much simpler. Cain put Sleep on one post with no survivors, while Barlyn put Wyvern Watch on the other with one survivor, and Alex, Vorrk, and Nate finished that one off handily. That left only the central post, which was under attack from the marines. Although it took the marines some time to take out all the orcs, and one of them died in the doing of it, the rest of the party arrived and finished them off. Barlyn used one of the scrolls of Raise Dead to save the dead marine, and the group went on to the next part of their plan.

Only the two outermost guard posts had actual entrances into the base, essentially ladders up chimneys in the cliff. Each chimney got an amphora of oil dumped into it, and the oil was set alight. After this, large boulders were put on top of the exits. Now, so far as was known, the only exit the pirates had was the sea level one. The group had enough rope to make four rappelling lines to go down the outside of the cliff face, so they grouped into three groups of two and one group of three and began to rappel. Ironically, the only one to experience difficulty was the acrobat, Alex, who after catching himself once after a slip ended up having dropped his line entirely, and having to climb down the cliff face. As he was unarmored, he began putting his armor back on with assistance from Vorrk, while the rest took care of the orcs that had come out to investigate the sounds they had heard. The group then began to move into the base itself. They discovered storerooms and then slave quarters with approximately 40 slaves of various races; Nate escorted the slaves out and signaled the Razorwind to move in and pick them up. He arrived back to the group as they were finishing off a melee in the crowded conditions of an orc barracks one level up. Having slain more orcs, the band went up the next flight of stairs and came upon a T intersection; moving in single file to the west they happened upon an elf-orc who hurled Magic Missiles at them and fled. Gerhardt was severely injured, and the group moved him back to the help of Barlyn, while Anallia pursued. However, in the meantime, an elf-orc warrior came charging from the other direction, and engaged Alex. With help from Nate’s arrow fire, Alex was able to defeat this opponent, but it took quite some time. In the interim, Anallia found herself struck by lightning when she rounded the corner on her foe, and caught in both the forward strike and the ricochet, she was in real danger. She reacted to real danger as usual, and charged.

While all this was going on, Alex continued his long fight with the other elf-orc. Nate put several arrows into him as well, but also inadvertently put an arrow into Alex! Only a bit later, the elf-orc fell. While Anallia was engaged with the spell caster, Cain eventually came nonchalantly around the corner, put his Wand of Missiles over his head, and put the finishing touches on the mage.

At this point the time had grown late and the game had to be interrupted. The group still has an unknown amount of the base to explore, with an unknown amount of enemies, and they have only found crates full of trade goods so far. And what of the fires they started? Have the orcs extinguished them, or is the entire base about to go up into flames? And how is the illusion of the cliff walls generated? Answers will have to be discovered on the return to the Pirate Base of Nabor…..

XP for this part of the adventure is 430 per character; none of the “story goals” have been completed yet, and there are still a lot of bad guys to deal with.

View
Dangerous Nabor
Real Date 7/26/2014

Three adventurers with perhaps more courage than wisdom joined me on Saturday July 26 at the Reaper Game Store. As a note, due to a tournament they had scheduled we were moved to play in the ground floor paint club room; this wasn’t a problem at all, as we enjoyed some back and forth banter with the people who had come in to paint miniatures!

What was a larger problem was that both of the players who had the highest level characters had to give the day a miss due to prior commitments, and everything I had prepared was predicated on having them! Arriving were Don, playing Barton, a half-elf M-U/THF, Joe, playing Polcathir, an elf-orc RGR, and Matt, playing Darthos, an elf FTR. (As another note, Darthos is a new name, as Matt is playing in two separate campaigns and had inadvertently selected the same name for his characters in each of them.)

The group had recently finished driving prehistoric creatures away from a dwarf village on Nabor. With the party’s “big guns” not available, Barton and Polcathir determined that they would attempt to discover the base used by the Red Flag Pirates which they knew was somewhere on the south coast of the island east of Jamsin. Darthos (Matt having arrived a bit late) was dallying with a young dwarven maiden he had met in the village, and (as an explanation for the absence of the other four characters) Anallia, Barlyn, Alex, and Cain had gone off to return to Jamsin to check on the status of the repairs to the Razorwind.

The duo trekked for a couple of days through the forests southeast of the dwarven village until they arrived at a location where Polcathir had recently seen and slain several orcs believed to be pirates. They determined that no one had returned to that location, but, investigating in a sweep to the south and east of that location, found the remains of a campfire which had presumably been left by a pirate patrol or hunting party. They followed a difficult trail until they came upon a drop of at least 100 feet at the edge of the ocean. At this drop they saw a cove with a narrow strip of beach between the sea and the cliffs. Although they saw no ships in the cove, nor any other obvious sign of habitation, Polcathir noticed an odd shimmer between the sky and the sea at the open edge of the cove. After he pointed it out to Barton the pair whirled to see 6 orcish pirates lining up to fire arrows at them!

In the melee that ensued Barton returned fire while Polcathir drew his steel and waded in. Due to his own personal issues, he has a particularly virulent hatred for orcs, and he sated it with great success in the blood of four of the six, before Barton managed to charm the fifth, while the sixth, although badly wounded, escaped into a hidden watch post. Questioning of Barton’s new-found friend revealed the location of two watch posts at the top of the cliffs, which apparently led into a hidden base carved into the side of the cliffs themselves. Barton then advised his friend to return to his group and tell them they were safe, while he returned whence he had come. However, Polcathir stayed behind and added another orc to his tally.

Upon returning to the dwarf village and linking up with Darthos, the group concluded — and not without good sense — that an assault on the pirate base with just the three of them would not be the best approach to the problem, so they decided to follow the other four characters back to Jamsin and share their intelligence. They set off on the roughly 4 day journey across the countryside, highly alert.

[Note: It has been said that, in this campaign at least, my random encounters may be more deadly than the planned ones. I don’t really know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it does seem to be true in any case.] The first night, while Barton and Polcathir slept on the ground, Darthos kept watch in a tree. Unfortunately, the tree he had chosen was one holding an egg case from a large spider, and the eggs were hatching….the spiders swarmed the group, and before the 12 of them could be killed both Barton and Polcathir were suffering from multiple poisonous spider bites. Taking stock, they realized they were a lot closer to help at the dwarven village than Jamsin, so they backtracked and were able to get some healing assistance from one of the village elders. Unfortunately, since she was not an actual cleric, the healing was slow at best, and it took some 7 days before Barton in particular was healed enough for them to begin their journey again.

They followed the same trail and did not encounter any more spiders, but on the first night they did encounter a large black bear sniffing around their camp for food. After an intimidation attempt failed, Polcathir threw some food to the bear and distracted it while the band made a strategic withdrawal. [Note: The way I prefer to do experience, this counts as “defeating” the bear, since they were able to resolve the encounter to their own satisfaction.]

Finally, as they were on the final leg of their journey they were ambushed by two large carnivorous apes, which fought a sharp battle with the party until they could be slain; the second one attempted to escape, but failed to outrun the arrows fired at it.

At this point the trio arrived back in Jamsin and was able to complete some training and other errands. Next time we get together they will apprise the others of the intelligence they have obtained on the pirate base, and no doubt a crafty plan will be concocted which will destroy my carefully arranged defenses as though they were tissue paper……

View
Real Date 7/12/14
Whose Lizard is that Anyway?

Five intrepid gamers joined me at the Reaper Game Store this past Saturday to continue the adventures on the island of Nabor. Dallas, playing Anallia (Elf CLC/RGR, whose name I just realized I’ve been misspelling for months) and Barlyn (Dwarf CLC); Steven, playing Alexander (Half-elf FTR/THF-Acrobat) and Cain (Human M-U); Don, playing Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF); Joe playing Polcathir (Elf-Orc RGR); and Matt, playing Izthrail (Elf FTR). This was the first time for Joe and Matt to join us, and as both of them had limited experience with 1e D&D, it was necessary for their characters to begin at first level. (Parenthetically, that sort of thing always provides its own “special challenge” for a DM due to the difference between characters at that level and the average of 6th for the characters that have been in the group all along.)

As the party had just concluded their battle with the unusual lycanthropic barbarians (Terkoz’ band) they returned to Jamsin to check up on the repairs to the Razorwind (which had been attacked offstage by the Red Flag Pirates while they had been away dragon hunting in the last episode.) Repairs were continuing without difficulty, and so they wished to canvass the streets to determine whether anyone knew where the pirates’ nearest base — from which the attack was presumably launched — was located. No one knew that, but they did encounter an elf-orc ranger (Polcathir) who had encountered, and mostly killed, a number of elf-orcs in the lowland forests east of Jamsin. Alex, being determined to give the pirates some payback, eagerly gathered his troops, including Polcathir and an elf fighter from Jamsin named Izthail, and set off to find the base.

Before they could arrive at the location Polcathir had found likely pirates in, however, they ran into a dwarf, alone in the forest, who was badly losing a fight with a komodo lizard. The group slew the lizard handily enough, and used spells and a Neutralize Poison potion to restore the dwarf to health. He told them he had been sent to Jamsin from his village to seek help. It seems his village’s gardens and livestock were being devastated by creatures such as no one in the village had ever seen before. The group didn’t think he could make it to Jamsin alone (and, after all “we’re the ones they would send anyway…..”) and so the band accompanied the dwarf back to his village.

At the village they interviewed the village elder, a dwarf of truly extreme age (he gave it as 127; in this universe dwarves don’t normally live past 125) who reported that no one had ever seen creatures, some human-sized and others truly gigantic, before, but it is also true that in the village’s oldest legends, it was reported that creatures like that were seen during the war that immediately predated the Deluge. In addition, he reported that there was an ancient dwarven temple (abandoned long ago) nearby that might have a clue to Barlyn’s own quest, but that it is extremely dangerous.

Alex, using his gifts for leadership and tactics, began organizing the dwarves, along with Cain, Barlyn, and Izthail, to begin construction of a palisade to surround the village and its gardens and pastures. This project would take at least a little time. In the interim the two rangers (Anallia and Polcathir) accompanied by Barton, would make scouting sweeps through the forest to attempt to determine what they were up against.

[DM Note: Yes, this is every game master’s favorite — the split party!]

On their patrol the group in the forest encountered some human-sized creatures, all right. In fact, these creatures were bipedal, reptilian, and very, very fast. (Hey the name doesn’t include “veloci” for nothing!) After a desperate fight they managed to kill two of the four, and drive off the other two. The third one (already severely injured) fell to arrow fire, but the fourth one escaped cleanly. Of course, now it had two rangers trying to track it…..

Meanwhile, back at the village, the palisade was coming along well until one of the dwarves working on it saw a truly enormous creature emerging from the forest. This creature was also bipedal, although its “arms” were so tiny as to be practically useless. Its teeth and jaws, on the other hand, were not useless to it at all. While the dwarves evacuated the area, Cain cast Strength on Alex (which has become a standard tactic), Barlyn cast Prayer and Izthail maneuvered for a good bow shot at it, while Alex ran forward to meet it. There was a flurry of blows, which ended with the creature (yes, his name was “Rex”) falling over dead, and Alex bleeding heavily from the one bite he took from it. After some healing magic, the party proclaimed, “BARBECUE!” At least the dwarves don’t have a shortage of meat anymore. Tasted like chicken.

Back with the forest patrol, the rangers had no trouble tracking the remaining velociraptor to a deep pool where it was drinking. They killed it without any real difficulty, and then, upon some careful observations, determined that there was something that wasn’t quite right about the pool. It seemed perhaps a bit too dark, perhaps a bit too still. Barton took a sample of the water and they returned to the village.

At the barbecue, the group attempted to Detect Magic on the water, and discovered that it did come up as faintly magical. They tested it on a chicken, which did not show any ill effects. They tested it on Izthail, who showed no ill effects either, and determined that while the dwarves were finishing the palisade they should go investigate the pool further.

The entire group journeyed to the pool the next day. The velociraptor’s corpse had been picked clean, and there were two types of tracks next to it, but first would come the pool itself. Barton volunteered to do the hard part. He had the Ring of Free Action already, so once he borrowed the Helm of Water Breathing and had a 150 foot rope tied around him and the ever-popular Invisibility cast on him, he began walking into the water. Several feet into the pool the bottom fell away, and Barton sank like a stone until he reached the actual bottom of the pool, about 80 feet down. He frightened some fish, and a number of pithy observations about fish, snapping turtles, and Cthulhu were made. After waiting for some time and not seeing anything happen, he pulled out a Continual Light bead and began exploring the bottom. In the center of the pool he found a small metal object, that appeared to be either a badge or a brooch, which had been rusted over too much to see what, if anything, had been engraved on it. He picked it up and held it. A couple of minutes later he startled a snake, which lunged to attack, and he tugged on the rope to insist on a quick pull up. As the party began pulling him up the snake managed one attack, which was successful, and Barton was poisoned! Fortunately A) I had already stated that nitrogen narcosis is a non-issue, so he could surface as quickly as he wanted to and B) Barlyn had another potion of Neutralize Poison. With Barton OK, the group cleaned off the object he had found, and discovered that it was a brooch with a stylized letter “P” below a five-pointed crown. They also determined that it was highly magical, and that now the pool showed no magic, and in fact, no excessive darkness. Cain attempted to Identify the brooch, but was only able to determine that it appeared to be some sort of powerful focus for conjuration/summoning spells.

With that, the group began tracking down the remaining creatures which had been eating on the velociraptor. They found a large group of 12 velociraptors (the things have no taboo against cannibalizing one of their own) and engaged them in a melee which almost turned deadly for Polcathir, who survived but only just barely. A search revealed some 14 eggs, which the group decided to keep to see what they could use or sell them for. They then tracked down the other tracks to a pair of Megalosauruses, which were dispatched without difficulty. Although they knew that a Brontosaurus was still out there (it had come to the village overnight but been driven off without difficulty) they returned to the village to claim their reward.

In addition to some cash and a fair number of gems and three pieces of jewelry (one of which was extremely valuable — they weren’t stinted for cash on this) the group received from the grateful village elder one vial of Oil of Sharpness and one of Oil of Impact. Now all they need is some more coal. Also, the elder provided a map to find the ancient dwarven temple he had mentioned previously; however, they are planning to find and attack the Red Flag Pirate base prior to looking for the temple.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.