The Survivors of Lemuria

Update on Multiple Sessions
Last Session on 3/21/15

Well, due to a large number of changes in the time sink known as “Real Life,” I haven’t been able to update the adventure log in a timely manner, although we have been continuing the adventure. Following will be a number of highlights:

1/10/15: Due to a somewhat light turnout the group determined that they needed to explore the remainder of the islands surrounding the central island of Verdonna prior to attempting to discover what was wrong with it. They explored the island of Priya more thoroughly, discovering the remains of an ancient wall which appeared to date back to the Lemurian Civil War. Barton also attempted to engage in more trade, and unfortunately lost some money at it; he decided that he might wait on further attempts until his skill is greater.

1/24/15: The Five Sisters at peace: A more full-up group this time traveled to the remaining outlying island, Karina, to explore it. They discovered a strange apparition: a ruined castle which sometimes looked ruined and other times looked intact. Knowing from previous discoveries that the tiger symbol on the walls was that of the Maurya clan, they approached and told the guards that they were warriors of that clan, and were passed inside. Again, once inside the castle they had a case of “double vision,” seeing the ruins but also seeing the castle intact. Looking out the gate, some saw the sea, while others saw broad lowland fields. They proceeded to explore the castle, but were attacked by a large number of shadows, which they fought off without too much difficulty. Carefully choosing the path that appeared intact in the “ruins” view, they made their way to the second floor, where in a bedroom they heard women crying. Entering the room, they discovered three young ladies, richly dressed, sitting on a large bed. Two were crying inconsolably; the third appeared angry. She began to speak.

She told them that they she was Verdonna, and that the two other girls were her sisters, Priya and Karina. (Strange coincidence with the names of the islands, n’est pas?) and they were weeping for their two other sisters, Kinsalla and Gorantla. Kinsalla had been married to Pandu, and Gorantla to Khauru, of the Lemurian Gupta dynasty, but both were murdered the same day, apparently each by agents of the other’s husband. (Ostensibly, this would have been in order to guarantee succession of the killer’s children.) Approached by agents of Elthedoros, the King of Theravashtra, they agreed to his plan to avenge them, and gave his agent earrings belonging to their slain sisters.

However, all was not as it seemed. The earrings were used to mystically bind the slain girls to demons, which proceeded to lead Pandava and Khaurava warriors into an eternal battle seeking for a vengeance that would never come. The three remaining sisters were trapped in a never ending cycle of grief and rage, and Kinsalla and Gorantla were trapped by the demons. The only way to free them would be to touch each demon with the matching earring and then slay it. (The demons were invulnerable until then.) Naturally, such heroes as ours agreed to undertake the quest.

They sailed into the unceasing fog that surrounded Verdonna, made landfall, and searched inland. It was not difficult to find a battle raging — hundreds if not thousands of skeletal warriors shot and stabbed each other, only to rise again after a few minutes to begin all over again. Behind each skeletal army was a beautiful girl with a family resemblance to the other three exhorting them to greater efforts.

Using stealth and invisibility Barton and Alex snuck up behind the two girls. (Fortunately, they guessed correctly which earring belonged to which girl — well, they had a 50-50 chance) while the remainder of the party tried to fight off outlying skeletons that thought they were their enemies. Alex clapped the earring onto the demon, saw it change form, and engaged it in hand-to-hand combat. Barton attempted to be more subtle, and attempted to use his pick pockets ability to place the earring into the girl’s sari. This failed unfortunately, and the demon turned on him and injured him severely before he was able to touch it with the earring. By this time Alex had dispatched his demon and came charging through the two armies to help. He outmaneuvered the skeletons and was able to assist Barton in slaying the second demon, at which time the skeletal warriors crumbled to dust, and the fog lifted — the sun shone down onto the island of Verdonna for the first time in two thousand years. The group, rather wounded at this point, reboarded their vessels and returned to Kajalla to recover.

2/7/15: The group found itself being asked for help in Kajalla by a representative of the lizard man tribe near Tolepur, and by a representative of Tolepur itself. It seems the lizard men had lost a number of their people to an unknown assailant, while the farming villages near Tolepur were being raided from the sea by parties unknown — parties which generally did not leave survivors. (Note: we had several new players this day and I rather expected a good old party split, but my hints were ostentatiously ignored.) The group gathered and sailed to Tolepur. There was not much information forthcoming in the city, so the entire group set out to assist the lizard men. From the lizard man village they were able to track down the losses to a cave in the side of a hill. Not knowing what was in the cave, but fearing the worst, the group arranged a number of missile fighters and spell casters inside the tree line while Barton and Alex climbed the hill to see if there was a back door.

Of course there was a back door. Dragons hate not having a back door. Dragons that have extremely keen hearing and the ability to use spells hate it even more. In this case, the male dragon had already emerged invisibly from the shaft in the top of the hill and blasted Alex and Barton with acid (being a black dragon, naturally.) Almost slain from the dragon breath, they beat a hasty retreat, while Cain managed to hit the dragon with a lightning bolt and the rest of the party moved in to cover the lower cave entrance. However, they were guarding the cave entrance after the dragon had gotten out, and the female dragon became visible and hit the covering group with another breath, killing one and injuring several others. The dragons were no match for the entire party though, and although they retreated back into the cave to consume healing potions, they were soon dispatched. Their hoard was taken, they were skinned for acid-proof armor, and the group went triumphantly to the lizard man village, where the shaman was able to raise the dead dwarf. Ominously, however, in the cave they did find a pair of eggshells that had been cracked in half and were covered in dust….

Returning to Tolepur, the party then explored up the coast looking for the raiders. It didn’t take long to find them — there were a couple of double-hulled canoes beached near a campsite. The creatures at the campsite took to their canoes and charged the ship as soon as they saw it. They appeared to be canine-headed humanoids, armed only with primitive weapons, and extraordinarily ferocious, not appearing to know how to surrender. This battle went by rather quickly, however, what with the powerful magic the party could bring to bear. At this point the group accepted the thanks of Tolepur and returned to Kajalla.

2/21/15: However, something else happened while they were on the island. On this particular day only Don (Barton) and Derek (Gerhardt the Paladin, who had missed a number of previous adventures) were available. As a consequence, we retconned that the small group left on the ship had included Gerhardt, and he and Raj (along with Dawn the cleric, who had also been left on the ship) departed for the interior of the island, following a compulsion Gerhardt was feeling. Coming up on a knoll, they saw two black dragons (remember those eggshells?) tormenting another creature. Gerhardt felt a burst of affection for the victim, and raced forward to heal it, while the others engaged the dragons. Fortunately, these were very young dragons, and although the group took some lumps, they were able to slay them. Backtracking to the dragons’ lair they found not much of a hoard, but what there was included a fragment of the Lemuriad! They discovered that the creature that had been tormented was a lawful good ajalung, a creature also known as an “iron dragon,” which is a semi-aquatic creature who volunteered to be Gerhardt’s companion and mount.

Exploring the dragons’ lair further, they found there was a secret entrance to an ancient tunnel complex guarded by some undead, which were slain. At the end of the tunnel, however, was an invisible undead creature which opened their discussions with a fireball which killed Raj and wounded the rest. However, it was dispatched without too much more difficulty, and Raj was revived by a scroll Dawn discovered. They were able to return to the ship in time to join the rest of the group in returning to Kajalla.

More catching up to come……

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Real Date 12/13/2014
Shadows of the Pleistocene. Really Big Shadows

Apologies for the late posting….the time sink known as “Real Life” has been very hectic of late.

Three gamers met me at the Reaper Game Store on 12/13/2014: Don, playing Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF); Dallas, playing Anallia (Elf CLC/RGR) and Barlyn (Dwarf CLC); and Steven, playing Alex (Half-elf FTR/Acrobat), and Caine (Human M-U); Steven also ran Alex’s henchperson Lamitha (Human THF).

In fact, during this particular episode neither Anallia nor Caine saw any action. Much of the activity was dominated by Barton’s interest in trade. They began by visiting the island of Priya (the third of the Five Sisters) to make contact with the lizard men they had heard were present. The group made contact easily, aided by their associate, Vasily, a lizard man from Jolat. What they learned was that this tribe has been greatly diminished by the pirates’ slaving raids; the population is down to perhaps no more than one million (lizard man mathematics — no one has figured it out yet, but it’s very precise.) They had also been losing some members to a strange creature that caused individuals to die of blood loss. They have asked Vasily to see if his friends could bring them some more male lizard men to help rebuild their villages, as their demographics are out of balance. Vasily thinks between one thousand and eleven hundred would be enough.

Before returning to Jolat to pick up more lizard men, however, the group decided to voyage to Nabor to check in on the former pirate base they were keeping. They found the base in good shape, and then proceeded inland to check on the tribe of barbarians they had befriended in the interior of the island (Hooja’s tribe.) On the way to Hooja’s tribe they were ambushed by a group of saber-toothed tigers! Alex took a few hits from them, but the group took them down without difficulty. (It should be noted at this point that the group had separated, so only Alex, Lamitha, Barton, and Barlyn were on this expedition.) They managed, even without the assistance of a ranger, to backtrack the cats to a clearing, where they found an unusual stone — a highly polished light brown in color with black lines which appeared to form a stylized letter “K.”

At Hooja’s village they were told that Hooja’s people had found a similar stone a couple of days’ journey deeper into the interior, and so, accompanied by Hooja, they set out to investigate. Before finding the stone, however, they heard what sounded like rhythmic thunder. Turning, they found themselves being charged by an extraordinarily large beast with a hide like a rhinoceros but no horns and no trunk. This creature was larger in all dimensions than the largest elephant, and it wasn’t happy. It got a shot in on Alex, and after Lamitha and Barton rushed up into the trees the group was able to bring down the animal and find nearby another stone.

They decided to send Hooja back to his village to bring some people to help skin and butcher this enormous windfall of meat, and set guard. Naturally, a dead animal this large would attract scavengers. It attracted a pack of minotaur lizards. One injured Barton as he and Lamitha climbed onto the body of the huge creature, while the others continued to battle. Barton then attempted to leap onto the back of one of the lizards to stab it from above, but slipped in the gore and fell down onto his back behind the lizard. Before it could turn to snap him up he managed to levitate out of harm’s way and began firing arrows. The lizards were finally dispatched. When Hooja returned with his villagers he confirmed that the minotaur lizards were native to the island, although he and his people had never seen the large creature or the saber-toothed tigers before (with the exception of the old chief, Terkoz, who had been a were-sabers-toothed tiger.)

The group then made some trading arrangements with Hooja and returned to Kajalla to train, reprovision, repair the ship, and do spell research. While there, an assassin failed an assassination attempt on Barlyn, although questioning revealed very little. The group is tentatively planning to finish the Five Sisters next time they go out.

Note: The 12/27 meeting will be skipped due to the holiday.

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Real Date 11/29/2014
Fighting at Sea

Well, it was the weekend following Thanksgiving, so a low turnout was to be expected. Three gamers joined me at the Reaper Game Store to propel the adventures forward: Steven, playing Cain (Human M-U), Alex (Half-elf FTR/Acrobat); and Alex’s henchwoman Lamitha (Human THF); Dallas playing Anallia (Elf CLC/RGR), Barlyn (Dwarf CLC), and Barlyn’s henchwoman Dawn (Elf CLC); and Don, playing Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF). (During this period Barton has decided that he needs a sidekick as well.)

The festivities began while the main group was at the ruined tower they discovered the last time. While they were away, a group of their fishy friends attempted to board the ship in the dead of night. Fortunately, one of the four marines on duty as an anchor watch was alert and spotted them, sounding the alarm. More marines came boiling up from the deck, along with the ship master Ophidon (run by Don), and Lamitha and Dawn. A desperate battle ensued. Lamitha missed several shots with her hand crossbows, Ophidon spent much of the battle engaged with one of the foes, but Dawn’s combined bless and chant spells assisted the marines in turning the tide, although five of them went down (incapacitated; fortunately for the group they weren’t dead) before Lamitha, engaging in hand-to-hand, assisted two of the marines in turning the enemy’s flank. Once the flank was turned and the fish-men’s leader was taken out, the few remaining survivors managed to get overboard and back into the water. Dawn began healing the incapacitated marines, and all seemed well….until Ophidon noticed the ship was riding lower and lower in the water. The group had potions of water breathing (which had been left by the main group with the ship, as most of them have magic items that allow water breathing as well) but decided that they didn’t have enough combat power to go face the fish-men in their own element - especially since they noticed that there were crescent-shaped dorsal fins in the water but no apparent thrashing or fighting. (They made the logical conclusion that the fish-men are friendly with sharks, of all creatures.) So instead, Ophidon ordered the ship’s crew to man the oars and managed to row the ship to the shallows and essentially beach it. He then began repairs.

When the main party returned they were not pleased to discover that the Razorwind was not where they had left it. However, the magic-users used their mending spells to accelerate the repair process, and the group began to analyze a journal from the former owner of the tower. They discovered that the ruins on Karina are not Khaurava, as most have always believed, but actually belonged to the Mauryas, a dynasty allied to Lemuria. The sage Gupchandros, some 400 years previously, had embarked on a study of the archipelago, but apparently lost his men in the process, and appears to have been slain by a vampire.

Armed with this information the group debated their next step. After a bit of wrangling, and looking over the map, they decided that the southeastern island, Gorantla, was the most likely location of the pirates’ base, and that they would investigate it. As they approached, they saw a ship approaching them. And another. And a third.

Barton and Anallia argued that they needed to capture at least one of the ships by boarding it; Alex argued that three on one is heavy odds for a naval battle. The Razorwind turned and exchanged trebuchet fire with the first ship. Fortunately for their cause, Barlyn’s special burning holy water, placed on the trebuchet ammunition, made the difference, and soon the first pirate was a burning hulk. The second pirate began to fire. Cain, fearing the damage the Razorwind was accumulating, cast fly on himself and flew high over the second ship, and then put a fireball in the center of its deck! This didn’t sink it, and it continued to fire, holing the Razorwind again. However, a second fireball reduced it to burning splinters.

Now Anallia and Barton were emphatic that the group needed to capture the third ship. So with Barton having case invisibility on himself, Cain dropped Anallia at the head of its mainmast, Barton at the front, and himself at the head of the foremast. Barton saw the enemy ship’s crew lined up along both gunwales prepared to repel boarders, and pulled out his wand of lightning, sending a forked stroke that only left one survivor, who promptly surrendered.

A search of the ship and some interrogation of the two prisoners they had captured (Cain having pulled one from the sea before the sharks got him) revealed the location of the pirate base on Gorantla; in addition there was a little loot, and an unusual device: a brass cylinder with a piece of glass at each end. Barton looked through both ends and saw no changes in what he saw. (No, it is not a telescope.) When they did a detect magic on it it did radiate magic. An identify only showed that it was a navigational/transportation device. Fortunately, the captain’s log told the tale:

“I’m not sure I trust this transport to Scrox……I’m supposed to find the stone peak of Stom somewhere in the sea, look at it through the tube, and say “Empless.” I have my doubts that this will even work, but orders are orders, and you better not piss off Al-Yaman."

Now the group needed a plan to take out the base. They learned about the base defenses from the prisoners, and decided to sail the captured ship (now renamed the Valkyrie under the command of Anallia) with one of the prisoners holding up the tattered flag of the Razorwind from the prow, as though they had won a difficult battle, with a phantasmal force hiding the true crew from the pirates. Unknown to the group, however, the pirates saw through the illusion. The group sneaked ashore under invisibility 10’ radius but as they split their forces to take out the base’s trebuchets, Alex’s group became visible. Therefore, Cain and Barlyn scrambled to a rooftop to take out the trebuchet there, Alex and Lamitha attempted to use stealth to get to their target, and Barton’s group took out the one in the opposite corner of the base. However, a large number of orcs then proceeded to come out, firing arrows, and releasing the trolls!

Cain managed to fireball the 5 trolls before they could disperse, killing two of them outright, but the remaining three came after him and Barlyn. Alex managed a sneak attack on the base’s commander to keep him off Lamitha while she disabled the third trebuchet. Anallia leaped from the wall and engaged two squads of orcs in melee, while Barton and Dawn proceeded to disable another trebuchet. Meanwhile, on the roof, Barlyn engaged the strongest troll and clapped two of his burning holy water vials directly on the troll’s ears! [he got one critical hit] When asked whether he would be burned himself, he serenely replied that his god would protect him. The blow slew the troll, but both troll and Barlyn fell from the rooftop, and Barlyn’s god did not protect him. (“Barlyn enjoys it. It’s a holy burn.”) In the meantime, Alex finished off the base commander and the base’s magic-user (who put the most anemic lightning bolt anyone’s ever seen into him.) Once Barton put his own lightning bolt onto a couple of squads of orcs it was all over but for the mopping up.

The group ended up taking some 19 captives from the pirates and freeing a number of lizard man slaves, as well as discovering the pirate’s loot. Said loot included bracers of armor AC 5 and a ring of protection +1.

They have determined to repatriate the lizard men, handing over the 19 captives to the lizard men themselves to help rebuild their villages, then likely will head back to Kajalla to repair the ship and engage in training.

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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.]

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.]

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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.

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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

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