The Survivors of Lemuria

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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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.

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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……

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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.

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Real Date 6/28/14
Deadly Ladies on Nabor

The same trio met with me at the Reaper Game Store as had met the last time: Dallas, playing Nallia (elf CLC/RGR) and Barlyn (dwarf CLC); Don, playing Barton (half-elf M-U/THF); and Steven, playing Alex (half-elf FTR/THF-Acrobat) and Cain (human M-U). We were therefore able to pick up right where we had left off.

Where we had left off had been the party slowly withdrawing from the cave of Azufullalaz, a blue dragon who was testy because a piece of her property had previously been stolen (and not by our heroes). At this point, although they had made a tentative deal to seek out her property (a rod of some sort made of gold) they determined that, because as a blue dragon she was evil, she had to go. The group was somewhat low on spells, but concluded that as the dragon herself had been in a fight previously (in which she had clearly used her breath weapon at least once) they would be better off not giving her a chance to renew her full capabilities, so they chose not to rest and renew their own spells. This is a trade-off that has no clear right answer, but in this case it worked.

They crafted a somewhat complex plan involving using the prisoners they had taken from the pirate band as a distraction. These prisoners consisted of two fighters, a female assassin, and Hooja, a barbarian. In an effort to secure the greatest cooperation, Barton used his charm person spell on Hooja. Following his spell, Barton appealed to Hooja’s natural sense of vanity by asking whether he was courageous enough to taunt a dragon. In the process of this discussion, Hooja revealed that he was not a pirate per se, but had been recruited by this particular band not long previously, as he had recently fled his own tribe after they had been taken over by a particularly nasty character named Terkoz. [Note: Barton was extremely careful and circumspect in the way he spoke with Hooja through the entire process, and as a result when the spell was lifted Hooja didn’t realize he had been ensorcelled, so there were no unfortunate consequences as there could easily have been.] Without using magic the group put the same proposition to the remaining prisoners, offering them their freedom in exchange for helping to taunt the dragon. They all agreed (although the assassin was planning to bolt immediately and to hell with anybody’s plans.)

The group then positioned Cain and Barton across the ravine from the opening to Azufullalaz’ cave, planning to use enlarge to put an avalanche on her, while the rest of the group hid just behind the tree line, with Nallia and Barlyn prepared to fire at the dragon when she came out, and Alex hoping he could position himself for a backstab. Although the group later commented that it can be a mistake to do your planning in front of the DM, Azufullalaz’ tactics had already been determined — and were based on the fact that the party didn’t know there was a back door to her cave. As a result, when the taunting began, instead of coming out the entrance all in a rage, the dragon looked outside, saw the taunters, and then proceeded to roll a huge boulder across the entrance (locking the door before she left, as it were.) She then climbed up a vertical shaft, emerged, and was airborne before they could do anything about it. The arrows began to fly, so she came down and used her final breath weapon against Nallia and Barlyn. They survived this attack, and were prepared with a grappling arrow tied to a tree, which Nallia fired successfully. Unfortunately, the tree had been fried by the lightning breath of the dragon, so a large piece easily snapped off. At that point one of the mages enlarged it (using the spell that had been prepared for their avalanche attempt) and the dragon, who had been planning to swing the log around into her tormentors, decided to land and deal with them on the ground. Unfortunately for her, at that point she ran headlong into two wyvern watch spells and failed her save against one of them, which left her paralyzed on the ground, and gave Alex the perfect opportunity to backstab her. Azufullalaz did not survive for one more minute, and soon enough she had been butchered, skinned, and had various internal organs removed (and the heart eaten by Nallia and Hooja.)

The party then searched for the rear entrance to her cave and found a vertical shaft easily enough. The shaft led directly into her hoard room, where a goodly amount of gold, some valuable gems and jewelry, and a magic ring and helm were discovered. In addition, the group discovered a small patch of skin (apparently scraped against the side of the cave) containing a number of very coarse and curly brown and black hairs. [It was to be discovered later that this was the skin of the halfling — a currently deceased fellow named Goflee Stickyfingers — who had stolen the “property” several months previously.) It was a group of adventurers almost insufferably pleased with themselves who camped out in the dragon cave, ate dragon meat, discussed what to do with various parts of dragon anatomy, and looted the dragon’s hoard prior to setting off on the trail back to Jamsin.

On the trail back to Jamsin they encountered the second deadly lady, in this case the ever-popular gynosphinx. [Note: i like to roll for random encounters using the tables in the 1e DMG, and generally just keep rolling until I find something appropriate. This has led to players commenting that sometimes the random encounters are more dangerous than the planned ones. I don’t mind that. This gynosphinx — Stephanie by name — was one such.] Rather than fight, however, she preferred to talk, and ended up beginning a contest of riddles with the group. She went first:

“I wear a red coat and have a stone in my throat. What am I?” [See answer at the end of this entry.]
The group was stumped with this one, but being a jolly well-fed gynosphinx, she asked for a riddle in return:
“Thirty horses in two columns, they crush and stomp but nowhere go. What are they?” [See answer below.]
This one stumped the sphinx, so she began a new round:
“Aethelstan has four daughters. Each daughter has a brother. How many children does Aethelstan have?”
They got this riddle successfully, and the sphinx let them pass without incident [Note: The group got full experience for this encounter, because they were able to best the sphinx in her preferred method. Kudos to noncombat approaches from time to time!]

Upon arriving in Jamsin, however, there was extremely bad news: The Razorwind had been attacked in their absence by two ships that had sailed into the harbor at night, and its upper structures burned. None of the crew was slain, although one Marine was unconscious and required help from the clerics to heal him. Monophos, the ship master, and Lamitha, the mate, had organized the defenses and damage control, but it was going to cost considerable time and money to repair the damage, and the pirates had sailed off into the night, leaving no prisoners. Fortunately, there was a cantankerous old magic-user in town available to train Cain, who had advanced a level, and due to obtaining the dragon’s hoard the group had sufficient cash for training expenses and ship repairs. [Note: When a party gets a dragon hoard they might expect to have something happen that takes some of it away!] At this point they decided to explore inland some more, and to search for the prisoners they had released, as they felt these individuals might have had something to do with the attack upon their ship, and also to search for Terkoz and see if they could find the golden rod the dragon had been on about, and also possibly to find the pirates’ base; previous interrogation of the prisoners had indicated the existence of a pirate base somewhere east of Jamsin on the south coast of Nabor.

After setting out the group traveled for several days before encountering anything interesting, and the interesting thing was a falcon that paced them for most of a day. In the evening the falcon’s purposes became clear, when the group was ambushed by Terkoz himself and a number of Terkoz’ minions. A melee ensued, and the clerics held several of their opponents. At this point the opponents’ nature became clear: Two of the three of them changed form into animals and continued to attack. In fact, Terkoz’ band consisted, with one exception, of lycanthropes, with Terkoz himself a were-smileodon. In addition there were a were-tiger, a were-komodo lizard, a were bear, and a were-gorilla, in addition to the were-falcon (who was the group’s shaman and who, unknown to the party, successfully cast a pray spell at the beginning of the melee.) As the melee wore on Nallia and Barlyn both took bites from lycanthropes, but Terkoz and his band were having the worst of it, despite being able to get in some healing anytime they changed form. In addition, an invisible Barton sneaked around behind Terkoz and managed to filch the golden rod away from him!

Suddenly, a voice like that of an angel shouted/sang “STOP RIGHT THERE!” and brought the entire melee to a halt. Everyone turned to see a completely nude woman running toward them out of the forest, and she must have had a Comeliness score of 22 or more! As she approached all the characters had to attempt to resist her charm, and only Alex and Nallia succeeded. She demanded the return of the golden rod to her, and Barton immediately gave it over to her. At that point Nallia, who, along with Alex had been pretending to be under the woman’s sway, began to attack her, but Alex launched a flying tackle to stop her — and in the process prove his bona fides to the woman. The woman herself decided that Nallia needed to kiss and make up with her, but as she approached Nallia for the kiss, Nallia and Alex both attacked, both hit, both crit’ed, and then she died. As she died, she muttered “Thank you. I’ve been on this stupid plane waiting to perform the last service for two thousand years, and now dying makes it over. I’m sick of this place.” [Note: Yes, the woman in question was a succubus, and the dying words were a clue. And no, she isn’t really dead, just banished back to the Abyss.]

With her departure Terkoz and his group recovered from their own charm and discovered that they had essentially lost some three months out of their lives. They remained lycanthropes, however, as was demonstrated in some tests, and agreed to go off and live by themselves away from their tribe. (It is possible that they will not do so forever, though, as there are 5 men and only one woman….)

Hooja is at the point of deciding whether to return permanently to his tribe, with his exile no longer in effect, but he might stay with the party. And it remains to be seen whether there were any……permanent effects from the bites Nallia and Barlyn took from Terkoz’ minions.

Answers to the riddles:

A cherry
Teeth
5 (bear in mind that if you have four daughters and each one has A brother, then since they are all sisters they will all share the same brother.)

XP awards: 2000 xp each to Alex, Nallia, Cain, and Barlyn. 2200 to Barton (awarded for role playing with the spell he cast on Hooja and during the encounter with the succubus) and 1000 each for the NPC’s, Robert the Red and Hooja (standard henchman xp),

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Journey to Nabor

Real Date: 6-14-14.

Three intrepid gamers met with me at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday: Steven, continuing the adventures of Alexander Razorwind (half-elf FTR/THF) and Cain (human M-U); Dallas, furthering the career of Nallia (elf CLC/RGR) and Barlyn (dwarf CLC); and we were joined by Don, who is a newcomer to our group, playing Barton (half-elf THF/M-U).

There was a significant amount of downtime & catching up to do as a consequence of the last episode. The party was in the city of Karanga, and most had gained a level (apart from Cain, who was close), but there was no one in that city available for training. So the group sent a courier vessel back to the Razorwind to pick them up and return them to Kajalla for training, being joined in the process by Barton, a half-elf magic-user/thief, and Robert, who was a thief from Karanga who had decided it might be in his best interest to join the band.

In Kajalla, Alex took training as a thief-acrobat, which will change his abilities to some extent. In addition, Nallia and Barlyn, after making considerable donations to the churches of Pyrros in Karanga, made another such donation in Kajalla. Cain contacted the Arcanists’ Guild and made arrangements to take the test for journeyman status. Barlyn and Nallia also completed their training. Alex visited his lady friend, Fedrova, and found her to be in a state of exhaustion from the work involved in raising a baby parrot (whose egg Alex had brought to her previously), but she was pleased by his gift of an expensive necklace, and even more pleased by his gift of caring for her familiar-to-be long enough for her to get a full nights sleep!

After all this was accomplished, and Barton had determined his spells and equipment, the group reloaded aboard the Razorwind and set off north across the Lemurian Sea for the small city of Jamsin, on the island of Nabor. Alex had heard a rumor from Kumar, the captain of the freighter Common Ore, that his merchant contact in Jamsin (one Nickulu) had a number of antiquities in a collection, likely including a fragment of the Lemuriad. Barlyn had received word from an elder dwarf in a village on Jolat that the relic he is searching for may also be located on Nabor.

Before arriving at Nabor the lookout sighted a truly enormous shark (a megalodon, in fact) trailing the ship. Although the shark was only grabbing garbage thrown overboard, the crew scrambled to battle stations, fired a trebuchet at the creature — the first time the ship had fired one — and actually hit it and injured it. After several bowshots an enraged megalodon leaped from the water, bit a large piece of rail off the ship, and sounded. When it came back up it bit enough of a chunk out of the bottom of the keel to cause a leak and then departed, quite satisfied with its revenge. Fortunately, the crew reacted quickly to discover and patch the leak, and the ship was only minimally damaged. This was to serve them well…..

Two days out from Jamsin the lookout saw a bolt of lightning strike up from the water to the sky. As the ship turned to investigate, it found itself facing two ships of the Red Flag Pirates, the Storm and the Tempest, and to make matters more difficult, they had the weather gauge. The Razorwind turned to engage the Storm while working to keep her distance from the Tempest and, after firing a number of fire arrows into her rigging (reducing her speed) and hitting her hull with some trebuchet shots, managed to ram her and the crew boarded. During this time the Tempest swung around to rake them, but their aim was extremely poor. Nallia took out the Tempest’s wizard with a well-placed shot before he could launch another bolt from his wand of lightning (which fell into the sea) and the Tempest fled before the crew could finish the Storm and turn to take them. Interrogation of the survivors — and the dead captain — indicated that there is a pirate base to the east of Jamsin on the coast of Nabor itself, but that the main base is on a well-fortified island of its own to the east; the captain did not know the location, as it is a well-guarded secret.

The party scavenged the Storm for spare parts and burned her, then continued to Nabor, where they met with Nickulu. When that worthy went to show off his collection of antiquities, of which he is inordinately proud, they made a terrible discovery: Many of them had been stolen and replaced with forgeries! The group interrogated Nickulu’s household and many townsfolk, and concluded that it wasn’t an inside job, but must have been done by a group that had left the city by land going north 5 days earlier. They appeared to be making for a dangerous cave described in a journal which was not taken. The party set out in pursuit, and after several days, caught up with them in a narrow ravine. Here they fought a pitched battle with a group of adventurers who appeared to have already run into something nasty — the episode was climaxed by Barton casting invisibility on himself, climbing the cliff walls, maneuvering behind the enemy, setting a trap, and then, when the entire group had burned its way through the web that had trapped them, missed a backstab attempt on the assassin who was in their rear guard. With an enemy before her and behind her, she fled up the cliff face with Barton in hot pursuit. Cain put a magic missile directly on each of her hands, causing her to lose balance, and Barton caught up with her, grabbed her, and both fell to the ground.

Upon interrogation, the party discovered that the only one who knew anything significant was their cleric leader, who was already dead, but that they had faced something large, reptilian, and electric in the cave. And it wanted its property back. They also had the poem fragment, which the group recovered. Choosing to explore the cave, they used spider climb and ropes to get up the 100 feet to the entrance, and then slowly entered. Upon entry they were challenged by a voice demanding its property back. After some discussion, the voice’s owner revealed herself — and she was, indeed, a blue dragon. She agreed to allow the party to depart if they would promise to attempt to find her property, which was described as a long gold rod with a jeweled head on one end. In addition, Barton purchased the missing Pandava arrows which the other group had stolen (and fired at Azufullalla, the dragon) from her, and the group departed in peace, although some wished to attack her.

The party’s business with Azufullalla and her property is not yet over…..

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Real Date 5/31/2014
Assault on Karanga!

Four players showed up to play part two of the Giants attack at Reaper: Steven, playing Alex (1/2 elf FTR/THF) and Cain (human M-U); Dallas playing Nallia (elf CLC/RGR) and Barlyn (dwarf CLC); and Stoerm playing Ban-Mi (howazdon RGR). As Michael’s character, Rye (human RGR) was stuck in the giants’ headquarters caves with the rest of the party at the beginning, Rye accompanied the rest of the group, being run by Steven and Stoerm.

The group had sneaked past the guards invisibly and proceeded to reconnoiter the caverns. They discovered that the caverns were filled with noncombatants — female and young hill giants (in fact, Nallia was knocked head over heels by a running giant child) — who were speculating loudly on when their menfolk would return and they would be able to get out of this stupid cavern. Moving in deeper, the group found a number of empty quarters for giant warriors, and finally shifts of guards who were a different type of giant — one that was larger and cleaner. Four were awake and four asleep — the waking ones were guarding what appeared to be a throne room. The group withdrew to an empty chamber to craft a plan.

They then proceeded to set fire to all the empty chambers closer to the entrance than the throne room and guard quarters, slay the sleeping guards under the protection of their invisibility and silence, after which two of the guards peeled off to supervise the evacuation of the noncombatants from the caverns and fetch water to put out the fires. It only took a couple of surprise attacks to take out the two guards remaining in the throne room, which had a small treasure chamber (with mostly cheap gems inside). Once the other two guards had the fires out, one came after the party while the other went outside for reinforcements. The one that closed was dispatched quickly, but the other brought a group of hill giants as reinforcements and halted them in line of sight of the only way out, and began a missile duel. Given the giants’ missile capabilities, this was an effective tactic. The group put their heads together and began to advance using their portable hole as a shield for the characters who were not as tough as the others.They were able to get into melee range and dispatched all but one of the hill giants, who surrendered and, after giving up as much information as he had, was sent off to take care of the evacuated families.

The group then determined that the giants’ army commanded by Flint had a five-day head start on the path to Karanga. They determined that, instead of following the army, they would try to travel in a straight line toward the city, after sending an invisible Ban-Mi ahead through the trees (since he’s a howazdon after all) to warn the city. Ban-Mi reached Karanga some four days ahead of the army, snuck into the city and the government headquarters invisibly, and made himself visible inside the Chairman’s office in the middle of a budgetary discussion. Fortunately, between his own persuasion, the letter the rest of the group sent with him, and a bag full of stone giant ears he was able to persuade the Chairman without any problems. They mobilized the city’s militia, which was not extremely large, and they didn’t have enough sealift capability to evacuate the noncombatant population, so they prepared to resist.

In the meantime, the rest of the group arrived only a day ahead of the army. They signaled Ban-Mi their arrival, and met with the military authorities. Then it was time for a plan under a great deal of time pressure. They began by reconnoitering the giants’ camp and determining where the leadership and any of his spell casting shamans might be. Having done so, they obtained as many caltrops and oil flasks as possible, and launched a raid on the camp in which they managed to set most of it aflame and killed the shamans and several of the elite stone giants. In the meantime, Cain and Barlyn were leading the (only low level) mages and clerics of the city to grind up as much glass as possible and memorize the spells Unseen Servant for the mages and Dust Devil for the clerics. When the assault began the next morning the party attacked first, before all the giants could get into missile range. They began by having the Unseen Servants carry the ground glass up to the front ranks, and then having the (invisible once again) clerics cast Dust Devil to distribute it — into the giants’ eyes, noses, and mouths. Flint himself was hit, and in a rage ordered the army to charge. Two of the rangers (Rye and Ban-Mi) commanded archer units outside the city’s walls and poured fire into the army’s flanks from cover, and finally Alex, augmented by a Bless, Prayer, and Strength, took on Flint head-to-head. (Note: Cain in this instance cast his first Fireball, which turned out to be more of a Fire ping pong ball). With Nallia’s aid, Alex was able to defeat Flint in hand-to-hand, take his crown, and the army then fled back into the mountains.

The group was rewarded not only by taking all the (more valuable) gems Flint had on him and his Bag of Holding, but in addition were given two signet rings indicating their relationship with the government of Karanga.

Flint’s crown showed as magic, but its only power, so far as the group was able to identify, is to adjust its size to fit the head it is on. Alex tried it on and was able to remove it, which is not normal for a normally cursed item. More investigation would seem to be required, especially as both the clerics have had a distinct impression that the group should not give it up.

(Metagame notes: Extremely good tactics all around in this one, from evacuating the cave to using Karanga’s resources — which weren’t all that much — effectively. Ban-Mi got a reaction roll of 95 from the Chairman, which accounts for why he didn’t have to perform much persuasion, and their raid went off without a hitch. Of course, it’s really fun to improvise some way to run almost a set-piece battle, especially under something of a real-time constraint — it was getting late by the time the army arrived at Karanga, but we all wanted to resolve it — but it seems to have worked out pretty well. Each character involved received 6500 xp, which will put both Ban-Mi and Rye up to 4th level right away.)

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Real Date 5/17/2014
Ranging Westward on Atras

We had five people today including myself — Steven playing Alex (1/2 elf FTR/THF) and Cain (Human magic-user); Dallas playing Nallia (Elf CLC/RGR) and Barlyn (Dwarf CLC); and two new people: Michael playing Rye (Human RGR) and Stoerm playing Bahn-mi (Howazdon RGR). The rule allowing up to three but no more rangers to work together had to be invoked!

The group began in Kajalla, where Cain and Nallia had just completed some training, and Nallia had met her two new ranger friends. After they agreed to join the merry band, Alex gave them a stirring speech as captain of the Razorwind, which ended in “try not to get killed.” Alex was also informed by Captain Kumar of the Common Ore that there appears to be a poem fragment in the house of a wine merchant in Jamsin (on the island of Nabor.) However, the group preferred to return to Atras, not only to allow their new friends to partake of the Silver Spring water, but also in order for them to find a way to make use of the dwarven magic forge they had discovered previously. Upon arriving at the village of Ko-tan, they were feted, and Ko-tan welcomed the newcomers, and did not ask for any particular favors in exchange for allowing them to partake.

Both Rye and Bahn-mi received their water and a benefit therefrom. Then the group set out toward the dwarven forge. In this trip they encountered some tasloi who were dispatched almost effortlessly, some trolls, also dispatched with a bit more effort, and upon arriving at the cave where the forge is located they encountered a pair of ettins. Cain used his Web spell effectively to pin the ettins in the entrance of the cave, and the groups archers turned one of them into a pincushion before the other was able to break through the web. Although the second ettin got in a good pair of shots on Nallia, it was dispatched quickly. The group then proceeded to use the last of the coal and oils they had enchanting Rye’s short bow, Bahn-mi’s paluldon club, Nallia’s new trident and her second shortsword.

At this point the group determined to travel to the village of Es-sat, north of the village of Ko-tan, to see if they were being menaced by giants. They were welcomed, though not so effusively, upon their arrival, and Es-sat’s hunters commented that there had been some giants moving around at the extreme western edge of their range. The group set out to investigate. This trip led to a set of discussions of the ethics of launching a preemptive strike against giants that may not have hostile designs on anyone, so a plan was crafted to find out. They searched out a pair of giant scouts, and Cain then case Enlarge on Barlyn, who also cast Comprehend Languages on himself. Due to Caine’s level and Barlyn’s height, the spell made him look more or less like a fat giant with better than normal equipment. Barlyn hailed the brace of giants and spent a couple of hours chatting them up to learn their plans. He learned that they were under the sway of a powerful giant called Flint, who was uniting a number of giant clans and seems to have designs to march on a “human village with walls” which is almost certainly a reference to the small city of Karanga.

The group then proceeded to ambush and kill the two giants without any real difficulty, and began following the trail westward to the mountains where Flint should be located. They encountered a large group of trolls and had a fight that began to appear desperate — Rye was nearly taken out — before the trolls succumbed. Since the group of 6 characters expected to find a really large number of giants they crafted an unusual plan to at least be able to scout them out: Cain would cast Invisibility on each character, and they would try to sneak into the giants’ lair. When they arrived at the entrance to a cave in the mountains they saw it guarded by four giants. The group created a fire near the entrance, and Cain’s Unseen Servant proceeded to throw pebbles to attract their attention, and all but one of the guards eventually left the post. At this time, all 6 characters managed to sneak successfully past the remaining guard, and into the giants’ cavern…..


To Be Continued——

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