Sunday, April 24, 2016

Far Isles Session #30 - In Hot Pursuit

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes, and henchman Xavier (Swashbuckler 2)
Chaff (Vivimancer 4), with henchman "No. 7" (Halfling 1), familiar Pretty Bird, and riding hound Stinky Dog
Torak (Cleric 4)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 1)

The "Purple Haze" continued to slog forward against the stubborn wind, in pursuit of the zombie raft. Thanks to the wind, they made very little headway day after day. They did notice that the raft now appeared to be disintegrating, as bodies and parts of crocodiles started to drift past them as the days wore on. Chaff (now fully recovered), flew high above the ship on the ebony fly to see if there was any sign of the rafts' ultimate destination. He saw nothing in that south-easterly direction. Behind them to the north-west he spied the Magic Isles from whence they'd come, noting there were still a lot of isles they had not explored for wizard towers. To the north-east was a cloud bank that looked to lay over distant land, while due west was a long (15+ mile) sandbar.

Attack!
In spite of there being no destination in sight, the party decided to push on another few says. Eventually, the raft disintegrated completely, leaving them sailing blindly on it's previous course. At one point, Pretty Bird flying cover spotted the "Divine Providence" coming up behind them, but it turned away to the west when it spotted the "Purple Haze". On the fourth day, just as the raft completely disintegrated, they finally spotted something ahead. Not land, but a fleet of 4 huge outrigger canoes manned by garishly outfitted jungle tribesmen. Upon sighting the "Purple Haze", these tuned to intercept. The party didn't like the idea of  letting 20 fierce native warriors get too close to them, so they had the captain turn the ship about as they manned the catapult. A ball of flaming pitch smashed into one canoe, catching the vessel on fire and flinging a couple of burning natives overboard. It veered aside, but the other three canoes came on, and were soon too close to use the catapult. While the crew worked the sails, the party lined the rail and opened fire with muskets, pistols and crossbow. Kwinsea dove into the water and, keeping below the surface (thanks to Hermes' water breathing ability), came up below the two lead canoes and tied them together with attach rope. These two slowed, and lost direction and momentum as a result, but the fourth one still pressed on. In this canoe was what appeared to be the leader or witchdocter, so the party focused their fire on him. Chaff tried to meld flesh without success, but did use instinct to good effect, causing several of the tribesmen to turn on their fellows and try to eat them! This was all too much for the raiding party, and the canoes all now turned away in retreat, but not before the party splatted one with a final ball of burning pitch.

The Golden Barge
On the next day, they party finally decided to abandon the 'chase'. Rather than head straight back to the Magic Isles though, they headed due west to the sandbar. Now with a more favorable wind, they reached the island in the afternoon. It was indeed a long sandbar, anchored at one end by a rocky bluff, and at the other by a low, marshy island. Sailing about they spied only two notable structures. One was a perfectly square black building, on low knoll on the marshy island. After the ship had been in view for awhile, a trio of figures emerged to watch them sail by. They were humanoid, dressed in outlandish armor. The other structure was a massive golden barge, run aground on the sandbar. There was no sign of life around it, but the party decided to wait for nightfall before landing, unsure who or what they might encounter. Lynessa also didn't want to risk bringing the "Purple Haze" too close to shore, especially given the crew shortage. So the party went ashore in the ships boat, landing just down the beach from the barge. The two halflings were sent to scout ahead, but were challenged when about 40' from the barge. "Halt there, you hairless monkeys! Stand back or face our wrath, you useless wastes of protein!" The rest of the party rushed up, and now they could see three figures, much like those they'd spied earlier in the day; tall, skinny, vaguely elf-like, dressed in outlandish armor and armed with wickedly barbed pole-arms. They stood under the prow of the barge. After some further trading of insults, swords were draw and a fight begun. Kwinsea tied up the leader with command rope, while the halflings and Xavier closed with weapons. It was proving to be a tough fight, so Chaff dropped a web, trapping the leader and one other (plus No 7 and Beuford), while the third fled into the darkness. The halflings were cut free, the two elf-things  dispatched, and everyone's attention turned to the barge ...

TOTAL XP
895

GAINS
None

KILLS
9 cannibals
2 Freakish Space-Elf Things 

LOSSES
None

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Far Isles Session #29 - The Zombie Raft

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes
Torak (Cleric 4)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 3)

The party had Lynessa turn the "Purple Haze" about to chase down the raft. Once they were close enough, Abdul el Abdul and a few sailors latched onto the squishy edge with rope and grappling hooks, joining the raft and ship together. The could now see that the  mass of dead crocodiles, humanoids, and assorted swamp life that made up the raft was not still but quivering with movement. In fact, as they watched, a quartet of moss covered, half rotten bodies untangled themselves from the bulk of the raft and began to shuffle towards the ship. As the crew retreated to the rigging and the stern of the ship, the party unleashed a rain of missile fire and paralyzation rays to take them out. That done, the party passed over the ropes to the raft, and proceeded to the grass hut. Seeing no door, Beuford stuck his hand through the grass hut, only to have it grabbed by something on the other side. He pulled his hand back, and the party proceeded to tear the hut down to get inside. Inside were three more of the moss covered zombies, which were quickly dispatched. That done, they looked around the remains of the hut. There was little to see except for some creepy bone and grass charms hanging from the ceiling, and a 5' wide hole in both the floor and ceiling.  Tying a couple of coils of rope together, Kwinsea then used attach rope to secure it to the ship, there being nothing else on the raft solid enough to hold it. And then down the hole went the rope, followed by Abdul el Abdul and Beuford. About 40' down they entered a chamber deep in the raft, with walls and floor and ceiling an undulating mass of bodies. Also in the chamber were a trio of deathly looking wolves, who fell on Abdul el Abdul and Beuford with a vengeance, paralyzing both. Torak and Kwinsea then dropped into the chamber, and between the borrowed paralyzation wand and a lot of stabbing, the three wolves were defeated.

Once Abdul el Abdul and Beuford were brought back to normal using a couple of potions of healing, the party headed for the only unique feature of the room, a stout oak door. After several attempts to open it failed, Abdul el Abdul noted the door was just built into the mass of bodies which formed the walls. So he proceeded to cut away around the frame, and soon the door was removed and the path free. On the other side they found a passageway writhing with arms and hands, trying to grab at them. There were also two stairs built out of the quivering flesh, on leading up and one down. The party headed down, with Beuford in the lead. Their exploration ended after about 30' in front of a wall of flesh. And a pit trap, into which Beuford fell. Luckily he avoided the spikes sticking out of the fetid water at the bottom.

Iron Rose
The rest of the party hauled Beuford out, and headed back to take the upper stairs. This corridor was longer, and was similarly alive with clutching hands. Beuford again triggered a trap, this time the rib cage of some huge beast which sprang out of the floor. Luck was with the halfling again, as he managed to dodge the sharpened bone. His luck shortly ran out though, when the passage opened into a small room. At the far end they could see, hiding behind what appeared to be a 10' iron rose, the mysterious figure they had battled above. Between the party and him, however, stood two desiccated and undead guardians. They leveled their cold blades at Beuford, who stood alone in the front rank, and the halfling shivered as they drained away much of his vitality and power. Kwinsea once more whipped out the borrowed paralyzation wand and froze all three opponents, who were then dispatched by bladed means. The party gathered up the silver coins scattered about the writhing floor, and looted a dagger (which cast a circle of light when unsheathed) and a bone staff from the mysterious figure. Abdul meanwhile, pulled down the iron rose.  It was unadorned, but subsequent investigation showed it to be magical. That was good enough reason to take it along, so the party dragged it back through the tunnels of clutching hands to the chamber below the hut. Where they were dismayed to find their rope was missing. Abdul tried climbing up, but the writhing walls did not allow good grip, and he fell before making it halfway. In the end, the party hatched a plan to send Hermes up the shaft with the ebony fly attached to some more rope. Once above "ground" they summoned the fly, and everyone climbed up the rope as it hovered overhead. And hauled up the iron rose.

Everyone looked about for the "Purple Haze", which now stood off several hundred yards to the west. There was a commotion on deck, a fight of some sort. Leaping aboard the fly, Beuford launched himself at the ship, finding the crew battling a quartet of the moss covered zombies from the raft. He leapt  into the fray, and the fly returned to the raft to ferry the others over. They soon destroyed the last of the zombies, but not before four of the crew were also dead. This put the rest in a bitter mood, and they made no move to listen when given the order to raise sail and pursue the raft. Abdul el Abdul brought them around, however, by offering the thousand silver coins they'd just recovered from the zombie raft. That got the crew to work, and the "Purple Haze" was soon in hot pursuit of the raft, which had continued on it's previous heading roughly east south-east.  Well, slow pursuit, as they were sailing directly into the wind, and Lynessa had to continuously tack the ship back and forth to keep the raft in sight. This continued on for days, and they left the Magic Isles behind, still following the raft in the hopes it was leading them somewhere interesting ...

TOTAL XP
1588

GAINS
1000sp
magic dagger & staff from the Zombie Master
Iron Rose

KILLS
11 zombies
3 ghouls wolves
2 wights
Zombie Master

LOSSES
4 sailors
Most of Beuford's levels

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Far Isles Session #28 - No Rest for the Weary

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes, and henchman Xavier (Swashbuckler 2)
"No. 7" (Halfling 1)
Torak (Cleric 4)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 3)

With Chaff out of action, they party decided to first sail about the Magic Isles, looking for the Cloud Tower and any other sights worthy of exploration. But only after No. 7 captured a few of the three eared bunnies for Chaff to cuddle while he recovered. Raising sail, the "Purple Haze" headed north-east, and after passing several small chains of islands, soon hauled in view of a place they recognized; the Blue Tower. There was some talk of going ashore to see if they'd missed anything on their last visit, but then someone remembered the two 'guests' they'd robbed and abandoned there. Figuring they wouldn't be welcomed with open arms, the party had the crew turn the ship about. Now that they knew where they were, they headed back to the Lightning Tower to recovered the silver they'd had to leave behind. This was done with no interference, so they turned about once more and headed in the direction the tribal chief had told them the Cloud Tower lay.

Cloud Tower
The party found the Cloud Tower without much trouble. They found an island, over which floated a large black cloud dumping rain on an abandoned town below. That was odd enough, since otherwise the sky was clear and a brilliant blue. Doubly odd was the lower half of a tower that stuck out of the bottom of the cloud. The "Purple Haze" circled the island, but nothing else of interest was observed. Again, reluctant to tangle with any danger without Chaff, the party decided to anchor here for the night and then continue exploration of the Magic Isles, coming back to Cloud Tower at a latter time. To speed up the process, Kwinsea volunteered to seasong the vivmancer to sleep each night to aid in his recovery.

The Aquatic Horror
However, the rest for the remainder of the party was not as complete and pleasant. Just before dawn, No.7 was on watch. The halfling was observing the tower, and noted a few shapes emerged from the cloud, flew around it and the island below, before returning from whence they came. At about the same time, she heard a scraping sound on the rail behind her. Turning, No. 7 saw a dripping horror climb onto the deck. A demonic visage topped a body covered in spikes and barbs, a body the colour of old bronze and covered in seaweed and slime.  The halfling raised the alarm as the beast fell upon her. Luckily, No. 7 was both quick on her feet and  armored like a tank, and held off the thing while the rest of the party rushed up from below deck to help. They found, however, that most of their weapons could not hurt it; only Abdul with his magic sword could seem to do it any harm. So the two heavily armored halflings, No. 7 and Beuford, held the creatures' attention while Abdul chopped at it, finally cleaving the thing in half. After a quick investigation of the remains, it was dumped overboard. And with the sun coming up, the crew was roused and the "Purple Haze" got underway, the party having decided this was probably not the best place to stay anchored while Chaff recovered.

Mystery Figure
They sailed north again to explore and find a quiet place to anchor for a few days. They passed though another chain of islands, with a few notable locations (a pair of islands, one a blistering hot sandbar, the other a mountain obscured by a raging snowstorm; another sandbar that shifted under the effects of wind and waves such that it's location was never the same twice). But the ship moved on,  finally dropping anchor off the island that floated 1 foot above the waves. For some reason, this seemed to the party like a safe spot. And for the most part it was, except when Xavier spied a raft of some sort drifting down the channel from the north west. As it came closer, they could see it was about 100' across, and at one end was a small grass hut. The raft was also not made of logs or any other normal material, but appeared to be a mass of dead crocodiles! A lone figure stood on the roof of the hut, a cadaverous human dressed in dirty robes. He/it stared at the party, who tried to communicate but received no response. At least until someone decided to cast a spell at him, at which point the figure cast a spell of it's own and started to levitate above the raft and the ship. A duel ensued, with pistol fire and spells from the ship countered by more spells from the mystery figure. The figure was able to confuse the party, such that Kwinsea turned to attack Xavier and Beuford attacked No7. Beuford quickly battered his fellow halfling down, while Xavier jumped into the rigging and climbed away from his employer, while at the same time trying to swing out towards the levitating figure to slash at it with his sword. That unfortunately did not work, and Kwinsea was able to use her prismatic ray gem to blast her henchman out of the rigging. By this time, the rest of the party had blasted away at the  levitating figure, such that it had descended back into the hut and disappeared. They then turned attention to subduing Beuford and Kwinsea before they could so more harm. Luckily both No. 7 and Xavier were not dead, but would be joining Chaff in the sick bay for some time. Meanwhile, Lynessa and the crew had gotten the "Purple Haze" underway to put some space between them and the zombie raft while the remaining party members decided what to do next ...

TOTAL XP
2328

GAINS
18283sp


KILLS
1 aquatic horror

LOSSES
No. 7 (temporarily)
Xavier (temporarily) 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Far Isles #27 - Voyage of the "Purple Haze"

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes, and henchman Xavier (Swashbuckler 2)
Chaff (Vivimancer 4), with henchman "No. 7" (Halfling 1) with familiar Pretty Bird, and riding hound Stinky Dog
Torak (Cleric 3)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 3)

Captain Lynessa
In spite of having to keep steady watch over their newfound wealth, the wait for passage to Xin was largely uneventful. They found the city now on a war footing, which was of little interest to the party, who were most concerned with using their new-found wealth to get a ship of their own. They first turned their coin into more portable forms (thanks to Phandar the moneychanger), then went shopping for a vessel. They passed on the haunted ship, the high speed privateer, the dilapidated hulk, and the boat with a real whale's tale grafted onto the back (although Kwinsea was tempted). In the end, they settled on the "Purple Haze", a small sailing ship that once plied the waters of the Cold Nar, and which was built to withstand the punishing ice of those northern waters. They figured the extra structural reinforcement could help given the trouble they tended to get into. With a vessel in hand, they next had to find a captain and crew (Abdul el Abdul convinced the rest of the party that he could act as navigator). They settled on a captain by the name of Lynessa; young, new in the role but with lots of previous experience as a first mate. And in spite of her youth, unwilling to take crap from anyone As she proved when Abdul el Abdul got a bit cheeky and she drove a dirk through his shirtsleeves and pinned him to the tavern wall. An impressed party hired her on the spot and set her to work hiring crew and provisioning their new ship. Chaff also picked up a new henchman, a cigar smoking lady halfling he affectionately nicknamed "No. 7".

A few days later, the party sailed the newly re-purposed "Purple Haze" out of Xin and around the Rock of Vexation, heading for the Anchorage and the Far Isles. They'd decided to forgo waiting for an escorted convoy, figuring they could handle any Chan'rk naval marauders all on their own. But they didn't expect trouble from gulls. Kwinsea was on watch in the crows-nest in the late afternoon when she spied a flock of seagulls approaching from the north. These headed straight for the ship, and ended up in among the rigging and sails, which they started to tear to pieces. Kwinsea shouted a warning to the deck, then cast seasong to send a large proportion of the birds into a slumber and thence crashing to the desk or into the water. Chaff, meanwhile, had arrived on deck and lit a pistol. Dodging falling birds, he fired a shot that decapitated one gull, and the noise and smoke was enough to scare the rest away to the north west.
Flock of Seagulls
The rest of the this leg of the voyage passed uneventfully, and they arrived at the Anchorage late in the afternoon on the third day out of Xin. There they found the familiar "Divine Providence" and "Magnificent Marios", as well as the newcomer "Quall's Folly". And a vessel that made Chaff and Abdul el Abdul's blood boil; the "San Lorenzo", which had abandoned them  on the island with the crazed cultists. There was some talk of storming the ship and killing the captain (whatever or whoever it was), but the cooler heads of the newer party members prevailed. Instead Kwinsea, Xavier, Torak and No. 7 rowed the ships' boat ashore to snoop around the shantytown for information on both the "San Lorenzo" and "Quall's Folly". "Quall's Folly", they learned, was owned and captained by a fellow named Quall, fifth son of a minor noble from the old Imperium lands. He'd taken his inheritance and bought this large vessel, and was now sailing the world trying to make his fortune.  He was just back from a series of islands covered in ancient tombs, and his crew flashed weird coins and wove tales of the bejeweled grave goods their exploring crew had recovered.  Next, tracking down a couple of sailors from the "San Lorenzo", they learned little had changed since Chaff and Abdul el Abdul had been marooned. Captain Higo de Moncada was still in charge (odd, since they seen him dead on the beach), although he had become a stricter disciplinarian in the intervening months. They too were now exploring the Far Isles, and were headed back to Xin after a trip to the Jungle Isles. Apparently they had a small dinosaur aboard which Captain de Moncada wished to sell to one of the uber-rich of Xin.

In the end, everyone decided to just ignore the "San Lorenzo", at least for the time being. While the crew repaired the damages caused by the gulls, Kwinsea paid a visit to Bellephrane. She asked the witch some information about shape-shifters and what they might be dealing with in "Captain de Moncada". The aquamancer also asked her about any as yet unexplored areas of the Far Isles. The witch replied with a grin that if Kwinsea brought a suitable gift next time she visited, there may be some information to be had on new lands to explore.

The Coffin
Business on land complete, the "Purple Haze" weighed anchor and headed towards the Magic Isles. Or at least they hoped so, since they were relying on Abdul el Adbul's navigation skill (and directional crystal). Having traveled in the belly of the whale the last two times, they knew in general they had to head north east, but weren't really sure how far away the isles lay. And whales didn't have to deal with contrary winds, as they found themselves sailing close hauled into the wind for days on end. The monotony at least was relieved when Xavier, standing watch on the third day out,  spied a box floating the the water, off their starboard bow. They had Lynessa bring the "Purple Haze" around to intercept the box, which when they got closer, looked very much like a coffin.  No one was really keen on bringing that aboard, so Kwinsea used rope trick to attach the coffin to the ship and left it trailing astern. While the captain and crew looked on bemusedly, the party discussed what to do with their discovery. Torak volunteered to go out atop the coffin and examine it, so the ship's boat was lowered and the dark cleric so placed. As Chaff and "No. 7" buzzed nearby on the ebony fly, Torak cast detect evil on the coffin, and to no ones surprise he announced that it was indeed evil.  Nevertheless, he started to tear open the waterlogged coffin, and inside found a quite waterlogged corpse. Which sat up and spewed a vomitous stream on the cleric. Barely maintaining his balance, Torak lashed out at the undead creature, supported by Chaff and No. 7, and it was soon dead again. Searching the coffin before cutting it loose, nothing was uncovered but a strange pearl inscribed with a magicians sigil, found buried in the creatures flesh.

Cyclopean Stones
Continuing northeast, they ignored a pillar of smoke rising far to the west, and after several more days made landfall. Presumably the Magic Isles, but they didn't recognize the location. There were a couple of larger islands, several miles long. One was flat and swampy, the other hilly with a pair of mountain peaks linked by a high plateau. Circling the two isles, they found a small cove on the north side of the mountainous island, where they decided to drop anchor. A stream fell from the plateau and into the cove, so Chaff and "No.7" flew the ebony fly up to explore. They found the plateau was covered in grass and shrubs, and seemed to be overrun by a species of three-eared rabbits. The stream ran out of a lake, and in the centre of the lake was a pile of massive stones, 30-50 feet on a side. Closer inspection showed they were ancient, covered in moss and lichen, but were obviously worked by intelligent hands. Numerous gaps led between the stones as well, so Chaff and "No.7 flew back to the "Purple Haze" to rouse the rest of the party to explore.

Reaching the lake after a slog up the mountain, they found that most of the gaps between the stones
The Skeleton on the Throne
ended after only a few feet. One, however, twisted deeper into the pile. The party headed into the darkness, squeezing single file down the winding passage. After a few minutes, the passage opened into a large chamber. Abdul el Abdul, at the front of the column, moved cautiously into the room. It was about 60' in diameter, and when halfway across, the fighter noted a throne at the far end. It was massive, and on it sat a giant skeleton.   A muffled voice spoke, demanding to know who disturbed the darkness. Abdul tried to placate the voice, but it grew angry and insisted it would tear the souls from the intruders for their impertinence! At that, the massive skeleton stood, and two others (smaller, but still quite large) emerged from behind the throne.  The trio advanced, and the party retreated, but not before the undead landed a few blows were landed on Beuford. Huddled back in the tunnel where their massive foes could not reach, the party discussed what to do next. Although leaving entirely was an option, they decided to turn and fight. Or rather, they sent one of the henchman to fight. Xavier was loaded down with every available flask of oil, then used his potion of levitation to rise to the top of the chamber out of the skeletons reach. He proceeded to (ineptly) bombard the largest one with oil. Meanwhile, Chaff borrowed Torak's ring of invisibility and crept into the chamber. Once Xavier was done, the vivimancer cast a cantrip to set the  giant skeleton alight. Which worked well, and it went up like a giant torch. Unfortunately, it still 'lived', and turned, along with it's two companions, on the now visible Chaff. The little vivimancer tried to run, but was not fast enough. He was hit by three blows from the skeletons' giant mauls, throwing him all the way across the chamber, to lie broken and dying near the entrance. Kwinsea used a rope trick to haul Chaff in and bind his wounds, while Xavier came back to load up on everyone's pistols, which he used to shoot the skeletons from his lofty location, until all were dead. With that, everyone entered the chamber to search for treasure. They found nothing except the helm worn by the giant; on the front was a starburst pattern made of gems. These were pried free (there being no way the helm would fit through the tunnel), and then the party picked up Chaff and headed back to the "Purple Haze" to rest and decide on their next course of action.

TOTAL XP
1599

GAINS
1 sigil inscribed pearl (100gp)
20 turquoise gems (25g each)

KILLS
1 Drowned Dead
3 Giant Skeletons
Approx. 150 seagulls

LOSSES
Chaff (temporarily)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Far Isles Session #26 - The Motherload

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 3)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 3), with familiar Hermes, and henchman Xavier (Swashbuckler 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 3), with familiar Pretty Bird, riding hound Stinky Dog
Torak (Cleric 2)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 2)

The party made several more attempts to figure out the telescope, including throwing some of the frozen blood  into the coal pile. All that happened in that case was the blood animated and tried to bludgeon Chaff to death. They also went back over the tower, looking for secret doors in likely places, convinced the wizard still had a stash of treasure hidden somewhere.  That lead to hours of futile searching which revealed nothing, except an old diary and key which Abdul el Abduel found in one of the servants rooms. The search also revealed that the pool in the telescope room was acid (as it was emptied to look for a secret door at the bottom), and that the fish turned into a protein goo when placed in regular water. The diary revealed nothing they didn't already know i.e. Calcidius was a raving lunatic.  Then someone realized the elevator had 5 settings on the dial, and they had only used it to access 3 floors. So Kwinsea and Xavier squeezed in and went to look at floors "1" and "2". Floor "2" proved to be the morgue/laboratory they'd already explored. But floor "1" was certainly more promising. Peeping out of the elevator shaft, the duo spied a largely empty room with a dozen large chests at the far end, and a quartet of levers on the south wall, just a few steps away.

Sensing a trap, the two weren't about to go into the room alone, and instead went back to gather the rest of the party. When they all stepped out, the first thing they noticed were shimmering curtains of light stretched across the room. Kwinsea scooped up a handful of dust and dirt to throw at barrier, and the debris exploded in a flash of blue light. Trapped it was then.  Attention turned now to the levers. No one was really keen on playing with the levers, but Torak was convinced to 'volunteer', while everyone else hid in the elevator shaft or an alcove just around the corner. The rest of the party coached the dark cleric on various combinations of the levers to try, which he dutifully did to no ill effect. Except for a bad shock at one point, and at various points when he trapped himself and the others where they were behind new force-fields. But it also seemed to do nothing to the shimmering curtains of blue light. Then Kwinsea thought that maybe the force-fields were changing, but visually stayed the same. She directed Torak to go back to levering, and she started tossing coins at the force-fields. And found she was right; different combinations of levers raised or lowered different force-fields. That figured out, Abdul el Abdul  ran up to the pile of stone copper pieces and filled a bag to use in place of their precious coins. And after burning through several dozen stone coins, they figured out the right combination to lower all the fields and give them access to the treasure chests.

Once everyone made it to the other side of the room, Kwinsea started checking the chests for trap. As the aquamancer gave each a thumbs up, Abdul el Abdul would carefully open the chest away from him (just in case Kwinsea missed something). And inside they found a mother load of treasure; piles of gold and silver coins beyond their wildest dreams. They also found a curious set of crystal dice (which detected a magic when Torak checked) and a small black box filled with black lotus powder.  In fact there was so much treasure, it wasn't going to all fit in the boat. Still, the party began the laborious task of hauling chests up the elevator shaft, and then dragging them across the lighting blasted moonscape that surrounded the tower. Which took some time, and resulted in Torak and Beuford both getting zapped by lighting as they toiled with the heavy chests. But soon it was all on boat, and the partly gingerly placed the heavily laden vessel in the water. Abdul el Abdul then hauled out the horn and summoned the whale, who dutifully swallowed them up up and brought them back to the anchorage.

There they found Nalco waiting for them, and they settled down to business, negotiating for magic items. In the end, the pre-adolescent wizard  took the Dice of Many Things, Demon in a Jar, and Magical Ice Chest. He also wanted the ebony fly, but Abdul el Abdul eloquently convinced him to let the party keep it, and maybe they could work together again. To which Nalco agreed, but at this point he was no longer interest in sponsoring further exploration of the Magic Isles. He was instead headed back to his permanent tower to study the items the party had already recovered. When asked about the stoned-wizard Nysul, they were informed the blue wizard had been brought back to flesh, several magic items taken from him, and he was then 'sold' to some unspecified entity for an unspecified purpose. In the end, it was thought best not to pry.

Now the party was left with the problem of how to lug all that treasure back to Xin, as they now had visions of buying their own boat to continue their explorations. They learned that war still raged between Xin and Chan'rk, and the ships currently at the anchorage were there only because a warship from Xin had escorted them. It appeared the Faceless Inquisitor saw value in the continued exploration of the Isles, even in time of war.  At the anchorage, in addition to Nalco, were the merchant Marios in the "Magnificent Marios", the long suffering "Divine Providence" and a new ship in a grey and white camouflage pattern, the "Waverunner". They had a brief conversation with the captain, a fellow with all gold teeth by the name of Atli the Golden. They got the impression he was a shady opportunist looking to a make quick gold piece under questionable circumstances. Atli had no current plans, and was just looking for hints of where to go to explore/loot. The "Divine Providence" was likewise between jobs (and once more without an away crew), but the crew had been around for a long time and had a few rumors to trade. In particular:
  • Another ship reported finding a long sand bar connecting a series of small islands. And run aground on that sandbar was a huge golden barge that sparkled like gold in the sunlight.  The ship tried to approach but were driven off by humanoids that looked something like elves in weird armor. 
  • The party's old employer, Loremaster Yorik, was no more. He'd found information on a place called the "Temple of the Sea-Mother" in which could be found the "Egg of the Sea-Mother", a huge flawless pearl worth a fortune in gold. Yorik wasn't interested in going after it (no knowledge to be had there), but his away crew mutinied and killed him. Now they're trying to find the temple, as are several other vessels to whom they drunkenly blurted the story.
  • There had been a series of ships exploring some southern jungle isles, and there they'd found dinosaurs. The uber-rich of Xin were outfitting expeditions to capture some specimens for their extravagant palaces and wildlife enclosures that make up the Decadent Menangerie district of Xin. The ships had brought back no dinosaurs as yet (and several have not returned), but they have brought back rumors from the natives of the isles. In in a particular tells of a temple of gold set in an extinct volcano in the centre of one island.
While all interesting, the party now  was simply going to wait for a new convoy to form up and then hopefully get passage back to Xin with their piles of treasure.

TOTAL XP
19577

GAINS
10641gp
39359sp
Crystal Egg (5000gp)
Box of Black Lotus
Dice of Many Things

KILLS
Flask of animated blood
Some poor little fishes

LOSSES
none

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Far Isles Session #25 - The Old Man and the Telescope

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 3)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 3), with familiar Hermes, and henchman Xavier (Swashbuckler 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 3), with familiar Pretty Bird, riding hound Stinky Dog, and henchman Dudley (Cleric 1)
Torak (Cleric 2)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 2)

Making the perfectly logical assumption that no wizard worth his robes would actually label the door to his treasure room with a large sign that said "Treasure", the party decided to try the "Workshop" first. After a check for traps revealed nothing, Abdul opened the door and waved the rest of the party through. Alas, there was an undetected trap; a sharp portcullis dropped out of the door frame and impaled the less than fully concious Dudley, killing him instantly. Chaff, observing one more dead henchman, shrugged and spurred Stinky Dog on into the room. It was empty except for a series of beakers on a table; most open and dried up, but with a few still stoppered and filled with coloured liquids: blood red, clear with bits, emerald green, gold, orange, puke green, sky blue, and violet. Kwinsea grabbed all of these, packing them as carefully as possible to prevent breakage. Abdul el Abdul, on the other hand, took the table.

Removing Dudley from the portcullis and laying him aside, the party decided next to tackle the "Treasure Room". Rather than walk in this time, Abdul shoved the table ahead of him to trigger any traps. Of which there seemed to be done, so most of the party crowded in to explore. The room was packed with large wooden chests. Kwinsea sent Xavier with a crowbar with orders to pry open one from behind. Which was a good idea, since when the henchman wrenched open the lid, a poison needle shot out of the latch. The chest was packed with straw, and held large stoppered glass jug. Inside of which was a demon idol, obviously too large to fit through the neck of the bottle. With most of the party rapidly running of room to carry more items,  the jar was carefully placed it in the bloody bucket with some straw. To make it easier to carry and less likely to break. Kwinsea likewise repacked the beakers with straw.   Meanwhile, Abdul el Abdul started hauling out the chests and prying them open. Chest after chest contained nothing but piles of copper coins, which were dumped on the floor so the bottom of each chest could be searched for more valuable treasure. After a few chests had been thus treated, Torak noticed something. The coins didn't sound like coins when they were dumped out on the floor. No metallic ring, just a dull thud. Closer examination showed they were not copper coins at all, but discs of stone coated in copper paint.

Blood on the Stairs
Disgusted and disappointed, the party headed back up to the tower, and proceeded to the next level. This was a pretty nondescript space with a bit of furniture and cooking pots, plus a trio of uninteresting bedchambers.  Xavier, however, noted a slow trickle of blood coming down the stairs that led up to the next level. Torak was convinced to climb the stairs to check it out, so the dark cleric lit a torch and gingerly followed the path of blood. At the top of the stairs was a  locked door, and the blood was slowly dripping out of the keyhole. Torak tried to look in the keyhole, but there was something in the lock on the other side blocking the view. When he reported his findings to the group, Chaff surmised that the key was in the keyhole on the opposite side of the door. Ripping a page out of his spare spellbook, the vivmancer tried to talk Xavier into getting the key by sliding the paper under the door, and pushing the key out of the keyhole, and then pulling it back out under the door. The swashbuckler turned to Kwinsea for guidance, and she indicated it was safe for him to follow Chaff's instructions. And indeed the plan did work, and the party soon had the door open. Cracking the door open just a little, nothing could be seen except the curve of the outer tower wall. Torak therefore slipped on his ring of invisibility and moved into the room as quietly as possible. It was a bedchamber, with a bed, desk, and shelves. But of greatest interest was right next to the door. Inside a circle of salt on the floor stoodd an old man, dressed in wizards robe and pointed hat. On a stand next to him was a perfectly formed crystal egg the size of Torak's head.

Even though the cleric was invisible, the old man had seen the door open and heard movement. "Hullo, who's there? Please, can you help free me? Just brush away the salt to break the circle" he spoke. At this point, hearing from Torak there was no immediate danger, the rest of the party entered. While most fanned out around the room to loot, Chaff and Kwinsea proceeded to question the old man. He claimed to be a wizard who'd gotten trapped in this summoning circle thanks to a bumbling apprentice oh so many years ago. He didn't convince Chaff and Kwinsea, who suspected he was in fact some horrid demon from beyond space and time, just disguised as a half-senile magic user. The old mage offered a small reward to have the salt brushed away, but Chaff insisted he tell them where his treasure was hidden, to prove he was who he said he was.  At this point the wizard started to get angry, and was soon  frothing at the mouth and SHOUTING, THREATENING TO FLAY THE FLESH FROM THEIR BONES AND SCATTER THEIR SOULS TO THE FAR ENDS OF THE COSMOS IF THEY DID NOT LET HIM FREE!!! AND THEN HE'LL GO AFTER THEIR FAMILY, FRIENDS, VAGUE ACQUAINTANCES , AND ANYONE THEY SO MUCH AS EVER SPOKE TO!!!!!! As he lost his temper, he attempted to cast a spell at Chaff, but it exploded in a shower of sparks inside the ring of salt.
Calcidius

Whatever or whoever that was in the circle was obviously no threat, so the party in the end just ignored him and looted the room. Abdul el Abdul took the crystal egg, and Kwinsea grabbed a book, covered in odd leather and titled "Communications and Signaling the Beyond". There were no stairs going up, but a door led into a round shaft, similar to the one seen in the basement. Looking inside this time, a dial was found on the north wall, labeled from 1-5. In addition, a round disk was suspended in the shaft, connected to a mass of machinery by chains and pulleys and belts.  Xavier and Kwinsea squeezed onto the disk, and set the dial to "4". This brought them up to the next level. They quickly checked out the two doors which led off the shaft; one led to a room with a table, the other into an ice cold room. Shouting down, they told the rest of the party it was safe to come up. Chaff, Stinky Dog and Pretty Bird were the last to leave the wizards' room. Except of course the figure in the summoning circle, still screaming and ranting, and warning Chaff to fear the "wrath of Calcidius" when he finally escaped.

They party now gathered in the larger room with a table. A book, "Surviving the Interorbular Ether" lay closed on the table. Kwinsea pocked this one as well, finding after a brief read that it discusssed outer space and how unfriendly an environment it was for regular life forms. There were several other doors out of the room, and the party first checked the north exit. It opened with a "whoosh", like an airlock being opened. The room was a library, and a brief survey of the titles on the books' spines showed volumes on glass, light and metalworking. By the door was a table with fine kid gloves, tongs, a lantern with red glass, and a quill and pile of parchment. Abdul lit the lamp, but it did nothing but let off a red light. Chaff tried on the gloves, but they didn't fit. Meanwhile, Torak went to check out the other door in this library, which led back into the cold room. In there he found a small metal chest, which upon opening was found to be very cold and contained several dozen stopped vials of what appeared to be frozen blood.  This got hauled out into the central room for safekeeping, along with the demon jar.

Everyone then headed for the next door, which led into a small room with a table and pair of chairs. Another door exited it to the south, so Torak once more put on the ring of invisibility to go explore. He tried to open the door, but a force field stopped him. At this point,  a ghostly figure appeared in one of the chairs and asked "Who will gamble their soul in a game of chance and skill for the opportunity to pass through the door?" No one was inclined at first, but when they could find no way through the door, Chaff decided to sit down and accept the challenge. The ghostly figure pulled out a pack of cards, and challenged the stubby vivimancer to  few hands of poker, the best two out of three being the winner. Sweating bullets, Chaff lost the first hand. But with help from the rest of the party, he was able to squeak a win on the second and third hands. The ghost screamed in frustration, and then he and the cards disappeared. As did the force-field around the door. Passing into the new room, the party found it was another library. This one was filled with books on communication with other worlds, creatures from beyond, and two hundred scrolls about knots. Chaff rooted through the scrolls and was rewarded with 4 spell scrolls. Meanwhile, everyone else fanned out to look for other treasure and possibly a secret door leading to a 'blank' space on their tower map. When nothing was found, Abdul el Abdul got frustrated and started chopping bookshelves off the walls, and slicing up the books. Luckily Torak was watching, for he managed to recover a spell book from the fighters hands before it became confetti.

It was now late in the day, the party decided to settle down in this apparently quite secure room for the night. After a good rest, they decided to head up the elevator once more. They found themselves in a room that seemed to fill the entire top of the tower. The roof consisted of overlapping metal plates, and a number of odd items occupied the room. At one end was a shallow pool in the floor, filled with a clear liquid and a handful of bizarre fish. At another point were three metal bins; one empty, one filled with coal, and one with a little bit of gunpowder. But most impressive was a dome with a telescope sticking out. Next to it was a podium and a control panel with four switches and a button. Closer examination of the telescope revealed a strange metal cage over the objective lens. Which Abdul el Abdul found held the crystal egg perfectly. At the base of the telescope was a small metal chamber, generally empty but with a residue of burned coal or gunpowder or something similar. Kwinsea meanwhile and examined the podium, recovering another book, this one titled "Flora and Fauna of Necropoli Centauri".
Telescope and Dome

Chaff now began fiddling with the control panel. He pressed the button, but nothing seemed to happen. Flipping the first switch, the metal roof retracted, revealing the lighting and cloud filled sky. The second switch extended the telescope, which the third unblocked the objective lens. The fourth switch seemed to do nothing, so Chaff decided to light a coal and gunpowder fire in the metal chamber to see what happened. Flipping the fourth switch now resulted in a weak beam of red light shooting out of the telescope and through the crystal egg. In fact, the red light burned a small hole though the cloud cover and when Chaff and Abdul el Abdul took turns looking through the 'scope, they could see the surface of a planet, with mossy plant creatures  moving around an alien landscape  with a motion that can only be described as  “bopping.”

To be continued ....

TOTAL XP
0

GAINS
Demon in a Jar
8 Beakers of Questionable Fluids
Crystal Egg
Ice Chest filling with Frozen Blood
Book - "Communications and Signaling the Beyond"
Book - "Surviving the Interorbular Ether"
Book - ""Flora and Fauna of Necropoli Centauri"
Spell Book- 1/Charm Person, 1/Shocking Grasp 1/Floating Disk 1/Jarring Hand, 1/Read Languages, 2/Detect Evil, 2/Knock, 4/Polymorph Others
4 Scrolls - 1/Message, 1/Enlarge
                  1/ Mending, 1/Detect Magic
                  1/Allure, 1/Shocking Grasp
                  4/Massmorph

KILLS
none

LOSSES
Dudley

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Far Isles Session #24 - The Lightning Tower

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 3)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 3), with familiar Hermes, and henchman Xavier (Swashbuckler 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 3), with familiar Pretty Bird, riding hound Stinky Dog, and henchman Dudley (Cleric 1)
Torak (Cleric 2)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 2)

Using the great brass horn, the party summoned the whale, which dutifully deposited them back at the anchorage after a voyage of 5-6 days. Disgorging them just outside the little cove, the party could see right away the place was nearly deserted. Just a single vessel rode at anchor, a small dark ship called the "Nights Dark Angel". Luckily Nalco's boat was still there, so they rowed over to their employer. Who was both surprised and irritated at their appearance, having gotten tired of waiting around and pretty much given the party up for lost. But he immediately got down to business, reviewing all of the magical items they'd brought back.  The adolescent mage took the skull, the spell book "On The Witching of Stone", the mystery mirror/painting, and the erstwhile stone wizard Nysul (assuming the former mage was loaded with magic items that could be recovered once he was turned back to flesh). Nalco also claimed the ebony fly, but Chaff convinced him to let the party keep it for now. The vivimancer proposed that the party return to the Magic Isles for another run, and the fly would be of great  help in their exploration. To this Nalco agreed, and further agreed that at he would consider letting the party keep the fly if they brought back sufficient magical goodies satiate his needs.

The party took leave of Nalco and rowed for shore, bringing the now somewhat decayed Abdul el Abdul to Bellaphrone the Incontatrix, to see if the witch could bring him back from the dead. This she agreed to do so, in return for the sarcastic magic goblets and the various medusa parts they party carried. She had the party dump Abdul el Abdul into a large cauldron steaming over a low fire, and told the party to return in a few days. Before leaving, Kwinsea requested the witch's help with curing Xaviers rotting disease. Bellaphrone laughed at her, and told her to go speak to the whiskey priest; her dark arts did not extend to such matters.

Nilex of Velas
Back at the beach, they found the priest (Nilex of Velas) passed out under an overhanging pine. After rousing him, Kwinsea was able to explain (several times) the assistance Xavier required. The priest agreed, but in a hungover haze somehow cast striking on the poor henchman rather than remove curse. A half dozen flasks of wine later, Nilex was able to straighten himself out and call on Velas with the correct prayer, and Xavier was cured.

Taking leave of Nilex, and leaving him with wine and gold, the party next had to figure out how to resupply since there were no merchant ships in port (a result of  Xin and Chan'rk being once more at war, so it was not safe to sail the seas unescorted at the moment). Nalco was able to provide food, but the greatest gap right now was some armor for Abdul el Abdul. Eyeing the "Nights Dark Angel", they figured the adventurers aboard might be willing to part with a spare set of armor if they offered the right price. They rowed out to the black ship, and were met at the rail by some of the crew and several of the adventurers. Abdul el Abdul made his plea, and in return was mocked by the arrogant and haughty pair at the rail. In the end, however,  they did agree to sell some battered chainmail and a shield to Abdul el Abdul for the usurious sum of 500gp! Muttering under his breath, Abdul el Abdul had little choice but to agree. They also learned the "Night's Dark Angel" was off on an expiration to capture some great monster or beast, the ship being laden with nets and ropes and cages. Chaff, meanwhile, had taken the time to summon a new familiar (a less scrawny parrot he named Pretty Bird), as well as recruit a somnolescent cleric of Nod by the name of Dudley to replace his lost henchman.

The Lightning Tower
Now equip and healed, the party were ready to go back to the Magic Isles. Nalco once more summoned the whale, and it again carried the party back to the isles, spitting them out in pretty much the same spot as before. Based on the information they'd received from the tribesmen on their last trip, they turned the boat to the southeast in search of the lightning tower. Which was pretty easy to find, for it lived up to its name. They found a stone tower, the upper half of which was a globe surrounded by a ring of steel spikes. On the ground, at four points of the compass, were tall steel spikes, jutting up towards the top of the tower. And most significantly, a permanent bank of dark cloud hung overhead, from which a bolt of lighting sprang every few seconds, striking either the top of the tower or one of the four spikes on the ground.

They pulled the boat up onto the island, swampy and hilly like the isle of the Blue Tower, and headed towards the lightning. Reaching the spikes, they could see inside the ring, the ground was blasted into a fine grey powder and nothing grew. Everyone dropped to the ground and crawled towards the stairs that they could now see.  The air around them came alive with lighting and the smell of ozone. Luckily for all, no one was struck, and the party made it to the top of the stairs with no problem. There they found a set of heavy iron doors, each of which had a serpent shaped handle and a large knocker. Before letting anyone near the door, Kwinsea closely examined the handle, and discovered it was in some way magically trapped. So Abdul el Abdul and Beuford pulled out hammer and spikes, and knocked out the hinge pins. The great door fell with a "BOOM!", but once the dust settled the party was able to walk right in. The first room was an entry chamber of some sort, quite clean but largely empty. Torak cast detect magic and noted the entire room gave off a faint glow. Not really comfortable with that fact, the party moved through one of the two doors exiting the room. They  found themselves in a cloak room full of old clothing, both in condition and style wise. With nothing of interest there, they passed out through the entrance again and headed through the second door that led deeper into the tower.
The Snake Handle

This room was a siting room, with a large table and chairs and a staircase going up. Along one wall was a hutch with fine china and four bottles of wine (claimed by Xavier). At the other end of the room was a statue of a medusa embracing a king, and behind that a pile of boxes. Kwinsea immediately rushed over to the statue and brandished the crystal heart.The statue came to life, but given it's strange form it had trouble moving about. However, it was mounted on wheels and rolled around the room following Kwinsea's mental commands. When it did move, the party could see that it had been covering a trap door. Meanwhile, Abdul el Abdul had gone to examine the pile of boxes, and found they were just a shell covering a second trap door.  Opening the two trapdoors, they found the one under the boxes had a set of stairs going down, whereas the other was going to requires some other means to access the lower level. Abdul el Abdul started to get out a rope and tie it to the banister of the stairs going up, while the rest of the party headed down the stairs under the second trapdoor. They found themselves in a room filled with hundreds of crates, labelled with strange contents: "fingers of a musician who loved dragons"; "shoulder blade of a merchant who loved butterflies"; and so on. After cracking a few crates to confirm, yes, they all contained a variety of body parts, the party headed for the only other visible entrance, a large iron door on the east wall. This was locked, but with Abdul el Abdul now joining them, the beefier members of the party were able to smash it open.

On the other side, they found four stone tables, each holding a preserved body. One of which was human, and showed signs of having been cut open and then stitched up again with gold thread. Choosing to not  mess with those, Chaff went to check out a side table that held a microscope, box of slides, and a rack of stoppered vials holding what appeared to be blood.  He took out one of the slides (on which were also drops of blood) and placed it under the microscope and had a look. The vivimancer immediately tore the slide off the stage and proceeded to lick at the blood, then started grabbing the rest of the slides and doing the same. Everyone recoiled in disgust and turned to explore the rest of the room.  Torak noted a short hall filled with mirrors at the north of the room, but no one was interested in examining those too closely.  Kwinsea meanwhile checked out a narrow opening in the east wall, find a space filled with machinery and a circular hole in both ceiling and floor. And Xavier went to listen at a door in the south, on the other side of which he could hear tortured moans.

Wary of disturbing anything in this creepy room, the party waited for Chaff to finish with his blood lust, then head back upstairs and down the rope into the other trapdoor. They had to leave the statue behind, as it had now finished it's animation and was stone cold once more. Down below there was a short corridor leading north, which ended at a closed portcullis. On the other side was a room, containing a crevasse from which wafted the smell of blood, while against the far wall sat a bucket. Abdul el Abdul easily lifted the portcullis, and everyone else started to file into the room. They were surprised when a stone colored spider dropped on them from the ceiling, but were able to make short work of the crawly beast. Exploring the rest of the room, the crevasse they found was narrow and extended well beyond their lights, while the bucket was coated in dried blood. There were also two doors, one each in the east and west walls. The east one was labelled "Workshop" while the west was labelled "Treasure Room". Humm, which to take ....

TOTAL XP
65

GAINS
4 bottles of wine

KILLS
Stone Spider

LOSSES
None