Monday, April 17, 2017

Far Isles Session #60 - Down Among the Mudpits

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar Pretty Bird
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 4)
Torak (Cleric 4)

Opening the trap door uncovered a shaft leading down 30-40' into a chamber below. The floor was damp but not flooded, and shapes could be seen clustered around the edges of the room. Torak cast a light spell on one of his copper coins and dropped it down the shaft, to better light their destination before anyone crawled down. The shapes proved to be statues, carved out of a sickly green stone shot through with red. None of them seemed to be moving, so Awg volunteered to be lowered into the hole. Spike driven in and rope attached, the calmonari descended. Once below, he/she noted a closed portcullis to the north, and little else beyond the statutes. These ran the gamut from classical nudes to horrific monsters. Given the all clear, the rest of the party descended, and Chaff tried poking around the statues, nudging one with a cantrip to see if it would topple over. He found nothing, so the party decided to head on. It took all four to lift the portcullis, and after hammering in a spike to hold it up, they carefully moved down the straight hallway beyond. About a third of the way down they encountered three crudely dug holes on the right, all about 5' above the floor. Torak looked closely, and noticed signs of old water staining running down the wall below them. It seems that water had flowed through these holes sometimes in the past.

The holes were too small for anyone but Chaff to crawl through, so the party pushed on. After another 20-30', they encountered faint whips of mist. Pushing on further, they discovered the source: a 7' diameter hole in the floor, from which rose a steady stream of steam. On the other side was a closed door. The party dropped a coin in the hole and were rewarded with a splash, which indicated there was water or some other liquid about 50-60' below. Not enamored with the idea of jumping into a pit of boiling water, the party focused on the door instead. Torak listened first, then opened the swollen wooden door, revealing a north-south corridor. To the north descended a set of stairs. To the south was another lowered portcullis, beyond which was another door.  The four lifted and spiked this gate as well, then went to examine the door. This was a stone door, which opened towards them. Remembering the flood of water behind the last stone door they'd opened, the party elected to ignore it for now and descend the stairs instead.

Mud Pits
Said stairs began in a worked corridor, but soon entered a natural passage, before dumping the party on a slick mineral terrace. The air was hot and steamy with a foul sulfur-ish taint. Beyond the terrace they could see a series of mudpots bubbling and bursting, as well as the occasional gas flare and steam burst. Stalactites and stalagmites abounded, growing together into columns in some places. The party moved forward carefully to examine the edge of the terrace, poor Torak unfortunately getting splashed with a burst of hot mud in the process.  They found another narrow terrace leading along the edge of the cavern to the right, about 6-8' below the level of their own terrace.  Spikes were hammered and everyone climbed down and edged along the cavern wall. After dropping down another level, the terrace ended and the party had to continue along a mineral crust path between two bubbling mudpots. And Torak was splashed by another scalding mud burst.  Still hugging the cavern wall, they came to a series of steep terraces, at the top of which was a massive stalactite pillar. Climbing up, everyone clustered around the mineral wonder. Staring intently, Rodrigo noted what appeared to be a human-ish form inside the pillar. Chaff, meanwhile, squeezed into the space between  the pillar and the wall (there being just enough room for the diminutive spell-slinger). From that vantage point he cold see the shape more clearly; it looked to be a human skeleton sitting on a stone bench, but covered in a series of bright colored blotches. Hammers were hauled out, and everyone started chipping away at the pillar. After about a half hour, they broke through to find the colors were actually gems and jewels covering the entire skeleton. More chipping ensued until it was completely uncovered, and the party was rewarded with a couple sacks of gems and jewels as they stripped the remains of it's glittery shroud.

Mineral Crust
The party gazed across the cavern from their high vantage point; it was quite large and they could not see the far side. There was some discussion about the need to press on and find more loot (championed by Chaff) vs pressing their luck while understaffed and on the edge of the unknown (advanced by Awg). In the end they decided to push on just a little further, and the party dropped down onto the mineral crust and moved cautiously deeper into the cavern. They did not get far when Rodrigo caught a glimpse of something in the mudpit over his left shoulder. A living example of the cthulhic visage they'd seen on the cursed statue; round bulbous head, large opaque eyes and a splintered/tentacled mouth. It gazed at Rodrigo, who felt an incessant mental tug at his brain. The swashbuckler forced the mental probe away, however, and shouted a warning to the rest of the party.  Fearful of facing 'the god', everyone turned and ran, the creature paralleling their flight by swimming rapidly through the hot mud. It caught them when the party had to pause at the terrace wall. It grabbed the edge of the mudpit with with webbed hands, and hurled itself at Torak, who was at that moment in the midst of bestowing the blessing of Brall on the party. The creature latched onto the cleric's cheek with it's sphinctered mouth, sucking his blood through rupturing skin. It also tried lashing around Torak with it's three claw-tipped flukes, but the cleric dodged the blow. Meanwhile, Chaff summoned a swarm of crawling insects, vomiting the bugs onto the creature; Rodrigo lashed out and struck with with twin blades, and Awg levitated above the fray. The creature, now bleeding from the sword wounds and distracted by the nipping insects, turned and slipped back into the mud, disappearing from sight. The party took advantage of the reprieve to flee back to the mineral terrace and stairs.

The Kopru
Once more or less safe, the argument about what to do next ensued once more; push on into the caverns or head back upstairs to see what was behind the stone door. In the end, Chaff was overruled and the four headed back up the stairs. But not before the vivimancer sent Pretty Bird on a scouting flight through the cavern to get an idea of the overall layout and extent for when they did return in full strength. Back upstairs, Awg checked it for traps and everyone then tied off to the raised portcullis, expecting a massive flood of water when the door was opened. Which is what did indeed happen. Once the flood of water has finished tumbling down the stairs, the party moved into the now just damp room. Apart from the door on the opposite wall, the room was empty. However, as the party moved towards this new door, Awg hit a near invisible trip wire in the centre of the room. A stone slide aside the the ceiling over the first door, and a spray of oil came down. Where it hit damp pools of water on the floor, the oil burst into a bluish, heavy smoking flame. The open door to the north allowed the smoke to escape, so Torak took him time looking for traps before opening the south door. It led into a long corridor which showed signs of having been 5; deep in water just minutes before. It ended, after a sharp turn, in a blank wall. Halfway down there were again a series of crudely dug hole, this time on both sides of the corridor. Torak took a light and looped back around the the first corridor, and the party could see light shining through the holes in the second corridor. Now they knew the two were linked through the dug passages. As for the other all, there was no way to check it out except to have Chaff crawl in for a look. In wormed the little vivimancer, who found a series of tunnels which converged on a larger chamber. When he stuck his head in there, Chaff was greeted by the chitter of rats. About a dozen giant ones to be exact. He wiggled back a bit and, to keep the rats  bay, webbed the tunnel exit from the room. He then wiggled the rest of the way back to the rest of the party, and after a short discussion of next steps, they headed back to the surface and their canoes to head back to the native village.  

TOTAL XP
9300

GAINS
A gem and jeweled skeletal shroud collection (9300gp)

KILLS
none

LOSSES
none

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Far Isles Session # 59 - Back and There Again

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar Pretty Bird
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 3)
Torak (Cleric 4)

The party took a few moments to mourn for the brave Abdul el Abdul. Which proved to be just enough time for Awg to strip him of his magnificent magical armor and the rest of the party to loot him of the rest of his valuables. For safe keeping and all. At about the same moment, the sound of splashing came from behind, and the party turned to see Torak wading towards them. The cleric had been wandering the dinosaur-infested wilderness for the last two weeks trying to catch up with the party. His presence was now much welcomed, as he brought forgotten healing potions and his arsenal of divine magic to help them continue their exploration of the flooded temple.

The next step in that exploration was to wade through the piranha chum and examine the door at the end of the passage. Unlike the doors encountered thus far, this one was not wood, but stone. Closer examination showed that it was sealed around the edge with some sort of a tarry or rubbery gasket. That caused then party to pause, and everyone but the two swimmers (Awg and Kwinsea) and the water walking Corvus retreated to the raised platform. The non-aquatics safe, the trio in the water forced the door open. Once the seal was broken, the door opened in a rush of water, knocking the three in the water about and smashing them up against the walls of the room beyond. Which proved to be plain and unadorned, except for some stone benches around the perimeter of the room and a stone alter sitting in the centre. All of which were now at least partly submerged below 2' of water. The rest of the party now waded in and everyone started to explore. Kwinsea dove underwater to examine the alter, which was covered in the alien patterns they'd seen on the stone box upstairs. Thinking there was a connection with the idol, Awg and Rodrigo placed the cthulhic thing on the alter, taking care to keep it covered up. With a mix of relief and disappointment, nothing happened.

Putting the idol away, Awg swam around under the water. He found, floating in the water, a long heavy cotton scarf, embroidered in crimson and purple, covered in weird symbols or language. When Chaff examined it, he discovered that interwoven within the cotton was a fine platinum mesh. Torak cast detect magic; when the cloth glowed, showing it's enchanted nature, Kwinsea cast read magic and learned that if she (or another arcane spell caster) were to wear the item, it would allow her to cast divine spells in place of arcane spells already memorized. With a slight chance of insanity.

Sizing up their map, the party could see no other way to go on this level except to face the sharks once more. The party formed up and headed back that way, with Crovus handing the ring of water walking to Chaff to allow the under-tall vivimancer to keep his head above the water, and therefore freeing up the door-raft for Abdul's body. Once at the entrance to the shark room, the party redeployed. Abdul el Abdul was shifted off the door and supported by Kwinsea in the back rank, so Corvus could use it as a mantlet to block some of the shark's attacks. Behind him stood Jaz and Rodrigo, armed with trident and spear. In position, they threw the room door open, and tossed in a few handfuls of piranha chum to attack/distract the sharks. This worked well, and Jaz and Rodrigo stabbed away the the inattentive fishes. But getting stabbed got their attention, and the two sharks started to attack Corvus over the top of his door-shield. Rodrigo managed to stab one with a paralytic-poison smeared spear, causing it to go stiff and drift away. It's place was taken by a fresh attacker however, and the two remaining sharks chomped hard on Corvus and felled the fighter. Awg reached forward to haul him out of danger, staunching his wounds and keeping him from drowning. Chaff cast a polyvorousness spell to turn one shark from it's carnivorous ways, but was unsuccessful. Torak flailed out with a spiritual hammer, while Jaz and Rodrigo now sliced away with swords since they were in the front rank. The sharks soon joined the piranhas as chum, Chaff water walking over to the paralyzed shark and ending it's existence after the two still attacking were taken down.

With the fin and fanged menace out of the way, Awg now dove into the room and looked around. It was quite large, with a 20' wide collapsed corridor leading off to the east. There was also a dais in the north-west corner, atop which  sat an oyster larger than even the calmonari had ever seen. Four feet high and six feet across, it's open shell revealed a fist sized black pearl sitting inside. Knowing that sticking his/her arm in the grab the treasure would not likely end well, Awg tried to use aquatic telepathy to speak to the oyster. Alas, it was much too dim to provide meaningful conversation, so the calmonari instead jammed the Terminaxe in the open shell to ensure it stayed open, then pocketed the pearl. The oyster strained it's muscles trying to close, but it could not due to the magical strength of the axe. After some time it relaxed enough for Awg to haul the axe out using the rope attached for just that purpose.

With two fallen comrades no other obvious way to go, the party decided to retreat back to the village to rest and recover. Retracing their steps, Rodrigo borrowed the ring of invisibility from Torak and scouted ahead into the great hall, to make sure there wasn't an ambush waiting for them. There was no sign that anyone had been back, so the rest of the party passed through, climbed ropes up through the smoke hole, and climbed into the dugout canoes to make their way back to the village. Along the way, they decided to have Torak stay invisible with the cursed statue, just in case, a) his sudden appearance or b) the appearance of the statue, caused some kind of stir among the natives. The party landed at the village with no problem, and they were greeted respectfully by Fano and Umlat. The party also noted none of the renegade tribesmen were around (they thought having removed the statue from the temple, whatever curse they were under may have been lifted). That was the chief and witch-doctor's first question; had the renegade tribe been eliminated? The party answered in the affirmative, and then started asking questions of their own. Could Umlat raise Abdul? (No). Kwinsea wanted to see any books they might have (what's a book?). Is the island still taboo? (Yes) Any response when the party described the figure depicted by the cursed statue (none).

They didn't learn much, but the party did get a good nights rest and healing before loading up the canoes and heading back to temple to explore further, leaving Abdul's remains and the recovering Corvus in the village. Back in the main hall, they noted it was still deserted and showed no sign of anyone having been here since they'd left. Now that they had the time and freedom to do so, the party fanned out to search the room for secret doors, looking for ways into the two dusty rooms they'd spied before. It took some time, but hidden entrances were found to both chambers. Torak led the way into the first room, the one which overlooked the landing. He found a dust and cobweb covered room, with three stone levers on the south wall and a small alcove to the west, where one would stand to look through the spy holes. After setting the levers to the middle position with no adverse effect, the cleric then stepped in the alcove. There he disturbed the dust, and something else growing below it, causing him to cough and hack, slowing suffocating to death. Kwinsea rushed in wearing her new stole, and cast cure disease to clear his lungs and keep him alive.

Leaving the first hidden room, the party now converged on the second.  This room was larger, with a layer of sand under the layer of dust. Sweeping the sand aside, Jaz uncovered a trap door in the floor. The party ignored this for now, focusing instead on the alcove with the spy holes. In this one there was a large wooden piston and handle. No one really wanted to step in there and mess with it, nor hang out in the great hall below when it was messed with. So they attached a rope to the piston handle, and everyone climbed up the smoke hole to the surface. From there, the rope was pulled, and a cloud of fine powder shot out of an opening in the carved face, settling over the room below. When nothing else happened, the party descended once more and made for the trap door ....

TOTAL XP
3405

GAINS
1 black, fist sized pearl (3000gp)
Stole of the Sacred

KILLS
3 Albino Mako Cave Sharks

LOSSES
Corvus (temporarily)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Far Isles Session #58 - Death Among the Fishes

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar Pretty Bird
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 3)

Once inside the room with their paralyzed comrades, (plus the bodies of the slain chief and witch-doctor), Jaz, Rodrigo and Abdul el Abdul spiked the door shut to better keep out unwanted visitors. And while waiting for the paralysis to pass, they gave the room a good going over. There was no furniture, just piles of mangy sleeping furs on the floor. Scattered about a fire pit were also numerous bowls and gourds, while on the walls was a wooded rack full of skulls, some newer furs, and dangling charms of bone. Jaz rooted around in the furs and then checked out the skulls, finding a handful of gems hidden inside one of the decorative craniums. Abdul el Abdul searched the two bodies, and was disappointed to find nothing of interest. The trio then looked about for another exit. The smoky and soot-stained room suggested there wasn't even  smoke hole of any consequence, and a search for secret doors confirmed the only way they were getting out was the same way they came in.

And speaking of the door, there was now noticeable activity outside. Feet moving past, sounds of low voices and some other uncertain activity. They soon found out what was going on: the sound of flames crackling and smoke creeping under the door told them someone was trying to smoke them out. The three wet some of the furs and stuffed them under the door to block the smoke, while Abdul el Abdul smashed some skulls to make bone caltrops to spread in front of the entrance just in case. The room was soon filling rapidly with smoke, and there was only a foot or two of fresh air left at floor level when the paralyzed party members finally stirred. With everyone back in fighting form, fighting is the form they chose. Abdul el Abdul hammered the spikes out of the door, and threw it wide open. Outside on the balcony they could faintly see human forms through the haze, fanning the flames and driving the smoke into the room. Abdul el Abdul stabbed blindly into the smoke, and cut down one of the forms, while Corvus shot and paralyzed another with a poisoned arrow. Finally, Kwinsea fired off another fear blast, and the rest of their foes starting running for the exit.

The party let them go, deciding to focus on what they could find deeper in the temple instead of tangling once more with the blasted natives. After quickly breezing through the three rooms off the north balcony (all of which were similar to the chiefs room in terms of contents), the party them formed up and marched into the tunnel below the great carved face. They did not get far before running into a crudely built wall of stone, which had a great stone slab laid upright against it. With some rope, grappling hooks and muscle power, Abdul el Abdul and Corvus hauled it down with a BANG! It was covering a crude opening, through which the party now passed. As the corridor twisted back and forth, they examined the floor, noting signs in the dust ages of the recent passage of human feet. In particular, Corvus noted at one point that the footprints moved to the side of the corridor, avoid the centre altogether. The party wisely decided to do the same, assuming there was some foul trap waiting in the middle. They came to an old wooden door. They first listened, then Awg searched it for traps. The calmonari noted nothing, so Abdul el Abdul added another door to his 'battered down' list, and the party moved on in.

In the centre of this room stood a 4' tall pedestal, on top of which sat a stone box with two hinged doors. The box itself was nondescript, except it was carved with some sort of alien or inhuman abstract geometric patterns. On the floor next to it was a scatting of sticks made of human femurs, a trio of gem inlaid bowls and bits of other old debris. Another door stood on the far wall. Chaff scooped up the bowls (and a few of the bones) as he looked around the floor. The little vivimancer observed that the dust was very disturbed in front of the pedestal, but barely so in front of the other door. A check beyond that door revealed a collapsed corridor; which, after a short time shifting rubble, the party decided to ignore. So it was back to the box on the pedestal. Based on the tales told by Oltau and other hints in the room, the party figured the mind-controlling god-statue was hidden inside the box. Realizing that looking at the statue would be bad news, the party hatched a plan. They all stood behind the pillar, on the opposite side from the box' doors.  Kwinsea held up her mirror so they could see, and Abdul el Abdul opened up the box. Inside was a small statue of gold and coral, depicting a humanoid with a smooth head, large eyes, a tentacled sphinctered mouth, and a body that ended in three long tentacles with flukes. Abdul poked it with a gantlet-ed hand, and the statue wobbled a bit. Well, at least it wasn't nailed down. So Awg hauled out a sack, held it below the statue, which Abdul then proceeded to topple into the bag before wrapping it tightly and placing it in his backpack.

With no where else obvious to go, they party backtracked to the stone slab. There, curious about the 'trap' in the hallway, they grabbed a few heavy stones and tossed them at the floor. After a few hits the floor gave way with a crash, quickly followed by a splash. Looking down into the resulting hole in the floor, the party could see water below. This looked like a job for aquatic Awg and his levitating sword. Tied off with a rope just in case, Awg floated down into the hole, finding him/herself in a water filled room. Looking up, he could see that some rotted beams had given causing the ceiling/floor to collapse. The calmonari poked around the room  a bit, noting that the water was about 4' deep and that a small school of albino fish swarm about below. Awg used the calmonari charm on them, but learned little other than the fish were hungry. A passage led north, and Awg headed that way to explore, passing a half dozen small cells with rusty bars before coming to an east-west corridor. With no obvious danger, Awg called for the rest of the party to climb down the rope, and they were soon all chest deep in water (except Chaff, who floated along on a door Corvus had been using as a mantlet.)

The party now decided to split up, with Abdul el Abdul and Awg Wahman headeing left down the corridor, and the rest checking out a door at the east end of the corridor. Corvus forced the door, which opened into a huge water filled chamber. Probing forward, he noticed the water got much deeper, so Kwinsea volunteered to go for a swim and check it out. She discovered that the water was about 15' deep, but had little chance to search more as she was surprised by the appearance of three albino sharks. Two clamped down great bites on the aquamancer before she was hauled out of the water by Corvus, who then slammed the door shut to keep their attackers barred in the room.

Meanwhile, Abdul and Awg followed the flooded corridor, coming to spot where the passage continued up a short staircase to a platform above the water level. The platform was only about 20' long, at which point stairs led down into the water again. At this point, hearing Kwinsea's screams, the two backtracked to meet the rest of the party.  After binding the aquamancer's wounds, everyone decided the continue along the corridor rather than risk the door and the sharks again. Coming again to the platform, the front rank of Abdul el Abdul and Rodrigo were just starting to descend into the water when they noticed a frenzy of activity below the surface. They retreated just as a pair a giant piranhas broke the surface and madly hurled themselves half out of the water at the two warriors.  The pair stood their ground, slashing away at the toothed fish. Chaff, meanwhile, cast instinct on the two, forcing one to forego attacking the fighters to instead try putting some moves on the other piranha.  Alas, it's place was taken by a previously unseen third fish, and the already weakened Abdul el Abdul was taken down by vicious fishes before the rest of the party finished them off.

TOTAL XP
7220

GAINS
5 gems (1000go, 1200gp, 500gp, 800gp, 50gp)
3 gem inlaid bowls(500gp each)
gold and coral statue of some sphincter-mouthed monstrosity (2000gp, but cursed)

KILLS
2 Native Warriors
3 Giant Albino Piranha

LOSSES
Abdul el Abdul

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Far Isles Session #57 - Taboo Temple Assault, Part Deux

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar Pretty Bird
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 3)

The paralyzed members of the party recovered as Jaz, Rodrigo and Corvus rowed across the lake. By the time the two dugouts came in view of the village, the party was fully awake and functional. Their appearance on the lake immediately provoked activity in the village, and a line of spear-armed warriors soon appeared, standing knee deep in the water and along the veranda of a large building on stilts which stood in the lake. The party stood, showing their weapons free hands as a sign of peace. This was answered by a volley of spears from the warriors, all of which fell short and splashed into the water.  The party stopped rowing, and Kwinsea did her best to say "We come in peace" in the doggerel pidgin she'd used on the temple natives. After a little while, a pair of older men appeared on the veranda. They were the "Talking Chief" Faro and the witch doctor Umlat, and they beckoned for the party to come ashore in peace.

The Chief
The party landed, offering the captured Oltau as a peace offering. As they turned the bone warrior over to the villagers, the party noticed everyone they saw was either older or very young. Even the warriors who had confronted them on the beach were well past their prime. As Umlat and the villagers hauled Oltau up the beach where a large bonfire was being prepared, the party questioned Faro about the absence of young people. Faro replied the party must come with him to consult with the true chief. And with that, the old man led them to the large council house out on the lake. There, Faro reverently approached an alcove at the end of the hut, where sat a small well worn statue of an old man. Faro proceeded to address this 'chief', asking him for guidance on what he should tell the party. He seemed to get some reply (although the party heard nothing), for after a few minutes Faro agreed to tell the party about 'Taboo Island'. For generations, the tribe has not gone to the island; he offered no reason beyond 'it is taboo', but did note it was once the abode of old, evil gods. Some months ago, a group of young warriors broke taboo and crossed the lake. At first the tribe assumed they were destroyed by the taboo. But then the raids began. Groups of the renegade warriors would sneak into the village at night and take the young and strong, until the tribe was left as it was today.  Faro, knowing the party had already been to the island, asked if they would return and deal with the renegade tribesmen. He was unclear if he wanted them captured and returned or simply killed off; taboo, it seemed, prevented him from being precise about that.

Abdul el Abdul, meanwhile, has stayed on the beach to watch the proceedings there. In addition to
the bonfire, the rest of the tribe started cooking fires, and soon had a feast of fish, baked yam and turtle soup ready to go. Umlat had supervised the bonfire, which was fanned to blazing hot and forced to burn down quickly, leaving only warm grey ash. Into this Oltau was thrown and rolled around in the remains of the fire until he was coated in grey ash and mild burns. Umlat put one hand on Oltau's face and muttered some words. The witch doctor then declared the warrior 'purified', but still under some kind of enhancement. The witch doctor ordered him bound until he could call on the power of the Lord of the Sky to break the enchantment in the morning.The party was then feasted by the village and scattered among the village huts to rest until morning. 

Next morning, Umlat once more went through some rituals with Oltau and broke the charm which held him in thrall. Questioned, the bone warrior revealed that when he was captured in the one the first raids, he had been brought to worship in front of a statue. The statue depicted a vaguely amphibious humanoid with a smooth head, large eyes and a tentacled, splintered mouth.  After that, the bone warrior become a servant of the 'old gods', charged along with the rest of the renegade tribe with reviving the gods cruel empire.

After hearing the story, Faro once more asked the party to deal with the renegade tribe. To which the party agreed; they were going that way anyhow. Faro offered anything the village could provide to help, but no warriors would accompany them. The taboo still held. The party did get some samples of paralytic poison, as well as  antidote to help protect against the poison of the renegade tribesmen. They then chose to wait until nightfall, and carried their dugouts away from the village, fearing they might be observed by those on the island if they left from the village proper. Reaching the island, they ignored the obvious entrance, and landed on the opposite side. From there they trekked back to the temple, looking for the smoke hole which opened into the main temple chamber. They found it hidden away behind some tumbled ruins. Glancing below, they could see the net back in place. Huddled around the fire were a number of sleeping forms, mostly woman and children. Pacing around were also 4-6 alert guards. The party decided to try a little surprise this time. Rodrigo would stay at the hole, and drop down a few small bombs made using the party's remaining gunpowder. Taking advantage of the confusion caused by the explosions, the party would rush the temple through the main entrance, and take control of the balconies. 

Initially, all went according to plan; bombs exploded, confusion ensued, and the party rushed the balconies. Kwinsea, Corvus and Awg hit the north balcony; Chaff, Jaz, Rodrigo and Abdul el Abdul hit the south. This time they found no one there, but did observe a number of doors leading to who-knows-where. Down below, the guards started to lob spears, while the woman and children ran for the exit; the party responded with laser and crossbow fire. Rodrigo also cut part of the net free from above, and swung down to join the fray. At the same time, the rest of the party cut the other ropes, dropping the net onto several of the warriors below. 

At this point, the plan started to go south. Out of a door on the south balcony burst the chief, his henchman and the witch doctor. Before the party could respond, the witch doctor cast a spell on the northern balcony, holding all three party members there. In response, Chaff cast a web, trapping the witch doctor and one of the henchmen; the witch doctor was eventually hacked to death. Abdul el Abdul, isolated on the far side of the web from the rest of the party, charged in to fight the one henchman facing him. Jaz, Rodrigo and Chaff turned their attentions to the chief. [Chaff also sent Pretty Bird to examine the giant human face carved in the wall over the exit tunnel; the familiar found holes in place of the eyes and observed another dust filled room beyond.] The fight against the chief was going well, and the big warrior was soon slain; but more danger arrived. On the floor below, the entangled warriors got out from under the net and charged the south balcony. One struck Chaff and paralyzed the sub-tall vivimancer.  Meanwhile, one of the doors on the north balcony opened, and a half dozen archers appeared, surrounding the held party members. They made signs that they would kill the prisoners if the party continued to fight, so a truce was called. After some back and forth pantomime, the party offered to trade the webbed chief's henchman for Kwinsea. The warriors agreed, and the tense trade was done. As soon as the archers backs were turned, however, Jaz grabbed the wand of fear from Kwinsea's hand, and loosed some magical terror on them. Most of wariors turned and ran back into the room from which they'd emerged. The chiefs henchman and one other warrior ran into the tunnel leading deeper into the temple complex, while two others tried to jump off the balcony and join them, but broke their necks in the fall. With the great hall temporarily in their control, Jaz, Rodrigo and Abdul el Abdul gathered up their held and paralyzed comrades, then retreated to the chief's room, barring themselves in to await their companions recovery.

TOTAL XP
1040

GAINS
nil

KILLS
5 Native Warriors
1 Renegade Chief
1 Chief's henchman
1 Witch Doctor

LOSSES
nil

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Far Isles Session #56 - Fear Factor

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar PrettyBird
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 3)

As the late afternoon sun began to dip low over the crater rim, the party tied ropes around some of the stone ruins so they could to lower themselves over the side of the hill to the temple entrance below. As the rest of the party descended, Rodrigo and Corvus elected to remain above to watch their backs. The party found themselves standing at the waters edge, with a pair of dugout canoes tied to rickety bamboo piers behind them, and two wide steps in front that led to a landing lined with pillars. Beyond this were a trio of narrow steps leading to another landing and the entrance itself. Shoved into cracks in the red marble of the landing were a series of bamboo poles topped with shrunken heads, skulls, and the odd unidentifiable jawbone. Climbing up to the second platform,  on either side of the steps there was a large stone foot, the remains of a statute that once straddled the stairs. An opening led from this platform into the side of the hill, and a bas-relief of a human holding a lighted brazier was carved in the cliff face to ether side. Abdul el Abdul went over to the left carving to size it up and noticed there were small openings in place of the eyes. Chaff shuffled over and sent Pretty Bird up to have a look. Inside was a very dusty and cobwebbed room, obviously not touched for a millennia. That seemed like a good place to check first, so the party formed up and marched into the darkness.

They did not get far before a pile of debris narrowed the tunnel to a single file squeeze. There was no obvious sign of a ceiling collapse, so they surmised the rubble must have been placed here deliberately. "It's a trap!" exclaimed Awg. Chaff shielded the light coin to let Jaz look ahead with her infravision. Far ahead, at the limits of sight, was a faint glow of fire. Close at hand, beyond the rubble, the elf could see a trio of figures lying in wait. With this new intelligence, the party formed their plan. Kwinsea cast a seasong to lull the three guards into slumber, while Chaff cast meld flesh in an (unsuccessful) attempt to bind them together. No matter; the heavily armored Jaz was ordered forward through the gap to take care of the dozing men. But as she passed the end of the rubble pile, a spear thrust out, glancing off her armor. It would seem they missed one guard, a mighty champion clad in bone armor. Abdul pushed forward to join Jaz in combat. The native warrior was tough, fighting the two even after being hit several times. He also landed a solid jab with his spear on Jaz, who immediately froze; paralyzed. At this point, one of the dozy guards awoke and joined the fray. Worried for the elf's life, Abdul pulled her out of combat, while Awg slapped on his/her demon mask, summoned the power of the new cutlass to levitate above the fight and opened up with laser fire with his/her pistol. This took out the newly awakened guard, while Chaff pushed forward to cast the instinct of fear on the champion. That caused the mighty warrior to turn and run down the tunnel away from the party.

The party paused briefly to dispatch the last two natives. When Jaz did not recover right away, she was left in Pretty Bird's care near the entrance as the rest of the party pushed on without delay. Once more they did not have to go far, bursting into a huge fire-lit chamber. The fire burned in the centre of the room, below an opening in the ceiling covered by a huge net. A balcony ran along the perimeter of the chamber, accessible by stairs on either side of the entrance. It was high enough that it was difficult to see what, if anything, was up there.  Clustered just beyond the fire was a line of native warriors, spears pointed menacingly at the party. Beyond them in one corner quivered the feared champion, while a cluster of woman cowered in the opposite corner. Retreating a little to stand in the entrance, Kwinsea tried speaking to the wariors. And surprisingly, they understood her mismatched native pidgin well enough to communicate. As Awg levitated menacingly and Chaff cast a sparkly cantrip on himself, the aquamancer alternately threatened them with 'mighty magics' and questioned who they were and what they were doing in the ruined temple. She learned they were there to serve the gods of the temple, and they were awestruck enough to lower their weapons and offer to take the party to see the gods, so they too could serve them. After a murmured discussion, the party decided to trust them, and started to head across the room.

They made it as far as the fire before the native perfidery was revealed. Hidden at the corner of the balcony, four men cut the ropes holding the weighted net, such that it dropped onto the party below. Awg, Chaff and Abdul el Abdul were trapped in the net, while Kwinsea rolled out of the way just in time. The native warriors advanced to stab at the trapped adventurers, and on the balcony above there appeared a line of bowman, as well as what appeared to be the chief and his henchman, plus the tribal witch-doctor.  Abdul el Abdul was able to untangle Awg from the ropes, while Chaff cast a web spell on a pair of attackers. The trio then started to crawl out from under the net, but each was stabbed and paralyzed, just like Jaz. This left Kwinsea, who first cast a lightning bolt to cut down most of the attackers on the main floor (and scorching the still cowering champion in the process).  She then whipped out her wand of fear, crying "fear our mighty magic!!" and took aim at the chief. He, the witch-doctor and one of the henchman turned and fled back out of sight. This threw the bowman into disarray, and they too pulled back from the edge in confusion. The two remaining chiefs' henchman were not perturbed, and rushed at the wand wielding wizardess. Kwinsea dodged a blow from one, and then drove both off with successive blasts from the wand.

Danger for now averted, Kwinsea started to pull her paralyzed companions down the tunnel and back to the water's edge. There she found Jaz just awaking, and the two started to load the rest of the party into the dugouts to escape across the lake. Just as they were finishing, the bone clad champion burst onto the steps, followed by five more tribesmen. Kwinsea was struck and paralyzed. The elf dropped the five natives with  sleep spell, but the bone warrior advanced to attack. He was already well battered, however, so the elf knocked him out cold with the flat of her sword and then securely tied and bound her fallen foe. With that, Jaz hauled Kwinsea and the bone warrior into the last canoe, swung around the headland to pick up Rodrigo and Corvus, and then pulled hard for the village on the mainland.  

TOTAL XP
1320

GAINS
nil

KILLS
1 bone-armored champion (captured)
1 chief's henchamn
12 native warriors

LOSSES
none (not permanently at least)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Far Isles Session # 55 - Up, Down, and all Around

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar PrettyBird and riding dog PuppyWhuppy

Due to the increasingly cool and dry air, Awg's amphibious skin needed immersion to regenerate. With Abdul el Abdul along as a guard, the calmonari retreated back to the waterfall pool for a good long soak. In the meantime, the rest of the party focused on finding a way inside the cone; one that did not involve a half-day airlift with the ebony fly. Running low on food, they elected to leave the four crossbowman at base camp and tasked them with hunting up some vittles. The rest of the party decided to investigate the few areas of woodland, scavenging nuts and berries as they went, hoping to find a hidden way into the volcanic crater. They had little luck in their exploration. Two days of wandering from copse to copse uncovered nothing. Except the creepy way the trees retreated from their campfire on the first night; they elected to camp in the open after that.

Mastodon
The party spent the next couple of days gathering nuts and berries while exploring the open grassland of the plateau. The sky remaining clear, they were able to check the view off the northern and eastern edge. To the north, there was nothing to see except more rugged mountains. The view to the east was more interesting however. They could see the upper course of the main river below, including the multiple cascades that poured off the mountains. All this water spilled into a flooded sunken valley nestled between the plateau and the mountains. More interesting were the obvious signs of intelligent life; the flooded valley was crisscrossed by a square grid of raised causeways, and at about a dozen intersections there rose large, steep-sided mounds. Some appeared to be topped with 'man'-made structures. Figuring they could at least get some information from he inhabitants, the party decided to loop back to base camp to pick up the mercenaries, then head back across the bridge and down into the valley. Along the way, they encountered a herd of 7-8 mastodons grazing near the edge of the plateau. Chaff, in a mischievous mood, summoned the ebony fly and proceeded to buzz the herd. This set off a a wild panic among the woolly pachyderms, and Chaff started to coral them towards the cliff edge. Without slowing down, the huge bull at the head of the herd tumbled over the edge with a bellow, which was enough to frighten the rest away from danger. The herd split in two and ran north and south along the precipice. Chaff, meanwhile, triumphantly flew out over the edge hoping to see his kill, having forgotten it was a 3000' drop to the base of the plateau. All dreams of mastodon steaks over the campfire were forgotten.

Pteranodon
Back at base camp, the party found they were short one crossbowman. Apparently a boar hunting trip went wrong, leaving Alfred the crossbowman gored and dead.  The hirelings did manage to catch some smaller game, so the food situation was a little less dire than before. Packing up camp, the party headed for the rope bridge. Crossing it was a little more challenging this time; halfway across, a pair of huge pteranodon approached from across the valley, quite obviously with hostile intent. The two winged reptiles took turns diving at the trapped party. Thankfully, they did little harm; one of the hirelings gained a new scar, and both Corvus and Chaff had close calls. The usual barrage of pistols and lasers, bolts and arrows inflicted terrible damage on the terrible beasts, plus a command rope from Kwinsea and web from Chaff sent the two plummeting into the gorge below.

The party got to the end of the bridge, then crossed the river to the north side once more using the ring of water walking. After a few more hours of climbing, they came to the crest of the ridge and found themselves looking down on the flooded valley. Heading downhill, they picked up the end of one of the causeways and headed towards an 'inhabited' mound. As they got closer, they noticed several raised farms in the flooded water. On one, figures could be seen hoeing, weeding  and so on. Kwinsea, being the linguist of the group, called out a greeting in all her known languages. But there was neither response, nor acknowledgement. Observing the  people more closely, the party now noted while they seemed fairly well dressed, physically they were in hard shape. And a shift of the breeze brought a smell of rotting flesh; they were zombies. That made everyone nervous, so Chaff sent Pretty Bird aloft to check out the mound before they walked into a trap. Through the parrots eyes, the vivimancer could see a cluster of stone buildings atop the mound. They seemed to be of ancient construction, patched and repaired more recently. In a clearing there was a large party forming up; several formations of zombie soldiers, a palanquin similar to the one they encountered in the main river valley, and a cluster of better dressed and apparently alive people. As Chaff/Pretty Bird watched, this formation started down a steep set of stairs towards the causeway and the party.

Not sure what to expect, the party stepped off the causeway and into the shallow water as the
T'sin, Lord of Moku
palanquin and guards approached. The procession stopped when they reached the party, and the zombie bearers set the palanquin on the ground before lifting the flaps. Inside sat an older man, well dressed and with dusky skin. He raised a hand to the party and spoke. It was difficult to understand him at first, but Rodrigo soon figured out the language was vaguely related to that of the Tanaroa natives. The speaker's name was T'sin, leader of the Moku tribe. A conversation ensured, and the party learned there were four others tribes of the Q'uitchin in the valley. They all lived on separate hill/mounds, and used zombie labour to do all the hard work while the living had a life of luxury. The dead became the property of the tribal leader to be brought back for a 'second life' to serve the tribe. They had lived this way for many many years, since the days of the 'empire of the masters'. When questioned about the masters, T'sin showed a medallion he wore, depicting a bulbous inhuman face with pupil-less eyes and a sphincter-like mouth surrounded by tentacles. The tribe had had no contact with 'the masters' in many generations, but still followed their commands. One of which was to maintain the rope bridge, but taboo prevented them from actually setting foot on the plateau. When asked about the inhabitants of the volcanic cone, T'sin expressed surprise than there was anyone there.  The party also asked about any caves or tunnels that lead up to the crater, and were disappointed to hear there were none.

The Moku seemed friendly enough, and Chaff inquired if the party could stay the night and get some supplies as well. After consulting with his advisers, T'sin agreed, asking only that, if any of the party fell in their coming exploration of the crater, their bodies would become property of the tribe to be brought back for a 'second life'. That made Rodrigo nervous, with visions of daggers in the night and the party entering an eternity of zombie servitude. Convinced by the swashbucklers paranoia, the party decided to backtrack to the ridge above the river to camp for the night. As dawn approached and Chaff stood watch, the little vivimancer noted movement in the bushes below. He awoke the rest of the party, who formed up just as a trio of huge dire wolves burst out of the brush. Swords flashed, tidal force and instinct were cast, and in the end the party had one dead dire wolf while the others had fled.

Given their food situation, the party spent most of the day making dire wolf jerky, before once more crossing the rope bridge. Picking up Abdul el Abdul and Awg along the way, they once more marched to the base of the volcanic cone. Having exhausted their others options, the party decided the best way in was to take the chance running shuttle service with the ebony fly. So much of the next day was spent flying back and forth, until by mid-afternoon the whole party was on the island in the middle of the crater lake without incident. They'd chosen to arrive out of sight of both the village and the temple, hunkering down amidst tumbled stone walls and weather worn statues. Once everyone as finally in one place, the party carefully wove their way across the ruins to the cliff above the temple entrance ....


TOTAL XP
3790

GAINS
nil

KILLS
1 mastodon
2 pteranodon
1 dire wolf AKA wolf jerky

LOSSES
Alfred the Intrepid Crossbowman

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Far Isles Session # 54 - High Cliffs and Volcanic Cones

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar PrettyBird and riding dog PuppyWhuppy
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 3)

The next morning, the party took a few moments to bury the dead crossbowman before walking through the ash to the shallow valley the zombies had started from. There they found the remains of a campsite buried under the same grey ash. There was some suspicion that the campfire could have been responsible for the ash, but closer investigation confirmed it emanated from a smoking cinder cone on the other side looming peaks. Since no one wanted to wait around to see if the volcano erupted again, Chaff sent Pretty Bird aloft to scout the way. The parrot came back to report the river split into three streams ahead; a small fordable stream to the north-west, and a pair of roaring torrents to the north-east and east, both of which emerged from deep canyons. It looked possible to follow both larger streams by climbing the ridges above, so the party elected to cross to the right bank of the river, ford the small stream and head north-east towards the purported position of the plateau. 

As the parted started to climb up the side of the gorge, Awg spied possible danger to the east. There,
Dino Attack!!!!
coming down the ridge above the second canyon, was a covered palanquin carried by 8 human or humanoid figures. Of more interest, however, was the giant dinosaur stalking behind it. As the party watched, the great saurian beast grabbed one the figures in it's maw, and after a moment of two of gnawing, flicked the now partly dismembered body away. It repeated this three more times, while the rest of the bearers continued on, unaware and unconcerned. The dinosaur, apparently not impressed with the potential meal, stomped past the palanquin and proceeded ahead of it down the main river valley, towards the ships and the sea. There was some debate within the party whether they should try capturing this impressive dinosaur, but in the end the logistics of hauling it back to the "Purple Haze" convinced them to wait for easier/more accessible prey. There was also some discussion of going after the palanquin, but the risk of running into the massive dinosaur nixed that idea. 

After an uneventful night perched above the canyon, the party continued to climb. When they crested the highest point of the ridge, they could see their goal ahead. A cliff wall, rising high into the concealing clouds, lay ahead of them. Crashing down the side was a waterfall, which appeared to be the source of the river they followed. A lightly wooded meadow slopped up to the base of the cliff. As the party headed across the valley, they passed a copse of trees on their left, between them and the river.  Stumbling out of the treeline came a smaller, yet still vicious-looking dinosaur. It noticed the party, and headed away from them, limping along. The party, worried about what might follow it, ducked into the trees. As they did, however, there came crashing through the undergrowth towards them three more of the nasty creatures. The party reacted quickly, with a cloud of bolts and arrows all concentrated on one creature. Kwinsea used tidal force to push two back, and Chaff dropped a spore cloud on one, which unfortunately did not seem to have an effect. The third slashed out at Corvus with tooth and wicked hind claws, doing grievous damage to the henchman. The crossbowmen then shot down one of the tidal forced dinos, while an insect swarm from Chaff allowed the swords of Awg, Abdul, Rodrigo and Corvus to cut down the individual that chomped on Corvus before it could do further harm. At this point, the fourth 'injured' beast crashed towards them, but a last flight of arrows and bolts convinced the two survivors to turn and run.

Raptors Attack
The party let them go, then proceeded to butcher the fallen to retrieve an impressive collection of teeth and claws. They then continued up the meadow until they reached the base of the waterfall. It ended in a deep pool of water, from which the river emerged. A quick scout around the base of the waterfall revealed no obvious way up, so Awg dove into the pool to look for a passage behind the falls (but to no avail). With the sun dipping low, they set up camp for the night. Next morning, the scouting continued. Chaff sent Pretty Bird up the cliff to scout again. The familiar returned a few hours later to report no signs of a way up the wall. At the top was a grassy plateau, cooler than it was down below. A web of streams crossed the flat surface of the plateau, and in the centre rose a volcanic cone; quite tall with snow and ice at the top. Hoping to find a way up, the party broke camp and marched east around the base of the plateau. There was a short fight with some tiny carnivorous dinosaurs chasing rats, which ended much as the previous days' fight; skillful use of tidal force and two dead dinos. These didn't provide nearly as many interesting trophies though.

Shortly after mid-day, they spied ahead of them a rope bridge. It started on the opposite side of the raging river, and arched overhead before disappearing into the thin cloud that surrounded  the top of the plateau. So the party had to get across the river somehow, unless they wanted to backtrack a few days march to the raft. In the end, they used Corvus' ring of water walking, ferried back and forth by Pretty Bird, to get everyone to the other side. While waiting for everyone to cross, Abdul took the time to look around. There was a faint path running along the edge of the river to the east and west of the bridge, obviously man-made but not heavily traveled. He did see faint signs of recent travel; perhaps the palanquin?

Temple Ruins
After another night in camp, the party arose and tackled the bridge. It was in remarkably good shape considering it was apparently little used. They crossed without incident, and found themselves on the plateau. It was cooler, just as Pretty Bird described. Moving towards the volcanic cone, the party crossed several streams that seemed to merge before tumbling over the edge as the waterfall. Reaching the base of the vlocano, they once more encountered a jagged cliff wall with no obvious way over it. Grumbling, the party spent the day circumnavigating the cone, looking for a way up. By the time they got back to the start, they'd found nothing of interest except for a pair of mastodons in the distance. Chaff then summoned the ebony fly, and Rodrigo volunteered to fly into the volcano to see what there was to see. After a chilly flight, the swashbuckler descended into the unknown. There he found a lake filling most of the crater. On the near edge was a small village of thatched huts, while in the lake itself there was an island covered in ruins. Most of it was just tumbled stone, but on the side facing the village was a temple or similar structure carved into a rock face, with a wide series of steps leading into the side of the hill. There were several canoes at the base of the steps, and more on the beach by the village itself.   Rodrigo then buzzed the village, sending women and children running for cover, while the warriors formed up between the huts and hurled spears at him and the fly (all of which fell short). The warriors then proceeded to shout and jump and  wave their arms at Rodrigo as he banked away and flew back over the ridge to return to the rest of the party ...

TOTAL XP
920

GAINS
nil

KILLS
2 raptor-like dinosaurs
2 small carnivorous dinosaurs

LOSSES
nil