Monday, August 31, 2015

The Gem Gates of the Wind Wizards of Foronaxos



The Wind Wizards of Foronaxos were a semi-mythical cabal of powerful mages, whose origins stretch back to before the Godwars that destroyed the first fabled civilizations of man. The last known member of the order was last seen several hundred years ago, and they would appear to exist no more. They specialized in teleportation, telekinetic and extra-planer travel. Many of the currently known enchantments related to such matters can be traced back to them. They are best known, however, for the magical gem gates they constructed, which allowed instantaneous travel between far distant points scattered across the world.

The gates are typically oval or round portals caved out of stone, but can take almost any form. The only constant feature is a series of peculiar slots or receptacles arranged around the perimeter. The gates are powered by precious gems; star ruby, star sapphire, fire opal, blue diamond, and star topaz. To use the gate, gems are inserted into the slots. Each gate is tuned to particular combination and number of gems; inserting the right number/types/order of gems into any other gate would allow travel to the gate defined by that gem combination. 
  
Gates have a variable number of slots or receptacles. It is not possible to travel directly to a destination gate if the starting gate does not have enough slots to accommodate the required number of gems.

Unless someone is left behind to remove them from their slots, gems must be left in the gate after the traveler has passed through; there is no way to remove them after passing through the gate. Eventually the gate drains the power of the gems and they will crumble to dust. How long a given set of gems remain viable is highly variable and also highly unpredictable. In general, however, a set of gems will power a gate for a period ranging from days to weeks.

Gate locations and gem combinations currently discovered by the party are:


Gate Location
# Gem Slots
Gem Combination*
Westmist
6
R R S R
Forbidden City
6
R R R R R R
Kunth
5
R R R R R S
Land of 1000 Wizards
?
S T R R
Wastes of the Loathsome Gods #1
?
S S S S S S
Wastes of the Loathsome Gods #2
?
S R R S
Wastes of the Loathsome Gods #3
?
R T T R S
* S = Star Sapphire, R = Star Ruby, T = Star Topaz, O = Fire Opal, D = Blue Diamond

Friday, August 28, 2015

Westmist Session #100 - Brigands and Nobles

As twilight descended, the still invisible Kern and Erijay scouted around the ruined keep. Apart from smoke rising from the interior, there was no obvious activity. No guards on the crumbling walls or towers, no pickets in the treeline.They did find the main gate,which was closed and presumably barred or locked. Rather than force their way in, the two decided to position themselves near the gate, and hopefully sneak in behind some returning brigands. It wasn't long before they indeed observed a small party of men emerge from the woods, pulling a cart loaded with firewood, some small game, and casks. When the reached the gate, they called out, and a few minutes latter a guard appeared in the tower above. After a short conversation in a foreign tongue between the guard and returning men, the gate started to open. As the foraging party entered, Kern and Erijay slipped in quietly behind them. They passed into the gatehouse and through another gate (each raised by a separate windlass). From there they headed down a narrow passage, open to the sky, that entered into the inner courtyard. Kern and Erijay did not follow, having observed a number of campfires and a significant number of brigands gathered there. 

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Now left alone in the narrow passage, they decided to check out the doors they'd passed on the way in. Using a combination of listening at doors and searching for minds using the medallion of thoughts plucked from Jax, they found that three of the four doors appeared to have no one behind them. On the opposite side of the fourth door a number of human minds were encountered, including several brigands and a noble or leader of some type. Sifting through their thoughts, Kern was able to get a rough layout of the keep, including the fact that the main living quarters were not in the keep itself. Not sure what to make of that, the two went to investigate the other three doors. Two lead into the defenses surrounding the gatehouse, while the third led into a small, bare room seemingly carved out of the side of the cliff. Erijay decided to search for secret doors, while Kern started the process of summoning with the censor of controlling air elementals, to have it ready to summon in case all hell broke loose. 
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Erijay found nothing along the walls, but deftly spied a suspicious flagstone on the floor. It was lifted out of the way to uncover a passageway 10' below, heading roughly north into the cliff. Kern, once more listening and brain prying, sensed canine minds in the passage below. Erijay cast sleep to take down the animals, and the two entered the passage. Stepping over the sleeping bodies of 3 wolves, they quickly came to a branching tunnel leading left, and a door straight ahead. The branch ended in a heavy leather curtain, while the door was locked with a massive metal padlock. Kern probed beyond the curtain with the medallion, detecting faint thoughts of men both awake and asleep. A quick look, however, revealed nothing but an empty room. Going back to the door, Erijay stood guard while Kern quietly picked the lock and opened the door. On the other side was a storeroom, filled with crates, barrels and a pair of small footlockers/lock boxes. Kern pried open one lockbox, finding it stuffed full of gems! As he went to check the second, however, Erijay passed a silent warning; men were approaching.  Erijay carefully shut the door and replaced the lock (but not locking it), hoping the brigands would pass on by, she being still invisible. As the brigands approached, however, the leader noticed the open lock and screamed a warning as he drew his sword. Erijay slipped the lock out of the hasp so Kern wouldn't be trapped, then dropped invisible to the floor. The leader swung wildly, but the spear-wielding brigand behind him struck the elf a hard blow. Kern, meanwhile, threw open the door , brandishing his somewhat worst-for-wear preserved medusa head, but to no avail. Erijay now crawled through the melee and behind Kern, to be in a better position to cast her spells from a protected location. A trio of magic missiles slammed into the katana swinging leader, and another spell hasted Kern and Erijay.  The elf next polymorphed herself into a giant python as Kern struck the patrol leader dead with a final swing of the great silver hammer of Lughrin. Erijay then struck at the remaining brigands, crushing and slaying two. The third, however, had already run off to get help, and the sounds of shouting and approaching reinforcements came from beyond the curtain in the passageway. 
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Kern, pausing only briefly to lift the shiny sword from the corpse on the floor, went back into the room and threw open the second foot locker. In it lay the books for which Toi !lo was waiting. Slamming the case shut, Kern threw it onto his shoulder and he and the snake-Erijay headed back from whence they came. Hasted, they were able to keep ahead of their pursuers and get back to the front gate. There they had to pause as Kern turned the windlass and snake-Erijay stood guard. He was just getting it open when a crowd of brigands burst into the passage. Erijay slithered into the gatehouse, switched back to elf form, and incinerated their pursuers with a  fireball. Throwing open the second gate, they fled into the night, dodging a volley of spears from the guard tower. 

The duo raced back to their horses, and galloped west along the Road of the High Sun, reaching the city of Kunth the next morning. There, they once more requested the presence of their minder "Perfect Spreading of Merit", who led them back to Toi !lo's library to trade the recovered books for more information on the Wastes of the Loathsome Gods. Toi !lo let it be known there was little left of civilization in the blasted wastes. A scattered of insular villagers and nomads, long tumbled ruins, and loathsome twisted beasts of chaos spawned by the pure evil of the place. He suggested the best place to search for the Fetters of the Gods would be in the ruins of the capital of the once dreaded D'war empire, which had risen and fallen in power along with the fortunes of the Loathsome Gods. At Kern's request, the slug man also researched some gem combinations for the gate which could get them to or close to the Wastes. Toi !lo came up with three that should lead to gates in the general area of the Wastes, but could not say for sure which would be closest to the ruined city. He also, once more at Kern's request (and in return for another gift), provided a gem combination to a gate in the Land of 1000 Wizards. Erijay, again in return for more gifts, was able to get information on the four artifacts listed in the book she had recovered so long ago. The "Golden Mask of Nythal" and "Skull of Chodak" could be found in the Land of 1000 Wizards, while the "Machine of Radioactive Light" and "Throne of the Ancient Ones" were both to be found in the Burned Lands. 
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Thanking the illustrious slug-man, Kern and Erijay took their leave. Kern, recalling the treasure they'd recovered from the Hanging Tree while crossing the Untamed Lands with the barbarians, showed "Perfect Spreading of Merit" the signet ring recovered with the Kunth woman's skeleton. Examining it, he told Kern the wearer had been a member of the "Pearl" clan, a powerful human noble family in the city. In fact, the patriarch of the family was one of the 11 nobles who ruled the city in the name of the slug-men. The ring in fact had belonged to the patriarch's daughter "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". The young woman had disappeared some years ago, supposedly kidnapped and carried off by a secret lover. Kern, sensing the chance to do the right thing to get a powerful ally in Kunth. asked "Perfect Spreading of Merit" to get them an audience with the family so he could return their daughter's remains and belongings. Their minder complied, and several days later Kern and Erijay found themselves at a palatial manor house in a rich part of the city. Led into a great hall, there they found, sitting at the head of a long table, was the clan patriarch, "Unchanging Noble One". Behind him stood a grim faced guard, and  to each side sat a woman. The lady to his right was obviously his  wife, while the relationship  of the other was uncertain. Kern explained who he was, how he had come into possession of his daughter's remains, and returned her bones, clothes and jewelry to the family. Glancing around, Kern was a little startled to see that of the four, it was the guard captain and the second woman who seemed most upset to learn the fate of  "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". He did not dwell on it long however, as the patriarch thanked him for finally bringing closure to the family. He presented Kern and Erijay with rich robes of fur, fish-scale and gems in thanks for their service, and then signaled the guard to take the them away. The guard led them though the manor to the front gardens, and to Kern and Erijay's surprise, there rushed "Perfect Spreading of Merit" out the door. The guard then very quickly spoke in broken, heavily accented Common, asking if the body of a man of Kunth was found with "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". When told there was not, he grunted and sent the duo on their way. Puzzled, the two headed back to the Forgein Quarter to wait for Bjorn to fully recover and begin their search for the Fetters of the Gods.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Far Isles Session #6 - Blob go Kablooie!

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Gormus (Thief/Specialist 1), with henchman Villius Paticus (Cleric 1)
Azimer (Calmonari 1)
Vort (Dwarf 1)

Treasure seeking was temporarily put on hold as the party focused on finding a way to destroy the blob. A cunning plan was hatched requiring sailcloth, tar, timbers and manual labour. All of which required the acquiescence and assistance of Thorgrim and the crew of the "Serpents Revenge". The Captain was reluctant to put resources and risk his crew on a hair-brained scheme. Why not, he pondered, just go in there and wrest the treasure from the monster like good adventurers are supposed to do? Gormus and Azimer argued that more treasure could be gained if the blob was taken out first, a fact which Thorgrim was willing to accept. However, in return for the use of more of his supplies and his crew, he negotiated a new arrangement for splitting the treasure from this voyage: 50/50.

That done, the jolly boat was loaded with supplies and crew and all were set to work on the beach. At one of the cave exits, the crew set to work building a 20' extension to the tunnel out of wood, old sailcloth and tar. With the project completed, the crew headed back to the ship and the party headed into the cavern to lure the blob towards their feat of engineering. But they were barely out of the sunlight when a trio of gliding lamprey descended on the four. Two latched onto Gormus, and in less than half a minute had drained the thief of much of his blood, leaving him unconscious on the floor. A flurry of flail, trident, and belaying pin destroyed the three beasts (which Azimer scooped up and popped into his/her backpack). Gormus, his wounds bound, was dragged back to the beach to rest while the remaining three adventurers started off once more. They did not go far, as the ruckus with the lamprey must have attracted the blob's attention. They encountered the amorphous thing advancing towards them a short distance down the passage. Villius and Vort ran back to the new construction, while Azimer lured the creature onward, taking care to stay out of pseudopod range. The blob advanced to within 15' of the end of the tunnel, stopping at the point at which fresh air and sunlight was entering. Azimer shouted to Vort and Villius, and the calmonari then dove into the ocean. In response, the cleric and dwarf yanked on strategically placed ropes, pulling the tarred cloth off the wooden frame and exposing the blob thing to the air and sun. It started to hiss and steam, and retreated back into the safety of the cave. Disappointed that it was not destroyed, Azimer stood watch while Villius and Vort rebuilt the tunnel. The calmonari also placed the three dead lamprey in the tunnel, hoping that the dead flesh and Gormus's blood might attract the blob. But no luck; it advanced to the edge of the timber tunnel but would not enter it again.


The trio convened a quick conference on the beach and hatched a new plan. Propping the barely conscious Gormus up in the sand as a decoy/lure, the trio stripped the tarred canvas from the wooden frame and rolled it up. With Vort walking point, and Villius and Azimer carrying the bulky canvas, the three headed to a previously explored entrance to the cave. They looped around trying to get behind the blob and catch it in the tunnel, It, however, nearly caught them in an open cavern; Gormus was apparently not much of a distraction. A mad rush by the bearers, however, allowed them to roll out the canvas in the tunnel in front of the blob before it could emerge into the cavern. With fingers and fins crossed, the three waited in anticipation, hoping the blob would move onto the tarred carpet. Which it did! Before it could advance too far, Azimer and Villus, using a trident and musket respectively, lifted the near edge of the tarred canvas and flipped it onto the blob. With impeccable timing and perfect aim, Vort hurled with torch at the now inflammablly wrapped blob, and it went up in a burst of flame and smoke. Villus then ripped the black powder filled apostles from around his neck and tossed them into the inferno to add another serious of explosions and more flame. This was too much for the blob, and it withered into a blackened mass of goo on the tunnel floor.

But the battle wasn't over yet! Even as they watched, the blob began to come together and reform. Desperate, Villius and Vort swung again and again with flail and belaying pin, beating the thing into submission. Meanwhile, Azimer grabbed the iron helm off Vort's head, and scooped up as much of the goop as possible. Then running at tip speed, the calmonari headed for the beach. There, the goop was hurled into the sand, where it smoked and hissed into oblivion. Azimer continued scooping and running, while Vort and Villius continued to smash at the creature to keep it from regenerating and reforming. This worked well for a few trips, but after the third or forth run to the beach, the oozy materiel ate through the bottom of the helmet. Nonplussed, the clamonari grabbed the dwarf round metal shield for the next 'scoop and run'. This, unfortunately, caused the dwarf to miss his timing when swinging his flail. Villius likewise missed, and in the confusion the blob began to grow large and strong again. The quickly strengthening monster lashed out a pseudopod at Vort, and the unfortunate dwarf was hurled across the room, his rib cage shattered. He held precariously onto life however, as Azimer and Villius tried to beat the blob into submission again. But when Azimer took a hard blow, both decided it was time to cut and run. The slowly expiring dwarf had to be left behind, as he was lying on the opposite side of the blob.

Calmonari and cleric run back to the beach, the blob following close behind. The two turned to face their foe once they were in the sunlight. Villius, grabbing some powder from Gormus (still sitting, sunburned and suffering in the sand), loaded his musket and fired at the thing. And struck it right in the centre, blowing to smithereens in a spray of hot glop. Wasting no time, Azimer rushed forward and using the shield again, started scooping the remains out into the sunlight until all of the deadly blob was gone. At last, their amoebic foe was vanquished!

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After a brief rest to bind wounds and catch their breath, the two ran back to where Vort lay, Alas, the dwarf had expired before emergency aid arrived. They carried his body back and lay it in the sand for Gormus to watch over. The remain two adventurers decided to make one last foray into the cavern to look for easy treasure. But at the first sign of trouble, the plan was the hightail it out of there and come back with reinforcements another day. Back at the intersection containing the crystal prism, they took an as yet unexplored tunnel. Which ended almost at once in a pile of stones. Villius looked closely, and noted that it didn't look like a collapse. Instead, it looks like something or someone had deliberately pilled the stones there to block the tunnel. Thinking they didn't want to actually meet that who or what right now, they backtracked and choose another tunnel to explore. It led to another intersection, this one with a large 10' diamater black basalt pillar in the centre. After a cursory examination, this was bypassed and the duo moved on, coming to a large cavern. This was filled with pillars of purple and white quartz, stretching from floor to ceiling.  Looking around, Azimer also spied another pillar, only five feet tall, but topped with a crystal skull. The calmonari approached and examined it for traps. Finding nothing, Azimer moved around behind the pillar and tried to lift the skull. No luck; it appeared to be firmly attached. Upon touching it however, the calmonari's hands began to sink into the skull until she/he could feel a slippery, soft mass. Oddly enough, Villius at that same moment had the sensation of someone sticking fingers into his brain, a feeling which disappeared when Azimer pulled his/her hands from the skull. Villius pondered hard on the matter, but for some reason could not make a reasoned mental investigation as well as he once could. Curious ...

Deciding they'd pushed their luck enough for one day, the two turned back to the beach and the ship. They did not get far before encountering a pair of fish-men. They looked just like the remains found the previous day, except these two still had legs and lower torsos. The two were emaciated and looked weak, but upon seeing Villius and Azimer raised their tridents to attack. Azimer tired to use aquatic telepathy to communicate feelings of love and friendship, but the two creatures were unresponsive. The calmonari then used aquatic charm to bend one to his/her will, which did succeed. The charmed creature was able to convince it's companion to not attack, and the two followed Azimer and Villius back to the beach. Once their, the charmed fish-man signaled goodbye to Azimer before it and it's companion dove into the ocean and disappeared. Azimer and Villius, meanwhile, signaled to the jolly boat to return to the safety of the "Serpents Revenge"  

GAINS
nil. nadda. zilch.

KILLS
The Guardian AKA The Blob
3 gliding lamprey

LOSSES
Vort the Dwarf
lots of canvas and tar

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Westmist Session #99 - Kunth to Westmist to Kunth to Westmist ...

Having received and studied the pilfered volumes, Toi! lo proceeded (through his human intermediary) to lecture Kern and Erijay on Yg and how to defeat the aspects of the god. Only after first going into an in-depth and esoteric exposition on the  non-existence of the gods, of course. That said, Toi! lo noted that Yg was one of the so called “Loathsome Gods”, those first foul gods to be worshiped by mankind.Yg was particularly interesting as it consisted  of the three aspects of Yg, who could combine into one  super-powerful god with the abilities of the three individuals. Of the aspects themselves, he could find little of specific powers. Very large and very strong. Some of the old texts told of sacrifices  swallowed whole, of poison bites and venomous spit, of the ability to charm  weak-willed humans. The three aspects were very difficult to fight, as all would  regenerate when injured.

As for the motivation of the god, it's immediate goal would be to seek the third aspect. The real  driving force, however, would be the cult of Yg. It’s goal was to enslave the world in their dread god’s name, and although much weakened, the cult survives to this day (a fact neither Kern nor Erijay needed to be told).
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Historically, most of the Loathsome Gods were bound and imprisoned with magic specifically designed for such a task. In particular the items known as “Fetters of the Gods”. These were powerful
artifacts which could place the god/creature in a magical stasis, unable to be  harmed but likewise unable to harm anyone or anything.  Destroying Yg would be  difficult, as it was one of the gods the heroes of old could not kill. However,  locate these “Fetters of the Gods” and it may be possible to re-imprison it. Each of the aspects need to be imprisoned separately; try to use one of the  artifacts on a combined Yg and it will split, leaving only one aspects bound. The final battles against many of the the gods and their cults took place in  what is now known as the “Wastes of the Loathsome Gods”, a land of bleak moor, hills and bog between the Black Spine Mountains and the Skaarl Sea. That  would be the most logical place to start looking for traces of the “Fetters”.

Erijay and Kern pondered this for awhile, and proceeded to ask the mighty slug-man a few more questions abut the “Wastes of the Loathsome Gods” and where to start their search in that barren land. Answers, however, were curtly not forthcoming. The great Toi! lo had kept his part of the bargain; any other questions would require further services! With little choice, unless they wanted to stumble around lost in a haunted land, the pair agreed. Once more Toi! lo asked them to recover some books, but this times from bandits rather than a rival ("Perfect Spreading of Merit" looked very relieved). A merchant caravan, carrying among other things books purchased by the slug-man from one of the arcane inhabitants of the Land of 1000 Wizards, had been ambushed 2 days ago on the Road of the High Sun. A pair of bearers had escaped to bring the news to the city, but the rest of the people and goods were lost. And Toi! lo wanted his books. Kern and Erijay had "Perfect Spreading of Merit" track down the bearers for questioning, and the two impoverished men confirmed the slug-man's story. They could provide little detail on the bandits other than they saw only men, no monsters. Kern paid the two men for their information (unintentionally once more committing a social faux pax), and they returned to Toi! lo's archive.  Kern and Erijay agreed to the job, but informed the slug-man they had some personal business to attend to first.

That business was to go back through the gate and recover Bjorn's body, and hopefully have him raised from the dead. After confirming with "Perfect Spreading of Merit" that such a service could be found in Kunth, the duo had their minder take them out of the city and they headed up through the fields back to the magical gate. First, Erijay cast invisibility on herself and Kern. Then, inserting the gems, they once more activated the gate and passed through into their ruined cellar. Above was a small hole through which daylight filtered and rubble could be seen, and the sounds of someone moving around could be heard. The sounds were far off, so Kern boosted Erijay up to climb out of the hole. Unfortunately, the elf grabbed a loose bit of timber and a pile of wood and stone tumbled down on the pair. This attracted some attention, and a trio of grimy and grim faces soon appeared above. Obviously townsfolk and obviously much worst for wear, the three peered into the hole for a bit, but moved on when they saw nothing of interest. Once the coast was clear, Erijay and Kern climbed out of the cellar and looked around. The scene was one of almost total devastation. On the hill to the southeast lay the tumbled ruins of Westmist Keep, and on the southwest hill was the ruins of the Temple of the Three Virtues. Much of the rest of the town was likewise in ruin, and a significant portion of the northern and western walls were destroyed. A few clusters of townsfolk seemed to be working on repairing the wall (one led by the unmistakably ugly Lanthan the Undervirtue), and a few others picked through the ruins. But there were not many to be seen.

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The two did not linger long, however, but made their way quickly to the Keep. Luckily, Bjorn still lay where they'd left him, wrapped in his cloak. The picked up the rather ripe body and made their way back to the gate. There, they first disguised the gate it as best they could, to prevent any one else from finding it, and then slipped back through the portal to Kunth. Making their way back to the city, they were met by "Perfect Spreading of Merit", who led them to the high philosopher of the "Path of Truth and Knowledge to and of All". Kern was a little underwhelmed when he was presented to a short dirty man in a loin cloth, living in a filthy hovel in  slum. However, the merchant was convinced to turn over the requisite gift of jewelery and gems to the little man, who proceeded to burn incense and chant of the magic users remains. And it worked, for Bjorn was drawn back from the dead once more, arriving spitting mad, plus dazed and confused. Kern explained where they were and what had happened, then they brought him back to the Foreign Quarter and rented rooms so he could rest and recover. Knowing the lawless nature of the Quarter, Kern also hired a pair of big Skaarling mercenaries to guard their countrymen while he and Erijay went about their business.

That business involved going back to Westmist once more, for the pair had remembered the pit full of gold left behind in the ruined Yg temple. After first spending a few days in preparations and shopping for some spell scrolls, the two set off once more to the gate and back to Westmist. They went invisible once more, which was good as the town was not as quiet this time. Arriving back in their old cellar, they could now hear screams and faint sounds of battle in the ruins above. Climbing above ground, they could see the barbarians of the Ram tribe moving through the ruins, cutting down anyone who resisted and hauling away others as prisoners! Kern agonized over intervening, since he was the chief's brother in law. Erijay pointed out that given his wife's history of offing unwanted husbands, he might not be welcomed with open arms. Especially as the tribeès relocation didnèt go quite as planned. Agreeing with the elf, Kern went along with the original plan: looting. They headed back to the Keep and the temple. Erijay took the magic chest from Kern. The elf flew down into the pit recently vacated by the aspect of Yg, and started to shovel coins into the chest until full. This was repeated twice, which the first lot getting hidden in the secret safe back in the old cellar; for future recovery. On the second trip, Erijay was attacked by a shadowy snake-like thing as she flew out of the pit, but was able to soar away safely on the wings of magic. With the chest now full, the two took care to avoid the fighting, and scurried back to the gate. There, Erijay used a scoll of hallucinatory terrain to disguise the ruined cellar to avoid it's discovery, and the two then headed back through to Kunth.

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There, they finally headed out along the Road of the High Sun to recover the books for the slug-man. Purchasing a pair of horses, they made it to the ambush site in a single day. At this point, the wooded hills came close to the river, forcing the road into a narrow defile between high land and water. Kern looked around, and was able to find traces of tracks heading up into the wooded hills. The two hitched their horses to a tree, and followed the faint traces into the shrubs. On the other side, they found a rough but clear cart track winding its way up the hill. Following it for about an hour, the trees thinned and they could see above them a ruined keep nestled at the base of a high cliff. There were no sign of of any occupants, but they were pretty sure they'd found the bandit hideout ...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Far Isles Session #5 - The Blob

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:  
Chaff  (Vivimancer 1), with henchman/carrier Conch (Calmonari 1),
Gormus (Thief/Specialist 1), with henchman Villius Paticus (Cleric 1)
Azimer (Calmonari 1)
Vort (Dwarf 1)

The party returned to the  "Serpents Revenge" to resupply on oil, nets and a bag full of rats. They were also joined by the dwarf Vort, one of the adventurer/crew who joined the vessel on their last journey into the ring of islets. Thus prepared for further adventure, the party was deposited on the beach and headed back into the caves. There they made a right turn at the previously bypassed junction. After about 40', the sharp eyed Azimer noted a mauve coloured blob on the floor ahead, almost indistinguishable from similar mauve coloured rocks and veins in the cave walls. Vort the Dwarf picked up  rock and tossed it at the glop; the rock disappeared inside the thing with no noticeable affect. Conch pulled a bilge rat from his sack, tied it to a 10' pole, and passed it all to Chaff. The little vivimancer poked the rat at the blob, which engulfed the rodent and about a foot of the pole in the process. That pointed to killing it with fire as an advisable course of action, so a brace of oil flasks and a cantrip spark set the thing alight, leaving behind a black crust.

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/
Moving past the burned blop, the part soon came to a dead end. Here they encountered a statue of a bald, androgynous looking person, dressed in straight-edged robes with alternating vertical geometric patterns. The statue's arms were wrapped around it, as if hugging itself. Also of note was the single yellow gem in one eye socket, the other staring empty and blind. Azimer and Vort searched around the statue for traps, while Gormus eyed the gem-eye greedily. While nothing untoward was found by the trap-seekers, the party decided to tip the statue over just in case. It came down with a solid crash, and Gormus now felt it safe to pry out that gem. When he did, the statues mouth opened and a gout of acid shot forth. Luckily, the statue fell in a position such that the acid spread across the floor and melted some rock rather than some adventurer flesh.

Retracing steps, the party re-entered the broken treasure chest chamber. While everyone else searched around the remains of the chest for more coins/clues to it's origin, Gormus wandered ahead. As he reached the end of the chamber, he saw a strange thing emerge from the darkness. It was a blob about 15' tall, a scintillating mass of colour that slid slowly towards the thief on a layer of ectoplasmic slime. With a gurgling cry, Gormus retreated to the safety of the party and the group prepared to meet this new threat. A battle line was formed, oil tossed and lit, crossbow bolts loosed, and Gormus blasted a hole in the blob with his pistol. But the now smouldering blob slowly continued it's advance. Rather than make a stand , the party made a fighting retreat down the tunnel towards the beach, lobbing oil and torches as they went. And still the monstrous slime advanced, tattered and burned but seemingly invincible. In addition to this primary threat, a swarm of tiny crab poured down the walls while passing the intersection to the dead end tunnel. These engulfed Azimer, who turned and ran screaming towards the beach and the ocean to wash off the biting little buggers. The calmonari was soon joined by the rest of the party, now out of oil and retreating before the blob. Which luckily did not follow them out into the sunlight and fresh sea air of the beach. Vort used his shield to aim beam of sunlight at the thing, which caused it to retreat back into the darkness.
http://chicagomag.com/images/2012/0912/C201209-C-Jason-Lazarus-Blob-Monster.jpg

Regrouping on the beach, Gormus recalled the jolly boat and went back to the "Serpents Revenge" to gather as much oil as Thorgrim could spare. Thus rearmed, the party advanced back into the caves, oil flasks in hand. They once more met the blob near the broken treasure chest chamber and unleashed a hail of oil and flame, carefully retreating before the slowly advancing blob. This time the oil seemed to do the trick, and the blob collapsed in to an ashy, slimy smear on the floor. With a sigh of relief (and a quick exploratory poke with a 10' pole), the party moved past the now defunct obstacle and entered the next chamber.  This was a vaguely round cavern, with an exit to the north-east. In the centre of the room stood a well surrounded by a low stone wall. Conch and Chaff investigated the exit, and noted a relatively fresh trail of slime coming from that direction. The rest of the party headed for the well, finding it dry to the limits of their vision. Vort obtained a rat from Conch, tied it to a rope and lowered the squirming rodent down the well.

At this point Chaff looked towards the entrance to the chamber, and cursed as another/the same giant blob entered the room! Gormus loaded his pistol, Villius fired a sling stone, and Azimer moved into position to catch the thing in  net. Chaff and Conch meanwhile headed down the new exit at top speed, looking for (hopefully) another way out so the party wouldn't be trapped and destroyed by the blob. Vort continued to lower the rat, having to add more rope until the rat bottomed out at about 105'. Villius missed with his sling, the blob dissolved Azimer's net, and Vort now saw another swarm of tiny crab skittering up the walls of the well towards him!

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Azimer took care of this new crustacean threat by using aquatic charm to befriend the swarm and guide it towards the blob. Which promptly engulfed and dissolved the little critters. Gormus and Villius looped around the blob and retreated back towards the beach,  and Azimer and Vort kept moving to dodge the advancing blob. Conch and Chaff meanwhile entered another large chamber, note a statute at the far end, then headed out another exit on the opposite wall. Azimer and Vort decided to follow the vivimancer and calmonari, as the blob was blocking the other exit. The four were able to keep easily ahead of their slow moving foe, and soon came to a four way intersection. Here they encountered a prism shaped crystal pillar, covered in a series of strange inscriptions of vertical and horizontal lines. Chaff cast  read magic to no avail, and further investigation was interrupted by the arrival of the gods-cursed blob.

Choosing the exit most likely to lead to the beach, the quartet moved off at a run once more. Just as they reached the first rays of daylight, they passed a small alcove on their left. There lay the body of a yet unencountered species of fish-man, it's lower body missing and the trunk terminating in dripping slime. Azimer poked it with his trident. When nothing bad happened, he pocketed the gold band he'd seen encircling the creatures bicep. The blob now approached, but would not come into the daylight and fresh air where the full party stood (the quartet having now been rejoined by Villius and Gormus).  After a few moments, the thing retreated back into the darkness, leaving the party to retreat back to the "Serpents Revenge| with their meager treasure. 

GAINS
100gp amber gem
gold bracelet (20gp)

KILLS
2 crab swarms
1 mauve glop

LOSSES
2 Bilge Rats
A lot of oil

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Far Isles Session #4 - Silver Hoards, and a Rat on a Stick

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:  
Chaff  (Vivimancer 1), with henchman/carrier Conch (Calmonari 1),
Gormus (Thief/Specialist 1), with henchman Villius Paticus (Cleric 1)
Azimer (Calmonari 1)

Thorgrim was quite pleased by the treasure haul, now finally seeing a return on his investment. He was a little less impressed by the condition of his exploration crew. All recovering from near fatal injuries, except for the midget vivimancer and his calmonari henchman. It was therefore rather easy for Chaff to convince Thorgrim to sail the "Serpents Revenge" back to the anchorage for rest and refit. The captain was made happier when the vivmancer indicated he and Conch would go back in to the now (hopefully) not to dangerous cave and recover the silver coins which had been left behind.

Before leaving the ship, Chaff had his henchman go down into the bilges with a sack to capture a few rats. The vivimancer and calmonari were then rowed over to the beach, and they made their way back to the room with the shaft. Luckily they made it there without incident, and equally lucky the rock was still lifted out of the shaft by their Rube Goldberg rope work.  Before going down below for the treasure however, Chaff was determined to learn more about the gas-filled globes, one of which had killed the musketeer Fiona. The vivimancer pulled a rat out of the sack, tied it to the end of a 10' pole, and then proceeded to poke each globe in turn with his new research assistant. The pink gas had no apparent effect, while the mauve turned the rat a vibrant mauve hue. When exposed to the red gas, however, the rat went raving mad and clawed and bit itself until little was left but a bloody mauve scrap of fur. Well, that left two more rats, so another was tied to the pole and exposed to the brown gas. The rodent immediately went limp, but close examination proved that it was not dead, just sleeping. Chaff poked the snoozing rat at the mauve globe again, now being desirous of owning a pet mauve rat. He and Conch also breathed deeply of the pink gas, and found themselves much more resistant to the effects of other gas attacks.

'Rat-on-a stick' courtesy of Gormus' player
Experimentation complete, the two descended down to the treasure caves. Stepping over Karthik's body, they filled their sacks with silver coin. Conch dropped pretty much all his equipment so they could carry out all 2300sp. The sacks were hauled one by one up the shaft, and thence to the beach and onto the "Serpents Revenge". Luckily, all done with no interruption from giant sea urchins or limpet men.

Captain Thorgrim locked the treasures in his cabin, entered the haul into his ledger for later payout, and then lifted anchor and raised sail to head back to the Anchorage. Progress was slow at first due to head winds, but a shift in the direction the next day brought them to the anchorage in record time. Conch tried to determine the exact direction and distance of travel for future reference, but the clouds obscured the sun and stars and allowed him to figure only that they had sailed roughly north. Swinging around the island and into the harbour, they found it much more crowded than when they'd left just over a week ago. Four ships rode at anchor. The single masted cog "Divine Providence"was still there. It was now joined by a pair of three mastered caravels (the "Valorous Star" and the "Savage Sisters") and a dilapidated, decaying old tub by the name of "Blue Wing". On shore, the beach was now occupied by a complex of tents from which sounds of laughter and music arose.  The "Serpents Revenge" anchored close to the other vessels, and the crew swarmed over to the other ships to gather news. Which they shared with the party upon return.:
  • The tent city was "Torgus' Traveling Tavern" shipped here by the "Valorous Star" to provide refreshment and entertainment for the visitors and regulars at the anchorage;
  • The "Divine Providence" was still looking for an exploration crew, the captain having had no luck getting anyone to join him as of yet;
  • The "Savage Sisters" was getting ready to sail with an exploration crew on board for parts unknown (but there were rumors of a pyramid topped with golden statues);
  • The "Valorous Star" was a merchant vessel carrying a wide selection of fine elven wares;
  • The "Blue Wing" was loaded with would be colonists who'd been duped into paying for passage to the fabled new islands where they could settle. The crew had taken their money and dumped them here, slipping away in a small boat in the dead of night.
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Chaff had Conch swim around the "Blue Wing", the little vivimancer having visions of gallantly assisting the would-be colonists back to mainland and then commandeering the vessel for the party. Alas, the calmonari reported that it was unlikely the ship could survive a voyage back to Langushur, let alone be of any use afterwards.

Meanwhile, the rest of the (still recovering) party took their share of the treasures recovered and made their way to visit Lifjin on the "Valorous Star" to checkout the wares. The overly perfumed and overly touchy-feeling elf  showed a wide selection of gear, including a full range of alchemical supplies. All of which was available from her at just a 10% markup, on account of the fine elven quality. Conch had no choice but to restock everything he'd left in the caves, and the others replaced depleted supplies and provisions. They then headed to shore to check out the tavern, and Gormus proceeded to buy drinks for the whole establishment and begin telling wild drunken tales of his prowess and adventures. He got a few hecklers, including Gustov, a stuttering, built like a bull cleric from the exploration crew on the "Savage Sisters". Though tempers flared and ale was spilled, no foul play erupted and the party managed to haul the inebriated specialist back to their ship.

The party also made a visit to the "Divine Providence, to speak with the skipper and see what adventures he had planned. The tall and stick thin captain, Yorgam of Tarsk , informed them he had a commission from the owners of a vessel that had recently gone missing in the Far Isles. He had some idea of where to search, and was looking for a good away crew to help. Sniffing down at the party, he agreed they could probably do the job. But after some discussion they decided to stick with the devil they knew and head back out with Thorgrim and the "Serpents Revenge". For he had revealed to the parry that his sailors had explored the ring of islets further and discovered more caves that may hold lost treasures.

Speaking of the devil they knew, Azimer pumped of the crew for information on their skipper. He seemed a little over interested in not getting back to civilization when asked about the possibility of sailing back to Xin. With some reluctance, the crewman revealed the "Serpents Revenge" was a slaver. On their last voyage, they were to deliver a load of slaves to the Black Theocrat for use in some obscene ritual. Thorgrim got a better offer and delivered them to a Zevestian Pasha instead, and the Black Theocrat's assassins have been after them ever since. Hence they were sailing around here in the middle of nowhere. And, thought Azimer, that explained the shackles lining the hold.

http://www.churchofhalloween.com/
While a little more wary of their captain, they decided to go ahead with the plan to re-join him and explore more caves.They did need need more time, however, for the near-fatal casualties to recover. With time on their hands, everyone decided to pay a visit to Bellaphrone, the witch in the woods. Gathering what they hoped was a suitable gift (a handful of coin, limpet man shell and the mauve rat) they climbed the low rise behind the beach and descended into the shallow valley behind. There they found a rude hut, surrounded by pigs rooting through the underbrush, with the door guarded by two massive wild boars. Chaff called out, and a woman appeared in the doorway. Tall, dark, and of indeterminate age, Bellaphrone asked their business. Chaff said they wished only to speak to her, the learn what she may know of the islands, and offered the gifts to her. She laughed a cruel laugh, took the rat out of his cage and twisted its neck, before throwing the body aside. To gain her favor, she said, the party would have to bring something with the 'glimmer of dwimmer', not trinkets and painted rats. But she graciously agreed to answer a few questions this time. When asked, Bellaphrone said she'd lived on the island for years beyond memory. And was coy about how many years that had been, and from whence she'd come before that. When asked about the surrounding isles, she professed to have little knowledge. The fog, it seemed, had surrounded and isolated the islands of the archipelago from each other. Until it lifted a few months ago, no one knew any islands existed but their own. She did warn them that the islands and waters were dangerous, as already many ships had sailed out and not returned.

Taking their leave of the witch, the party marched back to the anchorage to rest and drink (Gormus restrained by only a lack of funds from going on a truly epic bender). The time soon came, however, to sail again. Several days later, the "Serpents Revenge" arrived back at the ring of rocky islets. This time Thorgrim headed for the northernmost isle, dropping anchor outside a small cove. A line of 100' tall sea stacks led across the cove and onto a sandy beach nestled below high black cliffs. As the party was rowed across the waters, they could see three caves leading off the beach. Once ashore, Azimer looked about the beach and noted signs of webbed humanoid footprints in the sand. The sand itself was black, mixed with a range of different coloured sand. When the party formed up and head into the first cave entrance, they noted the rough rock tunnel was a similar black rock shot throughout with veins and vugs of different coloured rock. They followed a winding corridor to a three way intersection.While discussing down which branch they should proceed, Villius observed 5 long snake-like creatures drop from the ceiling ahead and glide down onto the party. A fight ensued, and the creatures bit down on Chaff, Villius and Gormus. They hung on, continuing to suck blood as their victims tried desperately to knock them loose. Conch was able to trap one in his net, and luckily the others with dispatched before draining the blood completely from their victims.

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Somewhat shaken, the party decided to go ahead and look over the area from which the gliding vampiric lampreys had come. Just around the corner was a large chamber, and sitting just inside it was a battered old chest. After first looking around the ceiling for more danger, Azimer then crept toward the chest, checking her path carefully for traps. Closer now, she could see the opposite end of the chest was broken open, and a trail of silver coins stretched off into the darkness of the chamber. Also noteworthy was the trail of slime that paralleled the trail of coins. Gormus gleefully went ahead to scoop up the loose coins, while Azimer carefully opened the chest. There were no traps, and inside shone even more silver. Somewhat battered from the lamprey attack,  the party decided to take the chest and hurry back to the ship, having earned their keep fairly quickly and easily this time.

GAINS:
5 Gliding Vampiric Lampreys killed.
2900sp

LOSSES:
1 mauve rat

Friday, June 19, 2015

Far Isles Session #3 - Loot and Losses

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:  
Chaff  (Vivimancer 1), with henchman/carrier Conch (Calmonari 1),
Gormus (Thief/Specialist 1), with henchman Villius Paticus (Cleric1)
Azimer (Calmonari 1)
Karthik (Fighter 1)

In the wee hours of the next morning, a storm battered ship limped into the ring of islets and hove to the "Serpents Revenge". She was the "Western Witch", and was returning from an unsuccessful voyage of exploration to the east, in which nothing was met but foul weather and ship damage. She was headed back to Xin for repair and refit, so Thorgrim (seeing how quickly his exploration team was losing members) arranged to transship the adventurers from the "Western Witch" to the "Serpents Revenge". Just in case he needed a few more helping hands to haul treasure.

http://50.87.187.230/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/img_627811.jpg
At dawn the next day, one of the newcomers (Karthik) joined Gormus, Villius, Azimer, Chaff and Conch on the next delve into the sea cave. This time they had a goal; recover the treasure Conch and Chaff had discovered the previous day. Brought to shore in the jolly boat, they landed on the  now very narrow beach (Azimer noted the tide was rising) and headed for the chamber where Conch and Chaff had left the boulder tipped out of the shaft with a complex system of ropes. This they reached without incident, but found the shaft now guarded by a pair of skeletons. These were taken out with little trouble. Going back to the boulder, the party was dismayed to find someone or something had cut the rope and the boulder was back blocking the top of the shaft. A little more rope work and heaving lifted the rock again, but then someone questioned the wisdom of going back into a flooding cave and risking the rock being cut again and trapping them. The party decided to scout another way down, and Gormus reminded everyone of the chasm on the other side of the entry chamber. Back there they trekked, making a side trip into the echo cave for the new guy to try out. It worked the same as before, echoing back Karthik's words in an unknown and alien tongue. The fighter proved to be more than just brawn however, spending a little time echoing common words until he had a rudimentary grasp of the language.

Thinking this new linguistic talent might allow the to talk to the shell men, the party slogged east to the chamber where they'd first encountered them. The room was now empty, and the water continued to rise around their legs. Hoping the tide lines on the walls were accurate and the water wold only rise a few feet, they decided to push further on. They passed though another flooded chamber with a floor thick with seaweed, and thence down a narrow slopped passage to yet another chamber. This one was occupied by two shell men fussing with a series of small round shells on the south wall. The pair turned to face the party. They made no overt hostile moves, but their hands moved to the crude clubs they carried in their seaweed harness. Karthik tried to speak to them in the alien language, while Azimer and Conch sent good vibrations. The two, however, did not respond to the fighter's words and generally stayed uncommunicative and defensive. Noting an exit on the other side of the chamber, the party carefully and gently bypassed the shell men and headed that way. The now thigh-deep water rushed pass them as they headed down a winding passage that eventually ended at another chasm. The water pouring over the edge obscured their view, but Azimer stuck her head under the water and using her bio-luminescent vision could see the chasm dropped just 30' into a chamber below. Azimer and Conch decided to dive down and explore, while Villius and Karthik stood guard at the top. Gormus, suspicious of the shell men, lit his pistol's match cord and went back up the tunnel to watch them.
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At the bottom of the chasm, Azimer and Conch  discovered a large cavern, now filled with about 7-8 feet of water. Examination of the walls and roof showed that at some point, it would be filled to the top. Down below on the floor they found a long forgotten  boat, rotted and almost disintegrated from long years below the water. They also explored a pair of exits from the room. One led into a cavern Conch recognized as the one he and Chaff had entered from the shaft the previous day. The other led to another chasm, presumably the one they'd already discovered close to the entry chamber. Near this exit they also discovered three bodies; a pair of men in chainmail and a dwarf in plate. Based on the state of decomposition, they'd been dead only a few weeks. The pair of calmonari roped the three together and hauled them back to the chasm, where  Karthik and Villius pulled them up.

While Azimer and Conch continued to explore below, Villius went to fetch Gormus and the pair pulled the bodies back towards the dry caves for thorough examination, leaving Karthik and Chaff to stand watch for the calmonari. They ignored (and were ignored by) the two shell men tending the wall, but encountered a single shell man in the eating chamber. Itching to see if the shell men, like the urchins, had pearls in their bellies, Gormus fired his pistol at the creature. It went down in a welter of blood and smoke and noise. He and Villus grabbed that body too, and hauled all four over to the sandy floored star-cave for examination. Alas, evisceration of the shell man did not uncover any pearls, but Gormus did find a small leather bag on the dwarf with  a handful of gems and electrum coins.

Meanwhile, Azimer and Conch finished their exploration and rejoined Karthik and Chaff. Just in time to hear the boom of gunfire. Assuming their companions needed help, they pushed back along the passages and caves. Reaching the shell man eating chamber, they now found 8 of the creatures (one much larger than the others) milling about in the water, searching the chamber. These warily faced off against the party. Suddenly, two of the shell men searching in one corner of the chamber began waving and pointing and making complicated arm gestures at the rest. They'd found a trace of blood, and were not happy. The shell men raised their stone and wood weapons and moved to attack the party. Missile weapons flew at the shell men, Chaff dropped a spore cloud in their midst, and Azimer tried to catch some in her net. This took out half of the creatures (including the big leader), but for once they were mad and the rest waded forward to attack. A little melee ensued, and another shell man dropped. The last three now turned to flee towards the entry cave. Pursued by Karthik, Chaff/Conch and Azimer, the little creatures ran right into Gormus and Villius, who'd started marching towards the  sounds of battle. Trapped between the two parties, the trio of shell men fought viciously, taking down Gormus before being wiped out themselves. Gormus was able to keep death at bay however, and with  a little first aid was able to at least stand and limp along.

With the of the caves interconnections finally figured out, the party went back to the beach (after making a side trip to recover Fiona's body and gear) and called back the jolly boat to haul Gormus back to the "Serpents Revenge". They then went back to the shaft/boulder cave to wait for the tide to drop far enough to safely enter the flooding caves below. This took some hours, and they has to fight two wandering shell men while they were waiting. Eventually though, the two calmonari descended the shaft and reported the water level had dropped enough to proceed, so everyone headed down below. They briefly explored the flooded cavern and confirmed it connected with the two chasms (and Azimer fell into a hidden hole under the seaweed layer). They then formed up and headed up the narrow slope into the dry treasure caves. Reaching the skulls, they methodically smashed them all on the ground to make sure none were left to animate behind them. Inside one, Villius discovered a star shaped piece of jade. Moving on now to the first chamber, the party set up a blocking position and then elected the new guy, Karthik, to go forward and rouse the skeletons in the treasure room, and lead them back into the killing zone.
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This the fighter did, and the skeletons followed him back to where the party had set up a blocking position where the narrow tunnel entered their room. This permitted only one skeleton at a time to attack the three (Karthik, Villius, Conch) in the front rank. This seemingly foolproof plan did not hold up for long, as a lucky blow by the second skeleton dropped Villius to the ground (although some quick work binding wounds by Azimer saved him to fight another day). The skeletons started to pour through the gap left by the fallen cleric, and Azimer and Karthik soon joined Villius on the floor; the calmonari was saved from death by Chaff's first aid, but alas nothing could be done for Karthik. It was looking grim as Conch and Chaff once more faced the skeletons alone but a good use of flaming oil by Chaff and solid blows by Conch finished the last of the undead hoard. The two, checking first to see Azimer and Villius were OK, headed into the treasure room and proceeded to loot the two chests. Each proved to be padlocked, and each were smashed off by Conch. The calmonari narrowly missed being hit by some sort of russet ooze that shot out of the first chest when opened, but inside the two they found a mix of silver and gold coins, a handful of gems, a sword and sword hilt, and a pair of scrolls. Conch and Chaff loaded their sacks with everything but the silver, and then collected Azimer and Villius for the slow trek back to the beach and on board the "Serpents Revenge".

GAINS:
8 skeletons, 9 limpet men and 5 grinding skulls destroyed
535gp, 46ep and 2sp
11 gems (6x10gp, 3x50gp, 2x100gp)
Jade star (100gp)
Gold and jet sword hilt (no blade) [600gp]; a cutlass with a silver and gold mermaid hilt [500gp]
Scroll of Ward Against Magic;
Clerical Scroll - 1)Purify Food and Water, 2)Delay Poison, 2) Hold Person, 2) Bless, 2) Reveal Charm, 2) Spiritual Weapon, 2) Speak with Animal.

LOSSES:
Karthik the Fighting Man