Saturday, June 27, 2015

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

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.
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.
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.
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.


5 Gliding Vampiric Lampreys killed.

1 mauve rat

Friday, June 19, 2015

Far Isles Session #3 - Loot and Losses

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.
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.
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.
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".


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.

Karthik the Fighting Man

Friday, June 5, 2015

Far Isles Session #2 - Mourn Not The Dead, But Think of the Treasure ...

Chaff  (Vivimancer 1), with henchman/carrier Conch (Calmonari 1),
Fiona (Musketeer 1)
Morg the Sailorman (Fighter 1)

While Orm recovered from his near-death encounter with the sea urchins, Azimer, Gormus and Villlius decided it best to stay out of the caves until the party was at full strength. Chaff (with Conch) and Fiona were not so sure, and wanted to head back right away. An attitude encouraged by Captain Thorgrim, who was still looking for a big treasure to pay his crew. He even agreed to send along one of his sailors as extra help; Morg was a bit dim, and wheezed when he breathed, but knew how to handle a spear. So the four were transshipped back to the beach, and delved once more into the caves.

With lamp lit, they reached the first chamber to find a trio of shell-men poking through tide pools. Couch sent thoughts of peace and happiness to the aquatic humanoids, and they seemed content to ignore the party and keep on with whatever they were doing. As the party skirted around them, Chaff could see from his perch atop Conch that the creatures were hunting for crabs and shellfish in the pools. After some discussion, the party decided to take the as yet unexplored exit on the west side of the entry cave, on the assumption that it would meet up with the previously explored route. This proved to be the case, and after a little while the party found themselves staring into the site of the great sea urchin massacre. They saw no sign of living urchins, and noted that only the shells of those they'd slaughtered remained; the meat was missing. Passing through the room to an exit on the opposite side, they found themselves in a similar chamber, but with a pile of black sand in the middle of the floor. Keeping back in the tunnel, Chaff cast a cantrip to brush away a little sand, revealing a few round white objects.  Intrigued, Chaff tried to convince Morg to go brush away the rest of the sand. The sailor wasn't about to volunteer, so the diminutive spell caster ordered his henchman Conch into the room instead. The calmonari had no problem with this, and using a spade, uncovered a pile of 15-20 of these small objects. Close examination and dissection revealed that they were eggs, giant sea urchin eggs to be exact. Not sure what kind of urchin-vengeance might be called down upon them if they disturbed the eggs any more, they choose to leave them as they were and continue on their way.
The next room was quite large, with boulders in two corners of the room. Also of note was the southern wall, covered in some kind of seaweed-y tendrils or vines, attached to which were 5 colored globes (red, mauve, pink, yellow-green and brown). Closer investigation showed the globes were in fact filled with a fluid or gas of some kind, and were part of the vines. Avoiding and ignoring the unknown at this point, the group examined boulders instead. A trio of large boulders stood in one corner, and in the other was found a single, larger boulder. The three seemed to sit flat on the floor of the cavern, while the single one lay in a bowl or depression.  Curious, the party teamed up to put enough muscle under one of the trio to shift it a little. They found nothing underneath, but moving it revealed an inspection near the bottom of one of the other two stones. It appeared to be written characters of some kind, but the weird mix of squiggles and dots did not look like a language with which anyone in the group was familiar. Chaff first cast read magic (and found it to be not magical) and then made a copy of the script for future study. The four then set to work on the lone boulder. A complex system of ropes were wrapped around the trio of boulder, to use as a pulley/leverage and drag the other one out of its hole. Which surprisingly worked, the indeed revealed a hole; the narrow gap below the boulder opened into a shaft going straight down.

Before descending the shaft, Fiona decided to investigate the colored globes, Said investigation involved poking the yellow-green one with the end of her musket. As soon as she disturbed it, the globe opened at the top and shot a burst of gas in her face. The musketeer started to cough and wretch, and within moments was dead on the floor. Intrigued, Chaff poked at the rest with the 10' pole, and each released a shot of gas which started to drift throughout the room. Chaff, Conch and Morg wisely retreated to wait until the gas dissipated. Just as it had thinned out enough to (presumably) safely re-enter the room, they were surprised by a trio of skeletons coming up behind them. A fierce battle ensued. Conch absorbed most of the hits, while Chaff pounded on skeletal skulls from his perch on the calmonari's back. Morg, however, saved the day by laying about with his spear, eventually turning all three into shattered piles of bone. Taking a few moments to recover, the remaining three adventurers headed to the shaft. Spikes were pounded in, ropes attached, and Morg sent down with a lantern. After about 50' he hit bottom, and shouted up that a tunnel led off to the east. Leaving Fiona's corpse behind (figuring they would loot/recover it latter), Chaff and Conch followed the sailor-man down the shaft.
Heading down the tunnel, the party noted slime and seaweed all over the floor, walls and even ceiling. This passage was obviously underwater much of the time. Being mindful of the risk of drowning, they pushed on to exit into a large chamber. Like the tunnel, all the surfaces here were thick with sea-growth. Of several exits, they choose the closest. It began to climb right away, and also narrowed down to single file width. This narrow, windy passage was also flanked by small shelves cut in the stone, each of which was occupied by a single human skull.  Chaff tried to convince Conch to poke at one, but the calmonari refused. Chaff instead knocked one over with his staff, and it simply shattered when it hit the floor. Kicking the debris aside, they pushed on single file. As they climbed up the slope, the party noted that the signs of submersion disappeared, and figured they were now above the flood line.
The narrow passage brought them into a small chamber with silvery-black sand on the floor and another narrow exit on the other side. And exit they did, coming shortly to another small chamber. As they entered, the three could see two treasure chests in separate alcoves. They could also see a mass of skeletons on the floor, all of which stared to rise from their repose! Knowing they were unlikely to prevail in a stand up fight, they wisely choose retreat. Turning, the party ran down the narrow hall. As they passed into the first, however, they were shocked to see several of the skulls they'd passed were now floating through the air and headed their way. One each bit down on Conch and Morg, the teeth latching onto the two adventurers to continue grinding and chewing their flesh. Chaff screamed at Conch to keep running, while the little vivimancer tried to smash the skull with his staff. Morg stopped to try removing the skull digging into his shoulder, but was unsuccessful. He then realized stopping had allowed the mass of skeletons to catch up. Resigned to die, he hurled his lantern to the floor and immolated himself and hopefully as many of the undead as possible.
Chaff and Conch could hear Morg scream behind them as they rushed back into the seaweed cave. Here they were likewise surprised, this time by rising floodwater. The floor now was covered in 3-4 inches of water and it was still rising. They duo bolted back up the tunnel, climbed the rope, and hightailed for the beach. Along the way, the skull chewing on Conch dropped away and drifted back towards the narrow tunnel. Back on the beach, Chaff frantically waved for the jolly boat, which soon arrived to deliver them back safely to the "Serpents Revenge". There they were confronted by Thorgrim, who was a bit grim when he learned no treasure had been recovered. He did brighten a bit when Chaff explained what they had found, and promised treasure would be delivered after the next decent into the caves. The captain was a little annoyed at the loss of his crewman though, and threatened that the party would have to start taking watches if he became short handed!


GAINS: 3 skeletons destroyed
LOSSES: Fiona the musketeer, Morg the sailor-man