Thursday, December 24, 2015

Far Isles Session #18 - The Kalandrian Cosmic Computer

Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 1), with familiar, Hermes
Chaff (Vivimancer 2), with familiar Dirty Bird, and riding hound Stinky Dog
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 1)

After a nights rest on board the "Loreman's Passage, the party was ready to head back to try their luck finding the cube of the gear in the third set of caves. Warily eyeing the slippery narrow stairs cut into the cliff, they elected to send the over-impatient Beuford ahead with rope and grappling hooks to set a static line. Then it was up the stairs and into the caves, which were very similar in construction/ shape to the first two entrances they'd explored. The first chamber was empty except for ankle deep shattered crystal all over the floor. Moving carefully, Kwinsea cleared a path, finding a silver ring in reward. No one found anything else of interest, however, so they moved on. They came next to three way intersection, in the centre of which stood a triangular prism, two feet wide and extending from floor to ceiling. Chaff examined it closely, but found no inscriptions, and also noted that it appeared to be part of, rather than sitting on, the floor.

Taking the left tunnel, they followed it around a bend and emerged into another chamber. This one was empty and unadorned, but for the narrow tubes they could see behind the semi-transparent walls. Closer examination showed that a fluid of some sort pulsed though the tubes. For some reason that discovery made the party uneasy, so they backtracked to try the other direction. They came once more to a three way intersection and prism, and turning right, encountered yet another. Puzzled by the prisms, they non the less pushed on into the next chamber. A jumble of crystal spars filled the centre of this room, looking like some form of bizarre sculpture. Abdul el Abdul sensed a trap, noting that if he squinted his eyes and twisted his head the right way, it almost looked like one of the crystal mantis' that had given them such grief. That was enough for Chaff, so he and Abdul el Abdul lit their match cords and  fired at the mass. Which was good, for once the smoke cleared, they could see the sculpture was indeed a mantis, and it advanced with it's deadly appendages swinging. It lashed out at Beuford and struck the little warrior with both arms, picking him up and raising the halfling to it's maw. Beuford, however, lashed out and stabbed it in the throat just as it bit him. The mantis fell dead to the floor, but the halfling still clung to life. Chaff gave up his ride and allowed Beuford to be slung over Stinky Dogs back as the party pressed on to search for the cube.

Fluid Filled Tubes
Passing through yet another three way intersection with a prism, they came next to a small chamber with an unexpected rectangular pillar at the centre. They were not able to examine it closely at this time however, as on each side stood a brace of brittle bones. When Abdul el Abdul stepped into the room, these advanced with spears lowered , so the party backed up a little to form a defensive position. With Beuford slung over the dog, Chaff had to take his place in the front line. Which did not work out well, as the little vivimancer was a soft target. As Abdul el Abdul struck again and again at the creatures, they in turn struck again and again at Chaff. He soon had to retreat, bleeding from multiple wounds. He tried to send Stinky Dog (and Beuford) forward to block the way,  but the mutt would have none of it and instead fled in terror into the darkness behind them. Which meant Kwinsea had to step into the breach, muttering something about "stupid land creatures". It was close, but oil, sword and trident did triumph in the end. After unsuccessfully calling for Stinky Dog, the party went on to examine this pillar. It was not part of the floor as were the others, so Abdul el Abdul grasped it and tried turning it. And it did indeed turn. At the same time, a portion of the west wall slid away, revealing a very small room. Looking inside, Abdul spied two small chests, similar in design if not nearly as ornate as the ones recovered in the caves of the guardian. The party hauled these out, and after a check for traps, pried them open. To their glee, one was packed with a mass of gold and crystal jewelry, and the other with gems.

Packing away their new found wealth, the party moved on again. In the next chamber they entered they found five of the regressed Kalandrian. These, however, seemed to have merged with the walls. Looking closer, they could see more of the fluid filled tubes in the semi-transparent walls, connected to the Kalandrians. That was creepier even than  the room with just the tubes, so they choose to retreat without disturbing anything. Heading back to one of the intersections, they took a new branch tunnel which led into a room filled with a large pool of liquid. The floor slopped down towards the pool, so they had to be careful not to slide in. Which was good, for when Abdul el Abdul threw in a rope, it came back  completely crystallized. The same happened when Kwinsea and Chaff dipped objects in the water. The trio also noted that a strange cube floated on the surface at the far side of the pool. Abdul el Abdul pulled out his trusty grappling hook and tried to snag it. His first throw missed, but while pulling it back he snagged something at the bottom of the pool. He hauled the object to shore and as it emerged they could see it was a backpack. It was sealed shut, so Abdul el Abdul carefully cut it open. Inside was a mess a mundane gear, as well as a potion bottle and a longsword with a hilt of blue gem and a blade of black crystal. The fighter claimed the fantastic sword, and Chaff snatched up the potion (which he tasted and discovered was a potion of levitation). Looting done, Abdul el Abdul threw the grapple once more and this time hooked the cube. When pulled to shore, they could see at once that this was the missing key to the gate, the cube of the gear.

The Black Blade
Although tempted to return right away to the ship to rest, the party decided to check out the last few tunnels, assuming one would lead them back to the great crystal spar chamber and thence to the circular gate. First letting a platoon of the round 6-legged cave maintenance creatures pass by, and after following a few false leads, they came at last to a long twisted tunnel. At the entrance to the tunnel, they found a  2' tall crystal spike sticking out of the floor. Inside flickered a faint purple flame, while around it sat two human skeletons. They were long departed from the lands of the living, but they seemed to stare intently at the crystal and purple flame. Which Chaff immediately covered with a sack to keep anyone in the party from becoming so enchanted. The party then pressed on, finding one of the purple flame crystals every 10' or so, which they took great care not to stare at directly. They did, however, after some travel emerge once more into the crystal spar chamber. But chose not to press on, deciding instead to return to the ship and recover from their hurts. Heading back to the cave entrance, they encountered and had to slay a regressed Kalandrian before reaching sunlight once more. There, they found Stinky Dog (with Beuford still attached) patiently awaiting them.

Back on board the "Loreman's Passage", the party slipped Beuford back into his hammock to fume away for a few weeks of recovery from his near death experience. The others likewise took a couple of days to recover from their battles before heading back with the cube. Examining their maps, the party selected the shortest route they could find to the circular gate . This happened to take them past the still petrified Grog, so Chaff once more gave up his mount so Stinky Dog could carry Grog, thinking the ex-goblin could be useful in a fight if paired with the crystal heart.  However, they were able to pass through the entry caves and traverse the spar cavern unmolested, and before long were standing at gate. Chaff inserted the cube, and the gate responded with it's usual sounds of gears and mechanisms moving. This time when the sound stopped, however, a small round opening appeared in the centre. Peaking inside, they could first of all see that it was occupied by a human skeleton lying it's back. In the ceiling above the body were five silvery buttons inscribed with Kalandrian writing. There was some trepidation about getting in the tube, the presence of a dead body never boding well. However after removing the skeleton (and looting it of a wand and scroll of ward against undead) and testing the tube with a re-animated Grog and the familiars, Kwinsea was finally willing to crawl in and read the lettering. Four were labeled as "UP", "DOWN", OPEN, "CLOSE", which were pretty self explanatory. The fifth was cryptically labelled "FLASH". Once more no one was willing to try any of the buttons to see what happened, so Grog and Dirty Bird were placed in the tube, and the hyper-intelligent parrot given instructions to try all the buttons except "FLASH" and come back to report.

The door to the tube closed, and after some time, Grog and Dirty Bird returned. The parrot reported to Chaff that the tube descended for several minutes. Upon stopping, the bird opened the door to reveal dodecahedral room whose walls glowed with a soft blue-white light. Floating around inside were a half dozen dodecahedral objects, each about fist sized and sprouting long hoses or tendrils. Since the familiar reported the objects did not seem concerned with their visitors, Kwinsea decided she and Hermes would decend next. When they emerged into the room however, the floating things swarmed around the aquamancer and attached tendrils to her skull. Kwinsea got the distinct impression that her mind was being read, a procedure repeated with each  party member as they arrived. While unnerving, it didn't seem to cause any harm.

With the party now fully assembled, they exited the tunnel at the opposite end of the doceahedron. It opened into a seemingly endless plain, the expanse of which glowed with the same soft blue-white light. Far in distance a structure could be seen, so the party headed towards it. It actually did not take as long to reach as they thought it should, and the party found themselves in front of a latticed geodesic dome constructed of silvery wire connected with gems. Inside were two low round platforms, each about a foot in diameter. Kwinsea walked over to the far platform and stepped on top, only to be rewarded with an intense blast of electricity, and the aquamancer and her familiar dropped dead to the floor. Chaff, after just a moments hesitation, stepped on the first platform. Thankfully there was no blast this time, but instead the gems joining the cage began to glow and the whole structure began to hum. Moments later, a holographic figure appeared on the other platform. It was Kalandrian, and the figure reached out it's hands towards Chaff. "Greetings" it spoke in perfect Common. "You have accessed the repository of all knowledge gathered by Kalandria before the great fall. What do you wish?"
The Kalandrian Cosmic Computer

Looking at his fallen comrade, the vivimancer asked at once if Kwinsea could be brought back from the dead. The figure reached out an arm towards her body, and blue rays extended from its fingertips, engulfing the dead mage. The rays lifted the body to it's feet and then vanished, leaving Kwinsea and Hermes blinking in the unexpected light. As this was happening, the party noticed the light in the gems flicker and dim a little, and a faint smell of ozone wafted by. Assuming that meant there was not much time left to access the memory banks before it shut down (or worst), Chaff quickly asked next for knowledge of a spell to allow him to see and identify magical emanations. As the gem flicker and ozone smell increased, Abdul el Abdul stepped on the platform and asked for knowledge to help him to increase his  martial proneness, while Kwinsea asked for help in harnessing the power of the prismatic ray gem so the headaches and confusion it caused could be controlled. All three received the enlightenment they needed. But just as Kwinsea stepped off the platform, the whole wire and gem frame began to spark and flame, and the holographic figure stared to fade from view.

Assuming that didn't bode well, the party fled back to the dodecahedral room as the dome exploded in a spray of sparks and electrical discharge behind them. Up to the caves they returned, and once more emerged into the sunlight without encountering anyone or anything. There, they summoned the ships boat and returned to the "Loreman's Passage" with tales of wonder to tell Yorik.


Silver Ring (10gp)
14 Pieces of Gold and Crystal Jewelry (2800gp)
29 Assorted Gems (975gp)
2 Crystal Skulls (10gp each)

8 Brittle Bones
1 Crystal Mantis
1 Regressed Kalandrian

Kwinsea & Hermes (temporarily)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Far Isles Session #17 - More Henchmen, then No Henchmen

Torak (Cleric 1)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 1), with henchman Mervix the Victorious (Dwarf 1) and familiar, Hermes
Chaff (Vivimancer 2), with henchman Alister Pembroke the Monster Hunter (Musketeer 1), familiar Dirty Bird, and riding hound Stinky Dog

It took some fast talking, but Chaff was able to convince Yorik Rold to return to the anchorage for a few days of rest, refit and resupply. After several days sail, and as the "Loreman's Passage" approached the small island, the lookout aloft shouted down to the deck that there was a galley lying off the anchorage. A red and black warship by the looks of her. Rold cautiously brought the "Loreman's Passage" closer, waiting to see what the galley would do. Suddenly, it turned towards them and started to approach under oar and sail. They could now see she was flying red and black Cha'nrk colours, which was not a good sign in the party's eyes. So they advised Rold to turn and try to get out of sight and around the island so they could land there instead. The maneuvering required, however, allowed the galley to keep on their tails, so Rold decided to just run before the wind and lose their purser that way.

Cha'nrk War Galley "Immolator"
The party still wanted to land and check out the anchorage. Rold was reluctant to approach the island again, but eventually agreed to put the party ashore at night on the opposite side of the island from the anchorage. In spite of the pouring rain, this went without a hitch, and before long Chaff and Kwinsea found themselves pulling the ship's boat up onto the shore. There they were surprised to find someone else sheltering  under the oaks from the rain. He looked very much like their recently departed comrade Ragner, right down to the accouterments of Brall, the Bloated One.   After some cautious banter, he introduced himself as Torak. He'd been a somewhat unwilling passenger on that war galley, and jumped overboard to escape earlier that day. He told Chaff and Kwinsea that the galley had been sent by the High Marshal-Inquisitor of Cha'nrk to investigate the anchorage, shake down the ships there for tariffs and taxes, and generally see if it was worth the city-states trouble to stake a claim on the island.

Joined by Torak, the party settled down under the overturned boat for a nights rest before marching across the island. Kwinsea took the opportunity to summon a familiar, and after a few hours, the aquamancer  was joined by a large hermit crab she called "Hermes". The three (plus dog, bird and crab) set out at first light, reaching the anchorage about an hour later. There, hiding under the trees and out of sight of the ships in the cove, they found a dwarf and a man. These, it seemed, were the deserters from the "Savage Sisters" Azimer had encountered on their last visit. That ship was back in port, so the two were hiding from the wrath of the captain and her ogre-ish first mate. They were getting quite tired of camping out on this island, however, and so Alister Pembroke the Monster Hunter, and Mervix the Victorious pledged their loyalty to Chaff and Kwinsea respectively, and joined the party.

Turning now to the anchorage, they could see the beach was pretty much empty. Torgus Traveling Tavern was gone,  and the shantytown at the far end looked laregly deserted. At anchor were four ships: the aforementioned "Savage Sisters", their old comrade Thorgrim in the "Serpents Revenge", the merchant Dravos in the "Barbaric Wind", and a fourth vessel of outlandish style. The galley was no where in sight. Chaff sent Dirty Bird out to summon a boat from Dravos' ship, and the party was soon aboard doing some shopping (including an oversize waterskin for Hermes to use as a self-watering shell) and get the news. He confirmed Torak's story about the Chan'rk galley, as well as their suspicion about Thorgrim going back to slaving. The party wasn't keen on sticking around in case the galley returned, and Alister and Mervix kept making nervous sideways glances at the "Savage Sisters". So when business with Dravos was complete, they transshipped back to the beach, and hiked back to their boat at the other end of the island. There they kept out of sight until nightfall, when the "Loreman's Passage" returned and picked them up.  After some grumbling about extra mouths to feed, Rold turned the ship about and headed back to the island of the crystal caves.

Several days sail found the newly enlarged party back at the illusionary cliff and the crystal caves. The repeated the climb up to the second entrance, and passed though the outer caves without event. They did note, however, that the signs of their previous visits (Abdul el Abdul's scratches on the walls, the remains of the brittle bones) had been removed. Entering the room where they'd battled the brittle bones, they found that the exit the creatures were guarding led into the chamber of large crystals. Following the rough path along the crystals, the party twisted and wound it's way through the maze. They encountered another crystal mantis, but unlike that last, this one was easily taken out. Alister and Mervix, in particular, proved their worth in the battle by standing fast in the front rank and landing most of the blows.

Moving on from their battle with the mantis, the party came to a point where two of the giant crystals met. There, suspended in mid air over the narrow gap, was a clear globe about 6 inches across, filled with a swirling greenish gas. Kwinsea approached carefully, and whipped a sack over the sphere. She found it behaved the same as the previously recovered planetary globe, and she was able to haul the floating sphere along behind her. Passing on from there, the next point of interest was a short crystal that jutted to the side. At it's end, a long set of grooves were scratched into the surface,  as if some clawed beast had gone over the edge. Nothing was seen after a careful inspection into the abyss below, so the party moved on. They soon passed over a patch of dried blood, obviously not human. Assuming a connection with the scratch marks, they looked around for that last location, but it proved to be below them, and off to the side, rather than above them.

Continuing along the long straight crystal. they didn't get far before a squad of the brittle bones emerged from the darkness at the edge of their lamp light. Battle was joined, and once more the two new henchman Alister and Mervix formed the front rank. This time the battle did not go so well, The henchmen each took multiple blows, dropping dead after exchanging just a few blows with their foes. This left Chaff, Torak and Kwinsea in a fight for survival. Torak was able to splatter a few with a thrown flask of oil, which Kwinsea set alight. The aquamancer then stepped into the breach left by the deceased Alister, and proceeded to use her trident to hook into the skeletons, tip them over the edge of the crystal and into the darkness below. Chaff attempted to shoot one with his pistol, but missed, so he retreated to allow the more heavily armored Torak to step forward into the breach. In the end, it was another close fight with the brittle bones, but the party was victorious. The paused just long enough to bind their wounds and loot some useful items from the fallen henchmen (Torak in particular inherited a musket from Alister, while Chaff muttered something about how much money he'd been wasting on firearms for henchmen). Pressing on down the long, gently slopping crystal, they emerged at a familiar location, the entrance to the round tunnel and the circular gate. Entering, Chaff pulled out the pyramidal key, which he inserted into it's proper place in the door. They were again reward with a loud 'clunk' and sounds of gears or parts moving in the door. All that was left now was the find the cubic gear to (hopefully) open the gate and see if all the death and destruction was worth the quest. But that would wait for another day, and the once more depleted party retraced their steps, and arrived thankfully unmolested back at the cave entrance and thence back to the "Loreman's Passage".



5 Brittle Bones
1 Crystal Mantis

Mervix the Victorious
Alister Pembroke the Monster Hunter

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Far Isles Session #16 - One More Key, One Less Character

Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 2)
Chaff (Vivimancer 2), with familiar Dirty Bird, and riding hound Stinky Dog
Ragnar (Cleric 1)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 1)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 1)

Back on board the "Loreman's Passage", the party stripped Azimer of all his/her valuables and prepared the calmonari for burial at sea. Chaff tackled the prismatic ray gem, easily popping it out of Azimers skull, leaving an indentation behnd. Chaff managed to win force of will with the gem, and avoided having it embed itself into his head. With the calmonari given his/her sendoff, the rest of the party settled in to treat their wounds. Especially Abdul el Abdul, who was quite lucky to not be joining the calmonari in the deeps.  Chaff talked to Yorik about the party staying on the ship for a few days to let Abdul el Abdul recover, and the distracted academic was quite OK with that. Rold, however, didn't like the idea of his the ship sitting around in strange waters any longer than absolutely necessary. It took some smooth talking from Chaff (and a promise of 5% of the party's cut of treasure) to get him to not shove the party right back in the shore boat.

A few days later, with Abdul el Abdul at full fetter, the party headed ashore  again. They decided this time to try one of the other entrances in the cliff face.  They headed the lowest one, even though there was no obvious was to get up there (unlike the highest entrance, which was accessible by a narrow stair cut in the rock.) Some deft grappling hook work by Abdul el Abdul, and rope work (to lift Stinky Dog)  by Chaff, and the party was in the cave entrance. Before delving too deep, however, they were surprised by a female voice calling from below. Standing on a tiny raft was a woman who introduced herself as Kwinsea, a wizardess of the sea and a friend of Azimer's. It seems the calmonari had summoned her to join him/her on their adventures. After some awkward conversation wherein the party explained the calmonari was no more, Kwinsea was hoisted up to join them. The party passed over Azimer's possessions to her, including the prismatic ray gem. Which, unlike for Chaff, embedded itself in the newcomers head.

A very short passage led into a large cavern. Like the others, it was round and formed out of volcanic glass, with walls much more highly polished than any seen thus far. Pushing on, they came to another odd shaped cavern with walls even more brightly polished. So bright, the light from the lantern danced off the glass in a prismatic spray, blinding both Beuford and Chaff (plus Dirty Bird and Stinky Dog). Retreating to the the first cavern, the party settled down to see if the blindness would pass. In the meantime, Abdul el Abdul absentmindedly started scratching the walls with one of his grappling hooks. He soon noticed ghostly figures lingering behind the polished surface. They were of no one he knew, but appeared to be adventurers in a wide variety of styles of dress, armor and weapons. One carried the crystal bearing sphere found by the party, while a second carried a similar cube. Although nothing untoward was happening, the party felt uneasy and were glad when Chaff and Beuford recovered their sight so all could press on.
Partly shuttering the lantern this time, they entered the reflective room again, and now noticed something hanging or floating in an alcove. Abdul el Abdul approached carefully, discovering what appeared to be a planetary globe, floating about 4 feet off the floor, made of gold, silver and green and black glass. He passed his hands above and below, and globe did not waver. However, a gentle push and is floated away a short distance.  The rest of the party came over, and it was noted there was more of the alien Kalandrian writing on it's surface. Oddly enough, Kwinsea, who had never seen it before, was able to apply her massive intellect and decipher the writing. It consisted of place names on a planet named "Jovania", and one of the major countries or empires was marked "Kalandria". Well, it certainly wasn't a globe of this world.

The party decided to leave the globe in place for now, and explore further. In the next room they found the floor was actually transparent, showing a curved bottom to the cavern matching the shape of the ceiling. Closer examination revealed Kalandrian script etched on the underside of the floor. This Chaff and Kwinsea transcribed for Yorik,  and the aquamancer translated it as some sort of sophisticated and esoteric mathematical or magical (or both) formulas. That done, the party headed down a twisty tunnel and into another chamber. This one was notable for a geyser of liquid crystal in the centre, as well as a phalanx of skeletal soldiers guarding an exit on the opposite wall! These did not move, however, and the party decided to avoid them for now and explore another exit close by instead. This led to a room very similar to the one with the transparent floor and writing. But close examination of this floor revealed a faint, inscribed grid pattern. Seen below the floor was a scattering of the coloured disks/coins. But no obvious was to get at them. Most of the party just wanted to go back to see what the skeletons were guarding, but Chaff was curious. He took out his hammer and started to gently rap on the floor. The a little harder, and harder, until suddenly the entire floor cracked along the grid lines and fell into the lower half of the chamber. Well, they avoided that trap. Especially good, since they could now see a series of wickedly shaped crystal spikes in the bottom of the chamber, hidden previously by some strange optical property of the floor.

Unable to now cross that chamber, the party had to go back to the room with the skeletons. Again, they did not move when the party entered the room.  They stood still and silent, with one in the rear holding a magnificent gold and jeweled banner depicting a Kalandrin eye held in a pair of hands. Well that looked interesting to Abdul el Abdul, so he moved cautiously towards the skeletons. He'd just made his was past the liquid crystal geyser when the skeletons snapped to life. The two ranks lowered their spears at the fighter, and with the banner-holder in support, advanced.  The rest of the party spread out to support Abdul el Abdul. Both Chaff and Abdul el Abdul fired their pistols, but when the smoke cleared it was obvious they'd missed. Ragnar tired to call on the Bloated One to turn the skeletons, but in spite of the power of Brall filling the cleric, it didn't seem to work. The attackers then fell on the party in a furry, and in short time both Ragnar and Beuford fell to their spears. The halfling managed to cling to life, and was pulled away and stabilized by Chaff . Kwisnsea tried the same with Ragnar, but the cleric could not be saved and went to join the Drowned God in the depths of the afterworld.

Down two party members, the remaining three wisely withdrew slowly. While Abdul el Abdul blocked the skeletons from getting at the two unarmored magic users, Chaff and Kwinssea tried a barrage of oil, daggers, and prismatic rays to support their comrade. They had but little luck ,and Abdul el Abdul was getting badly beaten once again. Chaff bravely spurred Stinky Dog forward and plunged into the melee with his staff. This, along with some successful rays from Kwinssea, turned the tide and the last of the skeletons were beaten into submission. Into a pile of rock dust actually, as the party now found they were made or at least coated in a layer of crystal.

While badly battered, the party also wanted to badly see what the skeletons were guarding.  Apart from the exit, they also found a 2' pyramid, very similar in style and material to the crystal bearing sphere. This, obviously, was the pyramidal key, the second object they needed to open the gate. But not right now, so they grabbed the pyramid and banner (and the globe along the way) and retreated back to the cave entrance, and thence to the "Loreman's Passage" to once again recover.


Floating globe of the planet "Jovania" 500gp
Golden jeweled Kalandrian Banner 1000gp

7 Brittle Bones