Saturday, August 11, 2018

Far Isles Session # 91 - Of Live Machines and Dead Aquamancers

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 7)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 7)
Chaff (Vivimancer 7), with familiar Pretty Bird
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 7), with familiar Hermes
Torak (Cleric 6)

Before moving on to adventure once more, the party focused on a  few 'at home' issues.  First, given their latest acquisitions, the party took inventory of their magic items to see who would best benefit from various items. A few things traded hands, but the most notable reaction came from Torak. The cleric refuses to even let anyone examine his new dagger, and became very possessive when it was suggested he add it to the 'pool' for possible redistribution. Catching faint echos or Awg's gem madness, Kwinsea quietly slipped on the stole of the sacred  and cast a remove curse on Torak. The devotee of the Drowned God shook his head as if the clear it of confusion, and them tossed the dagger away from himself, before wrapping it up and hiding it away for possible future use. He then noted that Jurgen, the musketeer who had his face chomped on by the sea hag, was looking a little green and smelled of gangrenous disease. That was cleared up by a timely cure disease, and all the crew and hirelings were much impressed by the coverage extended by their medical plan.

Treasure Map 1
After another day of rest and repair, the party first sat down to look at the treasure maps. One was an actual map with some hand written notes pointing out the location of a treasure of gold and silver.  Comparing it with their own map of the Coral Cays, they were pretty sure they knew where to find it. The other map was actually a scap torn from an old book, referring to an oracle who'd been entrusted with a jeweled orb. It's location was not clear based on the party's current knowledge of the Cays. Either way, they decided to go back to the crystal eggs for now, determined to make some sense of the lightning-enshrouded mad house. 

Treasure Map 2
Using the ebony fly, the party headed in through the now open door on the second egg, and proceeded to the grate and the chute Rodrigo had explored last time they were here. A sturdy length of rope was dropped down the chute, and once more the swashbuckler crawled down first. He reached the bottom with no trouble, and first had a closer look at the room beyond the tube. Of immediate interest was the floor, carved in a weird maze of geometrical shapes, with the exception of two 5' circles of bare floor just beyond the tube exit. He yelled up the chute for the next person (Awg) to descend. Then, fearing the inscribed floor was trapped or dangerous, he then made a pirouetting leap out the door to land safely on the southern circle.  When Awg reached bottom, he first searched for traps or pressure plates on the floor, and finding nothing simply walked over to the other circle. At that point, Rodrigo suddenly felt himself rapidly levitated up into the lighting field and getting blasted by electrical bolts. Awg, assuming he/she was the cause, thoughtfully stepped off the bare circle, at which point Rodrigo came crashing down to the floor. That all done, Awg yelled an 'all clear' up the chute, and Kwinsea, Chaff and Torak came down one by one. 

After taking a few moments for Chaff and Kwinsea to try deciphering the floor patterns (no luck), the party headed off  though one of the passages leaving the room. It appeared to be curving around the perimeter of the egg, and after some distance the party came to a side passage on the right. Rodrigo, walking point, looked  around the corner and found a oddly shaped room. On the floor was a seemingly random pattern of spots and shapes in various colours. Once more suspecting a trap, Torak pushed forward and called on Brall to help him find traps. Nothing glowed in the room, so Torak told the others to follow him as he sprinted across the room and out the passage on the opposite side to scout for traps elsewhere before the god withdrew his favors. He didn't get far down the narrow passage before a small swarm of giant blue-white ants appeared around the corner. The cleric pulled back behind Rodrigo, and then the whole party retreated back to the room as the ants followed. Thankfully, the creatures were more curious than hostile, getting close to everyone and using their antennae to search the party up and down. After getting slightly creeped out, the party just moved on and continued the trap-sprint though the egg. They passed through a room with a weird clear tube in the middle, then another one with stairs going down and a glass case. Racing down the winding stairs, they emerged into what was assumed to be a corridor in the last egg, before running back up and continuing into a room with two weird machines. Here Torak's spell failed (having located no traps along the way) and the party regrouped to explore and retrace their steps to figure out where they actually were.

Circular Cutting Thingy
Torak was drawn to the the glass (actually crystal) case in the stair room. Inside was a strange implement; a 5' long metal pole with a round disk on one end (with runes resembling 'ZHA' carved on it)  and a  small ring on the other. Attached to the side of the case was a small metal box with a golf-ball sized hole in the top. There was no obvious way to open the case and access the weird instrument, so they tried dropping various coins and things in the hole to see if that would help.  It didn't, so Torak picked up his handy mace and took a swing at the case. He hit it on the corner, which popped the crystal plate out of the front, giving access to the object.  Which the cleric grabbed before anyone else could get it, and started to play around. After a few false starts, he pulled on the ring at the end (which was at the end of a long chain), which started the round disk spinning. He touched it to the crystal cabinet, and the spinning disk cut through it like a hot knife through butter. He then tried it against the wall of the chamber, and it once more cut through. Next step was to choose a likely looking wall and start cutting a narrow passage. In the end, he managed to cut a short connecting tunnel back adjacent to where they'd all come down the chute from the upper egg. 

Having figured out what the thing did, Torak tossed it in the bag of holding and they party started to explore further. Going back one room, they looked closer at the crystal tube. Sitting in the bottom were five of the glowing golf balled sized stones like they'd previously discovered. Since the top of the tube extended into the lightning field, Torak pulled out the cutter again and simply it down and recoverd the balls. He then  turned his attention to the (as it turned out) empty boxes and chests scattered throughout the room. The party also examined a pair of machines in the adjacent room, one of which looked like it had been chewed up by some massive creature. The other was a simple metal box about 2' on a side, with an access hatch on the top. Opening it up revealed a funnel in the middle of the otherwise empty machine. Noticing the neck of the funnel was exactly the same size as the glowing golf-balls, Chaff dropped one in to see what would happen. It rolled down to the bottom and just sat there with no obvious effect, so the little vivmancer once more used a cantrip to recover it before the party moved on mutteringly.

The Potion Machine
After next confirming their way back to their start position, the party next checked out a new room. This cavernous room had two alcoves, each containing another strange machine. One was dark and apparently non-operational. The second was lit up and ready for use. The machine had a hole on top about the size of a golf ball, and a spout in the middle. Next to the machine was a rack of glass bottles (four of them intact, others smashed). At the base of the machine were three small transparent windows, a blue lever, and a red lever. Two of the windows contained numbers (“1” and “2”), and the third showed runes which resemble the letters “ZHA". This seemed a puzzle for one of many brains, so Kwinsea rushed over to examine and decipher. When the blue lever was pulled, the numbers would spins around and then settle down to give two new numbers, each between 1 and 4. The runes would then change. Pulling the red handle did nothing, until a glowing golf ball was dropped in the hole at the top. The machine would then dispense a liquid; luckily someone had thought put one of the glass bottles under the spout to catch it. This particular combination was the one first encounter; '1, 2, ZHA'. Kwinsea took up the bottle, and tasted a little sip. Unfortunately, the exceedingly bitter liquid was hemlock poison, and the aquamancer fell to the floor twitching and frothing until she lay stone dead. 

That wasn't particularly encouraging, but the party thought the machine might just dispense something to bring her back. So they started feeding glow-balls to the machine, and collected the liquids dispensed for each unique rune. Chaff glugged a dose of anti-toxin, and then proceeded to taste-test each of the created liquids. In the end they figured out the following combinations:

1,1: KTHI
1,2: ZHA
1,3: OAN
1,4: ATO
2,1: OAN
2,2: ZHA
2,3: OAN
2,4: LIN
3,1: ATO
3,2: ZHA
3,3: OAN
3,4: MAR
4,1: IOCTI
4,2: ZHA
4,3: OAN
4,4: ZHA

And as far as they could tell, the runes would produce:

potion of fly (descriptive runes: “KTHI”)
vial of hemlock poison (descriptive runes: “ZHA”)
potion of cure light wounds (descriptive runes: “OAN”)
potion of lightning resistance (descriptive runes:“ATO”)
potion of growth (descriptive runes: “LIN”)
potion of haste (descriptive runes: “MAR”)
inert bog-water (descriptive runes: “IOCTI”) 

Which was all quite fascinating and useful, but they still had a dead aquamancer to deal with. 

After discussing options, they decided to return to re-visit H'sslik the Lizard Wizard. They hoped to be able to trade their recently captured 'pretty fish' to the him in return for the use of his re-generating slime pits. So once more the party retreated to the "No Man's Sea" and raised sail to head to the west. Which was an uneventful journey until the last day, when a ranging storm blew out of the north-west. It thankfully pushed them back towards H'sslik's island, but at the cost of a quite battered ship.  The "No Man's Sea" was going to need some work.

Leaving the crew to start untangling torn sails and fallen spars, the party made their way back into H'sslik's organic dome and off to see the wizard. Who thankfully remembered them. And thankfully accepted the new 'pretty', agreeing to let the party use the slime pits. He did, however, point out that in order to bring one back from the great beyond, they'd have to find another soul to 'recharge' Kwinsea's. In other words, they needed to sacrifice someone to bring back the aquamancer. Torak was ready to go snatch one of the crew, but cooler heads prevailed. Questioning H'sslik further, they learned any humanoid or hominid MIGHT work, but a human victim would be guaranteed to do the trick. And it was likely that some of the victims  'characteristics' might rub off on the raised individual, potentially for good or bad results. 

Digesting that information, and knowing Kwinsea would be 'fresh' enough to raise for just a few more days, it was tempting  to go grab a crewman. But looking a their map, the party remembered the cannibal tribe they'd driven off from the island where they'd slain the dragon. That was just a short day's sail away, so the party headed back to the"No Man's Sea" to get the crew ready to sail east for some cannibal kidnapping ... 

TOTAL XP
0*

GAINS
Circular cuting thingy 
5 golf-ball sized stones, glowing blue inside
2x Potion of Haste
Potion of Healing
Potion of Growth
Potion of Flying
Potion of Lightning Resistance

KILLS
none

LOSSES
Kwinsea

*2xp per gp rule in effects

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Far Isles Session # 90 - The Sea Hag's Hoard

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

With Kwinsea out of commison for awhile, and everyone else rather battered a and spell-less, the party decided to head back to the "No Man's Sea" for rest and recuperation. Chaff noted he could use the recently discovered knock spell to open the secret door that appeared to lead outside, and tehnce back to the ship. Everyone thought this sounded like the best way to get out, so they all trekked back across the egg to watch Chaff do his stuff. There were, however, a few doubtful moments when the vivimancer stumbled over some parts of the unfamiliar magic. When he finished, everyone was surprised to see the whole door disappear, leaving a gaping hole though which they peered down on the ocean and the "No Man's Sea" below. Chaff then summoned the ebony fly and everyone was soon back on deck. They found the ship's company in good cheer, and the party settled in for a good 2 week rest while Kwinsea recovered. 

It was an uneventful time, at least right until the last couple of days. On a clear and dark middle watch early one morning, Chaff was awaken from his slumbers by a scream on deck.  Knowing there were just crewman on watch (the middle watch traditionally being Kwinsea's), he jumped out of bed, pounded on Awg and Rodrigo's cabin doors to rouse them, and then ran on deck to investigate. He found the stern castle eerily deserted, the two crew members usually stationed there were no where in sight.  While he checked the  deck, Rodrigo climbed the rigging to get a better view around, and Awg started walking the length of the ship, peering over the side. Over the stern they found a gruesome sight; one of the missing sailors (Bjorn), hanging upside tangled in a rope, his head mostly torn off. Chaff also noted water on the deck, so it looked as if someone or something had climbed on board and made short order of the unfortunate sailors. By now the ship was awake, and the party posted the musketeers to guard through the rest of the night before returning to bed themselves.

The Hag
Next day, the party rested so they would be ready for the night ahead. Their plan was to set an ambush, as they assumed the unknown assailant would be back. Rodrigo disguised himself as a sailor and stood watch in the stern. Chaff hid in a empty barrel nearby, and Awg climbed into the rigging to wait. They tossed a rope with baited grappling hook over the stern to attract whatever might be out there, and posted Jurgen the musketeer where the rope was tied to a stanchion, so he could cut it in case of emergency. Around the middle watch they were rewarded when something appeared over the fantail. It was a grey and drizzly night which made for limited vision, but it was an obviously humanoid shape. The figure hesitated a moment, then moved towards the musketeer, who was back on to it and not really paying attention. Rodrigo watched as the figure moved closer, and was surprised to see it was a beautiful, and completely naked, young woman. As she got close to Jurgan, the musketeer turned and immediately his jaw dropped open and he stood dumbfounded. At which point she sprang forward, opened her mouth, and bit down on his face. As she did so, the beautiful woman disappeared to be replaced by a hideous and repulsive hag. Jurgan screamed, and everyone jumped into action. Or at least tried to; as the transformation was completed, Awg and Rodrigo were so repulsed by what they saw, they could not face the creature. The calmonari jumped over the side, while Rodrigo turned and fled down the deck. That left only little Chaff, who shuffled over the the hag and dropped a web spell on her and Jurgan. He then screamed for the rest of the musketeers, who'd been pre-placed just below deck, and  followed up on the hag with a bone-warp to no effect. Rushing in with halberds, the musketeers hacked and stabbed at the ugly thing while Chaff prepared a dagger with paralytic poison. He had to move fast, as the hag was monstrously string and about to break out of the web. Luckily he scored a hit, and the creature almost immediately stopped moving. Which was good, as the musketeers were in turn starting to fall away in fear. But with the thing dead, everyone sheepishly drifted back to help the now traumatized Jurgen out of the web, and to haul the hag's corpse to the bow to be hung from the bowsprit. 

The party and crew recovered from the attacks over the next few days. When Kwinsea was finally recovered from her near-death experience, the party now had to decide what to do. Go right back to the egg, or track down where the hag had come from? Awg pointed out hags usually lair in underwater caves and the calmonari elders told stories about the treasure they amassed. Well that made the decision easy; off to hunt for the sea hag hoard it is. Awg went swimming and charmed a swordfish he encountered. Bringing it back to the ship, Kwinsea cast speak with aquatic animals  and started questioning, asking it if it knew anything about the sea hag. It did, directing the crew to a nearby islet where the fish ('Pokey) said the hag had it's lair. Asked about any other huge creatures in the waters, Pokey replied the 'man-fish', whose underwater city was nearby, kept the area pretty clear of most dangerous creatures. With that information, and with Pokey trailing behind, Lynessa raised sail, and in just a few hours they lay off the indicated isle. It was essentially a low sand bar with a large limestone cliff rising on the north side. Rodrigo climbed to the cliff top, but could see no obvious caves, entrances or structures. Awg and Kwinsea therefore dove into the sea to check the cliff from below the waterline, while Rodrigo stood watch in one of the ship's boats. Chaff meanwhile, bored on deck, decided to examine one of the crystal fruit. Nothing stood out to him, so the vivimancer popped it in his mouth to see what happened. In the process of gently masticating the crystal thing, he broke off most of his teeth. He spit the bit of fruit (and his teeth) out, noting only that he had the sudden sense of commune with a higher intelligence.   

Strangleweed
Back in the water, Awg and Kwinsea discovered a cleft in the cliff. With Awg in the led and accompanied by Pokey the swordfish, they swam in. They didn't get far before encountering a mass of seaweed blocking the way. Awg went forward and stuck his/her arms in the mass. Which then lurched to life, trying to wrap the seaweed strands around the calmonari's arms and draw him into the mass. Awg escaped, pulling back to where Kwinsea awaited. They swam back to the surface, explained what was going on to Rodrigio, and sent the swashbuckler back to get the hag's corpse. Hoping the scare the seaweed thing with it, they dragged the putrefying body into the cave. It had no effect on the seaweed, so Kwinsea cast another speak with aquatic animals  to open negotiations. The seaweed was not really intelligent, and was interested only in feeding.  Awg pushed the hag's corpse into the seaweed, and they watched the green mass engulf it and draw it deep inside.  Kwinsea then offed more food if the seaweed would let them pass in and out. It agreed, and Awg ordered Pokey into the growing mass. After much trashing and a little blood, the loyal swordfish was engulfed, and the seaweed shifted to open a passage at the bottom of the cleft so the two could swim through. 

The two swam deeper into the cave, having to work their way through several splits in the rock as one cleft petered out and another opened up. After a short while they came to a larger chamber, one partly above the water. Here a rock ledge opened into a dry passage. The duo climbed out of the water and worked their way in, finding themselves climbing a steep grade. Encountering another passage sloping down to the left, they choose to keep climbing for now. The passage started to narrow, and just before it got too small to pass, Kwinsea and Awg were surprised when a huge spider dropped on them from above. It snapped at Awg twice, missing each time, and in a short battle he and Kwnisea were able to hack it to death. After checking for treasure on the rock ledge the spider had dropped from (none), they backed up and headed down the steeply slopping passage. 

This led into another, large and dank cave. At the end opposite the entrance, there was a pool of water. Between them and the pool was a mass of junk and debris. Cautiously entering, the two started poking around. They found a mass of bones and other remains, varying from ancient to recent (including what was left of their second lost sailor, Goller). Shifting some of the bone and other offal and debris aside uncovered treasure! Gold and jewelry! Kwinsea and Awg started digging around and trying on various bit and bobs they found. Kwinsea found one of the rings was a ring of regeneration while Awg snatched up a ring of fire resistance and gloves of dexterity. Once the excitement ended however, the aquatic duo had to figure out how to get all this stuff out. They didn't really trust that the strangle-weed would let them pass a second time. The two went to check out the pool. It was only about 4' deep, fed through small cracks in the rock below the surface. There was also a significant flow of water, which spilled out of the pool and flowed towards the western wall of the cave. Going over to look, Awg found a narrow water filled sump. He squeezed through, and after a few minutes emerged into the ocean a few hundred yards west of where Rodrgio waited in the ship's boat. Awg swam over to get the swashbuckler, grabbed his bag of holding and aquatic duo started to ferry treasure out through the sump and back to the "No Man's Sea". There, Chaff used with kaladrian sight and his magical mind to discover there was also a rod of absorption and a couple of treasure maps mixed among the mundane jewelry and gold.

TOTAL XP
87635*

GAINS
40000gp
Torc (40gp)
Chain (20)
Pendant Earings (40gp)
Bangle (1200gp)
Orb (900gp)
Fob Chain (20gp)
Rod of Absorption
Gloves of Dexterity
Ring of Regeneration
Ring of Fire Resistance
Treasure Map x2 (4000gp Treasure) 

KILLS
1 Sea Hag
1 Giant Water Spider

LOSSES
2 crewmen (Bjorn and Goller)

*2xp per gp rule in effects

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Far Isles Session # 89 - Rats in a Maze

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

Finally fed up with finicky fabrications, the party crawled on. Rejoined by Kwinsea, they headed through the eastern tunnel, which proved to be mercifully short. It led into a larger, long and narrow room. On the opposite wall was another of the infernal mechanical devices, this one a huge crank wheel. They pointedly ignored this one, and performed a quick scan of the room before moving out of an exit to the south. This was another short passage, open to the lightning field above, which led into a small room. There was an alcove on the east wall as well as a series of four spouts extending out of the walls to the west. Chaff went to examine the spouts. They were dry, and there was no sign of staining or dampness from liquid, so they appeared to have been dry for some time. In one there was a rolled up piece of parchment, which the little vivimancer retrieved with a cantrip. It proved to be blank. Awg went to the alcove, and immediately noted the outline of a door. But try as he might, the calmonari could not get it to open. Nor could anyone else who tried.  Kwinsea, sizing up their map, surmised that it led to the outside. Rodrigo, noting air leaking in around the 'door', smelled the scent of the landwash and concurred with the aquamancers guess. He then headed back to the crank in the previous room, and gave it a few turns in the hope that it opened the door. It didn't, but there was the sound of squealing and grinding as something long immobile moved in the lighting field to the west. 

That didn't help them with the door, so the party decided to move on quickly and attempt to thoroughly map this egg as they had the first. Following Rodrigo, they headed south, and after some time came to another long narrow room. The floor of this room was covered in mineral deposits that looked to have dripped from above, giving the floor the appearance of a coral reef. The party moved in to investigate, and once they were in the room, there started a low audible humming noise. Nothing untoward seemed to happen, but everyone thought it best to get out before it was to late. They choose to crawl through a tunnel which led west of out this room, It led into a maze of crawlspaces, which first dumped them in a small 10' x 10' chamber. It was roofed like the tunnel, but instead of a floor, there was a grate. On the walls they noted the same strange condensate, which slowly trickled down and into the floor grate. Interesting, but the party did not linger, instead pushing on in exploration mode. They crawled further and deeper into the maze, at one point encountering a pair of slitherrats. These emerged out of a dead end wall and approached Rodrigo, crouched over on his hands and knees at the head of the party. He pulled out his black crystal sword, holding it ready but not threatening. The two crystalline creatures approached the swashbuckler, one sticking it's snout right in his face, the other going to sniff the sword. After a few moments, the two backed up and melded back into the walls. 

Getting a little tired of crawling around this particular maze, the party decided to head back to a couple of rooms under the lighting field where there were unexplored tunnels. With the redoubtable Rodrigo in the lead, they found the first led into a lair of at least a dozen oozanderthals. When they noted the swashbucklers head poking out of the tunnel, they simply stared at him curiously. Bravely, Rodrigo entered the room, holding his talisman crystal sword before him. As he circled to room looking for anything of interest, the oozanderthals let him pass unmolested. They watched him curiously for awhile, them went back to ignoring him. Rodrigo, finding nothing of interest, crawled back in the hole with the rest of the awestruck party, and they moved on. Checking out another unexplored tunnel, they found another mineral encrusted room. This one was different in that it contained a oval track on which sat a cart. There was no indication of the original purpose, but the cart was well stuck to the floor. Chaff jumped in and begged someone to push him around, but they all ignored the little weirdo and headed off to explore some more.

Having exhausted all the obvious exits, they went back into the maze. After much crawling about and a little confusion, they entered a room which contained one of the man-sized egg tanks. This one was empty, and Chaff shoved past all the big people and headed over to examine it. It was pretty much identical to the others encountered thus far, with  the three dials at the base numbered '1,2,3'. There was a little back and forth trying to get someone to 'volunteer' to go in the tank, but in the end the party left it and moved on once more. Another twisting crawl led to a largish room with another floor grate. There was no sign of any condensation in this grate, so the party decided Rodrigo should be lowered down to investigate. The swashbuckler agreed, and was lowered two rope lengths (100') through a twisting and turning opaque crystal tube. Having not reached bottom, he pulled out a musket ball and let it roll down the tube. After several seconds Rodrigo could hear it come to a thudding stop, indicated the bottom was near. He tied on one more length of rope and crawled down, finding himself at the bottom of the tube. There was a man-sized opening in the side of the tube, which led into another room lit by a lighting field. Rodrigo didn't explore any further, but crawled back up to inform the party he'd found a way into the third egg.  

The party was now a little flummoxed, thinking they'd missed something critical in this second egg, even though all connecting passages and crawlspaces had been explored. They glanced up at the lightning field, brainstorming ways to avoid the electrical hazard so they could explore 'over the top'. One problem was the intensity of the field reduced visibility to about 10'. Torak hauled out the dark goggles found earlier, put them on and looked up. He discovered the pitch dark lenses filtered the light so he was able to see normally through the upper part of the egg. That was a positive step, but how to survive the lightning? There were the potions of lightning resistance, but the fear was they wouldn't stop all damage. Humm, what about the egg-tanks and the hook? They crawled back to the crank, and as Rodrigo turned it, Torak looked up with the lenses. He could see the great chain and hook raising and lowering as the swashbuckler turned the wheel. That was promising, but then came the problem of how to get the egg-tank to the hook. Given it was accessible only through the narrow tunnels, the only way to get it to the hook over the walls and through the lightning field. Which left them with the same problem as before. Flummoxed, the party spread out to search a few likely locations for secret doors in hopes of finding another way around, but had no success there either. 

In the end the party decided to head down to the next egg and hope to find better luck and more information on Empyrius there. But first there were two problems to deal with. The first was the cockatrice in the bag of holding. Getting anything from the bag was going to be difficult with a petrifying monster in there. So they hatched a plan to deal with the bird. A snare was placed at the opening of the bag, and everyone stood back while Chaff used a cantrip to loosen the drawstring. The furious creature emerged with a *squawk*, but ended up with it's neck in the snare. Still, it spread it's wings and flew into the air, heading for Rodrigo who held to other end of the snare rope. It pecked at the swashbuckler, who felt a sudden stiffing of his flesh before shaking it off. Everyone then lashed out with their weapons, while Chaff dropped an insect swarm on the thing, and it soon was dead and crumbled into a pile of dust on the floor. 

That done, the next step was rest. The party set up camp in the grate room, Kwinsea taking first watch. Everyone else had just dropped off to sleep when visitors arrived; a pair of slitherrats emerged out of the wall about ten feet away.  The aquamncer, hoping to repeat the non-hostile encounter earlier in the day, quietly slipped Rodrigo's crystal sword out of it's scabbard and held it in her hand. The rats were for some reason unimpressed this time, and with raised hackles moved to attack. Kwinsea dropped the sword on Rodrigo, screamed, and pulled out her trident to defend herself. As the others started to groggily wake up, Kwinsea was bit several times by the creatures, collapsing to the floor just as Chaff and Rodrigo were entering the fray. These two, along with Awg when he awoke, took care of the slitherrats. Torak, once he awoke, staunched Kwinsea's wounds and made sure she survived to adventure another day. 

After that excitement, the rest of the night passed without incident. Before moving on the next morning, Chaff cast a Kalandrian sight and detect magic to better inventory and identify their new magical finds:

potions of flying
2 potions of lightning resistance
Scroll - Knock, Detect Magic
Wand of Flying [command word - mouche]
dagger -1 [Cursed]
Bag of Holding 
3 golf-ball sized stones, glowing blue inside [evocation]
3 crystal fruit [divination]

TOTAL XP
620*

\GAINS
None

KILLS
2 slitherrats
1 cockatrice

LOSSES
Kwinsea (temporarily)

*2xp per gp rule in effects

Friday, June 15, 2018

Far Isles Session # 87 - Torak Gets His Groove

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

After a short debate about next steps, the party decided to head back to the entry chamber to see if they'd missed anything of importance there. They also decided to take the opportunity to use the ebony fly, still hovering combat air patrol overhead, to lug their accumulated treasure back to the "No Man's Sea" for safe keeping. They examined the grate and fan in the floor a little more, noting that the unknown liquid was condensing on the slow moving blades, while the motion of that fan forced the liquid into a collection of crystal capillaries that ran down the walls and out of sight. Touching the liquid cause no harm, but did give a bit of a 'zing;' or shock, prompting Torak to note it may be condensed lighting or something. 

Leaving Rodrigo to guard their six, the rest of the party moved out through one of the two unchecked doors in the room. It led to a winding corridor, and ultimately led back to the room with the three egg tanks. There was also another door, which opened into a room with what appeared to be a desk in the far corner. There was also something vaguely body-like slumped on the floor, although it was hard to tell if it was a fresh corpse or something else. Kwinsea checked for traps, and once she had given the all-clear, the party moved into the room to investigate. The thing on the floor was a mostly skeletal corpse, covered in a faintly opaque coating like lacquer or glue. Everyone immediately was on guard, checking above and around for the source of the solidified goo. Finding nothing, they examined the desk itself. It too was covered in the coating, including the pile of papers which lay there. These were mostly illegible thanks to the unknown material, but short snippets were readable. Chaff discovered it was written in Teroclidian, and it described that a God Who Walks Among Men, by the name of Iomnogoran, was the master of this installation. And he had gone mad trying to find a way to escape 'imprisonment' in the Coral Cays, getting more and more suspicious of his human servants and pouring his energy into making and breeding other servants and guardians so he could do his work undisturbed. 

Crystal tree
Finding nothing more of interest, the party retraced their steps through the entrance chamber and out the door on the other side. There they followed a twisting side corridor which led them to a small room buried deep in the centre of the egg. It was notable for the strange crystal tree growing in the the middle of the chamber. It's branches reached above the walls and into the lightning field. It did not seem to be harmed by the occasional lightning strikes, but would crackle with a blue light whenever it did absorb a bolt. The tree appeared to grow out of the floor. Around the base were scattered a dozen pulsing gem-like objects, while from the branches hung a number of crystalline fruit about the size of a plum. Torak, much enchanted by the fruit, entered the room first, followed cautiously by the rest of the party. The cleric unrolled his bedroll underneath the tree, and then proceeded to use the butt of the shark spear to knock the fruit onto padded bedroll. He was just about to head for the pulsing gems when the party sensed movement. Looking around , they saw the tree had pulled it's roots  out of the floor. One had snaked over to block the exit, while the others now flailed menacingly around and started to lash out at the trapped adventurers. And lash it did, pummeling everyone multiple times and bludgeoning several to the edge of death. And in return the party seemed completing unable to cause it any visible harm. In the end, Torak saved the day by casting  protection from evil. When protected, the cleric edged towards the exit, which forced the root blocking the way to recoil. That allowed everyone to escape with their lives. Before the spell ended, Torak also slipped back into the room to recover both the fallen fruit and the gems while the rest of the party retreated.

The bruised and battered party decided they need to rest and recover. Which seemed to be a problem in a place where the creatures could phase through the walls. So they simply hunkered down in the corridor to rest for the night.  Said night passed mostly uneventfully, except for a small swarm of the giant blue and white ants that appeared on Awg's watch. Antennae waving, these approached the calmonari. But to Awg's puzzlement, after a moment of investigation, the insects turned and went back the way they came and did not return. 

Having had a night of undisturbed sleep, the casters recovered their spells , and both Torak and Kwinsea (using the stole of the sacred) liberally passed around cure lights wounds  to those who needed it. Sizing up their map, they party decided to head towards the outside perimeter of the egg. There they discovered a corridor that they followed all around the circumference of the egg. In the process, they also discovered a number of new doors and well as another side corridor. Exploring the corridor first, they came to a large room with walls covered in carved circles about the size of a gold piece. Seeing nothing of concern in the large room, Chaff entered to explore. As he did, the circles closest to the vivimancer moved together into a tighter cluster and started to spin. That made Chaff very nervous, so he retreated to where the rest of the party waited. Torak, however, decided to make a dash across the narrow side of the space and into the room they could see on the opposite side. There he found a nest of slitterrats, curled up on a pile of broken crystal and quartz. They lazily eyed the cleric with no apparent concern, while he in turn observed nothing in the pile which would encourage disturbing and/or slaughtering the creatures.  He rejoined the party, which then headed around the perimeter corridor to the next door. 

Ghostly Figure
This led into an empty room with another door opposite. This door in turn led into a large chamber with another door on the opposite wall and a passageway leading north. In the middle of the room was a pile of corpses, while at the south end of the room there was glowing spectral figure, vaguely bipedal, with hands upraised. Suspecting undead, the party let Torak go first. When he entered the room ,the remains in the centre did indeed rise and advance. The cleric tried to use the power of Brall to turn them, but it seemed to have no effect. As they figures got closer, it was obvious these were not ordinary skeletons. They were covered in some sort of a mineral crust, and still bore and wore accoutrements typical of an adventuring party. The party shifted position to allow Kwinsea to wedge the door open, allowing Torak to escape and Chaff to web both the door opening and 4 of the skeletons. These were dispatched in short order, but with the web in place the party couldn't get back in the room. But there was another door out in the perimeter corridor, which they assumed would lead to the other door in the room. The party tracked around, passed though another empty room ,and then did indeed find themselves back where they expected. Torak tried (unsuccessfully) turning the ghostly figure, leaving the party to  pummel the two remaining skeletons to pieces. (In the course of the fight, Torak also become especially attached to the new dagger he'd found the previous day).With one eye on the strange figure, the party picked through the skeletal wreckage to recover a fair bit a treasure, including a mix of coinage, a scroll, rusty sword with a gem it the pommel, and a couple of potion vials. Chaff bravely checked these, and discovered they were potions of lightning resistance. A quick check and search of the northern passage revealed that it led to a secret door back into the entry chamber (Hi Rodrigo!)

Bag of Holding
The party now was starting to wonder how to get down to the other eggs. So far they'd found nothing resembling stairs, shafts, etc. They dutifully headed back out into the perimeter corridor to the last as yet unexplored door. This led into a room with three more of the strange egg tanks. Each of these was still full of fluid, and each also contained one of the strange clawed humanoids. After carefully checking the entrance for traps, Kwinsea moved inside to look closer at the tanks and their inhabitants. Once she was well inside the room, the figures in the tanks began to move. They appeared to be operating some kind of controls. Suddenly, from two of the tanks came a blast of electricity, scorching everyone nearby. At the same time, the door to the room slammed shut, leaving Kwinsea trapped. The aqumancer lined up with the tanks and gave them a taste of their own medicine; her lightning bolt shattered the three tanks and cooked the creatures inside. As the smoke cleared, the rest of the party returned to help her out. But there was nothing left to do but move on to the door on the opposite side of the room.This led into a small space with a seemingly random pile of stuff on the floor. In addition to a mace and shield, there were four potion vials (potions of healing as it turned out), a set of dark lenses, a wand and a small stack stuffed full of something. Kwinsea examined the ivory wand, which had a small set of wings carved on the butt as well as a command word. Torak and Awg scooped up the rest, except for the sack which Chaff claimed. He opened it up and found it to be full of copper coins. Disgusted by the essentially valueless contents, the vivmancer upended the bag to pour the coins out onto the floor. But the coins kept pouring and pouring. To the point where he had to stop or else the room would fill up with copper pieces. Going outside into the corridor, he tipped up the bag again until it was empty and he stood shin deep in a sea of coppers.  Well, this might be a useful item ...

TOTAL XP
10435*

GAINS
12 assorted gems (250gp each)
1550gp
100sp
Sword with gem in pommel
Mace
Shield
3 crystal fruit
2 potions of lightning resistance
potions of healing
Scroll - Knock, Detect Magic
Wand of Flying
Bag of Holding 

KILLS
3 Oozanderthals
6 Fossil Skeletons

LOSSES
None

*2xp per gp rule in effects

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Far Isles Session #86 - Among the Dungeon Vermin

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

With the disappearance of the lighting went the constant crackle and crash of the electrical storm, dropping the party into an eerie silence. Awg took advantage of this to listen for any clues or foes around them, and was rewarded with a scratching sounds somewhere to the west. The party decide to move in that general direction and made for the door in the south wall. As they did, the lighting once more started to flicker overhead, and within a few minutes it was the same extensive storm as it was before the mechanism was cranked.  

Storage Egg
Beyond the dark quartz door was an east west corridor, which the party followed west into a small room. It was empty, with another exit to the south. Awg, in front of the marching order, was suspicious, so the calmonari carefully inspected the floor before proceeding into the room. No traps were found, but he/she noted this floor was freakishly clean and completely devoid of the dust, crumbled bits of wall material and miscellaneous trash noted in the previous rooms. Uncertain of what that foretold, the party moved forward cautiously into another, similar room. The difference here was in an alcove to the east, where a number of items seems to float in the air or perhaps were stuck to the wall; a helmet, pair of swords, and a few other items. Chaff shoved to the front of the line, and starred intently at the items, hoping to glean their nature. He noted they were somewhat hazy in appearance, and then to the vivmancers surprise, they lurched towards him! Chaff was able to dodge away from the gelatinous bulk that tried to slam into him, then whipped out his wheelock and buried a bullet in the mass. The party started to do a fighting withdrawal, making attacks as they backed up. Kwinsea tried a lighting bolt, but it appeared to have no effect. Torak and Rodrigo lobbed flasks of oil and hit, while Awg followed with a flaming torch. The gelatinous cube burst into flames, and after a half minute or so had collapsed into a liquid-y pool of bubbling goo. The party picked the still warm items out of the slime. This included the jeweled helmet, which Awg claimed and awkwardly perched  on his.her head (it not being made to fit a clamonari's skull structure). The swords Rodrigo examined, and found them to be of fairly poor quality. There was a dark quartz potion bottle which Torak claimed, and discovered after a little experimentation that it was a potion of flying.  The last things of interest were four head sized chucks of quartz; they looked like pieces of the walls that had broken loose for some reason. Chaff looked them over and discovered one was covered in a crude scrawl of writing. It was in Teroclidian, of which the little vivimancer had a rough understanding. The writing spoke of a God Who Walks Among Men having gone insane, trying to use his elemental powers to escape the captivity imposed by the mists. That made them all think immediately of Empyrius, thinking that perhaps they'd found his lair after-all. 

But they would still need to find him, so the party moved on. Backtracking, they explored the eastern branch of the corridor. This led by a roundabout route to a long, narrow room. There were exits to the north and south, and it was dominated  by a trio of strange tanks. They were egg shaped and supported by metal lattice work; for all intents and purposes, they looked very much like the large egg structure in which they were currently exploring. Two of them contained fluid and occupants; the first a weird, large metal sea urchin (which Awg didn't recognize), and the second a primitive hominid with long clawed fingers. Awg tapped on the tanks to rouse the creatures, but close examination confirmed they dead rather than in suspended animation. The third tank was broken open (from the outside it appeared), and contained nothing but signs of dried fluid and broken crystal.  Kwinsea started poking around the base of the eggs, and noticed that each one had three ornate dials, each inscribed with the numbers 1-3.  She didn't touch them, but did make note of the current settings (322, 332, 133 respectively).

Blue and White Ant
Further investigation was interrupted by the sound of many feet approaching from the south entrance. Everyone pulled back into the passage, out of sight. Rodrigo stuck a mirror around the corner to see what what coming, and observed a small swarm of molted blue and white, man sized ants heading their way. After a quick whispered discussion to decide weather to fight or flee, the party choose fight as they'd eyed a good tactile setup. Chaff used his web spell to block off the room between the outer wall and the first egg, which left open a narrow gap between the egg and wall. Rodrigo, Awg and Torak positioned themselves there so they would only have to deal with one ant at a time. By this point, their formic foes has noted the party's presence, and headed their way. Several tried climbing the walls, but didn't seem able to grip properly. A pair also investigated the web, leaving the other half dozen to make for the gap. One of these skittered up on top of the egg, and proceeded to clamp its mandibles down on Awg's skull, while a second made for the gap. Awg made short work of his opponent with a swing of the Terminaxe. Overall, the three front line fighters had a relatively easy time of hewing down the ants one or two at a time, although Awg continued to get bitten frequently and deeply from the ones on top of the egg. In the end, the party prevailed and stood triumphant over a pile of dismembered giant insects.

Slitherrat
After a quick root through giant bug parts failed to uncover anything interesting, the party turned and headed north. This led them to a door which, based on Awg's earlier listening, likely led to the source of the scratching sounds. Nothing could be heard at the door, so they hauled it open to reveal a small 10'x15' room with another door. Awg headed over and listened at this one too; and once more heard the scratching sounds. Torak walked up to the door and knocked, at which point the scratching stopped. Moments later it started up again, and next thing the party knew, there were strange, glassy looking rat/ferret creatures emerging from the walls of the room and attacking them with electrical shocking bites. While Awg, Rodrigo and Torak swung away at the critters, Chaff got the door open so he and Kwinsea could get out of harms way. Unfortunately, they'd forgotten their foes could move through walls and Kwinea was attacked from behind by another pair of the creatures. In the end they were able to defeat them with no significant hurt inflicted on the party, opening the way into the room beyond. It was pretty much empty, except for a plain wooden chest against the far wall. It was tipped over, with the opening facing the wall. Using the Terminaxe as a shovel, Awg scooped out contents onto the floor in front of them. It proved to be a mix of cut quartz stones and coloured gems, a potion bottle (another potion of flying) a chunk of silver weighting about 200lbs, a well-made dagger, and three golf-ball sized round crystalline rocks, inside which a blue light flicked. Rodrigo examined the dagger, and noted it to be of good build quality. He also observed writing on the hilt, and passed it to Chaff to read. However, the vivimancer could not decipher the text this time, it being an unknown language and not Terocolidian ...

TOTAL XP
8140*

GAINS
Bejeweled Helmet
100 cut quartz crystals
20 assorted gems
Chunk of silver
2 potions of flying
dagger -1 (Cursed)
2 swords
3 golf-ball sized stones, glowing blue inside

KILLS
9 blue and white molted giant ants
5 slitherats
1 gelatinous cube

LOSSES
None

*2xp per gp rule in effects

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Far Isles Session # 85 - Spire of Iron and Crystal

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

Before proceeding any further, the party had additional questions for Korun the Creekman. First of all, they had him sketch out a map of the Coral Cays.  The blue man complied, and was able to give a fairly detailed chart of the closest islands. The lair of his former wereshark employer was nearby, so Korun knew this area well. He pointed out Dusek's island, as well as the location of one of the Amazon tribes with whom they'd crossed spears. He was also able to point out in a more general sense the location of the Blue Amazons, a weird long persistent storm, a variety of ruins and a general sense of where to find other islands. He was oddly evasive about where to find the Creekmen, giving a general and vague location with no details. When asked where they might find more information on Empyrius, Korun suggested the Creekmen elders had a great store of old tales that might help. So in the end, the party headed up the island chain towards the purported location of the Creekman villages. 

Blue Amazon
Fighting contrary winds once again, they didn't make it too far before having to drop anchor for the night. Scanning the horizon in the failing light, Torak noted some activity several hundred yards off the bow. He first called up Awg for a look, then the rest of the party. Rodrigo scurried up to the crows nest with his spyglass, and spotted a trio of blue-skinned women, riding dolphins and driving a pack of sharks away at spear point. They moved off, not noticing or paying attention to the ship, until the sharks finally gave up and swam away. The dolphin riders then turned to the north-west, and likewise dove and disappeared. When this excitement was over, Kwinsea decided to summon an aquatic creature and then speak to it in an attempt to learn more about the isles. A large sea turtle responded to her summons, and ponderously answered her questions. The aqumancer learned the storm isle had been that way forever; there was a city of underwater humans or humanoids somewhere to their west; and that if they wanted 'shiny' things, they should seek out the stone ruins of the 'turtle-men' and collect the fragments of their shells. All of which was interesting, but not of immediate use for finding Empyrius. 

Next day opened with a pod of giant great white sharks approaching the ship. Rodrigo, on watch, had the musketeers roused and put to work driving them off. Amidst great grumbling and complaining, the ships' guards fired a volley, striking one of the beasts. That was enough to scare them off, the two non-wounded animals nipping at their bleeding colleague as they swam away. The musketeers went back to their hammocks, the sailors arose, and the "No Man's Sea" sailed forth again. The wind had shifted to the north-east so they made better time over the next few days. They sailed past a beach with stone turtle-man ruins, then past the scary elemental storm island, before cutting south-west around the Blue Amazon islands towards the Creekmen. Along the way, Chaff plied Korun with liquor to find out why he was so evasive about the Creekmen. In the end, there was nothing sinister to learn. With so many enemies in the Cays, the Creekmen were just very wary of giving away any information on their hidden villages or their way of life. Korun had no intention of showing the party the location of the villages; he expected them to drop him off-shore and he'd head home alone. And bring back an elder or two to talk later on.  When the vivimancer passed this along to the rest of the party, there was some conniving thought put to tracking their guide. But in the end, they decided to trust the blue man to return. So when they finally dropped anchor off the massive mangrove swamp of an island to which Korun had directed them, they let him take the ships boats into the creeks, hoping he'd return. And then they waited. In the meantime, Awg went looking for 'pretties' to bring back to H'sslik if they ever happened back that way again. The calmonari was rewarded with a pretty purple fish he'd never seen before, which went right into one of their holding tanks. Kwinsea also took the time to summon once more, this time getting a visit from a trio of swordfish.  She pumped them for information on the Creekmen, but the saltwater fish could tell her little about the land-dwellers. 

In the end, their trust in mankind was rewarded when Korun returned a couple days later with a boat-full of Creekmen. The party let them aboard the "No Man's Sea", and threw a great feast to impress their guests. And afterwards listened the the accompanying elder (Talos) spin tales of the past deeds of the Creekmen and their Terocolid forebearers.  It would seem the Terroclids were a very militaristic people, divided into many petty and warring island-states under the nominal rule of a High Tyrant. Each petty kingdom had it's own "God Who Walked Among Men", providing counsel and assiting those in power. And in return were worshiped and supported by their human followers. Empyrius was a"God" of a state at the northern edge of the island chain, but exactly where Talos couldn't say. The party asked Talos what had caused the fall of the Terocolids, and were told the women-folk (who it seemed had been treated as little better than chattel-slaves)  has risen up under a leader by the name of Damarius the Liberator and destroyed them all. The Amazons were the descendants of those women. Asked about other places they might learn more, Talos directed them to the fallen remnants of the Terocolids. In particular, there was a ruined temple ofrsomething on nearby high cliff. He also told them of a weird structure, consisting of four giant crystal eggs in an iron lattice. It had stood on a low limestone ridge on a nearby cay as long as anyone could remember. But none had ever gotten inside as there was no obvious entrance. 

The feast over and day getting short, the Creekmen prepared to leave. Chaff asked how they'd get back to their village, since they weren't keeping the ships boat. Korun grinned, then whistled loudly. Out of the nearby creeks came a small flotilla of Creekmen. It seems the Creekmen didn't fully trust the party and kept a ace up their sleeves. But they left without incident, leaving the party to decide what to do next. It came down to heading north to wander about looking for Empyrius. Or hitting one of the locations Talos reveled, looking for answers and maybe some loot. In the end, loot prevailed, and the party decided the eggs sounded like the most likely place to find cool stuff. As they headed there, they passed bu the other ruins as well. It was difficult to see as there was a heavy rain and mist, but they were surprised to see a beam of moving light on the headland near the ruins. 

Spire of Iron and Crystal
They pushed on however, reaching the eggs later in the day. Chaff summoned the fly and took off on patrol. From overhead there were a couple of possible entrances. At the topmost point of the topmost egg, there was a narrow opening apparently leading inside. On the second egg down was a small balcony, hidden from view below by the ironwork. There was no door to be seen, but maybe something could be discovered on closer inspection. Chaff buzzed down to pick up Kwinsea and dropped her on the balcony to search; but the aquamancer could find nothing. So through the hole it was. Chaff ferried everyone up to the top, one by one, then lowered them down the tube on a rope tied to one of the fly's legs. Torak went down first, squeezing down the steep, narrow passage.  As he did, the cleric was shocked to find the upper part of the egg filled with mist and lightning. Thankfully not hurting him. Below he could see  a maze of rooms, all of which appeared open at the top, but detail was sparse due to the obscuring light and cloud. He safely made it to the bottom, landing in an octagonal room. The walls were made of a smokey quartz-like substance, and in three walls were doors made of a similar but darker material. Overhead was nothing but mist and crashing lightning, and the air had a definite electrical smell. Underfoot was a small hole in the floor, covered by a grate and with a fan whirling inside. Close inspection revealed a series of small tubes which were collecting some sort of fluid from the air and draining it to parts unknown below.

The rest of the party joined Torak, leaving the fly hovering overhead. They then headed out to explore, starting with the northern door.  This room was essentially empty, except for a hidden pit trap (which Chaff fell into) and strange symbols carved into the quartz walls (which the mages identified as being elemental in nature). They pushed on to the next room, finding a large set of cranks and gears on the north wall. While there was some trepidation about messing with it, Awg boldly strode forward and  put the mechanism in motion. And found that as he/she worked it, the lighting overhead started to die down, until it stopped completely, plunging the party into darkness ...

TOTAL XP
850 (exploration XP)

GAINS
Some Knowledge

KILLS
None

LOSSES
None

Monday, April 30, 2018

Far Isles Session # 84 - Goodbye, Land of the Silver Lotus; Coral Cays, Ho!

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Wilhelm (Musketeer 2)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

Whether related to the power of the stone circle or not, Awg felt a sudden urge to begin the annual calmonari molting cycle. He/she begged Chaff for the use of the fly to get back to the sea for a few days to go through the process. The little vivmancer grudgingly let him borrow the magic item, which some time latter returned with Torak in tow. The cleric then joined his comrades in trying to decipher the riddle of the stones. The party pitched a variety of other flora and fauna into the bare patch of dirt; the flora withered and died, while the fauna fled. Chaff then dug around inside the patch, finding a variety of exceedingly old bone fragments. Torak, examining the dark stains on the rock, suddenly whipped out his dagger and sliced open his hand, dripping his blood over the tentacle stone. That provoked a response, as a mist started to rise from the ground, gradually coalescing into the faint image of tentacles. This didn't last, however, and the mirage faded as quickly as it appeared. The cleric tried the same with the circle and dagger stones, with similar tentacled results. Discussing it with his companions, the cleric figured a greater sacrifice was needed to unlock the power of the stones. No one seemed willing the volunteer, so the party decided to camp for the night (some distance away from the stones, of course). 

Next morning, they headed back to the ruined city to explore a few of the other more intact parts of the ruins. They bypassed the main gate with its vine-dangling skeletons, and headed for the curved wall of some decayed arena or amphitheater Chaff had seen in his earlier aerial reconnaissance. The wall looked to be barely standing, liable to fall over at any point. The party kept away from the base, at least until the sharp eyed Kwinsea spied a booted foot sticking out from behind a pile of stones. Approaching cautiously, the party found the remains of a campsite with seven bodies scattered about. They were all horribly mangled, in the advanced stages of decay, and obviously dead for months at least. They were not dressed as natives, and several had the weirdly blue-tinged skin of the abandoned swamp pygmy's prisoner.  Everyone started to root around, finding mainly a variety of rotting and rusted gear. They did luck out with a little treasure, all in unfamiliar coinage. There was also  an oilskin satchel, inside which they found a crude book. It looked to be stitched together from a variety of scraps of paper, pages from other volumes, and so on. By luck Chaff was able to read the writing, it being similar to a language he'd encountered in past days of researching forbidden ancient lore. It was a travel log of sorts, telling of a voyage from some land a week or so to the north. The dead party (presumably) had traveled here in a small sailing boat, but ended up wrecked on the reefs at the eastern edges of the Isles of the Silver Lotus. After a brief time at the village of Barana as guests of King Tiku, they'd heard stories of the lost city and the Forbidden Mountain, and had made their way there to find fame and fortune. At that point the narrative ended. 

Chaff then started flipping through the backs of the pages and found something of greater interest to the party; mention of Empyrius! A half page of text talked of Empyrius (and other 'Adonians') as gods who walked among men, who had taught men the arts and sciences to raise the great realm of the warrior Terocolids. And frustratingly, that was about it. However, the fact that it was written in the same language as the travel journal gave them a hint. Looks like the party was going to be heading north! Kwinsea, referring to her maps,  then noted that that direction and distance would put them to generally the same area as shown on the map taken from Ondry the wereshark. At least they knew one possible danger. 

Before heading out on the high seas again however, the party had a few other stops to make. First, Torak animated a half dozen of the fallen travelers as his new skeletal legion. Then, everyone trudged back to the mausoleum. After a little more fruitless poking about, they tried their nuclear option: summoning the instant fortress to crush the structure. To their surprise, the fortress simply toppled over, causing nary a scratch to the mausoleum. Frustrated with the lack of success, the party rested for the night in the ruin, then headed back to the waterfall and subsequently the "No Man's Sea". The crew of which were not happy to have Torak's new friends on board. It took some convincing, and a promise that the skeletons would take over scrubbing the deck, before the crew grudgingly accepted their new undead mates. Meanwhile, while the crew got the "No Man's Sea' ready to sail, Kwinsea and Torak (as a shark thanks to the shark spear) went searching for more treasure at the base of the waterfall. It was slim pickings, and nearly fatal for Kwinsea. The pair rather easily fought off a ghostly underwater apparition, but Kwinsea ended up disturbing a massive octopus that nearly flayed the skin from her bones. A well timed bite from Torak-shark scared the thing away, and Kwnisea decided she's had enough of diving for trinkets.   

At a council of war, the party decided their best bet going forward in search of Empyrius would be to have a guide. So plans were hatched to return to the swamp pygmy village and rescue Korun the blue-man, under the assumption he hailed from the same place as the ex-adventuring party who were now scrubbing the ship. And their plan was pretty much the same as before; Chaff and the fly would go in while invisible and snatch the captive. Now that they knew the village layout, the vivimancer hoped to avoid attack by dropping straight down on the prison island and getting out before anyone noticed anything. To help, Torak agreed to send his skeletal hoard to attack over land and draw the attention of the swamp pygmies. And the heist went off without a hitch. The skeletons pulled away any potential opposition, Chaff dropped down on the prison island, and Korun was overjoyed to actually be rescued this time as Chaff had promised weeks ago. With all due haste, Chaff, Korun and the fly returned to the "No Man's Sea".

After giving the near-skeletal Korun some time to eat and drink, the party got down to interrogating the agyria-tinged fellow. He confirmed the general story given in the journal. Korun referred to himself (and his companions) as 'Creekmen', which the party interpreted as some sort of buccaneer/maroon. They came from a group of isles known as the Coral Islands or Cays. Once home to the mighty militaristic kingdoms of the Terocolids, the Cays now contained nothing but remnants of empire and scattered warring communities.  The Creekmen were a brotherhood opposed the the Amazon tribes who held most of the power in the Cays. In fact, those Creekmen like Korun who exhibited blue skin  were male offspring of the amphibious Blue Amazons, held as slaves with their gills surgically removed to prevent escape.  There was at least one other Amazon tribe as well, but Korun couldn't provide much information on them. He also noted the Creekmen often served various weresharks as boat crew and hired muscle. He and his fellow travelers had been in the service of one wereshark named Dusek, but had decided to go AWOL on the mercurial creature and take their chances on the rumored new lands that appeared after the mist lifted. When asked about Empyrius and the Adonians, he admitted the names were familiar, but more as legendary figures rather than 'people he knew'. So the party had a better idea of where to search for Empyrius, but weren't yet home free.

With that information in hand, Lynessa raised sail on the "No Man's Sea" and headed to the north-east towards the Coral Cays. Sis days sail brought them within sight of a small island, notable for the huge statue of a man standing on a promontory at the southern end. And further in the distance were signs of more islands to explore ...

TOTAL XP
2700*

GAINS
800gp of exotic coins
100gp worth of various golden grave goods (rings, bangles, chains, etc)
Korun the Creekman

KILLS
1 Sea Wraith

LOSSES
None 

* 2xp/gp house rule in effect

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Far Isles Session #83 - Looking for a Way In

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Wilhelm (Musketeer 2)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

First of all, Kwinsea made ues of the stole of the sacred to cast a cure disease on Rodrigo, hoping that would bring the swashbuckler back from the beyond. Although it seemed to clear up the festering rot, it did not bring him back from the dead. So ignoring the dead for the moment, attention now turned to the sealed box recovered from the desk. To decipher the writing on the wax seals, Torak cast a read languages on the box. The strange glyphs referred to "forbidden materials, heretical and blasphemous to the god of the dead". Well, if the god of the dead didn't like, it must be good, right?  Just to be sure, Torak cast augury and learned that opening the box would bring good results. With that, Chaff grabbed the box, sat on the floor resting against Rodrigo's body, and cracked open seals. Inside the vivimancer found a scroll and four small flasks. He unrolled the scroll, but it was full of theological mumbo-jumbo that made no sense to him. He passed it over the Torak, who confirmed that it was a scroll of clerical spells; specifically, restoration, raise dead, and remove curse. The vials, thanks to a casting of kalandrian sight,   proved to be some sort of healing magic. Potions of healing, as Awg learned when he quaffed one to deal with some remaining hurt from the previous day.

Awg's New Friends
After some discussion, the party decided to bring Rodrigo back from the grave, and then shuffle him and the treasures recovered thus far back to the "No Man's Sea" via the ebony fly. The party then used the fly to transship everyone back up to the top of the plateau to investigate the ruined city. This included the musketeer sergeant Wilhelm, who was enticed with a promise of a pay bonus and a crate of mustache wax, to come ashore and provide some muscle in place of the recovering Rodrigo. Meanwhile, the aquatic duo Kwinsea and Awg headed into the sea at the base of the falls, figuring there might be treasure there from a millennia of jewelry decorated dead. After much searching, they did recover some scattered gold; but also attracted the attention of a shiver of mako sharks. Kwinsea immediately headed for the fly, which Chaff had left hovering just overhead. Once there, she started to throw things in the water and shout to distract the sharks from Awg, who figured he/she could make it to a nearby rock and escape. She did draw away three of the creatures, but the other two chased the calmonari. Awg suffered a few massive bites before he was able to scramble up the slippery rock. From there the calmonari used  his/her sword to levitate  up to the plateau, pulled over to land thanks to a tow rope from the fly.  

Flying Guardian
Scouting ahead on the fly, Chaff buzzed along the edge of the ruins the party had spotted on their previous foray to the plateau. The ruins were roughly circular and about a half mile across. And ruined they were; there was little left standing except an occasional wall or pile of stones covered in vines and jungle growth. Except near the centre, where an immaculate dome-topped mausoleum lay. It had stood the test of time without a crack or blemish, and no vegetation covered it's walls. The mausoleum was most easily approached via  a large ruined plaza and pillared processional way. Chaff flew back and reported his findings, and the party hacked and slashed their way through the thick growth, headed for the building. They reached the ruins without incident, made their wall through gaps in the ruined city wall (the main city gate being on the opposite side). They threaded through the tumbled stone of the city to the plaza, and then started up the processional way.  Several pillars had fallen, but most still stood erect. And then they noticed atop one of the 30' high columns was a crouching figure. From this distance it looked like one of the faceless demons on the pillars in the cultist caves. This one, however, seemed alive! As the party got closer to the mausoleum, it lept off the pillar and spread wings, aiming towards the party. While Wilhelm braced his musket to line up a shot, Chaff and Kwinsea cast defensive magics, and Awg made a run for the mausoleum door. That attracted the attention of the flying guardian, which pivoted in mid flight and dropped on the calmonari in a flurry of claws and horns.  Awg suffered more grievous wounds before he and the party managed to defeat the monstrosity thanks to Chaff dropping a web on it (and incidentally, Wilhelm too). 

After cutting Wilhelm free, the party continued on to the mausoleum. It was a relatively plain, square building with a dome and low parapet on the top. The door was a solid stone slab with no apparent handle or keyhole. There were no distinguishing features apart from the eerily excellent condition. And a set of small holes above the door lintel, each about an inch across. Just about the size of a gem to be exact. To get the door open, the party tried inserting a variety of gems they had on hand, in various combinations of color and order. But nothing happened. Awg then tried the simple expedient of pushing on the door; it didn't budge. Wilhelm impatiently walked up to the door and shoved the blade of his pole-arm in between the door and frame to try prying it open. That finally got a response, but not the one they'd hoped. A prismatic wall suddenly appeared as Wilhelm stumbled back from the door. It enclosed the entire structure, and after a bit of experimentation with a thrown stone, seemed to block all access to the mausoleum. It remained for 10-15 minutes and then disappeared as suddenly as it came. 

Stymied by the door, the party decided to look elsewhere for a way into the building. Heading east, they came across a large well in the centre of another ruined plaza. It was overgrown with vines, but when the opening was cleared and the party peered inside, no water could be seen. Dropping a stone down the well indicated if there was water, it was way below. So Chaff hopped on the fly and volunteered to buzz down the wide well to see where it went.  The well opened into a cavern, at the narrow bottom of which was a rushing river. After about 50' it disappeared beneath a solid rock wall. Following it upstream led into a very familiar place; the wide cavern that opened onto the jungle from the death cult caves. Chaff flew back up to the party, and they decided to head back down into the caves. Perhaps they missed a secret door or other way up into the mausoleum from below? It was getting late, so the party bedded down in the high priests study again to rest for the night. Before they did that, Awg wanted to learn more about the things hanging from the large entrance cavern ceiling. As full darkness fell outside, he noted the things start to leave the ceiling and fly out of the entrance. They were some sort of monstrous bat creature. Several of them located the calmonari, and swooped down to attack. Awg received one bite, then fled deeper into the caves and back to the high priests' chamber with the rest of the crew. 

After a good nights sleep, the party awoke to search around some more. They focused their attention on the smooth wall in the adjacent chamber with the hologram-like image. They examined the pictured scene closely, figuring it might give them a clue as to how the bodies came down to the caverns from the city above. It looked like they were carried down the jungle trail that entered the cavern with the bat-creatures.  So much for a secret body-transfer path. They also poked and prodded at the image itself, hoping it was itself a secret or magical passage. But to no avail. Getting frustrated, the next course of action was the explore that jungle trail. The party followed it as it slowly descended the mountainside, passing another much fainter path on the right before coming to a stone archway across the trail. Ever paranoid, Kwinsea approached cautiously to examine it for traps. As she got closer though, the aquamancer noticed the archway was filled with near-invisible webs. And lurking in the shadows at the top she also observed a large spider. Not willing to take any chances, she quaffed a vial of anti-poison and then blasted the eight-legged monster into a smoking ruin with a lightning bolt. 

Standing Stone
Passing through the arch, they soon came to another branch in the trail. One led to the right, and following it for a while seemed to indicate it was headed south towards the village of  Barana. Backtracking, they headed up the other triail, and after a few hours slog found themselves back on the  top of the Forbidden Mountain, this time facing the cities' ruined gatehouse. Well, that left the faint side-trail. Backtracking again, they found this last trail led somewhere different. It opened into a small clearing, in the centre of which stood 3 tall, rust-red standing stones. Each stone had a symbol carved in it at about eye height; one was a dagger, the other a round circle, and the third a tentacle. Oddly enough, given the verdant planet-life everywhere else, nothing grew inside the triangle bounded by the stones. They also noted the complete lack of any jungle sounds; all the skittering, chirping and buzzing had stopped. Chaff plucked a branch off a nearby tree, and tossed it inside the stones. Nothing happened for a minute or two, but the leaves then started to wither and decay until very soon nothing was left by a dry brown husk. Awg cautiously inserted his/her hand over the 'dead zone', getting a weird feeling but otherwise not harmed. The calmonari then boldly stepped inside the stones. Once more there was that weird other worldly feeling, and he/she noted his companions had a slighly out of focus look to them. But otherwise there was no apparent effect. Chaff then stepped inside the circle to examine the inside face of the stones. They proved to be carved with the same symbols as the outside. Curious ... 

TOTAL XP
1380*

GAINS
200gp worth of various golden grave goods (rings, bangles, chains, etc)
Clerical Scroll - Raise Dead, Remove Curse, Restoration 
Potion of Healing x4

KILLS
1 Winged Guardian
1 Black Widow Spider

LOSSES
None 

* 2xp/gp house rule in effect