Friday, July 22, 2016

Campaign Recap: The Island, Chapters One and Two

The new campaign started about four months (fantasy time) after the previous campaign ended. 

ROSTER- The Island
Augie- Rhys- Human Oracle (Dark Tapestry mystery)
Carol- FiCoNiCuZn- Svirfneblin Alchemist
Chris B- Rolof- Dwarf Fighter
Chris T- Alero Lightfoot- Halfling Bard
Dave- Giles Corey- Human Witch
Dibz- Deron Al-Asad- Human Druid from Komar
James- Raymond Du Puy- Half-Elf Paladin from Aquitania
John- Argas Tooken- Hobbit Wizard Enchanter
Katie- Lestazia- Drow Rogue
Nate- Rodney- Human Wizard, Necromancer
Nick- Nunto- Half-Elf Bard
Noelle- Warsong- Half-Orc Barbarian
Seth- Milo Millsbury- Hobbit Paladin

(Interesting party composition here. Lots of fringe types such as an Oracle, Witch, Barbarian, a Drow, and a Deep Gnome. Two bards, so that's unusual, and a LOT of short people. Not many overt tanks, and no Clerics or Rangers. Ouch).

Chapter One: The Island
May 1st-3rd, 317 PE (May 21, 2016)
Roll Call: FiCoNiCuZn, Rolof, Alero, Giles, Deron, Raymond, Argas, Lestazia, Rodney, Nunto, Warsong, Milo
The group departed Anchorage on the Lady Jayne, bound for the City of Letters, each with their own reasons for going. They weren’t the only passengers; there was also a group of fledgling adventurers called the Order of the Griffon, a snarly half-sea elf Rogue named Vislor Turlo, some ridiculous pirate type called Seawater Silas, a couple of Calibrian wine merchants, and a Zorian Inquisitor, whose presence can be directly traced to actions done in the previous campaign.

(In the previous campaign, the party went to the Theocracy of Zor and in the process of fulfilling their quest, freed about 20 "blasphemers" who were left to die in the Swamp of Condemned Heretics. The Zorian clergy has dispatched Inquisitors all over the continent to find the outsiders who dared interfere with the dispensing of justice to the heretics. Inquisitors are going to be a common sight for a while!)

During the trip, the ship chanced upon a dead body on a raft, clutching a small coffer with some valuable trinkets. The body was given a decent burial at sea, and the voyage continued. The coffer was filled with jewelry, but none of it radiated magic.

Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, one of the trinkets, which in fact was a cursed item (cursed items can’t be detected by simple spells; otherwise what’s the point?), transformed the Captain, First Mate, Ship’s Doctor, and Quartermaster into the living dead, specifically a special form of Draugr. This particular brand of horror spreads its curse immediately to a slain victim, raising the latter into a newly made Draugr, like a fast-moving infection.

(Anyone ever see the Heavy Metal animated movie? The vignette about the B-17 bomber?)

The characters hightailed it to the lifeboats, which is more than the other poor passengers managed to do, though some of their fates are unknown (no body no death?). Warsong had the honor of striking the very first blow of the new campaign, a 20-20-hit against the turned Captain, resulting in an instant kill. Nice way to start things off, eh?

(Suffice to say, I was impressed)

Argas actually went off on his own, entered the Captain’s room, got some stuff, and left via the Captain’s own personal dinghy. The two lifeboats cleared the Lady Jayne, leaving it to its fate. The survivors steered towards a flashing light on the horizon.

During the intense rowing, a pair of sharks made a beeline for the lifeboats and attacked, though they were repelled, helped out immensely by a bomb dropped down the gullet of one shark courtesy of FiCoNiCuZn. When the party finally made landfall, it was on the beach of a deserted island (not a desert island- the action is set in temperate latitudes), and it turned out that an ancient fort was the source of the flash of light, the glare from a parabolic mirror set up on one of the fort’s tower.

The party didn’t have time to catch their breath on the beach, as a giant rock crab emerged from the sand and tried to make a meal of them. They ended up defeating it, and turned the tables, using it as a food source, since it was becoming evident that the group would need to secure food until they could somehow get off the island.

The group walked to the old fort, explored it, and discovered that it was an abandoned Imperial outpost, evacuated when the Valgarion Empire collapsed three centuries back. The group read some documents deliberately left behind and realized that the departing troops left a cache of stuff on the off-chance that the Empire was restored and the fort was needed again. They found the stash and were able to access it thanks to an idea from Nunto. One of the things they found was a Folding Boat! Hooray! A way off the island!

The party also discovered that the fort had a graveyard, with a section set aside for burying violent criminals on unconsecrated ground. The party realized that about a half-dozen undead, the souls of these evil dead, still lurked on that cursed patch of land. Avoidance was recommended and practiced.

(Now it can be told; there were six wraiths there. Since they hate sunlight, the party would be safe in the daytime. If they wandered around at night, well..)

Finally, the group explored a hill on the island’s north-eastern quadrant, and ran afoul of a pair of sirens, who tried to charm the party but were thwarted by the bards. Despite one of the sirens launching a devastating sonic attack on the group, the latter managed to defeat them and grab some extremely nifty loot.

(I messed up here and should have ruled one character dead, but since it was my mistake, I let it slide. Besides, we were on the verge of calling it a night. I was more interested in being all murdery and stabby during the Draugr part).

It was about at that point that the group decided they had enough. They resolved to use the Folding Boat to sail back to civilization.

There were actually THREE ways off the island. The second was assembling the pieces of a pump scattered throughout the fort, repairing the damage done to a small sailing ship, the Swiftsure, which was sunk at its moorings, pump out the water, and leave. The third was to cool their heels on the island for another couple of days until a pirate ship arrived and a landing party made landfall in a longboat in order to bury a treasure chest.

Chapter Two: The Escape
May 4th-8th, 317 PE (June 18, 2016)
Roll Call: Rhys, FiCoNiCuZn, Rolof, Alero, Giles, Deron, Argas, Lestazia, Rodney, Nunto, Warsong
When we last left our intrepid group, they had decided that they had enough of the island, since the place seemed intent on killing them.  (Spoiler alert: It was!) They grabbed their supplies, stowed them on the Folding Boat, and sailed off west, using maps found in the fort to help with navigation.

Unfortunately, the island wasn’t done with them yet. See, ever since the party had approached the island, a colony of sahaugin had tracked them. In fact, the shark attack from Chapter One was carried out by sharks under the command of the hideous sea folk.

Anyways, the sahaugin saw the group about to escape on a boat (unknown to the party, a small band of sahaugin had already smashed the original lifeboats into kindling!), and did an en masse boarding, over twenty of them! Luckily, Nunto used his bardic powers of fascination to lull the vast majority of the sahaugin into inaction, buying the group the chance they needed to seize the initiative, so to speak.

(This move turned the tide of the battle before there was even a battle. Who says bards are useless?)

After defeating (or driving away) the sahaugin and their shark cohorts, the party resumed their voyage, reaching the City of Letters on the 7th. Thanks to Derin using his magic staff to increase the wind, they managed to shave off a good chunk of sailing time, and thus decreased the likelihood of a sea encounter. Once there, they reported the loss of the Lady Jayne to the Imperial authorities and took up rooms at one of the better inns.

A Wizard from the Circle of Mysteries Arcane, Giselle, summoned the party to help her. Word of their survival of the Lady Jayne Incident, as it’s now known, spread fast, and she felt that the group had the tenacity, smarts, skills, and sense of responsibility to successfully handle her task. Giselle was researching the ancient Elven network of Ghost Stones that uses the Ethereal Plane, and discovered that several of them were somehow in use again after centuries, possibly even millennia, of inactivity.

(Giselle is a familiar face. She was at the Paths of Fate Inn at the very first Hawkhaven campaign. The Circle of Mysteries Arcane is the oldest, most powerful, and most respected mage guild on the continent).

There were two stones in particular that she wants to have reactivated, but they cannot be accessed via the Ethereal Plane; they had to be physically activated on this plan. One was located in Slaughter Swamp, a nasty marshy area on the borders of the Orc Kingdom that lies far to the west. The other was located eastward back across the ocean on the Spindrift Islands, near the pirate city of Dockland (otherwise known as Nelmar on the Sea, and a few other names that shouldn’t be mentioned).

(Think of Tortuga from the Pirates of the Carribean)

But there was one more task needing doing: the Elven Kingdom of Hanael contacted the Wizards guild a year ago and asked for their help in finding a cure for the wasting plague that’s been affecting select young Elven women for the past few years. After much intense research, the guild stumbled upon what they think is a cure: a potion made from a rare fungus called Avro’s Parasol, known to grow only in Slaughter Swamp. So, in essence, something in the Orc lands holds the key to the well-being of the Elves. Yay, irony! The guild needs ten pounds of this fungus in order to make enough of the cure for everyone (a little goes a very long way).

Giselle told the group that they could choose to go to either location first. They chose the swamp, so when the party is ready, she will teleport them to an inn on the Great Trade Road, a place called the Paths of Fate, and they can go west from there. Once they activate the gate, they should use it, and their next step will become obvious.

Also, Argas and Rodney joined the Circle of Mysteries Arcane as probationary members. Succeed at the two tasks, and they’re totally in as full-fledged members.