Friday, November 30, 2012

Savage Tide Session 18

The party descended into the tunnel, ignoring the sounds of a large beast snorting from the shoreline to the south. The tunnels were flooded with muddy rainwater up to 4ft deep, and Jardek needed the boots of levitation to keep his beard dry. The passage heading far to the west, underneath the clusters of huts. A swarm of rats fled past the party as they pressed on, desperate to escape whatever lay within. Eventually, the party came across a junction with thick tree roots descending into the corridor through the ceiling. Tentative prodding of the roots revealed entombed corpses hidden within and disguise to look like wood, but animated and ready to strike any who passed by. Stefanie stepped up to destroy the creatures, calling upon the power of Vanya, and Zhedd managed to find a few more lurking under the water. Turning north past a collapsed passageway. the party came across another corridor heading east, with narrow fissures leading to another passage in the southern wall and went to investigate. A large mass of vegetation sprang out of the water and attacked, but was soon dispatched. Beyond this, they found two cowering troglodytes, which Dacien and Zhedd heard plotting to escape - but not before Krunk charged past and dispatched them both with his axe. One was rescued from the brink of death and questioned - revealign that he had been under the control of a 'scary eel creature' that had controlled its thoughts and led it here to capture the human villagers. It was now free of that control and desperate to flee.
A 'scary eel creature', as described by the Troglodyte and identified by Dacien as a Kopru.

Further in the complex, the party found a chamber full of zombies, the walls of the room lined with tiger pelts. Hidden on the eastern wall was a secret door which led down to a flooded chamber where three troglodytes lay in wait. After a slow battle, the troglodytes conjured a mist to cover their tracks as they fled. In hot pursuit, the party ran through the mist and into another chamber - where a dark skinned human with a skull painted over his face waited on a throne - the Zombie Master. A stiffened spinal column was held in one hand, and he gestured at the party as they entered and vanished. Krunk ran in and was set upon by a fossilised dinosaur that burst our form the wall, and a skeletal minotaur that burst from a stalagmite. More skeletal limbs burst from the floor and walls and tore at the party's flesh. The party were then quick to control the battlefield when they realised they faced an invisible foe - silencing the room whilst Mendel's keen ears pinpointed any sound of spellcraft for the target of his arrows. The Zombie Master tried to retreat through a hidden door, to regroup and attack the party, even calling an elemental to his aid, but in the end to no avail.

Beyond the secret door was a passage that led to an underground lagoon that seemed to open up to the sea. The lagoon was filled with scores of corpses, their heads all removed, which tainted the waters red. A cavern was visible across the lagoon from which a deep swirling purple mist emerged. Thinking themselves too worn down from the earlier battles, the party retreated to rest and prepare for what lay ahead. They tried first to leave the catacombs the way they entered, but found the entrance collapsed, with a strange smell of entrails and putrefaction.

That night, a troglodyte warband attempted to swarm the party, led by what appeared to be one of the Kopru they had heard described earlier. They were fought off and the passageway resealed. Come dawn, the party decided to clear the rest of the complex behind them before descending further. More undead and ceremonial chambers were found, including a trapdoor up into what appeared to be the Zombie Master's hut. From there, Jardek spotted a sickly looking elasmasaurus atop the pyramid in the centre of the village. The storm itself was still in force and showing no signs of abating. They retreated back into the catacombs to complete their exploration from where they entered.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Savage Tide Session 17

Before leaving the Stupid Freaking Leaping Demons™ shrine to Demogorgon, the party resolved to examine what was in the room above the well. But not before Dacien had fireballed the room through the well grating twice just to be safe, after Antony had lured them into the path of the spell. It turned out to be a horde of angry, singed, purple-arsed baboons that flocked over the party as they opened the door but soon fell to Mendel’s arrows and Jardek’s axe. The chamber was large and vaulted, with a throne at the far end, but covered in grime from either end of the baboons’ digestive systems. Antony noticed grooves scraped in the floor in front of the throne as if it had been dragged out form the wall. This secret door led to a final alcove holding two chests, engraved with images of the righteous being burnt and tortured. Having neatly triggered/disarmed the fireball trap, the chests were opened to find a haul of coins, a spiked shield and a wand.

The fog had lifted as the party set out south. Urol was quiet and unenthusiastic about leading the party, and Tavey clung to Mendel’s side with the loss of Amella. A rumble was heard in the distance – and peering above the canopy two volcanoes could be seen to the west, dark smoke pluming above their peaks. The party continued south, navigating clear of the local fauna they encountered. Zhedd charmed a giant constrictor snake that snuck into their camp one night. A second night, the party’s rest was interrupted by 4 loud booming noises within the camp which jarred them to the bone. Four figures, dressed in red robes, surrounded the camp, and began throwing balls of fire into their midst. They proved to be adept martial artists when encountered, paralysing Krunk with a blow to the base of the spine, and almost killing Antony, but they were soon picked off by the rest of the party. One was kept alive for questioning – and through clever use of Detect Thoughts and Zone of Truth, revealed much about his intentions to the party. He stated that he was a Follower of Bozdogan, known to many of the others as Loki, sent from the nation of Hule to explore the Isle of Dread. He spoke little to avoid revealing too much information, but Dacien’s spell could interpret his surface thoughts. It appeared the Huleans had an encampment on a small island to the south of the archipelago and were exploring the island for sites where clay was abundant where they could seed their ores – the same ores the party had encountered near Sasserine in the pirate cove. When asked about working with the pirates, again the captive kept quiet, but his thoughts revealed a distant city that they seemed to operate from – although interestingly his thoughts indicated there had been some falling out between the Hulean agents and the pirates themselves. The agent affirmed that he would take no further action against the party and had no interest in Farshore, so was allowed to flee to the south.

The next day, the party finally came upon a large 50ft high wall of dark stone that spanned the jungle before them. Urol indicated that this was the Wall that kept the local village of Tanaroa safe from the perils in the jungles of the island. Following the wall, they came upon some large gates, guarded by some dark-skinned tribal natives. They gesticulated towards the party with their spears, and then at the volcanoes in the distance. Eventually they were calmed when the village leader, an aged woman named J’kal appeared. The party were ushered into the village at spear-point and cleansed by the shaman before being given hospitality. The party were housed in the Tiger clan, and there appeared to be 3 other clans in the village – the only others mentioned were the Boar clan and the Sea Turtle clan. The following day, J’kal met with the party and explained that she had dealt with Larissa (Lavinia’s mother, who had originally established the colony of Farshore) to try and establish trade from the isle of Dread to the Known World. However, she had not heard from any of the settlers in Farshore or Larissa in many moons. J’kal was very willing to trade with the party, who wanted most of their payment in pearls. In order to get to the colony of Farshore, J’kal explained, the party would have to head south to the coast to another of the ‘Seven Villages’, Mora. There, the Sea Turtle clan would be able to use canoes to take the party across the water to Farshore – they would also have a better supply of pearls. Two guides were offered – from the Tiger and Sea Turtle clans – to escort the party to Mora. The party used the rest of the time to relax and recover, although the sound of Jardek chewing leaving and spitting them into clay pots whilst panel beating copper coins into a crude, leaky, alcohol still did spoil the tropical island paradise somewhat. J’kal also explained the villagers fear of the volcanoes – which they named the Fangs of Zotzilra – that the previous spiritual leader was a faithful follower of Zotzilra (determined by the party to be Rathanos, an immortal of energy and fire). Since his death, none had made the pilgrimage to the volcanoes to offer worship, and this had displeased the god. J’kal dismissed this as superstition, but admitted several had claimed seeing visions in the flames of their hearth fires recently.

As the party set out to leave Tanaroa, dark clouds were visible gathering to the south, and a strong wind was whipping through the village. After a few hours on the trail, this turned into a full blown storm, with the rain coming down in sheets. Dodging through a nest of spiders, the party found some shelter, albeit damp. By the end of the next rain-soaked day, they came upon Mora. Looking down from atop a cliff above the village, it was clear that the weather had caused a mudslide, and as only 3 groups of huts were visible, it seemed as though it had buried one of the clans. Peering closer, the head of a totem pole bearing a Tiger was visible in the mud. Using their magic to descend the slope, Zhedd, Mendel and Antony made their way down the mudslide whilst the others followed the cliff top to find safer passage. Halfway down the slope, a large creature, composed of mud and bodies of those buried under the earth, rose up and attacked. It’s very touch drained the soul, and caused Antony great harm, but it was defeated by blasts of lightning called down by Zhedd. Eventually the party regrouped in the nearest encampment of huts – belonging to the Sea Turtle clan – and were greeted by Karta. He informed the party that the storm had started a few days ago, and only the Zombie Master, the spiritual leader of the village named Tilorak, had the power to stop it. The ‘Walking Ancestors’ had risen and stopped any attempt of the villagers to save those of the Tiger clan lost in the mudslide. The matriarch of the village had even been killed by her own son after he had gone out to find the Zombie Master – he returned and stabbed her, then dropped dead himself without a word. Karta feared these bad omens had doomed the village, but only the Zombie Master could interpret them.

The party set out for the central pyramid, where the matriarch’s son had last been seen heading in search of the Tilorak. There, they found a group of troglodytes guarding an entrance to some flooded tunnels hidden beneath the village. The party prepared to descend…

 Spells cast since last rest: Jardek – Bless / Dacien – Fireball, Tongues / Stefanie – Hold Person, 1 Turn attempt / Zhedd – Spider Climb, Call Lightning, 2 x Acid dart

Savage Tide Session 16

The party took Dacien’s lead as his Locate Object spell pulled him to the north in search of Amella’s tricorn hat. Travelling through the thick mists was different this time, as though travelling with a defined destination broke some aspect of the magic that had snared them in the fog-laden swamp. As the spell wore off, a large rocky outcrop came into view, rising from the waters. Two cave entrances led into the centre of the rock, carved as the gaping maws of two snarling baboon heads – they recognised this as representative of Demogorgon, a dark entropic fiend. Mendel led the rest of the travellers to a safe hiding place as the others started to explore. Peering inside the left entrance set Jardek on edge as he spotted something out-of-place in the stonework. Anthony confirmed that the floor was rigged to collapse and bring the ceiling down with it if anyone stepped foot on the passageway. Taking the right entrance, Zhedd then spotted a bloody gnome-sized handprint on the floor, and a few paces further round the corridor the equipment and personal belongings of Amella and Urol, stripped from their bodies and thrown on the floor. Nearby, they also found the long-dead body of a shackled human, a pick by its side with which it had tried to write a warning of some kind on the wall.

The natural stone tunnels became a worked stone passageway further into the complex, ending in a large set of immovable iron doors carved with many imaged of leering simian demons. Two statues of such creatures stood either side of the doors, with an unintelligible writing at their base. The tongues of the statues were razor sharp, and dripping in blood, which Stephanie later found to be illusionary. After some deliberation, Stephanie resolved to prick both hands on the statures to open the doors, which revealed a dark alter room, stained in decades of blood. A sickly jade altar stood against the far wall, flanked by two mirrors, and stone thrones rested against the north and south walls. Two candles and a goblet sat on the throne – Antony, Dacien and Stephanie tried lighting the candles, which promptly exploded in their faces, only to reform moments later. Antony examined the objects in the room and confirmed that there was some magic present connecting the thrones, mirror and candles. Various combinations were tried, and it was found that lighting the candles with someone sat in the thrones caused blood to pool on the seat, and a flicker to appear in the mirror. Stephanie investigated the mirror, only to find herself trapped within, and replaced by a savage feral version of herself. Quick thinking by Antony to blow out the candle fortunately restored Stephanie to her body. Dacien determined that this was some kind of possession or domination effect that a protection spell could block, and thus armed the party were able to activate the mirrors safely. Both turned into swirling dark vortices, which Stephanie, Krunk and Jardek dove straight through.

They emerged in a large cavern in front of another mirror, but this one was not active. The chamber was lit from above by a red crystal that filtered daylight through. A pool of dark sticky liquid filled the centre of the chamber, and above this, a stone bridge spanned the cave. The chamber stank of wet fur and stale sweat – the source of which Jardek found as he clambered up to the bridge to explore – a pair of the Leaping Demons they encountered earlier. One Clamped a large hand on Jardek’s back and hoisted him on the bridge. A difficult battle ensued, as the two demons tried to separate and confuse the party. Krunk was teleported in to a well filled gnawed bones and putrefying flesh, left to thrash in anger against the locked door that kept him from the battle. After a long battle and many spells to wear down the creatures, the party were victorious, and Antony let a frustrated Krunk out from the well. At the top of the well was an iron grille, and above this the sounds of whooping and screeching could be heard, as several dark figures scampered across the view. A door in the main chamber appeared to lead to this room, but the party left it alone for the time being. A door to the south led to another room – covered in the remains of dozens of humans that had been eaten and discarded here. An undead snake creature with a human face stood at the far end of the room between two fountains. As the party ran into the room, Zhedd and Krunk fell under a charm effect, but Dacien was quick (and lucky) enough to be able to dispel the magic and the creature was swiftly defeated. Jardek found a new warhammer in the chamber, and spent the next few minutes hugging and stroking it whilst the rest of the party searched the chamber. A door to the east led to a small room with another large door that again would not open. Statues of two monkey demons stood either side of the doors, with arms raised as if to salute, but the arms were missing and appeared to have been detached. One of the arms was found hidden in the base of the fountain, but the location of the other was unknown. Low on spells and further healing, the party resigned to their need to rest up and prepare for the remainder of the complex the next day – and so headed back to rejoin Mendal and the others to make camp in a dead end passageway. 

That night, Amella appeared whilst Jardek and Stephanie were on watch, standing in front of them and shaking her head sadly. As she departed, Stephanie threw a pebble at her, confirming this was not Amella in corporeal form. When the party readied themselves to continue the dungeon, they found Amella’s corpse lying atop the altar, left for them to find. With grim determination, they activated the mirrors again and sought revenge. Retracing their steps, Dacien cast ‘Knock’ on the locked door, and found a corridor lined with more monkey statues, that began howling as they approached. Pressing on quickly as Jardek cast a silence spell to block the alarm, they emerged into a large central chamber. Flames leapt up from a pit in the middle of the floor, illuminating five large statues of a grotesque reptilian creature with two baboon heads – Demogorgon itself. Above the fire pit, an unconscious Urol dangled on a chain. Dacien cast Fly on Zhedd, who darted into the room to rescue the gnome – but as he entered a winch was released and Urol started descending into the flames. The final Leaping Demon appeared atop one of the statues, and leapt down amidst the party. It leapt from foe to foe, pouncing on each and taking blows as it darted around the room – not minding until Stephanie blessed Krunk’s weapon, which was finally able to then pierce its evil-tempered hide. Zhedd passed Urol to Antony to take him to safety. From is vantage point, Antony examined the statues and spotted that the one to the north was cleaner and more pristine than the others. He called out to attack the statue, as the Leaping Demon had retreated out of reach of the weapons of the party. Krunk and Jardek obliged – causing the statue to spring to life with a terrifying howl and sweep them up in its tentacled limbs. It’s touch drained the life from the two warriors, leaving them on he brink of death. The Leaping Demon, emboldened by the presence of his lord Demogorgon in the statue, dove into the fray to attack, but was killed as Stephanie drove her sword into its black heart. Dacien in desperation reached into his Bag of tricks and fortune was with him as a rhino emerged, which charged the statue and smashed it to pieces. Krunk and Jardek tumbled to the floor, where the others quickly descended with healing. The party retreated back out of the complex, preparing to leave after a night’s rest, although some still wondered what remained undiscovered in that last chamber...

Savage Tide Session 15

The party emerged onto the cliff face on the eastern shores of the Isle of Dread, and found an ancient carved walkway that ran along the side of the cliffs. The cliffs towered high above the water and the path raised about 80ft above the water line. The coastline to the south was rocky and mountainous as far as the eye could see, but a small beach was visible about 15 miles to the south-west. The going was slow, and the path slippery and narrow in places. Approaching nightfall, the party reached the beach and found the remains of a small settlement - crude stone huts that had long since fallen into ruin, and even the remains of some small boats. The beach and cliffs were home to hundred of nesting gulls that had some measure of shelter from the rest of the islands inhabitants. After clearing a space, the party bedded down for the night.

The first watch that night was quiet, although Avner was caught scrabbling to put spilled salt pork back into a sack he was intending to use as a pillow, most of the contents now spoilt. During the second watch, the whole camp descended into darkness, which Mendel found was caused by a black pebble dropped into the camp. The party felt they were being watched, and an area of cliffs devoid of gulls was the likely location. Later, a ball of bird gizzards was also thrown into their midst. Other sounds were heard during the night and as morning came, the camp was surrounded by square frames, evenly spaced apart, and each bearing an upside-down, eviscerated and spread-eagled gull.

The next few days, the party's trek along the cliffs continued. They were harassed by a band of gargoyles whose nests they passed under. A rockslide, intermingled with humanoid skulls fell down upon them. A tribal human was spotted atop of cliff, eviscerating himself before the party, but leaving no trace. Giant scorpions descended the cliffs as they, particularly Mendel, slept. They found a bamboo cradle that acted as a lift to travel between two paths at different heights - and that had been sabotaged, throwing Krunk into the water below and nearly pitching Jardek after him. The feeling of pursuit and harassment continued until one of the crew stumbled, dropping more rations into the sea, and Zhedd felt a magical nudge pushing him towards the paths edge too. Stefanie cast Air Walk upon herself to fly up the cliff face and confront their attacker - and came face to face with a hulking gorilla creature, which tried to confuse her with various magical abilities before teleporting her away back to the north. Dacien recognised these as Leaping Demons, infernal creatures known to have the power to abduct victims but fond of tormenting them first. Further south, a gargoyle war party attacked in retaliation for the loss of their kin, but were quickly dispatched. Soon after, the party found a trail heading inland through the mountains. After resting in a cave, and being woken by tremors that opened up the rear of the cave into a larger, bat-filled cavern, the party pressed on and crested the mountain pass. The inland jungle of the Isle of Dread stretched out before them; a large lake shimmering in the sunlight about ten miles away, but before that, a thick jungle shrouded in a dense fog. A small trail led southwest into the mists, and the party pressed on.

After only a brief while travelling in the mists, it became clear this swampy jungle was not completely natural. The trees were twisted and growing at strange angles, with pulsating, weeping cankerous growths. There were far more snakes than Zhedd expected to see, some with odd twitching, tentacle-like growths. After a couple of hours traipsing through the marsh, the party spotted a drier patch of land upon which the remains of some buildings rested. The ruins were overgrown with thick, pulsating vines, and made of large black stone brickwork that had mostly crumbled but felt slick to the touch. A firepit sat in the middle of the ruins, but had not been used in some time. The party pressed on but came upon the same spot after only a couple of hours – the firepit still raked from their earlier examination. Jardek pulled away some of the vines and was startled to see a human corpse, a gaping hole in its chest, held upside-down on a bamboo frame. It greeted them, and taunted them with veiled threats that it’s master Olangru would soon introduce them to the delights of death. Stefanie called upon Vanya to destroy the zombie, spraying all nearby in sickly green ichor. As the party discussed resting amongst the ruins for the night, Mendel and Jardek heard footsteps of something else walking about the ruins amongst them. Suddenly a group of the large gorilla creatures that Stefanie encountered earlier were amongst them. Krunk, Dacien and Zhedd’s horse Artemis found themselves teleported atop large trees, whilst the others battled the creatures only to find their weapons did little damage. Almost as soon as they arrived, they were gone, and the party regrouped – all except Amella and Urol, who had been abducted but not returned. Dacien quickly called upon magic to determine the location of Amella’s captains tricorn hat, and led the party north to retrieve their companions.

Savage Tide Session 14

The party and surviving crew awoke after their first night on the Isle of Dread, camped on the shore with the wreck of the Sea Wyvern beached on a reef 500 yards out. Amella figured it would need a team of carpenters a week or so, with supplies, to get the ship repaired, so it wasn't moving anywhere any time soon. Urol offered to sketch out a map of the Isle of Dread and plot a route south. The ship had crashed on the north-eastern coast, so the quickest route seemed to be to follow the western coast, which would mean a trek through the mountains, towards the native settlement of Tanaroa, which Urol had visited before, from where passage to Farshore could be obtained. Urol was disappointed as the more scenic, albeit more dangerous, route he had in mind would explore more of the interior of the island. So this would mean trek directly south through the jungle towards the mountains, then finding a safe passage along the shore that hopefully kept the mountains between the party and any more of the giant lizards in the jungles..

As they prepared to set out, sounds could be heard further along the beach back towards where the body of the lizard lay. Anthony snuck along the rockpools and saw several 10-ft tall wingless birds tearing flesh off the corpse. Jardek and Anthony kept an eye o the beasts as the party scavenged more flotsam, and then retreated to head back through the jungle and give them a wide berth. After almost an hour of Krunk hacking through the undergrowth, Jardek spotted a game trail leading almost directly south - soon after they came across more of these giant birds, and for the first time of the expedition, Jardek ended up being eaten by a monster.

Pressing further south, the party stumbled across a shallow ravine, cleared of large vegetation, where seemingly something had fallen from the sky and gouged a large scar in the jungle floor. Giant long necked lizards with bodies like elephants could be seen at the far end of the ravine feeding on the jungle canopy. One of their young came bursting through the treeline to the east, hounded by a pack of the giant birds from before. The party did what they could to avoid the stampeding creatures and dashed to the far side of the ravine. In a small game trail, narrowing as it led south, they next found a pile of the dead giant birds, four of them covered in sharp teeth marked and left to rot. The party moved forward to inspect, and did no spot that the foliage of the nearby trees was in fact a hulking mass of animate vegetation. This beast swung down on a vine-like tendril behind the party and swallowed both Zhedd and his horse. Mendel tried to pin a tendril to a nearby tree, as Jardek advanced. The creature spat out a paralysed horse and druid, and turned its attention to Jardek, who for the second time during this expedition was eaten by a monster.

Eventually, the creature was slain, and a partially digested dwarf was cut out of its belly and revived. As dusk approached, the party noticed the jungle on their way south was full of cobwebs. Ancient ruins, covered in moss and webbing, filled a clearing near the jungle edge - beyond which lay plains leading to the mountain range approximately a mile further on. The stone blocks were very weathered, but in places an oak leaf motif could be seen - which several found strange given the lack of oak trees on the island. As the party examined the webbing, an old woman called out to them; sat crossed legged amongst the webs. When none in the party recognised her language, she tried again in Sylvan, which Dacien and Zhedd could translate. She claimed to be Lirith, an exile from an arenae colony to the north, and wanted to hear tales of the lands from which the party hailed. Unimpressed at the exploits she heard, she had little else to offer the party, save for the warning that they were being watched and that a cave to the south near the 'Terror Bird' nests would take them through the mountains should they wish. Not wanting to camp near the cobwebbed ruins, the party sought camp for the night on the plains. The only disturbance that night were some inquisitive dire bats that circled the campfire, but the party wisely did not provoke.

The next day, the party made for the mountains,a and soon came upon the nesting site of the 'Terror Birds'. Pausing downwind, they made plans to strike the nesting birds from afar with magic and missiles. Krunk charged, but tripped over the rubble and branch-covered terrain, as the party fired form a distance. Mendel and Jardek filled the sky with arrows, and Dacien with fire, and eventually Krunk got to his feet and dispatched the remaining birds. Pausing only to collect a nice looking cloak from the largest bird's nest, the party ran for the cave opening in the mountains before more birds could return to the nesting site. The cave led though to a tunnel, patches worked stone, and others natural fissures and caverns, which led unerring straight south. Zhedd and Stephanie had the unnerving suspicion that they were being watched, although could not place the source. An hour and a half into the tunnel, a large stone rumbling could be heard from the north. After another couple of hours, the tunnel broke through into an underground complex - a large room holding a throne and a fountain. On the stone throne were the remains of a skeleton, transfixed by a longspear embedded in the rock. Dacien found a red stone rod in the fountain, and pocketed it for later. Steps led down from this room into a large chasm crossed by two bridges. Jardek and Anthony crept across, only to be pounced on from above by two gargantuan centipedes. Anthony tumbled out of their reach, as Jardek and Krunk fought them head on, suffering a paralysing poison in the process. Jardek for the third time during this expedition was eaten by a monster. Once the centipedes were defeated, the party crossed the chasm into an alcoved corridor, each inset holding the remains of bodies in varying states of decay. Investigating the bodies caused four of them to stir and rise as mummies, which shook fear into the hearts of most of the party at some point, before they were dispatched with Daciens careful application of fire, and a lucky turn attempt from Stephanie. Dacien spotted a secret door that led to a burial chamber holding a sarcophagus, the lid of which depicted a man in a headdress holding a blue rod. After Anthony disarmed the trap in the room, the sarcophagus was opened and a blue stone rod found. The party and crew camped in the secret chamber for the night before continuing on. The next chamber held two stone pedestals, one a rose granite and the other a blue marble, with a set of copper doors opposite. before opening these the party investigated the last chamber where they found an inky black pool but little else. Mendel's attempts at fishing in the pool only provoked the black pudding hiding within, which Jardek's arrows soon multiplied to three black puddings - in return for the fourth time during this expedition, he was eaten by a monster; and both Mendel and Jardek lost their armour to its corrosive grasp. Once defeated, the party returned to the copper doors, and using the coloured stone rods were able to open them - to be greeted by the salty sea air and daylight...

Savage Tide Session 13

The party awoke to their second morning stranded on the Sargasso. They spent the day shoring up defences on the ship. That night the strange kelp humanoids attacked again but the party were secured below decks - until the creatures began pouring through a small gap between the boards of the hull. Two passengers were engulfed and began attacking the party, but we're quickly dispatched.

The following morning it was clear that the plant life was attempting to keep the ship within the kelp island's embrace, as the mast had been damaged. Clear that they would have to bring the war of attrition to an end, the party set out for the centre of the Sargasso. They found another shipwreck, seemingly abandoned save for a booming noise from the submerged hold. The bloated corpse of a Drowned Dead emerged. Profexion succumbed to its drowning aura, which the others fled only to leave Kathryn behind as the undead hulk pummelled her to death. Two members down, the party returned to the ship. There, two passengers offered to join their efforts - Krunk, a Norwold barbarian, and Dacien, a Belkadiz elven Abjurer.

The new ensemble set back out for the centre of the mass of seaweed, fending off bloodthirsty blooms as more kelp humanoids crept up from the island floor to herd the party towards their goal. This turned out to be an old vessel buried deep in the floating island, engulfed in the kelp fronds but watertight to the sea. As the humanoid kelp monsters amassed at the ships perimeter, the party descended into the hold. The air was hot and humid, and home to a deep pit of writhing, mewing, nascent kelp creatures - and their mother, a huge mass of sentient rotten seaweed tentacles. This was quickly dispatched, which caused the Sargasso to break apart. The party quickly retreated to Dacien's rope trick spell and took refuge until the Sea Wyvern returned to pick them up.

Amella took some time to get her bearings now that the nighttime mists were no longer blocking out the night sky. The previous storm had blown them far to the north - so much so they'd need to circle down the eastern shore of the Isle of Dread. With a magically conjured breeze, they set back off on their journey to Farshore.

As the Isle came in sight, the skies darkened and a massive storm hit. Amella struggled to control the Sea Wyvern, made increasingly difficult as the ship entered the swells atop a shallow reef. The ship was holed on both sides of the hull, flooding the lower deck. Many of the crew and passengers were lost, as the party used a magically conjured boat to escape to the shore. As they then got their bearings, a giant famished Tyrannosaurus Rex attacked and swallowed Grunk - which soon turned out to be a fatal error. The party awoke on their first morning, shipwrecked on the Isle of Dread.

Savage Tide Session 12

The party set their plan to catch the stowaway into action - 'Father' Feres stood up on deck to give his sermon (after a bumbling introduction from Avner), whilst the party split themselves up top and below decks to hunt out the sabatoeur. During the sermon, Zhedd and Stefanie's divinations pinpointed the presence of evil and magical auras toward the bow. Darting forward to purge invisibility, Stefanie revealed a dark-haired, ruddy-skinned woman hiding by the foremast. Whilst attention focussed on the ensuing battle, none aboad the Sea Wyvern noticed another ship coming up upon them from the southwest - and moving unnaturally quickly. As the stowaway was killed, this second ship, now visible as a pirate vessel of the Sea Reavers of Crimson Fleet, rammed the stern of the Sea Wyvern, and a boarding batttle began. This was short lived once Mendel quickly dispatched their captain - a strange winged minotaur species none in the party recognised. These pirates were also red-skinned, but grossly deformed and mis-shapen - some even displayed magical powers - yet all were sickly and easily defeated. The few captives that remained admitted that they hailed from the Arm of the Immortals, a region far to the west. They had been sponsored by an unknown power to ply their piracy on these seas, whilst they sought regions to mine ta reddish metal they call cinnabryl. They were currently operating out of a port called Scuttlecove in the Alatian Islands to the east, but their dead captain was the only one who knew the route.

 The Sea Wyvern, damaged form the collision, limped into the part of Renkrue in the island nation of Ochalea. After finding out that alcohol was forbidden in the port, the pary showed little interest in staying, beyond Mendel's visit to the Jade Raven monastery.

Setting out of part, the ship entered the Sea of Dread proper - which soon lived up to its name with a violent storm blowing to the north that tested the limits of Captain Amella Venkalie. During the storm, large eel-like creatures were spotted leaping between the waves. The ship rolled to the side, and Koravel was washed overboard; saved by his new-found Cloak of the Manta Ray, only to the swallowed by the eel creature looping under the vessel. Another eel landed on the deck of the ship as a swell formed to the starboard side, weighing the vessel down. It was quickly killed, and cut in half to dislodge it. koravel's body was nowhere to be found.

As the storm abated, a thick fog blew in and the ship drifted slowly ahead. Withe the morning, the ship was no longer moving, and the sea below looked thick and the sound of water lapping at the hull was gone. The smell of rotting cabbage was pervasive. As the rising sun burnt off the last of the mist, it revealed a strange island of matted vegetation - mostly kelp and flotsam - that had snared the Sea Wyvern. Open water was visible to the west, about half a mile away, but the land stretched to the horizon in the east. Sillouettes of other stricken vessels were also visible in the fog. Testing the 'island' Kathryn dissolved a patch of it, finding it 10 feet deep. The party set out arranging for the crew to attempt to dredge the ship clear, whilst they investigated the nearest other stranded ship. This was named 'The Rage', and was completely deserted. The kelp island had burst through the hull, its fronds growing into the hold.A voice was heard from the deck, but found to be a bundle of the kelp caught on the mast, vibrating the in the wind. A diary was found in a cabin that describbed the owners attempts to escape the island - but plagued by strange figures in the mist. They key seemed to ie i na forest a tthe centre of the island mass.

Returning to the Sea Wyvern, night and the mist was closing in. A lone figure appeared in the mist - another stranded sailor named Profexion, who beseeched the crew for aid. Other figures soon became visible at the edge of the mist - vaguely humanoid, silently watching. Some of the party heard a voice in their heads; 'Outsiders'. A few of the creatures attacked the ship, wet, humanoid masses of tagled kelp that tried to engulf the party. Several of these also combined to forma larger mass of plant material, dangerously stronger. The party bunkered down for the night, hoping the attacks would cease...

Savage Tide Session 11

The party set off from Tamoachan, and started investigating the stowaway/sabatoeur. Zhedd spoke with the animals on board - his companion Artemis and some rats - and uncovered information that a sweet-smelling blonde woman had been near the animal's water supply, and a dark haired woman had been seen to vanish before their eyes. Stephanie confirmed that there was poison in the water (arsenic). Captain Venkalie was informed and agreed with the party that thy should take on new water supplies from the next river estuary they came across en route to Raven's Scarp.

Unfortunately, the next river, buirsting into the sea over a waterfall, was home to a seven-headed hydra. The party battled a war of attrition until it became clear that the beast could only be killed by cutting each head off and cauterising the wound before two heads could sprout in its place.

The Sea Wyvern made it to the Thyatian colony of Raven's Scarp, where it docked overnight. Some of the passengers and crew spent time ashore, before returning for an early departure in the morning - Lavinia still keen to draw as little attention as possible to the expedition.

One day out from Raven's Scarp, the night watch was alereted to a very sick priest - Father Feres, in agony and insensible in the cabin below, much to Avner's impatience. Stephanie examined him and found a strange growth in his belly, which turned out to be a slaad egg implanted in his body. A remove disease spell was enough to cure the infestation, and when 'Father' Conrad Feres came to, he came clean that he was not all he'd seemed. He'd been hired as a mule to take an item fro mthe Temple of Ixion in Sasserine to the shrine in Raven's Scarp. This package was a puzzle box - which was recognised as the symbol of Loki, or Bozdogan, the Trickster immortal. The box was opened to reveal a map, annotated by the head priestess of the Temple of Ixion with strange symbols relating to a range of places across the globe. Also inside were scrolls of contact other plane. Conrad put himself at the party's mercy.

The next day, Mendel was approached by Fantella, the woman who had won the archery competition he devised, and asked to meet her for a romantic tryst - a skinny dip in the sea. Magically compelled to do so, Stephanie and Jardek were suprised o nwatch to see Mendel appear on deck, disrobe, and climb overboard. A spell could then be heard being cast from inside the ship, and a shark appeared in the water next to Mendel. When the party got below decks, they saw no sign of the caster. Fantella, when questioned, denied all knowledge of this, and had been below decks suffering from sea sickness much of the past day. Conrad admitted seeing this woman twice walk past his cabin, and shoook it off as deja vu. The party resolved to draw the sabatoeur out of hiding by coercing Conrad into holding a fake ceremony the next day to bestow Ixion's blessing on the ship as a distraction whilst they set their trap...

Savage Tide Session 10

Prior to the voyage, Zhedd requested the party's help in tracking down some spell research reagents. This led them to a site infested with archer bushes that the local logging company wanted cleared before they could work on the site. When the party arrived, another presence made itself known - an undead dryad return to wreak revenge on those that had cut down her tree, and had seeded the archer bushes to ward the site. The logging company were indifferent to the dryads plight and paid the party only for the simple task of removing the archer bushes. Zhedd and Mendel left a nasty surprise in the company director's garden that may come back to haunt them... Mendel recieved a parcel from the church of Asterius, containing a potion of longbreath, and a note to beware becoming mixed up in a recent 'unauthorised' heist in the city. The party also analysed the map they retrieved from the pale elf in league with Bargle- it depicted a map of the region, with a strange symbol highlighted in the depths of the forest northeast of Emerond (south of Sasserine). Back in the city, the party waited on the docks for the voyage to the Isle of Dread to begin. Lavinia introduced them to the passengers and new colonists bound for Farshore, in particular those that were investing in the expedition.

Urol Furol - Gnome historian, paying for the voyage and company to the Oltec ruins of Tamoachan. Previously been to the isle of Dread, albeit briefly.
Father Feres - Ageing priest of Ixion, looking to establish a new mission on the Isle
Lirith - an Alphatian warrior, looking for a wealthy companion
Avner Meravanchi - son of a Thyatian noble family, sending him to the Isle of Dread for his own betterment. His uncle was amongst the first colonists already at Farshore who sponsored Lavinia's parents in the expedition. Accompanied by his horse Thunderstrike, and his butlers Banaby and Quenge.
Thanti Sparrow - the Cynidicean masked man the party encountered on their first voyage into Sasserine, who was following his leads further still to the Isle of Dread.

Avner immediately caused problems but demanding his horse be housed in the cargo hold, and expecting a berth to himself, but Stephanie managed to persuade him that slumming with the rest of them would add to the experience. And so, the Sea Wyvern finally left the city of Sasserine behind for open waters. The voyage to the first destination of Tamoachan was largely uneventful, save for a straneg ooze that had collected flotsam from less fortunate ships and attached itself to the Sea Wyvern's hull. This was eventually dispersed, thanks in part to Koravel's kamikaze plunge into it's sticky mass.

At Tamoachan, the party rested overnight with a lavish meal courtesy of Lavinia, held aboard the Blue Nixie. On returning to the Sea Wyvern, the party spotted the rope seat back to the Sea Wyvern had been almost cut through. Beofre they could act, they heard a spell being cast and an irate Water mephit appeared on deck crawling out of a jar of formaldehyde and vinegar hidden amongst the ropes. This was fought off, but the party could find no obvious trace of the culprit on the Sea Wyvern - although Mendel's food had been tampered with.

The next morning, the party set out for Tamoachan through the jungle on the coast. IT was a short trek, until they found the base of thr Ziggurat Urol had described - an untouched chamber revealed after a recent earthquake. The chamber was the nest of a basilisk, which fortunately only two of the party fell prey to, as Urol only had two doses of stone salve. A gibbering mouther also attacked the party as it slither from its nest. After negotiating a flame-trapped room an a massive wall of iron that blocked their path, the party found a pristine central chamber, depicting what the Oltec belived was their nercopolis. Urol was left in his element as the party explored the rest of the rooms - past a calendar stone, to find a deep black pit lined with alcoves containing bones and offerings to the dead - including a large gold idol of a flaming bat. As Stephanie peered into the depths, an strange bat-like humanoid sprang out of an alcove and breathed fire over the party. The creature was resistant to most attacks of the party, until Mendel hooked the beast into their reach and allowed Stephanie to cut it down. The party then retrieved the idol, which they identified as a magical key of some sort. WHat was most puzzling, was it was from a much more recent age than its surroundings would otherwise suggest...

Savage Tide Session 9

The party, yet again, found themselves in a fake throne room in the depths of Bargle’s dungeon beneath the ruins of Mistamere. The two elves spotted a secret door in the southern wall, whilst Anthony checked a door in the west wall. Koravel flung open the secret door – to reveal the real throne room and multiple images of Bargle waiting for them. As Zhedd and Koravel ran forward, a wall of flame erupted around them, and two water elementals emerged from a pool to defend their master. Kathryn used the elemental gem to summon an earth elemental to dispatch the water elementals, as Koravel, Zhedd, Stefanie and Jardek closed in on Bargle. A lucky strike from Koravel caused Bargle to flee using a secret door behind the throne. The earth elemental was put to use smashing a hole in the wall to allow the pursuit to continue.

A dark winding passage behind the throne led down deeper to an underground lake. Jardek hurried ahead after Bargle, but was stopped by a voice calling from the water, claiming to have been asked by Bargle to waylay the party – but open to alternative offers from the party if a suitable tribute could be found. The stalemate was broken by the party letting slip they had a valuable gem, and Stefanie using a light spell to reveal a treasure hoard in the lake guarded by the dragon that was watching them. After a wet and treacherous battle, the dragon was dispatched by a combination of magic missiles, arrows and porpoises, allowing Jardek to get busy swimming to retrieve the hoard.

Bargles tracks only led a few paces outside the cave system, before they disappeared, a spent scroll all that was left of his passing. The party decided to go back and finish exploring the dungeon to retrieve the last bits of treasure – including solving the puzzle of the statue with the missing orb to reveal a magical sword.

Zhedd lost his companion Krieg in the battle with Bargle, and strove to find a replacement before returning to Sasserine. After an abortive encounter with three skeletons, he returned with help from the rest of the party and found that a horse had answered his call. A mysterious female voice from an invisible creature warned Zhedd not to defile the place any further, and the party were on their way. Back in the city, Jardek reported back to the Temple of Tarastia on their encounter with Bargle, as well as Katrhryn providing an amulet possibly attuned to the errant mage for which they were rewarded for their efforts in driving Bargle from the area.

Lavinina summoned the party to explain her plans for the voyage she had mentioned previously. Captain Amella Venkalie and a gnome by the name of Urol Furol were also present. Lavinina explained how she had had her mother’s journal translated, and it described her parents’ efforts to establish a colony on an island in the Thanegioth Archipelago named Farshore, from which the resources and riches of the Isle of Dread could be exploited. She asked that the party bring their ship, The Sea Wyvern, with hers The Blue Nixie, to re-establish contact with the colony and bring supplies. Lavinia would finance the voyage, but as her parent’s money was still largely tied up in unpaid debts to the family, she had had to take on paying passengers who were willing to invest in the colony. One of those was Urol, who had already visited the Isle of Dread and had asked that Lavinia use the voyage to journey to an ancient city of Tamoachan, to which he had uncovered a new map detailing an as-yet unexplored part of the ruined city. Lavinia was also happy to take this circuitous route to avoid adverse sea currents in the Sea of Dread, and the possibility that her brother Vanthus might be following her movements… The party had three weeks to make their arrangements.

Savage Tide Session 8

The party continued the expedition into the dungeons beneath the ruined plantation Mistamere in hunt of the wizard Bargle the Infamous. They started by burning out the spider webs in front of them to disturb a nest of giant spiders, which were quickly dispatched. Amongst the charred remains, they found what was left of a spellbook and what was left of a strangley enchanted pig with a medal inscribed 'Extra Healing'.

Before venturing into the lower levels, they retreated to clear out what remained in the upper levels first, dispatching a band of undead, and dealing with some vargoilles which were nesting in a disused chimney. Unfortunately, Antony became victim to their curse, and showed signs of starting the slow transformative degeneration into one of their kind. After more debate than Antony would have appreciated - including a protracted dialogue with a talking chest - the party retreated to Castle Rakin to find a means of removing the curse. The journey back included visitations from some fey, and some displacer beasts, and the party then descended to the lower levels to continue the hunt for Bargle. They found more imagery of the mage - a crude altar beneath a painting, an ornate tapestry, and several living crystal statues in Bargle's likeness that sprung to life. Several ogre guards were also present on this level, which, although cramped, battered the party around before giving Kathryn a new toy to play with - an ogre zombie - which proved a better pit trap detector than combatant.

The party ran into several copies of Bargle in the dungeon that turned out to be doppelgangers. The next challenge lay in a room with 4 sealed exits and a voice that threatened 'Choose correctly and you may live to face me'. All chambers appeared empty until a character stood inside them and was shut in. Stefanie found a strange oozing jelly within one, and Koravel the entrance to a throne room behaind another. The throne room was occupied by a strange albino elf figure and Bargle, who promptly altered his appearance to match Koravel's. Alone, Koravel managed to fend off the albino with some well timed critical hits until Zhedd arrived - to find two copies of Koravel grappling in front of him. In a disturbing display of masochism, with the doppelganger thwarting Antony's attempts to trick him into revealing himself, the doppelganger was dispatched.

Savage Tide Session 7

So the party had some time to themselves, and decided to follow upon the lead that the wanted criminal Bargle the Infamous was hiding out in an abandoned plantation house called Mistamere, 50 miles out of the city, and just north of the outpost Castle Rakin.

Stopping by the Church of Tartastia, the party picked up a wanted poster with Bargle's likeness and found out more about his crimes in league with the Black Eagle Barony, and his murber of the cleric Aleena. Then passage in a cart heading south to Castle Rakin was booked, and the party set off out of the city. The journey took 3 days, with interruptions from dire wolves and an irate owlbear, but eventually the party arrived unscathed at the castle - which turned out to be little more than a wooden fort and outpost for guards protecting the plantations and their workers. They holed up at the Lusty Wench tavern for the night, observing the trade in various illicit goods filling the courtyard.

The next morning the party left for Mistamere via an overgrown trail, arriving just before midday. The plantation house and surrounding defensive wall were i na poor state of repair, largely choked with weeds, and with several areas collapsed. Running up to the house, the party encountered two carrion crawlers which darted out of hiding. Whilst in battle with the tentacled vermin, a band of kobolds that were occupying the house rushed to close the gates to the courtyard and bar their entrance. The party avoided a bloody breach of the defences by managing to intimidate the kobolds into fleeing with their lives in a heated exchanged over the walls, allowing them to enter unscathed.

The entire upper floors of the house were collapsed. The party snuck in via a side window and found a room designed to appear trapped but actually harmless - a typical kobold ploy. The kitchen was inhabited by two harpies, who were quickly dispatched. The party moved through two strangely ornate bedrooms and obseerved some undead waiting in another room - and decided to avoid fighting them and head straight downstairs. Waiting in the basement were angry beetles that sprayed a caustic oil at those that disturbed their next. Making their way through the complex, they found a small army of kobolds hired by Bargle to defend against intruders. After several pitched battles, the party slew the kobold leader, and captured a kobold lackey to serve as a guide. Several traps and puzzles were also found - as well as the body of Flenser the rakasta that had set out on his own to find Bargle - and his demise.

Savage Tide Session 6

Back in the caves, the party set about heading back to Sasserine. Captain Javell filled the party in on a few more details about what had happened in the cove. Vanthus had tried to steal an unusual item from the pirate – a fist-sized black pearl. In his escape, the pearl was dropped, and broke open – somehow releasing the effect that had warped all the creatures and the pirates in the area. Jardek swam down and collected the remains of the pearl from the bottom of the sea floor in the cove – noticing that all plant life in a 30 foot radius around the remnants of the pearl had vanished. The pearl itself was found to radiate a fading strong evil transmutation magic, but trying to reassemble the pearl had no effect.

Captain Javell went her own way, after getting very suspicious and agitated at the PC’s questioning of the strange red steel and ore they had found. Two of the party went to collect Captain Amella Venkalie and the cabin boy Tavey from along the coast and, after reassuring them that they weren’t infected with the plague, managed to bring the captain back to the cove, and the new ship that lay waiting for them there – the Sea Wyvern. Amella drew in the party to help her pilot the ship back to the city, and dealt with an officious member of the guard that tried to waylay the party for bringing a known pirate vessel to the docks, whilst the party made their way to rescue Lavinia.

The city was in the throes of the festival, celebrating liberation and becoming an independent city-state a year ago. It was a struggle battling through the crowds enjoying the music, food and entertainment, with Kathryn and Mendel having the calm an agitated gnome and his tortle friend. Before they could reach the manor, however, they were attacked by a troupe of stiltwalkers and a gymnast assassin – later found to be hired by the Kellani family as a revenge attack for the death of their daughter, Rowyn – the head of the Lotus Dragons.

Breaking into the manor, the party found it occupied by strange frog-like creatures, which had spread muck and slime in their attempts to ransack the house. In the master bedroom at the top of the mansion, the lupin Drevoraz waited for the party; Lavinia bound at his feet and unconscious adventurers lying about the floor. The dead body of the Halfling housekeeper, Kora, lay broken on the bearskin rug. A fat bloated humanoid toad sat on the bed, wrapped in damp sheets. Drevoraz struck down Jardek with a flurry of blows, and snarled at Anthony – “Bring me Vanthus!”

Crisis was averted as the rest of the party arrived, and managed to convince Drevoraz to call the attack off at the behest of Captain Javell. The toad was having none of it, and demanded ‘Blood for Dagon!’ as he attacked. He was eventually defeated, after nearly bringing several party members low, and Lavinia was rescued. She explained that they had been caught by surprise by the creatures, who were awaiting the return of Vanthus to exact their revenge. The unconscious adventurers were her Jade Ravens, whom the party helped revive – yet more were elsewhere in the manor.

Further battles encountered a rust monster, which stripped Stephanie of her armour, and other amphibian warriors, but eventually the mansion was cleared. A distraught Lavinia helped the party arrange to be healed and restored, and rewarded them for their efforts. Over the next day, the party recovered, and helped nurse the Jade Ravens back to health. Lavinia was determined to leave the horrors of the mansion and Vanthus’ treachery behind her, and announced she was preparing an expedition, to leave Sasserine. The party had a month to themselves to do what they wanted.

The alchemist filled them in on the strange red metal they had found. Apparently it was unknown in this region – but found only in lands far far to the west, where it was fashioned into protective amulets to ward off a curse that afflicted those living in the lands. Without the metal, victims would succumb to a foul, corrupting, debilitating affliction, that could also grant strange powers. The ore was not natural – a magical creation – that had the ability to slowly replenish when buried in clay deposits. The alchemist warned about openly discussing the metal, for fear of people wanting to keep its existence secret – especially found so far from its native lands. The party resolved to spend the next month following up a lead to track the wanted criminal Bargle the Infamous – and set about making preparations.

Savage Tide Session 5

Lavinia dragged the party out of the dinner held in their honour back to her manor house for liqueurs, and to unwind before the voyage the next day. Captain Amella Venkalie was present, to clarify the schedule for the trip – she had procured a small fishing vessel with funds from Lavinia, which should be able to ferry the party to a beach near Kraken’s Cove. It’d be a cramped 16 hour trip to get there. Before the party left, Lavinia mentioned that several groups had spoken to her at the banquet about contacting them for possible work in the future – the Temples of Ixion, Nyx, and the enigmatic Lady Silvermane of the Church of the Whirling Fury. Also Zelkarune’s Horns, who runs the gladiatorial bouts in the arena and source monsters from the surrounding jungle to use in staged battles, were interested in their services. The Jade Raven’s (the adventuring party hired by Lavinia’s parents) was also due to return from their adventures to the south. Some opportunities for the party to mull over when they return…

Walking to the docks the next morning, the city was being prepared for the upcoming festival, the anniversary of Sasserine’s independence from Minrothad rule. The party found a skiff waiting for them at the docks and the cramped journey began, interrupted by violent rocking motions as Jardek struggled with the effects of the night before. Don’t take a drunk dwarf out to the deep.

Amella, aided by the cabin boy Tavey, took the ship along the shoreline to the east. Marshland and cobwebbed jungle filled the coastal view. Several other fishing vessels were about. A few hours out, a pair of devilfish were spotted, following the ship as it sped along the coast. Keeping a careful eye on these, the party decided not to act, and 2 hours later, the devilfish disappeared.

Dusk brought the party to Blood Bay, across which lay Kraken’s Cove. The water has a reddish brown colour – Amella explained the legends of a wounded kraken that lay bleeding somewhere in the depths of the bay. The party figured it was more likely some mineral rich sediment. Amella piloted the boat to a small beach about a mile north of the cove. As they drew near, the orange flicker of flames and the billowing smoke of a large fire came into view – somewhere in the shadows of the cove. The party hurried to shore and along the clifftops. It soon became clear that all was not right – there were no sounds of animals, and then twisted, warped bodies of small creatures were found littering the jungle floor. Examining the body of a dead dog, they found it warped, twisted, with a second vestigial head growing out of its neck, and tentacles writhing from its back. Suddenly, a pack of monkeys descended from the trees – each with the same twisted malformed bodies and second heads, screaming for flesh. The party fought them off, not before discovering that the dead creatures posed another threat by bursting into viscous pools of acid.

Pressing on to the cove, they found the waters ablaze with burning oil, and two ship wreathed in flame. A third vessel, the Sea Wyvern, was anchored further out and unharmed. Descending into the caves, the found the bodies of scores of pirates – being feasted upon by other pirates who seemed to have succumbed to whatever warped malady affected the animals in the area. Under the burning waters, a strange circular patch of barren seabed, clear of any form of plant life, was visible – with some dark fist-sized object at its centre. The party fought their way through the caves, encountering more twisted pirates, and other creatures they were smuggling, including a score of caged slaves, all screaming in their cages for the adventurers’ flesh. 

Deep in the caves, they came across a surviving member of the pirate crew – Captain Harliss Javell – desperately fending off the attacks of the savage creatures. As the party thinned the pirate numbers, Harliss was able to help them defeat the remaining few. Warily, she thanked them for their help and explained that Vanthus was all to blame for this mess – but then explained that she’d sent her first mate Drevoraz to the Vanderboren manor in Sasserine to exact revenge. The party would have to hurry back to try and stop Lavinia becoming an accidental victim.

Savage Tide Session 4

So the action started with the party still in the lair of the Lotus Dragons, discussing their tactics and options for getting out alive. The discussions were cut short with the sound of splashing from the flooded area west of them - and two more Rhagodessas emerging from their den, lured by the scent of dead bodies. The party fought them off, and then waded through the water to the chambers beyond. Not spotting the devilfish that swam past them in the murky waters, the party found themselves surrounded by the nasty snapping ray-like creatures, and a small boat of thieves. Scraping it through the skirmish, the party managed to capture the boat and a thief, ready for interrogation. The thief revealed that the Lotus Dragons had not fallen into disarray with the loss of the Dragon Mistress, but were currently being rallied by a man named Kersh, hidden elsewhere in the complex.

With a boat, and a passageway out to tthe waterways of Sasserine, the party took the opportunity to escape, heal at the Temple of Ixion, and plan the next steps. Lavinina was told of the full involvment of her brother Vanthus in their parents murder, and that he was currently headed towards a rendez-vous with some smugglers at Kraken's Cove. Healed and prepared, the party revisited the taxidermists guildhall, only to find it reoccupied. The taxidermist tried to hypnotise the party are they broke in, with two thieves guarding the front of the shop, but the party overwhelmed them. Descending back into the thieves den, they found a series of hidden corridors surrounding a large chamber beneath the well in Dead Dog's Plaza above - home to a group of theives waiting in ambush, and a nasty crocodile lurking in the waters. Two worgs had been placed on alert to guard possible entrances to the northern parts of the complex - allowing time for Kersh to attempt an ambush, posing as a captured merchant being tortured by the remaining thieves. The ruse was quickly seen through due to some experience with the fale knots used to restrain the 'prisoner'. Kersh was quickly surrounded and defeated. The remaining theives were captured - but set free after agreeing to tell the party where the wanted criminal Bargle the Infamous could be found (in an abandoned plantation house to the west of the city).

The Lotus Dragons defeated, the party reported back to Lavinina and were pointed in the direction fot eh city watch to explain what had been uncovered. Having rested, healed and recovered, with a little time for some shopping, the party were summoned before the Dawn Council to be rewarded for their efforts. Lavinia offered them some items from her parent's days as adventurers, and the party then travelled to the banquet held in their honour. Each member was awarded the Spire of Sasserine in recognition of their efforts (+2 diplomacy/gather information in the city), but perhaps more importantly, introduced to each head of the noble houses and the accompanying churches in the city. The session ended with the party rehiring Captain Amella Venkalie to pilot a ship to take them after Vanthus Vanderboren, headed for Kraken's Cove.

Savage Tide Session 3

Assault on The Lotus Dragons
The party were stranded on Parrot Island, their boat stolen, and with three tempting chests full of what they hoped was loot still in the dungeons beneath them. They managed to flag down a passing barge from the dwarf-run Dredger's Guild, and get passage to the Azure District. There, the first stop was the Temple of the sea god Protius, to retrieve some potions of swimming to make the recovery of the chests easier. The potion was readily available, along with the news that the old harbourmaster they had met a few days previously, Keltar Islaran, had been found 'assassinated. Returning to Parrot Island, the party carefully recovered the chests, finding them full of coins, potions, and some other interesting magical miscellany.

The note found on the dead body of Penkus the Smuggler had implicated Vanthus Vanderboren in imprisoning him on the island, and being involved in a group known as the Lotus Dragons - with a base of operations somewhere underneath the Taxidermist's Guildhall with 'the Lady of the Lotus'. With stops for purchasing equipment, and a new pet wolf, the party set about planning their next moves. Having told Lavinia of their suspicions about just how far Vanthus had fallen, the young noblewoman steeled her resolve and asked them to do what they could to bring her wayward brother home... by force if necessary.

The party examined the areas near the Taxidermists Guild in the Sunrise district; stopping by the local temple of the sun god Ixion to try and arrange for assistance should it be needed. The Taxidermist's Guildhall was located in Dead Dog Plaza, a residential district built around a triangular plaza with a well in the middle. It was noted that the well seemed to open up into a larger chamber below the plaza, 30 feet below.

The guildhall itself was run by Nemien Roblach, a flamboyant exotic human, who was taken in by the party's ruse to commission a specialist piece of work from an upcoming hunting trip. They arranged to deliver the specimen later that night, and try and force their way into the guild if necessary. Hidden under a tarp-covered wagon, the party waited for Nemien to unlock his workshop, at which point they leapt out and tried to subdue the taxidermist. A skilled illusionist, the taxidermist, went invisible, but finding his exits blocked, tried various other illusions to distract the party and get them to leave. After nothing worked, he reappeared to cast another more attacking spell, only to be injured and forced to surrender. He revealed the guildhall was used as a front for the Lotus Dragon;s thieves guild, who could be found past a trapdoor behind a secret door. Leaving him bound and gagged in the attic, the party went downstairs to explore A ladder led down into an underground complex, damp and stuffy, but largely made of worked stone. Through a door, they found the thieves den on alert, as poisoned crossbow bolts flew out from behind an upturned table. An empty barracks led them south to the mess hall and kitchens, where the resident kobold cook and poisonmaker had rigged a cauldron of boiling urchin poison to spray the door of any who entered. The kobold, a timid female named Churtle, offered little other resistance, informing the party that her 'mistress', could be found to the east past the training room. The training room was lined with dummies that a keen eye spotted were in fact disguised members of the guild, who sprung out of hiding to attack. This chamber led to two other guard rooms - one holding another Rhagodessa spider, and the other an undead bugbear zombie. Between these guards was a room lined with a map of the city, coloured pins stuck in various buildings - most notably from the locations the party knew - a red pin in the harbourmaster's office, a gold pin in the Vanderboren estate, and a blue pin in the temple of Austerius. Written on a slate board on the wall were messages in a script the party could not read, and the PC's names with the note - 'Vanthus - sort this now!'. Beyond this room, the furnishing decor were remarkably improved - freshly plastered and painted walls, silk drapes, and thick rugs. Here waited the stunningly beautiful 'Lady of the Lotus', with two nasty-looking pet small dragons - recognised by the elven party members to be crested felldrakes - normally a gentle guardian bred especially by elven sages. The Lady had an offer - perhaps the party would consider replacing the less efficient men they had killed and work for her. The offer was abruptly refused, and as the Lady tried to escape by turning into a cloud of vapour, the party managed to use enough magical means to strike her down. The Lady of the Lotus was no more.

Heavily wounded, the party then looked to rest up in the lavish bedroom. Then, a secret door to the probable treasure room was found - but sadly the trap that covered the hidden passage and the bedroom was not. Poisoned darts flew out from the walls, peppering the party. A second trap was more carefully dealt with, and the treasure vault was summarily ransacked. Meanwhile, a series of love letters to from Vanthus to the 'Lady' - named Rowyn - were found. In these Vanthus, boasted of killing his parent's in the staged boat fire, moaned about his sister undeserving of her inheritance, detailed his theft of the Vanderboren fortune from the Sasserine vaults, and hinted that he was currently en route to Kraken's Cove with Brissa Santos to try and con some pirates out of their goods, potentially burning their ship and recovering the items from the sea bed. The party rested for the night behind some secured doors, hoping to recover enough strength to escape in the morning. As they then sought to leave, they found the dead body of Churtle, spread-eagled and eyes burnt out on the training room floor. The ladder up to the trapdoor had been removed, and the trapdoor weighted down from above. The party then looked at other means of escape...

Savage Tide Session 2

The Blue Nixie
Lavinia Vanderboren had asked the party to recover her ship The Blue Nixie - currently impounded by the harbourmaster for 'unpaid' mooring fees - and find her father's signet ring, hidden on board. The party approached the harbourmaster, a sickly old man named Keltar Islaran, who directed them to a Soller Vark, who was currently responsible for affairs concerning the ship. He gave them a letter of introduction when he understood the party were interested in purchasing the ship. Approaching the Blue Nixie, the guards were reluctant to let them on board, but relented with the letter and called Soller Vark to meet with them. Soller was abrupt, stating that he was interested in selling or having the party on the ship, until tomorrow. The party could hear sounds of animals in the cargo hold. Soller had been appraising the party and thinking they had money, gave the nod for the guards to take them, down. During the fight, as Soller became injured, he shouted into the hold ‘Burn them!’, and smoke was visible coming from below. Investigating further, the party found the hold full of exotic animals, one of which was a large spider that was devouring the other creatures, and set its sights on the party. Once the ship was under control, the party questioned a captive who explained they were to be selling the animals to the Sea Reavers of the Crimson Fleet – the pirates that had chased them on their voyage south. The party recovered the signet ring and return it and the ship to Lavinia.

 The Vanderboren Vault
The signet ring was a key for the family vaults, and Lavinia, with the party now on a monthly retainer to work for her, went to recover her family’s wealth. The vault was guarded by two iron cobras, and a complex combination lock, that required the party managed to unravel. The coffers that they recovered, however were largely empty, and there were signs that someone else had visited recently – including two empty potion bottles, later found to have contained a dexterity-enhancing draught. Lavinia was distraught to realise that her brother Vanthus had visited the vault recently and taken the money. However, he had left her parents ledgers and accounts detailing business that owed her parents money, as well as her mother’s journal, strangely written in Sylvan.

Tracking down Vanthus Vanderboren
Lavinia then asked the party to help find her brother and bring him back to her. The only clue that had to go on was that he had been seen with a local pickpocket-turned-prostitute-turned-artist in the Azure district. Questioning the girls at the Sasserine Sleigh Ride brothel resulted in them buying a painting by this Brissa Santos, and finding out she used to live in the Shadowshore district. Further questioning led the party to the Coffinsquatters Inn in Shadowshore, where they knew little about Brissa, but had seen Vanthus recently with a known smuggler named Penkus. The two of them had bought a boat from a local store ‘It Still Floats!’, and there the party also boat a vessel of their own.

Returning to the Market District, the party were approached by a nervous elf named Shefton, who claimed to be able to take them to Vanthus. The next day, the party sailed to Parrot Island, where Shefton indicated that Vanthus had been operating out of some disused smugglers tunnels. Descending into the tunnels, Vanthus himself appeared above the party, crying ‘Serves you right for messing about with my sister!’ before shutting the party in the darkness below and sealing them in.

The dark dank, partly flooded complex was clearly quite old, but there were signs of recent passage – a newly dead body with the tattoo of a dragon and a flower on his back. Unfortunately it was not uninhabited, and a pack of ravenous zombie pirate, lead by a hecueva former cleric of Korotiku, the trickster god. Having fought off the undead, the party were free to explore the complex, and with the magical assistance of the elixirs of swimming, were able to send people to the surface to unseal the exit. They also found three chests that the agreed to recover later. But before the chests lay the body of Penkus – also with the dragon and flower tattoo – who had written a letter damning Vanthus for locking him in these tunnels. The letter also indicated that Vanthus had fallen in with a group calling themselves the Lotus Dragons, which were operating somewhere below the Taxidermists guild in the city, and Vanthus had designs on ‘The Lady of the Lotus’.

Savage Tide Session 1

copying here from other forum as backup - session report from my Pen and Paper Savage Tide Campaign

The party left Thyatis City on the Rose of Tel Akbir, sailing south over the Sea if Dread past the Thanegioth Archipeligo to Sasserine, on the northern coast of Davania

A week into the voyage, a passenger named Thanti Sparrow held a meal for the other passengers, to share the cuisine and culture of his home. The drink was drugged, and a recent addition to the crew attempted to subdue the party. He was fought off, but then the party was called to the top deck to find it ablaze. Attempts were made to put out the fire, only for strange fish-like humanoids to climb aboard and try to abduct crew into the sea. A large dark tentacled shadow was also seen passing under the ship. The boarders were repelled, but at the loss of four crew. When the ship had recovered, Thanti explained that this must have been staged by followers of Zargon, an evil cult that rules his home city of Cynidicia, somewhere in the deserts of Ylarum. Thanti was hunting several Zargonites that had recently left the city, hoping to find out what they are up to.

The ship sailed past the Thanegioth archipelago, large ominous beasts visible in the waters and skies in the distance. Further south, nearing the nation of Ochalea, other merchant vessels were also visible on the horizon. One ship came towards the Rose, sailing at suprising speed, and bearing a red skull and crossbones. These were the pirate Sea Reavers of the Crimson Fleet, who in the lady six months had started troubling the waters of the sea of Dread. The party spotted a secretive passenger, Santino Morella, a strange human with a red tingeto his skin, signalling to the pirates, who broke off their pursuit. But as the Rose has changed course into choppier waters to flee, the ship lurched and a crash was heard from below. Santino disappeared below decks, quickly followed by the party. Screams coming from his cabin, they found him killed by several magical effects in a cabin teeming with strange misshapen rats. The rats demonstrated a range of magical abilities, but seemed less interested in the party than they were in another crate across the room. The rats killed, this crate was found to be full of red orchids, two subtly different species, growing in a red-tinted soil. Two barrels were also found in the cabin to contain red clay, in which had been placed large biggest of a red metallic ore. An amulet belonging to Santino was made from a similar metal, and contained a vial of a strange red liquid.

Making port in the Azure district of Sasserine, the party bade farewell to the other passengers. They agreed to meet Lavinia Vanderboren, who said she had work for them if they were interested. She also agreed to look after the barrels of clay/ore and the crate of orchids. They party found room and board at the Bent Goblin inn, where the innkeeper Fazackerly mentioned a few detials of the city - and also the fact that Lavinia's parents had recently died in a big fire in their ship whilst in the harbour. They hurried to see Lavinia, who had already been informed of the news. She explained she needed the party's help in accessing her parent vaults, the doors of which are tied to a specific signet ring. The only remaining copy of the ring she knows is on board her family's ship, The Blue Nixie, hidden in her father's cabin. However, the ship has been impounded by the harbourmaster for unpaid fees, and some of the harbourmaster's men have taken the fee but are refusing to hand over the ship. Someone needs to go and recover the ship, find the ring, and help Lavinia access her family's fortune from the vaults....