Sunday, October 27, 2013

Savage Tide Session 29

 The next step was for the party to escape the ziggurat. The party prodded around  in the black pools of acidic tar and searched the base of the structure but could find no further way out. Mendel and Zhedd tried to communicate with the ziggurat, and saw some level of response but struggled to make out anything intelligent from it. Back at the uppermost level of the ziggurat, Dacien, created a sensor to view the exterior, and saw a squad of the remaining kopru and troglodytes slowly working their way up to surround the sphincter-like exit. The party prepared another two-pronged assault - Dacien dimension dooring with Stefanie, Ji and Faldak into the midst of one band of kopru, and the others working to provoke the sphincter into opening so they could escape and attack the other group. After a few swift round of melee and fireballs, the party had taken the ziggurat. Questioning some kopru that surrendered, they learnt that others had fled the chamber, but they knew little else about operations here. Apparently the kopru leader the party killed previously was responsible for liaising with a groups known as 'skinwalkers' that arrived from the 'city above' through the tunnel in the ceiling above the crater to the north. They delivered the pearls to the kopru, who then fermented them further in the ziggurat before passing on to the troglodytes to deliver to the pirates, the Sea Reavers of the Crimson Fleet. They had little dealing with the events outside this cavern itself. The skinwalkers were described as some mixture of human and rakasta, but it wasn't clear exactly what they might be.

The party holed up in a side chamber to rest and recover spells. During their watch, Dacien and Ji spotted a ant-like creature climbing a structure a few hundred feet away, and making some notes, before returning to the west, where the crater was. Before setting off after their rest, Mendel fired an arrow with a message into the crater, to ask the creature they left there, Rakis-Ka, if their may return and examine the sealed tunnel above - and to parley about this in a clearing to the south. Rakis-Ka bellowed angrily that he would not abandon the crater for them to move in, and as per their bargain he expected to be left alone. Mendel then found himself mentally compelled to leave the chamber, and as it had been his idea to pester Rakis-Ka in the first place against the others wishes, the party happily went along with it until they got to the exit tunnel, where Dacien broke his enchantment.

The party felt that to completely destroy the production of the shadow pearls, and to find the master pearl that controlled them, they would have to continue their exploration on the city above, which the korpu had indicated was at the highest point on the island.Stefanie used find the path to confirm that the only clear route to he plateau was back the way they came, so the party struck back out down the tunnels. The route was mostly clear, but the party sought out the aboleth they had encountered previously to put an end to it. The found Irgzid sitting in the chamber, claiming the aboleth was dead having been killed by some kopru that fled the chambers below, and he was waiting for their return. The party saw through the ruse, and Mendel and Faldak started firing arrows into the water as Stefanie lowered its level to leave the aboleth no place to hide, despite its illusions. Mendel dove into the stagnant slimy water, only to find himself left unable to breathe air by the aboleth slime, and that his cursed fishing rod finally activated to summon a shark in the water next to him. After much use of create water and portable holes, Mendel was finally restored.

In the chamber with the shimmering barrier, the spirits seemed more restless, and as Stefanie and Ji passed through, they heard cries of "He's eating us, he's eating us! You let him eat us!". Stefanie later prayed to Vanya, and was told that certain immortals were disappointed in her actions, but Vanya was looking forward to a battle that was looming. Mendel also prayed to Asterius, and saw only visions of a bone abacus and a longing to tally up greater profits.

The party made it to the exit, checking in on the albinos on the way and finding their settlement deserted, and then sought to scale the cliffs to reach the island surface. Atop the cliffs, they found themselves  on a mountain range and in the distance towering above these and shrouded in clouds, they spotted the plateau the kopru had mentioned. Stefanie attempted to carve Dacien's face into the rocky terrain to make the area distinctive for a return teleport and the party then decide to head back to Farshore to rest, identify gear, sell items, and prepare.

In Farshore, the party reported back to the council on events, and learned of what had been happening since they departed. The bar owner had fled, leaving Lil and the other saved prostitutes in charge of Krunk's bar. A ship had left Farshore for Sasserine carrying good to trade and to try and entice traffic back to the port - also carrying some residents that had decided to flee for a safer existence. A dragon turtle had been spotted in the harbour, but keeping its distance. Finally, Vanthus' body had been stolen, which given the tracks the party deduced to have been taken by Leaping Demons. Stefanie scryed but could not find him.

Vesserin, the head cleric, also let them know that the feebleminded warrior they party had rescued was in his chapel - strangely comforted there more than elsewhere in the settlement. He had also noticed that some of his tattoos echoed imagery of  the immortals Djaea and Khronous. Stefanie healed the tribal warrior, and, his mind restored, he introduced himself as Jakara. He had been sent to the seven villages by Noltus Innersol, a missionary priest of Ixion, to warn them of the demon threat on the plateau, which in recent times had increased its attacks on the jungles below. Noltus, travelling with his bloodhound dog Bulgan,  had banded together humans, lizardfolk and phanaton to fight these 'skinwalkers' which Jakara described as his fellow tribesmen taken by the demons and somehow bonded to rakasta's cat like bodies in some unholy amalgamation. He offered to train the party in fighting demons, but his main goal was to help prepare the other villages to defend. Noltus had also asked him to recover his stone medallion, which apparently had caused him visions that originally led him to the island. Vessrin explained he had visited Farshore some months back, drawn by his visions, and left the medallion with him for safekeeping. Noltus seemed to be drawn by his patron Ixion to uncover some legendary item on the island.

The medallion itself seemed to depict the immortals Oloron/Odin (moon), Otzitiotl/Ixion (sun), Manwara/Protius (stars) and Kalaktatla/Ka (knowledge), working together to create a bow. The party agreed to take the medallion to Noltus on the plateau, after they had visited Sasserine to equip themselves for the battle. Mendel asked Manthalay for a letter of introduction to the arena in Sasserine for business, and Manthalay agreed, saying there may be other items he could also take.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Savage Tide Session 28

Pinned down against the side of a strange fleshy structure by the advancing kopru, the party decided to retreat to a more defensible position. Mendel covered the other as they fled to the west, where they had seen various caves in the wall of the larger cavern. They were dogged by a pack of the larger kopru who were flying in a pincer formation. Zhedd caught two within a cloud of choking gas, and took to the air on Banshee to cover the party from above. Mendel wore them down with a few arrows before taking after the party. By means of Stefanie's haste spell, they made good time across the bonemeal-like covering of the cavern floor - until Stephanie found herself encased in a dome of stone by the kopru's magic, Ji rolling out of the way before he could be caught. The rest of the party continued their retreat and made it to the cave, where Faldak found two dead human bodies frozen in grotesque positions -  one as though cleaning up the mess made by his entrails spilling out over the floor, and the other with a grossly distended belly. They showed no sign of (un)life, so the party made their stand here, although Mendel did find the distened belly hid a strange stone flask with the sigils of the immortals Khoronus and Djaea, which later resisted Dacien's attempts to analyze. What followed was a sniping battle against the korpu, relying on Dacien's dispel magic to hamper the lead korpu. as Antony and Zhedd flung fireballs at the others. Mendel sniped lightning arrows at the kopru cleric, and Faldak and Ji met the weakened kopru warriors as they landed at the cave mouth. Meanwhile, Stefanie, encased by stone, used a combination of water breathing, create water, and control water to fashion the dome into a mobile tank, and tried to move after the party before starting to dig her way out.

The kopru ranks were whittled down, and the kopru cleric left exposed and unprepared. It began to retreat, hounded by Zhedd and the fireballs, until it finally died at the edge of one of the pillar of purple flame. The party swiftly moved in to collect the fallen items the kopru carried and then retreated to a cave higher up the cavern wall where they could hide and rest up. The cavern was filled with the dried age old bone of humans that must have lain there for centuries. During their rest, they saw a band of kopru visit the strange stone plug in the cavern ceiling above the crater. After resting and preparing for an assault on the ziggurat, Zhedd visited the stone plug to analyse what the kopru were doing and found signs of them scratching the stone, but nothing else. The noise of spell casting from the strange cloaked figure left in the crater below told Zhedd he had been spotted, and he hastily retreated.

The attack on the ziggurat relied on two stages - an assault with magically conjured fire and ice, before Dacien dimension door'd the melee warriors to its peak. Mendel, Antony and Zhedd used potions of fly recovered from the korpu bodies to join Zhedd flying in to the ziggurat, as Dacien took Ji, Faldak and Stefanie into battle. They appeared atop the ziggurat, next t othe puckered, bruised sphincter-like entrance. Three large kopru waited there, worn down the the ice storm and fireballs, and were quickly dispatched by Ji and Faldak, as Stefanie conjured a blade barrier to wall of two additional korpu that were flying in from the entrance tunnel to the east. This mass of swirling barriers also tore into the sphincter, ripping it opwn and revealing a chamber beneath. Around the base of the ziggurat, naga and kopru minions gathered and tried to hamper the party's movement, but to no avail. The party regrouped on the ziggurat, and with Faldak's axe joining the blades, dove through a hole in to the centre of the ziggurat.

The walls of the interior were lined with blackened lung-type structures, and eyes swarmed to the surface of the muscular construction as the party approached. The entire fleshy mound quivered in pain, but otherwise did not react. They party found a chamber that belonged to the kopru cleric, with a large statue of Demogorgon that Mendel defiled by removing the gemstone eyes. Some of the kopru's belongings were also hidden on a large tumorous lump that had been fashioned into a grotesque couch. A trap door led to the final chamber at the ziggurat's base.

Opening this, Mendel was his by a blast of flammable acidic black goo by a strange centipede like creature that was swimming in a large pool of the same dark liquid . Also floating in the pools were several large black pearls, coated in differing amounts of crystalline growth. The trapdoor was quickly closed as the party planned their attack. Faldak was warded from acid by Dacien, and led the charge against the creature. Ji managed to tumble behind it, and with two quick blows stunned it and allowed Faldak to line up the killing blow. The pool it was in started to harden as the life left its body.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Savage Tide Session 27

The party found the ancient aboleth city of Golismorga that the " troglodyte spirit" had told them of. It occupied a vast cavern, filled with strange fleshy 'buildings', and twisted pillars that spouted a cold violet flame up to the ceiling. The structures appeared made of flesh and coral, interwoven , and clearly sagging without the supporting water that had been driven from the cave. A rheumy eye appeared on one of the nearby structures, bubbling to the fleshy surface in a blister, and blinked at the party, as a crude forked tongue licked it moist. Strangled cries echoed across the chamber, mimicking the voices of the party.

The party (for some reason) decided to forgo scouting the cavern, and descended to the cavern floor, which was a hard pressed sandy texture. Heading towards one of the pillars of flame, Faldak spotted some tracks leading away from the flame, and Dacien saw what looked like mathematical equations relating to planar geography scrawled in the sand. However, the party could not approach the pillar any closer without being wracked by mind-numbing headaches and dizzying nausea. Instead, they followed the footprint, seemingly of a large humanoid, to  a cave set in the southern wall. A whispered voice called out and bade the party to wait, and before long a tall cowled figure emerged, head bowed so no body was visible, followed by a dog-sized antlike creature. The giant introduced himself as Rakis-Ka, but the word had barely left its mouth before Stefanie tried to call upon Vanya and turn the creature. Rakis-Ka hissed angrily, but combat was narrowly averted by Ji and Mendel trying to smooth over Stefanie's rash action. Faldak was dominated, and tried to attack Stefanie, but a ward placed on the dwarf managed to suppress the enchantment. Rakis-Ka was more sullen and guarded, and said he would not offer the party any assistance or information unless they helped him destroy a creature that was guarding an object he desired to the north-east. A Nel-thaggu or Brain Collector had made its lair in a crater, and was guarding an object there. If it could be killed Rakis-Ka would offer the party knowledge about the kopru. (DM Note: he was going to offer trade and much more, but nevermind...!).

The party set off for the crater, edging their way around the cavern edge. They soon came up on the depression, covered in large fungal growths and thick with slime and detritus that sludged down its sides. Above the crater, the part spotted the ceiling of the cavern was oddly smooth and flat. Zhedd took Banshee up to investigate. Ji heard a strange alien noise from somewhere in the crater, which Dacien thought sounded like a spell. When the party rushed to look, the crater was empty save for a large conical structure made of ice and stone. Ji could hear similar alien sounds from elsewhere  in the cavern. Zhedd examined the ceiling and noted that the stone looked like the result of magical creation, and had been shaped by magic since being put in place. Zhedd then looked at the sludge and slime in the crater and launched a fireball into its centre - destroying the slime but also causing the conical object to crack. That was when its guaridan chose to attack.

The party were beset by spells from an invisible creature; holding Banshee, and harassing Zhedd with cones of magical cold. Dacien and Zhedd managed to catch it in the area effects of their fireballs, before it realised the danger the spell casters posed, and flew over - clamping its jaw around Dacien's head and ripping the top of his skull off. As Dacien fell, Stefanie could pin point its location, and called down flame strike. With aid of Truesight, Antony acted as the party's spotter, before Mendel saved the day by plugging a smokestick-laden arrow in to the hide of the creature. A large elephantine form of an alien creature became visible, pulsating sacs containing brains atop its head. Eventaully the party managed to dispatch the creature, and Stefanie had a chance to bring Dacien back to life.

As the party recovered and set about retrieving the corpse of the brain collector,  Rakis-Ka re emerged from behind a nearby mound. He demanded the party stuck to their bargain and left, but Mendel was adamant about examining the conical object in the crater first. The stranger reluctantly agreed but Ji could tell he was sizing up the party. The object in the crater turned out to be what seemed a chunk of a comet,  shaped carefully and engraved with images the party deduced to be the immortals Khoronus (Time), Ixion (Energy, the Sun), Nyx (Entropy,  the Undead), Noumena (Thought, Strategy) and Djaea (Matter, Nature). These were the immortals mentioned by Lady Silvermane of the Church of the Whirling Fury as being members of the Council of Intrusion that watched for incursions on to the Prime from beings beyond the Dimensional Vortex - the mysterious Outer Beings or Old Ones. The artifact was incredibly magically powerful but the party could not discern its function.

Rakis-Ka then told the party what he had observed of the kopru. They had taken up residence in a ziggurat they had built around a pyramidal fleshy structure, and engraved with symbols in worship of Demogorgon. Golismorga was a city of the aboleth - survivors of the Outer Beings,  and Rakis-Ka believed the kopru were trying to unlock these secrets on behalf of their evil patron. He described their forces - almost 50 kopru, 20 naga and 80 troglodytes - which stay in close proximity to the ziggurat, and that some of the Kopru he had seen fly. With that,  he bade the party farewell,  and they had the impression he would not welcome their return.

Zhedd took Banshee up into the air, and scouted the cavern, looking for the ziggurat that Rakis-Ka had described. He found it on the far wall, surrounded by crude canals dug into the cavern floor. The ziggurat teemed with korpu and troglodytes, and looking more closely, appeared to be constructed of stone blocks piled atop a mound of flesh. The 'skin' was puckered and pinched between the stone slabs, and a bruised sphincter bulged free of the stonework at its peak. The party toyed with using the remains of the Brain Collector to lure the kopru out to the crater, but in the end decided to use illusions to alter the colour of the fviolet flames and lure the kopru out. Three kopru flew up to investigate, and the party then decided to lay an ambush for the kopru, slightly distant from the ziggurat. Zhedd became visible and flew back to the party. The kopru responded by sending out parties in sedan chair carried by troglodytes in various directions - those approaching the party were quickly dispatch, albeit made difficult by some invisible dark naga that accompanied them. Seeing the fireballs, five large korpu flew to join battle. Two were repelled by Dacien's wall of force, and flew back to report, whilst two more joined melee and were eventually dispatched. The party had a moment's respite, and so Mendel flew up above the level of the fleshy mounds to investigate what the kopru were doing next...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Savage Tide Session 26

The party continued their trek through the tunnels under the Isle of Dread. They came  upon a carven dripping with moisture, where Irgzid called them to  a halt before entering. He warned that the chamber was filled with noxious fumes,and some of the slaves that the troglodytes had brought this way previously had died here. Milky pools dotted the cavern floor, and water dripped steadily from numerous stalactites, filling the air with a sharp metallic tang.Irgzid suggested the party hold their breath as they hurry through the chamber, trying also to avoid the pools, and make for the ext to the southwest. Mendel fired an arrow carrying Stefanie’s light enhancement in the direction Irgzid pointed to try and light up the exit. Antony spotted a part of dark shadows did not seem to move as light filled the area, and fire another arrow – suddenly, there were two patches of darkness. As Antony and Mendel edged forward, these dark blobs became clear as black puddings, slowly edging towards the group. Mendel led a retreat to the tunnel as Zhedd and Dacien launched fireballs at the oozes, until only one particularly stubborn pudding remained. Mendel stepped up to throw oil over it, but got caught within the ooze itself, causing his newly acquired armour to melt. Antony used his Ring of the Ram to knock it backwards, as it finally fell to another fireball. An unexpectedly costly encounter, the party grimly pressed on down the tunnel.

Up ahead, Irgzid warned, was a large cavernous home to a roper. The troglodytes would feed it slaves in order to get safe passage through its home. Dacien recalled that ropers were surprisingly very intelligent and spoke Terran, so Zhedd offered to try and negotiate passage.The chamber itself was at the base of a steep cliff face, and held a petrified forest, clearly swallowed by the earth some millennia ago.  Zhedd mounted Banshee and flew into the chamber, calling out to the roper. It responded, demanding some form of tribute before it would allow the party to pass – and indeed that dire bat looked particularly tasty. Zhedd flew back to the party, and led them down the cliff face with the plan of summoning a bat to appease the roper. It recognised the casting of a spell, and enraged, dared the party to cross its domain. (DM note: it was  a nice idea – maybe summoning it out of sight and earshot of the roper would have been better!). Keeping an eye out for the roper, it was hard to tell what was stalagmite and beast, so it caught the party unawares and ensnared Zhedd, Mendel and Faldak. All fought off its strength-draining power, and started hacking at the strands wrapped around their middle. Ji dashed forward and started pummelling the creature with his fists. Stephanie and Antony started helping the others escape, but Antony found his strength drained by the roper, and was barely able to move. Dacien stepped up and dimension door’ed himself, Mendel and Faldak right behind the roper, allowing the group to flank it and finally destroy it. Having looted the treasures the roper had collected over time, the party camped in the cavern to rest from their encounters so far. The next morning, Mendel, Ji and Faldak had thick dark scaly blotches on their skin – much like the troglodytes, and Stefanie and Zhedd set to work curing them of the disease.

The next day, Irgzid led the party to another chamber on the passageway the troglodytes use to collect the shadow pearls. This was lit by a strange translucent shimmering blue veil that bisected the cave. Ghostly images of tribal warriors occasionally flitted across the veil, and whispering voices that uttered strange prophecies about lizard kings and demon fish. Dacien used his divination magic to analyse the magical wall, and was nearly overcome by its power – clearly artefact level magic at work in its construction. Dacien later spotted that the wall had a slight curve to it – that it may be part of a large sphere, with a centre likely some miles deeper in the earth. Irgzid impatiently beckoned them through, and the party gingerly followed. The air on the other side of the veil was noticeably drier, and a strange back and forth flow of breeze reminded them of breathing.

A little further down the tunnel, Irgzid paused at a large fissure in the wall, and explained that there was a small community of strange humanoids that lived nearby in a place they called ‘Barbas’, Which Zhedd thought sounded like the elven word for Haven. Irgzid had not visited in some time, since he was a child on a trading expedition. He offered to take the party there to meet with the peoples, and the party agreed it couldn't hurt. The settlement was guarded by a maze lined with dangerous and deadly yellow and brown moulds, which Faldak navigated the party through with Ji’s help. A clattering from up ahead caught the party’s attention, and 8 hook horrors were visible lined up against the settlement wall, banging their arms on their shells to raise the alarm. Pale faces appeared at the wall, and after the party had reassured them they carried no disease from the troglodytes, the party were granted entrance to Barbas. They were greeted by the village leader, Vertram, a tall albino with features similar to a kobold. The other villagers were a strange albino mix, with features from several different humanoid races – orc, goblin, but in odd combinations within each person. And they seemed to be able to interbreed. Vertram led them through the village, where the party saw water being conjured into a large pool, with copses of large fungi nearby being harvested. Vertam mention that a being called ‘Ruffel’ was their spiritual leader, and had recently foretold of the strangers arrival – a signal for Barbas to be deserted. Ruffel was found to be the skeletal remains of an elf, kneeling in prayer before a series of religious verses carved on the walls of the cave, each speaking of Ruffel's guidance for his followers. One verse added more recently stated that strangers would signal the time for the people here to move on, under the guidance of Ruffel.  Vertram indicated that only recently had Ruffel spoken to him and given him this vision. Mendel knew something of the albino Shadow Elves and their worship of an immortal named Rafiel – it seemed that these isolated creatures were somehow related. He passed on contact details for his house in Darokin, and wished them well as the village began to pack up their belongings. It wasn’t clear how they would get off the island, and Vertram was not even aware of the island or the sea, but they seemed confident that ‘Ruffel would guide them’.

Before they left, Vertram offered to show the party another place where the blue wall was visible – near the ‘Sleeping One’. This was in another small cave, where a statue of a large fish-like creature rested next to the blue wall – beyond which blind cave fish were visible flitting around in the light. The wall appeared to be holding back the sea water. The statue was puzzling Dacien, who had heard of creatures known as aboleths, evil psionic fish creatures that enter a state of hibernation when deprived of water. A slow sloshing heart beat could be heard by pressing an ear to the statue, and getting the statue wet turned the other layers of stone to sickly mucus. The party eventually decided to hack through the statue and kill the slumbering beast.

As the party continued on the main passageway, Irgzid became more excited growing closer to the presence of his ‘ancestor’. A large chamber appeared up ahead, and Irgzid dashed forward calling out to the spirit. The chamber was an inverted ziggurat, of Oltec design much like the engraving the party had seen on the Great Wall at Tanaroa; upon further inspection, Mendel saw the engravings depicted the victory of an Oltec civilisation over some threat from beneath the earth. The lower half was flooded (strange, within the blue veil), and fallen pillars former a makeshift bridge over the dark slimy water. The pale ghostly figure of an aged troglodyte appeared atop the bridge, and greeted Irgzid, before turning to the party. He explained he was a spirit of the troglodyte clan leader of old, and was trapped within this chamber, unable to rest until the threat to his kin had past. This site was where the Kopru exchanged shadow pearls for the slaves the troglodytes brought them, and the ghost had observed many of these exchanges and how his troglodyte people had slowly succumbed to the disease proximity to the newly created pearls seemed to cause. HE also explained that the areas outside the chamber were strangely devoid of water, and as the kopru were an amphibious species, they must suffer the lack of water in order to sustain the production of the pearls.He then pleaded with the party to seek out whatever artifact the kopru used to hold back the sea water and flood their production, or at least provide a distraction for the party to then assault their stronghold. Ji became increasingly suspicious of the troglodyte spirits words, and pushed the questions whilst the party looked for other clues. Dacien examined a strange sigil carved on the ceiling that looked to have been recently modified. The ghost said he had seen the kopru fly up and resculpt the sigil - and urged the party to undo their work. Dacien then used a spell to examine the sigil and found it to be an aboleth glyph that had once enhanced their ability to enslave other races, but now had been altered to suppress that ability.

The ruse was up. The troglodyte ghost admitted that he was an illusion created by the aboleth to make communication with them easier. He lied to Irgzid to find help, to lead a strike back against the kopru. The aboleth claimed to have lived in a large city deeper in the earth, which he called Golismorga, and waged a war with the Oltecs in their empire of Thanaclan on the great plateau of the Isle of Dread. The Oltecs somehow cast the water out of Golismorga and drove the aboleths into hibernation.The kopru had found him, and used a decanter of endless water to revive him, trapping him in this pool, whilst suppressing his enslave ability. The fact the kopru could alter the glyph suggested they had learnt much of the secrets of the aboleths, although for whom it was not clear. The Aboleth also mentioned being a servitor of beings beyond the knowledge of even the Immortals, and that Zargon was a patron - a name the party recognised from dealings with Thanti Sparrow on his travels from Cynedicea. He still begged the party to destroy the artifact that held the water at bay, to disrupt the kopru activities - but the party were more resolved to find a way to destroy the kopru and not release countless aboleths from their slumber.

The party pressed on in search of Golismorga and the kopru, a glum disillusioned Irgzid travelling with them. An encounter with some ghostly spectres did little to improve Irgzid's mood (Note: I got the level drains wrong, so he should strictly be a spectre too, but I'll let that pass!). A little further along the party came across a chasm with three narrow bridges across. Insects swarmed at the bottom of the gulf, around 3 more hibernating aboleths. A trio of rhagodessas scrambled up the walls to attack the party after Dacien froze the swarms around them with his magic. Girding themselves, the party continued their journey deeper...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Savage Tide Session 25

Back from their shopping trip in Sasserine, the party met with the Farshore council members to discuss the next move. The consensus was to investigate the 'Lords of Dread' and the troglodyte caves on the northern shore of the island that seemed to be the source of the Shadow Pearls. Lavinia shared a little more information from her mother's journal on the dragon turtle - known by the natives as 'The Glutton', a particularly large specimen for his kind. Lavinia offered some of her family's treasures as a 'tribute' to try and buy passage, which the party accepted, despite Manthalay's protestations that the beast should not be negotiated with, and if anything it's carcass should be dragged in front of the villagers to let them know their place. The party ignored this, although did mull over killing the beast if the opportunity arose at low risk. Lavinia was keen that the party find some news to help avoid the suspicious whispering from the villagers since her brother's appearance.

Before the party set off, Lavinia called Antony to one side, and further to his efforts campaigning on her behalf, asked him to accept the role as emissary of Farshore, to act as her representative in fostering trade links with other ports and merchant guilds. To help with this, she gave him the command of the Brine Harlot, and appointed one of the newly freed slaves as its captain under Antony's command. Nosmo Beldan introduced himself as a Minrothad captain of some experience, whose had lost his ship off the coast of Ochalea to the Sea Reavers of the Crimson Fleet, and had pledged his service to the colony for a year in return for his freedom. The party worked with the captain to plot a route to the north of the island - following the eastern shore so they could also look in on the wreck of the Sea Wyvern. Joining them on the journey was another freed slave named Ji - an Ochalean monk in the service of Tarastia from the Jade Raven monastery.

They set off the next day, and had good winds and calm seas on the voyage north. The party decided to weigh anchor near anchor near on of the reefs to try and find a clan of Tortles to communicate with, and question about the dragon turtle. The eventually managed to catch the attention of a trio of tortle warriors, who came to the surface. The party quizzed them about the dragon turtle, learning that his lair included the tortle breeding grounds, which he guarded but at a heavy price from the tortles in terms of tributes and occasional slaves. Some tortles worshipped the power of Emraag the Dragon Turtle, but this was not a commonly held view, and these tortles would support an attempt to remove him. They also helped the party learn to use the sea skirl - the strange alpine horn type instrument which was mounted on the bow of the ship, and gave the PCs a few pointers on how to play it acceptably. Stefanie paid most attention to the lessons, more by a process of elimination rather than natural aptitude.

The next day, the party made it to the wreck of the Sea Wyvern. Keen eyes spotted some movement near the ship, and a large elasmosaurus in the waters. Nosmo took the Brine Harlot in closer, and as the party kept weapons trained  on the ship, the elasmosaurus attacked. Another figure darted out from the ship into the water - a kopru that tried and failed to dominate one of the party. The party soon dispatched the large dinosaur, but the kopru summoned a swarm of sharks and shapeshifted into a shark itself, to confuse the party, as it rained bolts of lightning from the heavens down onto Mendel in the crows nest. The battle ended in a standstill, as the sharks swam off, the kopru unable to make much headway from the waters. The party investigated the Sea Wyvern to find the kopru had been using it as a base of operations, seemingly in the process of crafting a magical necklace.

A few days later, the party made it to Gallivant Cove, and the domain of The Glutton. Stefanie tried to play the sea skirl to call Emraag to the surface, but her poor attempt only angered the beast who rose from the waters ready to breath flame over the ship. Some quick talking, and the mention of the tribute, gave the beast pause, and it listened to the party's request for passage. Emraag was clearly a haughty creature, and eventually deigned to allow the lesser specimens past - on this one occasion - but also mentioned he found it interesting that the same ship he saw a few days ago had returned but with a different crew, leading him to surmise that there must be a new colony somewhere  in the archipelago...

The Brine Harlot weighed anchor in the cove, with instruction to wait for a couple of days before returning to Farshore, and the party set off in rowboats to a makeshift jetty of driftwood and bones that was visible  in the cliff face of the cove. The jetty was shrouded in a sickly green smog, arising from humanoid skulls being used as braziers and burning a potent mix of herbs and fungi. Some of the party struggled with the smell, as Ji snuck forward along the jetty. A dinosaur was visible in the cave, and began barking as Ji approached. Angered by the party, it broke its chains and charged down the rickety pier to attack. The pier shook and the vibrations threw Stefanie and Ji into the water. The dinosaur was a sickly beast, it's hide tough and blackened, and nasty looking cuts marring its skin around the joints. a dark paste had been liberally applied to the wounds, but the exposed flesh was an angry red beneath it. The battle with the dinosaur, and recovering the PCs from the water, alerted some troglodytes from deeper in the cave. They called out, realising the PCs were not the pirates after they told them they had no more pearls. Dacien sent a fireball into the cave, and the troglodytes scurried back into the darkness. In pursuit, the party found signed of the shadow pearl distribution - broken geodes with spherical hollows that once housed the pearls were scattered on the floor. The geodes looked valuable but seemed to be made of an alien substance that caused a mild headache when touched. Tracks lead to a passage deeper in to the caves, and crude frescoes detailed the troglodyte religions beliefs - showing a dragon raining black pearls from the sky down on to the land in a scene of destruction. What was noticeable was a crude second head had been added to the dragon since the carving was originally done.

The party followed the caves deep into the cliffs and down into the depths of the Isle of Dread. After several hours, they came across a larger cave, caked in filth and swimming in the stench of decay and troglodyte musk. A crude troglodyte settlement filled most of the cavern, but the troglodytes themselves barely registered the PCs presence, wallowing in a deep lethargy. Each wretched creature has the same dark toughened skin marred by deep red welt and exposed flesh, and were swaddled in bandages that drip a dark ichor. In the midst of their hovels, was a large pit filled with black bubbling decaying bodies of troglodytes and other humanoids. Hanging above the pit were several large cages containing the bodies of other troglodytes - including one live troglodyte and a human tribal native, covered in animal tattoos. The human was drooling and had a vacant look in his eyes that Dacien deducted was caused by a Feeblemind spell.  The party resolved to send him back to Farshore until he could be healed. When the live troglodyte saw the party he scurried across his cage, and excitedly beckoned them over. He introduced himself as Irgzid, and begged the party to set him free.

Irgzid explained he was a priest of Pearl, the immortal rule of chaotic (evil) dragons, and he feared for his people as the clan had been infested by another malign influence, and he begged the party to help him. The disease that ravaged his fellow troglodytes was at first through to be a gift from Pearl as it toughened the skin and made them stronger. But Irgzid had noticed a change in his fellow priests who didn’t seem to be acting in the best interests of the tribe, and were devoting their efforts to the transfer of Shadow Pearls from the kopru in the tunnels below to the pirates of the Crimson Fleet. The disease was a curse not a blessing, and slowly encased the creatures in their own toughened skin, as revealed to Irgzid by the ghost of one of his ancestors in the caverns below. But when his fellows discovered that Irgzid had not succumbed to the disease, they branded him a heretic, and locked him in a cage before he could rally an uprising against his fellow fallen priests. Irgzid promised to take the party to where they sourced the shadow pearls and to meet the ghost of his ancestor, if they helped him return his tribe to the rightful worship of Pearl.

Irgzid led the party through the settlement to a sinkhole that led to ttunnels into the depths. A statue of a large dragon looked over this, again with a second head added more recently. Having fought their way past some sickly troglodyte priests, Irgzid led them down the lift in to the passages. |He told the party it would be a journey of art least a few days to get to the site. Barely an hour out from the settlement, the party were attacked by a beholder, and by several strokes of luck were able to avoid the most damaging effects of its rays and managed to kill it bya well-timed flame strike and then lassoing it to Faldak, who scraped the monster to death against the tunnel walls as he fled in fear, trailing the beholder behind him like a balloon.

(and as it seemed likely the party had used up all their luck for the day in that one fight, it seemed a good place to stop!)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Savage Tide Session 24

The action kicked off again with the hunt for Vanthus. Stephanie and Dacien hurried through the settlement towards the mansion houses. On the clifftop, Zhedd and Antony spotted a red robed figure flying from the west towards them and the pirate ships in the waters below. They pointed this out to Mendel, who loosed an arrow. The figure caught the arrow and paused, watching the PCs carefully. Mendel bowed, and quickly left the clifftop with Antony at the end of a/his tether. Zhedd remained on the cliffs, invisible, to see what the figure in red did next.

Back in Farshore, as the rest of the party convene around the Meravanchi and Vanderboren manor houses, they spotted Vanthus standing atop the building calling out to his sister. "This is our shared birthright! There's been a misunderstanding! You attack the pirates, but I was only using them to find a way to get back to you.". Lavinia was not interested, but clearly tormented, and looked to Stefanie for guidance. "He was dead to me the moment he killed our parents.". The battle was on.

Mendel tried to keep Vanthus pinned with arrows, whilst Antony sped around the side of the building into cover. Stefanie called upon Vanya to give her strength in battle, as Dacien readied the wand of fireballs and a Dispel Magic. Vanthus, seemingly protected by stone-like skin, was wary of Mendel's archery countering his mobility and so tried to keep hidden. He focussed first on his sister Lavinia, who surprised Stefanie by trying to stab her in the back - under her brothers mental control. Vanthus then tried to mentally control Mendel, but Mendel's mind was too alien or out of sync with reality to be affected. So instead, he switched to a direct attack, deftly attacking with sword and sickle and wounding Mendel grievously. Dacien repeatedly lobbed fireballs whenever Vanthus found himself in clear space, as Anthony tried to manoeuvre into position, and Stefanie fended off Lavinia's attacks.

Back on the clifftops,  Zhedd watched as the red-robed figure withdrew a large poweder keg from his pocket and dropped it on the two ships below. Both ships became engulfed in a cloud of red-tinged dust. The figure swiftly followed this with a bolt of fire from the heavens, which ignited the cloud in a massive explosion. The unearthly screams of the pirates aboard the ship could be herd for some distance. All the pirates caught i nthe blast were writing in agony, their bodies twisted and malformed by whatever had happened. Zhedd watched further still as the figure proceeded to snap the necks and crush the skulls of the surviving pirates, with clinical efficiency.

 Back in Farshore, Vathus was slowly being worn down by the others, but managed to charm Antony, increasing the confusion. Stefanie suppressed Lavinia's domination with a Protection from Evil, and Lavinia, distraught, ran to hide elsewhere in the settlement. Vanthus flew after her, and the party took up chase. Eventually, cornered and bloodied, Vanthus in desperation drew a black pearl from a pocket and held it out at the party. "One more move and you all die!". This brought back memores opf the pearl fragments the party had found in Kraken's Cove, and the after effects of teh horribly deformed and mutated creatures there. Flinging the pearl at the ground, he tried to flee into the skies. Zhedd appeared, summoning hippogriffs ahead of him. Mendel dove forward to catch the pearl, and Vanthus fell to a final blow. He was quickly stabilised and bound, and Stefanie managed to suppress the magic of the pearl long enough for it to be secured. The pirate attack had been averted.

(DM note: actually what helped the PCs here was jumping to the clifftops, and happening to intersect the enduks with Vanthus. A melee with them all involved could have been nastier...)

The party rounded up surviving pirates, bound them and stripped them of their items. All had a red tinge to their skin and carried the strange reddish metal jewellery the party had encountered before. The red robed figure appeared on the beach, and introduced himself as High Councillor Rikard. He would return later, and requested one of the pirate vessels in recognition of his 'assistance' dealing with the pirates.

The Farshore council looked to the PCs to help with the questioning of the pirates. All in all, only 30-40 of the locals had died in the attack, but the phanaton recruits had taken heavy losses. After removing the jewellery from the pirates,  over the next couple of days the PCs saw them gradually mutate and become deformed misshapen agonised shells of their former selves. They claimed to be under a Red Curse that the metal could hold at bay, and begged for death. Vanthus, who had a vial of red liquid about his neck, was similarly afflicted. He admitted his role, on the promise of a swift death. He joined up with the Crimson Fleet to find a way to get to Farshore and claim his birthright alongside his sister. He had a chance to gain the power displayed by the other pirates, offered to him by 'the Inheritors'. He had little interest in the black pearls themselves, but other pirates mentioned that they had recent sailed back from several coastal ports in the Known World (Darokin, The Shires, Thyatis and Karemeikos were mentioned), and had visited a group of troglodyte 'lepers' in a cave at the north of the island to exchange slaves for more pearls. The next destinations for these pearls were listed as West Portage, Landfall, and Alpha to the north, amongst others. The pirates admitted to have been recruited initially by agents from the nation of Hule, but under the leadership of a being known as Cold Captain Wyther, had turned aside and begun working on shipping these 'shadow pearls' to major cities around the Known World. They were all apparently controlled by a 'Master Pearl' that could trigger the others to detonate in a large explosion several miles in diameter that could transform all animal and plant life in the the deranged creatures the PCs saw in Krakens Cove. Over 30 of these pearls had already left the Isle of Dread.

One of the pirate slaves, a dwarf named Faldak, confirmed much of the tale - that he had been picked up in a small vessel off the coastline like many of the other slaves, and was due to be traded for these shadow pearls. but the pirates had not been delivered the number of pearls promised by the 'Lords of Dread', and so he remained in the hold of the ship. He recalled a bubbling tune that was blown from a alpine horn-like skirl built into the figurehead of the pirate ship Brine Harlot, that seemed to act as a signal before the pirates docked to meet the troglodyte 'lepers' in Gallivant Cove on the north of the Isle of Dread. Others confirmed Faldak's tale, and that the cove was home to a massive Dragon Turtle nicknamed "The Glutton" that called those waters home. it appeared the pirates had paid The Glutton to allow their ships to pass unmolested into the sea cave lair of the troglodytes in order to make the exchange for the shadow pearls. Concerned about the danger of the pearls, and looking for the master pearl itself, the party decided to head to Gallivant Cove in a few weeks to investigate further. Stefanie sent a warning to her mercenary captain, to see how best to tackle the problem. Faldak offered to join the PCs and help them in their quest.

The next day, Vesserin the village priest, asked if the the PCs would mind meeting with his superior from the Church of the Whirling Fury in Sasserine - Lady Silvermane. She had met the party previously shortly after their exploits in Kraken's Cove. She decided to be open about the goals of the Chruch, and described that it was the representative arm of two councils of immortals - the Council of Mystara, which had oversight on Immortal interference on the Prime (which is forbidden; the council monitors and enacts punishments) and the Council of Intrusion, which monitored for signs of activities from other dimensions that might threaten the Prime.Lady Silvermane's patron immortals were Khronos and Djaea, who sat on both councils. The church acted as their eyes, ears and agents when needed. They had become concerned about Demogorgon, and his potential for 'bending' the rules. She also confided that the Isle of Dread was the site of concern for the councils - where intrusion from the Dimension of Nightmares had happened aeons past, and where the Council had to permit immortal interference to safeguard the planet. She had little further details herself about the nature of the threat, but cautioned that the Island was a 'prison', and that creatures from the Dimension of nightmares were to be treated with caution. She offered the PCs aid when needed, but wanted to hear how their investigations progressed. Mendel asked about the 'Eye of Arik' they had found - Lady Silvermane explained that Arik was a servitor created by the Council of Intrusion, that had become corrupted and betrayed the councils. He was now imprisoned in the Pits of Banishment. His eye was an artifact Arik had created to assist in his role as the immortals' watchful guardian, but she had little further information. EDIT: Lady Silvermane and Vesserin also reiterated their concern for a missing missionary from the Church, Noltus Innersol, who had gone into the island to find some of the lost tribes and spread the word about his patron, Ixion.

Later, on the red robed priests returned looking to claim one of the pirate vessels. They took The Hag, but not before Stefanie questioned them for some time about what their motives might be. They were all priests of the immortal Bozdogan (also known as Loki) from the distant nation of Hule, which had recently waged a large war across the lands to the west. They had a strange way of behaving, quite bureaucratic, and were a little troubled by how much information the party had uncovered. it seemed that they had sponsored the pirates as party of a strategy by Hule to gain a foothold in the lands to the east, but that another force had swayed the Crimson Fleet, leading to their betrayal. They knew little of the Isle of Dread, but confirmed the effect of the Red Curse and the strange metal cinnabryl that could hold it at bay. As they left, the party felt that the alliance was a shaky one at best, and perhaps they knew too much about the Hulean plans...

The PCs then returned to Sasserine to buy provisions, and set about planning the next leg of their adventure - finding the Lords of Dread, and the Master Pearl somewhere on the north of the island, past the lair of The Glutton....

Monday, April 22, 2013

Savage Tide Session 23

The attack on Farshore

The party were surrounded by excited phanatons, chanting about a 'Grooming' to be held in honour of the party's victory over the fabled Tyrannosaurus Rex That had plagued their tar pits for so long. This was largely ignored by the party as they debated and argued over their next move - leaving Krunk to start work on hacking the flesh off the head of the dinosaur he'd collected as a trophy. Eventually it was decided that the party split into two groups - one teleport back, leaving the others to make their way on foot. This allowed Zhedd and Dacien to work on some spell research and item construction, Mendel to continue drilling the militia, and Stefanie to scry again for the pirates. On the second attempt, she managed to find Vanthus, aboard a ship and accompanied by 2 other vessels - at full sail and much closer to Farshore.

The rest of the party arrived safely back at Farshore, along with 20 Tanaroan native warriors, and 8 Phanaton Rangers followed soon after. That left the party to then convene with the town council and plan for the assault. The chain was erected across the harbour front, just below the water line, the Hellfish was tarred and ready to be set alight, barricades were set up along the beachfront, and rooftop archer positions were set up. The quays were trapped, and Dacien spent some time making alchemical toxins with the bananas they recovered from the troglodyte grove. A Phanaton crew were sent to the east shore to keep an eye out for signals form the other villages. The Jade Ravens and Thanti Sparrow were guarding th northern edge of the shore, whilst the Sea Turtle clan warriors waited in canoes by the Blue Nixie.

When the signal came, Mendel levitated up to try to spot the ships, but only saw them far off to the south-west - sailing past the islands, the party assumed, on their way to Rat's End. The rest of the day passed nervously. As night fell the following day, the ships reappeared on the horizon - five of them, flying the Sea Reavers of the Crimson Fleet colours; The Hag, The Kraken, The Sea Witch's Curse, The Stygian Shark and The Brine Harlot. All ships slowed about half a mile from the harbour mouth, and a fireball burst above the water. After several minutes, the ships unfurled their sails again, and advanced - The Hag and The Kraken leading the attack. Both ships, unaware of the trap, crashed into the harbour chain; wrenching it from its mooring. The captain of The Hag realised  the problem in time, loosed the sails and brough the ship to bear. The Kraken fared less well, as the ship was brought to an abrupt stop, and the main mast cracked under the strain. The ship veered to starboard and straight towards the rocks. Stefanie cast Control Water,  to conjure  a whirlpool in the harbour mouth, which the captain of The Hag did well to survive. Mendel commanded the archers to let loose on the floundering ships, as he tried to pick of key crew memebers. The ballista crew let fly, and the phanatons readied their alchemical grenades.

A barrage from the catapults on the remaining ships began, bombarding he shore, but most flying over the heads of the militia gathered there. Zhedd and Anthony noticed one missile looked humanoid, and crashed into Krunk's behind them. Zhedd and Krunk dashed off to investigate - finding a flesh golem composed of stitched-together pirate parts busy trying to bring down the building. Whilst Krunk fought this creature, four more emerged from beneath the waves on the beach. (Note: There had been 4 golems waiting in the water all the time, and the fireball was their signal to advance. You guys had talked about buidling spurs on the sea floor, which meant you could have encountered these earlier, which would have been interesting...). The party fought off the golems, with Jardek manning the barricade and Antony ushering the locals well out of the main combat as it was clear their attacks were doing nothing. As this battle was going on, the whirlpool appeared to be dispelled, but The Hag was left facing in the wrong direction. Two plumes of smoke were seen thrown up to one of the ballista platforms, and this was soon enshrouded in flame by another long range fireball. The Hag sailed out of the harbour, as Dacien quickly followed it with fireballs from his new wand. The Stygian Shark and the Sea Witch's Curse moved to take the harbour - only to be met by another whirlpool courtesy of Stefanie. The Stygian Shark  was caught fast; The Sea Witch's Curse escaped and headed quickly to the shore, only  to be met by more arrows and more fireballs. Dacien's fireballs picked off the crews as they tried to lower boats into the water. The captain tried to then just beach the boat, but the Symbol of Sleep left near the shore left more pirates dying  in the water.

Two figures were seen flying off The Stygian Shark and over the cliffs to the north. Mendel caught one with an arrow, before they disappeared from view. An alarm bell rang in the centre of the compound, indicating trouble. Krunk ran off to investigate with Zhedd not far behind, to find a cluster of 5 wizened demonic bird creatures standing over the bodies of some dead militia. (Note: here, you guys were unlucky. There were originally 3 vrocks, but each had a 35% chance of summoning more; 2 did...). Three of the creatures joined hands and began to dance in a ring, whilst the other two turned to face Krunk's charge, hoisting him aloft and carrying him into the air as Krunk struggled to bash their heads together. The rest of the party arrived on the scene, Mendel firing his arrows, as Jardek charged ahead. Antony tried to disrupt the dancing demons using a Ring of the Ram, but they managed to stand their ground. Jardek was heavily wounded and had to retreat. Dacien managed to banish one of the dancing creatures, disrupting their dance, and quickly caught another in a resilient sphere. Krunk was thrown to the ground as the airborne vrocks looked to engage the party. Eventually they were all dispatched or fled, but consuming much of the party's resources and strength.

Meanwhile, Jardek had fled back to the north, and spotted a battle going on between the two remaining Jade Ravens and Thanti Sparrow facing a large scorpion-centaur type creature, and a spellcaster. They were struggling against these foes, and Jardek ran in as they fell to the ground bleeding. The manscorpion tripped Jardek and kept him on the ground as the spell caster tried to charm the dwarf. Feigning the effect of the spell, Jardek played along, and agreed to escort the pair to find the Mayor - only taking the long way round. When he came across the party, he told the manscoprion and mage to wait, whilst he warned the other. As the rest of the party blew the dwarves ruse and charged after the enemy, the spellcaster stepped out unleashed a bolt of lightning which ran through Krunk, Jardek and Stefanie. Jardek was left as a charred corpse. Krunk faced off against the mansorpion, only to be knocked back on his feet and a halberd driven through his heart. Two of the party lay dead.

Antony darted behind the spellcaster and tried to stab him as Mendel peppered him with arrows. The mage desperately needed cover, taking a blow from Antony. Seeing how serious things had gotten, Stefanie called upon Vanya to burn her enemies, and Dacien followed up with another fireball, leaving only scorched shadows in the wall of the Farshore Hall of Records. Mendel swung into the other side of the building and hauled himself onto the roof, wondering what the noise was.

Zhedd, now an invisible eagle, flew over the sea to observe the other pirate ships. The Hag and The Brine Harlot were sailing out along the eastern cliffs to the south. Vanthus was on deck alongside two winged minotaurs (enduks) and the vrock they had faced earlier. Heading back to explain this to the party, Dacien teleported Mendel, Zhedd and Antony to the cliff top to then head out to the ships, leaving Stefanie to offer what healing she could the the villagers. As they arrived on the cliffs, they spotted three figures flying overhead - Vanthus and the two enduks. Mendel let fly his arrows, as Zhedd summoned some hippogriffs. Vanthus swept down and suggested the party head back into the village to better defend it. Only Dacien thought this was a good idea, and promptly disappeared. The two enduks landed to confront the others, as Vanthus darted away, chased by the hippogriff. Mendel picked off one enduk, only to be butted off the cliff by the other, as Antony pushed it after Mendel with well timed use of the Ring of the Ram. Dacien met up with Stefanie, and saw Vanthus diving down behind the pallisade to the south - close to Lavinia's mansion...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Savage Tide Session 22

A quick note - this is when you found the flaming bat idol! See, these write ups are useful!

The party decided to remain in Farshore for a few days, particularly with the election looming and to give Lavinia their support. Dacien used the tails from the Shocker Lizards they had encountered to enchant Mendel's bow to imbue the arows with electrical energy. Stefanie consecrated the local graveyard with tea. Mendel helped with preparations for the ballista outposts and bow training. Antony continued his electioneering on Lavinia's behalf. Jardek worked with the smith to construct a floating chain to block the harbour when needed. And Krunk woke in a pool of his drool to find the tavern he was spending his time in - The Last Coconut - had been renamed 'Krunk's'.

The next day, whilst Stefanie raised the Jade Raven Liamae from the dead, and Dacien worked his abjuration magic to remove the lycanthropy from Stefanie and Tolin, the elections got under way  Thanks in large part to Antony's work, Lavinia won by a clear margin with over 60% of the colony behind her claim. Lavinia thanked them for their efforts, but asked for an update on progress in defending Farshore. Lord Meravanchi was stoic in defeat, only wanting to ensure his investment in the colony was safe.

The party next decided to head to Tanaroa to petition for additional warriors and for tar to help in the building repairs. They sailed up to Mora, and travel by land from thereon. Arriving in Tanaroa, they found the native piling wood on the central pyramid into a large unlit pyre. When J'kal, the village matriarch, met them,  she explained that they had been visited by Zotzil'ra himself, who had punished the village for a theft of an object. Suspicious of the characters as the only outsiders they had seen travel beyond the Great Wall, J'kal demanded they remain for the ceremony to appease Zotzil'ra's anger - initially bound, but at Krunk's glare she dismissed them from the village to return unshackled that night.

As the bonfire was lit, the party were brought before the flames. Waiting for an hour or so, a figure appeared in the flames - a deformed black furred humanoid with thin membranous wings, with flames flickering over its body. It stretched its wings, and the flames coalesced into ten bat like creatures composed of fire. These fire bats attacked the villagers and Zhedd as they sprang out form the bonfire, as the creature wailed "Return what was stolen!". Stephanie stepped forward, and the beast seemed to fixate on her holy symbol of Vanya and cried "Servants of the whore must burn!", before unleashing a hellish blast of flaming breath upon the party. Krunk leapt into the flames to attack the creature, only to find it's blows rapidly draining his strength. The fire bats seemed to have drained their fill of the villagers and retreated into the bonfire, as the creature created a portal within the flames and vanished.

That night, J'kal permitted the party to stay in the village, having seen their actions in the defence and healing of the villagers. Discussing the events of the evening the party (even tho some players seemed to remember! :p) finally recalled they had recovered a golden idol depicting a bat wreathed in flames when they visited Tamoachan - and that might be what this creature wants. But how it lost an item that the party recovered almost 1000 miles away from where they are now, was not clear.

The next day, the party prepared for the second visitation, and at night once again stood before the pyre, this time warded with spells against fire. The idol was placed on the ground before them, and when 'Zotzil'ra' appeared, he seemed appeased and asked that the party bring it into the flames. When they stepped onto they pyre, they found themselves transported into a chamber at the heart of a volcano. Niches lined the walls filled with wither and dried trinkets, and a large engraving of a bat wreathed in flames - wings outstretched to hold the missing idol - filled the far wall. The creature seemed more composed with the return of the idol, and introduced himself as the 'First of the Failed' - an experiment by Rathanos to 'combine flesh and flame' into a new species. The idol bound him to the volcano and allowed him to rest peacefully therein, but without it he had become plagued by nightmares and was confused. He muttered something about the party being tools of  other agents, and being played, but knew little more about who, how or why. For allowing him to return to his slumber, he granted the party each one item fro mthe vault of donations the villagers of Tanaroa had left him over the years on their pilgrimages to the Fangs of Zotzil'ra. Mendel took a lucky rabbit's foot. Antony took a dragonfly medallion. Dacien took a Ring of Wizardry. Zhedd too an amulet of natural armour. Stephane took a bone ghost touch bastard sword. And Krunk took a coffer of ancient platinum pieces. The creature also found a large ruby i nthe vault, which it did no recall having been left there. Krunk took this as well, and found it to have a power that increased his might. Dacien later identified this to be an artifact called the Eye of Arik, but none knew any information about it's history. Before leaving the chamber, Zhedd thought he heard a child crying from down a winding corridor, but despite a search, no one could find the source or confirm Zhedd's hearing.

A portal was opened to allow the party to return to Tanaroa, where J'kal thanked them for their efforts, and agreed to make 20 warriors (hunters and fishermen) available from the seven villages to aid the party in their fight. There was not enough tar currently in the village to bring back to Farshore, so the party left with some guides on an expedition to the tar pits. After several days ttravel, including an encounter with some ankylosaurs that Zhedd charmed, and a predatory giant sundew that almost dissolved Mendel and Krunk in its pungent sap, the party came across a hunting party of the inquisitive raccoon-like phanatons.

They explained that they were looking for a large prey to chase north to the tar pits to act as a distraction for a large tyrannosaurus that had claimed the tar pits as its territory. Antony made a bargain that if the party killed the dinosaur, then the phanaton might be willing to aid in the defence of Farshore. The phanaton took the party on a shortcut to the tar pits where they encountered the tyrranosaurus i nquestion - a giant battle-scarred specimen. With a plan that consisted of buffing Krunk so he could be swallowed and kill the creature from within - a tactic that had worked before - the party joined in the battle. Krunk dived down it's throat as Mendel peppered its eyes with arrows, Dacien followed up with lightning, Antony used his Ring of the Ram, Stefanie summoned a Spiritual Weapon and Zhedd conjured a flock of hippogriffs. Eventually, the beast was felled, with Krunk desperately tugging on the corpse to stop the head falling into the tar so he could carry it back as a trophy for his bar.

T minus 2 weeks...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Savage Tide Character Creation

Ability Scores
You have 20 points to spend using the following system. No starting score above 20 after racial mods below.

Ability Score           Cost
       7                      –4
       8                      –2
       9                      –1
       10                      0
       11                      1
       12                      2
       13                      3
       14                      5
       15                      7
       16                      10
       17                      13
       18                      17

Races and racial abilities
Using 3.5e standards plus campaign-specific races as below, with the following pathfinder additions.

Race         Ability Bonus
Dwarf      +2 Con, +2 Wis, –2 Cha
Elf        +2 Dex, +2 Int, –2 Con
Gnome      +2 Con, +2 Cha, –2 Str
Halfling   +2 Dex, +2 Cha, –2 Str
Human      +2 to one ability score (your choice)
Lupin      +2 to one ability score (your choice)
Rakasta    +2 Dex, -2 Wis, +2 Cha
Tortle     -2 Dex, +2 Con, +2 Wis
Phanaton   -2 Str, +4 Dex

For the non-core races, a summary as follows (ask me if any catch you eye and I can pass on more details)

  • Lupins - Humanoid dogs; Medium size, Low-light vision, Scent, Track, Sense Lycanthrope, +1 attack/damage lycanthropes, +2 Listen/Spot, -2 saves vs. odours. Favoured class: Ranger
  • Rakasta - humanoid cats; Medium size, Low-light vision, Blind-Fight feat, Slow Fall 10ft, +2 Balance/Spot/Listen/Jump, Natural claw weapons, -2 save vs. sonic attacks. Favoured class: Fighter
  • Tortles - humanoid turtle; Medium-size, 20ft speed (10ft swim), Low-light vision, +3 natural armour, +8 Swim skill, Endurance feat. Favoured Class: Cleric
  • Phanatons - humanoid raccoon/monkey; Small size, 20ft speed, +1 saving throw in forest, Gliding flight, Prehensile tail, +4 move Silently, +2 Climb/Jump/Listen/Spot. Favoured Class: Rogue

All core 3.5e classes, plus Swashbuckler and Warlock.
Wizards - can choose between a bonded item or familiar; Pathfinder specialist schools (see pathfinder rules) .
Sorcerers - have eschew materials feat, choose a bloodline as in Pathfinder (core bloodlines only).
Paladins - Can choose between holy weapon or mount as per divine bond rules.

Using Weapon Group feats. Swashbucklers / Warlocks get basic weapons plus any 3 / 2 others respectively.

Savage Tide Session 21

The party returned back to Farshore, bringing the prostitutes with them. Manthalay grumbled that they better prove some use, and seemed ready to pin the blame on Lavinina should anything go wrong. The winds were against them sailing back, and so they had to moor up in the southern bay overnight. Stefanie hit on the idea of keeping an eye out for island where the mysterious red-robed followers of Loki were based; the earlier interrogations had led them to believe this was somewhere off the southern coast of the isle of Dread. Between them, the party managed to spot torchlight on one of the islands about 20 miles south of their position. They made note to consider approaching the strange monks as potential allies.

On returning to the settlement, the party set about on preparations for defence from the pirates. Jardek worked in the smithy, improving armour and weapons. Mendel worked to create a makeshift ballista, and oversaw selection of look out posts on the cliffs to site the siege weaponry. Krunk went out with one of the workforces to help clear the tress and source lumber for the various other activities. Dacien spent time with Prof. Aldwattle on spell research and documentation. Stephanie worked in the infirmary to imrpove the general health of the community. And Zhedd worked on the pallisade and cliff walls to strengthen their defence. This took a further week of hard toil. And in all that time, there had been no word from the Jade Ravens that had ventured out to hunt the troglodytes in the centre of the island.

The decision was made to track down the Jade Ravens. Zhedd stayed in town to work on the walls and Antony stayed behind to do some digging on whether there was a Crimson Fleet spy in the village. The rest left with the local miners to head as far as the local emerald and diamond mine, and then set off for the sunken banana grove and the troglodyte lair. Jardek soon found the trail cut by the Jade Ravens and they followed that to the grove - until they stumbled upon a tripwire that unleashed shell-covered vines from the branches overhead with a loud clatter. Voices could be heard from up ahead, and so Jardek and Krunk decided to rush in and press the element of surprise. Krunk stumbled into a spear trap, covered in a sticky black substance, as Jardek and Mendel advanced. Suddenly,the banana trees around them sprung into life, and battered the party. Dacien's fireball quickly dispatched the troglodytes that were clustered in the cave entrance, and the rest hurried to the wait there. Another tree, later identified as a treant, uprooted itself, and barrelled through the party, trampling them into the rock, until it was hacked to pieces by Jardek.

Two tunnels led from the entrance, one into a webbed cave, and the other clear, which the party took. Jardek managed to find the pit trap full of poisoned spike by stumbling into it. The next cave had a small troglodyte hunting party that was no match for Dacien's second fireball. SOme of the creatures poisons were beginning to have a telling effect on the party, and Krunk was left hallucinating and trussed up while they explored further. In the next cave, the troglodytes were waiting for them - shepherding 4 glowing blue lizards that crackled with energy towards the party. Behind them, a large muscular troglodyte, strangely misshapen with a grotesque upturned mouth, raged and led his warriors forth. Electricity sparked between the lizards, catching Jardek and Krunk unawares. A brutal exchange of blows was had between Krunk and the lead troglodyte, as Mendel picked off the lizard pets. Stefanie tried to aid but was overcome by the nauseating stench. Dacien saw Krunk start to flag, and quickly trapped the boss in an impenetrable sphere of energy. This allowed the party to dispatch the others, and wait to face the muscled brute. Stefanie prepared by animating the corpses of the dead troglodytes to surround their captive. However, due to some bad luck, when Dacien dismissed the barrier, it got the drop on them and charged through to get revenge on the cleric that had desecrated his tribe. He was eventually slain but not before catching Stefanie with a vicious bite. As it died, its body changed to that of a normal troglodyte, leading the party worry what it really was.

Groans could be heard in another cavern; a flooded cave with a small island, littered with bones and shark jaws, in the middle. There, Mendel found Tolin of the Jade Ravens, delirious and covered in bites. The party brought him back and decided to rest before continuing. Clean, and his sanity restored, Tolin confirm that the other Jade Ravens had been killed,a s far as he could remember,  and that he had been plagued with strange visions of swimming and violence. Mendel ate a banana and fell into a coma.

The next day the party cleared out the rest of the cavern, facing giant spiders, but with no sign of any further troglodytes. The spiders had webbed cocoons of several bodies, including the other Jade Ravens, a kopru, some natives, and a kna. The party recovered the bodies, although Tolin was a little wary of their intentions towards the gear of his fallen companions. A club over the head reminded the party they should think about exploring the lake, where they found a chest, containing much coin, and an underwater passage that led north, seemingly towards the sea. Back in the grove, the party found spider eggs amongst the bananas, and realised that something was being done to sustain the plantlife here beyond the natural environment.

The party returned to Lavinia and reported their findings. They requested Vesselin contact his church in Sasserine to ask for information (note: he can't actually cast sending; sorry!). Between them, the party determined that Stefanie and Tolin had succumbed to lycanthropy, and at the next moon would become weresharks. Stefanie was concerned about the possible link to Vanthus, Lavinia's brother, and used her new found magic to scry for him. She got lucky, but what they saw bore little resemblance to Lavinia's description or the fleeting glimpse they got of him before on Parrot Island. He seemed changed, twisted, and wore a red steel amulet with a vial of red liquid - the same they had seen with the Crimson Fleet before...

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Savage Tide Session 20

The session continued in the ruins of Mora. There was much debate about several things the party needed to do - deal with the bizarre flesh golem in the catacombs beneath the village, decide how to continue the journey to Farshore, and, with their fresh supply of pearls, identify and dish out the treasure they had accumulated since leaving Sasserine. The golem was dealt with quickly, once the party had prepared themselves and a plan of attack. There was some confusion over how best to travel to Farshore, as the party initially started to prepare canoes and boats, then Stefanie used her Sending spell to contact Lavinia and arrange for a fishing ship to collect them from Mora.

As Mendel watched for the vessel to approach  he noticed a larger pirate ship sail behind it and into the harbour at Farshore. The fisherman begged them to hurry aboard, as Stefanie used her Sending again to warn Lavinia of the possible attack. After a couple of hours, the party entered the harbour of Farshore, to find the settlement aflame and under attack from a ragged looking bunch of pirates. Their ship, a battered vessel named Hellfish flying a symbol of a rat's hindquarters above its tattered sails, sat in the harbour. The pirate captain was visible in the midst of the settlement, a mean-looking cur wearing armour made of knotted ropes, with a hangman's noose hanging limp around his neck. The party hurried into the midst of the battle; Jardek ran to a nearby burning building to rescue a woman trapped under a fallen beam; Krunk bounded down the pier to tackle a leering pirate that had cornered a terrified woman; Dacien launched a fireball into a pack of the pirates that attempted to break down the doors to a chapel; Mendel picked off pirates from afar with his bow; Stephanie hurried to the aid of an unconscious mage lying on the beach amidst his glassware; Antony hurried after Krunk as 'damage control' and skewered a few passing pirates that hadn't noticed him; and Zhedd used his magic to put out a fire, and summon some hippogriffs to pick off the crew remaining on the deck of the ship. There was a brutal battle between Stefanie and the pirate captain, both trading savage blows with Krunk carving his way through the crew to come to her aid. As Jardek and Antony arrived to help, Dacien's magic missiles finally felled the captain. Krunk used a magic pebble to turn into a water cannon and put out more of the fires, Stefanie hurried to help the local militia who had been cut down by the pirates, as Antony and Mendel rushed out to the Hellfish to look for survivors. The ship itself was spartan, with few goods aboard save for tea and salt in the hold, and bare cabins. The hold also housed a makeshift stockade, in which sat a miserable one-handed wretch named 'Lefty'. He claimed to have been locked up for  hitting the grog too hard before the attack, and rankled at Mendel's pompous attitude, asking to be given a quick death. Back on the shore, Lavinia arrived to greet the party, flanked by the Jade Ravens and other locals she introduced as the Council. She was delighted to see the party, but upset at the losses there had been since they left Sasserine, particularly of her close friend and mentor Amella and Urol, who had been due to sponsor much of the return to and rebuilding of Farshore. She offered the tired and weary party baths, drinks and hot food, and suggested they convene with the council in a few hours.

Lavinia introduced the Farshore council members: Professor Aldwattle, an Alphatian alchemist; Vesserin Catherly, an elven priest of the Church of the Whirling Fury (a pantheon including Djaea, Ilsundal, Khoronus, Korotiku, and Hel); Telda Syren, an elven botanist and running the local apothecary; Captain Ulvar Kabbanja, head of the militia and one-time Thyatian gladiator; and Lord Manthalay Meravanchi, a no-nonsense merchant and follower of Asterius - and Avner's uncle. Keen eyes spotted that Lord Meravanchi did not seem overly pleased to see his nephew. Lavinia and Manthalay were in the midst of mayoral elections since Manthalay had been running the settlement in the absence of anyone from the Vanderboren family. Lavinia's return had thrown the local population into a fierce debate over who deserved their loyalty, and Lord Manthalay had determined that anyone contributing to the settlement should have a say who governs them.

There was confusion over the pirate attack, as Lavinia did not think it public knowledge that the settlement even existed, let alone be on trade routes for pirates to plunder. Without any pirates alive to question, they were left puzzled, although charts recovered from the Hellfish labelled an island to the south west of the Thanegioth archipelago as 'Rat's End', the possible location of their base. The party resolved to explore that island in the morning. The evening free, they were left to explore the colony; Mendel spoke with Vesserin at the chapel, who mentioned an emissary of the Church of Ixion who had recently visited before setting off for the plateau in the centre of the Isle of Dread, also that some of the locals were slightly unsettled that the growing graveyard had not yet been consecrated. Ulvar and Manthalay mentioned trouble with a troglodyte tribe in the centre of the island that was preventing them from accessing a possible banana plantation. Most importantly, they found out the name of the local tavern - The Last Coconut. Zhedd spoke with Kaskus, the druid of the Jade Ravens, and it was mentioned that they were unhappy being shown up by the party's actions, and many of them wished to leave Farshore.

THe next morning, Stefanie questioned some of the pirate bodies that she had placed under guard over night. Questioning the pirate captain led to only surly answers - but also the mention of a possible attack from the Sea Reavers of the Crimson Fleet! Questioning the others confirmed this, and that it was due to take place in approximately 6 weeks time. The party reconvened the council to warn them of the assault. There were many discussions about what could be done to prepare, and what the local resources of the Jade Ravens and 4 work forces could do. Suggested actions included:

  • Requesting help from the natives in Tanaroa
  • Requesting help from the peaceful Phanaton tribes deeper in the island
  • Requesting help from the nomadic Rakasta warriors
  • Recovering the Sea Wyvern
  • Using/sinking the Hellfish in the harbour
  • Training/recruiting the militia
  • Moving the palisade to improve the perimeter
  • Building watchtowers/lookouts on the cliffs, with siege weaponry to bombard ships entering the harbour
  • Removing/booby trapping the piers
  • Improving the health of the villagers
  • Clearing the treeline behind the settlement (workforce assigned)
  • Dealing with the Troglodytes (Jade Ravens assigned)
  • The Loki followers they had encountered previously
Reconnaissance at Rat's End found the remaining pirates slaughtered, and only their prostitutes left alive; in a ruse they had staged themselves to appear captives, but their ring leader 'Lie-low' Lil eventually admitted to the ruse, after she was sure of the nature of their 'rescuers and what was in store for them.The women were offered places back at Farshore, much to Lord Meravanchi's displeasure. Lil did know some further details about the Rat's End pirates and the Crimson Fleet - that the captain was contacted by their leader (Cold Captain Wyther) via a crystal ball, and that occasionally ships of the fleet would stop by on their way to Gallivant Cove at the north of the island for unknown reasons. The pirate captain had been asked to scout out Fashore ahead of the attack, but grew restless and impetuous and led an early assault himself.

The party were on day 1 of ?? in the countdown to the arrival of the Crimson Fleet.