SS Week 4 – OMG! This is all going to go much quicker, now!

OK! Let’s start blogging this thing, as I should have been doing.

Before I start this week’s log, I might make some general notes.

We now have 5 players, 6 when Dave gets back (if he chooses to play, which I’m fairly sure he will). A lot to manage, but the payoff is that we can play if people can’t make it, which we did this week. The downside is that with 5 NPCs, we have a small army running about the island.

I have declared Half for anyone not playing, NPCs “adventuring” as opposed to fulfiling one of the camp roles get a share of the XP. As a result, the players this week were eager to grind for XP to ping to level 2, and decided not to take NPCs. Makes life easier.

I also learned that XP is very important as a reward. Those wandering monsters and small encounters are no longer a waste of time that get in the way of the story.

Anyway. PCs are:
Brett, Vik, Alchemist. 884 xp.
Andrew, M’bongo, Druid/Witch. 884 xp, and not at all racist.
Tim, Barmy, Barbarian. 884 xp.
New guy, Joseph, Rogue. 884 xp.
Other new guy, Mephisto, cleric. 884xp, and a little sinister.

(sorry about the names, people. I’m honestly dreadful with them).

NPCs are:

Aeris. Helpful, Hopeful. Mini-quest done.
Gelik. Friendly, Hopeful. Looking for the “Nightvoice” – a pathfinder ship.
Ishoru. Helpful, Hopeful. Mini-quest done.
Jask. Helpful, Hopeful. Mini-quest done.
Sasha. Helpful, Normal. Mini-quest done.

Sasha is taking a while to come to terms with being on a desert island. Gelik was the slowcoach for a while, but a bit of action set him right. That, and the addition of a halfling to the group.

This week we have three players – Andrew, Brett, and New Guy.

So, with Barmy still a little delicate from his run-in with the laecedons and Mephisto stroking his new scroll and muttering “Precious, precious!”, Vik, M’bongo, and Joseph elect to explore a little around the pirate treasure cache. They investigated the Bearded Harpy, a wreck to the south. Fighting off a few of the odd crustaceans endemic to the area, they retrieved some loot.

Looking to the south, they noted that the southeast corner of the island was fairly mountainous and possibly volcanic, while to the west the island had sort of an upland region in its interior.

Ahh, yes. Barmy’s run-in with the lacedons. Without the use of an action point, Barmy would now be a few gobbets of meat mingled a pair of a lacedon corpses. Joseph definitely – definitely – saw something move, as an over-eager and hungry lacedon rolled a 2 on it’s stealth check. Barmy decided to go swimming anyway.

Well, I’m a wuss, but not that much of a wuss. After letting Barmy grab hold of the rope as his last act while succumbing to paralysation (with a little help from Joseph … little. Geddit?), he got hit again, at which point I told Tim that this was getting beyond a joke and if Barmy failed this save too, he’d lose his grip on the rope. A little tension, a little drama. Good shit.

Breaking camp again, the party headed east. As an aside, your chronicler should mention that Smuggler’s Shiv is not a low, sandy tropical isle, but the other kind of tropical isle: a jagged volcanic protrusion from the sea, surrounded in many spots by sheer cliffs and almost everywhere by crashing surf. Crossing the inlet to investigate the mountain to the south was impossible – almost certain death for any but the strongest swimmer. Simply from A to B is a Sisyphean task involving not only negotiating the onmipresent thick vegetation, but harsh basaltic ridges burning hot from the sun, and constant bad footing – broken rocks and stones underfoot.

And so, heading east, you can imagine the party’s reaction when they stumbled across across … a path! A mere track, but neverthless a path, and one indubitably cut by human – or at least, humanoid – hands. Suddenly, their situation became more hopeful … but perhaps more dangerous.

And not ten minutes IRL ago, Brett had been asking if they’d have to bush-bash and explore every hex on the whole damn island. I have to say that the module authors have done a great job pacing the adventure.

I divided the map into hexes, as I mentioned in a previous post. Now instead on one hex per hour, it’s four hexes per hour if they travel along the paths. It’s a whole new game, basically. Like “The Biggest Loser”, but without grossly fat medically obese people.

But no time to worry about that, for they were beset by zombies – an even four of them, Vik, Joseph, and M’bongo scouting ahead. Without going into detail – an Entagle slowed their advance, and then it was matter of pegging missiles and alchemical bombs at them until the last of them was slain.

They examined the trail a little more, looking particularly for those strange scaled tracks that they had seen a few days prior, left by some creature that has been stealthily observing their camp. But no – for whatever reason, there was no such sign.

And so, debate. They elected to follow the trail to the east, to make sure nothing was behind them. The trail soon ended at an abandoned camp … but not merely abandoned. It seemed that there had been violence here: bloodstains, a broken spear – its head of flint bound to the shaft with local twine and resin.

I3 on the map, for the DMs reading this.

Next morning, the party decided to follow the path around and to the south – looking for this lighthouse which one of them had vaguely recalled as having be built, or half-built, or planned to be built, here on the island. But just near where they had initially found the path there lay a trap! A rope stretched across the path, a snare, and a springy young tree to snap the unfortunate victim up into some impaling spikes. Joseph, a mere fisherman with a suspiciously good eye for trapwork, sprung the trap, but declared that this was not an old emplacement. It was well maintained, regularly and recently. The absence of warning signs, and the signs of violence at the abandoned camp began to paint an ugly picture. They were on guard as they came across a second, third, and fourth trap.

And then the path led through a ravine. A prime, obvious ambush spot if ever there were one. Joseph scouted ahead, finding yet another trap, but one slightly different: rather than impale the victim on spikes, this trap would drag the victim up the side of the ravine. It was (probably) M’bongo who spotted the hide at the top of then ravine, and someone – or something – in it. Joseph had already tried (and failed) to climb the ravine, but Barmy made short work of it. Nevertheless, with ten people approaching, whatever had been waiting in the hide had long since gone by the time he made it there – vanished into the jungle.

They followed the path south. At a fork, they turned east – your chronicler does not know why (Didn’t want to deal with the lighthouse with the new players not present. Fair call.) The trail led up and around, and at the top, an old, abandoned hut, the ground around strewn with skeletons of various degrees of antiquity. But none of them attacked. Inside the hut, Vik found an old journal. Almost unreadable, but what was readable was – well, I’d say “fascinating”, or “tantalizing”, but I’m not sure how the party felt about it.

“Thrune’s Fang” … wasn’t “Thrune” one of the main houses of Cheliax, back when they were trying to colonise this region – Sargava?

“Nylithati” (Nil-ith-at-i). Odd name – not a language that anyone recognises. (19 on linguistics, less than that on bardic knowledge. Sorry, guys: not enough for a free clue.)

“Grey, silent island”. The weirdly coloured bit of their Deus Ex Machina map that they found on the Jenevere?

“Thrune’s Fang at the base of the lighthouse”. Holy shit! Lighthouse! Lighthouse! There might be escape from this damned island yet!

And so we leave our party, making camp a little away from an old abandoned hut. Their dreams troubled perhaps, and with much to be troubled about. Betrayal and wreck – a Varsivian scholar and a captain missing, and probably to blame. Ghosts in the sea. Watchers in the night leaving odd, scaly footprints. A grey island of death. A winged shape passing overhead, brief silhouette against the stars – a dragon, perhaps, or something else. A lighthouse. Mankiller traps studding paths that they have little choice but to use.

Oh: and a long-abandoned hut, strewn about with human bones, brittle not from age, but from having been cooked, and bearing the unmistakable marks of crude flint knives and human teeth.

Vik, M’bongo, Joseph – 1551 xp. Ding! Max HP at 1st and 2nd level.
Barmy, Mephisto – 1205 xp.

Sweet dreams, dudes! Till Friday.


One Response to SS Week 4 – OMG! This is all going to go much quicker, now!

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