SS Week 9 – watch your step

13 October, 2011

A full table last night. Great game – went late, but didn’t feel late. Mind you, that may be because my sleeping cycles are shot to hell at the moment. Oh, and its the first week of daylight savings.

God dammit! I am still a virgin. Nearly killed two characters but they just slipped away – one with the aid of these utterly bogus “action points”. Not that I’m complaining about them when I’m playing.

Anyway. Nearly killed two characters, and forced Tim to burn all of Joseph’s action points.

Oh – last week totally forgot to mention M’Bongo’s prehensile hair. Andrew is getting a little jack of his character, so the good doctor may be copping it soon.

Our heroes continue to debate and discuss the four strange monoliths and their clue.

They discuss it at amazing length, really kicking back and discussing it over their meal – a strange dish of flatbread, cheese, and sea creatures. Eventually Alison (the bigot) leaves, and they get down to business. Mephisto’s holy water bottle will serve as a “container of purest metal”. M’Bongo can summon a viper to provide the serpent’s kiss. The blood of a thinking creature is provided by Barmy, who harvests some from Joshua. And the final bit … shit, is everyone going to have to traipse back to the caves of the mother? No! Vick has written it down! The lord’s sacred name is “Ydersius”.

Boom! Flash! Kapow! Everyone is deafened for a minute, and the entire inlet drains, leaving some pools and some rocks conveniently placed for to jump between. And a ship. And some doors.

The “purest metal” threw them. The serpentfolk, it seems, were all about bone, stone, leather and wood – metal being this strange alien stuff. That’s my impression, anyway. A metal helmet would have sufficed. A pot made of tin.

Exposed Rocks
Seaweed, sea urchins of all colors, bright green anemones, scuttling kelp crabs, and bare rock glisten here, laid bare to the sky by the unnaturally low tide.
The Salty Strumpet
The front two-thirds of a wrecked ship lies upon the rocks here, its bow mostly submerged but its ruined midsection propped up on a ridge of slimy rock. The sides of the wreck are thick with seaweed and barnacles, and dozens of crabs clatter around on deck.

They head to the ship, to start with. It’s inhabited by an odd creature. Ekubus, who styles himself captain of his sunken ship. He had been there for many tides, many moons. But tides this low! There was one only a few days ago. A strange person walked across to the doors – she had a snake’s head and tail. Ekubus left her alone.

He has one of his crew – a starfish – pipe them ashore. As they leave, he is flogging one of the sea-urchins for insubordination, using a strip of seaweed.

And so to the doors.

Temple Doors
Two stone doors stand open at the base of this cliff above a curling spur of rock. Seaweed covers the doors, hanging down in thick green and black sheets, just obscuring some sort of carvings on their surface.

The heavily carved doors are wide open, and as the party waits for Alison to get a clue and rejoin them, they remove some of the seaweed and barnacles on the outside of the doors to reveal images of vampiric demons feeding on serpent people. Inside is stairs leading upward.

Alison arrives and they head inward, passing a water mark on the stone. Even if the inlet refloods, they will not drown in here. Of course, getting out may be another matter.

Over a dozen stone pillars support this cavernous chamber’s sixty-foot-high vaulted ceiling. To the north, four empty alcoves sit in the walls, their edges carved to resemble yawning, fanged mouths. To the south, a pair of bronze doors that seem to drip with blood sit under a stone bridge that passes through the upper portion of the room from east to west forty feet above. The walls are decorated with unsettling carvings of bats, human sacrifice, and the walking dead. The dismembered, skeletal bodies of three humans lie scattered on the floor of this chamber.

They enter a large chgamber, 80′ high.There is much to see, but no time to see it, because something is throwing javelins at them! On an overhead walkway 40′ above, a pair of skeletal serpentfolk – ancient guardians (and what ancient temple does not have such?) are attacking. Vick throws bombs. Barmy runs forward to the pillars supporting the walkway and attempts to climb them, with amusing results. After a few moments, everyone is either hiding under the walkway or behind a pillar. The skeletons – mindless undead – simply step off the walkway. Injured but not destroyed by the fall, they continue to attack, and the party dismembers them.

With six characters, I ought to pump up the numbers by 1/2. I should have made it three skeletons. Meh.

They explore. The walkway above has doors at either end. Behind the east one is a corridor – at least 50′. Behind the other is a room, its walls covered with indecipherable writing.

The chamber has a similar door at ground level. The one at ground level seems to be dripping with blood. Vick determines that the blood is a conjuration, not simply some illusion. It’s real … but evaporates a few moments after it is conjured. But still …

Naaaaah – his arcana check was not good enough for me to tell him the other thing.

There are four alcoves, which Joshua investigates. One has a trapdoor, which he is unable to open. One has a lever which, in an unusual display of good judgment, he does not pull.

Barmy opens the trapdoor. It was stuck, but moves more freely now. Below is … some odd rock formation: something covered with cavey rock accretions. And briefly … the sound of bones (!). He calls for more light, but they can determine little more. The sound – whatever it was – is no longer there.

They elect not to descend. Instead, they decide to climb to the walkway and head west to the room with the writing, leaving poor Dr M’Bongo and spiky (who does not climb rope, sadly) to fend for themselves and deal with the rear door.

Oh: and Joshua does pull the lever. But nothing appears to happen.

Bits of bone and fragments of wood lie scattered through this room. The walls are carved with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of strange runes interspersed with the periodic image of a stylized rune that looks like a fanged skull.
Priest Cells
Bare alcoves line the walls of this hallway, each containing a scattering of wood and cloth fragments. A larger empty chamber lies ahead.

The party begin to assemble and investigate, but in a few moments skeletons begin coming out of doors to the north of the room they are in. There’s a fight. M’Bongo discovers that behind the lower door is a passage that leads up to the scriptorum, so it’s all in. These skeletons are not nearly as tough as the serpentfolk warriors, and are quickly dealt with.

One of the party – Mephisto or Vick, probably – recognises this odd fanged-skull rune. It’s a symbol of Azura: ancient demon god of vampirism and cannibalism. But they are not able to make much sense of the writings. The passages where the skeletons came out from – the priest cells – are bare and empty.

This horrid mass of eyes, mouths, and formless flesh stares in all directions, its countless maws yammering ceaselessly.

And so to the west. A long east-west corridor to the south is interrupted by a pit trap, which no-one is caught by. A fifteen-foot wide, 30′ deep interruption in the corridor. Vick cunningly notes that the rough stonework of the pit is very much like the space under the trapdoor in the alcove. They discuss what to do. As they stand around discussing, something oozes out of a passage – a living nightmare.

So, naturally Barmy jumps straight into the pit. The fight goes badly.

Six attacks per round. Grab. Con damage. Swallow whole. A free ranged touch once per round that blinds.

I told Tim: if Barmy dies, he deserves it.

I screwed up playing a monster with multiple attacks that grapples. It should have gotten all of it’s natural attacks per round. One to maintain the grapple. And five to attempt to swallow.

The monster glorps all over him. His companions attempt to help, but the thing shoots acid at their faces, blinding them. The alchemist gets a shot in, but is quickly blinded and unable to lob mossiles at it without hitting Barmy. M’Bongo has Alison lower him down the pit – she, being blinded, can just hang onto the rope and hope that he knows what he is doing. But the thing soon blinds him, too.

Joseph bolts off full tilt onto the dark alone, down unexplored corridors in a dungeon that we have already established is trapped, hoping to find that the corridors go all the way around to the back edge of the pit. In his haste, he falls down another pit! And at the bottom of this one are a pair of tiny doll-like monsters made of bones.

So Joseph, the halfling, decides to run full tilt, alone, . Perception check? Nope. Reflex save? Oops.

Another “dude, if your character dies, he totally deserves it”.

Joseph yells as he hits the floor of the pit, the sound communicated to his comrades by small passages in the rock. Some of them bolt after him.

One of the dolls hits him with a Cause Serious Wounds spell, nearly killing him. The other fumbles the attack, but is still holding the spell ready. Joseph falls unconscious as his companions round the corner. The doll holding the spell levitates out of the pit to deal with them, as the first doll attempts to cut Joseph’s throat. But, drawing on that strange reserve of luck that the gods give to particulary brave and talented individuals, Joseph is not killed outright.

A bit of a mix-up: we retconned Joseph’s will save against the Cause Serious Wounds. Without that, he would be dead a couple of times over. But he was knocked unconscious eventually, alone at the bottom of a 30′ pit, with a hostile construct attempting to CDG him.

Around this time, Vick regains the use of his sight and sets the monster in the first pit on fire. The creature, tempted as it is to attack Barmy again, flees to find water to quench the flame. As it squeezes into a small passage in the rock, Barmy gets a final swing at it and this time it’s good. The thing is scattered into fragments and the fragments cease moving.

Barmy climbs out of the pit, and elects to jump it to run to Joseph’s aid – running full-tilt, alone, along unexplored passages in a dungeon which we have already established is trapped.

For fuck’s sake.

Bit he gets lucky – the passage between himself and the pit in which Joseph has gotten himself into a predicament is mercifully untrapped. It’s a narrow thing, but the party manage to kill both dolls before either dispatches Joseph.

Vick determines, on inspection, that these things were constructs. Inside each is a biggish ruby that is clearly magical.

The party elect to rest a few hours and recuperate in an ancient trapped an occupied dungeon. During the “night”,

Oh, right. We haven’t played that bit yet.

Very fun.

Dealing with captain Ekubus – 800
Serpentfolk skeletons – 1200
Regular skels – 810
Pit traps – 800
Soulbound dolls – 1200
Gibbering mouther – 1600

5610/6 = 935. A nice chunk of change.

Vick: 4141
M’Bongo: 4626
Joseph: 4408
Barmy: 4031
Mephisto: 4376
Kate: 3768

Everyone is level 3

SS Week 8 – wet feet and bigots in Mexico

6 October, 2011

It’s all a little hazy, I’m afraid, because of the D&D overload.

The party left behind the NPCs to work on the lighthouse (except for Gelik, who insisted on coming) and went to investigate the red mountain.

They found a gorge with a structure matching the place described in that ancient temple thingy.

Encountered and killed a giant, winged chucacabra.

The trail down into the gorge sort of petered out at the waters edge. The new hire – Alison – is adamant that this ancient ritual not be spoken.

They summon a dolphin, or something. Under the water is a ship, a big shark, and some kind of non-natural stone structure.

SS Week 7a – XP

30 September, 2011

We are returning to Smuggler’s Shiv this week. I’ll start Dave’s character on 2300 xp, which is halfway to 3rd level and just behind Vick (Brett’s character)

UPDATE: oops! That puts him in front of barmy. Cant have that! We’ll make it an even 2000.

Vick: 2376
M’Bongo: 2859
Joseph: 2640
Barmy: 2263
Mephisto: 2608
Kate: 2000

4 tribeswomen – 600
2 festrogs – 800
6 lacedons – 2400
MT – 1200

Vick: 3209
M’Bongo: 3691 PING!
Joseph: 3473 PING!
Barmy: 3096
Mephisto: 3441 PING!
Kate: 2833

SS Week 7 – Hmm, it ain’t limestone

5 September, 2011

Dave is back, which is really great news. We haven’t worked out how we shall alternate Kingmaker and Serpent’s Skull, but I am ok for either.

Our posse of swaggering demigods commence to clean out the rest of the camp. To the south, a butchery and a prisoner pen. And a live prisoner! A rather badly beaten up human female, named (something like) Kate. The party take her under their wing, slip her some healing and some Lesser Restoration potions, and soon she is fighting fit and ready to go.

Dave is a bit of a power-gamer, and he has decided to go for the new summoner variant in UM. I started his character with half hp and 2 points of Con damage. We don’t really have a backstory yet, just “and I alone am escaped to tell the tale”.

To the west, beyond the skeleton pen, is the old witch’s hut. Inside is an alchemical workshop. Vick is in transports of joy, collecting ingredients. There is a whole swag of potions. Vick is not able to identify them, but the witch-doctor M’Bongo has no problem – these potions being more his bag.

Vick collects 5gp a day worth of alchemical supplies, just wandering through the island. Nothing saleable, just an equivalent amount of stuff that can be used for crafting (oyster shells, pepper tree bark, umm … saltpetre deposits, miscellaneous dross. Whatever.). In addition to the potions, Malikadna’s workshop also contained more than a week’s worth of stuff – 50 gp equivalent. So Brett was right into that. Perhaps I should have made it more. Meh. They’ll live.

The potions were Cure Light Wounds and Lesser Restoration, which the module authors put there for some mystery reason (hur, hur, hur!)

And with that, it was probably time to investigate the lighthouse itself. Barmy decided to save time by simply bashing down every door he came to.

The lower floor contained a shrine, with litter collected from the wreck of the “Thrunefang” – clearly a ship (the nameplate and figurehead were a bit of a giveaway). The litter permitted the bard Gelik (I think) to piece together how these cannibals came to be on the island (blah blah blah house Cheliax etc etc knowledge history). There was also a bedroom, with some litter (ration wrappers) recognisably from the Jeniveve.

Upstairs, Barmy bashed his way into another room with four tribespersons – all female. The lack of females downstairs was explained: this was the chief’s room, and in a tribe like this, only the chief gets to (ahem) breed. The women attacked with the typical crazed energy of the rest of the tribe, and were killed.

The party has worked out that there is something odd, something sinister about this island – ghosts in the surf and whatnot. People that stay here too long go mad, each in their own fashion. The cannibals cannot be reasoned with.

But there was loot. Lewt! Lewt! Sweet, sweet lewt. Specifically – the payroll chest of the Thrunefang.

The topmost floor contained – OMG – an 80% complete lighthouse light. With an alchemist in the party, the flame itself would be easy to ignite. But the mechanisms gave the pary considerable difficulty. Opting for caution over speed, it will take them more than a week to fix.

Didn’t even roll the alchemy check for getting the light lit (I suppose some fanstasy equivalent of limelight) – Vick just had to take 10. But there were some bad rolls on the “disable device” checks to repair the gears and whatnot, so the time was doubled.

That left only the other thing, which the party elected to tackle after a good night’s rest.

And so, to the other thing. In the main yard of the camp was a fireplace, and also a driftwood and bamboo trapdoor covering a hole which opened out into a cavern whose floor was some 20′ below. Beside the hole were some stout pegs in the ground and some knotted vines – clearly for making a descent and (even better) making an ascent out again.

Entrance Cavern

The uneven floor of this ten-foot-high cave is stained with blood and scattered with pieces of wood, fallen leaves, broken weapons, and in places, bits of bone. A hole in the ceiling leads out to the surface.

Leaving half the party above (ie: the NPCs), a few intrepid heroes elect to descend.

Cavern of unbirth

The smell of decay is thick in the air of this wide but low- ceilinged cavern. To one side, the ceiling drops down to little more than three feet in height over a region strewn with bones and bits of old flesh, while to the other, the ceiling bulges upward in a dome shape—six circular, pod-like alcoves line the walls of the cave at this side.

In the next cavern along they are attacked by ghouls-gone-wrong: festrogs. One of them with a captain’s hat. Investigating the alcoves to the north of the chamber they find the confession of the captain of the Jeniveve. Here he met his end – transformed into a ghoul-thingo.

The throat

A dark pool of water lies in the center of this silo-shaped cavern. A five-foot-wide ledge of stone winds down to the pool below, passing several cave entrances along the way.

In the next cavern was a pool of stagnant seawater. M’Bongo, druid that he is, determined that most likely only a very hight tide would refresh it. Jopseph threw a rock in, but nothing happened.

Temple of Ydersius

This long chamber evokes the feel of an ancient, hideous cathedral. The walls are carved with images of serpents walking upright like humans, snakes coiling around and eating hapless women and children, and stranger scenes. Four stone pillars carved like coiling snakes support the vaulted ceiling 30 feet above. Four small cells blocked by rusted bars sit in the walls to the east and west. To the north, an immense carving of a snake’s head looms, an ash-caked door clenched in its jaws, while to the south rises a horrific mound of bones and partially decayed bodies in an eight-foot-tall heap arranged almost as if to evoke the imagery of a coiled snake made of corpses.

Inner Sanctum

A low stone altar, its sides carved like coiling snakes and its top carved to resemble a yawning viper’s maw, sits in the center of this room. The walls of the chamber are carved with images of anthropomorphic serpents using strange, pointed megaliths of stone to work great feats of magic—transforming an army of humans into zombies, calling down flaming bolts of lightning from the stars, or parting the waters of the sea to dash human ships upon the exposed rocks of the seabed below. This final image seems to have been recently cleaned of dust, and several lines of text have been made more legible via the application of inks and perhaps blood.

The next room proved to be a ancient serpent temple of some description. After gakking a couple more ghouls, the party uncovered a swag of clues which I shall cut-and-paste here sometime next week. It seems the island is dotted with menhirs that have interesting magical effects, placed there by the ancient serpent-people. One of the inscriptions was recently cleaned and worked on, and details how to call down lightning on one of these menhirs to make the seas rise, or fall, or some such. The menhir in question is somewhere around Red Mountain, in the southeast of the island.

No question what the scholar Iaena was up to.

Cave scrawlings

Faint carvings are just visible on the eastern wall of this cavern.

Next room is empty, but contains a clue.

Ghoulish cavern

Bones lie strewn about the floor of this cavern. The grisly remains appear to have been gnawed upon so that they are cracked and jagged.

Next room, the party gets the drop on a lone ghoul and trashes it before it can run off and raise a warning.

Rolled a 2 for initiative. Gah!
Feasting cavern

This long cavern is scattered with bones, body parts, and bits of seaweed. A hole in the floor to the west echoes with the sloshing of waves.

And in the next room are three ghouls. Battle is joined, blows are exchangesd and wouldn’t you know it – Barmy gets that tightening-up feeling again.

Booyah! Barmy fails his save vs ghoul paralysis.

The party must close with the ghouls to keep them from leaping on Barmy and tearing him into chunks (ie: a coup-de-gras attack). Newcomer Kate proves useful, as do Vick’s bombs.

But then another ghoul appears – Mother Thrunefang herself. She offers the party eternal life! Some of the party attempt to engage her in debate, some simply attack. Her Enthrall spell is ruined by a lucky hit. Then Kate ruins her Darkness spell (which would have been sweet, seeing that the only one with darkvision is paralysed) and suddenly things aren’t looking so good for Mother Thrunefang. She retreats to a tight corridor, channels negative energy, but eventually falls.

Mother’s cyst

The walls of this small cave are covered with carvings of snakes and skeletons. A hideous mound of bones and dripping seaweed forms what can only be a nest in the middle of the room.

No loot.

If they hadn’t taken care of the sentry so quickly, might have been a different story. As it was, it took MT two rounds to get to the combat – too late to save her meatshields.

They emerge from the caves of the mother triumphant, but not unscathed. Kate and Joseph have contracted Ghoul Fever, and over the next three days slip close to death. But Mesphisto and Jakk’s nursing count for much. Vick brews some potions, while the rest of the party fish.

Day three, two things happen.

First, a decapitated goat, drained of blood is dropped into their camp by a winged creature above, during the night.

Second, somewhere around red Mountain from a more-or-less cloudless sky there is an enormous lighning strike, and thunder echoes across the island.

Dun dun dun!

Are they going to let Ieana get all the loot, or will they mob her as she is emerging from Red Mountain dungeon? We will find out when next we play.


SS Week 6 – Mission Accomplished!

30 July, 2011

A long session, but surprisingly little to say – basically one big fight.

And so our intrepid heroes decide to descend on the cannibal camp and wipe them out. Fun times! There is much discussion, but eventually they decide on a simple attack.

Which is about the right approach for this DM, sad to say.

Although much happened, there is little to say. The party attacked. There is a guard animal – a trained shiv dragon – at the entrance to the camp, whom spiky engages in a reptile vs reptile battle. Some tense moments as cannibals in a guard tower spear Barmy with javelins. But an Entangle spell soon puts an end to that, controlling the onrush of foes, and a few alchemical bombs take care of the tower.

The party were doing well, when Klorak the Red emerges from a doorway with two more cannibals and challenges Barmy. He looks to overmatch Barmy and then mop up, but Mephisto drops a Cause Fear on him and he flees. The party continue to slay the natives.

After a few more moments, an old witch emerges, and with her four skeletons. But a bomb takes care of the skeletons, and then Vick drops over the witch a fishing net festooned with hooks. Without a wall of allies in front of her, there is little she can do to defend herself.

After a few moments more, Klorak returns – looking for a little healing. But it’s simply too late – all of the tribe is dead. Even with the witch’s aid, he is done for, and she also. Her final words: “Arrgh”. But a tiny bit prior to that, her penultimate words if you will: “Mother Thrunefang take you all!”

“Oh crap!” Everyone thinks, “you mean, she isn’t “Mother Thrunefang”? Bummer!”

The camp falls quiet (but not silent – the jungle is never really silent). Closer now, they appraise the lighthouse. It is – amazingly, surprisingly, blessedly complete. Not the half-built pile of stones that they feared, but it seems fully built. All that is left to do is to search the rest of the camp for stray cannibals, and signal for rescue.

Or, so they suppose.

A real victory for control-type spells: the Entangle and Cause Fear were key – as was that hooky netty thingo. The witch mainly does stuff that works off having a meat-shield. But with Klorak out of the picture, there’s not a lot she could do. I rolled for how many rounds it would take for Malikadna and Klorak to get to the fight, and they did not roll well. If they had gotten there earlier, it might have been much tougher. As it was, the party only has to split XP with one NPC (the cleric). They did have a coupe of unpleasant moments, which is what you want.

Having said that, I think the party does feel the pinch in having only one front-line fighter. If Klorak had made his save, taken down Barmy, and got in amongst the casters: it would have turned out very, very differently.

All up, the combat took one minute, 24 seconds. Three or four hours real time. Slo-mo or what?

12 Cannibals @200 xp – 2400
Klorak the Red – 800
Malikadna – 800
1 shiv dragon – 600
4 skeletons @135 – 540
Total: 5140 xp
4 characters + 1 NPC + 1/2 share for Vick: 5.5 shares = 935 (467) xp each.

Vick: 2376
M’Bongo: 2859
Joseph: 2640
Barmy: 2263
Meph: 2608

SS Week 5 – God, what an idiot.

23 July, 2011

OK! Four players this week. Characters are everyone but Joseph.

I think I might adopt present-tense for this blog. Seemed to work of for the Age of Worms blog.

Our party settles down for an evening’s rest. But as they do, the spirit of Captain Kinkarian steps out from the fire. “Mutineers! Thieves! Scurvy dogs and pirates!” he cries (There’s a bit of “Ashmara!” in there as well) and attacks Mephitso. Vick steps in and splashes holy water on the spirit, and Mephisto tries to reason with him. But the captain is having none of it, and strikes Mephisto with a blow that nearly kills him outright. Ignoring everyone else, he begins to scrabble through Mephisto’s pockets – looking for the locket – but his hands pass right though. “Damn and blast this damn clumsy hook!” he roars, and “Ashmara!”.

Vik steps over, and deftly plucks the locket from Mephisto’s (very nearly) corpse says “Here you are, Cap’n” and tosses it to the ghost. But the locket, of course, flies straight though the capatains insubstantial form, and is neatly caught by Barmy. “Make sport of me, will ye, ye treacherous mutineers!” he roars, and takes a swipe. Meanwhile, Barmy tosses the locket into the fire. The captain ignores everything else for a moment and begins scrabbling about in the fire – ignoring the flames which, being nonmagical, cannot harm him.

But the same insubstantialness that protects him from the fire also means that he cannot handle the locket. Not understanding his condition, he blames it again on his clumsy hook. The rest of the party can do little – there is only one magic weapon among them. Jask heals Mephisto, bringing him back from the brink. Mephisto risks all, plucking the locket from the fire and opening it, presents the image within at the captain.

The captain whispers “Ashmara!” and reaches out his hand – a hand now, no longer a hook, his visage no longer a death’s-head, but young and handsome. And then he fades away, dissolving into nothing.

I didn’t want to just bloody tell the party what to do – to have the captain cry “If only I could look on her face one more time!” or some such. I did make some effort to satisfy myself that they understood that the item was a locket that had to be opened. Oh, and they discussed tossing it in the fire – so when that asked me for more detail, I made the image on the inside enameled.

The captain, of course, is not really a full personality – just a ghost. Hence his refusal to engage the party – there just isn’t that much of him left. Also, if he started talking he’d probably give the solution to the puzzle away, which I did not want to do 😉 .

I awarded Mephisto a little bonus XP.

That night, their camp is clumsily watched by something in the trees. One of them steps right on a branch and breaks it with a loud snap. The next exclaims “You idiot! You stepped on a branch!”, and the third loudly proclaims “I am the only one who has not made a noise!” (they rolled a 1, 2, and 1 for stealth.) Even dead asleep, this racket begins to wake people.

Barmy begins to casualy saunter over to the treeline, as if to take a leak. M’bongo drops a sleep spell on the three, but one remains awake. That one steps over to his comrade to wake him, and both are hit with a bomb from the alchemist which hits freakishly well and kills them on on the spot. The third wakes screaming in pain from the splash. In a few seconds more, Barmy is there and grapples and pins the cannibal. They tie him securely – with ten in the party, he’s not going anywhere.

Next morning, Mephisto investigates. The cannibal is muttering some pidgin of common and infernal, and is praying to “Mother Thrunefang”. Mephisto convinces the cannibal that he was sent to meet this Mother Thrunefang, to which the cannibal replies by asking “Are you with the other two?”

Well! This does rather send the party into a tizz, as “the other two” can only be Iaena – the varsivian scholar probably behind their shipwreck – and the captain of the Jeniveve.

Mephisto replies “Yes, we are destinined to met with them, too”, or something, and Jim-Bob agrees to take them to the cannibal’s camp.

Jim-Bob failed his sense motive checks badly. We decided that he was pretty much an idiot – at least when it came to common sense about parties of strangers. He rapidly conveyed the party across the map, skirting the traps.

The party, guided by the hapless and servile Jim-Bob, travels about six or seven miles before meeting another pair of cannibals on the path. These two are not quite so easy to fool as Jim-Bob, and one of them states that he will run to tell Mother Thrunefang of their arrival.

Well, they can’t have that. M’Bongo drops an entangle and Vik starts dropping bombs. Barmy steps up. Jim-Bob rolls badly again and is paralysed with indecision as spiky steps up and gores him to death. As the two cannibals in the patrol breathe their last, Mephisto brings Jim-Bob back from the brink. But Jim-Bob has had enough and runs for the forest, taking sideswiping attacks from pretty much everyone as he prepares to run for it, and gets thoroughly killed.

Low on spells and bombs, the party opts to head off-path and set up camp. They make a special effort to conceal their camp, but have plenty of time to so so before sunset. That afternoon, Vik brews potions from the abundant supplies that he has been collecting while traveling though the Shiv.

Tomorrow, they go to attack some cannibals.

Vik – 1909 xp
M’bongo – 1914 xp
Joseph – 1705 xp
Barmy – 1613 xp
Mephisto – 1663 xp

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

18 July, 2011

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.