September 23, 2016 at 4:24 pm #7774
Session 4 – Under the Sea!
Our heroes travel north with Salima as a guide to find the Old Man of the Dunes. While Salina is slowly coming around to her new role in the tribe, she still has vengeance in her heart. They arrive to find the Old Man studying a titanic clash between ants and a scarab.
“This is not your fate,” the Old Man says, looking directly at Salima. “Vengeance is the foot step onto a dark path. A price will be paid for your father’s death, but not by you. Go now, and leave those whose destinies are written in the patterns of the dunes to quell the fire in your heart. Their fate is as yet unclear. Should they fail, we will meet again Beyah Arij dar-Hassim, known as Salima.”
With a wave of his hand, she is gone! Looking at Salim, as he first address the Old Man:
“You seek the one who has arisen beneath the sands,” he continues. “A collision of destinies awaits, and the outcome is veiled. Darkness and light. Who shall prevail, the dunes whisper? My question is, are you worthy of your destiny?” With that he gestures to a narrow cave entrance.
“The greater powers will decide if you are worthy. Four tests await—resilience, speed, strength,
weapons. Pick one and nominate a champion. When your chosen one is ready, they may step into my cave. Be warned, mortals—time is not your friend.”
Pleasantries and honey are exchanged and the group ponders. After entering the cave, Salim overcomes the Challenge of Speed with the though of his mind (after being badly beaten by the girl in a race). Menivis calls upon his Mameluk training and uses his Spirit to overcome the mountain of Strength. Tabari, an aged one himself, quickly understood that time can only be endured. Finally, Araceli used her cutting words and bully tactics to cut down a huge orc down to size.
Satisfied at the wisdom imparted, the Old Man reveals: “Long ago there lived a cruel king. Like many tyrants his death was not of his choosing. His spirit has grown strong and vengeful. He has arisen as the Sand Lord, and he seeks to make the whole of the desert his realm. You will find him beneath the necropolis that stands 20 miles south of Suleiman’s Road. The fates will guide you. Look for the sign of the sun, for therein lies the path to your fate.”
As we shall soon see, the path is not straight one.
The group returned to the camp to find Salima safe. They provisioned up and rested overnight, then set off for the fabled Necropolis. The group gets a very good view of the sprawling complex and note the small, black pyramid in the center. They press onward.
Entering that ancient Necropolis awoke…things. Very quickly, the heroes found themselves nearly overwhelmed with the vengeful bones of the Necropolis. They pressed to the center, noting that the crypts showed more wear from the elements as they neared the pyramid. But the pyramid itself had no carvings! No sign of the Sun!
Desperately they searched as the undead closed in. Finally, Menivis spotted a nearby crypt with the symbol and shouted to Tabari. Tabari rushed his old bones as fast as he could and tried to topple the stone slab that served as its door to no avail – he would need Menivis’ strength. Then Salim cried out in pain, and Araceli collapsed in a bloody heap as the bony claws of the undead rent her.
The situation was dire. As Menivis turned to help open the stone, Tabari yelled to go to Salim and Araceli and he would get them all out of here. The vengeful bones of the Necropolis closed in on the battered and beaten heroes. Tabari reached the group just before the undead and snatched a small pouch from the unconscious Araceli, pulling out a pearl.
“Save us as we saved you!” whispered Tabari, as bony claws grabbed them all. <fade to black>
The last thing Araceli remembers was the pain of once again receiving a near-mortal wound. Opening her eyes, the azure blue of the sky was replace by a darker blue of the sea. Looking around, it was all so familiar as from a dream — the dream after the battle with the Kreana. Somehow, she was back in the city under the sea. The others awoke, wondering what had happened. Only Tabari seemed to have his senses, although he too had a wondrous look on his face as he gazed about the coral city.
1. The player for Ahmed was absent – will have retcon him into the story, otherwise the group is completely separated.
2. Three of the four sessions I have taken Araceli to Incapacitated. The dice… the dice…(btw – runic themed dice they are, and pretty nasty)
3. In the back of my mind I knew this was a possibility when giving the Pearl to the group. It throws a fun, interesting twist into the arc. I am already bursting with ideas.
4. This is not the first time that player has done something like that in a game. In a prior D&D campaign (I think it was Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil) he Plane Shifted to whatever Outer Plane the elves hung out on to get out of a bad spot.
5. This is why we play table top games – you just cannot script moments, events, and inspirational thinking like that!
6. Two of the players (for Salim and Araceli) worked at Disney years ago – they are rather digging the themes of the game and this Little Mermaid twist.
Left is Death!September 23, 2016 at 6:05 pm #7775
Again very entertaining. 😀
High Priest of Hoenir & Champion of QedeshetSeptember 28, 2016 at 1:49 am #7784
I posted a write-up of the underwater city I made up.
Left is Death!October 7, 2016 at 1:07 pm #7790
Session 5 – Rescue!
“You folks seem lost” quipped an old Saxa named Ulric. The group awoke finding themselves under the ocean in the city of Madinat Almuhit. Ulric was rescued decades ago and decided he like the City Under the Sea much better than the surface world.
Ulric took time to get our heroes oriented. The area they were in is the Sward – a dome of air that some say predates the arrival of the Mermen. The necklaces of gold and coral allows people to survive in the water, get around, and understand and “talk” to the Mermen. Refreshments were had and the group was then given a quick tour of the city before heading to the Coral Palace.
A feast in the group’s honor was held, a chance to properly thank the group for saving Princess Salana. The group regaled King Mathias Taj about their adventures and Araceli caught up with Princess Salana. But the group soon discovered not all was well in this wondrous place. While the Princess would not talk of it, Theron, second in command of the Coral Guard, would. He noted that the Prince had grave concerns about the encroachment of the Kreana. He recently set off to gather more about them as the Court debated endlessly their next steps. There is worry that he gone forever. Divination reveal he is alive, but all is clouded. The merfolk then moved on, unwilling to burden their guests with their own problems.
The next day Princess Salana escorted the group through the city and through the Coral Grotto. These magnificent caves and formations ran for miles through the city. Nearing the edge of the city, the mood suddenly changes. The city of “Kreana!” flows through the waters! Quickly, Kreana are on top of the heroes! A swirling, fast paced battle erupted in the Grotto. While Theron protected the Princess, the heroes quickly adapted to their underwater environment. The Kreana were no match of the group. But Theron said something very disturbing – “the Kreana have never come here before…”
This incident created much consternation in the court. Some called for culling the Kreana. Others caution so as not to provoke the aggressive race. Others called for strengthening the defenses. As tension peaked a new issue arrived – a surface ship was foundering in the ocean above in a storm!
The group was offered the chance to help. The ship would have to be destroyed so as not to damage the city. There was little time to get survivors off the ship before the city’s spellcasters would focus on the sinking hazard. The group helped the mermen, splitting their efforts. Araceli, Menivis, and Tabari all helped gather up survivors while Ahmed and Salim fought off Kreana. Ahmed was fearsome in his slaying of the Kreana. Many where saved, but some where lost.
The heroes recounted their recent encounters with the Kreana at the court that evening, sending more ripples into the politics of the City Under the Sea.
Left is Death!October 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm #7791
High Priest of Hoenir & Champion of QedeshetOctober 20, 2016 at 9:41 pm #7815
Session 6 – The Quill is Mightier than the Sword
Our scene opens with the heroes milling about the Sward. Peschi Tenderfoot is the young boy that the group saved from the sinking ship. Well, it turns out he is an Engro, not a boy. The group exchanges pleasantries and checks their pockets. As the discussion breaks up, the Vizer in “land” form enters the Sward and comes over to the group.
He fills the group in on the political comings and goings. The King has agreed to establish an outpost at the Ironclad, and old wreck the marks the northeastern most boarder of the kingdom and closest to the Great Kelp Forest. Ahmed and Tabari especially were interested in how the group could help. The Vizer admitted they were blind to the threat. The outpost is nice, but they only way they really could get information is to get someone in the forest. As Honored Guests, the group could go as they pleased. An accord was struck.
The group met up with Silara, a sergeant of the Coral Guard. Menivis and Silara hit it right off, exchanging knowledge and tactics. They traveled two days to Little Jon’s Reef. This area has an anomaly where everything grows many times larger than normal. It is the source of the Coral Guard’s giant sea horses. Little Jon is a Reef Giant who tends the reef and the island (called Little Jon Island). Much merriment was had as the group got to go ashore and enjoy a day in the sun. After a feast, the group traveled two more sun cycles to Ironclad.
The Ironclad – the Backstory that was discovered during the adventure:
Built at the height of the Anari empire to open up the ports of the Orient. Original name was The Destiny – renamed (itself bad luck) just before launch. The Emperor had a dream the flagship would go down with all hands. In a panic, he ordered his eastern seas flagship clad in iron to protect it from any and all Heavy Weapons. The ship proved dangerous in sea trials, but the Emperor ordered the expedition anyway. Neorthe, offended at the unnatural ship (iron should never float) sank the ship in a typhoon with all hands lost, just as predicted by the Emperor’s dream.
As the group settled down on the deck of this huge wreck, the scene changes. The group relived much of the horror of the storm, the sinking, and other tragic events on the ship. They eventually made it to the captain’s cabin. A body lashed to his chair – the crew had mutinied. Menivis pokes the body – it awakes! “Welcome to my Doom”.
The crew is now cursed. He explains the backstory of the ship. There is Something below the ship that keeps the bodies animated – a vile cloak of darkness. It must be destroyed so that the crew can finally have rest. That and he requests the documents in the safe be taken so the story will not be lost.
The group exits the quarters and goes down the split hull of the ship where they find a cave. There are bodies in the water. As they explore using sunrods for light, Ahmed has a powerful compulsion to enter a deep trench in the cave floor (see Dragon’s Lair Paizo map). Then all the fun begins as he enters the trench with Araceli attempting to stop him. Tentacles rise up to meet him. Then the bodies animate. The group quickly finds itself battling all this an some dark figure deeper in the trench. As the battle progresses, some in the group grow weaker – attacks from the octopus and the dark figure seem to drain them.
Finally, a key moment. Ahmed slays the octopus but still has a compulsion to go deeper. Tabari enters the trench and nears the clock of darkness. Calling upon his god, he sends the powerful Quills of Qedeshet piecing into the figure (note: player aced all three Bolt attack dice!). Badly wounded, the figure dove deeper into the trench to no avail. The Quills revealed the darkness for what it was (nearly identical result).
Thus the moral of the story – the Quill is mightier than the sword.
Notes: The party was fighting the classic D&D creature Ixitxachitl. Minions were an undead octopus (a wight) and undead Bloats.
Left is Death!October 21, 2016 at 9:33 pm #7820
Again a great story.
High Priest of Hoenir & Champion of QedeshetNovember 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm #7950
Session 7 – The Lair of the Morkoth
Our Heroes receive a Pearl of Recall from Silara. It is an alchemecal item that is keyed back to the Ironclad in case the Kreana are about to overrun the area. The group heads into the Kelp Forest.
The group notices Kreana right away, but not so thick that they cannot avoid them. The group cautiously advances, hiding away where they can. Ahmed notices up ahead there is a clearing and it looks like a mermaid is tending a garden there. But he failed to notice the giant crab lurking in the overgrowth (Raise on a Notice, Crit/Fail on a Stealth). Keenly shot arrows and Quills of Qedeshet save both Ahmed and Menivis from being slain by the large creature.
The group approaches the mermaid. Her name is Voline and she invites them into her hidden home. She is quite surprised to see Surfacers. They explain why they are here. She has noticed that the Kreana are swarming the area and is concerned that she may not be able to stay hidden much longer. There is ruining glade nearby (an old settlement) that is particularly thick with them. The Kreana have rebuilt (crudely) an old temple and dedicated it to Cacharus. She advises the group to stay away – they will not be able to get there without being noticed.
The group debates and she offers to do an Augury, as she has a bit of the Sight (note she is from the northern realms and is keen on following the Norns). She does say one option that might work is to risk the Lair of the Morkoth. She warns the creature is most dangerous to those of a weak mind and few have ever escaped its clutches. She knows that there is both opening to it’s labyrinthine lair nearby and at the Kreana site. She also does an Augury for each willing PC. She loses bits of coral, sand, and shells. They suspend in the water and start to glow, revealing:
* Ahmed – “Carcharus has marked you” (lose a point of Toughness for the rest of the adventure)
* Menivis – “You will be held back by the will of Cacharus” – Major Hindrance, picked Luck
* Araceli – “The Gods will push yourself beyond your current capabilities” – Edge – Picked Acrobat
* Salim – “You will find your way harder” (drop one die from highest skill)
* Tabari – ““Your gods protects you” – one better Wild Die
After leading the group to the entrance, the group hesitates. Menivis, however, is drawn to enter, thinking is back in the desert exploring. Araceli holds him bad until he comes to his senses. They enter the maze.
The twisting caverns are confusing. After a number of turns, then encounter Ghuls of various aquatic races. The fight is quick but painful, with Salim getting them out of pinch. However, they are no closer to their goal. They then come an area where there are previous victims of the Ghuls. They find a few items to help them along their way, including a True Relic (a Sword, claimed by Menivis)! They continue through an area with many skeletal shark jaws. They carefully navigate it, although Salim would have been badly wounded if not for his protective magic as one jaw clamped down hard on his leg. They then battle the water itself! Madding! It was a water jinn, which was nearly invisible in water. Salim was badly hurt. The group also found another cache of items from prior victims, with Tabari getting a Ring bound with a Fire Jinn that absorbs fire.
All this time, and they were really working their way to the central lair of the Morkoth. Entering in, they found a number of Kreana there that attacked. For a moment it looked really dire as most of the group fell under the hypnothic sway of the Morkoth. But the group regained their senses and slew the Kreana as Morkoth descended from the darken ceiling to feed on what it though was controlled prey. It did put Ahmed back under its control, but Tabari and Areceli finally killed it with arrows and quills (nasty rolls by Areceli).
As their minds cleared, they found a few alchemecal items and Areceli found a bow that is bound with a Jinn. The bow is vampiric in some way – if activated, inflicted wounds on a target will heal her. But if that Jinn ever gets out….
The group heals up as best they can and finds their way to the Kreana site. Overlooking the area, they notice a group of prisoners being led to the Temple. One of them is Voline…
Left is Death!November 22, 2016 at 3:18 pm #7966
Tabari Investigates the Ironclad
A write-up by Tabari’s player
Tabari swam around the Ironclad in awe. While there was no doubt the northern emperor was a fool to put iron on his ship, the elemental technology was worth studying. Perhaps it could reveal long forgotten secrets on the creation of magic items. Or perhaps it could completely change the way people travelled the seas. More likely it would just lead to some interesting conversations with his friends in Qarah, but those were important as well.
He swam to the ring around the ship on the port side first, since that one seemed to have suffered less damage in the storm and sinking. He closed his eyes and remembered what the ring originally looked like during his strange vision on the ship. When he was satisfied he had called up all the details he opened his eyes and took a hold of the ring. “Qedeshet show me,” he prayed.
He hadn’t known what to expect exactly. He thought maybe an indignant Jinn would be revealed, or maybe one of their northern cousins. Or maybe nothing at all, if the creature had managed to escape since the ship had sunk. But he had not been prepared for an assault on his mind. The hate and rage were instantaneous, and it was all he could do to control his hand and release the ring.
No Jinn artifact had ever reacted like that to his prayers. He realized he was breathing heavily and began one of the breathing exercises that Salim had taught him. When he was feeling normal, he reached out and touched the ring again. Without Qedeshet’s magic it just felt normal, a hunk of metal that had been under water for several centuries.
He swam up the ring, stopping at any spot he remembered where the magic had seemed more focused. At each place he called upon Qedeshet and touched the ring. The hate and rage was always there, though he was prepared for it now. It grew stronger as he swam over the ship, and then gradually weakened as he reached the far point on the starboard side.
He swam around the rest of the ship, occasionally casting his spell. Most of the time the ship felt normal, although there were a few times when the rage was there. He suspected those places were caused by how the ring was connected to the ship, but would have to confirm that at a different time.
He stood in front of the door to the elemental room. He prayed and touched the door. The rage was there, and strong enough that he thought he should get the others before proceeding. Instead, he repeated Salim’s breathing exercises and opened the door. He swam to where Salim had released the elemental creature in their vision. “Qedeshet show me,” he prayed and touched the metal.
Left is Death!November 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm #7967
Of Evil in the Deep
The Lair of the Morkoth from Ahmed’s Point of View
Venturing forth from the iron clad fortress, Ahmed felt good to be moving, to be facing danger for a greater cause. Sure, the King’s people were hiding within the hulk of the iron clad ship, but they’d claimed it would cause problems for the King if it were known that they ventured into the Kelp Forest. At least they had The Five to lean on.
Araceli had often described the forests of her youth. Ahmed had never seen a proper forest but the grand masses of kelp and other plants seemed pretty close. Araceli dismissed the comparison when he asked her opinion so he was left to wonder if he’d ever see a proper “Forest”.
He was pondering such life goals when he noticed movement through the murky water ahead. It looked like a mermaid tending a sort of garden in a glade up ahead. Ahmed pushed through some thick kelp to get a better look and was about to call to his comrades when he felt the crushing grip of a giant claw around his waist. The air from his lungs burst out into the water into a confusing cloud and for a moment he thought he was back in the dream of drowning. Then the claw began to thrash him about painfully. The arrow that struck his arm was insult to injury and he began a string of curses that would have shamed his mother.
Through the thrashing and bubbles being emitted by the giant crab who had grabbed him, Ahmed saw Menevis bravely step in to attack but get snatched by the other claw. Arrows slices through the waters with much improved accuracy, knifing deep into the creature’s soft flesh and avoiding its thick shell. Within mere moments, the crab’s claws loosened in death, releasing Ahmed and Menevis.
Ahmed engulfed Araceli in a bear hug of gratitude before pointing to the arrow in his arm. “I believe this is yours?”
Further on, they caught the attention of the mermaid gardening. She was not from the city but from northern waters and preferring to keep to herself. She invited the Five into her home and gave them refreshments. Surviving the growing number of shark people was difficult though she was a natural seer and could avoid dangerous futures. She explained that the shark people had built a temple not far from the edge of the kelp forest and they were truly massing. A look into the future determined that any obvious approach would get the Five summarily eaten.
“But there is a way…” she said in a whisper. “It is frought with terrors and dangers, no way a sure path, but if you are determined to discover the true nature of the temple, caves through the lair of the Morkoth it is your only hope…”
Getting the caves was easy with the mermaid’s guidance, but even standing outside the entrance, the disturbing… emotions of the place were clear. Ahmed had to calm himself, not wanting to show fear to his friends. They had been warned that the Morkoth would seduce them with dreams and it was hard to cut through a dream with your scimitar.
The seer had also performed auguries on them which also worried Ahmed. Apparently he’d been “marked” by Cacharis and he certainly did not feel up to his best. Most of the others also received dour warnings from the gods though Araceli and Tabari received boons. Obviously he’d been mistaken to allow the old gods to look upon him, a misstep on his path of the Devoted.
They headed into the caves, the murk barely pushed back by a magical glow from Salim. All sorts of deformed creatures lurked in fissures and outcroppings of coral. There were few areas with a ‘floor’ so they spent most of their way swimming. He’d been building up some strength over their time underwater but it was still awkward with all their gear.
Their first true challenge was a pack of ghouls, the dead animated by some fell force and ravenous to consume humans. They swarmed Ahmed and the others, biting and clawing at them. Their touch was numbing and Ahmed lost grip on his swords at one point though he was able to regain them. Just as Araceli had saved the day with the giant crab, it was Salim’s sand magic which turned the tide. Cutting blasts of sand drawn from the cave floor sliced into the ghouls until the pack fled to find easier prey. All but Salim had been bloodied by this point.
Further on, deeper in the caves, they came across the sickening remains of a ghoul attack. Some mermen had ventured into the caves and been mostly eaten. Luckily their gear had been of no interest to the ghouls. Moving quickly the Five were able to find several potions in carved coral containers. Taking this bounty forward, the group began to lose track of the number of chambers they’d swam through though they seemed to be able to stick to the guidance the seer had given to reach the exit by the temple. A chamber filled with the white jawbones of giant sharks was nerve-wracking to swim through. One fell shut, almost catching Salim.
Deeper in the caves, the light of the glow stick seemed to penetrate the gloom less and less so the Five found themselves moving in a closer pack, edging away from the darkness. Even this order was thrown to chaos as Salim was attacked from an unseen force, causing the light to spin in the water and throw strange shadows. What was attacking him appeared to be the water itself! Was there no end to the horrors of these caves?!?
Menevis found good footing and smashed through the hostile force with his shield again and again until it was clear that the foe was a water jinn and it too found us too troublesome. We gathered ourselves and pressed forward, shaken but resolute.
The dreams came even to Ahmed, dreams of his happiest times. For Ahmed the dream was for Azmara. He’d known her forever, as children and then as members of the tribe. They had always been friends or at least friendly. Then came the night Ahmed was to dance the dervish for the first time. He chose to dance it for her. The dance had not been perfect for the spins of the dervish are tricky even for masters, but it had been perfect enough. That night they broke several laws of the tribe when they…
Fighting sharkmen and an undersea monster was quite a shock when he finally broke himself from the beautiful reverie. With magic, swords, and arrows, they slew the foul creature at the heart of the evil though Araceli was grievously wounded. The power of the merfolk potions brought her back from the brink of death. With some still wounded, it was agreed to forge onward.
The sight was breaktaking when they emeged from the cave opening. They peered over a broad valley full of clumps of giant kelp and one crudely constructed temple. The shark people were everywhere. Some had formed a procession to the temple with several non-shark sea beings in chains. Ahmed’s heart sank when he saw the mermaid seer among the number.
“We can’t go back now. They’ll know what we’ve found after we’ve stopped this heinous worship.”
Left is Death!
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