Sep 10, 2017

4th Day of Richfest (Midsummer's Day), 580 CY - Freedom!

After putting down the brief slave rebellion, Captain Garana seized control of his ship, putting the crew to work repairing the hole and punishing the remaining, living rebels. Mysteriously, two ogres appeared on the ship to replace the overseers. The ogres carried large mauls and definitely meant business. The captain also seemed to replace a few of his officers, and himself acquired an eyepatch and appeared to have suffered some severe burns on at least his left arm (that anyone could see). To ensure the remaining slaves did not rebel again, Pontus had each of his fingers broken and his hands tied to the oars with leather straps, while Sarril had his tongue cut out. With order restored, the captain began rowing the ship, albeit very slowly, across the middle of the Nyr Dyv.

It was now the week of Richfest, in midsummer, something the old blind druid, Cadwin, was very aware of. The entire week of Richfest is sacred amongst those who still practice the Old Faith of the ancient Flan. Somewhere in the Flanaess, druid circles were performing powerful rituals designed to maintain the balance - but Cadwin had more important things on his mind. Searching for a cure for the Red Death brought him to Elredd, where he was captured by the slave lords. Keeping a low profile, he would not let on that he was a druid, or that he could shapeshift into a bat and fly away at any time. These slavers were onto something, and the alchemist who was recently brought on-board from Safeton may have had important information. Unfortunately, Cadwin was unable to learn much from the man before one of the newcomers, Pontus that barbarian, killed the alchemist in a botched attempt at escaping. For now, Cadwin just needed to bide his time until the ship docks again, whenever that would be.

The 4th Day of Richfest is on Godsday, the middle of the week, and is also known as Midsummer's Day - the exact middle of the year. The evening of Midsummer is also the only time of the year that Oerth's two moons, Celene and Luna, are both full at the same time, which is important to cleric's of most faiths, druids and mages alike. The evening of Midsummer is the time when many great
historical events have taken place, miracles and catastrophes alike. And so it was, on the day of Midsummer, the boat waited in the water - rowing only occasionally to counter drift. And that evening, as both moons became full in the sky, the waters rumbled and the ship shook violently. Up from the sea rose a mass of land, pushing the ship up and out of the water, and turning it on its side. Many of the slaves were tossed about and injured - some even killed in the process, but the captain was not concerned. He gathered a few of his crew and left the ship and was not seen again until morning, when he had the overseers load something into the hold of the ship. And as the sun rose, the land mass sunk back under the sea as quickly as it came.

The captain, presumably having obtained what he was looking for, sent the ship immediately back south, down the Selintan River, into the Wooly Bay and back toward Highport. The journey would take another three weeks in total, during which time Cadwin tried to learn everything he could. To call him truly blind would not be entirely accurate, as Cadwin had an uncanny sense of hearing and smell, which, when combined with his high wisdom, made him able to see many things that others could not. Cadwin was able to learn much about the newcomers - the party of Hartsbane, and realized that, despite their impulsive actions, were trying to do good in fighting against the slavers. He decided to share with Sarril that Luapan was still alive, and assisting the captain in finding whatever it was that he was looking for - possibly under some sort of charm, and that the captain had kept his word to resurrect any dead party members, having resurrected Jarrus, who was recovering in a cell on the upper deck. The captain could only resurrect one party member, and so Sir Gerard was gone for good, his body tossed to the fishes. He also informed Sarril that they would have the best opportunity to escape when the ship docked at Highport, as the captain and most of the guards are usually busy unloading cargo during that time.

Sure enough, when the ship docked, the captain, most of the crew and the overseers began unloading cargo and took up positions along the dock. They secured all of the slaves in their shackles first, to prevent escape, but that did not stop Cadwin, who was able to transform into a bat and get out. At the same time, Jarrus, who had been pretending to still be in an extremely weakened state after his resurrection, received a note slipped in with meal that said "Go Now!" And so he escaped. He and Cadwin met up and and managed to get Sarril and Pontus and Luapan free, then jumped over the side of the ship opposite the dock - but not before grabbing the chest from the captain's quarters. Jarrus put on the Helm of Underwater Action that the captain had is in quarters and walked with the chest underwater until he reached an empty dock further down the pier where the party agreed to meet. There wasn't much equipment in the chest, but there was some money, enough for the party to get themselves outfitted at a basic level.

Highport, like all cities on the Wild Coast, was once a thriving city built on trade, but since the Pomarj hoards and Slavelord have swept through, is now mostly abandoned buildings. That makes five escaped slaves trying to hide much easier. The party took refuge in the first abandoned building they could find, and started making plans. The first thing they did was sent Cadwin out to find a locksmith, which didn't take too long. After agreeing a fee to both remove the shackles and to keep quiet about it, the party was now free. But despite paying for his silence, and even charming him for good measure, the party did not feel safe now that they have been seen, and so the next morning, they moved on to another warehouse. They bought clothes and basic equipment and went looking for an herbalist, which is not a profession that would be practicing openly in a city like this. After bribing a bartender at a bar, they learned of an herbalist in the city who operated in secret, but would likely be able to help Sarril, Luapan and Cadwin replenish most of their spell components. As they left the bar, they were followed by another party who chased them into an alley where a fight broke out. Victory meant even more equipment for the party, some of it magical. Things were starting to look up, but at the same time, the party understood now that they could never truly be safe here.

Temple Ruins Entrance
The party then explored some temple ruins just outside of town that they learned slaves were taken to. During they day they didn't learn much, but at night they saw slaves being moved into the building, confirming earlier rumors. The party decided their next move would be to try to get inside, but first they needed to finish equipping, so they headed back to their new hideout. That evening they were stalked by four thieves on the roof. Cadwin's superior senses alerted the party to their presence, and they were able to dispatch them and avoid being slaughtered in their sleep. The party decided having the blind druid around probably wasn't so bad.

And so it is the evening of the 19th Day of Reaping, 580 CY, the second day of the 3-day festival of Boccob, which is quite appropriate given that Sarril's familiar, Krek, has found his way back to him, restoring Sarril's tongue and making him fully functional again.

Aug 27, 2017

6th day of Planting, 580 CY (Captured!)

I think I and all of my players agree that each of these sessions gets better and better, but also more challenging for me as the DM. This last session was a doozy. Trying to piece it all back together to document here is going to be a challenge, but I'll do my best. I am sure some details will be missed.

When we left off last session, the player characters just finished their largest and most difficult fight ever. The state of each character was as follows:

Luapan (Cleric of Celestian): Saved from death by an Elixer of Life administered by Sarril, but incapacitated and sitting up in a tree.

Sarril (Magic User/Cleric of Boccob): Was flying in the air and just took two arrows from red-robed monks down below and dropped from the sky with -9 hit points. Dying.

Sir Gerard (Paladin of Heironeous): -4 hit points. Levitating 10 feet in the air binding his wounds. Incapable of fighting.

Jarrus (Fighter): Barely alive with one hit point remaining

Pontus (Barbarian): Severely wounded, but still has 24 hit points and under the influence of a Stone Giant Strength potion. Feeling powerful and angry.

Hazzard the Mage
Sir Gerard, Jarrus and Pontus are grouped together, having just killed the last of the monks that were fighting them. Other than two monks over near Sarril, and one magic-user who teleported away, the rest of their enemies were dead. That includes 40 fighters, 6 clerics, one magic magic user and 4 monks. At this point, the magic-user (Hazzard) who had escaped returns with two more people. A large fighter (Belneiros) carrying a magical net, and a wicked cleric, whom Sarril would later recognize, by description, as Guilliana Mortidus of the Horned Society, and the same woman who killed Athan's mistress a few years ago. She has a bit of a reputation, and not a good one. She was also clearly in charge here, giving the orders and demanding that Pontus and Jarrus drop their weapons.

Of course Pontus refused, demanding instead that Guilliana and her companions drop their weapons instead. In the midst of their banter, Pontus tossed a healing potion to Gerard, who drank it and was ready for action. In response, Belneiros tossed his Net of Entrapment onto Jarrus and Pontus. Jarrus was instantly trapped and although Pontus was able to jump out of the way, he immediately got caught in Guilliana's Hold Person spell. Gerard, recognizing that the fight was over, dropped his weapon and stood down (please note that Gerard made it absolutely clear that this was not a "surrender," but more of a temporary cease fire). As for Pontus, he was ready to continue fighting. Although he couldn't move his feet (we treat Hold Person as a "root in place" spell), he was ready to take the head off of anyone who came within sword range of him. To counter this, Guilliana held a dagger to Jarrus' throat, threatening to kill him if Pontus did not surrender immediately, which he then did by angrily thrusting his large two-handed sword into the ground while yelling in barbarian rage.

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The party was tied up, stripped of their possessions, and marched to the coast over the next couple of days until they reached a small coastal town where a medium-sized galley with purple sails was docked. Guilliana and Hazzard spoke briefly to the captain of the ship, then left the prisoners with the
Captain Girana
captain and went on their way. The captain of the ship was Captain Girana, a Sylvan Elf turned pirate, who nearly as handsome as he was cruel. His ship, called the Ghoul, was a galley with 60 oars in total (two levels of 15 oars each per side). Two slaves per oar means up to 120 slaves rowing the ship when it is at full capacity. On the ship was the captain (an elf) and four officers (human), four overseers/enforcers (half-orcs), 10 sailors (humans), one pace-setter (big human on a drum) and just over 100 slaves on oars. Although the ship has sails, the captain prefers to row so as to be as hard on his slaves as possible. The party, except for Luapan, was immediately put to work rowing. Luapan was locked in a room on the deck of the ship near the captain's quarters.

The captain had the ship row out to sea for a few days, somewhere into the Wooly Bay, moving along the coast and making a couple of stops. After a few days, he had the party brought to deck and forced to kneel before him. At this point, everyone could see that much of their equipment that wasn't claimed by Guilliana or Hazzard had now been distributed between the captain and his officers. Captain Girana now wore "Greaser," the +3 intelligent long sword Jarrus had been using until recently. He was also wearing Jarrus' Boots of Speed, with one of his officers wearing the Boots of Striding and Springing that had belonged to Gerard. A few rings and some bracers were also clearly being worn. The captain then had a chest brought up to the deck and opened it, showing the party's remaining equipment inside. Making a show of it, the captain explained that any equipment that was not useful to him would be disposed of, starting with Gerard's +3 Frostbrand, which was tossed overboard into the middle of the bay. Next came Luapan's Mantle of Celestian, followed by a few other items, including all of the treasures that Pontus had collected from his enemies over the years. Finally came Jarrus' armor, which the captain recognized as the family armor of House Sunleaf. Captain Girana made some comments about Correal Sunleaf and his foolish son before declaring that he would etch the family coat of arms off the armor and put it to good use.

Later, in the captain's quarters, Captain Girana had Luapan brought in for a private conversation. He showed Luapan an ancient map with unknown runes and a location described using a star chart. He demanded that Luapan interpret the star chart to navigate the vessel to the location specified. Luapan agreed, but made some demands of his own in return. The captain, not too pleased with the response, showed Luapan a demonstration of his power by having four slaves executed on deck and thrown overboard. He informed Luapan that he has many more slaves available, including Luapan's friends, and that all were expendable. Luapan then agreed to direct the captain to the place he sought. Over the next two weeks the ship went north, up the Selintan River and into the Nyr Dyv, right toward the center where ships dare not go.

Over the course of those two weeks, the rest of the party rowed, while taking every opportunity possible to try and loosen their shackles. Eventually, Jarrus succeeded in breaking his chains, and managed to get the attention of the overseers. Seeing an opportunity, Jarrus attacked, and with his immense strength, was able to kill one of them before being subdued. While the penalty for killing a member of the crew is usually immediate execution, the captain revealed that his masters want the party alive for some reason. So instead of killing Jarrus, the captain executed four innocent slaves, then chained Jarrus to the wall behind the pace setter, for all of the other slaves to watch as he suffered in agony.

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As the ship approached its destination, the rest of the party members were preparing for their escape. Sarril had worked loose the muzzle holding his mouth shut, and managed to keep it hidden, but was quietly praying for any spells he might be able to cast in his limited capacity. Luapan had scrawled a holy symbol underneath a barrel in his hold, and was praying for any spells that he could cast. Gerard had been working on breaking his bonds for weeks, and finally managed to break free, springing immediately into action.

The fight that broke out moved quickly. Jarrus and Pontus both broke free of their chains, and this prompted a good number of slaves (at least those who were capable) to try and break theirs as well, with some succeeding. Gerard was able to kill an overseer and now, armed with a short sword, engaged the other two. It looked for a brief moment like the party had the upper hand, until Captain Girana teleported next to Jarrus and immediately killed him in a most gruesome display of horror. The captain then cast Mirror Image on himself, and started moving up to engage Gerard. Sarril, using some clever spell components he managed to get, cast a Hold Person on Captain Girana, which succeeded, and then, realizing the captain was a spellcaster, followed up by casting Silence on the bench next to the held captain. This took the captain out of the fight (for now) and turned things back in the party's favor.

Just as Gerard finished off the remaining two overseers, two of the officers came down into the hold to engage, one of whom had Gerard's +3 shield. These two seasoned fighters easily outmatched the poorly equipped Gerard, but help was on the way as Pontus weaved his way slowly up the ship on the deck above (so as to avoid the captain). Luapan also managed to break down the door holding him up on deck, and started to make his way down to the group (DM's Note: I've never seen so many players roll successfully - 5% or less - on a bend bars roll. They shouldn't have been able to do this, but they all managed to do it, so we just had to play it out). Luapan was able to cast a prayer, giving the party slightly better chances. The big change, however, was when Sarril cast Boccob's Rolling Thunder against the entire group of officers, killing them all, as well as taking out four innocent slaves, their benches and oars, and blowing a 10 ft. hole into the side of the ship.

Unfortunately, all of that happened on the last round of the Hold Person spell, and the next round, Captain Girana was back in action and immediately moved up and killed Gerard. The next round, the Captain dropped Luapan down to zero hit points (unconscious, but not dead). Stuck between the captain and a large body of open water, an unarmed Sarril and Pontus were forced to surrender.

It is now the 25th Day of Flocktime, 580 CY, and the party of Hartsbane, the Bad-ass Motherfuckers, has been decimated.

Aug 13, 2017

3rd day of Planting, 580 CY (heading to Highport)

So this session went on for too long, nearly getting me in trouble with the family, but the battle was long and intense, so what can you do?

The session started with the characters in the inn, having just defeated agents of the Slave Lords and realizing they needed to get of town quickly. They had about 30 minutes before the ice wall that blocked all of the entrances would disappear and reinforcements would pour in. They quickly split up and explored the rooms that the dwarf (Ragnar) and mage (Hazzard) were staying in, finding some documents that indicated some of the slave movements, including a noblewoman, an alchemist and an artist (possibly Dame Gold and guests at her dinner party?). The proprietor of the inn, Carn, offered an escape out of a secret tunnel in the cellar and, after the party decided to behead the dwarf in a display of justice and retribution for his crimes, Carn knew he wasn't getting out of this, and decided to escape with the party.

Using a Wall of Fire to melt through a section of the Wall of Ice so they could get to the cellar, the party also ended up setting the entire inn on fire. Some of the party members succumbed to the smoke and had to be carried out, but they all made it, and the fire, which quickly spread to nearby buildings, kept the citizens of Elredd very busy for the next several hours, effectively covering the party's escape.

After giving him some money to help him on his journey, the group parted ways with Carn, and headed out on foot toward the City of Highport. Late that afternoon, they came across a merchant caravan and convinced the merchant to allow them to travel together for safety. These lands were known as some of the most dangerous across all of the Flanaess, ever since humanoid hordes began sweeping across the Pomarj. The caravan had 20 armed guards to add to the party's own strength, which would soon be put to the test. For the next couple of days the caravan moved south, with only minor encounters along the way. But each night when they made camp, dozens of torchlights were seen along the tree line west of the road, and the sounds of hooting and hollering were heard all night long, interrupting sleep. This continued for three nights, and on the morning of the fourth day, the caravan encountered an orc raiding party holding white flags, asking to parlay. The parlay, was, of course, a poorly executed ruse, and the caravan was soon under attack by 40 orcs. Most of the armed guards were brought down quickly, but the party was able to make short work of the orcs through a combination of spell power and physical might. Luapan and Sarril were even able to use their healing spells to revive the caravan guards. The merchant, thoroughly impressed, asked the party what they call themselves.

"Bad-ass Motherfuckers" replied Jarrus.

"Hartsbane" replied Sir Gerard.

And thus was formed the party of Hartsbane, the bad-ass motherfuckers.

Unfortunately, the party would soon learn that the orc tribe was sent to wear them down ahead of the real ambush waiting ahead. As the caravan followed the road through a wooded area, Sarril felt something was wrong (the "something" turned out to be that he lost contact with his familiar that was flying ahead of them). When he turned to warn the rest of the party that something was wrong, he realized that he has been silenced. No one was making a sound. Multiple overlapping Silence spells had been cast on the road. They had sprung a trap.

As the party readied for action (everyone but Jarrus, who was in front and oblivious to what was happening, and kept walking), the trees around them transformed into armed soldiers. Each round, more soldiers appeared until there were 40 in all. As the battle continued, 6 clerics and 2 magic users appeared (one of whom was the mage Hazzard from Elredd). This trap had been planned well in advance and the attackers were very much aware of the party's capabilities. The foot soldiers did their best to stick with bows and avoid engaging in melee combat with Jarrus, Pontus or Sir Gerard - but that plan didn't work so well given the boots Jarrus and Gerard had, and Pontus' natural speed. The clerics and spellcasters tried to quickly take out Sarril and Luapan before they could escape the radius of the silence spells, but lucky saving throws prevented that plan from working. Although volleys of arrows were flying, the superior armor class of the fighters were preventing them from taking too many hits, and the few hits they did take were negated with some healing potions.

One of the fighters did manage to get a net around Sir Gerard, and even though he was unable to fight, he was able to get to a potion of flying and get away long enough to start cutting himself out. Soon, Jarrus had taken out all of the clerics and was going after Hazzard, who had already loosed a few lightning bolts and magic missiles and needed to go down. Sarril managed to go invisible and drink his own flying potion and take to the air where he used his Wand of Ice Storms to start devastating the fighters below. Unfortunately, the last lightning bolt Hazzard fired took Luapan down. Jarrus closed in on the mage, but he teleported away.

Even though Luapan was down, it did seem the party was starting to gain the upper hand. Sarril was able to get to Luapan and deliver an Elixir of Life, effectively reviving him, just as Sir Gerard managed to get free of the net and join the fight. Sarril unleashed Boccob's Rolling Thunder on the remaining clerics and mage, taking most of them out. The mage responded with some magic missiles of his own, taking Sarril down close to death (but not quite). Sarril was able to cast Minor Globe of Invulnerability and take back to the air. Soon, Pontus came in to mop up, killing the mage, before being attacked by two red-robed monks who seemed to appear out of nowhere. There were 8 monks in all, hiding around in the woods and grass, watching the battle, only to join in if it looks like they had no choice. They had no choice. The party was about to win this fight. Two of the monks managed to shoot down Sarril with arrows. It looks like he may be dead. The rest of the monks engaged with Pontus, Jarrus and Gerard. Gerard was taken down to negative hit points and he used to sword to levitate to safety while binding his wounds, but otherwise out of the fight. Pontus and Jarrus fought the remaining monks, eventually killing them, though with only a few hit points left between them.

It would seem the party just completed a hard-earned victory - possibly the most difficult fight they've ever had. At that moment, as they were catching their breath, three people teleported next to them. One was a large fighter carrying a magical net. The other was Hazzard, the mage who escaped earlier. And the third was a female cleric, skinny with stringy black hair, dressed all in black. Jarrus and Gerard, both recognizing that they cannot take on these newcomers, dropped their swords and declared their surrender. As Pontus' player was not present, we decided to end the session on this cliffhanger. Will Pontus surrender? Or will he go into a barbarian rage and go down fighting? Stay tuned. . .

It is the afternoon of the 6th day of Planting, 580 CY.