Hugh’s Scenario Recap (Pcon 43)

Run #1:  Teth – Snake Mouth Bay’s Port of Telooin

The party travelled two weeks to Telooin, a seedy port town on the east coast of Teth which was transferring supplies to the Luin Isles {Camila’s Run’s location}.  They’ve been provided with some cases of Gin to use as a ‘delivery’ to MAJ Nelson, owner of a local bar (a literal “Djinn Djoint”) as their introduction.

Not surprisingly, they find that the port town’s locals – a menagerie of all races, including many monster types – are all on the take.  They gladly try to shake down any & all newcomers for bribes (the scam calling for their ‘papers’ is how they signal to each other just how gullible the marks are).

Thus lightened of a few hundred gold, they make their way to the bar and stop to loudly knock on the door to this public establishment, the first of several misunderstandings.

Eventually, they meet the owner (‘Rick’), who has been involuntarily quite dry for a few weeks and, after watching him get shaken down for a kickback to the local constabulary, Captain Citroën (a Beholder-esque creature, with a Golem for muscle), are able to explain that they’re really there to capture exotic animals for Wiggham’s menagerie, whereupon he agrees to show them some collectable animals if they take his defective ‘Wand of Kobold Summoning’ repaired by the Wizard Humphrey who lives up the semi-nearby Gno River, as it is through this device that he summons Kobolds to train them to be domestic servants (complete with white jacket, black trousers and a red fez hat) for affluent monstrous families.  Too bad they never inquired about who any of these families might be (perhaps Beholders?).

They arranged a meeting point for their ship to meet them and transported by the wind-walk later, they’re halfway to their destination, which, after another magical casting later by the Djinn on materials they gathered, they also have a boat with which to paddle upstream.  En route, they discover some of the animals which Rick had promised that they would find, namely Hippos (later, 3 are brought back).

After an overnight spent too close to the forest, the third watch wakes, to discover their 2nd Watch totally missing, along with their boat.  As they start to search for their missing compatriots, they are ambushed by intelligent, tool-using black squirrels, who down a third party member with their paralysis poisoned darts before the party takes out these one hit dice creatures with a lightning bolt and a blunderbuss (12 ga shotgun).  They successfully scout to find their missing party members floating downstream on their boat, still quite paralyzed…who become a tad traumatized when they see that their boat falls apart at lunchtime, when its 24 hour enchantment ends (which would have been prior to the end of the paralysis). Receiving some loot they march on, they meet an unusually harmless intelligent elephant herd who’s terrified of the ‘mice’ in the bamboo forest who have captured their matriarch (“Elephant Queen”) and would be happy to join Wiggham’s Mangerie to not have to constantly cope with those ‘bad’ mice, at a spot where the river goes fully into the bamboo forest.   At this point, the party decides to return back downriver, capturing a few hippos along the way, and to the Bay of the Gno River to meet their ship to return home. They also contemplate a genocide campaign against the black squirrels who control the bamboo forest.

Outcome:  the goal of visiting Humphrey for a new wand was not accomplished, but plenty of information, and an exotic animal species was obtained for the Whiggam Menagerie.

Run #2:  Teth – Gno River Bay

The party travelled two weeks to the east coast of Teth, but rather than to visit the ‘Gin Joint’ in the seedy port town of Telooin, they decide to proceed directly to the “Snake’s belly” – the bay of the Gno River, and use one of the ship’s nonmagical longboats to travel upstream, intending again to visit Humprey for a replacement Wand of Kobold Summoning.

Several days pass in travel, where they encounter various river hazards – hippos again, along with huge crocodiles, although they were forwarned to not overnight on the western bank.  They do notice one night a few sets of red glowing eyes on the far bank, which they (of course) choose to investigate, since that they were visible at beyond Darkvision made it too tempting.  While a ‘Sanctuary’ spell does initially provide protection, they found a fire-based ‘demonic’ sheep that breathed fire with the taste of flesh, not grass. Quickly disengaging, they also found that a fireball made them grow larger, so they don’t suggest that as a solution.

Approaching where the Gno River finally enters into the bamboo forest, they camp for one final night just outside, where a keen-eared human on watch tries to convince his dwarven compatriot that he hears tiny, high pitched bagpipes.  They choose to investigate by casting light onto a rock and tossing the rock across the river, revealing a squadron of green & black kilt-wearing black squirrels … who then fire a huge volley of arrows at them. The party reacts by applying the “Best defense is a good offense” brace of Fireballs (of course), and although one being neutralized through a counterspell by another member of the party, a large serving of squirrel, extra crispy, is produced and the coordinated attack is successfully disrupted.  The party doesn’t realize it, but they’ve now successfully cleared the resistance from the path to the Wizard Humphrey and could have proceeded unimpeded to accomplish that goal. But instead, the party was satisfied with the squirrel’s loot and returned downriver to their ship and home.

Outcome:  the goal of visiting Humphrey for a new wand was not accomplished, due to part of the party actively working against their own goals.  But some additional information on the region was nevertheless gleaned, with an unusual new animal found (although not captured).

Run #3:  Up the River (again)

The party travelled two weeks to the east coast of Teth, and returned to Telooin, bringing a supply of Gin again to the Djinn Djoint.  Being much savvier on bribes, they paid only a tenth of the first party, and did note that it was a scam. They ask some more intelligent questions and conclude (correctly) that Rick knows much more about the squirrels than he is letting on to, although Rick does reveal to them that the green & black tartan are opposed by a blue & red tartan, as well as teach them a summoning ritual that’s ostensibly for the Black Squirrels.  It actually is to attract the Green Torbat, an otherwise unknown species, who actually hunts the squirrels. Like the first party, they take avail of the offer for a Wind Walk halfway up the river, as well as of a patterned temporary boat from the Djinn…and they proceed upstream. After a day, they ditch the patterned boat and use their own folding boat that they had prepared in advance and had brought with them (in a ‘portable hole’ type of device).  During breaks, the players get up and practice the ‘summoning ritual’ (IRL it is actually the T’ai Chi Eight Form).

As they travel, their nights are protected by use of Leomund’s Tiny Hut.  They become aware that the squirrels are tailing them, and one partymember uses a Hat of Disguise to appear like MAJ Nelson (the Djinn) during the day, which successfully causes confusion amongst the squirrels and a contact note from their boss “TN” (‘Totally Nuts’) to be left one night.  As they progress to where the river enters the forest, they enter, magically disguising their boat as a large crocodile and make it through the squirrel’s territory without any battles. Therein, they sail across a large lake to the base of a huge cliff that’s 1000 ft tall. Casting a Commune with Nature, they locate a keep atop the cliff and the directions to a path up the cliff.  They break for a night’s rest and during the midwatch, a heavy, bone-splintering crash is heard, and a short time later, the movement of something large stumbling roughly through the underbrush & rocks and then ascending up a narrow path. The next morning, they find the crash site, which has fresh blood, a few scraps of a blue & red tartan and tracks which lead to the path up the cliff.  They very gingerly and carefully proceed up the path, which becomes steeper and a rock climb, finally reaching the top before sunset, where they overnight again, as their scout had spotted trolls on the castle wall (wearing blue & red tartan), where quite curiously, two tossed a third troll over the castle wall for a 40ft fall. The next morning, they approach the gate of the castle and hail:  they ask to be let in for an audience with Humphrey. The portcullis is obligingly raised and they’re allowed into the inner courtyard (killing zone) whereupon the portcullis is closed and the trolls become confused, as no one has gone to notify the Master and none of them knows who’s supposed to do this. A disagreement breaks out, which is successfully inflamed by the Party trying to assign a troll to perform the task, who is jealously set upon by another troll, and then another, as they’re now fighting for who will go do this.  In brief order, one, two and then a third troll is tossed over the wall, leaving but one troll victorious over the others. With the portcullis closed, all the Party has to do is kill off one troll and they have the run of the castle.

…but then the wild magic from the release of Magus (Chris’s Run) happens.

Feeling uncomfortably full of mana, the Mage first tries the Prestidigitation cantrip to make a small test ‘spark’.  To his surprise, it manifests into a wild (full/max) Lightning Bolt forming on his fingertips – - the last remaining troll atop the wall leaps over the wall to escape the tentacles of the building electrical charge – - and the Mage quickly turns away from the party and thrusts it instead towards the portcullis.  The lightning strikes strong and holds for seconds, blasting a hole clean through, & shredding/melting away pieces of the portcullis’s iron bars, which creates a metal storm of red hot iron chunks interspersed with the lightning that fly across the gate’s approach bridge, to … oh, the three previously tossed-from-the-parapet trolls had just gotten to the bridge in their run to get back to the front door.  Not no more. In reaction, the Bard tries to to cover up their attack by casting the Minor Illusion cantrip of a dragon’s roar (ie, blame it on someone else), which because of the Wild Magic flow becomes not-so-Minor afterall: not only does most of the Party fail their saves on a FEAR from a dragon’s roar (including the caster), a glimpse of a huge flying creature appears momentarily, and nearly all are now running around in a panic.   One who didn’t panic tries to grab the panicking Dwarf, who intuits a ‘Grease’ spell to escape their grasp….and grease flows out of his pores like a fire hose: in moments, the entire courtyard is ankle deep in grease and three partymembers start sliding down an incline to where an ominous pit trap awaits. They are saved by the last remaining non-feared partymember who Prestidigtates a ‘storm grate’ to cover the pit trap’s hole, which thanks to the Wild Magic is much-larger-than-hand sized, but closer to a King Sized bed.  Finally, a hobbit who had in his panic squeezed through a gigantic slit for the ballista, sees its firing lever, which of course must be pulled to defend against this attack from a so-claimed ‘Grease Dragon’. Ka-Twang! goes the ballista, which had been boresighted on the portcullis entrance as well. It cleanly passes through the chest of the surviving troll, who had similarly just gotten back to the bridge where his now-toasted compatriots lie in grizzled chunks. Fortunately, this contained no fire damage, so the traumatized troll does actually survive (and he is told just how lucky he was to survive an attack from the extremely rare ‘grease’ dragon).

With their grand entrance now complete, the party starts to pick their way through the castle to find Humphrey.  Many traps later, they realize that these are the products of supremely bored trolls to play practical jokes on each other, as they’re not fatal for regenerating creatures.  They finally reach a more civilized portion of the castle where they are announced by magic mouth to walk the red carpet for an audience with Humphrey. They persist in checking every five feet for traps, so nearly three hours later they arrive, finding Humphrey asleep on his royal-appearing grand chair.  Since they don’t murder him in his sleep and sack the place, Humphrey is quite friendly, and provides not one, but two Wands of Kobold Summoning to return to Rick. Humphrey also says that he still wants his familiar (a falcon) back from the Djinn, preferably restored to flesh.

In the home stretch, the party returns down the Gno River to the bay, where they realize that they hadn’t left rendezvous instructions with their ship, which is presumably still moored over in the port town of Telooin.  They return to Telooin and meet with Rick, swapping the wand for some more useful magic items. They did notice a large statue of a falcon, made of black stone, in Rick’s private office, which they presume is Humphrey’s familiar.

Outcome:  the goal of visiting Humphrey for a new wand was finally accomplished.  There’s still the opportunity to try to capture some ‘demon’ sheep, as they had learned that they’re the source of the wool of the Kobolds’ fez hats (and that they taste good too).  Similarly, the Queen of the Enchanted Elephants is still being held captive by someone in the bamboo forest (presumably the tool-using black squirrels).

What was really going on:  the black squirrels are slavers, who have a tribe of Kobolds in the forest that they nominally protect from their normal predators.   Their leader, “Totally Nuts” is partnered with Rick, who uses the wand to move their “merchandise” to market, where the first spend some time at the bar to learn how to be domestic servants before being sold off to affluent families, primarily the beholder families in Camila’s Run.

Humphrey really isn’t part of this, but he’s being blackmailed into it because he wants to get his turned-to-stone familiar back from Rick, and he’s being paid a cut.

The Queen elephant is being held by the squirrels, although indirectly:  she’s being held by the Kobolds who are being held by the squirrels. This is because the Queen has the ability of Telekinesis which isn’t strong enough for her to use against Kobolds, but it is strong enough for her to grab & smash squirrels against trees to kill them.  Finally, there’s also the question of just who possesses Rick’s djinn bottle and just what they might want . . . maybe Captain Citroën?

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