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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PrinceCon 41: Hugh Scenario recaps

An email arrived a week before PrinceCon**, asking for help to be an ‘Emergency’ GM because a few of the regulars had to drop out with short notice.  Turns out to have been a good thing, as attendance was up by a healthy margin this year.  Nevertheless, I was hoping to contribute a simple sidebar to consist of two, or maybe three runs.  Turned out to be five short (<4 hr) runs and a lot of fun.  The basic setup is described in the first run.

** [Alex's note: it was, in fact 18 days -- plenty of time to come up with a scenario!  ;-) but seriously, kudos galore to Chris and Hugh for emergency GM'ing.  We lost a lot of GM power late in the game to various commitments and they delivered expeditions that had consequences in other scenarios and for world events]

Run #1:  “A Three Hour Cruise”

Fri 06:30 PM – Fri 10:20 PM  (duration:  3h 50m)

The Party:

Elf Hero “Bushmills” (Eric Eisenbeis)
Fey Hero “Connemara” (John Cohl)
Elf Guardian “Elanthros” (Brian Rowntree)
Fey Gaia Cleric “Flitter” (David Rowntree)
Fey Mage “Jameson” (Mike Scales)
Hobbit Aru Cleric “Tullamore Drew” (Steve Brescia)

Background:

Pirates have been a problem, but this is different.  Merchant ships from Nassau’s Freeport harbor, on the clockwise trade route through the Inner Sea, have had some of their cargo mysteriously disappear.  No pirates, no boarders, just … gone!   The apparent hijacking has been occurring somewhere on the Westerly run from Kjallaga to Bhind (yes, offshore of the North Shore, but sailing beyond sight of those lands), a voyage which takes around two weeks.

Queen’s Guard:  you simply must take a cruise … and go out and see exotic lands, meet interesting people – - and when you find the ones stealing from us, kill them.

So then.

The party starts by going to the Freeport Harbormaster, to ask if there’s been any more information or pattern to this ‘disappearing cargo’.  They’re told that some of lost cargo wasn’t insured by Floyd’s of London, which gets an eye-roll from party member David Rowntree, who says “Nice”.  He explains to the group, “I was the Con Director for that year”.  (GM’s note:  and I reveal that I’m wearing “Floyd’s” T-Shirt from PrinceCon XI).

The party gets access to all of the shipping records, only to then realize that they don’t have the chops to conduct a multivariate regression analysis to wade through the data … fortunately, the high persuasion skill of Elanthros is able to convince the Harbormaster to assign a dozen clerks to go do the analytical number crunching to find the clues.

The party finds no correlation with any of the Merchant Captains or the senior crew, but does find that roughly a half dozen or so of the more hardworking second mates have been on many more runs with losses than would otherwise indicate.  They work with the Harbormaster to arrange the manifest of a forthcoming Merchant ship to place three of these ‘suspicious’ 2nd Mates onboard their ship’s roster…to keep a close eye on them through their voyage.  Similarly, they discover that the cargo stolen is usually the most valuable stuff onboard that voyage, and that it is always from the Port (landward) side … (GM’s note:  that Port is always to landward was just a coincidence of navigation – not anything more significant than that).

They join their ship as a special guard and find it to be quite Spartan and that due to the tropical climate, everyone sleeps above decks while the cargo is below in the hot & stuffy hull.  To keep an eye on things, Flitter befriends a few cats and rats onboard, which might spend more time hiding down below decks.  The rats are convinced it’s an evil anti-vermin scheme to make them become easier prey for the cats.

 

The more pragmatic Heroes set up a lean-to style shelter to keep the sun off the party – - and also acquire a wood drill to covertly drill a hole through the deck (along with a cork, in case seas get rough), so that their Spellcasters can use the “Pebble’s Eye” cantrip to keep an eye on the cargo below decks without actually going below deck.

 

All goes well for the five days it takes to cross from Freeport to Kjallaga; they settle into a routine with three shifts keeping watch, glancing below with the pebble eye every few hours.

Four days out from Kjallaga, while heading west across the Gulf towards the North Shore, they notice one of their ‘suspicious’ 2nd Mates climb the mast and do something topside.  They find it is some sort of voodoo/fetish doll, lashed in the topmasts.  The next day, the headlands of the North Shore are sighted, and with navigation confirmed, the Ship’s Captain keeps their Westerly course well out to sea.

Finally, four nights later, the cargo theft occurs.  It happens late on the 3rd shift, a few hours before dawn.  All that is evident is a slight tilting to Starboard, which required a Awareness DC30 roll … and which the vigilant Elf Guardian Elanthros proceeds to make that roll (with a natural 20, no less) to definitively be suspicious and to immediately check with his Pebble Eye the cargo hold, thus raising the alarm.  (GM’s note:  if not for that roll, the theft wouldn’t have been detected until morning!)

Quickly, they gather then cast Waterbreathing & Darkvision on Connemara, who dives overboard to scan below their ship.  He finds … sharks!   And returns with a tale to tell:  what looks like a giant whale shark has somehow swallowed the cargo and has headed off towards the south, swimming fast and deep such that he could just barely keep it in sight until his spells were ending, allowing its escape.

The Aru Cleric Tullamore Drew (run by Steve Brescia, whose past PrinceCon cartoons can be found at URL: http://www.keytoawin.com/steve/princcon/ ), couldn’t quite accept the Fey Hero’s mundane description,  resulting in their Queen’s Guard Report back to Nassau being depicted in the adjoining illustration.

 

Needless to say, the veracity of this ‘eyewitness’ account will be examined in greater depth.

The Party also asked an NPC Janda Cleric to question the suspicious 2nd Mate … with the Janda concluding that he was a liar and probably an insider, but nothing quite clear enough to merit casting an Inquisition prayer … at least not until a bit more is learned.

 

Run #2:  the inventively titled “Hugh Sat morning” (thanks Con Desk!)

Sat 10:13 AM – Sat 01:55 PM  (duration:  3h 42m)

The Party:

Fey Hero “Astraea” (Alison Kipe)
Human Hero “Cecil Wallis” (Mykl Sandusky)
Human Mavors Cleric “Damneron” (Michael Brokes)
Perrin Hero “Noelani” (Janine Rosales)
Human Hero “Stede Avery” (Tim DeCapio)
Fehy Gaia Cleric “Zip” (Spenser Kipe)

The party spends time doing research, tying to figure out what was going on with the cargo, such as:

  • Is the marking on the ship important?

  • Is there a reason that only land side cargo disappears?

  • Is there any pattern to what gets take?

 

(GM notes: Party hadn’t figured any of this out at this point, but: “yes, not really, yes”)

A lead from the first run was that some crew were always on a vessel when it was taken, and based on this, the Damneron, the Mavors Cleric grilled the prime suspect.  The suspect, knowing that he couldn’t lie to a Mavors, answered truthfully but did so so sarcastically that the Party couldn’t quite figure out just what they were learning (GM notes:  yes, he was 100% truthful!).

They also take time to search a previously raided ship thoroughly, including the hull underwater.  This is where the perrin Noelani finds a very odd artifact:  a portion of the hull has a round patch where there’s no barnacles nor anti-fouling paint:  it is just bare wood which now has around a month’s worth of new growth and around 18” in diameter.  The hole’s location is forward of the cargo, near the mast base, on the Port side (landward during the heists).  Searching diligently at that location inside, they find that the wood grain doesn’t quite match and conclude (correctly) that some sort of magiking was used (GM notes:  yes, patterning).

Finally, they set sail, figuring on setting a trap.  Arriving in Kjallaga, the Party discovers that the cargo may have been given its final re-arrangement during off/on-loading at the port of Kjallaga.  They discovered the key marker of a red label on a crate of quite valuable Allspice that happens to be first in one of the rows to landward.  (GM notes:  yes, that red label happened to be on the target designator for this run, but it wasn’t because it was a red label, but because spices are very valuable: all of the other first row boxes were much less valuable stuff).

Four days out of Kjallaga, the 2nd Mate attached the ‘good luck’ fetish to the ship’s mast again, as he always does (GM notes:  I forget if it was the 2nd or 3rd run party, but one didn’t notice the action, but noticed the fetish being present later:  when the 2nd Mate was questioned, he explained that the fetish was to keep their souls from being stolen – and that it had obviously worked).

The party decides on a trap: to be down in the cargo hold when it was likely to be taken.  They divided up into shifts and spent a lot of time under dark very hot decks in tropical weather (GM:  being heroes of the Queen’s Guard makes this easy to say).

Finally, on the fifth night after the crossing, what appears to be a kobold appears in the hold from the location of the hull hole:  in the darkness of inside hull at night, the party first notices a scraping sound, of the Kobold depositing a box.   As they all silently become alerted, a large opaque surface appears in front of the targeted cargo, the size of a door (a Dimension Door!).

Things get busy fast as the Party engages, such as a return volley of a half dozen hissing coconut grenades, which redirects two party members into a game of “Hot Potato”, grabbing & return throwing these Orb variants hopefully before they go off.  In the meantime, the shimmering D-Door actually moves!  (GM notes: well, it actually doesn’t move at all, as it has a Spell Modifier for its reference frame to remained fixed to the Earth, so it is the ship that’s moving past it).  Thus, the D-Door begins ‘moving’ sternward, which is eating up boxes of cargo.  Stede Avery jumps out of the way of the D-Door, preventing him from boarding the sub (probably a good thing).

And that kobold in the cargo hold who cast the D-Door gets jumped by two Heroes, Cecil Wallis  & Stede Avery, who successfully grapple him.  A coconut grenade goes off, causing NonLethal damage, and with the Party’s actions spent, the submariners still below close the hole (patterning), the first step in undocking their sub to escape.

 

Meanwhile topside, the off-watch shift of the party has also been roused.  One had moved to the stern staircase down into the hold, and put an arrow through the D-Door, nicely alerting the submariner crew down in the sub that there was trouble.

And the Perrin Hero Noelani received spells for waterbreathing and darkvision to jump over the side to have a look – - and she found, up close and personal, a large wooden submarine docked under their ship’s hull which had been disguised to look like a giant whale shark.  A hissing coconut pushed out of a small side hatch (which was how they were getting the returns cast overboard) motivated Noelani to retreat.

Again, the sub went deep, heading south towards the North Shore coast.

The Kobold D-Door caster did live, which passed along the Spell Modifier knowledge and magic items, which the party took and distributed.  He was thrown in a damp cell back in Nassau and forgotten about (for awhile).

(GM note:  the coconuts weren’t as plentiful, nor as effective as I was hoping for them to be:  my original scenario plan was for a bigger inside-the-hold fight with more than just one kobold to have been able to come up through the access hole, to have resulted in massive amounts of the coconut bombs being thrown around.  My hope was to achieve a Total Party Kill (TPK), but with all non-lethal damage – not that each Player would have known that as they’re sent from the room.  Thus, the bad guys would escape, the Players would gain information, and because they would have been left tied-up … survived – - although robbed, of course.  For a Friday first run party, they wouldn’t have any magic items to lose, so it would’ve merely been an embarrassment.  But for a later run party who would have also had their magic items stolen – - by ‘mere’ kobolds – - it would have been a bit more humiliating).

Run 3:  “You found … what??”

Sat 1:59 PM – Sat 3:59 PM  (duration:  4h 00m)

The Party:

Fey Mage “Alizar” (Ryan Ruzic)
Perrin Gaia Cleric “Bert” (Dave Ruzic)
Elf Hero “Karia” (Tom MaCabe)
Dwarf Hero “Lumbr, Jack” (Rich Eisenman)

Background:

A run which had to be concluded in real time by Sat 4pm so that everyone could attend Queen Nayla’s Costume ball … and yes, you read that timestamp correctly: this run started a mere four minutes after the prior run had just completed.

The group has a pretty good idea of how to go about finding a pirate submarine, and they’re pretty confident that they’re fighting “only” kobolds operating them.  Their plan is to become part of the cargo to be hijacked from the hold so as to try to capture said vessel on the high seas, and return it to Nassau for the Queen.

They go about doing so, and have cleverly crafted a partial crate (its back and one side are absent) which is nearly the last (closest to the stern) box which they expect to be taken.  As the submarine attack transpires and D-Door sweeps the cargo hold, they crouch inside … well, only the Elf Karia really had to crouch, as the rest of the party was short.

Appearing in the submarine’s hold, the party attacks, first with a snowball (GM notes:  what, no sleep?) and a web, which immobilizes most – - thereby dodging a massive coconut orb attack…a stern steersman and two forward are still standing, who take their actions to open petcock valves to flood the sub’s interior.  Why?  Because these are Marine Kobolds with gills, so they can drown the air-breathing invaders.  Needless to say, this wrinkle makes the Party a tad upset and even more motivated:  they respond heroically, firing off a second web to immobilize the rear helmsman and a Hold Person forward, which successfully captures the last two … and the party can now secure the scene, quickly shutting off the petcocks to save themselves from drowning.  In the meantime, the sub has been undocking and is getting underway by the Captain and Pilot – - who the crew now realize are not secured – - they’re in a separate compartment forward.   They search for a door, only to discover that there isn’t any:  they’re in an air compartment and that the wheelhouse is a wet compartment whose only access is via swimming in through the fake shark’s mouth.  The Players make menacing threatening gestures for them to surface the sub, only to receive a decidedly negative reply of a single finger salute.  But as they ponder their options, the helm stops the engines – - and ‘engines’ is a term used loosely, as it consists of eight undead kobolds on crank petals – - to then swim out the ‘sharks mouth’ to their escape.  

 

Our party now has a stopped sub, which is slowly sinking in deep water, and no one at the helm.  They find and man the pumps, and the sub surfaces:  Bounty Secured!   They search and recover some loot, including neutrally buoyant Chitonous Armor being worn by Kobold marines and figure out how to modify the helm to add an air-based compartment so that one doesn’t need gills (or waterbreathing) to drive.   They question their prisoners and conclude that “Leo, Zell, Zell, and Zell” are in charge.  Two weeks later – - and one minute before the Costume Ball is to begin – - they arrive in Freeport with their prize.

(GM notes:  inter-GM scenario coordination called for a submarine to be captured before the Ball – - this was cutting it a bit close.  One of the Suitors had been marked for assassination if a covert means was not found for then to leave Freeport after the Ball, and the sub was used to smuggle him back home).

 

Run 4.:  “So ver iz dis ‘secret base’?”

Sat 5:26 PM – Sat 9:26 PM  (duration:  4h 00m)

The Party:

Human Mavors Cleric “Armond” (Bob Cook)
Human Mage “Dr. Odde IV” (Bob Peterson)
Human Hero “Harthguard” (Chris Schilling)
Human Hero “LT Frederick Von Berg” (Dave Shilling)
Human Hero “Krumbo Krumbo Krumbo” (Charlie Heller)
Perrin Mage “Len” (Colin Sandon)
Perrin Aru Cleric “Verrah Markann” (Camilla Greer)

The Party debates how to best go about finding the secret base, including if they should also attempt to capture another submarine.  They settle on a plan of going out to retrieve the previously captured sub (now in a port along the North Shore), and follow behind an “innocent” merchant ship and upon it being robbed, then follow that sub without them knowing of their presence back to its base.

The retrieval task goes quite quickly and uneventfully (GM notes:  since the sub was in a town in another GM’s scenario, I explained that in Meta-terms that if they try to do anything more than ‘get the sub’, we would all be flying blind.  Fortunately, they made their real world Wisdom saves, and Rich Eissenman handed over the Item Card).

So, “Sub chase Sub” it will be.  The Party cleverly salts the to-be-stolen cargo with Attuned objects to aid later “Locate Object” spell castings to keep track of where it may be taken.  They shadow the merchant ship.  They do successfully notice the night pilfering and begin to trail the raider sub in their captured sub.  Oops, they discover that the patterning & rework that the prior party had done on helm modification for air-breathers leaks dangerously, so they cast patterning to fix leaks and strengthen, plus resist tempting fate by not diving any deeper.  Fortunately, as dawn approaches, they have a Locate spell running at the right time, and they discover that they’ve nearly overtaken the raider sub, as it has slowed and is above them, rising to the surface.  They go full stop … just before they could have run smack dab into a marine cliff, which rises from 900 feet deep to mere fathoms in but only a few dozen yards (GM notes:  this is no fantasy, but actually a real place, namely the Three Fathom Wall area of the Bloody Bay Marine Park located on the northside of Little Cayman).

In dawn’s low light, they quietly surface and get some fresh air.  They find that the surfaced enemy sub has proceeded, maneuvering into the shallows of an island that’s only 400 yards away.  Nevertheless, because they’re still in ink blue deepwater and but only a few hundred yards away, some in the party mutter that they suspect that the shallows and the island may all just be a huge illusion.

From offshore, they quietly watch as the raider crew proceeds to unload cargo to deck and begin sorting through and inspecting the goods.  One individual is pointing out stuff, which the crew works on for a movement; the Party realizes that their attuned objects, hidden in the cargo, are systematically being found and removed.  Within an hour, the cargo inspection is done and reloaded, and the raider sub begins to move slowly west through the shallows; some crewmembers go for a quick swim.  The party follows their same path into and then along the shallows, keeping back to avoid being spotted.  Rounding the island’s western point and out of the lee of the island, three rear guards of the raider sub spot them finally, and a brief combat takes place.  The Marine Kobolds are dispatched by the Heroes, assisted by electric eels summoned by Dr Odde.  One guard is brought back to the submarine and revived by Aru Cleric Verrah Markann – so that they can then be pumped for information – quite effectively, thanks to an ESP Medallion.   Toby reveals that the secret base is at the East end of the next island over, five miles away.  The party sails home to report their success.

Run 5.  “Col Mustard in the Den with Fireballs”

Sun 10:30 AM – Sun 03:00 PM  (duration:  4h 30m)

The Party:

Fey Mage “Alizar” (Ryan Ruzic)
Perrin Gaia Cleric “Bert” (Dave Ruzic)
Fey Gaia Cleric “Barrett” (Kelly West)
Dwarf Hero “Lumbr, Jack” (Rich Eisenman)
Cat Hero “Ushan DeLucca” (Tim Sullivan)

The Sunday final run:  ‘Destroy the Raider Submarine Base’.  The party first goes and questions ‘Toby’ the marine kobold prisoner, who complains about his prison cell being too warm, sunny and dry:  they arrange for him to have a dark damp cell dripping with slimy water…which makes Toby quite happy and cooperative.   They learn that the base is inside a large bluff on the second island, at the base of sheer 140ft tall cliffs near where a few centuries earlier, a house-sized rock fell from the cliffs broke off, forming a small island next to the island, separated by mere yards.

They head out, once again in the captured submarine – this time so as to avoid any possible encounters en route which may jeopardize their mission.  They also find that Dr Odde IV had spent some time on the prior run’s return voyage improving the design – there’s now patterned portholes to Port, Aft, Starboard, Above and Below to improve visibility in all directions.   They know some basics of the island that they’re going to be heading towards, including that the Marine Kobolds don’t live on the island – merely inside it.  Except for a manchild who is accompanied by a huge bipedal bear, the residents are anthropometric animal forms, such as a long armed hairy orange ‘bugbear’ of sorts, supposedly created by a ‘Doctor Scott Morrow’, plus there’s a very big & nasty feline who prowls the bluff lands, preying on the many chatty monkeys that talk too much the bush.  The kobolds get a few of these occasionally, when they fall through one of their secret cave’s skylights while trying to escape the Tiger  (GM:  scrawny, but tasty – kind of like spam).  The group thinks that it is reminiscent of characters from Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’  (GM: yup!).

Finding the prior landmark island, they proceed to sail East.  As the island ends, just visible across a five mile wide straight is the island that they’re looking for.  They search for a reef-protected anchorage and find one on its Southwest corner.

 

The group sinks their sub in the bay’s shallow waters to hide it, then proceeds East (up-island), towards the bluff highlands on a found path along the southern shore.

As they walk, the island’s interior to their left (North) slowly gains elevation; it is already twenty feet by the first fork in the path but a mile from where they started.  They debate on if to cross to the highlands and march up through the jungle, or stay on the easier flat shore side path.  They stay down on the path.  Five miles later, the elevation is now a hundred feet and is separated from them by a cliff; the group starts to become concerned about how they will climb up – but they shortly find a fork in the path where the trail north goes through large, old cut in the cliffs (large enough for a horse-drawn cart) to climb up to the top of the bluff.  How convenient.

 

The party bravely tromps up the hill without any scouting or concern of ambush.

 

Shortly thereafter, the party is ambushed.

Fortunately – or perhaps not – it was by a troop of the Bandar-log monkeys, a loud chattering gaggle of scatterbrained anarchy almost as dangerous as the Fox News echo chamber:  “We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true!”  Now since the two Gaia clerics, Bert & Barrett automatically can talk & understand animals, it is particularly hazardous to them, as it is enough to literally drive a sane person mad.  Fortunately, they both make WIS save vs. Insanity, which motivates them to leave this growing circus of attention behind, like immediately.  That they disappear (Hide Among Plants) and go silent (15’r) which becomes yet another novelty for the monkeys, attracting even more, so the group makes haste to go invisible to sprint away, which since this was hastily done resulted in a daisy-chain of party members holding onto each other without a rope.

Fortunately, they all Zig’ed when they should have Zig’ed and stay together, avoiding a Zag that would have left half the party alone with a 21 HD tiger who had come to investigate the noise.  Having thus escaped from the maddening crowd (literally & literally), they cross the last few miles along the top of the bluff, and start peering over its Northern edge to try to find the ‘little island’ landmark.

Once they do, they search for any of the ‘skylights’ that they had been told was large enough for a lost monkey to fall out of.  They succeed in this task as well, finding a modestly sized sinkhole that has a tree growing up out of it.  The fey Barrett, with the silence 15’ and dwarf Lumbr, Jack, who has a pick which can dig through stone, proceed down the hole in order to make the passage large enough for all of the partymembers to sneak in through this route … to discover immobilization in the form of magical web traps.  This also signals the silent watch to attack the topside party, which consists of some 7HD skeletons, which were also using Hide Among Plants.  About the same time that the tunnelers free themselves from the web, the party has dispatched the small undead ambush.

Digging proceeds and they all descend to a pocket where they all peer down into the subterranean submarine base .. and plan their attack.

 

Meanwhile, those traps (GM: and Auguries too) mean that the bosses inside aren’t clueless.  An invisible Wizard Eye (with auditory modifier +1) is cast to join the party, unbeknownst to them, which proceeds to listen in on their whispered final planning session specifics.

The party decides that they’ll summon two elementals (Water, Earth), for which the Gaia clerics Bert & Barrett have appropriate gifts that they had previously prepared to help in soliciting their aid.  As they do so, mage Alizar will cast a two-way D-Door right at the front door to the large ‘Boss’ building (right), for Heros Ushan DeLucca and Lumbr Jack, holding their actions will combat step through and charge in.

 

One, two, three … cast!

The Elementals are summoned, the D-Door appears, and our Heroes charge through its opaque surface.

… oh, and the light from the skylight (behind/above them) goes out

… oh, and the Heroes don’t appear in front of the door of the ‘Boss’ building.

 

A heroic shout is heard from below:  “Zombies!”

The Heroes are found, offset a short distance but behind the bars of the zombie paddock, with lots of friends.  And they also find that ‘their’ D-Door, which they had just exited, isn’t a two-way, but an opaque one-way exit only.

(GM’s notes:  thanks to the eavesdropping, the opponents cast a Wall of Iron to block the skylight exit behind them, as well as also casting a second D-Door virtually right at their intended exit.  Thus, the Heroes charged through not one, but two D-Doors … and this evil schemer chose to NOT buy the option for having his Door be a two-way).

Next round:

1. Heroes fight zombies in the paddock.

2. Clerics parlay/soliloquy with their summoned elementals, with Fey Barrett flying from the skylight down to be near his Earth near the cook’s station (along the ‘bottom’ of the map).  This was about when Bert realized that he was now: (a) alone, (b) the skylight exit was blocked, and (c) the D-Door was a highly unsuitable means to get to the main level.

3. Three blue furred perrin are seen on a balcony over the Zombie paddock, gesticulating.

4. One black furred perrin is spotted down near the cook’s station, also gesticulating.

5.  And there’s some Marine Kobolds around too .. but they quickly will break morale and just scatter in chaos, hightailing it for various exits over the next few rounds.

A snowball bursts near the skylight, also making Bert feel even more vulnerable.  Bert asks, and is told it is merely a 100ft dive from the skylight pocket into the water below .. although he will need to push out, as directly below its a shallow sandy beach, not particularly deep.  As Bert’s water elemental rises up to accept his Gaia gifts, Bert decides to leap, and body-surf down the body of his water elemental to descend.  Just in time, as a Dispel hits his water elemental, causing that raised column of water to collapse and crash down around Bert on the beach.

The Zombies and Heroes tangle.  There’s a few missile shots made at the blue fur shamen, resulting in him disappearing (GM:  a mirror image dispelled).  In return, Ushan DeLucca is hit with a Fear, failing his roll.  Ushan will desperately grab up the magical pick that Lumbr, Jack had dropped to missile, as the only real means of escape from the paddock is to use this item to cut through the metal bars of the prison, all whilst Zombies freely attack Ushan from behind.

On the other front, Barrett and his elemental close to engage the black furball … but gets interposed by another elemental!  Hey, where did that come from?  (GM:  the second unseen caster, perhaps?).  Not to be outdone, Alizar casts Monster Summoning, for three Hydra to enter the fray.

Another missile at a blue fur .. and another poof of a mirror image (GM:  really!).  In retaliation, a Finger of Death is thrown at Lumbr, Jack .. who fails his save and goes down.  But because of a regeneration ring, he’s not quite dead yet.

As chaos reigns, a missile does finally connect with the last standing blue … which also disappears (GM:  not quite:  Alizar? saw a bat appear with an arrow in it).  And the hydra takes down the black fur … but the Lich’s fallen body then disappears.  Rocks start falling from the earth elemental duel … and the Party retreats for the dust to settle.  When things quiet down, the discover what remains of the compound empty of all living things (and unliving too), some documents of an independent corporation with just two bosses, Leo (the Grey), an occult perrin shaman, and his undead partner Zelll (the Black lich), an undead perrin lich.  There were also more incriminating notes, which lead back to Queen Mare as a silent partner, and finally, one undamaged submarine, which they proceed to take back to Nassau as a war prize for Queen Nayla.

GM Notes & Wrap-Up:  

The Raider’s subs were made in Vosgod, a tie-in not exploited.  The enterprise was an ‘independent corporation’ bankrolled by Queen Mare to undermine Queen Nayla.

The legends in the region included occult zombie lore:  locals knew that such creatures of the night were not mere fiction, which meant that totems and fetishes that some of the Merchant crews carries were based in a belief that they could help keep evil spirits away.  Unfortunately, this didn’t happen to prevent them from being Attuned, so as to help locate candidate Merchant ships.  Thus, there was a clear correlation to a crewmember … although if they were really an ‘insider’ remains in question.

The Marine Kobolds were from a small colony that lives on a small islet off of the southside of the island that the 4th run party had found.  They were hired with an interesting insurance policy:  any who die would be reanimated as Zombies, allowing them to continue to serve and earn income for their families after death.

Finally, the reason why the final run had so many opponent spellcastings was because the lich Zelll had a Thrice Ring.  One was running the Wizard Eye spying, another was directly in combat and the third had summoned & controlled the elemental.  When the one spellcasting in combat fell, the jig was up:  its body was teleported back to the others and with Leo already also fleeing in bat-form it was time to declare the company bankrupt.  In diminished form, the two remaining in the triumvirate carries his own body away, out a submerged hidden exit by the islet rock.

All in all, it was a fun scenario to sketch out and run, particularly since I’ve not GM’ed since PrinceCon37 (2012).  Having short notice was actually a blessing, as it forced keeping things simple and with less complicated theme interconnects to worry about.  Plus I’m thankful for the Costume Ball on Saturday afternoon, as this forced breaks, and while I did do five runs (most ever?), they were also all short, which is much more fun and less draining than to grind through a marathon session.  Finally, not having months to prepare also meant that I didn’t have time to invent locations, so I used the trick of using real locations.  This meant that without having to invest time to write anything down, I had a ton of depth if a player asks, which could be done without pause in game play to look stuff up:  the only map I had to make at all was of the submarine base.

Epilogue …

Wounded, a dark gray bat flies up into the jungle canopy to land, rest and wait for nightfall.  Miffed, and drained of his casting abilities for the day, he watches the Party emerge with – - his belongings!   Their search found everything, although they unknowingly also desecrated the last of his mother’s lovely old totems.  Well, that will teach them all, for the May Cow will now be loose and it will go find them.

Out in the blue, below the cliff, a cluster of black bodies stumbling across the sea bottom reaches the edge and tumbles off of a deep drop-off into the blackness below. At 40m, there’s a shelf on which the two stop.  Holding the third between them, they combine back into but one.  It then finds a large lionfish, which it grabs and absorbs, both its life force as well as its venomous poisons, which it makes its own.  Sleep now, to plot revenge against those living Gaia’s; it closes its eyes and whispers “Duppies is…”

 

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