An Evil Fleet of Sand Skimmers

When One Door Closes, Another Gets Knocked Down by a Barbarian

Dinner with Toramund was a complete success, with the possible exception of Liam almost getting tossed out for interrupting the host. Bynn regaled Toramund with some interesting tales (cleverly saving both of his natural 20s of the evening for history skill checks). Ganath entertained him with arena combat stories (“I gotta fight the halfling! It’s what I’m all about!”) In the end, by trading away some of their supplies so Toramund could fully equip his courier to send an important message to Balak (“What R U wearing?”), he disclosed what he knew of the legendary lost safehouse of a now deceased House.

The information led the group to a hidden canyon that was hopefully different from the many other hidden canyons in the desert. A full day of searched eliminated some but not all of the possible passages, and the party had to hole up in a cave for the night. (Except for Grimgutt, who after a spat with Zaine was demoted to guarding the sand skimmers above ground, and writing “I will remove sand from Zaine’s shoes WHENEVER she tells me to” 100 times.)

A gang of Gish attacked in the night. Despite the narrow confines, and a gish elite that could jump around like the guy Bond chases around the construction site in Casino Royale, the party was victorious. The next day, additional skill checks allowed the party to find the probable entrance when Liam held up a large staff he “borrowed” from a man with a fedora and the sun shone through it on a particular passageway.

Explorations began in earnest, and the party battled a large group of undead zombies and skeletons. Interestingly, at one point the two groups of undead actually attacked each other, confirming theories that undead often have deep seeded rivalries between each other – much like same party candidates during the primary season. Ganath proved his worth by taking on 3-4 undead at a time. Zar wanted to take teeth from the undead but was unclear about whether he could take them from something that had already been killed, or if doing so would count as double-dipping. In the end, the tooth won out. Ganath found a large heavy shield that was magical, at which point a heavy sigh could be heard 300 feet above on the surface from Grimgutt.

This led the group to a doorway to wonderous treasure – only in this case, the door was the treasure. It was lined with copper, making it easily their biggest score since adventuring together. The door was locked, but Zar opened it with his barbarian thieving skills (“Lead with your shoulder!”) and knocked the door down.

The doorway led to a crypt, with five sarcophogi and a center column with runes written around it on the floor. The runes could not be deciphered but the party decided to open the lids of the sarcophogi on the off chance that the runes read “Welcome adventurers! Free candy in the crypts!”

It’s not that they weren’t prepared for bad mojo. Zar held the door and was ready to slam it down in place of the lid when it was removed in case a nasty undead came out. The door proved ineffective in preventing the ghostly creature from emerging. Or the three others from other sarcophagi. Or the multiple undead that sprung up in the runes, including a banshee like creature that targeted the Liams for never calling or writing after she engaged in a double-team with them backstage after the show in Cork.

It was not an easy fight – the ghostly creatures had resistance to our mundane weapons. Everyone was bloodied at least once during the battle, and one of the no-show “companion” characters almost died – really died. Like, three hit points away from their negative bloodied value. (Apparently undead prefer to munch on a downed character instead of attacking another. If only we had seen some undead horror movie that would have clued us in to that…) In order to protect the identities on both sides, a code will be used so only dyslexics will know what really happened: Mail almost died when Mit was playing him.

Still, the group was rewarded with an even greater treasure: Another door. This time plated with a metal we had never seen before, perhaps even silver. What’s behind this door will be a mystery until the next session, during which time Zar can brush up on his “open lock” skills by watching tapes of John Cena and Dick Butkus.


From the Journal of Bynn Jerdun:

The desert trek was arduous, and affected me a bit more than I thought it would. Am I just getting older, or have I spent too much time in the cities recently? Still, at least I fared better than Liam. The heatstroke affected him badly, so much so that his brain seemed to try to compensate by hallucinating. I heard him muttering more than once about a “hazy shade of winter”.

Still, our group seems to be more cohesive in battle. I was quite pleased with how well everyone did in a fight against the bandits. Acquiring Ganath has definitely borne fruit. He and Grimgutt can both take large amounts of punishment without falling. And my tutoring sessions with Zar seem to have borne fruit. He’s hitting more often now. I wish we had been able to get our hands on their little halfling leader – these things tend to come back to bite you at the least convenient times. Still, it went well.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the small oasis, which had more water in one place than I had ever seen in my life. Part of me thrilled at the site. The other part of me was depressed that it took so little water to impress me, after the tales I’ve read of ages past where Athas was covered in rivers, lakes – even the mythical “oceans”.

We had a near altercation with a small elven caravan. This would normally have been right up Liam’s alley, but the sun had affected him so much that I think the elves misread his eagerness to pay any price for their goods as someone trying to con them into letting their guard down so we could attack them. Fortunately, the fight was averted.

The final battle before reaching Toramund’s little fiefdom was troubling, as it clearly wasn’t a random encounter. They were looking specifically for us – everyone but Ganath was described on that list one was carrying. Could it be someone after me? I wish that narrowed it down more than it does. Enemies of Zaine’s House? I’m sure Zar has probably left an enemy alive at some point. And the Liams don’t say much about their past unless it’s in a song. This is something we should discuss soon.

We were invited to a dinner with Toramund. Liam really needs to let Liam do the talking in these situations, though with Liam’s sunstroke perhaps that wasn’t a viable alternative on this evening. The sun may have sapped my strength, but it seemed to have sharpened my mind – I was recalling obscure historical facts with ease, and Toramund seemed to be impressed – or at the very least, not bored. I think we kept him entertained, but there was always a hint of condescension in his responses. Like he had been expecting a boring evening with dullards, but had at least a moment or two of interesting conversation. In the end, he traded information (which he seemed to think was useless) for supplies.

On the way to the probable location of the secret canyon, Zaine and Grimgutt quarrelled. Perhaps that’s the wrong characterization. It was mostly a one way argument, with Zaine telling Grimgutt that this mission was very important to her House’s future, and Grimgutt sighing and repeatedly stating his preference for continuing on to Balak without indulging in these unimportant side treks. At that, Zaine said something to the effect of “If it’s so beneath the notice of the great Templars, you should do something else. Since you’re so invested in reaching Balak, guard the skimmers, for we’ll be unable to eventually get there without them.”

Grimgutt looked unhappy, but then he usually does. I’m guessing he was given multiple orders. Something to the effect of “guard Zaine’s life with your own” and “obey Zaine at all times.” The two can be mutually exclusive at times, and I don’t envy his position. At any rate, he stayed behind after having a brief and quiet word with Ganath, and the rest of his set about exploring the canyon.

The work was exhausting – not just the trudging though various passageways, but the constant tension of wondering if something would strike out at you at any time is wearing as well. We had eliminated many dead ends, but still had almost half of the passageways to explore when he had to stop and rest for the night.

It pains me to confess that when we were ambushed by the Gish that evening, I was the last to awaken. Again, perhaps the heat was a factor. But I was also having a wonderful dream. I was younger, not a child but not yet fully grown. A beautiful tiefling woman (is there any other kind?) was pointing at the sky, where a map had been drawn out on the stars. I asked her what those places were, and she said “I haven’t been to them either. Why don’t we go together?” I held out my hand, and she was about to take it. Then she screamed “Zar will bathe in your blood and wear your teeth, Gish!”

That’s when I woke up.

Again, the rest of the group handled themselves admirably even during my belated appearance. A general once said he would rather have a squad of mediocre soldiers who had fought together for years than a group of legends fighting together for the first time, and while I think he exaggerated for effect, he had a point. We’re better aware of what each other can and can’t do in addition to gaining abilities on our own.

The next day, we found a promising passage. It led to a room filled with foul undead. I say this literally, not on a moral scale. They really stank. Liam fell in a field of darkness created by one of the beasts. Then the creature pounced on his unconscious body and began feeding, nearly killing him. Fortunately, it happened at the end of the battle, so we were able to heal him. Still, we need to make sure we communicate at all times – especially when out of line of sight. We should go on the presumption that if we can’t hear or see them, something is wrong, and move to their aid. I’ll bring that up to the group at our next period of rest. Ganath did find a magical heavy shield that should be useful to him.

The last battle in the crypt was very dangerous. I know that many would question our decision “Why disturb the sarcophagi, especially with all of those arcane runes on the ground that you weren’t able to decipher?” Fair question.

First, there was no guarantee that simply moving through the crypt would not have disturbed the undead. If it was going to happen, we wanted it to occur when we were most prepared for it, not when we came back into the room, perhaps retreating from some other threat.

Second, we need to find these missing goods, and we’re rather hampered by not knowing exactly what we’re looking for. Concealing contraband in a coffin is an old elven smuggling trick: “His last wishes were to be buried in your fine city!” That ploy was old when this House was young, so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that the crypts themselves had what we were looking for.

Having said all that, between the ghostly creatures, the wailing spirit, and those other winged monsters, we had our hands full. Everyone took some heavy wounds. But again, we fought well. Ganath can keep multiple opponents occupied, and do so for long periods of time with the amount of damage he can take. Zar was hitting quite often, though still not delivering the earth shattering blows he’s capable of. Liam and Liam both did well, and Liam in particular is making almost every arrow count. Zaine’s abilities are the most foreign to me, but undeniably useful.

We’re about to go through the next metal (metal!) door – perhaps literally, if Zar has his way. He toyed with the idea of making it his new weapon/shield, but I think I was able to convince him to stick with his falchion for now. Let’s hope the goods we seek are behind it.


Are you telling me that a Bard with an AC of 18 is not that great for 2nd-level characters? What kind of Monty Haul campaign is this?


My head kind of funny. I know this happened but it was like I wasn’t me.

We have dinner and travel to place where treasure Zayne is looking for is supposed to be. We go to sleep and then we get attacked by things called Gish. At first I thought I was having a good dream about fighting but then it was real which is better than dream. Gish jump around a lot and don’t let you hit them. I don’t like Gish. Finally we hit them and Gish die. It was fun. Bynn slept most of the time and missed out on most of the fun.

Then we go again until we find where treasure is supposed to be. But we don’t see treasure we see lots of things that are dead. Everyone say they are un-dead but I don’t understand. We are all un-dead but we don’t look like them. Everyone also say they smell bad. I didn’t notice. There were some that had skin. And there were some that didn’t have any skin at all. You could see all of the teeth on those. I like those. When we kill them I was not sure if I could take their teeth because they were dead already. But then I thought about it for a little bit and just before my head started to hurt I decided it would be ok to take them, so I did. No blood to bathe in though. Very sad. Ganath find a big shield. He look happy. Shields not good for killing. I don’t like shields.

Then we come to door. It look funny. Then we all realize it made of metal. I found out last that it was made of metal. I always find out last. I wonder why? What was I saying? Oh yeah. I never see metal before. It looks strong. I like.

Door was locked and we had trouble opening the door. So I get mad at door and make it open. Bynn say now I know how to pick locks. In side we see some things made out of stone that look like something people could go to sleep in and everyone keep saying ‘Zar cough on us’ but I wasn’t coughing at all. Maybe their brains were broken. We were going to open the stone sleeping things when everyone says maybe something bad will happen. So they tell me to stand with the door and cover the stone sleeping thing if anything bad tries to come out. Something bad tried to come out so I cover it with door but it didn’t work. I came out anyway. Doors don’t stop bad things from coming out of stone things where people can sleep. See, Bynn was right, ‘everyday new things learn about you’, or something like that.

The things that came out were ghost things. Ghost things don’t have blood or teeth! I don’t like them! We kill them too and when we get done we thought we would find treasure but we didn’t. We found another door. I will try to pick this lock too.


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