An Evil Fleet of Sand Skimmers

#10: What the hell have I gotten myself into?

#10: What the hell have I gotten myself into?

The morning after the attack by the Red Spines and the Desert Knives against the Kreen, I went over to the new ones to thank them for their help. If their actions could have come a little sooner, it likely would have saved some of those who perished. But I felt that the fact that they did come to our aid needed to be acknowledged and thanks given for those who were saved.

Two of their number were elves, and hearing them talk, it turned out that they were the two who had approached my old mentor Jigush asking for help for their village. They immediately became angry with me, and would have attacked had I not said that the way he treated them was the reason I left Jigush.

I worked at their side hauling bricks that day, a welcome relief from the heat of the kiln. Throughout the day, we heard the Templars and guards talking about a large ceremony that would take place at the arena two days later, upon completion of the ziggurat. The night before, there had been an explosion atop the ziggurat, and rumors flew through the camp about what had happened: King Kalak had sacrificed someone or something, the Veiled Alliance or another resistance group had attempted an attack, as well as many unlikely things.

A compatriot of the people I spent that day with had been freed and made a noble by King Kalak the day before, and they hoped that this newly made Lord, the barbarian Zar, would be able to win their freedom. I would learn later that this Lord Zar did make unsuccessful attempts to free his friends and to make contact with the resistance. He spent much of the first day hanging out at a bar waiting for his contact. Once the contact showed up, the meeting did not go as Zar had hoped. Zar also travelled back to the pit to try and talk his way into getting his friends set free. That also, did not go as Zar had hoped.

Thinking back on this now, I should have gone back to the clutch that night to tell them what I had found, but I decided to stay that night with my new friends and see what happened. I did learn a little about them that night, but nothing of real note occurred.

The following dawn, as we were finishing our morning swill, a templar and guards approached, and I and three of the others were chosen to fight in the games that King Kalak was throwing to celebrate the completion and dedication of the Ziggurat. Liam the Ranger, Ganath, Bynn and Tlik-Cha would fight for the glory of Kalak. We were brought to the arena and allowed to practice and given tests. It was determined that Ganath and myself would be on a lower tier of the games than Liam and Bynn.

At the end of the day, we were returned to the pit. Before dinner, the templars announced that in honor of Kalak, we would be given double rations for dinner, and that at the conclusion of the ceremony tomorrow, we would be returned to the status we had before we were taken. Those who were slaves would return to their previous owners, and those who were free would be set free. All wanted to believe this would be true, but we were not among them. Whatever would happen at the arena, we doubted it would be good.

We split up and told various contacts to be wary the next day, and to be ready to act when the time came. I returned to the Thri-Kreen to tell them, but was not allowed into the clutch-home. They thought my efforts over the past two days had broken tokchak. Rather than viewing my efforts as aimed at gaining allies for the clutch, they had seen it as giving aid to others before the clutch.

That night was without much rest, mourning over my expulsion from the pit’s clutch, and worry over my newfound compatriots (would they and I be worthy and compatible?), fighting the arena, and whatever defiling ceremony King Kalak would lead on the morrow.

That night was also a time of action and the paying of debts. Liam the ranger secretly attacked and killed a snitch. All that was spotted by the guards was an elf, and so the Templars and guards moved into the Elf-camp. There was fighting and some explosions, and the guards dragged a few elves out of their camp. We found out the next morning that the guards had entered their camp just as the elves were sending lines over the walls in an attempt for them all to escape.

We were all given double rations for breakfast. While we were eating, the elves that were dragged out of their camp were thrown over the wall, hanging from ropes around their necks. As they twitched their last, the Templars said something to the effect that such is the fate of all who oppose King Kalak.

We were led to the arena: the four who were fighting to the gladiators cells under the arena, and Liam the Bard, Zaine and Grimgutt to the upper tier with the rest of the slaves. The Lord Zar used the last of his gold to bribe his way into the Noble’s seating area and was seated in the second row.

We were given armor and weapons, and learned that the brand or tattoos preventing the use of our powers were no longer active. Ganath and myself were on an undercard, and wound up fighting halfling rogues. They were quick and hard to hit, but eventually we each defeated our foe. Liam the ranger and Bynn faced tougher opponents, further up the card, and each fought against a Mul warrior. After a short rest, the four of us were grouped with two other Mul warriors to fight in the penultimate match against a huge leaping spider. The battle was hard fought, but eventually we won. Things were diciest for Liam, as he used the last of his healing surges against the Mul warrior in the previous fight. As he hit the hardest, the Spider did all it could to knock him out of commision.

We bandaged up our wounds, and were led into the stands to watch the last fight, a duo-team king-of the-ziggurat free for all. Whichever team could hold the top of the ziggurat that rose out of the arena floor for two minutes would win the battle. There were many strong and impressive teams, and a great battle raged. Some among us noticed a few strange things happening as the fight progressed: many guards and templars were no longer at the positions they had held at the start of the fight, and some low thuds shuddered through the arena.

When the dust was settling, the duo that stood atop the ziggurat at the end was a team made up of a human warrior and woman psi (I think). Just as they defeated their final foe and claimed the top of the ziggurat at the center of the arena, the woman looked toward the balcony of Kalak and loosed a huge bolt of mental force at it. The bolt struck against a force barrier around the balcony and fizzled out. Just as the barrier came down, the warrior threw his immense spear, striking Kalak in the chest.

A collective gasp went through the crowd, and chaos began to spread through the stands. Most spectators stampeded toward the now barricaded exits.

Zar began to fight his way through to an exit and was trying to break down the door blocking the way….

Liam the Bard, Zaine and Grimgutt gathered up a couple of slaves, took down a couple of the remaining guards, and made their way to the edge of the top tier, where a jury-rigged rope dangled halfway to the lower tier. They gathered some more clothing from the surrounding crowd, trying to making the rope longer….
Bynn, Ganath, Liam the Ranger and myself decided to try to make it to the Ziggurat, figuring if any attack would ever succeed against Kalak, now would be the time. Our way was blocked by a Templar and guards, so we went over the wall to the floor of the arena and were getting ready to follow the Warrior and Psi who had attacked Kalak into the ziggurat….

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Nuts and Bolts, Nuts and Bolt.. We Got Screwed

With ruby in hand, we made our way through the underbelly of the noble district. The dungoneering expertise of Grimgutt got us safely out and to street level. Without stopping to clean up or take an extended rest, we finally found ourselves across the table from Ushrik, Tithian, and Kargash of the House Tsalaxa. Upon our proof in obtaining the ruby, Kargash provided Tithian with a very impressive sword, which Tithian took possession of and then he disintegrated away (which was quiet impressive itself). Kargash demanded we give him not only the ruby, but that Bynn give him the crown found in the lost cavern of the House Madar. When Bynn refused, Kargash dominated his mind making Bynn give him what he wanted. The group readied for battle; however, before we could attack a wicked Thir-kreen monk dropped from the ceiling. Zaine tried to grab the ruby but amongst the commotion was unsuccessful. We fought valiantly and bloodied the (14-level) monk, even though more than half of us couldn’t hit the broad-side of a sand-skiff and the monk and (15-level elite) Kargash were obscured in a zone of darkness. When we realized retreat was our only option, it was too late. One-by one we dropped….Zar, Bynn, Liam (b) [Oh Shit! the healers are down], Ganath, Grimgutt, Zaine, and finally, Liam®.

We awoke a few days later, dress in rags. Our heads were shaved and strange tattoos etched into our flesh. We were now slaves of Tyr, forced to build Kalak’s folly. Zar did not take too kindly to being a salve (again?). He tested boundaries and found himself thrown into “isolation”. We quickly realized to make it on the inside we would need to find allies. The question would be with whom would our alliances side? Which slave “clique” would we fit in: the roughians, the loners, those whole had lost their will to live….Wait! Is this high school all over again??

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Make Like a Tree and Die

Well it’s been a while and I don;t have my botes with me so I may be a little unclear on some of the names involved.

So anyways we had to break into the estate of an ex-Templar named Hommol Gyra to liberate a large ruby so that we could get some information from a Dray named Ushrik. He had a very nice manor with a beautiful garden in the middle covered by an impressive glass paneled roof. Liam McShooty suggested that since he was the only one who didn’t move like a bull in a china closet that maybe he should sneal in alone and retrieve the ruby. Liam made a seemless entry through the roof but he didn’t count on what lay within.

Somehow the Dragon of Athas knew he was on too us so he lay in wait disguised as a large tree. Liam, not expecting trouble from any uppity shrubbery was caught unawares as the Dragon tore at him with it’s tree-limb shaped wings. Although his desire for vengeance was great, Liam knew he had to bring back word that the Dragon was nigh to Liam McTalky and there other companions. Making his way back to the party he imfomred them that a stealthy approach which no longer be possible. The group decide that main force was a better option and so they assulted the manor. After a pitched battle with some very poorly trained house bets they found the monor empty of any people. A quick search found stairs leading to a basement vault.

Alas the vault was a trap and we found ourselves ambushed by a fell Obsidian Golem. The stone abomination rampaged through our ranks time and time again while the very room itself seemed to spew a poisonous cloud. Time and time again Bynn fell to the creatures wrath as Zar raced to stuff a scooby snack in his mouth to get him back in the fight.knowing that getting the vault door open was the key to disabling the traps Zayne consulted her most powerful tome (Psionics for Dummies) to no avail, until Liam McShooty suggested she use the index after which the magical trap was quickly disabled. Open the vault revealed a passage to the UnderTyr as well as the ruby. There was some other stuff but something tells me we won’t have it for long so why bother.

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006. Playin' in a Travelin' Band
Travelin' Band

On the final morning of our journey to Silver Spring Oasis our party and the 3 sand skiffs (manned by Black-hearted Brom and his motley crew) were once-again “ambushed”. While Liam®, Ganath, and Grimgutt, saw them coming, they were not able to stop the 3 attackers from making their attacks and damaging both the sand skiffs and the crew. Once Liam (b) and Zaine stopped distracting one another (discussing where each should stand) they too joined the fight. Grimgutt, Bynn, and Zar engaged 2 of the attackers and their mounts; while Ganath and Liam® attacked the very nimble assassin and his nasty mount. The assassin was obviously well trained and was able to attack Ganath with his sword and shoot Liam (ranger) with a poisoned arrow from his hand cross bow. Unfortunately, Liam® could not shake the effects of the poison for much of the fight. Bynn shouted battle tactics to his allies, and not to be outdone – Zaine shouted to Grimgutt to “attack the mount”. Fortunately, these words of encouragement to Grimgutt allowed him to muster up the extra force he needed to put down the mount for good. At times during the battle both Zar and Ganath caused the foes to be thunderstruck. Zar was amazingly effective in the fight… almost as if he were another person. He hit on every attack and was even able to add a few eye teeth to his necklace. During the middle of the battle, birds of fire and men of magma appeared… like we didn’t have enough to deal with. These creatures caused their own havoc; igniting numerous party members on fire and/or immobilizing them in magma. At one point, Liam® was fighting the effects of the poison and immobilization all while he was standing toe-to-talon/ toe-to-magma with the 2 creatures. Luckily when Zaine dimensionally scrambled Liam® and the creatures away from each other, the teleportation seemed to cure Liam® of these on-going effects. During the battle, Liam (b) did what he could to keep the party alive, which was not an easy task, as well as fight the foes. We used every trick up our sleeve to dispatch of the foes, and eventually the last of the attackers was slain and damage to the skiffs and their crew were assessed. Only 1 crew member was lost… poor little Halfling. The bodies of the dead were looted and from the assassin we took found some poisoned ammunition for Liam®, a magic amulet, and a signet ring. While the signet on the ring looked familiar to both Zaine and Bynn, neither we able to place it.
When we arrived in Silver Spring Oasis we were provided a note requesting we travel to meet Rhotan Vohr at the Inn of the Dancing Kank IN TYR! This information was met with skepticism and disbelief. The group was concerned about sending the skiffs on the journey without protection; furthermore, the authenticity of the note was called into question. Many party voiced their dissatisfaction and concerns about returning to Tyr but in the end the desire to get paid and seek answers won out. Messages were sent to Alturak and Balic informing the House Wavir and House Leidos of our plans and a description of the signet ring worn by the assassin.
Nine days later we gathered at the gates of Tyr, donned our instruments, and disguised ourselves as a traveling band of minstrels. Grimgutts rousing rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama” on Liam® lyre was amusing the first time; the 20-30 other times were a bit (umm…) irritating. Despite the musicality of our group, we were permitted to enter Tyr. Liam knew exactly where the Inn of the Dancing Kank was located as he had passed out …I mean patronized this establishment numerous times. The bar was tended by the proprietor, Mila, who recognized Liam immediately. Still leery of the note we received, we asked Mila if she had seen Rhotan Vor recently. Sure enough he was in Tyr and staying at his residence down the street. She provided us his address and warned us to stay in the safer parts of the city (or we might end up as slaves building Kalaks Folly).
Our meeting with Rhotan was productive. We were fed, provided wine, and paid for the job in the Tablelands. Rhotan provided the group some information regarding the “ousting” of the House Leidos from the city of Tyr. He provided us the name of Ushrik, a Dray “fixer” (aka, draqoman) who may have been involved. Furthermore, Rhotan was able to identify the signet on the ring… the familial crest of the House Tsalaxa; the assassin was a family member (D’OH!).
The next day we found Ushrik at the Inn of the Dancing Kank. While we thought we would have to introduce ourselves, Ushriks knew who we were and that Ganath “was new” to the party. Using some pretty persuasion, Ushrik was open to speaking with us. Zaine inquired about the people responsible for hiring him to destroy her family’s interests in Tyr. This of course would be costly, and rather than pay in gold, she offered to help him finish a job. In return for their assistance with the same job, Ushrik provided information to the Liams regarding the destruction of Dublin. Ushrik mentioned it was destroyed by Kalaks templars to allow Kalak to “pay” the tithe to the Dragon. Within the party, it seemed only Zaine and Grimgutt knew of this annual sacrifice of 1000 souls by the sorcerer-kings. So in one swoop, the Liams added the Tyr templars, Kalak, and the Dragon to their revenge list. [YEAH, good luck with that!] So now, we are on the hook to help facilitate the removal (steal) of a large ruby from Lord Hommol Gyra, an ex-templar of Tyr.
While out preparing for the job (ie, find out more about Hommol Gyra), Ganath and Bynn came across 2 elves harassing a half-elf beggar. Diplomacy turned to intimidation, which in turn, devolved to violence and soon enough elf was down. The ruckus caught the attention of some the templar guards; however, as they were approaching an earth-shatter KABOOM went off in the market. The guards immediately turn their attention to the explosion and Ganath and Bynn were able to slip away in the commotion. During this time, Liam and Liam were (shockingly) at a bar having a few drinks when a young woman ran in to the bar. A few moments later, the Templar guards rushed in as well shouting the Veil set off a bomb in the market and that the assailant was a female. To protect the women from the guards, Liam® did what every decent man would do… he kissed her. Of course, this worked and the guards left. The woman was so grateful to Liam she left too… and didn’t leave her name or contact information, so the Liams tried to follow her.
Finally, we all regrouped, regaled stories, and decided we scope out Hommol Gyra house to find the best way in. Liam® stealthily patrolled the grounds of the property while Liam (b) not so stealthily engaged a fruit vendor. Bynn was again involved in more violence when words failed, this time he tried to free a prisoner from 2 city guards and almost became a prisoner himself.

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005. "Oh my!" or Treachery Most, eh, Treacherous

Having survived our epic battle in the crypt against a number of rather rude Undead foes, not to mention some particularly viscous doors we set out for our next challenge. Alas this foe, another set of doors in alliance with a 10 × 20 room was almost too much for us to overcome. Finally after some amateur thievery and a lot of shouting at the door by Zar we managed to get into the main chamber.

The floor of the main chamber was inlaid with a horrible sun motif, kind of like that weird Jimmy Dean breakfast commercial guy, he really creeps me out. Thankfully our foe was another undead instead of that guy, whew that was close. Here is where things got a little hazy for Liam. Now I admit I did imbibe quite a bit during our short rest, come to think it that may explain his failure to spot those traps at the door and his missing his first three shots. Where was I, oh yeah in the middle of the battle that double dwarf/half giant fella Ganath attacks me. Treachery, I knew we shouldn’t have trusted that guy when he just showed up in the middle of our journey. Oh he claimed that we was under the influence of the Undead creature but when he crited me for the second time I began to take notice of his odd behavior. We managed to defeat the creature only to see him reappear moments later with another devastating attack. Don’t think I didn’t see you slip him that healing fruit Ganath, I have my eye on you.

Finally victory was ours and we goods from House Menards, where you always save more money. After searching through the remains of our undead foe our expert appraiser Liam determined that we found a worthless circlet of silver and a mighty amber necklace pretty sweet loot.

Liam managed to make some use of his experience with thievery to make off with the metal doors as well as the goods we were hired to retrieve. Luckily we were not surprised by yet another ambush outside the cave. Whoever is trying to kill us must be getting desperate as they hired a group of Shadowrunners (Trolls, Elves, Human) to attack us. We were doing fine until a mage appeared perched above the cave entrance launching deadly AOE’s. Alas this proved his undoing as Bynn scrambled up and pushed him off the edge, crashing to the ground below. Liam, remembering the example of his Uncle Dick Cheney, shot the Mage in the face and we soon prevailed.

All that remained was to return the goods to Alterac. I just assumed that we would just bypass Captain Galvanger and run right to the Frostwolf relief hut but apparently that strategy has been nerfed, thanks Blizzard. Anyways on the way back our skiffs got attacked by the giant plant from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, although I slept through much of this fight. When I finally awoke I found the Halflings skiff runners basting a sleeping Zar while eagerly licking their lips. I was able to run off the plucky scamps with the promise that Zar would taste much better after some more dry aging. Soon the plant we defeated and we had a nice salad before going back to bed.

PSA
Fiber from veggies is very important for adventurers if you want to remain regular, knowing that a good bowel movement is the key to a good day. And knowing is half the battle.

The More You Know

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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.

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003. The Vanguard

Playdate: Saturday 10/23/2010
Players: All (I kid you not)
Characters began level 2 (1001 XP)

Zaine continues to stretch her limited credit and hires the adventurers to retrieve a lost treasure that may or may not exist. She’s doing this to curry favor with another trading house, which has information that’s of great interest to her father’s trading house. The lost treasure is the property of yet another (extinct) house to which the party of the second part has acquired assets…ugh, does anyone else feel like they did when they tried to read the crawl at the beginning of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace? Fortunately, things soon devolved to violence.

For the gory details, click here.

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002. Murder Most Fair

In which the party finds evil lurking beneath the surface of Altaruk. Like under every other surface in Athas.

As the adventure opens, we see the PCs on middle of the arena fight card, right after Dustin (“Screech”) Diamond vs. Ron “Horshack” Palillo, but under Manute Bol vs. William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

For the full story, go here: The Gory Details
Edited to move Wulatin’s detailed writeup elsewhere.

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001. The Elven Caravan

Play date: September 25th
Players: Liam & Liam, Zar, Bryn, Zaine, and Grimgutt
Characters began level 1 (0 XP), end level 1 (475 XP)

The PCs join an elf caravan to get out of Tyr before it gets worse. After surviving the desert and an ambush, wacky hijinx ensure. Things get deadly as the elves try to capture them for slavery. After the PCs put them down, it looks like they’re to be clapped in irons (well, giant-hair manacles, iron isn’t cheap on Athas), when Grimgutt gives Tellemon the secret Templar handshake. Offered the chance to go 2-0, the PCs defeat the elves in a game of Arenaball.

For the full story, go here: The Gory Details

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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