Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Sessions 40.40 to 42, which were held on 14, 21, and 28 December 2014:
Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….
Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, and an online dice roller, as of autumn 2014:
- “Moon Jung-Mo” [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki; eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern Niruth; LNg, Lvl. 10
- “Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu” [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 10
- “Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu” [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) with tiger companion Amaya and a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 10
- “Ember Talon” [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 10
- “Soske’ Tiatoshe” [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 10
- “Saigo Kasugi” [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 10
- “Tokoro Gawa” [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion Mala; CGn, Lvl. 10
“1 to 10 August 1227 B.C.E.:” The wanderers interrogated a Yuan-ti spy who was disguised as a gardener, and they delivered him and Saigo’s grandfather to the rulers of the Zedu kingdom. The adventurers then agreed to pursue a dragon of corruption in the northeastern wilderness.
At the “Dragon’s Beard” hotel in Bazran Hai, the onetime diplomatic escorts discuss what they would do with the titles and land offered to them by Zedu’s rulers. Jung-Mo says he would like a private base of operations, far from prying eyes.
Sonny plans to recruit followers and start a dojo (martial arts school). Like Jung-Mo, he hopes to restore his clan’s honor. Toshi prefers a defensible location, preferably in a valley between the Bamor Mountains and the Therud Forest. He notes that a shared stronghold should be possible.
Ember puts in a request for a dragon-sized tower, while Soske’ intends to raise an army for the next war against the forces of chaos. Saigo hopes that becoming an aristocrat would help his chances of wooing Princess Nayoko.
Tokoro returns to the more immediate concern of fighting the evil Wu (Druids) of the Scarlet Order. Ember studies the report of Gen. Shinso, Saigo’s grandfather, about the reddish dragon. It is most likely chromatic, she says, but the exact type is unclear.
Wu Jen Toshi and Shukenja Soske’ spend the next week in Bazran Hai enchanting items for their companions. Jung-Mo names his young wyvern Niruth (“Storm Bringer”) and trains it on the outskirts of the mountain city. The Ninja looks for other Nannuattan, but they have gone to ground.
Samurai Saigo spends time with his father, Gen. Hirokazu, and Princess Nayoko. The Samurai learns that Nayoko’s brother, Prince Mutsuhito, will be escorting Lady Yun home.
Hulinyuan Tokoro keeps watch with his otter Mala and explores the winding caverns and underground river beneath the Korobokuru (eastern Dwarven) capital.
“I am sorry, father, for what I have done in the past. My time among the mortals has changed me significantly. I’ve learned about true love and the value of friendship. If not for myself, but for safety of my friends that I care greatly about and the innocent lives I can save. I am now in need of my powers. I fear this evil dragon we are about to face has fallen deeper into corruption, killing the innocent and befouling the earth, which has given him great power. Please grant me the strength I need and break the bond of this collar!”
As the crane Hengeyokai speaks, tears fall from her eyes and fall onto the holy ground before her. Ameratsu Mitemi, a Bamboo Spirit Folk (eastern Sylvan Elf) priest, sees Ember and tries to reassure her.
Soske’ stops by the temple and asks Ameratsu about Mi-Shao-Shur, the chthonic (Chaotic Evil) deity of the Yuan-ti who had infiltrated Bazran Hai. The Sohei says that if the followers of the dragon are similarly chaotic, their ranks could include aberrations, demons, and other shapeshifters.
Ameratsu warns Shengtese human Soske’ not to expect predictable tactics or chains of command as among Gokuri’s armies, where Bakemono (Goblins), Oni (Ogre Magi), Draconians, and Minotaurs serve the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elves).
Back at the local Magisterium (magic school/library), Jung-Mo asks for Toshi’s help in researching dragons and potential vulnerabilities. The Shan Sao and Nannuattan agree that stealthy scouting will be at least as important as weapons or spells when dealing with the dragon’s monstrous minions.
While roaming the city, Tokoro recognizes Hojo Etsuko, a River Spirit Folk (eastern Grey Elf) who serves the same master as he does. She had been swayed against Shengtese human farmers by Desc Soo-Ann, a Nannuattan hunter from the Shadow’s Claw clan disguised as a courier.
Tokoro follows Hojo out to the main bridge leading into Bazran Hai. The carp Hengeyokai briefly loses her in traffic, but he hears sounds from the boards beneath his feet. The Ranger pries up a board and sees Hojo sliding down a rope, which is nowhere near long enough to take her to the bottom of the chasm.
A flying creature with the head of a dog, the body of a sheep, and the tail of a lion flies beneath her, and Hojo joins the rider and leaves. Tokoro returns to the Dragon’s Beard to tell his friends about the strange encounter.
Jung-Mo wonders if Ember knows of other friendly or metallic dragons in the area. Soske’ asks Saigo to contact fellow Samurai to join their fight against the chaos and dragon. As Toshi puts the finishing touches on magic items, the group gets provisions and prepares to head east to mountain outposts.
Rather than take Jung-Mo’s carriage (and Niruth’s magical cage) into rough terrain, the party buys some carts and sturdy ponies. The team rides out from Bazran Hai but makes slow progress in the Bamor Mountains.
That night, Sonny and Tokoro take the first watch, followed by Jung-Mo and Ember. Soske’ and Saigo are set to take the third and final watch. Toshi studies spells and writes letters to his betrothed, Suki Amarna, by the campfire.
During the second watch, alert Ember spots something large moving on the rocky slope beneath the campsite. Stealthy Jung-Mo and Tokoro go to investigate. They see a two-headed giant. One head is ugly and speaks crudely, and the other is well-groomed and more eloquent.
Tokoro sneaks back to wake the rest of the party, and Toshi and Ember shift into bird form. The Wizard identifies the creature as an Atamahuta Oni. Soske’ wants to take the fight to the unnatural enemy, but Saigo and Tokoro want to let it go.
Jung-Mo continues to follow the Atamahuta, and Ember casts Heat Metal on the Ogre’s double axe while flying as an owl. Toshi shifts back into Shan Sao form and readies Magic Missile. Tokoro rapidly fires a volley, hitting once.
Soske’ casts Ancestral Weapon and asks for a bow vs. Chaos. Jung-Mo sneakily attacks the Oni, striking it with an arrow. Sonny slides down the slope toward the fight, followed by Saigo.
Toshi’s Magic Missiles injure his hated foe, and Tokoro hits again with arrows from his Thunderbow. Saigo slashes the Atamahuta with his katana, as Soske’ casts Divine Power on himself.
The Oni strikes Saigo with his Urgosh, chilling the Samurai with magical cold. Ember retaliates with Flame Strike, which unfortunately also affects Saigo. Sonny unleashes his Vorpal whip while Jung-Mo darts among the rocks.
Rather than bury his allies beneath an overhang or hit those in melee with Arc Lightning, Toshi casts Lightning Bolt. Tokoro and Saigo both miss, but Soske’ continues wounding the humanoid.
The Atamahuta Oni casts Wall of Fire, injuring Jung-Mo, Sonny, Soske’, Saigo, and Tokoro. Ember treats Saigo with Cure Serious Wounds, and Sonny’s whip decapitates the giant, removing its dumber head. Jung-Mo finishes off the Oni. The victorious band finds and divvies up the following items:
- Armor, banded mail + 2 — to sell
- Gems, assorted, worth 1,000 tael (2,000 gold pieces)
- Mithril coins, worth 3,500 tael (7,000 g.p.)
- Ring of Animal Friendship — claimed by Jung-Mo
- Urgosh (Orcish double axe, 1d8 + 2) — to trade as part of cover
- Wand of Desecrate (as per 3rd-lvl. caster) — Soske’ destroys
Toshi gives about 500 tael (1,000 g.p.) to each party member, plus a similar share to a party fund. Sonny, Ember, Saigo, and Toshi, who didn’t claim any magic this time, get 1,250 g.p. each.
Back on the trail, the travelers discuss their plans to infiltrate territory controlled by the Scarlet Order. As they cross the Rodyui Stream and enter the hamlet of Rodaki, the would-be heroes pose as a merchant caravan.
Jung-Mo is disguised as “Xiaoming Chida,” a River Spirit Folk trader of mundane and “special” items. As an arms dealer, he plans to check for Yakuza or Nannuattan connections. Jung-Mo keeps his wyvern in its magical cage, where it appears to be a simple songbird.
Sonny uses his middle name “Nobuto” as an alias and serves as a “marginally competent” sellsword and drunkard escorting the merchants. Toshi sends his tiger Amaya to discreetly trail the team and poses as “Tiye Akamoto,” an herbalist selling medicines, tobacco, and poison.
Ember takes on the identity of “Jinsong Chida,” the meek daughter of Xiaoming, leading to much teasing from her and Jung-Mo’s companions. Soske’ poses as “Shishi,” a soothsayer and fortuneteller.
Saigo joins Nobuto as a ronin (masterless Samurai) and guard. Tokoro isn’t worried about his otter Mala attracting any undue attention as he volunteers to be river trader and scout “Mu Kawa.” Toshi/Tiye helps the group to dress down for the part.
As Xiaoming and company set up stalls in Rodaki, they are accosted by a Korobokuru (eastern Dwarf) wearing leather scale armor. Oinuma Eiji welcomes the traders and buys a jeweled dagger from the Chidas.
Oinuma directs the newcomers to the “Sacred Ewe,” a combination town hall, temple, and inn. Mu Kawa notices a wok-like bowl atop the building. It contains the largest fish from the Rodyui Stream.
Usami Sakuko asks Shishi to read her fortune. She has a grandchild bring a sacrificial pig, and Soske’ casts Augury. The shaman sees the old woman choking on a bone and warns her. In return, Usami invites him to join her family for dinner.
Nobutu and Saigo watch the carts as the others disperse at dusk. They notice that the Korobokuru, who are normally at home in the dark, rushing indoors. A night watchman urges them to seek cover but doesn’t explain why.
Ziaoming and Jinsong dine at the Sacred Ewe, where they see shepherds and miners drinking heavily. They prepare to leave for a midnight stroll, but Oinuma recommends against it. He offers a bench in the common room as a bunk for the night.
Shishi and Tiye eat with Usami Sakuko, whose family tells the spellcasters of a “guardian spirit” watching over the hamlet. Their description is similar to that of a Ki-rin.
Mu Kawa climbs onto a roof to get a better look at the bowl of fish. The Ranger waits until he sees it rattle. A creature with golden scales, a long neck, antlers, sparking hooves, and a flaming tail appears. As it hovers over the Sacred Ewe, Tokoro climbs over.
The brave scout asks the Ki-rin its purpose. The hovering creature says that it is protecting “its people” and that they may meet again if Mu Kawa continues traveling through its territory. It then disappears into the night, having eaten the fish.
The next morning, the dragon hunters compare notes. Jung-Mo checks on his wyvern. Sonny wonders if the “Ki-rin” might actually be the chaos dragon or one of its minions in disguise. Ember worries about other dragons, and Toshi notes that Ki-rin aren’t usually carnivorous.
Soske’ agrees that it’s strange for such a creature to ask villagers for tribute. Saigo points to a map and says that the Scarlet Order’s reach may extend from the Dragon Pass almost as far south and west as Bazran Hai. Tokoro prepares the pack animals to continue eastward….
Bruce, I’m sorry that we missed you last night, but I hope to see most of the gang at tonight’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” session. I also hope that everyone can make our additional telecom game this coming Friday.
I hope that all of your holidays have been happy so far. I’m glad to be home after the past month or so of travel, and I look forward to continuing our adventures into 2015! -Gene