Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.51, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on Monday, 18 November 2014:
In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. The “Vanished Lands” were blessed by the gods and cursed by prophecy. Travelers became adventurers, and adventurers strove to be heroes in the face of many perils and wonders. One such band began as circus performers, rescued slaves, and seeks to fight the dreaded Ghost Fleet….
“Vistel’s Expedition,” crew of the Zephyr, Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, as of autumn 2014:
- “Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane” [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 11
- “Scully Strongbow” [Sara F./absent ]-female albino Flind (Gnoll) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and sailor, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 11
- “Corwin Windsong” [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, wandering noble, warrior, and mandolin player; CNg, Lvl. 11
- “Elsa Fairbottom” [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 11
- “Rhys Davies” [Drew S.]-male Tinker Gnome (Minoi) clockwork gadgeteer and impetuous Rogue; TNcg, Lvl. 11
“18 to 30 April 1227 B.C.E.:” With much help and planning, Giacomo finally rid himself of the “Mad Mage” Ezra through a complex and dangerous ritual. Corwin continued shopping, Elsa and Rhys met with the Zeda kingdom ambassador, and Scully and Niac recruited more crew members for the Zephyr in the city of Hesolin.
At the local Magisterium (magic school), Giacomo makes sure that no traces of his cursed tattoo remain. Lord Josiah Mearls offers the Hifalendorin human a faculty position and assigns excitable adept Vinod Fabrizio to be his assistant. Giacomo also celebrates his newfound freedom with droll girlfriend “Dread” Maggie Oakleaf.
Corwin finds Princess Priscilla practicing archery in the royal gardens. Under the watchful eye of guards and chaperones, the Half-Elf prince tells her a few stories of how their fathers, now King Edmund II of Saganim and King Akkon XII of Hifalendor, once adventured together on the Sea of Nagendwa.
Elsa and Rhys return to the embassy of their homeland, the Zeda kingdom. Elsa receives enchanted studded leather armor from fellow Hill Dwarf Wilhelm the Smiter. Lady Matilda, a Forest Gnome Paladin with a conical cap and a badger pelt cloak, asks Tinker Gnome Rhys if she can see his airship.
The Zeda emissary, Henrik Giantslayer, son of Boris, tells Elsa that he has received word from Zorch (King) Bertrand of Doru that their realm will join the alliance against the dreaded Ghost Fleet and participate in her nascent long-range communications network. Merchant Henrik also mentions an Orc attack on the remote Dwarven stronghold of Eagle’s Rest near Dosh Kar.
The wanderers regroup at their rented villa near the “Golden Horn” hotel in Castle Court. Flind Scully and Wolfen “Capt. Niac” [Mike F./Non-Player Character] supervise provisioning and training of the Zephyr ’s growing crew.
Giacomo agrees to look into legends about the mysterious Vappu Lahja at the Library of Memir. The Wizard finds some parallels between the fairy tales of a proud woman cursed to outlive her suitors and the Scourge of “Capt. Jack Kildare” [Randy K.M./N.P.C.], leader of the Ghost Fleet.
In between dates with Priscilla, Corwin checks in with fellow Bards at the temple of Brijitt, goddess of fire and poetry, in Hesolin’s theater district. He also helps Giacomo with his research and waits for letters from “Melchior” [Byron V.O.], who is shadowing his enemies in the barbaric port of Gisar.
Elsa loans her ring of Feather Fall to Rhys and casts Message to warn Orlando Vistel, founder of Vistel’s Circus, not to fight his captors. The Druid has learned that her former traveling companions are being held by the Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja who have been raiding human and Halfling villages across northern Hifalendor.
Rhys and Niac make the steamboat Zephyr airworthy by attaching a dirigible balloon to its masts and extending the wings retrieved from a clockwork dragon. Shipwright and Paladin Niac notes that hot air will provide lift, but more sails will still be needed for propulsion.
After about a week, “Vistel’s Expedition” leaves Hesolin and sails through the air northward, along the Aehonir River. To the west is the (proto-Celtic) human kingdom of Saganim, and Hifalendor and the broad Plains of Sathendo stretch to the east. Far to the north are the Wisalef Forest and the Ivory Mountains.
Giacomo serves as navigator, comparing the stars to charts and magically projected maps. As first mate, Corwin relays Capt. Niac’s orders to the crew in the rigging. Elsa helps the ship get under way by invoking Mekkil (Gaia) for a Gust of Wind. Rhys and his apprentices keep busy with the steam engine, and Ranger Scully watches for aerial foes.
From the ground, the wings of the floating Zephyr make the ship look like a dragon, scaring the occasional farmer. Niac asks Giacomo to plot a course from Hesolin to the Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human city of Nadwi and then east, to the villages under attack by Centaurs.
Corwin and Rhys aren’t especially surprised when stowaways Priscilla and Matilda emerge, but Giacomo and Elsa are incensed at the potential international incident. Corwin argues that the young women should be free to pursue their own interests, but Elsa warns that King Akkon may send pursuers.
Mr. Bernardo Tancredo, a Halfling herbalist under Elsa’s command, attends to Maggie and other crew and passengers who get airsick in the first day of travel. Elsa and Scully talk with chatty and hungry birds confused by their vessel.
On the second day out of Hesolin, the Zephyr passes over Androth, where some performers from Vistel’s Circus began their misadventures more than a year ago (in “game time”). The airship avoids the village, and Niac agrees to sail at half speed rather than stop at night. Giacomo casts Nondetection and Scry. Matilda enjoys the view from the top of the dirigible.
On the third day, the experimental airship passes Grenville and marshes. The sailors on watch spot a tree waving at them. Elsa Wild Shapes into a bird, and Corwin casts Fly and carries curious Priscilla to investigate. The rest of the crew of the Zephyr watches from a distance. Giacomo uses a spyglass.
Elsa asks the Treant for permission to land in her branches, and the “Old Missus” is happy for the company. Corwin casts a translation spell to understand Sylvan and translate for Priscilla.
The sentient tree says that Cooter, a human guide from the village of Keyans, occasionally passes through the area. Corwin notices some bones at the Old Missus’ roots and flies down for a closer look, despite her protestations of “being too messy for guests.”
Corwin and Priscilla see several humanoid skeletons covered in yellow mold. Elsa shifts back to Hill Dwarf form and climbs down to join them. The Old Missus asks them not to disturb the corpses, since they feed her.
Prince Corwin tentatively identifies the bones as those of Troglodytes, slimy reptile folk. Elsa manages not to inhale any spores as she collects a sample of the fungus, over Corwin’s objections. They bid farewell to the Treant and fly back to the ship.
Giacomo lectures the away team on parleying with a potential monster, but Elsa gives the sample to Bernardo and writes a note to Barry the Gardener, a strange being she met on Emein Island in the Zarendo Archipelago.
The next day, lookouts spot two Pegasi with riders approaching from Nadwi. The Zephyr has crossed more than 200 miles in a fraction of the time it would have taken going upriver or on horseback.
Corwin casts Invisibility on Princess Priscilla, and Capt. Niac hails the Hifalendorin airborne cavalry. The knights order the ship to follow them, because King Akkon wants his daughter returned home safely. Corwin and Elsa reluctantly comply.
Rhys retracts the Zephyr ‘s keel, and Scully helps furl the sails. The boat lands in the Aspar River, and another set of watchmen escorts the crew to the provincial governor’s palace. The visitors notice that there are more demihumans in the northern Hifalendorin city than in the capital of Hesolin.
The team is brought before Nadwi’s ruling council, and Prince Andre de Giles, a kinsman of King Akkon, recognizes Prince Berek. Grizzled Gen. Sixtus Aurelias berates the young nobles for making light of the disappearance of Princess Priscilla, whose invisibility drops after she smacks Rhys for an impertinent comment.
Elsa explains that the Zephyr has come to seek allies and help with the Centaur uprising, and Lady Elaine Valis says that their leader may have taken on the identity of Vappu Lahja to enhance her reputation. Sir Roderigo Adelmo notes that the northwestern borderlands have otherwise been peaceful lately, with few raids from the nefarious kingdom of Zuromm.
The aged Sir Mador Basored advises Prince Andre, who complains that he has been waiting in vain for reinforcements from Hesolin for several months. The feudal lord suggests that he will take his time replying to the king about the princess if the Zephyr’s crew deals with the Centaur threat.
Lord Clobard Thudoric, the mayor of Nadwi, gives the explorers permission to stay in his city for a few days, but he warns them that they will be under guard. The party leaves the palace and walks out into the cobbled streets….
I hope that everybody enjoyed our latest “Vanished Lands” sessions, and remember to make sure that your characters are up to date on Obsidian Portal. Remember that the “New Dawn” telecom team won’t be meeting on Sunday, Nov. 23.
I look forward to continuing our adventures in December, as well as to concluding Rich’s Hunter: the Reckoning miniseries and preparing for Jason E.R.’s “Channel 37” dimension-hopping scenario! Other likely one-shots around the holidays include my “Star Trek: Restoration” and D&D5e demos by Dexter V.H. and others. Be seeing you, -Gene