Fellow role-players, here is my update for Sessions 41.8 and 9 of our face-to-face D&D5e game, which Drew S. hosted in Needham, Mass., on 17 and 24 August 2015:
In one ancient world, there was a place 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.
Sometime after a group of former circus performers wandered aboard the airship Zephyr and a team of diplomatic escorts fought chaos in Tong Sheng, past heroes reunited, and another band gathered on the Sea of Nagendwa….
Initial Player Character roster for Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands” nautical campaign, using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, as of summer 2015:
“Kamar Alazar” [Beruk A.]-male Suthern human swashbuckler (proto-Arabic Bard) and former member of the “Liberators” and “Dragonslayers”; CG, Lvl. 2
“Nuriel Earendil” [Brian W.]-male Grey Elf acolyte of light (Cleric of Corellan Larethian); NG, Lvl. 2
“Cassy Keelnipper” [Sara F./absent ]-female Otter-kin Rogue, street urchin, and sailor; NG, Lvl. 2
“Kaelen Northsea” [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf scout (Sylvan/Saganim Ranger), seeking his father; NG, Lvl. 2
“Eldamir Tempestborn” [Rich C.G.]-male Atlantean human soldier (Theran/Minoan Barbarian), tattooed member of the Order of the Kingfisher, specialist in the net and trident; CG, Lvl. 2
“Barret” [Drew S.]-male Minotaur wrestler and gladiator (Fighter) with a crossbow; LG, Lvl. 2
“Puliarus Aearion” [Charles S.]-male Half-Elf sage (Thalassaquendi storm Sorcerer), seeking to befriend all; CN, Lvl. 2
“Ludovico ‘Ludo’ Rosso” [Beruk A.]-male human ex-gladiator (Monk; see Bruce K.’s Pathfinder: Eberron/Reign of Winter); LN, Lvl. 1
“?” [Brian W.]-male Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human Fighter, pragmatist; LN, Lvl. 1
“?” [Sara F.]-female ?; NG, Lvl. 1
“Drogan” [Bruce K.]-male Half-Orc (Saganim) Barbarian, with a great sword; CN, Lvl. 1
“Sebastian Leafsworn” [Rich C.G.]-male Sylvan Elf Monk and sage, with forbidden lore; LG, Lvl. 1
“Vasco” [Drew S.]-male clockwork butler (Warforged), former member of the Zephyr ’s crew, displaced in time and space; LN, Lvl. 1
“Antoun Miner” [Charles S.]-male Hill Dwarf Druid, healer curious about the sea; TN, Lvl. 1
“14 to 18 October 1227 B.C.E.:” In close combat off the Saganim coast, the crew and mercenaries of the H.M.S. Dauntless defeated the pirates aboard the Bronze Storm. The naval vessel seized weapons and booty from the schooner and headed back to port.
The adventuring party is dismissed from the Dauntless as it arrives in the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human town of Drunstimlos. Kamar invites Alitasse Vorwende, the Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elf) purser, to dinner at a clam shack.
Nuriel, Kaelen, and Barret plan to visit the local church of Ghanki, lord of the sea. Cassy reminds her companions of a rumored shipment of slaver gold on the Lazy Goat before she disappears into various alleys.
Eldamir warily follows Nuriel, while Puliarus heads straight for the “Sailor’s Climb” public house. He meets scrimshaw artist Helen O’Leary in addition to the usual fishermen and farmers. Kamar and Alitasse go for a long walk on the beach.
Nuriel and company walk to the temple of Ghanki and look for Fr. Gwydion. Eldamir is disgusted when he sees the drunken priest cavorting with a parishioner in the graveyard. After chasing away some street urchins leaving graffiti, Kaelen and Barret continue cleaning the decrepit church.
Puliarus and notices a young man wearing a tabard sitting alone in a corner of the pub. A group of women tell the Half-Elf that he is Sir Sigmund Adelbard’s squire.
The servants also say that their master, Lord Caerdon, has been in a bad mood lately and that he sent them out for the evening while he entertains the visiting knight.
At the temple of Ghanki, Nuriel offers tithe of 25 sovereigns (gold pieces) to Fr. Gwydion and asks for help with an “afflicted friend,” meaning Eldamir, whose eyes glowed with an unholy rage during the recent battle with the Bronze Storm.
Fr. Gwydion is interested in the prospect of an exorcism, and the Atlantean human reluctantly submits to examination at Grey Elf Nuriel’s request. Barret returns to the tavern to look for a pit fight, and Kaelen searches for a shrine to Ano Wasu, the lady moon.
Nuriel goes to fetch a bucket of water for Fr. Gwydion, who conducts a divination. The Cleric states that Eldamir will have to fight an earth elemental to atone for his sins. Nuriel takes just enough holy water for his own purposes.
Outside the Sailor’s Climb, Barret becomes “the Masked Minotaur” and enters a brawl with burly human Eavin. Half-Elf Kaelen watches bets change hands and learns that the Lazy Goat has a Hobgoblin captain.
Puliarus flirts with one of Lord Caerdon’s maids, but the Half-Elf is unsuccessful. The next morning, the group visits Brenda O’Connor at the guard tower. Puliarus practices archery and buys arrows.
Brenda pays the adventurers 10 talents (1,000 silver pieces or 100 gold pieces, about 16 g.p. each) for capturing a Necromancer. However, the Saganim militia captain explains that Morgwyn has been released to his family, because the O’Bannons own a lot of land and are influential.
It’s also possible that Fr. Gwydion interceded on his behalf when Lord Caerdon visited town about a week ago, Brenda says. Kaelen observes that’s when the maids said his mood changed, but Brenda says she didn’t notice anything amiss.
Eldamir buys another map of the area around Drunstimlos from Vaughn Rikkar, a Half-Elf Bard. The team returns to the tavern to debate its options. The gold shipment aboard the Lazy Goat is the most time-sensitive, argue roguish Kamar and Cassy.
Restless Kaelen wants to sign onto another ship, but cautious Eldamir and Puliarus wonder why Lord Caerdon has been acting strangely.
Righteous Nuriel and Barret want to investigate the Necromancer’s family manor, which is about a day’s hike from Drunstimlos, according to a map from Fr. Gwydion. The group decides to check out the rumored shipment of slaver gold first.
Kaelen finds two Goblins from the Lazy Goat and asks them to arrange a meeting with its commander. He and Barret wait for Capt. Kurath “the Cruel” at the edge of town, with Nuriel a discreet distance away.
Kamar, Eldamir, and Puliarus go to check out the cog while most of its crew is ashore. As night falls, they sneak down to the docks and swim out to the ship.
Capt. Kurath arrives with two Orcs in addition to the two Goblins. The armored Hobgoblin explains that he asked to meet away from the inn because humanoids are generally unwelcome in Saganim territory.
Kaelen poses as a “contractor” looking for slaves for a Dark Elven mine. Kurath responds that he might be able to help. Nuriel notices that both Kurath and Kaelen are taking their time haggling. Barret talks with the Orcs and learns that Nosepicker likes to wrestle and Groinbiter is a boxer.
Meanwhile, Kamar swims to the prow of the Lazy Goat and peers into a porthole. He sees hammocks of the crew in a forward section. Amidships, Eldamir sees a weapons rack, while Puliarus finds a chapel aft. They quietly climb onto the ship and try to avoid three human sentries.
Kamar casts Sleep on one guard, and Eldamir leads the way downstairs. Puliarus casts a Light spell on a coin. As the trio passes the middle deck, it bluffs its way past two sailors playing dice. The Bard, Barbarian, and Sorcerer find no signs of slave quarters in the hold, but they do find a vault with a locked door.
In town, Ranger Kaelen gives Kurath a pearl worth 10 sovereigns as an advance on 150 g.p. for a set of slaves. Kurath says that he’ll need several days to procure and transport them. Cleric Nuriel follows the Goblins before returning to the temple of Ghanki. Gladiator Barret arranges to meet the Orcs later.
On the Lazy Goat, Kamar picks the lock and disables a trap that would drop an iron bar. He, Eldamir, and Puliarus enter the vault and find several chests of coins. However, one turns out to be a Mimic!
Eldamir throws a net onto the purple-tongued aberration, but it dissolves in its saliva. Kamar casts Sleep, which has no effect on the Mimic. Puliarus casts Fire Bolt and backs up.
Enraged, Eldamir makes a reckless attack with his trident, and Kamar switches from his rapier to a crowbar. Puliarus casts Magic Missile, and Eldamir finishes off the Mimic.
Kamar grabs 30 gold coins as Eldamir pulls him out of the vault. Back on the top deck, three men aim crossbows at the infiltrators. Puliarus casts Fog Cloud to cover their retreat.
Shortly thereafter, a sailor calls Capt. Kurath away from his meeting with Kaelen and company. Kamar, Eldamir, and Puliarus find Barret in a field outside Drunstimlos wrestling with the two Orcs. They send Nosepicker and Groinbiter away as they regroup.
Kamar recommends finishing the job and robbing the apparent slavers. Kaelen wants to get away before Kurath can alert his crew or the watch to hunt the would-be thieves.
Nuriel and Barret want to use Fr. Gwydion’s maps to inquire into the manor of the Necromancer. They also point out that Lord Caerdon’s mysterious behavior might be worth investigating.
Ultimately, Eldamir and Kaelen persuade their friends to find another ship and leave town. The travelers stop by the Sailor’s Climb to retrieve some possessions and then camp outside of town as autumn winds and rain sweep across the coast.
Kamar and Nuriel take the first watch and try to stay warm without a campfire. During the second watch, Barret and Puliarus sit still as plaid-clad horsemen pass nearby. On the third watch, Kaelen and Eldamir stay put even as they hear a scream out on the moors.
In the morning, the bedraggled band walks back to the docks and sees guards posted on every pier. Kamar and Puliarus notice two ships — the Floating Eel and the Wandering Eye, which has a Beholder skeleton as its figurehead.
Nuriel is surprised by Itharides, his grandmother and a famous adventurer. Unlike most Grey Elves, Itharides has sought to help humans for centuries. Nuriel tells the others that he’ll be at the pub catching up with his kin.
Kaelen talks his way past the guards, and Eldamir spreads the rumor of a small being such as a Halfling or an Otter-kin being among the thieves. Barret is surrounded by a throng of young fans of the “Masked Minotaur.”
Sometime later, Kamar, Kaelen, Eldamir, and Puliarus row out to the Floating Eel. They are surprised to be greeted by Henry “the Ghost” Grayson, former captain of the Bronze Storm! After the Dauntless set his ship adrift, it foundered, and its crew was rescued by the Floating Eel, he explains.
Puliarus befriend the mercenaries and pirates on the Floating Eel, but Eldamir is more wary of the Ghost. Kamar and Kaelen ask Capt. Kassem al-Zaweh for passage from Drunstimlos. The Suthern (proto-Arabic) human notes that the ship is already pretty full and has been hired by Itharides to go to the kingdom of Hifalendor.
Kaelen says that the great Grey Elf would want Nuriel and his associates to come along. Capt. Kassem replies that he’ll allow them to share bunks (in double shifts) with his sailors, but on the condition that there are no problems with the former crew of the Bronze Storm.
The foursome returns to town and splits up. Kamar begins drinking heavily at the Sailor’s Climb, where Nuriel is talking with his grandmother. Cassy is nowhere to be seen.
Brenda O’Connor invites Kaelen to a council she has called with the captains of the ships in the harbor to discuss the recent theft. The Bard brings Barret along.
Since he is a suspect in the break-in, Eldamir decides to camp outside Drunstimlos. The Barbarian climbs a tree to spend the night. Puliarus goes back to the temple of Ghanki to check on shady Fr. Gwydion.
At the pub, Kamar sings loudly about recent misadventures [to the tune of “Smooth Criminal”], and Nuriel plans to meet with Rowan Thorne, the local mage.
Kaelen and Barret follow Brenda to the watchtower, where they meet Capt. Sheridan Driscoll of the H.M.S. Dauntless, Capt. Kurath of the Lazy Goat, Capt. Kassem al-Zaweh of the Floating Eel, and Capt. Massimo Vittorio of the Wandering Eye, a Hifalendorin [proto-Western European] merchant ship.
Capt. Driscoll [Rich C.G./Non-Player Character] nods in recognition to Kaelen and Barret. The Saganim naval officer assigns royal marines to help patrol the docks while the Dauntless is repaired.
Kurath the Cruel [Brian W./N.P.C.] demands justice and sets a bounty of 30 sovereigns for each thief. The Hobgoblin declines to say what was stolen and glares suspiciously at helpful Kaelen and bored Barret.
Capt. Kassem [Charles S./N.P.C.] says that poor security could hurt Drunstimlos’ reputation as a free port and that he plans to leave soon. Capt. Vittorio [Beruk A./N.P.C.], whose ship had the Beholder figurehead, eventually agrees to support the manhunt.
Outside town, Eldamir hears a strange clacking in the branches above him. He peers up and sees several skeletons swaying in the wind. The Hangman Tree sends snaking branches to impale the Atlantean human, who jumps down and runs away.
Friendly Puliarus Mends the church’s leaky roof and manages to swallow some of Fr. Gwydion’s strong alcohol. The storm Sorcerer gets permission to stay the night.
The troublemakers manage to cast blame on Sea Elves for the fragments of Eldamir’s net and a Halfling for the burglary on the Lazy Goat. Ranger Kaelen places misleading tracks outside of town and finds Eldamir.
The Lazy Goat departs, and the travelers leave Drunstimlos on the Floating Eel. Capt. Kassem orders first mate Grayson to set course northeast. Kamar rummages among his musical instruments to entertain the merged crew.
Nuriel escorts Itharides aboard and keeps an eye on his wayward bodyguard. The Cleric of Corellan Larethian also talks with the Ghost, who says he bears no ill will, since nobody was hung for piracy.
Kaelen gets comfortable in the rigging and watches how Capt. Kassem manages his mercenaries. Eldamir keeps lookout in the prow and avoids Grayson.
Barret busies himself peeling vegetables in the galley or pulling oars. The Minotaur soon earns the respect of his peers and looks for wrestling partners.
Puliarus observes that the ship has magical protections even though it lacks a regular mage. The Half-Elf also helps with lore and mending, as well as with nightly underwater patrols. The warship sails across the northwestern Sea of Nagendwa toward the village of Sanry….
Good luck at next week’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” session, and let me know who of you will be available around Labor Day for “Star Trek: Restoration” and/or more “Vanished Lands!” -Gene