Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Sessions 6 of the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign, which Brian W. hosted at his home in Newton, Mass., in 2012:
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.
Various groups of mercenaries and diplomats have fought humanoids in the northwestern borderlands, encountered pirates on the Sea of Nagendwa, and wandered the hostile Halmed Desert and the wide Plains of Sathendo….
“Vistel’s Circus,” Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s " Vanished Lands " heroic fantasy campaign, using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, as of autumn 2012:
“Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane” [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; NGc, Lvl. 2
“Scully Strongbow” [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 2
“Corwin Windsong” [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 2
“Elsa Fairbottom” [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with owlbear cub “Oswald”; NGc, Lvl. 2
“Hamfast Hammerfist” [Brian W./absent ]-male Zeda human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 2
“Tempestade” [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), roustabout; CGl, Lvl. 2
“Radius” [Jason E.R./absent ]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 1
“15 to 16 February 1228 B.C.E.:” The circus had visited Androth and Tensar, two agricultural communities on the Plains of Sathendo, but some of the performers had encountered more trouble than usual outside of their tents and wagons.
In the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human town of Tensar, the wanderers learned that relatives of escape artist Seamus Fenor had died from a plague and were haunting a nearby farm. Corwin had narrowly escaped Undead roaming the moors the night before.
Miranda Barrowright, a Halfling priestess of Yondalla with the circus, returns from the local church of Edillon, lord of the sky. She says that Seamus has escaped from his exorcism by Fr. Wallace and that the group should follow him.
Giacomo takes giant centipede venom [2d4 damage], and Scully grabs some torches. Tempestade needs nothing besides his fists and feet, but Elsa obtains holy water and a scroll of Protection From Undead [+2 AC, saves] from Fr. Wallace.
Corwin buys three flasks of oil and a mace and heads to the Fenor farmstead. Hamfast is busy with roustabout duties, and Radius has returned to his home plane. “Black Raven” [Michael C./Non-Player Character] stays with “Lady Alcye” [Kim A.G./N.P.C.] to help defend the town.
Corwin, Scully, Elsa, Tempestade, and Giacomo go into the dusty parlor of the Fenor farmhouse. The shutters rattle on their hinges, and a cold winter wind blows through the rafters. The kitchen is empty except for some broken furniture and crockery. The intrepid band bars the door to the basement.
The group is horrified to find the dining room caked in dried blood and mystified about why there isn’t any anywhere else. Cloth in the sewing room has long since rotted away, but implements are meticulously laid out on a strangely clean table.
Giacomo picks up a thimble and puts it down again, only to see it slide back to its exact original location. The adventuring party climbs creaky stairs to the second story. Corwin finds Seamus in the master bedroom and tries to convince the possessed performer to come with them.
When the escape artist resists, Corwin smashes his mace into the bed, knocking Seamus through two floors! Elsa wants to go after him immediately, but she is temporarily outvoted. In the next bedroom, the team finds two ghosts clad in tartan and arguing.
Seamus’ parents, Karen and Cullen, seem disappointed that their youngest son ran off to join the circus. Giacomo asks them what happened, and he and Corwin have a vision of a similar argument years ago, when everyone on the farm was still alive.
Cullen initially stormed off, leaving Karen to answer the door to a tinker with his cart. The farm matron invited the itinerant salesman into her parlor, where Cullen found them and angrily addressed his wife. He smashed her head with a farm tool but immediately regretted it.
As the farmer sobbed over his wife, the tinker took a knitting needle and jammed it into Cullen’s ear. With a malicious smirk, he took out a pair of shears and created a disguise for himself from the peasants’ skin!
Giacomo and Corwin are unable to turn away as the vision’s point of view shifts. They see sometime later, when Seamus’ siblings returned from the field, and someone resembling their mother invited them into the dining room….
The Mage and Bard relay what they have seen to the others. Ranger Scully says that the ghosts of Cullen and Karen disappeared as they were transfixed. Elsa notes that the Necromancer who committed the murders must still be around. This would explain not only the ghosts and thimble, but also the other Undead in the area.
In the next bedroom, Corwin finds a mattress stuffed with skulls. At this point, Druid Elsa convinces most of her companions to go after Seamus in the cellar. Tempestade neglects to check for traps and tumbles down the stairs. Fortunately, the Monk is able to alter his descent to evade serious injury.
Gnoll Scully jumps down, while Giacomo, Elsa, and Corwin follow via rope. Scully sniffs, but there is no sign of Seamus. Dwarf Elsa quickly finds a concealed door.
Amid the debris in the basement is a bottle of wine, dried herbs, a silver mirror, and a small chest. Corwin unlocks it and finds coins and jewelry. He is about to claim the booty when Elsa points out that it belongs to Seamus as the sole surviving member of the Fenor clan.
Giacomo and Elsa put the treasure back in the chest while Corwin impatiently charges ahead with Scully and Tempestade. The Monk opens the door and is hit by a shriveled ghoul.
Corwin’s first sword swing misses, while Elsa drags paralyzed Tempestade to safety. The Druid invokes Gaia and heals him. Giacomo uses a spell burn to cast Chill Touch, and Scully burns the Undead with a torch.
Fortunately, the cannibalistic Ghoul is unable to grab anyone else, and Corwin’s next blow lands true. Elsa sprinkles holy water on the creature, and Giacomo helps finish it off with his quarterstaff.
After Corwin, Scully, and Tempestade enter the tunnel, the concealed door magically slams shut behind them, cutting them off from spellcasters Elsa and Giacomo. The trio presses ahead, coming to a ladder leading up to the barn that Corwin and Alcye fled from the previous night.
Elsa and Giacomo leave the chest and climb out of the basement. They hear more movement from one of the unexplored bedrooms upstairs and run out to find their companions.
Meanwhile, the others find possessed Seamus sitting on a rotten bale of hay like the farmboy he must once have been. He refuses to come with them, and sharp tools begin to hover between the interlopers and the main door.
Corwin tries to talk with Seamus, but the agricultural implements spike the trap door shut. Tempestade knocks Seamus unconscious, and Scully carries him outside. Elsa and Giacomo call for help as someone emerges from the farmhouse.
Brawny Scully blocks the front door, which shatters between the Gnoll and the tinkerer. Wise Elsa sets the barn on fire, as wary Giacomo casts Magic Shield. The smirking Necromancer begins chanting, and Tempestade kicks at him but misses.
Scully draws her bow and begins firing flaming arrows, while Elsa reads the Protection From Undead scroll. Giacomo casts Magic Missile, and the tinker begins Summoning Undead. Corwin hits the evildoer with his long sword, and Tempestade has better luck with his fists in close combat.
More skeletons emerge from the ground, and Elsa casts Bless. The Dwarf Druid also throws vials of oil at the Necromancer and farmhouse, helping Ranger Scully set them alight. Wizard Giacomo throws a torch and reaches for the centipede venom.
The murderer is forced to stop his chanting because of the flames around him, and Monk Tempestade gets in a few solid hits. Scully slays the Necromancer, whom the others hastily search as the directionless Undead begin to wander off.
They find an iron amulet, a signet ring with a rampant unicorn engraving, and the simple shears. The travelers smash a few more skeletons on the way back to Tensar. Scully carries Seamus to the church of Edillon to be fully exorcised.
At the town’s gates, two knights in full mail armor and surcoats with a gold disc and a sword symbol greet the group at lance point. “Lady Perrin” [Carolyn M.P./N.P.C.] and Brion Black Elk explain that they are Paladins of Otih, god of the sun and justice. Lady Alcye and Fr. Wallace had sent for them to help defend Tensar.
The holy warriors dismount and escort the circus folk to the temple. In return for the Necromancer’s symbol of chaos, which they intend to destroy, they reward Elsa and the group with a scroll of Circle of Protection vs. Undead.
Giacomo and Corwin decide to keep the enchanted shears for later study (they are of infernal design). Lady Alcye identifies the ring as belonging to the Sable clan, a noble house represented in the royal court at Thadenis.
Corwin worries about Lord Colin, the previous ruler of Tensar. Alcye suggests that the Necromancer must have still traveled and was using the Fenor farm as a base of operations, since there haven’t been many unexplained murders in the town.
Between the secret silver mine run by Sir Banor Finney’s late squire Adric and a corrupt Necromancer of aristocratic lineage, Corwin realizes that something is wrong in the capital of the kingdom of Saganim, his homeland. The other adventurers agree with his recommendation to circus founder Orlando Vistel to travel west….
Please note that we’ll be taking a break for a few weeks. Here are when our games are tentatively scheduled to resume, weather permitting:
May all your holidays be happy! -Gene