Posted on November 22, 2013
Castaway Diary, day 24 cont.
Woo. Lots of combat last night – only six rounds of combat with the cannibals, but it was pretty intense with the charging and the impaling and the biting and the shooting and the skeletons and the spiders. That was a bonkers 36 seconds. I’m glad we got to it- the problem with mysterious islands is that everything is mysterious, so I can never tell what will catch the attention of the group. This cenote was evidently interesting even though it was actually exactly as it seemed. I was worried we’d get halfway through the barbarian charge and then have to quit, but a rare stealth mis-step by Malicia and Nobody hastened the hostilities and we brought it all home by a little after 11pm.
And we’re not even done. No xp last night because they are still in the middle of the encounter, even though the party killed all comers. The upside of that is that the bank of Critical cards is pretty hefty.
Only one retcon that I can think of, which seems good because a few rules conundrums came up last night, and that is the witches hex on Victor: Witch hexes don’t end when the witch dies – it isn’t a maintained effect. Fleetingly bad news for Victor, pretty good news for Orny… when he dies.
Having dispatched the small party of cannibal tribesmen on the inscribed stairs, the party took a moment to take stock of the situation/loot the bodies. On the bodies they found the cannibals crude javelins, the rusty axes they had been swinging around and light wooden shields. Each cannibal also wore around their neck a brass (I think I said bronze, they were not bronze) ring clasped together in the front by a tin loop that had been twisted around an iridescent red pearl. The brass ring didn’t look like it was made to be worn as a torc or restraint, as it was quite loose and its edges were not rounded. Victor cast Detect Evil on them to find out if it was Evil jewelry – the curse of many a fantasy realm – but it was not. It was just exactly what I described.
Orny and Nobody, meanwhile, went scouting over the head of the stairs. Orny found a horseshoe shaped path; to his left the path sloped down gently and to his right it ended abruptly with some sort of drop. The path described the top of the hill, but immediately ahead of the steps, there was a wall of foliage. While Orny watched the sloping path, Nobody advanced towards the abrupt drop and found steep rough stairs cut into the hill. Four stairs led down to a flat area behind the wall of shrubbery. Nobody could see a cenote, with a well made, but aging winch, its arm held over the cenote and a rope disappearing down into it. Eight barrels lay beside the winch.
Investigating further, Orny and Nobody discovered the following: The winch was old and much repaired, but was of a sophisticated and easy to use design. It lowered a flap-bottomed bucket into the cenote and the could be used to winch it back up by hand. The winching gear and ratchet were all in rough, but serviceable condition. Two barrels were empty and six were full of water. Nobody cautiously sniffed at it and then drank some and found it to be incredibly high quality drinking water. The party have been getting by on rain water in small amounts gathered in the cups of leaves or drinking from fast flowing streams that still somehow have a planty taste to them. But this water was a delight to drink. The cenote, although it appeared to be natural, had been quarried around – the flatness of the area being artificially created by removing slabs of limestone rock. A steep set of stairs descended to a smaller pit in which the cenote hole was actually located. Both this set of stairs and the steep stairs leading from the horseshoe path had the same inscription in Taldane, the Common tongue of the northern continent, read from top to bottom: THIS ISLAND IS OUR PRISON, WE WERE UNWORTHY, WE ARE BEING PUNISHED.
The party wanted to look into the mysterious cenote a little more. They winched in the bucket using the still functional winch. Orny cast Light on the bucket and Nobody hopped on board and they lowered him down into the cenote. Beneath the surface was a 60′ wide, 80′ deep cave at the bottom of which Nobody reckoned there was about 20′ of water. The water was exceptionally clear and he could see the angular shapes of stone blocks, presumably castoffs or fallen quarried rocks. There was nothing else really and eventually they winched him back up and deposited him on dry land. There was some discussion about spiking the barrels, but they decided not to and returned to the trail from whence they came. Aerys pointed out that the cannibals they had just killed were probably due back to camp in two barrels and a slow walk’s time.
They called a halt when the hottest part of the day came and when the rains broke the heat in the mid afternoon, they set off again. The rain did not relent as they reached the southwestern bay, on which the camp apparently stood. From the head of the bay, they could see no camp, sop they progressed along the path a little and slipped into the jungle. Nobody and Malicia were the designated scouts, so they slipped a little harder into the jungle.
I’ll never forget you, Henri.
Easing through the undergrowth towards where they believed the camp to be, they were completely surprised when the jungle seemed to erupt in front of them and grab Nobody’s arm in its jaws. A great lizard had launched itself from its hiding spot and clamped its drooling jaws like a bear trap on Nobody’s arm and shook the Tiefling to the ground, unconscious and horrifically injured. Nobody (briefly) and Malicia (eventually) had a chance to see that the lizard wore a chain collar tied to a rope which led somewhere towards the camp. The rope wasn’t taut, but it wasn’t super loose either. It lunged at Malicia as she attempted to retrieve the fallen gunslinger, but due to the lizard clamping onto her, she was able to retrieve no body.
The rest of the party was unaware of the severity of the situation, but Percy, having heard a kerfuffle above the normal jungle noise of parrots yelling at monkeys to stop screeching, advised that they approach cautiously. Malicia was stabbing furiously at the creature’s neck, having lost a few feathers escaping from its jaws. The lizard made a loud hissing sound, its saggy neck expanding like bellows. As everyone else arrived to help Malicia out, Orny put the lizard to sleep with a Slumber hex and Percy delivered the Coup de Grace. Respite was not forthcoming, however as the sound of deliberate clattering came through the jungle metal and wood being banged together urgently, from many different locations. All this time, the rain continued to pour.
Nobody received some healing to get him back on his feet and then he and Malicia crept forward stealthily toward the noise. Victor and Uun advanced as quickly as they could through the undergrowth while Percy kept a watchful eye out for more lizards and Orny cast guidance on Uun’s next attack. The clattering became louder and as Uun approached the edge of the jungle, he saw eight cannibals banging their swords and shields together.
Uun quickly set his spear to receive the charge he knew was imminent and entered his rage state just as they cannibals did too. They poured into the jungle around Uun, one luckless cannibal running straight onto Uun’s spear and impaling himself. Axes rained down on the Shoanti barbarian, but he stayed upright and laughed heartily at their efforts. He struck out with his spear again and lunged in to bite the cannibal, tearing out a throat and spitting it into the eyes of the next tribesman in line before biting him too.
And they say video games don’t teach us anything. Far Cry 3 taught me to stay the fuck away from these things/islands that might contain them.
Percy and Orny brought up the rear. The witch/warlock/manwitch, not sure what we settled on, tried putting to sleep one of the shapes he could see flitting around in the thick jungle, but couldn’t land the hex, so he cast Hold Person on another cannibal instead. Percy cast Spiritual Weapon and used the floating scimitar made of light to hack one of the cannibals to death. Looks like Sarenrae’s all out of redemption today.
Malicia backed away from combat even as Victor and Nobody ploughed in – Victor because he seemed pretty confident that no harm could come to him and Nobody because he was having a hard time selecting shooting targets through the thick foliage. Nobody winged the head of one of the cannibals with a shot, knocking the man prone and stunning him. While Victor struck out at two cannibals, killing the second. Malicia and Aerys shot arrows into the melee, hoping that whoever that blood smeared half naked guy was that they probably hit wasn’t Uun.
At this point the battle was joined by several more parties. First, fucking skeletons came wandering through the undergrowth, all rattling and Harryhausen. Second, a Giant Spider appeared above Aerys and Orny and began descending from the tree towards them. Thirdly, some savage looking woman entered the jungle too and put the Evil Eye on Victor.
Uun: Hewing as fast as he can.
Fortunately, the party was up to these new challenges (read: eliminated them immediately). Malicia absolutely nailed the witch; having re-entered stealth, she made a sneak attack that damn near killed her instantly. Aerys, meanwhile, sent an arrow through the face of the Giant Spider, finding its tiny arachnid brain killing it with a single shot. GM PCs are the BEST! Nobody fired his pistol at one of the skeletons and blew it to pieces while Percy called down Sarenrae’s energy of the remaining three skeletons and atomized them. Massive damage dealing round. Victor seemed untouchable as he swung his sword with brutal efficiency and axes rained off his armour to no effect.
Uun, slaying another cannibal and taking a break from gnashing on throats, whipped his spear around and killed the witch from ten feet away. Percy and Victor cut down the remaining cannibals, as one of the brutes slashed at nobody and put the fragile Tiefling down for a second time today.
How creepy were these skeletons? Super fucking creepy skeletons. Oiled up touchy-feely paedo skeletons.
Standing in an astonishing amount of gore, ruuning off them as the rain picked up pace – Uun, swaying amidst the pile of bodies heaped around him, blood streaming down his chin, wild-eyed and upright on one adrenalin-fueled hit point – the party caught their breath for a second…