Posted on February 20, 2014
Castaway Diary, Day 28, 29, 30 and 31Well, that wraps that up. I know I’ve moaned about Sandbox play in the past and i’m glad I ran this module because I think some things about it were very good. but mostly I’m glad that it reminded me of what I really can’t and don’t want to do – which is reliably wing it. The next module in the line is the type I am more familiar and happy to play – a lot like early Rise of the Runelords. It isn’t so much an adventure “on rails” as it is an adventure in fascinating places through which a railroad happens to pass. There is movement, direction, but still plenty of places for adventure. Plus, JIM, I don’t think there are any puzzles whatsoever. Anyway, before we play again, I’ll post some things to think about – namely to remind you of unresolved things, as well as the list of magic items in Eleder. Rolland and I will work to figure out how much loot everyone walks away with so that we don’t have to have a “magic item fitting session” instead of playing the game. The island, their home for the past month of game time is finally in the rear view mirror. I’m glad we were able to get it totally wrapped up in one session, because there really wasn’t too much level-appropriate stuff left to do on the island. You can get to level 1 to level 3 in all sorts of ways on that island, but once you’ve reached the point when you feel like you can take on the cannibal tribe, there’s really only one way to go if you want to ascend. That ascension leads to the climactic encounter with Ileana, which was – from a GM perspective – wonderfully unresolved. We ended the last session at the end of that climactic-yet-not-final encounter last week, with the second fight against TAFKAI and her henchgUun ending with the rescue of Orny and Percy and the fleeing of Ileana… While all of this was going on, Sasha was outside with Victor, pretty relentlessly hitting on him, I suspect. So it is perhaps to the paladin’s relief that Malicia appeared to bring tidings of the bad news from below. “Uun has gone crazy, Nobody had his finger ripped off and Jask looks like he might be dead. And they’re mostly out of healing, so they want you to go in and do some healing… stuff.” She gave Victor directions on how to get there, since he alone had never ventured into the temple. “Up the stairs; across the room to the constantly-bleeding doors; through the door and turn left; up more stairs; jump over the pit trap; take the turn left then go straight ahead, over another pit trap; run through everything else until you meet the rest of the party. Really don’t stop in the interesting room with the pool of blood in it.” Girding his loins, the brave Paladin descended to the exposed sea bed, then traversed the pools to get to the stone door and did as Malicia said. Victor, it should be noted, does have an unusual way of crossing the pit traps; while he sailed across the first, any time he attempted to cross a pit trap after that didn’t go quite as smoothly. His friends were maybe dying/certainly complaining so he wasn’t about to remove his armour or change tactics. So he repeated the pit jumping technique three more times before they exited the temple: Leap into the far wall of the pit, his chestpiece clattering the lip of the pit, then catch some minute flaw in the hallway floor with a desperate flailing hand as he falls into the pit, arrest his entire weight with his fingertips and haul himself up. Repeat as necessary. So there was a bit of a delay before Victor arrived in the big scary evil temple’s main canal-of-gore room. There he found his fellow castaway, beating each other senseless/trying to wriggle free of bonds/healing leopards/exacting vengeance and searching the room. This last done primarily by Gelik and Malicia who searched every bit of the alcoves and walls she could find, which surprised Victor because he was certain that she had not passed him in the hallway. When commented upon, Malicia averred that she had not left this room since Jask died, much less gone to Victor for healing aid. Although since he mentioned it, everyone could do with some healing aid. Heals were passed out, helping some considerably. They also stanched the flow of blood from the missing digits of Nobody and Uun: Uun having torn one off Nobody during the fight and Nobody having blown one of a captive Uun’s fingers off in revenge, just moments ago. Everyone agreed that Uun was to dangerous to allow to go free so Floki had tied him up and they were happy to leave him like that. Speaking of stanching though, everyone also agreed that they should destroy this constantly-producing-a-stream-of-blood evil altar, but everyone also seemed to think it was someone else’s job and of secondary importance, so they never did. The evil altar remains to this day on Smuggler’s Shiv, just pumping blood into the trough that divides the room. Good job team. Around about this point the domination of Uun ended and they cautiously cut him free. Nobody it was who first toyed with the idea of fucking around with the statue of bat-lady. The-chick-formerly-known-as-Ileana had slapped a bloody scaled hand over the mouth of the statue and been turned into a mist. So Nobody was up for that and having no shortage of blood around slapped a gory palm across the bat-lady’s mouth. POOF! Nobody was replaced by a cloud of mist. A cloud of mist that immediately began trying out the qualities of this new found state of being. Never one to shy from new transcendental experiences, Orny couldn’t have been restrained from trying the same thing, sure enough turning into a mist. The party now divided between those that wanted to leave to go catch up with the fake-Malicia outside and the mist people who wanted to go explore what happens to farts. Gelik, of course, wanted to do neither of these things. The notes scooped up after Ileana dropped them were incomprehensible to him because he had not yet cast Comprehend Languages, but would when the reading light was better. But the pictographs carved into the alcoves made sense to him after a fashion, as he could read a bit of Azlanti. He insisted that this was a treasure trove of previously lost history, but he mostly insisted that they shouldn’t leave him alone with the terrifying whispers and the bat-lady statue and the babbling brook of blood. Everyone who wasn’t volunteering to stay alone in the dark in an ancient evil temple poo-pooed his concerns and bravely proceeded in numbers. What happened was that the party converged on Sasha’s position on the small promontory overlooking the inlet where she guarded the treasure they had hauled from the monster’s cave many many weeks ago. It has only been hours? Jesus. This is a long day. Team Shank’s Pony had done it by walking out of the temple like peasants, while Team OOBE floated up through the same hole in the ceiling that the Ileana-mist had, down a carved tube into a small cross-shaped room with no exits save for a thin rent in the rock. They didn’t pause much in this room – aware of their surroundings without seeing them – but continued up the crack in the rock which eventually led them to a thin sliver of daylight. Floating through this they found themselves on the side of Red Mountain, where they coalesced back into their solid bodies. Converging on the promontory and Sasha guarding the fecal-nest-gold-pile, they found Sasha alone and on questioning she told them that Malicia had gone into the jungle to “do her business”. That had been about 10 minutes ago, so Sasha just assumed it was some particularly difficult business. Racing to the area Sasha indicated, Floki picked up the Malicia-footprint trail and the party followed it around the side of the mountain and down to where the water’s edge used to be. The water, of course, was not there, but rather roiling in a wall hundreds of feet high some distance from the shore. Clearly indicated in the sand were a set of Tengu footprints that suddenly changed into narrow clawed feet, with even the occasional sweep of a tail visible on the exposed sand amidst the confused octopodes and milling crabs. The trail led right up to the water and then ended, no double backs, no hesitation. It looks like their quarry walked straight into the water. So Floki did too, the weird sensation of travelling horizontally into water one to tell the grandkids about. He immediately began to float around, sculling to keep himself in place but he could see no-one in the water and the trail was as cold as it would get. After that hike, time was beginning to run out on that wall of water staying where it was, so they double timed it back to the inlet (a comparatively easy walk since they could just walk along the exposed and now-sun-dried rocks that were usually beneath the waves). Uun tore two bamboo poles out of the jungle and took them back into the temple to facilitate crossing the pit traps and allow them to cart Jask’s body out. The team instructed Sasha to set fire to the monster’s nest to quickly reveal the coins held within it, so she got that going with some lamp oil that she was carrying around in case anyone asked her to set something on fire. The party then finished the business of guarding Gelik while he read the remainder of the alcove carvings and turning into vapour again to go investigate the cross-shaped room, because it occurred to them that prior to wanting to kill Ileana for royally fucking them up, they had also gone there to get the second rod for the Lighthouse’s light contraption from her. Nobody, Uun and Orny gassed up to the cross-shaped room and found it heavily decorated with bats again, with another life-size (presumably) carving of this bat-lady, dried blood crusted around her mouth. On the floor lay a bedroll, some discarded clothes and a bag of food and empty waterskins, presumably taken from the cannibal encampment, because the jerky had that kind of look about it. Searching the bedroll turned up the rod, this time a slightly cloudy whitish glass, cut with the same complicated faceting. Nobody, meanwhile found that the stone panel immediately below the carving of the female bat-winged figure was actually a panel on the front of a drawer or box. Hooking fingers under it, Uun pulled it open and the three men felt a wave of evil energy wash over them. There seemed to be no further effects of opening the drawer, except to reveal the contents. Several high level scrolls – at least they were too high-level for Orny to comprehend – a Candle of Truth and what Orny twigged was a block of Incense of Meditation, due to all that time he worked in that Head Shop/Witch Training School, where he double majored in Black Arts and Black Light Art. The party reconvened on the smoky promontory, henceforth known as Pink Eye Point, in – really – the nick of time. Because when their time was up, the great stone doors closed shut on the temple and the water came rushing back into the inlet with a deafening, grinding, roar. Captain Ekubus stood on the tilted prow of his shattered ship and gave a resolute salute to his landing party as he went down with the ship and the roaring wall of water consumed the good ship Salty Strumpet. There was no natural drawback of the water, once in place it simply settled in as though nothing monumentally unnatural had just happened. At that point, they picked out the coins from the smouldering dung, buried Jask with as much ceremony as they could muster (not much at this point it had been a long ass day) and began to prepare to return to camp. Returning via the trail they had hacked, they arrived at the Lighthouse the next day. The issue of Jask was raised immediately and Ishirou and Aerys gave Uun the stink eye for the remainder of their time together. Pezock had joined the camp, after packing up all his belongings and abandoning his magnificent crab house/killing-machine. They found him futzing around with the light contraption and with an eye to his staying on and manning the lighthouse, Orny taught him how to bake the limestone in the kiln (returning the favour of teaching him alchemy) and they got everything ready for the sunset. As the sun went down and the block of lime was removed from its canister, set in place and lit, light began to shine through the rods. Closing up the back of the cabinet the polished mirror intensified the light and a series of red and white beams were cast upon the water as well as those aimed at the horizon. Pezock was familar with the idea – the two sources of light guided boats and small ships through the coral reef that was otherwise prone to tear their hulls apart. The path projected upon the waves was narrow in the extreme, and it would be no small feat to get any kind of ship down it. Still they kept the coals burning hot through the night and after everyone had settled in to sleep those on watch began to see distant lights from the south, as though ships were leaving their shipping lanes to take a look at the new light. The next day – their 30th on the island – they set up to do the same thing again. In the meantime, they all just hung out. Sasha and Ishiro sparred with whoever was willing to spar. Aerys’s unfinished manuscript – the Abendego Cantos -was passed around, to Orny first, who found the lengthy epic poem surprisingly meaningful and profound. Gelik finished his first run through of Ileana’s notes, some of which covered the Azlanti pictographs in the temple alcoves and the others the pictographs in the plain room on the other side of the complex. There were pages missing from Ileana’s bundle, but what he had allowed him to piece together what was recorded in the temple:
The inscribers were those who invaded the area (they never describe it as an island, although it was near the sea). They came in exile from a city called Saventh-Yhi, somewhere to the east. This confirms that there was a major Azlanti settlement in what is now Sargava, a suspicion that confounds what is known about Azlanti settlement. The inscribers were exiled from Saventh-Yhi for their adherence to a religious sect led by a Azlanti Queen, but somehow rejected by the rest of Azlanti society. They defeated the Serpentfolk who inhabited the island, took their slaves and took the temple. They rededicated the temple to their patron and began to convert the worthy (the conversion appears to involve preliminary steps to becoming a vampire. Lots of blood feasting etc. which Victor suspected when he saw all the bat-business.) The inscriptions on the temple wall narrate the efforts the inhabitants took to return home. The city called Saventh-Yhi was apparently barred to them and it would remain hidden from them. The cult here grew their numbers and power and planned to travel to “the old outpost” a settlement distinct from and preceding Saventh-Yhi. The old outpost was called Tazion and it was some kind of military camp/installation. The Azlanti had used it to stage a “final” invasion, and then had built Saventh-Yhi. The cultists here planned to repeat this as apparently there was something in Tazion that would allow them to find Saventh-Yhi. There seemed to be some magical process that allowed the invasion force to find a hidden thing, which they either renamed Saventh-Yhi after conquering it, or built another city in its place. Since that process presumably still exists in Tazion, the cultists planned to use it to find not Saventh-Yhi, but the other hidden thing that Saventh-Yhi was built around/on top/instead. kind of a work around that they thought themselves terribly clever for discovering. The cult became sufficiently strong that they believed they were ensured success and they quit the area to go find Tazion and take Saventh-Yhi. The topic became the subject of great debate and discussion among many of the castaways, who now felt their deliverance from the island was imminent. And what do you know, they were right. During the early morning watch, Malicia spotted a pair of lights appear out of the shipping lane to the southwest and creep closer and closer. When finally the sun burst above the horizon, the Castaways were awake and ready, and presented with the welcome sight of a whaling brig anchored beyond the reefs. As a longboat was lowered into the water and men began climbing down into it, the Castaways quickly gathered up their belongings and raced down through the former ghoul-tunnels beneath the Lighthouse, to the sea caves and small beach at the base of the cliff. They did so as the longboat of 12 or so very nervous armed sailors beached and the First mate leapt onto the sand, crossbow at the ready. Introducing himself as Adnaz, First Mate of the Red Gull, he enquired whether they “be cannibals, dead men or ill in any way”. They assured him they were not and Victor’s standing as a Paladin of Iomedae was enough to assure them, if not impress them. They were ferried four at a time to the Red Gull a sizable vessel, but not one built to carry passengers, unless that passenger is temporarily visiting/being cut into chunks while still kind of alive. The latest run of the Red Gull had been unsuccessful so far, however, so they were returning to port, unhappy and eager to seek amends from the divine beings that toyed with their fates. For this reason the Captain, Aulek Tegerten, was all too keen to fulfill the ancient obligation of rescuing the stranded to curry favour with Besmara, goddess of big things that dwell in the sea as well as piracy and having a shitty time of it in some sort of boat. Once everyone was aboard, they weighed anchor and the ship began to sail southeast. Captain Tegerton ordered a section of the hold cleared and set aside to house the castaways for the two or so days it should take to get to Eleder. As it picked up speed, they saw Pezock standing atop the Lighthouse waving happily, telling them not to come back to his island, which he seemed delighted to have all to himself again. Sooner than they thought possible, the dark cliffs and shimmering green canopy of the island disappeared over the horizon and the glittering blue of the ocean was all they could see in any direction.