Castaway Diary, days 43, 44 & 45

I was pleasantly surprised that this session went… well, although I guess given the outcome of the session it didn’t go “great” for the party. But I mostly kept my shit together (foreshadowing!), despite being super-tired. I attribute my rally to the 5-hour energy I downed and the cup of coffee I had just before we started, but those two liquids are also high on my suspect list for the pulverizing diarrhea I had at 1am (payoff!), so I’m not sure I’m going to dabble in that particular brand of alchemy again.
No, I will. I’m still tired all the time. Hopefully this will be coherent enough because all I’ve had is coffee and World Cup.
I forgot a few things, which suggests that I wasn’t on the ball as I think I was:
1) You are coming from Eleder going to Kalabuto. Sorry, Rolland, you were right and then we convinced you that you were wrong. I knew Eleder was involved somewhere, I just wasn’t sure what the other city was called. The Shrunken Head – to answer your question very late – is a tavern in Kalabuto.
2) Ben and Noe I had a card for you and I forgot to give it to you.
3) Rolland, I had Tupperware for you and forgot to give it to you.
4) Who went to speak to the old lady and who just enjoyed the shit out of some dancing. I know for sure that Percy went dancing because Percy had no idea what was going on until someone had to stop him from dancing.
Rolland also didn’t know how much XP he had received for some session ages ago. I think everyone is doing pretty well with this, but if you want, I can start keeping a better track of that stuff and record it. It’s usually something I have to tally at the end of the night (because that way if you ding, you can update your character before we play again) rather than award at the start of the next session. It seems fitting that you are given XP at the end of the session, any other way seems heretical. However, it is also the phase of the evening that we are all less likely to get our addition correct. I dunno, if it becomes more of a problem, I’ll start using the Paizo session tracker sheets.
Anyway, the session after the break (clickbait!) will blow your mind or at least (apologies to those concerned) suck it clean out of your skull!
On deck for this session:
Percy: Dancing like there’s no tomorrow!
Floki: The Waffle-Evil Ranger!
Malicia: Barely leaving stealth to socialize!
Dellen: Seriously regretting his decision to rejoin the party, which we kind of glossed over!
Nobody: All his bullets have ‘Aunt Chumplug’ carved into them, just in case!

We left the party on the far side of the Salt Mine, with N’Kechi having brought the oxcart through, proclaimed the trail good and with Athyra making camp. The party settled into a beautiful evening staring out over the moonlit savanna that lay before them and picked whatever chunks of salt remained in their stinging wounds and scratches.
The next morning they set off, N’Kechi reading the landscape in consultation with Athyra who seemed to know the area well. Progress was swift and they descended the low hill the salt mine had deposited them on and made their way into the seemingly endless grasslands. The first thing that struck the casual observer was the overwhelming amount of game that seemed to exist, always just slightly too far away to be seen distinctly. Antelopes by the hundred, from heavy Wildebeest to slender gazelles, moved across the grasslands among flocks of resting or ground dwelling birds. Floki was keen to kill some of this stuff to take as trophy, by N’Kechi cautioned against killing during the day, as the evening was the less disruptive time of the day to kill as everything else would also be killing each other. Kill now and you’d attract the savanna’s dogs and N’Kechi seemed keen to avoid them as he regarded them as amongst the most dangerous of scavengers. Paths seemed pretty easy to find and the landscape was mostly flat, so they made good progress.
Nobody got to fixing his gun from the various Mended parts, while Dellen fixed up his Morning Star, good as new. Percy had plenty of chances to commune with his goddess as the sun bore down on them through the day. By the time the sun started to set, however, distant campfires could be seen. Traffic on the roads this side of the Bandu foothills was not uncommon – metals, precious stones and minerals were carted off by merchants, but that trade attracted plenty of other, less savoury characters, who were often quite happy to cart off the merchants and their wares. Curious but cautious, Malicia went ahead as scout, creeping through the grasses and slipping from short scrubby tree to short scrubby tree.
When she neared the camp, after what seemed like an age of careful sneaking, she saw a collection of different tents. All in good condition and some opulent, there were numerous different styles. Every once in a while a number of guard-looking guys would circle the tents, blethering amongst themselves. Malicia’s Tengu ear holes are attuned to picking out interesting languages and she could hear Common, Polyglot and Vudrani as well as other exotic tongues spoken by the wandering guard patrols as well as in the hubbub of the camp. The tents were ringed, more or less around the area of the campfires, with wagons and carts located between the tents. Malicia slipped closer to get a view of the inner circle of activity, but a voice cried out in her direction in Vudrani. A man stood up on a wagon seat and peered into the darkness near her, calling out – to her? to his buddies? – Malicia wasn’t about to find out and she began slipping back into the darkness of the savanna. The man was joined by others who wandered out from camp a little before returning, apparently none too worried at having something sneak up to their camp.
"Was it anything?" "It was nothing, ha ha ha ha, this is my first day of guarding!"

“Was it anything?”
“It was nothing, ha ha ha ha, this is my first day of guarding!”

Getting back to the others, the party decided it was probably a merchant camp and that they should go see if they could join it. It was late, and they’d take a while to get there, but there was something to be said for the security that the camp offered and the possibility of buying some supplies. Athyra wasn’t into that, being nervous around large groups of civilised folk, so she agreed to meet them on the other side of the camp the next day.They approached the camp and were welcomed in by  various different bodyguards and merchants, eager to see who was joining them so late at night, before one man shoved his way to the front and introduced himself as Rickets Perga. Perga was a sickly looking Vudrani merchant who had pitched his tents here a few days ago and had been welcoming other merchants since. He encouraged them to be sociable and even do some trading.
Floki took a wander among the merchants to try to feed his insatiable need for waffles and syrup. Everyone was able to get a hot meal and beverages of their choice, which is a refreshing change from the veldcraft sustenance N’Kechi has been providing, nutritious as it is.
They turned in for the night and spent a refreshingly calm and safe night before heading off the next morning. Meeting back up with Athyra, they pressed on eastwards. The grasslands became home to an increasingly diverse range of creature, including grazing dinosaurs of various kinds that it turns out were bullshit in real life, but that seems like a churlish reason to keep them out of a game with demi-lich gnomes in it.
They spent a day travelling ( I think) which brought them within sight of the fringes of the Laughing Jungle, a mass of green to the south that they’d be skirting almost until the get all the way to Kalabuto. They rested and then started another day of travel which quickly brought them within sight of some sort of village. It was a reasonably large settlement for the area, bigger than other villages they had passed earlier in their journey. N’kechi thought this was exactly what they should be heading towards, so on they went.
As they approached, the villagers began gathering near the entrance to the village. They waved and looked happy – nay delighted – to see the party and the women of the village sang a song and a wave of little kids streamed out of the village and danced around the cart, welcoming the party and laughing their heads off. It was a colonialist’s fantasy of how they’ll be received by natives: These people where PUMPED to see the party. Which is weird, because almost no-one is.
The village housed maybe 300 people, many of them children and was partially palisaded on the jungle side, with two watchtowers erected, one of them fairly new. Livestock was kept within the village in pens and chicken runs. The people seemed well fed and healthy. The village elders welcomed the party to humble Sandha and conversed with N’Kechi briefly. They were delighted to have the honour of hosting the party and thrilled at the prospect of a caravan coming to their village. THIS WAS ALL GOING SO WELL!
At least it was, until glancing over the heads of the beaming, celebratory villagers, Nobody caught the sour eye of one old woman, shadowed in her mud hut door way. Their eyes met for a second or two and Nobody had the distinct impression she was giving him the stink eye. She slowly closed the wicker door on him, her eyes rheumy eyes never wavering from his.
I've got your number, Nobody.

I’ve got your number, Nobody.

The elders set the party up with a guest house, a dark and cool mud hut, which was way nicer than that sounds. A feast was prepared in their honour and the villagers prepared to entertain the crap out of them. Trade goods were available, but no-one was too interested in their bolts of cotton, although I think Floki bought one. The dinner consisted of of flatbread, fresh fruit, and a tasty porridge seasoned with sweet tubers. After the meal the elders passed around a heady wine and the party was treated to an impressive performance of acrobatics, dancing, and fire-eating as night fell.
A few of the party sought out the old woman – I forget who – not everyone, because these guys had fire-eating and that’s way better than finding out why an old lady doesn’t like you. 
The woman admitted them to her hut, which was festooned with shamanic fetishes and superstitous little objets d’aargh-is-that-a-shrunken-head?! She gave them a minute or so of stink eye, assessing them up and down and then sighed and seemed deflated. “I am an old woman,” she said “and set in my ways. My master taught me long ago that foreigners like yourselves carry curses. But this village suffers under a curse already, and all my magic has so far failed to lift it. The spirits do not help me and I have nowhere else to turn. Perhaps I have been wrong all these years, and perhaps you are the ones who can help free us from the curse.”
Yeah, maybe it is that. Maybe it's a bunch of headless angry monkey ghosts.

Yeah, maybe it is that. Maybe it’s a bunch of headless angry monkey ghosts.

Ears perking up at the prospect of a curse, they enquired as to the nature of the curse. Not a traditional kind, it turned out. The village was cursed with the attention of a Chemosit – something Dellen had only heard of.. a kind of half-bear, half-ape jungle predator. The Chemosit had taken villagers every night for two weeks. The elders believed they had been cursed because they had offended the spirits – their effusive hospitality was an attempt to appease the spirits they felt had turned against them, not just a natural reaction to how awesome the party was.
She could tell them little about the attacks; there was no serial killer attack pattern, which disappointed Malicia and made it hard to predict who would be snatched first. What she could tell them was that the Chemosit was a stealthy, cunning predator that cracked open the skulls of its victims to eat their brains. So, you know… watch out for that. She had preserved several skulls, tops all missing, as instructive models on what they could expect. After the festivities were done outside, she would come to the guest lodge and daub a symbol on the door. This would draw the Chemosit to the hut, she believed, and then they could ambush it right back.
Okay, cool idea lady, here’s a better one – said the party – how about we don’t all go in the hut and ambush it, but spread ourselves thinly throughout the village and catch the Chemosit when it goes to the hut? Yeah! So that’s what they did. 
The guest hut was a little fancier than most.

The guest hut was a little fancier than most.

For as resounding a welcome as they were given, it was over super quickly as everyone retreated to their huts and barred the doors, hoping they had appeased the spirits enough to make amends for whatever had brought the Chemosit to their door. The party ranged themselves in various positions around the village hiding in the darkness. Dellen and Nobody waited inside the guest hut that the old woman had daubed with goat blood sigils, feigning sleep. Nobody cocked his double-barrel flintlock and pointed it at the door. First thing that came through was getting both barrels, I tell you whut. They waited.
And waited.
Malicia heard some scrabbling near the watch tower, so she went to check it out but saw only a pair of eyes, reflecting what little moonlight there was to be had. Worryingly, the two glowing eyes were set about a foot apart. They slipped into darkness as whatever owned them slunk off, she went back to inform the others, slipping silently between the huts. She went to warn Nobody and Dellen, opening the thick wicker door and BANG – Nobody opened fire, hitting Malicia. Eesh.
It was about this time that towards the western edge of the village Percy reflected on the fabulous night he had been having as he waited for this creature to show itself. Dancing girls and fire breathing and catchy rhythmic dancing and good food and wine. Yes, he’d had a great time. He was startled by the gunshot, but only had a moment to think about it as a trap-like jaw closed around his shoulder and two sets of abominable claws buried themselves in his chest from behind. The Tengu had no time to cry out before another set of claws raked his kidneys. Percy’s body fell to the packed dirt of the village road, his armour jangling the first warning that something might be awry. The Chemosit stooped over the unconscious and dying cleric of Sarenrae and opening its maw wide, enclosed the top of his head and cracked it open, extracting the brain within.
Floki and Thrima peered into the darkness, but with no light, weren’t seeing much as they’d like. Malicia (saving the lecture on gun safety until a more opportune time ) and Dellen dashed out into the village’s packed earth central area, the cleric of Desna summoning a Celestial Wolf to help him in this fight. The party converged on the spot Percy had fallen and the Chemosit saw them and bellowed at them, the disorienting sound of a nightmarish predator, resounding across the plains, shaking Nobody, Thrima and Floki, before the bear-ape-asshole turned and fled the village at speed. The party prepared to give chase, their missile weapons of little use in such darkness. Dellen’s wolf and Floki’s leopard gave chase, but as they watched the pursuit, Dellen was viciously attacked from behind, an attack he didn’t see coming. A massive form of fur and shredding claws fell on Dellen and Floki, swiping and biting at them, its back legs hopping up to rake whenever its claws found purchase.
Searching for celestial wolves is a pretty great way to rediscover the Geocities Refugee community. By which I mean avoid it at all costs.

Searching for celestial wolves is a pretty great way to rediscover the Geocities Refugee community. By which I mean avoid it at all costs.

The distant Chemosit shredded the celestial wolf to pieces and then mauled Thrima. Its mate changed its attack from Dellen to Floki, as the two struggled against it. Floki just couldn’t land hits, the creature’s bulk eluding him just as it eluded Malicia. Dellen meanwhile, having cast Shield of Faith on himself, landed some hits, as did Nobody – sending two shots into the beast to telling effect before his gun misfired and flew out of his hand. Dellen’s refurbished morning star found it’s mark though and he slew the Chemosit that had ambushed him, just as Percy’s ambusher stooped to eat his second meal of the day: Thrima’s brain.
From what I recall this leaves Malicia a little on the wrong side of halfway between the Chemosit and the rest of her party…

2 Comments on “Castaway Diary, days 43, 44 & 45

  1. Oh Percy, you had a good run. Somehow you managed to get promoted from familiar to full-fledged player character. Then you survived being marooned on an inhospitable island, fought off some ancient evil, and made it back to the mainland. You learned to dance and enjoy life, perhaps having grown past your misanthropic ways to become a warmer, kinder person.

    Then you got yer brains eaten. At least it wasn’t a zombie. How cliché would that have been? And as a cleric with powerful anti-undead powers, it would have been insult to injury. Nope, your killer was an ape-bear, which I bet you didn’t even know existed before the day you took the express train to Saranrae. So there’s that.

    There are some rays of sunshine (and I know how much you liked sunshine *sniff*). Our party has less character overlap. We now have one Tengu and one Cleric, removing some redundancy in our lineup. Also, I have a straight-up fighter queued up to replace you, my fallen friend. For the first time since we started Pathfinder, I will be playing a Tank, and may he spill enough blood and gore to please Lady Arradin.

    Hopefully, his first task will be turning that fucking Chemosit into a pelt.

  2. Well, shit. Looks like I’m dead.

    Thanks for the memories, I guess.

    Oh wait, nevermind, those are now being digested by a Chemosit.


    Well see you on the flip-side suckers, I’m going up to meet Saranrae and feast on celestial eyeballs. I’ll be drinking with Uun, Victor, Corwin, Don and elven Albedon soon. And don’t worry, we’ll save a spot for you.