Grift-Meister Maxen the Saxon’s Campaign Log, written at 9:22 post-meridian.
Snuggle-Nook: The Third Legacy
The challenge was set. In the bustling port of NoirSable (BlackSand) our two hero protagonists: Paco Jay Meadri the Black-Elven Death-Mage (effectively a level five Drow-Elf Exterminator) and Hagrin the Dwarven Acrobat (also level five, played by Berenger/Morris) set off to work their passage on the ship the Sweet Mary Jane VI under the watchful eye of captain Salek. He had a wager with captain Barbarussa, of the Banshee. The bet was to see who could plunder the most treasure in-betwixt here and the eastern orient: Nippon. In the fifty days it would take, the captain who would had accumulated the most loot won the 5,000 sceattae (G.p) wager, would take the prize.
After casting off, the wind was fair, the weather agreeable, and the two ships slunk out of the bay of NoirSable, the Santa Maria IV tacking off in the direction of Cytherea, a desolate place, with sand-dunes and a Persian spice about the place. On the second day of the voyage, captain Salek took ill, and passed away, bought the farm, was sent to Davey Jones’ locker, arr! Scurvy took the old sea-dog. Hagrin was appointed to be the new captain, and the ship set sail, mourning the loss of its already skeleton crew (only eleven).
Among the crew was Orioll the Ranger, from Kalaf; who advised they not attack the village by an oasis, once the crows nest had spotted land. They left only two crewmen and skirted around the town, once dropping anchor and rowing ashore, taking plenty of food and water into the desert.
They waited for days, with no returns. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Alas, just before they were about to consider heading back to the ship, a caravan appeared. A dozen lizardmen, three of them riding reptilian Cold-Ones, guarded a bunch of booty they had found. Secreted from behind the dunes on either side, Orioll suggested he strike out-front, blocking any escape from that side. They attacked…
Orioll failed his move-silently and his hide-in-shadows checks, the lizardmen knew something was up, and it nearly spoilt the surprise until wham! Orioll let a lone fire-arrow fly from his longbow, it struck the lizardman leader in the head, which exploded in a burst of flames when he failed his threshold of pain check. (We have these new dice which have hit-location on, neat eh?) Paco-Jay began casting, then cancelled the spell, causing an automatic mishap! One of his relatives flipped-out (temporarily) and also his nose turned black, permanently! (He was a Black-elf anyway, so it made little change, just from matt to gloss) Anyhow, seeing their chief’s head explode gave the lizardmen pause for though. One failed morale check later, and they froze. Hagrin parleyed, and eventually took all of the booty off of them (several hundred coins and nine unidentified cut gem-stones) The lizardmen were bound, then taken to the village.
After debating the fate of the reptilian raiders, it was (eventually) decided that they be given a local trial, rather than sending them to the captial of Regino-Finniga. The townsfolk gave the scaly raiders a kangaroo court, and had them all strung up, one by one. String ’em up. Arr!
The crew celebrated a victory, and managed to recruit a half-a-dozen locals to add to the skeletal staff they had already. Returning to the Santa Maria IV (the Sweet Mary Jane the Fourth) the Underground Homegrown Crew (U.H.C.) weighed anchor and set off to their next destination: Kalaf-Port.
The six-day journey was uneventful, save for a spot of rain. The U.H.C. arrived in the bustling, grotty seaport, and headed straight for the prize-fighting tent. Hagrind decided to step up to the plate, entering a deadly combat with a lumbering Akh-Ogre. The ‘boxing’ gloves were covered in lethal spikes. The bet of 500 sceattae (G.p) could be doubled up on winning a successful bout.
The announcer shouted, “In the red corner, challenging the unde_feated_ *champ*ion, the dread-pirate capt’n HhhaaaaaAAAAAGWIN! In the blue corner, the Ogre in a toga, Kalafs own unbeatable reigning champion, Rocha Dervishaan! Seconds out!” ding ding! “Rooouuuuund ONE!”
Both Hagwin and Rocha sized up to each other, the ogre towering over the dwarf. Circling one another, the big-guy landed a right-cross on Hagwin, a spiked fist mauling his face. Undeterred, the dwarf moved in against his opponent, jumping up and planting a rabbit-punch on the big-guys chest. It barley scratched the Akh-ogre who returned the favour with a wild hay-maker that missed its mark. Once more the big-guy landed a solid blow on Hagwin, knocking the air out of his chest. Again, our Acrobat protagonist was unfettered, and decided upon a different course of attack. Hagwin threw a feint then ran and jumped up the ring-side corner pole, vaulted off it then came down hard on Rocha, landing a downwards spiked fist across Rochas jaw, sending him spinning to the sand., but still on one knee.
Rocha seemed unscathed and landed an uppercut on the Acrobat, who flipped backwards, and tumbled toward the ogre aggressively. Bam! He knocked the big-guy for six. Rocha shook it off, and laid in to the little feller. The whole time this was happening, Paco-Jay Meadri in the crowd awaited the signal. It was then that the acknowledgement was received and the Death-mage discreetly cast Disable Hand on Rocha, who’s right hand was messed up, bad.
Hagwin pressed the advantage, laying in to the ogre, flipping about, using a combination of leaping and spinning to plant bombs on Rocha, who was down to half his health by this time.
Rocha retaliated, beating the little guy down to a fraction of hit-points. Paco-Jay started casting, this time he cast amuch longer spell, blatantly, in full-view of the crowd (who didn’t care, they were all crims) the Black-Elf Death-mage cast Animate Dead on the ogres dead right-hand. Like ‘Ash’ out of Evil Dead II the possessed hand struck the big-guy for a whopping fifteen points of damage. Getting a taste of his own medicine, the ogre waded in, throwing a wild hay-maker that only clipped the little dwarf, scratching him a little graze. ’Ash’s right-hand again lumped the big-guy for another shed-load of damage, taking Rocha down to only three hit-points!
Orioll advised a merciful ending by recommending Paco-Jay try and control the Animated hand. Factoring-in the Death-mages’ Intellect, Wisdom, Charisma and Level, Mr. Meadri managed to make the meagre 32% chance of controlling the possessed palm. The fist punched only the dirt, and it seemed as though the ogre hit the ground in a rage, mad for losing the fight by a whisker. All onlookers new something dodgy had gone on, but nobody cared. The announcer called out the result, and the U.H.C. were five-hundred sceattae up.
The crew revelled in victory a while, and Hagwin asked Orioll if they knew somewhere he could be healed; seeing as the Ranger was local and all. Orioll said he would take them to La Fortesa, the capital of Kalaf. It wasn’t too far, into the mountains, and they reached the keep in no time. After a brief introduction to Pep Prim “Slim” the court-wizard, and the regent of the nation: Guilfré El Sedere, they proceeded to the temple, to visit Thomas of Notley. The Patriarch of Kalaf, and chief holy-man of Luvia. Good Thomas healed him up, and offered to accompany the U.H.C. on their quest, in place of Orioll. The U.H.C. accepted graciously, honoured.
Between the wharfs and the town, lay a long sandy stretch to which the U.H.C. strolled down to check out the scene. To see wagwan (what’s going on). Alas, the Dark-One races were taking place, and Paco-Jay entered his very own Dark-One, the captured beast from the caravan raiders.
In the heat of betting, Hagwin realised their was no insurance policy in place, as he tried to get some assurance for his bet. He petitioned the regent (the paladin, Guifré El Sedere) who approved his notion for setting up an insurance at the races. Paco-Jay’s Dark-One Sabir managed to race ahead of the pack. I roleplayed this quite well, imitating a racing commentator “…and it’s Red-Ballon coming up on third, closely followed by…” my voice rose in a constant crescendo, an outpor of commentry until “…and it’s Awkspeed now, over-taking, and is it? Is it? Yes! It’s Awkspeed who came in first, tearing the hapless goblin captive to pieces.” They lost their bet (all except Maggy McFinnigan, who had just arrived, and bet on all three with the highest odds.) Of course, Hagwin made a small sum through his insurance policy. He then stayed here, in Kalaf, and told the crew of the Santa Maria IV that he would catch them up in a small schooner, and to send word of which way they had gone.
The U.H.C. now met an old creditor, who had to settle a bad-debt with one of Hagwins illegitimate half-siblings. They bet the boat, lost the dice roll, and sabres were drawn. Hagwin tumbled off the side of the room and plunged his rapier right in to Jaimil the debtors side. At the same time, Maggy cast Phantasmal Fireball at one of the goons, who failed his disbelieve saving throw, and was took him down on a failed Threshold of Pain check. Then, Thomas of Notley used his Stirring Oration (Rousing Speech skill) and passed his check easily. “Calm yourselves brothers of Kalaf, no more blood shall be spilt over meagre debts which could be so easily written off, lest ye all perish at one another’s hand!” The speech did the trick. Everyone downed arms, and the Santa Maria IV was safely in the U.H.C.‘s hands once again. The other clientèle went back to their hookahs and dice-games, just another altercation in this city of crims’ and scum. N’owt outta the ordinary in this part of the world, the un-tamed wild-lands, the sandy streets filled with scum: Port Kalaf. A nation long since neglected, for nearly a year now. Maggy McFinnigan decided to stay here a while, and let Paco-Jay and Thomas of Notley go it alone from here in on.
Alas, returning to the Sweet Mary IV they (the U.H.C.) heard from the harbour-master that there is a very wealthy temple occupied by the priests of the dead, up-river which flows through Azure. They happened upon the mysterious temple, which was nestled in a cosy dell, surrounded by undergrowth. The megalithic stones towered, arching into the air, flanked by dressed stone, long since covered with creepers and vines. The gothic, pointed architecture of this unholy place gave the area a shuddering atmosphere. To boot, lay the bones of deceased visitors which adorned the crypt-like eeriness of this place of death. The crew refused to go ashore, in fear. Thomas was eventually persuaded to follow Paco-Jay, who two made up the landing party.
Entirely devoid of any signs of life, the duo made their way down the stairs, into the bowels of these elements. Adventurers, ever alert, on guard. It wasn’t to be, a giant leech surprised them! (Only having a 1% chance of being detected, see H.o.B.) Alas, Thomas of Notley was struck unawares! He lost half his hit-points in one hit, and had to pass his save vs. death to avoid dying through massive damage (he lost over 50 hit-points in one go!) and didn’t manage to contract the deadly disease the giant leech inflicts when it attacks.
Paco-Jay saw he was outmatched and wisely decided to cast Wraithform putting the Death-mage well out of harms’ way, his insubstantial form being transported to the ethereal plane of existence. Then. Thomas cast Cause Nasty Wounds taking an attack of opportunity (heroic spell casting) which the giant-leech missed, and wham! he took the big blood-sucker down a peg or forty! Nice work. Paco-Jay gazed on, unable to intervene, his arrow flying straight through the beast. Alas, the giant-leech attacked again, and once more Thomas didn’t contract the disease. The Zealot of Luvia then cast another Cause Nasty Wounds this time getting three penetration rolls! (Open ended damage) the leech didn’t care, and this time its attack of opportunity hit, but Thomas kept his concentration. Not bad at all. Though, he did however contract the fatal blood disease. Paco-Jay told him to halt. Thomas disobeyed orders, knowing he only had so long to live, returned to the ship, and prepared and cast Cure Disease (after dispatching the leech of course with a final spell).
“Why did you disobey a direct order Thomas?!” ranted Paco-Jay. “Because I knew if I didn’t get medical treatment soon, I was going to die. It was time-critical. I had no time to explain, and you wouldn’t understand priestly magick, wizard. Also, I accompany you to spread the word of justice, of Luvia, not because you are my captain; you are the captain of this crew, and no-one else.” The level eight priest originally was going to stay on-board the ship, but Paco-Jay managed to persuade him to come ashore again, after he had almost-fully healed himself.
They continued down the corridor, entering a mausoleum. Inside was an undead guardian, who asked in a wraithly voice, “Which way is the prevailing wind blowing on Enrakai?” “South” answered Paco-Jay. Uh-er! Wrong! “Go away, mere mortal” said the undead guardian after cursing the Death-mage. Who bleated like a noob asking “How was I supposed to know that?!” A voice opened up in the clouds, “If you had paid attention to the flavour text at the start, you would have had the correct answer.” Paco-Jay accepted that, and they moved on.
The duo entered a heavily buttressed hall, where stood a disgusting statue of some foul deity, and two black-robed acolytes who drew their dirks saying, “We shall hasten your journey to perpetual night.” Thomas had the initiative and downed an acolyte in a single blow with his Mace+1 then Paco-Jay cracked t’other over his head with his stout quaterstaff, knocking the chaotic priest to his knees. He showed him mercy after a failed morale check and attack of opportunity which put the dark-acolyte on a few precious hit-points.
“Why did you attack us?” “We were just doing our job.” “Your job?! Who do you work for?” “The ministry of correction.” “and what exactly do you do at this ‘ministry of correction’ of which you speak?” “We change people, correct them.” “How exactly?” “We change them from being alive people … to being dead people.” Paco-Jay raised his eyebrows uttering “I should have known.” then Paco-Jay said, “Why should we spare you?” “I would join you, I was sick of this place anyway.” At that point Thomas said to Paco-Jay, “Cover your eyes.” “Why?” “Just cover them.” Paco kept one eye open, Thomas noticed. “Here take this Paco-Jay, you will close your eyes, or regret it, for you are a non-believer.” handing him a blind-fold. Thomas of Notley then asked the captive acolyte sternly, “Are you willing to mend your ways, and turn to the light? To believe in Luvia, as I do?” “Yes.” replied the acolyte. “You had better…” and with that, Thomas slammed his light-banner down. A flash of light, a thunderous sound boomed throughout the chamber, rattling the very walls, with the sound echoing loudly throughout the corridors of the crypt.
Paco-Jay took off the blindfold. To Thomas’ amazement, neither of them were blinded. The acolyte reall did have faith! The acolyte, who’s name was Reggie, said in his south-east accent (thieves’ cant’ of the Anglyn capital.) “Told you squire! I been meanin’ to get outta the death game for a while now, being here is no fun. I’ll be your apprentice, willingly, faithfully. I wanted to turn o’er a new leaf for ages now, here’s me chance guv’nor.” So Reggie took off his black robes, replacing them with a set of white ones he’d been saving for an occasion just such as this. Though Chaotic-Good, he now followed a better religion: Lawful-Good Luvia.
Reggie spoke, “Beware o’ tha’ statue, I ‘eard the uvvers talkin’ ‘bout it, it’s dangerous it is. Mark my words.” Paco-Jay stepped boldly up to the statue, trying to remove the ruby tongue which immediately tried to paralyse him and retracted into a whirlwind of spinning blades inside it. Paco-Jay made his saving throw easily. He was against the idea of taking the statue intially, but was persuaded to do so as its value would count towards the quest amount. The two priests of Luvia carried it out, after burning the body of the dead acolyte.
Once back on-ship, they sailed up-river to Azure. After scouting out the best place to sell the statue, Paco-Jay decided on flogging it at the temple dedicated to the demi-god Arethusa. Though they only sold it for two-thirds of the price that the bazaar would have paid, it was out of the way of converting people. (I found this odd, as Paco-Jay is a Death-mage, surely he would want people worshipping that sort of religion.) Alas, Paco-Jay was no fool. He immediately set about sending out an intelligence network of scouts, to learn the whereabouts of the statue, within the temple of Arethusa. Alas, at nightfall, they set about recovering the precious, deadly work of art.
Thomas of Notley cast Darkness and Silence 15’ Radius and they broke in via the back, in the dead of night. After scouting out the church, they managed to source the whereabouts of the stolen statue. Reggie and Thomas began to load it back up the stair from down below in the catacombs where it was hidden. A voice came from the top of the stairs. The three (Reggie, Thom’ and Paco) all hid as best they could, until an audible thunk could be heard. Fortunately the crew had followed them, and the teams’ navigator had coshed the priest on the back of the head, knocking him out cold. The Arethusa worshipper fell down the stairs. The crew made it away clean, and cast off, until the next time.