Perfectly Legitimate Adventuring Party

Onward! Or... backward?

Having realised that the jungle seemed to be actively fighting our progress (with some very nasty agents), we decided to head back towards the west, towards the lair of raptor #2 and the mountain range that would lead us to the desert.

It seemed to us like there had been a consciousness opposing us in the forest, but it was as if only a tiny part of that consciousness had been focusing on us (like a large creature and a single mosquito). Still – we don’t want to become the most noticeable mosquito: the consequences could be… squishy.

Anyway, as soon as we started heading a different way, our progress became a lot easier, and we found ourselves nice and relaxed. Perhaps even a bit complacent.

Surprise spiders!

Fairly large ones. They covered several of us with web, and then started biting at us. Repeatedly. Al burned up most of the web, and we all fought back, but Aloeine got bitten enough times to be pretty unhappy. We defeated the spiders, although Mel did manage to fling Roderick into a very stinky puddle of mud. She then pulled a great trick of summoning Roderick straight back, whereupon he immediately shook that stinky mud all over all of us. Ewwwwwwww.

We decided to take a short break and clean/patch ourselves up before continuing.. Aloeine – now a little paranoid – cast “pass without trace” on us, and it either worked or made no difference. We also noticed that the fungus was definitely easing off now – not much at all around any more.

After a while, we realised that we could hear something following us. Cogs slipped away into the brush beside the path to find out what it was, while the rest of us kept on walking – far enough that anything following us should definitely have passed the point where we left Cogs.

Then two arrows come flying out towards us, and thudded into a tree… unfortunately, Mel and Aloeine hadn’t really been paying close enough attention to figure out whether those were Cogs’s arrows or not. Aloeine cast some kind of thorny spell on the area where there had been movement. Al then teleported herself to just off the side from where the movement was… and found herself face to face with a rather surprised-looking raptor #2… who moves towards Al and is immediately spiked on Aloeine’s thorns. Oops – sorry raptor #2! Al told the raptor to stop, and after a bit of bungled communication, we all come together (spikes off), healed the raptor, and talk with them about our plan to go see Parch. Aloeine made some of Raptor’s camouflaging vines blossom (because making new shiny things makes new shiny friends!), and Raptor agrees to come with us… although they point out that they will run away if they think we’re going to get eaten. Al assures Raptor that in such a case, we will be trying to keep up.

We continued through the jungle to the west, even more easily with Raptor’s guidance – they are very familiar with this area, after all. Raptor leads us to a spot further north of the cave: the slope is not as steep, and we’re able to climb to the top of the ridge. From that high vantage point we can look down and see the desert to the west (“one day, this will all be yours”).

The desert is a large rocky area with patches of gravel or sand, formed by the rain-shadow on the lee side of the mountain ridge. In some patches, there are large drifts of gravel or sand. Here and there are also structures of rocks – piled on top of each other in patterns… but not obviously constructed as such. We ask Raptor where they had seen Parch, and they reply that it was in a big sandy patch (they point it out – about 5 miles away), and so in the absence of any better leads (at least, any better leads that don’t seem increasingly inclined to kill us the closer we get), we prepare to set off in that direction. Apparently we should watch out for the scorpions.

Goodie.

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What's happening to me?
Where the path finds its way to Edward number 5

The fabric of the world has shifted.

We’re still where we were before, but things feel… different. Both objects and people have undergone subtle transformations. My armour is gone, my magic feels freer, my pack feels lighter, and my skin has become… delightfully scaly. I can’t remember exactly what I used to know before, but some of my knowledge feels new. My companions all seem to have experienced changes too (although none of them got scales).

This may take a little getting used to…

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Where did they come from, where did they go?
If it hadn't been for fungus-eye Joe...

Being paragons of caution, we decided to take the time to prepare a bunch of buffs and a plan to distract our would-be ambushers with a swarm of spiders… and after all that effort, it seemed that there was a great deal of caution on the other side too, as they’d buggered off.

So we finished our night’s rest, and then set off following their tracks (which led off in roughly the direction we were going already). We arrived at a deep ravine, with a fallen tree across it and a large, swift-flowing stream at the bottom. Aloeine tied a rope around Cog’s waist, and Cog crossed the tree… then fell into a pit. With spikes at the bottom. We’ve had better starts. At that point, an archer started taking pot-shots at us. And a minotaur appeared. And a druid entangled us.

This is Not Fun.

Cog gets nearly-dead by the minotaur, Mel turns into a walking pincushion, Almaz roasts the minotaur (with all the fungus around, it’s beef wellington), Maul smacks a druid. In the end, we win, but we’re not feeling too crash-hot.

At least there’s Loot.

The minotaur has a very nice great axe, studded leather armour, plus four potions and a wand:
- potion of cure moderate wounds
- potion of delay poison
- potion of resist energy: electricity
- potion of magic fang
- wand of entangle
- (large) great axe + 1

archer:
- composite long bow +1
- +1 plant bane machete
- potion of cure light wounds
- masterwork breastplate

druid:
- masterwork short spear
- masterwork heavy wooden shield
- masterwork hide armour
- cloak of NFI
- belt of mighty constitution + 2 (we give this to Mel right away)

… but no money at all. Which is Interesting.

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Into the Woodscale

We set off towards Woodscale.

As we crossed a ravine, Maul slipped… and grabbed Almaz on her way down. We both got a bit scraped up. Ouch.

Maul ended up in the water. Splash.

It’s OK – we got back up, and Maul healed us (which seems like the least she could do).

A little while further on, Maul & Aloeine notice that – they think – we’re being followed. But we don’t know by what or whom.

And then the rain set in. Heavy and very loud. And it’s starting to get dark.

[cut scene while the human playing Almaz took a walk: troll fight, and a view from the cliff confirming our destination and bearing]

We plough on through increasingly dense jungle. It’s pretty tough going. Even the druid with Woodland Stride was finding it difficult.

Al notices a vaguely foot-shaped puddle. About six feet long. That’s … quite a big foot. There is also some broken vegetation around – a couple of large trees down. Something very large has come through this way, although not recently (we estimate it was a few weeks ago). But there’s still not as much damage to the trees as we’d expect from something that size.

There is more fungus on the plants in the area we’re getting into – some looks suspiciously like the fungus we’d seen on the roadsides.

We decide to treat an area of heavy fungus with the fungicide we bought from Arnik, then set up camp some distance away: somewhere we would be able to see or hear if anyone is drawn to our fungicidal experiment. In the middle of the night, we hear voices in the area we had treated – both Aloeine and Cogs check it out, and see humans (or humanoids) inspecting the area, looking for tracks, and apparently setting an ambush in case of anyone returning. Well, that is interesting: how did they get there so quickly?

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Former Lair

An invisible and magically enhanced Cogs set off up the climb to the cave. Unfortunately, in the process he managed to find a nest of wasps and get stung. “Ow!”, yelled (apparently) no-one. Followed by a splash in a nearby mud puddle, and muddy footsteps leading back to the bottom of the climb. And then Cog reappeared part way back up the cliff (the timing of the invisibility spell had clearly not been long enough to allow for wasp-induced plummeting feather-falling).

Cog completed the climb nevertheless, and went inside the cave. He (well, we presume it was him) then threw a purple thing out of the cave (which turned out to be a flower). After which he then lowered a rope, and we all climbed up.

The first thing we encountered in the cave was an ochre jelly. We broke it into four separate jellies, then fireballed those into oblivion.

We continued exploring, and found a sort of bower of shiny things. Excellent! Just a pity about raptor #2 (which isn’t a patch on mamba #5 [don’t give the DM ideas!]), who just decided to show up. The raptor beats up on Mel, then Cog tumbled beautifully past it before falling flat on his face as he attempted to “sneak” attack.

The raptor did considerable damage to Mel, and to Aloeine as well, before Almaz realised that it was snarling in draconic… and so she attempted some diplomacy. Success! The raptor tells us that we have disturbed its shinies … which turn out to be its father’s shinies! And so we give it some shiny things of our own (it wants Mel’s armour, but I explain that isn’t going to happen), and having gained its trust, it tells us that the bad people took away all the shinies (off to the sea – to the port towns to the south), and that its father – surely this means Woodscale – is sick, living in the jungle (a long way to the southeast). We tell it that we would like to help, and it shows us where its father is. So that is where we will go next!

[is a cave inhabited by a raptor that no longer wants to kill us a “safe place”? Because that would be lovely right about now]

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Further up and further in

We asked Arnik about Woodscale. While his current location is not known, Arnik could tell us where his old lair was. He sketched us a map, with landmarks (mountain that looks like a dwarf’s head, mountain that looks like a human’s head, etc), and instructions. It would be about a day’s hike.

So off we set, an almost immediately began to be badly bitten by insects. Cog & Al were itching furiously. Al even cast an acid splash on herself in an attempt to get rid of it. Ow. Note to self: do not do this. So many mozzies! And leeches too. Ick. Cog suggested that we’re getting bitten worse because we’re low down, and that maybe the taller members of the party could carry us? Mel promptly picked up Al.

We noticed some brightly coloured butterflies flutter past, then fly away. Hmm… possibly scouts? It’s hard to know who or what we can trust around here. We might need to be ready for something worse than mozzies and leeches. Al mage-armours up, just in case. But… nothing. At least, nothing for the rest of the day.

We make camp for the night, as we still have a few hours to go to the dragon’s old lair. The first two watches passed uneventfully, but on the third watch Aloeine noticed some birds taking flight – an unusual thing in the pre-dawn darkness – so she woke Mel to investigate. And Mel spotted a swarm: a roiling blackness running over the forest floor.

Ants. So many ants.

We fought the swarm of ants, and escaped relatively unscathed. As day breaks, we move on – Aloeine again scouting ahead as a bird (or birding ahead as a scout).

Aloeine returns with the news that others have been there before us – there seems to be a kind of pulley-lift arrangement set up. We continue and get a closer look at it. The area at the base of the cliff has in the past been cleared and heavily trafficked, but not recently. There’s a track leading away, which looks very much like someone has relocated a large hoard. We make a plan: to send Cogs up to check the (deserted?) lair, armed with invisibility, the ring of spider climb and the ring of feather fall… then we’ll follow the track and see where it leads.

And apparently the next bit of our adventure will take “some time”. Oh. Goodie.

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Off the road again

Not keen to encounter more pa-trolls, we decided to make our way along through the bush instead – not in the thick weird vegetation right near the road, but still close enough to the road to (roughly) parallel it.

After a fairly long day of slogging through, we settled down for a night’s camp. Towards the end of Cog’s (first) watch, he noticed that the jungle sounds seemed to… go quiet, and had the feeling that we were being watched… however, the rest of the night passed fairly uneventfully, and neither of the other watches two noticed anything unusual.

As we began to move on, some of the party noticed a bare patch of hard, rocky ground, a little way ahead. Maul in particular noticed that there were boulders which did not appear to be there by chance.

Aloeine shape-shifted into a falcon in order to do a bit of reconnaisance: she could see that the bare patch was around the boulders and a little downhill from there. The further away from the boulders, the more vegetation. And there also seemed to be a path leading from the boulders off into the jungle. As Aloeine circled, she could see that there was some sort of writing (in dwarvish script), and a door (camouflaged to look like the stone, but definitely a door). She returned to us and reported what she had seen. We then made our collective way up, whereupon Cog & Al could read: DANGER: LIBRARY SUPPLIES. (I know librarians are hardcore, but what exactly is so dangerous about the supplies?)

As we approached – about 20’ away – the door opened, and a dwarf with no beard (sort of like a horse with no name, or a pub with no beer) stepped out, pointing a crossbow at us. He insisted first on inspecting our heads, and was relieved by the absence of fungus… then permitted us to come in. He then told us about the history of mining in the area. It seems that wizards had set up a library in a cavern (which was a spent mine), and this storehouse is stocked with anti-fungals for tending to the books. He’s also got a lot of flatgoat (ah, so that’s the reason for the DANGER sign).

The lack of beard is, he tells us, to avoid fungal growth.

A few months back, he says, the people went mad. (Although no-one likes to talk with old Arnik). There was a dreadful business with the library: “they” came in and killed the librarians. One of “your” type (he points at Al) – [gnome? yes]… went in – and a bunch of humans with swords – anyway, she spent some time there, and then came out again. Heard she went down south, to the south end of the island – Freshwater Harbour.

We ask about buying some antifungal powder, because it seems to us that could be a crucial weapon if we’re fighting srs fungus. We buy a 20lb sack of antifungal powder for 100gp. I’m not sure whether or not that was a good deal (or if it was a good deal… for whom?). And we have no idea how toxic it is. Al might try a bit on an enemy that really pisses her off (after all, a change from unlimited Acid Splashes is as good as a holiday).

Aloeine also noticed – because she’s observant like that – that the clear area around the hut corresponds pretty well to where the rain would wash things to.

We decide to follow the path towards the library mine, and when we get there we find that the vegetation around the outside of that cavern is again thinner – probably due to antifungal use.

On the front is a sign saying “library closed”. But the door is open.

As we enter, we hear a voice: “please wipe your feet”. We do so. We wonder when the skeletons we see lying around last had feet to wipe.

Since wizards built this place, we decide to exercise a fair degree of caution. Detect Magic reveals a few magic auras around the place. Magic is radiating from a skeleton, which has a pair of goggles on a chain around its neck. Maul uses Mel’s quarterstaff to lift the goggles off it. Al picks them up and has a look through them – it seems they are very powerful magnifying goggles. Al passes them to Cogs.

We search another skeleton – it has a ring (but Al is unsuccessful at identifying the ring, so we pocket it for now). Then as we continue to search… spider! Big spider! We fight the spider. We kill the spider.

We then progress to the restricted section (Cogs picks up a skeleton of a librarian since the automatic voice tells us we need a librarian)… and after we enter, we hear things flapping towards us… books? Why are the books flapping towards us?

We neutralise them with water and blocking a doorway with stone, then search the area a bit more carefully. Eventually we find some volumes that look different. Unfortunately they’re also nastily trapped. Cogs disarms the first one, then trips the next two. Disarm, trip, disarm. They hurt though – Maul needed to use some healing.

We take the special volumes, since they’ll take some time to work through, and start making our way out of the library… at which point we are greeted by three trolls. A good solid fight, and they’re done.

We then head back to Arnik’s, and persuade him to let us stay for a few days. Apparently, for some reason, “they don’t tend to search here”.

The notes are rather cryptic and not well organised, so it takes a long time to get anything out of them, but…

See Floriane’s research notes. It seems it’s all a chain of control using a fungus-infected dragon as the lynch pin. That sack of antifungal powder we purchased is sounding more important than ever.

Also, that ring is a very nice ring of force shield. I’ll take that. And owe the party quite a lot of gold.

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On the road again (Green Island)

Editor’s note: this journal entry was oddly short – I’m not sure if the session itself was short or lacking in journalable substance, or if I’ve just missed recording a substantial part of it – if anyone else has notes on this session to contribute, it might help fill in the gaps… but perhaps it was just an episode wherein not very much happened

As we approached the road, Aloeine noticed that the foliage near the road seemed unnaturally dense and green. The road itself had originally been paved with pieces of stone and pavers, but more recently mended with wood.

It is morning as we set out along the road: the birds (are they birds? We hope they’re birds…) are singing, but it’s overcast… and it starts raining. Which shouldn’t really come as a shock in a rainforest. From the tracks in the dirt, it looks like people have been hauling carts up and down the road.

There are numerous mushrooms along the road. We also notice that there seem to be occasional plants which are blighted. It’s now raining very hard, and there’s a lot of water flowing down the road. It’s not really the most pleasant weather to be hiking in.

As we walk along, we notice a smaller track leading off to our right: it appears to be only for foot traffic, but with evidence of recent use… so we go have a look along it (Al is curious). We find a little rest stop along the track, although no-one seems to be around.

You know how worms and snails and slugs come out when it’s raining? Well… it’s raining now, and there’s a really big slug. And it brought friends. And we are – evidently – not counted among its friends. So we fought the slug, and some shambling mounds, but in the process of scorching said opponents, the plants did create a fair bit of smoke. Fortunately, we heard the pa-trolls that were drawn to the smoke before they saw us. And – as discretion is the better part of valour, so is cowardice the better part of discretion – we valiantly hid.

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Landing on Green Island

We head for the Port of Spiders, since apparently there might be some trouble with Sparkletooth if we put in at Freshwater Harbour. Sailing up the western side of the island, we can see the inhospitable inland of the west. We can also see people on the shore here and there, but not much. The westernmost part of the island is the driest, sheltered by both mountain peaks. We can even see a little snow near the peaks. As we round the northern coast, we can see progressively more vegetation, savannah, then almost abruptly changing to forest. The captain tells us that the Port of Spiders is just around the next headland. There is a 10ft bronze statue of a spider on the headland.

As we approach the headland, the water becomes cloudier (up to that point, it had been crystal clear). We see a small harbour, with warehouses close to shore, and people in the town. The cloudiness seems to be from the sediment in the river.

The crew wouldn’t normally stay here, but we ask them to stay for a day while we establish if this will serve as a starting point for our explorations. Mel gives them a few GP for expenses, and we go ashore.

We meet the harbourmaster Howard, who takes us up to a warehouse. A small door opens, and another guy comes out, wearing a comical spider-shaped hat. He offers to show us the spiders. When in Rome…

He ushers us into the warehouse. We go in.

The interior of the warehouse is several floors high, piled high with cages. The cages are designed to keep spiders contained, and to allow one to lift and move cages without being bitten by the contents. Many of the cages are full… so many beady eyes. We can also smell something… agricultural. Pig manure. There are sounds of pigs, too.

We then ask to go see the traders. We’re met at the local tavern by a human woman (Annelie) and a heavily-pregnant dwarf. They ask if we are here on business, which we say we are, We ask them what they have to offer. Just the usual: rooms, etc. Cog also wants to go see some silk. Kedrigor takes us to a back room to show us some silk, Annelie goes to get us all some ale.

When she returns with the ale, Annelie begins to tell us about what has been happening recently in and around the Port: about a year ago, after Kedrigor got pregnant, the beer started going funny (not the ale, the beer) – it wasn’t fermenting right. Then people started getting strange too. It was gradual at first. She wants us to help, but also wants us not to hurt the people – they’re good people, just affected by… something. We’re going to carry all our things back to the ship. And we’ll use that pretext as cover to visit the boat before returning to shore.

We tell the captain to set sail (and not to take on any provisions first), but that we’ll take Sparkletooth with us.

We then wanted to make our way into the forest (to investigate what is going on), but the townsfolk insisted on accompanying us. We therefore ask Howard to take us up to the headland, and once we have him away from the town, Al puts him to sleep. But then we notice other townsfolk coming up towards the headland – we really don’t want to be forced into a situation of having to fight them – so we duck down the other side of the headland and head into the forest.

Where we find a couple of nasty raptors. “Clever girl.”

We beat them, but only after they do a LOT of damage to Aloeine and Mel. After some healing, we head further along the forest trail… and find a large spider. An ogre spider [“ogre ogre ogre spider ogre ogre…”].

We fight and kill the spider, and decide that its cave is an opportune shelter to spend the night… a night during which we are passed by a search party of about a dozen people. They find the corpses of the raptors and the spider and evidently conclude that those had fought and killed each other. After the rest of the night passes uneventfully, we get up and follow the trail, until it intersects a road. We decide to follow the road inland, and in case we encounter townsfolk on the road, we’ll just claim that we encountered the spider on the headland, fought it, and then got disoriented.

Also… wait, what happened to Sparkletooth? We must have left her behind in town! Oh well, by now she must at least have got herself to the tavern and eaten something… so she’ll be under the same mind control as the rest of the townsfolk, so we’ll just have to try to save her along with everyone else.

Can’t believe we just forgot about a party member…

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Maritime encounters

Having suffered some damage from the pirate attack (especially ahem the disintegrating airship falling on it), the crew were keen to make repairs to our boat, so we set for a small island nearby to anchor and fix it up.

It was a rather picturesque island with palm trees, rocks, and coral around it. All of our party decided to go ashore, because why not?

We consider the coconut (the what?). Consider its tree. Each part of the coconut… record scratch

Sparkletooth and some of the crew also came ashore. Sparkletooth told us that we’re only a couple of days away from Green Island now. The sailors told us a bit more about our destination too: that Green Island is quite large – with the east side heavily forested, while the west side is largely desert (that seems like a very big range of climate for one island… rain-shadow, or something more supernatural?). The inland part of the island is quite wild: a popular source of animals for the tourneys.

Abigail had run up a palm to get some coconuts, when we heard her chittering agitatedly, so we looked for the cause of said agitation. We didn’t need to look very hard: SOMETHING BIG was coming ashore on the western side of the island. A huge crab! And then two swarms of crabs!! We fought those – after all, them’s some good eating (although Mel did get rather dinged up). Then, as evening drew on, the more perceptive members of our party spied a canoe coming towards us. There was just one single female passenger on board – not armoured, but heavily tattooed. She didn’t introduce herself – just asked who was in charge of our group, and when directed to the captain, asked where we were going. When told “Green Island”, she simply told us us we shouldn’t go there – that it’s not safe.

The stranger accepts our invitation to have some freshly cooked crab, but she’s still reluctant to tell us anything about herself (she wouldn’t say where she was from, wouldn’t give her name… she only tells us that she’s a diver). Our sense motive folks reckon she’s telling the truth: that she’s heard Green Island isn’t safe. Cog says that we have business at Green Island so we’ll probably keep going anyway, and when she asks what kind of business, Cog is similarly cagey about sharing why we’re headed there… and so the diver takes her leave.

Close to night-fall, the repairs on our vessel are finished, and we’re ready to be on our way. Our ship sets sail again, and it’s getting dark.

Maul takes first watch, and sees glowing in the water around the ship (also in the wake). Doesn’t see anything else of note. When Mel takes second watch, she spots another wake coming towards us on an interception path. Maul sends a celestial octopus to investigate, but after a sudden movement there is… no more octopus.

As it approaches, it slows, and then shortly thereafter breaks the surface.

It is roughly eel-shaped, and has lots of fins. Some notice that it appears to have limbs tucked away against its body. It twines itself around the ship so as to move with the ship.

It’s a dragon.

We ask the dragon what it knows of what’s going on on Green Island, and it tells us: “Parch has the desert, Woodscale has the forest." (that perhaps explains the stark climatic contrast) "Lately, Woodscale has become strange – I have heard little from him, and what I have seen of the island alarms me.”

“Perhaps you people will be useful. I can see you as far as the island, but we keep to our own territory. You may tell the dragons on the island that Be’sharis has sent us”

(We ask Be’sharis, “Have you heard the name Lady Floriane?”, and the dragon responds “Name sounds familiar – may have heard sailors talk of us”)

Al has heard of Be’sharis: she is the youngest child of the two elder dragons that were slain by Venarik. Has been around here a long time. Reputation is fairly good (as dragons go), does not randomly attack people… but don’t go fishing for pearls without her permission.

She says that if we could bring her something from her son’s hoard, that could be useful. This quest is getting more specific – and more dangerous.

Mel asks what magic might be used to influence or corrupt a dragon – Be’sharis suggests something to do with the terrain (which lines up with what we’d surmised about Lady F’s activities).

We are to go to the island, see what we can find out. If we come back to the shore, she will find us.

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