Thursday, July 6, 2017

Guest Editor Play Report: A2 Secret of the Slavers Stockade Part I

After killing the lizard king Bangqiu and Kafka went to Pasar. There they met Gwinch who had heard of slavers near the village of Katoke (also spelled Quitokai). Gwinch and Bangqiu assembled a team to put a stop to the operation.

Gwinch the Foreigner, Abbot of the Monastery of the Two-Fold Path accepted responsibility for leading the strike force against the stockade. Years ago, when he was an agent of the Emperor, the people Quitokai had given him shelter for several months. And he had participated in an earlier successful raid against the slavers. He was assisted primarily by Saisho, his chief scribe and sage on arcane matters and “Beast,” a native son of Pasar and faithful bodyguard. Damai, a scout and skilled hunter from Quitokai, had volunteered his services and the benefits of several weeks spying on the stockade. Gwinch’s lieutenant was Kafka, a reserved, self-disciplined warrior monk, one of Gwinch’s first students from his days in Zipang.

The tempestuous Bangqiu was co-leader of the strike force. He had made a name for himself in Pasar, fighting alongside Gwinch and Beatriss to free the town from the domination of the Black Flowers gang. And, in the course of many battles against the Lizard King Sakatha, this unpredictable young magician had formed an unlikely friendship with Kafka the quiet sohei. Bangqiu’s success against Sakatha had also won him the allegiance of Erlo, shaman of the Sanasar clan. Finally, Bangqiu had taken on the services of the lovingly incompetent Shu.

Besides the six members of the lead strike force, six of Gwinch’s experienced sohei made up the rearguard. Their names were Lieu, Nguyen, Hoshina, Oshima, Sang, and Bulan. Finally, Onghai Wen a novice monk who showed much promised had been permitted to join the Company.

The group travelled from Quitokai to the slavers’ stockade by a circuitous route that avoided the main road. They went east to the sacred fishponds and then Bangqiu, based on his special status among monkeys, negotiated passage through the kingdom of baboons, climbing a rocky trail up the escarpment. On the plateau, Damai led the group into the jungle and to one of his many observation posts. Through a gap in the trees, the fortress could be clearly seen. Damai explained that the stockade had been built on the site of an older stone fortress, but only the northern section was even partially intact. A thick copse of trees had grown up in the middle of the older building and the slavers had surrounded this with a wooden palisade and built new buildings on the southern side. Damai relayed to the Gwinch and Bangqiu that he had seen a man sneak in and out of the stockade on the northern side by way of a hole halfway up the crumbling curtain of the old fortress.

Ignoring this information, Gwinch and Bangqiu decided they would enter from the south and selected a strike force of seven experienced explorers, all capable of stealth and climbing with minimal assistance. With the help of magic, this group was made invisible, and in the dead of night, they scaled the palisade to land on the roof of a stone building overlooking a courtyard dominated by a large firepit.        

Banqiu has boots that let him levitate. He used these to look around the stockade. Among the men gathered around the firepit was an obvious leader. He relayed this information to the others and Erlo decided to launch a fireball at them.

Unfortunately the leader was fire resistant.

So they left and the strike force joined the rearguard in their hiding place in the jungle and they returned to Quitokai together. The villagers were not inordinately impressed. None of their relatives had been rescued. The Black Flowers likely numbered more than 100 and their losses would only aggravate them. The villagers confirmed that yes, the dark-skinned man with the helmet covering his face was one of the slavers’ most fearsome leaders. His name was Eikhar (or Icar) and they too had witnesses his invulnerability to fire. Based on this new information, Bangqiu bought several pangas for Gwinch and Kafka to bless against their enemy. The two monks wrote Eikhar’s name on the weapons with dragon’s blood ink.

The heroes came back the next day. Very focused on killing Icar(the leader) they back stabbed him with the dragonblood weapons blessed to be super effective effective against him. After he died they heard a voice that told them of evils that took place under the stockade. “Well done. Most impressive.”

Gwinch looked at Bangqiu, “You’re hearing this, too?”

The voice was deep and sonorous, with a Zipang accent. “And what is your business here?” The voice queried. “You are agents of the Emperor? Or you had a personal feud with Eikhar?” Gwinch was cagey at first, but at last admitted that he and his companions were trying to free the capture villagers before they were sold into slavery. The voice told of evils that involved a witch named Marcessa (or Marquessa)who had an operation table. They were also told to meet a man named Toge who would lead them to marchesa. The voice directed them to drop into the courtyard below and to a door that would lead into the dungeons. “Toge will be expecting you. He will take you to meet Marquessa.”

“Why don’t you tell Marquessa to come up here?” Gwinch demanded. The voice didn’t answer.

So we just acted on our instinct and went to the doors they were raggedy and broken. So BANGQIU assumed it was a trap. He really felt an urge to go down the opposite door. Eventually they decided to go down the door they were told by the voice to use. After passing through the doorway was a vast flight of stairs they went down the stairs and found a magnet that was dragging them towards it. Then the group opened a door which led to some cannibals-- their room smelt of dead people. Then they started to fight and Toge appered down the lengthy stairs. He was a large man with rhinolike skin the creatures did everything he said which the party found to be oh so very perplexing. They followed him and saw some spiders along the way and Saisho made friends with them. Toge instantly picked this up along with the fact that half the party was invisible.

He then lead them to a room which had an operating chamber where someone was being tortured so the party saved him. In this room were many canibils who attacked the group but Toge politely asked to cut it out and said don’t attack the guests. At this point the group relized this toge guy was quite the threat.

He lead them to marcessa’s room and here they Saw a lot many operating taples and long tables and other stuff of that sort they saw many papers which were cut and tattered some where yellowish they also saw at the edge of the room two cages with animals that looked like a cross between a lion and an owl. The party pretended they wanted to be friends with Marquessa. Then they used magic that held her and she stopped being able to move. And the cannibils started cranking a crank that triggered the fence/gate to be opened but then they were killed Banqui So Gwinch and Bangqiu and their followers killed Marquessa’s cannibal friends and then killed her. Then they noticed the door was open and Saisho saw Toge hovering near the ceiling and being invisible to everyone except Saisho who passed the message around.

Using this information they watched him as they made their way back out of the dungeon until they reached the other torture room where they saw he was giving commands to the cannibal leaders. Then Saisho told Erlo where to shoot and Erlo threw a fireball at Toge and it hurt him badly and killed the cannibal leaders. Then Toge released a breath of cold that killed several members of the party: erlo,bulan,ongewen and shu. Then Banqui used a missle and it killed Toge so they escaped but there party was very injured. As they sneaked out of the stockade, they saw Black Flowers also packing up their belongings to flee.  

The people of Quitoka were not super grateful. Because still no rescue, just empty promises that the Black Flowers probably wouldn’t bother them anymore. Gwinch and most of his sohei vanished into the jungle for a meditative retreat.

But Bangqiu, Damai the scout, plus Nguyen and Lieu wnt back to try to free some slaves. This time they entered by way of the hole in the stone wall. Bangiqu surveyed the area while his companions kept look-out in the stone tower. The Black Flowers seemed to be gone, but they met some more people that inhabited it. These guys were both intimidating and friendly and told Bangqiu that he was a bad ass and asked him to help them look for treasure. Banqiu tried to buy all the slaves to set them free. A deal was struck, and Bangqiu tossed them a little bag of gems and the tough guys led him to stone building next to the firepit. But Bangqiu was finessed and the guys only showed him the stone building where the slaves were being kept but would not get them out. So Banqui hit their leader with a magic missle just to prove a point. He was injured but not killed; he and his men cussed out Bangqiu and ran for cover in another building.

Bangqiu and his companions entered the stone building and found about two dozen people. They were chained to the wall and staring into space as if hypnotized. They did not respond to him and Bangqiu decided to go back to Quitokai and seek assistance.     

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Spider Farm (2 of 2)

By the time Wolfgang returned to Hommelet (having parted company with Chrono somewhere along the way), things had gone bad at the spider farm. He learned from Vulpio and Gerrilynn that shadow goblins,

allies to the drow, and devotees of Lloth the spider goddess, had overrun the farm. According to the birds who made regular reports to the elves living under the moathouse, the shadow goblins had made their attack about a week after Wolfgang and Chrono left the farm. It was quickly resolved that Wolfgang, Vulpio and Gerrilynn should return to the spider farm and rescue the farmer and his family and laborers.

Wolfgang knew the best paths. Although his non-druid companions were some liability in trekking through the wilderness, they made good time, taking only a few extra days to complete the journey. Gerrilynn prayed for guidance and determined that because their enemies loved the shadows, they should attack in daylight. No other tactical decisions were made.

They reached the farm, and as they were crossing the yard, were pelted by arrows from the laborer’s dormitory. The party took refuge in Ulayah’s personal abode. It had clearly been ransacked. Gerilynn and Caitlynn, left the house and went to the stables. Gerrilynn was able to communicate with the frightened horses but did not learn any useful information. Inside Ulayah’s house, Wolfgang and Vulpio were threatened by a giant spider that dropped down the chimney and emerged from the fireplace. Wolfbang’s animal companions took no notice of the spider and by this strange fact, he deduced that the spider was an illusion. He further concluded that the noises on the tin roof were not more spiders, but spider goblins. He and Vulpio exited the house by a window. Sure enough, there were several spider goblins on the roof, and Vulpio, after taking cover behind a tree, picking them off with his arrows.. The goblins jumped down from the roof and proved to be no match for the party in hand-to-hand combat—and even worse at hand-to-bear-paw combat.

Gerrilynn and Caitlynn rejoined the party and they charged the dormitory together. They broke down the door and the goblins fled. Rather than pursue the enemy however, the party members were stopped in their tracks by the pitiful sight before them—the farm’s laborer’s, a dozen or so men, had been held captive in their dormitory. Shackled, bruised, famished, miserable, and delirious. They gratefully accepted freedom, food, and comfort, until one of them recognized Wolfbang. “Hey, he’s that one, the one who told all those stories to the boss!” Those who had sufficient strength were eager to fight him, convinced that he was the leader of the spider goblins.

Gerrilynn was sympathetic and acknowledged that Wolfbang might be annoying, but made it clear that she would defend him if necessary. Gerrilyn’s patience and loyalty were further tested as Wolfbang seemed willing to accept the challenge of anyone who wanted to take him on, but finally agreeing to go back outside. Vulpio asked the laborers if Ulayah was still alive. They didn’t know, but said the leaders of the goblins had taken one of the other buildings as their headquarters. Sure enough, Ulayah was there, shackled, but unguarded. He was also unfriendly toward Wolfbang. While not belligerent, he seemed to assume that there was a connection between the strange young man and the goblins who attacked his farm a week later. But none of that really mattered since his daughter had been taken from him the night before. It had been clear to him that the goblins were going to feed her to the spiders. But she had not been the first sacrifice and if the spiders weren’t hungry, they might have saved her for when the new spiders hatched. She might still be alive. Wolfbang and Vulpio volunteered to go into the spider trench and rescue her. Ulayah ordered the angry laborers to open the gate to the spider’s home. “This is my only chance!” He reasoned ot loud that if Wolfbang was risking his life to rescue Heri, then he likely was not the mastermind behind the Shadow Goblin invasion.

The trench was lined with thick, sticky webs. Vulpio led the way, slashing the webs with his sword. Bruno the bear, with his great strength, also helped clear a path. Neverthless, the way forward was narrow and twisting. Even smaller tunnels led off from the main trench. Following directions from Ulayah, who stood on the lattice above them, they made their way to the mother spider’s chamber. Dog-sized spiders emerged from the webbing and attacked from all sides. Wolfbang used his magic to calm the first ones, but more kept coming. The party shielded themselves and forced their way into the mother’s spider’s chamber. Here, there was more space, and the spiders could be fought with swords and spears. Bruno had been severely wounded. While WOlfbang attended to his animal companion, Vulpio advanced on the mother. Because of her enormous size, more than twice that of any of the others, she was nearly immobile. Vulpio stood far from her long, dripping fangs and shot her with arrows, then jumped in with his sword to finish her off.

A smaller chamber behind the spider mother was filled with egg sacs. Hanging from the top of the chamber was a large, quivering bundle, wrapped in silk. Vulpio cut down and unwrapped Heri. She was so disoriented that she couldn’t speak. Vulpio and Wolfbang helped her make her way out of the trench and she was re-united with her father. Some of Ulayah’s laborer’s continued to grumble, but over the next few days, it became clear that the boss had no ear for their suspicion or resentment. Ulayah rewarded the party with gifts, including several hundred feet of lightweight spider-silk rope. Besides being incredibly strong and lightweight, it was also just sticky enough to assist in maintaining a tight grip on it. After a few days, the party was ready to take their leave. Ulayah, with a meaningful and unsubtle nod at Heri told Wolfbang that he was welcome to return any time, “You might find you could have a good life here!”