Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #17: (Talislanta) Scent of the Beast Part One

Some of our regular heroes from Crosedes (D&D) have been magically transported to the world of Talislanta.  This is the convoluted story about them acquiring the items needed to get back home.

Rolf Wolfsblood:  Bald-headed barbarian from the Plains of Galmar.
Ashe - highly skilled elven ranger, enjoying the fact that hated elves in Crosedes have pointed ears, just like all the races of men in Talislanta.
Maloran Alberhold - human fighter, ladies man sans charisma.  Not getting a Yule gift from his cousin this year, since it was Maloran's associate, Kannex who transported his brothel to a new dimension.
Kane - monk of eastern mysticism with an odd elemental control of water.
Babette - urban street thief swept up with the party when they teleported to Talislanta.

2nd of Phandir 150 N.A. - City-State of Cymril, The Seven Kingdoms
After navigating the wonders and faults of the Magical Fair of Cymril to find Kannex's contact, the Kasmirin merchant Abn Qua, the party discovered what type of "mission" they would need to undertake to have Abn Qua finance the research missions for the spell components Kannex needed to send them back home.

Abn Qua lamented the stirrings of war around the borders of the Seven Kingdoms.  He was always in a position to make a profit if war broke out, but profits are far easier during peace.  Each kingdom sent troops into the Wilderlands to fight the sub-men and wild races overrunning that desolate plains. Sometimes, despite their obvious superiority, some of those soldiers didn't make it back.  It was the price to pay to maintain civilization.

Recently, however, a number of personal Thrall medallions of troops lost in the Wilderlands made their way into the dark corners of the bazaar in Cymril. No one with any common sense  (or sense of the law) dealt directly with beast-men, and it was possession of such ill-gotten gains was punishable by death.

"Finding out who is working with the beast-men and ending this debacle would grant me many favors and much influence, influence that I can use to help your friend the Tanasian get you home."

5th of Phandir 150 N.A. - City-State of Cymril, The Seven Kingdoms
The party had agreed to those simple terms, given some spending money to outfit themselves and were placed with Captain Peris of the Ardan, a huge land ark with crushing wheels twenty-five foot high and sails over seventy.  Surprising everyone was a large machine so the ark could generate its one wind if the real wind was still.   The crew was quite small for such a giant vessel, the Captain, a merchant in charge of the goods, three bloated and mute humanoids acting as laborers, a yellow-clad individual with a mask that tinkered with the wind device, and a lone black-skinned female, called a Danelek, who worked the sails.

6th of Phandir 150 N.A. - Sindar, The Seven Kingdoms
The Ardan entered Sindar, a land of tall red-skinned very alien looking humanoids with bumpy heads and rumored to have two brains.  Most in the party felt intellectually unprepared for casual conversation the few times the Ardan made some routine stops.

7th of Phandir 150 N.A. -Near Uthan, Sindar, The Seven Kingdoms
Making fantastic time, the passengers of the ark felt their first taste of strife on the trip as multiple large arrows sunk into different parts of the ships.  With this initial barrage, Captain Perris ordered the masked fellow, a Technomancer, to unleash the full force of the wind machine, and ark lurched forward, picking up steam.  Then everyone noticed the arrows had ropes attached, one apparently had hit Kazi, the Danelek working the rigging, and she flew off the sails and into some surrounding trees.

Captain Peris had advised the party that the safest way to avoid unmounted bandits was the sail away at full speed, but the loss of his 2nd mate (the merchant was a useless first) would impede the trade mission.  Kazi needed to be rescued.

After months of itching for a fight, the party did not disappoint.  As the screeching brakes tried to slow down this behemoth of a vessel, each member disembarked from a different direction. Rolf and Maloran led a zig-zagging charge, while Kane worked one flank, while Ashe and Babette navigating the other to engage the rear.

The creatures were giant reptilian beasts with huge crossbows.  Luckily the broad side of the land ark was easier to hit than scurrying adventurers and the party engaged them in melee.  One of these creatures, Captain Peris later called them Satada, even cast magic missiles into the fray, but despite their size and apparent strength, the skill of the party overwhelmed them.

They found Kazi in the bushes, a small harpoon had run her through and the subsequent flight had left her near death.  Rolf carried the woman back to the ark, where Kane used his water mastery to clean the wound and his mysticism to heal the wound.    If she took the rest of the day easy, she would be back to work fully by the next day.  To ensure that they still reached the town of Uthan by the following morning, the heroes pitched in to literally learn the ropes of the ark.

8th of Phandir 150 N.A. - Uthan, Sindar, The Seven Kingdoms
Upon reaching Uthan, Captain Peris and the merchant began some negotiations, while the party (and Kazi) were allowed to wander the Sindaran town.  They stayed relatively close the ark, which made it easier to be hailed by the captain.

It appeared one of the Sindaran locals had inquired about adventurers (Talislanta was strange, but certain things felt familiar to the old world) and Peris referred them to the party.

The Sindarin's older aunt, an alchemist, was not picking up the daily deliveries of food  the family provided and they feared that she passed away.  Unfortunately, she had grown paranoid in her years and covered her home with traps.  The family only wanted three heirlooms out of the house, anyting else they found was there's to keep.

The house and it's traps were nothing tremendous to overcome.  A ranger to check for tripwires and a quick-study of a thief to disarm them meant little havoc was unleashed on the party.

The basement, though, was a different. What started as roughly cut out turned into a cavernous room full of cryptic mosaics.   The group couldn't ascertain the reason for the mosaics, outside of pictures of Sindar and men working together, but near a large, round passageway, they were shocked to find a single red-skinned foot laying on the floor.

Just then a mosaic rumbled, and a giant beast burst through it!  It was twenty foot high, had the vague shape of an eel, save a full set of the of sharpest teeth any of them had ever seen.

It swallowed Maloran whole before he even had a chance to blink.  The rest could barely wound the beast as it thrashed about the cavern.  They finally gave up hope of rescuing their friend and retreated back up the house, and continued running until the ground stopped shaking....

A Land Kra is an ominous foe...
For the remainder of their trip, the party stayed on the land ark and avoided conversation with everyone, even the crew.

"This world isn't worth losing people for..." Rolf would grumble into his beer far more often than he would ever admit.

DM Notes: There are zero surviving notes from when I ran this module.  However, upon re-reading it, I relived the stone-cold reality of how they lost Maloran.  It was brutal, it was traumatic for all, and like many deaths in my campaigns, came down to one or two crucial die rolls on each side of encounter.  

Out in the "real world" and no longer held back by Kannex, the party learned that their talents were far superior in Talislanta than back home.  Even Kane's mysticism was prone to power spikes, but he saved the life of Kazi with a simple act that would have only stopped the bleeding in Crosedes.  

Unfortunately for Maloran, the extremes of life affected everyone else in this world as well.

RIP: Maloran:  May your friends get back home and one day tell your unborn child the cool things you managed to do... before you got eaten by a giant worm. 

NEXT #18 - Sarista Hijinx in Part Two of "Scent of the Beast"

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