Saturday, September 19, 2009

Praktas - The Horrors of Arachna Island

Game Date: 9/19/09

Drew Baker (Bryan) - Human Fighter (Tempest style)
Damakos Redhorn (Rick) - Tiefling Rogue (Brutal style)
Tira (Misty) - Deva Wizard (Wand style)

Matt2 was unable to make it, so I DMed a Praktas game. To recap: All three characters had just completed the six-week training course at the Bounty Hunter Guild. Drew and Damakos were still holding on to a treasure map they'd picked up during a previous adventure. Tirah, who had joined the BH guild on credit, wanted to earn her 4000 admission fee as quickly as possible. So, they had to decide between taking some bounties, or going after the treasure. They decided to get a couple of bounties out of the way, then try the treasure. I gave them four bounties to choose from.

Bounty 1: Skyrene Linnealinae

Skyrene is an Elven archer, who loves animals more than people. She hates to see animals hunted for food, or kept in captivity. She started small - letting cows and other farm animals loose, much to the annoyance of Trasa's local farmers. Then she took it a step further, by declaring herself the protector of Koramil Forest, and killing any hunters who ventured into the woods.

Our trio of adventurers (plus 2 pets) began exploring the forest, looking for tracks and trying to look like hunters. They finally came upon a deer, and fired an arrow at it. This caused them to be attacked by Skyrene, who had been following them for quite some time.

At first the battle looked pretty one-sided, five against one. But then Skyrene let loose with a loud combination of animal calls, causing a cougar to run out of the forest to her side, and causing the PCs' pets to turn against their masters. Now it was three against four, and none of the PCs wanted to harm their own pets.

But they concentrated their attacks on Skyrene, and once she went down, the pets returned to normal, and the cougar ran off into the woods. Drew and Damakos allowed Tirah to have their share of the bounty, which she put towards her debt.

Bounty 2: Jeska Spartan

Jeska's real name was Jessiana Cole, and she was once an exceptional student at the ABC (Alta Bardic College). One night a dorm party got out of control, and she was expelled for lewd behavior. She then tried to set the college on fire, and fled town to avoid arrest. She ended up in Trasa, where she started using the stage name Jeska Spartan, and formed a music group called Purple Mildew. The group was actually getting fairly popular until an audience member - a citizen of Alta on vacation - recognized her. The entire band went in to hiding soon after.

This bounty had the PCs going all over town. First they headed over to the Pleasure Palace, Trasa's sleaziest club, where Purple Mildew had been known to play. The owner, Errol Gold, gave them the address of Jeska's apartment. They also tried to access some records at Trasa's town hall, but the clerk wouldn't help them for privacy reasons. (DM Secret: While the clerk was immune to intimidation - there were guards all over the building, after all - he probably would have responded to a large bribe. Granted, there's only so much money you want to spend on a bounty hunter quest, if you want it to be profitable.)

Jeska's apartment was empty, but the landlady pointed them in the direction the flute player's house. His house was also empty except for a bum, who told them where the drummer lives. They finally found the entire band at the drummer's apartment. All four band members had bard-like powers. In addition to a headache-inducing sonic wail, Jeska could sing various songs that harmed or hindered all her enemies at once. As long as the other three band members continued playing their instruments, Jeska was harder to hurt (+2 to all defenses for each band member playing).

The PCs took out the band members one at a time, since their music made Jeska harder to hit. Once they were all down, Jeska continued fighting until she was bloodied, and then she surrendered. (DM Secret: While it was harder to defeat Jeska while the others performed, if they had taken out Jeska first, the other three would have surrendered. After all, there was no bounty on their heads, so they had little incentive to protect her.) Once again, Drew and Damakos contributed their shares to Tirah's debt.

Arachna Island

So now they decided it was time for a big score. They went to see their old friend, Captain Jarren, and showed him the treasure map. The fisherman agreed to take them, for a fee, but refused to accompany them ashore this time. He gave the PCs a means to contact him when they were ready to leave, and dropped them off on the shore of Arachna Island.

The adventurers followed the map, which led them near a village inhabited by lizardfolk. They soon found themselves surrounded by the villagers, who wore spider-shaped symbols on their primitive clothing. Tirah spoke their language, and attempted to talk to them. The lizardfolk declared that the invaders would be sacrificed to "the eight-legs", and battle ensued. Once the reptilian attackers were defeated, the PCs continued to follow the map.

The map led them to a cave. The entrance was guarded by two more lizardfolk, but it wasn't a long battle. The cave itself was full of large spiders. The tunnel finally ended in a tomb, containing web-covered sarcophagi. Before they could investigate much further, they were attacked by a pair of incredibly huge spiders, whose bites gave the PCs ongoing poison damage.

Once the spiders were defeated, the adventurers looted the place. They found a chest full of gold, and one sarcophagus held the corpse of a long-dead lizardfolk chieftain, who was wearing several pieces of enchanted clothing. Not any more.

They also found a scroll written in Draconic, which detailed the life of the Chief Athriss, considered to be the greatest leader that tribe had known. Before Athriss, the lizardfolk had lived in fear of the giant spiders, who would occasionally wander into town and eat a villager or two. Athriss convinced the tribe to worship the spiders, sacrificing their sick and infirm to the creatures, which left the spiders with no need to leave their cave for food. It was rumored that Athriss could even speak to the giant arachnids.

One of the more notable pieces of equipment they found on the corpse was a Gem of Colloquy, which allows the bearer to speak Abyssal. As it turns out the spiders were actually demons, and the gem had allowed Athriss to deal with them. Tirah now wears the gem.

The PCs then called Captain Jarran, and headed back to the shore. Once on the ship, they saw something strange on the shore. A lizardfolk shaman came running out of the woods, and started casting a spell. The skies darkened, and it started storming. The PCs saw a large underwater shape heading towards the ship. Everyone headed inside, taking refuge in the galley. The ship rocked and shook until it capsized. Everyone on board was knocked unconscious.

They woke up to find the ship in ruins. Several of the generic crew members were dead, and the survivors were badly injured. Venturing off the ship, they found that they were in some sort of odd cave. Soon they realized that they were actually inside a giant sea monster. They grabbed some supplies and headed down the tunnel, until they found the mouth. Captain Jarran supplied everyone with some potions that allowed underwater breathing, and one of the PCs stabbed the leviathan's tongue, causing it to open its giant maw. Once they'd been expelled from the creature, the watched the giant sea monster swim off at an incredible speed.

Eventually they made to a shore, minus two more crew members. They didn't recognize this island, so they explored it, finding nothing of value. Drew and Damakos each had two scrolls of recall, which could have transported them back to Trasa, but they didn't want to waste them just yet. They could still see Arachna Island off in the distance, and they decided to build a raft and travel there.

They explored every inch of Arachna Island, but it was now empty. They found a dock, and determined that the remaining lizardfolk had probably evacuated. (DM Secret: After discovering the villagers the PCs had killed... then finding that their spider gods were dead... then seeing the sea monster flee the area... the remaining lizardfolk decided that the island was now cursed, and set sail for a new place to start a village.)

Since they couldn't find anything useful on the island, they used some of Jarran's potions to explore under the water around the island. Finally they discovered a large underwater cave, and climbed out of the water to find a large empty cavern. (DM Secret: The underwater part of the cave is where the sea monster slept when waiting to be summoned.) Here they discovered gigantic black obelisk, filled with writing in Abyssal. Tirah spent a few hours studying the obelisk, until she found a way to use it to teleport everyone back to Trasa.

(DM Secrets: There were actually several ways they could have gotten off the island. If Captain Jarran had seen their scrolls of recall, he would have offered to buy them for several times the scrolls' value, then picked up the remaining castaways later in a friend's ship. But Drew and Damakos intentionally kept the scrolls hidden from Jarran's view.

If the players had decided to go ahead and use the scrolls on themselves without sharing, Jarran would have given them directions to hand to another sea captain who owed Jarran a favor.

If they had decided to just take their raft out to sea, I would have strongly discouraged that course of action, but I wouldn't have killed them. They would have encountered more storms, and lost a few more redshirts (maybe even Captain Jarran and/or the pets), but they would have eventually been spotted by another fishing vessel.

The obelisk was originally going to be in a cave on the unnamed island where they washed ashore, but when we reached that point, I liked how the roleplay was going and wanted to prolong it a bit. The players were coming up with some interesting ideas, and I wanted to see what else came up.)

XP Rewards:
Skyrene: 300/5=60
Jeska and Her Band: 400/5=80
Lizardfolk: 900/5=180
Lizardfolk Guards: 400/5=80
Spiders: 300/5=60
Spider Boss: 850/5=170
Combat Total: 630 each.

General Roleplay and Problem Solving:
Drew and Damakos: 200 each.
Tirah: 300.

Drew Baker - 830, Total now 4192 (Level 4)
Damakos Redhorn - 830, Total now 4192 (Level 4)
Tirah - 930, Total now 2290 (Level 3)

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