Campaign of the Month: September 2016

Age of Serpents

The Wreck of the Jenivere

The breakers were right beneath her bows,
She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
Like icicles from her deck.

In his delirium, Kor’lec remembers and dreams…

He recalls a moment during the voyage of the Jenivere, when he temporarily lost control of his velociraptor companion Kai. Kai leapt up into the arms of the normally unapproachable Varisian scholar Ieana. Ieana seemed uncharacteristically nonplussed and friendly with the animal, talking to the dinosaur as if she were a person. Kai seemed friendly with Ieana, too. Ieana asked what her name was, and Kor’lec said “its Kai,” but Ieana reproached him and said she was talking to the animal. After Kai made some chirping sounds, Ieana said the raptor’s name was really Rain of Talons—Whose Feathers Will be Bright. She then ordered the small theropod back to Kor’lec, sardonically ordering her “back to your master.”

Then, Kor’lec had a feeling he was in Kai’s head, seeing through her eyes, looking up and searching desperately for her druid friend as the ship was being tossed on a storm. She ran into Ieana again. “Little Rain, you are seeking your master. I am sorry. (She turned a moment toward a shadow) Lower your sword my love, the beastie and I have an understanding. Little Rain, you would be safest below. Yes, I know you hate the cages. But they will protect you. Go there, and rest—and if anyone should disturb you… (she whispered into her ear).”

Kor’lec awoke with a start, declaring that they had to return to the ship and rescue Kai! He was only slightly shocked by the fact that he was on a beach now instead of the ship where he was before going cataleptic—perhaps subconsciously absorbing his predicament through the debate his fellow castaways were having nearby about their next move.

Which was, in fact, to return to the ship. Mostly for their weapons and gear, but also for some salvageable supplies. And answers—Monica continued to conjecture that they were brought ashore by whoever caused the wreck, probably to serve as some sort of sacrifice. Most of the party agreed that that kind of made sense. Dornas, Kishtari, Monica, and Kor’lec set out for the shipwreck.

Nemanji refused to go, declaring that his first time on a boat demonstrated that “boats,” clearly, were “no good.” He would explore inland instead. Gelik, Aerys, Sasha, and Jask were still suffering from shock to various degrees but wished the others luck. Nemanji reiterated again his convictions that a) “ship no good” and b) “you all die” before the demonic savage vanished into the bush.

Boarding Delay

Though they set out in the early morning, a few hours were spent navigating the treacherous rocky surf that replaced the beach along the edge of the bay to the wreck. By the time the tide was starting to swell, the four reached the general area of the Jenivere, which was gored by rocks though her lower decks like the horns of an angry bull, and listing precariously against a tall cliff face. Taking a beating from the waves, it was clear that they didn’t have much time before the sea would claim her.

But hold steady she did, and fortunately so, for it took several hours for the quartet to figure out a way inside the Jenivere without being swept up in the violent whorls and rushes that swaddled her on all sides. Several attempts to telekinetically pull loose rigging lines to their position failed, as did any attempt to cross the ferocious surf. Finally, after some brainstorming, the team worked out a last ditch gambit that was so crazy it had to work. Calling upon Dornas’s extensive creativity regarding the applications of magic, Kor’lec summoned to the surface a mass of seaweed and kelp to provide a sort of carpet to walk on, while Kishtari identified the safest way to cross over to the ship. Monica was prepared to unlock a hatch they could access once there, but the heroes instead found a breach big enough to walk through.

Bittersweet Reunion

And so they did, as darkness descended on the rocking and groaning Jenivere, Monica created a magical light to guide the party through the gloomy lower deck. Carefully following the gutsy archeologist across the treacherous warped, tilted, and sea-sprayed deck, the heroes peaked in the crew quarters and then the main storage deck where several horses were secured—and all killed in the collision. Finally turning toward the area where the Jenivere kept cages for captive animals (which also served as a makeshift brig for poor old Jask), Kor’lec found his little dinosaur buddy. But the reunion between man and pet wasn’t the poignant moment everyone envisioned, for the beast acted scared and aggressive. Kishtari recognized the telltale signs of mind control, which had severe implications beyond Kai’s immediate hostility. Kor’lek was struck hard in the heart by the violation of his natural bond with Kai, and vowed to make the person responsible pay. With the druid’s permission, Kish gently put Kai to sleep so he could swaddle the animal in some canvas and netting found in the storeroom they came in.

Beating a Dead Horse

The quintet were then forced to make their way across a floor strewn with horse carcasses to reach the stairwell to the upper deck. However, one of the rotting equines was clearly ambulatory, and rose to face the source of the light. The beast’s back legs were broken, and it pathetically dragged itself toward the heroes by its forelegs, its horsey lips curling to reveal chomping teeth desperate to satiate a hunger it couldn’t comprehend. Though Monica pointed out it could easily be evaded, Kor’lec refused to allow the animal to suffer the agony of undeath. The druid, with a sleeping Kai strapped to his back, charged the zombie with a shovel he had grabbed in the storeroom and brought it down on the reanimated equine with an angry thwack. Monica likewise sprang across the rubble- and carrion-strewn deck and blasted the zombie’s face with healing magic—antithetical to undead. The horse somehow choked out a haunting neigh and lashed at the bardic academic with its front hooves and head, but Monica deftly weaved and parried.

Kishtari drilled the horse through its eye socket with a crystal dart. The fragile psion then bravely moved into striking distance of the risen animal to distract the creature. This allowed Kor’lec to sever it’s back with the business end of his shovel to a torrent of putrid cerebrospinal fluid. Dornas hopped over and shattered the dead beast’s face bones with his banyan tree branch, but was smashed in return by a mighty butt of the horse’s head. If the fight wasn’t soon finished, Dornas was done for…

Then something miraculous happened: Kishtari, demonstrating the frightening psionic potential of one descended from the terrifying spirits of Dal Quor, began to glow as an otherworldly light shone in her eyes. The rotting horse arose from the deadly ground and flew apart like tender roast meat shaken off the bones.

Answers Creating Questions

The victorious zombie horse-killing champions swaggered on up the stairs to the upper deck, though Dornas’s strut was mitigated somewhat by his shattered ribs, and Monica was a little shell-shocked by her first encounter with the undead. The party’s first stop was to recover their equipment from their bunk room, and as heroes should, they grabbed their fellow castaways’ gear too. Greed nearly got the best of Kishtari when she saw how much money the others had stashed, but Kor’lec reminded the former thief that she was no longer a criminal. However, curiosity succeeded where avarice failed, and the explorers wound up paging through Sasha, Aerys, and Gelik’s writings.

Gelik’s journal, read by Dornas, contained clearly embellished tales of his adventures as a member of the Pathfinder Society with more recent entries describing his trip aboard the Jenivere, complete with exaggerated descriptions of its crew, passengers, and his interactions with them.

Aerys’s papers, read by Kishtari, contained a draft of a poem, touchingly composed and luridly depicting a Sargavan riverboat captain named Kassata LeWynn. The essence of the work was the captain’s tumultuous, difficult courtship with an unnamed Shackles pirate that appeared to be an obvious stand-in for Aerys.

Sasha had an undelivered letter intended for Captain Kovack complaining about the presence of a green-cloaked halfling that no one aboard the ship would admit to seeing. The letter demanded the halfling be hunted, exposed, and removed at all costs, and suggested he was an agent of her mother’s that secretly boarded with her at Mediogalti Island. Kor’lec believed his superior elvish senses would have noticed a halfling skulking around the ship but suddenly recalled a few sailors joking about one of the passengers (Sasha) complaining she was being stalked by one.

Captain Kovack’s room was chock-full of treasure and information. A desk contained money and potions. An intact chest held Jasks’ gear, whose holy symbol to Nethys and spell component pouch exposed the old convict as a cleric to the god of magic. Dornas took one of the healing potions. On a hook hung the keys to Jask’s manacles. Finally, the captain’s log revealed a man slowly growing unhinged—he became obsessed with Ieana, paranoid that his First Mate Alton Devers and other members of the crew were eying her, and the final entry revealed his insane plan to change course to Smuggler’s Shiv so he and the Varisian could start a new life there together.

Though Ieana’s room was difficult to move through on account of the fallen beams, the investigators were determined to be thorough especially where she was concerned. They found the remnants of a small personal altar with a fang-shaped dagger and broken bronze unholy symbol that Monica identified as representing Ydersius the snake god. She pointed out this god was beheaded by an Azlanti hero ten thousand years ago.

Additionally, the heroes uncovered a book with a well-paged chapter on Smuggler’s Shiv:


And containing these margin notes, translated by Kor’lec and Dornas from the black tongue of Aklo


The discussion among the heroes turned grave as they realized that the introverted “Varisian scholar” Ieana might not be human at all!

Deciding to see if any clues about the previous night’s poisoning could be found in the kitchen, the heroes opened the door to find the corpulent cadaver of the cook Rambar, who arose with a meat cleaver in his clenched hand and murder in his eyes.


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Breakfast is Served

A tale of the castaways, here for a long, long time

monster_-_eurypterid.jpgDornas was the first to regain consciousness on a bright sandy beach with jumbled memories of how he got there, an angry beehive in his stomach and a throbbing head. Strewn about the beach were most of his fellow passengers aboard the Jenivere. A pinch in his feet awakened him to action, as several dog-sized sea scorpions tried to decide whether or not the bounty of meat they’d been presented with this morning was safe to have for breakfast. Dornas shrugged off the eurypterid’s venom… was the magus’s self-honed poison tolerance to thank for his timely awakening?

Realizing he was unarmed, the Taldan prodded awake the nearest body to him while backing away from the chittering vermin. This was his young countrywoman Monica Montana, who awoke with a start and shouted “Bugs!” Both Taldans realized that the nearby banyan tree presented some weaponry in the form of fallen branches and they quickly scooped up some promising clubs. Dornas also took note of the footprints and furrows leading to and from the water, and a deeper rut near the waterline that probably came from a rowboat. On the far side of the bay, he spied the Jenivere listing to port, the galleon scuttled and holed on some jagged rocks.

The next to awaken happened to be Kishtari, who realized that her mind-effecting powers would not work on the primitive arthropods. She tried hitting one with a crystal missile manifested from her mind, but missed. She wisely woke the hulking tiefling Nemanji who responded reasonably to the unexpected state of affairs by going ape-shit, erupting into a rage as if possessed by terrible Angazhan himself.

The demon-spawn hauled out a tree-trunk hunk of driftwood half-buried in the sand and brought it down toward the poisonous creepy-crawlies with an earthshaking smash—only to miss! Inspired to violence herself, Monica charged the menacing shellfish with a stick and—shouting “bugs! bugs! bugs!”—splattered one to bisque.

Dornas and Kish then took on the chore of waking the others, seeing that Gelik, Aerys, Sasha, and a manacled Jask were likewise unconscious heaps across the beach. Aerys awoke shaken and nauseous, but blasé enough to grumble “bloody hells, another shipwreck.” She then grabbed an empty bottle littering the beach, saw it contained no hooch, and threw it down in disgust.

Sasha freaked out, realized her blouse was in tatters and quickly turned her exposed back away from the others while demanding to be returned to her bunk. Gelik, citing his superior gnomish immune system, seemed to have the clearest memory of getting ill and falling unconscious at dinner. Old Jask was just happy to be outside, probably used to being shuffled around against his will and waking up in strange places. Dornas warned the convict to take cover in the foliage while the magus deftly leapt back into the fray to dispatch a eurypterid.

After another was smooshed beneath Nemanji’s comically large cudgel, the remaining killer crustaceans fled to the water, allowing the castaways to take stock of their situation. Most agreed that their dinner was tampered with. They found the half-elf Kor’lec curled up in a ball on the other side of the tree, deliriously murmering “Kai… Kai…” either still sick from the tainted food or suffering from some other ailment.

Monica, like some kind of human almanac, immediately deduced that they were on Smuggler’s Shiv, 40 miles from the mainland, and rattled off what she knew of the place—that it’s a shipwreck graveyard and believed by most to be haunted. She also speculated that the ship was deliberately scuttled on the Shiv—that there must be something on the isle worth a considerable measure of sabotage—but none could guess what that might be, who could be responsible, or why they alone out of the many officers and crewman survived.

Nearly everyone agreed that whatever crimes Jask was guilty of didn’t matter in their situation. Unfortunately, the tempered steel of the manacles binding the Garundi man’s hands and feet proved impossible for even the gorilla-armed Nemanji to break, and its locking mechanism just beyond Monica’s lock-picking skills even with utmost concentration. Meanwhile, a slowly calming Sasha began to lash together a makeshift cloak from drying palm fronds.

While Monica was curious to start exploring the forested interior, Dornas shrewdly observed that none of them were going to last long without food and weapons. He suggested that if there was anything that could be salvaged from the wreck of the Jenivere, they better get moving. The waves hitting the remains of the once-mighty galleon looked all-too eager to pull her into Besmara’s Chest.

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