Dragons in the Dark

TSC-E21: Maiden Voyage of the Desert Angel

 

Tags: H.A. A.B. E.B. S.B. E.C. L.C. A.J. Aranna Weaver, Astrologer Lane Weaver, Soldier Coil Mahogany, Zealot Jahura Gaus, Hedge Wizard Daot-Daot Doubt, Apothecarist Noname Weaver, Ruffian Seleana Mahogany, Vampire Hunter LL Fever-Dreaming Marlinko Chris Kutalik Desert Angel Fiasco Joseph Robert Lewis Chris Kutalik The Seers Sanctum Directsun


The Snack Club have arrived in Sarheenhar after a three day voyage across the Inner Sea. It’s the month of the Raven, day of the Crab. Jahura Gaus (SB) and Lane Weaver (AB) say their farewells to the group as they head south to their patron, Ningauble of the Seven Eyes. The rest of the Snack Club head up the road towards the Sarheenhar’s western gate, the Gate of Fortitudinous Immanence.

Spoilers Ahead for Chris Kutalik’s Fever-Dreaming Marlinko (LL)

In Sarheenhar, the Snack Club spend a good half-hour wandering around town not knowing where to go or what to do because nobody in the Snack Club takes proper notes IRL. I’ve grown tired of them not taking notes, drawing maps, or keeping proper inventory, so I let them do nothing for a few turns. Eventually, they remember they’re there to visit a noble-woman who invited them to their city. They find her town-manse.

Lady Szara’s butler, Mrtvolo, who is pastier than a kabuki mask, like literally pale white, opens the door and asks what they want. Daot-Daot (EC) says they’re there to see some noble woman, Seleana Mahogany (EB) is like something about an airship. Noname Weaver (HA) and Coil Mahogany (LC) stand around in the back not saying anything. Aranna Weaver (AJ) sticks the invitation in Mrtvolo’s hands. How rude. Finally, they remember the name of their host, and they’re welcomed into the town-manse.

They’re led upstairs, past two zombie maids, and into a luxuriously appointed sitting room. Lady Szara is a very well-dressed woman, but something’s off about her. She has make-up so thick it looks like a pancake on her face, beet-red rouge, and dark, dramatic eye-liner. She’s excited that Aranna Weaver has made the journey out to visit her. She tells them about the airship she has constructed, The Desert Angel, and looks forward to them witnessing the maiden voyage in three days hence.

Meanwhile, they’re offered a place to stay and time to explore her fair city.

The Magical Amigos

Cut to Jahura Gaus and Lane Weaver, who have affectionately named themselves the Magical Amigos. They’re traveling through the Illthmar mountains to Ningauble’s cave. On the way there, they come to an overpass where giant rocks and boulders are displaced. Another one whistles above their head, and just sixty feet away, they see two stone giants. They stop the Magical Amigos and demands they hand over all their treasure. Jahura and Lane both claim they have nothing, and in fact, Jahura begins to cast a spell.

At that, both stone giants pick them up and slam them to the ground. Both Lane and Jahura take heavy damage. Jahura offers up his ring of consultation. The giant doesn’t believe that’s all Jahura has. The first giant threatens to hold Lane hostage until they give him more treasure. Jahura casts ventriloquism and puts words in the second giant, seeding doubt. The first giant’s not stupid. He tells Jahura to stop his dumb tricks and to hand everything over. Jahura pulls out a spyglass he had conveniently “forgotten” about. The giants are appeased.

Both Lane and Jahura are then free to go on their way. Later, that evening, while settling down for camp, Lane hears someone tripping and falling near their site. Jahura quickly casts levitate on the two of them and they float up to a nearby tree. Five bandits appear and pelt small stones at them. It all misses. In an act of vengeance, Lane sends a nasty fireball down at them uprooting the tree in an explosion, while the five bandits, set on fire, scream in agony as they kneel, collapse and burn.

They head to Ningauble’s cave after their eventful day of travel. Ningauble tells Jahura that he wants that medusa hair that he failed to retrieve a couple of months ago. Ningauble opens up a portal and sends the two of them into it.

Aimlessly Wandering Sarheenhar

Back to the rest of the Snack Club. They visit The Flaming Goat, a seedy tavern. They head to the bathhouses, get accosted by nine rakes who jeer, taunt and insult them for being foreigners. Daot-Daot is baited and starts a fight. Everyone else - Coil, Aranna, Seleana, Noname - decide to run instead… leaving Daot-Daot by herself. She wildshapes into a bear, roars at the rakes scaring them off, and then chases down her crew and whacks Aranna with her paw for abandoning her.

They head to the Domu Rada, where the town council is. Upon figuring out what is it, they leave. They walk to the Guild of Condotierre and discover that Sarheenhar has unionized their hirelings and track what happens to them. Aranna says we’re not hiring people here because we’re terrible bosses.

Throughout this entire time, both Seleana and Coil keep saying they don’t know what to do and frankly, I was a little disappointed. They could be talking to people. Asking about what they know. Figuring out if, and what kind of secrets are hidden in the city. It isn’t until Aranna, Noname and Daot-Daot head back to Lady Szara’s that Seleana heads over to The Drunken Troll and starts talking to the citizens of Sarheenhar.

At the Drunken Troll, Seleana meets Yadis, the bar keep, along with a party of adventurers: Mandamus the Erudite, Uma, Barbarella, and “Martin the Fighter”. Seleana asks them what they know about magic, and they point him to the Onion Tower. He asks about potions, they point him to Irenka’s. He asks about the League of the Freehanded HQ, they inform him it’s a criminal brotherhood headed by One-Armed Jiri. FINALLY – someone is role-playing in the urban city instead of wandering around doing nothing.

Spoilers Ahead for Directsun’s The Seers Sanctum (OSR)

Cut back to the Magical Amigos. They’re in dungeon crawl mode. They’re stuck in the same room as the one they teleported to way back in episode two of this season. There’s an iron door in front of them.

Now, I forget where I saw this D&D meme… but there’s one floating around where it’s a four-panel comic. The first three are common dangers like traps, dragons, and puzzles. The PCs stare each down with relentless determination. But in the last one is a door. And the PCs in the comic are freaking out over the door.

This is what happened with Lane and Jahura. Instead of walking up to the door and lifting it (it’s a door that goes up and down)… the two of them spend several turns coming up with the most ludicrous methods of getting past this door. Lane planar steps through the door, sees levers he can pull to open them, but it’s across a pool of water. He tries swimming across, but a gelatinous cube lunges at him. He steps back, casts control ice and builds a huge wall that reaches the ceiling. It’s there for half-an-hour… which means the levers are blocked off now. Meanwhile, Jahura is standing behind said iron door doing nothing. They yell at each other through the door, barely perceptible and suggest they do the Macarena while they wait for their ice wall to melt.

After the ice wall melts, Lane suggests casting fireball to melt the door. I remind him that he’s in a small, confined space. Lane’s default answer to everything seems to be fireball the last two sessions. It’s probably not going to end well for him. Finally Jahura casts levitate on the door and lifts it. Once reunited, Lane casts fireball on the pool where the gelatinous cube is. But in the confusion, changes his mind, and casts it on the door to his right instead.

Melting that door, they see the well from several sessions back again. Jahura remembers there’s a medusa statue in the middle of the well, so he takes Lane’s pointy hat and covers his eyes. He levitates down to the statue, feeling around for it, as his eyes are covered… and he casts neutralize on the medusa statue. I asked him several times if he understands that this is just a face chiseled into the side of the well. He nods, but casts the spell anyway. Nothing happens of course… as it’s a STATUES and not a former gorgon who was turned to stone!!!

Jahura floats down to the bottom floor, takes off his pointy hat and sees his in a different room, with a gate and stairs. He calls up to Lane to jump down. Jahura floats back up to catch Lane, and brings him gently down like Superman carrying Lois Lane.

Half-Heartedly Rummaging

Back to the rest of the Snack Club. They are exploring Lady Szara’s house now. Daot-Daot wander upstairs, sees a balcony overseeing a garden. She turns into a raven, flies down, and sees a hell hound. The dog snaps at her. She manages to fly away. Aranna is wandering the manse looking for a bookshelf, presumably to find more spells? There are no shelfs in the house. But what she does discover in her wandering is that the kitchen looks like it hasn’t been used in years. The pantry is empty. Does nobody eat in this household?

Meanwhile, Seleana and Coil have returned. They head upstairs. They root around in the attic. They find clothes from 300 years ago. Fashion trends that are no longer fashionable. Seleana is pretty darn sure that Lady Szara is some sort of undead. Vampire? Zombie? Ghost? Aranna finds some beds and that’s evidence for her that Lady Szara is not a vampire. Daot-Daot finds some empty rooms.

Seleana and Coil climb the ladder to the roof. The entire roof is shaded completely. Above their heads, they see the keel of a giant airship floating. Beneath, Lady Szara and two merchants are talking. She is pleasantly surprised to see them. She tells them that she was saving it for later, but she would like the Snack Club to fly on the Desert Angel on her maiden voyage as their guards. She’s happy to pay them 2,500gp for the job. Seleana replies that she has to talk to the rest of the Snack Club first. And then Seleana, in a very impolite, and not-at-all-subtle way asks how old Lady Szara is. She is offended by the question and doesn’t answer.

Kill the Snake Lady

Cut back to the Magical Amigos. Knowing they’re close to the medusa, they tear Lane’s pointy hat in two, and then turn it into two blindfolds. Next, instead of figuring out how to open the door properly, Jahura simply casts control fire, creates three fire spears and melts the door down. They hear the hissing of snakes, but can’t see a thing. The gorgon fires an arrow at Lane. Misses. Lane, blinded, casts control ice. Fails. Medusa then lunges at the blind Jahura, snakes biting at him. Jahura is bit… and poison floods his body. His throat constricts. He can barely speak… but casts neutralize on himself at the last minute… dissolving the poison. Lane casts ray of enfeeblement. It’s damaging. The gorgon shrieks as all her strength is drained from her. She collapses and withers and dies. Or at least, the Magical Amigos hear this.

They still have their blindfolds on. They get on the hands and knees and crawls towards the corpse. Feeling about, they eventually find it. I ask them how they’re going to cut off this gorgon’s head and bring it back to Ningauble. It was at that moment that we realize the Magical Amigos went into a dungeon… one, without fighters, two, without rope or torches or equipment… and three, without a single sharp blade.

But Jahura has a stake from last session. And his idea is to keep jabbing at the gorgon’s neck around its entire circumference until the head came off. It is absurd and stupid, but I allow it. They stick the head in their bag of holding.

And then, they have to get out. They have no idea how to do it because they didn’t flip the levers to open the doors and all the doors are still locked. Jahura has this “brilliant” idea to levitate up through the well again. Lane suggests they planar step. Finally, they take the most mundane and obvious path instead. Stairs. Yes. Stairs. Stairs that was there the entire time.

During this entire time, Jahura is invoking Ningauble’s name in the hopes that he’ll just teleport them out of there. He achieves the opposite effect and ticks off Ningauble. (It’s like when you get spammed with stickers in a group chat a million times.) Finally, they find a jaunt lens, and jump to Ningauble. Ningauble is happy to get the medusa hair, but is really, really annoyed with Jahura now for spamming him. Lane on the other hand, is offered a strange spell called Sorceretical-Surviving Assimilance.

Lane and Jahura then planar steps back to Sarheenhar.

Serious Shopping Now

The Snack Club are reunited and they finally decide to use their time in the city to do something useful. Aranna goes to Irenka the herbalist to see if she’ll sell some curing potions. She does, but it’s 300gp and the Snack Club have no money. Their banks are in the Eight Cities and they’re far away. Aranna leaves. Meanwhile, Daot-Daot comes up with the same idea, but as an apothecarist, she decides to root around in Lady Szara’s garden and find herbs she can turn into poison. She makes a good ten doses for Aranna.

Seleana and Coil goes to hire some extra muscles. They find a heavy foot-soldier named Dobormil the Blue. She’s hired for six days. Lane and Jahura buy dungeon equipment like rope, grappling hook. Coil buys lock picks. Aranna says she has enough torches already. On their shopping spree, they meet a wizard with glittering streaks in his hair. He introduces himself as Glamdalf, and as the Snack Club were friendly to him, he offers to adventure with them for 100gp. The Snack Club can’t afford him.

On the last day before the maiden voyage of the Desert Angel, Daot-Daot tries to see if she can get some messenger stones. She heads over to the Onion Tower and talks to František the Checkered Mage. He doesn’t want money (not like the Snack Club has any money with them), but would be happy to exchange magical items. Daot-Daot offers her ring of telekinesis. František says that gets you one messenger stone. He asks if they have magical weapons. (They have Widowmaker and Nutcracker, but they won’t give that up). Aranna also has sleeping wine stolen from the glen of fauns way back in Brandonsford. František says he’ll take the trade, but Aranna feels it’s not worth it to trade a magic ring and a flask of sleeping wine for two messenger stones. Oh well.

Finally - Jahura decide to buy two broomsticks. One for Lane and one for himself. By casting levitate on themselves, they can create the illusion they’re flying on brooms. Like witches. And play Quidditch. Because Harry Potter. So basically, a completely unnecessary prop. But it’s the little joys in life, isn’t it?

And with that, in the morning, the Snack Club board the Desert Angel… and airship that can travel the deserts across the Eastern Lands to Horborixen in just three days. (The typical traveling time between Sarheenhar and Horborixen is usually three weeks with a caravan of camels and wagons. In other words, Lady Szara’s invention is about to make her a very wealthy woman. Or, even more wealthy than she already is.)

Tavern Income & Expenses

Meanwhile back in Ool Krut, Rawskull tallies up the profit and loss for the Snack Club’s tavern: Dragons in the Dark. During the month of the Raven, Aranna, Noname, and Jahura put together a talent competition, and a cook-off. The cook-off makes the tavern an extra 320gp. The talent competition attracted some less-desirable folk that cost damage. Win some, lose some. Also, Coil had accidentally hired a minstrel named Hlalf last session.

Altogether, base 250gp, minus 150gp (maintenance, security, staff), minus 200gp for Raw Skull and Freya, minus 0 (paid for) Hlalf the minstrel, +320gp for the cook-off, minus 20gp for the talent show fiasco…. and then +10PL for staff, +30PL for Hlalf, +17 for Raw Skull and Freya… and because Raw Skull fed a poor paladin this month, who subsequently blessed their ale, another +20PL, totally +77PL… and with a roll of 86PL, totalling 163PL… driving total revenue of 2720gp, and profits of 2350gp. A very profitable month.

Spoilers Ahead for Joseph Robert Lewis’s Desert Angel Fiasco (OSR)

On board the Desert Angel, the Snack Club meet their captain, Ava Bahar. A woman with short white hair, dark brown skin and a patch over her left eye. Her right-hand-man is Quartermaster Reza Sadeq, tall, muscular with heavy eyeliner. Their cook? Naveed Musa. Short, bald, frail. And two sailors: Leyla and Eskander. Joining them are two merchants: Ira Jaron, a spice trader, and Soraya Gol, a silk trader. And a pilgrim named Lev Meyer.

They set sail. There are a lot of interesting diversions as they travel through the desert. They see a hermit waving from a shipwreck (in the middle of the desert???). Lane and Jahura fly to her to see what’s up. She wants to be on the flying airship. Jahura wants to take her because she can mend wood with magic. The rest of the Snack Club are paranoid as heck and don’t want strangers on their mission down to Horborixen. They vote to leave her alone.

They see strange spires and a cave. Lane and Jahura go to explore again. The cook, Naveed, tells Captain Ava that it’s dangerous, so the rest of the Snack Club tell the two magic-users to come back. They can’t hear them though. So Lane and Jahura fly around (on their non-flying brooms they stuck between their legs like two idiots) and see two guys sleeping in a cave with a bunch of knives. They fly back to the Desert Angel.

Later that night… as Jahura, Daot-Daot, Noname and Coil take first watch… they see two men flying on gliders towards their ship. Jahura sends Coil into the cabin to wake up the rest of the Snack Club. Naveed the Cook runs over to the ballista at the bow of the ship, turns it. Jahura begins to casts control fire when all of a sudden, a giant arrow from the ballista comes hurtling towards him and knocks him down. Naveed! He’s a traitor!

The two gliders land, and the two sky pirates pull out their daggers. One attacks Aranna. Another stabs Daot-Daot. Daot-Daot turns into a bear and claws at her opponent. Aranna steps back and fires an arrow. Jahura, dazed, gets up and casts control fire again. He’s wreathed in fire… runs towards the pirate in front fo Daot-Daot… but is a coward about it. Doesn’t hug the guy burning him. Instead, he says, I stand next to him. I tell him it does nothing. Lane casts control ice on Naveed and the ballista. It does major damage killing Naveed, destroying the ballista… and damaging the bow of the ship. The fight is short. They’re not much of a match. After looting the bodies, Aranna kicks their corpses overboard into the desert.

Captain Ava comes up and sees the damage. The Snack Club report on Naveed the traitor and the two sky-pirates. Ava sighs and asks if any one of them can cook. Daot-Daot volunteers for the remainder of the voyage.

Word of the Day: Massif

The next day, they travel through the Dead Sun Massif. I had no idea what a “massif” was but assumed it was something like the grand canyon with a range of mountains. Googling it later, I realized I wasn’t far off. It’s defined as “A large mountain mass or compact group of connected mountains forming an independent portion of a range.” Anyway, it’s dangerous and everyone on deck is nervous.

The Snack Club are asked to roll three encounters. The Desert Angel gets through the massif, but damage their sails. Coil offers to spend the rest of the afternoon repairing them. After the massif, they come across a cyan crater and are attacked by four solar zombies. Lane casts his ever reliable control ice and blasts them off the ship. And in the afternoon of the second day of their three day voyage… to the west, the Snack Club spy the glinting top of a pyramid in the far distance.

They know their fate and destiny is there, but being responsible, they decide to deliver the Desert Angel to Horborixen without delay instead.

/end session on the Year of the Leviathan, Month of the Weasel, Day of the Bat

The Snack Club’s Portfolio

Stored in Wyrmskull Vault

  • Chest of Gold from Hole in Oak = 1,994gp
  • Skull with Ruby Eyes = 1,600gp
  • Diamond = 463gp
  • 102 Emeralds x 10gp = 1,020gp
  • Gold Cube = 30gp
  • 16 Gemstones x 26gp = 416gp
  • 12 Gemstones x 100gp = 1,200gp
  • 3 Rubies x 50gp = 150gp
  • 4 Diamonds x 100gp = 400gp
  • Jewel-Encrusted Dagger = 150gp
  • Ivory-Infused Platinum Mirror = 1,250gp
  • Gem-Encrusted, Gold-Plated Ed. of Twilight = 1,500gp
  • Petty Cash = 5,442gp
  • Tavern Income = 3,960gp

SUBTOTAL: 20,035gp

Hidden Cache in Great Forest b/w Mlurg Nar & Gnamph Nar
610gp

TOTAL: 20,645gp

The Snack Club’s Real Estate

  • Willowby Hall (Mansion in Ool Krut)
    • Renovations: Building Wizard Tower (ECD. Y.Leviathan/M.Lion/D.Wasp)
  • Dragons in the Dark (Tavern in Ool Krut)
    • Y.Worm/M.Badger = +1,260gp
    • Y.Worm/M.Wolf = +710gp
    • Y.Leviathan/M.Panther = (550)gp
    • Y.Leviathan/M.Raven = +2350gp

Chekhov’s Ticking Time Bombs

NEW

  • The Snack Club has spotted the pyramids in the painting from the Seers Sanctum. The same one that Ninguable has told them to loot for treasure. But they decided to keep moving.
  • With a day and a half on their voyage left through the desert… what other troubles will the Snack Club come across?

OLD

  • Emma Frog is dead, but her infamous mass prison break in Ilthmar will have consequences.
  • The Redclaws are allied with the Dolmenwood Drunes and HQ at Redclaw Castle
  • Will the Snack Club actually attempt to break into The Emerald Slab?

Heat & Reputation

City Heat Reputation
No-Ombrulsk 1 1
Illik Ving 0 -1
Mlurg Nar 6 3
Ool Plerns 2 0
Ool Krut 0 2
Ool Hrusp 0 0
Kvarch Nar 0 0
Gnamph Nar 1 -1
Kleg Nar 0 0
Sarheenhar 0 2
Earth’s End 0 1
Lankhmar 2 1
Ilthmar 5 -3
Quarmall 0 0
Horborixen 0 0

Session Counter for Leveling

Character Player Level Sessions Next
Aranna Weaver AJ L4 17 21
Lane Weaver AB L4 15 21
Seleana Mahogany EB L4 2 8
Coil Mahogany LC L3 6 8
Jahura Gaus SB L3 5 8
Daot-Daot Doubt EC L3 4 8
Noname Weaver HA L2 2 3
Erky Skora EB L2 1 3
Erevan Weaver OR L2 1 3

DM Notes to Myself

Well, that’s the last session for The Snack Club for 2021. We’re going to take a Winter Break here and resume once the weather is warmer again in 2022. There are three lessons I hope the Snack Club learn from this session.

One, don’t waste city exploration time. Talk to NPCs. Buy them drinks. Make friends. Be curious. Find out what the NPCs are doing and what they want and see if you can help. Go shopping. Find what’s available in a new city that’s not available in your home town. Go dig through town records. There’s SO MUCH you can do in the city. And yet, there was a lot of “I don’t know what to do” when they were in Sarheenhar.

Two, there’s an overused platitude that says: when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. This was clearly the case with Jahura and Lane this session. They’re both loaded up with spells and therefore, every problem must be solved with… spells. There were doors they could open with their hands, stairs they could climb with their feet, and clues they could find simply by looking around with their eyes. But no, they did everything with spells. It will catch up to them eventually.

Three, maybe stop talking when I’m giving clues and exposition. Because the Snack Club are clearly missing obvious clues I’m doling out. More importantly, TAKE NOTES and DRAW MAPS. We’re twenty-one sessions in and the story is getting unwieldy like a fantasy series. Old NPCs and plot hooks from past sessions are going to start cropping up and if you’re not taking notes, you’re going to get punished. With a group of seven players, you should probably have two mappers instead of just relying on SB, especially when SB’s maps seem to confuse you all instead of helping you.

Have a great winter break. We’ll return to the Nehwon in 2022.