Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Misfits Origins: Tribad, Vishkanya Ninja

Written by Kevin Guthrie

Tribad closes her eyes. She tries to picture her mother. She can't. She can't remember her father either. Did she have a family? They are only faceless forms out of a shrouded child's memory. The lights of her real parents are both lost to history. Instead, her memories transform to those who raised her from a child. Those who raised her were shadows of her childhood.

The guild was her family. Her brothers and sisters would help her, guide her, and protect her. But just like normal siblings, they would dare her to do things. It was only childhood rivalry. The first dare was the town drunk. The second dare was a merchant who sold worthless baubles. The third dare was a farmer. Tribad had already killed three people before completing her 10th cycle of rebirth.

The assassin's guild is a hard place to grow up, but it has advantages. Food meant you didn't go hungry. A bed meant you were safe for the night. It also meant you had the skills necessary to survive on your own. They trained her. They taught her how to use weapons, poison, and shadow to her advantage. They gave her a purpose -- a dark purpose.

Tribad had completed all her training and passed all the tests, except one. She was given an assignment. Complete the assignment and become an official member of the guild. There was a prominent merchant in a neighboring town that wanted a problem eliminated. Tribad's assignment was to fulfill the contract.

Tribad "borrowed" a small wagon from a farmer and proceeded to her assignment. The two-day trip was uneventful. She found a small clearing and hitched the horse and wagon in seclusion. Proceeding to the manor, she felt very confident in achieving her objective, a second story window and eliminate the target.

She waited for twilight and take advantage of the approach of darkness. Enter the window, no problem. Find the objective, no problem. The lady was sleeping in bed, no problem. Hear a baby's cry, problem. She muffled the lady's startled cry and discovered a dark truth. The merchant had hired the guild to kill his wife, Bella.

Tribad had lost her parents, her family, her heritage. She had been sent to do the same to another. She couldn't do it. But, she couldn't avoid it either. The guild looks most unfavorably to failure.

Just as Tribad struggles to resolve her conflict, somebody enters the room. Swiftly, instinctively, Tribad swings her sword. Bella's personal maid lay dying on the floor. In killing, Tribad finds her salvation.

Tribad returned to the guild with the braided locks of Bella's hair wrapped in swaddling cloth. The guild was pleased and commended Tribad with completion of her task. The merchant was less enthusiastic with the empty burned husk of his manor. Several burned bodies remained in the building. All were dead. No witnesses.

Tribad's experience leaves her with a new resolve. As she leaves the guild in good standing, she leaves with a wry smile and never looks back. Time to find the light.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shining Scorpion - Swamp Surprise

After dealing with the huecuva and the ghouls, the Shining Scorpion adventuring party heads down the last hall of the dark, abandoned smuggler caves to a flooded room. The space is rectangular, with 4 columns in the center of the room that rise from the water to the ceiling. The water seems to have seeped in from a large crack in the wall, but there is no indication that the water in this area rises any further during high tide. After finding danger in every other area of the caverns, the party is hesitant to move into the room. The summoner, Ehlum Davusaam, summons a small water elemental to scout ahead. Confirming it's orders in the bubbly sounding language of the elemental water plane, the creature turns and then dives into the small pool. The hall is silent except for the light sloshing sounds coming from the pool, but then a roar erupts as water suddenly comes to life! 

The party sees the shape of the Ehlum's summoned creature ahead, seemingly wrestling with twisting vortex of water that is rising from the pool. A separate water elemental, larger than the small creature Ehlum sent forth, surprised the smaller creature and has attacked! Acting quickly, the party uses ranged attacks on the liquid beast as the smaller elemental uses it's own slam attacks. Shortly after the battle begins the fetchling ranger, Craig Shadowbane, fires the final arrow that disrupts the lurking creature's cohesion, and the water settles again into stillness. If one could understand Aquan, the language of the elemental plane of water, they would hear the small elemental yelling insults at the larger, defeated creature. The party searches the pool of water but come up with nothing. They then rest, wait for the tide to go back down, go back for the coins in the sea cave and head back to Saltmarsh. 

Over the next few days the party hires the first of their crew, Mavron the retired pirate that sits on the city council, and a few of his cronies. They take the time to remove the cursed stone from Ehlum's possession, and cure Steelheal's blight. The party discusses their options from here. Before sailing on, they decide to investigate the old, abandoned Vanderbeek mansion in hopes of finding more treasure and leaving the area a bit safer for the people of Saltmarsh. 

First thing in the morning the crew leaves and trudges through the swamplands to the ruined Vanderbeek mansion, but they have a hard time keeping track of and staying on the path. They see remnants of abandoned buildings that used to be part of Saltmarsh. The crew notices that there is an odd absence of large animals in the swamp during their 2nd hour of travel, and a complete absence of all animals during the 3rd hour. Ehlum's eidolon senses that there is something ahead off to the side of the trail, some type of large creature in the water. Craig the ranger decides to use stealth to flank the mysterious, submerged lump. He climbs a tree, but can't see much more. He sends the pseudodragon Felaket to inspect it. The tiny dragon says that it's Swamp Chomps, and it's dead, having been ripped in half. Craig decides to investigate closer, and sees that it is the corpse of a saltwater crocodile. It's been dead for a while. 

As the party concludes the investigation, the eidolon sees the destination ahead in the distance. The Vanderbeek "mansion" is just a collection of broken walls with no roof whatsoever. The crew spreads out with the stealthy ones taking the lead. As they enter the grounds of the estate, Craig notices tracks from a huge creature. They don't seem to lead anywhere in particular, but rather they move back and forth throughout the area. Felaket and the eidolon investigate the ruined mansion. The tiny dragon finds a stairwell that leads underground, but as the party moves towards it they are attacked by a marsh giant! The creature is grotesque, with slimy grey skin and an oval shaped maw full of pointed teeth. It's black eyeballs add to its unnatural and horrific appearance.  


Ehlum starts it off by casting haste on Steelheals the paladin, Craig the ranger, Tribad the ninja, and himself. A couple of missed ranged attacks from the party are followed by the marsh giant attempting to curse the paladin, but her willpower is enough to overcome it. The beast moves forward, and Ehlum casts mage armor on it. The beast then runs up and bites the giant with a reach attack. The ranger hits it with an arrow, as does the ninja. The creature roars in anger and swings its gaff twice at the paladin and hits with the second attack, dealing a lot of damage and bloodying her. The rogue runs up and stabs the giant with his dagger. Ehlum uses his haste and runs around to flank, activates his elemental strike and strikes the monster. The party misses a number of attacks, and the ugly beast swings even more wildly, doing major damage once again, this time to the summoner Ehlum. 

And that's where we had to end it. We play again tomorrow night. Will the marsh giant prove to be too much for our strange collection of adventurers to handle? Will they all survive?!?!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Craig Shadowbane sat on the deck with his back against the forecastle. The shadows reached out with an embrace and he accepted, his gray skin blurring at the edges.

He looked up and watched the pseudodragon ride the warm air currents, her violet scales almost lost with the setting of the sun. 

 Somehow in the heat of battle they had bonded and now there was a presence in the back of his mind.

So much had happened since he met Steelheals and he didn’t know what to think or who to trust. She was the only one he did.

His new companions were busy moving around the ship. Wilster, with his new hat, was playing at captain and Ehlum was speaking with the air elementals. The ninja was nowhere to be seen. These Scorpions, as they called themselves, were as varied a crew as he had ever seen. But so were they he knew, him and Steelheals, an Aasimar and a Kayal—one of Light and one of Shadow. 

So far they worked well together, even though they were watching each other’s actions. Trust wasn’t built overnight.

He was getting hungry but he didn’t want to leave the safety of his shadows. His supper mustn’t have been enough.

Across the deck the door to the sterncastle opened and Steelheals walked out. Her skin seemed to glow white in the dying light of dusk. She scanned the horizon until her eyes found Craig and she made her way over.

Above, the pseudodragon dove towards the surf.

“You should join them Craig. We need to find out how much good is in them,” she said when she made her way over.

Craig smiled, “How much is on your list?”

“Only the Drow, we will need to turn him in soon.”

“And his dog?”

“Let it run free.”

“Alright. I’ll watch the ninja and Aicho. When it’s time I’ll draw them out.”

“Then watch, learn.” She stood at parade rest with her hands clasped behind her back. 

His stomach growled and he looked away from his dragon to Steelheals. “Your list must be getting heavy. That is quite a burden you carry.”


He raised his hand to silence her and reached for his bow while pulling more shadows around him. He felt…danger?

He looked around but the feeling went away. Slowly he let the shadows return to where they came from.

“What was it?”

“I thought I felt danger.”

“Let me see if I sense anything.”

Overhead he saw the pseudodragon land on the mainmast spar. There was some sort of fish in its mouth and as Craig watched she ripped into it. Soon his hunger vanished.

“Craig, I sense nothing.”

“It’s ok,” he said, “Go and talk. I’ll watch.”

She walked away and he watched his new friend. She soared on the updrafts and with her talons swiped three more fish from the blue waters below. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Forging the black blade

Wilster had a lot to reflect on after clearing out the Saltmarsh smugglers. He now had more money than he had ever seen. He was unsure of his new compatriots, but trusted them more and more after doing battle with them. Running a ship would be difficult, but he knew he was right one for the job. And those dreams of that far-off city just would not leave his head.

But he had to put all of those thoughts out of his head. The magical tomes he found in the old house and those he borrowed from Sorthen, the wise old mage in town, would finally allow him to complete the next step in his arcane ascension.

Wilster studied the dusty old books whenever he had time. He gathered the necessary spell components. Now all he needed was a quiet, dark room and time.

In his quarters on the ship, the ritual's first hours went by slowly as he cast the initial spells. Illuminated by a few candles and the light that came through a porthole window, the room grew darker and darker as light seemed to be sucked into the center of the room.

Hours passed. Wilster continued to concentrate on the work at hand to continue the spell. The room became so dark, he could no longer check the magical tomes to make sure he was performing the spell correctly. He continued to say the words he memorized and the time went by and by and by.

Eventually, Wilster could not tell if he was asleep or awake. He blinked his eyes and there was no change. He noticed he was still speaking, albeit without thinking about it. And when he thought the room could become no darker - black as pitch - he just noticed that light was creeping in again through the porthole.

It was morning. The next day.

Looking down, Wilster saw sitting on the floor was a curved, black blade. Blood-red writing ran from the hilt up the blade. It was a language Wilster had never seen, but he understood it.

"Pick me up," Wilster heard whispered to him in the same language.

It was the blade.

Wilster did not know how, but he felt drawn to the sword. When he slid his hand into the hilt, he felt absolutely connected to it like nothing could separate them.

And he felt the blade's power pluse up through his wrist and shoulder.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Shining Scorpion - Turn Rocks Caves

Last time, the Shining Scorpion adventuring party continued exploring the hidden caves under the turn rocks just offshore of the town of Saltmarsh. After fighting some ghouls, the group decided to open a stuck door that opened to a cavern that looked as if it would fill with water come high tide. Ehlum the summoner had sent his eidolon to swim ahead of the group and scout. The creature ventured forth, followed by Craig's psuedodragon companion, and swam nearly 100' through a tunnel of waist deep seawater before finding a large cave of deeper water.

Ehlum's eidolon, an intelligent, extra-planar creature that shares a close bond with the summoner and is currently in the form of a two-headed dog-like beast, swims into the open cave. Its darkvision allows it to see a door on the other side of the pool of water. This impressive ability fails the creature, however, as it doesn't see the ripples in the water heading for it. A large shark splashes out of the water and attempts to take a large bite out of the hide of the eidolon. The beast just dodges the creature's attack. 

Back at the entrance to the area, Ehlum hears the beast tell him of the sea creature thanks to an active message cantrip. The summoner relays the information to the rest of the party, activates his bond senses ability to see through the eidolon's eyes, and starts towards the cave. Meanwhile the beast successfully bites the shark with both of its heads, doing a good amount of damage. The shark is powerful though, and it lunges through the water, brutally clamping its jaws down upon the eidolon's shoulder. The two creatures continue to trade blows, gnawing on each other as the rest of the party tries to join the fight.

As they move through the sea tunnel towards the fight in the cave, the party has trouble staying on their feet in the waist-high waters. Tribad the ninja is the first to make it to the cave, but isn't quick enough to save the beast from being torn apart and banished back to its home plane of existence. Unable to gain purchase on the cave walls to better use his bow, Tribad instead drops below the surface of the water delivers an arrow directly into the shark's gaping maw, finishing the sea-creature off instantly.

As the rest of the party catches up, they find that the door on the other side of the pool is barred from the other side. Wilster the magus begins hacking at the door, and Ehlum summons a small elemental to follow another tunnel under the water, leading out of the cave. The party finds a small 10' x 10' room on the other side of the door. On the floor is a skeletal corpse wearing armor and clutching a scroll in one hand. Upon inspecting the scroll, Wilster finds that it is a map of a jungle further up the coast, showing the way to the lost city of Tamoachan. Ehlum detects magic on the other side of the back wall, and upon searching Tribad finds a hidden door that opens to a room that is slightly bigger than the previous room. Inside are 3 chests filled with a lot of coin, gems, and valuable potions. Not able to swim out with the chests easily, the party collects the gems and potions, leaving the coin behind for now. When they are ready to head back out of the area, the summoned elemental returns to Ehlum and informs him that the underwater tunnel leads to the bay, indicating that this is how the shark entered the cave.
The party leaves the sea cave and heads for the unexplored tunnel. Craig, still suffering from a bunch of DEX damage, moves in first only to find another group of four ghouls occupying a side room. One of them is actually a former human cleric, Veldemar Krund, who is now a powerful, un-dead huecuva. Craig begins firing arrows and Wilster slashes with his scimitar, and together they quickly dispatch the first monster. 

Ehlum invokes the power of his suli-jann heritage and lightning begins to dance in his eyes, along the length of his arms, and to his morningstar. He recklessly charges one of the enemies, but his gambit pays off as he crushes the ghoul with three hits from his electrified weapon while the creature's own attacks are met with a shocking feedback. Steelheals the paladin, Zav Zod Zoz the rogue and Aichio the tengu witch stream in to attack the third ghoul, while Tribad and Wilster charge the huecuva.

The crew dispatches the final ghoul henchman, and everyone then joins Wilster and Tribad in fighting the huecuva. Wilster finishes off the huecuva using scorching ray. The Shining Scorpion party heals up and continues down the tunnel, which seems to end with another pool of water.

And that's it! Also, it's time to level up to 4. We'll be back next week, probably finishing off these secret sea caves and then heading back to Saltmarsh to divide the treasure.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Concluding The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and Moving On

We've been playing, but we haven't been posting. I'll start putting more detailed updates up at the end of the nights of our games, which are usually Wednesdays. For now, here is a rundown of everything that has happened since the last post and up to this point.

The Shining Scorpion adventuring crew ends up entering the house through the back door. They tangle with some giant centipedes on the first floor, a giant snake in a well outside, and then some giant spiders on the second floor. A few members end up taking a lot of poison damage, They do gain a small amount of treasure for their trouble, however, and they also come across another adventurer who has been hit in the back of the head and tied up. His name is Ted, and most of the group members don't really trust him. The group proceeds to investigate the attic, only to be attacked by a bunch of bloodbugs. They find a bit more treasure and then make their way to the basement. At the top of the stairs the Shining Scorpion party triggers another fear spell. It affects a few of the group, but they continue on their way. 

The house no longer seems haunted, and the party gets a feeling that the place has been set up specifically to scare people away. This is confirmed by a trap that they come across in the basement.