Sunday, January 15, 2017

Far Isles Session #53 - In Search of the City of the Gods

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar PrettyBird and riding dog PuppyWhuppy
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Aug Wahmn (Calmonari 3)

Before making a decision on future plans, the first order of business for the party was to sort through the treasure and split up the 'kool loot'. In particular, the pirate cutlass was revealed as magic by Chaff's Kalandrian sight. After some discussion, it was decided that Awg should have the weapon, since his/her only enchanted weapon was the cursed scimitar. The calmonari was surprised, however, when he/she picked up the cutlass and immediately found himself/herself struggling mentally for control of the weapon. It was a sentient sword, inhabited by some gruff buccaneer's spirit. It did grace Awg with the ability to detect metals and levitate, but the calmonari could feel he/she was just barely holding its' will under his/her control.

Sentient Cutlass
With that done, they now needed to decide what to do with the remaining pirates and the captured villagers. Oh, and how/if to honor their deal with the sea dragon. They started with the pirates, giving them a stern talking-to about their evil ways before burning the remaining outrigger canoes and stranding them on the island.  The party also questioned them regarding the whereabouts of their fled captain, and we're told there was a small boat hidden on the other side of the island which he'd probably sailed away in. As for the villagers, the party decided to return them to their homes, and hope that would earn them goodwill and good information from the natives. And on the way, they would meet with the sea dragon and split the loot. After much debate, in the end they decided honesty was the better part of valor, and planned to offer the dragon half the loot recovered from the pirates. They didn't tell the natives about their stop on the way home though, since they seemed to fear the dragon as some blood-thirty god to be placated and best avoided.

Raising sail on both the "Purple Haze" and "Loreman's Passage" (with Corvus and Rodrigo aboard) they headed out to sea. They were still within sight of the island when the dragon's head broke the surface alongside them. Awg, using aquatic telepathy, sensed the greed in the beast once more. The dragon brought it's head down to deck level, and started to sniff the piles of treasure there. It then proceeded to sniff out the rest of the ship, and the "Loreman's Passage". When done, it returned to the "Purple Haze"; Kwinsea cast speak with aquatic animals and started to negotiate. On behalf of the party, she offered half the treasure. The dragon, after a moment of indecision, accepted, and gestured that it should simply be dumped overboard. As the rest of the party took care of the coinage, Awg decided to rid himself of the cursed scimitar and tossed it into the sea as well.  With the transfer complete, Kwinsea asked if there were any other land-treasures they could help it recover. The dragon indicated no, so they prepared to depart. Before doing so, Kwinsea told the dragon about the pirate captain's escape. Awg immediately got a sense of rage, and when pointed in he right direction, the dragon immediately dove and swam off in search of it's foe, leaving the two ships in it's wake.

It took only a day to get back to the Isle of Dread, and to the main village of Tanaroa. It lay on an isthmus, separating the inhabited lower peninsula from the monster infested bulk of the island. A massive stone wall, 50' high, stretched across the isthmus. The village itself lay south of the wall, and consisted of four sets of huts, fields and graveyards, surrounding an earth mound topped by a truncated pyramid. The party, let by the freed captives, was meet by wary crowds. On top of the pyramid stood the village chief (a wizened old woman by the name of J'kai) and the war chief (a massive, scarred warrior named Bakora). In halting Common, J'kai thanked the party and offered the hospitality of the village in payment. The party, however, was more interested in information on the Isle of Dread. J'kai noted the villagers rarely went north of the wall, and then only a few days journey to the tar pits, to gather material for waterproofing and to fill the defensive pits of burning pitch behind the wall. The wall itself was obviously well beyond the technological ability of the natives to build (as were the numerous statues scattered about the village). J'kai stated it has been built by the gods, who once dwelt in a magnificent city on the plateau in the centre of the isle. Now the village relied on it to defend them from the terrible creatures (flying lizards, dinosaurs, cat people, etc) and cannibals north of the wall. She could tell them little about the rest of the island, and when asked, indicated the coast was much like the party had already seen; mountain, swamp and jungle with few good landing places. She did tell them of a great river that flowed out of the centre of the isle, and the party latched onto that as better way to access the interior than slogging through impassible terrain on foot. It also seemed to be a more direct way to the fabled city, so they put dinosaur hunting aside for the moment  to search for another ruined city to loot.
The Wall
After a brief rest in the village, the party set sail north to the river, reaching the spot in one day. They couldn't find the river, however, just a swampy delta. Chaff sent Pretty Bird aloft to scout, and the familiar returned to report the river could be seen a few miles to the north-east, beyond the delta. It flowed from the north-east, down a valley of open meadow and light woods nestled between volcanic peaks. Rather than walk, the party decided to take the raft upriver. And rather than row it themselves, they offered the 5 captive mercenaries from the "Loreman's Passage" 100gp each to come along on the expedition as extra muscle and manual labour. This they accepted, and loading up the raft with two weeks of supplies, the party headed inland, leaving the two ships under Lynessa's command. 

The first day passed uneventfully, at least until the sun began to dip below the western peaks. The river passed close to a talus slope on one of the mountain flanks, at the top of which were a number of cave openings. From which could be heard the sound of bestial roaring. The party decided to stop and explore, spreading out along the slope and climbing up to the caves. They reached to top of the talus, and then had to proceed single file along the edge to approach the caves. As they did so, a smallish cave bear emerged from behind a pile of boulders. It fell upon Abdul el Abdul at the head of the line, slashing with claws and snapping with it's powerful jaws. The crossbowman just behind the fighter spread out down the slope to get in position to engage, while Jaz noted two more bears ambling out of the darkness of the cave, towards the rest of the party. While Abdul and the crossbowman dealt with the first bear, the other two were assailed by a sleep spell from Jaz (no effect), insect swarm from Chaff (which summoned a swarm of biting insects to harass one bear) and tidal force from Kwinsea (which pushed both back into the cave). By this time Abdul and the crossbowman had taken down the first bear, and now joined by Rodrigo and Corvus, turned their blades on the other two bruins, These two were likewise quickly slaughtered, and the party proceeded to explore the caves. These were empty except for bones and scat, and the party decided it would be better to spend the night on the raft.
Cave Bears

Next morning after a breakfast of bear bacon, the party headed upriver again. Again it was uneventful until evening, when they reached the point where the river was too rapid and shallow to continue on the raft. They pulled their transportation up on an ash covered bank, said ash field stretching right up onto the mountain slope above them. And in a hanging valley on that slope was a group of ash covered people, sitting in a circle. That made everyone nervous, so Abdul el Abdul ordered the crossbowmen to fire a volley.  Several bolts hit, raising a cloud of dust from the figures. And caused the figures to now rise themselves and start shambling down the slope. The party formed a firing line, and started laying down a barrage of arrows, bolts, sling stones, pistol shots and laser beams. The figures just kept coming, but some just started to fall to the missile swarm just as they reached the party. Who them proceeded to slash them down, while Chaff entangled some in a gooey mass of web and Rodrigo used his simian sword to summon a trio of baboons out of the hills to tear into the rear of the ash zombies. One of their crossbowman fell, but before too much longer all of the ashy attackers were down.  Examining the bodies, they found they were natives of some sort, wearing tall black wooden masks. And obviously now undead, although it was not clear what if any role the ash played in that circumstances. But all the same, the party once more decided to anchor the raft in midstream to spend the night before proceeding on foot in the morning. 

TOTAL XP
1813

GAINS
nil

KILLS
3 cave bears
17 ash zombies

LOSSES
1 mercenary crossbowman

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Far Isles Session #52 - Dragons and Pirates

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar PrettyBird and riding dog PuppyWhuppy
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Aug Wahmn (Calmonari 3)

There was animated discussion among the party regarding where they should first land on the island. The rugged mountains weren't going to work, and Abdul el Abdul, for one, expressed a visceral hatred for any further jungle slogs. They summoned Pablo, the sailor hired off of the "San Lorenzo", to pick his brain. He confirmed this island looked like the one he'd visited on the dinosaur hunting trip. He informed the party that the terrain stayed much the same in both directions; mountainous to the west and jungle/swamp to the east, at least until it also turned mountainous. The "San Lorenzo" did not go all the way around the island, but only a day's sail to both east and west before finding their dinosaur, capturing it and returning to Xin. Based on that information, the decision was made to circumnavigate the island and find the best place to land. First, Rodrigo and Corvus transferred to the "Loreman's Passage" to keep their erstwhile foes in check. The two ships then proceeded east around the island. Staying somewhat offshore to avoid the reefs, they sailed past more mountains, jungle and swamp, as well as signs of villages along the south-eastern edge of the island.

Sea Dragon
Here, they risked a closer look by sailing into a large bay.  As they crossed behind ae barrier reef, however, their exploration was interrupted by a disturbance in the water, several hundred yards ahead. A few moments later, a serpentine head rose above the surface. Turning, it spied the pair of ships and began to swim closer. As it did, Awg Wahmn blurted out "sea dragon!", which gave everyone a chill and sent them scrambling for weapons. The calmonari used his/her aquatic telepathy to determine the creatures intent. Thankfully, it seemed more curious rather than hostile, so Kwinsea cast speak with aquatic animals and, as soon as it pulled close to the "Purple Haze", engaged it in conversation . Although intelligent, the dragon could not speak, so questioning had to be of the 'nod for yes, shake head for no' variety. They learned the sea dragon knew little about the island itself, and that there was another not so friendly sea dragon that dwelt off the northern end of the island. When asked if there was anything the party could do for it on the land, Awg Wahmn sensed a change of emotion to greed as the dragons eyes flashed and it began to get excited. It started to swim, stopping a few times as if to signal the two ships to follow. This they did, and the dragon led them out of the bay to a group of small islands to the west of the main island. Reaching this at sunrise the next day, the dragon started swimming towards the shore of one particular island, then looped back towards the two ships. Awg Wahmn also sensed an increase in the greed emotion, so the party got the idea that there was treasure on that island that the dragon wanted.

Taking the hint, the two ships slowly approached the shore, taking care to not run aground. Which
seemed prudent, for once they were a few hundred yards offshore, they noted an old shipwreck at one end of the beach. Along that beach lay four outrigger canoes, flanked by a pair of watchtowers. A third tower could be seen further inland, atop a low knoll. In the valley between beach and knoll was a collection of grass huts. From their now closer vantage point, the party could see little activity among the huts, but there were definitely people in the towers. Chaff sent Pretty Bird scouting around the edge of the village. The parrot found a thorn fence about 5' high surrounding it, and much more activity as the watchers in the tower started to rouse the rest of the village. After noting one larger and fancier hunt, and dodging an errant crossbow bolt, the bird returned to Chaff to report. It appeared this was not native village; there were no children and everyone looked more like sailors and cutthroats than headhunters.

Shipwreck
Armed cutthroats began to rush to the beach, overturning two of the canoes for cover, and started to lay a barrage of crossbow fire on the "Purple Haze". Lynessa ordered the crew to bring the ship out of range, as the party responded with a catapulted ball of burning pitch (which fell short) and a flight of arrows and bolts (which scored a couple of hits). Aug Wahmn and Kwnisea slipped into the water over the stern and started swimming towards the wreck on the beach. It appeared to have been here for some months at least, as it was partly buried in the sand. There were also signs of salvage, with planks, supplies and sails missing. The duo slipped ashore behind the wreck, and now that everyone's attention was drawn to the two ships off shore, started to move inland towards the fancy hunt, .

Back on the water, the "Purple Haze" lobbed a second ball of burning pitch at the beach. This one scored a direct hit on one of the overturned canoes, and flaming pitch splashed over the sheltering crossbowmen, burning them to cinders.  At about this point, two pirate crews rushed to the remaining canoes and put them in the water, pulling hard to reach the "Purple Haze" before she could do much more damage. As Rodrigo swung across to the "Purple Haze" from the "Loreman's Passage to help (leaving Corvus to keep an eye on the captured ship and crew), Jaz cast a sleep spell. That knocked out the rowers in one canoe, which started to drift back towards the beach. A tall man, obviously the leader, stood in the bows of the second canoe, encouraging the buccaneers to row harder.  Meanwhile, the catapult was ready again. The approaching canoe was too close, so it was fired at the beach, hitting the second overturned canoe and likewise burning the pirates sheltered there to death. The man in the approaching canoe looked at the devastation on the beach, then turned back to look at the "Purple Haze". Reaching over his shoulder, he drew a big two-handed sword and dropped it over the side. He then raised his hands in the air, and his crew stopped rowing and likewise made signs of surrender.

As the rest of the party accepted the surrender of the pirates and started towards the beach in the ship's boat, Awg Wahmn and Kwinsea got into the large hut. It was non-descipt except for the large locked chest to one side. Awg Wahmn was about to pick the crude mechanism,  but inside they found nothing but sails. They then moved on to the inland watchtower, which was deserted. From there, they could see the rest of the party gathering in the surrendering pirates. They also noted a cave opening just to the east of the tower. The two headed back to the beach to meet the rest of the party, and Kwinsea discovered she could understand the pirates strange speech enough to converse. Asked about the cave, the pirate leader indicated their treasure was hidden in there. That was enough to get Chaff, Awg Wahmn and Kwinsea headed that way, with the pirate leader marching point, as Rodrigo, Jaz and Abdul el Abdul tied up the prisoners bad started to check out the rest of the huts. Chaff cast a dim light cantrip on the leaders hat, so when he entered the cave they could see it was pretty much as described; a 40' wide cavern with a large iron box to one side. Suddenly however, the leader dropped to the floor, and a half dozen men swinging cutlasses jumped out of the shadows and fell on the three adventurers. Chaff took a bad hit, and Awh Wahmn was cut down one attacker with his sword. The three then made a tactical retreat, as the pirate leader and 5 survivor men ran deeper into the cave. They didn't get far though, as Kwinsea loosed a lightning bolt into the cave and cut down the 5 pirates. The leader, though hit, kept going, disappearing into a small tunnel dug at the far end.

The Escape Cave
By this time, Rodrigo and Abdul el Abdul arrived. The swashbuckler used his sword of simian summonding to call for some monkey assistance, and sent the hooting pack into the tunnel after the pirate leader. The rest followed, crawling down a tunnel hundreds of feet in length before emerging into a cave, open to the sea, on the far side of the island. There was no sign of their quarry, and the monkeys now drifted back into the jungle, so everyone headed back to the cave. Chaff, having earlier relived the leader of a a key and ring (which turned out to be a ring of water walking), unlocked the chest. Inside was a pile of copper, silver and electrum coins, as well as a fistful of gems, a sword and a scroll case. Puting their prisoners to works, the party started to bag the treasure and carry it back to he ships boat and thence onto the "Purple Haze".

Meanwhile, further search of the huts by Rodrigo had uncovered almost 40 prisoners chained inside. These were natives, captured from the villages the party had recently sailed past, and destined for a life as slaves. Questioned, they revealed dinosaurs could be found on the northern end of the big island, which they called the "Isle of Dread". They also told a tale of  ancient city built in the central highlands of the island. A city built by the gods and said to be filled with treasure beyond imagining ...  


TOTAL XP
4650

GAINS
2000cp
3000sp
4000ep
17gems (1300gp total)
ring of water walking
cutlass +1 [Detect Metal, Levitate 3/day] with a creepy pirate voice 
Scroll - 1/Shield

KILLS
17 pirates (+24 captured)

LOSSES
none

Monday, November 28, 2016

Far Isles Session #51 - Boarding Action!

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar PrettyBird and riding dog PuppyWhuppy
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Aug Wahmn (Calmonari 2)
Torak (Cleric 4) [NPC]

The party picked over the barrels and crates, all of which they recognized as coming from the "Purple Haze". Turning over one barrel, Chaff found a short note carved  in the side: 'attacked, fleeing, send message when back'. Well, that didn't tell them much they hadn't already learned from the octopus, but at least they had some supplies. Since Pretty Bird hadn't seen anything, Chaff decided to summon the ebony fly, and he and Kwinsea headed off to do a wider sweep of the area to look for their lost ship. Meanwhile, the rest of the party set up camp and started gathering wood to build a signal fire if that became necessary (Rodrigo narrowly missing getting stung by giant centipedes as he rooted through the underbrush).

Chaff and Kwinsea headed east from the cove, towards a trio of small islands on the other side of the sound. One was dominated by a tall tower of rock, behind which the sharp eyed Kwinsea spied a mast. Chaff brought the fly in low over the spire, and as he did they could see a man jump out of a dead tree, run towards to edge of the spire and start shouting. As the fly buzzed past him and over the edge, Chaff and Kwinsea could see a ship hiding in the lee of the isle. It was not the "Purple Haze", but the battered "Loreman's Passage". They also saw bustling activity on the deck below, as sailors started to raise sail, and a half dozen crossbowmen raised their weapons and fired on the flying spies. Both Chaff and Kwinsea were stuck by multiple bolts, so they quickly turned away and beat back towards the rest of the party. As they crossed the sound, they could see the "Loreman's Passage" coming around the small isle and then settling in to patrol the waters rather than pursue their flying foes.

Jungle Trek
After stopping to inform the rest of the party of what had happened (and to get a few cures from Torak), Chaff and Kwinsea jumped on the fly once more to scout the western edge of the Mandaro-Shanti island. At the southern tip there was a small islet separated from the main island by a narrow passage. It was overhung by trees and vines, but the sharp eyed Kwinsea once more spied a mast in the mess. Dropping to the deck, they were thrilled to find the "Purple Haze" waiting for them. The crew was likewise happy to see them, and Lynessa filled them in on the details of their escape.With the fly now exhausted for the day, Chaff sent PrettyBird back to the rest of the party with the news, and instructed them to move over land where the island was narrowest so they could meet the "Purple Haze" without the "Loreman's Passage" knowing they'd all rejoined their ship. Luckily, Abdul el Abdul, Rodrigo, Awg Wahmn, Torak, Corvus and Jaz were able to chop their way through the jungle overnight without getting lost or eaten by some large jungle beast.

With everyone now on board, the party burned with a desire for revenge on the "Loreman's Passage" and the band of ruffians who were running the ship. Unfortunately, the day dawned with heavy rain followed by thick fog, and they couldn't see much further than the end of the bowsprit. Lynessa slowly and carefully brought the  "Purple Haze" around the island and anchored at the entrance to the sound to wait out the weather. Thankfully, the next day dawned clear and bright, so they  raised sail and looped around the outer isles to come up on the last known location of the "Loreman's Passage" from behind. And luckily, they found their foe in much the same place as they'd left her two days ago. The party had Lynessa and the crew crowd on as much sail as possible; the "Loreman's Passage" did likewise, coming around and raising sail. The party, meanwhile, loaded up the catapult. Once in range, they let loose, aiming for the rigging and mast to try slowing down the approaching ship.  In this they were successful, but the two vessels were still closing fast. On the fore-deck of the "Loreman's Passage" stood the five adventurers, while in the rigging were a half dozen crossbowmen. As soon as they were in range, the party loosed a hail of pistol and bow shot, all of which missed. Chaff then cast instinct on one of the adventurers, who turned in a rage to attack one of his companions! Jaz followed with a sleep spell, which dropped most of the crew (cracking a few skulls on the deck as they fell from the rigging), which caused the ship the shudder and sway as it started to loose steerage. Finally, Kwinsea used tidal force to push all but one of the adventurers across the deck and over the rail into the sea. The three armored fighters sank like a stone and were not seen again,  but a pair of lightly encumbered men saved themselves and were left treading water.

Rodrigo, Ho!
As the two ships passed each other, Awg Wahmn dove in to take the surrender of the two in the water. The rest of the party tried to board the "Loreman's Passage", but were unable to get safely aboard the wildly swaying ship. It took some time to get the "Purple Haze" turned about to pursue, but the battered "Loreman's Passage" didn't have a chance. Coming alongside this time, Rodrigo swung from his perch in the crowsnest into the rigging of the  "Loreman's Passage", cutting down one of the men-at-arms stationed there. The rest of the party jumped the railing and rushed the last adventurer and the men at-arms. There was a short fight, but in the end all surrendered. That didn't save Rolf, the last adventurer, as Abdul el Abdul cut him down anyway. The party did accept the surrender of the rest of the men-at-arms as well as of the ship itself. They found their old companion,  Rold the erstwhile first mate, in charge of the ship. And likewise recognized the handful of crew who remained alive. After some discussion, it was decided that the men-at-arms would be pressed into helping crew the "Loreman's Passage", Lynessa's first mate would take over as captain, and both Rold and the magic user Dorban (one of those rescued from the water by Awg Wahmn)  would be kept prisoner on the "Purple Haze".

Meanwhile, Kwinsea and Awg Wahmn dove down to recover the bodies of the drowned adventurers, but were successful in finding just one in the deep water. From the body they recovered a handful of magical crossbow bolts, as well as a collection of gold bangles. They also relieved Dorban of his gold bangles and spell book, and gagged the magic user just in case. The party also flipped through the "Loreman's Passage" log and took down some notes on the location of the "Temple of the Sea Mother". They learned from Rold and the crew that the adventurers hadn't done much exploring of the "Temple", they being content mostly with attacking and robbing the other parties returning from the dungeons. But as far as they knew, no one had yet recovered the great pearl, the Egg of the Sea other.

After hauling the "Loreman's Passage" ashore for a few days to make repairs, the party decided to head towards the large island to the south and take up their half-forgotten plan to capture a dinosaur. Approaching the island, they observed a rocky and mountainous shore  to the west, and thick jungle and swamp to the east. The mountains came right down to the sea and offered no anchorage, but there was one cove which was less rugged, as well as a few locations along the jungle shore that looked promising ...

TOTAL XP
1700

GAINS
Pile of gold bangles (1200gp)
7 crossbow bolts +1
potion of climbing
Spellbook - 1/Sleep, 1/Read Magic, 1/Shield, 1/Magic Aura, 2/Scare, 2/Web, 2/Stinking Cloud 
A slightly battered "Loreman's Passage"
5 men-at arms and 1 magic user (Dorban) captured  

KILLS
'The Dudes' - Martlet, Gusso, Breen & Rolf
1 man-at-arms

LOSSES
none

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Far Isles Session #50 - Spiders and Suprises

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), familiar PrettyBird, riding dog PuppyWhuppy & henchman"No 7" (Halfling 2)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Aug Wahmn (Calmonari 2)
Torak (Cleric 4) [NPC]

As Chaff, No 7 and the menagerie ran in to join them, the party moved through the ruined east wall , finding a chamber with an empty pool at the centre. Looking around, they observed a mosaic on the wall they'd through which they'd come, showing what appeared to be the gatehouse with the city in the background. Abdul el Abdul looked really hard and squinted, and realized that scattered throughout the background were half hidden images of room walls opening and revealing hidden rooms or passages. But the mosaic was such a ruined jumble it wasn't really clear, so Kwinsea cast her reversed erosion spell to restore the crumbled artwork. It was then clear that the secret doors/walls were linked by faint red lines to the well and the palace, although the exact terminus of the lines was not clear.

Spider Attack!
Having learned all their fooling around in the well might have had some effect after all, the party moved on to loot some more. In the surrounding corridors, they found a pair of circular stairwells going down, and a pair of straight stairs going up.  They checked one stairwell and determined it descended deeper than the first level of the dungeon. Before descending, however, the consensus was to finish exploring above ground first. Climbing up, the party emerged onto the ruined balcony, they searched through destroyed furniture and stirge nests , finding a few coins and lapis lazuli gems for their efforts.  Moving on, they entered the northern side of another balcony, which overlooked the large entry chamber on the first floor. On the far side of the balcony was an open doorway which appeared to lead into some chambers. The party headed that way, and when they reach the opening and looked in, found a room covered in large, thick webs. And then heard the scurrying of many feet approaching from the inside. Abdul el Abdul and No 7 took up position in the doorway, the fighter wielding the mighty Terminaxe and the halfling a brace of laser pistols. They never had the opportunity to use them, however, as the spiders scurried out of the webs and sank a poisoned bite into each. Both fell to the floor, foaming at the mouth and twitching before finally stopping stone dead. A flurry of flighting from the rest of the party took out a few spiders, but others could be heard approaching. Kwinsea hauled out her wand of fear and sent the arachnids scurrying out through a hole in the wall and into the ruined city below.

Sadly putting their fallen aside for now, they remaining party members looted a trio of web-filled rooms. One was a ruined bedchamber with nothing of interest but some inlaid gems in the rotting bed frame. In the other room were six tall wardrobes, containing a mix of giant spider eggs (quickly destroyed), a larder of dead animals wrapped in webs, and the body of a dead warrior treated the same. They relieved the dead warrior of his few coins, then opened the last wardrobe to find a massive mirror of magnificent workmanship. They laid this alongside their fallen for later collection before heading west to explore the rest of this floor.

First encountered was a long narrow chamber with a lapis lazuli decorated bronze throne at each end. On each sat a skeletal form, clad only in tattered rags. Kwinsea entered the room with the intent of prying out the gems. As she did so, the aquamancer was barely able to resist the urge to sit on one of the thrones herself. She was also finding it increasingly difficult to breath, so Torak cast a delay poison on her so she could get on with the looting. While she was doing so, Awg Wahmn went to check one of the other hallways leading beyond the room of thrones. In it he found an odd sight; a series of stones floating in mid air with similar stones scattered on the floor. Chaff came up and poked at one, which wobbled back and forth a bit before coming to rest in it's original place. Meanwhile Rodrigo and Corvus explored another hallway, which led to a large bronze door carved with the image of a woman lying in repose. On either side was a large censor out of which billowed a thick, yellow, acrid smoke. They went back to get the poison-poof Kwinsea to have a closer look. The door was solid and had no obvious handle; it looked like it needed some battering or other brute force to get it open. So the censors were covered with sacks to keep down the smoke level, and Corvus came up to help her get the door open. After much hacking for little effect (and some inhalation damage fro Corvus), the aquamancer attached  a rope to the door, and the collective strength of the party was able to haul in down, with a resounding 'thud' as it hit the floor.

Scarab Broach
Beyond the door was a tiny 10' chamber. A fire pit sat in the centre, a tiny barred window opened the outside at the far end, and a low stone bench lay to each side. Under each bench was a small stone coffer. These the party hauled away from the area of yellow smoke, and then broke them open. In one was a beautiful gold and tourmaline scarab broach, and a plain and smooth black stone. In the other was a demonic bronze mask and a small, sealed ceramic jar. All these items were scooped up, and the party headed for the circular stairs, to check out what further treasure lay down below.

After a few twists and turns, the party found themselves in a large room lined with bas-reliefs of what appeared to be warrior kings of Mandaro-Shanti. In front of each, carved in the floor, was a hieroglyphic. Kwinsea consulted her language notes and determined the glyphs were names, probably of the kings depicted. She stood in front of one, then another, and spoke the name as best she could. But nothing seemed to happen. Meanwhile, Chaff and a few others moved off to check another corridor, which led to a room with a massive press. Stacked against the walls were ingots of metal; gold, silver, copper and bronze. After a closer look, Chaff discovered the press was for minting coins. He called over the burly Corvus, and with his help placed an ingot of copper on the plates, which the fighter then transformed into monkey-embossed coinage with a hard turn of the press. Impressed, Chaff decided he wanted all the cold and silver turned into monkey coinage before the party moved on.

When done, the party did indeed move along.  Following a twisting corridor, they next came to a room with a blazing pit of fire in the centre. The heat was intense, and the party had to run quickly through to the opposite exit to avoid getting too crisped. Continuing on, they next emerged into a room which Torak immediately recognized. This was one of the rooms he'd explored before, with the five statues;
  • One of black volcanic rock depicting an evil looking human-like creature with six arms with tusked mouth. It held a skeleton in two of its arms, a corpse in two of its arms, and its last two hands were empty; 
  • Bronze statue of a seated humanoid creature with four arms. It held a baby in two arms, and a cow in each of the other two hands;
  • Clay statue of a fat sitting human with the head of a crocodile, holding an axe;
  • Wooden statue of a standing woman with the head of a long-beaked bird, very long fingers and hair that reached to her bare feet; and
  • Grey stone statue of a four armed human figure with the head of a gazelle. In one hand wass a bolt of lightning in one hand, a cloud in another, and a large ornate black basin in its lap.
Torak approached the gazelle statue to examine the bowl. As he did, a thunderous, bubbling voice spoke, saying “I am Cho-Oda, protector of the jungles; begone from my presence, mortal vermin, carriers of plague and madness. You have cursed me, and I shall take my revenge upon you and all your filthy kind.” At that point, a black oozy mass began to rise from the bowl and prepared to lash out at Torak. He and the rest of the party, however, had had enough a this point, and turned and fled from the wrath of Cho-Oda.

Stopping just long enough to collect Abdul el Abdul and No 7, the party trekked back through the jungle to rendezvous with the "Purple Haze". Unfortunately, when they arrived, their ship was gone. A small collection of barrels and crates lay on the strand. Chaff sent Pretty Bird aloft to look about, but the bird could see nothing of the ship or anything else of import in the immediate area. Kwinsea dove into the cove and tracked down an octopus. She cast charm aquatic animal on the tentacled beast, and it revealed that a second 'man-shell' had arrived and driven off the first, just a day or so ago.  Well, now what. At least Chaff found the missing  "death" hachimaki which he used to bring Abdul el Abdul back one more time ...

TOTAL XP
5671

GAINS
30gp
5sp
5 lapis lazuli gems (5x 10gp)
Collection of lapis lazuli furniture decoration (550gp)
Collection of gold and lapis lazuli bits and bobs (320gp)
Gems pried from cursed thrones (110gp)
Gold and gem scarab (2000gp)
Small ceramic jar, sealed
1200gp & 2100sp of newly minted coins
Fancy mirror (1000gp)
Bronze demon mask
Luckstone +1

KILLS
4 Giant Spiders

LOSSES
Abdul el Abdul
No. 7

Monday, October 24, 2016

Far Isles Session # 49 - More Monkey Business

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Aug Wahmn (Calmonari 2)
Torak (Cleric 4) [NPC]

Raising sail, the party had Lynessa turn the "Purple Haze" back towards the Anchorage, to bring Abdul el Abdul's rapidly purifying remains to the witch Bellephrone. The first couple of days sailing brought fair weather, but wind on the beam, resulting in slower than ideal progress. There was a little excitement on the second day, when Corvus spied something approaching from the north. Whatever it was appeared to be following the wind. The party had Lynessa turn the ship around to start tacking towards it. After a few hours fighting the wind, 'it' turned out to be a woman on a raft made of coconuts lashed together. The woman, native looking and wearing an odd mix of palm frond skirt and crude gold jewelry, waved her arms in the air and screamed indecipherably at the approaching ship. The two vessels continued to close, however, and when the raft was almost abeam of the ship, the young woman stopped screaming and reached into a nearby sack. She emerged with two coconuts, which she hurled at the "Purple Haze", one of which whacked Kwinsea up the side of the head. That made the aquamancer mad, so she tied the woman up with command rope. With the raft now safe to board, the party descended on the woman, relieved her of her gold, and determined she was totally and irretrievably mad. So they left her aboard the raft, and turned away before the spell ended and before they they had to face another barrage of coconuts.

Winter Storm
That adventure over, the ship faced another one the next day, when a winter storm raged out of the north, tossed the "Purple Haze" about and shredded sail, lines and spars. They also completely lost control of sailing direction, and when the storm finally abated the next day, they found themselves far off course. Thanks to Abdul el Abdul's directional crystal, they were able to figure out they were further north than expected, but with no idea how far away. Regardless, they turned about to head back towards the crystal caves, and hopefully thence to the Anchorage. With fair wind they made good time, and after a few days encounter land. In fact, they encountered the island at which they'd sheltered from the last winter storm, on their outward journey to the Jungle Isles. Knowing now where they were, the "Purple Haze" was turned to the north-west and in a couple of more days they were 'home'. 

In the shelter of the port they found three vessels:
  • "Valorous Star", the floating warehouse of the over-perfumed elf, Lifjin;
  • "Loreman's Passage", the former ship of their erstwhile employer Yorik, looking rather worst for wear.; and
  • a ship with a hull made of skins stretched over some sort of framework, loaded to the gunnels with felled logs. 
Focusing on the task at hand, the party prepared to go ashore with Abdul el Abdul's body. They were interrupted, however, by a boat approaching from the "Loreman's Passage". In it were four disreputable looking, heavily armed, characters. They hailed the "Purple Haze" and asked what their business was in the Anchorage. When told they were resting the crew, repairing the ship, and raising the fighter, the quartet showed much interest in the prospect of the party leaving the "Purple Haze". The four tried to squeeze more information out of them, specifically where they'd been and how much gold they'd recovered. When the party continued to be tight lipped, the four rowed back to the "Loreman's Passage". Meanwhile, Aug Wahmn dove overboard on the opposite side of the "Purple Haze", and them swam with one ear to the bottom of the retreating rowboat. By some miracle, the calmonari was able to listen in on the occupants conversation. It would appear the four were looking for easy pickings, and thought they might be able to storm the "Purple Haze" and take her over when the party was away with Bellephrone. When  Aug Wahmn swam back and relayed this information, the party changed their plans. Half the party would go ashore with Abdul el Abdul (keeping one eye open for ambush), while the other half would guard the ship. Having thus covered all their bases, the half-party brought Abdul el Abdul to the sardonic Bellephrone. The witch agreed to bring the fallen fighter back in return for the last magical silk hachimaki ('water'). The party also asked her to identify some of their newly acquired magic items; specifically, the scimitar carried by Awg Wahmn, the leather armor and short sword from the king's tomb, and the pair of wands Kwinsea was carrying. This Bellephrone was glad to do for a price of 4000gp. She took Abdul's' body and the five items, and told the party to return on the morrow.

With no unpleasant incidents from the occupants of the "Loreman's Passage", the half-party returned to the hut in the pine wood the next day. There they found Abdul el Abdul waiting for them, a little wheezier than before and buck naked. As the fighter donned the clothes and armor the party had brought with them, everyone gathered around the hear about the magic items:
  • The scimitar was a mighty +2 weapon, but was cursed. Every time the wielder drew the blade in anger, he/she would first have to wet the blade with his/her own blood before using it in battle;
  • The armor was +3 leather which would bind wounds suffered by the wearer;
  • The short sword was a +3 weapon, which could summon simian servants; and
  • the wands were a wand of secret door detection  and a wand of fear
Thus better informed of their capabilities, the party returned to their ship. The crew had repaired the storm damage, so they hoisted sail and headed back towards the Jungle Isles. They decided along the way to head back to the lost city of the Madaro-Shanti, and a few days fair sail found the ship back at anchor off the island of the black mist.The party jumped ashore, and worked their way back through  the jungle and into the ruined city. They met no notable opposition along the way, and made straight for the palace. Passing through the large entry chamber, they first explored the pillared halls from which the first ghoul monkeys had attacked. Finding nothing of interest there, they moved on down a narrow passage to a series of partly ruined rooms and alcoves. One they recognized as the room where they'd fought zombies from down below. The entrance to a second room was blocked by a massive pile of rubble. While climbing up, the party disturbed a quartet of giant centipedes which were dispatched with ease thanks to Jax's sleep spell. 

In the next two alcoves contained, respectively, a lion statue and a wooden chest. The statue was looked over quickly, and when nothing of note was found, attention turned to the chest. It appeared in remarkably good condition considering the ruined state of most of the other woodwork examined thus far. Awg Wahmn carefully examined it, and noted that it wasn't quite as solid as it would appear at first glance. A yellow, powdery substance extruded between the cracks and rot of the wood, seemingly holding it together.  The calmonari decided it best not to disturb at close range, so he/she retreated and let Abdul el Abdul shoot it with a crossbow bolt. It went right through, and a cloud of yellow dust billowed into the air. Rodrigo then decided to saturate the chest with water before holding his breath and breaking it open. Inside was a pile of mildewed fibres, a handful of strange gold coins, and a set of gleaming bronze greaves and bracers, plus matching helmet. 

Stirge
Washing off and taking the loot, the party pushed on into the next room. This was a large chamber, with the ceiling two stories above supported by pillars. Overlooking it on the floor above was a partially tumbled balcony. There was little time to look around, however, as a cacophony of hooting howls announced the presence of ghoul monkeys, hiding behind the pillars. As the mad simians descended on the party, there arose from the balcony above another threat; a flock of strange bird-like creatures with very long beaks. These flew down to join the attack, and two scored hits on Torak and Rodrigo, inserting their beaks deep into their bodies and sucking their blood. Luckily, the ghoul monkeys and birds were eliminated without any loss, leaving the party looking around and decide what to do next ...


TOTAL XP
1062

GAINS
Bronze greaves, bracers, and helmet [AC6]
Collection of crude gold jewelry (900gp)
15gp

KILLS
6 Ghoul Monkeys
4 Giant Centipedes
5 Stirges 

LOSSES
none

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Far Isles Session #47 & #48 - Out of the Ruins

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 3), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), familiar PrettyBird, riding dog PuppyWhuppy & henchman"No 7" (Halfling 2)
Torak (Cleric 4)

There was a short debate on whether the party should focus on the ruins of the palace or check out the dungeons below. In the end they decided on the dungeon, and everyone climbed down though the pit. Heading cautiously to the opening through which the ghoul monkeys had emerged, they found a room unsurprising covered in monkey feces. Along the north wall were three barrels and in the north-west corner a 10'x10' alcove. Abdul el Abdul headed towards the barrels, while Kwinsea and Corvus went to check out the alcove. Out of it sprang another hanu-naga, which sank it's fangs into Kwinsea and crushed the aquamancer in its constructing coils. Although terribly injured, she fought off the effects of the poison and the monkey-snake quickly fell to a few well placed blows. At about the same time, a single ghoul monkey appeared in the doorway, whom Rodrigo dispatched  with a single sword blow. With that excitement over, Chaff shuffled forward to dig around in the alcove for treasure, finding a pile of mixed coins. Meanwhile, Abdul el Abdul opened one barrel, finding it filled with a pungent liquid and a dead monkey. The other two contained the liquid but no monkey. Torak had a sniff of the liquid and declared it to be some sort of necromantic nectar.

Hanu-Naga
Heading next out of the southern opening, the party moved down a hallway, passing an arched opening on the left and then came to a spot where the ceiling had collapsed, partially blocking the passage. Light could be seen filtering from above, so Abdul el Abdul climbed up to look. A ruined room greeted his gaze, as did 5 shuffling zombies. The fighter dropped back down into the hole as the undead approached. Torak raised his holy symbol and called on the power of the Drowned God to turn three of them away. The party then turned on the remaining two, destroying them. They then had to destroy the first three, they having returned after a short while. Once more there was discussion of where to explore; dungeon or palace. Once more, the vote was dungeon and the party moved on. They next entered a room filled with plain stone sarcophagi. Popping off a lid revealed a mummy inside, wearing plain copper jewelry. Kwinsea and Corvus started to poke at the body, raising a cloud of dust that caused both the hack and cough. Meanwhile, the rest of the lids were opened revealing the same contents. In the end, it didn't seem worth risking poisoning or disease to get a few copper trinkets, so the bodies were left in peace.

Moving on, they party briefly examined an embalming room, with stone tables and jars of embalming fluids lining the walls. Further on they found a pool full of rushing water. Kwinsea poked her head in, finding it was a natural stream and flowing much to fast to risk a swim. Further on, they encounter a hallway and alcove full of barrels. No monkeys this time, just barrels of brackish water and soured wine, one of which got dumped on the floor just for fun.

The next room was unexceptional, with the exception of what appeared to be a pile of vomitous refuse in one corner. This turned out to be some sort of protoplasmic monster which flowed over to attack the party. After one weapon attack split the thing in two, the party focused a shower of flaming oil and torches on the creature, and No 7 blasted at it with her new laser pistol. It was in relatively short order destroyed, leaving an unformed mass of goo crusted over with burns. This was absolutely fascinating to Chaff's vivimantic heart, so he and No 7 stayed behind to examine and dissect the mass while the other moved on.

The party backtracked along the corridor, following a few twists and turns before coming to a section with three doors. Abdul el Abdul checked the first and Jaz the second, neither hearing anything on the other side.  Abdul el Abdul kicked open his door, revealing a small room filled with more sarcophagi, plus a large black iron torch in a scone by the door. These sarcophagi were a little fancier than the previous lot, with images of the apparent occupants painted on the front. These images showed richly dressed folk, so the party started to plan on how to open the lids and see if they were actually rich. In the end, they hooked a pair of grapples on the lid, and Abdel el Abdul and Corvus pulled it off and onto the floor in a cloud of dust and an echoing crash. Once the dust settled, the party examined the inside, finding another mummy. This one wore silver jewelry, of which it was carefully relieved. The other sarcophagi were treated likewise, while Rodrigo followed behind cutting up the bodies and burning them, as well as checking the bottom of each tomb for false or secret compartments. Each body was relieved of a similar selection of tarnished silver jewelry, and one gave up a large silver mace as well.

Sarcophagi
 Before checking the door Jaz had examined, the party tried the third. Smashing it open, on the other side they found another room identical to the last sarcophagi chamber. Except these tombs were very richly decorated, with the lids inlaid with lapis lazuli. These were treated like the last lot, with lids removed, electrum jewelry looted, and bodies diced and burned. The party also took the time to pry the lapis lazuli out of the lids.   In one sarcophagi, the mummy clutched a pair of ebony sticks which Kwinsea claimed, assuming they were were wands. Each was inscribed with Mandaro-Shanti runes, one of which had something to do with 'fear', the other with 'find secret, hidden, disguised'.

One more lot of desecration complete, the party headed back to Jaz's door. Opening it, on the other side they found a 10' corridor which opened into a circular room. In the centre of the room stood the marble statue of a naked man holding a spear. When Abdul el Abdul approached closer to the main room, he noted there were cracks in the floor running east to west, as if someone had set the stones too far apart when laying them. That was suspicious, so he and Corvus went back to one of the sarcophagi rooms and grabbed a lid. They carried it back to the circular room and tossed it on the floor. It hit with a loud BOOM, and they saw that the impact caused the sections of floor to move a little. The party spent a few minutes discussing how to tackle the floor, when all of a sudden and with no warning, the 'slats' of the floor turned 90 degrees, revealing a shallow crawlspace filled with broken crystal. Moments later, the floor swung shut. The party also looked around the room once more, noting there were crystal torches mounted on the walls at about the height of the statues spear. All in all, everyone smelled a trap.

They waited and tried several things to get the floor to open again, including prying it open.  But it seemed very solid now. In the end, Corvus and Abdul el Abdul used a grapple to hook onto the statues spear arm, while Torak scooted across the floor to examine it more closely. He found the statue's eyes consisted of huge sapphires, and in a flash the cleric had a dagger out and climbed up on the statue to pry one out. At that moment, the statue started to turn, lowering it's spear a little. Corvus and Abdul el Abdul were able to hold it in place, as Torak held on tight and continued to pry out the gems. A beam of light shot out of the spear, but did no harm thanks to Corvus and Abdul el Abdul. Torak, now with gems in hand, crawled back across the floor to rejoin the party.

Tomb of King Tallaharka
Leaving the circular room behind, the party pushed on down the corridor. It turned once more, leading to a verdigris covered copper door. Opposite the door was a 10'x10' alcove. Kwinsea used her new 'secret/hidden' wand to see if there was something in the alcove, but to no avail. Torak then opened the copper door, revealing a chamber  with a single copper sarcophagus at the centre, over which hung a glowing ball of light. There were two other doors leading out, one made of bronze and the other of iron. Abdul el Abdul boldly strode into the room towards the iron door. As he passed the sarcophagus, a ghostly head appeared above it and said "Here lies King Tallaharka of Madaro-Shanti. Turn back, for defiling his rest will bring you naught but woe" before sinking back into the sarcophagus. Abdul el Abdul shrugged and continued on, followed by the rest of the party. As each person passed the sarcophagus, the head emerged and repeated its warning. Even for Torak, who donned his ring of invisibility for his passage. Now all at the iron door, they tried opening it but it was locked, so Abdul el Abdul had to force it open. In the room on the other side was a set of stairs going down, while in the centre was a wicker brier, at each end of which knelt a mummy. Rodrigo convinced Kwinsea to torch the mummies with a cantrip,and in the flickering flames the party could now see a mosaic on the far wall which depicted four hanu-naga. They could also see a series of gold objects lined up along the edge of the stairs. Abdul el Abdul and Rodrigo headed for the treasure, finding a gold box (containing gold trimmed robes),  plus a gold ewer, cup and bowl. When they disturbed the treasure, however, one of the hanu-naga in the mosaic burst out of the wall in a clatter of coloured tiles. It lunged forward at the fighter and swashbuckler, biting and constructing Abdul el Abdul. The fighter, alas, was not able to resist the poison and in moments dropped frothing at the mouth and twitching, before lying very still and dead. Fearing the effects of the bite on someone else, Kwinsea used a rope trick to tie the creatures jaws shut, allowing Rodrigo, Jaz and Torak to stab and slice it to death.

While everyone else took a moment to recover, Torak put on his ring of invisibility and scouted down the stairs, light dagger in hand. He quickly checked a couple of rooms. One was filled with more mosaics, this time picturing strange beings with human bodies and animal heads, while then other contained statues of the same.   He then came back upstairs and whipped out his stack of scrolls and use delay poison on Abdul el Abdul. With a cough and a spit, the fighter opened his eyes and stood again, wondering why everyone was looking at him so strange? No one had the heart to tell him he had just an hour extra to live, but instead let him lead the way back into the tomb of King Tallaharka to see what might be found in that sarcophagus.
There, everyone headed over to the copper door to allow a quick escape in case anything/everything went wrong. Again, the lid was removed with grapples. But this time, something emerged from the sarcophagus. A huge, scared, naked man sat up. Kwinsea immediately cast another rope trick, tying it's legs together and keeping it from getting out of it's tomb. When Torak was unable to turn the beast, the fighters rushed in and made short work of chopping their immobile foe to pieces. They hauled the body out, and Rodrigo once more checked the bottom for false compartments. which this time he found! Opening it up uncovered a mummy, dressed in finely tooled leather armor and holding a short sword on it's breast. The party immediately started to strip the armor from the body, no one noticing a ghostly spirit rising up and forming above them. Abdul el Abdul did notice it when an incorporeal hand brushed by his head, leaving a deep chill in it's wake. A second blow connected with the fighter, and Abdul el Abdul felt his vitality and energy drain from his body. Kwinsea now whipped out her lightning bolt scroll, using it the blast the ghostly form into ethereal mist. 

The party finished looting the sword and armor, at which point Abdul el Abdul started to froth at the mouth again and fell dead to the floor once more. Taking stock of their resources and losses, the party decided to head back to the "Purple Haze" and get out of the black mist before it did any harm. Carrying Abdul's' body, they collected Aug-Wahmn on the way, and after several days travel though the jungle were once more back abroad ship.

TOTAL XP
Session #47
1190

Session #48
12180

GAINS
Session #47
110gp
250sp
400cp

Session #48
5 sets silver funeraly jewelry (20gp each)
1 ceremonial silver mace (50gp)
5 sets electrum funeraly jewelry (1000gp each)
2 sapphire eyes (2000gp each)
5 sets of lapis lazuli sarcophagi gems (500gp total)
gold box, with gold trimmed robe inside (450gp & 30gp)
golden ewer, cup and bowl (150go, 60go, 40gp)
Leather Armor +3, Sutured Wounds
Short Sword +3, Simian Summoning
Wand of secret door detection  
Wand of fear

KILLS
Session #47
1 hanu-naga
1 ghoul monkey
1 ochre jelly
5 zombies

Session #48
1 hanu-naga
1 giant zombie
1 ghostly spirit of the great King Tallaharka of Mandaro-Shanti

LOSSES
Session #47
None

Session #48
Abdul el Abdul (poisoned, killed, brought back, level drained, dies again)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Far Isles Session #46 - From Well to Palace

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 3)
Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), familiar PrettyBird, riding dog PuppyWhuppy & henchman"No 7" (Halfling 2)

The party expended a significant amount of brain power trying to puzzle their way through the secret of the rotating platforms. They came up with several options to try:
  • Swing the animated statue down to the lowest platform to see if that surface stayed steady when you avoided stepping on the upper surfaces. The statue hit the platform and flipped off the edge, going in the drink until No.7 lowered a rope and everyone hauled it back up (only to have it go inanimate once again after all that work);
  • Chaff summoned the ebony fly so he could get at the door without stepping on the upper platforms, on the assumption the spinning motion activated the lock on the door. Alas, this didn't work;
  • Kwinsea used her water  breathing to search below the surface of the piranha-plagued pool for another door, exit, or some other clue. This required something to distract the piranhas, so Abdul el Abdul and Corvus went back to the dead gorilla-centaurs and hacked off a few pieces to throw in the water and draw the fishes attention. That only worked so well, and the aquamancer did get rather bitten. She also didn't see anything of interest below the water.
In the end, they decided to tempt fate and turn the wheels. Corvus, being the biggest brute of the lot, was volunteered for this step. The first wheel was very hard to turn, and it was a few minutes before it turned all the way. A little testing with rope and grappling hook showed the second platform was now steady. So down went Corvus, turning the next wheel, and then finally to the lowest platform and turning the final wheel. When the rest of the party saw that Corvus was done (and was being shredded by piranha leaping out of the water), they rushed down posthaste. Opening the door, they found a tunnel, which led to a shaft and ladder going down. Above was a stone ceiling, and below was water. Just above the waters edge, however, was another door.

Gems
Down the ladder, and with Abdul el Abdul in the lead, into the door, the party advanced. Inside were three large stone blocks, each sitting atop a metal grate over a 20' deep pit. The room was also bone-dry, unlike the damp series of chambers they'd had to traverse thus far. After poking around for a bit, the party noted a couple of other key points. First, the ceiling above was polished like a mirror. It, however, did not reflect the simultaneous scene below it, but rather reflected what happens a few moments later in time i.e. it could be used to see the result of a action before it was taken. The other interesting point was the blocks were not so massive after-all, but seemed to float as light as a feather on the grates. The party proceeded to push the three blocks to the left, revealing behind each a small niche. In one lay a collection of gems, in the other a trio of silk hachimaki  inscribed with writing in the language of Madaro-Shanti which Kwinsea was able to roughly translate as  'water', 'dead', 'heal'. A search for secret doors or compartments in the alcoves and in  the dry pits revealed nothing more. Meanwhile, Abdul el Abdul has donned the hachimaki inscribed "heal", upon which the writing fading by half as he simultaneously had some health restored. 

Not convinced everything of value or interest had been found, the party decided to search in the water below the shaft. After first checking for piranhas, Kwinsea dove in and  swam below. She passed down a short shaft, then across a water filled chamber, and a short distance up another shaft. The shaft continued above, but there was no obvious way to climb. Going back to report, the party decided to leave her in the shaft and go back to the surface to re-set the well an see where the water carried the aquamancer.  What she found is the first shaft was filled with water (temporally blocked by a stone slab when they accessed the dry room) and ended at the top in a round 'bulb' with a weird stone torus on the ceiling. Several passages branched off this shaft, presumably leading to the series of chambers in the well. 

Death Monkey
While interesting, this exploration didn't reveal any further treasure or chambers, so the party headed back to the gatehouse to rest for the night and check on Awg-Wahmn. Next morning they headed for the palace, passing through the massive gate into an equally massive ruined hall. Along the north wall was a series of pillars, carved in the form of men and woman. Along the south wall a series of openings could be seem. On both sides rose three, room length and foot tall steps. Further on in the chamber was a pit in the floor, and a clay statue of a besital, naked half man/half monkey. Kwinsea immediately whipped out the crystal heart to animate the thing. Which was good, since just as Rodrigo was approaching the southern openings to check what was on the other side, a screaming mass of monkeys came pouring out and fell on the party. These did not look quite alive, and after  a close fight involving sword, spell, monkey statue and laser pistol, they were definitely now not alive. Rooting through the bodies the party found nothing, an for a lark Chaff tired the "death" hachimaki on one of the bodies. The monkey immediately healed of it's wounds and leapt to life, throwing itself at Chaff's feet. 

Before dealing with his new monkey henchman, Chaff had No. 7 lowered on a rope down into the pit. Once safely below the halfling was joined by Abdul el Abdul. The two found themselves in a chamber covered in bones, a mix of human and animal. They rooted through them for a moment, but didn't have much time as another screaming hoard of death-monkeys came pouring out of an opening in the north wall. The halfling and fighter luckily made it to the rope and were hauled up before too much damage was done, as Kwinsea held back the monkeys with a tidal force. They were eventually finished off by a mix of spells and missiles, leaving the party to decide what to do next ...

TOTAL XP
480

GAINS
5 Citrine (5 x 50gp)
3 Turquoise (3 x 20gp)
2 Blue Quartz (2 x 10gp)
3 magical silk hachimaki ('water', 'dead', 'heal')

KILLS
25 Ghoul Monkeys

LOSSES
none