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Page history last edited by Nick 11 years, 5 months ago

Last updated November 11th, 2008.

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Game Summary


A party of adventurers is hired by a group called the Order of Orion to investigate an abandoned temple in Northern Thracia. The party is called together and organized by a half-elf named Vergil and offered 1,000 gold pieces each to travel hundreds of miles by ship to the desert where the temple is said to lie, surrounded by a wasteland. First, is the two-month sea voyage, followed by a trek through a hot desert. No details were given about the temple, only mentioned was the importance of a successful completion of the mission. 




Episode 1: A Fateful Voyage and a Hot Date in the Desert

Date: November 8th, 2008

The party, made up of an elf mage named Ala-din, a human orator Anaxagoras, an elf amazon named Eithne, a human warrior Polynices, and a dwarf paladin by the name of Telemachus, is called together in the port city of Media by a representative of the Order of Orion, Vergil, a half-elf. Bureaucratic and trite, Vergil explains the importance of the mission and refrains from going into the mission's details, promising that all will be made known when they arrive in their port of destination, Varna.


Vergil tells the party that he has a valuable contact who is the captain of a ship belonging to a local shipping and trading guild, the Bosporus Strait Trading Company, who is willing to transport the party at a significantly reduced price. He tells the party that they must be on their best behavior around the crew and captain and they don't want the captain to look ill on the party or the Order. Vergil hand-waves many of the party's questions, once again assuring them that they'll learn the details of their mission in Varna. He informs them that, due to the nature (and importance) of the mission, the Order will be "purchasing" a prophesy pertaining to the expedition.


Anaxagoras researches the Order over the next couple of days. The guild seems legitimate enough; they hire adventurers and fund expeditions to distant sites, organize "morally sound" mercenary work, and promote the colonization of regions to facilitate trade and greater exploration. Their bookkeeping is a little uneven, and Anaxagoras comes to the conclusion that they're probably run by another group behind the scenes, and receive funding from either a noble, a king, or a hero, or perhaps from a temple or other wealthy patron, or perhaps even another organization.


The day of the departure comes with little fanfare, but the party still hasn't received word of the "prophesy." As they're boarding the ship, the Themia, a messenger sent by Vergil arrives with news of the prophesy. Though he spares all the details, the gist of the prophesy says that the party mustn't set foot on any land before their destination in Varna, and to do so would incite the wrath of the gods. A few of the ships' crew are in earshot, and take note of their strange passengers, but otherwise don't act too concerned. The party meets the captain of the Themia, a human man by the name of Argyles.


The Themia is crewed by three score and ten professional rowers of all gender and race. Many of the crew are human, but there are many dwarves and half-elves as well. The ship has three decks, the main deck above the rowing deck, with a cargo deck below the rowing deck. At most, there are fifty rowers working at a time, with the others keeping watch and tending to other tasks, rotating in to take a few hours on an oar when another needs a break. The rowing deck is warm and humid, and the rowers consume a lot of water over the course of the day.


The voyage begins amid good weather and high spirits. Though the crew largely avoids the party, regarding them as "queer folk," Anaxagoras gets along with the crew and Captain Argyles quite well, learning a little bit about the captain, who proves to be a pragmatic, no-nonsense type who knows the route well. Argyles tells of how he's captained a trading vessel in the Northern seas for over 15 years, since before the fall of Troy, and describes a little bit about the type of trading he does. He seems quite the entrepreneur.


The ship travels from harbor to harbor, and only during the day. When night falls, the crew pulls the Themia upon the shore, or where no shore is available, they carefully moor her in an area of shallow water. The first patch of bad weather occurs a week after embarking from Media. Party and crew are delayed for four days while they wait for the storm to pass; as able-bodied as the crew of the Themia is, she isn't the most sea-worthy of vessels, she founders in a storm of even lesser severity, and thus must remain grounded until the seas are calm again.


The first few ports are of minor importance, and it is after almost three weeks, that the ship comes to its first major port of call on the island of Imbros. The Themia takes on fresher supplies, and the crew makes repairs and performs other standard maintenance duties. Halfway through the stay at Imbros, the island stops all trade and work to honor the monthly birthday celebration of Athena. Most of the crew stays in port while the party is left to their own devices on the ship.


It's now that Ala-din makes his first and only serious attempt to leave the vessel by means of trickery. He calls over a few locals on the shore, and offers a reward for them to carry him into town on their backs. He makes an outrageous offer of gold, and the wary locals demand first to see the money. With nothing to show, and failing to convince them otherwise, Ala-din is then made the object of a number of crude jokes by the raucous townsfolk, their slanderous remarks eventually drawing the attention of Anaxagoras.


Anaxagoras, through wit and storytelling, convinces the townsfolk to fetch wine and slyly convinces them to bring some of the party aboard the ship. In only a few minutes' time, the party has their own festivities, even though they've been confined to the ship by the stricture of prophesy. No one is more merry during the festivities than Anaxagoras, though the others participate. Polynices celebrates the birthday of Athena in his own quiet way, giving thanks to her in prayer.


The crew remain at port in Imbros for a few more days, finishing up repairs and loading new supplies. Whenever a crew member has a spare moment, Telemachus takes the opportunity to promote his patron god, Hephaestus, even going so far as to carve dozens of tiny holy symbols throughout the ship. Though the crew spends a great deal of time undoing the dwarf's work, they don't realize who's responsible. When not proselytizing, Telemachus tends to his faithful companion, a pony named insert animal's name.


Unable to leave the ship for fear of angering the gods, the party has grown quite bored. More and more, Ala-din throws dice and makes opportunistic wagers with the crew, and Telemachus finds himself carving the holy symbol of Hephaestus in a place to be discovered by the crew to later be removed. Polynices spends most of his time in quiet observation and contemplation, listening to the conversations of the party and the crew. Anaxagoras makes innumerable attempts to learn the languages and stories of the other party members and the crew, and meets with mixed success. Eithne finds stimulation in merely observing the daily work of the rowers.


The ship finally departs from Imbros, and stops for a day in observance of the monthly birthday of Poseidon. A couple days pass, and then a storm waylays the Themia for several days. The ship passes within sight of the beach where many battles in the Trojan War took place. Many of the crew are quite solemn while the beach is in sight. The remains of some ships can still be seen, though a decade has passed. The Themia soon arrives at the port city of Abydos, where they make the longest stop on the journey. This stop also marks the halfway point of the party's journey to Varna.


After a long stay at Abydos, the ship next sets out for Cyzicus in the Sea of Marmara. The stay in port is extended by a day due to the observance of the birthday of Athena. Several days into the journey to the next port, the city of Procerastis, the ship stops again in observance of the birthday of Poseidon. They make port two days later.


The cliffs of the Bosporus Strait are in sight, and loom ominously in the distance. By coaxing a few of the locals to come near the ship, Anaxagoras is able to learn a bit of the truth behind the legend of the The Argonauts, that the "crashing rocks" were actually strange creatures made of stone that preyed on ships that passed through the strait. The Argonauts tracked the rock creatures into their lair and slew them. The Themia remains at Procerastis for a week before tackling the last leg of the voyage.


Several things happen at once during this time. One of the crew, having grown weary of removing various signs of Hephaestus from the ship, takes a disliking to Telemachus and challenges him to a boxing match. The off-duty crew shows their obvious support for their fellow crew mate, a dwarf who claims to have fought in the Trojan War, and even the paladin is discouraged by the opponent. However, a single, spectacular punch drops the antagonistic dwarf, and no one raises a doubt about the strength and power of Telemachus.


The same morning, a large storm blows in from the Black Sea, and the crew is forced to row the Themia back to port, because the Strait is too dangerous to attempt when the sea is rolling and heaving. Three days of rain put the whole crew in bad spirits. Already anticipating the midpoint of their journey before turning back for home, they're losing hope in the face of the unrelenting rain. Rumors that their passengers are cursed by the gods and are responsible for the current predicament are a plague on everyone's thoughts, and are a common topic of discussion.


Anaxagoras interprets the rain to mean that the gods are displeased, and a discussion comes up regarding the possible necessity of a large sacrifice. The party agrees that the god, if any, responsible for the storm is Poseidon. Though they don't know what may have angered him, they do know that the ideal sacrifice to him would be a horse, and they set their eyes on the most readily available equine; the pony belonging to Telemachus. A debate goes back and forth among the party, about the importance of appeasing both the crew and the gods. Fear drives them, they don't know what the crew is capable of, and they particularly fear violence on the part of the crew. Telemachus refuses to surrender his pony, and the party, with no sacrifice to make, simply waits.


Three more days of rain; the crew are becoming increasingly agitated. Talk about sacrificing the pony comes up again, and Telemachus reluctantly agrees to give up his companion if he receives monetary compensation. The party can't agree on whether or not to support the idea, and no one character has enough money to buy the pony outright. The characters fear for their lives. The storm finally breaks the next day, to everyone's relief. The Themia practically flies through the Strait, as though her oars were wings, and a few days later, the ship finally arrives in the port of Varna. The party happily climbs down onto solid land for the first time in over seventy days.


Wasting no time, the party meets with a representative of the local chapter of the Order of Orion named Trimedes. He tells them everything he knows about the temple, including a little history of the local lands. The temple is dedicated to Cronus, former king of the Titans, and deposed god of time; legend holds that an oracle resides within the temple. The party's goal is simple, cross the desert to the temple, confirm the presence or absence of the oracle, and return with proof of the journey. They also have a secondary objective, which is to make friendly contact with any native tribes who may serve as allies should the Order decide to move their operations out into the desert.




Trimedes tells the party how to determine the presence or absence of an oracle. The oracle itself may not be immediately obvious, it might even be invisible, but a character who can channel divine power, such as a cleric, druid, paladin, or ranger, can immediately detect the presence of an oracle, just by standing in the same room.


The desert itself is the first major obstacle. During three hours of midday, the desert becomes stiflingly hot, and the Order has some special desert-appropriate clothing to lend to the party for their travel. They also have a strange alchemical contraption to lend to the party (to be returned upon completion of the mission) that can be used to transform unwholesome liquids into clean, drinkable water. The device takes a great deal of time to work, and is really only intended as a last resort. There is roughly 30 miles of trackless desert between the party and the temple, and with no roads, and only landmarks to work with, the journey would take at least 3 days in and 3 days back. With the dwarf slowing them down, this stretches out to 4 days, both ways.


The party requisitions a small cart and loads it with water, hitching it up to the pony to pull. They are accosted by a group of filthy beggars on their way out of the city, and Telemachus offers them some silver coins to drive them away. Not an hour from town, the party is then attacked by a band of four raiders wielding scimitars. Their motives are unknown, but their intentions are clear; the party engages them in combat and makes short work of them. Anaxagoras says a few words to the party to bolster their resolve, and both Polynices and Eithne rush out to face the raiders. Two of the raiders slip passed them, but Telemachus stands guard in front of the pony and cart, their most valuable and prized possessions; one of the bandits scores a minor hit against the dwarf.


The two raiders by Polynices flank him, and both cut into him with their swords, one of them easily bypassing his defenses as if the warrior were standing still. Eithne quickly cuts one down, and moments later, Polynices drops the second. Telemachus carves a piece out of the raider who cut him, causing the man to drop with a fantastic spurt of blood, while Anaxagoras runs to the aid of the paladin. The last raider, having seen his three companions taken down in a matter of seconds, turns to flee at top speed, but Anaxagoras and Telemachus stop him in his tracks with a brilliantly timed dual attack the moment the fool lets his guard down.


All of the raiders lie slain but one, which the party tends to, in case he has information they might find useful. However, when the heat of the day sets in, they are unable to provide adequate measures to protect him, and he perishes after a few hours, despite their efforts. They leave his body for the vultures, like the others, and with no ceremony. The day drags on, and Polynices, with help from the eyes of the rest of the party, is able to find native fruits and edible creatures, and water to replenish most of the stores they use.


As the sun is setting, the party notices a pack of jackals circling them. Though they throw rocks to discourage the beasts, the wild dogs eventually circle closer to the party and attack, though they are unable to inflict any damage, and are quickly driven off by the combined might of the group; though they may be fatigued from their long journey during the day, they are no less fierce in battle. Doubtless, every one of them considers the travel during the day preferable to the undead menace that potentially threatens them during the night. True, though they could easily have avoided the dangers of the sun by traveling at night, they'd learned through Trimedes that the spirits of fallen soldiers haunt the desert waste and waylay those who travel at night.


The next day is hot, just like the previous one, and everyone suffers in the sweltering heat. After the hottest part of the day has passed, the party happens across a stranger who's fallen unconscious from the heat. He is poorly dressed for the desert heat, and apparently fainted from heatstroke and suffers from dehydration. They relieve him of his arms and armor and place him on the cart under shade in the hopes that he has some kind of information for them should they revive him.


Polynices scouts out more food and water to replenish the party's stores for the day; though they're still using up resources, they're managing to do so at a much slower pace than expected. A couple hours later, they're hailed by a couple of strange humanoids related to goblins. Initially, only Anaxagoras and Polynices approach them, but once they find the strange goblins to be friendly, the rest of the party comes along. The goblins invite the party back to their camp, where the party trades the dog meat they acquired from the jackals they slew for magical healing treatment and Anaxagoras obtains an ointment for his bad sun burns.


The party meets with a shaman of the goblin tribe, who is called Krest. He claims he talks to spirits, and has magic that can help the unconscious man the party stumbled across. He also says he knows about the terrain around the temple they seek, and Anaxagoras convinces him to accompany them as a guide, which he agrees to without request for compensation. Overall a very friendly meeting.





(Regarding a band of charging raiders.)


Why don't you charge out there and meet them?

POLYNICES, warrior

You come with me, then.




(Regarding the bodies of the fallen raiders.)


Don't you think we should bury them?

POLYNICES, warrior

If they wanted to be buried, they ought to have brought more friends.





I think I'm ready to kick some ass.




Game Review






EXP by Player












Next Session

Date: November 15th, 2008

Link: rw081115


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