Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Silver Gull Campaign (a Summary after 22 sessions)

This is one of those stories I tell you so I can tell you another one. I wanted to describe my most involved Xen campaign (which I call The Silver Gull campaign) in broad strokes, becaue I wanted to talk about how my setting has evolved, and tools I have discovered in a follow-up article.

You can read my Xen campaign resource here.

The Campaign started when Zeelagur, a human monk who is an escaped gladiator, Finch a human monk and retired pirate, and Reine, a kooet thief and underworld alchemist were hired by a shady wizard to retrieve a lost spellbook from a ruin in Southern Cathbad.

Dungeon 1: The Astrologer's Tower (11 Rooms)

The ruin was a tower that had been buried in sedimentary stone due to glacial movement 2,200 years earlier, and it's location lost for centuries. Inside was the great orrery and library of an order of astrologers that once served the imperial court of Xen before the last ice age... Only it turned out that he was secretly sending them in as a hostage exchange to free his apprentice, who was being held by kobolds within.

Dungeon 2: The Leaning Tower (5 Rooms)

While exploring the ruin the PCs accidentally activated a teleportation booth and ended up in a ruined tower 500 miles away in a hot, arid part of the Cathmari desert. The tilted, sand-filled tower they arrived in was a remote wizard's tower from the same era that was built to absorb ley line energy for the charging of magitechnical devices... and as an observatory.

Dungeon 3: The Prison Colony (12 Rooms)

Stealing an ornithopter from the tower, the PCs arrived at a ruined prison colony and were nearly overrun by the shades of the dead prisoners. Taking shelter in a ruined church, they discovered the mad spectre of the religious zealot prison warden. In a show of some of the best fast-talk I had ever seen, they convinced the Warden to move on to the Cold Hells where he could carry out his work.

Hell was so impressed they sent an emissary to offer them a deal, the Cold Hells would save them from the shades if they went on a quest for Hell itself to disrupt the politics in the city of Pamuk.

They opted to leave rather than explore the caverns they discovered down the well beneath the prison.

Orhan

The PCs discovered a small town dedicated to collecting jade and amber from a petrified forest called Orhan. The city suffered from a disease called Stone-Tongue that caused all inhabitants to petrify slowly, starting with tongue and teeth. thus, the whole town was reliant on a treatment sold by a local mercantile concern. Smelling a rat, they did their own investigation and discovered that the problem came from polluted groundwater. They alo synthesized their own cure and sold the formula to the local alchemist.

Dungeon 4: The Gorgon's Prison (5 Rooms)

Following the water upstream, they discovered a marshy valley with a 4,000 year-old tower and a dungeon entrance in a cliff wall. Exploring the dungeon, they discovered a gorgon who had been imprisoned within for 4,000 years. They freed her, and thus ended the source of the pollution.

Dungeon 5: Wrecked Airship (10 rooms)

Hearing rumors of a wrecked airship in the desert, Zee' and Finch decided to investigate, paying some local teens to serve as guides. The wreck - The Silver Gull - was inhabited by an ┼Źmukade (centipede-bodied lamia) who controlled man-sized, and small lethal centipedes. Once they slew the monsters, they used a magical power source they found in the 1st dungeon to get the hulk hovering, and then towed it out of the desert using a team of hirelings.

Fixing the wreck  would take 44,000gp in parts and labor. The PCs decided to pool resources into restoring the ship to speed their journey to Pamuk.

Dungeon 6: The Oracle of Inkandus (35 Rooms)

Looking for easy gold, Zee' and Finch decided to explore a rumored "Evil Shrine" in a nearby mountain. Reine chose to stay behind to work on several alchemical discoveries. This dungeon turned out to be a strange citadel built inside a toxic sulfur cavern in the side of a dormant volcano. 

It serves as the site of an oracle run by the Hot Hells; visitors who make the right sacrifice at the altar (liquor) can be shown to an "all-knowing oracle" which is actually a mechanical head full of pyrotechnics, speaking-horns, periscopes, and puppetry that hides a crew of imps who use minor divinations to answer questions. The supplicant must stand on hot coals to get their answers. The pain from the coals fuels that hatching process of frog demonettes in a nearby hidden chamber. (Borrowed from Chris Kutalik's What Ho, Frog Demons!)

When the PCs discovered the rite, they asked how they could ensure that they could come out on top in their bargains with Hell, how to free Zee's goddess from her eternal prison, and how to get the upper hand on the Cold hell emissary they had already bargained with. The demon host of the oracle was so impressed by their moxie, he became candid with them about his goal: he needed help bringing mortals back to the Oracle after centuries of dormancy. He intended to enslave Orhan, turn it into a devil-worshipping cult town, and then send recruiters from among the slaves to speak about the glory of the all-knowing oracle.

Wanting to protect the town, they persuaded the host to take a more circumspect approach. After some consideration, he agreed to wait on enslaving the town for a season to let the PCs attempt to:

  • Summon a Succubus to serve as a "front man" for the oracle and build a cult subtly.
  • Destroy a local holy oracle protected by sentient cactus-people.
  • Eliminate a source of magical food and heat that might spare humanity much misery in the coming Ice Age... Found on the tower they saw by the gorgon's prison.

If they can pull that all off before the demon gets impatient, they can save the town an invasion of frog demons.

Dungeon 7: The Tower of Sandivh (8 rooms)

The tower was occupied by a tree that grew nourishing fruit that she'd light and heat, and that nourished itself in part on ley line energy. 

While exploring the tower, they then accidentally activated a simulacrum of a 4,000-year dead magic-user. Unaware that he was a simulacrum, the ancient mage, Sendivh, grilled the PCs on the state of Xen. Eager to find a new position in the world, the simulacrum stormed through the tower opening secret passages, deactivating traps, and calming magical sentries. He even shrunk the magical tree... Which unfortunately caused the roof to collapse under the weight of the ornithopter they had parked above and he was crushed into wet slush.

Dungeon 8: The Ruined Fort (20 Rooms)

Still in need of gold, they set Reine into the process of converting preserved gorgon's milk from Dungeon 4 into Potions of Stone Giant Strength. Meanwhile, they chose to attack a team of bandits who had been plaguing the highway (and slowing the airship repairs.)

The bandits were accompanied by Slammoths (creatures from Erik Jensen of wampus country's amazing Vague Elephant Project.)

The PCs kidnapped a guard and offered him up to a succubus they summoned using a rite taught to them in Dungeon 6 (modified to make the succubus obey them instead of the Host.) The Succubus successfully summoned a Nalfeshnee, and the players simply ordered them to collect all the bandits ' heads. They stayed outside and fought the Slammoths... While trying to tune out the screams.

They learned that the brigands had been raiding to support the excavation of an ancient city beneath the ruined fort they had occupied. The PCs noted it for future exploration.

Dungeon 9: The Mesa of the Oracle (21 Rooms)

At this point, the PCs decided to handle the competing Oracle issue. They went into a nearby cactus forest and found it guarded by a handful of strange Lawful beings, including a Djinni bound to test the intentions of visitors.

The Djinni refused to let the PCs past until they diminished their demonic taint. To that end he told them of an ancient ruin beneath a nearby oasis where they could find weapons capable of slaying demons.

Dungeon 10: The Shrine of Malek (26 Rooms)

Achaierai from the Fiend Folio
©️1981 TSR Inc.
The Shrine of Malek is a bird-themed dungeon that sits on the borders between the Cold Hells, The Fae, and the Prime Material Plane. To reach it involves exploring an Oasis and finding a Doorway at the bottom of the water that can be passed through into an upside-down chamber where new visitors tentering have three rounds of falling towards the ceiling before their personal gravity reverses as well. It is filled woth roaming Achaierai, undead monks, luminous birds, and a hydra with the heads and basic form of a giant shoebill stork. The weapons stored within are relics left behind by founders of the Red Church in honor of the martyrs that slew the cult that lived here, bound the achaierai, and banished the temple itself to another plane.

Return to Dungeon 8: The Ruined Fort pt. 2

Trying to curry favor with the Red Church for aid before assaulting the Oracle of Inkanduss, Zee' and Finch decided to assault the ruined fort again and clear the last few bandits in the location. there had been a patrol away when the PCs slaughtered the  main body of the bandits, and the remainder were gathering new recruits and shoring up their supplies in preparation to abandon the site. It was an utter slaughter.

1 comment:

  1. This is great stuff. I love campaign reports like this from creative DMs. Keep us updated.

    ReplyDelete