Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Recap: Elemental Abode

Things are going to get froggy! (Art by Shannon!)
Hello everyone! It’s Makayla again, bringing you another recap of Jandar’s Lions. I'm not super great at intro stuff, so I'll just hop right into it.

This article is part 2 of a series. The campaign is ongoing.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 |

Jandar's Lions: Elemental Abode

Jandar's Lions Crew:
Makayla: Dungeon Master
Jon: Captain Jandar Monroe, Human Paladin, Explorer of the Horizon (As of 1 week ago), tries not to kill things.
Wes: Barry the Basher, Mountain Dwarf Barbarian, has many memories of his mother, superb angler, can't write.
Tom: "Barth" Perth, Human Rogue, likes to challenge Jandar with moral quandaries, can't take a hit or drink alcohol.
Shannon: Otaroinae “A’ro’wan” Kalepeach, Water Genasi-Halfling Coast Druid, thoroughly enjoys being in and around water, likes to 'kelp' people.
NPCs: Lin and Dekkard: High Elf Blade Bard and Mountain Dwarf Eldritch Knight, First-Mate and Purser, respectively. Jandar's Friends.

When last we left Jandar’s Lions, they had recently found an island, and Jandar had turned the wheel towards adventure. After a brief sail over to the island, the adventuring crew set off in one of the ship’s rowboats towards a rocky jut. Lin and Dekkard stayed behind to care for and defend the ship.

They approached the shore and took a quick look at the swampy terrain before deciding to find a way further inland. After taking a quick look at the surroundings, they decided to row into an inlet area that had fewer mangroves. Rowing for about an hour in, they arrived at a rocky area and pulled themselves ashore.

A quick knot tying lesson for Barry later, and the boat was secured to a mangrove tree. The crew decided to have a look around for any signs of life. Barry, channeling the hunter in himself, found some tracks and used knowledge his brother had drunkenly shared with him to identify them as Bullywug tracks. While Jandar, Barry, and Barth were discussing why its inappropriate to slay an entire species just because they live in a swamp, Otaroinae was trying to chirp at some frogs. While doing so, the frog stood up, and revealed that it was in fact one of the Bullywugs that call this island home.

After attempted peace talks (which went nowhere due to language barriers) that concluded with a shout in under-common by Barth, the Bullywugs attacked. Further attempts at a peaceful resolution failed, so knocking the Bullywugs out was viewed as the best course of action. Jandar and Barry knocked out the Bullywug that ended up getting two good hits on Barth. Barth played dead before getting a surprise attack on a Bullywug that had become lethargic due to Otaroinae’s freezing of the water and mud around the Bullywug’s feet. The final Bullywug grabbed his unconscious friend and fled, leaving Jandar to save the life of the one that Barth nearly killed.

After once more having a discussion about the fact that they themselves were the ones in the wrong, Jandar helped heal up Barth. The group decided it was best to get further inland as it began to drizzle, and they set up camp at the top of a hill. While Otaroinae sat in the rain, and Barth had a not-so-through think over his past actions, Jandar and Barry had a nice heart to heart discussion about growing up. Barry talked vividly about the rich history with his mother, as well as with the rest of his clan, while Jandar talked about his family. Barry talked about how the swamp water tasted, raising questions about the drinking habits of the crew. Jandar chooses to not drink due to working in the bar and seeing so many people lose themselves to alcohol.

The island in question
After the rain stopped, Otaroinae looked around and spotted some ruins on a nearby hill. After Otaroinae convinced Barry to not destroy the tree the rowboat was tied to and instead undo the knot, they pulled the boat inland at Jandar’s order. The group then set off towards the ruins, seeing bullywugs duck away at their presence. Arriving at the temple, Barry used his knowledge of stonework to determine that this was likely a small group of people in days of old that came here to worship a god. Barth took a good look around and found a pendent that wasn’t tarnished in any way. A quick Detect Magic later, and it was found to be imbued with transmutation magic. When Barth suggests having Barry try it in, Barry regales the group with a tale of how his brother’s dressed him up as a goat at one point. He didn’t like that very much, so he declined to try on the pendant.

Barth eventually put on the pendant, but nothing seemed to happen. After deciding to attune to it on the ship, Jandar took some of the ancient coins that Barth found as well, to see if Dekkard knew anything about them. Otaroinae chose to take three pebbles. Afterwards, Jandar and co. returned to the Golden Duchess without event. A quick discussion with Dekkard revealed nothing about the coins, however it was discovered that the pendant is a Pendant of Water Breathing. Ironically, it was decided that the water lover, Otaroinae, would get the pendant (though Water Genasi can naturally breathe water, Otaroinae hasn't realized her heritage yet).

They set sail as dusk fell, and sailed peacefully through the night. The next few days included discussions between Jandar and Barth about not looting merchant ships, not killing a sperm whale, and ethical capitalism. Barry managed to catch some salmon while Otaroinae thought about diving into the water to see what she could see in the sea.

After a few days voyage, Otaroinae spotted three odd islands, that looked to be black circles barely at the water’s surface. Jandar decided to take time to investigate, sending Otaroinae diving with her new water breathing pendant. She reported back, saying that there were three conical-cylinder obsidian structures reaching down into the ocean floor, with a fourth conical structure in the middle, deeper underwater. The three that breached the surface also appeared to have holes on the tops of them.

Jandar thought hard before deciding to send Barry, Lin, and Dekkard to attempt to see what is in the hole of the structures. The trio carefully climbed onto the island, crawling up to the hole. Barry noticed that it was a short drop with a passageway leading down, where water was flowing into a trench on one side of the corridor. Lin reported back that there appeared to be light coming from that direction, but it was extremely faint.

Never go anywhere without a trusty spyglass!
After checking the other two, with warmth coming out of one and a faint blue light in the other, Jandar recalled them to formulate a plan. Barth made some additional comments and moral dilemmas that perturbed Jandar, however the comments continued to be ignored overall. After carefully tying ropes to the rowboat, the adventuring crew of Jandar, Otaroinae, Barry, and Barth headed into the faint red pillar.

Jandar realized as he was looking at the inside of the structure that the tops appeared to have been sheered clean off, though by what was unknown. After following the reflected light for a time, Jandar heard sounds of popping and cracking periodically, making the realization that there may be mephits down below. Otaroinae heard what sounded like children playing. She explained to Jandar that she understood them, though she was completely baffled as to why. He asked her to call out to them, telling them that they were there investigating and exploring, and were not a threat.

After a short discussion between the two magma mephits, they poked their heads around the corner and stared at the group cautiously. After being asked if ‘Water’ would hurt, Otaroinae explained to them that the group was exploring and wouldn’t hurt them, confused if ‘water’ was referring to the stream of water or her. The mephits explained that it would be up to ‘Orb’ if they could explore or not, and began leading them down the path. They explained that this is their home, and that it started flooding after a shattering sound. Otaroinae offered to help, much to the mephits' delight.

They arrived in a room with other magma mephits that fled from the presence of unknown beings, and at the center of the room stood a pillar with a glowing red orb on it. Otaroinae explained to the orb that they were there to explore, and would help if they could. Some of the mephits that fled cautiously looked on from other corridors, talking about ‘Water’ among themselves. The orb sent off a few sparks, paused for a moment, and then made a popping sound and sent off more sparks. The mephits seemed happy and explained that the orb said to “trust help”.

Jandar asked (via translation through Otaroinae) how they could help, and the mephits responded ‘stop water, water hurt, flood half home’. Barry realized that there were fractures that appeared to have been caused by an earthquake. Jandar asked if it looks natural, and Barry explained that this place was not on a fault line, which would make an earthquake unusual, but not quite unnatural. He suggested following the fractures to see if there was something that caused it nearby. While discussing this plan with Jandar, Otaroinae made small talk with a few of the mephits. While this was going on, a small tremor occurred, causing the group to pause for thought while the mephits panicked slightly before calming down after no water flowed down into the chamber.

Jandar decided following the fractures seems to be the best option at this point for the group. A few of the fractures appeared to be leaking water in places, where no mephits roamed. Otaroinae and Barry worked together to stop some of the worst leaks, with Barry finding the correct fragments to use and Otaroinae casting Mending in attempts to slow the water’s entry into the structure. They found a small section where there were magma mephits that had been completely cooled, and were not moving anymore.

They finally arrived in a large open chamber that was too large to fully see across, with a fog covering the area. Otaroinae realized that they were likely below the ocean floor, as the area was larger than the base of the pillars. After a brief investigation of the area, the group realized that this was likely a gathering place for the mephits. Barry, able to see in the dark, lead the group down a path in the chamber to where the water appeared to be flowing. Eventually they reached the edge of where the water level had risen to, the air heavy with thick fog. Otaroinae checked if the water was hot enough to be generating the fog in the form of steam, however it appeared to be as warm as the room itself.

They're quite nice if you actually don't try to kill them
Jandar used his Divine Sense to check for anything out of the ordinary, and at the very bottom of the room, deep in the water, was an object that appeared to be a source of desecration. While discussing possible plans, Otaroinae heard a voice call out asking who the group is. After explaining that the group was here to help, a steam mephit flew over to them. It began asking for help and pointing towards the object in the water, claiming it was bad.

Jandar formulated a plan to tie a rope to Otaroinae and send her into the water, telling her to be extraordinarily careful. He cast Bless on her, explained what the object looked like (a sphere with cylindrical struts through it), where it was (Central pillar), and that if it hurt her to wrap the rope around it. She carefully made her way to where the object was after some time, worrying Jandar thoroughly. After finding the pillar holding the object, Otaroinae carefully reached out and felt for it, feeling it over. Touching it and being near it made her feel uncomfortable, so she decided to tie the rope to it and follow the rope back to the surface.

She explained to the group that the object didn’t hurt her, however it gave her a sense of dread inside to touch it. Jandar helped her calm down before giving the order to pull the object out of the water. There were a few steam mephits and smoke mephits that had gathered while Otaroinae was underwater that fled as the group began pulling the object out. Otaroinae noted that  the mephits fleeing probably wasn’t a good sign.

As the object broke the surface of the water, two of the struts began spewing out fog. Shortly after it was pulled all the way out, it appeared to stop pouring out fog. The fog was now extremely thick, making it hard for the group to see more than a few feet in front of them. Jandar, sensing that the air was extremely heavy, decided to take the path back up to try to get out of the fog. Before leaving however, they noticed the water level had begun to drop inside the main chamber.

The fog however, never dissipated no matter how high into the magma mephit tower they climbed. Jandar decided to cast Detect Magic to see what school of magic it is from. While the object was mostly conjuration and evocation, it appeared to also have some abjuration as well. Jandar decided to bring it all the way to the surface. Barry laments that he said ‘smash’ but no one else went with it, while Otaroinae noticed that water had stopped flowing down from the surface, noting that the tide was likely receding.

All the mephits in the Orb’s area had gone into hiding by the time the group reached it. After finally reaching the surface, the group began investigating the object further, noting that there are runes engraved underneath a black glass surface, and one pair of rods was engraved with cracks while the other was engraved with what Otaroinae interpreted as mist or fog. Barry, unable to tell what kind of stone this object is made from, once again suggested smashing it.

Pea soup would be too kind of a metaphor
Jandar ordered Barth to go down the tunnel to find where the fog starts to dissipate, if at all. He made his way down to the Orb’s room before noticing that it was starting to have less density. Finally, it was decided to allow Barry to attempt to break it. After a long 10 minutes of hammering away at this object, the center core was exposed, with runes glowing bright. Another few minutes of destroying runes ensued, and the object ceased to function.

Deciding to check on the mephits, Jandar and co. delved back down to find the mephits in the Orb’s room playing again. A few of them turned and put their hands together, creating small amounts of light, thanking the group for the help. Proceeding to the main chamber, the group found that the central pillar that the object was on was a crystal that has since begun glowing.

Figuring out that there must be another type of mephit that lived below the main chamber, the group decided to investigate, finding some dust and mud mephits that had likely been dormant attempting to dry themselves off. After returning to the main chamber and finding multiple different types of mephits gathered around the crystal, Otaroinae decided to ask if they knew where the object had come from.

An older ice mephit approached her and explained in a relatively broken way that it came from something similar to a human, possibly being a human, harboring great darkness and power. They also explained that the crystal was light and life, and that the darkness wanted the crystal.

After a long conversation, the group gained an understanding that the mephits believed that the person couldn’t come back without the fog. The only description that the group was able to get of whoever did this was a hat or half of a mask of some kind. Finally, some of the mephits brought the group some gold as a final way of saying thanks to the group.

After leaving and explaining what occurred to a very confused Lin and Dekkard, the group set sail, bringing the broken spherical object with them. They threw pieces overboard periodically to make sure nothing more could be done with it.

That night, Jandar prayed to Fharlanghn, thanking him for the safety of his crew, and asked to be able to meet the perpetrator of the crime against mephit-kind. After finishing his prayer, Barry asked Jandar to pray for one more thing: finding a good woman for himself. Jandar brushed it off, saying that he has dated people, but he’s 36, and he didn’t have to pray for it. Meanwhile Lin, Dekkard, and Otaroinae were laughing hysterically, and Barth stifled some chuckles.

Otaroinae, still confused as to how she was speaking with the mephits, also decided to speak with Jandar. Jandar said that he was also surprised that she could speak with them, and that maybe she has some aspect about her that she doesn’t know about yet. He also explains that adventuring is more than just about exploring the world. It’s also about exploring yourself and who you are. After Otaroinae said that she never felt like she has fit in, Jandar replied that she fits in with the crew.

After a celebratory drink or two, with Jandar drinking water and Barth passing out after his second drink, the night passed without event. Otaroinae decided to check the weather using druid craft, and it manifested as an orb with clouds coming out. After a brief moment of worry, she remembered that it meant that it would be partly cloudy tomorrow.

The following day, Barth resumed making off-color comments, while Barry decided to continue his fishing venture. While doing so, one of the rods broke and the other strained as something began pulling on it. Shortly afterwards, a shark fin breached the water, and Barry slowly pulled it close to the ship while Jandar rallied the crew.

Jandar managed to get a good hit in with his crossbow. The shark flailed violently, damaging the ship slightly to Jandar’s dismay. Otaroinae and Barth attempted to help Barry with reeling in the shark, and the shark was pulled hard against the ship. Jandar, throwing caution to the wind, drew his rapier and infused it with divine energy. He then leapt down, burying his blade in the side of the shark. The shark flinched under his blade, struggling for a moment before ceasing to move.

After hauling it up on board, Otaroinae inspected the shark for a while before determining that it was a young Hunter Shark. They managed to gather 6 shark teeth and 5 days of food from the shark.

The following morning, Jandar came out of his cabin to see an island on the starboard side of the ship, and another ship off to the port side. The island looked odd, with large curved rocks jutting out from the surface, however the ship caught his eye as his blood ran hot. Jandar recognized the ship as that of Hyon DeDonta, his former captain and all around bad guy.

Jandar gathered his crew and said, “I know that I always say ‘we have to give people chances’ and ‘we can’t just barge in and upset the balance’.

“But some people have already proven themselves to be evil. And we’re going to get them.”

To battle!
We'll pick up from there next time. Everyone seemed to have a really great time and enjoyed solving the problem of the mephits. I handed them a puzzling situation and they handled it in an efficient manner, while having fun the whole time. This is what I want, because I like puzzles, and I want to make them fun for everyone. I just hope that I don't make my puzzles too long, as I'm still learning. Normally I solve puzzles, not make them.

Oh well. It's for science: The more puzzles you make, the better data you get in the end...

Thanks for reading!

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