Campaign of the Month: November 2017

The Gaelean Chronicles: Heroes 4 Hire

The Dread Isle: Descent into the Depths
Fears just beneath the surface

1200, Zor, 19 Jo, 4E1

    The Heroes 4 Hire investigated the steam vent in the middle of the hallway, but with the shaft billowing scalding steam so thick it prevented vision past a few feet, they decided to shimmy past it and continue their exploration down the hall beyond. Past the vent, the hall turned south and proceeded out of sight, and as they moved south the steam filling the passage lessened and thinned, until they arrive at an archway closed by another portcullis, rusted into its frame by years of exposure to the steam. Past it lay a 30′×30′ room, with similarly steam-moistened walls, lined on the east, south and west by deteriorated, grimy statues… some of female humans holding children, and other of fierce, demonic monsters. A rotted trapdoor was visible in the ceiling, and occasional puffs of dust drifted through its cracks. The team made several varied attempts to open the portcullis, to no avail.

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    Illyia Baham used a Dimension Door to teleport to the other side of the portcullis, and investigated the walls for any traps, triggers, secret doors or ways to open the portcullis. While searching the wall behind the statues, two of the demonic looking statues moved to attack him. Illyia dodged most of the attacks, only taking minor damage from one successful claw, but the rest of the Heroes opened up on the gargoyles with ranged attacks from through the portcullis. The gargoyles were vanquished almost immediately. Illyia resumed his search, finding a secret door behind the statues in the southeastern corner of the room… it’s location betrayed by several puddles of water that had leaked into the room from beyond. He opened the door which swung into the room, stepped out and realized he was in the hallway across the huge water-filled chamber which they had entered this level, and then told his companions to circle back around and join him.

    The team did just that, circling back around the way they had came, swam across the large chamber to the other passageway in the west wall, and climbed out of the water into the now-emptied hallway where Illyia now stood. The passage continued west a ways before turning north, but across the hall from the secret door an archway in the south wall opened into a block of cells… rusted and crusted from eons of immersion in the steaming water. The cells were otherwise empty, and the door in the southern wall of the cell block opened into an obvious torture chamber, also rusted and deteriorated into oblivion after centuries of submersion. They returned to and followed the previous passage west until it turned north, and after sixty feet the hall climbed a set of stairs, and then after another twenty feet then descended again, but back into dark, murky, scalding water.

    Alton Beeblebrox, still in his aquatically altered state, drove into the water without hesitation, and five lacedons immediately surrounded him, clawing and biting and attempting to drag him to the bottom to drown him. Their claws wounded him seriously, but the paralyzing effect of the clawing attacks by these aquatic ghasts froze him stiff, and they moved in to feed. The rest of the party attacked in an instant, Smedley “Deadly” Hampton raining arrows in with deadly accuracy killing two. Rumblebelly roared an intimidating challenge from the water’s edge, but the lacedons appeared to be unaffected. Karraway cast Spiritual Weapon and then joined his won spell in hammering another lacedon to death.

    The remaining lacedons tried to drag their paralyzed meal north away from the dry stairs, and their continuing feeding drove Alton into the brink of death. Lt. Diplo Norixius used Turn the Unholy against these undead, and one broke of its assault and fled northward up the passage until it was stopped at a closed door. Alarith Degries fired shots to finish off the fleeing lacedon, and the rest of the party waded into kill the last one and rescue Alton from a watery grave. Diplo then used Lay On Hands to stop Alton’s death spasms, and Smedley force fed him a Potion of Healing.

    The team then continued to eh northern end of the hallway and its swollen, oaken door. They attempted to bash it open using their portable ram, but it would not budge. Again, Illyia used a Knock spell to blast it open. The room beyond was 30′×20′, wide by long, and dry. Again, a rush of water empty a large portion of the flooded hall into the room, however, the Heroes all managed to keep their feet. The room used to a priest’s chamber, judging by the appointments, with a small altar against the norther wall opposite the door, and several stone benches arranged in front of it. Hanging from a stone hook on the wall was a bone-handled mace, which Illyia detected a magical aura around. He used Identify, and found the mace to be magical, and named the “Mace of Genuflection”. The party took to a thorough search of the room, discovering a well hidden compartment (now below water) in the altar’s base, containing 500 gold pieces and two coral statues that vague resembled these ‘Illithid’ the aliens had apparently turned into.

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    Finding no other exit from the room, the Heroes returned past the steam vent and headed down the stairs descending from the northern most passage. The stairs eventually gave way back into natural passageways and caverns, descending and twisting around until they were all fairly well disoriented. Down, down and more down they went, over what must have been miles, until finally the cave-passage opened up into a massive underground natural cavern that extended well out of sight ahead of them. They were perched high atop a natural limestone shelf where the passageway had deposited them, overseeing the cavern below to the extent of their vision, which was filled with mud pits, paint pots, geysers and other geothermal activities. They could see pathways worn between the pits and other features, and to their right they could see other rock-shelfs they were confident they could climb down, should they decide to proceed.


2000, Zor, 19 Jo, 4E1

    How far below Taboo Island will the Heroes 4 Hire explore in order to meet their contract requirements? What will they do if they encounter these ‘Illithid’? What new adventure awaits?

    Tune in next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: Waist Deep in Hot Water
"Why is it when I check for traps, they aren't there, but when I don't they are?" -- Illyia Baham

0600, Zor, 19 Jo, 4E1

    The Heroes 4 Hire awoke, ate breakfast and prepared for their day of exploration. They had decided to enter the last door they had not investigated yet, on the northwest side of the lower lever catwalks in the magma chamber. The three in the alien protective suits, Illyia Baham, Lt. Diplo Norixius and Karraway, crossed with ease and opened the door, but the rest of their party, Alton Beeblebrox, Alarith Degries, Smedley “Deadly” Hampton and Rumblebelly, had to sprint across the distance and suffer some damage from the searing heat. Beyond the door lay a long, natural lava tube, long extinct, twisting and turning as it descended farther and farther into the depths of the earth, beneath the volcanic caldera. Illyia sent Nightshade ahead to reconnoiter, but she reported just more of the same for what could have been a mile or more. Eventually she, shortly followed by the rest of the party, came upon a partial cave in on the tube, closing the passageway off by about ninety percent.

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    Through the small gap above the cave in, the raven-familiar reported seeing a large chamber beyond mostly filled with water, and that the cave in was acting as something of a dam. Diplo cast Mold Earth and reshaped the top of the cave-in-dam to make enough of a passage so the party members could crawl through one at a time. Beyond the blockage they found a huge room of worked stone at least seventy feet on a side, filled with steaming water up to within five feet of the ceiling. Diplo crouched as his Ring of Water Walking kept him on the surface, but Illyia and Smedley both went to take a step forward, they stumbled, and discovered that the floor of the chamber was not a few feet below the surface of the dark, murky water as they expected. Instead, this entrance was actually several stories off the chamber floor atop a great stone staircase, near the ceiling. Alton activated his Jerkin of Altered States and altered himself into his aquatic adaptation, and dove into the water. The rest launched themselves from the entrance and swam into the chamber as Diplo crouched his way across the top. There was a door visible at the same height as the entrance directly across on the opposite wall, as well as a large hallway departing in the northwestern corner.

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    The party’s swimming activity attracted the attention of six Giant Crabs lounging on the chamber bottom that moved up hungrily to attack, but the party quickly dispatched them with little problem. During that brief skirmish, they also spotted a dais-style set of stairs in front of the northwestern hallway exit, and atop that dais a Giant Oyster with its shell-mouth open. Illyia stealthily swam over to it while the rest waited, and he saw a giant pearl tucked down inside the folds of the oysters maw. With the aid of his Mage Hand cantrip, he managed to float an equivalently sized rock in and replace the pearl with it, all without tripping the oyster’s natural anti-theft mechanism. They stowed their stolen pearl, and then proceeded down the flooded hallway beyond, able to touch the floor and wading at waste deep in the near-boiling water.

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    Partly down the long hallway, they heard sound they identified as rodents coming from holes dug in the walls just above the waterline. Their ears proved true as giant rats flooded out of the holes, swarming to attack the Heroes. A brief fight ensued, but Illyia’s Cloud of Daggers shredded the swarm so quickly that the remaining retreated back deep into their holes and did not return. With that they continued north down the hallway until it ended in an archway leading into a 30′×30′ room, also flooded to waist deep and with a swollen door in the opposite wall. They proceeded to wade across the room to the door, but halfway across Illyia and Smedley felt the brush of a tripwire across the ankles, and suddenly a spray of oil spouted from ports in the walls just above the surface. The party reacted instinctually, throwing themselves under the surface of the water just before the spark from the trap hit and the surface erupted into flame. Diplo, still walking on the surface in one of the alien protective suits, merely waited until the flames subsided and his teammates came up for air.

    The group ganged up on the door in the northern wall, swollen from decades of water into it’s frame and unbudging. Try as they might, they could not unstick the door, so Illyia cast Knock… blasting the door open into the hallway beyond. The hallway beyond, however, was NOT flooded, and in an instant the four feet of standing water in this room, as well as all the hallways and chambers in the flooded sections prior, rushed out and down the empty hallway taking the entire party off their feet and along with it. Ten feet past the door, the hallway was obstructed with a closed portcullis atop a descending stair, which acted as a sort of strainer… filtering Heroes 4 Hire out of the onrushing torrent of near-scalding water. The Heroes found themselves pinned against the portcullis for several minutes, struggling to keep their breath, until the several millions of gallons had rushed past them and down the stairs.

    The party picked themselves up off the floor from in front of the portcullis, dripping and winded, to find a lever protruding from the wall that, when pulled, lifted the portcullis. In the west wall past the portcullis was a door, and beyond that was stairs going down out of sight. Everything was wet. The party decided to go through the door first, which opened easily, but past it the hallway going west was filled with steam like a sauna. They spotted a massive circular hole in the floor of the hallway, just under ten feet in diameter. Steam was boiling up out of the shaft thick and forcefully, giving the entire room the feeling of being in a steam press. The steam vent, while large, however, did not present a problem to passage around it and further down the hallway.


1200, Zor, 19 Jo, 4E1

    What will the Heroes 4 Hire find as they continue to delve deeper below Taboo Island? Why have they not encountered these little gray men from the alien craft? What fate became of these, ‘Illith’?

    Find out next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: Flipping the Switch
"Oh, SHIT! IS IT DAY OR NIGHT RIGHT NOW ?!?

0700, Wir, 18 Jo, 4E1

    The Heroes 4 Hire awoke, ate breakfast and broke camp before removing the barricade from the door and resuming their search of the alien starship Xinced. They returned to the southern ‘lifting room’ and rose to the upper level, turning their attention to the northeastern hallway coming off the central roundabout. The doors slid open easily at their approach, and after a short hallway they entered a large, perfectly circular half-domed room. At the center was another all glass console, and Illyia Baham immediately went to work, tapping it alive and then perusing its displays thereafter. The console was entitled, “Stellar Cartography”, and after a few taps on the console, particularly the one that read, “Large-Format Holographic Display” in the alien script, the room suddenly sprang to life. A giant, translucent image of hundreds of points of light floating in a slowly rotating formation, keeping perfect station from each other, filled the entire space in the dome. As they tried to touch them, their fingers simply passed through the images, ethereally. After some study, Illyia discerned that this was a sort of map… a map of the stars in the night sky.

    They fiddled with the controls some more, and occasionally some alien text would appear in among the images, usually with a line drawing the eye from the text to one of the items in the image floating above. Finally, something they recognized appeared. Illyia read the text aloud, " Seles ", which they all recognized as the sun around which their world, " Gaelea ", orbits. A tap to select, and the image floating in the room changed… flew and zoomed in… until a bright yellow-orange orb of fire filled the middle of the room , yet no heat was felt. A scroll of script floated in the air beside the giant fireball giving all kinds of details on “Seles”… size, mass, energy… all in standards of measure completely foreign to Illyia’s magically-aided eye. The party marveled for a good while, this being the first time they had seen their own sun up close.

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    They pulled themselves away and returned to the central roundabout corridor, then commenced their search up the northwestern hallway. The first set of doors they found they used a Knock spell to open, and found themselves in a medium-sized, amphitheater-like room with chairs and workstations centered around a sort of throne, which along with the curve of the room centered looking at a common wall. Again, they started fiddling with the consoles, having Illyia peruse each one with the Crystal Monocle. He shortly concluded that this was the main command center of the vessel, similar to the bridge of a sailing ship, and humorously plopped himself down in the central ‘throne’. This had no desk and workstation in front of it, but instead had two glass panels in up-curved extensions from the armrests. He tapped them and they came to life, giving him informational displays on the status of various ‘systems’ throughout the ship… propulsion, power, maintenance, security, weapons, defenses, fuels, sciences, sensors, ‘computer core’, navigation… all were at his fingertips to read. He did not, however, seem to be able to control anything from this seat’s mini-consoles. Although, he did find a complete map of the vessel.

    While Illyia was reading at the consoles, the rest of the team searched the room and an adjoining office to no avail, and then decided to move on while Illyia continued. Alton Beeblebrox decided to stay and stand guard over Illyia as he studied the displays, while the rest of the team continued down the hallway to the next room. There the double doors slid open at their approach, and they entered some sort of… perhaps a guard post, maybe an armory?… it was unclear, but there were several racks that looked like they were intended for some sort of personal weapons as well as recessed alcoves with dormant constructs like they had encountered elsewhere in the complex. As the team reported this new room over the Earrings of Communication to Illyia and Beeblebrox, who confirmed it was a ‘Security Office’, two of the constructs suddenly came to life in their docking equipment, the glowing blue ‘eye’ starting it’s back and forth sweep to accompanying sounds of power flowing through systems. The team retreated from the room and closed the door before the constructs had launched from their docks, and presumed they were probably safe. They then continued farther down the corridor to the very front of the complex’s upper level, they surmised, which must be over the stone temple they originally entered and had been spending their nights.

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    This chamber they decided looked like some sort of Embarkation room, where passengers or crew would enter or leave this star-traveling ship. In addition to the door from the hall they entered through, there were two doors in the stepped northeastern walls, a door in the far northwestern wall, and two exceptionally large and thick doors in the southwestern wall. Those in the southwestern wall were also pressure sealed. Karraway and Lt. Diplo Norixius went to the far pressure door on the southwest wall, Alarith Degries and Smedley “Deadly” Hampton went to the near one, while Rumblebelly wandered around in the middle of the room. No sooner than as they had started inspecting their respective doors, the two constructs presumably from the ‘Security Office’ entered the room behind them from down the hallway from which they had entered, and immediately attacked.

    Smedley immediately spun on his heels, activated the Haste effect on his bow and fired four shots at the first construct… striking dead center and punching a gaping hole through its outer shell. The constructs charged into the room, gassing the party, and Alarith fell unconscious. Smedley and Rumblebelly shook off the effects of the gas, and Diplo and Karraway were unaffected, safely protected inside their alien armor suits. The constructs pressed the attack, zapping Rumblebelly with a stunner to little effect, and shooting Smedley with their other rod-weapon… a streak of red light in a perfect line striking Smedley and wounding him. Smedley managed to bark out a call for help over the Earrings, and Alton and Illyia joined hands and used Dimension Door to teleport to the Security Office… the last position they knew of their split party. They were surprised to find the chamber empty, paused a moment to listen, and heard the sound of combat coming from down the hall. They then sprinted the hallway to join the fray.

    Smedley retreated to northward toward the door there with one construct in pursuit, while the second continued to gas and stun Rumblebelly with no effect. The rest of the party came to their aid, surrounding the constructs in a melee mosh pit and pounding them incessantly. Another quad of shot from Smedley’s bow and a bevy of bashings from Diplo, Karraway and Rumblebelly, and the first construct came apart in pieces. The second construct shot Smedley again and again with the ruby-tipped rod, wounding so badly he lost consciousness and entered the {saving} throws of death. The party concentrated on eh second construct, and Alton and Illyia sprinted into the room and joined the attack with fists and a Cloud of Daggers spell. The second construct did not last long, and was shortly reduced to a crumpled mass of twisted metal. When they checked their fallen comrade, they found his Periapt of Wound Closure had closed his wounds and stabilized him, although he was still unconscious.

    The Heroes revived Smedley, and then continued their exploration of the star-traveling ship’s upper level. They found a series of smaller rooms with large, automated machines in them that vaguely resembled ballistae, and a quick check of the consoles around the Captain’s Chair in the command center confirmed that they were “Ship Defense Stations”. Their exploration then led them to the upper catwalk in the magma chamber, some thirty feet above the lower catwalk they had explored earlier. The three in the alien protective suits went out into the excessive heat while the rest watched from the safety of the doorway. Here, they found the top of the “GeoThermal Power Takeoff Core”, pulsating with the same blue light and thrumming sound, and complete with yet another glass console. Illyia tapped the console awake and studied its displays, tapping through some menus as he went and muttering the titles of things the Crystal Monocle translated for him. He stumbled upon something of interest… a sequence he watched happen on the display titled, “Level One Diagnostics Routine” with a 12-hour duration timer. The timer was counting down the last minute and seconds to completion. He stood and watched, but just as it was expiring, the display flickered several time, then turned red with a low gravely toned that sounded three times in rapid succession. A smaller rectangle popped then into view with the words, “Processing Error, Recursive Loop Detected, Diagnostic Algorithm Restarting”, stayed for about five seconds, and then it too disappeared, and the console returned to its previous display of the “Level One Diagnostics Routine”. And, the 12-hour timer was reset, and beginning again. Illyia then flipped to the next display in the menu.

    He suddenly stopped in surprised, and then reported to the group that he thought he had found a control to be able to terminate the core’s production and provision of power to the rest of the ship’s system. When the rest asked, “So, what?”, he quickly explained what he had found, and his newly hatched theory this ship’s system were somehow causing the Island’s disappearing behavior, and that if they were to turn this power supply off it should end the effect. Excitedly, the Heroes agreed and pressed him to do it.

    So, Illyia called up the proper display, pressed the command prompt to shutdown the power core, and then the following confirmation as well. The display changed several times, the ever-present thrumming from the giant column slowed to a stop as the blue pulsations of light slowed and stopped as well. Then the whole complex went dark… no light form the ceiling, no consoles operating. Just the oppressive heat and gurgling of the magma chamber and an eerie silence.

    And then it dawned on them.

    “Wait. Is it daytime or nighttime right now?” Illyia asked. Panic set through them instantly as they realized they may have trapped themselves in whatever ‘other dimension’ the ship transported the Island to every morning. The party forewent all abandon and sprinted back to the lower level, to the Stone Temple where they had been making camp every evening, and out onto the stone docks where the outrigger canoes had let them off.

    The sky was dark and filled with stars. They breathed a collective sigh of relief, but to be sure, they called for Master Kozar Ven over the Earrings of Communication. Painfully long moments passed before a Ven answered, but they were convinced they were in their correct dimension, and had ended the interdimensional hopping of the Island. They took the opportunity to give a full report to their patron.

    And once that was complete, they ate dinner with a lot of jocularity over their success in stopping the Island’s disappearing act, and then turned in for a night’s rest.


2200, Wir, 18 Jo, 4E1

    What will become of the Tanaroans and the Mantru, now that the Dread Isle is no longer hopping between planes of existence? What other mysteries will their exploration reveal on this giant, alien craft? Will they ever come across one of these gray aliens… these, ‘Illith’?

    Tune in next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: When Dreams Turn to Nightmares
Close Encounters of the Gray Kind

1200, Mol, 16 Jo, 4E1

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    Lt. Diplo Norixius, Illyia Baham and Karraway stood just inside the door to the massive room while the rest of the Heroes 4 Hire waited in the hall just outside the other side of the magma chamber. Diplo and Illyia removed their helmets, now they were out of the heat, and the three slowly explored the strange machinery filling this giant room labelled, “Main Engineering.” Illyia tapped several glass panels attached to the various machines present, and used the Crystal Monocle to read the resulting displays: “Flux Capacitor”, “IDIC Motivator”, “Interdimensional Drive Core”, “Electroplasma Rectifier”, to name a few. After several minutes perusal, the three decided to head down the southeastern corridor stuffed with conduits pulsating with the same blue light as the column inside the magma chamber. While the corridor would easily be twice as wide, the conduits and pipes narrowed the passage down to single file, and ended in a door nearly 30’ down. As they approached the door and touched the panel, two more of the floating, egg-shaped constructs approached from behind and immediately sprayed them with the white gas cloud. Diplo immediately fell unconscious, but Illyia managed to stay awake, and Karraway was unaffected inside the suit of alien ‘armor’.

    Illyia quickly scrambled to put his helmet back on, and then knelt beside the unconscious Diplo and grabbed him. Then with a flash he used Dimension Door to teleport him and Diplo all the way back to the hallway on the other side of the magma chamber where the rest of the party was waiting. Karraway now found himself alone facing two of these constructs, and began to turn to attempt to flee through the yet-unopened door behind him, when the constructs retracted their weaponry and floated away, ignoring him inside his suit. He stood there puzzling at the possibilities, and then suddenly remembered the Earrings of Communication and told the rest of the team what he just observed. He then followed the retreating constructs at a comfortable distance as they picked their way through the massive machinery, and eventually returned to a pair of strange pieces of equipment, roughly the same size as the constructs themselves, but shaped in the opposite contours. The constructs turned around in front of them and then backed in, and they fit perfectly within the recessed portion of the equipment. Then, the blue pulsating light sweeping back and forth in the small, long rectangular window near the top of the face went dark and the constructs seem to go completely dormant.

    Once Karraway relayed the rest of this new development, Illyia returned in his suit while the rest of the party kept watch over the unconscious Diplo, and helped Karraway explore the rest of this section of the complex. They returned to the previous door, opened it after reading the “Port Engine Core” label, and beyond found it emptied out onto a platform suspended over a great chamber almost completely filled with a large machine being fed by the blue pulsations coming from the conduits from the other, “Main Engineering” room. Illyia fiddled with the giant, glass console at the end of the platform facing the machinery, but found it was secured by some sort of code. They then retreated and pressed up the identical corridor exiting “Main Engineering” to the northeast, only to find an identical set up labelled, “Starboard Engine Core”.

    Illyia and Karraway returned to the hallway outside the magma chamber and their waiting party, and discussed what to do next while Diplo regained consciousness. They decided to retrace their steps all the way back to the large interior dock facility, and test their new discovery of the suits with the construct that attacked them there. The Heroes set up an ambush in the long hallway just outside the dock room, just in case, and the three with the suits entered and proceeded to the northern control room like they had done previously. Once inside, nothing seemed to happen, so they continued into the alcove in the back of the control room and found the construct, dormant, in an identical piece of equipment as the two they observed in the ‘Engineering’ room. Diplo was struck with an idea, and with his friends’ help he opened up his Portable Hole and slid it over the construct, docking equipment and all, and then cinched the Portable Hole closed and stored it safely away. They then continued south along the long hallway and explored the several doors at the far end, finding mostly large store rooms full of long-since rotted crates and stores, and another exit that led to another set of rough hewn stone docks inside a cave on the opposite side of the island as the original Temple they entered. They then doubled back to that very same Temple, barricaded themselves in, set a watch and retired for the night.

0700, Zol, 17 Jo, 4E1

    The Heroes 4 Hire awoke the next morning, ate breakfast, broke camp, un-barricaded the door and return to their exploration of the alien complex. Illyia used his Wand of Opening alongside his personal spellcasting abilities to Knock the rest of the doors open in the initial hallway they first entered. Within they found various chambers filled with all sorts of strange alien accoutrements, in what they could only assume were sets on laboratories. One such room appeared to be a botany lab, because it was filled with potted samples of plants they had seen all over the island and a few they hadn’t. However, some samples were dead, while others had thrived and overgrown their containers… even somewhat the room itself. Overall, the room at first glance looked like an overgrown jungle when the door first opened.

    Among the various labs they uncovered what appeared to be a set of offices for researchers of some type… the room subdivided into half-high cubicles, each appointed with desks, chairs and some sort of glass workstation similar to the consoles they had observed elsewhere in the complex. In yet another room, they found the room filled with large, rectangular machines, lots of the colored strings arranged in very tidy bundles running from one to the next, and when Illyia read one of the glass panels he read a title of “Library Computer Core”.

    They continued back to the hallway where they had found the guest quarters and Knocked open the other, locked door. Beyond it, the portal had also been barricaded by literally every piece of furniture in the room, and once they had cleared a way inside the Heroes found the long decayed corpse of a human, assumed to be a Mantru villager, who showed no obvious signs of trauma, seemingly having eventually succumbed to starvation. The party discussed the scene they were now observing, speculating at what could have so frightened a man he would barricade himself in his room until he starved to death. And, barricaded the door against an attack that never came.

    The team discussed the situation at length, desperate for more information on this complex and what had occured. They decided Illyia should use the Crystal Monacle and start reading through whatever he could find in those glass workstations they had come to see all over the complex. If these were indeed laboratories of some kind, there should be notes.. journals… logs… data… something.

    They returned to the cubicles and Illyia sat down in one, tapped the glass workstation and it sprang to life. The Crystal Monocle allowed him to read the alien script easily, but much of what he was looking at he had no context. There were words he could read but did not understand what they meant, units of measures that were foreign to him, and sometimes secured records that queried him for some sort of code that he did not have. He spent the rest of the day reading and searching through what records he was able to access, while the rest of the team rested nearby and maintained a watch in the hallway to ensure they were not disturbed by anything ‘wandering’. Illyia read throughout the rest of the day and well into the night, but when he considered himself finished he returned to his friends with following story:

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    “We’re aboard some sort of ship… apparently named the ‘Heavy Weight Research Vessel Xinced’. This vessel is apparently capable of flying through the stars, and visiting other worlds, at great distances and unfathomable speeds. The owners and operators of this vessel are an alien race known as the ‘Illith’, and I found pictures. They are basically humanoid, gaunt, gray skinned… silver eyes, large, bulbous cranium, and four, small tendril like appendages around their mouth. These tendrils tend to lay flat, giving the impression of a mustache or goatee.”

    “So, this vessel is capable of traversing such great distances by use of something called an ‘Interdimensional Drive’. As I understand it, it works something like Dimension Door, traversing the distance by dropping into another dimensional space, and then reentering the Prime Material plane at the other location. However, for some reason I could not find in the records I could access, the ship crashed here. It was severely damaged, but whether it was the crash that was responsible for the damage or if the damage occurred before the crash, maybe even causing it… I couldn’t tell. Either way, they were stuck here until they could repair the ship, and to them, they figured they were not where they could be rescued by their kin.”

    “The damage was causing their power systems to fail, and they were going to need a LOT of power to fix their ship AND THEN power this ‘Interdimensional Drive’. The situation grew pretty desperate over time, until they discovered this island was the new cinder cone of a dormant, but viable, volcano. They excavated down the throat of the caldera to the top of the magma pocket, and then constructed a ‘Geothermal Power Takeoff Core’ to convert the heat energy from the magma into power for the ship. It worked, and the ship had an endless source of power.”

    “The ship was a mess, and they continued to affect repairs as quickly as they could with the limited material resources they had onboard. When they first crashed, the Mantru eventually overcame their initial fears and came out to investigate, but the Illith used their fear to keep them away from the ship, and the island altogether. They apparently didn’t hold any animosity toward the Mantru, but simply wanted to keep them away from the vessel, and considering how primitive the Mantru were by comparison to such a technologically advanced species as the Illith, they figured that was the best way to keep them out… keep them ‘scared of the monsters’. Best not to let the primitives get curious with the potentially dangerous technology.”

    “Well, their idea only partially worked. After a short time, the Illith noticed the Mantru were worshiping them from afar as if they were gods. The Illith thought that would work in their favor for keeping them at bay and out of their business while they affected repairs. However, they were soon running out of spare parts and raw materials to make said repairs. So, they changed their tack slightly with the Mantru, and encouraged the worship… subtly at first, with a few wondrous works and godly feats within eyeball distance of the village… and then more directly as time went on, with such measures as the ‘Stone Chief’ giving the Talking Chief direction from the gods. All in all, it was originally benevolent, them giving the Mantru godly advice appropriate to their primitive developmental level… how to increase their harvests, how to nurse fish in a fishery… that sort of thing… and in return they only requested the Mantru bring them certain raw materials easily obtained for the Mantru but potentially hazardous for the Illith to collect, who were unaccustomed to the physical characteristics of this world, its flora and fauna. The relationship proved quite beneficial for both for a long time… by my best guess, millennia.”

    “These Illith must be exceptionally long lived, if not outright immortal. They perpetrated this deception for centuries upon centuries. Their vessel’s physical damage was mostly repaired over time, but this ‘Interdimensional Drive’ -thing was giving them fits. They couldn’t seem to find the issue why it wouldn’t… um… ‘Dimension Jump’?… them out of here. They searched for problems in things they called, ‘algorithms’ and ‘subroutines’ and ‘diagnostics’. Ever time they’d think they had the problem solved, they would activate this thing and something would go wrong, and they would still be here. The captain’s journal is replete with frustrations.”

    “Over time, things got worse. The Illith started noticing changes in themselves. Their tendrils around their mouths started lengthening and became articulated… they could move them around like an appendage. Their gray skin started taking a slightly purple-ish hue. Desperate that this world might be causing some sort of slow-acting aberration in their physical bodies… something they termed a ‘mutation’… they used their godly standing with the Mantru to ‘award’ a few worthy worshipers to come live on the island with them. This was a ruse to cover the Illith commencing experiments and research on the Mantru, in an effort to ascertain what was happening to themselves. They were careful to keep their demands to the absolute minimum, but as you can guess, this was where the logs and journal I have been wading through started turning very, very dark.”

    "In fact, over time this effort turned downright sinister, as far as I can tell. They started with research into the flora and fauna, then the villagers themselves. But over time, the research turned into experiments, and the experiments turned away from discovering… uh, ‘radiation’, ‘genetics and mutations’, ‘biological agents’, ‘neurochemical pathologies’… and other things I didn’t quite get, and more into seemingly morbid and pointless attempts to see if they could manipulate the “test subject’s”… villager’s, in other words… something called ‘genetic engrams’."

    “Their record keeping was regular and methodical to the point of being almost a religion. However, over the centuries and centuries… I’m making some assumptions here, because I’m not really sure what those particular measurement units mean, other than in context I could tell they were a measurement of time, and a lot of it… centuries perhaps even millennia…anyway, over the centuries as their purpose and experimentation turned more sinister, their record-keeping discipline trailed off over time until they stopped recording their activities all together.”

    "In the last groups of their records before they stopped altogether, these Illith were obsessed with finding a way to reproduce themselves, and were focusing on something they called, “Parasitic Genetic Resequencing”. That’s what that dead thing was inside the glass jar… one of these parasite things they had made. They called in a, “Cephalomorphic Tadpole”, and… they… put it… IN… you. They had moving pictures of their experiments with it… similar to an Arcane Eye or a Scry… it was terrifying. The villagers they tested it on all died screaming."

Mind_Flayer.png

    “And the Illith weren’t wrong, either. They had changed over the eon, and pretty drastically, too. Their mouth-tendrils were full tentacles now, articulated and strong. Their skin was gray with a touch of purple, and they were physically brawnier than original. And, they were clothed now, whereas they were originally nude. High collared robes and capes, dark colors… blacks and purples with a lot of adornment… particularly, a really creepy fascination with human skulls. And, they stopped referring to themselves as ‘Illith’, and began calling themselves ‘Illithid’.”

    “After that, the records just… stop.”

    A long, terrifying silence descended on the Heroes 4 Hire once Illyia finished recounting his discoveries. They looked at each other for long moments, each face betraying the same horrific thoughts. And then they returned to the stone temple where they had made camp the nights previously, barricaded the door, set a watch and turned in for a sleepless night’s rest.


2359, Zol, 17 Jo, 4E1

    Where are these “Illithid”? Why have they seemingly abandoned their amazing vessel and all its wonders? Could this “Interdimensional Drive” be connected to the mysterious behavior of the Dread Isle?

    Find out next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: Mysteries Unknown
I think it's a suit of armor...

“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” — Arthur C. Clarke

0600, Mol, 16 Jo, 4E1

Hangar.png

    The Heroes 4 Hire awoke, ate breakfast and began their day of exploration by returning to the southern corridor and sneaking past the large chamber with the docks and the gas cloud spewing construct. When they reached the first door past the aforementioned dock-room, Illyia Baham pressed the glass panel beside the door, which slid open to reveal an identical circular room to the one discovered at the center of the complex. They stepped in, bear and all, and Illyia pushed the panel where it said, “Upper Deck”. The door slid shut quickly, they felt themselves rise though they could not see it, and then the door slid back open revealing an identically-constructed-but-differently-laid-out hallway. This one continued to the right, just like below, but it also turned ninety degrees and proceed straight out from this lifting room.

    They proceeded straight out of the room and down the hallway presenting itself ahead. After 30 or so feet, they opened a door that revealed a huge chamber with three large vehicles that vaguely resembled birds. On one large flat wall of the chamber was a massive set of double doors, two normal sized doors in the north wall beside where they entered, and a set of stairs leading to another door and set of windows in the southwestern corner of the chamber the team recognized as another control room for this particular sub-complex. They first checked the nearest door in the north wall and found beyond a medium sized room with odd appointments… what looked to be benches and armoires. Inside the armoire like enclosures, they found what appeared to be strange suits of armor with helmets that were fully enclosed with glass around the faces.

Space_Suits.png

    Lt. Diplo Norixius was the first to decide to try one on. The armor had an undergarment of odd construction, some sort of heavy cloth material of unknown type and origin, and with much struggling, frustration and assistance from his friends, Diplo manage to don it. The cuirass was surprising lightweight and strangely shaped, appearing to only cover the upper torso and leaving much of the midriff unprotected. It was adorned with odd greebling, ports and vents and symbols, one could only assume to be magical runes of some kind. The struggles continued, nothing working until Alton Beeblebrox suggested that they may have it on backwards, and then with a quick flip around the thing latched into place… mating perfectly with matching ports and connections on the undergarment. They then looked around, but did not find, anything resembling greaves, so it was decided that the armor must not include them.

    The helmet proved just as alien and frustrating. A large, dome-shaped monstrosity seemingly more of glass than of the strange metal that everything else in this complex was constructed, they finally discovered that the helmet actually didn’t sit directly on the head, instead being attached to a matching ring-shaped device built into the cuirass. After much fiddling, they figured out how to slide a small lip on the neck of the helmet into the neck-ring on the cuirass, twist it about 15 degrees, and then with a click and a whoosh and a flicker, the dome-helmet latched into place. The glass in front of Diplo’s face immediately sprung to life with light, forming symbols of alien design in front of his eyes that he discovered, if he did not focus on them directly but instead looked through the glass at the outer world as he would normally, they were perfectly in focus and legible… although he did not understand them. Illyia tried to decipher them from the outside-looking-in, found that it was an exceptionally arduous task, and then scrambled to get into one of the two remaining suits. Once safely inside and with his Crystal Monocle on underneath the helmet, he read out the various displays:

    “External Atmospheric Conditions, 96 centons, 1.3 rabs, 98% radums… Suit Diagnostics, nominal, 100% oxygen remaining, 95% battery remaining… IFF Transponder, automatic, 1200… Navigation, STBY… I have no idea what this means,” droned Illyia monotonously.

    Karraway donned the third suit, noting that while the suit fit Diplo fairly well, whomever these were built for must be quite tall, as the suits draped of Illyia and himself. With three of them suited up in the alien ‘armor’, the party then went to explore the larger room they came from, eventually heading toward the control room they saw in the southwest corner. Wary of their experience in the other large docking room on the lower level, the team set up something of an ambush at the bottom of the stair, and then Alarith Degries and Smedley “Deadly” Hampton eased their way inside the door to investigate. They found an identical room to the control room on the level below, and as expected a silvery-white egg-shaped construct floated out of the back alcove and approached them, making the same demands in the same alien language they had experienced before. The two retreated quickly and the construct followed, spewing the same white gas at them as during their previous encounter. The two reached the bottom of the short staircase post haste, and as the construct descended the team engaged it with everything they had. The fight was brief; the construct shocked several folks with its twin-pronged zapper, but was ultimately smashed to pieces by the seven Heroes and a pissed off grizzly. With a sigh of relief, the party realized that while these constructs were exceedingly dangerous and sturdy, they were not, in fact, invincible.

    They searched the remaining rooms and found virtually nothing different than they had found in the previous control room and docking hangar, save the three large, bird-like vehicles parked in this one. A short discussion ensued, and it was quickly decided that these interesting suits of armor should be tested… perhaps in the excruciating heat of the magma chamber below. They retraced their steps back to the magma chamber, and gathered just outside the door. It was decided that Diplo would be the guinea pig, and with that he entered the chamber fully clad in the alien armor.

    Some sort of meter in the helmet display immediately spiked up to the edge between a yellow and a red region, and an audible alarm beep start sounding itself at a slow, regular interval inside his ear; however, inside the suit the temperature remained at a comfortable level as he proceeded across the catwalk. The rest of the party observed him from the doorway, and when he made it to the central column of the construction in the middle of the chamber, he turned at mentioned over the Earring of Communication that he was perfectly fine. Illyia and Karraway proceeded to follow him out to the central ring of the walkway, and the rest of the party stayed in the hallway and wished they had cool new suits that protected them from the harsh environment of a caldera.

    In the center of the chamber, the catwalk encircled a massive metal column of unknown construction, that extended down and into the lava pool several hundred feet below. The column also extended far above their heads, and as they traced it upward with their eyes they saw a second set of similar catwalks above them, roughly at a height that would make sense for the upper level of the complex. The column was massive, nearly fifteen feet in diameter, and there were glass windows inset throughout its exterior, giving vision to a rhythmic, pulsating blue light that seemed to travel from below to above, up the inside of the column. There were metal panels that were inset into the surface of the column at regular intervals around the perimeter and even with the catwalk, but it was unclear how or even if they opened in some fashion. They observed and noted what they could, but being unable to open anything here, they proceed down the southern exit from the catwalk and through the door.

Main_Engineering.png

    There they found the first door opened into a small antechamber with another door beyond, which they opened by use of the glass panel beside it and entered into a huge roomed filled with alien machinery. The machines were massive and filled the giant room, and there were conduits thrumming with the same blue energy as the column in the magma chamber criss-crossing all over the room… into and out of the machines at various places. Illyia stepped back and tapped the glass panel that controlled the door into this room again, and when it sprang to back to life he read the titling at the top of the panel with the monocle, seeing a word in the alien language he actually understood… although this context was extremely strange to him:

    “Main Engineering”


1200, Mol, 16 Jo, 4E1

    What is this strange place the Heroes have discovered on Taboo Island? What other mysteries will their exploration reveal? How is it connected to the mysterious disappearing act of the Dread Isle?

    Tune in next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: Taboo Island
An alien environment.

0600, Sul, 15 Jo, 4E1

Mantru_Village.png

    The Heroes 4 Hire arose and prepped their gear for their coming exploration of the mysterious ‘Taboo Island’, located in the middle of the caldera lake beside which sat the sleepy village of the Mantru tribe. When they were properly fed and prepared, the tribesmen Fanu had arranged paddle the party out in two of their largest outrigger canoes, Rumblebelly following along the shore for a mile or so before wading in and swimming across the narrowest point to join them on the island. The tribesmen were understandably nervous, and dropped them off at the stone docks to the northwest corner of the island. Once fully assembled, they team climbed the ancient, overgrown stone steps to the temple entrance.

    The Heroes entered into the massive interior chamber of the ancient stone temple to find it had been used extensively as an encampment… a small village, actually… for a very long time by a number of people around fifty or so. Or at least at one time, for the village was long abandoned by the looks of things. Bedding and long-dead cooking fires were arranged around the chamber in small groups, and gendered bathhouses were discovered just off the main chamber. A short search revealed little in the way of clues as to what happened to the inhabitants, and even less of value. Another door opened to a long main corridor that continued deeper into the complex, and the team cautiously moved in to investigate.

    Thirty feet or so down the corridor, the stone gave way to metal… floors, walls and ceiling… of a type they could not identify. The hall was flanked by rows of doors and lit by a low-intensity, bluish light from the ceiling, and as they reached the first door they searched for a way to open it. The portal had no handle or hinges, and was made of the same smooth metal at the walls, inset ever so slightly as to denote the presence of the portal. Beside the portal they discovered a small panel at about waist height that was seemingly made of glass and embedded flush in the wall surface. After a short period of frustration searching for a way to open the door, Illyia Baham used his Wand of Opening to Knock it open. The metal panel-door slid quickly and smoothly aside into an invisible recess in the wall.

    Inside this first side chamber they found a metal room, sterile in its furnishings of a metal table the size of a bed with circular clamps in the middle of the edges and at one end, and a normal table against one wall with a compliment of strange, varied devices. As soon as they stepped into the room, the ceiling poured bright daylight into the chamber, pausing them a moment to wonder what caused it. Among the wondrous devices on the table they found a large glass cylinder capped on both ends by the same metal as the rest of the environment, and filled with a yellow, brackish liquid in which something was suspended motionlessly. Lt. Diplo Norixius investigated the cylinder at length before smashing it open to see what it was. The suspended article was a large, tadpole like creature nearly the size of a human palm, definitely dead, shelled in a purplish carapace and armed with two large pincers flanking a maw encircled with tiny tentacle-stubs. The team decided to put it back and stop touching the creepy thing, and used Mending to repair the glass cylinder.

Taboo_Island__Lower_Level.png

    The party checked the next room next door in similar fashion, and finding the same or less, continued down the hallway to the door at the very end. Illyia Knocked the door open to reveal a central corridor encircling a vertical shaft accessed by three doors spaced around it periphery. His last Knock for the day gained them access into an interior chamber, glass panels set like at all the other doors beside each of the three accesses, and they beset to opening and investigating a panel in the ceiling. They pried a panel off the ceiling and found more strange boxes, crystalline plates and other oddities, connected by a multitude of colored strings interconnecting almost everything. Unlike what they found inside the Stone Chief, these crystalline plates hummed rhythmically with pulsating light.

    They puzzled for awhile on these strange contraptions before giving up and continuing their search of the surrounding corridors. The team approached a door on the east side of the circular corridor, which slid aside quickly and effortlessly allowing them to proceed into another wing of the ‘Temple’. Unlike the first long corridor, the strange, glass panels inset in the walls aside the doors had symbols glowing within them. Illyia used his Crystal Monocle to interpret them, which proved to be mundane concepts associated with doors… “Locked”, “Unlocked”, “Press to Open” and the like. They searched down the wing, discovering sleeping quarters, common areas, a kitchen, freezer and storerooms dedicated to the garrisoning of a small-sized group of unknown humanoids.

    Down one long hall in the quarters wing, the party approached the end door noticing as they went the temperature of the air was steadily climbing. When they opened the door, they were surprised to find a natural chamber of stone and not more of the metal walls, floors and ceilings producing magical light from nowhere… the vertical pipe and volcanic vent over a magma pocket several hundred feet below. Extending out into the near-unbearable heat of the chamber was a metal catwalk leading to a scaffold surrounding a massive, alien machine, glowing bright blue from many places on its surface and thrumming-and-humming audibly over the constant rumble of the magma. The Heroes stood amazed for few moments, and then decided to find elsewhere to explore.

    They retraced their steps to the circular central hallway, and chose the southwestern door and hallway beyond to explore next. Sixty or seventy feet down this metal hallway they came to a large double-doors in the right hand wall, which slid open cleanly as they approached. It opened into a massive room that descended several steps down to a set of interior docks, and the western portion of the room was submerged before ending in a pair of massive pair of exterior doors, again made of the same metals and materials as the rest of the complex. Steps in the north and south walls led to small personnel-sized doors beside rows of windows overlooking the chamber. Half the party entered through the northern door to search the small room while the other half kept watch in the main chamber. As they searched, out of a storage niche in the back floated an egg-shaped construct nearly the size of a man, made of similar materials and construction as the rest of the complex they had encountered thus far.

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    The construct made a noise that sounded like language, although it was incomprehensible. Illyia cast Comprehend Languages as the construct repeated itself, “This is a Restricted Area. State your designation and purpose.” They stammered out a response, but when they saw narrow panels open on either side and metallic rods extend out, they decided it was time to leave. They retreated quickly outside the door of the small room and down the stairs, where they took up a fighting position as the construct pursued. They bashed the construct with hammers and swords and arrows and fist, but the construct sprayed out a foggy cloud of gas, and Alton Beeblebrox and Lt. Diplo Norixius immediately fell unconscious. The construct then pointed its two rod-arms, the right a single solid bar and the left tipped in two metal prongs about three inches apart, at the team and a bolt of lightning streaked out from the pronged rod shocking the party as they tried to retreat further. Karraway picked up Beeblebrox and Smedley “Deadly” Hampton had Rumblebelly drag Diplo back out into the corridor as the construct followed. The construct pressed the attacks with the lightning rod, until the party retreated even farther down the corridor in the direction in which they came, where it finally stopped at the large double-doors and appeared to be unwilling to continue past.

    The Heroes decided all that was enough for one day, and carried Diplo and Beeblebrox back to the large, stone temple chamber in which they had originally entered. They awoke a little under an hour later, but the whole team set up camp in that large chamber and secured the door leading to the metallic hallways of the complex. They ate, rested and slept the night, preparing for the next day’s exploration.


2200, Sul, 15 Jo, 4E1

    What other perils await the Heroes 4 Hire on Taboo Island? What other mysteries will their exploration reveal? What is this strange Temple?

    Find out next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: Village of the Mantru
The Stone Chief, and the Talking Chief

0800, Sar, 28 Milos, 4E1

    The Heroes 4 Hire arose early the next morning, gathered their things, said farewell to their new feline friends and departed to continue their survey of the greater interior of the Isle of Dread. They continued their circling path of survey until they reached the southwestern coastline, relatively near to the village of Tanaroa and its impending wall. There Illyia Baham used Sending to message the Sea Wyvern to come pick them up, and they party sailed out to one of the barrier islands to explore it before continuing farther north into the interior mountain ranges.

Sea_Wyvern_arriving_at_Dread_Isle.png

    The party explored a small, rocky atoll a few miles off the main island, where they discovered the nesting area of a group of griffons, where a short fight ensued as the beasts took offense at the Heroes trespassing. The party quickly drove them off as the griffons retreated to stay alive, and the team quickly searched the nests and found little of value. From there they continued along the spine of the atoll until coming to the northern tip, where the Sea Wyvern picked them up and took them to a more northern landing on the western shores of the main island.

    They landed on a small peninsular spit of land extending out into the surf from the range of mountains forming the western rampart, where a large river form an estuarial delta. From there, they traveled upriver, mapping as they went, surrounded on all sides by the imposing vertices of the mountains of the interior. The river eventually forked in a triple-branch, and there they followed the southeastern most branch farther up into the interior along the southern mountain range. When they reached the river head several score of miles into the interior, they climbed up the southern mountain and doubled back, observing their previous path from atop the range.

    Halfway back along the southern ridges, the Heroes discovered the mountain path they were told about by both the Neanderthals and the Rakastas, the very footpath that led to the rope bridge, the Central Plateau and eventually to the village of the Mantru. Excitedly, the Heroes turned and followed it.


Wir, 11 Jo, 4E1

    They reached the fabled rope bridge in short order. After a few shaky tests, the Heroes decided the bridge to be in good and sturdy repair, and began to cross. As they reached the halfway point, well over 100’ down to the riverbed in the gorge below, the party spied a flock of flying creatures approaching, a flock that quickly revealed themselves to be nine Pteranodons moving to attack them. Lt. Diplo Norixius and Smedley “Deadly” Hampton quickly took to the air upon his Giant Eagle steed, engaging the flying dinosaurs in close-in aerial combat, while the rest of the party ranged the creatures from the bridge. The team quickly dealt enough killing blows and wounds that the few surviving Pteranodons retreated, but in the midst of the fight Diplo attempted to toss the Immovable 10’ Pole to Adept Karraway, who promptly fumbled the catch and the pole fell from the bridge into the gorge below.

Rope_Bridge.png

    Diplo immediately dove the Giant Eagle steeply into river gorge in pursuit of the plummeting Immovable 10’ Pole. The speed of the Steed held true, and Smedley was able to snag the magic item from the air; however, when Diplo hauled back on the reigns and the Eagle tried to pull out of the ensuing dive, the trio quickly ran out of altitude and slammed belly-first into floor of the gorge. The crashing damage immediately dispelled the Steed, sending Diplo and Smedley rolling and sprawling across the rocks and underbrush. Banged up and bruised, the two lay there for a moment making sure nothing worse was broken, and then Smedley raised his arm in victory, still gripping the Immovable 10’ Pole in pristine order. The two then got up and dusted themselves off.

    Illyia made a few trips via Dimension Door and returned Diplo and Smedley to the bridge, and with more caution the party finished crossing the gorge to the fabled Central Plateau of the Dread Isle. The plateau was a high steppe covered mostly in grasslands interspersed with temperate evergreen forests rooted in rich volcanic soil. Central in the nearly 30-mile diameter plateau stood a towering mountain peak oddly chopped off flat many thousands of feet above the plateau itself. The Heroes set off exploring and surveying the plateau in a clockwise manner, first tracing the edge of the plateau from the bridge westward several miles before they came to the waterfall that fed the center branch of the three-way fork they found below. They turned inland to follow the river upstream nine miles, where they came across a fork where they turned to follow the right-hand fork around a small forest and continue eastward. The river swung around the central spire counterclockwise east and then bending around northward, before they came to the head of the river collecting itself from the eastern side of the central spire-mountain.

Central_Plateau.png


Far, 13 Jo, 4E1

    The Heroes camped the night at the base of the central mountain, and in the morning they scaled the near-vertical mountain wall for half the day before reaching the upper rim. Nearly 14,000’ of altitude, the freezing temperatures and thin air revealed an interior caldera 5,000’ below filled partly with a lake and a small cinder-cone island in the middle mostly covered with a jungle canopy. They also spied on the far western edge of the lake was a small primitive village, supposedly the fabled village of the Mantru.

    The party descended the interior face of the mountain wall, which was considerably easier and faster than ascending the exterior. They circled the southern edge of the interior lake and approached the village from the south. A timber stockade encircled the village, and a small band of warriors exited out the stockade gate to come meet the party. They were cautious at first, warning the party to halt their advance on the village until they had ascertained their purpose, and after a short conversation they sent a runner to fetch the ‘Talking Chief’ who came to meet them. After another short and polite conversation, Fano the Talking Chief invited them into the village to meet the Mantru people. The Mantru held a feast in honor of their arrival, and the Heroes enjoyed the evening learning the customs of a new people. They shared their mission with the villagers, as well as some of their adventures during their survey of the interior, and discovered that while they very much appeared to be a relative of the Tanaroans, they had no knowledge of their southern cousins nor anything south of the Tar Pits. At the end of the evening, the Mantru opened their huts to the Heroes to sleep for the night.


Sar, 14 Jo, 4E1

    The next day as the Heroes explored the village and enjoyed the villagers, they asked Fano about the island in the middle of the lake, and if they could borrow any of their outrigger canoes to go visit it. Fano explained that to visit the island was a taboo, but he would consult with the Stone Chief and let them know what he decided. They questioned him further about this situation of a ‘Stone Chief’ and a ‘Talking Chief’, and Fano described the Stone Chief to them, where Fano as Talking Chief receives and interprets the Stone Chief’s wisdom and decisions to implement for the Mantru. The party asked to meet the Stone Chief, and Fano agreed, telling them that it has actually been many, many moons since the Stone Chief had spoken. He was very concerned about the Stone Chief’s silence, and the team offered to investigate and see if they could help.

Stone_Chief.png

    Fano took them out to one of the largest huts that stood on piles sticking out of the water a few yards offshore. Inside, they found a slightly larger than man-sized stone totem, a stylized representation of an elderly villager. The Stone Chief appeared to be a single solid slab of carved granite, save a single hole recessing the interior of his partially opened mouth. They investigated the totem, curiously finding no tool marks in the worked stone, and raising some baffling questions on how the stone was carved. In the back of the totem’s “head”, Illyia discovered a panel made of an unidentifiable metal, but he could not figure how or if it could be removed. He last tried his Wand of Opening, and the panel opped off into his hand.

    What he found inside the rectangular space behind the panel was even more baffling. Inside he found several rectangular objects, some nearly paper thin, some the thickness of several coins, mounted, covered in strange indecipherable markings and connected with strangely colored strings. Several of the rectangular plates were transparent, as if made of some sort of crystal. He cast Identify on the contraptions, but nothing availed. He used his Crystal Monocle and read the strange inscriptions, but while he understood the words, he did not comprehend the meaning.

    “Opterix SI-100 Optical Camera”

    “1.5mA Analog Speaker”

    “5.3THz Transmitter Receiver Assembly”

    The Heroes convinced Fano that they to truly see if they could help the Stone Chief, they would need to visit “Taboo Island”. He told them that the last time the Stone Chief spoke was many months ago, to command that five villagers be sent to Taboo Island, and then went silent. The villagers were chosen and sent, three men and two women… and it was well known that no one ever returned from Taboo Island. The villagers believed those sent lived their lives out in service of the Stone Chief’s family. Fano arranged for two outriggers to take them out to Taboo Island in the morning and drop them off, and with that the team returned with Fano to the shore and the village for the evening.


2200, Sar, 14 Jo, 4E1

    What is this strange device embedded in the Stone Chief’s head, and what is it’s purpose? What fate awaits those that visit the Taboo Island? What will the Heroes find there?

    Tune in next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: Feline Follies
A Race with Teeth!

0800, Far, 27 Milos, 4E1

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    The Heroes 4 Hire awoke the next morning and enjoyed a delicious breakfast with the Rakastas tribe in preparation of the ‘race’ to collect a tiger cub. Ahdani, the tribal leader, informed them that the teams were limited to three (simply because the Rakastas were only sending three), and the Heroes quickly decided that Illyia Baham, Smedley “Deadly” Hampton and Alton Beeblebrox would be their three contestants. Karraway, Alarith Degries and Lt. Diplo Norixius would stay behind in the encampment, with Diplo scouring the Rakastas for any recipes he could learn. Once things were set, the two teams met at the edge of the encampment to start, and the Team observed the three Rakastas had changed from their usual, colorful and flowing silk robes into form fitting leathers, each with a small rucksack secured to their back, and a net rolled up like a bedroll attached underneath. Ahdani noticed the three Heroes did not have any such nets, and bade the Rakastas team to give them their spares.

    And with that, the race was begun. The Rakastas team departed southeast, and at an incredible pace. They disappeared into the jungle treeline in moments. Illyia took thirty seconds to cast Longstrider on each of them, boosting their base speed, and the Heroes departed due south, following the directions to the escarpment Ahdani had provided. They traveled south for about half an hour, over the jungle-covered rocks and crags, until they shortly came upon a small river the had cut a narrow, shallow ravine into the earth, running east-west and just wide and deep enough to be an obstacle. As they surveyed the situation, they spotted a well-maintained rope bridge a few hundred yards to their east, and turned to go cross it.

    As the reach the far side of the bridge single-file, one of the Rakastas from the other team approached them rapidly from the south out of the jungle, covered in dust and looking panicked. He quickly told them of a natural cave-tunnel they regularly use as a shortcut to bypass a large part of the rocky terrain, and that a portion of the tunnel had caved in on them as they were passing through. He also stated his companions were trapped underneath and he needed help to get them out of danger. The Heroes cautiously agreed.

    The Rakastas took off at a blistering pace, and the Heroes sprinted to keep up, slowly losing ground to the speed of the cat-man. The way led down into a natural channel cut out of a bit of rising terrain, the bottom of which led to a cave opening. The Rakastas charged in without hesitation, and other than noting the jungle surroundings and a vine hanging aside the tunnel entrance, the Team charged in after him. The natural tunnel ran more than fifty feet into the hillside before it turned sharply left. It ran another thirty feet or so before they found the Rakastas stopped in front of an unpassable wall of rock. In a panic to get to his friends, he blurted something about reaching them from the other side and they must hurry, before scampering past them again and back out the way they came. The Heroes heeled around to give chase again.

    The Team reached the mouth of the tunnel just soon enough to see the Rakastas’ tail disappearing up jungle vine that had been hung beside the entrance. The ran out into the channel approach to the entrance, and discovered a leaf-encrusted net had been strung across the opening, effectively corralling them in the giant ditch until they could scale the sheer thirty-foot walls… which would take time. The Rakastas, and his two friends, were atop the lip of the channel laughing and pointing, their prank successfully executed. The jungle vine had been hauled up out of the channel as well.

    Illyia grabbed Beeblebrox and used Dimension Door to teleport to the other side of the net… a move that instantly brought the Rakastas’ laughter to an immediate and screeching halt. They said something in a language the Heroes did not understand… probably a native curse word… and then turned and were off like a shot again heading south toward the tigers. The net-prank took about 5 seconds to get Smedley free of as well, and then the Heroes were off after them and the race back afoot.


0900, Far, 27 Milos, 4E1

    Another half hour brought the Team to the edge of the Tar Pits and the escarpment, complete with the signature rocky promontory sticking out of the top. There were roughly twenty dens and warrens gouged out of the base, roughly in a semi-circle on the north side facing the jungle and away from the hot and bubbling tar. The Heroes picked the farthest den to the east, and began a systematic search for a whelping tigress. The search was short lived, discovering the first den empty but the second occupied, and the three began to formulate a quick plan of action to abscond with the tigress’s cub.

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    Illyia cast Invisibility on himself and stealthily approached the den, only to be surprised when the slumbering mother roused and started sniffing the air… obviously on to his scent. Realizing he hadn’t thought of that, Illyia quickly recalculated a backup plan, and cast Sleep on the cats, putting the cub to sleep but the mother staying wide awake. And now that he was visible, she charged him, which he attempted to Color Spray her blind. The mother-tiger resisted the spell, and several hundred pounds of pissed-off tiger blitzed toward him.

    Alton used the rapier Smedley had given him to cast Haste on himself, and then sprinted in a flash of movement past Illyia and the tiger and grabbed the sleeping cub up off the warren floor. He then heeled around and dashed back out of the den and north toward the jungle. Illyia cast Fog Cloud to obfuscate Alton’s retreat with the abducted cub, and give the tiger another problem. Illyia then threw the net the Rakastas had loaned him blindly in the fog enveloping him, having no idea if it had any effect of the tigress.

    Smedley, also aided by a Haste enchantment, as well as Illyia, retreated north into the jungle as fast as they could, performing several careful handoffs of the sleeping cub as they ran from the pursuing mother, giving the entire chase the feeling of a game of rugby. As the Haste wore off and the lethargy overtook them, they were forced to seek refuge up a tall jungle tree, and as the mother-tiger reach the base Alton activated his Winged Boots and flew with Smedley hanging on ahead and out of range of the tiger, and catching up with Illyia and the cub. Once safe from the mother, they ran back to camp where they found, much to their dismay, that one of the Rakastas had already returned with a cub. Another half an hour brought the other two Rakastas home, and with that the race was over and the Heroes had lost.


2000, Far, 27 Milos, 4E1

    Diplo spent the rest of the afternoon cooking a feast for the entire tribe as well as the Heroes, in accordance with the gentlemanly wager they had made with the Rakastas. The meal was delicious and the conversation as boisterous. There was dancing and music and revelry, and the party was informed that the net-prank was a ‘rite of initiation’ that the tribe pulled on every young Rakastas when they went on their first cub-gathering, which with such a small tribe did not happen very often. In the same spirit in which the prank had been executed, Illyia brought out his stash of catnip, and much smoking ensued.


2200, Far, 27 Milos, 4E1

    What other adventures await the Heroes 4 Hire on the Isle of Dread? What other mysteries will their survey reveal? Where will they choose to explore next?

    Find out next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: Surveying the Interior
Lizardfolk, Neanderthals, Rakastas and Phanatons

Zor, 5 Milos, 4E1

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    The Heroes 4 Hire departed at dawn with their guide north of the wall and along the trail to the inland tar pits. Two days brought them to the pits, where the guide left them to return to Tanaroa village. They camped the night under a shooting star and then headed east from the pits, across tropical swamps until they reach the foothills of a range of coastal mountains running north and south. There they turned north to continue surveying the interior, following the face of the mountain range.


Mol, 9 Milos, 4E1

    About midday on their 5th day in the wilderness, the Team happened upon a cave housing a tribe of Lizardfolk, and Smedley “Deadly” Hampton entered to attempt to open a friendly dialogue with them. Instead, the tribe immediately sounded the alarm, grabbed weapons and rushed out to defend their lair. A brutal melee ensued, but the tribe proved no match for the adventurers. After wiping them out to the last, the Heroes looted their cave-home and continued north along the face of the mountains.

    The following night was greeted with an Aurora Borealis, and the party continued surveying north-by-northwest until the range turned them west, and several more days travel the foothills turn more and more cave-riddled. A few more days later and the range turned again to the south-west, and the foothills dropped them down into dense jungle. The pace did not slow, however, and over more days of travel they returned to the coastal areas in the extreme south-west they had previously explored just as they observed the Wanderers Gather, and then turned east into new terrain.


Wir, 18 Milos, 4E1

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    As the party explored eastward, the jungle turned craggy and rough as they approach two volcanoes set about ten miles apart north-south. They continued into the region between them and happened upon a troop of baboons residing in a network of small caves, and decided to leave them well enough alone. They continued east back down into the jungle marshlands, the next day coming across the other end of the Tar Pits and seeing a group of the “Walking Elders” from the Tanaroan village carrying buckets of tar southbound toward the Great Wall.


Sar, 21 Milos, 4E1

    Farther east they discovered the southern tip of a large lake and turned north-northeast to follow its western shoreline. When they were considering making camp for the evening, they spotted a hunting party of Neanderthals ahead who approached the lake’s edge from the jungle canopy, obviously with the same thing in mind. Illyia Baham approached the cavemen peacefully, made conversation, and found them to be cautious but friendly. The Heroes camped with the Neanderthals for the evening, enjoying pleasant, albeit simple, conversation, and finding out a bevy of information about the residents of the islands interior.

    The Neanderthals’ village lie a day’s walk to the north. There are a tribe of flying-squirrel-like creatures known as the Phanatons to the southwest of their village, who are friendly although very skittish, and they live in the trees. There are also a nomadic tribe of cat-people who ride tigers and live in cloth-caves, who are also friendly and like to trade. When asked about the Tanaroans to the south, the Neanderthals did not know who they were, but instead asked if the Heroes were referring to the Mantru, another tribe of men that sounded similar, who lived up on the high central plateau to the north of their village, deep in the mountains of the interior.

    The Lizards-that-walk-like-men were their sworn enemy, especially their ‘God’. Also, the Neaderthals described a small group of giant, intelligent spiders that lived across the mountain range to the northeast. The party recognized the description as the ‘Araneas’ they were told of by Yupan of the Hawk in Panitube.


Mol, 23 Milos, 4E1

    The next morning they bid the Neanderthals farewell as they hefted their game to return to their village, and the Team continued surveying along the water’s edge northeast before turning north again. At dusk that evening, they spotted in the distance a dragon on the horizon to their east, flying from south-to-north, over the mountain ranges. The dragon was too far to discern its color or disposition. On the second day since their meeting, the Heroes found the Neaderthals’ village… cave dwellings decorated with simple cave-paintings on the walls… depicting many ‘historic’ events… including wars with the Lizardfolk and their ‘God’, a great winged beast the Neaderthals simply referred to as ‘The Green One’.

    The party also found out there was a trail up through the mountain range to the north, leading to the great central plateau, and ultimately, to the Mantru. The trail ended in a long rope bridge suspended high above a deep river-gorge that crossed to the plateau proper. The Neaderthals’ description seemed fairly easy to find, although they did warn that it was a tough journey of mountaineering and the bridge could be fairly dangerous in a high wind. Inland of the plateau was described as mostly grasslands and some forest, with a large central and ancient volcano. The caldera had partially filled with water, and the village of the Mantru lie on a beach at the water’s edge inside the caldera.


Zor, 26 Milos, 4E1

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    The Heroes departed the next day and continued their survey southwest out of the cave-riddled foothills back into the jungle. They explored a day south-west and then turned two-days east into interior hills, where they came upon the Rakastas encampment… a group of silken tents and deadwood enclosures thatched in palm fronds and leather awnings. They approached cautiously and peacefully, fully aware of the sounds of tigers coming from within the enclosures. The Rakastas were as the Neaderthals describe, bipedal cats dressed in metals, jewels and silken robes. The Rakastas greeted them warmly and invited them into a central pavilion of the same construction as the tiger-enclosures, and they sat on plush cushions perched atop silk-and-fur carpets.

    The Heroes found the Rakastas to be friendly, even though a bit odd. They found the Rakastas reputation for barter to hold true. The tones of the conversation quickly become more and more friendly, and the evening ended with an invitation to stay the night… and a challenge to a bit of sport the next day.

    The Rakastas highly prized tiger cubs, and they knew of several streaks that had recently whelped nearby. The Rakastas were sending out a party the next morning to collect a cub or two, and the entire endeavor was considered a rite of passage. The challenge that was offered to the Heroes was to participate in the abduction of a tiger cub, without harming the adults, and being the first to return to the encampment. The Rakastas would field a team, and the Heroes would be another team. The Heroes wholeheartedly accepted and gentlemanly wagers were made, before turning in for the evening in the comfortable hospitality of the encampent.


2200, Zor, 26 Milos, 4E1

    Can the Hereos successfully capture a tiger cub without hurting… or getting hurt by… its mother? Will they return to the Rakastas encampment first to win the challenge? What new adventures will they encounter as they continue their survey of the Isle of Dread?

    Tune in next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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The Dread Isle: Land of the Lost
Return to Tanaroa

Zol, 10 Febryan, 4E1

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    The Heroes 4 Hire settled in for an extended and well-deserved period of downtime, comfortably in their homestead of Half Point in Eridae. They trained with their guild membership, oversaw the maintenance and operations of their businesses and holdings, saw to their guests and their stables and took care of their staff. Illyia Baham and Alyn Quinn spent copious amounts of time in each others’ company, and Alarith Degries tried her hand at the Rogue’s Den challenge… finding herself far unprepared for the challenge. After a few days, Alton Beeblebrox departed for Misthollow to find an old barbarian chieftain that had learned civility and settled there, to ask him to be his training master. It would be the better part of a month before Beeblebrox returned to Half Point.


Far, 13 Maros, 4E1

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    A few days later, Lt. Diplo Norixius traveled to Hellespont to seek counsel from Father Tristan, and together they supplicated via a Divination ritual to Bahamut for insight and guidance as to the final disposition of the the Dark Priest, Lord Daemonne. Cryptic as always, Bahamut’s answers left him uneasy, although he did receive confirmation that Daemonne was, in fact, destroyed. He stayed a week in Hellespont, visited friends there and continued meditation and prayer, before heading back home.


Sul, 22 Maros, 4E1

    They day after Diplo returned, the team packed up their adventuring gear and traveled the day’s journey south to the port town of Anchorhead, leaving Dajjal back at Half Point to continue his personal studies. There they met with Master Kozar Ven at the Falconer’s Spire, as well as inquired as to the Sea Wyvern’s whereabouts at the Harbormaster’s House, all in preparation of their decided return to the Dread Isle to fulfill their contract with “Ven and Hellen, Ltd.” The Sea Wyvern was currently at sea serving another contract, and was not expect to return for nearly three weeks. The Heroes took up their usual residence at the Onyx Fountain Inn to await their ship. In the interim, they tended to errands and shopped, commissioned custom gear crafted and enjoyed the Anchorhead social entertainment, particularly the rather boisterous Vernal Equinox Festival.


Mol, 16 Ayre, 4E1

    The Sea Wyvern sailed back into the Port of Anchorhead about midday, and Captain Isabeau Larouche’s cabin boy, Caleb, found the Heroes shortly afterwards to let them know the captain had received their request and would be ready to depart in a week’s time, after she had rested her crew with a week of shore leave. The Team thanked Caleb and returned an acknowledgement with him, and then closed the loop with Master Ven to keep informed of the intended timetable. Ven had no objections.


Zol, 24 Ayre, 4E1

    The Sea Wyvern, loaded to the brim with the Heroes 4 Hire, their gear, supplies and trade goods, departed Anchorhead headed southbound into the Dormic Ocean toward the mysterious Dread Isle. They paid the traditional respects to “Shargon’s Talon” and “The Emperor” as they passed them in the bay, ‘ensuring’ fair winds and good luck on the high seas during their journey. The Wyvern sailed a week south before reaching their desired coordinate to await sundown. And without disappointment, the island appeared in a flash just as the last sliver of sunset dipped below the horizon, and along with it came the 30’-high rogue wave the crew had wisely oriented the ship in preparation to safely ride out.

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Mol, 2 Milos, 4E1

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    The Wyvern parked a short distance offshore, and the Heroes 4 Hire went ashore with copious amounts of gear, supplies and trade goods. They received a warm ‘welcome back’ to the village of Tanaroa (proper), where they found a few new babies in the tribe, as well as a few of the elderly they had met the last trip dearly departed. Of course, with the Tanaroan religion of {the Cult of} the Walking Dead, the ‘dearly departed’ are not always, permanently, departed.

    The party spent the next two days visiting with the Tanaroans, negotiating trade and describing their intentions north of the wall and across the wider island. They inquired about locations and denizens they might find in the interior of the island, and to the possibility of a guide to lead them. They found the Tanaroans only went north of the wall to retrieve fresh tar from the tar pits, and other than those pits they really were fairly uninformed as to the rest of the island’s geography and residents. However, a guide was available to take them that far, but no farther.

    And with a guide, although temporary, negotiated in hand, the Heroes 4 Hire finalized their preparations and went to bed in anticipation of their morning departure into the interior of the Dread Isle.

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Wir, 4 Milos, 4E1

    What adventures await the Heroes north of the Great Wall? What mysteries will they uncover as they survey the wider Isle? What new fortunes will beset the team?

    Find out next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

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