Thursday, 30 April 2015

Campaign Journal: AS&SH The Anthropophagi of Xamboola (Session 3)

SPOILER ALERT: This journal is extracted from an unpublished and upcoming Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea adventure I am currently completing. This account eventuates from the playtest. You have been warned!

Visitors to the desert-city of Xamboola beware! Demoniacal cachinnations and dull totemic drumbeats sound nocturnal from the outskirts of the city. Too, vile shrieks echo in response to the nightmarish noises, making even those of heroic aspect shudder in repulsion. Residents do not tarry to lock themselves in their homes at night, for something sinister lingers in the fringes of the black of night. Whisperings and warnings intimate that foreign guests residing at the inn of one Aramis D’athak oft disappear at night, never to be seen or heard from again. Where they disappear is not known, nor do the people of Xamboola speak of the hellish noises that darken their oasis city in the gloom of night.


Session 3: An Unholy Feasting

The Party

Sint the Pict Ranger (Level 1)
Heron the Kimmerian Druid (Level 1)
Moloch the Male Ixian Witch (Level 1)
Grimnear Hothgar the Viking Berserker (Level 1)
Estorane the Ixian Thief (Level 2; Hireling)


Part I: Of Fire & Blood

Outside the tall, iron-bound doors stood the wanderers. With some caution they approached the door testing it. It was locked. Although the thief and witchy locksmith tested their mettle against it, there was no prevail. Deliberating the best course of action a consensus was reached to scout the outside of the building. Teaming up, Heron and Grimnear found a hidden tunnel in the side of the sand-covered palace ruin.

After digging away at the shifting desert sands, and wriggling within a strangely wormy tunnel, the intruders followed the passage for twenty feet to a seeming dead-end. Using muscular force a stone block was pushed out of the dead-end, falling into a corridor within the palace. It did not appear as anyone within (whoever that may be) had heard the noise (though it was loud), and the wary adventurers climbed out of the tunnel and into the palace.

No sooner had they leapt from the tunnel than horrid and unspeakable noises emanated from behind a nearby door. Shrieks and pleas could be discerned, it was the sound of human suffering. Without much pause the huge Viking shoved open the door, lunging into a large room. The others followed without hesitation. The sight was abhorrent to all sensibilities of morality and goodness. Two men were trussed up as pigs, being spit roasted, while four enthralled cannibals, lustful for the taste of mankind tore greedily at their skin, shoving bits of the still-alive men into their mouths as the victims screamed and writhed upon the burning flame. Two women and a girl were also trussed up, though they had not yet been set afire. The walls and floor of the room were slick with blood and blasphemous symbols drawn in red. A large table on one end of the room held a human carcass, gnawed at by vermin and flies. Two priestly characters watched the uncouth and uninhibited anthropophagi scoff their morsels with gusto.

Bewildered, the cannibals did not initially notice the intruders as magic was woven, and naked iron drew blood. One priest fell prey to the Ixian's occult magic while another was dashed to pieces by the Viking's relentless blows. Estorane and Sint released a hail of arrows, while Heron's weapon clove at the feasting and naked savages. When it was all over, Heron had fallen, though was not yet dead. The poor trussed-up men were dead, burnt alive in the flames.The women and child thankfully remained unhurt albeit traumatised. After the rescue and after wiping the blood from their feet, the group returned to Xamboola.

Part II: Xamboolan Intrigue & Purple Death

Back in Xamboola Heron slept. The Eel was hired that night and the following day for the princely sum of 1 gold piece. This enabled the rescued females to sleep, and Heron to recuperate from the trauma of mortal combat. Meanwhile it was ascertained a sum of 50 gold pieces was owed the Thieves Grotto for their help in the temple ordeal. Destitute, that sort of sum was far too hefty for the collective adventurers to pay, and Estorane refused to pay a single copper, blaming the party for the foolish temple slaughter.

The thieves suggested the party could eradicate their debt by completing a simple task for them: murdering the high priest of Helios. The rivalry between the Grotto and the Temple was at its pinnacle; after the recent temple slaughter the final barrier to harmony was the removal of the arrogant high priest. "We'll think about it" was the reply offered to the thieves. The general consensus was pillaging the ruined palace should yield the required fortune to clear all debts. They did not wish to run afoul of the law again!

Returning via the secret route the party returned to the palace. This time it was decided to investigate the other portion of the palace left unexplored in the previous venture. Happening upon an open courtyard exposed to the elements the party spread out. They examined a ruinous stable, finding nothing but a rotted trunk and shattered pottery. In the courtyard were strange and eerie mosaics upon the walls. Heron listened at a closed door while the others examined a staircase and the mosaics. Creepers and vines partially engulfed the north-western wall. Searching through these vines Grimnear awoke a florid-purple mushrooming creature. It's three tentacles dripped a rotting and deathly substance and Grimnear fought to dodge from it. The other rushed in to assist him.The Ixian Witch again wove his slumberous threads. The Viking gods smiled upon Grimnear as he dodged and parried. It was over almost as soon as it begun, the perplexing creature destroyed. The lethal creature had been expeditiously bested. Both Moloch and Grimnear clawed through the vines again discovering two skeletal figures within the undergrowth. Grimnear pried a bow and quiver from one, while Moloch fingered through the other corpse's vest finding a ring and a plain stone. He pocketed the stone and adorned the ring, feeling unusually lucky. 

Part III: The Glass Pane

Hearing nothing at the door in the corridor Heron called the rest of the group to explore it. Walking the hall they determined it to be ominously quiet. Pushing open a door, six hungry cannibals set upon them without warning, wildly slashing at the explorers, attempting to slaughter them without abandon and desperate to feast upon them. Moloch attempted to invoke his magic but alas, the rushing cannibals avoided the full effects, with only three of their number dropping. The others hacked and bit and spat at the adventurers, while the adventurers loosed all their resources destroying them. The fighting was in close quarters and the unrelenting violence of two cannibals brought Heron again to unconsciousness. Moloch slaughtered those bewitched by his magic, slashing their throats as they slept. The rest of the party butchered the remainder.


When back in town Moloch had wisely purchased some desert spirits, and when the battle had subsided he poured the fiery liquid into Heron's throat startling him into consciousness. The room was searched and underneath two Grecian recliners Sint discovered an intricate and breathtakingly beautiful glass pane, chased in bronze. Magic, he succumbed to its affects, yearning for his homeland as he gazed nostalgically at the piece. He began weeping softly, entirely uncharacteristic for the usually emotionless Ranger. The fierce Viking snatched the glass from Sint's fingers, but as he caught sight of the beauty he began to weep too, only more fiercely. It was thereafter decided the damn thing was cursed. "Let's sell it and pay our debts!"

Unlucky Heron returned again to Xamboola to recover from his grievous wounds, while Sint, Moloch and Grimnear sought the wisdom of the desert theosophist who looked so much like a fish-man. Paying him a sagely fee he examined their plunder for esoteric properties, determining the bow, arrows and the strange stone held such things. Back in Xamboola the thieves were paid 50 gp from the palace plunder, cancelling all debts. From their legendary exploits the adventurers were even able to pocket some jangling coins in their purses. Studious, Moloch read the theosophist's scrawling parchment, gaining an unfathomable insight into the incomprehensible realms beyond Hyperborea. Giggling with slight otherworldly lunacy, he had learnt a new spell from his arcane delving...

Adventure Rewards

500 xp for saving the victims
240 xp for defeating 10 cannibals
240 xp for defeating two snake-like priests
101 xp for defeating Violet Fungi
100 xp for exquisite glass treasure
90 xp for jadestone ring

254 xp each

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