Insight's "The Isle of Dread" - Chapter One




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    Insight's "The Isle of Dread" - Chapter One



    WELCOME TO

    THE ISLE OF DREAD


    ***

    This is the "in-character" (IC) thread for my "Isle of Dread" adventure. Please keep all "out-of-character" (OOC) discussions for the appropriate thread - although short OOC discussions may be OK from time to time for better comprehension of what's going on.


    Specularum is the largest city in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, with a population of around 50,000 people (and yes, this includes half-orcs). Built just west of the point where the Highreach River meets the sea, Specularum is a trade center with a deep harbor, ample accomodations for tradesmen and other visitors, and most of the normal comforts of civilized cities. Surrounding the city are the farmlands of the Estate of Marilenev and the lands of Baron Vorloi to the southeast. Specularum is ruled, through subordinates, by Duke Stefan Karamaeikos III. The Merchants' Guild, the Church, and the wealthy families of the Radu, Torenescu, and Vorloi clans also hold political power within Specularum.

    The most common access to the city of Specularum is, of course, by port. The port is protected on the seaward side by two long breakwaters. The Highreach River, east of the city, allows ships to carry cargo inland to other towns of the Grand Duchy. There are also overland routes from Specularum to other parts of the continent, but these are infrequently used, as bandits and evil humanoids are rife in the areas around Specularum.

    The Duke has erected a wall around the city. The wall is dotted with 24 stout towers, from which the guards overlook the lands north, east, and west of Specularum. The Duke's castle sits on a craggy hill overlooking the harbor. In the city, Duke Stefan keeps 500 soldiers ready for any emergency. The Elvenguard, the Duke's elite cadre of elven warriors, goes on special missions and sometimes acts as the Duke's personal bodyguard. The Elvenguard also patrols the most commonly traveled road heading north out of Specularum. Just south of the castle is the Duke's private estate.

    Specularum is a crowded, noisy, and unsanitary place. The roads are narrow and buildings are in various states of disrepair. Except for trenches in the centers of streets, there is no sewage system. Pigs, chicken, geese, and goats are not uncommon sights in the poorer sections of the city. Most buildings stand one or two stories and are made of clay or brick, constructed on a wooden frame. Most businesses are on the ground floor, with the owners living upstairs. Water is drawn from public wells or from the river when the tide is flowing out. Crime is fairly rampant and gangs tend to rule Specularum's streets after dark. The city watch patrols only the wealthier sections of the city, leaving the poorer sections to the gangs.

    ***

    Our heroes have just arrived in Specularum from adventuring elsewhere in the Known World. The heroes have, at one time or another, been to this city, but have not been all that anxious to return. For whatever reason, however, the most important port in the Known World has its draws and you all find yourselves in Specularum once again.

    On your prior adventure, among the many treasures you discovered was an urn containing several apparently blank sheets of fine vellum. One of you decided that it would be wise to take this vellum and see if it can be used for some purpose, perhaps to pen scrollls or perhaps make a map.

    During the trip to Specularum, however, your group ran afoul of a sudden and violent rainstorm. During this event, the vellum pages got wet. An enterprising hero used magical fire to dry out the vellum. When the pages were dry, words began to appear on the pages.

    Here is what you found once the pages were arranged in proper order:

    THE JOURNAL OF RORY BARBAROSSA (PARTIAL)
    This journal consists of several pages of vellum that you came upon in your last adventure. The writing on these pages was only revealed after the vellum pages were exposed to a peculiar mix of rain water and the heat of Delver's Fire (to dry the pages). Only once dried did the pages reveal this seemingly lost writing...

    978 Svift 6: The vicious gale finally ended. The Luss. happened upon an unknown island. I have named this place "Haven". Capt. Roundbottom declared that we were a week due south of mainland. The maps are a total loss. I tried to get our last known coordinates to agree with our likely current position. I explained to Roundbottom that the Luss. was at least two weeks out of Spec. He refuses to listen. Typical.

    What we can agree on is that the Luss. is in the Thanegioth Arch. Following the storm, we are to spend several days patching the rigging and sails. Men are sent ashore to forage for supplies.

    978 Svift 8: We sailed from Haven towards more unknown islands. The lookouts have seen no inhabitants but parrots and monkeys. Capt. Roundbottom has declared that we should map these islands. His uncle is something of a collector of maritime maps and will pay us a fine sum when we get back to Spec. Of course, given my predilection for maps and navigation, this task has fallen into my capable hands.

    978 Svift 10: The Luss. sailed two more unknown islands. We have spent the last few days mapping and charting "North Farshore Island" and "South Farshore Island". Nothing remarkable about these places. Capt. Roundbottom wishes us to search for rare woods, spices, and fruits to take back to the mainland. I told Roundbottom that we could cage some of the parrots and monkeys, but he does not like the idea.

    978 Svift 11: We came upon a large natural harbor on a larger island I have named "Lussitania", after our ship. We are to spend the night on this island and forage for further supplies. Everything the Luss. brought with her from Spec. has run out. I advised against eating monkey meat. The sailors found some star-shaped fruit. It seems edible. We will need to find something more sustaining and soon.

    Markos brought back to the ship a strange, wooden idol. He says he found it in what appeared to be a very old camp of some kind on the south shore of the island. None of us could identify its origin. It appears reptillian in nature. Roundbottom has taken it to his cabin for "safe-keeping".

    978 Svift 14: Lussitania is mapped and charted and so off we sail further west. The men are hungry and in dire need of fresh water. They have tried boiling the ocean water, but this is only drying them out. The fruit is also running out. Rum is running out. Capt. Roundbottom has been holed up in his cabin and refuses to come out. There is talk of mutiny.

    978 Svift 15: The Luss. has come upon another large island, which I have named, "Desperation". The island is covered in jungle foliage and may bear game for hunting or perhaps fresh water of some kind. Capt. Roundbottom is still absent. I have taken de facto control of the Luss. I sent men into the jungle to hunt for any sort of sustenance. The men returned, minus a few, with fully slaughtered and dressed venison of some kind. We resolved to stay here for a few days to stockpile this meat before continuing.

    978 Svift 16: Another day of exploration has brought us fresh water from a stream. I have ordered the men to collect sixteen gallons of this water and return to the ship. The larders are stocked with salted venison. This should keep us going for another week, at best. We do not have enough supplies to return to Spec. or even Thyatis.

    I managed to capture a parrot. He is a large fellow of remarkable red and green plumage. I have decided to call him, "Mr. Feathers".

    978 Svift 19: We sailed west from Desperation. Roundbottom finally emerged from his cabin. He looks crazed. The men still whisper of mutiny. At night, the Luss. came upon a large island. This one was dotted with villages. The natives set after us in canoes and did not seem at all friendly. Having heard tales of cannibals in these islands, I have named this place, "Cannibal Island". Roundbottom resolved that we should map this island from the sea, rather than travel inland.

    978 Svift 21: Supplies are again running low. Capt. Roundbottom has hidden in his cabin. The first mate wants me to lead a mutiny. I am unsure.

    At mid-day, lookouts spotted a very large island. As we got closer, we realized that this was a truly massive land. As the majority of what we could see were very high and steep cliffs, we sailed for a low-lying peninsula. We found natives here as well, but these were far more friendly than those on Cannibal Island. The Luss. set anchor and we traveled to the shore on rowboats. The natives offered us supplies, which we heartily took. We traded them bills and hooks from the ship's armory. The natives entertained us with dancing and a feast. We noted a huge wall cutting off the peninsula from the rest of the island. I have resolved to find out more about this massive wall.

    978 Svift 22: I have named this peninsula, "Tano Roa", which seems to be the natives' name for this place. Communicating has been difficult. Capt. Roundbottom emerged from his cabin with a magical scroll. Reading the scroll allowed us to speak with the natives for about an hour. The villagers told us that they guard this wall, for great danger lurks within the inner plateau beyond that wall. The villagers call this island, "The Isle of Dread", and I am keen to believe it.

    The villagers told us of an ancient city in the central highlands. It was built by the same people who built the wall, people that the natives call "The Gods". I noted that the names of these "gods" matched the family names of these savages. I suspect that these "gods" are the forebears of these natives. Who knows what caused the downfall of a great people, leaving only primitives in their wake?

    The inland city is rumored to be filled with treasure beyond imagining. In particular, I heard tales concerning a great black pearl created by "the gods". The island waters are rife with clams and, thus, pearls, so this tale of a black pearl may be true!

    We have taken note of the many strange, metal statues populating the native village. These people have neither the skill nor materials to craft such things. They don't even have mines! Upon questioning the natives as to the origin of these statues, they claim them as further works of "the gods" and will say nothing more.

    Our resident gnome, a fiend with languages, has spent time learning the native tongue is now suited to work as a translator. This is especially important as we have no more magic scrolls. At least none that Capt. Roundbottom is willing to part with.

    978 Svift 23: Great calamity has befallen the crew of the Luss. The men have come down with a violent scarlet fever. Our cleric died in the storm, so we have no way to cure these men or any idea how to treat them. The native witch doctors will not allow these sick men into the village. Myself and a few men were ashore and did not contract the disease. We remain ashore and await word from the Luss.

    978 Svift 30: I have returned to the Luss. The striken crew are all dead. Capt. Roundbottom is nowhere to be found. The wooden idol we found on Lussitania is also gone. I suspect that Roundbottom has gone mad or died from this sickness. We have only five crewmen left, plus myself. The crew has elected me captain and we have all decided to try to return to Spec. There was talk of recruiting natives to help crew the ship, but no one believes they are capable of grasping advanced sailing concepts.

    We sailed around the Isle of Dread, mapping what we could from the sea. Once we were satisfied with our rough map, we set sail for Spec.

    978 Eir 1: We are a few days out of the Isle of Dread and already encountering fierce storms. The crew is not enough. They fight bravely, but the Luss. is taking on too much water. We will never make the mainland at this rate.

    978 Eir 3: With a stroke of luck, the Luss. happened upon strong northerly winds. Our feeble sails were able to take advantage. We caught sight of the continent just before nightfall. We will be home soon.

    978 Eir 5: This is my last entry as interim captain of the Luss. The crew and I have scuttled her and split what goods we could sell to brokers in Spec. For my part, my maps earned a tidy sum. I will one day return to that "Isle of Dread". With strong, brave explorers at our side, Mr. Feathers and I will breach that inner island and find that ancient city. That black pearl of the gods shall be mine!

    Capt. Rory Barbarossa


    ***

    The scholarly and observant among you realize that this is part of some sort of journal and the dates about 30 years old.

    What do you with to do with this providence?
    Last edited by Insight; Friday, 1st April, 2011 at 01:49 PM.
    Leaving EN World for the land of novel writing. I'll be back someday.

 

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    OUR HEROES
    Cassi Ashonson, Human Artificer (drothgery)
    Nafije an-Noor Mahbooba , Human Enchanter Wizard (JustKim)
    Skaros, Human (Tiefling) Hexblade Warlock (stonegod)
    Adam of Brightcastle, Human Cavalier Paladin (Walking Dad)
    Keharn, Half-Elf Sentinel Druid (renau1g)
    Barook, Half-Orc Brawler Fighter (AlmightyFoon)
    Astra Startide, Elf Hunter Ranger (Shayuri)
    Questor, Halfling Chaos Sorcerer (Leif)
    Vrashek, Half-Orc Rogue (Rhun)
    Geirgrim, Human Seeker (Scotley)
    Last edited by Insight; Tuesday, 26th June, 2012 at 03:48 PM.

  • #3
    Having taken it upon herself to read the entire journal aloud, Nafije passes around each page as she finishes. The mention of Mr. Feathers in the text makes her smile, and the end of the tale leaves her in a bright mood, despite the overall tone of desperation and loss.

    "It's an interesting story, well told. Do you think it's true?"

    She checks the pages again as they flow from one person to another. "The story mentions a map. Have you found it?"

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    "I don't know." Cassi said, as she read the papers herself. "We ought to be able to discover if this Captain Barbarossa was real, at the very least."
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    THE HOG'S BREATH INN
    Located on Vainglory Lane in Specularum's Upswallow District, the Hog's Breath is the favored watering hole of the middle to upper class gentleman (and possibly lady) who wants a quiet place to meet, have a drink or two, and not get into too much trouble.

    Owned and operated by Abel Allard, a native Karameikan and former tenant farmer for Baron Vorloi, the Hog's Breath is a welcome destination for adventurers, messengers, go-betweens, and skilled tradesmen. Allard has made a deal with the Elvenguard to skip the Hog's Breath on their nightly patrols, so the place is also a favorite of those who wish to avoid legal entanglements.

    The regulars are all here:
    • Johnnus Vor, a priest in the Church of Karameikos and former adventurer
    • "Lord Albert", an old rake who claims direct descent from Duke Stefan's father
    • "The Man in the Brown Hat", who refuses to give his name
    • Flora Oakenshield, a female dwarf warrior who can drink any man under the table
    • Raef Boloum, the half-elf proprietor of Boloum's Books, located next-door
    • Captain Rex, an old sea dog who spins many incoherent tales of his checkered past
    • Berrias Amer, retired captain of the city watch who left the guard in shame
    • Flerrian Kagel, gnomish minstrel and annoyer of many


    Per usual, our heroes have been escorted to a side room. Allard makes sure that no one bothers them. Or tries to, anyway...

  • #6
    Adam of Brightcastle stays a bit aside from the others in the room. A tall man with long blond hair and stern blue eyes, he is easily able to look over Nafije's shoulder.
    The others around him may not meet exactly his high moral standards, but he knows they can be trusted in a pinch. And they know he would sacrifice happily his life for them.

    As always wearing the heavy plate, he moves closer and says:
    "This is maybe a worthwhile quest. But we should also learn from this men's mishap. We have to take enough water and rations with us and means to speak to the natives. And of course, we need a ship."
    Last edited by Walking Dad; Friday, 1st April, 2011 at 09:01 PM.
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    "Now, now, let's not be too hasty Adam, we shouldn't waste any time chasing a fools errand before we know what's what. Now, if, and hear I'm only saying if, we were to go out on such a foolhardy quest, know that between Cassi and me we could probably keep that fever from getting too bad at least. With food and water, we'd want to bring some for sure. I'm pretty good at foraging so that might help too, as long as you don't mind roots, berries, and nuts." The large, red-headed druid states. Keharn rests easily in the chair, the small white-furred bear curled up at his side, head resting in the man's lap as he pets it casually. The bear was rescued at a young age from a hunter's trap and Keharn nursed the creature back to health. They've been together ever since, Bjarn, as he's called, has proven himself invaluable in the various adventures the group has gone on.

    Bear Pic



    At Cassi's words, "Yeah, someone could probably find out that just by asking around or maybe in some books in those, what were they called again Nafije, oh yeah, library. Maybe one of those would have something." Keharn adds, then looks around at the group. "Where's Questor at? He's usually able to dig up stuff from people"

    You recall in the most recent excursion, the newly found staff of Keharn's in the shape of a serpent.

    Staff



    ooc

    Do we have a social-type? I think Questor is probably the best, maybe Adam?
    Last edited by renau1g; Friday, 1st April, 2011 at 04:19 PM.

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    Flerrian Kagel, a gnome best known for vomiting on the shoes of Duke Stefan in a public square, dashes into the side room. The gnome wears a bright pink and orange pointy hat, a white vest with tiny bells on the seams, orange tights, and oversized, floppy shoes.

    "EVENIN', GENTS! Ooh, I should say AFTERNOON, GENTS!" He laughs riotously at his stupid attempt at humor. "What's going on? What are you looking at? What's that paper?" The gnome turns to the paladin. "Hey, how do you get your armor to stay so nice and shiny? Do you use a polish? My nephew, Jollum, he makes a fine armor polish!"

    Flerrian looks at the bear. "Hey, who brought a BEAR in here??? Bears don't drink. Not ALE, anyway! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

    The gnome continues to dart around the room, seemingly ignoring any attempt to extricate him.

    At this time, Abel Allard, dressed in a workman's apron and wearing a slight frown beneath his white mustache, brandishes a broom at the noisy gnome. "Look here, Kagel! Leave these fine people alone!"

    Allard chases the gnome around the room. At one point, he stops to catch his breath. "Terribly sorry about all this, gents."
    Last edited by Insight; Friday, 1st April, 2011 at 04:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by renau1g View Post
    ooc

    Do we have a social-type? I think Questor is probably the best, maybe Adam?
    OOC
    It'll be a race between Questor and Skaros. Both Cha-based strikers.
    In the corner near the fire, the finely dressed Skaros relaxed in his chair. His dark but handsome looks had earned in a few looks in his months in Specularum, especially after the necromantic plague had been put down. But he held himself aloof from such inquiries.

    People who got close could get hurt.

    He ignored the gnome's antics, and focused on the group's discussion. This map was sold. A collector likely has it. The library may know, but those that deal with items for the rich may also.
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    ooc/social skills
    Nafije is almost certainly the best at Bluff and Diplomacy. Cassi and Adam are also trained in Diplomacy (he's a little better), and Barook in Intimidate. I'll put together a skill matrix chart when everyone's characters are up.

    How Cassi had pulled off clothes that managed to look elegant, but were practical for working enchantments all day or wearing under her armor was something of a mystery. The others likely suspected a bit of magic was involved. She was tall for a human woman, though not as slender as she had been when she'd first started adventuring -- thirteen years and two children did have their effects on her, and fair-skinned for a Darokin native. Her staff was leaning against her chair, the only magic item she carried that she did not craft herself.
    "I think I could point you in the right direction for that. Mikel and I used to do a fair amount of business in Specularum." After almost a year, references to her late husband didn't obviously pain her. They had, not too long ago.
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