04 April 2014

Exploring Atlantis 7: Actual Play Report Part 1

I kicked off my Atlantis: The Second Age game this past weekend. Over all, it went fairly well. I could definitely stand to be more familiar with the rules than I am, but that will come with time.

The party consists of Phoibe, the Hellene priestess, Tafkap the Lemurian warrior, Asrok the Hesperian assassian, Naseer the Ophiran sorcerer, and Ulhurr the Uluka (owlman) scout. The adventure started with everyone on board a ship bound for Azae, one of the islands that make up Atlantis. However, due to a fierce storm, the ship found itself run aground off the shore of Diaprepea, an Atlantean island just to the south of Azae. The party had the choice of either waiting for the ship to be repaired, waiting at a nearby village for another ship to eventually come by, or to travel several days to Mehedra, the capital city of Diaprepea, and seek passage to Azae from there. The party decided to rest at the village for a day or so and then journey to Mehedra. They rested at the village tavern and spoke to the tavern keeper about the island in general and about their planned travel route. The party learned that Diaprepea was famous for producing excellent soldiers and not much else. They also learned that the mountainous interior of the island was the abode of unnatural monsters, whose origin was rumored to be a long lost Atlantean military base. They also learned that their planned route would take them past a pre-Cataclysm blackwood grove that was rumored to be haunted. (Note: Atlanteans plant a blackwood tree when a child is born. The tree is tended during the life of the person it was planted for, and when that person dies, it is fashioned into a coffin. Because so many people were lost beyond recovery during the Cataclysm, uncut blackwood groves dot Atlantis, and are often considered haunted.) In fact, the villagers had suffered from several disappearances in the past few months, and it was strongly suspected that the blackwood grove was involved.

 The party spent the night at the tavern, which also doubled as the village inn. Upon awakening,they discovered that the village blacksmith, along with his entire family, had been abducted during the night. Ulhurr examined the blacksmith's home and determined that around 8-12 people were involved in the abduction. The tracks led to the road in the direction of the blackwood grove. The party, along with 5 villagers, set out in pursuit.

As the party neared the grove, they entered some ruins. The villagers explained that a pre-Cataclysm town once stood here, but that most of the stone had been carted away long ago. Only the occasional low wall or pile of rubble was present now. Suddenly, a ragged group of 5 men burst from concealment amongst the ruins and began hurling stones at the party. (Note: Very poorly aimed stones, I might add. This was just the beginning of a night filled with abysmal die rolls by the GM.) Ulhurr, Tafkap, and Asrok quickly put down 3 of the attackers with well placed arrows. Naseer cast a shield spell on himself. Phoibe charged one of the remaining attackers and stabbed him with her spear. The last attacker threw a stone which ineffectively bounced off Naseer's shield. Asrok then shot the last foe with an arrow, wounding him severely.

Three of the attackers were dead. Phoibe treated the survivors, who were recognized by the villagers as two of their own who had vanished months earlier. All of the attackers looked disheveled and gaunt. The survivors appeared to be mentally unbalanced, wild-eyed and mumbling to themselves. They did not respond coherently to questioning, though one of them did warn everyone to "Stay away from the tree!". The party decided to send the villagers back home with the injured attackers and explore the grove themselves.

They approached the grove. Ulhurr flew into the sky to conduct an aerial reconnaissance. The branches of the trees were too tightly  interwoven to allow him to see into the grove, bu he did spot one tree near the center of the grove that was larger and more gnarled than the other blackwood trees. When he flew toward it, a large flock of bats took to the air from the branches of the tree and headed in his direction. He turned around and reported his findings back to the rest of the party. The party decided to split up. Ulhurr would fly to the large tree and draw the bats to him, while the rest of the party advanced on the ground.

Ulhurr engaged in a delightful aerial ballet with the bats, who seemed unable to touch him (Note: More of that absymal die rolling I mentioned earlier.). The rest of the party entered the grove. At first they noticed nothing except for the darkness under the canopy of the regularly spaced trees. Then they noticed movement out of the corner of their eyes. They gradually realized they were surrounded by insubstantial wraiths, who then attacked. Other than feeling a slight chill and a sense of unease, the party suffered no ill effects (Note: Next game, I'm using a different d20.). They did discover that, likewise, their weapons had no effect on the wraiths. As they continued forward, they encountered 5 men advancing toward them. These five seemed better armed than the previous five, though still wild and disheveled looking. At that point, the wraiths attacked again, unnerving everyone except Naseer. Upon realizing that he was the only one unaffected by the wraiths attack, Naseer cast a spell that caused a glowing, wailing, green wall to rise up between the party and their new attackers. It didn't actually do anything, but it stopped the advance of the men. Naseer then led everyone back out of the grove.

In the meantime, Ulhurr had grown bored with playing tag with the bats. He decided to up the ante. Grabbing his axe, he flew directly to the tree and cut off one of the uppermost branches. This had an immediate effect on the bats. They converged on the tree and started flying around it, only chasing Ulhurr if he approached too closely. Undaunted, Ulhurr performed another flyby, chopping off another branch. Then he noticed a green flare lighting up the sky in the direction of the road.  It was Naseer, using a spell to let him know that the rest of the party had left the grove. Ulhurr rejoined everyone else.

Temporarily stymied, the party retreated back down the road toward the village. And the grove? The grove awaits their return.  

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