Savage Tide 5e

Session 8
The Bullywug Gambit, Part 2

Harliss Javell, a Crimson Fleet captain, was the sole survivor of the massacre at Kraken’s Cove.  Through healing and diplomacy, the group helped her to relax and recount the events of the past few hours.

Vanthus Vanderboren had been at the Cove under false pretenses.  He attempted to steal a fist-sized black pearl, but was caught red-handed by Javell.  They fought, and in the process, he dropped the pearl to the beach.  It fizzled, emitting foaming acid, then exploded in a green cloud of savage madness.

Many creatures, pirates and animals alike, were instantly twisted into abominable forms; those who resisted the transformation were quickly killed by the monsters.  Vanthus somehow managed to slip away in the chaos, but Javell had a plan for him.  She dispatched her first mate, a half-orc named Devoraz, to recruit a friendly bullywug tribe and slaughter the entire Vanderboren household.

The group convinced Javell that Lavinia was innocent of her brother’s deeds.  Perhaps feeling remorse, the pirate captain wrote instructions for Devoraz, and instructed the group to present it to her first mate along with one of her marlith earrings.  Then Javell left Kraken’s Cove, heading deeper into the jungle.

Immeral skillfully led the group on a four-day trek through the swamps.  They emerged, muddy but unharmed, and entered Sasserine.  The city was in the throes of the Festival of Worms, and the group had to contend with rowdy revelers, runaway parade floats, and assassins seemingly sent by Rowyn Kellani.

They found Lavinia safe in the manor; they had successfully outraced Devoraz and the bullywugs, but the threat still loomed.  Lavinia summoned the Jade Ravens, a small adventuring group whose membership was constantly evolving, but who had served the Vanderborens for years.  Everyone readied themselves for an attack, hoping Devoraz could be reached and reasoned with first, but knowing that bloodshed may be unavoidable.

The next morning, the call came from one of the Jade Ravens downstairs: “They’re coming from the basement!”

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Session 7
The Bullywug Gambit, Part 1

The group had tracked their enemy, Vanthus Vanderboren, to Kraken’s Cove, a haven for pirates.  The creatures in the jungle surrounding the cove had been transformed into twisted abominations that savagely attacked everything in sight.  Things weren’t any better at the cove: ships burned in the harbor, and the caves were filled with the sounds of madness and murder.

The party searched cavern by cavern, finding twisted men and their grizzly leavings.  Amidst the horrors, they discovered some interesting things: the shell of a glassy fist-sized sphere in the center of a barren crater; a poisoner’s workshop whose occupant seems to have fallen afoul of his own dangerous plant; and an enchanted sword whose previous owner died fighting, surrounded by his very fine worldly possessions.

Perhaps most intriguing was the discovery of Rowyn Kellani, the guildmistress of the Lotus Dragons.  Though transformed by whatever affected this area, she was clearly recognizable.  Surely, her lover and co-conspirator Vanthus must be close by.

But before they could advance their quest any further, they had to deal with the stranger they discovered fighting a horde of savage pirates.  The immediate danger had been dispatched, but she eyed the group warily, keeping her bloody sword positioned between them and her.

She growled: “Who be you, and what be yer business with the Crimson Fleet?”

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Session 6
Curse of the Swamp Hounds, Part 2

In the morning, Commodore Brandlock seemed open to discussion, and the party convinced him to accompany them into the swamp to confront the Natalya.  At the quicksand pit, the phantom appeared, and the pack of earthen hounds surrounded the group.  Some quick words by the bard Miri eased the tension, and Brandlock began to plead his case with the witch earnestly and quietly.

Suddenly, the hounds howled and leapt at Brandlock.  Natayla, surprised, told the group they were not under her control.  A glowing sphere appeared as the group interposed themselves between Brandlock and the hounds.  The battle was short and decisive; the sphere, a will-o’-wisp, was eliminated, and the remaining hounds collapsed.  Natayla explained that the will-o’-wisp has been thriving off the power of the curse, which bound her and Brandlock to the swamp.  Killing Brandlock would have rendered the curse unbreakable.

Released from the will-o’-wisp’s hold and able to reconcile, Natayla moved on to the afterlife.  Brandlock aged somewhat, but as a half-elf, a hundred years is manageable.  He rewarded the party with his magical sabre and threw an impromptu feast.  The next day he joined the group on ship, retired from the navy and eager to ride the waves once more.  Using naval charts, the ship set sail for the probable location of Kraken’s Cove, and hopefully, Vanthus Vanderboren.

As they approached the landing site, they witnessed a monstrously large green cloud envelop an area of jungle about 2 miles wide.  It dissipated quickly, but it was obvious something was terribly wrong even before they set foot on the shore.  Treking through the jungle, they found evidence of horribly disfigured animals, then were suddenly set upon by a shrieking horde of nightmarish monkeys.

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Session 5
Curse of the Swamp Hounds, Part 1

Following a lead, the group set sail for Ft Fendawor, where they hoped to access naval charts and locate Kraken’s Cove.  The fort was situated east of Sasserine, on a rock outcropping bordered by open sea on one side and dark swamps on the other.  Commodore Montrose Brandlock, known as the “Young Commodore” due to his advanced age and elf blood, welcomed the group and warmed up to them over dinner.  Late that night, he bid them join him on the wall to view a ghostly scene from a hundred years past: the phantom of a young woman emerged from a puff of smoke at the base of the wall and ran desperately into the swamp.  She was pursued by a pack of phantom hounds, who were in turn followed by the specter of a young man.

The group left the Young Commodore on the wall and gave chase.  Though the phantoms left no trail, Immeral was able to envision the lay of the swamp as it would have been a century earlier, and intuit the path a frightened person might have traveled.  Thus, Immeral led his companions to a patch of quicksand, where they encountered a young woman.  As they spoke with her, she seemed to wither and desiccate, then demanded in an unearthly howl that the party bring Brandlock to her.  As she vanished, a dozen hounds composed of mud and sticks emerged from the quicksand and attacked the party.  Though ultimately victorious, the party was chased out of the swamp by the threat of more swamp hounds.

Back at the safety of the fort, Brandlock recounted the events of a dark night one hundred years past.  Natayla was a pirate witch captured by the navy when they captured the fort from the Sea Princes.  Brandlock was a young, idealistic officer, and took her in as a servant rather than allow her to be hanged.  Though he believed the arrangement was equitable, she apparently thought differently.

One night, he caught her skulking around brandishing a knife.  He attempted to disarm her, but was wounded.  She dropped the knife and fled.  He caught up to her at the top of the wall, where she stepped into a patch of mist and vanished.  She reappeared at the base of the wall and sprinted into the swamp.  Brandlock fetched his hounds and gave chase.

The unfettered hounds quickly outdistanced the young half-elf.  They drove Natayla deeper into the swamp, where she fell into a patch of quicksand.  The hounds barreled in on top of her, biting and thrashing as they all sunk deeper into the muck.

By the time Brandlock arrived, it was too late to save Natayla.  She cursed him with her dying breath, and Brandlock watched helplessly as woman and hound were pulled into the muck.

It was clear that witch’s spirit sought rest, but Brandlock refused to speak of the issue.  He dismissed the group as he finished his brandy and went to bed.

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Session 4
There Is No Honor, Part 4

The group moved swiftly through the Lotus Dragon's hideout, uncovering a secret dock and confronting the leader, a noblewoman named Rowyn Kellani.  Kellani escaped, but she left ample evidence of her criminal activities, the worst of which was the brutal murder of Councilman Keltar Islaren.  Her plan has been to move into Islaren's position as harbormaster and councilmember, and solidify her power using the Lotus Dragons.

Her partner and lover, Vanthus Vanderboren, was not found, but love letters he sent to Kellani detailed how he murdered his own parents in an effort to collect his inheritance so he could fund Kellani's plot.  A captured guildmember believed Vanthus went east on a mission for Kellani, to a place known as Kraken’s Cove, though no two people can seem to agree on its location.

The days following the events under the taxidermist’s hall have been no less eventful: Rowyn Kellani’s mother, Heldrath, petitioned the Council to have the PCs arrested for murder, but the evidence against Rowyn was solid; if Rowyn ever returns to Sasserine, she’ll be tried and likely executed for treason.  Heldrath’s petition was given minimum consideration before being dismissed.

The Dawn Council invited the group to a banquet and dance in their honor.  Each individual was presented with the Spire of Sasserine, a medal awarded to those who render great service to the city.  Wearing this medal in town garners special treatment and opens mouths: the group was inundated with all sorts of rumors and gossip.  Among the most interesting items:

  • Keltar Islaren’s post as harbormaster and seat on the Dawn Council are still open; no one knows who will take over the responsibilities, as Islaren’s children have either gone missing or show no interest in the job.
  • Preparation for the Wormfall Festival is underway; a few years ago a band of heroes from Cauldron prevented a lich named Kyuss from attaining divinity, and their victory is celebrated every year.
  • The Kellani estate has been closed; no one is admitted to the manor, though people report cat-sized winged creatures flitting in and out in the night.
  • Drozor the Mighty is assembling a crew to take on pirates.
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Session 3
There Is No Honor, Part 3

The party entered the hideout of the Lotus Dragons through a trapdoor.  An observant rogue identified and warned her allies of a simple yet insidious poison needle on the ladder.  In a large cave split by a deep crevice, rowdy thieves and pirates enjoyed a meal.  The group moved in and dispatched them quickly.  They discovered a tiefling in a smoky haze who identified himself as Namunatl Sesk, the leader of Sasserine's Inkers Guild.  He was being forced to give magical tattoos to guild members.  Dispute his situation, he was content to sit with his hookah and smoke while the group continued with their mission.

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Session 2
There Is No Honor, Part 2

Shadowblade and Mei escaped the zombie-infested caves of Parrot Island with another soul they discovered: a dragonborn ranger who insists he is an elven prince named Immeral.  They immediately met with their friends at Shadowblade’s tavern.  Mei told of the recovery of the Vanderboren ship the Blue Nixie, and of Vanthus’ disappearance and betrayal.  The only clue to his whereabouts was left by a dead sorcerer in the form of messages magically recorded on rocks, instructing the listener to “seek Vanthus ‘neath the taxidermist’s hall”.

In a potentially related story, the harbormaster who handled the sale of exotic animals found on the Blue Nixie, the nobleman and council member Keltar Islaran, had been found dead.  The rumors vary, but all seem to agree that old Islaran was left in his bed in an especially gruesome state of evisceration.  The Kellani family, nobles with a reputation for piracy, seemed to be the likely successors to Islaran’s seat on the Dawn Council.

Before approaching the taxidermist’s hall, the party visited Lavinia Vanderboren, the sister of their betrayer.  Lavinia had not been idle; among the paperwork recovered from the vault she discovered a number of ledgers detailing debts owed to her parents by various individuals and businesses.  She was in the process of having those debts settled to pet her household back in black.  When presented with the evidence of her brother’s nefarious deeds, she asked that they bring him to justice.

The taxidermist, Nemien Roblach, was unhelpful and evasive when questioned about Vanderboren.  Destructive violence was averted thanks to the persuasive arguments of the bard Miri, and Roblach was allowed to flee Sasserine in exchange for information.  Roblach confirmed Vanderboren’s involvement with a secretive gang calling themselves the Lotus Dragons, who maintain a hideout beneath the taxidermist’s hall.

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Session 1
There Is No Honor, Part 1

Our heroes were recruited by Vanthus Vanderboren, a minor noble in the city of Sasserine, to help him recover his family's last ship.  Vanderboren's parents had recently perished in a fire aboard a newly-purchased boat, and he was desperate to recover a item that has belonged to them.  The Blue Nixie was being held by the harbormaster pending payment of dock fees, which Vanderboren claimed to have paid.  At night, the group rowed out to the ship and confronted a band of smugglers who had been using the Nixie as a platform for their illegal operations.

With the Nixie back in his possession, Vanderboren recovered a signet ring from the cabin and instructed the group to protect the ship while he ensured the payment was received by the harbormaster, Councilman Keltar Islaran.  Vanthus never returned.  The next morning, the group was roused by Kora Wistlegap, a halfling employed at the Vanderboren Manor.  She demanded the group accompany her to the manor.

In the courtyard, the group found Vanthus' sister, Lavinia Vanderboren, beset by creditors, all claiming Vanthus had borrowed money from them, and all demanding repayment.  The group negotiated fair arrangements with all three parties, but Lavinia's position has not much improved.

She invited them inside, where they reported on their dealings with Vanthus.  The ring he sought on the Blue Nixie was a key to the family's vault in Castle Teraknian.  Vanthus apparently wanted to access the Vanderboren's wealth without asking his sister, even knowing she had a copy of the signet ring.  Lavinia immediately took the group with her to the vault.

The vault had been emptied of all material wealth.  Some paperwork was discovered that would later prove useful, but for now, Lavinia feared that her brother had fallen afoul of one of his creditors.  She begged the group to seek him out, and a search of Sasserine commenced.

Inquires in well-to-do areas revealed more debts owed by Vanthus, and in less-reputable areas they found rumors of Vanthus hanging out with lowlifes, but no one knew anything useful.  The next day brought more creditors, lawyers, and authorities to the Vanderboren Estate; word of Vanthus' disappearance had spread, and everyone who had loaned him money sought to collect before there was nothing left to claim.  Many pieces of art and trophies from the elder Vanderborens' adventuring days changed hands.

Still, the group's inquires were rewarded when a half-elf named Shefton Rask arrived with news; Vanthus was being held on Parrot Island by someone he owed money to, and he needed help.  The group entered a cave through a concealed trapdoor on the rocky island, but once they all were inside, Vanthus stabbed Rask and pushed him through the opening.  He taunted the group, then sealed them into the cave by rolling a boulder over the trapdoor.

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