The Isle of Dread

Having cleared out the Caves of Chaos, our intrepid band of adventurers next decides to pursue a mysterious map they found.  After procuring a ship, crew and provisions, they make sail for the Isle of Dread in search of the “pearl of the gods.”

The Isle of Dread is a marked change from the Caves of Chaos.  Instead of dungeon crawling, they’re now hex crawling, albeit in a limited way.  But exploring the wilderness, even a relatively contained wilderness like the Isle of Dread, is a somewhat less focused style of play.

The week-long trip to the island was largely uneventful (I remembered to roll for weather and random encounters each day and got nothing 😦 ).  Once they arrived at the island there was considerable debate about the party’s next move.  Some players wanted to set up a camp on some remote part of the island, convinced the natives were hostile head-hunters that would attack them on sight.  Others wanted to make contact with the natives to trade with them and use their villages as bases of operations.  Eventually the party decided to land at the village closest to the island’s wilderness areas, and were quite relieved to find that the natives were indeed friendly.

After a welcoming feast and some profitable trade, the party set the ship’s crew to building a base a few miles away from the village while they headed inland (so to speak) to start exploring.  The native villages are located on a isthmus that’s blocked off by a massive stone wall, evidently built long ago (it was clear that the natives currently did not have the capability to build such a wall).  When asked about it, the natives said it was to keep the lizards out.  Big lizards.

A well worn trail led through the walls gates and into the jungle, which the party decided to follow.  They decided they were going to keep exploring the jungle until they “found something to kill.”  After a few hours on the trail they heard loud rustling in the jungle ahead.  A moment later a mastadon stepped out onto the trail, stopping to stare at the party while the party, in turn, gaped back at the massive proto-elephant.  Evidently unaware that mastadons hate whistles, someone in the party blew a whistle, enraging the beast.  It charged down the trail at the party, who in turn proceeded to pelt it with sling stones and arrows.  The magic-user cast web at it, which slowed it down for a round or two before breaking through and continuing its charge on the party.

At this point the halfling charged the giant animal, trying to get under it so he could attack the beast from below.  Instead, the halfling was roflstomped by a hairy, pissed-off elephant that trampled him for over half his hit points.  Things were looking dire, so the halfling ran off the trail into the jungle to hide (which halflings are notoriously good at).  The mastadon charged after him, but not being able to see the halfling it simply rampaged through the jungle in pain and rage.  The party wisely let it go, though there was some talk of following it to “kill it while it’s wounded.”  Saner heads prevailed, and the party continued exploring the trail.

By the end of the next day they come to the end fo the trail, at a lake-sized tar-pit.  They goggle at the site of it for a while, then decide set up camp before heading back to the village in the morning.  During the night the cleric is surprised to see several glowing eyes staring down at him from the surrounding trees.  A hastily wakened magic-user casts sleep and seven halfling-sized moneky men drop out of the trees.  The party ties them up and, after much talk of killing and torture, picks out one to interrogate.  They try several languages before discovering the creatures understand the Elf language.  The exchange goes something like this:

Elf (in elven): “Who are you, and why were you spying on us?”

Monkey-creature: “My name is Climbs Tall Trees.  We’re phanatons.  We were merely curious, and meant you no harm.”

Elf (to the party in common):  “This one is Murders Baby Kittens.  They call themselves Blood Monkeys.”

The elf charms the phanaton into a more cooperative state, and the party begrudgingly lets the rest of the phantons go.  They ask their new “friend” where there might be some treasure to loot and are told of several possiblities, the two closest of which are a lair of lizardmen in the swamps and a camp of “cat people” in the jungle.   The lizardmen are closest so they head to the swamps.

Along the way they spy some dire wolves stalking them from a distance, but manage to elude the wolves by moving deeper into the swamp.  After a couple of days they come upon a dank cave.  Entering it, they find several lizardmen that they easily kill, and a treasure chest containing thousands of copper and silver pieces, as well as 8 gems worth 500 gp each.  They leave the copper behind but take the rest and head back to the village.

On the way back they encounter a giant tree sloth chomping down on some trees.  It ignores the party and the party wisely leaves the giant sloth to its meal.  A couple days later they’re back at the village to resupply and stow their treasure on the ship.  During their stay at the village the charm person spell on the phanaton fades and the creature escapes during the night.

However, they do have a rough location for an encampment of “cat people,” so they head back into the jungle the next day to find the camp, kill the cat people and take their stuff.  Trekking around the Great Tar Lake, they move into the jungle hills in the center of the island.  They spend most of the day searching the jungle in the vicinity of the cat people camp, finally stumbling upon it towards nightfall.  The “cat people” are rakasta, and had heard the party tromping around in the jungle for hours.  The party is welcomed to the camp as guests and a feast is laid out for them.  A couple of party members are suspicious and avoid eating the food, making up various excuses so as to not offend their hosts.  After the feast the party is offered a comfortable tent laid out in silk, with plush pillows and carpets to sleep upon.  They spend a wary night with the rakasta, expecting an ambush at any moment.

At this point the party is still thinking about killing the rakasta and taking their stuff, but are somewhat deterred by the presence of three hulking smilodons (sabre-tooth tigers).  One of the PCs proposes going on a joint hunt, hoping maybe to weaken or divide the rakasta.  “I say, smashing good idea,” say the rakasta, eagerly dispatching scouts to find something ‘big’ to kill.  A few hours later the scouts report they’ve found something big alright.

The air thunders and the earth quakes as a might T-Rex bursts upon the hunting party.  The monster is covered in tumors and growths, obviously afflicted by a hideous jungle disease.  With a roar the rakasta jump to the attack, digging in with their war-claws while the smilodons nip at the T-Rex’s legs.  The halfling charges in, climbing up the creature’s body as he attacks it.  The rest of the party prudently stands back, using various missiles to attack the giant saurian.  The T-Rex takes a terrible toll on the rakasta, killing six of them, often with a single bite; it bites one of the smilodons in half, as well.  The halfling is thrown off the creature’s back, but takes relatively minor damage considering.  Eventually the king of dinosaurs is slain, death from a thousand cuts.  The party immediately guts it, looking for treasure but finding only horribly mangled rakasta remains in the stomach (though the dead rakasta were wearing gold jewelry!).  They claim some of the dinosaur’s claws and teeth as trophies, and head back to the rakasta camp.

Again there is talk of killing the rakasta given their weakened state after the T-Rex fight.  But the party decides that the camp is more valuable as a base of operations.  Plus the cat people have been cool to the party and it would be a really dick move to kill them all now.  So it looks like they’re going to be friends after all.

And so ended the session.

On the T-Rex fight, if the party had attacked it on their own, it probably would have killed them all.  Or, at least, killed a couple of them until the surviving PCs had the good sense to run for their lives.  But with the rakasta there, the party had a chance, mainly because the T-Rex focused most of its attacks on the cat people instead of the party (I rolled to see who it attacked each round).  I didn’t even bother rolling attacks and damage for the rakasta…I figured their redshirt target status was enough of a boon to the party.

One other note, a wilderness oriented game is a change of pace from dungeon crawling and there were a couple of times when things bogged down because the players couldn’t decide what to do.  Charming the phanaton gave them a bit of direction, but there’s still plenty of island left to explore (and lots to find).  Hopefully I’ll be able to maintain the game’s momentum so the players won’t become frustrated stumbling around the jungle looking for stuff to kill and loot.

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2 Responses to “The Isle of Dread”

  1. David Jenks Says:

    “Elf (in elven): “Who are you, and why were you spying on us?”

    Monkey-creature: “My name is Climbs Tall Trees. We’re phanatons. We were merely curious, and meant you no harm.”

    Elf (to the party in common): “This one is Murders Baby Kittens. They call themselves Blood Monkeys.”

    That’s kinda hilarious. 😀

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