In October the Exodus game was replaced by my annual Halloween game, in November it was canceled due to scheduling problem, but after a two-month gap the Exodus story continues . . .
After ridding themselves of the Hooded Lantern and its Borconith sailors, the hobbits transfer to the Profit crewed by Rogian dwarves. They are bound for Vonland, there to attempt to find yet another ship and crew to take them to Farwood. But freak storms arise every night and blow the ship out into the western ocean. After several days of trying unsuccessfully to reach Vonland the Rogian crew becomes restless and begins to suspect some hobbit trickery. They gather in private to make prayers and sacrifices to their sea gods.
After yet another stormy night, the hobbits awake to discover the ship off the shore on a large and mysterious island. Curiouser still, all the ship’s crew were gone. Well, not the entire crew, a drunken human sailor was found in the crow’s nest. Along with the sailors, a hobbit named Kale was also missing. It was decided by the reeve sheriff (the highest-ranking hobbit on the ship) that the PCs (including Sarah’s new character Elin) should go ashore and search for the sailors and the missing hobbit while Dombey (the human sailor) teaches the hobbits who to sail in case the sailors can not be found.
Taking a lifeboat, Able, Winterfilth, Filbert, and Elin, set out for the large island. They pass several smaller islands with towering statues, but urgency drives them onward. The big island was hilly and lightly forest. On the beach the PCs find the ship’s other two lifeboats abandoned and no sign of the sailors. In the distance could be seen a spiral of white smoke circling up to the sky.
With growing unease, the PCs set off towards the mysterious smoke. Along the way they encounter such weirdness as a walking granite-skinned giraffe, and a statue whose harp changed the colors of things in the world and enraged an antlered serpentine skunk, most of which they cautiously avoid. Reaching the source of the spiraling smoke, the intrepid hobbits find a square moss-covered house. A young bald man calling himself “Yadsendew” welcomes them inside. It was a disturbing interview but in the end, the strange man points the PCs towards the missing crewmen.
After walking across the lightly forested island all day, the PCs make camp in the shelter of an overhanging rock. The night passes without incident, but at dawn a fog arises and swallows the hobbit’s camp. When it clears, they are no longer in a forest but a simple stone corridor. The only light is a dim purple glow from one end of the passage. Heading towards this light, the PCs come to an unadorned room wherein they meet an elven woman in archaic armor. Her form is translucent and it is she who is glowing purple. The woman introduces herself as Vorlyn and is friendly if confused. While conversing with the woman it slowly becomes clear to the PCs that she has confused her own memories with theirs (she claims to have arrived on a ship called the Profit and to have become lost while searching for her missing crew). It also becomes apparent that she is some kind of ghost, but this she flatly refuses to believe. She also refuses to leave the room, instead inviting then begging the hobbits to remain with her. But the hobbits do leave the room and head away down the passage where they come to an almost identical room containing a stone sarcophagus. Approaching the coffin, they are attacked by four small imp-like creatures with toady faces and vicious claws. The creatures giggle and shout out “you can’t have her!” and “she’s ours!” as they attack. A short fierce fight ensues but the hobbits are victorious, the imps popping and disappearing like balloons when they are killed.
Upon investigation, the PCs discover that the sarcophagus bears the inscription “Vorlyn” and contains a skeleton armed and armored in an identical manner to the purple woman. While Filbert tries to persuade the ghostly woman to approach, Winterfilth tries to pilfer the corpse’s jeweled dagger. With the imps gone, Vorlyn cautiously enters the tomb. She is naturally reluctant, but the hobbits eventually manage to convince her that she is dead. To their surprise she is relieved at the revelation, recovering her own memories and a sense of peace from the truth. She thanks the hobbits, telling them to help themselves to anything in the tomb and showing them the way back to the forest.
Back at the overhanging rock, the PCs resume their journey. Following Yadsendew’s directions, the heroes come to a narrowing valley. Soon the valley walls become steep stone and the PCs come to a deep clear lake that fills the valley floor and blocks their path. There are, however, marble pillars that form a path of steppingstones to the far shore. One-by-one the hobbits jump across the slippery stones without incident until Winterfilth’s turn. Halfway across the lake the squire pauses to stare down into the lake’s depth. There he sees weed-choked buildings dotting the bottom of the lake and humanoid shapes walking slowly among them. Fascinated, he stares too long and one of the submarine people notices the curious air creature. With startling speed, a blue-skinned woman with wild water-tossed hair swims up and pulls herself up on the marble pillar. Shocked by her bloated appearance, Winterfilth tries to flee but the drown woman catches the hobbit and pulls him into the water! Soon she is joined by another water-woman and with the ghost’s dagger, Winterfilth battles his attackers while struggling to reach air. From the far shore, Able rushes to the squire’s aid, leaping from stone to stone. Before he arrives, however, the women, bitten by his dagger, give up on Winterfilth and swim back to her watery home. Winterfilth climbs from the water no worse for the experience and the hobbits continue on their way.
Leaving the valley, the PCs enter a birch wood. An hour or so into the forest the hobbits come upon an old and bent woman standing between two pools. As they approach the crone tells them that they may look into the left-hand pool to see their fortune, “but,” she warns them, “look not into the right pool!” Filbert, Winterfilth, and Elin all look into the left pool and hear small and odd fortunes in its lapping waters (Able, claiming that “a hobbit makes his own fortune”, avoids the pools). As Filbert is looking into the left pool, however, he hears the unmistakable voice on the missing hobbit call out from the right-hand pool: “help! It’s me, Kale! She’s a witch!” On hearing this, Filbert spins around and looks into the right pool. There he sees a trout with the face of Kale pleading for help. At the same time the crone shouts out, “again!”and leaps at Filbert, a fat ring on her hand shining ominously. Filbert barely avoids her touch while Winterfilth uses his bow to shoot the witch dead. Hoping to use it’s obvious magic to help Kale, Filbert takes the witch’s ring and slips it on. But the ring’s chaotic nature and the hag’s lingering malevolence thwart the postman’s inexperienced fumbling and the hobbit succeeds only in turning himself into a fish! Further experiment turn poor Filbert from a fish to a hobbit and back again several times before the PCs give up, scoop the unfortunate Kale into a satchel (he can breathe both air and water), and move on, Filbert on two legs again.
After some debate, the PCs decide to continue their search for the dwarves. To that end they continued on until they hear the unmistakable refrain of a dwarven work song, which leads them to small crack in a rocky cliff. Through this crack is a cave complex of staggering beauty: glowing gems, shimmering lakes, and flowing stalactites. Here, at last, the hobbits find the dwarves. The erstwhile crew of the Profit is diligently and merrily excavating precious stones. The dwarves refuse to leave the cave and seem amazed that the hobbits cannot hear the “singing of the stones” and would even consider leaving the subterranean paradise.
Faced with the dwarves’ obstinacy, the hobbits reluctantly leave them to their mining and proceed through the cave. In the middle of stalagmite forest the hobbits come upon a giant humanoid duck with leaf-bearing antlers. A red-hot chain around the man-duck’s ankle causes him great pain and binds him to the middle of the grotto where he lashes out violently at the PCs. Quickly assessing the situation, Filbert and Able spring into action; the former bravely distracting the beast (and nearly getting crushed) while the latter cuts the manacle from the creature’s leg with his magic sword. Freed, the duck-man flies away through an unnoticed fissure in the cavern roof, dropping as he goes a large green feather that, upon experimentation, is revealed to render its bearer invisible.
Continuing onward, the PCs exit the cave into a field of incandescent sunflowers. Passing through the hot glowing flowers, the hobbits find themselves back on the island’s shore where their strange journey began. Fed up with the island’s strange magic, the hobbits nevertheless began searching for the mysterious Yadsendew in the hope that he can return Kale to his proper form. When they find the moss-covered cottage again, Yadsendew – now an old man – agrees to tell them how to restore Kale in exchange for a treasured possession. Nobly, Filbert offers up his postman’s cap and in return Yadsendew informs the PCs that all will be restore when they leave the island.
Hearing this, the hobbits hurry back to their boat, anxious to get off the bizarre island. Upon reaching the Profit, they find that despite the two days that they spent on the island the rest of the hobbits believe they have been gone for two weeks. In those two weeks the hobbits have learned to sail from Dombey and, now that the PCs have returned, are eager to head west. As soon as they set sail, Kale is restore to his true form. Alas, the beneficial magic of the island is also left behind: the ghost’s dagger, the witch’s ring, the man-duck’s feather, several glowing gems that Winterfilth pocketed, and a “sun”-flower that Elin picked, are all now mundane items of little value. Still, the hobbits are glad to be leaving the island with a ship, an occasionally sober captain, and all their number safe and sound.
That night, Elin offers prayers to Noden and a silver path of moonlight shows the way to the hobbits’ new home.
I was at a bit of a loss planning this session. A lot of the weirdness came from Isle of the Unknown and Vornheim, with a few beasties from the Bygone Bestiary. This was not my best session; the high level of magic did not fit with the overall tone of the campaign; the chaotic nature of the island was too random and sometimes frustrated the players; and the dearth of meaning NPC interaction bored at least one of my players greatly. Still, the session moved the story in the right direction and next month the game will finally reach Farwood!
Products mentioned in this article:
Isle of the Unknown