Skulls of the Serpent

Chapter 000
The Party

A more detailed history for the characters can be found here.

An audio version of the detailed character backgrounds can be downloaded here (6.5 Mb, 12.5 minutes long).

The party consists of:

Dante: A human swashbuckler. His family has been part of the Bellflower Network, a rebel group that opposes the demonic rule of House Thrune in the nation of Cheliax for generations and Dante has been training to become a full-fledged knight within his family. He is being trained by Cacciaguida Roux, his uncle and a leader of the Bellflower Network.

Dhanga: A human monk. He was trained in various martial art fighting styles in his native country of Sargava. He and others from his clan were sent to Cheliax to obtain the support of the Bellflower Network in keeping Sargava independent from Cheliax, as the nation was once a colony of the nation before gaining its independence several hundred years ago.

Eva: A human sorcerer. Her father, a leader of the Bellflower Network, was killed by Darius. She swore revenge and has since trained her latent arcane abilities. She is looked after by Vayla:, who provides some level of guidance to the impetuous young woman.

Ren: A human anti-paladin. He was once known as Darius before he renounced House Thrune and became a soldier for the Bellflower Network. Ren was turned from his evil ways by the patient teachings of Cacciaguida Roux, a man whom Ren feels he owes much. His primary duties are the protection of young Dante Roux:, the son of one of the leaders of the organization.

Vayla: An aasimar oracle. With the divinatory powers provided to her by her angelic blood, Vayla has served as the virtual eyes and ears of the Bellflower Network for over a century, despite the fact that Vayla herself is nearly blind. Vayla was tasked with protecting Eva: by her dying father.

The group was aboard the Jenivere, a passenger vessel bound for the Sargavan city of Eleder. The ship was carrying several Bellflower Network members, as well as other passengers. Two additional ships were making the same trip, carrying other Bellflower members. The group intended to meet with the elders of Dhanga’s clan and the leaders of Sargava to determine how best to halt a possible Chelish invasion.

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Chapter 001
Rude Awakenings

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

An audio version of the detailed recap can be downloaded here (18 Mb, 34.5 minutes long).

The group awakened on a deserted beach being attacked by sea scorpion creatures the size of a small dog. Once the creatures had been dealt with, the group realized that there were about a dozen of them on the beach, and that there was a wrecked ship named the Jenivere in the churning waters almost a hundred yards from the shore.

The group included Dante, Dhanga, Eva, Grud, Ren, and Vayla, all members of the Bellflower Network contingent. In addition, five other individuals were on the beach as well: Aerys Mavato, Gelik Aberwhinge, Ishirou, Jask Derindi, and Sasha Nevah.

The group initially had amnesia, but soon after the battle, their memories came back to them. They recalled being aboard the Jenivere on their way to the Sargavan city of Eleder. They had all sat down for a communal dinner, but none of the castaways could remember anything from that point to their current situation. After dealing with their injuries from the battle, Dhanga, Ren, and Dante made their way to the shipwreck, fighting another sea scorpion and locating the body of Cacciaguida Roux, Dante’s mentor and Ren’s confidant. The group brought the body back to shore and buried it, and finding his uncle and mentor dead struck a blow to Dante’s normally calm and collected demeanor.

Further investigation of the ship found all of the castaways items and equipment, as well as many additional items that may prove useful for their future survival on this island. In the ship’s kitchen, the group found the body of the cook shoved into a small locker. The cook had died of fang-like bite marks on his neck that had caused the flesh around the wound to wither and blacken.

In the captain’s room, the group found many useful items, as well as the captain’s log. The log made it clear that the captain had begun to suffer from a form of madness that caused him to obsess over one of the passengers — a Varisian scholar named Ieana. It seemed that the captain had diverted the ship to the notorious island of Smuggler’s Shiv at Ieana’s request. Furthermore, the captain seemed to be growing paranoid regarding the crew and passengers and hinted that “something may need to be done” to protect himself and his love, Ieana.

A census revealed that all of the ship’s crew and passengers were accounted for, either alive or dead, except for Captain Kovack and Ieana.

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Chapter 002
The Search Begins

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

An audio version of the detailed recap can be downloaded here (12 Mb, 23 minutes long).

During the first night on the island, Issa befriended Ishirou during their post on the watch, and the man revealed that he had a treasure map of the very island on which they were stranded. Later that evening, Eva and Issa managed to offend Jask. In addition, Vayla had several prescient dreams regarding the shipwreck.

The following morning, Jask was missing and it appeared as though the man had decided to abandon the group and try to make it on his own. Gelik was sick with a disease called mindfire, but he was able to keep up with the group.

The group made their way to the top of a ridgeline and began exploring the island. At the end of the first night, they could see a beach with a tricorn hat and clothing that they believed might belong to Captain Kovack and Ieana.

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Chapter 003
Portents, Poisons, and Pirates

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

An audio version of the detailed recap can be downloaded here (15 Mb, 29 minutes long).

The discarded clothing did, indeed, belong to Captain Kovack and Ieana. The pair had apparently headed into the jungle toward the south, and the group managed to follow their trail, which led them to another beach along the island’s eastern edge.

A wrecked ship, the Brine Demon, was crashed at this beach, and a brief exploration of the ship found the ship’s captain, Captain Kinkarian dead in his quarters, clutching at an unopened coffer. Inside the coffer, the group found a golden locket with a picture of a half-elven woman named Aeshamara, a magical dagger, and a set of ledgers that prove Jask’s innocence.

The group continued to follow the trail of Kovack and Ieana, and camped for the night at the base of a mesa, atop which was the treasure marked on Ishirou’s map. After setting a camp fire, the ghost of Captain Kinkarian stepped from the flames and demanded the return of his Aeshamara, and once shown the image of the half-elven beauty, the ghost faded away.

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Chapter 004
First Contact

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

An audio version of the detailed recap can be downloaded here (13 Mb, 26 minutes long).

The party decided to ignore the treasure of Ishirou’s map for the time being and focus on hunting down Captain Kovack and Ieana. They follow the pair’s tracks to a relatively large footpath in the heart of the island, one protected by a snare trap set before the Jenivere crashed upon the island.

That evening, the group’s campsite was attacked by four savage, native men, whose light skin and sandy blonde hair suggested that they were originally descended from the northern continent of Avistan rather than Sargava.

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Chapter 005
The Enemy of My Enemy

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

The group interrogated the men who had attacked their campsite, learning that they were part of a tribe called the Thrunefangs. The Thrunefangs had lived on this island for several generations, and the group was able to determine that these natives were likely descended from an ill-fated Chelish ship called Thrune’s Fang, which was believed lost several decades ago.

The captives provided information about their tribe, which appeared to number in the dozens and was dominated by an entity known simply as Mother, as well as the other inhabitants of the island, including a winged creature called a chupacabra, a bird-man that lived in a giant crab, and a tree spirit that was vilified by Mother.

The captives also revealed that the Thrunefangs had recently captured a dark-skinned man, whom the party believed was probably Jask, and that the tribe had recently had a single male visitor, one who visited the Caves of Mother and did not return. The group hoped that this man was Captain Kovack.

The party decided to visit the tree spirit, hoping to forge an alliance with it against the Thrunefangs. To this end, they bound the captured Thrunefangs and coerced them to lead the party to the tree spirit. Once there, the group discovered that the tree spirit was a dryad named Aycenia. While the spirit bore no ill will toward the Thrunefangs, she was willing to assist the group in rescuing Jask so long as they eventually helped her deal with an other-worldly fungal threat that had overtaken a small islet on the northwestern edge of Smuggler’s Shiv and that Aycenia feared would soon infest the entire island.

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Chapter 006
Raid and Rescue

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

After more interrogation of the Thrunefang captives and reconnaissance, the party had determined the general layout of the Thrunefang encampment, primitive huts centered around a large stone lighthouse which was clearly of Chelish architectural design. The group debated for some time about how to enter the Thrunefang camp to both retrieve Jask and to explore the Caves of Mother.

Eventually, the group snuck into the camp at night, with Issa and Dhanga leading the way. Issa snuck into the hut of the tribe’s witchdoctor and killed her, but not before the elderly woman awoke and alerted the camp to the party’s presence. Dhanga and Issa managed to find and free Jask while avoiding detection by the Thrunefangs. Afterwards, the three snuck into the jungle, where they met up with the rest of the party.

The Thrunefangs discovered the body of their witchdoctor and sent most of the tribe across the island in search of her killer. The party used this opportunity to sneak back into the village. They found the entrance to the underground Caves of Mother and they entered, carefully covering their tracks behind them.

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Chapter 007
Vengeance

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

The party explored the Caves of Mother, soon finding themselves in a large natural cavern, roughly spherical in shape. Here, they fought a pair of bizarre undead creatures resembling a cross between a ghoulish human and a dog. In an alcove of this room, they found a suit of leather armor, upon which was written a message in blood. The writer was apparently Captain Kovack himself! In the brief message, Kovack admitted that he had performed horrible deeds, but explained that such actions were the result of a spell cast upon him by Ieana, whom he described as a shape-changing serpent. He begged forgiveness and asked that any who read his message seek Ieana and kill her. Finally Kovack explained that Ieana planned to examine a “red mountain” upon the isle, believing that knowledge she sought could be found there. The group was bolstered by this finding and continued exploring the Caves.

Deeper in, they discovered a worked hallway connected to the natural caves – an ancient underground temple complex dedicated to the ancient serpent god Ydersius. In this room, the group fought and killed two ghouls, one of which was Captain Alizandru Kovack. In this hall, the group also learned that several monoliths had been constructed on this island by serpent folk, likely in ages past before humans dominated the lands. These monoliths appeared capable of controlling many aspects of nature, and the hieroglyphic instructions of how to activate one such monolith seemed recently cleaned of dust and debris.

The group continued exploring the caves, eventually finding and confronting Mother. She and her ghoulish minions fought the party, and Mother repeatedly offered the party her gift of eternal unlife.

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Chapter 008
The Fall of Mother

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

Mother was eventually defeated and the party left the Caves of Mother. Ren took the time to decapitate both Mother and Captain Kovack’s bodies, carrying the two heads in his pack as grotesque souvenirs.

The party returned to Aycenia’s grove, where they informed the Thrunefang captives what had happened. The Thrunefangs were angry, but expressed disbelief that the group had actually killed Mother. When Ren produced the head of their tribe’s matriarch, the Thrunefangs broke down. One violently attacked Ren, although the warrior was easily able to knock the man unconscious. The party then freed the other Thrunefangs, telling them to return and to inform their chieftain to abandon the worship of Mother.

Sasha cried in anger at this decision, and it soon dawned on the group that the Thrunefangs would likely gather their forces and assault the dryad’s grove en masse, possibly even going so far as to burn down Aycenia’s bond-tree.

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Chapter 009
From Friend to Foe

A much more thorough description of the session can be found here.

After nearly two stress-filled days spent prepared for a Thrunefang attack, the party decided to take the fight to the Thrunefangs. Just before they left the grove, however, the Thrunefangs rushed from the jungle to the east and west. The party split up to fight the two Thrunefang fronts, with Issa and Eva confronting the group led by the Thrunefang chieftain, Klorak the Red.

Eva and Issa managed to create an illusion of Mother’s head speaking directly to the chieftain. Through this illusion, along with cleverness and a good deal of luck, the pair convinced the chieftain to halt his attack and listen to the wisdom of the tree spirit. The group stood back as Aycenia emerged from her tree and began speaking with the assembled Thrunefangs, convincing them to abandon their old ways and accept her nature-based teachings.

The party left the newly pacified Thrunefangs with Aycenia as they made their way to the southwest of Smuggler’s Shiv, a region that fit the description of “red mountain.” As they drew near the mountain, the group made camp atop a long ridge overlooking an inner bay. That evening, a bolt of lightning struck the far side of the bay, on the base of the red mountain, followed by the prolonged sound of rolling thunder. The party soon realized that the noise was coming not from the lightning, but from the rapid emptying of the bay! After fifteen minutes, the waters of the bay stopped receding, ending up some fifty or more feet lower than they had been just previously. Later that night, the sound of rolling thunder filled the air, and the following morning, the bay was once again filled to its normal level.

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