Saturday, November 27, 2021

Play report: Blackstone

   On Black Friday we had a long, involved session set in Blackstone, my AD&D 2e Players Option campaign, which is 14 years old ('the new campaign').

The party:
Disco (6th level fighter, master of the battle axe) [Alex]
Joan (6th level cleric, front line fighter) [Jen]
Albrecht (6th level mage, creator of the School of Healing) [Jack]
Alazne (7th level thief, assistant guildmaster of East Port) [Sam]
Lawrence (6th level mage, master of Song magic) [Nick]

Background: After a long trek to the northern wastes the party was ble to meet the fabled Green Empress who was in the process of leaving for a different plane of existence. She asked them to take Whitestaff, the most powerful holy sword ever made, and 'put it in a safe place'. They attempted to have the Holy Inquisition take it to the Holy City. But the Inquisition's ship was turned back by the Crimson Pirates of the Undying Witch-King. The party is resolved to take it themselves.

  In the meantime Morro, the Mage-Assassin of the Lord of the Fire Spire, had attempted to buy a Helm of Teleportation from the party that was given to them by the Green Empress. The offered price was shockingly high so Alazne (who owns it) refused and did research. He soon learned that if the wearer uttered a command word before Teleporting it would take him and those that go with him to the Flint Skies!

Referenced in the oldest known writings of the Emerald Empire and in obscure books on arcane lore the Flint Skies are associated with the ancient Stone Age Jade Empire. No one is really sure exactly what the Flint Skies really are. It is assumed it is a location, but what kind is unknown. The most common theory is that it is a massive series of caverns, but some conjecture it is a doorway to an air node on the Plane of Elemental Earth and others think it is an ancient temple or pyramid.

The party hired the ship The Laughing parrot, captained by a man named Betelgeuse, to get them to the Holy City, beginning a 20 day sea voyage. Most of it was very mundane with the occasional stop to trade with sea elves. The three major encounters-

 A few days out the ship was attacked by a Giant Sea Slug that caused some hull damage and killed a number of crew. The party simply closed and hacked it at it attempted to capsize the ship. Tough fight, but good.

  In the middle of he voyage the lookout screamed out a warning - one of the Accursed Pirate Ships of Tolmar was closing on the Laughing Parrot! Surrounded by a magical fog the ship was silhouetted by the setting sun, the bloody glow revealing the tattered sails and undead crew mustering for a nighttime attack. 
  Crewed by juju zombies and sea zombies the warrant officers were wights, the first mate a wraith, and the captain a vampire! The crew of the Laughing Parrot remained resolved and began firing their mangonel at the rapidly advancing ship, but the missile bounced off the accursed hull! Jen tried something and had Joan cast Bless on three of the catapult stones, all of which hit and did damage, slowing down pursuit!
 But not enough.
  Soon the accursed ship was in range and its figurehead began firing bolts of fire from its eyes into the rigging of the Laughing Parrot. Realizing the fight was probably unwinnable Albrecht drew his Luck Blade and Wished for a waterspout (akin to the 8th level spell). The waterspout appeared instantly and rushed to engulf the accursed ship. The vampire captain launched himself toward the Laughing parrot with magic and immediately engaged the party in melee, laying about with a cutlass that crackled with black energy.
  Alazne was struck by the cutlass twice, but his Bone Ring negated the level drain. Within just 2 rounds the vampire was forced to become mist. A Gust of Wind from Lawrence forced the mist close to the waterspout that had already annihilated the accursed ship and the party watched the 300 moh winds shred the vampire.

Just 2 days away from the port of the Holy City  the Laughing parrot came upon one of the ships of the Crimson Pirates attacking a Vatican ship! Once again the crew of the Laughing Parrot was fired up and immediately agreed to close with the pirates, Within 15 minutes the crews was exchanging short bow shots with a few pirates and soon thereafter the Laughing parrot and party were closing for boarding action.
  Visible on the enemy ship were a captain (wearing only pantaloons and a sash, armed with a cutlass), a Master of Crimson Mages, and 4 Crimson Mages. Fully 30 of pirates were still on their own ship, the other 15 fighting on the Vatican ship they were attacking.
  As they closed Lawrence used a Horn of Valhalla to call 8 einherjar to the forecastle of the pirate ship while Disco & Alazne used magic to get to the pirate ship a round early. As the boarding planks dropped Albrecht's henchman Tessa, a paladin, suddenly drew Whitestaff (she was carrying it as they approached) and, obviously under command of the holy blade, leapt into the fray with great power.
  A lot went on, most especially a Web spell neutralizing 3 of the mages and cutting the two ships off from each other and Joan's henchman Barbara neutralizing the spell that was demoralizing the crew of the Vatican ship, allowing the same to fight at full effect.
  Alazne used magic items and guile to neutralize and eventually kill the Master Mage and his personal assistant mage. Which was good because Joan, Disco, and Joan's half-ogre henchman Grippir were getting a full-on beat down by the pirate captain! The entire party was so stunned by how hard the captain was outclassing them in melee they damn near fell back, especially when Disco went down!!!!But they pulled it out and finally cut down the pirate leader. 

  Albrecht patched up the wounded, especially Disco, the Vatican crew executed the remaining pirates, and the party finally reached the Holy City.

In the Holy City Whitestaff was given to the marshal of the Holy Military Order, the party had a curse lifted (they didn't even know about) from the accursed ship, and everyone but Disco and Alazne leveled up. They were able to use the Vatican Library to figure out a few command words (including the helmet!) and they sailed back home. the return trip was must less eventful with only a few monster of the day encounters that were quickly resolved.

More soon!


  1. So were you actually running it with Player's Option? How does it play in this day and age of 3/4/5 e hindsight and B/X retrospective appreciation? This might be worth a blog entry on its own.

  2. We have always done the entire Player's Option set for Blackstone, yes.
    The blog post is a good idea, thanks