Children of the New World

Campaign Introduction
The email sent to players before the first session

The New World was only recently discovered, and permanent settlers first set foot there a year ago. They put out a call for additional settlers to make the same journey across the ocean to join them in creating a new civilization. You are part of that second wave, adventurers making the voyage to find your fortunes amidst the jungles of the New World. You know little about this primal continent, and much of what your fellow shipmates know is likely exaggeration or pure fabrication. Tales are told of vast ruins deep in the jungles built of solid gold and guarded by prehistoric terrors. Whole settlements disappear to a person, only to reappear as mindless and hostile attackers. But these cautionary tales do little to stem the flow of treasure-hunters and explorers amongst the other immigrants.

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Session One: Cast Ashore

The party neared the coast of the New World, eager to find adventure, when disaster struck! The Seaworthy, the ship on which the party sailed, was wrecked on the shore by a sudden squall.

When the party awoke, they were among a dozen survivors on a rocky shoreline. Before the survivors could compare notes and plan a course of action, a ragged band of zombies marched out of the jungle! The party sprung into action and made quick work of their undead foes, much to the other survivors’ gratitude.

Threat abated, the wounded Captain Merrin requested the party travel north along the shores to locate aid, or at the very least, find out where exactly the Seaworthy had wrecked. The party obtained a compass and a general idea of their location from a friendly map-making dwarf from among the survivors, armed the most able-bodied with weapons and armor taken off of their freshly slain foes, and set forth.

Not far into the jungle, the heat and unfamiliar flora began to take their toll on the party’s stamina. Tired and distracted, they walked – literally – into a waiting trap on the jungle floor! The dragonborn paladin G’Kar Ka’Chop’Chop was entangled and dragged across a clearing, into the waiting clutches of a band of small reptilian foes later identified as Gelkari of the Red-Scale tribe. The human cleric Thanos and Halfling warlock Finnia McCools leapt to their associate’s aid, and together the three warriors defeated their reptilian foe. As the battle drew to a close, two blue frog-like creatures also calling themselves Gelkari entered the fray, this time aiding the party against the remaining enemies.

After the fight, the party and two blue Gelkari uneasily decided that they were friends, and set off toward a nearby settlement the frogmen knew of, called Azure.

At Azure, the Gelkari departed. In the settlement – for it was too small to be called a town – the party found the gruff barge captain Berke, and his aptly named barge, Berke’s Barge. After negotiation and some directly implied bodily harm, Berke agreed to sail south to the _Seaworthy_’s wreck and haul the survivors to Bell in the north.

The barge arrived at the Seaworthy at dusk as the tide rushed in, finding more undead sieging the survivors! The party once again leapt to their aid, fighting the steady flow of enemies to allow the survivors to carry their wounded onto Berke’s Barge. As the party fought, the tide continued to rush in, shrinking the effective area of combat until everyone was up to their knees (or in Finnia’s case, neck) in seawater. The fight reached its climax when a wight appeared and began to inflict serious harm on the party members. G’Kar and company refused to be defeated, however, and destroyed the powerful undead creature. However, as it fell its spirit rose up out of the body and fled off into the jungle. Would that be the last time the party encountered this creature?

Survivors aboard, Berke’s Barge set off north.

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Session One: Cast Ashore, Continued

Due to so many wounded, Berke insisted the barge stop at Azure to get medical aid. Upon nearing, however, thick smoke could be seen rising from the settlement. When the party arrived, it was clear that something had attacked Azure and carried off its inhabitants – Berke’s daughter among them! Tall-Leaper, one of the two blue Gelkari the party had befriended earlier, was wounded among the bodies. He had fought to keep the attackers – red Gelkari in the service of the Tolzec – away, to no avail.

The party set off into the jungle along the easy-to-follow trail left for them.

Eventually the party could see light and hear chanting off in the jungle. They slowed their pursuit, and it was a good thing too, for they spotted the enemy’s picket line of guards before the party was seen in return. The party banged their heads together and eventually came up with a plan to distract a pair of the patrolling guards, creating a gap in the line through which they could slip.

Past the picket, the party realized they had entered a Tolzec temple-city. Built entirely out of carved bright yellow stones, the buildings were squat blocky structures with no visible windows or doors. Motifs of giant feather-winged serpents were common, as were murals depicting the smaller reptilian Gelkari amongst giant reptilian monsters.

Nearing the center of the temple-city, where the light and noise were greatest, the party witnessed a horrific scene! A great ziggurat sat in the middle of a large courtyard, surrounded by pillars holding flaming torches. Near the ziggurat was a pit filled with the prisoners taken from Azure, silent in their acceptance of their fates. All around the courtyard were red Gelkari, chanting in unison. Large reptilian creatures reminiscent of primordial dragonborn ringed the structures, dressed as guards. Atop the ziggurat was an altar with an elf man tied to it, around which four red Gelkari priests knelt. Before the elf stood another of these primordial dragonborn, dressed like a priest in bone ornamentation and black paint over its albino scales. Flanking this scene was a gigantic reptilian humanoid, easily eight feet tall, with similar paint to the priest and a spiked stone club almost as long as the creature was tall. The priest raised a wicked dagger and brought it down into the elf’s chest. A moment later the huge reptile brought its club down to behead the dying elf. The chanting from the audience reached a climax as this sacrifice was carried out.

The party wasted little time before enacting their plan. Finnia conjured a group of illusory prisoners amongst the real ones, and made them scale the pit and flee across the courtyard in full view of the guards. Unfortunately, the illusion faltered before it had left sight. It had the desired effect, however: The priest cried out in an archaic form of draconic for whomever had created the illusion to be caught, and a great number of the onlooking red Gelkari and reptilian guards scattered amongst the buildings to find the party. The priest then commanded the remaining worshippers to enter the ziggurat, as now was not the time for outsiders to know of their presence. The priest, its gigantic bodyguard, and three of the Gelkari priests entered the doorway on the side of the ziggurat, and the bodyguard hauled a massive stone door closed behind them.

Remaining in the courtyard was a Gelkari priest, a pair of reptilian guards, and a handful of Gelkari warriors. Confident in their advantage, the party struck! A terrible fight occurred, with Finnia almost falling. G’Kar and one of the primordial guards traded blows, and G’Kar proved that he was stronger by eventually striking the reptilian creature down.

Foes defeated, the party freed the prisoners and led them in a hurried journey back to Azure. Once there, the freed prisoners decided to give up on Azure, piled onto Berke’s Barge with the _Seaworthy_’s survivors and the party, and the whole group left for Bell.

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Session One Epilogue
Berke fills the party in on local happenings

While traveling from Azure to Bell on Captain Berke’s barge, the aptly-named Berke’s Barge, the as-yet-unnamed (ahem) party of misfits and homicidal draconic maniacs quizzes Berke for some local knowledge. As the man poles up and down the coast for a living, he hears plenty of rumors and has seen all that there is to see in that region:

“Bell itself is a young city, and only called a city because it’s the biggest place here. It’s built at the mouth of the river known as “Glory’s Tears” (a silly name if you ask me), and is the site of the first landings upon this continent. Bell’s a quickly growin’ city, which is why townships like Azure are popping up all over the place – it’s easier to clear farmlands out of the thinner jungle along the coast. Good farmland isn’t the only reason people are spreading out from Bell, however – some people don’t sit comfortably under the nobility there.” Berke looks over at Captain Merrin to confirm she is asleep, “They must have imported a whole ship’s hold-worth of those useless fops, or maybe they sprung up from under all the rocks. Lots of folks thought that the New World represented an escape from that kind of thing, so they’re gettin’ out of town while the gettin’s good. The top of the pile is Lord Von Tippleskertch, he rules here with the authority of the throne back home. Your Merrin here was talking about the Lord like they know each other well, whatever that means. The other big power player in Bell is the Greenhammer Clan. They’re a family of dwarves from the Old World, and that’ll tell you all manner of things about them. They run the Greenhammer Company as their business front, and they own most of the trade guilds in Bell. Without the Greenhammer Company’s help and skill, Bell would be a shanty town still. Instead, in just the year we’ve been here, they’ve rebuilt Bell into a sturdy stone city. Of course, they made a pretty penny in the process, and in turn are so deep into the politics and industry in the New World that Von Tippleskertch might want to watch his back. Ditom is the name of the clan’s patriarch.”

“Further down the coast you can find the pirate-town of Rivershand. Most people won’t call it a pirate town, but everybody knows. Whenever a ship docks here in Bell, a couple of the worst sort of fella jump ship and make their way down to Rivershand. That town is built around some weird ruins, giant towers which stick up out of the water at the mouth of the river Stoia. Story is, the pirates there have moved into the towers and stirred up trouble with their current residents. I don’t go that far south on account of the pirates, they roam all over the place tryin’ to take plunder from the Greenhammer ships heading back to the Old World.” Berke puffs up self-importantly, sucking in his ample gut, “My barge is a juicy target for those types, so I do ‘em a favor and keep my sword arm out of their faces.”

“If you sail down the Stoia past Rivershand, you’ll come to a great lake. In the middle of that lake is an island, on which a bunch of explorers built themselves a town called New Caroche. Used to be a nice place, but after the, uh, trouble with the local dragonborn…” Berke looks very uncomfortable discussing this topic around G’Kar.

“Anyway, around Bell there’re a lot of those little frog fellas, call themselves the Gelkari. Of course, they call the other tribes of their kind Gelkari too, even the ones they fight. The blue ones seem trustworthy enough, they do some trade and work as guides for those that can hire them. They aren’t the only lizards around, though – those ruins you saved my daughter from, more have been found all over the place. Wouldn’t be surprised if those big scaly guys were just as widespread. There’ve been other problems around here too – some towns have just up and disappeared into the jungle, with no trace of their people to be seen. There are expeditions heading out from Bell into the jungle regularly, and they stop along the way to deliver supplies to these little hamlets. I heard about one convoy that pulled into Bell just the other day, talkin’ about some place called Hope or somesuch which became a ghost town. If you pay any mind to rumor, there’re plenty of other things around – I’ve heard about undead, but your little dance on the beach was the first time I’d seen ‘em with my own eyes. The coastal places seem particularly subject to rumors of death and disappearances, like the sea itself reaches out and takes people and ships. I’ve sailed up and down this coast every day in the year we’ve been here, and I’ve never seen anything that crazy.”

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