The group emerges from the coral passage and find themselves on the main island. Behind them the passage exit is in a rectangular “Block” that stands upright out from the coral. Julie, alone, recognizes the Block as an advanced form of concrete.
Note: This session was all theater of the mind and there was no combat. The group did get to learn more about their situation and to take initiative on deciding what to do next.
In the distance, they see groups of refugees fleeing from the coast towards a settlement at the base of a waterfall in the distance. The buildings of the waterfall settlement look like they are formed from cut blocks of coral.
Kuragorath and Grimolf notice hordes of Sea Devils swarming coastal villages and slaughtering any inhabitants who haven’t fled. Grimolf notices faint signs that an armed group of humanoids came by the Block in the last day and then dispersed out towards the various settlements. He also notices signs that the Block was once part of a larger structure but, lacking knowledge of modern engineering, he can’t fathom what it might have been.
The goblin, Bluh, wanders away from the group in the general direction of the waterfall settlement but not taking any visible paths. Malani and Grettal advocate for joining one of the refugee groups and heading for the waterfall settlement as quickly as possible. But Grimolf insists on following the goblin. Frustrated, Malani leaves the group. Puah promises to stay with Julie and Kura, proclaiming again that they are “Chosen saviors sent by the ancients.” Despite her misgivings about following the goblin, Grettal decides to stay with the three newcomers and asks “Are you really sent by the old ones? Were you sent to save us from the Sea Devils?” Julie, Kuragorath, and Grimolf respond with “Don’t know.” while Puah hypes them up.
Grimolf leads the way following Bluh but has trouble as the goblin slips under and around coral growths in ways that are difficult for larger people. It makes for slow going compared to the paths a short distance away.
They encounter local wildlife which Julie conducts are similar enough species from her world but as if they had taken a different evolutionary path. She also realizes that the world has lighter gravity than Earth. Julie estimates the she’s been on this world for the equivalent of three earth days yet night has yet to fall. She attributes this to the world having three suns.
Grimolf notices that Bluh stops, occasionally, to touch, dust off, and breath on certain coral growths. Looking more closely he discovers runes like the one that granted them safety in the coral passage. He concludes that they provide obfuscation and protection, then realizes that the refugees on the path a short distance away seem unaware of them – despite the fact that Kuragorath in particular stands out very clearly. So the goblin is following a warded path of some kind.
They begin to come across scattered farms – though they don’t recognize the crops – as they near the waterfall settlement. One farmer stops to ask them where they came from and is confused when Julie answers, “Earth.” “Urth?”
Arriving at the outskirts of the waterfall settlement, Grimolf follows the goblin Bluh to a little hovel to one side of the settlement’s trashpile. Bluh ducks inside and plops down beside three other goblins. They immediately begin to talk quietly in their language. Grettal leaves the group to try to get the attention of the settlement leaders.
Grimolf tries to communicate with the goblins but they don’t understand. Then he – intuitively – speaks in the language of shadows, a new tongue that he had come to know somehow.
“Hello. Do you understand me.”
One of the goblins, an elderly female with worn leathery skin and jewelry made of trash responds in shadowtongue.
“Yes, off worlder. I also speak the tongue of darkness. Why are you here? Your kin is out there.”
Grimolf asks what’s going on, about the runes Bluh followed, and thanks Bluh for helping the group.
“We are outcasts, unclean. You should ask your own kind. It is your kind who angered the Sahuagin – the deep dwellers who cannot feel fear though they reside by the heart of terror.”
“As for the runes… We follow the old ways, the ways of Raytanth, which was old even when your species first stood on two legs behind the light of Sol. You would not understand. You are too young.”
“You thank Bluh. She saved herself and you followed to salvation. Thank your wisdom, not her generosity. We are pariah, it not our way to meddle in the affairs of those among whom we are outcasts and unclean.”
Grimolf responds, “I don’t think you are the unclean – Bluh helped us survive and I will remember that. I shall still thank you, Bluh. Is there anything you can tell us about how we got here?”
“What do you know, Man of Sol? We alone bear the curse of Raytanth’s demise. Only the ancients understand what we have done.” The leathery old goblin answers, “As for how you got here… The ancients love life and living. They sang you from certain demise, as they like to. They laugh at your difference and they delight in the chaos you bring.”
Grimolf decides to leave to check out the nearby market with the others. He tells them what he learned and they worry that they are caught up in a “game of the Gods.”
Note: I had to suppress a chuckle at the players’ concern about this being a “game of the Gods.” They’ll understand soon enough. I was inspired by older source material when I designed this science fantasy campaign setting but I realize that the recent surge in popularity of the Isekai genre is definitely impacting how players perceive it. I suppose Ultima would be considered an Isekai but Star Gate SG1 and Phantasy Star not so much.
Julie spends a couple of hours gathering information and learns the following.
- Almost everyone is planning to flee to the Ice Hold. It’s on second strata but pierces to the third strata. This fortress is where the citizens hide during the long winter, when the suns fade and ice flows cover the island. However, everyone is worried because this is the season to harvest food stocks to survive the winter and they will starve without more supplies.
- The Sea Devils are raising from the depths and massacring surface dwellers. No one knows why. There have been conflicts with them before but nothing like this. This island, Koh, is the only landmass in the entire world. There are a few scattered floating settlements but the vast ocean belongs to the Sea Devils where they have an immense civilization…or even civilizations plural. The Sea Devils are not without caution but they literally cannot feel fear. Their culture is completely different from other species that do feel fear. One survivor claims that the Sea Devils are like a death cult but as a whole species. The surface dwellers don’t know how many Sea Devils there are but do know that they are helplessly, hopelessly outnumbered. Those who know the Sea Devils speech say that they are speaking of a heresy and calling the land dwellers infidels. Never ones for diplomacy, the Sea Devils haven’t given anyone the chance to learn more.
- A hunter name Curcy claims to have seen an Elf from Athran with a ‘boat’ near the entrance to the ruins on the first strata. People doubt the Athran Elf has come to help them and wonder why it’s at the ruins. Curcy is trying convince people to take the ‘boat’ and use it to escape the Sea Devils.
- Some refugees speak of someone called Rauvo, who lives on the third strata. Rauvo apparently has the ability to leave the island but has always refused to take others along. They are considering hunting Rauvo down and forcing it to help them escape the Sea Devils.
In the market, the group trades some rations for help placing magical runes on armor and weapon. Rations are in very high demand now due to the crisis. They also make a few purchases.
Grettal returns to let the group know that she couldn’t convince the settlement leaders to meet the group. In the midst of crisis, they didn’t care about the three newcomers.
She tells them that the leaders are gathering all of the people and supplies they can, planning to retreat to the Ice Hold. Outmatched by the Sea Devils they see no feasible alterative. She also shares that someone called Captain Mito is trying to regroup and organize a counterattack. Mito believes that retreating to the Ice Hold will lead to certain death due to the lack of food stocks. Mito is the commander of a small military troop that includes Karik, the elf who helped the group on the atoll, and which protects the islanders from sea monsters and other threats. Mito is apparently a skilled healer and caster, who wields a powerful magical item called the Orb of Security.
The group decides to investigate the Athran ‘boat’ and elf on the first strata, concluding that it’s one of the most promising leads. They sent Grettal to look for a map and dismiss Puah to the Ice Hold. The kobold visibly wilts at their command but obeys. Traveling to a makeshift tavern, they find Curcy the hunter who saw the elf and question him about the location. Grimolf secretly steals from Curcy’s satchel, acquiring a map of the first strata – with the ruins marked, several healing potions, several vials of alchemist fire, and some gold pieces. Learning everything they need to know the group sets off for the ruins after they finish their business at the waterfall settlement.