Castaway Diary, Days 5 & 6.

Survival roleplaying can get old quickly. Some people enjoy counting every arrow and parcelling out the iron rations and some people don’t. Surviving on the island isn’t easy, but sensible steps taken mean that the party shouldn’t be on the edge of a sad and lingering death due to lack. Instead, they’ll be healthy enough to enjoy sudden and painful deaths, which is the way it should be.
That said, there is something very satisfying as a GM running a survival portion of a game if people buy into it: because arguing over who gets to eat a dead monkey is exactly where the players should be after a week of being shipwrecked.  
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Another thing I started doing by accident mostly is e-mailing stuff to the players while they are at the table. Players: if this is a pain in the arse, let me know and I’ll stop. The preponderance of tablets, smartphones and little laptops at the table make it a relatively easy way to share pictures, maps and above all, SECRET MESSAGES. I’m not going to take time out of the game to compose messages, post-it notes still work really well for that. But if I can prepare something ahead of time that I know one or two of you will discover – boom, enter recipient, send it secretly. Until I get my second monitor set up to show pictures (probably never going to do this) that seems like a good way of showing everyone what X looks like. I mean, I could it on my laptop screen and turn it around, right? But who has time for that?
Anyway, this week the players took the party to explore a bit more of the island.
Exploratory crew:
Uun, Human barbarian,  leading the expedition into the island’s upper reaches.
Percy, Tengu cleric, cool as a cucumber.
Malicia, Tengu rogue, doing whatever it is bird women do when it is too hot
Nobody, Tiefling gunslinger, crafting bullets at a prodigious rate.
Victor, Human paladin, one of those people who looks handsome in hot weather.
Orny, Human witch, nervous-goat wrangler.
Getting up in the morning of their 5th day on the island, the castaways took some time to go over their supplies. Floki had been afflicted by another bout of dysentery and Rolifson declined to join the party. Jask couldn’t be persuaded to come along with them, but warned them of the dangers of the journey anyway.
Meanwhile Victor had been perusing the Captain’s Log found on the Jenivere and read of the increasing instability of Captain Kovack. He had become paranoid about plots amongst his crew, especially by First Mate Devers. He had also become infatuated with the barfing Varisian, Ileana who had caught his eye, presumably on one of the rare occasions that she wasn’t making a dash for the railings. His last entries found him deliberately changing course for Smuggler’s Shiv.
Nobody had been cranking out stone bullets the previous evening and gathered those up. Percy found that the broken chain-shirts taken from the skeletons were not fixable by hand at this time, but totally fixable by orison: so offering up a little prayer he fixed some of those up with Mending. People eagerly put them on and probably said something ironically foreshadowing their imminent heatstroke.
Somehow Mending is only a Touch spell when Percy mends ladies chainmail.

Somehow Mending is only a Touch spell when Percy mends ladies chainmail.

Of concern to those maintaining the camp was that the expedition planned to bugger off with all the food. This was eventually settled, with the expedition taking less hardtack than they had initially planned and the party cut the canvas sheets into bundles to carry their supplies. They took a bunch of hacking tools and rope with them and set off.
Climbing up into the difficult terrain behind their lagoon, they began winding upwards towards the steep-sided plateau that comprised most of this curved arm of the island. If Floki was right, the trip should see them arrive at some sort of water source. If substantial enough, it may be worthwhile relocating the camp to a fresh water source as that is one of their prime concerns at the moment.
As the day grew hotter, it began taking its toll on the hikers. Despite the slow pace – about 1/2 a mile every hour – they were hacking a path in humid, hot jungle. Worshippers of Sarenrae long ago found that communion with the radiant face of their goddess tended to result in burns and heatstroke, but the Dawnflower is the goddess of the healing flame as much as the more traditional searing heat – to this end, Endure Elements is a domain spell for her clerics and Percy was able to remain cool and armoured.
Sarenrae, Goddess of the sun and beating the odds on skin cancer.

Sarenrae, Goddess of the sun and beating the odds on skin cancer.

Not so some of the others. The heat became oppressive and as they passed into the darkest parts of the jungle, black-earthed gullies over-hung with many layers of canopy, they paused to rest and let everyone cool down. Armour was stripped off, because it was badly hindering quite a few people. While everyone else was laying flat out on the cool damp bed of earth and rotting vegetation, moaning about the heat, Nobody saw a darker shadow pass across the canopy. He heard two slow leathery slaps as something passed just above the treetops, an indistinct form glimpsed only in fragments. Nobody… nobody else saw it or heard it, being too distracted by the other noises of the jungle – the hoots and howls of monkeys and the incessant bird noise. So Victor was taken by surprise when a dead monkey plummeted through the canopy and landed on him.


Jumping back, they found that the dead monkey had not attacked because of some necromantic joke, but rather had dropped or been dropped. On inspection, one large bite mark, consisting of two large holes in the neck appear to have done it for this simian. It was entirely drained of blood. Uun blamed mummies, Victor had no clue. But just in case it was dangerously infected with something, Victor quickly quartered it and threw the parts into the jungle, robbing everyone of a delicious, but maybe infected meal. There was some small outrage at this.
They had stopped in their shady spot before noon, but decided to stay there until the heat of the day had died down, so when the afternoon rains came, they emerged and continued on further up the island’s incline.
When the rains finally stopped, they stopped too, as I think someone was taking their armour off again. Malicia, keen senses open to the jungle’s many noises heard the slithering and so was not taken buy surprise by the snake ambush. Three 7′ vipers uncoiled from their hiding places and assailed the party. Blades were drawn and Nobody managed to put a bullet through one. Within a few moments the three snakes lay dead, but not before biting Uun and Percy.
The two struggled to shrug off the poison as it damaged their internal organs. It became harder and harder to resist the effects as kidneys and liver started to shut down. Uun was eventually able to shake his off before his organs shut down entirely and with help (can’t remember who did this, but it was well done) the remaining poison was isolated in Percy and sucked out. Percy had had to keep himself alive with a healing spell. The damage that the snakes had caused lasted a lot longer than the snakes as Orny salvaged what food he could from them. It wasn’t much, but between the various internal parasites the snakes had and the poison glands and the being cut to pieces, I think that was forgivable. Better than nothing. Better than hardtack too.
Hardtack: it's what's for everything!

Hardtack: it’s what’s for everything!

Pressing on, with Uun leading the way/getting jaundiced, they reached what appeared to be the highest point of the plateau, still fairly impenetrably covered in jungle. Uun climbed one of the tallest trees to get a better look.
From his vantage point, he could see that ahead of them, to the south, the plateau ended suddenly with a wide gorge between this plateau and another. He saw the broad round bay to the west and another lagoon to the east, much like their own.
They located the source of water indicated on Floki’s map, a deep, thin stream that poured south. Following it back to its source they found a soggy area of the plateau where several indistinguishable sources flowed together to form the stream. Travelling down the stream, they located the cliff above the gorge that the stream fell down. The waterfall was about 80′, landing in a pool that then dumped that water down into the gorge’s floor. This is probably where Percy picked up a case of Mindfire, which started bothering him later.
The party decided to find a winding path down the side of the plateau, shying away from the cliff. By this time the heat of the day had died down as dusk approached. Making a cursory inspection of the gorge floor, they headed east to the lagoon as the sun set. 
There they found several items of interest. They found several corpses rolling in the glowing surf’s edge and what looked like a small improvised campsite made of palm fronds propped against a leaning palm. Evidence of a fire was found just outside the shelter, although it was cold and wet now.  They found a well made tricorn which they recognised as Captain Kovack’s, and a wet, yellow varisian scarf, snagged on a low branch.
The haul from the corpses on the beach was no more impressive. While Malicia made sure that the bodies were entirely free of golden earrings and coin pouches, the corpses were examined and found to be sailors – mostly recognisable because Victor and Uun had spent so long with them – although they were so bloated from nearly a week in the sea that it was hard to tell exactly. By their clothes, none of them were officers and by their injuries, most of them had been dashed against the sharp reefs that tore the Jenivere apart too. Some clothes were salvageable and so were salvaged as Victor dug a shallow but respectfully appropriate grave. The expedition camped in the makeshift shelter, well most of them did.
In the morning they checked the trails near the lagoon. They found a single, poorly defined trail leading south along which lay a dumb Star Wars joke. 
Aar aar aar aaaaargh!

Aar aar aar aaaaargh!

 From there they doubled-back to check out the gorge floor and the sides of the cliff of the northern plateau. The gorge floor was even more miasmatic than the other areas of soggy jungle they had found and the stream from the waterfall joined with another to make a swampy environment.  The cliff sides were no more interesting or habitable and the waterfall had no hidden cave behind it, which seems like a breach of the fantasy contract. 
The journey back to the home camp was uneventful and slightly easier, since they’d hacked a trail that made it a bit easier to travel. No flying dead monkeys, no viperous assaults, just unrelenting heat….
…that relented as they approached their lagoon. It was dark by the time they reached the camp, but even from far away, they could smell cooking meat. They found their fellow castaways greasy fingered and stuffed with fire roasted goat. Sasha had found a small tribe of small wild goats and committed mass capricide, hauling the bodies back here for a proper beach feast. They now had more roast goat than they knew what to do with, so it was just as well everyone showed up. Things were looking up. A small spring – nothing too phenomenal – had been found (Sasha again) and a grove of  small melon-like fruits (Sasha again) is helping out with the water requirements. All in all, things are looking up.
Look away Bongripper.

Look away Bongripper.

Feasting on goat and catching everyone else up with what they found, Orny described the land they had surveyed, but was reasonably sure that it wasn’t a better bet than the current campsite. They talked about what to do next and most sounded keen to get back down to that second lagoon, albeit via the coast.
Red marks the hacked trail. You should be able to travel this route a little faster in the future. Dimmer areas were only what Uun could glance from his treetop perches, so they aren't detailed.

Red marks the hacked trail. You should be able to travel this route a little faster in the future. Dimmer areas were only what Uun could glance from his treetop perches, so they aren’t detailed.

 Update on the camp’s inhabitants:
Sasha: Even beyond the goat killing spree, she’s been amazingly useful and has been finding all sorts of useful things. However, she still doesn’t seem very comfortable around the other campers.
Aerys: Has barely stirred from her sleeping hut to keep watch when Ishiro needs a break. She looks terrible and she is increasingly surly.
Jask: The priest confides in Victor and Orny that Sasha’s sudden helpfulness came completely out of the blue. She seemed very happy when she delivered the bunch of goat carcasses. Aerys has been useless and has withdrawn from conversation with the other campers. She sleeps or sits on the rocks, moping with her book, pen in hand, but never writing. He offered to examine her for disease but she refused.
Ishiro: Seems to be harboring a grudge against Aerys? Happiest when there is a plan and he can do something towards helping that succeed.
Gelik: News that the Captain may be alive has seemed to buoy his spirits. He alerts the party to the possibility of a wrecked Pathfinder vessel on the coasts of the island. If he could bring anything of use back to the Pathfinder Society, it smooth his re-entry into their good graces. Gelik has been making small things around camp. Fly swatters, grass curtains for the huts and a post, on which he carves the date and any events that happened to amuse him that day. He casts Mending on his clothes every morning, so he never looks less than immaculate.

4 Comments on “Castaway Diary, Days 5 & 6.

  1. Group inventory:
    11.5 days worth of hard tack (one person).
    12 days of cooked goat meat (one person).
    1 wooden drawer/box.
    1 rope bottle-box.
    6 CLW
    1 CMW
    4 Pot. of Lesser Restoration.
    1 Pot. of Remove Disease.
    1 Pot. of Waterwalking.
    1 empty bottle.
    1 Ship-in-a-bottle model of the Jenivere.
    A block and tackle.
    2 50ft lengths of rope.
    1 Canvas sheet used as a raingather
    4 quarter-sized canvas sheets used as packs
    2 short Two handled saws.
    Jar of nails. (Malicia took a couple of them)
    1 Fishing net – Sasha is using the other one.
    A Grappling hook.
    1 Bullseye Lantern.
    10 jars of Lantern Oil.
    5 Belaying pins.
    2 Shovels.
    1 Hatchets.
    1 Boat Hook.
    1 Mop.
    3 Driftwood clubs.
    7 rusty scimitars (Broken).
    2 chain shirts.
    2 sets of clothes, after the other party members switch out some of their torn vestments.
    1 varisian scarf – don’t think anyone claimed that.

  2. 8.

    In regards to how female Tengu cool themselves, I assure you it is as disgusting as you think.

    Praise be unto Saranrae.

  3. Two things:
    1 – Did anyone check to see if the stream was freshwater?
    2 – If you need a second monitor I have one that would fit nicely on your table top. My asking price is “please take it.”

  4. 1 – Yes they checked an the answer is kinda. Three separate freshwater sources seep into a marsh like fold in the plateau. It becomes a narrow but deep stream only after exiting this swampy area. Those that viewed the water and all the rotting stuff it passed through were not convinced of its potability.
    2 – I have a good, flat monitor. What I lack is a proper table upon which to place it as the GM’s Sewing Machine table doesn’t have a sturdy folding leaf.