The adventure went very well. Only 4 players managed to make it to the game, however that may have been for the better since it upped the tension, and allowed the party to level at the end of the session.
Here is a round-up of the adventure so far:
The party landed on the beach during some unpleasant weather. Shortly after gearing up they fought a battle against three overlapping waves of skeletons, eleven total, that emerged from some very large dunes and one from off shore that took a crewman.
During the battle Morokian the paladin was dropped to zero hit points and stabilized by Captain Eliza the ranger (played by a newcomer to role-playing and Dungeons and Dragons who as it turns out proved to be a natural and seemed like a long-time veteran very quickly). She had the difficult choice of trying to rescue a member of her ship's crew or saving the paladin. It was a no-win scenario, kind of a Kobayoshi-Maru test. Her decision cost the life of her crewman, but saved the party from a possible TPK. (Total Party Kill).
The party wizard, Travarian, was having some very bizarre luck with his spells, hitting easily, and doing very little damage, of the one and two point variety. Meanwhile the halfling barbarian Endzque was getting clawed, cut, and beaten pretty badly while having trouble hitting until things looked pretty dire and then things started going his way.
The party camped on the beach to heal up overnight and only had one minor disturbance. In the early dawn hours during Travarian's watch some goats were cavorting back in the treeline. He observed them for a few minutes and then went back to meditating.
The party then began exploring the island, making note that the bodies of the two crewmen that had been ambushed and slain in the trees while tying up the dingies, were nowhere to be seen.
Getting their bearings the party heads toward the spot of the old town and discovers the sight of an old mass grave that had been dug up sometime in the recent past. A short distance away they heard voices.
They investigated and discovered two odd individuals that turned out to be crew members of the pirate ship Magnar. Scram, the ship's cook and his pet chicken Lucy, and Filthy, a tall thin man with a monkey familiar named Sniffles. The conversation was full of obfuscation and dodging of questions by both groups. Eventually they parted company, each side distrustful of the other.
The party chose to follow Scram and Filthy at a distance and eventually were ambushed by three other Magnar crew, which allowed Scram and Filthy to escape in the short term. The party quickly dispatched two ambushers and captured the third.
A very convincing bit of intimidation by the wizard quickly convinced the captive to spill what she knew about the happenings on the island. The pirates arrived to "convince" the cultists to give them a greater cut of money for the goods the pirates had "recovered" being fenced through the cult. A disagreement broke out with both sides taking casualties. The pirates burned down the abbey to try and finish off the cultists, but did not get them all. Captain Sarg Hellfist left a small party behind to search the ruins of the town for something, a map of the abbey perhaps.
Party follows her to old town area where pirates have been digging near remnants of building foundations. While searching the town ruins the captive answers questions explaining that the new graves they spotted near the pirate campsite were the bodies of some of the previous expedition. She doesn't know what happened to the rest.
Nothing turns up during a two hour search, however a familiar looking monkey comes out of the woods holding a piece of paper. They read the note from Filthy and Scram asking for safe passage off the island and to safer shores. Requests for safe escape from the island become a recurring theme during the session as their captive makes the same request and later so does another individual encountered.
The captive pirate agrees to show them another way up to the abbey so they don't have to take the main road. The off-road way involves climbing about 150' of cliff giving Morokian pause when he considers his lack of dexterity and his chain mail armor. He eventually overcomes his objections after the others make it up and as a team, pull him up tied into a rope harness. The captive then parts company and climbs back down the rope.
Watching a few people gathering food among the large garden crops beside the abbey, the team plans to assault these few hoping to stifle any alarm so they can enter the abbey unnoticed. The plan consists of Endzque sneaking closer to the workers in the field and seeing if they are alone. Then he would fire at one of them and get the attention of the others, hoping to draw all of them out to confront him while his companions wait in ambush. The plan starts to go wrong and then another amazing critical hit bow shot by Eliza prevents the alarm from being raised.
The newcomer's sharp-shooter ranger was rolling critical hits often during the session.
The party then snuck into the abbey down a long, steep flight of stairs. They followed the sound of voices and managed to catch two unarmored cult acolytes and a well armored guard unprepared. That fight was over quickly, but before they could do much more, two other groups came to the area.
Ogmund, the chief of the cult guards, two more of his guardsmen, another acolyte, and another mysterious person had come for a meeting, only to discover the bloody corpses. (Yes, even chaotic cults sometimes have their bureaucratic moments). The party was soon discovered and combat began while the acolyte ran for help.
Things had the potential to go badly, however Morokian held position against Ogmund while Travarian and Eliza blasted away with spells and arrows. Endzque, who had already wounded Ogmund, remained back in the room fighting guards and cultists, and trying to encourage the mysterious pale countenanced individual to enter the room.
The mysterious figure would not come into the room, preferring to remain in the shadowy hallway and ask for help escaping the island. For some reason, even creepy looking types seem to want to get away from the island.
As Ogmund's allies began to drop, including the two acolytes who arrived as re-enforcements, he tried to retreat to the stairs. Travarian had the last word, firing off a Magic Missile spell, slaying Ogmund, sending him tumbling noisily down a flight of stairs.
The Mysterious individual had vanished back into the darkness and this is where we stopped the session.
The characters earned more than enough XP to achieve second level (381.5 each). Once we determine a good date and time to continue, we will get on with plundering the abbey.
Everyone had a good time and we look forward to continuing the adventure.
Originally the adventure was to be run in two parts. The first was to include the exploration of the island, discovery of the fate of the first expedition, a number of encounters to both generate XP and give a solid sense of the strangeness and danger of the island. The second would be the approach and assault on the abbey. Real Life(TM) stepped in and scuttled that plan so it came down to a greatly abbreviated single session which we almost completed.
Morokian's player realized he would be having more fun running a rogue than a Paladin so he is creating the replacement character between sessions. We will figure out how to make the switch when the time comes. (I already have some ideas.)
For the next session which will be more location based and less sandbox, I plan to build the entire abbey location using my Dwarven Forge collection. If this opportunity does present itself, there will be pictures to include in the blog post.
Something else you may find of interest: go to YouTube and search for Retro Roleplaying or Captcorajus to check out the content my friend has on his channel. He is working on a review of the 5th edition Monster Manual which may be posted soon.