The ship continues to pass through the Sea of Chaos. Past spinning balls of plasma, through lightning storms, past asteroids teeming with brightly-coloured plants. The ship had taken some minor damage from the collisions with the coral boulders but their carpenter patched it up (though they were running short of wood).
They reached a transparent veil, like an oil slick with many colours that shifted and shimmered like flame as they approached. As it touched the prow of the ship, the shimmering flame ran along the rigging and masts and covered the ship. As it hit the crew they all experienced visions of horrific monsters. Most were able to shake them off but a few drew weapons and attacked the visions – Raef the warlock cast Darkness to fight them in the dark. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured. Abraham the Inquisitor banged his head and was left to rest in a hammock. [GM: Carl lost his character sheet so played Raef the Warlock for this session]
On the other side of the veil, it seemed they had reached a slightly less chaotic area of space. A few larger asteroid/moons drifted by. One of them seemed to have trees and an ocean and seemed relatively free of impact craters. Despite Clayton’s suggestion that this moonlet must be being protected by something – they decided to investigate.
Due to misunderstanding of the scale, Clayton almost crashed into one of the giant redwoods – it was about half a mile high. They moored the ship next to a high branch and two groups clambered into the tree. The priest Magnus Hammerhand and the two orc rangers, Raq and Rudma and a few of the orc crewmen were sent to cut wood. Clayton, Gaston, Mulan and Raef wanted to climb down to the ground for a look around. The tree was so massive that they could easily walk down in cracks in the bark.
They had barely started down when Mooshoo (Mulan’s pseudo-dragon familiar) alerted them to a strange pale-green man climbing quickly towards them. He was gesturing at them, but any noise he made was covered by the sound of axes hacking at the tree above.
He teleported part of the way and suddenly they could hear him, his voice sounding directly in their minds – “Run, Run, they are after me – RUN”.
Despite his obvious urgency, they tried to get him to calm down and explain what was happening. He jumped about 30 feet, seeming to slow-fall at the end – like some sort of Jedi! “I am Zerth Symron and THEY are chasing me – RUN if you value your lives – get to your ship and GO”.
Behind him, three new figures shimmered into existence [GM: like from star=trek transporters].
They were led by a Knight in glimmering silver armour and with a huge silver greatsword. The two warriors accompanying him bore greatswords with wicked serrated blades. They immediately set off in pursuit of Zerth Symron, apparently ignoring the presence of the others.
Mulan, Raef and Clayton acted on instinct to defend the hunted man. Crossbow bolts, Eldritch Blasts and Arrows thudded into the Knight, mostly glancing off his armour. Zerth’s telepathic voice sighed “Now you’ve got their attention! RUN there are more coming”. The three pursuers fired Eldritch blasts of their own and then leapt from branch to branch with ease.
Ignoring the call to run, Gaston stepped in to meet the pursuers, almost killing one of the warriors but then finding the Knight was much more dangerous than he looked. When he struck with the Silver Sword, it was as though a lot of additional force flowed through the blade.
Clayton called back to the ship wanting them to cast off and hover until they got there. Staines one of the human crewmen took the wheel (un-trained) and accidentally started to drift away from the branch.
Three more pursuers appeared and climbed up to engage the wood-cutting party and then three more. The fighting was intense, one of the warriors was killed but then Magnus was cut down, then the two rangers. They watched as the enemy warriors, bandaged their fallen comrades.
Gaston managed to knock the first Knight off the branch, he plunged down, vanishing through a globe of darkness cast by Raef.
Mulan managed the jump back to the ship, and then helped Clayton over too. Even with Clayton back at the controls, the ship still yawed wildy and could only bring one of the two ballista to bear. Jock managed to kill another of the Warriors but then the two Knights by the fallen woodcutting party shimmered out of existence and took their captives with them! Magnus Hammerhand and the two Orc Rangers – Raq and Rudma, along with a couple of the red orc crewmen, were gone.
[GM: to be honest this was my intention for the encounter as I did not want these ex-player characters “cluttering-up” the ship. Clayton gets Inspiration for not willingly leaving them behind as it is one of his character traits – he could have flown away. That still leaves Jock the Ranger/Warlock and Raef the Warlock as part of the crew and I’ll want to get rid of them too. If any of the players return, I’ll try to find a way to get their characters back that doesn’t stretch the “fictional reality” too far].
Unfortunately for Gaston, the Knight he had pushed off the branch, suddenly rose back up through Raef’s globe of darkness. He had a Telekinesis power and used it to stop his fall and carry himself back into the fight. Gaston was struck down but only after almost killing the Knight – then Mulan leapt back across and cast sleep, but only managed to knock out the remaining Warrior. Raef leapt into the Darkness – then one of the secondary Knights emerged from the darkness, just as the groggy one was about to Plane Shift away with Gaston. The secondary knight said “I’ve got him, you go now!” and the first Knight plane Shifted away with his sleeping warrior.
Mulan shot the remaining “Knight”, before his disguise spell shifted to reveal that it was Raef who had saved Gaston by trickery. [Worthy of inspiration].
They all got back onto the ship, agreed to let their new guest finish his sleep/trance undisturbed. They finished gathering wood and also gathered a huge seed from inside a pine cone as big as a house.
They experimented with their barrel of black powder and Gaston managed to remember how much was in the cannon when they came on-board. They had one experimental shot – blowing a hole in the great tree, then were underway again.
They got Abraham to attune to the Ship, which de-attuned Clayton from it [GM: so now Abraham has advantage on piloting rolls – which use either the Arcana skill or proficiency with ships).
When Zerth Symron (a Githzerai “High Monk”) finally awoke (after an 8-hour sleep) he thanked them for their aid and explained something about his situation. He had not intended them to get involved, but had needed to start his rest immediately and be undisturbed as his Plane Shift ability needed the same amount of rest as the Plane Shift ability of the Githyanki Knights. They would have returned to the Githyanki Citadel, where the Lich Queen ruled. They would get healed and would rest and then would be in pursuit of Symron as soon as they were able. The three Knights they had met were psychically-linked to the Collar worn by Symron and could follow him wherever he went. They were pursuing him in the hopes he would Plane Shift home to the Monastery of the High Monks, but Symron had learned what they intended before they tortured him in their Mind Machine. He had used his own strange mind powers to forget where the Monastery was.
He intended to Planeshift away from the ship immediately to some other dangerous location in the Sea of Chaos, in the hopes he could get the three Knights killed by monsters. He hopes that the crew have not drawn the attention of the Githyanki and that they will not be pursued once he has gone.
When they mentioned their ship’s Quest to seek out the God – Torkas, and the strange nature of the ship (how it had a magical Chart and Compass and how it did not drain the magic of the Helmsman, Symron was amazed. This ship is incredibly valuable – unique among the stars! They should try to keep the nature of the ship a secret or other star-faring races will want to take it from them. All other ships helms are either Spell Jammers (which drain the magic of the Helmsman completely) or Life Jammers (which drain the soul of a sacrifice).
If the Githyanki put their captured crewmen into the Mind Machine (or break them by torture) and learn about the ship, they will come after it!
They then agree to Symron staying aboard and will try to ambush the Githyanki when they arrive. The magic of the collar around Symron’s neck allows the three attuned Knights (each with two warriors) to Plane Shift into the area – using the Lich Queen’s magic, not their own, so they have one Plane Shift each remaining and each Knight can use it once, transporting themselves and 8 others. They need an 8-hour rest to use their own Plane shift again. They can go anywhere in the Sea of Chaos that they know (or use it to reappear in the area of the collar).
The Githzerai and the Githyanki are actually natives to the Sea of Chaos (although they live in distant areas of it that are more tamed than this wild region). To the crew, Symron and the Knights look like the same race, but Symron is very insistent that they are utterly different.
The Githyanki are inter-stellar raiders/slavers who use their psychic powers to enhance their weapon strikes. They serve the Githyanki Lich Queen.
The Githzerai are a democratic and peaceful people, ruled by an elected council of the High Monks. They live lives of quiet study and meditation (but obviously this includes martial arts training and they use their psychic powers to enhance their unarmed blows and acrobatic abilities).
[GM: I’ve also given both races an Eldritch Blast cantrip (rationalised as psychic bolts) so they aren’t helpless at Ranged combat]
Symron’s only chance to avoid capture is the death of all three of the attuned Knights, or to travel to the Lich Queen’s palace (in the floating heart of a dead god) and destroy the collar’s control platform.