Uncharted - The Hunt for all the Shinies

Session 20: Gotta find Shelter
Featuring David Copperfield!
  • The group are (still) currently swimming in the chamber, discussing plans, after they had a small rest to go through their new loot.
  • They talk to the skull, Y3S2p2s, wondering what to call him. They ask it for his favourite type of magic and the skull mentions his fondness for illusions, which leads to the fateful question- who is your favourite illusion user? To which he (stupidly) replies with “Copperfield.” Now the skull is referred to as “David” or “Copperfield.” [I honestly don’t know what I was expecting.]
  • And despite Mister Copperfield’s 100% inaccurate divination reading, Ramar doesn’t want to hurt the skull’s feelings or leave any of these fishmen alive… so they head the “wrong” way, leading to a room full of stank and a small number of kuo-toa.
  • What follows is a complete blitz where Ramar shoves one of the fishmen into a pit, Weezl does the same with a vinewhip while hanging from the roof over the pit, and Ziggy ruthlessly cutting down another. The last is thrown headlong into the stank pit… which they discover later to be hundreds of feet deep.
  • Satisfied, they continue on, finding (dun, dun, dun) a door! Peeking through they see a kuo-toa priest, chanting, before a portal with 4 others reading to sacrifice themselves in some ritual. They watch it all unfold, with the ocean-like, glowing portal, spilling forth a horrid elemental crayfish with human appendages. It is huge, menacing, and probably not edible.
  • When the group enter the room, the priest Controls Water raising the water in the room by 20 ft… causing to be a problem until Ziggy using his final Seeking Arrow to strike the creature from the other room (which is genius since it means he got to avoid the disadvantage he would have had if he had fired normally) which ended its’ concentration abruptly, causing the water to spill away.
  • And then, IT WAS ON! (As usual, here’s a greatest hits, as opposed to a blow-by-blow):
  • Weezl conjures a fey being for the first time… and that creature was a Sea Hag. It spent most of the fight attempting to frighten things to death but consistently locked down the battlefield with its presence alone. The party was also brave enough to endure its visage. Eventually Weezl loses concentration, after the hag tanks a fair few hits, and the creature shrugs apologetically as it returns from whence it came.
  • Ramar with Shield of Faith tanks the majority of the other foes, smashing and smiting with abandon (and unfortunately low damage rolls.) However, his paladin aura did halve all of the damage coming in from Spiritual Guardians which was particularly badass. He also managed the final blow on the elemental crayfish.
  • Ziggy weaved in and around the battlefield, taking a few heavy hits from the hulking crustacean and from the head priest alike (with its lightning rod weapon). He did manage to cut down the priest finally with a masterful blow and Ziggy has learned to bit a bit more discerning with what damage he chooses to Uncannily Dodge.
  • The other thing worth mentioning is Weezl’s debut of her Giant Constrictor Snake form. Thanks to two uses of Wild Shape the tiny druid managed to withstand about 100+ damage from the elemental AND restrain it.
  • Mr Copperfield/David also, from the other room, shouted encouragement for his new friends, giving them advantage on their next attack. The skull had to guess when it was best to do so… he was also struggling to stay afloat.
  • It was a crazy battle with spells, lots of coordination and combos, a kaiju battle and MANY status effects. But finally the battle ends, and Ramar goes throw the priest’s corpse through the flickering portal in anger… causing a cry from the rest of the party. They loot things and Ramar does not know this. [I’ll admit that I flinched at the thought of the items I put on the priest being tossed through the portal (spell scrolls, idol and an elemental gemstone) but I would have ruled the portal closed with the gemstone returning to its native plane.]
  • During the fight, and for a short time afterward, a couple muted explosions can be heard.
  • Then came the portal, collectively, with different skills being utilised in concert, the group ascertained what it was (to the best of their ability) and how to thwart it.
  • With Weezl reading the tide of the dimly lit watery portal and finding when it was weakest, with Ramar seeing the points in the script that were in elemental script, and Ziggy finding the weakest points in the incantation, they surgically (via longsword) manage to mar the incantation… causing the water to shimmer and spill into the room… and reveal a shimmering portal. The original one perhaps?
  • Ramar has the idea to throw David into the portal and the skull is NOT keen, eventually resorting to casting Friends on the paladin… which leads to hilarity a minute later when Ramar tosses the skull into the portal, with the others managing to grab him just in time (thanks to Ziggy’s dex save being over 20).
  • The skull tells the party he can see a dim, stone chamber with chains and torture implements? He’s scared and does not want to stay. The group pull him back and they collectively don’t know what’s going on there, but they file it away for later.
  • They discover a small room used for ambushes and manage to pilfer a couple vials of poison.
  • Then there’s the way out (after finding a collapsed series of tunnels) but it’s underwater and Ziggy does not have the greatest lung capacity. So with another weird co-op moment, Weezl summons 4 reef sharks (Bruce, Johnno, Phil and another that wasn’t named) and Ramar casts Speak with Animals while the sharks go to find the quickest way out.
  • The very blokey sharks return and ask for some food, getting a couple dead kuo-toa, which makes the water super gross but they’re happy at least. They reckon they can get you lot out of here, to the hard water at least, in a coupla minutes. Easy-peasy. It gets cold though but it should be quick enough to get out. (There is also an amusing conversation about which shark was fastest, for Ziggy to ride… but unfortunately sharks aren’t super bright though they did try to be helpful.)
  • Ramar leads the charge on two sharks, with Weezl following behind, and Ziggy waiting until the path is clear. Until he hears a thunderous boom- when Ramar met the ice, head first, with Thunderous Smite with a super-powered headbutt. The sharks break the frozen surface and Ziggy appears soon after… to a frozen lake and a dozen frozen kuo-toa on the shore.
  • There are dead horses, broken carriages (which they investigate- finding papers and a little coin), and frost on nearby trees on the thick forest around them.
  • They start a fire and attempt to warm themselves when they hear another boom in the near distance. A flash of heat and light reveal it to be an explosion. Trees shake and animals flee.
  • Ziggy scouts ahead while the group gear up and follow suit. The half-elf manages good time- time enough to find the clearing from the previous explosion and from nearby foliage he sees a man tumble, rolling across the ground. He’s horribly injured, with a blackened broken arm, and blood pouring from his face and head… and it’s Speck. The mage is nursing a tome and tells Ziggy to run, as a giant, monstrous, arcanely mutated Kuo-Toa behemoth (roughly 15ft tall) blasts through the brush, ready to strike the mage.
  • They leap into action, with Ziggy running ahead to pull the mage to relative safety and giving him a healing potion, and Weezl turning into a Giant Elk…. which Ramar hitches a lift on, jumping onto her flank before climbing onto her back.
  • Eventually the back-up arrives, to see Ziggy bravely fall to the giant’s vicious strikes. Ramar issues a Compelled Duel to the creature, who is too weak to fight the man’s will. Weezl heals Ziggy before turning back into a Giant Elk and lines up an attack.
  • Meanwhile, they collectively try to protect Speck who, despite everything, struggles to move forward chanting (in what Ziggy recognises to be some Draconic) and with a broken arm (and 2 extra turns to cast spells) manages to cast Hold Monster [I forgot that paralysis meant every hit is a critical… but more on that.]
  • The party wails on the monstrosity, and eventually the mage joins them, and together, with Scorching Rays, a charged Elk headbutt, a brutal chop to the leg and an evisceration, the group (dealing easily over 100+ damage in a round) brutally end the monster… and are met with silence.
  • A bit of triage later, the group try to rest, even though Shelter is so close. Maybe a couple hours away? But they don’t want to risk the wilds… and in the distance they hear a horn being blown.
  • Weezl with her pipes of the sewers manages to summon two swarms of (army) rats, who, after being fed, agree to forming a perimeter watch for the group. They’ll bite them if things look weird. And so the group all collectively pass out.
  • They wake a short while later, maybe a couple hours, to nibbled ears and hands, and a series of squeaks “The perimeter is breached! We’ve got incoming! GO GO GO!” And so the group all dive into nearby bushes or up trees.
  • A short while later, an athletic man, with breastplate, short cloak and weapons walks into the clearing (of their still-burning fire) seeing drag marks and the like, raises his hands… and completely fucks up what he was going to say (drawing snickers from his comrades.)
  • Lukas introduces himself and his men as a patrol from Shelter and he would like to help take them back to town. They have horses and the means to do so. The group show themselves and he introduces himself properly. The group share information and he motions scouts to check out the lake. Also, noting Weezl’s ability to stand upside down on branches, he asks if she’s a friend of Eleanor, which Ziggy recalls is a scout (and an elf) from Woodsholme.
  • He offers the group rations, bread and food, which Ramar partakes of hastily, and soon enough they’re at the fortified wooden walls of Shelter. The weather is overcast with a light rain, and a clinging, low fog rolling along the ground. The sound of marching and the clanging of metal is heard, and they can see patrols, cavalry standing ready at the gates, and inside- two women training a group of children, with hard-edged blades.
  • And they are finally at Shelter.

Man, it was so good to play again! Lots of new stuff got used and I’m really enjoying the new party dynamic. There was a fair bit of combat and the party was pretty tapped out by the end of everything but I consider that pretty well balanced after all is said and done.

This session was also the debut for my homebrew initiative system. And honestly, I think it worked out pretty well! It’s definitely suited for smaller parties but I found it was a lot of fun and I was so excited when the players prompted to re-roll initiative during the last battle. I feel like it makes combat a lot more team-based and it’s still very simple and intuitive to use. And I only skipped a player’s turn once (on accident, I swear!) Overall I’m really excited to keep using it to see what everyone comes up with.

Also, Speck was so close to being found dead. If the group decided to rest instead of chasing the explosions things would not have ended well for the mage. He was already on single digit HP when they came across him. But seriously, I’m just really impressed with how everyone dealt with every situation thrown at them.

So, what awaits the party at Shelter? How many Fire Emblem references will I fit into that town? Will the party even have time to explore all content I’ve put there? Probably not, but find out next time!

Session 19: Like a Revolving Door for Adventurers
Go Fish

“These salt-soaked caverns are teeming with pelagic nightmares – they must be flushed out!”

Donella’s stay with the group did not last, and as such, she was written out pretty quickly. However, this session was also the introduction for Ramar , Matt’s new character. After giving out some item cards and loot from the previous session, the next one starts…

  • The group leave The Maiden’s Fancy and their buddies at the thieve’s guild, returning to the Duke’s manor to rest for the night. They have a restful night and a rest devoid of dreams thanks to exhaustion… or other reasons, perhaps?
  • Ziggy and Weezl head down in the morning for breakfast, where they find Speck in completely different attire (with an additional spellbook) and a focused demeanour. The young man is still a bit hungover but is still steeled to face the day- including their teleportation to a location near the town, Shelter.
  • During the meal, the adventurers see Dirke and the boy is cleaned up somewhat and has been doing work for Jaspitt drawing maps and working on his portraiture- something Excellence has been helping him with, seeing as she can easily change her appearance. He chats for a while before realising he was to meet the duke and races off.
  • Excellence also tells the party that their friend Donella stole off in the night, with a rare mandolin that belonged to the duke. One of the housekeepers, charmed by the gnome, simply handed it over. Excellence, however, is somewhat relieved that it is gone as it seemed to actually have adverse effects on the lord whenever he attempted to play it.
  • With that, the group head down to the teleportation chamber, and just before completing the spell, Speck cries out in surprise, his arm forcefully moved, marring the near complete arcane circle… over his shoulder, before being torn from her place, Weezl sees the spectral form of a robed man grinning, puppeteering the wizard’s hand. And then… sheer white, then darkness… the sound of wind and a crashing thud…

  • Ziggy and Weezl find themselves in a room… a glowing glyph above them, etched into the roof 20ft high. It sputters and dies out. And the room is pitch dark. With 3 doors available to them, the pair investigate one of the doors, hearing the sound of wind around it. Weezl uses Mold Earth to create a small path under the door and they spy a tunnel, with pits that drop a good 50-60 ft. They decide, yes, we’re committed to this, and navigate their way down the tunnel, leaping the pits.
  • Ziggy takes a brief aside to talk to Dannick trying to figure out what’s going on and to do what he can to find Speck. He also (jokingly) suspects Nathaniel is behind this mishap, drawing “I fucking knew it” from the guild leader.
  • The druid finds this easy to do, walking along with walls with her Slippers of Spider Climbing while Ziggy has the beginning of a rather unlucky day, almost falling into a pit and getting lashed by a vine-whip by Weezl to assist in pulling him up. And this was not without a liberal sprinkling of Guidance assisting the rogue’s attempts at athleticism.
  • Finally the pair find themselves before a chasm… they can’t see the bottom so Ziggy pulls out a lantern, which gives off a little light, but not enough. Weezl decides she will help, using Sunlight to create a tiny sun to fill the area with light… in response, Ziggy throws the lantern into the pit.
  • Investigation (and a summoned magical raven) leads them to finding that there is a room on the other side of the chasm… part of the wall shows a tumble of stones which block the way, but easily enough moved by a druid. Weezl WILL get there. There are glowing mushrooms in that chamber and she wants them.
  • The gnome clears a section of the stones away, so the room can be entered, but there’s still a 60 ft pit to clear. Then, ensues an argument regarding Weezl’s magic shoes. Ziggy wants them and Weezl isn’t having any of it. They’re HERS. She argues that it takes an hour to attune to them and Ziggy states “Well I’m not fucking going anywhere!” ((I can’t, honest to god, explain how hilarious this exchange was. I need to draw it at some point.))
  • They decide that they will create a tightrope situation which does get the rogue across, even if it did mean the loss of his rope as the pitons couldn’t quite hold his weight in the centre of the rope. But, he does get across. They spy the door on the other side of the room and crossing the room notice something shimmering above them? A cube of sentient jelly (Gelatinous Cube, yo!) lands before them, threatening to engulf the pair!
  • What happens is thus: Ziggy does not roll well, getting eaten by the cube and being burned by acid… he does get out however (in a way similar to that birthing scene in Ace Ventura), and he does carry on about it quite a bit. Weezl freaks out, trying to pull the creature into the chasm pit behind her with her Vine Whips. It does eventually work, almost killing the cube, which (now smaller) slides away after the gigantic fall.
  • After some (prompted) healing the pair open the door, after disabling the locking mechanism, and find themselves led into a large chamber.

  • It had not been a good few days for Suriramar. Responding to a missive from fellow faction agent, he was heading to Shelter when he was blindsided by something, knocked unconscious and dragged into a wet, miserable, stinking cave. For two days he had been stripped down to simple clothing, his gear stolen, and lay shackled to a pagan altar, awaiting sacrifice or some other terrible fate. His own powers allowed him to stave off injury, infection and starvation, but captivity was taking its toll.

  • Gnome and half-elf enter the chamber… firstly noticing the giant, odd, crude statue of a crayfish headed, and armed, woman looming over a corner of the cave. Before it are levers, pools of water and lightly, green, glowing ooze on the roof. In front of the giant idol was an altar with a humanoid man shackled to the platform, seemingly unconscious.
  • Like any concerned do-gooders, they inspect the room first but make their way over to the prisoner… Ziggy stepping on some poisoned spikes and struggling to undo the shackles while he feels painfully ill- until Weezl fixes him with a Lesser Restoration.
  • The rogue talks to the man to find out what has been happening down here. They plan to get out and go to Shelter, a goal they share with the prisoner- Ramar. Ramar does mention his captors and their patrols, and also that his gear is nearby. They just need to figure out the levers that open the… nevermind. As the conversation has been happening, Weezl has been swinging off the levers and manages to unlock the door by accident.
  • The group get into the small room, shoring up the door with some molded earth, and find the shorter man’s armor and weapons. They find a few choice coins, a horrible couple of barrels of fish guts and offal, and a bag of crude bone idols (in similar fashion to the lobster woman-thing.) They each opt to take an idol, seeing as it could be a useful offering if need be (Ramar recalling that some of the fish-men take small tokens with them down one of the paths.)
  • They return to the chamber and decide to desecrate this idol, trying to smash it to pieces. The are taken with the stones it has for eyes- inky, black and seemingly void-like in appearance. Amidst the percussion of their “redecorating” they are ambushed by rampaging fish men! They rush into the room…

(Okay, real talk, I designed this room to be interesting but NOT for combat. What happens is hilariously strategic, the insane fish-men somehow making this area incredibly defensible.)

  • Ziggy has awful luck with most of his attacks… Windzard misses, as does his activated Dagger of Venom, a lot of 2’s are rolled… and these guys do NOT have decent armor. So, go figure.
  • Weezl summons a goddamn army of giant crabs. Eight of the tough fuckers. Count ’em. She somehow fits them onto the battlefield, creating small regiments of the grappling bastards. They seriously lock down the battlefield, with the fishmen getting caught or poisoned in their attempts to attack the party.
  • Ramar’s paladin aura protects the party from the few spells the creatures try to throw, not a single one effecting the group. The paladin also manages to smite one of the tougher creatures, and utilising Moonbeam manages to kill as many fishmen as crabs. He probably was more effective at killing them than the enemy was actually. Another fishman gets within range of him, and using a Thunderous Smite and an obscene amount of damage, destroys the creature, throwing it across the room and into the moonbeam… burning it away.
  • The group are fixated on defending themselves, killing stubborn Kuo-Toa, and making a point of them actually being able to kill things- with Ziggy using two of his Guided Arrows. One wounds one of the tougher creatures, while another manages to destroy a retreating scout with a thunderous boom (with a single shot and without line-of-sight.) He and the bow are pleased with their efforts.
  • Weezl begins to command crabs, and using her vines she drags some of the fishmen onto poisoned spikes… bringing one within range of Ramar.
  • The small man decides to smite the idol (each party member is perched on different parts of this thing through most of the fight)… and he does a Smite-enhanced Thunderous Smite on the statue… shattering it with force enough to launch the crayfish-head like a missile, turning the surprised and insane fishman into a bloody mist of gore and thrown limbs.
  • Finally, after being unable to pry out the statue’s eyes, Ziggy turns his attention, and his crowbar, to the final flailing, frothing fishman… smashing it right between the eyes and kicking it off the platform.
  • Ziggy finds and stores away the remaining idol’s eye, which had been lodged into a wall from the force of Ramar’s blow against the statue.

  • The group quickly start to move (with their new contingent of remaining crabs), heading down one of the paths… leading to Ramar falling into a small pit of quicksand. Somehow, SOMEHOW, Ziggy manages to use a crab to help pull the man out of the sand, and Weezl uses magic to solidify the ground for a time, allowing them to escape unscathed.
  • After interacting with an idol, offering coins, they continue… only to find themselves back at the very room they had teleported in from. They decide then the arcane circle should be destroyed and with some creative use of pitons, rope, and a Nat 20 on a strength check, they manage to destroy a chunk of the masonry- ruining the spell circle.

  • They head back to the altar chamber and head into the next room, one with a low roof so the party has to swim to proceed, to find the dead scout and blooded waters. They see glowing red coral in the distance and they decide to check that out. Weezl turns into a Giant Octopus and with her crab buddies swims down the small underwater path… however it is trapped, and a current tries to slam them all into spikes at the beginning of the path. All but a single crab make it, and it disappears in a puff of ether, returning to the realm of the fey.
  • The Octo-Weezl smashes the coral, with a Nat 20 again (what the hell, guys?) actually destroying the enchantment carved into the walls, and she gathers the party and they swim to a small chamber… a small chamber that is filled with GODDAMN LOOT!
  • They find some dry land and in the dark they investigate the small platform- finding jewellery and gold… and (rolling on the Magic Item tables) a +1 Longsword and a Potion of Hill Giant Strength. Useful shit, especially for their new paladin friend.
  • Weezl, rolling the highest investigation check, actually finds a small chrome-metallic skull. Humanoid in appearance, about the size of a fist and unusually dense. It feels faintly magical and they notice it looks as those it had gems set in its eye sockets, but they are now empty.
  • Ramar tries to find gems that will slot into the skull, and putting one in the slot causes it to adhere… not being able to be pulled out. He then decides that a blue gem would nicely match the green one and places that on the skull too… And then we rolled a whole bunch of random shit… leading to the party’s first sentient item – Project: Y2S2p2s; a mage’s study project in creating magic items- a “Talking Machine”, also known as a Vox Machina (the collective facepalm from the table was amazing, matched only by the reaction that I decided to use Tiberius’ voice for the thing.)
  • The skull, not yet being named, has tried to help- using some reliably unreliable divination magic. And with that, the party know which path not to follow next in order to escape… and so the session ends there.

Another long recap, but fuck it, that’s just how I write this stuff these days.

I had such a blast with this session. I feel like everyone had fun. And being the DM, I honestly felt like we were all players at the table for this session. It’s really hard to explain but it was great.

It was fun working in a lot of elements I’ve been thinking about for a while and I really love dungeon design. Matt’s response of “That’s such a good idea” when I mentioned the relocated Transportation Circle made me so chuffed.

Also, there were SO MANY GOOD MOMENTS. Ziggy and Weezl were hilarious as always and everyone had an opportunity to do some really cool shit. Everyone also seemed to really love the idea of “Project: Skully.” I’m sure PVP will eventually happen over who gets to name this thing, but, y’know what? I’m cool with that (I’m actually not, guys, you gotta be friends!)

So, what will happen next time? Will Ziggy roll above a 2? Will Weezl summon another 8 crabs to create another shell’d wall? Will Ramar continue to be a walking bunker/nuclear silo in a 5’5" frame?! FIND OUT NEXT TIME, WHEN THE PARTY FACE…. THE REST OF THE DUNGEON! DUN DUN DUNNNNN!

Session 18: Beginnings and Ends
It's been a crazy 24 hours.

So it has nearly been 2 months since we’ve played… and we left on a pretty massive cliffhanger. Because of this, and introducing a new player/character to game, this was a pretty weird session. That all being said, it was good to be back. I’ll try make this a bit more concise than normal (he says every time.)

  • So, to recap, Ziggy has just pulled off a heist on the Thornton estate (nabbing info and some loot), and Weezl is off magically growing a garden. Sam however is staring face to face with a Vrock – a big, vulture demon.
  • In the shack with him is Innis and two other dwarven clerics of Waukeen, and Speck (the somewhat traumatised mage.) The building is an old warehouse that has seen much better days and demon is currently contained in a glyphed circle.
  • What follows is horror and panic, with the clerics legging it from the building (with Innis’ blessing (pun intended)) and Speck doing the same. The demon tries to bargain with Sam, to get them to join forces, and when Sam strikes the creature, combat begins.
  • After a flurry of blows, the demon settles into a fighting stance, drawing an “oh shit” from the table. Blows are exchanged, kung fu stances are swapped, and the whole time the demon tries to talk Sam into joining forces with him. There are times when the monk almost falters.
  • The blows get heavier (with crazy consistent rolls from Matt) and he uses some potions and Wholeness of Body to perk himself up… but the creature eventually loses it- going into a frenzy – after screeching and stunning Sam.
  • What follows are attacks with advantages and a critical hit. Grabbing the monk’s limp body, the vrock slams him into the floor and walls like a rag doll. In a final ditch effort, Sam grabs the symbol of the Covenant of the Dawn, feebly trying to push it into the demon’s face… but the demon recognises it and laughs cruelly as Sam’s consciousness fades. He rolls Death Saves in an attempt to come back by some form of miracle… but fails, his spirit heading back toward the Plane of Air… until it stops… grabbed by some force, yanking it away, back, into darkness… into… nothing.

So that was fucked up… and our first character death… and this is why everyone says not to split the party :/. In Sam’s defence though, he nearly solo’d that fight. It was very close.

  • So, Donella (who now has a page: here) has been travelling to Sandhill from The Shimmering Gates. It’s been a long walk on short legs, but the night before she sees the sky doing some crazy shit but this only piques her curiosity.
  • Her travel is peppered with conversation and performances, to earn a meal, information, or some coin, and eventually she meets a peculiar dwarf- one who was riding a large, glowing, dachshund. She finds out some information about the goings on in Sandhill and about the dwarf’s companions and eventually they part ways.
  • Arriving in town leads to needing info and directions to food- and she gets directions to a nearby bakery. Charming the old lady owner, she finds out more about the town and eventually where an inn is- being pointed towards One-Eyed Jack. The woman gets her awkward grandson Benji to lead her there. And on the trek there, there is some conversation and Donella notices that some flowers are growing very rapidly here. It’s… odd, but she needs to know what’s going on.
  • Getting to the inn leads to getting some drinks and offering to play for a room. At Thorne’s behest she shows off her skills with a mighty performance and impresses the dwarven matron- who gives her a key. Donella decides to freshen up and get some food.

  • Ziggy does some quick disguise work and heads back into town, deciding he needs to find everyone and potentially get the fuck outta town. He finds Innis at the ruined shrine to Waukeen, and inquires about Sam but the dwarf is cagey- and takes the rogue to the old storehouse…. and there is no body. There are definitely signs of battle but as far as the cleric knows, Sam was carried off by the demon.
  • Time is of the essence and Ziggy races off to get Weezl – who has been working on revitalising the plantlife of Sandhill. Seeing Ziggy she offers him a tomato and he relays the news. She has a similar reaction- they have to get to Hearthshire and get Sam.
  • As they’re about to make their move to try find Akali, who they feel is their best bet for information, they notice Speck who does a terrible job of spying on them. He tries to make a run for it, but doesn’t get away. They ask about Sam and the man is suffering some trauma… he’s had 3 charges of his die in less than 12 hours, and he’s not handling it well. Ziggy offers some “god-wine™” and they now have a drunk, emotional mage on their hands. And they make their way to the Inn to try recollect themselves. Weezl leads the mage by the hand.
  • At the inn the group notice a peculiar gnome, but they focus instead on Yuri who is flipping through a book and making notes. News is relayed and everyone is in varying states of distress. When they state they need to make a move on the capital, Yuri (who usually defers to Speck) straight up says they’re being insane. But they can get to Dannick and see what they can do from there.
  • The group are then inspired (thank you, players, for helping me out here) and realise they need allies- so they do what people do these days: they crowd-source. And they get two interested parties, thanks to Ziggy’s meandering, impassioned, speech and Weezl’s distracting musical accompaniment. One is a drunken farmer, who passes out, and the other is Donella. NATURALLY, they decide to do a goddamn interview, because that happens every time.
  • They discover, thanks to her own admission, she’s a capable thief, and a better singer. And, so, the two forest gnomes have a play off… with the bard’s +6 against the druid’s -1. And… somehow, this goes on for about 3 turns of contested rolls. Donella starts taking things seriously and Weezl ends up summoning headbanging rats. But in the end, they notice she IS good and she can do some magic, and she’s in. Why not?
  • So, upstairs they collect themselves and BAMF themselves to Jaspitt’s place. While they’re there they torment the housekeeper Nathaniel and get an audience with the main man himself, and Excellence. They learn that they need allies and Shelter is a solid bet… even if The Fury (the duchess there) isn’t a fan of Jaspitt. They also learn there is a underground path that leads to the capital from that town. It seems like a solid bet.
  • Speck is also asked to scry on the Sending Stone Sam was holding… learning that he was being carried, mid-flight, to Hearthshire. But, the pace is breakneck and the demon is already about half-way there.
  • They learn Speck can teleport them near to Shelter in the morning. He needs rest first. They also remember that Dannick owes them a favour for getting him back into contact with Akali so they go to collect whatever “support” it was that he can offer.

  • On the way to The Maiden’s Fancy, the group warn their new bard friend about Dannick’s “condition” (which doesn’t help later, in the moment, when she asks Weezl “what is wrong with him?” Skirting disaster.) But they meet up with the guild leader and get an audience with him. Very quickly he’s in “business” mode and the group share information. This ends with Dannick saying he’ll give his support when he can, but for now, they can have Speck (traumatised as he is. The man ends up comforting him, in his own way. Helping him gather himself somewhat.) And Dannick gives Ziggy a coin- similar to the ones they gave Akali. So they now have a direct line to the Masques’ leader. The man also wants to be told when the battle is to commence because it’s been too long since he’s been able to cut loose.
  • The group actually joke with Dannick a little and honestly, it’s a bit unsettling. Kind of like Hannibal Lector making awkward jokes and finding them amusing.
  • Also, on the way to the entertainment house, Yuri takes Ziggy aside- noticing his glances, and they talk business in regards to moving the jewellery. She’s happy for the distraction and says she can do it. Ziggy says she can take a decent cut, and she assures him she always does.
  • Finally they talk about how they don’t know the fate of Sam and Dannick says that they usually scry on the targets of certain “jobs”. If it fails then they know the job was a success. So, Speck, settles into spellcasting… and quickly, with tears in his eyes, says it doesn’t work. He wipes his face and tries again desperately and just as quickly he’s left with nothing. Desperately he calls to Ziggy for the Sending Stone and this time… he gets something.
  • The divination mage then recounts what he saw… stonework, and somewhere dark, and the broken form of Sam. Nearby is a demon and a robed figure. He swears he’s seen someone who looks like the man he saw, but he was older? Is this the man’s son? The man being the missing necromancer – Lucis. And the session ends there…

So that was the game. It was only about 3 hours, with a bunch of breaks, but it was a pretty crazy session. It was a bit hard to run, doing a lot of solo stuff, but people assure me that it still worked.

And with that, things are definitely ramping up. The final battle looms and the stakes have not been higher. And honestly, killing a character feels damn awful. I tried to emotionally prepare myself but damn if my hands still didn’t shake while rolling those dice.

Donella has been a wonderful, and bright, character to have along, and Sara is already rolling with the punches. I’m really looking forward to seeing how she changes the group dynamic. Plus, it’s nice having more positivity because I kind of don’t realise how dark my games are until after I run them… ha ha ha…

So! What will happen next? Will Dannick just murder everyone for them? Will the group actually kidnap the Duchess of Shelter’s child? No, seriously, Ziggy and Donella both thought this was a great idea despite Jaspitt’s protests… FIND OUT NEXT TIME!

Session 17: Choose A, B, or C
We choose all of them

The session starts with the party hitting level 7 and dealing with the aftermath of the prison carnival from hell. Dekgrad has left but there are still things to do and there’s no time to rest.

I’m also going to attempt to make these recaps a bit more concise going forwards because, holy crap, do I write too much for them.

And standard warning: things may be a bit out of order.

  • The group reel momentarily from the departure of their cleric friend and then decide to strategise, while knee deep in the dead. Okay, realising that, they do find a clearing, and priests, Hearthsworn and guard go about tidying things up.
  • Weezl does spend some time stabilising and helping where she can, saving another dozen lives. She is momentarily stopped by priests, who then leave her to her work.
  • Ziggy notices his bow is acting strangely but makes a note to check that out later, and they find (broken) magical glasses, and a dagger, on Lev’s body. Or at least, where it was. It, like the Black Claw, has dissolved. They also pick up the vocal amplification rod… which Weezl ends up getting (there is later an argument over Ziggy wanting to test it with his sword’s similar ability… but Weezl does not want to give it up at all.)
  • The group decide there are a few pressing matters: sorting out the Five Aces (gambling den), checking out the Thornton Estate and talking to Akali. Akali has been ordering her agents while cradling a semi-conscious Korran. Meanwhile Speck is nearby, deep in thought, until he pats his pockets down and looks motified, and Yuri has items passed to her that she throws into her bag of holding. Yuri and Speck look like they’re trying to keep things together.
  • While conversing, the group are interrupted by a hearthsworn woman, Olivia, who they had spied earlier in the day (white paint on left gauntlet). She questions the group about who they are and their motivations, she is met with Weezl’s bizarre recollections, Ziggy’s flattery, and Sam’s scrutiny.
  • They discover that she has no recollection of certain events and even people (she doesn’t recall the Flameheart/spellcasters at all.) She does piece things together somewhat, removes her Hearthsworn ring, and then leaves to tell her comrades to do the same. This was not a simple decision for them.
  • The group then head over to Akali and Korran and the woman isn’t so forthcoming with the party, skirting around certain answers. She glares daggers at Sam, who does give her a healing potion, but she does not relent- holding Korran protectively. She tells them that the Masques have plans for Sandhill and says she may tell them in time, but she does not trust Sam (or the rest by extension.)
  • It is then the group talk to Speck who tells the group that he’s missing a certain item (one gifted from Dekgrad.) During the commotion with the raid the night before, one of the thieves must have stolen the Philter of Love and shared it, thinking it a healing potion… causing them to fall for one another. Speck does not feel good about this and is terrified of Akali’s reaction to this news. He then asks the group to restrain her while he attempts to remove the charm.
  • During this conversation, Ziggy talks to Akali about what is going on when he sees the “restraining plan” in effect over Akali’s shoulder.
  • This plan is- Sam sprinting and tossing Weezl at Akali, in mid-air, the druid turns into a Giant Octopus, while Speck runs behind, desperately trying to catch up and cast Dispel Magic… the transformation surprises him so much he fucks up the spell casting and has to do it a second time.
  • Ziggy manages to dodge the mass of tentacles which restrain the rogues and the wizard does his best to explain things over the sound of loud, angry, French swearing. Eventually the love potion is dispelled and Akali loses it and kicks the crap out of Korran, knocking him unconscious (who they then tie up… and Akali steals his boots.)
  • By the end, she’s pissed, and says that they can find her at the general store- she tosses Korran’s boots at the group saying they can have them, and Speck says he’ll take Korran to Dannick when he can, so their boss can sort him out.
  • Weezl then takes Yuri for a ride while she’s still a giant octopus and the girl thanks her for the distraction. She and Speck are both struggling with the loss of their comrades (in particular, the two young mages.)
  • The group (short rest) and ID some items (the boots are Boots of Elvenkind, the glasses are busted and the dagger is a Dagger of Venom.) They notice different groups organising everything- David and Olivia are chatting, Masque agents are doing their thing, and Hearthsworn and guard are locking the place down.
  • The group go to talk to David about getting some holy assistance for their trip to the Five Aces and while doing so, a dwarven man approaches them. This is Innis, dwarven cleric of Waukeen (the goddess of commerce and merchants.) David is too busy to help and Innis is pretty keen to follow along, though he gives them all a fair bit of shit (especially Sam since he looks like a noble. This does not relent when he turns into a “dear gods, it’s hideous” bird.) He also happily points out that the bird is possessed (he’s a bit of a dick.) Olivia tags along as well. It seems that Olivia and Innis have had run-ins previously.
  • The group get to the gambling den, which is still full of people, and Sam disguises himself as a Flameheart. They barrel down to the back of the place where there are two doormen and closed doors. This ends with Sam trying to brute force his way past while taking things off the guards (crystals they pull out of their jackets) and when he kicks open the door, Olivia grabs him and throws him aside. She uses her authority to get to the private rooms and informs them they won’t be held accountable. (There is also a moment where the druid yells into her mic-rod-thing and briefly deafens a few people.)
  • They find rooms full of people partying, and then find an office. They find some vials of liquid, crystals, a bag of gems and a bag of gold (amongst other stuff.) Sam finds a false bottom in the desk, but doesn’t check for traps, getting sprayed with acid and damaging the leather tome that was in the bottom of the desk. It is in Abyssal (which he can read, thanks to his curse) and seems to be some gospel to demon lord Graz’tz.
  • They can’t find any secret doors or anything, until Speck uses some magic to find that some art pieces are a key to some lock… which opens something in one of the private rooms.
  • The group sprint off to find a passageway open, leading down into the dark. Innis clears the gold and miscellany from the desk and pockets it all while the rest leave.
  • They head into the passage and find a large, 40 ft x 40 ft chamber of rough dark stone (imported from the Abyss. Seriously.) The walls are lined with dark iron torture implements and smelting tools, and the centre of the room has a large metal dip that could be used for smelting. Arcane sigils and abyssal is carved into the floor and walls.
  • At the back of the room are dark iron cages with shifting masses held within them. At closer inspection (resulting in Ziggy getting hit) the warped, fleshy, beings are Lemures… lowly denizens of the abyss/hells. They figure that these were nobles/townsfolk that were corrupted so far as to turn them into demons… and then they were used as ingredients for creating the corrupted gold. It’s horrible, and fucked, and Weezl does not stay for long. Most people leave pretty quickly, but Sam takes the time to destroy the torture/smelting instruments.
  • They leave, but opt to leave the gambling den open, seeing as people may get angry and this is easier to deal with. Olivia says she’ll keep an eye on the joint.
  • Then the group go to the Thornton estate. Sam turns into Lev (thanks again to the Hat of Disguise) in another attempt to force his way through, and it works for the most part. They get inside when Oliva stops them, asking them what their goal is. She tells them they’re out of line (she has observed their methods and has had enough) and will have the Hearthsworn (and fellow paladins of Helm) scour the grounds and secure things.
  • The group isn’t happy with this, but she says she doesn’t trust someone who is possessed. This is thrown back at her, seeing as she was controlled as well, and she asks Speck to remove her magical oath of the Hearthsworn (it is sworn to the crown, to protect the towns and their people, and to uphold law and justice.) He does so (and it takes a couple of tries) and she tells the party she will have the rest of her men and women ‘treated’, though it does look like this has emotionally drained her. She tells the party to leave, and they reluctantly do so.
  • As they go their separate ways, they talk about Sam’s exorcism, which Innis offers to do on the morrow, with a few choice lads. He tells them that the coins/gems he took will be sufficient payment. He needs Speck to do his thing, and the wizard obliges, but says he needs rest and they part for the evening.
  • The group head back to One-Eyed Jack and see a quiet establishment and Thorne wrapping up for the evening. She asks where Dekgrad went and Ziggy (hilariously) tells her that “he just fucking boosted… he rode off on his long dog.” (It seriously came out of nowhere and cracked us all up.) But, they all have a drink to Dekgrad, with three of them having the drink he named after himself- and learning that while Sam eats fellow birds he is not comfortable with eating eggs at all.
  • Before the group get some rest, Ziggy goes to see what’s up with his bow. With some illusory target practice (thanks to Weezl) he learns that the bow can now fire Seeking Arrows and can potentially become even stronger with attunement.
  • And with all that, they decide to finally get some rest.

Also, this is definitely not shorter than normal… ugh.

  • And it is during (a late) breakfast where the party decides to split 3 ways. Weezl wants to use Plant Growth to revitalise David and Lily’s fields; Ziggy wants to break into the Thornton estate; and Sam is going to head off with wizard and priest for his exorcism.
  • So firstly, Weezl: She talks with Lily and her pet rat, and before getting to business makes a Ladybug super huge and they all ride around on the now-giant insect. She then settles into her 8 hours of spellcasting with Lily keeping her and Imi occasional company.
  • Ziggy manages to vault the walls to the estate and Metal Gear Solid his way to the manor after a minor altercation with some guards (resulting in a broken flute glass (due to a nat 1 on the throw) and using a Scroll of Sleep.)
  • Climbing up the construction’s scaffolding and ladders he gets to the second floor. He gets in, explores a few rooms (exploring a study and dodging servants.) He discovers what appears to be guest rooms and finally a staircase leading upwards. He ties a bell and string at the top of the staircase.
  • He then finds a series of larger rooms, and when trying to break in (forgets to check for traps) and sets off an alarm. He runs into the room, steals a small chest of EXPENSIVE jewellery, and trying to escape runs into a large walk-in robe. There are dresses everywhere, but he needs to get out, so he dumps ball bearings everywhere and gets out onto a small balcony- then climbing outside and up onto the next floor.
  • He breaks into another room, alerting people somewhat, and then notices a large desk, amongst many other things. He quickly rummages through, finding scrolls and ledgers (business plans and correspondence with the Queen), and legs it out again. He tries to make it to scaffolding and makes it to part of the building that is being worked on. This leads to guards following him, and after Ziggy dumps more ball bearings, one of the guards falls out of the building… surviving the fall but not moving. He then leaps onto some ladders and while travelling down, is nearly spotted- he uses his Ring of the Chameleon which makes him look like a large, rumpled painter’s sheet. He eventually legs it to the back of the estate, looking like a fluttery ghost, and gets away- running to some alleyways to look at his loot. He considers leaving town immediately.
  • Then Sam: the monk starts to hear voices and has been reacting to shiny things, noticing them keenly. The voice saying to kill and take these objects. On the way to the site Innis has chosen for the exorcism, the voice is more persistent and Sam closes his eyes, trying to shut it out. And it eventually stops… until he hears the Queen herself start talking to him. Offering him the job of being her guard and captain. She promises him riches and power, but he rejects the offer. She says there’s time… and they arrive at the abandoned building, where they meet two dwarves who are finishing up drawing a silvered circle of arcane glyphs on the floor.
  • The ritual begins with the three dwarves chanting, equal distance from one another, and Speck goes to dispel the magical effect of the ring, before the dwarves tackle the curse/possession itself. The dispelling magic takes a few attempts and Speck is pretty darn nervous. And then the dwarves kick in, chanting louder and louder, and eventually Sam starts to find it hard to breathe and feels a pain in his chest. The being in his mind implores him to stop, that they could become even more powerful together.
  • The pain suddenly erupts as claws start to dig OUT of his chest, causing blood to spill, and from the wound, black, brackish ooze and gunk pours heavily onto the floor. His vision goes blank from the pain, and when it come back he sees the terrified expressions on his companions’ faces… and before him stands a creature, 8 feet tall, with an even larger feathered wingspan. Its piercing red eyes peering from its vulture-like face and beak. Its elongated limbs are tipped with black, evil claws. And its smell is a fetid, toxic stench.

… And the session ends there.

I can’t believe a three person party split 3 goddamn ways. I just really can’t. Ah well, it’s my fault for making the party realise how important time is.

A lot seemed to happen this session. A lot of ends were tied up but we’ll see where things go. The start of the next session will be interesting considering all of the party is preoccupied with their individual tasks while Sam is facing his outer-inner demons.

That being said, even though the curse hasn’t always had the most impact (due to Matt not being able to make sessions) I’m pretty chuffed with how this has turned out. Even if it feels kind of sadistic saying that right now.

So, that all being said, what will happen next? Will Ziggy really skip town? Will he turn into a sheet again? Will Weezl spend the rest of the campaign turning bugs into behemoths and revitalising gardens? Will the monk-bird defeat the demon-bird? FIND OUT NEXT TIME!

Pre-Session 17: A Couple of Weeks
Dekgrad leaves the party

A couple of weeks. A handful of days. That was the short amount of time their dwarven companion had been by their side.

In that sliver of time they had managed to do so much together. They had risked their lives and saved others. Two towns were now liberated because of their collected efforts. They were making the world a better place.

A heavy sense of duty and blossoming guilt weighed down the cleric of Sharindlar more than his armor ever could.

“I have a confession to make,” he had said. And he had come clean to his new companions. He didn’t have to but that ultimately is the kind of man was.

He had unknowingly tried to parlay with devils. This has not worked in his favour, it was never going to work in his favour, and yet he still blamed himself. Simply for failing to find a better way. One without bloodshed.

“I feel I need to find myself. I want to be on a ship again.”

And with so few words, they parted ways. So focused was he that he didn’t notice the fog receding before him, recoiling actively from the stout form of Dekgrad.

So focused, he didn’t notice just how much he had accomplished. His hands were dyed in blood, and not from killing, but from healing. Repairing. Fixing. Each action was not only tempering his own devotion but also, in small ways, healing the wariness and conceit in his new companions. He had given a platform for kindness that may have been trampled out by stronger personalities or, worse still, necessity.

In such small ways he had made them all much better people.

It hadn’t occurred to him that many only lived because he did what he thought was right and never asked for anything in return.

And so, with each step, Dekgrad continued with his celestial companion towards the Shimmering Gates. This city, corrupt as any other, still filled him with possibility and hope. Wherever he travelled, unknown to himself perhaps, he healed.

For Sharindlar, that was enough to bestow her favor.

And for Dekgrad, the promise of the open seas was enough.

That, and he knew he needed a good, strong, Dwarven ale.

This is a little something I wrote to commemorate the time Dekgrad and Lawrence spent with us. Not sure what he thinks of this piece so it may, or may not, end up staying on here. Either way, thanks for being awesome and helping to keep everyone alive.

Session 16: End of an Era
The devil is in the detail

Easter Monday and a few days of feverish preparation led to this session and the culmination of a few things… but more on that later.

The group starts the session at level 6.

  • The party resume their conversation with Speck who has offered to scry for the party. Eventually they forgo scrying on a target person but instead choose an area- choosing the newly erected arena in the centre of town.
  • While Speck casts his spell and his consciousness is literally elsewhere, Yuri rummages through her bag of holding for a few (unaccounted for) items that she could spare, and she gifts them to the party. It is only a couple potions, magical arrows and a low level spell scroll but she feels they’ll need it. When Speck “comes to” the girl sits back acting as though nothing happened.
  • The mage then describes the situation with the arena. The Black Claw and Hearthsworn are present, along with Flamehearts casting spells on the 4 crystal-topped pillars. Lev eventually joins the gigantic man and they hold a conversation about having rituals and contributions completed and the smaller man leaves to presumably finish his night’s work.
  • Speck then announces that he has a job, on behalf of Dannick to do- to try get Akali and Korran to work together. Every time he looks into the future they both die and his boss isn’t a fan of this particular fate. The party is completely baffled by this, saying how (amongst themselves) this doesn’t work with their plans, and that Akali and Korran don’t exactly like each other. ((They have seemingly forgotten that Dannick tasked them to find Akali for the sole reason that he’s lost contact with that faction and simply doesn’t know the state of affairs.)) So, realising his work is cut out for him, Speck heads off alone.
  • The party gather themselves to get some rest and enjoy the company of Lily and David, and Dekgrad heads off saying he has some personal business to attend to. He ends up following Speck and before the man gets to the Masques’ warehouse base he stops him, asking why this is happening. Speck doesn’t want to upset his boss and he also doesn’t want to feel responsible for the deaths of his compatriots, as misguided as they may be. So, Dekgrad gives him his Philter of Love as a last ditch effort to get them to work together- and Speck is soooo not comfortable with this but thanks for cleric for the hail mary.
  • Dekgrad then heads to the duke’s estate, coming upon a pair of guards and he asks for an audience with the duke- saying his has information of great import. The men scoff at the dwarf and ask why they should listen to him, and when Dekgrad produces documents signed by Duke Jaspitt himself, they change their tune and become a lot more helpful. They do, however, note the dwarf’s name, putting him off somewhat and offer to pass on a message. He declines and they say that he may be able to find the duke at The Five Aces and wish him luck.
  • The establishment is extremely lively and there is a lot of money changing hands. The gambling hall is extremely packed and the dwarf is jostled but not accosted as some (smarter) nobles note their solid impact upon his armored form. At the back of the den he spies a very well-dressed man talking to some associates and approaches him. The man asks if the dwarf is after a table or needs any such assistance.
  • Dekgrad asks where the duke may be and the well-dressed, bespectacled man- Lev, eventually, offers to take him to his lord. The gloved man leads Dekgrad by the arm and takes him to a private room, filled with food, alcohol, gold, sycophants and a very drunk, young lord Charles Thornton.
  • Dekgrad implores the man to let them have a private conversation but Lev constantly twists his words around and eventually the duke demands to be told what is going on. But, finally, they give in when Lev assures his lord that he can bring everyone back for their party and they are left in the room together. The cleric states he wants to speak privately but the lord’s advisor states that this is private, with a burning, warm hand on Dekgrad’s back.
  • The dwarf says how there will be an attempt on the duke’s life, but refuses to say who it is who will do it. He wants to avoid all bloodshed and asks for the duke to leave town if he can. Lev hounds the cleric for information, eventually saying that he will be VERY well compensated for the information. Eventually, Dekgrad caves, saying that it will be Korran but he doesn’t want anything. He just doesn’t want anyone to die.
  • Lev thanks him and then pulls out a small gem, crushing it and stating that “Korran is no longer useful. Have them all destroyed tonight.” Smiling, he thanks Dekgrad for his assistance in protecting his lord, and tells him he may leave and enjoy his evening.
  • Stunned and mortified, the dwarf leaves the rowdy establishment… eventually coming back to the others. Near the centre of town, a budding red light starts to glow brighter and brighter, and they eventually get some rest.

  • The morning finds the party reasonably well rested, with a chill in the air and cloying mist filling the air.
  • Stumbling in from the mist is a haggard, dirty and exhausted Speck. The man is confused and wounded but not too injured. He says how they were attacked during the talks that evening. Most escaped but he doesn’t know what happened at all. The party assume there was a traitor amongst Korran’s ranks.
  • The mage offers to take the group to the survivors when they ask where they are (they guess it’s somewhere in the sewers when they catch a whiff of the man.) He’s been so distracted he has neglected to even use prestidigitation to clean himself.
  • They quickly arrive to a small alcove in the sewers, faced with a small contingent of archers. On the ground is an unconscious Korran, who is missing his left hand, and Akali who is near him. Near to Korran is his gear, including a bandaged, bloodied bundle… his left hand. Weezl is not happy to be near him at all and reacts like an agitated animal.
  • Dekgrad, with the use of his greater runestone and using all of its power (for the week) and imploring his deity he manages to reattach the hand… and slowly Korran starts to come to. Shock and a variety of other things are registering between the two thief lieutenants and Akali is protective of the man… who they had started to administer healing to, to cure him of his addictions.
  • When Korran reaches for his dagger Weezl goes to kick it away from him. She fails to do so, and the elf grabs the blade, near cutting Sam when the monk goes to intervene. When Weezl speaks, the elf has a vague look of recollection but dismisses it. Akali explains that the dagger is sentient and is willing to take on his pain.
  • The group are at a complete loss as to what to do, and Speck says that he needs sleep, whatever their decision is. He’ll find them at the arena and him and his (gender-neutral) lads will do their best to protect them. Dekgrad offers to use augury but they can’t decide on a decent way to phrase their question and when they cast the spell the answer is iffy, at best, as though there is some kind of interference.
  • They then leave, trying to scout out the arena and to get themselves into a decent position.

  • The group then witness the royal procession, seeing the grand duke and duchess for the first time (Dekgrad’s player joking that they seem nice). The Black Claw and his hearthsworn are present, and stationed at the arena are the Flamehearts- finishing spellcasting and reinforcing the wall of wind that eventually encloses the arena.
  • In the stands are hundreds of people, mostly nobles and those with money. In the centre is a portly man with a large iron ring (the Warden), connected with many chains to roughly 30-40 people in manacles. Weezl recognises some of them as being Korran’s underlings from when she scouted out the warehouse.
  • On two of the raised platforms are the Thorntons, including Charles and Sunday and Lev. And on the other the Grand Duke Leonidas and Grand Duchess Persephone along with The Black Claw.
  • Duke Charles Thornton leads the event with details on what is to come and there is gold, secreted away in the seating, for everyone- to do with as they please. For bids or wager for the auctions and fights to come. And then Queen Persephone interrupts, shocking the Duke and the crowd to silence. She states that it all ends today- slavery, the pageantry, all of it. She wishes the entire place, the concept of it, destroyed. And as her enchanted words weave stronger and stronger through the crowd, the dark-red gemstones glow brighter and brighter, dying the area crimson. Eventually, she invites chaos and destruction, and the entire coliseum erupts violently and initiative is rolled.

Okay, to summarise, this was around 4 hours of crazy combat. But here’s some fun behind-the-DM-screen facts: There were 25 things acting in initiative, this is including the party members. And by things, I mean singular units, to groups of 30. The townsfolk themselves were treated as lair actions, to represent how they were everywhere and also making things a bit easier to manage for myself (also removing the chance for the players to hurt them- though AOE surely did anyway, and to increase map visibility.)

The challenge rating of the antagonists combined resulted in something being roughly CR 80. Though the party did have a large number of allies and a lot of those ‘antagonists’ mindlessly attacked one another in a complete frenzy.

  • So, everything goes nuts. Townsfolk and guard turn on each other, hearthsworn mechanically start to hack at anything near them, and the flamehearts start to move, trying to stop the monk who has taken it upon himself to start destroying one of the crystal-topped pillars.
  • Akali and Korran and their contingent of archers and spies run distraction, focusing on taking out nobles or anything along the far side of the arena- leaving the party to do their own thing.
  • After being struck with a lightning bolt from Weezl the Queen and her King and bodyguard hit the ground (carried by a flying Black Claw), and seeing the arena being destroyed she releases her restraints on both of them… the king turning into an eldritch abomination of writhing flesh and tentacles, and the Black Claw swelling and returning to his own form- a Glabrezu, also known as a treachery demon. He relishes in the return to his unnatural form and roars in glee as he flies, hasted (thanks to Flamehearts), across the battlefield.
  • Lev is struck, and battering out holy flames thrown by Dekgrad, resumes his Cambion form. Black skinned and six-fingered, a spawn of Graz’tz.
  • Sam focuses on the glabrezu and pillars, while the rest do everything to destroy Lev. Persephone herself has also changed her form, with black leathery wings sprouting from her back.
  • Nobles wrestle and scramble during the panic, and (making the players roll for Sunday and Charles) Sunday pushes his nephew from the tower… where he drops 50 feet to his death.
  • During this bloodbath, Speck and his acolytes try to dispel magics and help where they can but are forcibly told to retreat by Weezl who turns into a giant scorpion, wrecking terrifying havoc (when we learn they can move like 120 ft in a round like a goddamn nightmare.)

So, highlights are as follows:

  • Sam manages to shake off a lot of the mental influence from his curse, which unfortunately matures thanks to the presence of this particular ritual and abyssal energy- earning him the Feature: Fiend-blooded, gifting him with the ability to understand Abyssal… and god knows what else. His mental fortitude only fails three times, once-in response to the Queen’s own casting of Dissonant Whispers and her final command to protect her… charming him (for a round) and causing him to destroy Korran, laying into the battered elf with a barrage of blows and felling him, causing Akali to scream in distress and pick up her old blade. The last was when he attacked the Queen herself, but more on that in a second.
  • Weezl conjures giant eagles to harass Lev and also turns into a giant scorpion for the first time. The terrible insect form proving to be more than formidable, striking down mortal and fiendish enemy alike. Also scoring a crit on a frenzied Hearthsworn with her stinger and killing them in one hit (doing something like 60 damage… seriously, who thought this shit was a good idea?) Weezl’s quick thinking at the end of the battle, conjuring more giant eagles, and a nat 20 Perception check led to her finding an unconscious Sam at the end of the battle who was bleeding out and dying. The result of trying to chase down a retreating Persephone but not having the fortitude, thanks to his curse, to strike her down. The Queen herself did not have that limitation.
  • Ziggy did what Ziggy does best- sneak-fucking-attack. His deft swordplay and footwork only second to his killing blows with his glassbow. He managed to get a critical hit, felling Lev (who only had 5 HP left) who was retreating to _Persephone, and also managed to finish off The Black Claw. This did earn him a comment of “kill stealer” from some party members but I can’t think of much else that’s more thematic for the half-elf swashbuckler.
  • Ziggy however did end up on the unfortunate end of a bit of AOE… including the exploding form of the king-turned-tentacle-monster… and the rogue did fall unconscious a couple of times near the end of the battle.
  • Dekgrad was slowed down by the press of the panicked citizens for most of the battle, but did manage a few choice spells- his sacred flames actually doing work, alongside his spiritual weapon. His aid buff at the beginning of the battle increasing everyone’s HP by more than 20% and it went a LONG way, especially for the monk who was on the opposite side of the battlefield for a lot of the fight. It was also Dekgrad’s use of mass healing words that brought a few choice people back and topping off some felled NPCs. Even topping off Speck who even turned to vengeance by the end of the battle. He might not have hit as much as he’d have liked to, but he tanked a SHITLOAD of hits. Not even joking. 20AC is nothing to sneeze at.
  • But eventually, the battle was over. Perhaps not won, but over. Persephone retreated but her cadre and support network in Sandhill definitely crippled or gone completely. The ritual she was enacting mostly thwarted. Whatever she was doing, the party had stopped the worst of it- in the aftermath noticing the grooves cut into the stone, now running with blood, creating a large… summoning circle.
  • The group manage to save roughly 50 people between them with Medicine checks at the end of the battle (mostly thanks to Dekgrad’s nat 20 medicine check, but they notice a lot of the red stone shards used as makeshift weapons causing much of the worser wounds.
  • Sam and Dekgrad go about destroying the rest of the glowing/inert crystal pillars, and they move their remnants and the piles of cursed gold to the centre of town.
  • While everyone tries to collect themselves, Dekgrad approaches the group with a confession. He tells them all how he thinks this is his fault, that so many more people died because he tried to end things without bloodshed. The guilt weighs heavily on him (and at about this point the table realises what’s going on) and he says that he has to leave to try find himself. He thinks he wants to be on a ship again and he’s going in the direction of The Shimmering Gates. Ziggy, being somewhat of a native, tells him to watch out for the shorter folk (meaning halflings.) And while everyone is somewhat stunned, he summons his celestial dachshund, bids everyone a hearty farewell and rides off… not noticing that the mist is already rapidly dispersing and actively recoiling from his armored form.

And so, ends the this part of the tale of Dekgrad, cleric of Sharindlar, sailor of stone-ships and lover of ale.

I may have actively had to listen to upbeat music while writing this out because I’m getting a bit emotional over the whole thing. Lawrence, you’ve been an absolute pleasure to have in game (in game and at the table) and you are a goddamn top-tier roleplayer. For someone who started this very session saying that you probably should have read your stuff more, as a character you were more than on top of things, even from the get go. Seriously, thank you. Your energy, generous nature and humour will be actively missed. Even if a lot of it was inappropriate jokes about the Aid spell. (And that’s not rubble :p.)

As for everything else. Holy shit. It literally is still effecting my head with how much I was trying to juggle in this battle (I was laughably out of it yesterday.) I did forget a couple things, but more importantly- Ziggy/Evan your bow met 3 requirements for awakening. Not even fucking joking. 1) Hitting a target resistant to piercing, 2) Scoring a crit with the weapon, and 3) Scoring a killing blow with the weapon. So, expect an updated card soon. And I can’t believe you technically managed that in one shot.

Also, I have no idea how to balance the game around a hasted Aarakocra monk. So don’t expect to find potions of Haste ever again for anything under 2000-3000 gp. Because, HOLY SHIT, 300ft of movement is a bit much… even if it meant Sam nearly died in a ditch away from everyone.

Seriously everyone, amazing work and thank you so much for bearing with me. I was so nervous that this session was going to be a slog, or a failure, or just plain not fun. You were all amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have to say my biggest regret was that I was so busy juggling everything that I didn’t get to watch everyone very much.

And the group reach level 7. Yep, just took one session. No big deal… unlike those Stinger Crits.

Session 15.0: Dreams and Passages

A series of passages read at the start of session 15… it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to write prose and it was heaps of fun.


When you return to your room in the inn that evening you notice the warm verdant glow of your staff. Before you know it, you feel at your side, tickling your ribs is a familiar wet nose and your hand instinctively roughs the fur of the capybara’s head next to you. With deep, soulful, half-lid eyes, Imi presses her head against you, the closest thing she can do to an embrace and she stays by your side for the entire evening. If you speak to her, she listens as she always does. Sharing both in your joys and fears. Occasionally she pokes at your pockets, wondering what tricks and treats you have squirreled away that day.

Korran’s troubled and manic voice invades your consciousness as you try to sleep, but you’re nestled awake gently as your spiritual companion and best friend lies against you, comforting and warm. Slowly sleep takes you and you dream of a land of greens and yellows, spring and autumn, of twilight, and twisted beauty.

When you awake, you remember seeing a paddleduck and the silly creature makes you smile. You recall bounding through the most vibrant green and purple grass atop Pupok, the fields spotted with blood red flowers who sang with clear, rich tones. You have the vague memory of drinking tea but don’t remember the context. Imi bops into you playfully and lifts her head regally, ready for the day. You get the impression she isn’t leaving your side anytime soon.


The warm embrace of dwarven ale rocks you like the inconsistent speed of a rollercoaster. The familiar spinning of the room, much like a lullaby from a time you don’t rightly recall.

You dream of a great dwarven hall in the midst of celebration. You smell the mead and hear the music. Torchlight dazzles against your gleaming plate armor and against the columns of precious metal, gemstones and streams of ale from many tapped kegs.

You see many dwarves drinking and cavorting, men and women, and you recognize some. Some you served with, but… they’ve fallen. Didn’t they? But here they are, with others, with kin, singing and sharing tales. In the far back atop large thrones are mighty dwarven kings. You try to catch a better look at these figures, who playfully banter with one another, clanking tankards made of mithril and gold. They look similar, you know their faces but before their names reach your lips, a gentle hand takes yours.

You don’t even catch a glimpse of your partner but you’re quickly put into a spin and led through a dance, which you soon match pace with and your steps are light and skilled, your armor as light as air. The music swells and, in time, stops, and soon enough the next song plays. You see a beautiful, ample, curvy dwarven lady before you. She smiles with a kindness that near breaks your heart, but instead you feel it bolster you. Fill you with courage and strength. She gives you a light kiss on the cheek and you hear a playful shout from the thrones at the back of the room.

You remember then, as the dream fades, the joy in being chosen. And just before you open your eyes, you remember the face of that great dwarven king locking eyes with you in those fleeting moments before consciousness. You remember the playful wink and a raised tankard.

You awake with a clarity that you have not felt in such a long time, but you don’t find it unpleasant. Your cheek maintains familiar warmth, and it nestles in your breast. Deep down you feel a resonance, in the foundation of your own being, and that resonance, in a language long forgotten but now remembered, two words: Life and Mercy.


You take a breath after your weapon drills; sweat peppering your brow and your focus slowly ebbing. You feel the weight of the masterwork blade in your hand. The keen rapier, the blade of a leader. Even though you’ve only had the weapon for a number of days it almost feels like an extension of your own self.

Sheathing the blade, you towel yourself off and notice the gleam of your shortbow- Windzard. The glass cannon. Another weapon you’ve held for a short time but slowly and surely, despite a rough beginning, the weapon is opening itself up to you. Becoming yours. It, like you, yearns to grow stronger.

Once owned by a scared girl, but one brave enough to take that final step into the unknown; this weapon is proof of your history and your culture. One, some say, is dead. That girl’s bravery, that tenacity, is also yours. And somehow, you hear something, soft as a whisper on the breeze… but it is lost to you. Too soft.

You breathe, and your pulse slows and you turn your attention to the bow. You concentrate. And for a moment, a sliver of a moment, you feel a pull… to some dark place. You feel a call, primal, and welcoming. You soon notice you’re grinning to yourself and as that realization hits, you reclaim yourself.

Your eyes are drawn to your pack and gear, and then you feel something in your hand… a single gold coin.


You meditate on your evening. You remember the panicked scream of Weezl, despite the need for silence, for stealth. You remember her tiny, clammy hands shaking as you carried her to safety.

You remember the open hostility and cruelty in the actions of so many of the humans here. The guards, the nobles, the townsfolk.

You remember the resigned suffering of so many people. Trodden down into the dirt and muck as though they seemingly belong there.

They don’t know the freedom of flight. They don’t even recall the strength and pride of standing tall. They falter.

“I swear to protect…”

Like a heartbeat you feel the words enter your mind. A forceful pulse that surprises you.

“… swear to protect…”

You steel yourself, closing your eyes, which slowly feel warm. A simmering heat.

“… are absolute. For they are law… for they are just.”

You breathe, basic meditation exercises. Simple, done a thousand times before. You fortify yourself. And finally there is silence, and stillness.

Your mind is a fortress and only you hold the key.

Session 15: A Problem With Spirits
There is... a house...

Apologies for this session: Sam. Unfortunately rescheduling game didn’t work out for everyone, but it means that Sam is getting near-immunity from the suspicion of NPCs despite his creepy glowing eyes.

It also means he isn’t mentioned much in the recap… sorry.

  • The group collectively roll about 50 times after their intro passages are read to them in order to suss out every possible detail they can. Honestly I wasn’t expecting this and found it pretty great.
  • Imi is also present as she refuses to leave Weezl and the capybara helps bolster the gnome’s fortitude and puts her at ease.
  • After some rest the party head downstairs for breakfast. Thorne has managed to scrounge up some fresh eggs, to make up for not having any for the past couple of days, and she makes an effort to hook up Dekgrad. Everyone gets a pretty carb-heavy breakfast… and while talking about their plans for the day, a grinding is heard and a rumbling is felt… and it is not someone’s belly (as Weezl suspects at first.)
  • A few minutes later and the rumbling persists, with Thorne (trying to make sure nothing is damaged) telling the group that it means there will likely be an event soon. The colosseum is being erected in the centre of town.
  • There is a fair bit of commotion outside and when the party go to investigate they hear some shouting towards the fallen temple of Chauntea. Some nobles are harassing someone in the ruin, throwing stones and insults… and the group recognise these guys. They’re the same pack of assholes that pushed over a child when they first arrived in town.
  • Weezl and Dekgrad run up to the rubble to find a small girl with her leg trapped under a large wooden beam. Ziggy makes his way to the nobles where he fast-talks them into a bet. He somehow includes Dekgrad into this by saying he’s an official rubble inspector (which turns into a running joke with Dekgrad pointing out “that’s rubble/that’s not rubble” often, and not always at the most appropriate moments.)
  • The girl’s name is Lilly and she’s looking for her father’s jewellery. She puts on a brave face but she’s hurt and trapped. Dwarf and gnome both hoist the beam off the girl, with Dekgrad doing most of the heavy lifting, but she gets out and immediately starts looking for the amulet after thanking the pair. She warns them to leave the nobles because they’ll get in trouble.
  • Dekgrad rolls some incredibly huge number for his Medicine check and finds a splint, binds the girl’s leg, and manages MacGuyver a crutch together for her.
  • Meanwhile, Ziggy has managed to convince the nobles to add 30gp to his 50gp (of evil-gold) and then manages to bolt off, rolling something like 39,483 on his Stealth check, ducking through a small passage and getting to the rest of the party.
  • They collectively find the amulet, thanks to Imi actually, and offer to take the girl to her father. Lilly points out a way they can go that will be out of sight. Before they head off, Ziggy baits the nobles into the small passage he went into previously, but with the addition of a shitload of ball bearings (of which the druid scoops up a bunch for her sling; causing the rogue to flick out a few extra for good measure.) The trap works, with two of the cronies crawling in and tripping themselves up in the darkness, with the last noble finally realising they’ve been had. He goes off, crying out for guards… it’s all quite pathetic really.
  • Before long Lilly takes the group through the slums to one of the only intact two storey homes in the area… but it’s boarded up completely. On the way there, Weezl notices a small rat in the girl’s pouch and the rat has a rather plucky attitude but takes to the party. It and Imi share a bit of a nod.
  • The home has a chill which seems to emanate from it, and there is no breeze, the occasional wail, sob, or bang is heard from inside the building. It seems to groan intermittently and a man stands near it, casting a wary eye over the nearby people and the house itself. He wears a tattered light green robe, and the same material is seen on a lot of the nearby folk (as masks or bandaging… some simply for decoration.)
  • Lilly drops the crutch and embraces her father, and he thanks the group for looking after his daughter- hoping she hasn’t caused, or drawn, any trouble to them. The girl goes off to play with some nearby children after thanking the party again, and Beast (the rat) gives a nose-bump to Imi as thanks.
  • The man, David, is somewhat of a leader in this community and as a priest of the nearby temple of Chauntea. He struggles with showing his faith and holds it in check out of fear of repercussion. It also is why he feels helpless in assisting the 6 people boarded up in the house nearby… he believes they are possessed, overtaken when they have been pushed too far in desperation.
  • Without any mention of reward, and rebuffing any mention of reward, Dekgrad and co decide they will sort out the problem. They gather they can save the people there. The cleric of Sharindlar has a solid idea on how to fix this kind of thing.
  • While the many nailed boards are pulled from the main doorway, Lilly gives her father back his amulet- a silver symbol of Chauntea, which Dekgrad had Mended previously. The action actually causing his hammer to react with a gentle resonance. David is taken aback and with the combined persuasion of the group, and a beautifully Druidcrafted necklace, and actually adorns the symbol again. He tells the group he’ll do what he can if they need him. And with that, they are told to enter the dark abode.
  • Dekgrad bravely takes the first step inside… and is pulled by a telekinetic force, throwing him inside of the building. The rest follow into the destroyed building, only tiny slivers of light get through the sealed doors and windows. (Creepy shit ensues… constant noises, doors banging open and closed, scurrying footsteps upstairs and chills.)
  • The cleric cries out with divine-amplification, calling out the spirits, or demons, or whatever is in there. In response they all hear an inhuman howl, which they shake off, minus Ziggy who is now too terrified to go upstairs. While they deliberate on their actions, debris is lifted from the ground and pelts the group.
  • Soon enough the half-elf shakes off the fear becoming his usual cocky self, with maybe a hint of bravado thrown in for good measure. The group get up the collapsed stairs, with Weezl using her Boots of Spider Climbing to walk up the walls while carrying her buddy.
  • Upstairs is torn apart and dark, with patches of light pouring through a torn roof. Sneaking about the group spy a person in a side-room, jerky and breathing unnaturally… sometimes stopping to simply sob in fear and exhaustion, and then a dark shade resumes controlling and tormenting their form.
  • Ziggy manages to sneak up and knock them out… causing the Shadow to spill from the body and attack the group, making the house seemingly become ‘alive’ with sound and sensations rivalling something from a horror film.
  • The Shadow is quickly dispatched with a flurry of blows and they find people converging to a single room.
  • They pause, thinking about what to do next, when some of the party are lifted, and thrown into the nearby walls. They then decide to act quickly.
  • The party burst into the room with the 5 villagers… 4 seem to have the shadowy entities controlling them, and a darker sinister force seems to be controlling another- who lifts their hand and does another telepathic shove at the group, lifting some off their feet. Dekgrad however manages to stand firm.
  • He pulls his shield from his back and begins to Channel Divinity, praying loudly in the presence of these spirits, which roar and scream in anger. A blinding light flashes and a light ring sound and 3 of the Shadows are destroyed utterly. And when the light dies down, a rune (glimpsed in his dream the night prior) is now carved, glowing lightly, in the head of his hammer. A rune which says “Life.”
  • The following fight is a lot of spirits missing with swipes but the group are tossed about with telekinetic forces. Eventually they destroy both spirits, leaving a horrid ectoplasmic ichor on the ground. The villagers are inspected, and after a tense moment, are discovered to be alive- barely. The group notice a change in the air and the house itself but they run downstairs to find what was keeping them out from under the stairs.
  • Quickly inspecting the area, they notice debris being cleared in the middle of the room. The cleric and rogue stride forward, with the druid being a bit more wary (and injured.) And a message is slowly drawn in the dirt and dust… like a tiny fingerprint, with large, simple letters. T…H…A… (Thank you, says Dekgrad jokingly, amongst many other guesses.) and the writing stops half-way through the N… somewhat shakily. There is a pause and despite prompting, nothing else is heard… until the word ‘sorry’ is written hastily and messily… and a gentle gust passes them by, seemingly leaving. Disappearing?
  • The group leave, being temporarily blinded by the sunlight, and realising they are very close to missing their appointment with Lord Sunday. David tries to thank them, but the group want nothing of it, and the man tells them he will be there if he can ever help in whatever small way he can. They bid farewell to Lilly and Beast and make their way to the ethereal cask… looking a little worse for wear but (short) rested.
  • The appointment at the Cask is a whirlwind affair, with everyone forgoing disguises (minus Sam who is always ringed)

((And speaking of, it should also be pointed out that Sam’s eyes have a constant burning glow to them now. More pronounced than before.))

  • Sunday seems a bit anxious but excited that things seemingly are going ahead and that he has potentially capable people on his side… he hints that they are not the first group he’s worked with recently. He also lets the group know that Korran has tried to be in contact with him and that there is to be another ‘carnival’ soon- tomorrow… along with two unexpected guests, the Archduke and Archduchess.
  • He tells the group that the Flamehearts are going to likely erect a Windwall around the area where it is being held, so they have two options. 1) Steel themselves, and attend, or 2) lay in wait until things are finished. He strongly believes that during, or before, the ‘celebration’ will be the most opportune moment to do anything and to attempt to make the most of the chaos. And, if things go well, give it a bit of time before approaching him.
  • Sunday gives the group 4 porcelain masks like the ones the nobles wear and say that if they want seats, their best bet is to dress the part and look important. Turn up early. He gives them a contact, by the name of Gustav, that will tailor them some quick but suitable outfits- he’ll cover the costs. It is a home address and Sunday assures them he’ll be there.
  • All that said, he wishes them luck, and with an Insight check of 1, Ziggy believes him to be completely on the level with no reservation whatsoever.

((There was also a conversation with Akali over the coins on the way to the meeting and she said that it seems Korran is actively searching, but haphazardly, for something. He also seems agitated. She warns them off returning to their inn, in case it’s being watched- telling them to be careful if they are to go back there.))

  • The group do their best to keep to side streets, and with Pass Without Trace they manage to do that. Dekgrad does notice some conversations being held with some guards, a hearthsworn woman (with white chipped paint on her left gauntlet, and burning eyes) who looks completely tired and frustrated with her current situation- being spoken down to by some familiar nobles. Those with high passive perception (nearly, bloody everyone) notice figures flitting between alleyways every now and again.
  • The group arrive at Gustav’s home and are greeted by a man appears suspicious of the group. They mention Sunday and realise they don’t have any proof of their appointment. They hand the man the note with his address, noting that some of the letters are emphasised or altered slightly in some kind of code. Drawing a “sneaky fucker” from Ziggy.
  • They are welcomed in, and while the man makes them tea, he calls in his daughter- Helena, a strange girl with stranger fashion advice, to measure up his guests. She does so in a near-inappropriate fashion, but it’s all light-hearted enough.
  • Soon enough the man goes to lightning-fast work, managing to meet some truly ridiculous requests and the group look like a shakespearean pirate, a fancy and tiny top-hat wearing noble, and a super-fat Col. Sanders. They find brooches and baubles in his collection, all cheap but effective stage jewellery, and hats. Gustav’s hat and clothing racks seemingly move and shift along with the thoughts and wishes of those looking at them.
  • Even Imi gets a small cape (which Weezl matches) and top hat. Helena comments on the hats, poking her head into the room, with her own tiny top hat somehow resting on her mighty boosh of blonde hair.
  • The group then don’t know where to go, deciding not to return to the inn, and then deciding to crash with David and Lilly. They make their way there, avoiding guards and nobles alike, and meet up- causing a mild panic, but they are soon greeted warmly and invited to the little he can provide.
  • The group notice gardens that the people have planted in the ruins of a few buildings and Dekgrad manages to Bless them, fortifying the plants slightly, and they help harvest and make a stew of potatoes and other hardy vegetables- with the help of Sam’s cooking expertise. The cleric and druid also manage to Dispel Magic on 3 of the masks they have in their possession while this is all happening.
  • While they are discussing their next actions over the night, the gnome notices someone looking at them through a nearby window… only barely, she turns into a cat (this decision takes about 5 minutes out of game. It was a toss up between that and a weasel) and follows suit. She tries to track the figure and eventually sees a group of 4 young humans in nice clothes… looking very out of place. They’re talking about “things being over soon,” and “finally happening,” and “not to worry, we’ve got this.”
  • … and while she’s distracted, a figure leaps out at her… and catches her! Weezl lets out a loud cat-cry… and then finds Yuri tickling her. They have a brief, weird, telepathic conversation, and Yuri heads back with the druid to the others- where she reintroduces Speck the young mage. Speck hands over a couple of scrolls he says may help but all he could manage at short notice.
  • They ask David for somewhere private to speak, and the two newcomers check the place quickly for traps or any scrying devices, and they get down to business. Speck says he can do some recon, some scrying, if they need it. It’s kind of his speciality, it’s also how he managed to track down the party and why he has an idea of what’s going on.
  • He’s brought help but he says they are there simply for experience and backup. He won’t allow them to be put at risk. He says, when shit goes down, he can stand by on Counterspell duty and if they need a way out (prompted by the cleric) he says that is something he can definitely do- provided he can be given a minute. They say that if/WHEN they’re getting out, they’re more than happy to jet back to Jaspitt’s place.
  • The mage then offers to Scry for them. They’ve got two in the chamber- and they want to look in on Korran. He does so successfully and says that it looks like they’re preparing for something big. He’s still twitchy and he’s not sure exactly what he’s planning but if he had to hazard a guess, it looks like the lad is going to war.
  • They talk about who to scry on next, and Speck is not keen on attempting this on certain people. Namely Lev and The Black Claw… he’s looked in on the Claw previously and feels it only worked because he let the mage in, Speck assumes, to alleviate his boredom. He doesn’t feel human and feels bound in some way, there’s definitely more to him than is on the surface… similar to Sam’s burning eyes. It’s tied to the Claw’s presence. (And this information is brought to you by a portent roll of 20 for Arcana… and this drew a bit of excitement knowing that Speck is a Divination wizard.)
  • Things went in circles for a little longer but time was running out… so we called the session there, with one Scry and the rest of the evening left.

Overall I felt like it was a really great session. There was a bit of everything and everyone (that was there) got a chunk of the spotlight. It was also a lot of fun for me to work in a few more elements I’ve had banked away for a while and to refocus on some of the things effecting the people in the town (i.e. religion being taken away.)

I was also really impressed with everyone’s planning and execution… minus the jokes of attacking children at the beginning of the game :p. And yet, ironically, the first thing they did was help one. Go team. I also wasn’t expecting them to head back to David and Lilly and I felt that was a really neat little touch to that story.

It was also a bunch of fun throwing Imi into the game and getting to play more weird animals (Beast, namely.) And doing creepy, haunted shit is always fun too. I think I enjoy that kind of thing a bit too much.

So! What is in store for our heroes? Will the next day being tragedy, heroism, more poor rolling from the DM which thereby trivialises encounters?! Will there be phat loot? Will the nobles ever get their revenge!? Is The Black Claw actually a giant crab somehow stuffed into a giant suit of armor?! IS SPECK ACTUALLY RUSSELL BRAND?! Find out next time!

((Okay, so, aside: Speck kind of ended up sounding a bit like Russell Brand. Not quite what I was going for but it just ended up happening. Gotta say, I already like the guy but it made me like him a whole lot more.))

Session 14: Turk(ish Delight)
Here's comes a new challenger!

Not only was this the first session in a while to have all the players present, it also holds the honour of having the most amusing moment I’ve ever experienced in an RPG I’ve ever played in… and frankly, it’s a pretty high bar to beat going forward.

I also can’t remember the exact order of events and will try lampshade this when I’m not sure. I will endeavour to cover everything though.

  • With a rather large and detailed session recap out of the way, the party proceed to their first destination- the Ethereal Cask.
  • To prepare, Sam disguises himself as a burly, large man, and Dekgrad does his best guard impersonation. Weezl turns into a spider and hides in Ziggy’s hat. Ziggy, however, takes the goddamn cake with a complete disguise, and two potions- giving him a beard (that’s one), and hair that’s sky blue (and number 2 right there.) This is the prelude to the most amazing conversation I’ve ever had in a roleplaying game and DEFINITELY in my time as a DM.
  • The group make their way across town and notice some structures and dark red stone at the town’s centre. They take note, and Sam states that has to be on their ‘to do/destroy’ list.’
  • Being near the stockade, the party heads over to see what’s going on there. They notice people of varying age in the stocks, from quite young to mainly adults. Dekgrad approaches the people with food and tries to feed them, but he is stopped by a small group of guards. While they’re distracted, Weezl tries to feed Goodberries to some terrified teens who refuse to eat something a stranger pushes into their face.
  • The guards get aggravated and Sam makes sure he’s far from this altercation, and Ziggy intervenes with a massive deception check. The group leave, frustrated and horrified with the situation. Weezl commits the men’s face to memory.
  • The group take note of the eastern farmlands and vineyards, noting that they are better cared for and are actually managing a decent yield (from a distance.) It looks like a lot more effort and money is going into production here, whereas the farmlands to the west seem to suffer from a lack of supplies and care.
  • Arriving at the Cask, Dekgrad enters first, scoping out the joint, and then gives the all clear, and everyone else filters in. There is a show of station and, after terrorising the staff (in a good natured, but in character, kind of way) the Lord Advisor Sunday soon enters with two Hearthsworn guards. Meanwhile, Sam plays the part of manservant and guard.

It is at about this point where the table, minus Ziggy (amazingly), collectively lose it at the introduction and continued antics of the alias: Turk Fabiene.

I seriously cannot stress how hilarious this all was, especially with the tone of the conversation and how he played that character. I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to keep it together enough to keep game running.

  • Turk/Ziggy introduces himself to the lord and shares some of is wine (which is quickly refunded at the lord’s request) and then some of his own rare vintage: the Wildfire Wine from the Untamed Wilds.
  • This essentially leads to business being conducted in a private room, with Dekgrad hanging out in the bar and managing to get a fresh keg of ale tapped (which leads to a large amount of drinking) and Sam eventually waiting outside the doors of the room with the two guards. Weezl rides in on Turk’s hat.
  • The conversation held in the room is ridiculous and amazing and eventually leads to Sunday getting so frustrated that he almost, ALMOST, leaves- to the extent that his guards get involved. But, Ziggy/Turk turn things around and eventually let the lord know his intent, despite how tense things were previously with the mention of treason.
  • They plan to meet again the next day at the same time and place and leave with their alliance.

  • The group make their way back to the inn and most stick to side-streets. (I can’t recall if it was actually now when the party headed to the stockades… either way it happened, I’m just a bit cloudy as to when.) Sam however stays nearer to the centre of town where he hears a sound and notices some commotion to the south of town. The sound of a heavy canter on stone is heard, along with the clank of armor. And before long the disguised Aarakocra sees a monstrously large, armored warhorse, and upon the muscled beast is a giant of a man- nearing 8 feet tall and bedecked in copper armor. A black, iron claw, lashed across his back with strapped of darkened leather. His eyes can’t be seen beneath the darkness of his helm but he seems to command the attention of Hearthsworn from a distance. He heads towards the entertainment district not paying any mind to his surroundings.
  • Sam relays this information to the party back at the inn and they share their unease with one another. They then contact Akali to talk about support and going forward with their plans. They share their information, not really learning anything new, aside from asking about the mysterious Lev. They keep hearing about this right-hand man of the duke but know nothing about him. Akali describes the man, which is met with surprise that he sounds rather… normal? That is until she mentions that he has six fingers on each hand.
  • This leads to a flurry of Nature (with Weezl scoring a nat 20), Arcana and Religion checks… with Dekgrad recalling some information (after the DM prompted him with the question: “How much would Dekgrad know about demons?”) He, knowing of some of the darker aspects of the underdark races, recalled that some worship demons, and he remembers that the demon prince Graz’zt (The Dark Prince) has six fingers. This does not instil then with confidence.
  • Akali reiterates that she will be there when needed. They just need to call.

Akali also briefly gets to meet with Turk but soon after Weezl helps dispel the facial hair and Ziggy removes the prosthetics he’s wearing. Dekgrad does offer a prayer for the death of the beard and the facial hair hopefully goes to a better place.

  • The group then head out that night in various levels of disguise and Sam drops off Spider-Weezl atop the Masques warehouse, with their plan to leave their pouch of pixie dust, with a message that it is the last that Korran will be getting from Sunday until the job is done.
  • Thanks to the use of Pass Without a Trace this is made a lot easier with some TRULY ridiculous stealth rolls.
  • With some scouting, the gnome eventually gets stuck in a corridor with trapped and locked doors on either side. With no other option she ties up the dust to a door handle and then turns into a spider to leave.

At this point I also allowed a bunch of light meta-gaming as the group freak out about where to leave their package and the logistics of doors opening in or out. Honestly, it was worth it.

  • On the way out, Weezl goes to convey her message to Korran who is flanked by a couple Masque agents (one of which, the druid had caught a lift with previously.) When she starts speaking to him telepathically, the man doesn’t respond at first, but then starts talking to his dagger. When the gnome starts to get confused at his incoherent responses he starts looking for the source of the disembodied voice, concentrating over and over in her general direction… and when she responds to his own telepathic message of “where are you?” he focuses in her direction directly.
  • He quickly loses his composure causing the druid to quickly leave her comfort zone, especially when he responds to some of her statements with genuine(?) confusion, leaving her out in the deep end.
  • The conversation ends with a flurry of slashes at the wall while screaming into her mind “come out!” And hoping she had done enough but not wishing to stay a second longer, Weezl rushes out of the building, crying out for Sam when she gets to the roof.
  • The monk collects her and they meet up with the dwarf and half elf sharing stories. They start to talk about what happened when the doors to the warehouse are thrown open and thugs and agents rush out into the night with torches. Weezl again casts Pass Without a Trace which thankfully negates a lot of the nat 20 Survival checks the pursuers roll and they manage to get back to the inn.
  • The group try to get a restful night’s sleep with the small druid being troubled by her encounter with the unhinged (lord of the edge.)

… And with that, the session comes to a close.

Again, I have to stress how amazing Ziggy’s player was in this session. Just straight up phenomenal. I do have to work on making content a bit more applicable to everyone as I’m feeling guilty about some players having less to do than others. But, with things ramping up, I’m sure they’ll all get to find something to do. And, things are definitely ramping up.

This arc has been likened to a Guy Ritchie film and I take that as a great compliment. Hopefully it’s just as much of a beautiful mess at the end of things.

I’ve also been made aware of how dark things consistently are in my games… so, I’ll try be a little more conscious of that. Though, honestly, this IS my own little take on a Ravenloft campaign. Things will be high adventure again soon enough. So, hang in there, y’all! I can guarantee your kindness and heroism will pay off!

But, that being said… what will happen next? Will the Black Claw really taste like crab? Will Korran actually take the words of that disembodied voice to heart? Will he quit it with the eyeliner and black nail polish? Is it all just a phase? Will Akali ever get easy access to a decent shower? And, gods help us all, will Turk Fabiene be making his appointment with Lord Advisor Sunday?! Find out next time!


From Lord Sunday’s perspective

Session 13: Over the Edge(lord)
Ah, the ol' triple, double cross

Sam’s player was absent due to work commitments this week, which is why he’s pretty quiet in this session. It also explains the lack of a bird’s eye view… ha ha ha…

So we start with distributing item cards and catching everyone up to speed. Ironically Dekgrad’s player is the one who reminds everyone of a few finer details as he read the session recaps that morning.

  • The group find themselves before the tavern and inn, One-Eyed Jack. They are greeted with a terrible band (named Copperside, singing this song). The establishment is worn but run by dwarves, and while the crowd is rough, spirits are high.
  • At the corner near the bar is a rough stone statue of a human, which honestly looks like a trial-run in terms of quality, with half of its face smashed off. The statue is bedecked in shirts, clothes and silly hats. The rogue goes through the pockets quickly, only managing to pilfer a handful of silver and other coins.
  • They find an older, beared dwarven matron behind the bar and introduce themselves. They learn that her name is Thorne (or called Thorny by some) and they seem to make fast friends, with Dekgrad’s flattery earning him a stream of free ale.
  • They notice a lack of nobles in here, there are exactly zero. The crowd are workers, drunkards and ruffians all. And when Weezl and co. try to determine if there are masque agents in the crowd, they come up with nothing. Then again, the gnome’s experience with rougish types is limited to Dannick’s Masques and Ziggy.
  • The party ask about the town’s situation and about the curfew (which is no longer strictly enforced. And it is Thorne’s suspicion that this is intentional but she doesn’t know why.) Thorne says that the place is rather mad and cruel, but she’s staying because she has a bar and even humans deserve good ale and some dwarven hospitality. The group say how they have business in town and that they have connections and Weezl blurts out (at nearly every opportunity this session, hilariously enough) that they’re looking for Akali.
  • They get directions to Bedrolls and Broomsticks but find out Akali hasn’t been around and they haven’t seem to be getting restocked so Thorne has had to take her business elsewhere.
  • Eventually the conversation turns to procuring rooms, of which two are available, and Ziggy gives a false name for the ledger that Thorne takes out. Dekgrad gives his actual name, which when written quickly disappears- erasing itself. Thorne putting two and two together scratches out the fake name and does not charge for their rooms, which they can have for as long as they need.
  • There is more smalltalk, including an amusing moment where both Thorne and Dekgrad ask where each other come from but don’t actually know the names of the locations (prompting a discussion about doing another world building session sometime soon!) Ziggy relaxes while keeping an eye on anyone getting too close, and Dekgrad and Weezl take up the stage to play their flute and bongo drums. They manage to get people up and dancing and earn a hearty 10 gold each for their efforts (during the performance, the gnome minor illusions a beard in front of her face, in the fashion of a poor photoshop attempt, with her moving around all the while- though trying to keep it in place.) Soon after everyone goes to get some rest, with Dekgrad drinking himself into oblivion and then stumbling off to a room, and stealing Ziggy’s bed.
  • Weezl takes a look into the night, noting the lower fog and people traversing the streets, and doesn’t notice Ziggy vaulting up onto and across rooftops and he does some urban skulking across the closely packed buildings.
  • Making nary a sound across the tiled rooftops he eventually spies a small handful of nobles, noted by the moonlight reflecting off their white masks, with one dwindling behind to relieve himself. He manages to silently scamper down and place himself around a corner from the man, opting NOT to make a leap of faith into a wagon that was off the side of the street (which he learns is filled with wilting produce.)
  • When the man stumbles around the corner, the rogue scores a nat 20 on his takedown attempt (with a subsequent, high, sleight of hand check), managing to perfectly strike the back of the man’s skull and neck, knocking him out instantly. As the man falls, Ziggy manages to take the man’s mask and grabs the man’s half-cape gently, silently lowering him down to the ground. He quickly robs him of his coin purse and stuffs the slight man into the nearby wagon, and starts to move when he hears approaching, heavy footsteps.
  • He manages to silently evade pursuit, but a clatter of tiles after a leap between rooftops, alerts a Heartsworn, who quickly loses the rogue- who manages to get back to the inn safely and quickly. He then spends time scraping the paint of the porcelain mask and tucks it away, soon after retiring for the evening.

  • Morning arrives, the group eat and head out for adventures! (This is after Dekgard is horrified to find that the inn doesn’t have any eggs and he can’t make his hangover cure.) They go to check out the landscape and to make their way to the general store. Firstly they venture out nearer the farming district, where they witness nobles pushing over and threatening a girl, before they continue on their way. Weezl runs over to the child and offers her gold, which the child refuses to take, she doesn’t want to be put in jail for taking it, “for stealing.” Confused, the gnome then offers her some food, which the girl takes despite herself, and quickly she runs off when there’s a pause. She waves meekly and disappears into some nearby alleys.
  • The druid goes to approach the nobles, and the group try to tell her to stop, and she picks up a stone to throw at them. Ziggy manages to get her to stop, promising that they’ll get them back, to commit their faces to memory and this is just enough for her.
  • The group make their way towards the fields, to notice that half of it isn’t yielding crop and the people working look tired and despondent. But their travels do give them a bit of a lay of the land. They then make their way towards the general store.
  • On the way they also notice an argument, overheard by Dekgrad, between some guard and Hearthsworn. The guard had arrested what appear to be three townsfolk and have them in chains, the Hearthsworn demand they be freed (for the very minor transgression they apparently took part in) and the guard bite back. It appears to the dwarf that this takes the Hearthsworn by surprise and one of them steps forward, removing the chains himself and berating the guard, who don’t back down an inch- but they seemingly let the people go.
  • Finally, amongst the jumble of commercial buildings and businesses, they find themselves at Bedrolls and Broomsticks; and inspecting the sign, Ziggy notices some Thieves’ Cant etched into the wooden placard, saying: "“Hidden Face. Find Way. Winning Black Jack. Key.”
  • The building itself is a couple levels, and looks like a retrofitted warehouse, subdivided into a number of businesses, with about 2/3 dedicated to this store. The shelves are rather bare, with the meagre amount of stock spread thin, and a handful of people listlessly peruse the shelves or walk the isles.
  • At the counter is a bored man who, when greeted, jovially and enthusiastically greets the party. His unique manner of speaking takes them all by surprise, but with Ziggy reflecting the man’s speech patterns instantly, and flawlessly (making everyone look around in bafflement and making myself have to bite down on laughter any time anyone said anything.)
  • The rogue procures his unique deck of cards, sliding over a Jack of Spades, which gets the conversation starting in earnest. And near-instantly Weezl asks about Akali, getting a stern look from Ziggy again, this time the druid realises her faux pas and quickly redacts the statement, in a very obvious way.
  • The man asks why they want to meet Akali and they learn she isn’t around anymore, but if they have business with the Masques he can tee up a meeting with their new leader, her previous second-in-command – Korran.
  • The conversation goes around in circles, with Weezl wandering out to scope out the exterior of the building, and Ziggy and Dekgrad organising a meeting with Korran at noon. The “store clerk” walks over to another man who has been seemingly in the building the whole time (no one noticed him previously) and they have a brief conversation- after which, the man leaves.
  • Noticing the pace of the man leaving, Weezl turns into a tiny spider and desperately leaps and latches onto the unassuming man. He finds his way to a nearby alleyway, and then starts sprinting down backsteets and parkouring over rubble and broken fences. From Spider-Weezl’s perspective, it’s kind of like the worst VR experience ever with ULTRA shaky-cam. About half an hour of this they reach a number of warehouses (which Ziggy is currently being given the address of) and the man raps out a series of knocks on the metal doors.
  • He enters a small room, with a caged off area to the side and a woman pats him down, letting him in the next series of doors.
  • Inside is a large warehouse which has been gutted and fit-out in a very ramshackle way. About 30 rough-looking men and women sit around on crates, some drinking and others playing cards or roughhousing one another. The man steps up on a platform announcing some business for Korran, who is sitting on the second level, peering down. He invites him up.
  • Passing barricades and bored archers, the man gets near to a man of elven descent, with matted, long dark hair and impossibly dark circles around his eyes. He doesn’t look like he’s slept in days and he’s rather fidgety. Small piles of purple-and-red powder are on the desk in front of him, and he holds an obsidian dagger in his grasp.
  • Weezl overhears everything but doesn’t learn much. Korran okay’s the meeting but angers quickly over the mention of Akali. He dismisses the man, who seems relieved to go.
  • At this point, when Korran goes to snort up a line of this powder the players affectionately nickname him “Edgelord.” Funnier still when I spoil something later, when I remember that his dagger’s name is Razor’s Edge. The edgelord joke runs strong for the rest of the session and quickly becomes the name for this faction- “the edgelords.”
  • There were also two large cages hanging in the area that each held a Flying Snake.
  • The man sits down to rest on the bottom level, and realising her beast shape is due to run out, the druid-spider scampers quickly along the side of the room and manages to get out in time for her to return to her form safely.

  • Meanwhile, noticing Weezl’s absence, the rest of the party wait a quarter of an hour for her… and then decide they’ve waited long enough and leave. Dekgrad and Ziggy then go looking for a bakery by the name of Munchies that the storeclerk referred them to. They end up finding it, but that isn’t the name, and Dekgrad ends up procuring some egg rolls.
  • On the way back to the inn, the group check out the stockades near the centre of town (that were mentioned back at the inn, along with the fact that the prison is now also referred to as “The Pit”, in reference to the excavated area under the building that was made to hold prisoners since the place is massively over capacity.)
  • Upon approaching they see the 20 stocks, of which over half are occupied, and nearby is roughly 10 or so guards. They notice townsfolk and nobles (in particular) approaching people in the stocks, eating in front of them, or injuring them. One leaning down to cut one’s leg. They guards seem to laugh and don’t stop the casual cruelty at all… this horrifies the men and they leave for the inn.
  • Soon after Weezl returns and before anyone can get angry at her for disappearing she spills the details of her reconnaissance. Everyone quickly decides they’re not going to this meeting and just hope that doesn’t come back to bite them. They lay low until the evening and then go to check out the general store at night in an attempt to get some more information.
  • Dekgrad stays on the ground, as he lacks in stealth, and pretends to be a sleeping drunk in a nearby alleyway while the others take to the rooftops to get to the building.
  • It’s honestly a bit of a clusterfuck with the gnome’s short legs meaning she’s either barely making or failing at leaping between buildings, but Ziggy spots her, the two finally getting to the building adjacent. Ziggy convinces Weezl to beast shape on the roof and just take the long way down and back up again instead of attempting to leap again.
  • During this Dekgrad has a couple youths sneak up and start to pickpocket him, managing to take about 20 gold before he startles them. He doesn’t threaten them but offers them 5 gold if they want to cause a distraction if there are any guard nearby. One of the kids agrees but wants payment up front, when the dwarf refuses, the kids leg it, and the dwarf goes back to his act… but this time keeping more of an eye out… for a while.
  • Weezl-as-spider manages to find a window that’s slightly ajar and finds herself in an office. A thoroughly ransacked office on the second floor. Anything of worth or import is gone, and even upholstery has been cut open. She does manage to find some left behind women’s clothing, but that’s it. She hears some voices and counts maybe three voices but decides to go back to the others. She relays the information to the group (who poke at Dekgrad with a stick, waking him up.)
  • While they’re talking about what to do (meanwhile I just keep on rolling dice), footsteps appear to be getting closer, and before them are three guards. It catches most of the group off guard (who roll a nat 1 and a -1 for stealth; Ziggy naturally fades into the stonework like a goddamn Predator.) But quickly, in the distance is a pale moon shape, and then another, with the two street urchins mooning and taunting the guards, provoking them thoroughly and they give chase.
  • Moments later there is movement at the back of the alley, and a figure steps forward with arms raised. A woman with short dark hair and a beauty spot, she’s heard they’d been asking about her and they should come quick if they wish to talk.
  • Akali quickly leads the group to a sewer grate, and ushers the group into it. She takes a particularly long look at Sam, noting his eyes, when he goes down.
  • The woman, counting her steps, navigates the sewers without sight and the others follow thanks to their darkvision. She leads them through the narrow and labyrinthine network to a section that is reasonably large and open, thanks to some collapsed tunnels (Dekgrad notes the stonework and finds it to be reinforced with magic and a melding of stone.)
  • In the room are a handful of folk that look a lot more like the Masques that Weezl recognises (much unlike the ones she saw in the warehouse.) And Akali invites the group to sit on some salvaged rugs and furnishes and offers them some wine.

At this point we took a quick break and moved over to the lounge room as people were getting a bit uncomfortable.

Full disclosure, there was a lot of conversation that happened at this point, so I’m just going to abridge things. Also, Weezl/Anna did curl up and fall asleep during this for a little while; which led to a cute moment with Dekgrad carrying her back to the inn.

  • Dannick’s letter is given to Akali, which contains a number of small coins and a letter. She tucks them away saying they will be a great help in re-establishing contact and she thanks to group sincerely. (The group do hand over the letter without asking for confirmation of who she actually is, but she assures them she wouldn’t be able to open the letter if that wasn’t the case as she used her own blood to break a seal on it.)
  • Akali explains that Korran was not her second in command, but one of her lieutenants and isn’t really smart enough to run things; however he is allied with Lord Advisor Sunday Thornton the duke’s uncle. The man had approached her in regards to helping him overthrow the current ruling structure so he could take over as reagent, but Akali didn’t want a part of it… and so she ended up losing control of the Masque faction.
  • She calls her new faction the Veiled Brokers and has roughly 20 skilled men and women at her disposal. She has been rather inactive due to being unable to risk losing any manpower.
  • The group learn a bit more of the town, and the prisoner carnivals. TLDR, they don’t sound good.
  • She informs the group of an advisor, instated by the crown of Hearthshire, that stays by the duke’s side. He goes by the name of Lev and is an anomaly, in that she doesn’t know the man’s capabilities at all. However, she does know he has a side business in the gambling den (The Five Aces, which Ziggy and Dekgrad have both scoped out previously) which is used to launder a large amount of the gold of Sandhill.
  • The Flamehearts are mentioned, a small cadre of Hearthsworn spellcasters which also do work at The Five Aces apparently enchanting the gold there… this curse does seem to amplify cruelty and sadism, and as an extension largely effects the nobles in town.
  • Akali tells the group that all the royals live in the large Thornton Manor, which is impossible to miss, and that the duke (usually with advisor and bodyguards) and sometimes Sunday frequent the Five Aces and the high-end bar (specialising in wine): the Ethereal Cask. The Cask is not an inn but there are private rooms that are commonly used for business.
  • It also comes up that the drug supply seems to be largely coming from the duke’s estate and their spellcasters, and Pixie Dust seems to be cultivated from plants and such from the deep Underdark. Also, she highly recommends against trying the substance.
  • Playing towards Sunday’s ego and Korran’s insecurity/instability seem like safe bets if you want them to do anything.
  • The plan seems to be to implicate Korran in an attempt on the duke’s life, which will hopefully get Sunday back in power (as a leader, he is believed to at least be “traditional”) and remove Korran from the Masques. The elf also has a lot of her gear that she really wants back. They also find out the flying snakes were her pets.
  • Noting Sam’s eyes (and asking his affiliation with the Hearthsworn), she believes that he could be used- under the guise of a Hearthsworn spy, to tell Korran that he can compromise the duke’s security- giving him a clear shot at him. It’s a risky move though but she does offer the suggestion, as it would potentially give them a timeframe to work with.

There was a lot more said, but that’s the gist.

  • If they want to get in contact with her, they can leave a mark or note on the statue at One-Eyed Jack’s and she’ll have agents check it regularly so they can establish contact.

  • The group make it back to the inn, taking a sewer detour which gets them there a little faster.
  • At this point the group spend a couple of days laying low and getting some more information from Thorne, and they find out the wine that Ziggy took from the Nymph’s Grove is worth a LOT and would make a good offering for a wine aficionado.
  • This all ties in with their plan: to have Ziggy and Dekgrad appear, disguised, as wine merchants and bodyguard, and use the expensive wine to impress the lord advisor, getting an audience with him and hopefully get him onside for their attempt on the duke (to either try subdue him, rather than kill.) They figure they can play Korran against the duke, as the lord advisor has promised him gold and a title if he succeeds in killing Charles, and threatening the removal of that offer might force him to act.
  • It’s a bit of a chess game with a lot of moving pieces to be honest. They manage to relay the message to a Veiled Broker agent, who in turn gives them a coin they can use to converse with Akali (this happens over a few meetings), who eventually meets them and they talk about the plan- which she thinks is pretty solid. She has had contact with Dannick and through Speck she has been told her boss can get them some support. She just needs to be told when to act, but they’re likely only going to be given a handful of specialists.
  • They lay low a little longer and gather their wits…. and that about wraps up the session.

There was a lot of info and talking and planning this session. Everyone interacted with a LOT of the town and found out a lot about many of the factions and people in play. Honestly, I was really impressed with how it all ran, and with everyone having fun running their own little missions and managing their own alliances.

Also, the players do not seem very fond of the place at all and I’m really happy the atmosphere of the joint is coming across. Still, time will tell how well their planning will work and I honestly can’t wait to see how it all comes together. It’s sessions like these that make me feel like the hours upon hours of prep are completely worth it. Though it really is a shame not everyone could make it.

So, like, will everyone totally find out what’s going on? Will all the plans be waaaay radical? Or a total wipe out? Find out next time, dudes and lady-dudes! Chyeah!


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