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.))