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!