Saturday, 31st May, 2008, 05:05 AM #501
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Consequences of Vice: Part 2e – The Freeport Institute
Kham sat at the bow of the boat. It was a bright little vessel of polished wood with a white sail, and it moved gently across the lake in front of the breeze. He looked down into the water, past where his trailing hand disturbed the surface. It was spirit-thick and gray.
Was that movement?
Kham pulled up his hand and a mottled shape ballooned past him not far below, then another—huge marine creatures. Up ahead, the water slapped.
The fluorescent green back of one of the things cleared the surface for a moment, and then dove.
Kham saw it still. It was coming right at him—bigger and bigger. Then it reared out of the water fully, looming above the boat like a cliff. He couldn’t wait for it.
He stood and stepped off into the water. Falling. Falling. Eyes closed.
The water became a mist. It cleared, and a landscape stretched out around him, stone and heathland and then a walled cemetery.
Kham stepped through he gates. The mossy graves fanned out all around him.
He walked on and on. Plain markers were everywhere, tens of thousands—there were no angels or other superstitions.
Finally, Kham came to a corner that he seemed to know. He read some of the names. They were all familiar to him. It was his family and friends; everyone living and dead was there. And the dates of the graves were all only a few years past.
His own grave was cracked. It was a plain tablet without even his name, but he knew it well. He felt a half-memory of how it was before he was in that boat, before the King in Yellow came. But everyone was there now.
For he was in Carcosa, the cemetery for all of dead Onara.
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Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Consequences of Vice: Part 3a – Mind Your Own Business
Vlad watched Kham wander off down an alley, muttering something about a boat. “Should we stop him?”
They were following a few paces behind.
Ilmarė shook her head. “Leave the fool to his delusions. He knew the risks when he drank that vial—” The elorii froze.
“Still,” said Beldin, “this IS Freeport. He could get seriously hurt or...what is it, Ilmarė?”
The crowded street suddenly parted. A tall woman in a breastplate, with shield and longsword blocked their path. Beside her was a Nol Dappan dwarf, resting a huge hammer on one shoulder.
“Noo sonny, yoo've bin pokin' yer beak whaur it doesnae belang. Finn doesnae loch 'at un bit. Sae we're haur tae remin' ye tae min' yer ain business.”
“Huh?” asked Vlad.
The tall woman rolled her eyes. “What Thaim means to say it that Finn hired us to take you out. Prepare to be uh…taken out.”
Someone shouted, “incendiaries globus!” Then a ball of flames seared towards them.
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Consequences of Vice: Part 3b – Mind Your Own Business
When the blast cleared, Vlad stood at the center with Grungronazharr in both hands. His companions were largely unaffected, although the same could not be said for their surroundings.
“Nobody mentioned the sword!” shouted Marta over her shoulder at her companions, who were standing on the rooftops of buildings on either side of the alleyway. “Now what?”
“Press them!” shouted Glinfield, an Altharian wizard garbed in red and black robes with a matching kaffiyeh. It was he who had cast the fireball.
Marta shook her head in aggravation and surged forward to engage Vlad in sword to shield combat.
“Th’ dwarf is mine!” shouted Thaim Hammerforge. He pounded his pole-hammer into the ground and it ignited with Nier’s holy flames. Then he took a menacing step towards Beldin.
Nobody bothered to ask Garadon what he was doing, because he rarely communicated with humans. It made him difficult to hire for a job, but his success spoke for itself. It was precisely why Glinfield had enlisted him. Although Garadon was an elorii, he seemed to have a pathological hatred of his own kind. Everyone knew he would target Ilmarė.
“Great,” said Rooster Tumblefoot, a redheaded gnome with a fan of spiked hair in the middle of his otherwise shaved head. “I get the leftovers. Do I go after the stoned idiot stumbling down the street then?”
“Fire on the warrior!” shouted Glinfield, who was getting into a bad habit of always telling Rooster what to do. “I’ll take care of the sorcerer!”
Glinfield pointed at Sebastian. “Magicus telum!” A bolt of magical energy blasted towards Sebastian.
Sebastian held up both hands. “Mulet sugicam!” The bolt fizzled in front of the dark-kin.
“What?” shouted Glinfield. “Impossible!”
Ilmarė rolled and came up with her serpent bow, firing two arrows in quick succession at Garadon. Two flaming arrows answered the elorii’s volley.
Beldin hacked at Thaim. Axe locked with hammer as Thaim shoved the weapon forward. Beldin nearly lost his grip.
Marta swung at Vlad’s head. “No fireballs here,” said Marta. “Just old fashioned steel.” The blow glanced off Vlad’s shield.
Vlad hacked at her in retaliation, forcing Marta to skip backwards. A bolt from Rooster’s crossbow froze in mid-air, dropping lifeless to the ground in front of Vlad’s Yig-emblazoned shield.
“He’s immune to bolts too?” Rooster reloaded his crossbow. “Your intel on this job SUCKS, Glinfield!”
“We’re stalemated.” Vlad grit his teeth as another blow from Marta nearly sliced off his nose. “Something has to change.”
“I agree,” said Beldin. He batted Thaim’s flaming hammer to the side.
The dwarf and the Milandisian nodded at each other. Then they switched opponents.
Vlad slapped Thaim’s hammer away as Beldin moved to the side.
The switch took Marta by surprise. Beldin came in under her shield and hacked upwards, slamming her against the wall and knocking her to the ground.
Seeing Marta go down, Glinfield panicked. He pointed at Beldin. “Fulgur sagitta!”
A blinding bolt of electricity snapped between Beldin and Glinfield’s extended finger. The dwarf fell to the ground, trailing smoke from his eyes and mouth.
“You’ll pay for that,” said Sebastian. “Let’s see if you can take what you dish out: incendiaries globus!”
This fireball, aimed higher up at the rooftops, blasted Glinfield off the roof. Rooster’s blackened formed melted in place where he crouched with his crossbow.
Thaim was still looking up in shock when Vlad brought him down. That left Garadon.
Garadon, who never trusted humans and certainly not an Altherian wizard, had erected magical defenses for himself as a contingency. He bounded from rooftop to rooftop away from the massacre.
Although Garadon was loath to do so, he would have to explain to his employer, a human, that the job had gone sour. And Garadon hated speaking to humans.
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ř Ignore Fimmtiu
Man, so much for an equiv-level encounter! They weren't even slowed down. Is this pretty much what you were expecting to happen?
"Hey! What kind of talk is that? There are Bleakniks around!"
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Consequences of Vice is the chapter when Sebastian, the sorcerer, got fireball.
I tried to explain to the players what this means for a campaign but they didn't believe me. Basically, once a caster reaches sixth (I think?), you go from a generally balanced battle to a nuclear blast capable of hitting everyone simultaneously for 6d6 fire damage. I also discovered that in a straight-up fight of wizard vs. sorcerer, sorcerer wins.
Unlike some of the other characters who didn't appreciably change the power-level of the game if they showed up, Sebastian's presence could make or break a conflict. If I counted on the sorcerer being present and he didn't show, the competition would threaten to roll over the PCs. Conversely, if I didn't figure in sorcerer firepower you get...well, what you just read.
I was better able to prepare for Sebastian once I understood what it meant to have a sorcerer slinging fireballs. As if that wasn't bad enough, worry once Sebastian starts FLYING...
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Consequences of Vice: Part 4a – Finn’s Syndicate
Kham woke up…somewhere.
He had a brief vision of Ilmarė leaning over him. Something about revenge for “that Price idiot.”
Kham rubbed his eyes. Whatever was in those vials was powerful stuff. Powerful enough to make him hallucinate. Powerful enough to make him sorry he drank it in the first place, but wanting more anyway.
It was like liquid Fleshripper.
“Sarish’s ass.” He rubbed his forehead. “That’s all I need is another vice.”
Kham struggled to his feet. A note had been slipped under his door.
Kham picked it up. The note was stamped with the sign of the Undir Benevolent Association. It was from Finn.
After reading the note, he let it fall from his hands. He needed a drink.
As he rummaged around the room for a wineskin, he got a glimpse of himself in the polished bowl near his bed. It was then that he fully understood Ilmarė’s revenge.
His long locks had been cut off, left on his pillow in a neat little pile. As if it weren’t obvious enough as to who had defaced Kham’s body, his fingernails were painted purple and silver.
Kham couldn’t help but chuckle. The elf had gotten him good. He owed her one.
But it was time for more serious matters. He walked over to a washbasin that Bobbin had thoughtfully provided.
He had to clean up. It was time for another visit with the most dangerous crime lord in Freeport.
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Consequences of Vice: Part 4b – Finn’s Syndicate
An unadorned, brick building in the center of the Eastern District was the headquarters of the Undir Benevolent Association. People were coming and going from the front entrance. Many, but not all of them, had the distinctive physical characteristics of Undir. There we no obvious guards or other apparent security measures.
Kham had visited the Undir Benevolent Association before. It was a poor disguise for a powerful criminal organization.
Upon entering the building, Kham found himself in a wide hallway with columns every ten feet down the center. To his right was a blank wall, but to his left was an opening into a noisy cafeteria.
A well-armed young woman approached him. Her eyes were a startling bright blue, her ears were pointed, and there was something odd about her hands.
“Hi Kham,” she said. “Back so soon?”
“Hi Touldrix,” Kham replied. “I’ve got an invitation.” He started to fish the note out of his pockets.
“No need,” she said. “Follow me please.”
Touldrix led him down a hallway to Finn val’Borda’s office. She gestured at the door and left.
Kham knocked lightly on the door labeled “Finn.” Finn’s raspy voice summoned him in.
As always, the short and chubby val’Borda sat at what might as well have been his throne. The guards that were never far from him closed the door behind Kham.
“Good to see you again, Kham.” Finn’s hangdog expression didn’t match his words. “Have a seat.”
Kham did as he was told.
Finn sighed. “You must understand that this is a terrible thing, what this Well-Dressed Man has done. He has killed someone who owed me money. That is just bad form.”
“You mean Frederick Haddon.”
Finn nodded. “But on top of that, he impersonated my organization. And for him to do such a thing is inexcusable. I am very angry with this man. And so I come to you.”
Kham straightened up. This time, he had nothing of value Finn could take from him. Not even Beldin’s Sign of Drac. Well, there was always Fleshripper, but he preferred not to think about what might happen if they tried to take it from him.
“My men didn’t kill Frederick. You know how I operate. Killing people is bad for business. I take pieces of people until they remember they should pay their debts. But they can’t pay their debts if they’re dead.”
“I’ve seen your work,” said Kham.
“This Well-Dressed Man, he sells this drink.” Finn sighed again. “It’s instantly addictive. Once you get hooked, you never get off of it. On the street, they call it Ghoul Juice. I call it poison.”
Kham swallowed. “I’ve…heard of it.”
“You are probably wondering why I asked you here. I will tell you: it’s because you will do what needs to be done. Ordinarily, I know that you would provide such a service for free, but because I know we are friends, I will give you another piece of information: the Well-Dressed Man has a hostage. And that hostage’s name is Corinalous val’Abebi.”
Kham nearly stood up in shock. Then he remembered himself. What was his father doing in Freeport?
Finn nodded at Kham’s reaction. “I do not understand why this man would branch out into kidnapping. But this man has no honor.” Finn’s lip curled into a sneer. “I wish you to explain to this well-dressed dealer that the clothes do not make the man.”
Kham struggled not to just get up and run out the door. He managed to say, “No problem, Finn.”
“My men have tracked the rat to his lair. He holes up in Rudolph’s Exotic Book Shoppe, in Scurvytown. Getting to the bookshop is easy. You need a password to get in. The password is, ‘I’d like to see your exotic-book reading room, please.’ I don’t do drugs of course; this is just what I have been told.”
“Be sure to let this man know who it is that sent you.” Finn turned away, finished with him. “I don’t expect to hear his response.”
Kham turned to go, his hand on Fleshripper’s hilt. It seemed to pulse with the same rage he felt beating in his chest. “We’ll be sure to deliver the message.”
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Consequences of Vice: Conclusion
They sat around the table reserved for them at The Last Resort.
“So your father’s a drug dealer?” asked Ilmarė, a pretty elorii with purple and silver hair.
Kham shook his head. “No, he’s been kidnapped by a drug dealer known as the Well-Dressed Man.”
“Uh, what’s he doing in Freeport?” asked Vlad, the Milandisian.
“I have no idea.” Kham slurped from his mug. “But I’m going to find out.”
“Where were you, anyway?” asked Sebastian.
“Finn?” shouted Beldin. “But he’s the one who murdered Frederick Haddon!”
Kham leaned back in his chair. “It wasn’t Finn. It’s hard to explain. The Syndicate doesn’t deal drugs. They consider it…dishonorable.”
Vlad suppressed a laugh once he realized Kham wasn’t joking.
Sebastian leaned forward, steepling his fingers. “So it was this Well-Dressed Man, as you call him, that murdered Frederick.”
“Maybe.” He took another swig. “Or at least one of his men. Finn said that Frederick owed him money.”
“Hayden said Frederick had a new source of income,” added Sebastian.
“So that income came from dealing Ghoul Juice.” Ilmarė sighed. “Stupid humans.”
“But why would the Well-Dressed Man kill someone working for him?” asked Vlad.
Kham shot Vlad a look of disgust. “Haven’t you been in Freeport long enough? Everyone’s scamming everyone else. Frederick was probably skimming off the top to pay Finn back what he owed.” He kicked off from the table and rose to his feet.
“Where are you going?” asked Beldin.
“To settle accounts,” Kham said over his shoulder.
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Chapter 28: Baumann’s Prize - Introduction
This is an adventure set in the Freeport setting, "Black Sails Over Freeport," written by William Simoni. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!
Our cast of characters includes:
• Dungeon Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
• Beldin Soulforge (dwarf fighter) played by Joe Lalumia
• Ilmarė Galen (elf bard/fighter) played by Amber Tresca
• Kham Val’Abebi (val rogue/psychic warrior) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://www.ninjarobotstudios.com)
• Sebastian Arnyal (dark-kin sorcerer) played by George Webster
• Vlad Martell (human fighter) played by Matt Hammer
I tinkered quite a bit with this adventure, merging the drug den from Black Sails Over Freeport with the drug den from The Consequences of Vice (TCOV). It wasn’t too hard, given that TCOV has no map and not much of a description of the drug den.
Thus, a relatively minor but interesting character known as Drake becomes the “well-dressed man.” Drake is a blind rogue/monk who specializes in staff combat. And he’s Enemy Number One. Or is he?
True to form, Kham was much more concerned about finding his father and much less concerned about getting revenge. Although he did slip in a good measure of revenge during all the rescuing.
Conversely, the power of a 6th-level sorcerer becomes apparent. Sebastian can cast three fireballs in a row. When you’ve got multiple bad guys bottled up in a room, it’s a slaughter.
I intentionally pared down some of Captain Baumann’s grandstanding because…well, because it’s ridiculous. Not only does Captain Baumann have a flight of birds who are “trained to harass only strangers who enter the chamber,” but she makes a four sentence speech and then uses a magic item (teleportation gem) that I would never allow characters to own, all so she can make a clean getaway. Can you say, “railroading” kids? I knew you could!
Still, because the stakes were so high, the adventure took on a completely different tone that made up for some of the ridiculous cheese. Unfortunately, Kham also managed to pick up a new vice…
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Baumann's Prize: Prologue
As they stepped outside and made their way through the streets, they were greeted with a Freeport in varied states of wakefulness. There seemed to be a change in the quality of the air. It felt more energetic and alive—and tense.
Ilmarė sighed, loudly. “Great,” she said. “Orcs.”
There was a long line of orcs emerging carrying cargo cross the street.
“I’ve heard that the city needs cheap labor to assist with several construction projects.” Beldin watched the orcs tromping around in droves. “But I never thought they meant this cheap.”
Evidently, some of the street toughs also disliked the arrangement; several of them shot malicious glares at the passing line of orcs.
A sudden silence descended on the proceedings. An orc had fallen to his knees, clasping a gushing head wound. A large rock lay beside him like an admission of guilt.
“Uh oh,” said Vlad.
After a few seconds, an orc companion threatened the crowd with his pickaxe. “Who threw that?” he demanded.
From the crowd came an answering challenge. “What are you gonna do about it, green-skin?”
“Let’s get out of here,” said Sebastian. “Before somebody gets—
Kham shouted a challenge. “Get the hell out of Freeport, no good greenies! Stop taking our jobs!”
“—violent,” finished Sebastian. Then fists started flying.
Kham ducked underneath a clumsy swing and spun around to wave his companions on.
Vlad looked around. “I think we lost Beldin.”
There was a loud bellow and the sound of a bone-crunching impact. An orc and a human slumped to the ground. Beldin stepped over him.
“Never mind, I found him.”
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