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Monday, 21st November, 2011, 07:51 PM #61
Gallant (Lvl 3)
In my group, the party just bargained with Asrabey for Nathan and left. They didn't bother to try and fight him...or rescue the Duchess.
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Thursday, 24th November, 2011, 02:44 PM #62
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Last edited by Colmarr; Sunday, 27th November, 2011 at 01:25 PM.
Sunday, 27th November, 2011, 02:01 PM #63
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Session 8a: A Day in the Life
In the days and weeks after the incident on Axis Island, RT3 returned to their usual routine. Wilheim heard from one of his contacts that Nathan Jierre has indeed been offered asylum by Risur and was hosted by a Flint noble named Anton Feldspar. The young tiefling was said to be continuing his studies in astronomy.
For a while, the investigators were minor celebrities, but news soon became old and the press moved on to current stories, like the impending wedding of well-to-do socialite and famous bachelor Guy Goodson.
As spring blossomed throughout Flint, a badly mauled body was discovered in the Nettles and RT3 was assigned the case. Their investigations soon discovered that a pit fighting ring had sprung up in which the involuntary combatants were pitted against wild animals. Tok convinced some ne’er-do-wells that he was interested in betting on the fights, and managed to talk his way into the underground area where a fight was taking place. Unexpectedly, the floor shook and dust fell from the roof as Flint shuddered under a minor earthquake – the first in living memory. RT3 knew they were outnumbered, but recorded the names of a number of people present and collared them later. Under interrogation, they revealed that Barris, a dragonborn lieutenant of the crime boss Lorcan Kell, was organising the fights. RT3 tracked Barris to a fight at a dockside tavern named the Undertaker’s Repose. With the aid of squads of Flint police, RT3 busted the fight and took Barris alive. The dragonborn was convicted of arranging the fights and sentenced to 6 months prison in the Goodson Estuarial Reformitary, a floating prison in Flint Bay. The greater charge – murder – didn’t stick.
Sara’s pregnancy progressed apace, and she began to show the signs of her impending motherhood. She complained to Erik that he was away too often, and that she didn’t feel safe among the isolated houses of Pine Islands. She insisted that Erik install iron bars on the windows and a crossbar on the door, and she took to scattering salt at the thresholds to the house – a folk ward against magical creatures.
Late one afternoon when Erik had called in sick, Assistant Chief Inspector Delft called RT3 into his office. Brandishing an official-looking scroll, he angrily informed the investigators that Minister for Outsiders Lya Jierre had filed a formal complaint against them. “What were you thinking, lying about the whereabouts of her cousin?” Fortunately, Delft seemed more concerned about the pressure he was receiving from Inspectress Saxby than about Lya Jierre’s displeasure. When Tok explained that it had been Erik that mislead Lya and that Tok had not felt like he could counter his sergeant in front of a Danoran, Delft accepted the excuse and dismissed the squad
As spring faded, and the heat of summer approached, a spate of thefts in the Artisan’s market in Bosum Strand drew the RHC’s attention. The thefts were not violent, but the merchandise taken was valuable, so the RHC was called to investigate. Initially RT3 were baffled, but when the thief attempted to lift Thornt’s purse, the shifter discovered that it was a pixie behind the crime wave. Another quake – bigger than the last – threw the market into chaos and the thief escaped. Tok and Thornt set up a sting, and RT3 tracked the thief into the Cloudwood. Passing through the thick forest, they felt eyes on them at all times, and a primal feeling of dread settled on them. Only Thornt seemed immune.
Eventually, RT3 discovered the pixie’s home – decorated with the sparkling proceeds of his crimes - and his heavily-pregnant wife. The creatures were too agile to capture, but Tok managed to (with some assistance from Erik’s brandished pistol) convince the pixie to cease his crime wave. RT3 took back the stolen wares, and in return Thornt left his coin pouch behind.
RT3 returned to Central District and filed their investigation report. As they left for the day, Tok discovered a scroll in his pigeonhole. Delivered shortly before by the RHC mail clerk Alton, it was nevertheless strange:
XTHAM MAXIX QTFF RX, KLD PKLG PYIXCommentary
YL CMIXXM, TL CXQXI, LXKMA CQKPBG CAYIX
K QKILTLH TC HTWXL, UYI YLX MY MXFF
AXKI TM MYFFTLH, DXWKCMKMTYL'C RXFF.
I wasn't comfortable hand-waving the three months between Island and Skyseer, so I wanted to fill that time with some events to give the campaign a feeling of continuity.
I also wanted to investigate the interplay between the PCs, to see what could be made of it. I knew that Wilheim's player wanted his PC to be the group sergeant, and I also knew that Erik's player disapproved of Tok sneaking off during the assault on Axis Fort. I had planned to open the session by asking Erik's player exactly what he put in his report - and then Tok's player what he thought of that. Unfortunately, Erik's player couldn't make tonight's session so that opportunity went begging.
Once I do know, I have plans to use any discontent between the two characters. Specificially, Inspectress Saxby will approach Tok to ask him to file secret reports on Erik's actions. Purportedly, she is concerned about his leadership in the wake of the Jierre incident, but in reality she wants a mole inside RT3 to make sure they don't discover anything they shouldn't.
I adopted the same question and answer format as in Session 0, and the resulting investigations are almost entirely player-created. My only contributions were the earthquakes (I didn't want to first mention them during Skyseer itself), identifying Barris as a lieutenant of Lorcan Kell (for obvious reasons; although the fight ring is the sort of deliciously cruel thing the Kell Guild would get involved in), and naming a pixie as the thief in the second investigation.
I obviously also worked in mention of Sara's pregnancy. I tried not to overplay it, but Checkov's Gun applies here and I'm sure Erik's player will be suspicious when he reads the recap.
I've been thinking for a while about what side plots I can run for the other PCs. Thornt's player has stated that the PC was created by a weretiger, and it occured to me before the session that I should aim higher: a rakshasa! I'll dwell on that plotline for a while, and it'll probably play out in late heroic or early paragon.
Wilheim's player believes that the PC was an eladrin before becoming a Deva, and I'm toying with the idea of in fact making him one of the Clergy's generals - the one who struck the killing blow to Srasama. Again, that's something that would play out at higher levels, but I can throw the odd flashback and strange feeling his way in the interim to keep him baited.
As for Tok, I had an epiphany while mowing the lawn 4 hours before the session. The most notable character trait of the changeling is a love of puzzles, so I'd use that as his plotline by taking a leaf from the Riddler's book in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Someone or something out in Flint is up to no good, and it has decided to taunt Tok with riddles hinting at what is going on.
The first note was a simple cryptogram, that translates as:
Eight there will be, and many moreI haven't quite determined where I will take this, but I'm leading toward a sort of zodiac killer - someone or something who kills a victim for each of the distant planes using an appropriate method: radiant energy for Vona, sleepwalking for Av, etc. Tok is the intended final victim, and his death (Nem) will cap a ritual that brings devastation to Flint. The killer will leave riddles at each of the crime scenes, hinting at what is to come.
On street, in sewer, neath swampy shore
A warning is given, for one to tell
Hear it tolling, devastation's bell
I'm leaning towards a Mind Flayer as Tok's nemesis. Their psionic powers lend them well to getting others to do their dirty work - such as convinced Mail clerk Alton to deliver an innocent scroll...
Last edited by Colmarr; Sunday, 27th November, 2011 at 02:04 PM.
Sunday, 27th November, 2011, 10:47 PM #64
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
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I enjoyed solving the cryptogram. It's been a while. Glad I didn't scroll down too fast.
Heads up. In adventure 3,
Tuesday, 29th November, 2011, 11:47 AM #65
Novice (Lvl 1)
THAT is awesome.
Tuesday, 6th December, 2011, 01:59 PM #66
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
RT3's members returned to RHC headquarters the next morning, eager to quiz Alton about how the strange scroll had made its way into Tok's pigeonhole. Unfortunately, Assistant Chief Inspector Delft summoned them to his office before the mail clerk arrived at work.
Delft had a new investigation for them. A young woman had perished, having jumped from the window of the Danoran consulate and impaled herself on the fence outside. The distance from the window to the fence – 40 feet – suggested that the woman might be connected to the eladrin terrorist Gale. As the investigators looking for Gale, RT3 were the obvious choice to investigate the woman's death.
The constables took an RHC carriage and headed straight to the consulate. On arrival, they were met by officer Belastair of the Flint Police. He informed RT3 that most of the witnesses gave the same story. They had heard gunfire, seen the woman jump out the window, and land on the fence. One scoundrel had apparently stolen items from her body and ran away as she was bleeding out. Belastair explained that by the time the first of his men got there the Danorans had taken the victim off the fence and carried her inside. He recommend that the constables speak to Danoran Security Chief Julian LeBrix.
Belastair was clearly keen to hand the investigation off to the RHC and didn't want to get involved in any "international incidents", but when Tok reminded the policeman that the scoundrel's theft had occurred outside consulate grounds (and thus within the Flint Police's jurisdiction), Belastair grudgingly agreed to have his men attempt to track down the thief. He pointed out Chief LeBrix standing inside the fence and the crowd where any witnesses might be located, and then he and his men moved off.
RT3 first moved to interview the witnesses in the crowd, only to discover that most of the people who had seen the incident had already moved on. Erik entered the consulate to speak with LeBrix and secure the scene, while the rest of the squad were able to quickly track two witnesses.
The first, a businessman, told them that the victim had crashed out the window, hit the fence, and then there were two gunshots, a few seconds apart. When she had jumped, she had had her arms covering her face, as if to shield herself.
The second witness, a washerwoman, relayed that after the victim impaled herself on the fence, a well-dressed man with a goatee went up to the dying woman, she handed him a bundle of papers and folders, then whispered something before she died. The man had yanked a yellow pendant and necklace off the woman’s neck, before running away.
Unable to locate any other witnesses quickly, Tok, Thornt, Wilheim and Cassi returned to the consulate. Erik and LeBrix, a balding and rheumy-eyed veteran, were waiting for them. As he walked the constables into the consulate, LeBrix hoped aloud that they would take the woman’s body and go quickly. He suggested the consular shouldn't have to be bothered with such things while having to deal with treaty negotiations and trade contracts. "You don’t want powerful men thinking about death when they’re deciding our fates, you know? “
LeBrix advised that the victim went by the name Nilasa Hume. She’d visited the consulate a few times in recent months and seemed nice enough. She had brought the consulate staff breakfast that morning, and had been dating one of the security personnel, Braden. Le Brix suspected that she had used him to case the building, and must have overheard someone talking about upstairs. He had noticed that she had slipped out while everyone else was eating the food she’d brought. A hunch had led him upstairs, and he found her slipping gold forks and spoons into her pockets. He had shot her in the leg when she tried to escape, and when she jumped out the window had shot her again, this time in the back. When Nilasa's body was brought down from the fence, he had discovered a priceless jewelled egg in her clothing.
At the squad's request, LeBrix lead them past a room full of consulate staff and up to the fourth floor. He took a position outside the consular's office and refused them entry to it, citing diplomatic reasons (and indicating that the door had been found locked after the incident in any event). He allowed the constables to inspect an attache's office from which the cutlery and egg had been stolen. The desk drawers in the room were locked, and Erik was able to ascertain that the locks had not been picked. A shattered glass case stood in one corner of the room, filled only with an expensive-looking cushion and shards of glass. LeBrix confirmed that it was where the egg had been kept.
Out in the hallway, Thornt moved to inspect the broken window from which Nilasa had leapt. The glass had shattered outwards, confirming that the window had been broken from the inside. However, when the shifter looked down, he noticed a gap in the thin layer of dust near the window. Suspecting that the hall rug had been recently moved, he lifted it up to discover fresh blood underneath. He called Cassi over, and she determined that the blood pattern was not consistent with a fusil wound. The blood spray had been caused with a slashing weapon.
Careful not to reveal their discovery to LeBrix, RT3 next asked the Danoran security chief to take them to see Nilasa’s body. The aging chief led them back downstairs and into the consulate’s basement. There they came across a body draped in clean white linen. A lantern-jawed young man sat disconsolately nearby, and LeBrix confirmed that he was Nilasa’s boyfriend Braden.
While Thornt and Wilheim moved to inspect the body, Tok went to speak to the grieving guard. Braden was clearly distraught over Nilasa’s death, but the changeling managed to calm the young man long enough to learn that the two of them had first met at the Thinking Man’s Tavern, and that Braden knew Nilasa worked at an acid factory named Hewards. Even from across the room, Thornt noticed that the youth seemed more hyperactive than would otherwise have been expected.
Meanwhile, Thornt and Wilheim’s inspection of Nilasa’s body revealed glass wounds on her arms, two puncture wounds to her abdomen consistent with being impaled on the consulate’s fence, gunshot wounds to the back of her left thigh and shoulder, and an unusual wound on her scalp. Thornt called Cassi over to examine the wounds, and the young knight quickly determined that the scalp wound had been caused by necrotic energy and that the gunshot wounds probably came from above after Nilasa was impaled on the fence.
Examination of Nilasa’s clothes revealed a bail certificate from the Parity Lake police station. The certificate indicated she had been picked up in a contraband raid recently but released on bail paid by Heward Sechim. Better hidden in her blouse was an empty vial, which Tok quickly identified as an elixir of invisibility.
Careful to again keep their discoveries from LeBrix’s notice, RT3 thanked the security chief and made arrangements for the RHC’s coroner to come into the consulate and collect the body. As they left, Thornt again noticed hyperactive behaviour, this time among other members of consulate staff. RT3 made their way out of the consulate and returned to RHC headquarters to consider their options.
Unfortunately I had one missing player this session, and another who was constantly being distracted by his 3 young kids, so we were effectively down to 2 players for most of the session.
Still, those two players seemed to be having a ball checking facts and searching the consulate for clues. Interestingly, despite one of them being a bard, they focused more on the forensic evidence than on interviewing consulate staff and witnesses. I blame CSI.
Interestingly, at this point in the adventure, they have nothing in relation to Dr Recklinghausen other than a brief description of him, did not discover the laced chocolates and have shown no interest in investigating the source of the elixir of invisibility. Of the 3 possible routes of investigation, they've therefore only found one. They expressed an intention to visit Heward's factory next, which will likely place them on track to meet Nevard and Gale, and to experience a night on Cauldron Hill.
Speaking of which, that is the first encounter I've ever been sad that I'm DMing online. It just screams to be played in a darkened room by candelight with spooky music playing on the stereo.
I plan to have Recklinghausen's cab driver turn up at RHC headquarters later that day as per the adventure outline, so the Recklinghausen angle (which contains the scene - Quital's appearance - that I am dying to play out) will come into play soon enough.
Tuesday, 20th December, 2011, 10:44 AM #67
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Upon arrival at headquarters, Erik went to speak about Heward Sechim with Ziggy in administration, an old contact of his who had access to the RHC’s archives. Ziggy knew of Sechim as an industrialist and was happy to help, disappearing into the record stacks for a few minutes before returning empty-handed. Neither Sechim nor his factory had previously attracted the RHC’s attention. When Erik mentioned the bail ticket they had found on Nilasa, Ziggy advised that the RHC did not have access to the Flint police’s records. RT3 would need to visit the issuing station in Parity Lake.
RT3 travelled to Sechim’s Alkahest & Etchings, only to discover the street filled with women protesting the imprisonment of their husbands, sons and brothers by their industrialist masters. When Tok questioned one of the protesters in the guise of a young woman, he learned that the men had been locked in the factories as a response to docker campaigns for improved wages and working conditions. The factory owners, led by Mr Dupont, were refusing to release the workers until someone came to replace them.
The doors to Sechim’s factory were not locked, and there was no crowd of woman protesting outside. RT3 were shown into the factory by the guards stationed on the front door, and met personally with Heward. Although initially disappointed that the industrialist was not the goateed man who had taken Nilasa’s bundle, Sechim nevertheless proved to be a font of information.
Nilasa had been one of Heward’s first workers, and he was distressed (but not surprised) to hear of her passing. A week earlier, Heward’s skyseer uncle Nevard had told him that “an adopted daughter would blindly ride the wind to her demise”.
Heward had done his best to protect Nilasa from the ‘wrong crowd’ with which he knew she associated, but he had also given the half-elf her privacy. He knew her boyfriend Braden by description, and that Nilasa had been enthralled by the activities of the eladrin terrorist Gale, but he knew little else about her. He asked RT3 to find her killer.
When they agreed, he asked them for another favour; to visit his uncle Nevard in the Cloudwood. Heward hoped that Nevard might serve as a facilitator for a meeting between Gale and the authorities, and might therefore prevent further people dying. RT3 again agreed and Nevard gave them directions on how to reach Nevard’s henge. Then he bid them good day.
As RT3 left Sechim’s factory, the guards out front queried whether ‘the boss’ had spoken to them about ‘the guys who smelled like burnt grease’. Realising that the industrialist had left something out, RT3 returning inside. Heward admitted that he had been approached recently by two men who had asked him to sell them universal solvent off the record. When he refused, the men had grown angry and made heavy allusions to the fires that had been striking the warehouses around Parity Lake. They left, saying they’d be back, but Sechim hadn’t heard from them again.
RT3 then split up. Wilheim and Tok headed to the Thinking Man’s Tavern to investigate its connection to Nilasa and Braden. Erik and Cassi headed to Parity Lake police station to investigate Nilasa’s arrest. Thornt returned to the Danoran consulate, intending to stakeout the entrance until Braden emerged and then follow the young man home.
Erik and Cassi reached their destination first, and were shown in to see Sergeant Belastair. The policeman seemed more helpful now that he was back in his office, and happily fetched Nilasa’s file. The half-elf had a significant juvenile record that had been expunged under Stanfield’s Matriculation Act of 328, and her subsequent recorded history was slight. The file did however name two known accomplices, Ford Sorghum and Travis Starter, who had pleaded guilty to various warrants and were held in Goodson’s Estuarial Reformatory.
Erik quizzed the officer on his men's response to the factory owners locking in their workers. Sergeant Belastair shrugged non-committally and said only that it was a matter for the workers and their bosses; clearly they hadn't checked their work contracts well enough.
As Erik and Cassi prepared to leave, Belastair proudly told the constables that his men had also tracked down a carriage driver whose vehicle had been hired by a blood-covered man with a goatee. Belastair had directed the man to RHC headquarters. Keen to follow this new lead, Erik and Cassi went to meet Thornt and the three of them set off across town.
Tok and Wilheim found the Thinking Man’s Tavern crowded with patrons but dominated by two distinct groups; a dozen minstrels and musicians known as The Band, and a cluster of professional scholars. As they entered, a tremor shook the room, causing a small panic and distracting attention from their arrival. Wilheim’s keen eyes picked out Thames Grimley sitting alone in the darkened corner of the bar, but Tok instead moved to speak to the old woman who acted as the tavern’s hostess. Barb took an instant liking to the disguised changeling. She was devastated by news of Nilasa’s death, and informed Tok that Nilasa had had dealings with both of the main groups that frequented the tavern.
While Tok comforted Barb and escorted her home, Wilheim attempted to maintain a low profile at the bar. Unfortunately, a scholar named Hennet spotted him and somehow made him out as a constable. He challenged the deva to a philosophical debate about the rights of authority to enforce its will, and Wilheim promptly responded by hand-cuffing the man and leading him back to RHC headquarters. The Band followed behind, loudly singing songs about repression and heavy-handed authority and drawing a crowd of onlookers.
Meanwhile, Erik, Cassi and Thornt had arrived at RHC headquarters to find carriage driver Jack Byron impatiently waiting for them. Byron told the investigators that he had collected a goateed man with bloody hands from an alley near the consulate that morning, and had taken him to a hostel named the House of Blue Birds. The man, dressed in respectable clothes, had been carrying a bundle that the carriage driver opined were surgical tools. After dropping the passenger off at the hostel, Jack had waited half an hour for his fare to be paid, then left disappointed and returned to his pickup point. He had discovered the Flint Police in the area and told them his tale.
Erik thanked the carriage driver for the new information. “Let me know if you get my fare, won’t you?” Jack asked as he left.
This sessions marked two in a row that contained no combat - or confrontation - at all. It went surprisingly well, and I don't think anyone really missed the combat.
I did fall foul of a split party though. When Wilheim and Tok headed to the Thinking Man's Tavern, I paid that portion of the investigation far more attention that I payed to Erik, Cassi and Thornt. That's somewhat due to the in-game time those three spent travelling to various destinations (I wanted to remain chronological), but also heavily due to how much fun the tavern can be from a roleplaying point of view.
Either way, be careful to not leave players with nothing to do. I'm going to use a 5-minute timer in future to make sure the scene spotlight doesn't stay too stationary.
The player who ended up handling the tavern scene was the one least inclined to engage with the tavern's patrons on their level. His response (handcuffs and a dubious assertion that being tapped on the shoulder constitutes assault) didn't go down well with the bards and his heavy-handed response will no doubt cause trouble if Docker/Flint support is needed in future.
Tuesday, 20th December, 2011, 05:24 PM #68
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
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Saturday, 28th January, 2012, 03:28 AM #69
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Session 10: Cloudwood
Sorry for the big gap between updates. We had a LONG Christmas break...
Sorry also for the two spoiler blocks. When I try to edit the post, there's only one sblock so I have no idea what's going on there.
Nothing too exciting to report here, other than the immediately obvious point that my players completely misjudged the Fog of War encounter, made no attempt to rescue the woman screaming in the carriage, and thus hav earned Renard's everlasting enmity. I'm very interested to see how the meeting with Nevard goes.
On the bright side, I think my players have now been shocked out of the "kill it and take its stuff" D&D mentality. Three times now things have been nothing like they imagined (they thought Sokana Rell had killed the duchess until they saw her sinking beneath the waves, they suspected Heward Sechim of mistreating Nilasa, and most recently they jumped to the conclusion that the brigands were the bad guys). As Erik's player put it in jest: "The guy that wrote these adventures is a bastard. Nothing is like it seems".
Take a bow, Rangerwickett
Last edited by Colmarr; Saturday, 28th January, 2012 at 03:39 AM.
Saturday, 28th January, 2012, 08:09 AM #70
Defender (Lvl 8)
Here, the situations they find themselves in are complex and subtle, and force them to think before piling in.
Last edited by gideonpepys; Saturday, 28th January, 2012 at 11:44 PM.