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Sunday, 31st July, 2011, 03:46 PM #1
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Campaign Notes: MapTool and Google+ Hangouts
Edited in: I'll add links to files and documents that other DMs may find useful to the start of this post.
Digging for Lies MapTool campaign file (maps through the first 2 acts).
I mentioned Zeitgeist to a few of my friends in passing. I recently ran the first act of Shadows of Mirahan for them live, and they really seemed to enjoy it. Since we don't live in the same area, though, live gaming is a rarity. When I mentioned Zeitgeist, they were all really interested! So we tested out Google+ hangouts and I figured out how to import images into MapTool, adjust the grid size, and host a server.
First, a bit about the PCs, in the players' own words:
Her parents wanted a boy. Raised in the middle of nowhere, but pretty much ignored. Went to the Battalion outside of Flint for Martial Scientist training. A little too cynical and uncouth, she wound up in the RHC after graduation.
Thesis Title - Further Analysis of the Use and Effectivity of Natural Terrain as an Aid Against a Superior Force
Reginald Nigel Whitecliff
Reginald is an extremely affable, socially adept member of a minor noble family. At 18 his family got him a position as a functionary of some type in a colonial outpost (or if colonial outposts don't exist, a diplomatic position in some farflung, India-like country). While there, he rose through the ranks of service, and as time wore on he developed an appreciation for the local culture that his fellow functionaries disdained, though he was charming enough that this disdain didn't extend to him as well. Nonetheless, he was seen as having gone tropo, adopting native dress, eating native foods, learning the native languages, and so forth. When it was necessary to send a party to negotiate with the local nobility of a neighboring city state, he was chosen as a member of the party because of his facility with the natives (and also out of concern that he would spread his enthusiasm for the local culture to the new batch of functionaries, a core of whom had begun to look up to him).
While en route to the city state, their party was set upon, with the members either being killed or captured. Reginald himself was thought killed, and his body was left in the jungle to rot. He was only *mostly* dead, however, and was nursed back to health by a sadhu who lived in the part of the jungle where the attack took place. The sadhu, himself a psion, recognized that Reginald himself possessed psionic potential, and trained him, unlocking his abilities through a combination of hallucinogens and meditative techniques. Both of them were startled when Reginald's abilities to communicate with the dead were awoken, and it was his contact with the spirits of his fellow countrymen who had been slain in the raid that reminded him of his responsibilities as a servant of the crown (this is after a number of years had passed). He said farewell to the sadhu and set out to track down the bandits who had attacked his party, using his now-developed abilities to capture the bandits that survived and bring them to justice. This task complete, he decided that it was time to return home.
Once there, however, he was restless, unsatisfied with the bureaucratic work that the crown put him to. Seeking a life that can put his particular talents to use, he makes contact with the HRC, which quickly recruits him.
Viveen was born in Risur, in the Weftlands. Her goliath ancestors were taken as slaves during an invasion from Ber long ago, and ended up staying on as indentured servants and then sharecroppers. A curious and inquisitive youth, Viveen had no real interest in farming. With few other options open to her, she joined the army and served in the Fourth Yerasol War.
The wars taught Viveen that she had a talent for hitting people with a large hammer, but also that the army's methods lacked a certain finesse. She didn't mind fighting, although it wasn't her favorite thing, but she preferred it to be better directed and for a clearer purpose than most campaigns she participated in. During this time she also met and talked to a wide range of people, including an old ship's captain who told her stories about once seeing a book written in the language of the gods. Something in the story spoke to her, and woke a force inside her she didn't know existed.
Whenever possible, Viveen began to research all that was known about the divine language. Finally, she thought she understood how one letter should look, and scribed it on her maul. In her next battle, she swung at an enemy and was almost blinded herself by the burst of fire that erupted when the blow fell.
After she discovered that the divine alphabet was real, and that she could use it if she learned it, Viveen left the army as soon as she could. Battlefields are no place for study, and she suspected that to truly pursue this field she would need the freedom to explore old temple sites, visit libraries, perhaps seek out the site where Srasama died! Returning to Risur, Viveen finds herself accorded a level of respect she is unaccustomed to. Apparently, killing for your country trumped being subhuman. Since this makes continuing her studies easier, Viveen accepts it, as well as a position in the RHC.
Viveen sees herself as sort of a divine archeologist. The RHC is a good match: the investigations interest her, she is skilled in healing and with a weapon; but her free time is devoted to seeking out traces of runes and putting them together. She does not worship any god, and would be surprised by the suggestion. She believes she is merely using the power of the runes, and has not considered what may be allowing her to channel it.
Vesta migrated to Risur (and Flint) young enough that he may as well be a local. He learned the history and plight of his people in general through the recollections of his older brothers, but his heritage and why his family had relocated weren't topics ever broached.
He grew up in Parity Lake and has seen how it's changed for the worse for the average working class people. Not that factory work held much interest to such a bright young man. He drifted a bit in his youth without a clear path forward.
The RHC offered the opportunity for him to get out of his old life and focus his talents towards what seem to be worthy goals.
He was recruited by a Constable who later died in the line of duty. Vesta, quite shaken by his friend's death, took a leave of absence, but eventually returned to the RHC with renewed dedication to keeping the streets safe.
He has a reputation for keeping meticulous case files, and is generally amenable to a night out with the boys, though he rarely has more than a pint.
Last edited by Ajar; Saturday, 8th June, 2013 at 08:38 PM.
Sunday, 31st July, 2011, 10:54 PM #2
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Our first session was yesterday. I'd prepped Act 1 of Island at the Axis of the World, figuring that if we did get all the way through the Coaltongue sabotage, it would be a good place to stop.
We set up our Google+ hangout and made sure all our sound stuff was OK. I know there are other chat options -- Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, WotC's VTT, etc. But I've found that when playing with my friends, video chat makes it much more fun than audio chat. When I introduced Assisstant Chief Inspector Delft by peering into the camera through an oversized brass magnifying glass, my players all burst out laughing. At that point, I was pretty sure that we were going to have a good time. For good measure, I sucked loudly on a mint to simulate chewing tobacco.
A couple of players still needed to install MapTool, since I'd only confirmed to them that my hosting worked properly the night before. No problem; I used the time to set up the map of Lanjyr as one of the campaign maps. I had the Act 1 maps -- Docks and Coaltongue -- plus Flint and Lanjyr. When I was reading the Intro text, I suggested that they look at the maps of Lanjyr and/or Flint, which I think helped get them in the right mindset.
I was a little nervous going into the Docks challenge, but it actually worked out very well. I don't directly expose skill challenges, so I didn't explain the mechanics to them, only the situation. They took to it very well, with a Viveen and Murdok climbing up onto the rooftops to better survey the crowd, while Vesta and Reginald mingled, trying to pick out potential troublemakers from the crowd. Due to a number of failed Perception checks, it turned out to be a close thing, with two of the dockers closing in on Reginald and Vesta as Reginald tried to Intimidate Coulton into thinking the crowd was full of plainclothes officers. But he succeeded, and Coulton's nervous glances gave Dafton away.
Hearing Reginald entreating Coulton and the dockers to stand down, Thames sidled up to Viveen and Murdok as they made their way back through the crowd to join up with Reginald and Vesta. He explained himself to them quickly, since the constables appeared to be interested in defusing the situation. They did manage to talk the dockers down, and Murdok's successful Stealth check allowed him to follow them back to their hideout. That information was passed on to the regular police.
Meanwhile, Thames entreated Reginald and Vesta to take the dockers' cause up with the governor -- something Vesta was more than happy to agree to. After cautioning that they didn't know the governor personally, Reginald said he would at the very least pass the message as far up the chain as he could.
I thought this challenge went well. The DCs were a bit tough since my party doesn't have great Perception, but if I was running it again, I wouldn't adjust it.
At the party, the constables were amused by how quick Delft was to abandon them and set about gladhanding the bigwigs. Their Insight check came close to detecting the Duchess' duplicity (28 vs 30!), but Sokana immediately aroused their suspicions. Between Vesta and Reginald, they quickly realized that she was actually an eladrin. The constables agreed to find her a room to nap in, and after taking a full tour of the ship, they settled on the sickbay since it would allow them to spy on her from above through the small section of fine mesh grating.
The Duchess wasn't initially too thrilled with the idea of napping in the sickbay, but with Bluff checks the constables were able to sell her on it as being far enough out of the way that people getting tours of the ship wouldn't be stopping by (unlike the mage's quarters or observation room on the deck above).
Vesta and Murdok waited in the room above, Viveen waited in the engine room in case of trouble, and Reginald was a perfectly generous and courteous escort as he led Sokana and the Duchess to the sickbay. When Sokana and the Duchess began casting ritual magic shortly thereafter, they became quite concerned.
Reginald left a fragment of his consciousness on the sickbay deck and headed up to the main deck, ready to warn Harkover Lee in the event of real trouble. When the false engineers and the assassin convened in the Duchess' room, more failed Perception checks prevented Murdok and Vesta from hearing just what was said. However, Vesta's Arcana check identified the Duchess' ritual as Water Breathing, which confirmed the party's suspicions.
On the sickbay deck, the munitions guard came over to see what was going on and was immediately cut down by the halfling assassin within sight of Reginal's consciousness fragment. Realizing what was up, he immediately warned Harkover Lee that a sabotage attempt was underway, with a very high Diplomacy result. Lee immediately and discreetly began preparing an evacuation plan.
Vesta teleported through the mesh into the sickbay through the mesh and attempted to convince Sokana and the Duchess to call it off. But Sokana ensnared him and then surrounded him with fire sprites. The Duchess, seeing things well in hand, completed her Water Breathing ritual and dove out the window.
The engineers managed to make it to the sickbay. Poor Fitzcairn was horrified to learn that his supposed friends who had been ribbing him about not shoveling enough firegems were actually saboteurs who had led him astray about how many firegems could safely be added to the furnace! Viveen engaged the engineers, and while they were able to spill firegems out of the holding vessel, they didn't manage to shovel any more into the furnace.
Sokana managed to make it to the engine room and successfully threw her rod into the furnace, then tried to make her escape, leaving a wall of fire and three more fire sprites behind her. Reginald asked Geoff for his frost wand, then came down the ladders to the engine room to help Viveen, while Murdok and Vesta went into the boiler room to reopen the (non-rusted, since the engineers never made it there after revealing themselves) safety relief valves.
One of the engineers fell, but the other managed to rust the furnace door shut. The PCs were getting pretty nervous at this point, but Viveen tore the door off the furnace and Reginald managed to spot the tongs and get them to her. They extracted the rod and then threw in Geoff's wand of cold, which helped a little bit.
After closing the safety relief valves, Murdok and Vesta went back to the sickbay deck just as Sokana was trying to escape up to the gun deck and out one of the portholes in the mage's quarters. The chased her down, and even with Otherwind Stride, which I (as someone who plays a teleporty warlock hybrid) was specifically saving for this, she was still struck down and captured before she could escape.
With the immediate threat neutralized, the players quickly realized that they could use the capacitor to discharge the magical fire energy. On the main deck, the evacuation was nearly complete, but Geoff was one of the last people remaining, holding out hope that his creation could be saved. He assisted the PCs on their checks to "quick charge" the Brand, saving the ship.
With the Coaltongue safe, the PCs called the lifeboats back, and after some time to set everything up again, the party resumed. The King took them aside for a private conversation, then gave his announcement speech. The PCs took the opportunity to talk to the governor about the dockers' plight, which will earn them some credibility down the road.
Back in Flint, they returned to their normal duties. A couple of them agreed to give interviews.
To be honest, I felt slightly unprepared going into this. I just landed a new job, and I'm preparing for a crossborder move and all of the complications that go along with it. I didn't have as much time to pore over the adventure as I would have liked. I felt like I was winging it a bit during the Dock sequence, but it seemed to go okay. When the PCs picked up on the sabotage before the Duchess' cronies even had time to finish all of their preparations, I was concerned that the encounter would be a pushover, but it ended up going down pretty close to the wire -- all of the PCs went down to single digit HP at least once, and the counter got down to about 13 rounds left before they removed the rod. I'd been planning to cut one engineer from the encounter to make the XP appropriate for 4 PCs, but I ended up leaving it at 2 engineers and it still went fine. I'm not going to do that every time, but for encounters that are the only one in a given day, I'll consider leaving them alone.
Looking forward to Axis Island! I'm not sure how I'm going to handle Asrabey -- I like using his 20th level stats, but that will make it really tough for the PCs to deal with him, whether by force of arms or diplomacy. The low level stats will probably make for a cool fight, but it just doesn't feel quite right to me to make him low level on account of being tired. I'm going to have to think that one over.
The other question is line of sight in the hedge maze. I've never done LoS in MapTool and I was hoping that I wouldn't have to deal with it, but I guess I'll have to figure out how to make it work.
Most importantly, all of my players said they had a great time, and are looking forward to our next session! With my impending move, I'm not quite sure when that will be, but we're hoping to squeeze one in sometime in August.
Monday, 1st August, 2011, 03:47 AM #3
A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)
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ø Block RangerWickett
You don't know how much I've been on pins and needles, waiting for someone to tell us all the details of the sabotage scene. I was dreading that a GM would pop in and say, "Yeah, all my PCs were annihilated in the explosion. Thanks a lot, guys."
Also, I just tried out Google+ hangout not an hour ago tonight. It's quite swanky. I'm glad it's working out for you.
Monday, 1st August, 2011, 05:56 AM #4
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
One of my players emailed us today saying that he's already jonesing to play again and that he had a fantastic time. So you guys are definitely doing something right! Another player replied that she's "really excited by how much is out there, waiting for us." So between the Player's Guide and all of the NPCs introduced even in Act 1 of the first adventure, you've definitely done a great job of showing how big the world is, and even how big Risur is, in terms of the narrative scope and the story space.
And of course I, as the GM, know that it only gets bigger -- way bigger -- from here! I'm cackling with glee just thinking about Asrabey, let alone everything else that comes later in the campaign!
As far as the sabotage, my PCs were really on the ball, and distrusted the Duchess from the get-go. I'd given them specific caveats every time I mentioned her distaste for Risur's new technological direction, saying that it was just a philosophical disagreement, and of course she still supported the king, etc. But I think when they first talked to Harkover Lee and then the Duchess in quick succession, and their distaste for one another became clear, that combined with the Insight check detecting Sokana's nervousness shifted them into "be prepared, just in case" mode. They also correctly interpreted the debate between Rutger and the dwarf as foreshadowing. "One little misunderstanding and it all falls apart..."
When they were able to convince the Duchess to nap in the sickbay, I was actually a little nervous, since the saboteurs wouldn't get to do much before they were discovered by the PCs spying on the Duchess. And sure enough, they didn't get to do much - no additional firegems were shoveled into the furnace, the assassin didn't make it anywhere near the munitions so the wards stayed intact -- but since the biggest factor in the countdown is Sokana throwing the rod in the furnace, it wasn't a major issue.
I wasn't sure how they would shut the engine down, since they had clearly expected the situation to be OK once they took out the saboteurs. But once I explained that the engineers had misled Fitzcairn about just how many firegems could be safely shoveled into the furnace, they took to the challenge. I gave no hints; they came up with the capacitor idea on their own, with the brilliant addition of enlisting the aid of the ship's designer.
There was one wrinkle that I alluded to above. I have a reputation in my circle of friends and players for TPKs. The first PBeM campaign I ever ran ended in not just a TPK, but the end of the world and the death of everything but the Lovecraftian horrors that had been set free. I've had players tell me that even when I explicitly state an encounter is level-appropriate, they're still terrified because of how I frame combat.
So when Vesta teleported into the sickbay when the Duchess was still there, his player fully expected to die. And if the Duchess hadn't been finishing up her Water Breathing ritual, I would have blasted Vesta with a paragon-level Wizard encounter power. But by the time the ritual was done, Sokana had Vesta dazed and surrounded with fire sprites, so the Duchess saw no need to lend a hand. I'm a "tough, but fair" DM, I think, or at least I try to be, and if I'd had the Duchess blast Vesta in that situation I would have felt like I (as a DM) was actively trying to kill him, rather than doing what made the most sense for the character of the Duchess. So it was a bit of a near thing, but the fact that Vesta teleported in before the ritual was done made a big difference, since it took the Duchess completely out of the battle.
This is why I'm wrestling with how best to handle the Asrabey encounter. If I tell my players that this guy is a total badass way above their level, they won't expect to be able to hit him with a roll of 10 or 12. If they can, it might break their immersion a bit. But if I run him with the 20th level stats, I'm not sure how to avoid a TPK.
Edit: I'm really looking forward to seeing Vesta and Asrabey interact, though. Both because Asrabey will represent a clear connection to Vesta's heritage, and because I wonder if Vesta will develop a little crush... (as I mentioned in my other thread, Vesta is gay but not "out.")
Last edited by Ajar; Monday, 1st August, 2011 at 06:07 AM.
Monday, 1st August, 2011, 06:07 AM #5
Novice (Lvl 1)
Are you using any other Google services for your campaign? I've been using Google Docs and Calendar (and Gmail of course), so far, and really liking them.
Monday, 1st August, 2011, 06:09 AM #6
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Not yet. I do use a Google Doc in my other play-by-video-chat game, where I'm a player and the party's scribe. So I keep the quest log and the XP/loot tracker. In this game we don't seem to have needed one yet, but I was thinking I might mention it to the players as a possibility.
Saturday, 15th December, 2012, 07:29 PM #7
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
We had a short session a couple of weeks ago, and are going to continue tonight. The last session was basically just clean-up after the battle. The questions around Rock Rackus' stray bullet, the realization that Simon's staff triggered the conjuration, and that the staff is made of gold! Additional RHC staffers showed up to collect the dead creatures and confiscate any "suspicious" magical gear.
One of those staffers may be a new PC with transfer orders from Stover Delft... Bela, a star pact warlock gunslinger and experienced RHC officer whose current squad is on the Macbannin case and getting nowhere fast. Delft, who has worked with Bela for years, trusts him and his work, and thinks he's being wasted on Saxby's Macbannin assignment. When he catches wind of the audit, some dots connect: Bela received a minor commendation from Nigel Price-Hill some years ago for a past case, and this is a perfect opportunity to get Bela into the PCs squad. He trusts the PCs squad already, because they brought him up to speed on Morgan Cippiano's overtures to them. Adding Bela will help them earn Nigel Price-Hill's trust during the audit, and Delft wants to see the PCs squad succeed -- he wants them to breeze through the audit and put it behind them so that he can persuade Saxby to give them a real case.
Little does he know that they already have one...
Sunday, 16th December, 2012, 09:30 PM #8
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Good session last night. We started where we left off, and I had Bela arrive with his transfer papers. The PCs weren't hard to find, since there was still quite a commotion at the Gun Alley Stage where the battle had taken place. They recognized Bela, although most of them didn't know him well. Vesta recalled that Bela had received a commendation from Nigel Price-Hill, and that his nickname was Knock Knock. It was kind of an amusing instance of dice reflecting reality; our game group is now comprised of three couples, one of which is Vesta's player and Bela's player.
When asked about his nickname, Bela -- who is trained in thievery -- said simply that he can be somewhat impatient, and lockpicking takes time.
After some discussion about the lack of progress in the Macbannin case and the amount of paperwork left behind by the PCs squad for Bela's squad, they got back to work. Reginald posthumously questioned the dead docker, which gave me a chance to have some fun with my best stoner voice. "Those Family guys, man, they're really cornering the fey pepper supply."
Then they headed for the subrail construction site and their meeting with Kaja. Reginald bluffed his way in and examined the wares, buying three potions of lesser haste and the Amulet of the Ancients. After returning to the squad, they decided to hide and wait for the next buyer. When a hapless halfling arrived to make a purchase, they waited until Kaja opened the chest and then attacked.
Kaja was pretty fun to run in combat, although my crappy rolls made it tougher. The players called foul when she pulled out the cannon, which I used to drop the party's leader, the goliath runepriest Viveen. However, she didn't have to make too many death saves, because Vesta charged in and kept Kaja occupied for long enough for the group to take her down.
Her surrender was followed by a very short interrogation before the constables realized they weren't going to get much of anything out of her. They checked out the smuggled goods, but couldn't figure out too much about the artifacts beyond that they were created by the Ancients.
There was a bit of discussion about how to cure Vesta's Distant Madness. Bela suggested taking him to the skyseers, and the other players agreed that maybe taking him to the orc shaman who helped them in The Dying Skyseer could yield something. At that point, we called it a night.
The introduction of Bela went really well. I think the character will be a good fit with the squad, and I'm looking forward to the wrinkles his introduction will add to the audit subplot.
Monday, 24th December, 2012, 03:45 AM #9
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Had another session on Wednesday. The constables sent a runner to Nevard's henge to make contact with Pazumu the orc shaman and ask if she or anyone else there could help with Vesta's distant madness. Then they took Kaja back to HQ and locked her up. Since my players tend to act like adventurers rather than constables -- they never just work crowds, rarely do insight checks when talking to NPCs, etc -- I decided to see what I could get away with, and had her lie to them, completely leaving out her role in R&D as well as her subsequent dealings with Lorcan Kell. She pretended that she was just a fence, and told them that Macbannin was her only supplier. With his operation gone, she was just selling off her stock and then planned to leave town.
Not one PC elected to make a single insight check at any point during this line of questioning, so they'll be pretty surprised when they get letters demanding her release!
They also didn't find the rusted ring. I think they're going to be pretty mad when she dies.
Then they went to check in with Delft, updating him on the situation. He shook his head, saying "You couldn't have waited one more day to find a link to the Macbannin case?" He then explained that the Lord Viscount was here and that they were going to have to go up to Saxby's office.
The Lord Viscount was pleased to see Bela, and also pleased to see that a Yerasol Veteran was on the squad. He said he was confident that they wouldn't find anything on a squad with such upstanding officers (while Reginald squirmed and hoped they wouldn't search his home and find his massively oversized stash of consumables). The PCs managed to escape the meeting without alerting Lady Saxby to the fact that their current mission had turned up a new link to Macbannin.
They then headed back downstairs to test out the Ancients' artifacts inside one of the gold rings, to prevent any inadvertent summonings. After some experimentation with test dummies, they decided to take the artifacts to Professor Kindleton at Pardwright University, who will of course direct them to Pardwright Museum and the next plot hook...
Thursday, 10th January, 2013, 03:43 AM #10
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Back at it in the new year! Pure RP tonight.
First, the PCs decided to call on Nathan Jierre, hoping he might know something about Distant Madness. Unfortunately, he didn't, but he reminded them of a few things they'd forgotten -- the "blue sun" events on Axis Island, and he and Bela talked shop for a little bit. They talked a bit about the Ancients as well.
Then they went to talk to Pazumu, who offered a herbal concoction to help calm Vesta's dreams and stave off the Distant Madness. They also showed her the artifacts, but they were "too old" for her, and made her uncomfortable. Talking to one of the skyseers at the henge, they confirmed the artifacts' provenance but little more.
From there, it was off to Pardwight. Professor Kindleton was happy to see the PCs again, and after hearing their tale, offered her assistance in the study of the dead monsters. She also referred them to Hans Weber at the Museum of Natural History for questions about the Ancients -- with an admonishment that they should butter him up but not mention that she sent them.
At the Museum, they found Weber obsessively polishing an artifact. My girlfriend actually asked me to stop the polishing (I was polishing a glass with a piece of cloth) because she thought it was creepy, which was high praise! They had an extensive discussion with Weber about the Ancients, and then when they brought out their artifacts, Weber identified them as being from Xambria's expedition. That led to a conversation about the ziggurat, Xambria, and what Weber knew about her/her expedition. Ultimately, he said he would arrange for them to meet Xambria the next day.
After returning the artifacts to the RHC, the PCs turned in for the night, and woke up to letters from Lorcan Kell demanding the release of Kaja Stewart. Reginald immediately used his Spirit Medium ability to sense the history of the letter he received, but due to crappy Perception roll wasn't able to identify the location where the letter was written as the Theatre of Scoundrels. Still, he got some inklings that the letter was from a criminal source. He decided to find a sketch artist and have the location drawn so the other constables could try to ID it.
Meanwhile, the rest of the squad went to check in at RHC HQ and found out about Kaja. Murdok received the letter from the Colonel asking for the monsters' bodies to be turned over to the Risuri military, and seemed to think that would be a good idea. When they went downstairs to see Kaja's body, Murdok was very unimpressed with the guards' excuse that they were "distracted" by another prisoner -- long enough for Kaja to hang herself? Something doesn't add up... they started to do some looking around, but that was where we stopped.
These last few updates have been a bit scattered for me, life has been busy. We're playing again next Wednesday and hopefully I'll have a bit more in the way of DM commentary -- this isn't really a "story hour," it's partly for me to remind myself what happened and partly for other DMs to see how one party handled these situations. I'll try to get back to providing a bit more in the way of concrete thoughts for other DMs.
On that note, since there are no explicitly defined routes for the PCs to get from Xambria to Caius in Act 1 -- not that getting to Caius is necessary -- I'm planning to have the easiest option be one of Reginald's contacts:
Maitland is Reginald’s youngest uncle on his father’s side. He is a purveyor for the palace, and though he traveled widely in this role during his youth, he has spent virtually all of his time at court in the past decade, working in a managerial role. He is very much a player in court politics, and is well disposed toward Reginald (it was he who pulled the strings to get Reginald his position in the colonial outpost).
This contact seems like he'd be a good fit for someone who might be up on where Caius could be found, if Reginald's player thinks of it.
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