ZEITGEIST: The Gears of Revolution Noodle's campaign [SPOILERS]




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  1. #1
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    Noodle's campaign [SPOILERS]

    Well, I was finally able to run the first session of Zeitgeist last night.

    My characters:
    • Human, Noble, Tactical Warlord - Count Sam Worthington
    • Razorclaw Shifter, Spirit Medium, Centered Breath Monk - Ash
    • Razorclaw Shifter, Gunsmith, Vengeful Seeker - Slate (Ash's cousin)
    • Dwarf, Yerasol Vet, Resilient Battlemind - Bendaran
    • Human, Docker, Earth Domain Warpriest - Pieter


    Pieter's player is new to D&D, but the other 4 have been playing a SoW campaign with me for the past couple of years. I think they enjoyed the change of pace that Zeitgeist allowed, though it took them a while to get out of the 'railroad' mindset - they weren't used to dealing with so many choices of what to do next.

    The one downside, and I blame myself for not catching it, is that no one in the party has CHA as either a primary or secondary stat. The highest in the party is a 12 - which makes things difficult for an investigative squad! I think we're going to reboot Sam as an Inspiring Warlord.

    Spoilers ahead:

    The docker challenge was a miserable failure - with only 3 successes out of 15 (partially due to poor rolls), but they noticed Grimsley at the 1st checkpoint, and he was able to help the identify the 4 troublemakers before they got across the bridge. The troublemakers were angry at being shot at by Slate, but bringing a knife to a gunfight didn't help them much. They were quickly subdued, but one needed clerical attention after the fight.

    Coaltongue went well - the party started off split, with Ash & Slate checking out the engine deck (I had inadvertently described the wards & ammunition as being on that deck, so I swapped the fore part of the engine & berth decks when I drew out the map) while the rest were fetching the duchess. Sokana went first, bloodied Bendaren, and threw up a wall of fire and released a few fire sprites, all on her way out of the room. Poor Ilton, though, went down in two hits and whiffed on the one attack he got to make. The fire sprites grab attack was useful - Ben steeled himself against the fire wall, but a sprite managed to grab him in an opp attack, making him waste the turn of fire resistance he had.. Ash went up to warn PM Lee, but at that point all she'd seen was the body of a guard behind some barrels - enough to put Lee on guard but not enough to start an evacuation. The engineers never attacked the party, doggedly sticking to their task of sabotage. Between them and Sokana, they managed to close both valves, and the furnace door (with the rod inside), and rust closed the door & one of the valves. The countdown was down to 10 rounds, and Ben frantically ran abovedecks to warn the king's party when the tide turned. The squad managed to subdue the attackers, and with Engineer Massarde's help, shovel out enough firegems to save the ship. Hooray!

    I left them enjoying themselves at a docker street party (word had gotten back that they'd passed along Grimsley's message to the Governor). Next session is in 4 weeks..
    Last edited by Noodle; Saturday, 25th February, 2012 at 10:09 PM. Reason: change title

 

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    Noodle's campaign - session 2

    We had our second session this past weekend, and got through all of Act II.

    SPOILERS ABOUND

    My players really got in to the Three Towers puzzle. They spent a few minutes trying different configurations, but they were obviously having fun, so I didn't have Lya rush them. They did eventually declare that it couldn't be solved unless they were allowed to use the z-axis, so points for them.

    During the mission briefing, I played up the fact that 'RHC Team 2' - i.e., Tanya & company - were in charge.. they were the 'A-Team' and the party was still in the minors, to mix a metaphor. 'Team 2' was renowned as being some of the best troubleshooters the RHC had. Delft ordered the PCs to 'stay out of their way' and 'not screw anything up'. He is definitely coming across as always being concerned what the 'home office' in Slate thinks.

    After the tragedy in the tunnel, Ash escorted Burton back to the ship while the rest examined the strange nature of the fallen rocks - sheared off and looking polished like glass. When Ash returned, they proceeded cautiously on to explore the sea cave. They were clustered around the icon, and had actually just decided not to take it when a shot rang out from above, and a shadowy hand clobbered Pieter. The party scrambled out of the line of fire towards the edge of the cave. Pieter tarried a moment to grab the icon after all, and suddenly found he could leap after his comrades in a single bound! (Much preferable to the ladder, from which he had already fallen once.) At this point, the party tried to reason with Dupiers. Some good diplomacy rolls, and a act of good faith (placing the Icon of Avilona in a place where the earth elemental could come retrieve it) led to a truce. Dupiers couldn't do much to enlighten them, having been hidden away. He was convinced to let the party carry off the Icons of Avilona and Urim, reserving Nen for himself (so he could continue to hide in darkness in the cave). His condition was that the Icons be returned to Danor when their business was concluded.

    The party elected to proceed to the fort directly over the mountains, avoiding any roads (and therefore Duchess Patrols). Plenty of weirdness ensued along the way, including the encounter with the golem. The party hid themselves, but as the golem passed by, Sam decided to approach to see if the golem could be controlled in some way. 'How close do you get?' I asked. '10 feet,' was the response. 'The golem stops - and WHAM - knocks you into the nearest tree. It proceeds on its way.' Chuckles around.

    The party had a thought to enter the fort near the lighthouse, but due to a complete lack of Arcana skill amongst them, they thought it best to try to get through at the weak spot instead. Indeed, they failed the first attempt even there. Once in, they were quite stealthy and raised no alarm of any kind. This is quite a contrast from our last campaign, where the party would be noticed by a blind, drunk moron in the midst of a howling storm.

    The battle to take the lighthouse went well for the party. The wizard's pet, 'Fluffy', was quite an annoyance to them. They finally thought they had it cornered on the ramp - flanked by Pieter and Sam. It chuckled, turned invisble, and started to move away. I thought I'd risk a couple of OAs at a -5. WHAM! WHAM! Both Sam and Pieter critted on the OA. Fluffy was turned into paste.

    The tower defense was a snap for the party - the air & earth elementals were still hanging around, and they had plenty of time to set their defenses. I threw 2 extra waves, plus the infiltrating drakes at them - they barely got scratched (though they did sacrifice the elementals as cannon fodder).

    Summary: What worked well - the puzzle, the ability to cut short the Dupiers encounter through diplomacy
    What didn't - the tower defense, though mainly this was due to a well-prepared party .. the elemental help, plus the stealthiness so the alert wasn't up

    Another four weeks, then on to Act III! I think I will give them an option to take a (quick) extended rest since they've burned all but one of their daily powers. I'll have Asrabey burst on the scene, and give them the option of trying to track him immediately, or being tended by a bard with Song of Restfulness (4 hour rest). If they sleep, they may not get the opportunity to do much (or any) interrogation of the Danoran prisoners. Thoughts?

  • #3
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    I'd encourage them not to sleep. There are healers aboard the Risuri fleet who could heal the PCs without them having to expend surges, so they should still have some juice left to go after Asrabey. I mean, of course do whatever you want, but the intended plan was for the party to be exhausted by the time they confront him, so that it's a tougher decision of whether to take him on.
    Ryan "RangerWickett" Nock
    Director of the ZEITGEIST campaign saga.


    The most cinematic adventure path for 4th Edition and Pathfinder.

    Now available - Admiral o' the High Seas, and ZEITGEIST adventure eight, Diaspora! For Pathfinder and D&D 4e.

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    Friday was session 3, which saw us finish Island and get a good start on Skyseer. There were a grand total of 2 attack rolls in a 7-hour session, which I never thought I'd see. It's a testament to the great opportunities for non-combat interaction in these adventures, and the sheer OPTIONS presented to the players. Running Scales of War, (with the exception of a stretch in Temple Between) we were never more than half an hour away from a combat that the players were railroaded into. Kudos to RangerWickett.

    Read ahead for details of the session, but as Dr. River Song says, "Spoilers.."

    Over email, I had them make their report to Capt. Smith at the lighthouse, and introduced Sgt. Glassman and his squad. Here is Sam's report:
    “This place is crazy. And I’m not talking about what happened down in Bole — I mean, how was I to know about those mushrooms? — but anyway, the rest of the team saw it, too. Gouts of fire and amber light shooting up into the sky, headless iron golems wandering around, trees coming to life and attacking the Danorans…crazy!”

    As he continues, his manner turns uncharacteristically professional, as if slipping into — or out of — character. “Periodically, we seemed to be teleported Somewhere Else, a place with a blue sun, green swamp, purple sky, and yellow frogs. The goblin can confirm — that happened to Team Two, just before the cave-in. It seems the teleportation event may also have sheared away part of the underwater tunnel’s ceiling. I recommend Minister Lee send a team for study.”

    “We have no further intelligence on the duchess; our top priority was the lighthouse, and our mission had already been partially compromised, so we didn’t perform any additional reconnaissance on the way.”

    In the silence following, he grins suddenly. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my time — real and imaginary — but this island beats it all!”

    At that point, Asrabey did his thing, erupting from the hold of RNS Fearless. Slate immediately identified the magic used as fey in origin, and suspected Vekeshi involvement. Sam & Ben recalled old war stories about a fey warrior like that back in First Yerasol, but they couldn't quite remember his name. When the players were reminded that the duchess was the liaison to the Unseen Court, their assumption was that the Court was coming in on her side. Capt. Smith rushed towards Impossible to lead rescue operations, and urged Team Six to follow. Asrabey had already vanished from sight.

    On the run towards the docks, Ash noticed some blood spots near where Asrabey had jumped to the seawall. About that time, Asrabey was seen again at the base of the outer wall, where he leaped to the top of a siege tower in a single bound, and cut through both the loyalist engineers setting up the tower and the rebel defenders on the wall.

    With no immediate way to pursue the eladrin, Team Six joined Capt. Smith on Impossible. They interviewed some of the survivors and learned that this was one tough hombre they were dealing with. A cheer went up as the outer wall was breached and the rebels withdrew to the inner fortress.

    Team Six went to where Asrabey had gone over the wall. An extraordinary Perception roll allowed Ash to pick up a trail even through the confusion of battle (beat a hard DC +5) - they tracked Asrabey to the warehouse where he was preparing his ritual. They watched from a window for a while, then decided to try to confront him. Ash & Slate tried to sneak behind him while the rest of the team went in the front door. Asrabey threatened them with 'Leave or die.' Ash tried to attack with the element of surprise, but to no effect. Asrabey casually bloodied her as she tried to withdraw and gave the party a last chance to leave. They chose the better part of valor and left the building. They decided to try to follow him as he left the building - but at a great distance. I made this an impromptu Complexity 2 SC with Perception, Stealth, and Streetwise (max 3 rolls of each). They didn't quite make it. As they turned the last corner they'd seen him go down, they ran into a courier instead who had been looking for them.

    The courier led them to the brig where they were able to make nice with Lt. Marsenne. They chose to arm him and release his fellow captives, so he provided them with a couple of ways to get into the tower (sewer or roof).

    At that point, Asrabey rocked the world with his immurement. I noted to the players that immurements are typically epic-level magic items, as none of them had heard of one before. They chose not to follow, but to proceed with the sewer plan. They went in through the sewers, found the tower guards defeated, and ascended to the 3rd floor. There they heard the dialogue between Asrabey & the duchess. When Asrabey confronted them, they again chose not to fight but convinced him to leave the duchess behind - after all, he had delivered his message. Poor Nathan screamed in terror as he was led off towards the teleport circle.

    Mission accomplished, they handed the island back to Lya. They omitted part of the truth and said only that her cousin had been captured by an agent of the Unseen Court. She thanked them and promised to take his case up with them. She also delivered a copy of the newspaper (attached in a prior thread). Our heroes sailed home and got ready for their next adventure. I handed out the second newspaper (attached here).
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Second part of session 3 -

    I should note here that Sam's player and Ash's player are married. They actually take turns coming to sessions while the other watches the kids. Sam's player is already so hooked on this campaign that he was constantly texting his wife for updates.

    Spoilers ahoy..

    Team Six rolled up to the Danoran Consulate to investigate the death of Nilasa. They pretty quickly noticed that Mssr. LeBrix's story wasn't adding up but couldn't get much out of him directly. They also noticed that everyone else in the office was absurdly happy given what had transpired that morning. Ben, who has been known to indulge in the substance himself, noticed traces of the fey pepper in the chocolates. They sent the box back to HQ along with Nilasa's body for further analysis. Upstairs, they determined that while there had been break-in attempts on some of the offices, the box of silverware and the case where the egg had been looked curiously unmolested.

    Outside, Sam's Auntie Worthington flagged him down. She had seen some of what had happened while out for a morning walk on the beach and relayed the info to her nephew. They found the signs of struggle in the alley and the dropped deed. Driver Jack Byron accosted them and gave Team Six an account of the doctor's drive across town. Team Six paid him for the doctor's cab fare, plus a bit extra - with an offer to join their informant network.

    Team Six proceeded to the House of Blue Birds, and then followed the trail to Dr. Camp's surgical theater. Meanwhile, they engaged the North Shore PD to attempt to track down where the doctor had fled to. In both places, they found they had been beaten by an 'Officer Porter'. Dr. Camp noted that Dr. von Recklinghausen had at times been in the company of a professor of anatomy at the university, but he couldn't recall the name.

    With that trail cold for the moment, Team Six decided to split up. Sam, Ben, and Slate headed for the Parity Lake PD to check on Nilasa's arrest records. Ash & Pieter went back to HQ so Ash could speak with Nilasa's spirit in privacy. At HQ, they learned that the lab had determined that the vial of the elixir of invisibility they had found on Nilasa's body contained traces of greymold - not a usual ingredient in said elixir. They intend to go to Alchemist's Row to follow up on that. Ash didn't get a whole lot out of Nilasa, but did determine that she had been slashed across the face by something/someone, and was not shot before she fell on the fence. Pieter determined that her facial wounds had been healed after death. They also got a name, 'Nevard', as the intended recipient of her ill-gotten files.

    Sam, Ben, and Slate, meanwhile - after checking in with the PLPD and getting them going on retrieving Nilasa's records - headed to the factory of Heward Sechim. He was happy to show them around his factory, and contrast his relationship with his workers versus his neighbors'. He took the news of Nilasa's death hard. He suggested the party check in at the Thinking Man Tavern to meet more of Nilasa's acquaintances. He also requested that Team Six get in touch with his uncle Nevard.

    Ash & Pieter decided to see what they could find at the university. They were able to track down Prof. Kindleton as Dr. von Recklinghausen's likely contact. She seemed nervous at RHC involvement (I'm assuming she knows something about why he left Arrovia), but had not heard from the doctor yet. Ash & Pieter also beat CC to the professor, so she wasn't even able to mention a visit from Officer Porter. Looks like a dead end for now for the Team.

    Sam, Ben, and Slate head to the Tavern just as the after-work crowd is arriving. They're greeted by Barb when a tremor hits - which is also felt by Ash & Pieter at the university. This is where we'll pick up with our next session next weekend. That'll be it for us until after the New Year.


    Question for RangerWickett for next time - I'm assuming the auras of the spooks on Cauldron Hill don't affect each other, right? i.e., they only go after the PCs, Nevard, and perhaps the non-minion monsters? The flavor text mentions 'mortal creatures', but the power description says 'any creature that is brightly illuminated, even other monsters'.

  • #6
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    Flavor text fail on my part. The idea is that the spooks go after anything, so the party can use them to their advantage if they're clever.
    Ryan "RangerWickett" Nock
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    The most cinematic adventure path for 4th Edition and Pathfinder.

    Now available - Admiral o' the High Seas, and ZEITGEIST adventure eight, Diaspora! For Pathfinder and D&D 4e.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerWickett View Post
    Flavor text fail on my part. The idea is that the spooks go after anything, so the party can use them to their advantage if they're clever.
    OK, so if two spooks end up next to each other, one auto-kills the other?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noodle View Post
    OK, so if two spooks end up next to each other, one auto-kills the other?
    Um, in the light, sure? I was thinking they'd just attack the big boys, but it's an inexact science.
    Ryan "RangerWickett" Nock
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    The most cinematic adventure path for 4th Edition and Pathfinder.

    Now available - Admiral o' the High Seas, and ZEITGEIST adventure eight, Diaspora! For Pathfinder and D&D 4e.

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    Searching for clues (December 2011 recap)

    Hey, all - sorry I've been remiss in updating this. I'm just going to go ahead and post the recap emails I put together for my players to help us remember from month to month what's going on. After that, I'll post some thoughts on how this section of the adventure has gone.

    ----

    Summer 1, 5 PM
    The session started in the Thinking Man Tavern, where Sam engaged perpetual grad student Hennet Rinus in a battle of philosophical wits. Rinus was happy that the RHC officer played along, and introduced him to a halfling ocarina player by the name of Jered Lawman. Jered had planned some anti-industrial mischief for the 5th of Summer, but with Nilasa dead and the feds sniffing around, thought better of it. Rinus revealed that he had helped Nilasa compose a letter to one Morgan Cippiano in Crissilyir. She had been trying to acquire something illegal from him.

    Meanwhile, Slate poked around the Tavern but didn’t find much of interest.
    Also met: Tad Hilly – barman/owner, and Barb – waitress & mother figure to Nilasa.

    After meeting back up with the rest of the Team at RHC HQ, you set out to find Heward Sechim’s uncle Nevard in the Cloudwood. On the way, you ran into a scuffle in progress – Renard Woodsman and his band were trying to rescue Renard’s girlfriend from thugs of the Kell Guild. Grateful for your assistance in the matter (and even more so for Sam’s 100GP bribe), Renard guides you to Nevard’s Henge.

    Nevard reveals that he has been in contact with ‘Gale’ Soliogn. He promises to arrange a meeting, if the Team will grant him a dying wish – to arrange a visit to the peak of Cauldron Hill in order to clearly see the sky one last time, out from under the blanket of smog from Flint’s industry.

    Summer 2
    Started the day by paying a visit to Nettles Mayor Reed McBannin. McBannin agrees to allow the Team & Nevard to visit Cauldron Hill. He describes the defensive rituals that will be required to keep the Team safe while on the hill, and asks the party to return in the afternoon after the rituals have been prepared, but to ensure there’s enough time to make the ascent & set up camp in the daylight.
    Also met: butler, leaf-smoking messenger

    Returning to RHC HQ, there was a message from Professor Kindleton – she had received a letter from Dr. von Recklinghausen. The party left a message with her for the Doctor in case the courier returned.

    Sam, Ash, & Pieter headed to the Goodson Estuarial Reformatory to check out some friends of Nilasa’s who had ended up there. Ben & Slate went to Alchemy Row to try to track down the maker of the invisibility potion.

    At GER: Met Derek Goodson. Sprang Travis Starter in exchange for info – Nilasa had set up an deal to buy dozens of smuggled magic wands. She & someone named “The House Elf” were to meet up with Family gangsters on the night of the 4th and sail out into the bay to make the deal.

    Party reunited & explored Pine Island. Info from Alchemists’ Row was that there was a gnomish apothecary over here that may be the source of the invisibility potion. Party enters Waryeye’s Apothecary. The proprietress is not forthcoming, and when Pieter mentions that her business could be threatened if she doesn’t cooperate with the law, she makes a break for the back. Ash leaps first, though…

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    The Skyseer Went Up the Mountain (Jan 2012 recap)

    The skyseer went up the mountain
    the skyseer went up the mountain
    the skyseer went up the mountain..
    .. to see what he could see!

    While killing time midday on Summer 2, waiting for evening to ascend Cauldron Hill, our heroes found themselves checking out Waryeye’s Apothecary. They were trying to track down the source of the invisibility potion Nilasa had used at the Danoran Consulate prior to her demise.

    Pieter’s brusque manner frightened Danisca Waryeye into trying to flee. She broke for a secret door back to her lab while mentally calling for her husband Blander (aka The House Elf), who was in his magician’s shop next door.

    A struggle ensued while Danisca tried to lure the party into a Dreaming Dust trap. Ash’s quick thinking and quicker reflexes saved the day, and the plot was foiled. Blander tried to use his trained honey badgers to slow down the team, but.. honey badger don’t care .

    Team 6 dropped back by HQ long enough to file a quick report on what the Waryeyes had revealed – Nilasa was part of a smuggling plot, and the transfer is scheduled to go down the night of the 4th. The Waryeyes & Nilasa were supposed to meet up with Deorn Feldman, a local who’s been recruited by the Family, on the evening of the 4th and set sail at 9 PM to rendezvous with a Crisillyiri merchant ship somewhere out in the Ayres. The Waryeyes do not know the name of the vessel. Apparently, Gale has made a deal with the Family to import a bunch of easy-to-use magic wands.

    In the afternoon, Team 6 went back to the Nettles and collected Nevard. Nevard’s shaman companion cast the Bond of Forced Faith ritual. The team escorted Nevard to Mayor MacBannin’s house at the base of Cauldron Hill. The mayor gave each amulets of protection to ward off possession by evil spirits atop the hill. Team 6 ascended the hill and set up camp. While scouting around the top of the hill, Ash found a cracked cauldron still imbued with the dark energies of the long-departed witches.

    As night came on, spooks and spirits came out of the woods to cavort on top of the hill. They were drawn into an endless circle around the camp by the prepared goat’s blood. Ash could hear muffled voices all around her. The nervous team shook off the effects of fear and the suddenly supernatural cold and hunkered down to wait.

    Then an apparition manifested in the center of the circle of blood: a velvet red curtain hovered in the air, looking completely solid, glowing as if hit by a spotlight that doesn’t exist. The curtain swayed, and there seemed to be figures on the other side.
    After a moment, the party was amazed to see Nilasa step out from behind the curtain.
    Nilasa put a hushing finger to her lips, then pointed out into the night and said, “The man who killed me is coming. His face is scarred, so he hides behind many faces.” Then she raised a featureless black mask to her face. When she put it on she faded away, as did the curtain. The only thing left was the suddenly thick stench of burnt engine grease.

    Shortly after Nilasa disappeared, everyone on the team saw a sudden vision:
    The stars overhead seem to streak in lines as time stretches out, and then to the north, down by Parity Lake, a building catches fire with dreamlike swiftness.
    Suddenly you find yourselves standing between two factories, and two tongues of flame leap from one to the the next, like a pair of burning dragons. Screams erupt from the people trapped inside, the conflagration consumes the factories, and the charred buildings collapse to reveal tomorrow morning’s sunrise. A blackened sign sits in the ash, saying “Sechim’s Alkahest & Etchings.”

    The team was left for hours to ponder what it meant, until shortly after midnight a burst of light appeared on the opposite rise – and hurtled towards the team. A sunrod landed amidst the camp, and the circling spirits turned to look at the team – revealed at last. Team 6 fought valiantly against the spirits, including an Aspect of Death itself, but they were too many. Nevard suggested that he had seen enough and that the better part of valor might be to make a run for it down the mountain.

    The team made its way in darkness back down the mountain, arriving back at the rear gate of Mayor MacBannin’s mansion by around 1:30 AM on the morning of Summer 3. Team 6 finds the manor in an uproar with guards and servants rushing around looking like preparations are being made to ascend the hill.

    Before long, a squad of heavily armed soldiers in green and black night-op uniforms turn up from the direction of the mansion. The soldiers have their swords drawn and defensive totems strapped to their shields and watch you warily. “I’m Lieutenant Dale, Royal Marine Corps,” says their leader. “What foul deeds have you been up to on yonder hill? We saw your lights from the city!”

    At this, the mayor rushes up from behind the soldiers. “Wait, there’s been a misunderstanding,” he says with a worried expression. “These are agents of the Royal Homeland Constabulary – they were on the hill with my permission. I apologize Lieutenant, I didn’t think to inform the military.”

    “That’s highly irregular, Mayor – you know the regulations!” Dale responds. “How do we know they aren’t possessed now?” He fixes each of you with a piercing gaze.

    “Don’t worry about that, Lieutenant. I know my business. I gave them each an amulet of protection.” Turning to the team, he asks, “You did keep them on at all times, I presume?”

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