WotBS Lylandra's War of the Burning Sky continued - Page 4
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  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill T. View Post
    One trick I sometimes use to advance monsters or NPCs is to take the E6 approach that one level is equal to 5 feats (3rd edition, mind you). One of the E6 guides even suggests some "templates" that amount to nothing more than 5 feats that fit together logically.

    Then again, sometimes I take the opposite tack -- give an NPC an extra level and then strip away feats. That often seems easier than trying to come up with a bunch of feats.
    That's... actually pretty brilliant! Esspecially at higher levels, I often have a hard time searching through the feat DB in order to find "that last feat". Plus the NPC feat compositions start feeling repetitive when everyone and their mom is a 13+ level fighter/rogue/ranger.

    Oh, and speaking of rogues: I also cut all the multiclassed lowbie or mid-level rogue levels away and replace them with something similar (ranger, fighter, monk... even toyed with PoW's stalker). My two PCs both have uncanny dodge. And keeping the levels just to sneak on Torrent from time to time doesnt really feel like a threat.

  2. #32
    After the Lyceans clean up the Ragesian remains in the Pyromancer's tomb, Cuin suggests that both the orb of storms and the teleport beacon could be used as a defense/offense mechanism for Seaquen and that the beacon should be placed in either the school's or the city's dungeon area. (who needs NPC to make good suggestions? Sometimes I suspect my players of having Crystin's foresight...)

    After a short briefing with Simeonne and Kiernan, the party is invited to the "Spectacular Trials of Toteth Topec", but they decline the offer as they now really want to rescue Tharaleth. Both wizards understand their decision and agree to explain the whole matter to Giorgio, the wayfarer representative (they are heroes after all and just *have* to be on the list for honorary guests).

    They (including Katrina, who had previously agreed to help save Tharaleth) then head towards Shalosha's yacht which is luckily still intact and lying in the harbor. Shalosha informs the party that she's ready to depart for Calanis, now that the storm is over and that she hopes to resolve the Seaquen-Shahalesti conflict. She, Mariel Shalandil and the crew are welcoming them on board, even if Cuin'halar is made target of some serious side-eyeings, being a Taranesti and all that.

    On their journey to Naamis, Tinuviel declares to his aunt's surprise that he wants to end the engagement with Shealis. He explains that he made his promise under duress and that he knows he wouldn't be able to be the husband she deserves (oh you fork-tongued devil!). However, since he doesn't know how to end such a relationship without provoking an eclat in Calanis for both of them, he begs experienced Mariel for help. As she is a really kind and loving foster mother, she agrees to settle his scores with Shealis for him and advises him to be more level-headed in his future affairs. (guess who continued to be a notorious Don Juan? Tinu. As if he's ever taken advices to heart...)
    One evenng, Shalosha and Mariel invite the party to a private dinner. Shalosha uses this occasion to ask both elves about their seeminly strange auras. Both are shocked as the elven princess reveals that her celestial sight allows her to see the auras of all living things and that 1) Tinuviel's aura seems to have a dual pattern and 2) Cuin'halar's aura seems to radiate a strange, golden shimmer. Cuin'halar explains that he doesn't really know what this could mean (bluff!) but that she really shouldn't tell Shaaladel because he might feel the need to examine both of them. Tinuviel then mutters that he propably should avoid meeting Lord Shaaladel at all cost. To get Shalosha off track, he offers to show her something even more remarkable: The Living Blade of Innotendar. Shalosha is surprised to see echoes of small, green auras emerge from the wooden sword and Cuin'halar explains that she's looking at the sword's ties to the First Tree which is also bound to all living Seela in the world.

    Note: As written, celestial sight wouldn't allow a wielder to see that much. But I liked the flavour and having a reason to let Tinu fear a confrontation with Shaaladel even more added a sweet bit of spice

    The whole story resonates well with Shalosha's romantic tendencies, but she's quickly brought back to reality when Cuin realized that it were the Shahalesti who burned down Innotendar forest, sheathes the blade and tells a surprised elven princess to hope that she'd never see the blade again.

    From the crew they get the information that major partss of Naamis have already been occupied by the Ragesians and that they don't know whether Nacaan, the province's capital, is still free. Therefore they ask to leave the yacht a few miles before they pass the city, thank the elves for their hospitality and head off to gather more information. They find a small farm and are greeted by surprised human farmers who didn't expect that many elves in arms in a singe day. When they ask them what they mean by this, they are hailed by a previously-hidden, older elven freedom fighter called Aramil. The elf explains that he is a member of the Shahalesti resistance which has begun to work with and supply the resistance in Gate Pass. He also mentions an elven lady named Seryanna Fendofin whose family he's been serving for decades and who is the leader of a nearby resistance cell. After the party has introduces themselves, he mentions a "big fish" his team managed to catch over a week ago: A she-devil who managed to put up a good fight for them. The party is pleasantly surprised by this turn of events and they ask Aramil to accompany him to the cell's hideout.

    During their journey, they are surprised by a sudden change of weather: Heavy snowfall sets in and the party barely manages it to get to the hideout which is hidden well in a cave behind some overgrowth. They are surprised to see that the Resistance fighters are actually a pretty mixed group with human, half-elven and elven members stemming from both Gate Pass and Shahalesti. The elves staart talking to the fighters about their captive and their mistress and Cuin manages to almost incite a swordfight to the death with Getris, one of the more arrogant Shahalesti over the matter of the Taranesti genocide.

    Note: This time it was Tinuviel's widsom and the intervention of Aramil and lady veteral Mielis that prevented a bloody massacre as I made it clear that the fighters, despite their diverse backgrounds, would have all stood up for another if Cuin'halar had really performed lethal violence on Getris.


    Lady Seryanna endofin introduces herself and her Bralani servant Hazred shortly after that incident in an eerily formal way. She greets her fellow resistance fighters and asks them to not feel too much disturbed by the grunts and the smell of the goblinoid prisoners. She also mentions a she-devil named Asura which she had captured after the devil had abducted her fiancee Lylaneth. She tells them that she has unsuccessfully tried to gain knowledge on Lylaneth's whereabouts and she also thinks that the devil has stolen his soul and imprisoned it in a soul-gem. She promises to further discuss the matter of Asura during "the banquet" this evening and heads back towards her room.

    Tinuviel is curious about the "goblinoids" and sneaks into the prison area of the cave, just to find some hobgoblins who are in a really bad condition, almost starved, but still as bad-mouthed as ever. Just when Tinu starts feeling sympathy for the Ragesians, offers them some of his rations and thinks about ways to free them, Torrent joins him and is greeted in a very foul and hateful language and their self-proclaimed leader even suggests making her (or that nasty elf Seryanna) his mate/slave. Infuriated, she snaps back at them and leaves the prison. Aterwards, Tinuviel discusses the fate of the hobgoblins with both Torrent and Cuin'halar. Tinu fears that the prisoners will soon die from neglect and unfair treatment and still wants to free them, while Torrent objects heavily. Cuin is undecided and after risking a look himself and asking Aramil about the prisoners, he decides that he'd rather let "evil rapists" suffer from inhumane conditions than give them the chance to harm innocents again. Tinuviel still disagrees and both agree that the matter of freeing Tharaleth should be their top priority, so they push the goblinoid matter aside.

    Note: I didn't really understand why Tinuviel still felt that sympathethic for the hobgobs after he'd seen what they suggested doing with Torrent (who is his dearest friend besides his brother Cuin). I know that the whole matter is set up to be a big moral dilemma and I wanted them to feel like every choice was somehow wrong, but that didn't seem to be the case with Tinu. Hm.


    During the "banquet" (which is really just a pretty normal dinner performed by maid-for-everything Hazred), the party formally asks Seryanna to gain the permission to speak with Asura. Seryanna agrees and Hazred warns them of her silvered tongue. Tinuviel tries to negotiate better treatment for the other prisoners, but he is harshly rebuffed by Seryanna who speaks of them as if they were cattle. She explains that after what they've done they deserve nothing better and tells them that only the rules of war prevent her from executing them on the spot. The elves recognize this statement as a lie, but can do very little about it.

    After dinner, they finally get the chance to talk to Asura. She's more than happy that Guthwulf's adversaries finally found her and tries to negotiate her freedom as a first sign of good will. Clever Cuin doesn't fall for her tricks and states that she already has her demands made by her master: Katrina or the book. She agrees and says that yes, she only needs one of the two to hand over "Tharaleth and his prison". She then explains that this does not include the key, which will be only given to them once she recieves the second demand as well. After a bit of negotiation, Cuin suggests that they could also parley for her freedom instead of giving her both demands, since she wouldn't be able to bring them to Guthwulf if she stayed Seryanna's prisoner forever. But then she'd better tell her about her fiancee's whereabouts as well.
    Asura agreed and the party proposes this idea to Seryanna who does not object.

    Note: Clever Cuin strikes again. I was really curious about how they would handle the Katrina-dilemma. I was pretty sure that handing her over to Guthwulf would be a no-go for them since they feared he could act out really cruel retribution on her. Kat was on the verge of going with Asura as her "heroic tendencies" started to show after saving Seaquen with the party and she believed that Guthwulf wouldn't really harm her. Of course that would have lead to her re-appearing in adventure #7 (and to be honest would have saved me from gaining grey hair from deciding on what she'd do then)


    After having the Okay from Lady Seryanna, they all meet at the magic circle that has kept the devil bound until now. Tinuviel hands over the Tome to Asura. The devil then insists to hand over the soul-gem to Katrina alone. Cuin and Tinu fear a trap and warn both Katrina and Asura to not try and tricks or the deal will be for naught. Katrina is a bit pissed about that level of distrust after all she's done for them, but keeps up with the plan, enters the circle and gets a gem and a kiss on the cheek from Asura. The latter triggers a magical illusion of Guthwulf who whispers a message to a surprised Katrina: "Use this chance. You know what I want. I'm really looking forward to seeing you again."

    Note: BAM. And suddenly all doubts about Katrina re-appeared. Which is... kind of Guthwulf's plan: Separating her from her "friends" in order to make her loyal again. Not necessarily to Ragesia, but to him. In this case, I've had Guthwulf make a very self-centered and not overly clever decision which will add up to his downfall. I guess this characterization of our most favourite inquisitor (besides Leska, of course!) is a bit non-canonical, but... I like it.

    After the first exchange, Seryanna formally declares that she will set her free if she tells them where she has imprisoned Lylaneth and how to free the brother's father from the gem. Without blinking an eye, the devil tells a horrified Seryanna that she had much fun torturing and killing the elf and that she has deposited him somewhere in the forest. As for Tharaleth, she explains that the prison and prisoner have to be bathed in the blood of his kin so the prison can be entered and the prisoner set free. As this part of the agreement is fulfilled as well, Hazred dispels the magic holding Asura and the devil grins in triumph.
    However... Tinuviel states that Seryanna only agreed to free her, not to spare her and quickly casts dimensional anchor to keep her from teleporting away. Seryanna then orders her fellow fighters and Hazred to strike the beast down. The devil manages to almost kill Seryanna, but, with the help of the party, she is finally slain.

    Torrent heals Seryanna and Cuin'halar asks Hazred to start being an emotional guardian for his Lady since she will need serious help to recuperate from her loss. The elves then hastily search for a bowl, cut themselves open with a knife and let it pour into it. They throw the gem into their combined blood and are both sucked into what seems like a black nothingness. Tinuviel is utterly lost, but Cuin starts sensing his father after a while and... gains momentum when suddenly golden wings seem to appear on his back. Tinu grabs his hand and together they fly towards the hovering body of Tharaleth, who's looking just like they've seen in their vision before. They both embrace him and drag him back into reality.

    When the golden-haired elf opens his eyes, he whispers something strange: "This time, it is you who's saved me, EshÔnii", only to realize it is his son Cuin who's looking back at him. They celebrate their re-union with a big embrace and cries of relief. Tharaleth then explains that he has been abducted when he had been heading towards a negotiation with General Danava and that he had been in blackness until he thought that his late wife came to rescue him. He believes that his delusion came from the fact that Cuin'halar now tries to follow in her footsteps and he says that he's very proud of what has become of both of them.
    When they ask him about Trilla, he silently drags them to a secure area and explains that no one, especially no Shahalesti should ever find out where the dragon went. He says that Trilla had developed strange powers of the mind and secluded herself in the solitude of the old drow (or, as he calls them, droalesti) caverns and was accompanied only by a few elders. He also mentions that Shaaladel wanted to know where Trilla was when he started his genocide, so this whole matter is really, really sensitive. Both of them agree to keep this knowledge safe.

    After their extended fater-sons-talk, Tinuviel brings up the matter of the goblinoids again. Cuin'halar proposes that the only thing they can offer them is a quick death which would be better than their slow succumbing to starvation and disease. They discuss this matter with Hazred, who states that he has been very uncomfortable with the whole hobgoblin situation and who agrees to let them "free" and take the blame on himself. The elves head over to the prison area, declare their intention, give a stack of confiscated weapons back to the goblinoids and kill them all.

    Note: A really grim ending. And yes, every single choice they could have imagined would have felt wrong. I'm happy that in the end my players talked about all possible consequences of all their possible "solutions" for the goblinoid problem. And I'm more than happy that they were not angry at me for giving them a problem with no "right" or "happy" solution.

  3. #33
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    So...what happened to the Wayfarer's Theatre? Without heroes (or even Katrina) to heroically save it, it seems like it should be a smear of soot across the south seas at this point....

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill T. View Post
    So...what happened to the Wayfarer's Theatre? Without heroes (or even Katrina) to heroically save it, it seems like it should be a smear of soot across the south seas at this point....
    Initially I thought about letting it burn to the ground, yes. But then I realized that this would be a missed chance to get some really useful information and to my players it would have felt like a "punishment" for saving their dad. So... I imagined that the PCs had already become heroes at that point (they did save Seaquen from the Inquisitors and their storm) AND that Giorgio would have really loved to get rid of them as well. So, the Wayfarers delayed their play until the PCs could be properly celebrated in their "big hero ceremony" so they could have a chance to attend if they wanted to (more celebrities, yay!).

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lylandra View Post
    Initially I thought about letting it burn to the ground, yes..... I imagined that the PCs had already become heroes at that point (they did save Seaquen from the Inquisitors and their storm) AND that Giorgio would have really loved to get rid of them as well.
    But, but...it's a ship!

    That's a nice mesh of game and meta-game design.
    Laugh Lylandra laughed with this post

  6. #36

    And now... off to Gate Pass

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill T. View Post
    But, but...it's a ship!
    Oh you don't guess how often I cited "this spell may start a fire on a ship" - one of my favourite quotes from the Pathfinder SRD - during the theater scene

    ---

    After saying good-bye to the "other Resistance fighters" and wishing Hazred all the best with counseling his Lady, the party and Tharaleth head off to Gate Pass. Tharaleth explains that he still has a meeting with General Danava to attend to and the elves are a bit surprised that their father wants to stick to his original plan after all that had happened to him.

    "It is a matter of honour and friendship" he says, and explains that originally Danava was considered a friend of Gate Pass after being a co-signer of the legendary peace treaty as a (still very young) officer 40 years ago. So Cuin and Tinu ask him to accompany him on his mission and Tharaleth does not object, but insists that they follow the proper protocol. They leave Torrent and Katrina behind and ask the two women to take shelter in one of the temples in Gate Pass. They also tell them that they should inform the Resistance of a possible betrayal should they not return until the next morning.

    When they reach the outskirts of the Ragesian army camp, Tharaleth declares himself and they all are escorted to Danava's tent. After greeting each other formally, both men share a friendly embrace and start talking about how much both of them regret the situation the death of Coaltongue has put them into. Danava explains that he didn't know about and much less ordered the abduction of Tharaleth. He then asks Tharaleth to propose a surrender of Gate Pass, as he doesn't want to have any more innocents killed. Tharaleth rejects and says that Danava, of all people, should know the spirit of the people of Gate Pass and that they will never stop resisting until there is either no one left who's capable of fighting or the Ragesians are defeated. Danava carefully explains that he has his orders and that, especially after Gabal's gambit, he cannot simply order his troops to leave the city. He then tries to explain that he has sworn a magial oath to serve the ruler of Ragesia and that, because of this, he has to obey Leska, even if he is not happy with the current situation. He also mentions another General, Magdus, who might feel the same way and who is currently fighting in Sindaire. At this point, the "youngsters" try to persuade Danava by telling him that he wouldn't want to fight against his son, who is currently in Gate Pass. Danava is surprised to hear that the two know about Kathor and presses them to tell him more about his missing child. They explain that Leska has put him against his father by having all mages rounded up and taken away, since Kathor did realize that he had magical capabilities and did not want to be either taken away or cause trouble for his family. Danava would love to see Kathor again, but he still cannot do anything about his orders. What he can do, though, is negotiate the terms and "rules" under which the war can continue and Tharaleth and Danava take their time to write down regulations for an ethical warfare which both sign and vow to follow.

    Note: I basically used the information from adventure 9 on Danava and let them get a glimpse on why this honorable man would do the things he did. Of course, there was no Legate Korvus present yet and I thought Danava's slow-paced "humane warfare" after his talk with Tharaleth would be a good reason for Leska to send her lapdog to the General.

    After returning to Gate Pass, they try to find Kathor so that Tharaleth and/or the Resistance may contact him. To their surprise, they find the broody man in the otherwise empty, but still standing "Very Manly tavern" where he shares a good ale with the rather effeminate Olivier, the tavern's owner. It turns out that Kathor has gained quite a reputation as "unstoppable juggernaut" and was also nicknamed "battering ram" by his fellow citizens. When asked about fighting alongside the Resistance, he declares that he'd rather fight alone where he can make sure that there are only enemies who get hurt. Tinuviel then asks him wheter he could need a good contact to the Thieve's guild as they could let him use the city's underground tunnels and offer him supplies. He does not object to this proposal and Tinu invites him (and Cuin) to visit the hideout later. After they have learned more about the strange "Trillith" over the course of the last few weeks, they try to explain where his sudden magic could come from and that he might just have joined with a (maybe friendly) spirit. They ask him whether something in him had changed after he first used his magic and he says that it wasn't really the case, but he suddenly realized that he didn't want to stay with the Black Horse Mercenaries any longer because it didn't "feel right". After overhearing part of the conversation, Olivier tells them that "his battering ram" has a pretty strong opinion about what's right and what's wrong and that he trusts him because of that uncanny morale compass.

    Afterwards, they introduce Kathor to Kesha, the current matron of the Guild. She says that a guy like him could come handy and that she could offer him support and supplies in return. Kathor is a bit reluctant to agree to an arrangement, but he seems to respect the elder orc.

    They meet up with Katrina and Torrent who are both relieved to see their "boys" unharmed. They all spend a night at the temple and dream disturbing dreams of being trapped in a fire.
    As they want to head back to Seaquen as soon as possible, they hook up with Cuin's "best customer", Erdan Menash. It turns out that Menash is a key figure in financing the Resistance efforts and that he is more than willing to help the party. He gives them one of his newest acquisitions: a lantern dragon. With this magical one-use contruct, which is basically a flying, huge, dragon-sized, glowing paper... dragon, the heroes are able to fly back to Seaquen.

    Note: I know that the party wasn't expected to return to Gate Pass before adventure 9. But my players always wanted to go back to their true home and wanted to see what happened there and how much was still standing etc. so I wanted to give them a chance without giving away too much information or distracting them with getting involved in the "real war". I had to make sure that they'd get the feeling that Gate Pass would be able to "survive" without them and that their place in the events was elsewhere. I invented the lantern dragon because I really did not want to give them a flying carpet and 4 scrolls of overland flight would have been a bit lame for someone as fabulous as Erdan Menash.


    On their way south, they fly over Innotendar where Cuin'halar suddenly lets the dragon head towards the First Tree. He gently touches it with his blade while flying by and tries to re-connect with the Seela who are bound to the tree. He is surprised that he manages to even feel what must be Tiljann's signature somewhere south, but what really disturbs him is a dark and twisted, almost smeared and almost unnoticable soul which is located somewhere far in the north. He guesses that this might be the Longwalker Tiljann has been talking about, but he could not really locate the weak signal and hopes that his instinct proves him wrong at least once.

    Note: This happens when you say "yes" too many times. "Do we fly over Innotendar forest?" - yes "Can we fly over the First Tree?" - sure "Can I fly around the First Tree and touch it with my sword? I'd like to feel my connection to the Seela, so I can recall for whom I have taken responsibility?" - Yes, why not? "Okay, I try to feel the souls of the Seela and embrace them with my own" - Okay, cool!...... waaaait a minute! Now I should at least *hint* the existence of the soul of Etifini....

    I think I let myself get hyped by my player's ideas too easily. Which ends up giving them more information than they would have normally had. Not that I cannot handle this, but... it makes me feel like an overly generous mama bear :X
    Last edited by Lylandra; Thursday, 6th April, 2017 at 04:21 PM.
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  7. #37

    Of spectacular trials and school time shipping

    When they return to the Lyceum, our band of heroes is greeted by a very shy, blonde boy who introduces himself as Jineer Brennan. He tells the party that he has overheared a conversation of headmastress Simeonne and Kiernan Stekart who were discussing some possible envoy to Bresk and begs them to deliver a message to his father Jinis should they really be chosen to travel to the capital of Dassen. Tinuviel mutters something about the necessity of discretion before they head over to Simeonne's office, but agrees to take the latter anyway.

    They recap their last few days (especially what happened with Asura, Tharaleth and Gate Pass) and Simeonne is relieved to hear that the elves' father was safely returned to Gate Pass. She also explains the Wayfarer's wish to have the "heroes of Seaquen" present at their premiere of the Spectacular Trials of Toteth Topec, which is why they decided to delay the event until their eventual return. Speaking of heroes, after all of Seaquen had been informed about what they did to save them all from the Ragesian plan to storm the city to the ground, the council of Seaquen and the Lyceum school of magic have agreed to throw a celebration to officially announce them as their heroes and saviours. And because of their role in thwarting Ragesian plans, and their canny sense of diplomacy in the War Council, she has last but not least decided to send them all to Bresk for their next mission where they should try to convice Queen Steppengard and the Council of Nine to join the alliance against the Ragesians.

    The group of four feels honored and declares that they will accept both the "heroes' medal" and the invitation to the theater play. Simeonne dismisses them with a note on the schedule of the upcoming celebration.

    Because of his fiery dream, Tinuviel seeks out Crystin and it turns out that she indeed had the same, disturbing dream. Tinu being Tinu switches to full worry-mode, but is instantly interrupted by Crystin's mention of a blonde boy she finds really, really cute and whom she has met a few days ago. Tinuviel asks her about her crush and it turns out that she is interested in none other than Jineer. As the elf doesn't really know whether or whether not Haddin had talked with his daughter about boys and responsibilities (he guesses Haddin didn't even think about it), he tries to give her the most mature version of "the talk" that a young elf could possibly give. He also promises her to go shopping for a festive dress together which she could then use to impress and possibly seduce Jineer.

    Note: Some may call scenes like this flimsy, but I found it genuinely heart-warming to have Tinuviel care so much for his "foster daughter/sister" Crystin. He described his relationship to her being one part mama hen, one part proud big brother and one part father with a shotgun.

    Cuin'halar meets up with Tiljann and is surprised to hear that she has finally found a way to the temple that Etifini visited decades ago and that she visited the site when the rest of the group was busy rescuing Tharaleth. She is very excited about her recent experiences and Cuin agrees to take a sight-seeing trip with her as soon as the festivities are over. She also mentions that she has been accepted as a wayfarer apprentice and even plays a minor role in the "Trials". Because Cuin thinks Tiljann to be impulsive and easily impressable, he decides to not tell her about the possibly grim fate of her "idol Etifini" yet. He really doesn't want his Seela companion to run off to northern Ragesia on her own.

    The next evening, Tinuviel, Cuin'halar, Katrina, Torrent and Tiljann recieve the official title of "hero of Seaquen" for their brave effort to save the city from an upcoming magical storm created by Ragesian spies and their conspirators. The party in the lush Lyceum gardens afterwards is a total success and basically a big meeting of who's who in Seaquen. Tinuviel starts chatting with a calm, secluded monk called Three Weeping Ravens and if pretty surprised to see this part of Crystin's prophecy be meant so utterly literally. The elf asks him about his occupations and the monk tells him that he's the spokesperson (again, pretty literally) for the monks of the Echoed Soul who have found refuge in Seaquen. He hints that his people had to flee their homeland centuries ago because some "ancient evil" rooted himself in their temple and that they have been living in Sindaire ever since. Tinu is intrigued and asks him whether he may visit the monks to which Three Weeping Ravens agrees.

    Tinu then tries to push an also attending Jineer in Crystin's direction before trying to party hard with a still somewhat grieving Torrent. Only to overhear a conversation of Sheena Larkis and Giorgio of the Wayfarers about a possible solution to the Burning Sky. As he is really curious and fears that the Wayfarers might keep their research development somehow secret from the Lyceum, he takes the bold move to flirt with Sheena. The guild mistress, being an experienced and sensitive woman, takes interest in the young elf's efforts and after a bit of innuendo both of them wander off to the Wayfarer's theater. Sheena shows him around and spends a night with him. Unfortunately for Tinu (who feels guilty for leaving Torrent) Sheena has no plan greater than "use Wayfarer magic for fire resistance" in terms of Burning Sky protection.

    Note: What he did not realize at this point was that Sheena had basically given him the layout for the Theater ship. Which would some in handy the time some madman tried to burn it down.
    Cuin talks to Laurabec who informs him of her plan to build a temple for the united faiths of Seaquen. She tells him that a young woman named Crystin had shown interest in her plan and he offers to visit the paladin and let her talk about details some days later. He then tries to amuse himself, finding interest in the famous spellduelist Pristina Whitehair. It turns out that both are equally flirtatious and share a common ground in the importance of stance and perfection of gestures in spellcasting, so... it is basically instant chemistry between the two of them.

    The next morning, Tinuviel skeaks back to the Lyceum, only to find young Jineer and Crystin chatting at the breakfast table. As Simeonne told them about a mission in Bresk and Jineer starts talking about his father and his role in the capital of Dassen, the elf uses the opportunity to gather information on the political situation in Dassen. Cuin joins him soon and they get the impression that Dassen is a really diverse country and that they should probably visit each of the Lords or at least their proxies in advance.

    Because the healers of the Lyceum are worried about the mental health of the rescued prisoners from the Tomb of the Pyromancer, the brothers and Torrent take some time to visit the three of them and try to encourage them to see that their life can, will and should go on from now.

    After this, they take their sight seeing trip with Tiljann to the sunken temple of the Aquilinians. She shows them impressive frescos which depict the story of the Stormchaser Eagle and the Flameseeker Dragon which ends in the giant heart of the eagle lying amidst a dark whirlwind haunted by spectres. They try to clean up the frescos and see that a part of the landscape is "painted" in opaline dust, a pretty rare material. They also see the initials of Etifini and they all deduce that Etifini might have been searching for the heart of the Eagle.

    Note: This is a sweet side quest which I took from the 4e version. They were, of course, totally oblivious of what the opaline dust might mean (but they were so keen on searching for clues in the fresco that I wanted to give them *something*), at least until the theater play.

    Their next stop is Laurabec's tent where they find the paladin and her eagle companion eating lunch. They don't get along well with her, as they are kind of frustrated that she doesn't know much about her order and their symbolism or the Aquiline heart and Torrent at least offers her to help her with her temple should she need the help of a priestess of Yara. As Laurabec doesn't like having her knowledge questioned, she gets pretty defensive and the elves and the paladin decide that it is best for all to not get in each other's way.

    Note: Both Tiljann's quest and the formation of the temple were at least partially purely NPC-driven events. While I understand that adventures should offer hooks for player engagement and action basically around every corner, I don't see why every little bit of progress of a story has to happen by player input. At worst, this makes the NPC seem utterly incompetent mooks who don't get anything done unless the "big savior" PCs come to their aide. My players already started joking about Kiernan's failings to solve even one of the security threats to Seaquen, so I decided to one up the level of NPC action.

    For Laurabec and her behaviour, I realized that she wouldn't have that much knowledge about her religion (low skill rank) and would know only the simplest interpretations of the Aquilinians. She promised the party to help them prior to their interview, so of course she would feel bad and uneducated when they wouldn't stop asking her the tougher questions. Maybe I could have averted this division by siply giving her more knowledge, but... well, one doesn't have to get along with *everyone*


    They also meet up with the Echoed Soul Monks only to find out that Three Weeping Ravens is the only one among them who actually speaks with them. From him they learn that they practise a special kind of soul magic which lets one connect and tap into the soul of another being. As their temple was originally located near Ycengles, Cuin muses about whether Syana once learned her own soul magic from the monks there.

    As Torrent is still somehow depressive, Tinuviel tries to comfort her by telling her that Lee most certainly did not commit suicide, but was killed by some contingency before he could tell them too much about the Rag's plans. He suggests that they could get some druids from the Lyceum and ask her late mentor's pet Lula about hints of a change in Lee's behaviour. Torrent agrees and with the druid they interrogate the lonely octopus. Lula tells them that Lee has been somewhere in the east and has left her alone for quite a while and that he became eerily calm after his visits with the "East wind and the West wind". Tinu doesn't really understand, but thanks Lula anyway.

    Note: Sometimes I am relieved that Tinu's player does have some pretty good and inquisitive ideas, but doesn't puzzle out the clues until they are way more obvious. I would have been a bit baffled if they wanted to go after the Two Winds Monastery because of some octopus's musings.

    At the evening, they are finally ready to attend to the "Spectacular Trials of Toteth Topec". Katrina tells them in advance that the tale is a Ragesian classic and common knowledge. They are lead to some pretty good seats (being heroes and all) and Cuin also brought Pristina with him. They all cheer at Tiljann when she does appear on stage and unsuccessfully try to avoid getting chatted up and spoilered by Katrina who tries to show off her sense of political savvyness and metaphorical knowledge. However, both elves are bored by the play pretty quickly and Tinu leaves his seat, accompanied by Torrent just before Giorgio tries to escape upstairs. He is intrigued by the Wayfarer's strange behaviour and follows him while telling Torrent to alarm the others that something strange might be going on. Cuin gladly takes this opportunity to excuse himself and takes Pristina with him to the upper deck. They arrive just in time to see Giorgio disappear in the captain's room which is guarded by some strangely familiar orcs.

    Tinuviel senses another presence (the assassin) and asks Cuin to take care of Giorgio who may be up to something really wicked. Torrent and Pristina take on one of the orcs, while Cuin takes down the other and finds the door to the room locked. He dimension doors in a firey flash behind the door (thanks keyhole) and takes out Giorgio as well before disabling the teleport mechanism which would have meant certain doom for all of them.

    Note: Tinu was not that happy to again fight an assassin alone. But this one did not have the time to prepare a death attack in advance and was much easier prey, even if he wasn't able to sneak him and the assassin had the upper hand with his feint.

    After the fight, they search the boat for possible co-conspirators and find the dead Shahalesti in their rowboats. At first, both elves are happy to see that their second-most hated faction might be responsible for the assassination attempt, but they quickly find out that these Shahalesti emit a magical aura which shows traces of biomancy.

    Note: And this is how the "Trials" finally happened.
    While I really did my best to describe the Trial tale as evocative and interesting (and relevant) as possible, both my players (and their characters) were sadly bored by it very quickly. When I asked them why they didn't like the play as much as other sections of the campaign, they said it was just too much description and narrative and that they didn't really get it. I tried translating the whole section about the full play into German, but it didn't really help. Tastes differ, I guess. But I could also easily write an essay on the different styles and detailisms different players like in NPC and environment descriptions. (I also get bored by descriptions of the fabric of an orphan boy's shirt who just happens to be a bystander in a crowd...)

    On the other hand I, as a DM, was kind of amused about how much information about the Aquline heart and how and why one could find it was actually integrated in the play. To quote my favourite annoying Ninja, Yuffie: "It's all in there. You just have to read it thoroughly."
    Last edited by Lylandra; Monday, 1st May, 2017 at 12:31 PM.

  8. #38
    The elves and Kiernan Stekart decide to take a closer look at the biomantic aura of the dead Shahalesti.

    Meanwhile, words of a possible Shahalesti attack on the Wayfarer's ship spread throughout the harbor area as the Theater is evacuated after its near-destruction. Rabble Rouser takes the opportunity to make an inspiring speech for the Seaquenians to resist the oppressive elven force and some people are about to follow his lead when... Tinuviel, Kiernan and Cuin'halar enter the scene and calm the people down by telling them that the Shahalesti could have been framed by someone else. As neither of them is known to be a particular friend of the Shahalesti blockade, a riot can be averted at last second and all three promise to find the real culprit of the assassination attempt.

    They suspect an involvement of Paradim Dogwood, so the elves head over to his shop while Sheena and the Magistrate start a heated discussion about who can claim responsibility (and therefore has the right to question and punish) for traitor Giorgio.

    The brothers arrive just in time to witness the sale of a hippogriff. They confront Dogwood with the evidences they found on the dead äShahalestiô and after applying a bit pressure, he finally gives in and confesses that he prepared the bodies for Lee and a Ragesian spy. After a bit back and forth they also get him to confess his work for the Seaqueni brothel-houses (he kind of misspoke and thought they were trying to get him for trafficking).

    The elves report their findings to the city guard and ask if they can be present or participate in the planned questioning of Giorgio.

    Note: Tinuviel initially wanted to search all the brothels of Seaquen for the missing girls on his own, but Cuin convinced him to let the guards do their job as he couldn't be responsible for everybody. I actually liked the idea of having the players delegate some work, especially after they were considered to be heroes.

    The next day the party finds out that the guards found the missing women, who had indeed been transformed into exotic looking magical beings, in a nocturnal police raid. As the city guards don't have that many spellcasters among their ranks, the brothers assist in dispelling the biomantic transformations.

    The hearing of Giorgio doesn't reveal too much. Turns out that the gnome was dissatisfied with his position in the ranks of the Wayfarers. He also complains that Sheena is basically a dictator who wouldn't listen to his advice and didn't earn enough respect. The party writes him off as a notorious complainer with an inferiority complex.

    Cuin'halar finally decides to tell Tiljann that Etifini might be somewhere in northern Ragesia and that he doesn't seem to be in a good condition. However, he asks her to not make any rash decisions like running off on her own. The Seela explains that she understands the delicate situation and also that she has sworn an oath to Sheena to do her best as a Wayfarer. She just asks her friend to be able to accompany them should their journeys ever lead them to Ragesia. Cuin promises her to look out for the Longstrider.

    Next, Cuin and Tinuviel agree that the Shahalesti blockade has to go as Seaquen is already facing serious supply problems and there might be more protests soon which could easily lead to violence. They ask Simeonne whether the Lyceans already retrieved the teleport beacon and the orb of storms from the tomb of the pyromancer and she affirms their question. Cuin then grins broadly and declares that he will end the blockade pretty soon. He'd just need access to the orb and the control rod. He then asks Simeonne to accompany him to the Shahalesti flagship where they ask for an audience with ôgovernor Telshanthö. There they demand that the fleet ends its blockade immediately or Seaquen will make sure that all Shahalesti ships will be destroyed by a storm summoned by a magical artifact. They set an ultimatum of three hours which is just the time Tinuviel needs to alert the Seaqueni officials that every boat and house has to be secured as a storm might be hitting the city soon.

    They even manage to stop Rabble Rouser from organizing an opposing fleet and instead win him over to help with the city's reinforcements.

    As to be expected, the Shahalesti let the ultimatum go by and the Lyceans start to slowly activate the orb. As the storm starts to rise, the Shahalesti realize that Seaquen and especially the two elves and Simeonne are by no means bluffing and so they agree to leave for Calanis.

    Note: And this is how the blockade came to an end. I thought they would go the political route and let the dead Shahalesti seem to be true Shahalesti, but this solution was so much more cunning and pretty brilliant.

    The headmistress thanks both of them for their quick thinking and for defending her school and the city a third time. She declares that now she's certain that the two and their companions are politically savvy enough to be entrusted with a delicate diplomatic mission. She says she'll wait for the arrival of Balan Bastom, another friend of the school until she's sending all of them off, but she can already tell them that it will be their job to convince Dassen to join forces against Ragesia as Queen Steppengard still seems eerily undecided.

    The party uses the rest of the day to help Crystin with her temple project (they still don't like Laurabec, but Tinu would do everything for his beloved ôsisterö). She asks them to convince a certain ex-hippogriff rider called Arick to join the project. Said battle priest is impressed by Cuin'halar's stories of the hippogriff riders of Gate Pass who are led by none other than his father Tharaleth. The elf agrees to a friendly duel and Arick agrees to let his faith become a part of the temple of unity.

    Note: After all the side-missions and extra adventures, I finally decided that I'd finish their part of helping with the temple project with convincing Arick. As he'd be the one who would let them remember their father's duties and with whom they could feel some common ground. As mentioned previously, my party wasn't on too good terms with Laurabec and I didn't want to bother them with all too time-consuming priest-talk. Especially with the prospect of having seven proxies they might want to talk to soon. Plus, who says that only PCs can get their work done?

    The next morning, the party meets up with Balan in Simeonne's office. To their surprise, Balan is a young, slightly chubby blonde man with an accordion who happens to be the son of an influential Ostalinian merchant family and also to be gifted with magic. The headmistress seems to be unusually low-spirited and almost depressed when she reveals the dire news to them: All of Queen Steppengard's children fell victim to an assassination attempt and now all of Dassen is in a state of emergency. Which might in turn really complicate their planned diplomatic endeavor. Balan pales at the prospect of having to deal with a situation that dire, but the party assures him that they will see him safely to Bresk.

    Note: I don't really know how ômy Balanö happened as he is supposed to be an experienced, bearded, middle-aged noble. When I was about to describe their future companion to my players, I suddenly had a younger, charming version of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in my mind. One thing came to another and I quickly realized that having a young Balan could suit my scenario perfectly as I was more than certain that my players would want to take the diplomacy part into their hands. So this way their relationship could be on more even ground. At least in terms of diplomacy.
    Last edited by Lylandra; Friday, 5th May, 2017 at 09:42 AM.

  9. #39

    a kind of unusual Balan Bastom

    As a short intermission before my write-up of adventure 4, here is a brief description of my 5 seconds brain lapse version of Balan Bastom:

    Balan is a rather large, slightly chubby young half-elf in his early 20s. His short, blonde hair is adequately trimmed and he starts growing a (still a bit tiny) goatee. Balan doesn't seem to be accustomed to bodily excercises as his head often turns red after climbing stairs or running for a prolonged time. Whenever he's getting into activities which require physical effort, he quickly starts huffing and puffing as if he'd lack stamina. Nonetheless, he could easily partake in any social event even when wearing his most lenient clothes, as he seems to emit an uncanny charisma and charm and talks very eloquently.

    He is the only son of a successful Ostalinian merchant family which has close ties to the Lyceum school of magic. When Balan started to show a slight magical talent, his proud parents immediately sent him to Seaquen so he could cultivate his hidden talent. The boy, however, wasn't that interested in studying magic and instead did what he could do best: getting friends. Because of his networking and conflict solving skills (he learned his diplomacy and negotiations during his parent's frequent business trips), Balan quickly became a sort of ombudsperson for the students. His teachers were a bit disappointed in his lacking magical development, but Simeonne thought that Balan's skills could come in handy from time to time. As he was used to converse with nobles, had a good family name, extraordinary manners and navigates social encounters with ease, she started using the young man as negotiating partner for some of the more delicate agreements of her school.

    Outside of his social comfort zone, poor Balan is like a fish out of water and he is also utterly afraid of combat.
    Last edited by Lylandra; Friday, 5th May, 2017 at 11:57 AM.

  10. #40
    The group of four rent some horses and travel to the outskirts of Vidor where they see strange signs who warn travelers of troll attacks. Also, the city is currently being reinforced by wooden palisades. As the don't really have time, the don't bother to ask what this is all about.

    Note: Small foreshadowing for Kate's sidequest. I used the 4e version “troll king” scenario much later and wanted to hint that there might be trolls hiding somewhere in the swamp.

    Along the road, they visit a young half-elf who is renting and selling carriages and sleighs. When they want to buy a sleigh for their journey (Balan doesn't like riding on horseback for too long), Cuin realizes that the young man is actually a half-Taranesti who occasionally mutters prayers to Syana as if she was some sort of goddess. Turns out that his mother was a wandering Taranesti who fell in love with a human. Sadly, both of his parents died a few years ago. Cuin teaches him a bit about the true nature of the guardian of Ycengled and both part on good terms.

    Note: 4e stuff again. I knew that adding the half-elf would be an instant hook-up for Cuin, so I placed him there. Didn't bother with the skill challenge though. I resolve such challenges mostly by roleplaying.


    The travel the frozen Nashan river when they suddenly see a bizarre scene: A group of worn-out refugees who are fleeing from a giant, insectile creature. The elves and Balan correctly identify the creature as a Remorhaz. Balan is horrified when his companions decide to save the refugees as he prefers to hide in the sleigh. Cuin'halar turns invisible, “sneaks” up on the creature and downs it in a flurry of electrified blows. Just when both Balan and the refugees start cheering for this impressive feat of strength, a second Remorhaz emerges from the ground and swallows Cuin whole. Torrent and especially Tinuviel are mortified and start fighting the creature. They try to identify the correct place to strike the Remorhaz as they want to free their comrade, but fortunately Cuin manages to dimension door his way out – half digested, but still alive. Together they slay the second creature as well.

    Note: Yep, that was just me being mean. Cuin had a lucky streak of crits (critical intensified spell combat shocking grasp... ouch) and I originally wanted to challenge them with the Remorhaz. So... I just added another one who had not eaten recently. I knew Cuin could survive the swallow long enough to be cut free even if he didn't make his concentration check (which he did).

    They continue their journey on ice until the sleigh comes to a sudden stop and Balan hits his head really hard in the process. Torrent checks up on him and fortunately the diplomat is only knocked out, although he might have suffered a cerebral concussion. As the sleigh appears to be struck, they search for the cause of the accident and find a leather belt belonging to a corpse which is otherwise encased in ice. They continue their search and find a total of three bodies who all carry emblems of Lady Dene's. What seems more surprising is the two of the three were killed by bolts and the third had been hung. As they suspect a case of murder, they follow the easily discernible trails carefully.

    After a few hours they finally arrive at another disturbing scene: A group of five soldiers is harassing a caravan and searching for what appears to be valuables. As they suspect a robbery, the party advances quickly. To their surprise, the “bandits” are wearing emblems of Steppengard and the guy who appears to be their leader is in the process of dragging a screaming woman out of a carriage. As both elves cannot simply watch an innocent (?) women being treated this way, they call out for the officer. He orders them to not interfere in official matters of the Talon police as the woman and her helpers are clearly traitors who were in league with the foul assassins who killed the queen's children. Cuin and Tinu both agree that the man is out of his mind and ask him to keep cool and maybe discuss the matter first. The officer ignores their pleas and is about to strike the woman down for her crimes, so naturally both try to intervene and save the woman. Tinu wins the initiative and can psychically electrocute and stun the man before he can harm the woman. Then the rest of the party joins their friend in battle and they manage to subdue the Talons. They ask the two who surrendered what this is all about and at first they are pretty pissed that some foreigners interfered with their jurisdiction. As Cuin points out that this is not jurisdiction, but rather an on-spot execution without a lawsuit, the Talons tell him the whole story about the assassination and also that the woman was consorting with one of the assassins. As neither of the brothers can see a confirmed involvement of the woman, they ask her about the whole affair. She tells them that yes, she was in love with one man who was arrested (but she's sure that he wouldn't be able to harm anyone) and fled Bresk as soon as she realized that everyone and their mom was being arrested for treason. They believe her story and let the caravan continue their journey. They continue to ask the Talons and get to know that Lord Gallo is the one who is suspected to be behind the assassination plot which has to be supported by other Lords or Ladies of Dassen. They also tell them that they have the order to execute anyone who is resisting arrest by fleeing Steppengard. When they ask their prisoners about the Talon's leader, they tell them of a former Dassen military member named Thurask.

    Note: A lapse on my side. I didn't remember the fact that Nina Glibglammer was officially the head of the Talon and Thurask was a guy I made up on spot. When I realized my mistake one session later, I told my party that Queen Steppengard had appointed her adviser to the new head of the Talon police force after a few days, leaving Thurask as second in command. They did remember his name though and I continued to use him as a minor NPC.

    They leave the Talons to tend for their comrades and continue their journey. As they point out that they are official ambassadors of Seaquen (and show their papers), they try to make sure that they can invoke political immunity later.

    In the evening, they arrive at the gates of Bresk. Fortunately, Balan is already feeling better and can help them find a room to stay. In fact, he offers them fine rooms in his family's favorite hotel. After putting their luggage to their rooms, they all head to castle Steppengard and ask for a possible audience with the Queen as they are ambassadors of Seaquen who wish to discuss matters of an alliance against Ragesia and also offer the Queen their condolences. They are more than happy to hear that despite all the chaos they have been announced earlier via sending and may have an audience in two days.

    The elves use the evening to discuss Dasseni diplomacy with Balan over a glass of good wine. When they realize that the proxies do indeed serve as substitute for their lords and ladies and the latter do have a critical influence on the politics of Dassen, they all agree that it would be wise to talk to all the proxies in advance. This way they can probe everyone's interests and personalities before being thrown into the cold water of the court. Seems like a sound plan for the next day...

    Note: I was really expecting a move like that. Because I know they would take the time to talk to the proxies, and none of them besides Jineer had some sort of description, I decided to flesh out the rest of them. What I did then was write up a small portfolio for every proxy and added a bit more info to each lord's/lady's interests and character. The whole diplomacy session took a while, but my players told me that it was totally worth it (more about that later)

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