WotBS Lylandra's War of the Burning Sky continued - Page 5
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  1. #41

    Of Lords and Proxies Pt. 1

    I realized that translating my Lord & Lady/Proxy portfolios would take a bit longer (haha!) than anticipated, so here is the first batch of them:

    Lord Dashgoban
    Lord Tarek Dashgoban is an older dwarf with very soft smooth, thin, grey hear and a pretty similar looking beard. His small, slender frame doesn't make him look like a perfect picture of a dwarven lord and he is in fact a bit ashamed of his frailty. Nevertheless, Dashgoban is strong-willed and sometimes even stubborn ruler who is well-respected by the other lords and ladies of Dassen.
    The dwarf is the only lord of Dassen who is pretty open about his dissatisfaction with Queen Steppengard, He claims she's actually weak-willed and manipulative and he would have preferred another sovereign. However, even lord Dashgoban admits that having Steppengard is better than having no leader at all and he himself has so far shown no ambition for the throne. It seems like he is rather comfortable being in opposition to his queen and is is quite possible that much of him disliking Steppengard stems from the fact that he had to sacrifice much of his land to help founding country Steppengard.

    Lord Dashgoban is interested in genealogy and can trace back his ancestry at least to the 13th generation. He's both a traditionalist and a historian and loves sharing stories over a glass of fine spirits. He has a calm, almost sensible demeanor and speaks with a soft tongue. To everyone's surprise, he has a special taste for elven dandelion ale from Shahalesti.

    Bjonnir Dashgoban, Proxy of Lord Dashgoban
    Bjonnir Dashgoban is Lord Dashgoban's daughter-in-law and also his proxy at Steppengard's court in Bresk. She is a robust, broad-shouldered dwarven lady with beautifully braided reddish-blonde hair and lively freckles which appear all over her face. Bjonnir is fanatically loyal to her father-in-law and takes her duties as his proxy very serious. This is hardly surprising, as due to her wedding with Ghin Dashgoban she's become officially part of the Dashgoban clan and tried to uphold her people's good name and honor ever since. Like Lord Dashgoban, Bjonnir is a traditionalist who would like to see Dassen regain its former (pre-Blood War) glory. She is a bit more ambivalent in terms of supporting the Queen as she has respect for Talia Steppengard's accomplishments despite her relatively (for a dwarf!) young age. She is interested in negotiating trade agreements for Dashgoban, and especially in establishing a trade route to Shahalesti (so Dashgoban can circumvent dealing with Lord and Lady Namin) and will look out for reliable, trustworthy allies who respect both the law of the land and its traditions.

    For negotiations:
    + respecting traditions (like pointing out the importance of the Book of the eight lands), direct diplomacy (no roguish or semi-legal deals), invoking a communal Dasseni spirit, taking time, offering gifts (Spirits or Dandelion Ale), being part of a dwarven clan, offering to negotiate trade with Shahalesti

    - trying to press Lord Dashgoban into leadership or to take action against the Queen, showing a lack of respect or breeching court manners, intimidation, trying to woo Bjonnir with charme, offering inofficial agreements

    Lady Timor
    Lady Myriam Timor is a tall, regal woman in her mid-twenties. She keeps her blonde, long hair braided and prefers beautiful robes cut in a wizard's style. She calls herself “archmage of Timor” and resides in a tower complex near the Glaskeel cliffs. Despite that fact that she would only be considered a medium ranking mage in terms of raw power compared to the Lyceum instructors, she knows a lot of magic and has, in fact, studied a while in the famous school of magic. Therefore, she personally knows headmistress Simeonne and secretly adores her. So far, Lady Timor has lived quite comfortably knowing that the fire forest of Innenotdar would keep any Ragesian inquisitor far from her country. This could change if she gets to know that the forest has ceded burning as deep inside she's utterly afraid of the inquisitors and their scourge. She's also concerned for her guards who are wizards as well.

    Lady Timor is quite intelligent and has been groomed to be a ruler since her childhood. She spent a good part oh her youth being a political hostage in Lord Megadon's domain during the Blood War and learned both court manners and the ability to control her emotions the hard way. Unfortunately, both her parents were killed during the civil war and Myriam had to ascend the throne of Timor at a young age. She has quite a difficult relationship with Lord Megadon and feels a certain kind of sympathy for Lady Dene. She is interested in rekindling the relationships to the Lyceum school and would like to start an exchange program for her own “students”. She would also gladly join any alliance against the Ragesians as long as there is even the slightest chance of a successful resistance. Lady Timor loves hiking and climbing (there are rumors that she sometimes climbs the cliffs all on her own) and enjoys having a fresh breeze of air around her nose. She loves her cousins as they are the only family she has left.

    Melanie Ursin, Proxy of Lady Timor
    Melanie Ursin is both proxy and cousin of Lady Timor. She is rather small and petite with shoulder-length blonde locks and striking green eyes. Melanie is a bit younger than her Lady Timor and she is fiercely loyal to her beloved cousin (which is why Myriam has chosen her as her proxy for the court of Bresk). Like her Lady, she spend a good part of her youth as Lord Megadon's hostage and both of the girls grew to be close like sisters during the time of turmoil. Also, both had to cope with the early loss of their parents during the Blood War. In contrast to Myriam, Melanie has been rather low ranking in the line of the Timor succession, so she has never been properly trained to be a leader. This plus her relative isolation in Bresk makes her a bit nervous and lonely as she's never been the most colorful or outgoing woman. She spends a good part of her day working out negotiations and doing paperwork for Lady Timor while trying to keep a low profile. She secretly envies her marvelous, perfect, beautiful cousin who seems so dignified and almost royal compared to her.

    Melanie is interested in studying magic, but has not had time to pursue it yet. She'd do everything to get the opportunity to visit the Lyceum school and is more than willing to make contact with her cousin for any Lycean agents. She knows that her Lady is grateful for any warning about a possible Northern trade/invasion route through Innotendar forest (should the party have told anyone about it). Melanie can be easily swayed by any kind of positive attention and the prospect of getting into contact with mages. She'd also want to negotiate trade agreements with Gate Pass, now that the Elfroad is open again. Should the party be interested in exchanging students with her lady, she'd gladly try to arrange that as well.

    For negotiations:
    + Showing sympathy for the mages who suffered because of the scourge, offering (financial) support for refugees, offering an exchange program for students of magic, paying Melanie attention or making compliments, showing sympathy to her and her Lady's losses, offering any means of security for the northern border or acknowledging that their actions have put her Lady's lands in danger and explain the whole story. Intimidation might work, but she'll then act out of fear.

    - Trying to raise her above her Lady (or mention anything that sounds like some sort of competition between Lady and Proxy), don't mention the Elfroad and its dangers/opportunities at all (she'll think the party is dishonest), trying to press her into taking action against her will, mentioning agreements with Lord Megadon or his Proxy (or showing affiliation with one of them), being cold and /or rude

    Lady Dene
    Lady Selena Dene is a young, beautiful, but rather inexperienced and naive princess. She's rumored to go by the nickname "the doe" at court since she's considered to be a harmless, easy to frighten, cute girl. She does know that she has a rather small army and is afraid by the Seaquen call to arms and the growing mass of refugees there that can easily turned into a large Seaquenian army, especially since she's heard that "legendary" Xavious Foebane is the one doing the mustering. Her own army is small because her family didn't fare too well in the previous "blood war" for the succession. The Denes lost a good part of their soldiers in a futile battle against Megadon's forces and have never recovered since then.

    She's also a bit of an environmentalist, loves nature and has a rather large knowledge of local animals. She also has a pet stag and a small, private zoo. She doesn't know too much about economics, but her "trusted advisors" have assured her that the refugees going along her roads will have some money to spend and that she might profit from those "scary strangers from Ragesia". Since she doesn't want to keep them in her country, keeping the prices for mundane tasks and inn stayings high seems like an obvious choice.

    Note: Now I know that Lady Dene was originally meant to be called Lydia as this is the name of the Adventure's author. I was totally oblivious to this connection, so I just named her Selena.

    Thorn, Proxy of Lady Dene
    Lady Dene's proxy in Bresk is a stern, rough man that goes by the name of Thorn (Dorn in my German campaign). He seems like a battle-hardened veteran in his thirties-fourties and he is not really a master of diplomacy. In fact, he's better at intimidating people into keeping their meddlings away from "his princess". What only insiders know is that Thorn is the bastard half-brother of Lady Dene who served as her bodyguard in years past. He's a rough negotiator and will not agree to any plan that might endanger Lady Dene, her reputation or the things she loves. Thorn will be interested in an official non-agression pact with Seaquen and might also be curious about the green Dragon in the swamp (if the party made Naielasza friendly that is). He thinks the threat of such a marvelous beast might be reason enough for the other lords to stay out of Lady Dene's affairs.

    For negoatiations:
    + Praising Lady Dene, mentioning the importance of her security, direct&honest talk, offering a non-aggression pact with Seaquen, offering to take more refugees, offering to mention Naielasza to Lady Dene's neighbour's proxies (should the Dragon be a topic), offering gifts (especially cute, magical beasts for his Lady), offering a private talk with Xavious Foebane, having a (former) soldier in the group

    - Intimidation. Especially in form of Dragons and Armies. Saying anything bad about Lady Dene, showing mercenary-like tendencies (like negotiating too much over money). Thorn doesn't trust mercenaries.
    Last edited by Lylandra; Saturday, 27th May, 2017 at 02:39 PM.

  2. #42

    Of Lords and Proxies Pt. 2

    Lady & Lord Iz
    Lady Sharka of Iz is a middle-aged dwarven lady who was the only heir to the throne of Iz during the last Blood War. She's almost always depicted wearing arms and armor of some kind and, in fact, loves the touch of steel on her skin. Fortunately for her and her country, she met the slightly older knight Fuko during her military training and both fell for each other after spending some time together. Right now, the couple has two young-ish sons who are being schooled in their hillside castle, so the line of succession for Iz is pretty much secured. As Lord Fuko got injured during the war, the pair split their responsibilities so that Fuko right now does most of the actual ruling and paperwork while Sharka plays the role of her army's supreme military commander who travels the towns and villages of Iz to make sure her citizens are all right.

    As country, Iz has a strong military tradition, and Lady Iz is actually very popular within her realm. She has good ties to her former commander Xavious Foebane whom she fondly remembers as her mentor when she was younger. She does love a good and clever plan and is otherwise pretty loyal to the throne of Dassen, even if she might have small doubts on individual decisions of the King/Queen. The Iz value honesty and bravery and would secretly love to kick some Ragesian ass.

    Note: Yep, I made "Lord Iz" a dwarven couple. Because I like racial diversity and thought having close ties to Xavious would be cool. My own party had a good head start with Lady Iz as they met her along the way to Seaquen and warned her about the open Elfroad in advance. I'll discuss the results of their negotiations with Iz' proxy later.

    Murdoch Kronsberg, Proxy of Lord & Lady Iz

    Murdoch is, like Fuko, Sharka and Xavious, a former member of the Iz military. What makes him stand out is the fact that he is no dwarf, but a human veteran knight who made himself a name after leading a charge against the late Lady Rego's forces in the Blood War and cleverly negotiating the opposing force's terms of surrender on his own. Murdoch is a grey-haired and -bearded man of approximately 50 years who is displaying a calm, down to earth attitude and who is known to greet everyone with a calm smile. He is no natural courtier, but still beloved by many of the lower ranking court members as he seems almost humble and unnaturally kind to them. To his peers, Murdoch can be quite the calm, dark and deceptive waters as he is very perceptive and can almost smell uncouth behavior. This is why he is not on too best terms with Lord Namin.

    For negotiations:
    + displaying military knowledge & cunning, mentioning previous friendly contact with Xavious Foebane or his involvement in the growing Seaqueni army, addressing a possible Ragesian threat from the north (via the Elfroad) & explaining how the forest stopped burning, being friendly & humble, showing respect to the Throne of Dassen, telling tales of own “battles”

    - showing disrespect for Queen Steppengard, being arrogant or rude, being whimsical, trying too obvious tricks, showing too much of an affiliation with Namin, suggesting anything that could be interpreted as disloyalty to Steppengard

    Lord Rego
    Lord Timon Rego is the young and quite inexperienced Lord of the lands or Rego. Despite his youth, he has acquired quite a temper and is prone to react in a choleric way when things don't turn out the way he planned. Unfortunately for him, country Rego is in a quite desolate condition after the Lsi Pu incident which happened 10 years ago. Back then when he freshly inherited his lands from his late mother, the much beloved Lady Rego, the northern firlds of Dassen were a quite fertile rural area and a rich farming ground. The Rego citizens have always lead humble lives, but always had enough to make a good living for themselves. When Lsi pu conducted his experiments in the Tundra Mountains, he unleashed a catastrophic storm which devastated much of Rego's lands. Being under duress, the young Lord then horribly miscalculated and lost much of his own resources to his peers. What is worse is that despite having a lot of counselors and mentors, they all seem to contradict and mistrust each other, making it even harder for Timon Rego to make a proper judgment.

    Rego is on bad terms with the Seaqueni leadership and especially with the Lyceans as he makes them responsible for letting Lsi Pu go unchecked for so long despite his frequent calls for help. However, Rego was known to quickly shout “fire” when there was only a little spark and called the mages for help when they were not needed at all. His second problem is the refugee crisis: At first he was quite happy that some of the richer refugees were buying up resources for good money en masse, but after a while he had to realize that now his populace doesn't have enough resources left to feed themselves. So in one of his tantrums he declared all refugees to be personae non gratae and has withdrawn himself from all official affairs ever since.

    Timon Rego is a man in his early twenties who has lively, reddish hair, freckles and wears quite fashionable glasses. He would be considered to be quite a handsome bachelor if not for his unstable temper.

    Damien Roland, Proxy of Lord Rego

    Damien Roland is the brother of one of Rego's many counselors. Despite his allegiance to both his lord and his older brother, he really does his best to help his country out of its rather depressed state. He knows Lord Rego rather well and due to his empathy he is initially not a friend of anything or anyone from Seaquen. He truly believes that the Lyceans left his Lord in his country's most dire times and considers the mages of the school to be arrogant and selfish. So far he has tried to get the other Lords of Dassen to share the responsibility of taking care of the refugees (despite Rego's official statements, Roland is no cold-hearted man), but he has gained a rather strong opposition in form of Lord Megadon and his proxy who would rather see to stick to the status quo.

    Damien is a man in his early fourties who likes wearing a formal clerk's attire (as it makes him feel more comfortable in his role as proxy). He is not the most eloquent speaker, but is rather direct and honest about his Lord's needs.

    For negotiations:

    + Offering financial help, making an official apology for the Lsi Pu incident, offering any kind of resources, especially food, offering to take all of Rego's refugees, being helpful & kind, being empathic to the dire needs of the Rego citizens, showing dislike for the richer Dasseni nobility

    - being arrogant or dismissive, offering more counseling or counselors, defending the Lycean “ignorance” in the Lsi Pu incident, openly calling Lord Rego choleric or hysteric, calling out to the (lacking?) empathy of Lord Rego, not taking Rego's issues seriously or making jokes about the situation

    Lord Megadon
    Lord Johannys Megadon is a bald human with a black goatee in his mid-40s. He seems stern, almost arrogant and is wearing the traditional, dark-hued well-cut clothes of an aristocrat (I imagined him to look a bit like Mordenkainen... minus the robes.). Lord Megadon is one of the few Lords of Dassen who actually profited from the Blood Wars: Having his lands basically on a peninsula, he was quite secure from attacks of the other noble families while he still had access to all of the important trade routes and fertile fishing and farming grounds. Therefore, he developed a feeling of being untouchable and basically doesn't see a need to make compromises with anyone. On top of that, according to the book of the eight Lands, he's the official next in line for the throne of Dassen – until Queen Steppengard eventually decides which of her children should be crown prince or princess.
    Lord Megadon is only interested in very specific and extraordinary privileges or honors. He is in a long-term feud with Seaquen over fishing rights in the Gradis reef. What makes his relationship with Seaquen worse is their seeming inability to deal with a colony of Sahuagin in their northernmost territory (the Sahuagin live officially in Seaquenian lands, but tend to terrorize the neighboring Megadon villages). He is also not very fond of the masses of refugees who travel through his land as he sees them as plundering, savage and poor hordes.

    Note: On paper, Megadon makes a really good “bad guy” and prime suspect in the murder case. Unfortunately the situation in Bresk is clear enough that no player will try looking for him as mastermind behind the assassination.

    Leandra Tudor, Proxy of Lord Megadon
    Leandra is Lord Megadon's vassal and stems from an old merchant family. She is a clever, rational woman in her 30s who has both the attitude and the looks of a successful businesswoman. In fact, Lord Megadon chose her to be his proxy because of her dedication, focused mind and excellent negotiation skills. For Leandra, being a proxy is a serious job, but she has no ambitions for her own position. Therefore, she has gained the reputation of being kind of a workaholic who spends all day in her office and has no particular interests of her own. Her main goal is to secure profitable trade agreements for her Lord and to keep her eyes open for potential threats. She knows her Lord's needs very well and is basically the “proxiest” of all the proxies.

    For negotiations:
    + offering to deal with the Sahuagin, offering to enchant Megadon's ships with protective wards, suggesting more trade agreements, lowering import taxes, promising to take all refugees who stranded in Megadon, giving up the Gradis reef, dealing with Leandra in a rational, level-headed way

    - being overly emotional or arrogant, failing to address or underline the special position of Lord Megadon, ignoring the Seaquen-Megadon disagreements, making demands, trying to woo Leandra (too unprofessional)

    Lord & Lady Namin
    Lord Florys and Lady Magret Namin are very close siblings and the only Dasseni nobles who don't have an official proxy in the capital. Instead, one of them (usually Lord Namin) stays in Bresk while the other sibling does the job of ruling at home. One could easily mistake the two of them for twins as they look very much alike and even wear the same Shahalesti-inspired style of fashion: Magret is a slender, almost pale woman with shoulder length platinum blonde hair and blue eyes while her similar slender brother Florys keeps his hair in a ribboned pony tail and sports a tiny, fashionable mustache.

    Lord Namin has so far unsuccessfully tried to become Queen Steppengard's husband which is why he spends so much of his time in Bresk. He is a charming, likeable, sometimes a bit arrogant, vain and self-centered man who has high ambitions for his family. He knows that at least one of Steppengard's children is his own, so he acts really friendly and caring around the young princes and princesses.

    Both Namins have excellent ties to the Shahalesti as Namin's territory directly borders the elven lands with only the Tundra mountains between them. They would like to see an open alliance with the elven kingdom to the east and both regularly try to advocate making contracts with the Shahalesti ambassadors. Should the need for a military alliance against the Ragesians arise, both siblings would strongly recommend allying with the (in their eyes) superior forces of Lord Shaaladel.

    For negotiations:
    + making compliments, offering gifts (artworks, elven jewelery, clothes...), showing refined manners, using subtility, showing allegiance to the Shahalesti, mention being on good terms with the Shahalesti or having met Princess Shalosha in person, being a Shahalesti, offering to put in a good word with Steppengard, successful subtle intimidation

    - failing to address the “dead Shahalesti” who were found after the attack on the Wayfarer's theater (Namin might read is as sign of a coming coup against Shahalesti), calling the elves “occupying forces”, “tyrants”, “murderers” or the like, being overly direct, brushing off Lord Namin's aspirations to become king, failed intimidation

    Note: As I switched Steppengard from King to Queen, I had to switch Lady Namin to Lord Namin in a similar fashion. I didn't really change his/her attitude though and I guess my description would work for a woman as well.

    Lord Michael Gallo
    I didn't really change Lord Gallo too much, but I was toying around with the name Alydi Gap and asked myself why that pass wouldn't be called anything more akin to the Gallo family name. So I added a noble family named Alydiosus which had been wiped out in the course of the Blood Wars and which formerly ruled the lands of Gallo in the years past. Gallo and his family were just higher ranking knights from Alydiosus' military who defended the gap with their men despite having no real Lord to command the army. When Talia Steppengard ascended the throne of Dassen, she made Gallo a Duke and the new Lord of the northern lands for his loyal services to Dassen.

    So that's it. Feel free to use my descriptions or to comment on them

    I highly recommend any DM to plan at least the proxies and their interests in advance if their group likes roleplaying more than simply throwing dice in adventure 4. My group really took the whole affair pretty seriously and spoke to each proxy in person before the audience with Steppengard.
    Last edited by Lylandra; Sunday, 28th May, 2017 at 11:25 PM.

  3. #43

    Group diplomacy, part 1

    The next morning, Balan, Cuin, Tinu and Torrent head to Steppengard castle to meet up with the various Proxies. As “ambassadors of Seaquen” they are shown around by the many clerks who work for the Queen and the nobles/proxies and also get a glimpse of where the Ragesian ambassadors have their rooms. They ask whether they may talk to the proxies and are given the answer that they are free to approach them or their assistants, but that they all will have their office duties to attend to and might not have too much time to spare.

    They just start with the first office which reads “Proxy of Timor – Melanie Ursin” and enter. Both elves are positively surprised to see a young lady who is writing notes into one rather large book. They shower Melanie with compliments and especially Tinuviel takes great lengths to impress and flirt with her. In terms of diplomacy, they warn her of a possible attack on Timor from the north as the Elfroad is open and they even tell her that they did the deed because they had to rescue the Seela from eternal suffering. They also show sympathy for those who are threatened by the scourge and inform Melanie that a non-aggression-pact with the Ragesians will not end well for the magically gifted people of Dassen.

    As Melanie and Lady Timor are already pretty much against “allying” with Ragesia, their arguments fall on fertile grounds. On top of that, Tinuviel's heroic tales seem to impress the young proxy and it is more than obvious that she fell for the charme of the dashing elf. Tinu recognizes her interest and promises to return later.

    The next proxy, dwarven lady Bjonnir Dashgoban, seems to be a stark contrast to easy to impress and almost shy Melanie. She greets them with an open welcome, but also immediately informs them that she may not have too much time and that she also doesn't know whether the Queen would listen to any proxy as she's more fixated on her adviser Nina Glibglammer this days. Nevertheless, the “ambassadors” would like to hear all sides in this matter and Bjonnir agrees on a short exchange.

    First, the party is relieved that Lord Dashgoban does not seem to have any interest on the throne himself. Cuin'halar reminds her of the (old, but still fragile) Dasseni unity and that becoming a “servant” to Ragesia's will might not be in the best interest of anyone who is interested in the sovereignty of Dassen. He says he fears that the Queen's recent moves might be clouded by grief and the thirst for revenge as people are now being executed by the Talon police if they are suspected of having had contacts with a presumed assassin. They leave Bjonnir with the feeling of having made a good impression on her.

    Note: They did not really discuss trade or contacts with Shahalesti, but Dasseni unity and traditions are big topics for Lord Dashgoban, so I gave them a bonus on their diplomacy roll.

    The next office belongs to Dorn, the bastard brother of Lady Dene. At first, they are a bit shocked to see a man who could have easily been a mercenary being an official proxy, but after the man explains that he would trust no one else to represent his princess, they warm up to him. The gruff Dorn explains that he doesn't really care about much else than dear Selena and her safety and that all the rundown people running through Lady Dene's lands make her (and him!) pretty nervous.

    They use his own argument and tell Dorn that if Lady Dene is already afraid of the refugees then a full Ragesian army en marche to Seaquen hungry for a fight would be her living nightmare. And that even a strong, battle-hardened man like him might not be able to protect his beloved princess from thousands of Ragesians. Dorn is visibly infuriated at this thought. They incite him even more and then try to gain his sympathy by saying that each and every one of them has someone or something special they wish to protect from the Ragesians and that he can prevent what happened to their own home and their own families in Gate Pass. This way they win him over quite easily.

    Note: I had Dorn talk pretty roughly, directly and as un-courtly (but still acceptable) as possible. Cuin and Balan remembered the rumor that he was the half-brother of Lady Dene, but didn't mention it to her proxy, so they were not that surprised when he spoke about “his princess” in surprisingly soft and loving words. I got the feeling that especially Tinuviel liked that rough-but-caring part of Dorn and they even came to bond over the “things they'd do for love”.

  4. #44

    Group diplomacy, part 2

    Next up is Murdoch Kronsberg who treats them all very friendly after they introduce themselves. He mentions their previous encounter with Lady Iz and thanks them (unofficially) in the name of all of Dassen for their warning about the open Elfroad. They discuss the forming of a “refugee army” in Seaquen and both sides praise the excellent military knowledge of Xavious Foebane. Speaking of Foebane, they manage to quickly dissolve all fear of a “barbarian Seaquenian invasion” from the south by making sure that the veteran dwarf trains them well and for defense only.

    Murdoch also makes it clear that despite his and his Lady's good will, Iz has always been and will always be loyal to the crown. He really doesn't want to endanger fellow Dasseni, but he surely wouldn't want to commit treason.

    At first, the meeting with Damien Roland doesn't really turn out like they'd had hoped as Lord Rego's stance on Seaquen and the Lyceum is extremely negative. Not that they didn't expect this from their short times traveling his lands. Tinuviel tries to calm down the tensions between Proxy Roland and the team by presenting an official letter written by headmistress Simeonne herself in which she apologizes for the Lsi Pu incident and failing to protect the Lands of Rego. Damien Roland accepts the letter and promises to send it to his Lord. They also cautiously offer to start trade negotiations so that the starved populace of Rego can benefit from Seaquen's rich fishing grounds.

    Leandra Tudor, Proxy of Lord Megadon, is not that keen on dealing with the Seaqueni either as she's constantly busy writing letters and reading correspondence during their meeting. She makes it clear that in order to get Lord Megadon't interest and good will, one would better make a good offer or stop trying. She starts off pretty directly by suggesting to deal with the Sahuagin first before even trying to negotiate with her Lord. Cuin agrees that the Lyceum might look into the external threats from the sea, but that then Lord Megadon should “do something to protect Seaquen from outside forces” (read: the Ragesians) as well. Leandra explains that maybe Seaquen should initiate action in this case first as it is clearly them who'd want favors from Lord Megadon.
    They also discuss possible trade agreements and taking some refugees, but Balan makes it pretty clear that giving up the Gradis reef is out of question – although one could agree on sharing the fishing rights.

    Next they try to find Lord Namin, but don't find him anywhere, neither at court nor in his office. As the hour turns late, Balan suggests to maybe call it a day and head to a good restaurant. They all agree with this plan and hungry Balan leads them all to a really fine etablissement in the lower city. They are all surprised by the warm and comfortable temperatures in the underground tunnels of Bresk as they had all expected some kind of wet and cold dungeon.

    After their meal, Tinuviel decides to combine having a good time and expandin his diplomatic endeavor. He heads back to castle Steppengard to see whether Melanie Ursin is still in her office. As she's prone to work overtime, he does find her and invites her to a meal and some good wine in one of the guest houses he had seen in the lower city. As Melanie was very much charmed by the elf during their earlier negotiations she agrees and leaves the castle in his company. They are watched by some guards who do not really seem to care much about the couple.
    Tinuviel and Lady Timor's Proxy spend the rest of the evening and most of the night together. The charming elf makes sure that she's sleeping safe and comfortably when he leaves her later that night and returns to the Golden Griffon.

    Note: I already decided that Melanie would be the easiest to impress of all the Proxies and Tinuviel really hit the mark with her by showing her all the affection she never got. I asked Tinu's player a for what his intentions with her were and he told me that it would be some “extended diplomacy” in combination with his tendency to romance nice ladies. For the guards... of course they were noticing that the foreign ambassador was leaving with one of the Proxies...

    The next morning, the team prepares for the upcoming audience with the Queen which is scheduled for the next day. They head over to the court of Steppengard and get a glimpse at Nina Glibglammer, the Queen's gnomish adviser. Tinuviel tries to get a better picture of her and he focuses his “empathy” on the gnome. He manages to sense an uncanny kind of determination but otherwise pretty concealed emotions from her.

    Note: Madness as Nina is trying to conceal herself as well as possible. As she got a very specific plan, I decided that she'd be pretty fixated on that aim. Oh, and I changed her to a gnome as I erased all traces of halflings from my campaign. I am not too fond of the small folk and there was no real reason to keep both races from the narrative.

    They stumble across Lord Namin who is busy chatting with beautiful ladies who seem all very interested in the more than handsome man. Tinuviel asks the rest of the group to handle Lord Namin on his own as the Namins seem more than just interested in anything Shahalesti. So he introduces himself as Tinuviel ar Shahalesti, the twice removed cousin of Princess Shalosha. Hearing this name rings a bell and Lord Namin starts praising the beautiful lands of the Shining Lord and his even more beautiful daughter.

    He then almost botches his negotiations with Namin as he then explains that he is no supporter of Lord Shaaladel's politics due to his war crimes of decades past. As the ladies seem interested in this “news” about the Shining Lord, Namin quickly compliments them to a separee to discuss things in private. Cuin'halar jumps to Tinu's help and explains that he, a Taranesti elf and friend of the “noble Tinuviel ar Shahalesti”, is the reason for his friend's disagreements with his “uncle”. He then tells Lord Namin about the fact that the Ragesians are no friends of the Shahalesti as they are already invading the lands of Naamis. So if he wants to serve both Dassen, his Queen and his and his sister's “beloved Lord”, he should consider advising the Queen against a non-aggression-pact with the Ragesians. Especially since everyone knows that proud Shaaladel might see a neutral stance of Dassen as treason.

    Note: I let them make their diplomacy rolls after each talk instead of during the audience scene. And considering their efforts and cunning, it did pay quite out well. We basically spend almost the whole session talking and negotiating which is what I (being an avid diplomancer when playing myself) had hoped for.

    Last but not least, the party wants to visit the last missing proxy, Jinis Bremman. Turns out that he is still imprisoned as he's one of the prime suspects in the assassination of the Queen's children. They discuss the matter a bit and shortly after, Cuin'halar comes up with a plan to get to at least see Jinis. They head off to the prison/garrison and ask for Thurask, the current head of the Talon police force (yep, they remembered that name). They introduce themselves as ambassadors from Seaquen who came to Bresk so that they may start diplomatic talks with the Queen and all of her Proxies. And they had promised the “government” of Seaquen to talk to all the Proxies which includes Jinis Bremman. And that they would really know that they cannot talk to him officially, but that it would suffice if they could at least have met him in person and said hello.

    After a bit back and forth, Thurask agrees to let one of them see his prime suspect. Tinuviel takes the task upon himself and is lead to the dungeons where he also sees the “crazy man” Nina Glibglammer plans to question the next day. Tinuviel is glad to see Jinis in an acceptable condition and tries to gain insight on whether he might be possessed by a Trilith spirit. He doesn't really think of a fusion, like himself and Empathy, but more like the things Dabra had planned to do with Menash and the new-born Madness (haha, quite fitting). When he's sure Jinis will be all right, he tells the Proxy that his son is doing well in the Lyceum before being forced to leave again.

    Note: There, I got myself caught with the Thurask story i improvised earlier. Nina Glibglammer would have never let the Seaquenians see Jinis as she'd know them to be the enemy. But Thurask, while being pretty unscrupulous, does have a sense for politics, decency and a heart as he was known to be a prominent military leader. So he'd show Jinis to Tinuvuiel. A favor, I would kind of “regret” a bit later. But well, a GM should be able to live with the consequences of her actions
    XP RangerWickett gave XP for this post

  5. #45

    A rather strange audience and a sneaky daredevil

    The group spends the rest of the day in Bresk as they try to familiarize themselves with the still pretty unknown city. Balan shows them around a bit and – due to the cold weather – they come to prefer the underground parts of the city.

    The next day, their audience with the Queen is about to take place. Before they get to the Queen, the party has to witness a strange questioning of the crazy man Tinuviel had seen in prison the day before. They are estranged by the fact that underneath his irritating babble the man seems to have two different memories on the same incident and that one of these memories points to Jinis and Lord Gallo planning to assassinate the Queen and her children with poison.

    They all agree that something clearly isn't right here. Cuin'halar asks Tinuviel whether he can sense some kind of second soul in the guy and Tinu tries to get in touch with his surrounding emotions. He is instantly overwhelmed by the feeling of losing his mind as some kind of “madness” tries to overpower him. Cuin is shocked to see his friend in such a dire condition and tells him to show him what's wrong with him. Tinu manages to project some of his feelings to Cuin and he then immediately begins singing the song of forms quietly. Torrent realized what's going on and she helps the elf by chanting along. This doesn't reveal any hidden or incorporeal Trillith, but it helps Tinu to regain control of himself.

    Note: To their own luck, they were a midst a crowd of spectators, so the quasi-fainting elf wouldn't draw too much attention. I decided that Madness/Nina would be directly responsible for the man's steadily increasing insanity, so Tinu's Empathy backlashed horribly during the hearing.

    As “madness” in this case was a mental effect, I let them use the Song of Forms a bit more liberally. Of course they could not give the effect physical form, but I decided that the song would suppress the effect on Tinu.

    Nina Glibglammer ends the hearing and tells the crowd that she can get no clear answer from the man and that she suspects some form of mental control or enchantment on him. She suggests to postpone the process until she can get the magic off the man and the Queen agrees. They open the sheets of the windows in the throne room (it had been quite dark during the questioning) and as soon as more light fills the room, the eerie and disturbing presence seems to vanish. Tinuviel tries to gain a glimpse at Glibglammer's emotional state, but she seems somehow either in total control of herself or shielded by some other effect.

    Steppengard then calls for the audience to begin. After three rather mundane requests from her citizens, the party is called forth to state their request. At first, they give their condolences for her loss. Then they do their best to convince the Queen that Dassen should not risk a non-aggression-pact with the Ragesians as they would clearly march into Seaquen and occupy what is essential Dasseni land. And even if the Ragesians kept word and she'd consider Seaquen to be no “real” part of Dassen, she'd still open up a backdoor for the Ragesians as the swamp between Dene and Seaquen is not as easily defended as the Alydi Gap. They explain that they had a similar situation in Gate Pass before (as the Ragesians “really just want to conquer Shahalesti”) and that the Ragesians still wanted to take every magic-user into custody. And surrendering every mage of Dassen to the Ragesians as well as having a battle-hungry army marching through the mainlands surely wouldn't be in the best interests of Dassen.

    The Queen states that she clearly understood their statement but that she has already lost too many of her children and doesn't want to lose any more. She says that she has spoken to the Ragesian ambassador and that he convinced her that no Ragesian would come to harm if they'd give Revulus' army safe passage through their country.

    She exchanges words with Nina frequently during this talk and at some time, Cuin becomes a bit unnerved and interrupts her during their chatting. He calls her naive if she'd believed the Ragesians kept word and that maybe her Lord's and Lady's proxies would have an opinion in this matter, too. Steppengard gets pretty angry and asks him how a boy like him could even dare to think that he could understand how it feels to lose those closest to him. Cuin replies that, while he has not lost a child (he's a bit too young to have children), he did lose his mother and his entire people to a person's murderous will. He then says that he, in contrast, doesn't hide behind another one to tell him what to do and that he will continue to stand up for the safety of the Seaquenians, even if they are neither his race, nor his people. He then turns to the proxies and says that he's sorry that the Queen's loss left her so broken that she now lets her counselor decide the fate of Dassen.

    Note: I really had no good candidate for the “How many have you lost?” speech. Every one of them besides Balan (and I didn't want to turn this into a NPC-NPC argument) had lost people they cared for. So I used it when Cuin started to become overly “uncourtly” in his behavior. I had a very hard time finding arguments for Steppengard that made her not seem like a complete naive, lunatic or delusive person as the party's own arguments were just that good. So... yeah, they underlined the strong impression they made on the proxies the day before.

    The Queen gets fully enraged over that accusation and orders them to leave her court immediately or else. She gives then a three day ultimatum to settle their business in Bresk and leave the city for good.

    The party leaves the throne room rather disappointed. They wait outside till the whole audience session is over in hope to be able to speak to the proxies once again. They are lucky and manage to meet up with some of them. They state their fear that, after what they have seen during the audience, the Queen might not be in charge of Dassen anymore and that the country is quasi run by Glibglammer. They say that they have to obey the Queen's demands but that they hope that the proxies will send word to their respective Lords and Ladies about the matter.

    Note: The whole Steppengard-Glibglammer scene had a very strong King Theoden-Grima Wormtongue vibe and so my players interpreted it that way immediately. The arguments and evidence they had up to that point were spot on and only a direct authoritative Word of Queen was able to stop them this time...

    The four head back to the Golden Griffon and discuss what they could do next. They know that they have three days and they plan on using them wisely. As they heard (and saw) that there were Ragesians present at court, they decide to take a look into their guest rooms in hope to find any clue that might link them to the assassinations.

    Cuin'halar and Tinuviel, both masters of stealth and camouflage, sneak back to castle Steppengard and use their hats of disguise to look like nondescript Dasseni. On their way to the guest tract they overhear a loud conversation in Melanie Ursin's room. From what they hear it seems like someone of authority accuses her of allying with an “enemy of the Queen”. They ask her about her connection to Tinuviel and the rest of the party and she truthfully states that she didn't conspire with them and that she only made negotiations for her Lady.

    The Talon police officer seems satisfied for now and leaves her office. Both elves wait until the guy is gone and enter Melanie's office. After they closed the door, they turn back to their original selves and try to comfort the visibly frightened proxy. Tinuviel apologizes for dragging her into trouble, but Melanie explains that it was her own fault for being so careless. He offers her to take her with him should they leave the city in three days as she might not be safe in Bresk. Melanie thanks him but declines the offer as she says that both she and her Lady would seem like traitors should she leave the city without any good reason.

    The brothers see reason in her words and ask her for one last favor: They need to know where the Ragesians have their guest rooms. Melanie can give them direction and they thank her for her help.

    Then they sneak up to said rooms, check them for measures of security, disable them and enter. Unfortunately, they find nothing suspicious. What they do find is a booklet containing methods of gathering information through forceful questioning written by none other than their favorite Inquisitor Guthwulf.

    Note: They could neither know nor suspect that the Ragesian “HQ” was in the dungeon. The very same dungeon/prison Thurask had taken Tinuviel to before.

    Utterly disappointed, they want to try one last thing: They disguise themselves as maids and ask one of the chambermaids where Nina Glibglammer's personal room might be (they did a good bluff and used very innocuous talk to get their info). And then they try to enter this room, too. So while maid Cuin'halar does indeed clean the corridor in front of Glibglammer's room, Tinuviel sneaks outside, climbs the wall while being invisible and tries to enter through the window.

    And then he gets really, really lucky. He barely manages to spot and not trigger a well-hidden magical trap on the window. Inside he finds a total mess of a room and more traps. He searches the suspiciously clean desk only to -again barely- avoid a poisoned needle trap. Inside he finds a note stating “haha, you're dead, dummy!”. Tinuviel doesn't give up yet and then tries to search the mess. And this time he finds a small vial containing some red substance. He carefully takes some of the substance and fills it into an empty vial before he leaves the room.

    Note: I have to admit, I really used some pretty lethal stuff inside Glibglammer's room. But curiosity kills the cat and I wanted to show him that messing with Glibglammer's private stuff wasn't the best of ideas. But Tinu's player rolled ridiculously high and the little daredevil found and disabled both magical and mundane traps. I thought he'd leave when Nina so obviously trolled him with the note, but he persisted. So in the end I gave him a sample of the red madness poison which Nina would later use on the proxies. This lead to a very funny (and clever!) scene later on.

    They head back to Balan and tell him (and Torrent) what they just did and Balan almost suffers a heart attack. He calls them mad and suicidal and says that, even worse, they did endanger him and Torrent as well. Tinuviel halfheartedly apologizes but he also says that they found some interesting substance which they want to have examined by an alchemist as soon as possible.

  6. #46

    Prison break reversed!

    Tinuviel and Cuin'halar return to their room and have a short chat about Balan's arguments and that me maybe was right and they risked a bit too much there. After all, they shouldn't let the whole situation escalate more than it already did.

    Tinuviel being Tinuviel gets a bit paranoid about the poison and fears that whomever alchemist they'd find might not be as trustworthy as they hope. So he decides to hide a smaller dose of the poison under the inn's roof. He's just done with this when the two of them suddenly hear muffled screams from the neighboring room.

    Tinuviel (being reckless Tinuviel again) dimension doors to the next room (which he knows is Balan's) only to catch their comrade in a fistfight with an attacker. He manages to get the woman off the already unconscious Balan and fights her with the seconds later arriving Cuin and Torrent. They subdue her and learn that she's named Pixis and that she was sent by the Talon police to abduct their guide. She fears that the Talons might not be as merciful as them once they know she cooperated, so they knock her out and make it seem like a rough fight.

    Note: The attack on Balan wasn't that dangerous at all for them. After healing Balan up, Tinuviel and Cuin even cracked jokes about how he was finally able to share a bed with a woman. At first, Balan was sour but he then... kind of laughed along, knowing he was in good hands despite their differences.

    They don't have much time though as they realize that a Talon Police patrol is just about to make their way into the Golden Griffon. To their shock, these guys got real Sphinxes. And they demand to get to the ambassadors from Seaquen. So they decide to do the sensible thing this time and give heel as fast as possible.

    Note: Both my players were baffled when I said Sphinxes. In plural. And when they saw the number of Talons accompanying them, they thought it would end in a massacre. After their “adventure” in Castle Steppengard, I totally thought they would stay and fight through the waves. But nope...

    To protect them from the Burning Sky, they combine all the fire resistance spells they have readied and “teleport” closer to the city wall where they left their sleigh outside when they first arrived. Then they sneak to the wall and dimension door through it to the sleigh. Once there, Tinuviel asks the rest of them to prepare the horses as he has to rescue one more person. Cuin insists that they are all in this together and Tinuviel explains that he wants to save Jinis. They talk a bit about possible means of getting there and Balan rejects the idea as ludicrous and says that he's got a really really bad feeling about breaking into prison.

    Note: I was wondering whether my group would have to do a prison break or whether they would just sneak away, but having them break *into* prison to rescue Jinis wasn't on my radar. And yep, I gave Balan a bit of foresight and he tried to talk Tinu out of it vehemently. He just knew it wouldn't end too well for him if he'd enter that dungeon.

    Tinuviel, having remembered the corridors that lead to the prison area from his visit before, opens up a dimensional gateway for him and his brother. They KO two hapless guards who didn't really expect two fiery, teleporting elves in the middle of the night. Then they hurry to the cell where Tinu saw Jinis the last time. They enter the proxy's cell and wake him as gently as possible. Then they show him his son's letter to gain his trust. Jinis is more than grateful to know that his son is safe. He tells them that they'd better know they will be Dassen's most wanted if they continue their plan to rescue him. Tinuviel tells him that they are already persecuted by the Talons, so a few more wouldn't really make a big difference.

    After a short talk, Jinis agrees to be teleported out. They use the fire protection crystal they got from Toma to protect the vulnerable Proxy and return to their sleigh. Once Jinis knows he is safe for now, he tells the party about the torture chamber in the prison and that he suspects that there might be a connection to the city's canals as well.

    After a while, they come across the forsaken watch tower and wonder why there are no soldiers to keep watch. They don't really take time to investigate though. Soon they realize that they are being followed by a group of people at a matching speed. To their surprise, the patrol never bothers to catch up with them, despite having a sphinx and very athletic horses. Cuin wonders whether they are herding them into an ambush and watch out for such signs. Fortunately, such an ambush never occurs, but the patrol catches up with them as soon as they cross the border to Gallo.

    Cuin and Tinuviel decide that they really need to get Jinis and Balan to Lord Gallo, so they and Torrent jump off their sleigh to engage the patrol. Cuin uses a fly spell to intercept the Sphinx and prevent it from following the sleigh while the other two start fighting the foot soldiers and their cleric captain. They try to end the fight by explaining that they are not really enemies of Dassen and that they really don't want to hurt anyone, but they are seen and treated as foreign agents who just helped their main suspect in the assassination plot escape prison.

    After they realize that the captain is a cleric and yes, she can cast quite potent heal and buff spells, they team up on her and then bring down the rest of them. They don't kill them however, but make sure that Gallo's soldiers take care of them once they reach a guard post. They catch up with Balan and Jinis after their battle and, when asked, neither of the two can decide who had been the worse driver.

    After capturing the patrol, they really did their best to socialize with them. Under different circumstances, they could have been on the same side and the party really didn't want to punish loyal Dasseni who were just following orders.

    Once they realize that the party is about to bring Gallo's proxy back to his Lord, the Gallo soldiers are more than happy to escort them to Gallo's Fend. They meet up and chat a bit with commander Hertiage (No, Tinu, he is not called Heritage...) who tells them that his Lord will be more than pleased about the good news.

    In Gallo's Fend, the party is greeted by Lord Michael Gallo who asks them to be their guests for as long as they want. He reunites in a very heart-warming and relieved manner with his proxy, so the party guesses that the two of them must be really close friends. Lord Gallo thanks them all for their effort, saying that it was no small favor they did to him by freeing Jinis. Still his situation remains complicated and all of Dassen might be in grave danger whether Steppengard comes to an agreement with the Ragesians or not.

    While he officially invites them to dinner, he also shows them around Gallo's Fend and explains his fears that Steppengard might rally her allies and attack him for a crime he did not commit. Cuin'halar tries to soothe him and tells him of their diplomatic meetings with the other proxies in Bresk. He says they are not really sold on the idea that Lord Gallo is a traitor or that the Ragesians would make good allies, so he might be able to gain allies as well.

    Gallo thanks them again and agrees that finding allies might be the best chances they'd have. He also mentions that they'd be easier to convince if they actually had proof that the Ragesians were up to no good. Gallo explains that right now the 3rd army under General Revulus is currently camping north of the Alydi Gap, just a few miles outside of Dassen's borders.

    Tinuviel suggests that they might take a look at the Rag's business for him. But there is something he wants to be done first. He asks for the directions of the Lord's trusted alchemist and hands the guy a dose of the red madness poison. As he guesses that their Alydi Gap inspection mission might take them some time, he wants to make sure that he can get the alchemical substance's analysis as quickly as possible.

    Note: When I asked them, both of my players said they instantly liked Lord Gallo. I still don't know why, but I gave him a bit more spotlight in later adventures. Maybe it's because he is calm, yet witty and emotional. I always tried to portray him with a good portion of dry humor and as someone who really values loyalty.
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  7. #47
    The group starts their mission immediately after their visit to Gallo's alchemist. They lend a map and a seasoned scout from commander Hertiage and begin with visiting and checking the status of the gap's outposts which I described as bunker-like structures with some of them carved into the mountainside. They carefully examine each of the first outposts and share some rations with the soldiers who welcome the outsiders with open arms as soon as the party introduces themselves as agents of their Lord.

    Note: I interpreted the outposts in a way that they'd change personnel in pretty long cycles. Otherwise they would have known much earlier that the Rags had taken one of their posts. So they would be eager for news from Gallo's Fend and status updates on the Ragesian threat. They do have means to sound an alarm, but the last outpost just happened to be overwhelmed in an instant.

    When they visit the fourth outpost, the soldiers tell them about their comrades of the last post. Once they hear that their personnel are an all human troupe, they ask for descriptions and names as the Ragesian armies also have many human soldiers among them and they wouldn't want to run into a trap. One of the dwarven soldiers also remembers hearing a dragon's roar one night, but the others dismiss her and say that she's probably just heard the raging winter wind.

    As Tinuviel, Cuin and Torrent take even such small clues pretty serious, they proceed with great caution. They leave their horses a few hundred meters before they reach the final outpost and continue by foot, as stealthily as possible. Once they can see the structure rising up above them, they hide and take out their spyglass to look for oddities. And indeed, after a few minutes, they find out that the soldier manning the roof of the outpost is wearing no Gallo uniform, but rather a ragesian one. What's upsetting them even more is the silhouette of a wyvern's head which seems to look at the Ragesian. (You really cannot surprise elven characters who max their perception and use a spyglass. Nope.)

    As they don't know whether they survive a confrontation with the Rags and their pet, they ask the scout to immediately return to Lord Gallo and tell him what they just saw. They also tell him to send a small army should they not return in due time.

    While the scout mounts his horse and gives heel, the trio infernale continues their sneaking to the outpost. Torrent casts a fire protection spell and Tinuviel forms a psionic dimension door for them which leads directly atop the outpost's roof. Poor Wyvern never saw what hit him, but the corresponding wyvern knight (who just saw his steed hacked to bits in a matter of seconds) escapes downstairs to warn his comrades.

    Now, Tinuviel calls for a small gamble. He remembers that all of the outposts shared a kind of similar layout. He'd risk dimension dooring blindly into a place where he'd guess the Chaplain's Chamber would be located. With a bit of luck they could catch the Rag's leader by surprise and get an advantage out of the resulting chaos.

    Note: As he was guessing right, I called for a minimal chance of accidentally hitting a wall and being ejected to a random direction. Needless to say, Tinu got lucky.

    Fortunately (for them) they arrive in a room which just looks like a Chaplain's chambers. They are surprised to find it abandoned, though. They head to the door and overhear preparations to barricade the stairs to the roof as “someone just killed my wyvern!” and the soldiers are ordered to prepare for the outpost's defense. And then they just storm out and attack the surprised Ragesian's backs. Ouch.

    Note: The Rags never had a chance. They took out their “leader” first – inquisitor Crona who was the only one capable of healing, interrupting and buffing. Yep, they really hate inquisitors. And they are pretty easy prey for them. Jaas was the last one standing and even he went down after a few rounds.

    Satisfied with their surprise attack, they search the outposts for possible clues about future ragesian battle plans and indeed find the orders for Jaas. Tinuviel takes the inquisitor's mask and claw as a trophy (and further proof) and then they head back to their horses to bring the more or less good news to Lord Gallo.

    They arrive in Gallo's Fend the next day and receive a warm welcome from Lord Gallo who seems to be more than just happy to see them return alive. Lord Gallo explains that the evidence they found should be enough to convince the Lords of the neighboring lands to support him in his defense against the forces of Queen Steppengard (and possibly the Ragesians as well). Lord Gallo suggests they'd take Jinis and Balan with them as at least Lord Dashgoban would want to be met with proper respect.

    They discuss possible travel routes, including going around or climbing the Glaskeel cliffs and Cuin and Tinu agree that they probably shouldn't let Jinis or Balan climb the cliffs. One of Gallo's advisers also warns them of going through Pitchwood as the Pitchlings, some sort of playful sylvan creatures, can be quite unpredictable and might really harm or hinder them. They also discuss melting the river and the party says they'll do what they can to rally their support and hinder the enemy's advance as well as possible.
    As their departure is scheduled for the next day, Tinuviel uses his spare time to visit the alchemist he handed his poison sample. To his surprise, the poison seems to induce some sort of rage and confusion. As Tinuviel suspected that the poison would be either a deadly substance or help induce mental control, he doesn't really know what to make of that information. He thanks the alchemist and tells Cuin and Tinu of his findings.

    The group starts their Journey to Lord Dashgoban's home the next morning. And of course they'd take the fastest route through Pitchwood. They remember to carry an unlit torch with them and get warned of the approaching, sneaking pitchlings some time in advance. Cuin'halar calls out to them in Sylvan and tells them that he knows they are out there, so there's no need to hide. One of their leaders comes out of hiding and demands them to surrender all their valuables, burnables and shinies to them or they'll set them all aflame. Tinuviel fakes being afraid to cast elemental resistance upon them all while Cuin'halar approaches the Pitchling.

    He draws his Living Blade and ignites it with his torch. Then he touches the blade with his hands to show them that he doesn't need to fear fire as he's clearly wielding and controlling it as well. He then claims that his friends are immune to fire as well, so maybe it would be better for all of them to just get along. This confuses the Pitchlings who thought to find easy prey in the wanderers. Cuin suggests to do a little trade with them instead. They can provide information about a big group of annoying humans who will pass by soon. He says that they will most certainly use the frozen river for travel and would really really hate it if someone used fire to melt the ice. Or burn their wagons.
    Or steal their food. The pitchlings thank them for their invitation do do some mischief and ask them to seal their truce with a traditional game of flameball.

    Note: Cuin's player was more than satisfied with this outcome. He loves tricking people to do his bidding while simultaneously letting them believe they are being done a favor. This way, they also wouldn't have to convince the people of Pitchwood Burg to melt the ice for them. Steppengard cannot blame Lord Dashgoban or his citizens for not controlling mischievous little fey.

    They continue their journey and spend the night in Pitchwood Burg where they warn the mayor of the Pitchling's plan and the approaching army. The next morning, they arrive alive and well in Castle Dashgoban. They are surprised to see training soldiers in the fields and even more (and pleasantly) surprised to see that these soldiers seem to be eager to get into action.

    When they meet up with Lord Dashgoban, they are happy to see that the dwarven Lord instantly accepts their evidence for an imminent Ragesian attack. He explains that he had his troops train all day and night because he knew that something wasn't right. He just needed a plausible reason to join Lord Gallo and he's glad that they gave him what he needed. He seems a bit grumpy at first, but after a while the party realizes that Dashgoban just doesn't like Queen Steppengard and the Ragesians and that he tries to be a proud and confident commander. Due to his experiences with difficult customers, Cuin realizes at one point that Dashgoban is rather unhappy with his fine hair and beard (“If I'd braid 'em, I'd look like a girl of five years! What kind of dwarf doesn't braid his beard?!”) and discreetly gives him tips and a special kind of shampoo to help him thicken his hair.

    Note: I expanded the “soft beard” of Dashgoban a bit as a hook-up for Cuin. He sure does love his profession.

    Dashgoban, Jinis and the party discuss the planned schedule of his troops' march and they also mention that they'd ask Lady Timor for support as well. This is why they'd have to leave early, but they'd let Jinis and Balan conclude the preparations and negotiations. So they bid Dashgoban farewell and start their journey to Glaskeel.
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  8. #48
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    I'm always a fan of clever PC ambushes, and clever PCs avoiding ambushes, and basically cleverness all around. Much more fun than Number-Puncher: the Gamering. (I recently finished a 17th level Pathfinder game that devolved into dice rather than narrative during the finale.)

  9. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by RangerWickett View Post
    I'm always a fan of clever PC ambushes, and clever PCs avoiding ambushes, and basically cleverness all around. Much more fun than Number-Puncher: the Gamering. (I recently finished a 17th level Pathfinder game that devolved into dice rather than narrative during the finale.)
    I guess we're pretty compatible in this regard

    My players are usually very clever. And I love it. I really enjoy being surprised by a clever plan and tend to let it succeed. But you sometimes need a thick hide and creativity (and know your story!) to handle it properly.

    And as much as I like building a good, well-themed and mechanically strong character, I'm not too fond of letting the dice or numbers overpower the narrative. (almost as bad as hearing the dreaded "it is not intended that players do that in this module" or having your GM stick canonically to what's written there even if it doesn't make any sense for your party's situation). So I try to GM in a way I'd enjoy it if I were a player in that campaign. And I would die to play in WotBS. The story itself is just so good.

    But you'd like what they did to destroy Steppengard's siege weapons. And now I just got a very good reason to write up the next chapter. Off to work.
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  10. #50

    Of Ladies and dragons

    Tinuviel and Cuin'halar leave the two diplomats in the care of Torrent, who promises to protect them should anything turn sour.

    So the elves hurry to the huge cliff, planning to use their magic to elevate them without too much of a risk of climbing up (and possibly falling down). So they use a fly spell and go up at maximum speed. They pass by a confused-looking Girallon and a sphinx and get quite nervous once they realize the latter starts following them up.

    Cuin manages to identify the sphinx as a hierarcosphinx – territorial, but not overly intelligent creatures. The sphinx almost catches up with them due to his supreme speed and Tinuviel uses an emergency dimension door to teleport both him and his brother up to the edge of the cliff. Thy get roasted by the burning sky in the process, but standing on solid ground seems totally worth it as both were not really sure how long their flying spell would last and they did not want to fight the sphinx in her own territory.

    Note: They were really afraid of an aerial fight close to the cliff with no solid ground in sight. They skipped the clash with the Girallon by flying and it offered a short, comedic scene.

    The beast reappears after a short time and this time they fight it. Cuin'halar manages to get lucky with a readied intensified shocking grasp critical and the sphinx falls to the ground. Tinuviel jokes about wanting to try out exotic, electrified meat some day, but Cuin tell him that they still have some unfinished business and time is running short.

    After a short while they are hailed by a Timor mage patrol and brought to their Lady's towers. Both are thoroughly impressed by Lady Timor's entrance as the Archmage of Timor greets them from her balcony and formally asking them for their whereabouts before inviting them inside. They meet up with the Lady in her salon and are both equally stunned by her second entrance.

    Note: I described her as a very noble, upright and really beautiful woman once they met her in the salon. Guess this and her demanding, queenly demeanor from the balcony scene blew them both away.

    They begin their negotiations by showing her the evidence of an imminent Ragesian attack on Gallo's fend and she seems inclined to believe them. She tells them that she's not a friend of the Ragesians of their scourge and that she has to protect her citizens. She adds that while she will help Gallo, this would also leave her own country exposed to an attack from Innotendar should the Rags sack Gate Pass as “someone” just happened to re-open the Elfroad.

    The elves apologize for any inconvenience their actions have caused, but proceed to tell the story of the Fire Forest and its inhabitants. They explain that they had to save the Seela and the elves and that they promised to defend their forest even if there aren't too many left of them. When they tell her that they couldn't just leave the Seela to die, Lady Timor seems to understand their reasoning and “good hearts”, but tells them that they should maybe consider the consequences of their actions before they act.

    As they don't really know what the Lady seems to be hinting at (both realized she was turning bitter and worried at this point but kept her superficial posture), they ask her if anything was wrong. She then proceeds to tell them that her cousin and Proxy, Melanie Ursin, has been arrested and charged with conspiracy and treason a couple of days ago. As the subjects of her conspiracy are consorting with and helping the agents of Seaquen who are in liege with the suspected traitor and murderer, Gallo, she fears the worst for Melanie.

    She hints that she knows political games like this too well and that both her and Melanie know their field, but as Steppengard seems to be very unpredictable lately, she fears for the worst. Still, she has to protect her own citizens and cannot possibly make any move that endanger Timor, even if Melanie is her beloved cousin.

    Needless to say, Tinuviel and Cuin'halar are shocked to hear that the nice woman who helped them just a few days before might suffer a cruel fate. Tinuviel tells her that he asked Melanie to flee from Bresk with them, but refused. Lady Timor (who is at this point actively suppressing any kind of emotion) explains that she expected nothing less from a sensible, loyal person like her who would sacrifice everything to protect her Lady.

    Note: Consequences. They did get Jinis out of prison and escaped the Talons. And the guards saw Tinuviel going on a date with Melanie. They would have known this was dangerous business the moment they rescued the “assassin's love” during the Police Brutality encounter. So of course they'd put Melanie in jail...

    Both elves vow to do their best to help rescue Melanie (without causing a complete political meltdown). Tinuviel even states that he will serve Lady Timor the heart of Glibglammer on a silver plate should her cousin get harmed because of this. The Shahalesti then excuses himself to go find a proper silver smith while Cuin'halar stays with Lady Timor and tries to comfort her as well as he can. During their chat and the following dinner, it becomes clear to Cuin that Timor is currently being very stressed by her role of being the leader of her country and torn between her duties and her love for her cousin. He tells her of his and his father's feelings after the Taranesti genocide while Myriam explains the loss of her parents. The two of them get very close and decide to let go of all duty, sadness and fear of the future for one night.

    Cuin stays with Lady Timor far longer than he usually does after spending a night with a lady. They both agree that it'd be really nice if they could just stay this way and forget the world, but both know that they got their roles to play in the upcoming conflict. Cuin promises to return with Melanie one way or the other and then heads to Tinuviel.

    The latter tells his brother that he did order a silver plate engraved with Lady Timor's crest from the smith and that he also returned to the Sphinx and cut out some steaks which he then prepared for breakfast. They try out their Sphinx sandwich (which tastes better than Cuin would have imagined) and hurry to the Glaskeel cliff where they... do cliffdiving. Seriously. They jump off the cliff and use a featherfall spell at the last second. And they are both very thrilled by the experience.

    Then they hurry to return to Gallo's Fend as quickly as possible. Lord Gallo is more than just pleased to hear that the party got him some reliable allies and explains how he will structure his defenses in the upcoming battle. Tinuviel wants to plan his rescue mission, so he goes off to buy a sending scroll and asks Torrent whether she can get a vision from her goddess regarding Nina Glibglammer. He uses his own scrying power to get a glimpse at Melanie and sees her sitting in the same cell where Jinis had been held days earlier. Also, it seems like she's been interrogated roughly.

    Meanwhile, Torrent learns from her divination that “Nina Glibglammer” is dead. She also gets to know that a person looking like Nina is currently traveling with the forces of Steppengard and that this Nina is associated with the Ragesians. They don't really get what happened to Queen Steppengard though, but they know that she isn't protected by the book of the eight lands anymore.

    Note: Never underestimate the powers of divination. It took them some questions of their commune spell, but they managed to find out that the true Nina has been replaced by someone not fully human. They suspected a move from Deception, but didn't know why he would ally with the Rags. They did ask for Steppengard and whether the Book's magic was still intact (which it was at that point) or whether the Queen had been charmed or replaced (she wasn't). The question for the book's protection came at last second, though they couldn't explain how this was even possible.

    They deduce that with both Kelkin and Nina absent from Bresk, there will be no one left who could foil their magic with magical countermeasures, so maybe now would be the best time to invade the prison once again. Tinuviel uses the sending scroll to contact Melanie and tell her that they'll come to rescue her. Melanie's answer sounds pretty fatalistic as she urges them to stay where they are as the prison is warded by alarm spells and several Talons and knights of Steppengard.

    Note: I didn't think about warding the whole prison with a dimensional lock which I saw as a mistake on my side. But they had a point, both Kelkin and Nina were already on the move and adding a permanent lock spell to the cells would have taken some time. In the hindsight I just think that their second jailbreak should have been more difficult.

    The elves ward themselves with fire protection spells and teleport in front of Melanie's cell where the alarm goes off in an instant. Cuin'halar prepares to fend off the guards and tells Tinu to hurry and get Melanie out of her dimensional locked chains. Cuin'halar downs the first two approaching guards and they all hear someone who just sounds like the ragesian inquisitor shout orders at people. Cuin finds a strange item falling out of the mouth of one of the guards while Tinu wards Melanie with the same protection magic and prepares to leave. Cuin picks up the item and fends off another wave of approaching guards just before Tinuviel teleports them all to safety.

    Note: Psionic teleport is so much more annoying than the regular version as it is basically greater teleport once you can spend enough PSP to reduce the mis-port chance to 0. The burning sky does fortunately hinder Tinu from hopping all over the globe in an instant (Tinu's player loves teleporting and plane-hopping and putting all those little PITAs upon me).

    They arrive in front of Lady Timor's tower in Glaskeel. Melanie, who is still shocked and confused by the events, asks the duo why they returned when she explicitly told them not to. Cuin explains that they don't leave their allies behind to suffer for their actions. Also, true resistance fighters protect and stand up for each other.

    Lady Timor is more than happy to see that they did return her cousin almost unharmed. She knows that saving Melanie will probably mark her a complete traitor now, but as she already promised to support Gallo against Steppengard, it doesn't really make much of a difference. She then excuses herself to take care of Melanie who's still shaken. Meanwhile, the elves ask one of the mages whether they could examine the item they found in the mouth of one of the guards. The wizard identifies the token as something which can be used as a focus to bring back a body as an undead.

    After a while, Lady Timor returns and says that Melanie needs some rest. She thanks them for their help and gives them the thumper for summoning the elder xorn should they ever need help. Tinuviel states dryly that he cannot keep his promise to bring his Lady the heart of Nina Glibglammer as she isn't exactly human anymore, but that he'd get her the heart of the inquisitor he heard in Steppengard's prison instead. As he seems deadly serious, Cuin puts him aside and mentions that he is getting dangerously comfortable with being cruel. He tells his brother that there is nothing wrong with getting revenge, but one should never enjoy cruelties as that'd make him not much better than the inquisitors. Tinuviel reluctantly agrees.

    As they are completely drained after their rescue mission, Lady Timor offers them mount spells and so the elves get to cliff-dive once again. (Yeah, they became quite the adrenaline-junkies)

    They return to Lord Gallo once more and find him amidst battle plans, discussing the recent news with Torrent, Jinis and his sergeants. It becomes clear that Steppengard is using everything she has as the other Lords and Ladies offer only minimal (and pretty slow-paced) support. This means that she has put Archmage Kelkin Thravanvost and his sphinx steed on the move, as well as some dangerous troll mercenaries and a wandering red dragon.

    Cuin and Tinuviel remember the name Kelkin from their times in Galabs school and remember that their teacher once had a close friend of that name. They say that they'd try to get the wizard on their side, as Gabal used to choose his friends wisely and they could tell Kelkin that his friend died to the hands of the Inquisitors and the scourge. They also offer to spy on the marching army of Steppengard to gather some more information for Gallo. The Lord gladly accepts their offer and wishes them good luck. He also thanks them for everything they've done for him so far, considering the fact that they are not even Dasseni. They just brush it off and say that they all have to stick together against the Ragesians and that Seaquen will most certainly fall if Gallo's Fend gets breached.

    So they head south for their intel mission the next day. They manage to find the camping army of Steppengard by the evening and knock out a patrol to gain some Steppengard uniforms. Then they sneak into camp. The chat with the simple soldiers to get a sense of the different areas in their huge encampment and get to know where the Archmage and the dragon usually reside. They also hear that the Picthlings burned some of their siege weapons when they moved past the Pichwood and that Königsmarschall Malkan ordered the remaining siege weapons to be guarded by the dragon. He's fireproof, after all.

    They head to the dragon's area and find a huge wagon where the dragon usually sleeps. They are told that he is usually fed the same rations as the rest of the army, but that he also enjoys hunting and is especially fond of spicy meat. So they get themselves some chicken and sneak into the dragon's wagon. There they poison the chicken and the dragon's drink with all of the red madness poison they have still left, leave and hide. So the dragon returns after a while and finds spicy, roasted chicken in his wagon. He eats them and after a while gets really, really angry. He tears his wagon apart and starts a full rampage. The soldiers guarding the area try to talk him out of this madness, but they get roasted .

    While Steppengard reinforcements arrive at the dragon's lair to fight the dragon and prevent it from endangering the whole army and general chaos breaks out, the group sneaks off to the siege weapons (those who haven't been torched by the draon's fire...) and burn them down.

    Note: And this is what happens when players toy with stuff you gave them earlier. I loved their idea and we all laughed at that fact that the poison was called RED madness – which I told them once they used it on the dragon. I did roll for a Fort save for the dragon to see whether the poison would have a small or full effect (I wanted to give them credit no matter the dice) and rolled a 2 on top of that! So the dragon got killed by his own men and burned down some siege weapons in the process. Well played, boys

    Once the chaos has calmed down, they make way to Kelkin Thravanvost's tent. On their way they realize that the Trolls camp amidst the rest of the army, so it wouldn't be too wise to attack them now. But the Archmage is a different kind of beast as he set up his tent far from the others.

    They talk to Nashara first and ask her to speak to her “dear friend” Kelkin as they have urgent news for him. Cuin is pretty convincing, so she lets them pass. They realize that the Gynosphinx is acting strangely and has some sort of enchantment on her, but they don't want to complicate the matter and want to leave this affair to the Sphinx and her friend.
    They introduce themselves to Kelkin as friends of Gabal who only want to talk and will leave him be as soon as he demands it. Kelkin remembers the name of the Archmage of Gate Pass, so he decides to listen to them. Cuin tells him that they came to Dassen to get help against the Ragesians, the very same people who killed Gabal and who now try to trick his Queen into letting them pass by promising her that they wouldn't harm Dassen. He then says that this is only a big lie, as the Inquisitors want to get their fingers on all magic users and that they will attack anyway, whether it is from the south (once they sacked Seaquen) or from the north (through the Alydi Gap). Kelkin says that that's all fine and logical but he's also a loyal man and promised his Queen to find the traitor who murdered her children and bring him to justice. Cuin then goes on to tell him that he learned that the Queen might have somehow lost her sanity as she's no longer protected by the Book of the Eight Lands. He doesn't have proof for this claim, but he asks Kelkin to examine the book and see if anything was done to maybe erase the Queen from it. He also says that the true Nina Glibglammer is dead and that the Queen has acted all strange in her presence, almost as if she was her thrall. He then suggests that Bresk isn't that far by Sphinx and that he could maybe prevent a total disaster and truly serve his Queen and country by unraveling the biggest conspiracy since the Blood Wars.

    Kelkin sees truth in Cuin's words and agrees to return to Bresk to do some research for himself. Cuin thanks him and salutes to him in the traditional Gabalian stance before leaving for Gallo's Fend again.
    XP RangerWickett gave XP for this post

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