ZEITGEIST [ZEITGEIST] The Continuing Adventures of Korrigan & Co. - Page 86
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  1. #851
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    Before moving on with the rest of the session report, I thought I would pause briefly to discuss the 'three-clue rule' as popularized on the excellent 'Alexandrian' website/blog. This simple DMing tip states that if you want a group of players to pick up on a piece of information, make sure to drop it three times:

    "For any conclusion you want the PCs to make, include at least three clues. Why three? Because the PCs will probably miss the first; ignore the second; and misinterpret the third before making some incredible leap of logic that gets them where you wanted them to go all along."

    Given the sheer amount of information dumped during the Ascent of Screaming Souls, I was concerned that my players might have missed the threat to King Aodhan - especially since the stand-out piece of info was the big reveal of Stanfield. So I made sure to include Thisraldion's hint, "if there is to be a new king in Risur", but no one picked up on or questioned that. So I had Thisraldion mention it again just before they left the Dreaming, speaking of a "shadow over Torfeld Palace" and worries for his friend Aodhan. And still, on their return to the Waking, the players had not recognised that threat and were more concerned to stop Stanfield. Worse still at their level they had the ability to travel speedily, without the help of the hunt, and the wherewithal to manage without a rest. They actually said, "the threat to the king seems a bit vague and less pressing". Even when Gupta's player remembered that the Ob's ritual couldn't work if the king was still alive, their logic was that it would be better still to disrupt the ritual altogether.

    I didn't want to railroad them, or nerf their powers (or even more of their powers, shadow walk and teleportation having already been taken off the table), but I was also disappointed that we would miss out on a cool episode of the adventure.

    The turning point - the saving grace - came when Gupta used Nicodemus' ring to locate him, and then Stanfield and then finally - out of the blue - Catherine Romana. When they learned she was in Slate, they changed their plans, which was quite a relief.

    This might be worth bearing in mind if you are running this adventure. The threat to the king needs to be more imminent and more pressing if you want your players to experience Act Two!
    Last edited by gideonpepys; Wednesday, 15th August, 2018 at 05:34 PM.
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  2. #852
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    Session 54, Part Two - Torfeld palace

    Gupta and Quratulain learned that the Royal Skyseer had left no note, but had awoken that morning looking haunted. He had refused to take breakfast, and instead had a bath drawn up. While waiting for it to be filled, he shared his bleak vision with his servants, then dismissed them and entered his bathroom alone. When he did not emerge for some time, they went in and found that he had slit his wrists and bled to death. The skyseer’s chambers adjoined those of the Archdruid, and they passed a central lounge or living space where they saw Asrbaey Varal in meditation. Gupta politely disturbed him, and asked why they had not seen him at Thistle Palace. Asrabey told her he had not been able to find a way to return, and seemed put out that they had. At a loss, Asrabey had come here, and now sought “to redefine his purpose”. Gupta told Asrabey of Thisraldion’s fears for Aodhan, and suggested that a proud servant of the Unseen Court might take that as an order to protect the King. Asrbaey said that he would of course do so, if need arose. Asrabey asked how they had been able to travel between the realms. Gupta answered briefly, conscious of the need to depart: “The Voice of Rot banished us. When we meet again, I have a quite a song to sing you.”

    The Principal Minister was busy in his official chambers, but made time to see Leon. Harkover wryly acknowledged Leon as member of the Unseen Court and commended him on the fact that he now enjoyed diplomatic immunity. (Leon Veilleux, as an alias of General Dax Corbeau, was a wanted war criminal; but Leon the Clever was a valued and respected ally.) Leon asked Harkover about the war – assuming that war had broken out after the allied incursion into eastern Danor (ostensibly to reclaim disputed territory, but designed as a distraction from the unit’s mission to Methia). But no: Danor had merely objected, then declined to respond. “In my view, their forbearance is more disturbing than a counter-strike,” said Harkover. They discussed the matter of the energy waves that were disrupting teleportation, and the separation of the Waking and the Dreaming. Harkover confirmed that the waves made long-range teleportation completely impossible. Lauryn Cyneburg could still manage a mile or so, but that took a great deal of effort. He went on to hypothesise that the dislocation of the Dreaming could well be related to the Obscurati’s Grand Design – another symptom of the ripples caused by that event as they radiated backwards through time. Uru mentioned that it had not been possible for him to access the Bleak Gate. Harkover shrugged. The Bleak Gate was the flipside of the Dreaming, mirroring its Life aspect, so it too might be disconnected. The Obscurati would not need to lurk in the Bleak Gate once their goal was complete. Uru then asked to see the wedding list, and who was getting married. Two loyal household servants – old friends of the king. Harkover glowered as he pointed out the name of Ethelyn Lesterman, who knew the bride and groom very well and had been invited to show magnanimity. She had invited Nathan Jierre, who had in turn invited Luc (who had invited Ottavia, wearing mage cuffs, of course). Harkover felt the presence of so many Jierre’s might contribute something to security.

    The last line of that security was formed by Unit B. Korrigan, Kai and Ascodel were led through the palace by Dame Jillian, to the private chambers where the king was getting dressed. Outside stood a halfling bruiser nicknamed ‘the Badger’ (whose application Korrigan had long ago rejected; but desperate times called for less stringent measures), and none other than Campion Price-Hill, who had been added to the roster of Unit B at his uncle’s insistence. Ludo Marcione, leader of the unit, spoke briefly and politely to Korrigan, to confirm that they had been sent here by Stover Delft.

    While they were talking, Aodhan emerged, half-dressed, collar and cuffs undone, and greeted Korrigan. Ascodel kneeled extravagantly, but a distracted Aodhan neglected to acknowledge him and invited Korrigan inside. Kai followed and Korrigan introduced him to the king. “Wow!” said Kai.

    “So this is the young man I’ve heard so much about,” said Aodhan, kindly. “You are welcome at Torfeld Palace, Kai Korrigan.” He went back to buttoning himself up, having dismissed his servants. “I am glad to see you, Marshal,” he said into the mirror. “I do not think that Risur has a greater servant. I would very much like a longer talk with you, but we must wait until this ceremony has been performed. The true art of kingship is to embrace the everyday, to find time for the simple things among the grand affairs of state. Even more so here in Risur, where the king is strengthened by his connection to the people.” He paused to don a heavy robe, then resumed, “Viscount Price-Hill speaks very highly of you. He and Harkover and I all agree: we wish to offer you high office. But the role we have in mind would take you off the front line, so it may need to wait until…” An official entered, bowed, and informed the king that the wedding party had arrived. “I’m afraid I must be a tease,” said Aodhan. “It’s best we talk later in any case. Today I need to be on my best behaviour, and punctual. The ceremony is due to begin, and it’s a ten-minute walk to the throne-room in these robes. This crown isn’t usually heavy,” he touched the simple circlet, and it transformed into something altogether more ornate, “but in full ceremonial form, it gives me a headache right here.” He tapped a spot in the middle of his forehead and simultaneously reached out and tapped the identical spot at the centre of Korrigan’s – an intrusive gesture which, were this not the king (and a man whom he had greatly admired since his youth), Korrigan would instinctively have deflected.

    Outside, Ascodel was still kneeling. He leapt to his feet with a slightly irked “Huzzah!”

    “Huzzah, indeed,” the king responded. “You are most welcome, noble fey. Please enjoy our hospitality. When these pressing matters are done, we will receive you formally.” With that, he set off down the corridor, with Unit B, Korrigan, Kai and Ascodel in tow. As they went, Korrigan gave the king a report of the latest news.

    “Something will be done as soon as this wedding is over,” said Aodhan. “Your lot will handle it, of course. I am disappointed in Stanfield, but more disappointed to have ignored my own instincts on the matter. When the colossus stomped across Flint, I should have known, and I am beginning to think perhaps I did. Or maybe I have a blind spot when it comes to people who give me what I want. Without Stanfield, we would have lagged so far behind Danor, war would be unthinkable. It saddens me to think that he has been disloyal all along.” The king glanced sideways at Korrigan. “You know, Ethelyn is here. A show of magnanimity. I think you have a soft spot for her?” Korrigan did not respond, but admitted as much to himself. The king shook his head wistfully, “I can hardly bare to look at Ethelyn now. It would be easier to think that I had never really known her – like I can about Stanfield. That she sought to supplant me for selfish reasons. But to know that she felt in her heart of hearts – with all her wisdom, and determination – that Risur would be better off with me dead. …” He shook his head, having run out of words, then shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe it would have been?”

    They had arrived, and passed through the commons, where the majority of guests were gathered, then into the throne room, where the groom waited, along with the immediate family and other key dignitaries. Harkover was there by now, as were the rest of Korrigan’s team. (Uru was up on the ceiling. He had learned enough from the last two times to spot the signs of an impending assassination attempt. …)
    Last edited by gideonpepys; Wednesday, 15th August, 2018 at 05:39 PM.
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  3. #853
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    Session 54, Part Three - Obscurati Coup Attempt

    The bride arrived and the ceremony began. All was going well, until the king was about to make the final proclamation, whereupon the palace lights flickered and died. The light from outside faded too and what remained took on a sickly purple hue. Leon recognised the aura of the Bleak Gate, and realised at once that a Wayfarer Lantern had been used. Harkover Lee tried to illuminate the throne room, but magical light had been suppressed.

    Out in the commons, people started screaming. From the north lawn, the incongruous sound of a tinny Drakran opera could be heard, played on a scratchy, primitive phonograph, but magically augmented to reach all ears. Then a contingent of the ghost council entered the throne form, causing the wedding guests to recoil in horror. The ghost councillors clutched hostages from the commons. One held Ethelyn of Shale. They paused for effect, giving everyone present the opportunity to stand down in response to implicit threat, then Catherine Romana sauntered into the throne room, stroking a long-haired white cat. She politely invited Aodhan to negotiate for his people’s lives. Aodhan remained stoney-faced and let her do the talking:

    “First, let me remind you all that there’s no point in attacking me. After all, loyal followers of Nicodemus shall endure as ghosts for as long as he’s safe, and as far as even the ghost council knows, there’s no way to truly destroy him. So let’s discuss this like civilized people.

    “Civilization. Now, Risur’s rites of rulership trace back to the first defeat of the fey titans. The titans each command one terrain – mountain, swamp, et cetera. And the monarch of Risur is like a titan too, but his – or her – terrain is civilization. The more faith the people have in society and the state, the stronger the king is. And the stronger the king is, the stronger his people are.

    “Normally, that’s wonderful. But you know our plans, or at least suspect them. Everywhere else, perhaps the rulers will resist, but the people – the weak-willed, stupid children who we have to take care of – they’ll follow us.

    “Oh, but not in Risur. It won’t do to have a king resisting our new age of reason. We will be the lords of civilization, and you’ll be the rebels, the savages in the wilderness clinging to your old ways.

    “King Aodhan, I contest your throne. On this plane, I am a quorum of the nobility, so until you convene a council of the House of Nobles, your powers are hereby revoked, as decreed in the rites of rulership. Surrender, and pass on your crown to me, and not only will Risur’s people avoid becoming enemies to the entire world, but they will prosper.”

    Aodhan gave a disappointed sigh. “Romana,” he said, “you’re right about being the only noble on this plane. So with unanimous approval of your fellow nobles, I hereby revoke your title. Constables, I hereby make you all Dukes. We’ll work out the details after you kill this traitor for me. Oh, and Harkover: you have my permission.”

    At that, Romana made a barely perceptible gesture. Outside, cannons fired.

    Uru had picked out his target and fired before the shells could land. Disaster! His shuriken crossbow jammed!

    Korrigan issued orders and Quratulain responded: "You want them dead? Or even more dead?" She had learned from Matunaaga the art of creating specialised bullets to suit every occasion, but time had been short, so while they languished in the Dreaming, she asked the units’ advice about what she should craft in the time available. Their unanimous response had been: ghost-touch bullets. Quratulain had been able to make six hollow-tipped shells filled with holy water. Now she drew out Master Faradio’s revolver and unloaded it into the ghost council, carefully avoiding their hostages. The holy bullets tore the swarm apart, leaving only a couple of lonely councillors behind. “You’re interrupting a wedding!” Quratulain chided.

    Not to be left out, Ascodel quipped, “Romana, that is not how you challenge the king. Observe!” and he attacked her with his lightning blade. “A more direct approach is required. Like so! And thus!” Romana let go of her cat and fended him off with her rod. This, though, was an illusion: Leon saw that she had teleported away to the western archway, leaving a moving image of herself behind. She was now invisible (but Leon could still see her). Romana’s cat transformed into a fey panther and lunged at the king. Andrei intercepted it and beat it down; Gupta finished it off with the Third Blade of Srasma. Thanks to the ability of the blade, she now knew where Romana was too: running away down the long passage to the entrance foyer!

    At last, the shells struck home: two huge holes were blown into the stained glass bay that overlooked the North Lawn. Distant reports of other blasts indicated there must be at least six cannon. Though the noise and the shower of shattered glass were terrible and frightening, no one was hurt: Harkover had ushered everyone away from the windows, and Dame Jillian shielded the king. Beyond they could see a wave of dark forms approaching the palace, black against the deep purple gloom of the Bleak Gate.

    Aodhan ordered Korrigan to take charge of an evacuation. “Take your men and lead anyone who is not combat ready to the western bunker. The staff will show you the way.” Aodhan refused to budge himself, and cut off Harkover before he could suggest withdrawing entirely. “I will stand my ground in the palace,” he said. “If the Ob are after me, we will draw their fire here. You and Dame Jillian and Professor Marcione’s detachment will remain to help me, and as you know, I myself am no slouch!” With that, he began to rebuild the broken walls with a wave, rough earth rising where the stained glass windows had been.

    Even as he did so, a wave of strange undead – the lingering spirits of corpses, mere vestiges, but many hundreds of them, began clambering up and in through the holes. Harkover blasted at them with fireballs and slowed their ingress, but those behind simply pressed upwards, heedless of the threat. “Go!” Aodhan insisted. “We’ll hold them off!”

    Korrigan corralled the bystanders and ushered them westwards. On his command, Leon teleported ahead, accompanied by the fast-moving Andrei, who could not help them fight ghosts. Quratulain and Ascodel finished off the remaining councillors, while unit B gathered in a defensive circle around the king.

    Seeing pursuers behind her, Romana yelled upwards, to a black hole in the roof of the corridor, “Amielle, a little help here?” A reluctant bullet whizzed past Leon’s head. He looked him to see the phosphorescent form of Amielle Latimer as she lowered her rifle. He had seen her marksmanship before. That was a very bad shot. Now that she had his attention, Amielle jerked her head as if to say, ‘follow me’, then disappeared back onto the roof. Leon could now sense the emanations of a wayfarer lantern coming from up above. He let Korrigan know, and began to consider how best to get up there. “I can help!” cried Ascodel, and with a wave of his hand flew Leon, Andrei and himself up onto the roof.

    The others proceeded to herd the bystanders. Uru ranged ahead, down off the ceiling so his tremorsense could warn him of threats; Mista Nyves flying on Little Jack, clinging on for dear life and howling in fear as they weaved around the marble pillars that lined the hall.

    As she left the throne room Gupta stopped and looked back. She took in the whole scene – the King, standing bravely, feet planted, looking like a doughty warrior for all of his seventy years – and sought the answer to a single question: will we see the king alive again? The answer was ‘yes’, and so she turned and joined the others.

    Soundtrack for Quratulain vs the Ghost Council (and probably the Clergy hierarchs 500 years ago):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwXbPty7NwI&t=23s
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  4. #854
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    I really like Gupta, you know. Her shtick is interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerWickett View Post
    I really like Gupta, you know. Her shtick is interesting.
    Agreed. I think she is more subtle than the others, and less easily defined by her keynote abilities, or a single adjective. This may in part be due to the fact that she wasn't designed in 4e and 'translated' into Cypher, so she isn't a recognisable build - a warlord, assassin, fighter or warlock.

    When we were rebooting the campaign, her player was the only one who hadn't taken part in the original (although he had joined in at the tail end, during buffer adventures). The temptation was to create someone or something outlandish or over-the-top; not only to compete conceptually, but because when the rest of the group is high-level there has to be a very compelling reason for them to take an outsider along with them.

    Thankfully, we resisted that temptation and went the opposite way, creating a freshman character (starting at '1st level') with a strong narrative reason for joining the group, and a skillset that made her useful from the outset: she has a whole raft of support abilities (that aren't at all showy, so rarely get mentioned in a write-up) which allow her to contribute even against foes she can't hope to hit or harm herself, which was key to ingratiating herself with the unit, and having a function at low-level. (From her secondary focus, 'Provides Support'.)

    Then, of course, there is the more esoteric raft of abilities derived from her primary 'Wonders' focus, which we have reskinned as natural, magical talent; 'Asks the Question' and 'Stands in Wonder' being the two most obvious. 'Asks the Question' is a very flavourful power that effectively stuns an opponent while it considers the profound, existential problem Gupta just posed. Her player has fun coming up with these. 'Stands in Wonder' is one of those general, all-purpose, "tell me something I didn't know" sort of powers, but again the flavour is really nice. A glance over the shoulder is all it takes, but it feels much more profound than a divination spell.

    Underneath all that is her 'speaker' chassis - in game terms she is capable of being the 'face', but tends to leave that to Korrigan and Leon. Instead, she functions as the 'fixer', using her many, many contacts to make life easier for the group. She has a familial link to both the Dockers and the Vekeshi, but has never planted her feet firmly in either camp.

    Another nice touch is her 'James-Bond-like' sexual prowess, which sees her pick up and drop lovers as the story moves from place to place. This has led to two major developments: being brought back to life by Wolfgang von Recklinghausen (which has had profound and unforeseen long-term effects), and being infected with lycanthropy by Sokana Rel. That's two different forms of regeneration, which function in different ways (so she can only be killed by a flaming silver weapon).

    It speaks volumes for the player that she has only tranformed in combat twice; and it says a lot about the character that the least interesting thing about her is being a weretiger!
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  6. #856
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    Session 55, Part One - Flight to the Bunker

    The wedding guests and assorted non-combatants ranged in age from 5 to 95 and weren’t capable of moving very fast at all. Many had to scurry through the throne room, while Aodhan, Harkover, Dame Jillian and Unit B dealt with the straggling ghost council and prepared to defend themselves against whatever the Ob threw at them.

    Korrigan and Kai fell in alongside Ethelyn of Shale, who was walking with a stick these days. “The last wedding I went to was nowhere near this exciting,” she said. She introduced herself to Kai and the little boy took something of a shine to her. Perhaps she reminded him of Ayesha?

    Quratulain brought up the rear with Korrigan. Uru ranged ahead on the ground using his city-based tremorsense to search for threats. Gupta encouraged and cajoled the refugees, who now found themselves led to safety by none other than the bride and groom! They cried out in terror when they saw palace guards struggling to fend off the wraith horde, as it swarmed up the steps into the foyer. Many of the guards already lay dead, struck by falling masonry from the hole blasted into the roof. (Leon was up there now with Andrei and Ascodel, trying to deal with the Wayfarer Lantern.)

    Romana returned as they entered the state dining room, along with another detachment of the ghost council. She was still invisible, but both Uru and Gupta could sense her. Uru aimed his crossbow and struck her with an assassin’s precision. She fell at once, her unconscious form clearly visible now. But this was a ruse – Romana had reappeared some distance away, invisible once again, and unharmed by Uru’s shot. She summoned two pumas that launched themselves at the unit.

    The refugees quailed when the ghost council manifested visibly. Korrigan apologised to Ethelyn for breaking off their conversation and he and Quratulain forged ahead. Korrigan raised the Sword of Maur Granatha and challenged the council; Quratulain threw herself at them in a swirl of blades, though her attacks were less successful without ghost-touched bullets. In response, the ghost council let out a hideous moan that caused Quratulain to fall back in horror. The wedding guests screamed and cowered. Uru noticed that one of the cannon had blown a hole in the wall here – beyond, the wraith horde was clambering up and inward.

    Gupta addressed the council: “Won’t you just be quiet?” she asked. They fell silent and still at once, confused by this strange question. Meanwhile Uru called upon the spirits of the city, spirits that remained strong even here in the Bleak Gate and summoned the genius loci. Ghosts friendly to him, but hostile to his foes, loomed out of every surface and assailed the ghosts and the wraiths. Uru then used this same power to block up the hole in the wall, just as the king had done – ghostly hands ‘rebuilding’ it with a phantom wall as sturdy as a real one.

    Korrigan shouted orders and had half the wedding guests helping the other half – dragging them to their feet and across the room while the ghosts were stunned and the wraiths were held at bay; Quratulain drew a pistol and unloaded it into one puma; Gupta shouted advice to Quratulain; Uru scuttled ahead to make sure that the guests weren’t headed into more danger.

    They were. The hall of kings had been breached too and the hall was filled with wraiths. Korrigan corralled everyone in an antechamber and sent Quratulain forward to deal with this threat; she drew her rifle and took aim. The ghost council then attacked Korrigan and Gupta. Gupta dodged, but Korrigan was grabbed and lifted bodily into the air. The remaining puma pounced on Gupta but missed (shortly before it vanished entirely, Romana must have fled again…). So Gupta focused on the council, drawing out a long, withered bone and using it to place a hideous eladrin curse on the ghost council. While being whirled around by the ghost council swarm, Korrigan slashed at them with his radiant sword.

    Back in the hall of kings Quratulain took out several wraiths with each shot, firing again and again until only stragglers remained. Up on the wall, Uru finally conceded that they may have found a replacement for Matunaaga, then scuttled ahead to make sure the path through the gallery was clear. At that moment, artillery fired again, and they braced themselves for impact. The palace shook, but the missiles did not land anywhere near them.

    In desperate fury the ghost council surged forward, intent on grabbing more innocent victims, but the combination of Gupta’s curse and the ravages of Uru’s genius loci finally caused the swarm to dissipate. At once, they began to herd the wedding refugees towards the bunker once again – following Arla and Orlando through secret doors hidden throughout the Royal Gallery.
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    Session 55, Part Two - Taking out the Lanterns

    The bunker was beneath another secret door – this one a hatch in the floor. It led to spiral stone steps and a network of vaulted chambers. Warding runes on the hatch, and on the walls, indicated that this was a very well-protected space.

    As they herded everyone down, Korrigan received a sending from Leon, via sending stone: the lantern on the roof was not the only one. He could not tell how many others there were, but they were very large and magically reinforced. Leon then said he was going to try something different with the lantern he had secured, instead of destroying it. Korrigan wondered if they wouldn’t be better off fleeing the palace altogether, but was reminded that they could not see far enough to tell how many undead were out there. Uru used city’s whispers to locate the other lanterns and discovered that their radii cleverly overlapped. One was close by. They decided to aim for that one after making sure the guests were all safe.

    Down below, the chambers were all comfortably furnished and Arla told them there were bed chambers, food stores, fresh spring-water: enough supplies even for a group this size to last many days. Orlando then led them to a secure vault where the King’s store of magical items was kept. There were many, but little time to choose among them. Gupta took a mace of disruption; Quratulain a dragonslayer sword (and quickly grabbed a captain’s weapon and prismatic orb, “because it looked like something Leon could use”); Uru chose a diamond cincture; Korrigan claimed a symbol of the sun, and they all nabbed a clutch of potions and elixirs.

    Gupta offered the eladrin spear she had taken from the Siege of Alais Primos and Orlando accepted it graciously, but demurred when she apologised for ransacking the treasury. “Never will these weapons have seen better use,” he said.

    As they went to leave, Ethelyn offered to keep Kai safe. “Don’t take him back out into that warzone, marshal. It’s best he remains here.” Korrigan asked Kai if he would like to stay in the bunker and Kai nodded and took Ethelyn’s hand. Then Nathan Jierre approached and said that Luc had something to say. Luc was shaken by their flight through the palace and struggled to get the words out, but when they calmed him down, he was able to tell them that if the lanterns weren’t dealt with, the whole palace would be pulled into the Bleak Gate. He wasn’t sure how quickly that would happen, but it could be a matter of minutes.

    Moments later, they were back up top and the bunker was sealed. Uru made a beeline for the lantern to the north, but the others took a detour to chambers where Asrabey Varal had been meditating. They arrived to find him gazing out over the South Lawn, with his lion shield and Vekeshi blade in hand. He turned to greet them. “Ah. Finally! I was just thinking about destroying that lantern out there, but couldn’t see other signs of resistance. What are your plans?” They offered to aid his attack, but Asrabey shook his head. “I prefer to fight alone,” he said. “If you plan to fight yourselves, do so elsewhere and I will deal with the foes I can see from this window.” They agreed, and Korrigan gave Asrabey his messenger wind feather, so they could stay in touch with him when they separated. Asrabey then turned and launched himself through an expensive-looking stained-glass window.

    Meanwhile, Uru had found the gallery to be filled with wraiths – there was an artillery breach in the north wall of the gallery – and reported this fact to the others. He shadow-stepped through the outer wall and arrived to find a large squadron of Ob soldiers, a witchoil golem, and a wraith horde, guarding a huge ten-foot-square up-scaled version of Luc Jierre’s wayfarer lamp. While he waited for the others, Uru scaled the palace wall, took to the air on Little Jack and then, when he was nice and high, dropped lightly and silently down onto the ‘roof’ of the lantern. He began to study the thing, but it was more magical than technological and he couldn’t find an easy way to nerf it.

    The others found a window further along the north wall, and jumped out through that. As soon as it saw them, the golem levelled its cannon, but Uru shot it in a weak spot and it collapsed in a heap, control mechanism fried. Quratulain had reloaded her guns and once again tore into the wraith horde as it surged forth ahead of the Ob soldiers. “Disperse!” she told the soldiers. “There is no point guarding this machine, as it will be destroyed shortly.”

    Korrigan ignored them, he simply transformed into a Bolt of Avilona and arrived on top of the lantern with Uru. The Ob squadron began firing. Bullets pinged off Quratulain harmlessy. Korrigan was hit, but absorbed the energy of the bullet. Even so, Quratulain peered into the crowd and sought out whoever was responsible, singling the man out and beckoning him to towards her for special treatment. Korrigan used Urimshock to stomp on the lamp. It would only take a few more such strikes for it to crack. Gupta gave a bestial cry and transformed into a tiger. That was enough for the Obs squadron, who broke and ran. Gupta pursued one unfortunate, brought him down and ate him.

    A final exhausting stomp saw the lantern shatter. They were no longer in the Bleak Gate; they blinked in the sunlight. Korrigan only paused for a moment to get his breath back, then they set off at a run for a line of trees, beyond which they hoped to find another lantern. It was there all right – guarded by a similar force as the other. Now they were back in the gloom of the Bleak Gate it was difficult to make out, but it seemed as if a group of figures peeled away from this force and entered the palace by the main entrance. One of the figures was huge, bestial.

    They also saw six guns, poorly defended, arrayed on the North Lawn. Korrigan ordered Gupta to attack these guns and she set off in a sprint, while they ran for the lantern. When the gunners saw her, they broke and ran. At the centre of the artillery Gupta recognised Dengar Kriegshaff, a Danoran Ob officer from the convocation, who had been responsible for designing guns capable of bringing down the fey titans. He heard the shouts of the gunners and gave a squeal of alarm himself, leaping out of range of Gupta’s pounce. She decided not to pursue him, but knocked over his phonograph and stopped the opera. Korrigan saw how successful she had been and they veered away from the lantern. Instead of attacking it directly, Uru used his ghostly entourage to bring a cannon to bear on the lantern and destroyed it, scattering its defenders.

    While he did so, Gupta – whose feline eyes could now see in the gloom – noticed several shadowy figures – human in shape, but pure black – placing wreathes of rusted iron on the walls of the palace near the throne room. Then they seeped into the walls like liquid and were gone.

    Once Uru had destroyed the lantern they followed the detachment they had seen go inside. As they got to the top of the steps, this group was just about to head east towards the throne room, having been stalled by a last line of brave defenders who now lay dead and dying on the marble floor of the entrance hall. Several loping, corporeal undead surrounded a central black-robed figure that was wreathed in a smoky, necrotic nebula. Ahead of them all paced a flayed jaguar of a kind the unit had not seen since their earliest engagements with the Ob, only this one was dire in size. The black-robed figure caught sight of them and waved a hand.

    Suddenly, Korrigan knew the name of the dragon tyrant whose skeleton hung on the ceiling above them. Where previously it was merely an inanimate collection of bones, it was now possessed of a soul and a name the Humble Hook could identify: Venkio! This insight came just moments before creature tore free of the chains that bound it to the ceiling and dropped onto the floor with an almighty roar and a hunger for vengeance on everyone it could see!

    End of Session
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  8. #858
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    @RangerWickett - Having given Catherine Romana several rounds to monologue, and taken a slow dash across the palace (plus a couple more rounds to grab magic items) the PCs are now way over the number of rounds required for the palace to fully transition. Cypher System has a different round structure to 4e, so the time passes more quickly (with less being achieved in a round) so I'm going to be more flexible, but I'm pretty sure that at least two lamps will still be active when my extended time-limit is reached.

    I can't find any reference to transition to and from the Bleak Gate in the event that that happens. I'm thinking my players will have enough resources and quick enough wits to come up with something acceptable. (Or maybe Lauren Cyneburg can come with something if they don't.) But what is the 'canon' solution to this, if any?

    When the time limit is reached, does the Ob respond by sending in more undead?

    I'm also fairly sure that Leon will cause the roof lamp to become co-terminous with the Dreaming, if that makes any difference.

    Thanks!

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    I think the canon ending is, "Good. Now you're trapped in the Dreaming. We'll be in the real world taking control of, well, the world. You're trapped at least until we start the ritual. Thereafter, the Axis Seal won't be in effect, so you can just plane shift out if you want. But we'll already have won."

    I don't envision the Ob really holding back any forces in their attack on the palace.
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    Thanks for your response.

    Quote Originally Posted by RangerWickett View Post
    I think the canon ending is, "Good. Now you're trapped in the Dreaming. We'll be in the real world taking control of, well, the world. You're trapped at least until we start the ritual. Thereafter, the Axis Seal won't be in effect, so you can just plane shift out if you want. But we'll already have won."
    So if the players don't destroy the lanterns, or get out of the radius of the lanterns, or realise the danger of the lanterns - and focus instead on trying to protect Aodhan - then they get stuck in the Dreaming? Given that the goal is to kill Aodhan, the latter seems quite likely. Uh oh.

    Quote Originally Posted by RangerWickett View Post
    I don't envision the Ob really holding back any forces in their attack on the palace.
    Ok. I assumed there must be some close to the two-hundred foot perimeter - to stop any outside forces just rushing into the palace - which would be possible, right? Or is the idea that the attack is so quick as to preclude that?

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