Dramatis Personae

  • Basel, an Innenotdaran (aka grey) elf evoker who has been attending Gabal's school and previously made his living as a baker.
  • Gusle, a seela bard who recently escaped captivity from a circus. This player has been through the first few chapters already, so she's aware of the seela and can fill Torrent's role as guide.
  • Jesús Tillamook, a half-elf cloistered cleric of a sect of the Stormchaser Eagle that is dedicated to finding its heart so that they can revive the Eagle.
  • Leeta, a woodswoman that looks like a human but with sharper edges. She was born in Gate Pass on New Year's Day.

Tavern at the Start, but the End of the Tavern

“Gate Pass is in trouble," says Gusle. "The Ragesian army is marching on it....get far away from here before the idiot city council lets the Ragesian inquisitors in." Then the building shakes, and a deafening boom sounds overhead.

The heroes start working their way towards the exit, until Jesús decides to race up the stairs to see who's been thumping around up there. He gets severely thumped for his effort and ends up in an unconscious heap at the bottom of the stairs. Gusle leaps over the bar, Leeta leaps the flames on the bar, and Basel carefully walks around the flames and the bar, to heal Jesús and help him out of the building. The heroes dispatch the thugs trying to beat down the door easily enough (and their little dog, too!) before encountering the Brooding Man on Horseback. In response to questions, the brooding man turns his horse to walk off.

Getting Through Town

The party passes a family in the streets.... The heroes give the man a little help but then decide to keep moving.

...a woman smashes out a window on the fourth floor and cries for help. Basel grins smugly and shouts, "Jump!" The crowd gasps in dismay, then notice his red robe under his winter cloak and all start shouting "Jump, jump!". She does so, and, with a quick word from Basel, floats gently to the ground.
I was pretty sure Basel had Feather Fall memorized, and he was eager to use it.

The Depository

Wow, Rivereye really is that ugly. "Hi, Peppin! Got the password?"

"Sure!" says Gusle. Peppin leads them towards the third level. "Wait, isn't the locker on the second floor?" asks Gusle. "Yes, I'm sure it was."

Rivereye disagrees and continues up the stairs.

My mistake -- Larion should have rolled with Gusle's diversion, even though he had cast Unseen Servant on a door on the next floor up. Instead, he panicked and made for his exit.

Gusle, meanwhile, pulls her allies aside and tells them she suspects a trap. They hear a door close upstairs and cautiously work their way up, but there's no one there. They peek outside, and see the Gate Pass cavalry fly by...and also notice a glowing ball of light flying off into the distance, as well as Rivereye fleeing down the street.

Ragesian Cavalry Down!

The glowing ball reminds Basel of the glowing ball familiar of one of his fellow students, so the heroes head east to The Citadel. On the way, Jesús(?) gets beaned in the head by falling bits of a lance broken as aerial cavalry joust in the sky -- and they look up to see a bat-winged mount crash into the roof of a nearby building. When the heroes reach the building they see a rope off dangling from its side. A little further on they encounter the remains of a couple bodies, freshly murdered. After deciding that the fallen cavalier might have Military Intelligence of his own, they follow his tracks in the snow into a ground-level apartment. Peeking inside, they see a Ragesian wyvern rider trying to get changed. The rider holds his axe to the throat of a boy who apparently lived in the apartment. "Leave, or the boy dies!" Gusle tries to distract the wyvern rider with ghost sound out the window, which only makes him twitchier, but Basel greases the axe, causing it to slip out of the rider's hand as he tries to murder the boy. Leeta then dashes in and gives him a sharp jab with his sword. Amazingly, the rider remains standing. Gusle rushes in, pulls the rider's arm off the boy...and the rider collapses, unconscious!

..and thus Fallow Touch makes its first appearance -- in a grapple, no less!

The heroes tie up the rider and heal him slightly in order to question him. The rider answers the heroes questions condescendingly and sarcastically, unimpressed by the men's threats of torture. It's only when Gusle offers to turn him over so that he can be exchanged as a prisoner that he becomes reasonably forthcoming. That said, he's aerial cavalry -- elite (as he's happy to point out) and uninterested in the details of what the rest of the army is doing.

Gabal's School

Diogenes is here and friendly. Gabal is neither. After conversing Diogenes, the heroes decide to talk to Shealis. She grudgingly decides to let them see what's in the case. She gives them a location in one of the elven ghettos. She seems willing to share this information so that they could take it to the Lyceum and Shealis can take it to the Shahalesti.

I wasn't really happy with my choices here. If Shealis had fled when they knocked, the heroes would have been at a dead end. If she had simply attacked, they simply would have been dead. If I'd planned ahead, I might have been able to dream up a clue leading them to the ghetto, but I don't know what that clue would look like.

Safe House

As soon as Gusle understands how Mulysa's angsty music is affecting the people huddled in the temple of the Order of the Aquiline Cross, she joins in her in a duet -- and then drags the tune back to the upbeat melody it's supposed to be, causing Mulysa to give up dramatically and curl up to sleep.

She pounced on that so quickly that no other hero had time to react, let alone contribute. Free XP for the bard!

Looking for Intelligence

The city is very subdued this New Year's morning, with few people on the streets. The rumor is that the city council is preparing to accede to the Ragesian demands to let the inquisitors enter the city.

The four heroes head east to the elven ghetto Shealis directed them to. After several long orbits around the ghetto, both Basel and Leeta(?) manage to find a door into the ghetto. They promptly make their way to the shop Shealis directed them to, only to discover that the door and windows on the front are fake. They make their way to the back alley, discover the concealed door with the three levers marked by planar symbols and, after a brief discussion trying to figure out their significance, hear an invisible voice. "Hey, friend, I can help you get in if you help me."

After some amount of confusion by the fact that it's not just Jesús hearing voices, the heroes and the voice quickly come to an agreement.

Voice: "I need the case that holds the military intelligence."

Gusle: "The case? Oh, sure, you can have the case!"

Voice: "Just to be clear we understand each other, the case is what I need."

Gusle: "Yes, exactly, you get us in and we can give you the case."

Voice: "Ah, yes, we do understand each other!"

I thought it cool that Gusle came up with the same word game that Kurychek was playing.

So, the voice (identifying itself as Kurychek) shoos the party out of the alley and to an elven coffee shop across the way. Shortly they see a little elven girl walk into the alley and suddenly scream in pain. Gusle and Leeta race off to see what happened. The girl, quietly sobbing, explains that the wall bit her when she push on it and shows the bloody spot on he hand. Leeta casts a minor healing spell on the wound, which makes the wound go away without relieving the girl's pain. Jesús and Basel belatedly join them. Basel uses detect poison to determine that the girl's wounds were, in fact, poisoned, and Jesús tries to treat the poisoning the old-fashioned way. Sadly, sucking the poison out of a wound that was just healed doesn't work so well, and the girl passes out. The heroes rush the girl off to the coffee shop and ask someone to find a healer and the girl's parents.

I don't think I did a very good job of conveying to the players that the girl was being lead by Kurychek, so they never caught on that their deal with the devil got an innocent hurt. On the other hand, I rewarded them for a CR 1 encounter for going to lengths to take care of the girl after she passed out.

Fortunately, Kurychek is more than just a pretty voice. He manages to hold the door in the alley open while the heroes are tending to the girl. Leeta leads the way in. The room looks like it was decorated by a carpenter with a door fetish -- doors of every shape and size populate the otherwise-open first floor. Behind a pair of the nearby doors, she can hear something snarling. After trying to decide if it's a bear, a boar, a badger, or a barracuda snarling, the heroes manage to distribute themselves on either side of the doors and start to advance around it.

The snarlies pounce! Jesús gets bitten by one, and Leeta is attacked by the other. Basel notices that these are celestial badgers. "Hey guys, should we be attacking..." Leeta quickly carves up the badger attacking her. Jesús, not to be outdone, knocks the badger unconscious with a single deft blow to the top of its head. "...these creatures? They're celestial, after all."

No one seems to understand Basel's concern, so he gives up and they make their way up the stairs, except for Jesús, who decides to keep an eye on the street. They find two elven soldiers are sitting on a sleeping mat. "Oh, hello, who are you?"

"We're here to see the intelligence. You knew we were coming, right?"

The soldiers smirk. "Oh, yeah, Daria said something about people coming."

"Uhm, didn't you hear us fighting the badgers?"

The smirks get wider. "Nope, didn't hear a thing."

I figured talking to Shealis made things too easy, so I had the soldiers let the badgers attack. I was trying to bait the heroes into attacking the soldiers and give Shealis an excuse to attack the party. Everyone showed remarkable restraint, however.

Meanwhile, Jesús hears someone coming down the alley. He peeks around the corner and comes face-to-face with Shealis. He leads her in. She's rather dismayed by the badger bodies (celestial badger bodies!!) lying in the Hall of Doors. After a brief discussion with her soldiers, she decides that a suitable punishment for their troublesome ways is to clean up the badger bodies. "I want the floor downstairs spotless!" (Don't make Shealis angry!)

Shealis shows them the case. Gusle tries a password ("I wanted to make sure they'd changed it" -- uh...?), and Shealis determines that there is indeed some sort of spell on the case. Basel is worried that the magic is designed to destroy the contents of the case if it's opened improperly ("that's what I would do"), so they give up on opening the case and instead give contact information to Shealis so that she can send them a message once her allies get into it.

Then there's just the little problem of Kurychek and the case he's expecting in return for his assistance. "Hey, what about that chest? It's a case of sorts!" So, in a flurry of creativity,
  • Basel writes up a smidge of military intelligence.
  • Gusle writes up a smidge of military intelligence ''in Ignan'' (how prescient!). Shealis and Jesús judge Gusle's attempt to be more convincing, although Leeta disagrees.
  • Jesús uses Mage's Magic Aura to make the chest appear to be magically trapped.
  • Gusle and Jesús take the chest outside. "Hey, Curry! Was this the case you wanted?"

Magic Aura? Wow, I've never seen anyone use that spell!

Kurychek is angered by this apparent attempt to renege on the deal and flits into the building. Fortunately, Basel had cast Message on Jesús earlier, so he had fair warning. Basel, thinking quickly, decided he could disappear with the real case in hand, but Shealis grabs the case and says, "I've got this" -- and promptly turns invisible. (Good thing, Shealis's invisibility lasts much longer than disappear). Basel invites Kurychek to help him find the case.

Where Is This Dodge You Speak Of?

After briefly pondering the 50' city wall with its array of spikes and guards, the heroes heroically try to come up with another way out of the city. "Hey, Torrent mentioned this Councilor Erdan Menash guy, living near the big statue of Coaltongue," says Gusle. So, our heroes traipse off to the next district to the east to his garish building.

The heroes arrive shortly before the councilor gets home from, er, counciling. He takes the four on a grand tour of his home, pointing out all the wondrous equipment (you really do have to wonder why someone would make things that look that way). In the meantime, he tells the heroes about the darings-do of the people of Gate Pass during last night's attack.

Minor bit of amusement here: Gusle wanted to shake hands with Erdan. I boggled at the idea and had to point out that a handshake from a seela isn't very friendly.

Eventually, he gets to the point, realizes they're working with Torrent, and offers them a way out of the city -- and some spiffy equipment to go with it!

  • Before Erdan finishes making his offer, Basel starts pleading with Erdan for the masterwork longbow shaped like a stretched-out croissant.
  • He gives Leeta a "rose with thorns" (masterwork studded leather armor with armor spikes), rose-pink on the top and brown for the rest. He says he had it specially made for a druid, but the druid refused it because the spikes contained metal.
  • For Jesús he digs out a masterwork quarterstaff painted in a red-and-white spiral.
  • He gives Gusle the yellow smiley-face masterwork buckler.

Erdan then sends the heroes east to meet with Captain Herreman. On the way, the heroes notice they're being followed by some obviously fake city watch. The heroes duck into a bar and the watchlings start harassing Gusle. She steps outside with them, but refuses to go any further. It's then that she(?) notices a dashing rogue has been following them as well. He steps up and introduces himself, elbowing the obviously fake watchmen out into the street and on their way. The dashing rogue introduces himself to Gusle as Rantle (everyone else recognized him by the goatee). As they walk on to Captain Herreman's office, he explains that he's heard what the party is up to and asks them to take a scroll case to his fire-sorceress sister Katrina, who headed for Seaquen as soon as she heard the Inquisition was expected. Gusle quickly takes the scroll case and tucks it away.

Alas, that practically guarantees that the heroes will never look at the scroll case's contents, as Gusle is Good.

Herreman dresses the heroes up like guardsmen (leather armor and cheap swords for those not already so equipped) and tells them The Plan: They are to take one of the tunnels out to a guard tower on the south side of the city. The towers are designed to be inaccessible expect through the tunnel, but there is an escape clause: If desperate, the guards in the tower can hack out the supporting beams at the top of the tower, causing the tower to collapse into the tunnel and letting the guards escape. So that's what the heroes do. Only Jesús gets beaned on the toe by chunks of following tower, which he recovers from after a good night's sleep in another abandoned tower a few hours' walk from the city.

I originally came up with this plan as an alternative to Diogenes using his Charm to get the heroes out of the city. That plan struck me as implausible -- no doubt a guard would make his saving throw and call for help. Instead, I thought he (or Gusle) could use Suggestion to convince someone in charge of the guard towers that the four were new recruits assigned the next watch at the tower.

Walking The Gauntlet

After a few long, frigid days of walking through the snow,

Both elves kept failing their fortitude saves. I cut the whole roll-for-damage business short by simply having the party take frequent warm-up stops, forcing them to go slower.

the heroes enter a ravine and notice a couple of heads pop out of sight behind some rubble. Everyone gets ready to dance (with Gusle providing the dance music, of course). Leeta casts entangle right above where she saw the two heads, causing the owners of those heads to cry out in dismay as the underbrush tries to grab their legs. They nonetheless fling a couple of thunderstones at the heroes and manage to deafen Leeta and Basel with one. They then launch their attack, two at a time, to get their beatin'. The first two do some somewhat serious damage with their bows before their entangled allies remind them that the heroes are to be kept alive.

Oops. Well, no great harm done, and it emphasized just how bozo the bounty hunters were.

When one of the riders realize how badly they're outnumbered, he tries to gallop off back towards Gate Pass, but Jesús grabs the horse and pulls onto the horses rump, then awkwardly reaches out, grabs the rider, and drags him to the ground. Basel gives the rider a quick chop with his longsword to ensure he doesn't get back up. Once all the bounty hunters have been rendered unconscious or driver off, the heroes heroically loot the bodies of the dead.
So ends the first session. Now what? I made a mistake by forgetting Renard, which I think is why I found this encounter exceptionally dull. I suppose I could have Renard and Kathor corner them at the campsite should they explore it next, but...do I want to bother? I suppose it would drive home Kathor's change of heart when they encounter him helping to free Gate Pass.