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WotBS Bill T's Second War of the Burning Sky: The Mad King's Banquet [with a smorgasbord of spoilers in the posts]

Bill T.

Dramatis Personae
  • Basel, an Innenotdaran (aka grey) elf evoker from Gabal's school with his familiar Simon, a cat from Seaquen's docks.
  • Dämmek, a brainy and brawny human swordswoman with keen senses and the Living Blade.
  • Lucius, a human wielding a pair of short swords and a silver tongue.
  • Seda, a spellcasting Seela, sick and tired of singing, with her mountain lion companion Smoke.

Basel provided these notes, which I transcribed, misread, and straightened up a bit.

Crystin introduces Jineer, who stutters out that he would like us to carry a letter to his father, Jinis, whose is Duke Gallo's proxy to to King Steppengard in Bresk. Crystin, at the mention of his father, says to him, "Your father will be caged by madness."

The reaction to Crystin's comment was -- well, nonexistent. Very strange.

Before we leave, Simeon hands Basel a scroll of sending, saying, "Good news can wait. Bad news will refuse to."

Balan manages to easily negotiate a not-horribly unreasonable price with the guy who had been collecting boats from refugees fleeing through the swamp to Seaquen and then start a conversation about our weapons and how we fight.
  • Dämmek needs solid objects to slam people into; eg, wall of ice.
  • Lucius needs the enemy to be distracted for sneak attack (< 30 feet): short-range teleport, disappear; greater invisibility would be great(er) advantage
  • Seda: competent tracker; singing (but doesn't like to), made the shadows corporeal; landscape control (grasp or parking); making a tree grow; lightning bolts
I was really worried that I had a group of characters rather than a party, so I had Balan try to get the characters to talk to each other. Subtle didn't work, so I eventually had to spell it out. It seemed especially important given the fortuitous spell choices Basel made at seventh level.

"Landscape control" was a new one on me, but appropriate.

Traveling through the swamp we see the Dragonspire to our left...and horses? With tackle? Dämmek goes ashore and see at least half a dozen more. As we paddle along, we see still more horses.

Eventually we reach Vidor without incident. A swamp farmer say, "Sorry, lady, we still don't got any more horses" as soon as he sees us. Apparently Gusle came by recently and flew off with all the stray horses!

Naizelasa drove a hard bargain for that second use of the lyre....

We walk on to Nashamport, where the river is frozen. Balan purchases us a large sleigh and some horses to pull it. Seda casts hide from animals on Smoke so the horses don't panic at being followed by a mountain lion.

The hide from animals was inspired by a comment from Dämmek. I'd been expecting calm animals, but hiding Smoke had other benefits -- like an easy lunch!

After we head north up the river a while, Seda hears something about a tenth of a mile ahead. Seda responds by casting a spell...on Smoke? People come screaming out of an orchard, a behind them we see an insect head above the tree line.

The head, it turns out, is attached to a giant centipede. Steam rises with its every footstep and its back pulses with a red glow. "Ah, yes, a remorhaz", says Basel.

Dämmek and Basel try to distract it with arrows, but are unsuccessful, so we all run up the riverbank toward it. We eventually get its attention, but not before it steps into the river, causing it and several people to fall in.

Seda, in particular, was very frustrated with their performance when the refugees fell into the river. I apologized to the group for how I ran this -- by using the Listen check to determine the distance the critter was from the party, and not from the river, I actually made it harder for them to save the people because Seda has a good ear. That's not how it should happen!

Basel has been going all-out with his spells, armoring himself, hastening everyone, zorching the remorhaz, and finally turning Lucius greatly invisible, who immediate skewers the 'rhaz with his short swords -- melting one sword in the process!

The surviving people who had been fleeing the 'rhaz say they had been chased by it for miles. They were headed towards Seaquen because Lord Rego had had enough of the refugees and had chased them from his lands.

We're riding along the next morning when the sleigh comes to a sudden, violent stop. We heal the driver of his wounds and then we all inspect the sleigh. It turns out a belt loop was sticking out of the ice. Said belt loop was still attached to someone -- a corpse, buried in the ice along with a couple other people. They bear the symbol of the serpent and leopard dancing under a sunburst, the symbol of Lady Dene, the southernmost of the Eight Lands. Having hacked away the ice to free them, we spend some time to give them a proper burial.

Seda and Dammek track the, uhm, tracks that lead both toward and away from the icy burial site. Eventually we encounter a few wagons which are stopped and being searched by a few men who had been travelling on horseback as halflings argue ineffectively with them. The men appear to be Dasseni soldiers.

The soldiers yank a woman out from under the wagon and quickly execute her! Seda challenges the soldiers over their killing, so one of them starts to question her. He grabs her, to his regret, and then knock her down.

Basel tries to calm the situation, but the rest of us are having none of it. Seda order Smoke to attack the soldier who tripped her, and everyone joins the fray. The officer is one of the first to be dropped. The one standing back using his bow, realizing their odds are not in their favor, dashes up onto his horse and starts to gallop away, but a lightning bolt from Basel puts an end to that.

Dämmek asks Lucius if he wants to use his recall spirit want to bring the executed woman, Hethal, back to life, to which he agrees. He then uses his gloves of Entras to restore her to consciousness. She's nonetheless disoriented, squinting, and clapping her hands over her ears and screaming in pain when people try to talk to her. The halflings are as surprised by this behavior as we are.

This really surprised me. Lucius is the only one without Indomitability's Boon, so I gave him the wand as an alternative (him being voted Most Likely To Die In Combat due to the time he's already spent unconcious at his enemies' feet), it doesn't have a lot of charges, and here he's spending it willy-nilly saving innocent people's lives. Lucius is supposed to be Lawful Good and he's been doing a good job of it. My plan is to reward this latest bit of generosity with Hethal's lover as another ally in Steppengard Prison -- someone to help set up sneak attacks for Lucius.

We try questioning the one soldier we spared, but, after answering a few questions, he clams up. What an arrogant and ignorant bastard. We eventually give up and put him out of our misery.

I'm questioning the notes at this point -- I would have expected Lucius to object, but he may have missed that bit of the conversation.

We don't bother to give the soldiers a proper burial, but thoroughly bury them in the river ice after Seda digs out a nice big pool using her little lightning bolts.

Lucius joins Hethal under the wagon she was pulled from and starts whispering to her. He learns that she's Hethal, and that her lover, Aaron, was arrested as a suspect in the assassination of the royal family, so she got the halflings to smuggle her out of Bresk lest she be arrested for associating with a suspect. She explains that the king ordered soldiers to begin searching anyone who appeared at all suspicious, and set his advisor, Nina Glibglammer, to divine who was responsible for the horrible crime. Steppengard has spent the past two days in mourning, and the funeral was earlier today. Many people are trying to flee Bresk and Dassen, and the Talon, Steppengard's newly-formed police force, are causing people to panic that they might be wrongfully accused.

The next day we at long last reach Bresk. There's a long line of people waiting to get into the city, but we arrive at the frozen docks, where a much shorter line awaits us. Balan's diplomatic papers get us into town fairly quickly, although Seda feels compelled to argue with the guard about leashing Smoke.

Balan takes us to the Golden Griffin, a hotel where he's made reservations for us. We get a large suite with with a shared living area, a room for each of us, and a private, er, privy. He goes off for a bit to find out what the schedule is and learns that our audience won't be for a few days. Once that's done, he attaches a magic stone (but not a magic stone) to the door, explaining that "It helps me sleep a little easier at night" and sharing the password with us. Use the password before opening the door or the alarm goes off!

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Bill T.

One question that the players have discussed in email -- what is the Shahalesti presence in Bresk? Uhm, uhm...I'm tempted write them out somehow, but it's a reasonable question....

I honestly wouldn't expect anyone of import. There's probably someone gathering information, but with their fleet screwed by the hurricane, that whole contingent can't send anyone. And it's not like any elves can teleport there. I figure the Shahalesti who are there are fairly cut off. There might be a foreign dignitary or two who keep their heads down since they don't have orders and don't know what their lord wants. It might actually be an opportunity to introduce a wholly friendly and neutral Shahalesti who has no agenda, who reaches out to the PCs to establish a relationship but wants nothing in return. Then you can bring them back later.