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ZEITGEIST BSI: Bosum Strand Irregulars

Wow man. No plan survives contact with the enemy, especially min-maxed enemies who seem to want to just push a button to 'solve target mystery.'

Neither Xambria nor Sijhen have any reason to want to go to the ziggurat. Unless they physically drag them there, I don't see why they'd go. I don't know if your party would care, but Xambria would probably go into a panicked fugue the moment she saw the place, then collapse into hysterics if forced to go any closer.

How in the world do you get +20 to Arcana at 5th level? +5 Proficiency, +5 Int, +2 level, +3 skill focus feat, +4 from the human racial ability? I guess it's doable.

It's up to you how to handle this. I mean, my normal desire is to reward a player who invests heavily in a particular area so they get something useful from that investment. But I don't want to 'reward' them with a boring adventure. I still think the Ob do a good job of compartmentalizing against divination magic.
 

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hirou

Explorer
+5 trained skill, +5 from maxed Int, +2 from level, +2 race bonus (Eladrin), +2 item bonus, +3 feat bonus, +1 untyped (disciple of lore). He actually lacks +2 from background and plans on adding a familiar with Arcana bonus and some encounter skill boost. He also has +17 Perception bonus, +14 Insight, smokes pipe and plays violin. Oh, and he's Sithrak The Awful incarnate, resurrected according to your suggestion, as described in another thread :D

Sijhen actually still does not know that the golden seal of Apet is already in Bergeron's warehouse, so he may be mildly inclined to convince the party to help "recover priceless historic artifact". But he should probably be aware about Voice of Rot's discontent, so he won't go near the zuggurat himself.
Our gunslinger actually roleplayed a pretty convincing reasoning, along the lines "in order to conquer your fears you must face them", supported by natural 20. At worst Xambria can accompany them up to Agate, then simulate violent Distant Madness fit and later, when party is gone, leave a note about receiving a Sending from Bergeron and leaving for Flint, "in order to face my true fear". She can give up Icon of Apet as "reward" for this plan, maybe this will also help with acquiring the trust of the party. I wonder how long I'll be able to keep the facade... :devil:
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
His Grace, the Duke of Slaughter

The Constables prepared for their ambush of Lorcan Kell. Dester Rathnine, a member of The Family who was undercover in Kell’s Guild, had set up a fictitious meeting between Kell and “Norm,” his Obscurati contact. The meeting would require Kell to cross a Stanfield Canal bridge around 3:00 AM, giving the constables the perfect place to strike. The Senior Constables headed to the bridge, leaving the Junior Constables at HQ to protect their star witness, former Kell lawyer Quentin Augst.

The RHC brought four squads of Flint PD to help them at the bridge. two in boats to cut off an escape by water, and two to block escape at either end of the bridge once Kell’s mechanical carriage was on it. The constables treated the center of the bridge with oil, which Alienor would alight with a flaming bullet when the carriage entered it. Also, so tracking dust was put down to help track Kell in case he managed to escape.

Right on schedule, Kell’s mechanical carriage (with eight mechanical horse legs instead of wheels) trotted onto the bridge. The windows and doors were shut tight and there were no external riders. When the carriage entered the oil, Alienor fired her flaming bullet, surrounding the carriage in a conflagration. James shot out one of the carriage’s legs, and it limped out of the fire. IronPeak jumped onto the bridge behind it, and the others waited for the situation to develop.

Alienor teleported on top of the carriage and opened the roof hatch. Inside, she saw Dester Rathnine, bound and gagged and with an envelope marked “RHC” pinned to him. Underneath him was a bomb, which seemed ready to explode at any moment. Alienor jumped down, grabbed the envelope, and jumped back to the roof of the carriage, leaving Dester to his fate. Alienor opened the envelope, read the card inside, and jumped off the carriage and began sprinting southward. “Get to HQ!” she yelled, dropping the card to the ground.

Summer’s familiar Snow was watching this unfold and informed Summer that there was a captive inside the carriage. Summer told IronPeak, and IronPeak rushed to the carriage, rescued Dester, and managed to push the carriage over the side of the bridge just before it exploded. She then read the note:

“Constables,

Thanks for the show! Keep dancing. I look forward to the Grand Finale!!! -LK

P.S. Sorry about the mess at headquarters.”

The constables made for their new headquarters as fast as they could. Malkie was the quickest in bat form, but even she arrived too late to prevent the slaughter.

At their new headquarters, Magnus Magnusson and Emmeline LeCrochet were watching the front gate. Lila Coldwater, Pablo Duende, and Garson “Bugtree” Wildflower were having a late-night meal. Oksana Kozlov was in the barracks keeping an eye on Augst while he slept, but she had dozed off herself. Magnus and Emmeline heard the lock on the gate turn, as if someone with a key were entering. Magnus called out, “Who’s there?” but got no response until the door opened. Lorcan Kell, flanked by three of his lieutenants, walked through. Two goons with pistols closed the gate behind them and guarded the entrance from the outside.

“It’s me. I’ve got a message for your boss,” he said, walking up to Magnus with his machete out. “Where’s the guy?”

Magnus told Kell that “the guy” had free reign of the place, so he could be anywhere. Also, Magnus told Kell he’d be happy to deliver a message. Kell thanked him, told him, “It’s not really that kind of message,” and then hacked at him repeatedly with his machete. The young cleric fell in a bloody heap. Emmeline rushed to his side to help, but as quickly as she tried to stanch the bleeding, Kell just hacked some more. Luckily for her, he didn’t have time to hack her up and search for the lawyer. He brushed past her to get to a door that led to an inner courtyard. In that courtyard, he found Oksana and Augst trying to make their escape to the basement (which had sewer access and also a ton of old cells in which to hide).

The constables who were eating had full view of the base invasion. Lila and Pablo took the path of least resistance, going right out the cafeteria window and into the small courtyard where Magnus lay dying. The lieutenants fired their guns and the constables responded with magic and steel. Within moments, one of the lieutenants, Rufus Hammerton, lay dead. Kell Guild priestess Kate Glenn dashed past the fight to start searching a small barracks, but Pablo and Emmeline caught up with her and took her down. The last lieutenant, Nick Reder, was facing four constables when he heard Kell hollering from the inner courtyard: “Found him!”

Kell raced toward Augst and hacked him savagely with his man-killing machete, even pulling a knife out of his coat with his left hand and sticking it in the man for good measure. He fell instantly. Oksana tried to escape by grabbing the lawyer, tossing him over her shoulder, and making for a side door, but Kell caught her before she could open the door. He hacked her into submission with his machete, and then picked up Augst by the hair and slit his throat as Oksana passed out. Kell saw Nick Reder running to join him and told him to keep searching the place and to kill anyone he found.

As Nick moved into the main building, Lila grabbed a healing potion for Magnus, Emmeline made for the magical alarm under Delft’s desk, Bugtree moved back into the cafeteria to head off Nick, and Pablo dashed into the main courtyard to take on Kell himself. Kell chopped the big barbarian down in a matter of seconds, hacking and hacking until Pablo fell to one knee and Kell took off Pablo’s head with a final powerful stroke.

Nick had managed to tackle Bugtree but Bugtree had transformed from his natural Wilden form into a swarm of wasps. As Nick was starting to think that this was perhaps the worst thing he’d ever held, Kell found them and stomped on all the wasps until they turned into an unconscious Wilden, which he killed.

With two constables and their witness all dead, the remaining junior constables made their retreats. Lila got Magnus back on his feet and escaped out a side door. Magnus revived Oksana and the two of them went out the door Oksana had been trying to open. Emmeline set off the alarm and, as Nick closed on her position, she simply phased right through the outer wall.

The junior constables scattered into the city and Kell’s people had the run of RHC Headquarters for a few minutes. Before long, though, they gathered their dead and left the RHC dead out for the returning senior constables to find…
 
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roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Explosion Day

After the slaughter at RHC Headquarters, no one wanted to sleep. Summer asked the stars some questions and went to meditate. IronPeak’s Martial Science sense was telling her that the constables were not gaining enough power (or “levels,” to use the Battalion nomenclature) in relation to their experiences. She took a trip to The Battalion to see if anyone would know why. James took the time to study the schematics for the eschatologist bomb, as the potential bombing was only six hours away.

Summer’s three questions were only vaguely answered by the stars. When she asked who had informed Kell about the ambush, she was confronted with thousands of faces: everyone she knew, in addition to many she did not. Clearly, her divination was being blocked. When she meditated on where to find the bomb, she saw it sitting on a moving train. James informed her that the bomb had an anti-divinatory component, so the group did not trust that answer. Lastly, she tried to find a way to enter the Bleak Gate without Kell’s help. She had a vision of a man stabbing a table with a knife, like the man Quentin Augst had been meeting with at the Rock Rackus show. That man would have to be tracked down. Ekossigan’s orphan-sacrificing ritual was happening at midnight tonight if they didn’t provide him with an alternative.

IronPeak went to see her instructors at The Battalion School of Martial Science, and she found a professor who told her that most people never reached the power of IronPeak and the other constables, so most never noticed a feature of Risur that he called “the level cap.” The land of Risur was giving tiny pieces of its own power to its citizens and residents, but it was technically an extension of the Rites of Rulership that made the king have nearly godlike power. The ancient pact between Risur’s first king, Kelland, and the spirits of the land not only gave the king an immense amount of power, but it also extended to his subjects. However, subjects of the king could not gain power beyond a certain level without the king’s express permission. Usually, this would be accompanied be the granting of a title of some kind.

Upon returning to Headquarters and sharing this news with the group, some wild speculations began. Malkie pointed out that Lorcan Kell clearly was more powerful than any of the constables, and went by the self-appointed title “His Grace, the Duke of Slaughter.” Was he actually a noble of some kind, with commensurate power rewards? Why would the king appoint a Duke of Slaughter? Delft pointed out that he had given Kell that title on his security report to the king, along with naming Gale “Her Majesty, Princess Fairy Dust.” The group had encountered her this week as well, and she had clearly gained huge amounts of power. Had he unwittingly granted these two extra power by giving them formal titles in a report to the king, thereby planting in his head the idea that these two were nobles, and causing a subconscious granting of power? Cazara suggested that Kell and Gale had not gained their power from the land, but had probably tapped into the Bleak Gate and Dreaming, respectively, especially since the constables knew they were working for the Obscurati and Ekossigan, who had access to those two realms.

James’s study of the bomb was complete, or at least as complete as it could become before seeing it in person. The bomb was constructed of a large armored barrel divided into eight chambers, with wires magically transferring the eight separate components from one chamber to the next until an explosive reaction would take place. The bomb could be deactivated by cutting all the wires, but two of the 28 wires would carry a current every 3.13 seconds. If he accidentally cut a wire in the midst of a transfer, it would prematurely set off the bomb. If it hadn’t finished mixing, the explosion would not be as catastrophic as planned, but it would be enough to kill the bomb team at the least.

The eight components of the bomb were:
⁃ Fire Humor: the triggering agent
⁃ Aether: that which fills vacuum, to increase the blast radius
⁃ Phlogiston: liquid elemental fire, the actual explosive element
⁃ Frayed Chronosomia: threads of fluid time, to deter divination
⁃ Witchoil: the captured souls of the dead, an accelerant.
⁃ Blood infused with Ambergris: a calming agent, to prevent early detonation
⁃ Serpent’s Loop: scales of a snake that ate itself, makes fire consume any substance
⁃ Frostburn: transmuted phlogiston that freezes, to cover everything in ice.

A last wire, the “Black,” worked as a magical ground wire to prevent early triggering as long as it was in contact with the ground. If the Black were severed (or lit by an electrical charge), the bomb would begin its activation. James calculated that full activation would take 26 minutes and 18 seconds.

The constables headed to the Subrail opening that the dwarves had threatened. Governor Stanfield had been adamant that the ribbon-cutting ceremony should go on as planned, but be transformed into a trap for the doomsday cult. If they just canceled it, the bomb would go somewhere else, but if they turned it into a trap, then the RHC could seize and deactivate the bomb. The VIPs at the event had been replaced with undercover police, except for Stanfield himself, who had been through many deaths already and clearly had no fear of another. A police officer working the crowd proudly told IronPeak that his men had already arrested every dwarf they had seen.

The constables and Stanfield went down into the station, leaving Flint PD to their racial profiling. Stanfield had set up two unfueled trains as decoys, in case the dwarves wanted to put their bomb on a train and bomb somewhere else. These trains each had a small detachment of police officers to protect it. As the constables were scouting the station, a police officer came running down to tell them that five dwarves had just rushed the police line and had been subdued. IronPeak, Malkie, and James went to question these dwarves. Just as they left, the sounds of gunfire erupted from one of the tunnels. An army of eschatological dwarves had arrived and engaged the police in battle.

The constables ducked into cover as the dwarves shot their way into the train station. Alienor fired off some magical explosive bullets that should have taken down large groups of dwarves, but in their furor, the dwarves seemed to ignore their impending deaths. At the back, two dwarves stood out amongst the crowd: one with an icy pipe in his mouth who matched the description of Grundun Zubov, and another with a patch over one eye, who was preaching a prophecy of doom while pulling a small cart loaded down by a large barrel with a protruding wire that dragged along the ground.

James, IronPeak, and Malkie heard the gunfire and returned as quickly as they could, but the sight of nearly twenty dwarves with guns deterred most of them from proceeding past the stairs where Governor Stanfield had been preparing his speech. Cazara and Alienor huddled behind the cover of pillars. Summer teleported to the stairs with the others, while Malkie turned to mist and slipped through the ventilation system to outflank the dwarves.

Governor Stanfield was fearless, advancing straight toward Zubov and telling him that his cause was hopeless and his philosophy misguided. “I stand before you as living proof that death is not the end, and everything you work toward is wrong.” Zubov ordered his dwarves to ignore the talkative Deva and focus on the actual threats to their mission.

The battle raged around the subrail station. The prophet threw out a darkness spell, which blinded many of the constables. Zubov’s hammer spawned an underground blizzard, making it hard to see even where there was light. Zubov kept casting a spell that drained the lives of those around him, and seemed particularly focused on taking down Cazara, who was suffering the most form his magic and his hammer. Zubov’s minions kept up their exchange of gunfire with Alienor and James as long as they could, but eventually the constables won out and all that was left were Zubov and his prophet. Malkie appeared behind the prophet and reached into his mind, winning his loyalty with her vampiric charms. Zubov fell to one knee and saw that the end was nigh. He ordered the prophet to light the bomb, but the prophet refused. With a scoff, Zubov ordered the dwarf to die. The prophet complied with this order and then Zubov pulled out a magic wand and shot an electrical spark at the bomb, igniting its fuse before he was shot to death by James, delivering a critical trick shot that deflected off of IronPeak’s shield before striking home.

The combat was over and the most dangerous portion of the morning was about to begin. James and Summer moved in to defuse the bomb. Stanfield and the others gathered close to watch, except for Malkie, who became a bat and flew as far as her wings could take her.

James took his time to study the bomb’s pattern of activations, with Summer helping to see the magical auras. He meticulously clipped wire after wire, narrowly avoiding disaster when Summer touched a wire connecting Phlogiston to Witchoil to indicate it was safe. Just before James was going to cut, Summer was burned by the charge going through the line. Had James made that cut, it would have been the end. They took more time on future wires and made the final wire cut with a minute to spare.

The apocalypse cult had been stopped (with the exception of that mimic, which was still out in the city, somewhere). However, there was little time to rest. Ekossigan’s orphan-sacrificing ritual was only 13 hours away, and they still had to track down the man with the knives.
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
DM's Note: I adjusted the Bomb-defusing skill challenge as follows:

Because James's Thievery is 12, and he's a Technologist (+5), and he's trained in Arcana (+2), and I allowed one assist (Summer needed to roll a 5 on the die for another +2), for a total potential bonus of 21, which was the maximum potential difficulty, I made some adjustments to the Skill Challenge, which I feel made it more itneresting:

First, I bumped all the DCs by 6, then I took out James Arcana bonus, which means he was facing DCs of 21-27, but only had a +16 to +19 (depending on Assist). That's pretty harsh, but then I added in one other bonus:

I ruled that it took 1 minute to make a cut at normal DC, but that the could spend extra time studying the pattern, gaining an extra +1 for each minute spent. Since the bomb was going to take 26 minutes to go off, this gave the potential for some interesting resource management. 1 minute to take off the cover and one minute per cut left them with 18 spare +1s to throw around, or an average of about 2.5 per cut. They made a few cuts with no extra time, including making one exactly on the DC when Summer failed her assist and got 1d6 damage. Then they started to use some of the time, but ended up with 11 spare minutes to make the final cut. All in all, it made for a tense time for everyone (except Malkie's player, who couldn't care less if everyone dies).
 

hirou

Explorer
Great recap. I wonder, how did you generate 'junior constable' stats? As far as I remember, by book they just use NPC lvl7 statblocks, did you generate them as PC?
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
We made them level 4 PCs. After the HQ destruction at the end of Digging For Lies, I put an "RHC Now Hiring" notice in our facebook group and asked for people to submit 4th-level characters. They put in 4 or 5 and then I added enough to make a total of 8 so there would be a few spares.
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
After James Chinast’s heroic bomb disposal, most of the constables needed a break. Everyone but Summer and Malkie headed home for a nap after working through the night and into the morning. Malkie, Summer, and some junior constables (who were slowly recovering from the Duke of Slaughter) started looking for the man Summer had seen in her vision. Emmeline had spotted this man talking to Quentin Augst at the Rock Rackus show, but the only thing they knew about him was that he liked to stick knives into tables.

They asked Dester Rathnine, and he identified the man as “Norm,” Kell’s liaison to the Obscurati. Dester knew that Norm liked to hang out in bars, and suggested three options: The Pig and Bucket (where the menu is the name), The Rat & Hammer (where you hope that’s not the menu), and The King’s Head. Dester also shared that Norm was rumored to have the ability to change into a burst of shadow as well as powerful mind-control abilities. With some sidelong glances at Malkie, the team decided to collect Asrabey for this mission. The reasoning was that eladrin were resistant to charms and also that Norm should have the key to getting Ekossigan’s army into the Bleak Gate without having to sacrifice some number of orphans, which would help Asrabey achieve his goals.

The teams split up into three groups. Asrabey refused to go with anyone but Summer. On their way to the Rat & Hammer, Asrabey took the opportunity to talk with Summer. “Now that we’re alone,” he said, “we can speak plainly. How is your mission going? I haven’t heard from you in 50 years. That’s a long time to not hear from my wife.” Summer took this pile of exposition in stride, and told him everything was going fine and Asrabey should just do as he’s told. He complied, and the two of them continued to their destination in silence. Form outside the bar, they spotted Norm sitting at the bar. Summer dispatched her raven, Snow, to alert the other groups to meet her at the Rat & Hammer. She had Asrabey put on her invisibility cloak, which caused some hilarious interactions when the other constables arrived and found Asrabey missing and Summer saying everything was fine. Several suspicious questions about mind control and/or polymorph spells were deflected and finally everyone fell into position to back up Summer as she went to talk to Norm.

When Summer sat next to Norm (with Asrabey invisibly lurking behind him), he nodded and addressed her as “Ma’am.” A brief conversation revealed that Norm was deferent to Summer, as though he expected to receive orders from her. Once she discovered that Norm was willing to work for her, Summer asked if he could help get a large group of people into the Bleak Gate. Norm informed her that “the usual way” should work fine, and so she asked him to meet her at the first bridge over the Stanfield Canal at 7 PM.

The junior constables headed back and tagged out for the senior team, who met Norm at the canal bridge to test out the passage to the Bleak Gate. The team had painted the five runes they learned from Quentin Augst on themselves. Norm asked if they had a boat, but when they said they didn’t, he said they could just walk along the canal, under the bridges. As they passed under each of the five large bridges along the canal, they slowly slipped into a dark mirror version of the city of Flint. When they finally passed all the way through, the found themselves in a nearly lightless and soundless world — a shadowy, dead version of the city.

A pair of bored guards at the end of the path waved some wands over the constables, apparently completing their passage to the Bleak Gate. With the test run complete, a few of the constables headed back into the real world to spread the word. Snow and Asrabey sent word to Ekossigan to bring his army to the canal entrance.

James collected Grappa, the murder victim who had transferred his consciousness into his nearly-destroyed golem servant last summer, and who had been nothing more than a mysterious mechanical head in James’s office for the past 9 months. Grappa was now a fully-mobile mechanical man. He had once worked for the Obscurati, but had apparently had a change of heart and escaped the Bleak Gate facility. He had offered to serve the RHC as a guide once they made their incursion into the Bleak Gate, and now was the time.

Ekossigan’s army of some three hundred fey creatures danced and partied their way through Parity Lake, buoyed by the celebratory piping of their Satyr contingent. Upon arriving at the canal entrance, Summer instructed them on the runes that they must inscribe on themselves. Some used paint, some used magic, others burned markings into their bark, and others used chromatophores to change their skin color. They partied their way down the canal while the common folk of the Bosum Strand stayed safe in their homes. Upon arriving inside the Bleak Gate, the army was greeted by those two guards, who were now far less bored. They dutifully used their wands on the fey army, but the shadow trolls living under the Bleak Gate version of the canal bridges were not so gullible. They dropped out of the shadows beneath their bridges and attacked Ekossigan’s army. The constables and Grappa made a quick exit, but not before Cazara stole a boat to allow them to travel on the Bleak Gate version of Parity Lake.

Grappa told the constables that there were three main ways to get into the facility under Cauldron Hill. here were the various “main entrances” that all led to tunnels which led to a heavily-guarded front gate. There were a series of exhaust vents on top of the mountain tat could be used to descend into the facility form above. They chose the third route: a water entrance along Parity Lake, for bringing in shipments of smuggled goods from the real-world Parity Lake factories. The guards at the lake entrance recognized Summer, calling her “Madame Varal.” They opened up the gate and followed her orders to go and fight the incoming invasion of fey.

Summer was bemused that everyone here seemed to recognize her and know more about her than she knew herself. She had no memories since her childhood. “And for that, I must apologize,” said Grappa, who Summer had taken to calling “Robot Grampa” by this point. “I saw the evil you were involved in, and knew that you were, at heart, a good person, so —when I turned against my former allies—I took you with me and erased your memories. I had hoped that regressing you to childhood would allow you to see the evils you had done. I hoped against hope that you would work to fix your mistakes, and I am so glad to see you doing just that, Kasvarina.”

After that plot bomb, the group traveled on into the Obscurati facility. Whenever there was a lever to pull to work some machinery, they had Summer do it, just in case there were security measures that might identify her as an apparent leader of the organization. Eventually, they came to a set of security doors that worked similar to an airlock: only one set could be opened at a time. This forced the group to bunch up in a small room. When they tried to open the second set of doors, instead the lights went out and a voice spoke to them.

“I don’t know whether to be impressed with you getting past my security, or disappointed in the men who were supposed to stop you. But men, after all, are weak. That’s why we build machines, why we have progress! All we’re good for is thinking. That, and enjoying the pleasures in life.”

They heard a soft sip, as if from a wine glass, then a contented sigh.

“Best to leave the violence and physical labor to the steam and steel. Now I leave it to you to decide whether to go the easy way or the hard way. Throw down your weapons and have a drink with me, and I’ll explain what it is we’re doing here. Would you believe the engineers we had working on it thought this was a Risuri military project? They were fools, and I’d like to hold out hope that you’re not fools. So yes, throw down your weapons and we can think, and talk, and enjoy life. Or be foolish, and see which breaks first: your flesh, or my steel.”

Most of the group dutifully dropped their weapons, though Alienor only unloaded her guns and stowed them. The doors opened, revealing a huge factory floor, full of machinery and equipment. The most impressive feature of the factory was the 300-foot tall colossal golem which seemed to be nearly complete. The golem was not awake.

Summer turned to “Grampa.” “This is what you built?”

“Well, someone else built it. I just made its mind. That’s what I do: make minds.”

“So you can control it?” she asked.

“No,” he said, “it can only be controlled by its Mother.” He gave her a pointed look.

As the group entered the factory area, three smaller witchoil-powered golems closed on them, seemingly intent on combat. The doors between the constables and their weapons began to close…
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Cauldron Born

The three witchoil golems were closing in and the constables had just left their weapons behind at Leone Quital’s request. As the massive doors began to shut, separating the constables and their weapons, Xambria manifested and began shuttling items out the doors. The golems surrounded the constables, but nearly everyone was able to escape their trap:

Alienor ran for the corner of the massive room, taking cover behind some crates. Cazara launched herself through the air in complete defiance of gravity and soared to the shoulder of the slumbering colossus, gliding in as though suspended by invisible wires. IronPeak withstood the storm of hits from the trio of golems. James and Summer ran for a nearby lift to take them to the colossus the slow way. Malkie turned invisible and made for the other lift. At the top of that lift was a door to what seemed to be offices or a control room, and she meant to find Leone Quital and pay him back for her nearly-forgotten murder in another reality… or something… Malkie’s relationship to reality was always interesting.

The lead golem, Colin, seemed jovial enough, as he and his “men” took on IronPeak. “Robot Grampa” Alexander Grappa tried to talk them down, explaining who he was and that he had helped create them and that these people were here to help, but they would have none of it. When Colin tried to re-enact the Battle of Mount Associa by collapsing upon IronPeak like an avalanche, she recognized the gambit and was able to sidestep him. Still, against three mechanical men, she was no match. James teleported back to her side to get her back on her feet, leaving Summer and Cazara to awaken the colossus on their own.

Cazara stepped close to the colossus’s ear, and held out her messenger feather to its ear, urging Summer to talk to the the thing through the feather and tell it who she was. Cazara felt a rumble of machinery under her feet as the colossus began to power up.

Just as Malkie was reaching the upper door, it opened up and out came Lorcan Kell, surrounded by several henchmen and a shadowy figure. “I thought I gave you folks a warning!” he shouted, leering about for something to kill. Malkie flew into action, harassing the group of six enemies by herself, constantly flitting in and out of visibility and corporeality, leaving Kell’s team with nothing to fight back against.

Two of Kell’s pistoliers made for Cazara’s position atop the colossus, where she had now been joined by Summer. They fired their guns at the two, who managed to scamper across to the far shoulder, using its massive head for cover. The colossus began to stir, and one movement of its arm crashed into the access bridge the pistoliers were advancing across, sending one of them flying to his death.

IronPeak had defeated the two lesser golems, with considerable assistance from Alienor, sniping from behind cover. Only Colin remained. He fell to one knee, then toppled over backwards, spewing witchoil everywhere. “An excellent tactical exercise,” he said, “Let’s call it a draw!” James and Grappa rushed to his side. Grappa was convinced that if they restored Colin to health, he would join their cause.

Kell and the rest of his gang rode their lift down toward IronPeak and James’s position. Malkie continued to harry them, but was running low on resources. Soon, she would be out of invisibility potions and need to make an escape. As she contemplated this, Leone Quital came flying out of the door the Kell had exited moments earlier. Quital soared to the middle of the room, also entirely in disrespect of the laws of gravity. He spied Summer atop the colossus and hurled misogynist insults at her, followed by a series of I-beams. Summer took the impact massive bar of metal, but managed to hold on to the colossus, avoiding the 300-foot fall off of its shoulder.

Alienor focused her scope on Quital and pulled out a special bullet enchanted with his name. The bullet was carved from Alienor’s own horn to get through Quital’s mastery of magnetic forces. She fired, but he managed to deflect the bullet with sheet of metal he levitated into position just in time. The bullet still punched through the shield and struck Quital, but he had avoided the worst of it.

James and Grappa got Colin back on his feet and he agreed to fight alongside IronPeak, as she had been such an excellent training partner, and any friend of Grappa’s was a friend of Colin’s. Grappa hurried to the far lift and started his way up to the colossus.

The colossus was now responding to Summer’s commands and she instructed it to attack everyone on the lift where Kell and his gang were fighting Malkie. Malkie heard this and jumped up the wall out of the way. Unfortunately, before she could down he last potion of invisibility, the Obscurati assassin was upon her. She teleported Malkie back down to the floor of the lift, right next to Kell. He grinned. “Time to settle those debts.” He hacked at her with his machete, and stuck a couple of daggers in her for good measure. Malkie was dead, again… for something like the fifth time? Had she at last met her fate? Would she return from death again as an amorphous pile of goo animated by sheer stubbornness? Does death mean anything in this world? These are questions for another day…

Kell triumphantly exited his lift and charged at IronPeak, eager to kill his fourth RHC constable this week. Colin interceded, smashing Kell in the face. Alienor followed up with a bullet with Kell’s name on it. The force of the shot knocked Kell backward, and he fell to his death in the colossus construction pit.

Quital finally hit Summer solidly with an I beam, after four or five tries. Summer’s unconscious form fell from the colossus’s shoulder. In a rage, it swatted Quital out of the air and tried to climb toward the ceiling. Cazara repelled down its back, arriving at the floor ahead of Summer, whose Boots of Feather Falling had saved her from a fatal fall.

The colossus tore the roof off the place, sending massive chunks of stone and steel cascading into the room below. Cazara grabbed Summer and hunkered down in an access tunnel at the base of the construction pit. James opened an access hatch to a tunnel in the corner of the room, allowing himself and IronPeak to similarly hide out from the collapse of the structure. Alienor and Kell’s men were not so lucky, nor were Quital and Grappa.

The colossus tore through the roof and destroyed the many wards keeping the facility in the Bleak Gate. As it pulled itself up out of the mountain, the colossus looked down upon the city of Flint. The entire facility had moved into the real world. After a moment of looking upon this new world, the colossus began to explore, causing an avalanche as it stepped down Cauldron Hill. It wandered off into the night, leaving the constables to be recovered by search and rescue teams.

Alienor survived the collapse, but Kell’s men were all killed. Once the rescue teams dug everyone out, they discovered that Grappa and Quital were missing.

The next day was supposed to bring the Danor-Risur peace summit, but surely dealing with the colossus would be a higher priority…
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
whew. finished Heroic tier last night with an "epic" showdown with the colossus closing in on the Coaltongue as the constables fought off wave after wave of witchoil monstrosities and the ghosts of those who died over the past year.

full writeup coming soon (maybe tonight). As we head into Paragon tier, we will be starting with some of Diaspora, to give Summer-Kasvarina's story a kick, then scattering the memories throughout adventures 6 and 7 before finishing up Diaspora in, hopefully, a year or so. Here's hoping that works. :)
 



hirou

Explorer
Congratulations on finishing the heroic tier and keep up the good work!
The highlights are great and provoke me to reread the entire thread while my own game seems to be cursed by "Always on time" name, we're delaying the game more than a month now...
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Shadow of the Colossus, part I

After the collapse of the Obscurati facility under the Bleak Gate analogue of Cauldron Hill, which led to the escape of the Colossus named Borne, Kind Aodhan of Risur was holding an emergency meeting. The King’s advisors and Constables were brainstorming ideas to deal with the rampaging Colossus, which was tearing up parts of the city of Flint. Borne’s mood seemed to be alternating between rage and calm, but even a calm 300-foot-tall mechanical man can crush people’s homes and businesses.

Fleet Admiral Morris Dawkins supported a strategy of naval engagement. Handheld guns had proven ineffective against the colossus, but Dawkins was confident that naval guns could penetrate the defenses of the Colossus, if the thing could only be driven or lured into the sea.

Principal Minister Harkover Lee supported a strategy of banishment. The King had the power to exile any living thing in his country to the Dreaming. The ritual would take time, and the sudden delivery of an angry colossus into the Dreaming would probably anger the fey, but it was a more reliable solution than just using bigger guns.

Constable Summer had only recently found out that she had an entire life that had been wiped from her memory, during which she had helped create the colossus while working for the Obscurati under the name Kasvarina Varal. Borne had seemed to respond positively to her presence, and flew into a rage when she appeared to be killed by Leone Quital, one of Borne’s other creators. Summer suggested that the colossus might listen to her if she just went and talked to him.

The King considered the options before him and decided to go with all of them. Summer and the Constables would go to Borne and try to talk some sense into him. If they failed, they were to attempt to drive Borne into Flint Harbor, where the navy would be waiting. In case the navy was unable to defeat the colossus, the King would begin his ritual to banish Borne to the Dreaming. In case that wasn’t enough to deal with, the Jierre delegation to the Danor-Risur peace summit was scheduled to arrive by ship today in the harbor. Aodhan hoped the crisis could be dealt with in time to not interrupt the summit meeting.

Alienor suggested that letting the Colossus rampage out into the ocean until it sunk Lya Jierre’s ship might be a good way to use one problem to solve another. The Obscurati built the Colossus; let them deal with it.

The Constables had acquired a smaller version of Borne: the head of a witchoil-powered golem that called herself Colleen. Colleen had been “raised” by Kasvarina alongside Borne and several others. Their consciousnesses were being slowly prepared for being implanted into the colossus. Colleen had fought against the Constables under Quital’s control (under the name Colin). After seeing her “mother” again, and talking with her “father” Alexander Grappa, Colleen changed allegiances and joined the Constables in their fight against the Obscurati. James helped build Colleen a new, smaller, body after her original body was destroyed in the collapse of the Cauldron Hill facility. Delft refused to acknowledge her as a person, but agreed that the equipment could be useful in learning about the Obscurati, so Colleen joined the group in their mission.

It was easy enough to find Borne as he stomped around Parity Lake. The caught up with him just as he was putting the finishing touches on Lorcan Kell’s awful Theater of Scoundrels. As he stood amongst the ruins of the building, Cazara and Summer climbed up and had a chat with him. Summer talked to Borne and asked him what he wanted. Borne’s language skills did not seem to be highly developed, but he managed to rumble out a few words: “Mother… Dead… Revenge.” Summer tried to reassure Borne that she was, in fact, alive, but Borne would only repeat “Revenge.” After a few minutes of trying to reason with him, it occurred to her that, while Borne might be listening, he was powered by witchoil, the refined essence of thousands of dead souls, trapped in suspension. The souls were angry, and they wanted revenge against those who had caused suffering.

Summer mentioned to Cazara that she thought the Colossus was angry at the Obscurati. Cazara thought that maybe Alienor’s idea wasn’t so bad, and she told Borne that his enemies were arriving by boat. “Boats?” said Borne, and then he started for the harbor, repeating “Boats” over and over to himself. As Borne made his way down the Stanfield Canal, destroying all the bridges along the way, Summer and Cazara managed to dismount to nearby rooftops. It wasn’t exactly the result they were going for, but at least they had gotten Borne to head for the harbor, where the fleet and king awaited.
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Shadow of the Colossus, part II

The Constables chased Borne to the harbor. By the time they arrived, he had already been engaged by the Royal Fleet. The Constables heard the familiar voice of Harkover Lee in their heads. “The king could use your assistance aboard the RNS Coaltongue. Do you consent to be teleported?”

The agreed and arrived in the midst of the battle. The King was performing his ritual, gathering fey energy to banish Borne to the Dreaming, using the ship’s magic capacitor to focus his ritual through the ship’s main weapon. Borne was wading through the fleet, closing on the king’s position, picking up ships and throwing them into each other. Just after the constables arrived, Borne shot beams of necrotic energy from his eyes.

When the beams struck the Coaltongue, ghostly shadow creatures emerged and began advancing toward the king. The ghosts seemed to carry familiar faces of those who had died in the past year. The Constables convinced themselves that the faces were an illusion and that they were not actually destroying the souls of former Constables Mort Stark and Pablo Duende. When the apparitions wore the faces of former enemies like Caius Bergeron and Cardiff Hengehill, though, the Constables sought them out with glee. Borne continued shooting angry ghosts from his eyes even as the Royal Navy fired their guns at him and tried to cut off his approach towards the Coaltongue. Borne clearly had some idea what the king was up to, and was trying to stop him.

The constables fought off wave after wave of ghosts as Borne sank ship after ship on his inexorable approach. The ghosts were draining the king’s power, and he looked close to failing his ritual when Borne finally arrived. The colossus, hip-deep in Flint Harbor, took two mighty swings with his fists, smashing at the king with his right hand and the constables with his left. Everyone survived the first attack, but another swing of his mighty fists would probably have crushed some people. However, the king finished his ritual and channeled it into the capacitor of the ship. Geoffrey Massarde aimed the ship’s main gun and released King Aodhan’s fey magic at the shadow colossus.

Green tendrils wrapped themselves around Borne. He struggled against them, but they managed to wrap him up like vines claiming an abandoned vehicle. Borne lunged for the Coaltongue, but there was a bright flash of light and the 300-foot-tall mechanical man was gone. The rushed in to fill the void where Borne had stood, and the air was filled with the fresh scent of spring.

King Aodhan thanked the Constabled for their help in protecting him while he banished the colossus. As the Coaltongue returned to port, it was greeted by the cheering throngs who had witnessed the defense of their city from shore. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Aodhan asked IronPeak to kneel before him. Harkover Lee produced the King’s ceremonial sword and handed it to the king. King Aodhan knighted IronPeak, and each of the other constables in turn, including Alienor and Colleen, though not James M. Chinast’s Remarkable Mechanical Hat. He had to draw the line somewhere.

With their newfound titles and power (IronPeak estimated that the constables had been elevated from the 10th Level of Combat Effectiveness to the 13th, which could only mean something to a Martial Scientist), the Constables were in a position to affect the world on a larger scale than they had up until now. Within a day, the King sought their counsel. The Jierres had not showed up to the Peace Summit. Their ship was returning to Danor and Han Jierre had issued a statement condemning Risur for secretly constructing a “sorcerous machine of war and terror.” Jierre’s statement called out Risur for offering peace with one hand while holding the two most powerful war machines in the world behind its back. Jierre called on his people to prepare for war against their historic enemy. It was not a war of Danor’s choosing, but Danor would defend itself against the tyranny of Risur’s war machines.

The King asked his new knights for advice. They all knew that Lya Jierre was part of the Obscurati and that the Obscurati had diverted Risuri military and industrial resources to build Borne. The intricacies of the situation seemed difficult to sell to a public that needed guidance in these troubled times. Aodhan didn’t think it was a good idea to bring up shadowy conspiracies that may have infiltrated his government. The people needed an explanation, and they needed an enemy. Danor was presenting itself as one. Would the Constables sign off on an official story that Danor had been behind the Borne Project, and that the Jierres had planned this all along to manufacture a casus belli? The Knight-Constables debated back and forth for a while, but finally came to an agreement with the king: let the blame lay with the Jierre family. Two of them were already known to be involved. Who knew how many more were in the Obscurati? Could it go all the way to the top?

Later that week, Alienor took the opportunity to meet with Gale. Unbeknownst to her, Cazara and Summer also had a meeting planned with Gale for the same day. Gale had a busy appointment calendar.

Alienor and Gale talked about their complicated past relationship. Gale had raised Alienor and the two had been lovers for a time. On Axis Island during the last war, Alienor had helped Gale escape at the cost of Alienor’s husband’s life, and Alienor wanted to make sure Gale knew that she ad been aiming for Lord Stark and not Gale. Gale said she knew. She told Alienor that she trusted that Alienor never missed, which caused some muffled giggling in the trees, as Cazara and Summer eavesdropped on the conversation. Alienor wanted to know what the future held for them now, and Gale shut her down, saying that what they had in the past was in the past and that she had no place for Alienor any more. Alienor asked for a favor before they parted. She was concerned that her daughter in Danor might get into trouble with the oncoming war. If she needed to get out, would Gale have a safe place for her? Gale agreed, saying that taking in lost girls was something she did on a regular basis, and that if Alienor’s daughter needed a place to hide, Gale knew a community of skyseer druids in the Cloudwood who could take her in.

Gale and Alienor parted ways, and then Gale went to her meeting with Cazara and Summer, where Cazara inquired about Gale’s connection to the Vekeshi Mystics. Had Gale received any communication from them? Gale said she was disappointed in the relationship, as the Vekeshi seemed to be directionless at the moment. She gathered that there were no new orders coming from the top and the local cell of the Vekeshi Mystics seemed to lack the initiative to do much more than lounge about and/or have naked parties by the light of the full moon. Cazara asked about Gale’s intentions moving forward, with a potential war on the horizon. Gale said she would see how the situation developed, though her general enmity toward Danor and technology would guide her. Cazara asked if Gale and her organization would be available to help if needed, and Gale promised to work with her when it suited Gale’s agenda.

The Knight-Constables of the Royal Homeland Constabulary spent the next month or so tending to the more mundane business of hiring new constables and getting settled into their new headquarters. Everything was settling down until Summer received a package from Elfaivar...
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Welcome to the Jungle

A month after the banishing of the Colossus of Cauldron Hill, these news stories were featured in the pages of the rebuilt Flint Tribune:

Colossus. The world reacts to news of the colossus attack in Flint. Archmissionary Cornelius Eboracum of the Clergy offers exorcism aid for evil spirits unleashed from Cauldron Hill. The Drakran military has ordered the production of extremely massive cannons to repel the colossus if it should make it to their shores. Beran peasants report local nature spirits wreaking havoc and mysterious massive footprints tracing a path from the Anthras Mountains toward Seobriga. The sovereign of Danor continues to rattle sabers at home, rallying his nation against Risur, but widespread accusations that his nation is actually to blame have hampered his efforts.

Consort. King Aodhan seems to have recovered from his aborted nuptials. Sources near Torfeld Palace have reported seeing a mysterious Tiefling woman leaving in the middle of the night, though she has never been seen to enter. Is his highness courting a new devil lady? Should citizens of Risur be concerned about our King’s choice of lovers with impending war against Danor on the horizon?

Curses. Cauldron Hill has been interdicted by the Risuri military. The side of the mountain is in flux, sometimes showing a hole that leads to the Bleak Gate, sometimes solid rock. Soldiers have been equipped with magical weapons from the nation’s vaults to combat spectral monsters that emerge each night.

Sedition. Sparse reports come from Danor of university students filing formal petitions against the government and even talking of repeating the riots of a generation ago. These protests come in response to a crackdown on broadsheet journalism. The leadership in Cherage has forbidden publication of conspiracy theories that link Danor to the colossus in Risur, and several writers have been thrown into oubliettes for undermining the sovereign’s denials.

Stagnation. Rear Admiral of the Risuri Navy Morris Dawkins was found dancing through Central District by the light of the full moon wearing nothing but an ancient carved stag mask and singing the Dirge of Vekesh. Even after Flint Police arrested the admiral, he would not accept clothing or stop singing and so had to be removed to the custody of the Roland Stanfield Memorial Sanitarium in Pine Island. RHC terrorism expert Stover Delft said that the Admiral showed signs of being a leader in a Vekeshi terrorist cell in Flint. Further scandal! One of the king’s closest associates behind terrorist plots? One hopes the loss of their leader will hurt the Vekeshi capabilities in Flint.

Shipwrights. The city of Shale, once governed by the king’s sister Ethelyn, has ordered a rapid increase in ship construction in preparation for possible war with Danor. Heightened logging activities throughout Risur have been stymied by fey activity. The city of Bole is suffering an encroachment of trees, which have been walking into the streets when people aren’t looking.

Sibilance. Colonists in Elfaivar talk of eerie whispers in the woods. Near the Sharavathi Falls, a site claimed to be sacred to the fallen Eladrin empire, several caravans have disappeared except for a single survivor each. All have reported their compatriots vanishing, hearing only whispers and seeing only foot prints of mighty jungle cats.

The gossip amongst the RHC gossipmongers was mostly focused on King Aodhan’s new consort. Was Alienor making a power play, or was it just some other Tiefling woman who happened to be living in Risur? The fact that the papers identified the king’s consort as a Tiefling when Alienor was trying to live in disguise as a human was all the more interesting.

The gossip was delayed by the arrival at RHC Headquarters of a mysterious package addressed to Summer. Inside was a letter from her forgotten husband Asrabey Varal and an ancient Eladrin text. The letter said that Asrabey had been researching a way to get Summer’s memories back. The book had information on an ancient item known as the Arc of Reida, one of the few unlooted Elfaivaran artifacts remaining.

The book told that the Arc was a crown said to have been shaped from a piece of the Plane of Time that fell to the world and was a holy relic of the god Ingatan. According the the text, any who wore it and returned to the site of a memory was able to make that memory come to life. It was used in holy rites to pass on memories that must not be forgotten. Handwritten notes in the margin of the book say that the Eladrin of Elfaivar “all know” that the arc was taken for safe-keeping after the Great Malice, and the first Vekeshi Mystics used it to pass along the memory of Srasama’s fall, but eventually it was returned to a site known as Ingatan’s Refuge.

Asrabey’s letter implored Summer to go to Ingatan’s Refuge and find the Arc so that she could get back her memories of her past. Summer at first was unwilling to find memories of her past, not wanting to know what horrible things she might have done, but the others convinced her that her memories would probably hold vital clues to the schemes of the Obscurati. If her recovered memories could help stop the Obscurati, it might be worth the personal trauma.

Before they left, Stover Delft caught the team up on some developing news from Cauldron Hill. Captain Dale’s team had unearthed some documents from the ruins of the Bleak Gate facility. It seemed there was a missing member of the colossus design team: a gnome by the name of Tinker Oddcog (“The Gearbuilder”) had been heavily involved in the mechanical design. This gnome was nowhere to be found, but Delft asked the constables to be on the lookout for him.

The Knight-Constables decided that Summer’s memories were a higher priority, so they called in a favor with Captain Rutger Smith and he brought his ship, the RNS Impossible, to shuttle them to Elfaivar. It would take about a week to journey to the Crisillyiri colony of Vigilia on the north shore of Elfaivar, which now controlled the area where Ingatan’s Refuge should be.

During the trip, Summer took advantage of the opportunity to ask the stars many questions. She found out the truth about the King’s consort (it’s Alienor) on the first night. She also found out that the main dangers that faced her group in Elfaivar were from men and beasts; not very helpful. She also divined that Tinker Oddcog was currently somewhere in Ber; again, not very helpful, but at least it was a direction.

After a week of luxury cruising on the fastest ship in the fleet, the constables unloaded in Vigilia. Some asking around informed them that the nearest settlement to the supposed location of Ingatan’s Refuge was a Clergy outpost known as Vigli Longis, about a week’s overland travel through the jungle. The group set out into the wilds of what was once the most powerful nation in the world.

The journey to Vigil Longis was safe enough, but featured several strange events. One morning, when dawn arrived, they found themselves next to a lovely grotto with a beautiful waterfall. Summer warned the others the the borders between worlds were weaker in Elfaivar, and this was likely a bit of the Dreaming that had slipped into reality. In her estimation, it was probably a trap that wanted to seduce mortals, have its carnal way with them, and then devour their bodies. She advised against bathing.

The next morning, a series of bloody totems surrounded their camp, someone’s warning about trespassing in their territory. A few days later, Cazara noticed that they were being stalked by a dire tiger, but nothing came of it. Finally, the group arrived within sight of Vigil Longis. With a decent idea of where to find Ingatan’s Refuge, the group decided to skirt the perimeter of the Clergy stockade fort, but they were picked up by a picket patrol.

The patrol chaplain asked their business in Elfaivar, and Cazara channeled Xambria by saying that they were an archaeological expedition from Pardwight University who were trying to find Ingatan’s Refuge. The chaplain asked if they had the paperwork to back that up, and Summer produced it from her pockets. Clearly she had foreseen this possibility and just happened to bring along some forged archaeological permits. The chaplain told the constables that their patrols had been having increasing trouble with aggressive savages. If they came to the fort with him he could arrange an escort for their protection. When the group refused this offer, the chaplain produced some paperwork of his own: some standard risk indemnification waivers absolving the Clergy from any responsibility for the group’s future injury and/or death. The group happily signed their lives away and made their way deeper into the jungle.
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Back to the Beginning

The constables headed out into the jungle, following the directions from the Clergy chaplain. Before long, they came upon a temple set in the middle of a forked waterfall. Water fell to the right and left of a huge four-armed statue of a sitting Eladrin. Beneath the statue was a single-story stone building with few windows. A curving path led up from the floor of the jungle to the entrance of the building, with trees and heavy vines crowding at its edges.

In the trees, there were structures like houses, with very sturdy roofs and mere drapes for walls. An Eladrin lowered himself from a tree branch and greeted the group, introducing himself as Raja Batronga Sidhon. “Who are you and why have you come?” They told him that they were on a pilgrimage to the temple of Ingatan to find an ancient artifact. Batronga told them that his people, the “Children of Hewanharimau,” were now protectors of the temple, and none were allowed entry to the temple until they had proven themselves. When the group asked how they could prove themselves, Batronga asked them leading questions about their allegiance toward the Clergy (or lack thereof).

After discovering that the group were no friends of the Clergy, Batronga offered a plan: help the Children of Hewanharimau in their fight against the Clergy, and they would allow the group entrance into the temple. The Constables agreed. They spent the night in the strange houses in the trees, enjoying a great feast of nearly-raw meats with the Raja and his band of Eladrin weretigers. The group noticed that there were an unusually large number of women in the group. Batronga explained that the Children of Hewanharimau had much shorter lives than non-lycanthrope Eladrin, which led to faster breeding and, after 500 years, they had a normal balance of male and female members. Raja Batronga shared his plan to spread his people across Elfaivar and repopulate the Eladrin species with the help of the blessing of the beast-god Hewanharimau.

In the morning, the plan began. The Children gave the Constables some convincing-looking wounds and then the group ran back to Vigil Longis, pretending to seek protection. The Clergy were all too ready to tell the Constables that they had been stupid to go out into the jungle alone, but they offered up what hospitality they had. In the middle of the night, James and Alienor slipped some potions to the front gate guards, in the guise of alcohol, and got them to open the front gate of the stockade fort. The guards were immediately pounced upon by large tigers. The Clergy suffered heavy losses, though the Children of Hewanharimau had to retreat after Batronga was stabbed by a summoned angel. However, it was a victory for the Eladrin, as the Clergy troops began a disordered retreat from the jungle. Over the next several days, the weretigers harried the retreating troops and none of the Clergy made it out of the jungle.

The next day, the Constables went into the temple known as Ingatan’s Refuge. Batronga told them that even though they had proven themselves to his people, they would still have to pass the test presented by the temple in order to get what they wanted.

Inside, they found some simple rooms. There was a kitchen with a single, ripe banana next to a collection of tarnished eatign utensils. In the pantry was a collection of bread that was in perfect condition. The rest of the temple looked abandoned for the past 500 years or so, however. There was a main room with prayer mats on the floor and a carving of Ingatan holding four flames, one in each of his four hands. A hallway led back to the rest of the temple. Off of that hallway were four doorways. The group was not well-versed in ancient Eladrin religions, but Summer’s vague memories, coupled with her recent reading of Asrabey’s book, led the group to believe that Ingatan’s temple was devoted to various points in time, specifically the distant past, near past, near future, and distant future.

Three of the doorways were obscured by fog, but the nearest one on the left was unobstructed. Alienor led the way into that room and was engulfed in a blast of superheated air. Being a Tiefling, this did not bother her at all. James cast a spell he’d never used before to offer his allies protection against fire, then walked into the room and started burning. James made a mental note to always read the fine print on new incantations. The group inferred that this must be part of the ritual of the temple, so everyone went into the cleansing heat and then came back out into the hallway.

Most of the group then tried the room across the hall, though Alienor abstained, staying in the hall. Inside, the rest of the Constables found themselves once again on the deck of the RNS Coaltongue. IronPeak stood by King Aodhan, ready to vomit if necessary to help him save face. Cazara stood watch on the top of the command building, watching the skies for Gale. James was a deck below, having just spotted a mysterious Eladrin woman who was clearly up to no good. Assistant Chief Delft turned to Mort Stark and asked him to please go check on the Duchess and make sure she wasn’t going to embarrass the king by missing his speech.

And then the engine exploded and became two mechanical fire demons crashing through the top deck of the ship. Summer ran upstairs to see what was going on and she ran headlong into Mort. Seeing her for the Duchess’s handmaiden, Mort demanded that she tell him if the Duchess was safe. Summer had no idea what he was talking about, so the two had an interesting conversation in a stairwell while the rest of the group threw themselves at the demons. The main turret of the Coaltongue came to life and transformed itself into Colleen.

The group dispatched the engine demons fairly easily, though one of them exploded when it died, leaving behind a small flame. When the second one was destroyed, its inner flame merged with the flame of the first one and Cazara managed to grab the flame just before a second explosion came. The vision of the past ended and the Constables found themselves in a small simple chamber with a washing basin and six clean white robes perfectly fitted to the constables, even Colleen’s new massive steam-powered form.

The Constables moved on to the next doorway on the right, where they found themselves in the Bleak Gate facility just after Borne had climbed out. The whole place was collapsing and they started rushing for the only obvious exit: the door to Quital’s office. After they started in that direction, a trio of flames spawned in various places around the building. Thanks to James M. Chinast’s Remarkable Rocket Boots and Cazara and Summer and Alienor’s ridiculous amount of mobility, they were able to grab all three flames and join them together before the facility completely collapsed. When the vision cleared, they found themselves in another simple chamber, but this one had twelve dead bodies in it.

The twelve were Eladrin priestesses, composed in death with their arms crossed over their chests. The bodies were perfectly preserved, seeming not to have decayed a single day in the past 500 years. Cazara was struck with the solemnity of the situation. The group tried to figure out why the priestesses were preserved in this room in particular. Someone suggested that, to an Eladrin, 500 years ago was inside one person’s lifetime, so perhaps they were commemorating the Great Malice as a reminder of what had happened in the near past.

The next room waited, but before they took on that test, Alienor decided it was a great time to break out the tea set she had found in the Crypta Hereticarum. She poured four cups of tea and everyone took a moment to soothe their nerves. Everyone but Summer and Cazara, who found the whole idea of tea in the room of dead women to be in poor taste. Also, the teapot came from a dungeon full of cursed items, so they were wary of drinking “cursed tea.”
 
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Oh god, that tea set.

Way to go RHC, teaming up with some savages to kill people just trying to do their jobs. (Though if they'd gone the other way I would have commended them for teaming up with invaders to kill the innocent natives.)

Did the players balk at all at the moral conundrum?
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
I'd forgotten about the exact nature of the tea set at first, so I just told them they had a lovely bit of tea that night. But at the start of last night's session, I had each of the people who drank the tea tell me about one of their character's old friends who they had lost touch with and then described the sensation of having lovely memories of that person until the tea was finished, and then being left with a feeling of emptiness and having a chill go down their spine. They didn't seem too enthused to have another go at the tea after that.

With a Razorclaw Vekeshi Mystic, an Eladrin Vekeshi Excoriant, and a Tiefling with no love for the Clergy in the group, they had little trouble swaying the other three (who have much less solid allegiances) to their side. Liberating Elfaivar is a pretty major goal for Cazara and Summer. I read them the rest of the text about Batronga attracting more Eladrin to his side and the colony of Vigilia failing over the next few months (as a vision for Summer), and they said they felt like it was one of the best feelings of accomplishment they'd had in the game yet.
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Ah, it occurs to me that I never covered the Paragon Paths the characters took. No one took the Paragon Path that matched their Theme, but we had some crossover. I handwaved some of the requirements, depending on how much it made sense for the character.

Cazara (the Vekeshi Mystic) took Urban Empath. She's very much a cop in touch with the city, and it just felt like a natural fit for her investigative prowess.
Summer (the Skyseer) too Vekeshi Excoriant. With her backstory unfolding, and the First Blade of Srasama basically claiming her as its own, she's feeling a very strong association with Srasama. Also, Cazara has inducted her into the Mystics.
IronPeak (the Martial Scientist) took the War Veteran one whose name I've forgotten. IronPeak is a war vet, but took the Martial Scientist background, so I've been throwing most of the veteran plotlines her way. The player is an Iraq vet and she felt like she could do a good job of channeling that into her roleplay.
Colleen (the rejuvenated witchoil golem Colin from the Bleak Gate facility) took Steamsuit Pilot, more as a large-sized upgrade to her body than an actual suit. (That's a lot of fun for me because one of my suggestions for the powers got used in the final text, so I get to feel all game designery every time she uses those powers.)
James (the Technologist) took the Self-Forged path from Eberron. He is making himself into a robot, one piece at a time.
Alienor (the Gunslinger) took the Turathi Highborn path from the Tiefling book. It had a lot of the fiery powers and arrogance that are essential to the character concept.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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