ZEITGEIST EinWaterBottle's Zeitgeist

EinWaterBottle

Villager
Hey.

Some months ago, I started up a Gears of Revolution campaign using 5th Edition rules. Because I'm a pragmatic sort, I deigned from doing a game journal in case the game crashed and burned. We're currently nearing the end of The Dying Skyseer, with no signs of stopping, so I figured I should start making a little documentation.

From even before the game started, I looked up and down this forum for tips, tricks, and hacks on how to alter and expand the Zeitgeist universe. Thanks so much to all posters involved, because I'm standing on the shoulders of giants.

First, the PCs of the RHC's Task Force Three:




Kastiv, a Drakran dwarf military experiment and leader of the Task Force, picking the Eschatologist theme. The player plays a homebrew class called the Soul Binder, basically a pet class. His 'pet' is this full-plated beast named Skellig. Basically, when Wolfgang was on his journey to try and create life with Andrei, he stepped into Drakr to build up on some research. By splitting Kastiv's soul into two (him and Skellig), he learned how the soul works, giving him more of a reason to know what witchoil does and later letting him create life (even if it later turned horribly wrong).

By tying Wolfgang in, I hopefully gave Kastiv a good reason to try and track him down in The Dying Skyseer and later will give him a kindred spirit with Andrei.

Ulyana, a half-Eladrin druid, picking the Skyseer theme. Essentially a hillbilly out there in Risuri country, before stepping into the big city. Despite being a 'skyseer', she doesn't really have strong ties to the actual faction and instead just is naturally talented at reading the stars.

I'm a little unsure how to further her backstory (if I even need to), but I'm thinking to do something with Kasvarina. Late descendant? Family friend? We'll see.

Franke, a human rogue, picking the Spirit Medium theme. Similar to Gaethan in that the whole 'talking to the dead' thing really naughty word up his mental state. His family were decorated war heroes. Franke's uncle, Vendol, trained Franke in clandestine operations and basically assassin-hood. Later, it was found out that Vendol was a corrupt jerk, and he ran away from the law. The RHC picked up Franke as a constable, who's using them too as well try and track down Vendol.

Don't know what to do with Vendol. Probably have him be Kell Guild-affiliated. And later Obscurati, not as a higher-up or anything, because he doesn't seem the type to be philosophically-inclined, but as an enforcer.

Considering how decorated Franke's family is, I'm also wondering if he might not be singled out for a promotion. Especially considering we don't have a Yerasol Vet.

Amyra, a human alchemist, picking the Docker theme. A Risuri native, and just an alchemist before an expert alchemical consultation with the RHC picked her up as a constable recruit. I gave her a whole lot of backstory ties with witchoil and her latest big project being trying to investigate the weird substance -- something that has been giving her big advantages during The Dying Skyseer.

Witchoil isn't too prominent after The Dying Skyseer, so I'm wondering how to further her backstory afterwards. Her expertise in witchoil at least gives her an edge on matters related to the Bleak Gate, and later dimensional goings-on.




I started the game with a little cutscene of an Ancient opening up a portal. Just a little teaser that I'm sure they'll forget later. More for my benefit than theirs, anyway.

Then I began with the local RHC doctor, Dr. Samwell Wells, giving a psychiatric assessment of the PCs. Rorschach tests, mostly. I also put in one foreshadowing question for future cases, different for each PC.

Franke was absolutely mentally unstable, but as a medium he was much too valuable too be thrown off the team. Foreshadowing question: would you risk making a deal with a criminal to get a possible lead? Answer: yes.

Amyra was much more level-headed and reasonable. Foreshadowing question: what would you do if a coworker wasn't handing in evidence from a case? Answer: investigate further.

Kastiv was also reasonable, but his responses reflected himself a bit with his whole Soul Binder shtick. Foreshadowing question: what would you do if a wartime enemy officer approached you with a bold plan for peace? Answer: thinking it was a trick, take them in.

Ulyana was a hippie. Nature-related answers, a tendency to ramble about good-natured things. Foreshadowing question: what would you do if you saw a woman in the process of being murdered, while you were in an undercover op? Answer: ignore her if the mission was that important

I might use these as fuel for the audit later, but this was mainly a way for me as the GM to get a feel on how they interact with the world.




When they got to their offices, they overheard Task Force One (Tanya, Seven Foot Darci, etc.) being transferred off the Coaltongue job when they suddenly got wind of Gale being spotted in the city. So obviously Task Force Three are on the job, since Task Force Two (Carlao, Dima, Serena, etc.) are on the radical eschatologist job.

After a bit of debriefing, they set off by carriage.

(insert trumpet noises), because it's time for the Coaltongue's launch.

They met with Officer Bellastair (who I basically made the 'figurehead' whenever the police were involved wherever, just so they have a face for an otherwise amorphous group) and were further debriefed on the situation.

The skill challenge went nicely, and the constables managed to nab all the troublemakers before things escalated into combat. Thames got a message to Amyra to tell the governor Stanfield about city tensions rising and the possibility of a Dockers Union. She promptly did inform Stanfield.

Before the launch, Task Force Three chatted with the various NPCs.

I had Kvarti there as Pemberton's bodyguard and +1, just because I wanted to have him show up and be a little prevalent. I noted that Rutger was stated to be having a philosophical discussion with a Eschatological dwarf, so I subbed in Kvarti. Franke spoke to him and tried to suss out anything suspicious out of him, turning out nothing.

Kastiv spoke to the Duchess, who warned him about the terror of industry and all that. A little warning sign for things to come.

Ulyana had a nice talk with Pemberton, who later earned a 'favorite RP moment' from one of the players because of this interaction:

"Now ships are great and all, but we have something in the works, right? Get this... bears."

"Oh, I know bears! I can try to summon some if you like?"

"No, no, not those bears. B.E.A.R.s! Battle Enhanced Animalistic Replicants!" (foreshadowing the B.E.A.R.s that will be later seen in the campaign)


Then, Task Force Three got the chance to tour the ship. Kastiv found a nice bedroom for the Duchess. A talked about ship design with Geoff Masarde and with some of the guards around the ship. Franke scouted the ship and looked through every room EXCEPT for the one with the halfling assassin in it. He also talked to the one good engineer at the bottom, gave him advice about how to meet women, which only stung later when he turned out to be one of the few murdered.

Kastiv is tasked to fetch the Duchess before the anthem starts. He susses out that things aren't great, and looking under the door, he sees that she's jumped out the window.

Combat starts, and Iltie nearly downs Kastiv with an envenomed shortsword.

Amyra, Ulyana, and Franke head into the engineer's deck and see the mess. They fight off the squad, while Sokana tries to help to sabotage. She fails, and in the middle of the fight, she flees when she sees things not going her way (also she's not here to explode). She's never caught.

Kastiv deals with Iltie, while Amyra, Ulyana, and Franke fix the engine from almost blowing up. It was only two rounds away!

Combat ends when things are fixed, the king and his bodyguards step in, and things are good!

The king gives his speech about peace and getting married (none of the PCs are particularly anti-Danor, so they're all good with peace), and things are smooth sailing.




Until Lya Jierre arrives. I forwent the towers puzzle because I wasn't confident in my ability to portray it in a virtual setting. Still, things go decently as they are debriefed on the Axis Island situation. Ulyana immediately has a fondness and sympathy for Lya's brother Bacchus (renamed from Nathan, as I wanted to hit the Lya, Luc, Han, and Bacchus combo) as someone who likes studying the stars. I probably will have Bacchus show up at the museum.

The PCs set sail on the RNS Impossible, having a philosophical chat with Rutger Smith about the righteousness of the Duchess' cause. I'd like to think it helped push and clarify what the Duchess was trying to fight for, as well as question why the PCs were fighting AGAINST the Duchess' ways (spoiler alert: they're not too big into exploding a big ship full of people to get what you want). The PCs were vocally receptive to the debate and I had the opportunity to further suss out character philosophies.

When it's time for Task Force One to do their thing, the PCs are surprised when it turns out to go the way it did. They didn't expect for 3/4s of the team to just... die. They did manage to rescue Burton at least, and send him back to the ship. They forged on, despite the great setback.

The mines were a cakewalk. The foreman was blasted into smithereens before he even was able to command his elementals. Guiding Bolt kills, man.

Next, they manage to wrench open the sea gate as they are bombarded by waves of rebels. They take a bit of respite, before Asrabey pops up.

They follow Asrabey before the tear in reality closes, leaving them to brave Ghillie Dhu's maze. Which they do, with some effort.

Climbing up the corpse-ridden tower, they eavesdrop on Asrabey and the Duchess' dialogue. Before Asrabey mentions and learns of the possible involvement of Kasvarina, however, the PCs bust in, expecting to stop a possible murder of Bacchus.

They have a tense argument with Asrabey, trying to get him to budge. Given how powerful he is (though heavily heavily injured), he doesn't dare to show weakness. And his bluster forces things into a fight.

Asrabey was a monster in battle. Nearly killed a few PCs. The way dying in 5e works though (for PCs and important NPCs), a character was shot into death saving throws. Electing to try and keep the constables alive to maintain the relationship between Risur and the Unseen Court, Asrabey forced a healing potion down a dying constable's throat and then punched them into stable unconsciousness after. This proved to be his undoing (as a rather costly turn) when Franke finally got an arrow to penetrate his high AC and down the eladrin.

Asrabey almost died himself at the end of the day, but given his important position as an emissary of the Court, the PCs decided to stabilize him instead of letting him die from death saving throws.

They took Bacchus in, with mixed messages on whether or not he was being arrested or just detained. The party was a bit split in that regard. Back on the RNS Impossible with both Duchess and Asrabey alive, they interrogate the Duchess on her motivations. The Duchess informs the party of her dark prophetic tale, and the PCs are a little uneasy of it.

Then Lya arrives, bodyguards in tow. Rush immediately makes himself out to be a dick, as prophecy foretold. Merton is just... there, deaf and not really listening to things. Lya congratulates the PCs on avoiding war and tragedy, and invited them to a wedding! Woohoo!

Bacchus himself is transferred to Flint as essentially a political prisoner. Asrabey is sent back packing to the Unseen Court, punishment free. Burton Krill is confined to a wheelchair, his leg too far gone to be healed by a normal druid or cleric, and transfers to logistical work instead of fieldwork.

This ends the Axis Island arc and moves the PCs to The Dying Skyseer. I'll have to do a write-up later on that, because I have to meet with a friend for lunch soon.
 
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I love the psych eval questions. Nice.

For Ulyana, you could maybe give her a fey ally or contact. If they head out to Bole in adventure 3, the fey could offer help, then show up later when fey or Dreaming stuff are afoot. Maybe even use Copperhat, if you've read that far ahead. (I'm trying to be a bit vague in case your players read this.)
 

EinWaterBottle

Villager
I love the psych eval questions. Nice.

For Ulyana, you could maybe give her a fey ally or contact. If they head out to Bole in adventure 3, the fey could offer help, then show up later when fey or Dreaming stuff are afoot. Maybe even use Copperhat, if you've read that far ahead. (I'm trying to be a bit vague in case your players read this.)

Thanks! I'm pretty sure I stole the idea of the eval from someone on here... but I might be wrong on that. It's been months since I wrote that stuff, after all.

Regarding Ulyana, that's an idea. I've been sporadically reading the later adventures, but otherwise mainly Act 1. I do attentively make sure to CTRL-F any names to see if they appear in the future -- like the fact that Julian LeBrix, outside of The Dying Skyseer, is only mentioned in one line in Adventure 13! Unlike a lot of hobbyists I know, I'm not the type of person who reads adventures like this for the fun of it.

A fey contact that was maybe friends with her mother (she did mention she wanted to learn a little more of her heritage, but I forgot to mention it up there) could work. Fey business is still far off, so I have time to mull it over.

Anyway, here's some of the next adventure. Not all of it, because my fingers do get tired eventually.




We begin The Dying Skyseer with Delft informing the PCs of a flying half-elf, now dead inside the borders of Risur. The PCs, assigned to the Gale case after the tragic end of Task Force One, are immediately on alert. They head over.

During downtime, Amyra made an enemy of Deorn Feldman. So during the boat ride over, Deorn delays the party by a good half an hour. Because I made very clear to the PCs that things are rather time sensitive in this arc (murderers can flee cities, and witnesses may die if they don't get to them fast enough), they are a little worried by this.

Officer Bellastair, the liaison between the RHC and the police, debrief the PCs further at the scene of the crime. Task Force One doesn't deign to recruit the police's help further and lets them go back to their normal business.

Consulate Security Chief Julian LeBrix greets the party and beckons them in. I made LeBrix a former Axis Island prisoner and so he recognized the PCs when they arrived, and congratulated them respectively. I did this because I wanted there to be a little more connectedness between the two arcs, for the PCs to get some recognition for their work last adventure, and for the party to feel like there were NPCs that may be reoccuring, even if they don't expect it (foreshadowing Kaja Stewart).

Anyway, LeBrix explains to the PCs the case, lying through his teeth about some matters. The PCs are a little suspicious of his story, especially that of him shooting her in the leg and her motive of an egg-thief. Still, when they examine the egg, it does definitely look valuable, and so they're vaguely convinced and mollified.

They show interest in examining the Consular's office to investigate the shattered window. LeBrix instead subtly guides them away from the Consular's office and towards the corpse of Nilasa Hume. Braden is sat by her covered body, sobbing and very distraught. Ulyana tries to coax the man through his sadness, but flubs the roll; he immediately runs into the bathroom to vomit for the rest of the encounter.

Next, they find the box of brigadeiros, and we have a long out-of-game chat about pastries and our favorite pastries. After that, Amyra finds they were laced with fey pepper and notices the brigadeiros lead to the Thinking Man Tavern.

LeBrix tries to hurry the investigation, but is understandably shocked when Franke conducts his dead-talking ritual. Fearing for his story being uncovered, he tries to call the act "desecration of the dead" but is intimidated by Kastiv to stay his hand while the interrogation goes on.

They ask five questions:
1) What were your goals in targeting [the consulate]?
1a) Documents for her master.
2) Who is your master?
2a) Gale.
3) What documents and information were you looking for specifically?
3a) She sought info that would help Gale most effectively strike factories for her agenda.
4) What is Gale's agenda?
4a) Gale despises industry and its exploitation of the people, but she also realizes that being blindly violent gets her no public support.
5) Where is your base?
5a) Gale has no base, but she operates out of the district of Cloudwood.

After that horrendous affair, they investigate the outside, where the body fell. Ulyana and Amyra talk to the crowd to get some info about a man with a goatee (Wolfgang) taking the documents off Nilasa's body before fleeing into an alleyway.

Kastiv investigates the alleyway, and finds weird-looking blood in some mud. The trail of the thief? Franke meets up with Kastiv and, investigating himself, finds that there are traces of magical energy and electrical magic, used to attack.

During their conversation, a carriage driver interrupts them. She says she just drove some goatee'd man out and he ditched her, and she was hoping to find some of his friends where she picked him up. With a little bribe from Kastiv (something that might appear in the audit later?), she fesses up the man's destination: a hostel.

With multiple leads in mind, the party decides to split. Kastiv takes the body back to Dr Samwell Wells to get an autopsy done. Franke goes to investigate the hostel. Ulyana tries to retrieve Nilasa's police records file from the Parity Lake police station. Amyra follows the brigadeiros trail to the Thinking Man's.

Franke doesn't think to get Wolfgang's hostel record unfortunately (but that is remedied when a contact he made, Redd, a fixer, sends him his hostel record when she is asked to investigate into it), but is told about an officer Roger Porter who had already cleared out Wolfgang's room. Notably suspicious, Franke is unfortunately forced to meet one of his contacts (the Redd mentioned above) when this lead dries up. His contact tells him the exact thing Ulyana will be told a few paragraphs down: if you wanna meet Gale, you gotta get in with her bud Nevard Sechim.

Also, a very important note:

Franke later goes to mention to Delft that there's a case of an impersonating officer Roger Porter. Delft makes a note of this and promises to him that he'll get some people to look through some previous case files, because he recognized that name from somewhere...

This'll be explained later, but just keep in mind that this is in play, and basically helps reveal the whole mystery (or at least, the villains) for Task Force Three.

Moving on, Amyra's trip to the Thinking Man's is... mixed. She doesn't blow the encounter by mentioning Nilasa's death, and instead weasels out from Barbra Hilly that Nilasa is rather popular, probably is the one who drugged the pastries, and is interested in the criminal element. If she wants to know more, she'd have to talk to the Professors. Unfortunately for her, she finds Hennet Rinus understandably infuriating and just leaves the encounter after refusing to participate in the 'ritual'. A dead lead, because of Rinus' obstinance.

Kastiv takes Nilasa's body to HQ with no obstacle. The doctor says he'll get an autopsy for the constable first thing tomorrow morning.

Ulyana fetches the police record, to no difficulty. She investigates Nilasa's home address, leading her to Henrietta Sechim (a genderbent Heward, for funsies). Ulyana is righteously horrified when she discovers industry working conditions, and the strike from its workers. Quite approving of Henrietta's political stances and demeanor, she gets along very well with the acid seller, and through her gets an invitation to meet her uncle Nevard Sechim, the Skyseer. As a Skyseer herself, Ulyana is rather honored to meet the old man.

Franke, after meeting with his contact Redd about arranging some information trails, meets with Ulyana and goes to talk with the dying skyseer. Meanwhile, Amyra and Kastiv meet each other near the Thinking Man's and share some cinnamon buns (bought from Barbra Hilly).

Ulyana leads the discussion with Nevard, and the old man readily admits his affiliation with the terrorist Gale. He offers to arrange a meeting if she can get his dying body up Cauldron Hill so he can see into the stars for one last vision. She agrees, even to the ritual that Nevard proposes to give him the vitality of a younger man.

With the team split up, Ulyana who's only with Franke at the moment uses the spell Animal Messenger to get a falcon to deliver a note to Amyra and Kastiv. They are, understandably, rather shocked when the falcon slams beak-first into their box of cinammon buns. After taking a cinammon bun as payment, Amyra and Kastiv read the note Ulyana sent and head off to meet them at the base of The Nettles. They have a nice little pow-wow that ends with them agreeing to get Nevard up Cauldron Hill. All they have to do is fetch permission from Mayor Reed Macbannin. So they go to his manor.

At the manor, they see a scruffy old man lounging about the garden. He makes a casual comment of the current state of affairs, and Kastiv is ready to jump into a small philosophical debate with him. I put some real foreshadowing here.

"I'm sure there's an endless demand for someone waxing poetic about the state of things," says Kastiv.

"The last time I tried, I was burned," the scruffy old man says with a laugh.

"Precisely why I keep my thinking to myself! Burning to death is a bad way to end things."

"More than you know." His smile is knowing.

Getting some weird vibes from the man, the team asks him his name. The scruffy old man, glancing at the roll of Nicodemus he just finished, responded off-handedly, "Nico, why not?" and promptly left. Amyra noted that she didn't like the man or just philosophers in general.

The player characters, Kastiv's and Amyra's specifically, stated that he felt like Nico's whole spiel sounded like BBEG material. Especially since it seemed like he just named himself from a 'random' object in the environment. Oh, if only they knew.

They meet the butler Cillia Creed (genderbent, for funsies), who used to be a constable of the RHC and was actually one of the agents responsible for recruiting Franke to the service. I had Franke roll some Intelligence, just to see what he could remember about the lady. I had some degrees of success, with the highest being that he can see that she looks a lot younger than he remembers. Unfortunately, he didn't get that one. All he knew is that Cillia Creed was rather patriotic and was the first to be enraged at the apparent betrayal of Vendol (Franke's uncle mentioned in his backstory).

Then they met Macbannin. They tried to lie to Macbannin that they weren't bringing Nevard up there, but his insight rolls were rather good. He wasn't a big fan of the team's lying, and wrung the truth from them. This interaction made Kastiv rather surly to the man, even if they begrudgingly understood the fact that he is the expert of the dark arts here and thus wants no such risk to Flint.

We play biweekly. In off-weeks, I ask my players some character questions to flesh their characters out a bit. Sometimes I ask a Kiss, Marry, Kill. Kastiv said his Kill was Macbannin. Which I suppose will help for future encounters!

Macbannin gave Task Force Three the whole spiel of goat's blood and low-light fires. Franke, being already plagued with spirits and the dead for his whole life (his curse as a spirit medium), was NOT looking forward to the future encounter. Everyone tried to comfort the man. To no avail.




That was where the session ended, but that's been months passed by now. We're nearing the end of the arc now, but I'm just stopping the write-up now because hoo boy, I forgot about how much actually happened and it takes a bit of brainpower to write it all out.

I think I'm better for it, though. This little write-up has let me think about the game and past events in a more in-depth way. Lets me see where I foreshadowed things well, or where I've made mistakes and could remedy them later.
 


EinWaterBottle

Villager
So begins the next part of The Dying Skyseer.

Franke was not looking forward to this whole haunted mountain deal, already dealing with spirits in his normal everyday life, so he resolved to shore up his mental defenses by getting coked off his mind. How so? By finding Nilasa's drug dealer, of course, and buying her supply.

As written, Danisca didn't have any, but I was rather amused by the idea of Franke being coked up (and as fuel for the later audit), so I materialized some in her safe. I was expecting a sort of entrapment scenario, but that never happened. They just really wanted Franke to get coked up, which is fair enough and I did give Franke some mechanical benefits from being high as a kite.

Fey pepper in hand, the team went over to Nevard... only to get interrupted by a Kell thug giving them an invitation to a meet-and-greet with their boss, in 3ish hours. The PCs immediately made the choice to talk to Delft and get his advice on all this. I quite liked that, as it showed they do have a trust built with their superior officer.

Delft was quite approving that they went to him with this too, and he gave them some good background info on the psychopath known as Lorcan Kell. Magical top hat, not very smart but innately tough himself, cruel sense of humor, and big into knives. Kastiv made a joking comment about maybe getting him a knife as a gift, which Delft actually approved, as an officer of the law giving the crime boss a murder weapon is almost certainly something Kell would find amusing.

So they marched on over to meet Kell. The PCs were tricked by his little duplicity act, Amyra and Ulyana separating to check on the 'victim' while Kastiv and Franke chased the 'baby thieves'. Both were ambushed and led into the theatre of scoundrels.

While Kell put on a 'comedy', he informed the PCs of what he invited them over for. An exchange: a favor for him, for the location of Wolfgang. The PCs, after giving Kell a rather beautiful knife, agreed to the terms. They didn't stay for the rest of Kell's act, though. But they did hear the screams of the innocent man behind them as they left.

Troubled by the offer, they continued forward to bound their blood in Nevard's ritual, and hopped up Death Mountain. It was certainly spooky for the lot of them, as I really tried to hammer in the loneliness and spiritedness of the mountain. Reflections of their selves, feelings of bugs all over your skin, things like that. I gave Franke some auto successes on some checks because of his drugged nature.

But they settled in their circle of pig's blood, as the horrors of Cauldron Hill surrounded them. They were safe. Until Nilasa Hume appeared. They took her appearance in stride, but then the shadowy figure made itself apparent, and threw a sunrod into the center of the party. And so began combat.

Combat was tense, and Amyra was the MVP in Catapult-ing the sunrod away from the party. Ulyana, with her massive Guiding Bolt range, struck the shadowy figure in the chest and made it flee -- letting the rest of the party deal with the enemies that stuck on them. Nevard, though nearly falling, stayed alive.

And with the adrenaline of combat fading, they saw visions in the stars. A vision of the Sechim factory burning down and something else that Nevard himself needed to process. He advised the party to go save his niece, but given the beatdown (and some levels of exhaustion from the trek) they just suffered... they decided they'd rather just sleep the night away. Likewise, they didn't think it was that time sensitive of a matter.

Fair enough. That just means the Arson Twins get to do their thing, though.

Task Force Three awakens to the city under riots and flame. The players were shocked, not that their decision had consequences, but that it had so wide-ranging consequences. Considering how beaten up they were, they likely wouldn't have been able to traverse the Arson Twins encounter too well, though, so I can't blame them too much on that front. Still, everything going forward from this point is under the backdrop of an out-of-control inferno blazing through Flint.

The team make their way to Sechim's factory, but find the whole district essentially ash. Bellastair and his police squad are trying to dig free any survivors and ID bodies, to no avail. He mentions he couldn't find any sign of a Henrietta, which rather upset Ulyana.

Henrietta's fate would be determined later in this post.

Still, they had a job to do. They took Nevard up the hill for a reason after all, and that reason manifested itself when a canary flew around the party, and a voice revealed itself as the terrorist Gale -- inviting the party to a little rendevous.

The Task Force accepted, and realizing there was something more to do with this case than they realize, stayed their hand when they spoke to Gale. The eladrin revealed the makings of a conspiracy, intriguing the party. And after some hot debate and questions, they agreed to ally with Gale to figure out more about what's going on.

In the background of this conversation, Kastiv was pushing Franke to romantically entangle with Gale. Franke, being a man of culture and a symbol of Spike Spiegel, noted that his type was the "one who could kill you". So I do see a possible romantic angle being played at in the future. Furthermore, given that Gale has the ability to hear from any spot around 500 feet of her with her wind powers, she absolutely heard all of this little talk. Whether or not she responds to it all, of course, is gonna be up to Franke's words and his dice. He elected not to right now try it, though. In his words, "I'm crass, but not bad enough to say 'sorry, you're friend's (Nilasa) dead, wanna go out'?"

Still, with the artifact known as the Message Wind with which to contact Gale, and the makings of a conspiracy surrounding the case, they moved to prepare themselves for Nevard's rally. This rally, Gale had mentioned, would be to showcase Nevard's findings on top of Cauldron Hill. And given the idea of a conspiracy in the background, Gale worries for Nevard's safety.

With that in mind, they go back to the Danoran Consulate and begin interrogating Julian LeBrix, now with the idea that he definitely wasn't telling the truth about Nilasa wanting this egg. LeBrix, after some rolls, relents and lets the PCs know of the weird circumstances involving Nilasa's death. The weird vials of oil around factories. The odd numbers of smuggling in those factories.

Franke, jumping on weakness, extorts LeBrix by leveraging possible criminal charges to force him into finding any more evidence in the consulate proper. Given that Wolfgang has all the actual evidence with him, I elected to let LeBrix find some evidence listing factories. Mainly the "ones cooperating in the project" and list how much they're being paid. Some of them reference "that old disfigured spy" overseeing and coordinating with the Consular, but don't mention a name.

And they move onto their next agenda on the list: finding Wolfgang. Earlier that day, Franke's contact Redd was paid LOTS of gold to investigate, and she found Wolfgang's location. Still, without Kell's support, I noted it would be probably guarded and watched. The PCs elected to flip Kell the middle finger by extracting Wolfgang themselves without his oversight.

So before they take a rest for the day, they decide to tackle the Wolfgang lead. It leads them to an abandoned church, with some street toughs watching the front. Kastiv, who mentions beginning to weave a spell, spooks the toughs because no sane (and low level) look-out would stick around after seeing someone chanting vocal spell components. So they enter.

Franke, being the local rogue of the group, dealt with most of the traps. He flubbed one roll, however, and took a load of knives to the face. Still, he succeeded on a (disadvantaged) Stealth check to not scream out in pain, so they still got the jump on Wolfgang.

With the power of a surprise round on their side, they decimated the two Kell thugs and forced Wolfgang to surrender.

This was a bit of a tense encounter. Kastiv despised Wolfgang for what the doctor did to him (see backstory in the first post) meanwhile Wolfgang was trying to leverage the fact that he was just a bystander to his advantage. The rest of Task Force Three sympathized with Kastiv, but gently coaxed him away from doing anything too drastic and instead hearing the doctor out.

The doctor gave his version of the truth, revealing the documents he seized from Nilasa Hume, and the corner he painted himself into at the church. Kastiv and Amyra probed him on his background -- why did he do such heinous experiments to Kastiv, and what exactly did he come to Risur for? Not wanting to reveal his biggest sin, von Recklinghausen deflected and just said he did what he did to Kastiv so he can advance medical science/magic and learn the secrets of bringing life from death. Ah, foreshadowing.

Before Wolfgang could fish out the documents for the party to take, however, a shadowy figure struck, backed by some Bleak Gate assassins.

Unfortunately, the shadowy figure nova'd down Wolfgang and hucked him over its shoulder. With its invisibility and movement speed, the shadow fled from Wolfgang -- and instead of using the gated entranceway, it found the bathroom tunnel.

The party had no chance of finding the shadow figure (it rolled very, very high on its Stealth check), and it was during the rapid investigation of the church that Franke found himself face-to-face with Leone Quital, the Steelshaper.

I admit, I don't think I effectively portrayed the Steelshaper's veil of honor, but they were suitably threatened by his presence. Wolfgang was hucked by the shadowy figure onto the floor next to the Steelshaper. The man, of course, requested for the documents lest he explode and collapse the church they were hiding in.

The Steelshaper, horribly impatient at this point, brings out Henrietta Sechim out from behind a wagon. The woman had the Sleep spell cast on her and kidnapped before the factory arson incident. Ulyana was the only one with an actual connection with the woman, but she was suitably horrified.

Realizing they were backed into a corner, they began investigating the church -- first, for the documents, and second, for a possible way out.

They find the documents in a hollow column. They also connected the fact that obviously the shadowy figure managed to escape from another way out, so they began looking while Franke distracted the Steelshaper. While they didn't find the bathroom tunnel, they did find the rainwater chimney. Kastiv and Ulyana climb their way out.

Franke, to Steelshaper's face, insults the man. He even makes a show of pulling fake documents (rolling very well on the Sleight of Hand), and burning the stack in front of him. Understandably, Quital is angered by the setback and blatant disrespect, but realizes that their tracks are somewhat covered up by the documents (still not realizing they're fake) are burned.

The Steelshaper is about to kill Henrietta, but Ulyana had finally reached the top of the rainwater chimney. From her high position, she transforms into a bird (a mistake on our parts, as we forgot 5e druids didn't have the ability to wildshape into flying creatures until 8th level. whoops) and, with Kastiv riding on her back, they dive downwards.

Initiative is rolled.

Ulyana and Kastiv don't win initiative, but they do have a surprise round. Using the Amulet of Urim he kept from Axis Island, he blasts Henrietta into the sky by popping pillars of earth from underneath her body. Ulyana then snatches her unconscious body in her talons and zips off.

Leone is reasonably furious, and, using his statblock found in later adventures, starts blasting at Amyra and Franke. He rolls very poorly, but his high bonuses and damage do foreshadow his power -- something that unnerves the players. The two flee with some luckily-rolled Athletics checks up the rainwater chimney, and sprint away.

While stuck in the church, Task Force Three had the bright idea of using the Messenger Wind to request help from Gale. Normally, their fleeing would instigate some type of chase scene, but Gale sends a wave of bluebirds and canaries that block sight of the PCs.

The session ends there, and the players are suitably happy with their triumph.




And that's the second part of The Dying Skyseer. The next post will be the third and final part. After that, the posts will be basically caught up on our play. Future posts will be less massive as they won't talk about multiple sessions at once.
 

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