WotBS Emeraldbeacon's Burning Sky (live game)

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
On their way out of the Sour Lake Swamp, the team notices several capsized boats, and recall that there is a tribe of territorial goblins living in the southern areas of the swamp. As they veer north, they're interrupted by a Shahalesti scouting unit, who claim to be screening for hostile military forces trying to infiltrate Seaquen. After a few tense moments, they are satisfied that the group poses no immediate threat, and sends you on your way. You also hear a series of low, mournful, booming cries coming out of the southern swamplands, and hasten your exit.

After spending an evening at the paladin's childhood home, currently full of boarders looking for a safe place to spend the night, you head into Seaquen proper, astounded by the sheer mass of refugees camped outside the city in horrible, dreary conditions. A brief meeting with Torrent's mentor, Lee Sidoneth, leads to his promise of setting up a meeting with the Lyceum's leadership... along with a very short encounter with a strangely modified "Biomancer," and a brief glance at Lee's pet squid, Lula.

Torrent splits off to check in with her temple, while the rest of the group proceeds to wander the north city, looking for places to spend some money. Some gear and magical items are acquired, and upon discovering the Tattoomancy shop, the Paladin eagerly has Gloves of Ogre Strength applied. The night drags on, ultimately leading to a late start the next day. Torrent did indeed get a meeting arranged for the subsequent morning, leaving the team with a day to spend, seeking their own interests...

SESSION NOTES: The party is very wary about being watched or followed, but still seem quite willing to split the party in a brand-new town they know almost nothing about. As this is their first full day in the city, they'll quickly be notified that a woman named "Jess" is looking for them, which might prevent them from splintering off too quickly...
 
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emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
As the heroes leave Torrent's temple, and debate their next moves, they find a man staring at them curiously. Explaining, with a degree of confusion on his face, that they were sought after by a woman in town, they thanked him for the notice, and entreated him to do as she asked, delivering a message to her. They trailed him to a home on the north shore, and watched him enter. With the aid of an Invisibility spell, the rogue approached, and watched through the rain-streaked windows as the man discussed his findings with three family members, and ultimately a fifth figure: a woman that matched the description of "Jess."

Jess, her suspicion piqued, began to look out the windows, her truesight revealing the rogue immediately. Signalling via Message that he'd been spotted, the team moved in... but not before he fell under Jezska's charms. As the bard went to the door, and was greeted by the family, pleasantries were exchanged, before Jezska told the commoners to kill them. An immediate shatter, in response, killed three of them, and left the last one bleeding out. Jezska removed her Hat of Disguise, revealing her plate armor and heavy weapons, then entered the fray. The fight was brief and bloody, with the entire team at risk of death, before another figure arrived: a woman, clad in the colors of the Aquiline Cross, descending via Celestial Giant Eagle to fend off the devil. Though things looked grim as even Laurabec went down, the tide turned, and as the Devil pleaded to not be killed, she was knocked unconscious.

After a brief bout of healing, Jezska was taken to the Lyceum for questioning. Secured within an Amberglass cell, she admits her own failure, and explains that death, for a Devil, is not just a trip home, but an agonizing unmaking and reconstitution; a simple banishment becomes a much better fate. In exchange for that kindness, she offers a wealth of information: What she was doing in the city, the extent of her network of mentally dominated people, and after some persuasion, the existence of a Ragesian Cell somewhere within the city, that has hijacked teleportation across the local realm. She also offers to serve the party, briefly, should they need her help in the future.

Spending a fitful night with this information, they return to the Lyceum the next day for the War Council, hearing the arguments of numerous individuals, and briefly starting some heated arguments, before they were charged to remain silent, or be removed from the council chambers. Everything settles down for a bit, until, after a particularly sharp dispute caused another round of shouting, the doors flew open, and a contingency of Shahalesti troops marched in, heralding the arrival of Shalosha, crown princess of her people. Announcing that she brings a fleet for Seaquen's protection, she extends her father's request: turn over control of Seaquen and the entire war effort.

SESSION NOTES: The Bard's first question was, "Do I commit Greater War Crimes, or Lesser War Crimes?" At the moment, she does have a small degree of plausible deniability about their role in the death of 3 commoners and the destruction of their home... The Paladin also nearly got arrested in shouting down the Magistrate in the meeting, before I had to remind them that, despite the fact that they're the heroes of the campaign, at this point (level 5), they're basically nobodies, and probably shouldn't be interrupting a high level meeting like this... ;)
 
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emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
I should also point out that, due to a slip of the tongue when trying to describe Lee Sidoneth as a Hydromancer, and the Harbormaster of Seaquen... he's now become known as the Harbormancer.

Which is going to be hilarious when the chickens come home to roost at the end of the chapter. :ROFLMAO:
 

I like it. I feel like there's an untapped well of -mancer mashups out there. I remember years ago when a Malhavoc Press book had the Diplomancer.
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
Shalosha's "offer" was, obviously, met very poorly, and the Shahalesti contingent was practically shouted out of the room... though not before Shalosha offered her own, softer stance on the matter, expressing what felt like genuine concern for the war effort. She promised to make herself available to any who wished to discuss their perspective on the situation, more directly.

Subsequently, Headmaster Simeon Gohanach invited the crew into a private meeting, where the Ragesian Intelligence was formally transferred to the Lyceum. A short bout of divination magic revealed that a top-ranking Inquisitor named Kreven penned the documents, likely under the direct supervision of Empress Leska Meridius herself. The contents discussed a project called The Scourge, which apparently meant more than just collecting "disloyal" magic users. There was also some concern about beings known as "Trillith," though Simeon knew nothing about this.

Research at the Lyceum library uncovered very little new details about the Trillith, though references to Trilla and her mother, "Syana," were found connected to a land named "Phorros Irrendra," a realm that didn't appear on any modern maps. It did, however, appear in an older atlas: some kind of hidden realm in northern Shahalesti. A local scribe promised to continue research into its nature, her curiosity piqued. Katrina mentioned that she'd recently gotten an in with some Lyceum folk, and is trying to become a full time proper student there.

A quick trip to the Wayfarer's Guild led to some quick auditions, and surprisingly successful turns by both Tiljann and the bard! Both were offered positions in the play, and Tiljann expressed an interest to stay at the Wayfarer's Guild to learn their ways.

Later, the party began to investigate reports of structure fires in the eastern reaches of the city. A soggy search of one ruin found strange holes in the cellars of the buildings, that appear to have been burrowed through, along with a faint lingering echo of "magical" energies. While some mapping and census studies uncovered no real pattern to the fires, tunnels under the cellars seemed to indicate a burrowing attack of sorts.

The next day, searches were equally fruitless, but a sudden call for aid drew everyone to a nearby home, engulfed in flame! Rushing to aid, the cellar was filled with rats, seemingly sparking with fiery power. After some tense moments, the rats were dispatched and the heroes cleared, though collateral damage to the home was not insignificant. Having retrieved specimens from the cellar before the home's partial collapse, the party catches their breath, and plans anew.

SESSION NOTES: Chapter Three features a nearly endless buffet of side quests placed before the party, and I had no idea where they would go. They chose the fires, which let me sow some early angst against the refugees... though this group seems far more saavy and clever than the online team, and they discovered the cellar connection very early. Good on them, I guess!
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
Rats in hand, the team travels to the Lyceum to see if they have any insight as to their strange, fiery nature. Speaking with a professor, they find that, while infused with a degree of elemental energy, they don't seem to have any traditional magical enchantments upon them. The fire rats were apparently created by exposure to elemental fire... a likely culprit being the land beneath the old city to the east, where the veil between the material and fire planes is startlingly thin. With a reasonable but unsatisfying answer in hand, they seek out the office of the city magistrate, to share their findings, and suggest a remedy to the fires: vigilant inspection of older cellars, and repairs to any cracks or damage to the foundations.

With that situation handled, they turned to the Paladin's mentor, Laurabec Adelsburg, hoping they can aid her in the daunting task of unifying the refugees under a single cause. After hearing her pitch, she charged them with finding what is most important to each of the major players among religious forces in the shantytowns.

Over the next two days, they move from region to region, spending time with the people: sometimes a frank discussion of needs, other times an evening of hospitality. One day they spend time healing the sick, the next they throw fists in a makeshift arena. One by one, they learn what each faction values, and begin to formulate a plan on how to best convince them all to join a difficult project together.

They spend the evening in South Harbor, exhausted from a long day's travels, awakening to the disconcerting sound of a long, mournful, echoing roar, reverberating through the rainy skies from the depths of the southern swamp...

SESSION NOTES: The party continues to be enthralled with the idea of the Tattoomancy shop, trying to find ways to abuse the system as best they can. One asked if a non-consumable material component (like the pearl used for Identify) could be applied, which seemed reasonable, but I chose to stall and make them return for a true answer. Another wanted an Efficient Quiver. I made sure that the attendant was suitably squeamish at that concept, as it would require creation of an extradimensional space within their own body... leading to some uncomfortable discussions about how arrows would be accessed.
 

Actually, in the campaign I ran that inspired WotBS, one PC got a bag of holding in his chest, in the form of a tattoo of a treasure chest.

The weirdest thing to come out of that is that he tossed an everburning torch in there, so he could open the 'lid' of the tattoo to function like a beacon lantern.

And, well, one time they did transport a prisoner in there. That was weird.
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
As the crew wakes in South Harbor, they start some investigations into the pattern of missing people there. They discover little actionable intel: the victims all seemed to be young, healthy, and able bodied, of no particular race or gender trend. While the publicised disappearances were all from the established city, a handful of refugees have also been reported missing. There seem to be no honest witnesses, very little signs of struggle, and no evidence of any kind of creature attacks. The team considers a plan to act as bait that evening, but in the meantime, begin to seek out other interesting elements of the city.

Their wanderings take them to Majestic Creations, the biomancy shop run by Paradim Dogwood. He is happy to welcome the heroes, not recognizing them from their exceedingly brief introduction at Lee Sidoneth's home. As he explains his wares and capabilities, the team respectfully declines, disturbed by both the ramifications of his projects, and his prices. Other wanderings lead them past a brothel that they elect to stay away from, and to a merchant who sells various oddities. As they inquire about certain magical items, she directs them to a man named Nathan Lowduke, who is able to offer a wide selection of items, information, and more, if the price is right, and the recipient isn't worried about strict legality. The black market broker is happy to establish a relationship, telling the team he will try to acquire whatever they ask for. He also seems quite interested in offloading a rare exotic beast, to a buyer interested in expanding their menagerie, should the party find one with a deep bankroll.

They're startled at the appearance of a GIANT BEAR RUNNING DOWN THE CITY STREETS, then relieved to find that their Druid has come from the city outskirts to join them. They stake out the brothel that night, considering that missing people might be coming from this location. The only point of note is noticing a familiar orc, who spends a suspiciously brief time in the building, before returning to Dogwood's shop.

The next day, the heroes return to consult Laurabec Adelsburg on her plan to establish the pantheistic temple. Together, they set out to present their proposals, earning three easy successes thanks to advance planning. Spending an evening in the camp of the Ragesian Druids, they plan the next day's efforts...

SESSION NOTES: The Druid had to be away for several sessions, so I stationed her to cast Plant Growth on the outlying farms while the rest of the party continued. Now she's back, in the most chaotic manner possible! I decided to make Nathan a bit more of a character this time around, painting him as flamboyant and overly friendly, with an obnoxious Tommy Wiseau voice. Half the table couldn't look at me for a couple minutes. It was great.
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
The following days were a whirlwind of negotiations with the refugee camps, intermixed with some personal endeavors, and chance encounters with unusual people. The bard spent quite a bit of time at the Wayfarer's Guild, preparing for the upcoming production of The Spectacular Trials of Toteth Topec. Aside from practice, she learned a bit about the ship itself, including its capacity to teleport long distances along with its passengers (a function that has currently been shut down, thanks to the dangers of The Burning Sky). She also learned that Guildmistress Sheena Larkins has been suspiciously unavailable, busy with discussions involving the Shahalesti, leaving the play prep mainly to Giorgio. When the bard returned to shore to meet the team, they all also discovered a body in the surf, fairly fresh, which exhibited signs of partial biomantic transformation.

Meanwhile, the conferences discussing the Pantheistic Temple were a nearly complete success, with only the Philosophers unsure of the project (and swiftly joining when most of the other power players pledged their support). Laurabec lauded their negotiation skills, and began to shift into logistical planning on the temple itself.

The team also spent some time getting new magical tattoos, and speaking with the dwarven military master, Commander Xavious Foebane. When they hesitatingly offered him information about the Ragesian Operations somewhere in the city, and the reported teleportation beacon, he reiterated that he's well-connected with what the Lyceum already knows. The troubles in South Harbor regarding missing people was less of a concern to him, preferring to focus on the big picture. He charged them all with staying alert for Ragesian interference, not missing the big picture in the city, and suggested that they look more into Paradim Dogwood's biomantic operations.

They also spoke with the Order of Echoed Souls, learning a bit about their plight in northern Shahalesti. They asked one of the older monks, a Taranesti sage, about lands of the north, to which he shared some knowledge of a childhood in Phorros Irrendra, before he joined the order. He did not recognize the name Trilla, but was quite aware of Syana, the protector of their land... a mighty gold dragon! His knowledge, though, ends there...

SESSION NOTES: One player has been particularly astute in picking up on clues and solving puzzles very soon after the hints are dropped... sometimes suspiciously so. I'm starting to wonder if he's acquired the source materials himself, and is reading ahead to obtain the lore before the actual fights. He's already been seen fudging his rolls at the table, and is a self-described metagamer... I'm a bit worried about reining him in, when the deeper mysteries begin to unfold. I also don't want to hold back too many clues from the rest of the players just because he puts them together so quickly.
 
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