WotBS EmeraldBeacon's Burning Sky (online game)

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
My brain is struggling to keep your game and Tolamaker's separate, since you're both up to Seaquen. It's interesting to see how you're presenting the NPCs differently.
The moment when you finally let your party off the rails, and they start to explore Seaquen, and you realize you now have twenty-plus brand new NPCs to simultaneously monitor...
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Tormyr

Adventurer
The moment when you finally let your party off the rails, and they start to explore Seaquen, and you realize you now have twenty-plus brand new NPCs to simultaneously monitor...
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This is me every week in Zeitgeist. It felt at times like WotBS was getting me ready for Zeitgeist.
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
The team quickly decides to find out who is asking about them, finding the address in a quiet residential neighborhood along the Seaquen north shore. The Twilight Cleric applies invisibility to the Rogue, who sneaks up to the building, and uses mage hand to unlatch a window and climb in (side note, I'm incredibly amused that in Roll20, the building is a clone of the Poison Apple Pub from adventure one). Quickly interrupted by the home's occupants, they scramble back out as the window is hastily shut, and an argument begins about who left it unlocked.

The group reconvenes, discussing what to do, when ANOTHER resident of the city seems to recognize them, only a block or two away from the hideout, and makes a beeline for Jeszka's hideaway. The rogue darts in again, slipping through the door in the moment it was left open, quietly listening to the enchantment-addled discussion of the targets, sighted only a short distance away. Jeszka herself comes downstairs, berates the man for foolishly leading them straight to her, and cuts him down in cold blood... then stares straight at the invisible rogue. Sending a message to her owl to get the others NOW, things get tense, as Jeszka demands the courtesy of a surrender, in exchange for the courtesy of a merciful death.

The fight starts very quickly, and ends almost as fast, as the party virtually alpha-strikes her. Her abilities go consistently awry, as she misses three pointblank sword attacks against a mostly helpless rogue and bard, then fails to charm the barbarian. Fleeing out the window, the Twilight Cleric takes a gamble, and upcasts sleep on her right as she's about to fly off into the rainy afternoon... causing her to collapse to the ground (GM note: I made a major blunder here in a ruling on the duration of sleep; not realizing that the spell calls for a 1min duration, I ruled that it was the same as KO'ing someone, and that they'd sleep for 1d4 hours).

The party was torn on just killing her, or trying to find out more information. Eventually, they split the squad, sending half to summon help from the Lyceum (which they do not yet have a relationship with), the others to guard her and search the home for more information...
 

Tolamaker

Explorer
Her abilities go consistently awry, as she misses three pointblank sword attacks against a mostly helpless rogue and bard, then fails to charm the barbarian.
Glad to see I'm not the only one who's Jeszka had the dice working against them.

(GM note: I made a major blunder here in a ruling on the duration of sleep; not realizing that the spell calls for a 1min duration, I ruled that it was the same as KO'ing someone, and that they'd sleep for 1d4 hours)
I wouldn't worry too much about this. Whenever I've had players Sleep someone, they inevitably surround them, hold their actions until everyone can attack at once, and knock the person out. Unless it's in the middle of a pitched battle, I treat Sleep as knocking to zero hp.
 


emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
A quick investigation of the home uncovers a Ragesian order to locate the rebels who absconded with the locked case, reclaim the intelligence, and deal with the offenders... permanently. Also found are a number of pamphlets that perfectly describe the heroes as they left Gate Pass. Meanwhile, as a couple of heroes babysit the sleeping body of Jeszka, others rush off to the Lyceum for help, while sending a familiar to deliver a message to the home of Lee Sidoneth. They are met at the gates by a surly guard who has no interest in helping them, but their description of a devil hiding within the city (along with some help from Katrina, who's somehow already worked her way into a provisional membership) convinces the school to send a group of mages. Their job is to investigate, and if necessary, contain the devil until a time comes that they can efficiently return her to the nine hells.

As the mages agree that the heroes' stories match the apparent situation at the home, they all grudgingly acknowledge the service the heroes provided, while remaining concerned at their possible involvement in the attack. Once secured with magic-muffling manacles, Jeszka is dragged away, though not before crying out to the heroes (in Infernal, which only one of them understands), "I'll tell you everything if you don't let them kill me!" The Bard rushes off with the mages (and Katrina) to follow that lead, eventually gaining a provisional membership to the Lyceum himself.

Meanwhile, after some city guards help to secure the home and return it to its owners (now free of Jeszka's mind-altering magics), the party heads south to figure out what else they could do for the city. They learn, as they travel through the refugee camps, about a number of religious conflicts that have arisen amongst the desperate civilians there. They also learn about a clan of goblins menacing the swamp itself. Eventually, though, the rogue's owl familiar returns with a brief letter from Lee Sidoneth, that addressed the devil, a full audience at the Lyceum in 2 days, and an emergency meet that night...
 


emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
A brief trip to South Harbor didn't net much useful information for the party, aside from extremely expensive housing being built there. They tried to set up a system to get skilled refugees to sign on as workers to build those houses faster, in exchange for easy access to housing, but no concrete deals were made. Haddin spotted some possible connections, though, and made a decision to return later for more investigation. They picked up on rumors of people disappearing, and some mention about house fires, but were distracted by a long mournful cry, somewhere between a wail of sadness, and a roar of anger. It seemed to be coming from the southern reaches of the swamp.

The group returned to the Lyceum to meet with Lee, who arranged for the heroes to interrogate the devil, since she wasn't talking to the Lyceum interrogators. Jeszka was bitter at first, then quietly admitted that she was afraid to suffer the anguish of death again, and offered information in exchange for a pardon. After some negotiations, they agreed to petition Simeon to banish her instead, a deal that he reluctantly took. Simeon did accept the case of Ragesian intelligence at this time, though he didn't have time to inspect it yet. Dismissing the group, they head out into the rainy night, expecting to "debrief" Jeszka in the morning...
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
Returning to debrief Jeszka, the party is both relieved at her eagerness to help, as banishment will free her from the Ragesian Control she's under. They're also alarmed at the extent of her network of mind-controlled citizens, thankful that the Lyceum can start to undo her work. She also discloses the existence of a Ragesian Teleporation Beacon within the city, but her orders render it impossible for her to share anything about their identities or locations. As they turn to leave, she beckons the priest to the cell, and quietly thanks him for the mercy they've extended, swearing an oath to aid them in the future if they call upon her, to repay her debt. He is notably troubled by the idea of soliciting help from devils, and keeps the information secret for now. As they leave, Crystin has a sudden, disorienting vision of an eagle in the storm, somewhere to the west.

As the official War Council meeting is still two days off, they take some time to visit the Wayfarer's Theater at the behest of Tiljann. There, they meet a boastful, egotistical braggart in Giorgio, and the much more reserved and elegant Sheena Larkins. Ushered into the Wayfarer's Theater for auditions, they're both amazed and disturbed at the seemingly impossible interior dimensions of the vessel, rationing that it must somehow be an extradimensional space. The Bard starts off with some rather offputting comedic routines, but swiftly shifts into a dramatic monologue that stuns those present with its eloquence. Giorgio insults his appearance and early demeanor, but Sheena quickly assures him that his talents could definitely be put to use. Tiljann takes the stage, but is wracked with stage fright when trying to sing the Song of Forms. Nevertheless, Sheena sees promise in her, and promises to help her find her way. The Barbarian even decides to participate, attempting to parlay his athletic prowess into a stage presence, performing an artistic interpretation of his weapon training drills on stage. It goes over quite well, while Giorgio scoffs at the unconventional presentation. When the bard tries to object, the Wayfarer suggests that he stay in his seat and watch quietly for the rest of the event... something that, on a failed save, he is grudgingly forced to do.

At the end of the day, there are a few offers made to join the production, while the rest of the group considers reports of dangers in the swamplands, for the remainder of the day...
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
As the squad prepares to leave the Wayfarers, they take the opportunity to ask the world's premiere teleportation service, "what's up with the fiery stuff?" They learn a bit about what's been dubbed "The Burning Sky," and how its sudden appearance seemed to coincide with both the assassination of Emperor Coaltongue, and some kind of catastrophic event far away in Sindaire.

From there, they divert into the Sindarese refugee camp, based on Crystin's peculiar vision. Finding a giant eagle (soggy from the rain) near a tent, they approach, and after being accosted, quickly meet Laurabec Adelsburg, a Paladin of the Aquiline Cross. She explains how she came to this city, and her goal to help ease tensions among the people by setting up a pantheistic temple. After explaining the various factions arrayed against one another, she beseeches the heroes to help her with her task. They agree to aid her in the weeks ahead.

After reclaiming the boats they cleverly had stored near the swamp's edge, they travelled into the murky terrain, camping a short distance in. The night was disturbingly quiet and still, made marginally better thanks to a Tiny Hut. When they awoke, they proceeded to seek the goblin camp, which they'd previously learned was harassing refugees en route to Seaquen... but not before a great shadow passed over them, obscured by the rain and mist. What other terrors await them, in this murky landscape?
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
Awakening from their nerve-wracking but ultimately peaceful night in the swamp, the heroes debated what to do going forward... return to Seaquen for the meeting at the Lyceum, or press on and try to address the goblin problem? The elected to proceed for now, but not waste too much time. As they found solid land and signs of a settlement, the disputed how to address the situation, when a rustle in the bushes drew their attention.

After some nervous introductions and shows of good faith, the goblin scouts reluctantly agreed to guide the heroes to their village, where they could talk to the chief. When they arrived, though, only the chief's wife would address them, citing her husband's cowardice for his absence. A deal was ultimately struck, offering safe passage for refugees in exchange for a few trinkets and baubles, and a promise of good behavior on Seaquen's part. Though it was a good sign of beginning cooperation, the goblin woman made clear that a deal could not be guaranteed without the chief's express approval. The return trip to Seaquen was rushed, and in their haste, the party almost turned the wrong way, heading towards the deep roars that frequently echo across the swamplands. Rapidly correcting course, everyone scurried towards the swamp's edge, and made an exhaustive sprint to the Lyceum... where they managed to arrive with minutes to spare.

Now that the war council was assembled, each of several members expressed their own goals for the weeks and months ahead... some wanted to press for war immediately, while others suggested patience. some wanted to impose strict laws upon the refugees, while others wanted to try and unite them. Most foreign ambassadors were reluctant to commit to a fight, knowing that their involvement would only make them future targets.

As the discussion devolved into arguments and shouting, everyone was startled as the war room doors burst open, and a small column of extremely well-outfit elven troops marched in, flanking a beautiful and noble-looking Shahalesti woman, who addressed all present, demanding to be heard...
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
Shalosha hasn't properly introduced herself yet, and I'm considering giving her a preposterous, rambling list of titles (like Percy & Vex from Critical Role), just to make her seem self-important... this is what I have so far:
  • My name is Shalosha...
  • Formal Governor of the Glistening Plains... (her "official" role within the bureaucracy of the government is management of the southern, less-wooded half of the nation)
  • Ambassador to the Southern Neighbors... (she operates in a formal role as a diplomat to nations in the south: Dassen, Ostalin, and now, Seaquen)
  • Third General of the Solei Palancis... (she's not in command of the army, but serves as one of its primary generals... perhaps only a ceremonial role, but perhaps not?)
  • and Heir to the throne of Shahalesti as the daughter of Shaaladel, Lord over the Shining Lands. (this one's obvious)
Anyone else have suggestions on changes or additions?
 

Shalosha, Princess of the Immaculate Sun, Heir of the Aquiline Crown, Beloved Governor of the Crystal Plains, Envoy Supreme to the realms of Notus the Southern Wind, Third General of the Solei Palancis, Banisher of Darkness, Daughter of Lord Shaaladel, Lord over the Shining Lands.
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
Shalosha, Princess of the Immaculate Sun, Heir of the Aquiline Crown, Beloved Governor of the Crystal Plains, Envoy Supreme to the realms of Notus the Southern Wind, Third General of the Solei Palancis, Banisher of Darkness, Daughter of Lord Shaaladel, Lord over the Shining Lands.
I like all of this... there's only two elements I'm not sure about. I don't really want to include the term "princess" so early in her title... I want the group to feel like her credentials are constantly becoming more impressive, before dropping the small detail of, "oh by the way I'm the daughter of a king and heir to his throne." Second, I don't want the term "Aquiline" to get worn out in this game... maybe something like:

"Shalosha, Beloved Governor of the Crystal Plains, Envoy Supreme to the realms of Notus the Southern Wind, Third General of the Solei Palancis, Banisher of Darkness, Heir to the Throne of the Immaculate Sun, Crown Princess, and Daughter of Shaaladel, High Lord over the Shining Lands of Shahalesti."
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
(Late Update for last week)

Shalosha introduced herself, acting vastly superior to everyone else in the room, and laid out her own nation's case for putting them in charge of not only the war effort, but Seaquen itself (for the time being). The uproar and outrage was instantaneous, especially with the resident Taranesti survivor of Phorros Irrendra fiercely claiming that no one guilty of genocide should be allowed to lead a war. Shalosha challenged the claim, explaining that an elf as young as she could not have truly understood the situation. The bard, though, picked up that while she was repeating a general script, she didn't fully buy into it... this High Elf Princess wasn't really all-in herself, on the plan she was trying to sell.

After the commotion died down, the party met with Simeon and Kiernan to discuss the Ragesian Intelligence more directly. Simeon confirmed that the papers, written in Infernal, had some kind of magical cypher encoded upon it to make it virtually impossible to read... but perhaps the security of the information ON the documents made its original owners a bit overconfident, and lax in PROTECTING them. A few things were for sure, though: they had to do with a project called "Scourge," but perhaps not JUST the effort to capture magic users. Schematics for some kind of facility, largely underground, were also present. Simeon promised to continue working on decoding, while Kiernan expressed that he may have tasks for the crew once actionable information was available.

The next day, the party traveled to meet Laurabec, agreeing to help find out how to negotiate with the disparate religious groups in the region, trying to get them to work together for a change. So far, they learned a great deal about how to convince the Sindairese Mages and Dasseni Scholars. Moving into the Ragesian camp, they first encountered a large tent with a major crowd milling about, chanting and shouting. As they inquired further, they found that it was both a makeshift temple, and an arena... a site of worship for the goddess of strength, conflict, and struggle. Almost all at once, the Barbarian was whisked into the ring, set to face the next challenger. Now if only he knew the rules of combat, here...
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
The Barbarian soon met his opponent, a freakish mutant orc of some kind, wearing runed armor and carrying a similarly runed axe. As the battle was joined, the pair spared no time charging one another, dealing blow after brutal blow. Though the fight was scheduled to only last until first blood (i.e. first to half hit points), neither combatant seemed willing to stop, as both were locked in the thrill of the fight. After the Rune Knight dropped his opponent to only 1 HP, he missed his final attack, letting the heroic barbarian deal a final, non-lethal blow. Celebrated as a champion, they separated to learn more about this tribe, and gleaning important information for the eventual plan to push for a unified temple.

Pushing further south as the day wore on, they stumbled into a horrid part of the Ragesian camp, where dozens, even hundreds lay injured or sick, as a handful of overworked and stressed priests tended to them to ease what suffering they could. Attempts to engage in small talk ended poorly, with harsh dismissals, but the local cleric was keen to help on his own behalf, and application of direct magic definitely reduced their suffering. After making a donation towards their healing efforts, they went on their way, a bit wiser, and a bit more concerned about the fate of these people.

As the night drew closer, they proceeded to the South Harbor, meeting up with Haddin, who'd quietly wormed his way into the mayor's good graces... and discovered the plotting of two Ostaliners, who were expertly using the good mayor for their own purposes. Revealing the existence of a black market among the south harbor, Haddin planned to keep using his subtle influence to uncover information for the heroes, as they settled in for another cramped night in a Tiny Hut. The morning came quickly enough, but as they began to explore the city, cries rang out... another fire had started!
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
A question... How would you recommend toeing the line between making Lee Sidoneth seem like a threat, while still making him appear likeable and believable as an ally? I'm trying to throw some bait-and-switch tactics in there, including making Shalosha seem more antagonistic than she really is, making Giorgio seem more like a pompus jerk than an actual threat, and so on. My current plan for Sidoneth is threefold...
  1. Create a rift between Torrent and Lee. If Torrent is finding her mentor becoming more and more distant, she may be worried about what he's keeping from her, and make the party start to become suspicious.
  2. Get Simeon to point a finger at Lee. Maybe he has divined that the growing, perpetual storm over the city is somehow being held and controlled artificially, and that he's becoming increasingly frustrated at Lee's inability to deal with the problem, prompting Simeon to ask the heroes to demand an update from Lee.
  3. Have Lee to ask the party to get Torrent out of town. A the storm gets really bad - probably with only about a week until the big performance - Lee would summon the heroes, specifically without Torrent present, and explain that something is going on that he's not sure he can stop. He asks the heroes to collect Torrent and just leave town, get out before things get worse, because he couldn't bear for her to get caught up in his failure to stop this storm. (This is, of course, a thin coating of truth covering a massive lie, as he himself is orchestrating the storm, and only wants the party to leave as they might discover his plans. Getting Torrent to safety is a minor boon, because he does genuinely care for her safety.)
 

Fuzzybear

Explorer
I don't know your group, but for mine I would think 1 and 3 would be massive red flags for my group. Torrent has been painted as someone to trust from the introduction - a mentor to learn the world initially from - so anyone that picks problems with her would be a big deal. Similarly anyone that wanted to get someone out of town like that would be a concern that they know something about what is coming. I don't know how much of their hackles you want to raise, but both of those would be really dangerous for any secrets you may want to keep.

As for 2, I like this personally because it holds a lot of real application. Lee is a high level druid, he should have some control over weather by this point. So it seems reasonable that Simeon would ask him to look into this personally. If he hasn't been at Lyceum recently, Simeon may want a report and the PCs are reasonable choices to go get this for him if they are trusted by Simeon at this point.
 

emeraldbeacon

Adventurer
I guess my plan was to paint the separation between Torrent and Lee as her saying, "He's withdrawn, not talking to me, I feel like there's something wrong." And him half-lying, "I do not want her getting drawn into this, so please don't tell her."

I may stick to just #2, though... Lee hasn't been at the Lyceum lately (Lee can later claim he's been working on the weather problem privately), and Simeon wanted to ask for his advice about the weather. It's not clearing, and Simeon detected some degree of artificial control via divination, making him believe that someone (Ragesia? Shahalesti? one of the other parties?) might be trying to wash away the city without being identified. Asking the party to inquire with Lee about it could get them thinking about "wait, maybe we should have been focused on the rain some more."
 

Tolamaker

Explorer
I think #2 is a good option, because it doesn't paint things as suspicious, just that things aren't going according to plan. Lee can offer excuses, or potentially offer a sidequest that is really just a waste of time to keep them off his back. However, I think you could potentially work in tidbits of #1 as well. I feel like I did a pretty bad job at any sort of foreshadowing, but after the storm, when my players broke the news to Torrent, I had her mention how even through he was her mentor for many years, they haven't been able to spend any time together, and he's always busy. Your Torrent could do the same thing, to varying degrees. You could not play it up, and simply makes it something that makes sense in hindsight, or you can really lean into it, if you want them to start doing to some investigating into the harbormaster.
 

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