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Erkonin (Campaign #1) [Session 16: Land Shark]

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
This is based on notes taken by a player in a 5E campaign I've been DMing for just over two years, as I start this thread. We game every two weeks; I'll be posting every week until I catch up with the campaign. I'll be attaching documents to the entries where they become relevant. You'll be finding out about Erkonin (the world) and Urnod (the continent) about the same pace as the players--it'll be cool, I promise.

Session 1: Embernook's Zombie Problem

Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)
Mo - Goliath Bard
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin

GM - Everyone Else


Third Day of Feast of Sky, 748 (Campaign day 1)

We started on the last day of the 3 day Summer Solstice Festival, the Feast of Sky. All of us were, for our various reasons and in our various individual capacities, on the streets on the edge between the Nook neighborhood of Embernook (not a nice part of town) and Pierton (where the shipyards for building and repairing boats are). We were on or around a street that ran along the river.

Joybell and Imaktis were together preaching the beauty of nature but the rest were sort of scattered in the crowd of revelers out drinking and enjoying the tail end of the festival.

Then we heard screams and people were running away from the Pierton neighborhood up the road and down the side streets. 5 Zombies were shuffling along the street. Interestingly they looked very fresh - like they hadn’t been dead long at all.

They attacked the nearest random bystanders -- so three stopped to attack civilians about as soon as we saw them and two more continued toward where the PCs were scattered around.

One of the fleeing civilians bowled Joybell over as he fled, leaving her prone.

One of the three zombies attacking civilians hit and dropped his right away. Instead of immediately starting to eat, it slung the person over its shoulder and prepared to shuffle away.

Fiona was blasting at one of the more distant ones with Fire Bolts and Taman was able to sneak attack with his bow and got in some good licks. Orryk was the furthest away, so he was moving up as fast as he could at first, then throwing darts with disadvantage until he finally got into range. Mo was using Vicious Mockery to give one disadvantage on attacks, which was quite effective against the zombies. Imaktis cast Shillelagh and was able to get into combat right away with the one who was carrying a civilian. Joybell had to stand up and then move so she missed out on a round, but then she got right up on the ones who hadn’t yet found people to attack.

The three zombies attacking civilians all killed their prey and began shuffling away with them slung over their shoulders, so Imaktis and Taman were following, while Mo and Fiona were staying within spell range. Joybell and Orryk took care of the two that hadn’t found civilians to attack.

We had a couple of Iron Zombies Who Would Not Drop in this combat -- they lasted for ages and it took a while to get through them. The pursuit down the street went quite a long ways. Finally they all dropped and we were able to stabilize the three civilians.

Mo cast Prestidigitation to clean up the civilians, so they wouldn’t come to with zombie ick and blood all over them.

Joybell and Imaktis and Taman tried to backtrack them. When we lost the track, we talked to a person on the street. He didn’t see anything, except he heard screams and ran inside. (Weenie.) He seemed so calm about everything both Imaktis and Taman thought he was hiding something or lying. Apparently he wasn’t though.

Mo and Orryk and Fiona talked to the constables when they arrived. They took a look at the zombie bodies and found that they were blue collar/working class people with nothing valuable on them. They did have some tools, though. Orryk recognized them as tools for caulking a ship.

Joybell talked to a rat on the street and got more information than she got from the person she spoke to -- the rat saw a person carrying a person and pointed us in a specific direction down toward where there are derricks and ship-making, erm, stuff visible.

Mo looked around for anything like a union hall or a ship-builder bar - any place where people who work in this neighborhood go to drink and hang out together after working hours, but he didn’t find anything. Which seemed a little strange.

Not having succeeded at finding any people on the streets or in bars, we talked to the night watchman at the first of the shipbuilding yards. He was not very helpful -- we asked if there were any new ships in for repairs and he said no. I believe the intent of our question was to ask about in the whole area and he was answering about his specific yard. Which made this question and answer session less helpful than it might have been. Imaktis tried to bribe him to let us in to look around -- he refused the money and said we can go in and look around but “Just don’t get killed.”

Huh-what? That was such a weird thing to say that there was some paranoia among the party as we looked around. But we found nothing interesting in the shipyard and didn’t die, which we reassured him about on the way out.

We didn’t want to go through conversations with obtuse security guards all the way down the line of eight shipyards, so we just walked along the riverfront looking for one without a night watchman.

Finally, the last one had an empty watchman’s booth and we went into the yard, after some discussion with Imaktis about whether it was okay to break the law and trespass. (Joybell pointed out the exigent circumstance that we believed some people were brought there by zombies and we might still be able to rescue them. She also promised that the first thing she and Imaktis did on leaving would be to go to the constable.)

We went in through the open gate and quickly saw some shuffling tracks in the dirt leading between a couple of 20’ tall buildings to the shipyard’s drydock. The buildings had derricks or cranes jutting out over the boat in the drydock. There was a long, low building immediately to the right of the gate that was shuttered and dark.

As Fiona and Taman and Mo followed the tracks (not waiting for the results of Imaktis’ discussion with Joybell), Orryk checked to see if the door to the building near the gate was locked. As he did so a shadowy hand emerged from the wood and almost dropped him (he went down to 1 HP). When they all emerged there were 3 Shadows attacking. One stayed on Orryk, one went after Mo and one went after Taman, almost dropping him as well.

Mo used Healing Word on Taman and then proceeded with the Vicious Mockery to keep that one wearing the Ring of Shame (i.e. attacking with disadvantage). Imaktis healed Orryk some.

As soon as Fiona and Joybell had two of the Shadows down, 3 Zombies came shuffling off the ship. Orryk started advancing on the zombies on Fiona and Taman (who were nearest the boat) and kicked some butt with his darts, even at disadvantage because of range.

Imaktis Shillelagh’d and moved over to the Shadow on Mo with a nifty tumbling motion and a hefty blow -- he rushed right into the thick of things like a crazy turtle. Joybell followed him and dropped it.

We got through all the zombies without any of them being quite as crazy durable as the ones on the streets.

When we dropped all the zombies, Joybell took a look at them. Like the ones in the streets, they were all quite fresh. They were all attacked with a bladed weapon but had died from some sort of magical energy. Fiona looked at them as well and determined that the magic involved was some sort of life-draining magic.

Taman went onto the deck of the ship to look around and didn’t see or hear anything. While he was there, Orryk climbed up to the roof of the nearest of the tall buildings -- he didn’t see anything on either rooftop, so he climbed back down and opened up those two buildings. They were just workshops with tools, nothing interesting.

Taman came back from the boat and we all headed to the low building that the Shadows came out of. We looked around and found just an office building with office stuff. (Note: We should check this -- it will help confirm the last time any work was done at this shipyard.) It looked like the last work was done in the office two weeks ago.

Huh.

So we all went back to the boat. There were two hatches on the deck of the ship. Joybell put a heavy barrel of nails on one of them, so nothing could come up through one hatch and attack us from behind while we were exploring the other.

We all peered down one of the hatches, with the help of Fiona’s Dancing Lights, and saw a hint of movement, but no detail, and heard an angry hiss from the shadows.

We decided to go down with a descent order of Imaktis, Taman, Joybell, Orryk, Fiona and Mo. (The party appears to have four people who want to be in front… :D)

As soon as Imaktis got down the ladder, he was surrounded by 4 Zombies and something in the darkness yelled “Get ‘em!” No one else had gotten down there before the thing shot an actual arrow at him out of the darkness.

Imaktis ignored the four zombies and went straight toward the thing in the darkness. He saw something withered and undead -- it had been dead longer than the zombies we’d seen thus far and had glowing red eyes, as well as a sword and a longbow.

Taman got down and Mo gave one of the zombies disadvantage on its attack with Vicious Mockery. Joybell jumped down and took a swing at one, but missed. Orryk came down and did good damage.

Imaktis cast a light spell onto the big bad’s nose - “Boop!”. The Big Bad blew the save and was glowing. From his nose.

Imaktis recognized the big bad as a Wight -- people who die from its life-drain effect come back as zombies under its control. Wights are resistant to non-silvered weapons, which was a pain because none of us have those. Apparently magical weapons (like Imaktis’ shillelagh) get through that resistance.

About the same time Imaktis was remembering this about it, the wight hit Imaktis with his two attacks, critting on the life-drain, and very nearly killed him outright. (He was down with two failed death saves in one attack sequence.) Mo got him back up with Healing Word!

Joybell and Fiona took out the last zombie while the others worked on the Wight. Mo viciously mocked it, repeatedly, to give it disadvantage on its attacks. Very helpful!

Once the zombies were all down, everyone (including Joybell and Fiona) dogpiled on the Wight. Taman slipped around behind it and backstabbed it and Orryk was just pounding the crap out of it, while Mo kept it at disadvantage with vulgar insults (“prick tickler”, “ball dangler”, “dumb schlonghole”). Fiona was shooting fire bolts at it through the hatch. (Neither Fiona nor Mo ever felt a need to go down the hatch because they could do their things from on deck.) Finally Imaktis did it the final damage and it collapsed in on itself and dropped into a rotted husk of a corpse, still glowing where the nose was.

Then we finally got to look around and found that the ship was under substantial renovation. This deck had all the interior structure removed (except such supports as are necessary to keep the top deck up and the ship together). It didn’t appear as though anyone had worked on it for a couple of weeks, though

We did find a great big pile of treasure.

Fiona identified the magic items while the rest of us were looking around. Imaktis wasn’t sure it was right to keep the money -- it belonged to someone before it belonged to the Wight and it should go back to those people -- but the others were pretty sure it was fine. Including Joybell, who wanted her share unless there were survivors who needed it.

Imaktis and Joybell went to find a constable hoping that someone official could help sort things out. And because Joybell promised him that they’d do that as soon as possible. They found Commander Mogree of the Night Watch.

While they were gone, Fiona figured out that someone had made a Shadowpool, a crossing to the Shadowfell, in the deck of the ship. It was done by precise placement of items on the deck, so that there was an exact correspondence between this world and the Shadowfell in this place. The wight doesn’t seem to have made it, though it could have come through the Shadowpool once it was formed. The party broke the arrangement and closed the Shadowpool.

Commander Mogree recognized some of the zombies here (there’s not enough of the wight left to recognize) -- they’re dock and shipyard workers. They should not have had anything like that much treasure and he couldn’t account at all for the magic items. He determined that while the treasure should probably belong to the city, because it was recovered without an owner having claim on it, we could keep it and divide it as we see fit. He said that we’d done good work for the city by stopping the zombies and killing the wight.

We asked if we could become official deputies or something to continue to look into this -- who made the Shadowpool? Why? Are there other things that came through that are laying low? When was it made? Mogree said that he’s just the night watch commander and couldn’t answer that question without talking to others. We’re to go to the guardhouse before noon tomorrow to talk to the Chief.

[Party advanced to Level Two]
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 2: Shadows and Stairs

Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)
Mo - Goliath Bard
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin

GM: - Everyone Else


Third Day of Feast of Sky, 748 (Campaign Day 1)

Before leaving the shipyard, we decided who got what of the treasure we found (which we decided was better done in the privacy of the empty boatyard rather than at a pub). Then we went to the nearest pub, the Pewter Oar, on the border of the Pierton & Nook neighborhoods.

Imaktis went off on his own for a bit while we were getting settled (and getting the first round with the one gold that was not easy to divide amongst us) but he knew where to come back to.

Some of the other people in the pub had seen us fighting the zombies, so we were treated to a few drinks by grateful people, in addition to buying a few on our own. Mo, Taman and Fiona make arrangements for rooms at the Pewter Oar.

Joybell asked someone who looked like a shipyard worker about that last yard down the line (where the wight and zombies were) -- have people been working there like normal? Have things been weird? The shipworker said that there were people walking around it and he’d assumed that they were the right people.

We introduced ourselves to each other, at least a little bit. It turns out that no one is from Embernook -- Taman has lived most of his life in the woods somewhere (but not near the druidic circle that Joybell grew up near). Joybell, who stayed in the city for a few nights here and there during her training at the Basalt Henge (about a day’s travel out on the Black Field) had spent more time in Embernook than anyone else. Most of the party arrived in town the day of the Incident.

We talked about continuing to work together, because that one evening’s work was very profitable. Joybell and Imaktis were both in as long as we were making a name for ourselves helping people and doing good. We don’t want to be just out for money or being random. But if we’re helping people, then yes, we’re for it.

Taman, who plays a flute, and Mo, who plays a pipe (instrument) that is also a pipe (smoking), had a small music contest for the price of a drink. Mo played a “light and jaunty dwarven song about killing duergar”. Taman played the song his dad taught him. Which is the song he knows. They were both good but Mo did win the contest.

Orryk and Fiona talked about elemental magic.

Eventually, when folks started getting too drunk. Joybell and Orryk went to the lodging house (run by a rock gnome named Queena) where Joybell stays in town. Orryk asked about where he could do research on the elemental planes and was pointed to the loose association of wizards in Centerkeep, who don’t really work together, but they are connected and pool resources. He should be able to find an archive or library there. He was also pointed to the Nook, where he can ask around about freelance wizards who aren’t joiners.

An important bit of local culture we learned from Queena is that people in Embernook, once bought, stay bought -- so you can count on someone not ratting out that you asked for information if you pay them not to.

Imaktis went to the temple district and talked to the clergy there (while he was also there getting a place to stay) about the Shadowfell. He learned: Wights make zombies and control a limited number of them directly. Wights and Shadows want to kill people, and will make other undead along the way, but the main goal is killing. Wraiths make spectres. And Ghouls want to eat people. Some undead are more connected to Orcus (who is not a god, he’s a demon-lord and can’t grant spells, but can make havoc).

Shadows are especially bad because they make more shadows in an exponential progression sort of way. When Imaktis told them about the shadows we encountered in the shipyard they were more concerned about that than they were about the wight. Imaktis was fortunate to have survived.

Because of all of this some humanoid cultures burn corpses to prevent animation and undeath.


1 Sunnin 748 (Campaign Day 2)

The next morning, we all met up again at the Pewter Oar. Mo bought breakfast for everyone, including eye-opening breakfasts, meat and eggs.

Over breakfast we discussed our goals for our conversation with the Watch Chief, Ullar Truehammer, who Mogree referred us to the night before. We agreed that we wanted to find out what happened, we wanted to be authorized to look into it further, and we wanted some sort of a reward (though there was a bit of a difference of opinion as to whether we’d be satisfied with the knowledge of a job well done or we wanted living expenses (or more) in addition).

We went to the Watch House in Centerkeep -- a stone building a couple of stories tall. The person at the desk took us up to Chief Truehammer, who was clearly expecting us. As soon as we walked in, while Joybell was explaining what happened (at length) and the Commander Mogree had told us to come talk to him, Chief Truehammer pulled six pieces of paper out of one drawer of his desk and six arm-bands out of another. As he was handing us the papers, Joybell asked if he even knew our names and he rattled them right off. (I suppose it helps that we’re a pretty distinctive group -- two Gnomes, a Tortle, a skinny Goliath, a half-elf and a human. (In a largely human city.)

The arm-bands identify us as associated with the guard -- if there’s a scrap or a problem, the guards won’t attack people wearing the armbands, because they’re assumed to be helping. The Papers authorize us with the rights and responsibilities of the city guard -- we are deputized as members of the Watch, but it is an entirely at will arrangement on both sides. We can leave when we want or they can fire us.

We are going to be making the standard wages for a Guard -- 1 silver piece per day each. We are also allowed to keep what we find. Chief Truehammer wants us to report it (in case something that was specifically reported stolen turns up) but we can keep it.

Mo tried hard to negotiate for higher wages. Joybell “helped”.

Mo (to Truehammer): You’re asking us to fight this for one silver a day…
Joybell (to Mo): Oh, no, they’re not asking. We’re offering.

We also got some information from Chief Truehammer. Outbreaks of undead and people creating shadowpools in the city is not a normal thing in the city. Good to know. However, anyone who made one Shadowpool might make more, so this person needs to be stopped permanently. Orryk (I think) asked if there had been any fiends summoned into the city or incursions of fiends. That has happened in the past. (Joybell was completely shocked by this.)

Istin’s Yard, the shipyard, is a family business (owned by the Istin family, not surprisingly) that has been in the city for a long time. He gave us the address for the family residence, so we could go talk to them. He had some information for us -- the ship in the yard (where the shadowpool had been set up) had been there for about a month. Istin’s had been contracted to do restoration below the waterline, which is why the ship was in drydock. This was to be a very thorough refitting of the ship, so the owners have not been expecting or demanding updates or information.

The people who were turned into zombies had been largely identified. Most of them were workers at Istin’s, though not all of the workers are among the dead. There were a few who have not been identified but may have been revelers or visitors to the city. (The ones the rat saw carried away by the zombies.)

He also gave us the names of some of the wizards in Centerkeep to talk with about the creation of a shadowpool and if anyone has been publicly looking into that. He gave us a letter of introduction to two of the wizards.

Someone (maybe Taman or Fiona) asked if there was anyone in the city’s government, the Council who might be disgruntled. Or if the City Administrator might be somehow sabotaging the city. We were told that the City Administrator (who serves at the pleasure of the council and has been doing so for seventy years) was completely beside himself when he heard about the Incident. Chief Truehammer wasn’t aware of any infighting on the Council, though he said he wouldn’t be. But he could go to the Watch’s representative on the Council and ask there.

We told him that he could get a message to us either at the Pewter Oar or at Queena’s lodging house.

After leaving Chief Truehammer’s office, we went to the Istin family residence to talk to them. On the way, Mo used Prestidigitation to clean us all up and make us presentable. We decided to wear the guard armbands when we knocked on the door. (At least, some of us “decided”. Imaktis was wearing his all the time and Joybell was following Orryk’s lead on when to wear it or not.)

At the Istin house, a butler took us, after a moment’s wait, to see Ser Istin (“Ser” is a title, not a name) and were introduced by the butler as “guardsmen”. The armbands worked. Sort of. Ser Istin was a human gentleman in his 40s dressed nicely. He had been informed of the Incident at the shipyard and was aware that he’d lost most (nearly all) of his workers. Joybell and Mo felt like he was honestly upset about that, though it was hard to tell if he was more upset about the loss of life or because he needed to hire a new workforce.

Mo asked if this had happened before. We were told that it’s not unheard of for a worker to fall or have an accident and be injured or even killed. But never before had the entire shipyard been attacked like this.

He had not personally been to the shipyard in weeks -- he had a foreman for this lengthy refitting project (the foreman, Orn, was among the definitely dead) and his presence wasn’t required on a daily, or even weekly basis. He gave us the names and addresses of three workers who weren’t turned into zombies -- it’s not certain that they survived, but they at least haven’t been identified as dead. There were no third-party contractors hired for this project.

Mo asked if he had any enemies -- if this could have been an attack on his business (with the dead workers simply collateral damage) or on him personally. Ser Istin denied having any enemies. The other shipyards are rivals, but they’re not really enemies -- they charge about the same and have about the same expenses, and if he’s got a ship in his dry dock, it doesn’t hurt him to have work go to another yard.

Mo tried to get Istin to pay us extra to look into it, but because we were there as guards, Ser Istin wasn’t biting. “It would be worth every copper I pay in taxes…”

After we left the Istin house, the party separated for the afternoon. Mo and Joybell went to talk to the three workers who were not among the definitely dead. Everyone else (Taman, Fiona, Orryk, and Imaktis) went to talk to the wizards in the Centerkeep.

Mo and Joybell went first to talk to the nearest worker in Pierton, a Rock Gnome named Burlin. Burlin came out on crutches with a splint on his lower leg. Mo immediately offered healing, but Burlin said he’d gotten all the help that healing magic could give and it would just take time for the injury to fully heal at this point. He got hurt at the yard about two weeks ago, in just a normal sort of occupational accident. He hadn’t seen any weird people going on or off the ship -- but some of the other workers had seen someone who didn’t belong there and one of those was on our list of possible survivors. As they left, Mo slipped Burlin a gold coin to help him out until he was back on his feet.

They went from Burlin’s to the house of the person who might have survived who’d seen someone strange at the shipyard, a young human named Tarl. Tarl had heard about the stuff that happened at the yard, though he quit a couple of weeks before because he got a better offer (helping to run his brothers shop on Allacross bridge). He did remember seeing someone strange come off the ship one morning when he and a few others got there very early to stage some equipment and supplies for the rest of the work crew. They got there early in the morning (pre-dawn) and saw a tall, skinny human man wearing studded armor and a sword walk off the ship and out through the yard without stopping to acknowledge or talk to them. It was weird to him, because there’s not much worth stealing on a ship in drydock. Mo asked if he would believe that anyone who worked for Istin could have done something that would have killed so many people. Tarl said no, but he would believe it about that strange man. He smelled like dead meat. Apparently, the night watchman saw the man leave the shipyard, but hadn’t seen him enter in the middle of the night.

The final worker, visited mainly for completeness’ sake, was named Zenan. He was actually still an employee of the yard, if the yard was still a going concern, anyway. He’d missed work the day of the Incident because he’d called in sick with a stomach bug (Joybell thought that it was more likely he was hungover from too much revelry at the festival, but no matter). When asked if anything had seemed strange about the ship or what was going on at the shipyard he said that the first deck down near the bow (where the shadowpool formed) smelled a little funky and had been getting worse. Like something died there. And it was cold in that area and it just never warmed up. He hadn’t seen any strange people going on or off the ship. He also said there were no new workers.

The other team, Taman, Fiona, Orryk and Imaktis, went to Centerkeep to talk to some of the loosely organized wizards (not a freelance wizard). The two they were given an introduction to were Tulmor (a woman in her 50s) and Barnett (a man in his 30s), both humans, who share a tower in the city. Tulmor did most of the talking.

They had been informed about the shadowpool that was formed in the shipyard and gave some information about them. The tricky part of setting up a shadowpool is knowing what’s in the Shadowfell in order to make the correspondence. Once one has the knowledge of what is there, it’s just a matter of moving things around to make the correspondence. It is theoretically possible for it to have been made from the Shadowfell side, though she’d never heard of anyone doing so. It is also possible that it was made by accident, but that is very rare.

Taman asked if someone could have remade the shadowpool overnight because it only took us a few minutes to move things around enough to break it. Fortunately, it takes a bit of time (two weeks) for the shadowpool to form once the correspondences are set and during those two weeks there needs to be no sunlight in the area (including spells that specifically make sunlight).

Taman tried to get information about how one knows what’s on the Shadowfell side to make the correspondences -- would divination or scrying spells work, for example, but my notes don’t indicate that we got a satisfactory answer to that. But that knowledge is the hard part of making a shadowpool. Setting one up on a ship in drydock isn’t a bad choice for a long-term but not permanent pool -- as soon as the ship moved out of drydock it would have been broken in any case, but the ship wasn’t going anywhere until the repairs were complete.

We were told that if one sees enough shadowpools, one can start to recognize whether they were made by the same person. There becomes something almost like a style about it.

Taman asked if anyone had come around asking about shadowpools. Tulmor said that no one had paid them for that information, as a way of indicating that they had not been bought.

Orryk had some questions about the elemental planes and crossings to them and he and Fiona got an invitation to come back and look at the books in their personal library about it.

Also Taman hung back to ask a personal question and paid Tulmor and Barnett to look into it. And to not tell people they’d been paid to look into it.

The party met back up at the Pewter Oar to share the results of our conversations over dinner. When we were finishing up the main course, a guy in a guard uniform rushed in, sweaty and exhausted, breathing hard, and very spooked and said that Mogree had said to find us...things...human-like things were eating people in Fisher’s Walk (on the other side of the river).

We left him collapsed in a chair at the pub and went running toward Allacross bridge and the Fisher’s Walk district on the other side of the river. After we crossed the bridge, but before we got really into that neighborhood, we heard screaming from inside a building near the bridge.

There was a sign outside the building that said “Kell’s Boardinghouse.”

When we got there, it was late evening, but there were still a few hours of light left, we saw a person, screaming, run out through the door of the boardinghouse, slam the door shut behind himself, then fall on the stoop as his scream died away. As he lay there a flickering black form came out of his chest then went back into the building, passing through the door.

Looking around outside the building there’s a small yard and service alley in the back.

That was a Shadow -- which meant it was a higher priority than the “human-like things eating people” (maybe ghouls), because Shadows multiply.

The front door of the building was closed and all the ground floor windows we could see were shuttered on the inside. We were reluctant to get too close (remembering what happened to Orryk at the shipyard office when he nearly got dropped by one) so Mo grabbed a rock to through through the window and shutter.

As he threw the first rock, Joybell cast Bless on herself, Orryk and Imaktis. Orryk readied a shot with his short bow.

When Mo threw the rock, the shutters got knocked open and we saw a dining room with a shadow in it. Orryk immediately fired his readied shot and hit it.

Mo threw a rock through the other front window and there was a shadow in there as well, which Orryk also shot at.

Taman then went and opened the door and saw a shadow immediately inside. Taman shot it with his short bow then Imaktis went in and killed it.

Imaktis: I have cleared the building. It is safe to come out.
Orryk: Imaktis, there are two
Imaktis: Shit.

Fiona saw another shadow inside the house and cast fire bolt on it, but missed. It moved up on Imaktis and Taman, then another one did the same. Fortunately both of them missed with their attacks.

Joybell (who had the shittiest of all possible inits for a front-line fighter -- last after everyone, including the bad guys) finally was able to get up to Imaktis and Taman.

Taman took one down with his rapier, then Orryk and Imaktis hit the other one. Mo cast vicious mockery on it, but it saved. Another one came up through the floor to attack Taman while the one people had been hitting attacked Imaktis. Joybell used her new Protection fighting style to protect Taman, since Imaktis has that Tortle AC. Taman dropped one of those two and Imaktis hit the other one and then taunted it. The final blow on that one was delivered by Fiona.

That was 4 Shadows killed at this point.

Looking around on this floor, we found two corpses in the parlor. There was also one in the dining room and one in the kitchen and the one on the front step. That meant that there were still more Shadows coming (there needed to be at least one more than the number of corpses because one had to make the first corpse). Looking around in the kitchen, Imaktis found stairs both up and down. We knew from the outside of the building that there were two upper floors; apparently there was at least one basement level as well.

Another Shadow came down from the ceiling right next to Mo. Taman and Imaktis killed it.

Fiona cast Dancing Lights and sent the lights down the stairs. Orryk went downstairs behind them and saw 3 more Shadows in the basement. Having used a double move to get down there he used a bonus move to Dodge. Mo dashed down after him and attacked.

One of the Shadows hit Mo and he used his Goliath resistance ability to reduce the hit point damage, but couldn’t affect the strength damage, so his strength was reduced to 4. Taman got into the combat in the basement with a dash and a sneak attack and did good damage, but we were piling up on the stairs and couldn’t get people into combat. Fiona couldn’t get a clear strike at all.

Mo did a Thunderwave, partly in an attempt to push them back and make some room for us to move in. Fortunately he killed one outright but the other two made their saves and didn’t get moved. Joybell managed to take advantage of being a little gnome to slip through the stair rails and get down into the basement and got a good hit. So did Taman and Imaktis, but the thing was still standing. Fiona shot it with her fire bolt. Orryk dropped one. Joybell tried to protect Mo with her shield during an attack, but it still managed to hit and did strength damage again. He dropped to 1 strength. (One more hit from these things and he was going to be dead and us with no way to bring him back.) Joybell laid on hands to heal the necrotic damage but couldn’t help with the strength drain. Fortunately, someone managed to drop that one.

Running total: 8 total Shadows now killed.

Imaktis: This house is clear.

We looked around in the basement just a little bit -- there was a coal pile and some storage boxes.

Also two more corpses, bringing that total to 7.

We all started moving back up the stairs -- most of us moving and then dodging, to give them disadvantage on attacks. Imaktis and Fiona got to the stairs to the first floor and were attacked by another one. Fortunately, it only did one strength drain to Fiona. Imaktis hit it and Fiona retreated away from the front lines. And once again we were bottled up on the stairs.

Another one came out and attacked Imaktis, and he said “No” and raised his arms, and his AC went up against the attack. (Apparently our cleric cast a Shield spell, hmmmmm….)

Fiona managed to get out of combat, but Orryk couldn’t get into it and spent several rounds just dodging. Joybell used her Divine Smite ability for the first time to try and clear up a bit of the bottleneck -- it worked to the extent that one of the Shadows was killed (pretty much evaporated). Taman was able to move up and attack. Orryk hit one and killed it.

Imaktis, looking around: I have cleared the floor.
Mo: We should have just set the house on fire.

Fiona and Mo stayed at the bottom of the stairs, while Taman explored the rooms on this floor (bedrooms for the lodgers, with at least three more corpses) and Imaktis continued up to the second floor. Where he found another corpse and another Shadow. Only Imaktis was even on the second floor at that point.

Down on the first floor, Orryk was attacked by one that came out of the ceiling at him and suffered necrotic and strength damage. Joybell wasn’t able to get into melee, but she was in position to throw a javelin. Taman killed the one on Orryk, finally.

Fiona and Mo, both having suffered strength damage (and being low strength characters to begin with) spent a lot of time well behind the front line (such as it was) staying out of the bottlenecks, with Mo kind of hiding behind the wizard but still contributing with inspiration.

Mo inspired Joybell with a song and she managed to get a hit which opened up space and cleared a bottleneck. Imaktis hit it and then Fiona fire bolted it and it dropped at last.

Final tally: 12 Shadows killed. 10 or 11 corpses found (an appropriate number, because there needed to be at least one more shadow than corpses).

Imaktis: This floor is clear.
Orryk: Imaktis may be right.

And he was.

We put on our guard armbands (because we didn’t want to be mistaken for marauders when the watch arrived) and went back down to the basement to look around.

In the basement we found:
1000 cp
600 sp
70 gp
2 silver ewers, each worth 25 gp
Wand of Magic Missiles (Mo)
Brooch of Shielding (Fiona)
Starburst Flail (when picked up, it emits dim light in a 5’ radius. When it hits a target, it emits bright light in a 20’ radius and dim light in another 20’ radius) (Joybell)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 3: Ghasts, Ghouls, Zombies, And What Was That Thing?

Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Sorcerer (Shadow)
Mo - Goliath Bard
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin

GM: - Everyone Else


1 Sunnin 748 (evening of the same day) (Campaign day 2)

We started just after clearing Kell’s Boarding House of Shadows (so many Shadows!) and finding all the treasure (see above for how it got allocated). Fiona identified the items and the party took an hour to take a short rest.

Joybell and Taman went down to the basement while everyone else was resting -- in part to look for any sign of a shadowpool forming and to move things around just in case there were resonances and correspondences forming. Mostly so that Joybell could practice with her new flail. The first time she took a swing and hit something, the flail glowed bright like a torch.

Joybell, after bounding back upstairs: Guys, guys, guys!!! Look at what it does!
Fiona: I just told you it would do that. Like a minute ago.

After the others finished resting, we all went up to the upper level to look for a shadowpool and move things around some in the attic to be on the safe side. We spent some time looking around the owner’s room up on the third floor but didn’t find anything particularly useful or informative.

None of the bodies had tools or equipment of dockworkers on them and Kell’s was on the other side of the river (across Allacross bridge) from Pierton. Nothing at the boarding house connected this establishment or any of the people in it to Istin’s Yard or the Istin family.

We stepped outside and Joybell did her Divine Sense (detect undead) thing that would have been so terribly clever to have used during the fight in the house with all the shadows, but she totally forgot about it. There were no undead in her range (60’). As we were all out in front of the building, wearing our armbands, a group of 4 guards came by moving double time toward Fisher’s Walk. They told us that Commander Mogree had sent them to Fisher’s Walk because something was going on there. Mogree was back in headquarters -- he had sent them to find out what was going on and send a report back. He’d heard about ghouls eating people there.

We told the guards about the 12 dead people in the building and the whole bunch of shadows we’d killed in the house. One of them stayed at the boarding house to start dealing with identifying the dead. One went back to report to Commander Mogree. The last two went with us to lead us (well, “lead us” from sort of the middle of the pack, because they didn’t feel a need to run into the bad stuff before we did) to where things were going on.

We double-timed toward Fisher’s Walk -- initially at Joybell’s best pace, which was slowing everyone down. So Mo picked her up and she rode on his shoulders so the group could go faster.

We got to Fisher’s Walk and found four corpses scattered around an intersection with some guards keeping people out of the intersection. The corpses had been partially eaten. The guards told us that the monsters attacked people with their claws, then the victims stopped moving (though they were clearly still alive) and the ghouls would then start eating them, without waiting for them to actually die.

The ghouls that attacked these four victims took some bites out of them, then left, moving toward Upport. (They had come out of Upport and were returning there.)

We headed in that direction, then as we got into the Upport neighborhood, we saw 3 Ghouls, each with a non-moving victim. We weren’t sure if the victims were dead or not; they could have just been paralyzed. As we ran up, Taman shot at the one closest to us and Mo used his new Wand of Magic Missiles on it.

The two in the back took big bites out of their victims (one of which was clearly still alive -- we could see arterial spray) but didn’t move toward us. The one in the front of the group moved into a position of cover around a corner of a building from us. So we diverted our fire to the ones in the back that we had clear shots on -- Orryk shot an arrow and Fiona used her fire bolt. The Guards moved up, but not too far up. They didn’t want to really engage these things.

Imaktis surprised at least some of the party by casting Magic Missile (Joybell was shocked) -- spreading the damage between the two wounded ones. Taman moved into position to shoot the closest one. Mo used the Wand of Magic Missiles again, to great effect. Joybell did pretty well with her Javelins, despite throwing them at long range.

When all of the ghouls had dropped, we tried to stabilize the victims. One of them was still alive and we were able to save that one. The other two were already dead before we were able to get to them. We searched the bodies of the ghouls looking for anything in pockets or on their persons or if they had any sign of being shipwrights. The ghouls were about the height of humans but emaciated-looking (not freshly dead like the zombies on the ship). They were all basically wearing tattered pants (“Bruce Banner pants”) with a symbol of a stylized ram’s head carved on their chests. Joybell and Imaktis recognized it as a symbol of Orcus, the demon-lord of undead who wants to make everything undead.

Joybell: That doesn’t even make sense...

As we were searching the ghouls, some of the windows along the street opened and heads started peeking out. We asked the people about what they saw -- they told us that the ghouls were heading toward Upport, where they had originally come from.

Taman and Imaktis found three sets of tracks coming out of Upport, just as the witnesses said. The guards decided not to come with us -- one of them stayed with the stabilized but still unconscious survivor and the other went back to HQ and reported about this to Commander Mogree.

We headed on toward Upport with Taman and Imaktis back-tracking the ghouls. As we were heading along three ghouls came out from around a corner toward us. At least we thought at first that it was three ghouls -- but as one came toward us very aggressively, we noticed that it smelled very very especially bad, so it appeared to be something different. (The players recognized it as a Ghast, but Joybell at least thought of it as a stinky-ghoul.) (2 Ghouls, 1 Ghast.)

The ghast dropped Taman right off with one blow, which made Orryk nervous and Joybell really unhappy. She moved up next to Imaktis and tried to protect him with her shield but the thing got a hit anyway. Then Imaktis hit with his Shillelagh.

Fiona cast Thunderwave on the two ghouls -- she pushed one back 10’ but the other one saved. Taman was healed by Mo with a Healing Word -- when he got to his feet he moved around to take cover behind tiny little Joybell.

Mo played a Thunderwave on his flute and pushed back the same one -- he was back almost to where he started, then the ghoul dropped in that spot -- but the other one saved.

Orryk was visibly shaken by seeing Taman dropped in a single hit by the ghast. He backed off to attack with his bow. He dropped the ghast. At that, the remaining ghoul tried to run away. Fiona cast a firebolt on it.

Taman ran to the corner behind the fleeing ghoul -- to follow behind as the ghoul went to wherever it was going. Joybell did a double move to try and catch up to him.

Orryk took a look at the defeated ghoul and ghast -- they were both wearing the Bruce Banner pants with the symbol of Orcus carved on their chests, but the ghast had a more ornate version of that symbol. There were no runes or anything resembling language associated with either of the Orcus symbols carved on the chests of the monsters.

Imaktis moved right up behind the fleeing ghoul, to see how motivated it really was to run away. The answer was not that much, because it turned around to attack Imaktis. Orryk shot it and Taman moved around to the side to take a shot at it from across the street. Joybell got a hit with her glowing flail. The ghoul was killed.

Taman resumed backtracking the ghouls and ghasts, following the path back toward Upport.

We came up on four monsters -- three of them looked like ghouls and the fourth looked different, like one of the stinky-ghouls with the more ornate symbol on its chest (3 Ghouls, 1 Ghast). Orryk was still shaken from Taman being dropped so easily in the previous combat. The three ghouls closed distance with us, but the different one, the ghast, stayed back.

Fiona shot it with a Fire Bolt and Imaktis cast a Guiding Bolt on it. With the four of them pretty well clustered together, Orryk, still shaking with fear from the previous combat, threw a bead from the Necklace of Fireballs into the group. The ghast and one of the ghouls were killed immediately. The other two ghouls moved up to attack Orryk. Mo viciously mocked one of the ghouls, giving it disadvantage on its attacks. Joybell dropped one of them with her flail, noting that it was softened up by the fireball.

After the last ghoul dropped, we took a short rest there, finding a quiet little alcove on the street. The path we’d been following from the first sighting of the victims in Fisher’s Walk was something of a random walk through this part of the city -- not a straight line at all.

After we rested, we continued following the tracks well into Upport. This is the area where logs come into the town on riverboats coming down from the inland forests. The logs go to lumber yards and sawmills and gets turned into lumber which is used in, among other places, the shipyards. We followed the tracks to a lumber yard -- an area defined not by a fence but by an area cleared of the grasses and plants that surround the area. There were 10’ high piles of logs and lumber around the yard and a building in the middle (approximately 60’x60’, ish) that appeared to be the sawmill.

We were able to take a bit of time to look around the yard when we got there. There were 12 Zombies spaced out around the central building.

Taman shot the nearest zombie -- it started making a low, moaning yell, which was taken up by the zombie next to it, then the zombie next to that, all the way around the line until all 12 were wailing. The nearest zombies started moving in our direction, but some of the more distant ones were moving in other directions. 4 Ghouls and 1 Ghast came out of the building and started moving toward us.

Orryk and Taman were advocating attacking at range and moving back -- staying out of melee with them, especially the ghouls with their paralyzing attack. Excellent advice, which we only sort of followed, at best.

One of the ghouls was completely evaporated when FIona critted it and did max damage with a fire bolt! Nice!

Orryk followed his own advice, shooting and falling back. Mo, who was well behind the front line, Viciously Mocked the nearest one but held his ground.

Imaktis moved up and cast Sacred Flame on the nearest zombie, saying “None shall pass”. Joybell moved up next to Imaktis, not wanting him to be facing all of the enemy on his own, and threw a javelin at the lead zombie, which killed it.

There really were quite a lot of opponents, with all those zombies (which can be tough as nails to actually drop) and the ghouls and the ghast.

Orryk told us again to fall back. Imaktis followed his suggestion -- attacking and then falling aback about 10 or 15 feet. Joybell did the same, moving back to stay within five feet of Imaktis so she could continue to protect him with her shield -- which was good because she was able to protect him from a ghoul’s paralyzing claw attack.

As we were dealing with all the monsters we had already, another Bad Thing came out of the sawmill. It looked similar to the Wight we fought on the ship at Istin’s Yard but it wasn’t wearing armor, or wielding a short sword and short bow. Fiona and Imaktis noticed that he had a Mage Armor spell up.

It shot two back beams out of its hands -- one at Joybell and one at Imaktis. It missed Imaktis but did necrotic damage to Joybell, bleaching and dessicating her skin where the beam touched her.

After that attack, Imaktis still didn’t fall back, so Joybell stayed with him, though Orryk was still urging us to fall back and stay out of range. With a couple of ghouls, the wight and several zombies coming up on Imaktis and Joybell, and Taman pretty close as well, Orryk moved up and threw another fireball bead from the Necklace of Fireballs. He got two zombies, the ghast, two ghouls and the wight.

Orryk: Next time, I’m letting you all die. Fall back!

The zombies were essentially evaporated and the ghouls and ghast were dropped. The wight took damage, but wasn’t dropped.

There was one zombie left right in front of Imaktis and Joybell. Imaktis took a swing at it, then picked Joybell up and moved back fifteen feet with her. Joybell moved up from that position to attack the zombie, then backed up to slightly behind Imaktis, but where she could still protect him with her shield, which she did. Then Taman dropped that one.

Through all of this the zombies were continuing their bellowing all around the yard as they were shuffling their way toward us.

The wight, after taking damage from the fireball, retreated back into the sawmill building.

Taman moved around to the side and took a position hiding behind one of the piles of logs where he could see anything coming out of the building and took a shot at one of the zombies, then fell back and hid again.

Imaktis and Joybell were the front line with Fiona and Mo about 10 or 15 feet behind (with Fiona throwing Fire Bolts and Mo using either Vicious Mockery to impose disadvantage or shooting things with the wand of Magic Missile). Taman was well around to the side behind the pile of logs and Orryk was circling around in that direction, shooting things with his bow (or moving up to throw darts). Orryk was still telling Joybell and Imaktis to fall back.

The zombies were getting up to Imaktis and Joybell one at a time, which seemed like it would work out just fine, except that zombies can be slow to kill which makes a defeat in detail more challenging.

While the main line of fighting was about 50 feet away from the building, Taman came out from his position of hiding behind the log pile and went to the door of the building and peeked inside to where the wight was. He saw the wight drinking something, but was not himself seen. Taman then backed around the corner and hid there.

Imaktis stayed in position with several (at least four or five) zombies getting very close to the front line. This left Joybell very torn -- Orryk was giving good advice to fall back, but she didn’t want Imaktis there on his own with three zombies right on him and more very close.

Joybell: I’m sorry, Orryk! But he’s up here and needs support!
Orryk: It’s his decision…

Taman went back to the door of the building and took a shot at the wight through the door then dropped back around the corner. It came back out of the building and could clearly see Taman, though Taman was trying to sneak. It cast Hold Person on him and Taman was paralyzed. Joybell could see Taman and that he was suddenly frozen -- she called out; “Oh, no! Taman!” -- then took a swing and dropped the zombie right in front of her.

Two more zombies immediately moved up (as expected) so Imaktis and Joybell had four zombies in a line in front of them.

Taman didn’t manage to shake off the Hold Person on his own turn but Fiona hit the wight with a Fire Bolt and broke its concentration on the Hold Person. Orryk came out from behind the pile of logs and took a shot at the wight, but wasn’t able to hit it. Mo tried and failed to Viciously Mock a zombie. Imaktis used Mo’s inspiration to hit with a Guiding Bolt.

Once again, the wight retreated, along the side of the building toward the driveway at the back. Taman took a shot at it as it retreated. Orryk missed the wight. Mo used the last charge on the Wand of Magic Missile to take down the wight -- and then the wand did not crumble to dust with its last charge expended. Yay!

Imaktis and Joybell, with their big line of zombies, were trying to focus fire on the zombies in turn, but had an iron zombie that survived many hits with only one hit point. Finally, Mo managed to drop the iron zombie with an attack with his rapier.

With all the worst monsters (the ghouls, ghast, and wight) gone, the end of the combat was a lengthy slug-fest against the few remaining zombies. Fiona moved around to where she could Fire Bolt to good effect. Orryk was throwing darts from off to the side, then moved up to attack with his quarterstaff and fists.. Taman moved up behind them and was attacking from there. Mo was around the side using his rapier.

Taman dropped another one. Orryk hit one twice, but it survived that. Mo finally dropped the last one.

Joybell moved to a corner of the building where her Divine Sense ability would cover the entire sawmill, and sensed for undead. None. Then she moved over to the driveway out into the night. None.

Good.

Taman went into the sawmill and looked for traps and found none that did damage -- there were some that were in the nature of alarms (like the Zombie Wail alarm outside). There was a shadowpool in the sawmill -- Fiona recognized it as the work of the same person who made the shadowpool on the ship. We moved things around to break the correspondences and stop it.

Orryk took a look at the body of the wight -- it had a pendant with a symbol of Orcus (like we’ve seen carved on the chests of the ghouls and ghasts). Joybell was completely grossed out by the evil symbol and said that it should be destroyed, but the others argued against it and she backed down. For now.

The ghouls and the ghasts were like the others we’d seen -- Bruce Banner pants and the symbol carved on their chests. The zombies were less fresh than the ones at the shipyard had been. By and large they weren’t wearing work-clothes or tool-belts or anything that would suggest that they were at work at the sawmill when they were killed.

Looking around the sawmill, especially the desk in the corner that passed for an “office” we found that no work had happened here for at least a month. Looking at the records, it appeared that the lumberyard had been having business problems and work may have stopped because it went into bankruptcy. The records indicate that they had sold wood to Istin’s Yard, but didn’t appear to have a deeper connection to Istin’s than to any of the other shipyards they sold wood to.

Imaktis (or maybe Mo) wondered if the shadowpools were perhaps connected to distressed businesses -- either because the buildings are empty and available or because people associated with the businesses were making deals with dark powers.

In the sawmill we found:

Potion of Stone Giant Strength (Joybell)
Potion of Clairvoyance (Fiona)
Potion of Fire Breath (Orryk, as it is relevant to his interests)
Oil of Etherealness (Taman, but he’s carrying it for the party)
Flute of Scribing (Mo)
70gp
900sp
2300cp
2 bloodstones (50gp each)
4 tiger eyes (50gp each)
4 zircons (50gp each)

(This came to 45 gp, 150sp and 383cp each, with 2cp left over.)

It appears that at least some of this treasure is coming out of the Shadowfell -- some of the coins are not locally minted (though they have the correct amount of the correct metals).

The first thing we want to do next session is report to Commander Mogree.



We all leveled up to Level 3.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 4: Crazy Whispers


Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)

GM: - Everyone Else


1 Sunnin 748 (night of the same day) (Campaign day 2)

Not listed among last session’s treasure was the (Un)holy symbol of Orcus that the Wight-spellcaster was wearing, because none of us wanted it. However, we thought it might be important, so Fiona wrapped it up in leather and put it in her satchel.

Commander Mogree showed up at the lumberyard after we took care of all the undead. He was disturbed when we reported that the shadowpool at the lumberyard was made by the same person as the one at Istin’s Yard. He said he would talk to Tulmor & Barnett -- they are good at planar stuff.

Mogree also told us that he had convinced Chief Ullar Truehammer to change our arrangement with the guard -- they will be paying for our lodging and food. It’s only fair -- they provide room and board for the regular guard. We can stay where we’re currently staying and they’ll cover room and board. We can also have people leave messages for us with the guard -- rather than telling possibly shady sorts where we’re staying.

Mogree said that he didn’t have any word of anything else happening in the city at the moment other than the ordinary sort of things that the guard are well equipped to handle.

We parted for the evening with plans to meet for breakfast the next morning.

Back at the lodging house, Joybell gave Queena one of the silver ewers found at the boarding house as a thank you gift. She also asked about how to get a letter or a package to someone in another city. Mail moves most inexpensively between cities along trade routes with caravans. That is not fast. More expensively a special courier can be hired -- that costs more, but how much depends on how long a trip.


2 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 3)

We met up for breakfast to talk about plans for the next few days. Joybell had to go to the Basalt Henge to take her final vows -- a three day trip (one there, one at the Henge, one back). The rest of the party had plans for doing various kinds of research, both personal and pertinent to the undead problem, in the city.

We agreed that we were going to continue working together -- this has been working out really well.


2-4 Sunnin 748 (Campaign days 3-5)

Mo spent the days working at the docks as a stevedore. He joined the stevedore’s guild and helped carrying crates at various shipyards and listening to the workers. He went with them to work and got to know their lives and struggles. He wrote and performed songs of their struggles in the stevedore’s guild taverns.

He learned that they get health care (curing magic) when they are injured without being stupidly at fault (coming to work drunk, for example) but the pay is very low. The guild assigns work out to workers who make themselves available for the day, but the Guild takes a percentage of the pay. Mo netted about 5cp per day working as a stevedore (about half the wages as a guard). So he heard some complaints about pay, but not about treatment otherwise. He also learned that the Stevedore’s Guild has a seat on the city council.

A few of the people he spoke to knew people who worked at Istin’s yard, but he didn’t get any insight into the skinny guy with the sword who was seen coming off the ship in the middle of the night.

He was reminded (as were we all) that the foreman at Istin’s Yard was, when we were talking to Ser Istin and Chief Truehammer, unaccounted for. He had not been seen and was not among the dead. One of the stevedores Mo worked with in Deepport knew him as an acquaintance to say hi to. The stevedore saw the Istin’s foreman in Deepport earlier in the day and said hello, as one does. The foreman didn’t seem to recognize or know him at all, was slow to respond to his own name, and seemed surprised to have been recognized. He clearly didn’t ‘have any idea who the acquaintance was. It wasn’t that he was scared or nervous about being recognized, he just had no idea. The stevedore told Mo that the foreman’s name was Alin, but didn’t know a last name. (Of course, Ser Istin knows the foreman’s name, so we could get it from him.)

Imaktis spent the time looking into official records of the town. He was looking into the Lumberyard and Istin’s Yard and looking for other businesses that may be failing. He did not have good luck looking through the city’s records (they are very poorly organized and the city doesn’t keep good records, according to Imaktis). The Lumberyard was in receivership, but Istin’s Yard was not struggling at all.

Joybell went to the Basalt Henge to take her Oath. There was a letter from her parents waiting for her at the Henge -- her mother (pregnant when Joybell left them) had given birth to a baby brother named Eulan!!

She also spoke with the person who trained her in combat, a tiefling named Green Hope -- she showed off her spiffy flail and talked to the him about undead and how to fight them. When she mentioned that the second Wight had a symbol of Orcus and was casting spells, Green Hope got very serious and said she needed to kill all such things she found. When Joybell asked if he had any advice about how to do that he said, “Hit them until they stop moving.”

Fiona and Orryk went to Tulmor and Barnett’s place to see about using their library, which they had been invited to do. When they got there, Tulmor and Barnett were already up and about and busy, though it was pretty early in the morning, and seemed surprised to see them.

Fiona showed them the wight’s Orcus symbol. They asked if anyone from the Guard saw that and Fiona said probably not, because it was wrapped up in her bag before Commander Mogree got there and we didn’t think to mention it. But he did see the Orcus symbols carved into the chests of the ghouls. Barnett re-wrapped the Orcus symbol and took it into another room and returned without it and Fiona and Orryk were happy to be rid of it.

Tulmor told them that Chief Truehammer had hired them to go out and map the planar instabilities in the city, throughout Embernook. This was going to entail walking around the city concentrating on a spell similar to locate object. All day. For several days.

They asked Fiona and Orryk to man the desk at their office -- taking messages and being there in case people came in to hire them. While there, they were free to use the research library without charge. For 50gp per day, Fiona could look through their spellbooks and learn any spells she could manage in the time she paid for. They even had the necessary inks and paper available, at the usual cost, for her, so she didn’t have to go hunting around.

Then Tulmor and Barnett headed out to start their survey and left Fiona and Orryk manning the desk at their office/home.

During the days of down-time, Orryk was doing research into Orcus, but had little success (possibly because Fiona had already snagged those books off the shelves) and the Elemental Planes. He had tremendous success with some research into the Elemental Planes. He also looked a bit into whether there was a Devil parallel to the demon Orcus, and found that there really isn’t one that’s as focused on undeath as Orcus is.

Fiona was researching Orcus as well and had tremendously more success than Orryk did. She learned that Orcus is the Demon Prince of Undead. He has the goal of turning everything in the multiverse into undead . During the time when the demons and devils were rampaging or stampeding on this continent, Orcus made several personal appearances, separated by hundreds of years. These didn’t go well for anyone and the last time he was on this world, sending him back to the Abyss involved two Solars (high-ranking Celestials).

Every time he showed up, those people who had made deals with him to become warlocks became undead wight-like creatures that could cast spells immediately upon his arrival on this plane...which sounds disturbingly familiar. (Note: Those people who made pacts with him to become warlocks during the hundreds of years when he was not on his plane, lived out their lives normally. It was only when he came to this plane that his warlocks immediately became undead spell-chucking wights. Which makes that guy in the lumber-yard even more bad news.)

Fiona also did some research into a personal project of her own.

The only interesting visitor during the days they were watching the desk was Chief Ullar Truehammer who showed up and asked where Tulmor and Barnett were. When told they were out walking around the city doing their mapping, he grumbled and left.

Orryk also went to a shop to ask about how much it would cost to make a weapon magical -- no specific power, just a magical thing as opposed to a non-magical one. He learned that it costs 75gp and takes about a week to put a simple enchantment on an item. He didn’t pursue this idea at this time, but did make note of the information.

Joybell got back to town on the evening of 4 Sunnin (Campaign day 5). She stopped by Queena’s to drop off her pack and say hi, then headed off to the Pewter Oar to find people. No one was there at first, then Taman and Mo and Imaktis showed up. Tulmor and Barnett asked FIona and Orryk to go with them there (so Orryk didn’t go straight back to Queena’s himself), because they wanted to talk to all of us (or as many of all of us as possible). We all wound out gathering in a quiet corner of the Pewter Oar.

They told us that, based on their survey, there were no shadowpools currently forming in the city. There were some instabilities -- places where it would be easier to set up a standing gate. None of those instabilities appeared to go to the Shadowfell -- one went to the Feywild and one to the Elemental Plane of Water. There was also one in The Nook that was vague and indeterminate -- it seemed to them that someone could take some control over where that one became a portal to, if they were of a mind to. There was no sign, during those three days, of there being any undead problems in the city, but we still haven’t fully explored the tall, skinny, stinky guy who came off the ship at Istin’s Yard and we haven’t looked into Alin the foreman from Istin’s at all.

They did have a job for us, however, less than a day’s travel outside of Embernook, in a town called Kalmarn. They had a bookish friend, a research wizard, named Harl the Quiet -- he was Barnett’s mentor and teacher and he had collaborated with them on various projects. He had a huge library (setting the hook for Orryk and Fiona). They had not heard anything from him at all in a couple of weeks and the last riverboat that moored there (four days previous) had not seen any signs of life in the town. It looked deserted. Mo asked if the riverboat crew had seen any signs of flight from the town and there was no answer for that -- the riverboat had tied up, seen that it looked like no one was there, and then left. There was no fire and it didn’t look like the city was in shambles. There was just no one there.

We asked if he was researching anything that might have turned on him and they said that wasn’t likely. But he was definitely a research wizard -- “Anything he doesn’t know is not worth knowing” was his attitude. He had a very large library, but was very reclusive, which is why he lived in the small farming village of Kalmarn.

They wanted us to go first thing the next morning, so we weren’t going to have time to look for Alin, the Istin’s Yard foreman before we left. Fortunately, we weren’t expecting to be gone long.

We retired to our respective lodgings. At the temple, Imaktis tried to get a sense of what the local clergy were saying about the undead problems -- generally they’re pretty much against them. They do have some Inquisitors who are interested, but they have no information.


5 Sunnin 784 (Campaign day 6)

We met up at the Pewter Oar early in the morning. There were two letters waiting for us at the bar when we assembled there for breakfast. One was from Tulmor and Barnett and was addressed to Fiona. It had an envelope inside addressed to Harl and a note telling her not to open the other envelope. The other was from Chief Ullar Truehammer. Chief Truehammer’s note said that we were going to be going to Kalmarn by a boat called The Kelrose, which was waiting for us in Upport. The city had arranged for the boat and we would be paid our usual salary (such as it is) while on this mission.

The captain of the Kelrose, Whit (otherwise known as Captain), told us that we’d get to Kalmarn in the afternoon. The Kelrose had a crew of about 20 people, so it was a pretty big, but not huge. The river is about as wide as the Potomac at Embernook, narrower upstream.

Joybell had never been on a boat before, so she and Mo spent the river trip sitting up in the front of the ship watching everything. Mo was playing his flute and smoking his pipe. Taman spent the trip listening to the sailors’ scuttlebut -- the sailors were a bit baffled about this trip, because they had no cargo and were only going as far as Kalmarn. Apparently the whole purpose of the trip was to take us there.

About 2 in the afternoon, we got to Kalmarn and tied up at the moorings there. The Captain told us that they would stay until sundown, but no later. If we weren’t back to The Kelrose by then, they’d leave without us and go back to Embernook.The sailors were going to stay on the ship -- they had no intention of facing whatever was going on in the city.

From the boat, we could see that Kalmarn is a small village -- there was nothing moving, but we could see a couple of people lying on the ground looking inert.

Taman could hear some distant screaming and yelling in a language he didn’t know. As soon as he told everyone else about it, Joybell started running in that direction. The others took a moment then followed her. Strangely, Imaktis was the reluctant one, but he did come along.

By the time we got to the village proper we could all hear the screaming and shouting. None of us knew the language, though we have a lot of languages between us. When we got to the “main street” (such as it was), everyone had pretty much caught up to Joybell, who was looking around pretty wildly at first.

She was relieved to find that this was nothing like what she’d seen before.

Mo cast comprehend languages in an attempt to understand what the screams were saying -- but he found that the people (who we couldn’t see yet) weren’t making sense. The words could be translated but were put together without syntax or sense or grammar. So there was no possible translation of the phrases and sentences.

The inert people lying in the street were dead bodies -- they appeared have been beaten to death.

As we were examining the dead bodies in the streets, screaming people came out of the buildings, 8 undead bad guys (8 Mindghouls). They were moving toward us, so that the first two attacked in the first round and then more did double moves, to get to us or at least get close. They looked mostly like people -- they looked ragged but not exactly rotted. They were gibbering and yelling with strings of spittle dried and caked on their faces. They didn’t have fangs, just normal human teeth, and they didn’t have any weapons. They didn’t look like anything we’ve seen before -- they looked filthy and smelled of rot, but weren’t normal ghouls or zombies.

Taman spent a moment studying one to get insight into it, then took a shot at it. Mo found that they could be Viciously Mocked, to an extent. Their minds were too badly broken, as manifested by the gibbering, to be susceptible to psychic damage, but they could be put at disadvantage on their next attack.

One of them hit Joybell and for a moment the babbling almost made sense to her. Then, still mentally scrambled, she missed with her attack.

Taman got a sneak attack crit on one for 32 points of damage. There were two on Orryk and Joybell and Orryk did 17 points of damage to one. Mo used the Magic Missile wand to hit one that had flanking on Imaktis, then Imaktis moved away from it (ignoring the attack of opportunity) to attack the one Orryk had just hit.

Another mind ghoul started coming up through the village from behind the houses in the main street (1 more mindghoul, total so far: 9). Joybell used her protection ability on the first attack against Imaktis but the second would have hit if not for Imaktis casting a Shield spell. Joybell was hit and wound out stunned -- unable to attack or move or take reactions and all attacks against her had advantage. While she was stunned, one came up and started whispering in her ear -- the gibbering almost made weird sense to her, but she saved against most of the damage. Then she was able to shake off the effect, but was unable to attack.

Taman made a good shot, then Orryk missed with his staff. Fortunately, he hit with the unarmed strike.

Mo blew a silent note on his flute which then exploded in a crash of thunder, which was a shatter spell. He was able to catch three of them. Imaktis cast Sacred Flame on one them that was in the Shatter Spell and Fiona Firebolted one and dropped it.

Another one started coming in from the end of the street (1 more mindghoul, total so far: 10).

They attacked Joybell and Imaktis and actually missed Joybell. Who was then able to get an actual hit against them. Taman then dropped the one she’d hit.

Orryk moved 15’ away from one then punched into the air, which then hit with all the force of his punches and his spiritual energy. Very cool! Mo used the wand of Magic Missile again. Fiona tried to firebolt one, but missed.

When they attacked, Joybell protected Imaktis from the first attack with her shield and then he used a Shield spell to protect against the second attack.

In the background we saw a different kind of creature coming up from a house at the end of the road -- it looked like a “vaguely humanoid frayed cloud” (1 Allip). It didn’t look like a shadow, which were the only other incorporeal beings we’d encountered. It came up from the end of the road then moved into a house, going right in through the wall.

Joybell missed with another attack, but Taman managed to get one with his rapier. Orryk did his air-fist attack, Fists of Unbroken Air, at one and then moved back further from the buildings -- because he didn’t want anything coming out through the walls at him. Mo dropped one and then hurt another one with a Magic Missile from the wand. Then Imaktis cast Magic Missile and dropped one and hurt another one. There were still a few mind ghouls around us and 1 more coming up from further away (1 more mindghoul, total: 11).

Fiona Magic Missiled one mindghoul, then the weird one (the allip) came out of the building and made a weird, babbling howl that stunned Joybell and Taman and did psychic damage to everyone. Orryk hit the allip with the same Fists of Unbroken Air attack, then backed around the corner of a building for cover. Mo used Vicious Mockery on it.

Imaktis moved Taman back out of range of the allip, then cast guiding bolt on it. He did a lot of damage, and left it limned with magical light so that the next attack against it had advantage. Fiona cast a Fire Bolt and killed another of the mind ghouls. As the mind ghouls dropped one by one, the screaming got to be less and less. As the last mind ghoul finally got to us, Fiona did a lot of damage to it with a firebolt.

The allip did its babbling howl again and once again Taman and Joybell failed the save. Both immediately dropped and immediately failed death saves on their turns.

Orryk ran up and did a flurry of blows on the one last “normal” one and dropped it.

Mo healed Joybell and got her back on her feet with a Healing Word.

Then Imaktis hit it. In response, it tried to float away, but Imaktis dropped it with an attack of opportunity. (Also, Taman got healed, somehow.)

The Village was clear.

Orryk figured out that these creatures, the corporeal ones, had some sort of contagious, undead madness. Anyone that died to that gibbering, screaming attack from the incorporeal one was going to come back as one of the corporeal ones. So would anyone who died to their psychic attack (whispering in the ear).

The party looked through the whole village and all the buildings and found no living people in any of the buildings. We did find a few corpses in the buildings and it was clear that the corpses had been dragged into the houses to hide them from people. Like the ones on the street, they had been bludgeoned to death. Perhaps so that people would come to investigate. There was no sign that people were packing to leave or fleeing the village, so whatever happened happened quickly.

Harl’s house was the large one at the end of the main street -- the one that the allip had come out of. Before we went in there, though, we went back to a large open area between the village and the dock (so nothing could sneak up on us) and took a short rest, which Taman and Joybell were especially grateful for.

After our rest, we went to explore and investigate Harl’s house. Walking around the outside, we were able to look in through the windows (the curtains were open). The house was a mess, with a vibe of all-night-study-session as well. Joybell did her Divine Sense to check for undead in the house (while we were still outside) and detected none. We knocked on the door and got no response. The door was locked, so Taman opened it, while Imaktis and Fiona were both casting Detect Magic as ritual spells.

Inside the house, we found that things were torn up and torn apart. Inside the library, there were books and paper all over the library. The books had been disassembled, with the covers ripped off and pages ripped out. Orryk and Fiona both grieved the loss of the library. The detect magic spells found no magical books.

We did find Harl’s journal -- at the end it was randomly polyglot, changing languages within words and total word-salad even if they were in one language. Joybell went backwards through the journal, looking for a point when the journal still made sense to try and learn what Harl was researching when he went insane. He was working on reading a book, but he couldn’t figure out what language it was in. When he cast Comprehend Languages and tried to transcribe the translation, the transcription was in the same language as the book. He couldn’t translate it.

We figured out what book it was -- like every other book in Harl’s huge library, it had been torn apart with half the pages ripped out and the spine torn apart. The characters weren’t normal characters for any language that any of us knew, but they were distinctive. We found the rest of the pages in among the litter of the room. At least most of them. As we did so, we found that the more languages someone knew, the harder it was to look away from the crazy-writing because with greater knowledge the more nearly comprehensible it seemed.

The rest of Harl’s large library could possibly be restored with a lot of work by a bunch of apprentice wizards. An intern project.

Searching Harl’s house, we found some treasure including coin and some magic items. (See list at end.) We did not find anything like a shadowpool, which was a considerable relief.

We did find:

20gp
1100sp
1800cp
3 onyx gems (50gp each)
2 jasper gems (50gp each)

Bag of Holding (Orryk is carrying it for the party)
Potion of Force Resistance (in the Bag)
Potion of Greater Healing (Orryk)
Candle of the Deep (in the Bag)
Necklace of Prayer Beads (4 beads) (Imaktis)
Suit of Magical Studded Leather (Mariner’s Armor) (Taman)

We took Harl’s journal and as many pages as we could possibly find of the Crazy Book (so that they’re not a trap for said apprentice wizards) then headed back to the Kelrose for the sail back to town.

Once we were back in town, we went straight to Tulmor and Barnett’s to break to them the bad news of their friend (and Barnett’s mentor), getting there quite late at night. We told them that Harl had died and his library was destroyed. Barnett had heard of people being made mad by research -- their minds couldn’t handle what they were learning. Harl believed that the Crazy Book had some secret in it. We gave Harl’s journal and the Crazy Book to Barnett, with very strong warnings that he not open the Crazy Book before reading the journal. We warned him that the Crazy Book appears to be something of a trap for the unwary, so he should read the journal to know what he’s getting into. Hopefully, they’ll find that the journal also says where he found the book or who he bought it from. That might be worth investigating.

Harl had helped them with various matters in the past, but he was not at all an adventuring or combat mage. He was an academic/theoretical wizard. He was, however a friend and collaborator for them. We asked if he had other friends or other collaborators. Barnett said he didn’t know but it was entirely possible that Harl didn’t have any friends other than them.

We made a plan to give a report to Chief Truehammer first thing in the morning -- it smells too much like coincidence that suddenly in Embernook there are undead coming out of the woodwork.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 5: Talking and Parlaying

Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)

GM - Everyone Else


5 Sunnin 748 (later that night) (Campaign day 6)

After meeting with Tulmor and Barnett and passing off the Crazy Book (in pages) and Harl’s journal to them, we retired for the night.


6 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 7)

The next morning, Joybell woke up early so she could ask Orryk to do some research for her next time he was at Tulmor and Barnett’s library before they went to the Pewter Oar to gather with the others for breakfast. She asked him to find out what he could about humanoid figures, about the size of a troll or an ogre that took the children from a city. She knows they were wearing shiny armor like a breastplate with blank masks and carrying swords and shields and longbows. It was described to her that they fought as a coordinated unit, so when one was attacked the others seemed to know.

Orryk said he’d look into that at the library -- then everyone met up at the Pewter Oar. After breakfast we went to report to Chief Ullar Truehammer about what happened up in Kalmarn. We also asked if that was actually in his jurisdiction and were told that it is, in the sense that Embernook sort of controls some of the area around it (as a city-state, sort of) and Kalmarn is in Embernook’s protected area.

Imaktis had an idea about the Earth giving us some of the answers that we need -- and it sort of made sense to Joybell, but it was hard to convey to the others.

Chief Truehammer told us that nothing happened in Embernook while we were off in Kalmarn dealing with the Allip and the Whispering Ghouls (which seems a good name for them). At least nothing like undead or risen corpses. After a bit of figuring, we think that what happened in Kalmarn happened about 7 or 8 days ago, which would put it contemporaneous with the first Shadowpool and the first zombie outbreak in Embernook.

All the official people we have run into are telling us that this is all unrelated, but it still seems awfully coincidental that there was an undead outbreak in Kalmarn on the same day that the first shadowpool in Embernook ripened and went active. It’s like the Shadow of Orcus is over the city and its environs or something.

After reporting to Truehammer, we figured out what we wanted to do for the day. Fiona and Orryk, naturally, wanted to go to Tulmor and Barnett’s library. Of course. Taman, Mo, and Joybell wanted to try to find Alin, the former foreman at Istin’s Yard, who’d been seen acting strange by someone Mo talked to when he was working as a stevedore in Deepport. Imaktis wanted to talk to his special “contacts” in the Nook and Pierton (and then hook up with Taman, Mo and Joybell in Deepport).

Mo, Joybell and Taman (Team Deepport) planned to look for places where Alin might have found work -- anyone can do basic stevedoring (pick up box and move it as directed) but Alin also had shipwright skills and management skills.

Their first stop was at Ser Istin’s house (the owner of Istin’s Yard) to ask if he had an address for Alin. The Butler told them that Istin wasn’t there -- he was at the shipyard working on paperwork and getting the yard operating again. They still had that contract to do repairs on that ship, after all. So they went off to Istin’s Yard…

Orryk and Fiona (Team Library) went off to Tulmor and Barnett’s library. The first question they asked came out of an attempt to get at Imaktis’ idea about the Earth having the answers -- they asked about another library that might have more ancient history and folklore in it. They were told that the best library on Urnod (the continent) is in the city New Arvai, which is at the mouth of the river Embernook is on. It’s a couple of weeks travel away. It’s not a formal library, per se, (there isn’t an order of archivists or anything) but there is a collective of wizards in New Arvai that shares students and shares educational resources. Harl was from there.

As far as other libraries in (or near) Embernook, Harl had the best one. (There was a moment of silence for Harl’s library at this). They didn’t have any suggestions for where to look for histories of undead outbreaks (beyond what they’ve found regarding Orcus and his warlocks becoming wights when Orcus manifests in the Prime Material plane).

As far as Joybell’s research, Barnett (the more recent and extensive adventurer of the two of them) said that the masked figures rang a bell with him. He didn’t remember them going after kids, but he had personally run into them at some point in his adventuring past. He’d never figured out where they were from or what they were doing. He’d been part of a caravan up in the mountains and forests up north. They never communicated demands or asked for anything; they just attacked the caravan. He had the sense that if he and his compatriots hadn’t fought them, they would have taken what they wanted and left. He said they attacked as one -- fighting them was like being in a swarm of goliaths. He said they were hard to hurt and hard to kill -- not that they were exactly resistant to damage of various sorts, but they were like trolls. He saw one re-attach a severed limb just by sticking it back on. The spellcasters found that Necrotic damage seemed to stop them from healing in the middle of battle, but the beasts were resistant to it.

Barnett asked why Orryk and Fiona were asking about it -- Orryk said because Joybell had inquired. (When they were together again, presumably later, Joybell said that her experience was to the south, not the north, and only a few week’s travel away.)

Imaktis (alone by himself as Team Brothel) went to interact with the women in the fancy houses he’d been frequenting. Over the course of the morning, he asked around at several establishments and spoke to several women. He learned that Alin was an occasional customer but not a regular. He didn’t have a particular girl he’d seek out, he’d just take who was available. Imaktis managed to find the most recent girl he “visited” with and had a talk with her. Alin never said anything about where he went when he wanted to be alone -- she had the sense that when things were tense for him at home he’d come to the brothels. He never gave her a creepy vibe. And the last time she was him was about 4 weeks ago, so well before the troubles started.

Imaktis thanked her and proceeded to Deepport to hook up with that group.

Team Deepport (Mo, Taman and Joybell) went from Ser Istin’s house to Istin’s Yard. The ship looked much like it had when they left it after the zombie/wight incident (“The Incident”). Occasionally someone would go out of the office and onto the ship, then return minutes later, but it didn’t appear that there was any work being done on the ship.

In the office, Istin (and some other people) were doing a methodical examination of the files and records. He gave us Alin’s address (or at least directions to where Alin lives, since street numbers haven’t been invented yet) nearby.

Ser Istin told them that very little work had been happening in the yard from well before The Incident -- at least a couple of weeks before it seemed like Alin was winding things down. Some of the workers were just on call but not actually working, some were being paid for a day’s work and then sent home. Alin wasn’t assigning them other work, he was just sending them home. Taman and Mo didn’t think that Istin was lying to them or even holding anything back. He appeared to be open and honest. The only thing like work that seemed to be happening was that Alin was paying people to move things onto the ship then paying a different crew on a different time to move the same stuff back off the ship.

Ser Istin had been to Alin’s lodgings since The Incident, since he was not among the dead and is still not accounted for, and no one there had seen him since that night. Alin did not have any family that anyone knew about.

Before they left, they asked if they could go on the ship and were permitted to do so, with an escort to make sure they didn’t fall into the bilge and drown or any other fool thing. They found the hatches propped open and the ship’s interior being aired out. Lots of light was pouring in to where the shadowpool had been, so clearly no one was attempting to re-create it at that time.

The group went off to where Mo’s stevedore contact most recently saw Alin on the street in Deepport to look for him in that area. Their plan was for Taman to look for his face in the crowd while Mo talked to humans and Joybell talked to a few rats.

Meanwhile, Team Library was still at Tulmor and Barnett’s. Orryk was looking for older books on the Elemental Planes and asked for recommendations on where to go. Once again, the best information is in a fairly distant city -- Pelsoreen, at the mouth of the other river that goes through Urnod, has a lot of Elemental artifacts and elemental magic. (Tulmor and Barnett also pointed out that the Black Field is a potent elemental “resonator” as well, because of the confluence of fire and earth.)

Orryk asked where someone who had acquired things from the Elemental planes might sell them in town. Perhaps the Nook? Tulmor and Barnett said they’ve seen such things, but don’t know where they would be. Maybe not in Embernook.

Embernook is the city on Urnod with the good reputation. Pelsoreen doesn’t have nearly so good a reputation, and New Arvai is only a little better, so one needs to be cautious when purchasing items from those cities. You may not get what you’re paying for or have newly purchased items stolen on the way out of town.

After that, Team Library turned into Team Window Shopping….eventually making their way to the Pewter Oar.

Team Deepport hooked up with Imaktis, who almost immediately raised the question about where someone would go who was acting crazy, or like they didn’t know who they were. Joybell asked someone on the street and was told that maybe they’d go to the clerics in Soul’s Rest . So Imaktis and Joybell headed off that way, becoming Team Temple.

Taman and Mo stayed in Deepport talking to people and looking for Alin. They found a person running a boarding house where Alin didn’t rent a room. He refused to rent because the rooms were all too bright in the house. The boarding house keeper didn’t know where he went after leaving her place, but did say that he seemed a little weird -- carried himself like he was more important than everyone else, talking down to everyone. And he smelled like death. They asked if there was a boarding house that might have darker rooms, perhaps basement rooms, but there aren’t really basements in the riverside parts of town (Pierton, Deepport, Upport). The boarding house keeper never saw the color of Alin’s coin, but he was dressed like a workman. And he smelled too bad to even be allowed into the Spans.

Taman and Mo went from the boarding house to the nearest, biggest bar just to look for Alin in the crowd, but didn’t find him.

So they headed to the house where he’d been living, the address that Ser Istin gave them. They weren’t wearing their guard armbands, so the boarding house owner wouldn’t let them into Alin’s room. She did give them enough information to figure out which room he lived in and on which floor. While Mo stayed in the parlor chatting with the owner, Taman snuck up there to take a look in the room. It looked like a guy’s room, but it was clear that there hasn’t been anything going on in here in a while, probably since two or three weeks ago (which would be a week to two weeks before The Incident at the shipyard). He looked for correspondence (or a journal) but didn’t find either.

He snuck his way back downstairs, while Mo was asking if Alin was still paying his rent. The owner said that Ser Istin had paid for an additional month, in case Alin showed back up. Which immediately made Mo suspicious about Ser Istin all over again. Taman returned to the parlor to hear Mo saying, “And that’s how I found out dwarven women don’t have beards…”

Then they headed off to the Pewter Oar.

Team Temple (Joybell and Imaktis) went first to Imaktis’ temple (of nature and life). They hadn’t had anyone that matched Alin’s description brought in because they were sick or because they were acting crazy. They went then to the druid grove, where they also hadn’t seen Alin. The druids, when asked about the undead issues, owned that they were glad the undead are being destroyed, but seemed to have a bit of a long view -- these things happen when someone gets it into their head to take over the city with undead.

Joybell and Imaktis then headed to the Pewter Oar as well to share notes with the others. One thing that was pointed out is that the Tall Slender Swordsman seen coming off the ship smelled like death. So did Alin.

We went after dinner to report to Commander Mogree and Chief Truehammer. We asked them to have someone in the guard looking for Alin, which they agreed to do. Mogree commented that we’ve had zombies, ghouls, ghasts, wights and a spell casting wight. And the shadows, which he saw as a side effect of the shadowpools. There seemed to be more going through his mind during the roll call, but he didn’t really unpack it.


While they agreed to have guard looking for Alin, Mogree said he didn’t think that Alin still existed as himself. He said that Alin might have been replaced by a powerful, spellcasting tool of Orcus that could shapeshift into Alin’s form. Perhaps someone casting a spell like create undead, which kind of alarmed us because someone would have to be a powerful spellcaster to do that. Or, perhaps, have a magic item that would do it.

We were told that dealing with Orcus is not illegal, per se, but killing people and animating their corpses is. They weren’t aware of a cabal working with/for Orcus in the city, until this all started up.

After that conversation, Mogree and Chief Truehammer said they had a task for us. Chief Truehammer had spent much of the day dealing with Tillaron Zun, a wealthy merchant who lives in the Spans. Tillaron Zun was insisting that the guard provide protection to him and his family, but wouldn’t say why until Truehammer showed up with his guards.

Zun would have liked to have had us earlier, but now is better than never.

So we headed over there. On the way to the Spans, Chief Truehammer told us that Tillaron Zun is not personally on the city council, but a member of his family is. His family moves and trades in a lot of dry foodstuffs (grains, beans) and fabrics (both fine fabrics and more common ones).

The houses in the Spans are built as bridges over the river -- there is no part of the estate on either side, but the houses have gardens on their bridges.

At the Zun estate, we met Tillaron Zun, a human man in his 40s built like he did a lot of physical work in his 20s. As soon as he saw Truehammer and the party, he said “Well, that took a while. I thought I was going to have to contact the Administrator.”

Once Truehammer smoothed the ruffled feathers, Tillaron explained to us that his son, Boludor, and his wife and their daughters, a toddler and a little six-year old girl named Kalona, were recently on a caravan trip up north past Auriqua and came back shaken in the past week. That morning a note had been thrown through the window in a snowball. The note said, “You haven’t kept your promise.” (At the mention of the snowball, Taman perked up like a dog on the hunt. “You have my attention.”)

It turned out that Boludar Zun had made a deal with the Tundra Queen. Fiona and Orryk both knew something about the Tundra Queen. The Tundra Queen is a fey noble from the Feywild. She is really into making and keeping bargains with mortals. Her agents, fey called Dilyarli, enforce the terms of her deals. Sometimes by turning people to solid ice. They also know that Dilyarli do not lie.

We asked what the promise was and, to Joybell’s surprise at least, Tillaron answered. The Tundra Queen gave Boludar money to deliver a package to the Administrator of Embernook, Aligheri. Unfortunately, the older daughter, Kalona, opened the package. When she did she started talking in a language they didn’t know and has been mute since. When they looked in the package, there was nothing there.

We went to speak with Kalona, except for Taman who was looking around at the perimeter of the building. While Mo was in the background taking 10 minutes to cast comprehend languages. Everyone in the party listened to the child while Joybell tried to talk with her. She was not speaking any language anyone in the party knows. When Mo got his spell off, we learned that she has a message for the Administrator. She couldn’t tell us what the message is, because we weren’t the Administrator.

We talked to Tillaron Zun and explain that Kalona needs to talk to the Administrator in order to deliver the message to him. He said that he’d draft a letter to the Administrator (which gives a bit of a lie to his bluster when we arrived about going to the Administrator because it took a while for Ullar Truehammer to get us there) to see about getting an audience for Kalona.

As night approached, we sent the family into an interior room on the second floor of the 3 story house, with an escape route for them so they wouldn’t be sitting ducks. And Imaktis would be able to cast a message spell to tell them to run if they needed to. Fiona set an alarm with a spell so we’d know if anyone went in there. We arranged ourselves watching the ends of the house and along the side with the river to the north.

Around midnight, we noticed, we thought, a fog cloud moving strangely on the river. It was coming downstream. It got closer and closer as we watched. Fiona and Orryk didn’t know whether or not the Dilyarli could turn into mist, but their natural form is humanoid. The dense fog kept getting closer. There was no noise beyond natural river -- a bit of water lapping at the pilings of the house was pretty much all. We continued watching the cloud approaching. Orryk and Fiona were hiding on the second floor. Joybell was standing openly in the middle of a room on the first floor (no point in trying to hide). The others were hiding on the first floor. There was some discussion of shooting into it, but we decided against.

The cloud came up over the the riverbank toward the end of the house with the garden and the gates, all also on the bridge. We all moved toward that end of the house, so we saw the cloud come over the wall at the end of the bridge and into the garden.

When it entered the garden, it turned into a tall, elegantly dressed, very pale-skinned fey man wearing leather armor in black with blue trim. He was carrying a rapier and had a longbow on his back, but didn’t have it out.

We stepped outside the door of the mansion. Mo was about to greet the figure, but Taman spoke first: “Do you know me?” “No.” Then Taman decided to charge.

Taman’s decision to charge was slow in coming (the player rolled at nat 1 for his initiative), so the party was able to talk to the dilyarli.

Orryk to the DIlyarli, Is there any way to end this night without bloodshed or death?
Dilyarli: Yes.
Orryk: What is the alternative?
Dilyarli: The package must be delivered.
Fiona said: The package has already been opened by the little girl.
Dilyarli: She’s speaking Sylvan?
Us (except Taman): Yes.
Dilyarli, after thinking for a moment: Then she is now the package.
Us: They didn’t know that. Can we have more time to get her in to the Administrator? She’s just a little girl.
Dilyarli: I can give you until tomorrow night.
Us (except Taman): Okay.

Mo tried to cast Hold Person on Taman, but Taman saved against it and charged the Dilyarli with sword out, ready to stab it. Except that thirty feet away from the Dilyarli he got turned to ice. Solid ice. An ice sculpture.

GM: He is wedding decor.

The Dilyarli turned back into a cloud and drifted away the way he’d come.

Imaktis used the Greater Restoration bead from the Prayer Bead Necklace and restored Taman to human. When restored, Taman ran after the cloud, flailing at any remaining drifts of mist in the garden.

When he was finally calm enough to talk, he told us that those things killed his entire family, his parents and his brother, just a few months ago. So the pain is fresh and raw. He said he was going to learn and train and get strong enough to kill them. Then he went into a corner to cry.

We went to talk to the family because we have 24 hours to get Kalona in to talk to the Administrator so she can deliver the package.

Joybell is concerned about what the package/message might do to the Administrator, since opening it had Kalona speaking in nothing but Sylvan. Mo thinks we need to give him some sort of cover story to get her in there (perhaps she “won” some sort of city-wide contest for children). Imaktis thinks we should tell the truth.

But we need to get her in to see him or the family will be turned to ice.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 6: Administrator Alighieri


Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)

(Imaktis' player was at GenCon and Imaktis in the Fancy Houses.)

GM: - Everyone Else


6 Sunnin 748 (later that night) (Campaign day 7)

Drawing on their tremendous knowledge (and matching Nat20s the week before), Orryk and Fiona knew that dilyarli generally only kill their target, the person who actually violated the agreement with the Tundra Queen, and anyone who tries to get between them. They don’t go after anyone else -- typically not even someone who killed another dilyarli. This is good to know for when we go with Taman to get revenge for his family.

After the dilyarli left, we went to talk to the Zun family. Tillaron Zun had said earlier that he would write a letter to the Administrator asking for an audience for Kalona, but he hadn’t held much hope that the Administrator would respond. While we were in the garden and on the way to the room where the Zuns were taking shelter, we talked about what we wanted to learn.

Questions:
  1. Would this package harm the Administrator? The family did not know the answer for that.
  2. What was the actual deal? What were the circumstances of the deal-making? How did Boludar Zun meet the fey? Why did Boludar make the deal? Why did the Tundra Queen? Did Boludar know who and what he was dealing with?
  3. What kind of person is the Administrator? (Does the Administrator need killing?)
  4. What is the Zun family’s relationship with the Administrator?
With our questions all sorted out we went in to the family.

This is what we were told (at that time): When he made the deal, Boludar had a strong feeling that he was dealing with the Tundra Queen. She contacted him while he was traveling up there with a caravan. She offered him a fair amount of gold (1300gp to be precise) to deliver the package to Administrator Alighieri.

Several in the party did not believe that Boludar was being entirely forthcoming about their payment for delivering the package.

With his usual directness, Orryk said: Tell us the truth or we can’t protect you.

Boludar then admitted that the payment was 1300gp, 2 magic items and competitive advantage for Zun caravans up north. The hazards of travel north would be more hazardous for other families’ caravans and less hazardous for the Zun families.

At that, we could tell that Tillaron was deeply disappointed in his son. Tillaron told us that Boludar’s idea of the dangers of travel up north was abstract and vague. Anyone who really knew them wouldn’t increase them for other merchants.

We asked why the Tundra Queen apparently sought Boludar out, but he didn’t have an answer for that. Our thought was that she had a sense he’d be willing to take the deal.

Mo and Orryk double-teamed intimidating Boludar - Mo by being big and loud, Orryk by talking openly about tying him up out in the garden and letting the dilyarli kill him. That way no one else would be put in danger. Under this pressure, Boludar looked openly unnerved and said he had told us the truth -- he got a Wand of Web, Eyes of Charming (magic goggles) and money.

Orryk asked Tillaron if he thought the Administrator would be intrigued by the Tundra Queen having a message for him or would he shelter and hide?

Tillaron wasn’t sure about that. He did say that the Zun family had been targeted by the Administrator for decades. They felt he’d been putting other merchant families ahead of theirs. He wasn’t sure what they could have done to offend him, but it was decades ago now.

We asked Boludar how he’d originally intended to get the package to the Administrator, when it was still a package and not Kalona. He didn’t seem to have really thought that through -- his plan, apparently, was to give it to someone else to deliver.

Around now is when we learned that Administrator Alighieri is a human. He’s been Administrator for something like 80 years. But he’s human.

Mo asked Tillaron what the Administrator is motivated by. Tillaron couldn’t answer that, but did say that he couldn’t think of a time when the Administrator had done something for his own personal gain. His main motivation seems to be improving Embernook. The Administrator has an inner circle of one -- a Major Domo (but not an evil one, strangely). This is a halfling named Thalith. (Thalith is aging normally, apparently, for what that’s worth.)

We asked if people actually saw him, thinking that perhaps he used to be a human and was now something rather less alive and more disturbing. But, no -- people do see him. And, no -- he’s not aging.

Mo had the thought that perhaps we could satisfy the deal by taking the now-empty box to the administrator. We asked to see the actual box that Boludar got from the Tundra Queen and, going back to the circumstances of the dealmaking, asked what were her actual words. Unfortunately, the words she used, to the best of Boludar’s ability to remember, were that she was giving him something and he was to give it to the Administrator of Embernook. Which doesn’t leave a lot of room for misinterpretation there.

We turned on Boludar again, because this whole situation was his doing. He admitted that most of the merchants know not to make deals with the fey. Mostly. In response to his father’s disappointment and anger, and Orryk’s occasionally repeated suggestion that we stake him out in the garden for the dilyarli, Boludar agreed to absent himself from the rest of his family. Rather than risk the dilyarli harming anyone else, even other citizens of Embernook, he would leave town alone. If we were able to get Kalona in to see the Administrator, we could tell Tillaron, who would be able to get word to him about coming home.

Mo persuaded Tillaron that the Eyes of Charming would potentially be helpful for us in working to save Kalona and Boludar. The Eyes of Charming might help us in persuading people as needed. We gave them to Mo. (As always with Charm Person, the target knows after the fact that they have been charmed.)

At that point, we figured we’d learned everything we could from the family in the middle of the night (it was about 1 am). So we left.

Before going to our various places of repose, we went to report to Commander Mogree at Centerkeep. We told him that Boludar Zun had made a deal with the fey and it was stupid and we had bought 24 hours but no more. When we told him that Boludar had specifically made a deal with the Tundra Queen, he agreed that was an error.

We warned him that the dilyarli had come into the city as a mist-cloud floating down the river from the north, so perhaps the guard should be looking for that to stay out of its way tomorrow night. And we told him that Boludar was going to be separating himself from his family.

He agreed with us about letting Boludar Zun go to his fate.

Mogree had heard of the dilyarli and said they’re nothing to mess with unless you’re really good or really careful. That said, they can be negotiated and avoided (if one is not their target) and they’re more than honest. He had also heard of the Tundra Queen making deals with people.

We asked him what the Tundra Queen might be after -- what’s in it for her to get a message to the Administrator. He said that she’s looking for more political influence. There are those who say that the founders of Auriqua made a deal with her, which is why that city has been able to thrive way up north. Auriqua should, by rights, have gotten attention from Frost Giants. The Tundra Queen, he told us, lives in the Feywild.

We then went to our respective homes to rest. Taman, when he got back to the Pewter Oar, asked the bartender for some salt to have in a pouch if he needs it.


7 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 8)

The next morning all of us except Imaktis met for breakfast at the Pewter Oar. We assumed he was, erm, tied up in the fancy houses he’s been visiting. Perhaps healing some wayward soul.

We made plans to go to talk to Chief Ullar Truehammer and Tulmor and Barnett. We were hoping that perhaps we’d develop a plan for getting in to see the Administrator.

While the party discussed various thoughts (going through the Guard’s representative to the council, seeing what Tulmor and Barnett know about the Administrator), Joybell trotted over to the bartender and asked what the procedure normally was for getting in to see the Administrator. (Being Joybell, there were a lot more words than that -- about being from small towns and getting to know the mayor and how it would make her parents happy if she went and introduced herself even though this is a big city and maybe it’s weird to do that here.) The bartender told her that the procedure is to go to Centerkeep and wait in line to talk to Thalith (the halfling major domo). The Administrator’s office is right near Thalith’s. If the Administrator isn’t the right person to help with a problem, Thalith sends petitioners to the right people. He warned Joybell that Thalith can be hard to get past. Also, he said that the lines get long, but Thalith is efficient.

Joybell went back to the others and told them what the bartender had told her.

Some of the party, including Orryk and Fiona and Mo, wanted to go back to the Zun house to see if Kalona was detecting as magical. We definitely wanted to get to talk to the Administrator -- in the past week and a bit the town has been dealing with multiple extra-planar intrusions. Even aside from the dilyarli situation, we wanted to introduce ourselves, offer our services to the Administrator, and see who we’ve been fighting for.

The plan developed that Joybell and Taman would go to Centerkeep and get in line to talk to Thalith while the rest of the party went to do various things including visiting Tulmor and Barnett, talking to Kalona Zun (and casting detect magic) and talking to Ullar Truehammer. And doing whatever else seemed necessary.

The first stop for Mo, Orryk, and Fiona (Team Doing Stuff) was Tulmor and Barnett’s place. Mo asked about the Tundra Queen and her dilyarli. He explained that someone was to deliver a package, but the deal was broken when someone else opened the package. (He did not mention who the package had been intended for.)

Barnett: And now they’re speaking Sylvan?

He went on to explain that the person who opens such a package is under a geas (a magically imposed quest). Generally what happens is that the person under this geas has a mostly harmless mental effect that the only language they can speak is Sylvan until the geas is satisfied. What has happened in the past is that when the person under the geas is ALONE with the recipient of the “package”, the geas’ed person gets taken over by something like a Magic Jar spell. The possessed person says or does something, then is released from their geas.

Mo asked what kinds of messages get delivered this way. Barnett said that up around Ariqua deals with the Tundra Queen are much more common than around here, which was him saying that he didn’t know.

Mo asked if we could trick the geas’ed person into delivering the message and fulfilling the contract -- perhaps by disguising someone as the proper recipient, would the Tundra Queen know? Would the geas’ed person be able to be fooled by something like that or would the magic prevent it?

Barnett said that it would be possible to free the geas’ed person with something like that -- she could be freed of her compulsion. However, part of the message is usually an instruction to the recipient to do something (something only the recipient can do) as a sign that the message has been received. If that is not done, then the Tundra Queen will know that the message was not given to the right person. In other words, we can free Kalona but can’t save Boludar with a trick like that.

Orryk asked if Barnett knew of any other deals people here in Embernook have made with the Tundra Queen. Barnett’s response was, “Not here.” But, he said that if the Tundra Queen doesn’t recognize a merchant in the north, she generally approaches to make a deal.

Barnett then said (in response to some further questions from Orryk) that if the Tundra Queen is trying to do something in Embernook, then the Administrator will want to know. It could be urgent. However, Barnett said that we’ll need evidence that the Tundra Queen is trying to meddle in Embernook’s affairs. We need to take all the evidence we can muster to Thalith. And when we’re talking to him, we need to do it loudly -- Administrator Alighieri can hear conversations in Thalith’s office.

Mo asked what kind of man Administrator Alighieri is. Barnett said, “I cannot answer that.” So Mo asked if he knew anyone who could. Barnett said that he genuinely didn’t know anyone who could tell us about him.

But he did say that we definitely need to be honest when talking to the Administrator. He’ll respond to that much more favorably than he’ll respond to being lied to or tricked.

Mo then asked some questions about the Feywild, the Shadowfell and Orcus -- he wanted to know about creatures from other planes, what their relations with each other are like, and what their motives are. Tulmor and Barnett agreed to look into finding answers to those questions. Between them Tulmor and Barnett have been to several planes (including the Astral and the Ethereal). Barnett, for himself, expressed no desire to repeat the experience.

Immediately interested and on point, Orryk asked if Barnett had been to any of the Elemental Planes. Barnett said he hadn’t but Tulmor has been to the Plane of Air (the safe and comfortable one, relatively speaking).

Mo thanked them for being remarkably helpful and the party left. After they were out on the street, Mo said that after talking to Barnett he thought the party should be honest with the Administrator.

Meanwhile, in line at Thalith’s office, Taman and Joybell were listening. Or trying to. Taman was being subtle about it, while Joybell was not particularly attempting to hide the fact that she was listening to what people were saying. She also kept moving closer to Thalith’s office as seats and spaces opened up. So she could hear better. (None of it sounded very interesting to her so after a while she started praying and meditating.)

Taman didn’t hear much as far as content, but he did catch that when people got loud with Thalith he was good at calming them down. And most people were sent by Thalith, with letters, to the people who could actually help them. Taman also saw in Thalith’s office two 9’ tall suits of armor with glowing eyeslits -- which seemed like something not to mess with.

In other words, Team Queue was queueing.

Team Doing Stuff (Mo, Fiona and Orryk) went next to the Zun estate in The Spans. The first thing they learned was that Boludar was getting on a boat in Deepport and heading away out of the city. Mo immediately observed that the sailors were being put in harm’s way, but at least Boludar was away from his family and the city.

They went to talk to “TalDorei” as Mo called him (Tillaron) and Kalona. Fiona cast Identify on Kalona and found that she’s definitely under a geas with a pending magic jar. She’d also been polymorphed into herself who can only speak Sylvan. Mo cast Comprehend Languages so they could talk to her.

Orryk persuaded a somewhat reluctant Tillaron Zun that the Wand of Web might be useful to us in protecting Kalona, depending on how things go down when we take her to the Administrator.

Fiona asked to see the empty box -- the wrapping paper had been discarded, but the box itself was well made, about the size of a cigar box, with abstract inlays in the wood. But it is not magical. She also asked to see the note that the dilyarli threw in through the window (in a snowball). It was written in Common by someone for whom Common wasn’t a first language (or even a first alphabet).

Mo, with the Comprehend Languages, went to talk to Kalona. When he told her the group was going to take her to see Administrator Alighieri she cheerfully agreed. She also asked to ride on Mo’s shoulders. Which Mo agreed to.

So Team Doing Stuff headed off to Centerkeep and joined Team Queue at Thalith’s office.

When they got there, Joybell asked what she should say when her name was called and they’re taken into Thalit’s office, since she wasn’t privy to any of these meetings. She was told to say “There is evidence that the Tundra Queen has an interest in the city of Embernook.” And she was told to say it loudly.

Mo also pointed out, before we got called in, that we potentially had a chance to help with sorting out the Zun family’s problems with the Administrator.

About 10 minutes after Team Doing Stuff arrived in the queue, Joybell’s name was called.

Thalith recognized our group immediately, noting that we were missing our Tortle. We said Imaktis was taking the day off.

Thalith: You are a motley crew.

Joybell said what she was told to say, and said it loudly. We said that the message was in the little girl now and asked if the Administrator would want to know what the message is.

Thalith: Yes he will.

Then he started counting down on his fingers. The door to Administrator Alighieri’s office opened exactly when his count got to one.

Alighieri came out into the office -- he was a tall and slender gentleman (especially for a human), dressed nicely. He moved well and didn’t look a day over 55. Which was a little creepy.

Administrator: Thalith, you should stop giving these people any problems.
Joybell: He was very nice.
Administrator: Thalith, you’re slipping.

We told him that Kalona had the message, so he took her into his office and closed the door behind. We all tried to listen as well as we could, but only Taman heard their footsteps in the other room - until their footsteps suddenly cut off.

After a few minutes they returned, Alighieri looking both amused and irritated. “Thalith, please have the honor flag raised over the office.” (This was the signal to the Tundra Queen’s agents that he had received the message.)

Mo asked what the message was.

Surprisingly, Alighieri answered: The Tundra Queen persists in underestimating me. She has demands and insists on them. I persist in saying no.

We asked if we could help him or the city in any way and he said that there’s nothing at the moment.

Alighieri: So one of you tried to engage in a fight with a dilyarli?
Fiona: He didn’t get far.
Alighieri: Have you learned?
Taman: I have business with a dilyarli.
Alighieri: Your business is with the Tundra Queen, then.
Taman: In time. I want the one responsible first.
Alighieri: Tell me.

Taman then told Alighieri about the dilyarli brutally murdering his entire family. He wants revenge on their behalf.

Administrator Alighieri said that there is nothing bad that can happen to the Tundra Queen that he would mind, but he advised us to kill her here and not in the Feywild. Joybell asked why, and he said that if she’s killed here, she can’t come back.

Mo asked if there was any money in us killing the Tundra Queen and the Administrator said that he didn’t want her dead. He just wanted bad things to happen to her.

Mo then asked: What is your problem with the Kuns?
Everyone else in the party: Zuns.
Alighieri, indicating Kalona: Her family? My relationship with them is the same as every other merchant family in Embernook.
Mo and Orryk: They feel like they’re being squeezed.
Alighieri: I treat all families equally and all families would likely say the same thing. Merchants are people and people remember most what has gone against them.

He then told us that he suspected Boludar Zun would enjoy his adventures in New Arvai and Pelsoreen. (Apparently his one-day cruise to get out of town and protect his family is not going to go his way.)

We made our goodbyes and left the building. As we walked outside we noticed the windows to Thalith’s office and to the Administrator’s office next door. As we were looking, we saw a cloud flowing into the Administrator’s office.

We rushed back into Thalith’s office and told him what he saw.

Thalith: I miss the days when they were subtle.

He opened the door to Alighieri’s office -- there was a dilyarli in the office with its back to us. Aligheri was there as well - he was fine. Still amused but a lot angrier. (This was the same dilyarli that was interacting with the Zun family.)

Mo: Do we need to kill this thing?
Alighieri: He serves his Lady well. He’s going to tell his Lady that I refused his offer. He’s going to go back to the north and tell his Lady to kindly piss off.
Alighieri to Taman: It is possible I was mistaken about who your problem is with. There is a rogue dilyarli. His name is Ildna.
Joybell: He’s broken service with his Lady?
Alighieri: This one does not know the full story. Ildna has taken to chasing people who have fulfilled their deals with the Tundra Queen. She, however, hasn’t taken it into her head to stop him.
Taman: Where was he last?
Alighieri gestured to the dilyarli in the office, who said: The last few people he has attacked have been mostly around Auriqua.
Mo: Do you know why he went rogue?
Dilyarli: I can’t imagine. My Lady hasn’t enlightened me about that.
Taman: If I am going to be hunting down one of your brothers, is there a method to avoid the...unpleasantness?
Dilyarli: Alas, you are asking me to betray all of my kind, not just one.
Taman: It was worth a shot…
Dilyarli: <<laughed>>
Joybell: Would you or your brothers and sisters help us find this rogue?
Dilyarli: We are not free to…
Joybell: If we can help to take this one on, please contact us. We have a highly motivated colleague.
Taman: Can you control the eye thing?
Dilyarli: I can. But with my back turned, the lack of threat is overt.

We left again, heading to the Zun estate to return Kalona. On the way there, Joybell mentioned that she thought Thalith’s description of us as a “Motley Crew” might be a good group name. Mo made an excellent point -- What do we want to advertise ourselves as? What are we selling with the group name?

Good questions. We’re still pondering the group name question...

When we got to the Zun estate, the whole family was there, excluding Boludar, but including Boludar’s wife.

Mo was concerned, as was Joybell, that because Boludar’s deal with the Tundra Queen has been fulfilled, the fey are going to be screwing with other merchants up north. Tillaron didn’t know if we could call that off in any way. Orryk said that she’ll probably keep the letter, but not the spirit of the deal. Indeed, it’s possible that she’s made the exact same deal with other merchant families, so that the effects all even out.

We left and went to report to Chief Truehammer that the Zun family was no longer a threat or under threat -- but he may have already heard that from the Administrator. Ullar chuckled and said the he had an appointment with Alighieri in a few hours and that it would be nice to know what he’s going to say in advance.

We asked about Alin, the foreman at Istin’s Yard and suspected evil undead-making thing. He had made inquiries among the guard and learned that some time between the Lumberyard and when we dealt with the allip in Kalmarn a guard on the North Gateway saw him leave the city on a wagon of possessions. Well, shit.

We apparently have a lot of problems to the north.

Truehammer didn’t have anything else for us at the moment.

We flapped about a bit after that.

Mo and Taman went to the Pewter Oar to have some celebratory drinks. Joybell went to the druids in town, but they didn’t have any pressing problems. Then she joined Orryk and Fiona at Tulmor and Barnett’s, where Orryk was talking with Tulmor about her trip to the Plane of Air. Apparently she went to the Plane of Air to ransom a friend who wound out owned by a Djinni. She took a Lamp of Djinni Summoning to trade for her friend.

She got to the Plane of Air via the Ethereal plane, because the Ethereal connects to all the elemental planes. Which made Joybell wonder if the Oil of Etherealness would work -- but apparently not because that only gets you into the border ethereal, not deep into the Ethereal plane. To get to the Deep Ethereal, you need a gate or a Plane Shift spell, which is the same as what is necessary to get to any other plane. (The reason one doesn’t just go straight to the Plane of Air is because those gates tend to be deep in storms, Which doesn’t answer why one doesn’t just use the Plane Shift spell to go directly there rather than to the Ethereal plane.)

Tulmor brought back a pretty ring with a star sapphire in it from the Plane of AIr. After admiring it, Joybell then spent the rest of the afternoon asking for the stories to go with other things in their place.

And thus the rest of the day passed….

Treasure:
Wand of Web (Orryk)
Eyes of Charming (Mo)

(We went up to level 4 here.)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 7: The Wights Are Back in Town


Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM: - Everyone Else


8 Sunnin 748 (later that day) (Campaign day 9)

We met up at the Pewter Oar for breakfast, as usual. We revisited the conversation about what we should call our group. Suggestions were:

Mo W. Kang’s Band of Friends (Mo)
Wired for Light (Fiona)
Bud Light (Mo)
Allies of Light (Imaktis) (Joybell seconded this one)
Light Bringers (Joybell) (retracted when people pointed out there's a clerical order with the same name)
Betrayers of the Dark (Imaktis) (Joybell though this one sounded kind of negative)
Superior Six (Imaktis) (Joybell likes this one too!)
Five Man Army (Fiona)

It seems as though Mo would be in favor of any of those being Mo W. Kang’s… actually Mo W. Kang’s Five Man Army kind of works. And Joybell, at least, is fine with having someone else’s name as the headliner.

We decided to put the question on hold for a while and went off to do fun activities for the day. Mo, Joybell and Imaktis went off to do some shopping -- we picked up Mo’s Iron Boat (so we’re ready to use the Feather Token to immobilize someone if we need to) and Joybell bought some Holy Water.

They then went together to an herbalist -- Mo needed pipe-stuff (whatever is legal and readily available) and Joybell wanted to talk to the herbalist about herbalism. And see if she needed help getting herbs or anything. Imaktis asked about what she thought about all the recent undead attacks. She said she’s glad they’re over -- Imaktis clarified that it “seems” like they’re over. Then he asked if anyone had been buying anything odd lately. She said she couldn’t think of anything. Joybell asked if there are any herbs that might be part of making a lot of undead -- the herbalist said that someone would need spell components for that, but those wouldn’t be herbal. For fighting them, one would need holy water and holy symbols.

Orryk, Fiona and Taman went to Tulmor and Barnett’s library to look up information on dilyarli and their weaknesses, the Tundra Queen and her agents, and fey society in general. (On the Intelligence: Arcana checks they got 24, 22, and 20, respectively.)


They learned:
  • Dilyarli are resistant to magic (Note: They have advantage on saves) and it’s especially hard to do mind-magic on them.
  • We’ve seen the ice-sculpture gaze attack thing, but they also exude cold and can do cold damage. (Basically they breathe out cold air as a short-range breath weapon.)
  • They are, not surprisingly, vulnerable to fire. (Nonmagical fire is a bit better because they don’t have saving throws to have advantage on.)
  • They looked into the Tundra Queen and her whole organization and organization structure, including other minions. They learned that with Fey Nobles, in general, their powers in the material world are far more circumscribed than they are in the Feywild. In the material world, they are circumscribed by their goals and motivations. Those goals and motivations establish rules by which the Nobles must live.
  • The deal that the town of Auriqua made with the Tundra Queen, under which she provides them with protection, appears to involve some number of the citizens of the town getting turned into dilyarli -- they get taken as children. (At that, Joybell, in the guise of the MetaPigeon, asked if the ones who take the children wear masks. None of the Tundra Queen’s servants wear masks. Taman’s take was that masks are sort of like lying and the dilyarli at least don’t do that.)
  • The dilyarli are sometimes escorted by another of her minions -- Ice Mephits.
  • Most of the time she resides in the Feywild (not in the prime material plane) but she is very interested in expanding her influence here -- both the geographical extent of the tundra and her political influence.
  • It is a weirdness of the world since The Severance that anything from another plane that dies here can’t come back unless it finds (not makes) a permanent portal or is specifically summoned by a native.
After the shopping trip, Joybell went with Imaktis to “help people”. They went together to the brothels Imaktis has been visiting lately. Imaktis worked on healing the workers while Joybell offered her services as a bouncer -- getting rid of customers who were being mean or abusive. Mo, not knowing their specific destination and being less interested in “helping people” than they, went to the Pewter Oar to get a head start on the evening’s drinking.

We all met back up for dinner at the Pewter Oar.

Between the appetizers and the main course, Taman got a feeling of pressure in his ear then heard Administrator Alighieri’s voice saying, “Go to Allacross now please.” Taman looked around confused in response.

At the same time, Mo had a feeling of pressure in his ear and heard Mogree’s voice in his ear saying, “There are ghouls in Allacross. You might want to hurry. Wear your armbands.”

After a moment sorting out what that was, we hurried off as requested, armbands on. To facilitate the hurrying, Joybell was riding on Mo’s shoulders. And wishing mightily for the day she can cast Find Steed and get herself a mastiff or a wolf or something to ride. We got to the bridge and found 5 ghouls attacking bystanders. (As we were hurrying to fight the ghouls and rescue the bystanders, Mo suggested a couple more names for the group: Ghoulbusters, Ghastbusters. Someone else (I think) suggested Shadowbane, but Imaktis was not a fan of that one.)

When we first spotted them the ghouls (actually, as we learned, 4 ghouls and 1 ghast, though you can’t tell ghouls and ghasts apart by looking at them) were about 150’ away down the bridge with half a dozen or so civilians (and two shop-kiosks -- rectangles of counters with an open space in the middle with poles holding up “roofs”) between us and them.

Mo put Joybell down then moved up thirty feet and cast magic missile from the wand.

The ghast attacked, but entirely missed the unarmed peasant before him. Orryk moved up and shot at it.

The ghouls moved to civilians -- each to its own. They were more successful in their attacks than the ghast -- several of the civilians were paralyzed and one was bleeding out.

Taman moved up to one of the un-attacked civilians, providing an alternative target, then took a bow-shot at one of the ghouls. Fiona moved up just enough to get into range and cast Melf’s Acid Arrow at one -- which will do continuing damage over time.

The un-attacked civilians (three of them, I believe) ran away safely out of range. One of the ones who was attacked but missed, tried to run away, but was hit and paralyzed as it tried to flee. There were four civilians down and/or paralyzed.

Imaktis and Joybell were the slow ones in the party. Joybell moved up as far as her little legs would take her. I believe Imaktis did as well, only his legs are longer.

Mo blew on his pipe and blew out a cloud of sparkling embers that settled on two of them as a Faerie Fire spell. That made those two easier for the rest of us to attack.

The ghast moved up to one of the civilians that had already been paralyzed by a ghoul. It hit (because it’s very difficult not to against a paralyzed opponent) but minned the damage. This was not a top of the line ghast.

Orryk moved up still further and shot at one of the ones with the faerie fire on it.

We were hearing deeply unpleasant chomping noises from the ghouls on the civilians. One of the civilians was entirely killed and dead and partly eaten. Orryk’s hit dropped the one eating that civilian.

One of the ghouls attacked Imaktis and missed. Taman moved up to that one and backstabbed (because of having an ally within 5’ of the opponent) for 26 points of damage. A very effective de-spleening!

Fiona, staying well back, magic missiled the other one with the faerie fire on it. Imaktis moved up to the nearest one and used his Shillelagh to attack. Joybell moved up but couldn’t quite get into melee, so she threw a javelin at the one Mo had already magic missiled. Then Mo magic missiled it again.

As we engaged with them close up, we noticed that they had the Orcus mark on their chests, like the ghouls we’d fought on day 2.

The ghast attacked Imaktis and continued its run of failure by missing with its sword. Orryk used his Fists of Unbroken Air attack on the ghast -- he punched into the air from several feet away and pulses of air from his punches hit the ghast. Then Orryk moved back a few steps. After those attacks, the ghast, looking pretty wobbly, let out a shriek.

Another ghoul (1 more ghoul) came running up from the far end of the bridge. The ones that were eating civilians continued to do so without, apparently, noticing the ghast’s scream.

Taman, feeling heroic, rushed up and attacked one noisily eating a civilian who appeared to still be alive. He missed (nat 1).

Fiona, sensibly staying well back out of things, fired a bolt of fire at one that hadn’t been attacked before.

Imaktis, near Joybell, moved away from the one he’d attacked (and had to use his Shield spell to protect himself from the attack of opportunity), further into the middle of the ghouls, then summoned the power of the light and turned the undead. Because of his position, the ghast would be running in the direction of the rest of the party if the turn succeeded against it. The ghouls would be mostly running away down to the far end of the bridge.

Before that question was resolved, Joybell moved up and finally got to attack something -- she attacked the ghast and killed it. Unfortunately the victim it had been eating on was not saveable.

Mo managed to viciously mock one of them, calling it bony. Orryk moved up on that one and used his quarterstaff for a little bit of damage then punched it for rather a lot and dropped it.

One turned ghoul ran away, but the new arrival to the combat ran up and attacked Imaktis, but the shield spell was still up from before and held it off. Another one was running away off the bridge.

Taman made an insight check, which allows him to sneak attack even when there’s no one else there fighting the opponent, and attacked one of the turned ghouls. Because of the damage it took, it was no longer turned.

Fiona actually had to move up some to be able to attack the one that was running away but she snipered it away with a firebolt.

Imaktis hit the one in front of him. Joybell tried to join him but her move was just a few feet short of being able to attack with her flail so, with a grumble, she threw a javeiln and missed.

Mo viciously mocked one to death, then Orryk dropped the last one.

We could see more at a distance coming down the bridge (2 more ghouls). One of them actually got up to Taman, who’d gotten well ahead of the party, but couldn’t attack. Taman got a critical hit against it then disengaged. He went to check on another of the civilians -- like the others the person was not merely paralyzed but also very, very dead.

Fiona cast a chromatic orb (acid) on one of the newcomers. It took 15 points of acid damage, but didn’t drop. Imaktis cast sacred flame on one, doing radiant damage, then moved right up to it. Joybell moved up next to Imaktis so she could protect him with her shield.

Then she saw a bunch of zombies (6 zombies) coming up the bridge. Orryk moved up close to one of the ghouls and did a Fists of Unbroken Air attack, punching the air forward. He hit with that but missed with his bonus attack. The other ghoul failed in its attack.

The incoming zombies weren’t going for any of the civilian corpses or dragging anyone off -- they were just lurching toward us. Behind them, moving at zombie lurching speed, were two other figures, grim and murky (1 regular wight and 1 spellcasting wight). At the point when we saw them, the zombies were 100’ away and the wights another 30’ behind them.

Taman took shelter in a kiosk and shot at one of the zombies.

Fiona dropped the ghoul that Imaktis and Joybell were on, so that we were all ready to engage the wights and zombies incoming.

Imaktis moved up into range and cast Spike Growth, which made a 20’ radius area of hard spikes -- difficult terrain that also did damage with every 5’ of movement. There’s a wisdom save to recognize the hazard. Amazingly, 3 of the zombies spotted the hazard. (The other three were already in the area of effect when Imaktis cast the spell.)

Joybell moved up as far as possible and threw a javelin at one of the zombies, which was all she could reach.

The regular wight shot its bow at Imaktis and he allowed that to hit. The spellcasting wight shot a coruscating black bolt at Imaktis and he used a Shield spell to block it, because “coruscating black bolt” sounds bad.

The zombies in the spike growth spell shuffled forward at half their normal shuffling speed, taking damage and leaving bits of flesh on the spikes as they walked. Two of the zombies that made the wisdom save to see the hazardous terrain failed the intelligence check not to go ahead and wade right into it. One of the zombies, clearly a brighter spark than most of its kind, turned to go around it.

The wights, who initially failed to see the hazard (failed the saving throw) could see their zombies getting shredded and didn’t wade into the spike growth.

Mo magic missiled the zombie at the front of the ranks in the spike growth and Orryk shot one.

Taman went to intercept the zombie that was going around the spike growth on the other side of one of the kiosks on the bridge.

After moving her full movement, Fiona was five feet out of firebolt range of the spellcasting wight, so she firebolted a zombie instead.

The wights moved up -- the spellcaster did a misty step to get over the kiosk toward Taman then shot two of the coruscating black bolts at him, hitting with both (but Taman saved against the worst effect). The other wight moved into the kiosk and dropped into cover below the level of the counter.

Imaktis moved up to the edge of the spike growth and dodged, waiting for the zombies to emerge. Joybell moved up to the outside of the same kiosk the wight was hiding in and dodged, but also took a bonus action to cast thunderous smite, in hopes that the wight would emerge and she could attack it.

One of the zombies got dropped by the spike growth, or by its determination to proceed through it, just at the very edge of the field.

Mo played a silent note on his flute that then exploded into a shattering sound, casting Shatter on the spellcasting wight and the brainy zombie (the one who went around the spike growth) nearby. That dropped the zombie but the wight was still standing.

Orryk used the Wand of Web to fill a 20’ cube at the end of the kiosk where the regular wight was hiding with webbing. Unfortunately he couldn’t get both of the wights. The area of the effect overlapped by 5’ with the spike growth. (The web spell makes an area difficult terrain and, on a failed save, someone in it is restrained.)

Taman took a moment to gain insight on the spellcasting wight and then backstabbed it with that insight, but it remained standing. Fiona moved to firebolt the spellcaster, but missed with the attack.

Despite Fiona missing, the spellcaster wight turned and began running away back down the bridge. The regular wight in the web spell was in difficult terrain, but not restrained. He also turned to run away.

Imaktis cast sacred flame on one of the zombies -- tattered-looking, it still survived.

Joybell grumbled at the fleeing wights -- she has no way to catch a runner -- so she threw a javelin at one of the zombies and dropped it. Then she grumbled some more and was prepared to go looking for more javelins, thinking we’d just be tracking the wights to wherever they were going...but the rest of the party was able to catch them.

Mo cast magic missile, using two charges from his wand. One missile hit the spellcaster, dropping it, and the rest of them hit the regular one, who had been undamaged.

Orryk used his wand to web the regular wight again.

Taman ran as far as he could around the original web, to get close to the remaining wight, but then wasn’t able to attack. Fiona cast a scorching ray from the edge of the spell’s range. Two of the three rays missed and the other two didn’t ignite the webbing, alas, but that was still enough to drop it. Taman and Orryk each got 9 arrows from the wight.

Joybell took a moment to buy 3 javelins from an unoccupied kiosk on the bridge, leaving some coins and a note explaining what she’d done on a shelf behind the counter. Mo tried to take the money, but Joybell saw him and fussed at him. “Mo Kang, you put that back! I am not stealing from this nice merchant because of you!” Mo put the money back.

At about that time, one of the doors in the wall of the bridge, along the side walls, opened and Commander Mogree, Chief Ullar Truehammer and Administrator Alighieri stepped out. We noticed that the door opened into Alighieri’s office, which is in another part of the city entirely. Mogree was wearing studded leather armor, Ullar was in full plate, and the Administrator...was interesting -- when we looked at him he varied from looking like he was wearing normal clothes to looking like he was in an ornate breastplate.

Alighieri told us that the undead were coming down the Amorr River, walking on the river bottom, then coming up the shores into the city.

Alighieri: “Ullar, Mogree and I can take care of this. You six need to head out of the city and along the road up the river to find where they’re coming from and stop them.”

As it turned out, Alighieri knew that a wraith and some spectres were coming our way, down the river.

Joybell, suddenly suspicious: How do you know that?
Alighieri: I know where everything in the city is.
Joybell: That must be overwhelming.
Alighieri: I filter a lot.

The being that looked like Alin, the Istin’s Yard foreman, (the stinky guy who left the city before we went to Kalmarn to deal with the allip and the whispering ghouls) is some sort of undead warlock of Orcus. Alighieri suspects that he left Embernook and has found a town, now probably with the population all turned into undead, where he could regroup and prepare to come back to Embernook.

As he was telling us this, incorporeal figures (a wraith and four spectres) came up onto the bridge through the walls. Alighieri turned to them and prepared a spell -- Fiona, watching, could tell that he stopped in the middle of casting the spell to tell us to look away or close our eyes. Then he cast a spell that made a very bright, nearly instantaneous flash of light like sunlight (even through our closed eyelids). When it was over, the spectres had been killed instantly and the wraith was in tatters. Mogree and Truehammer moved up and took them out before we could do much of anything.

We decided to take a short rest before heading out of the city, many of us being drained and or damaged by the previous fight. Alighieri returned to his office but Mogree and Truehammer stayed with us. About the time our rest was ending, every wall and every street in the city began to glow, increasing in brightness over the course of several seconds. Joybell turned to Mogree and asked if the Administrator was doing that and he said yes. After a few seconds, the entire city was glowing as bright as daylight.

With that we headed toward the North Gate and let Mogree and Truehammer deal with managing the threat in the city. Whatever it was.

At the gate, there were several guards standing on the wall with crossbows shooting at something that we couldn’t see outside. We asked what was out there and were told that there were 12 ghouls. We offered to help and those in the party with ranged attacks went up on the wall to shoot at the ghouls. Joybell went up with them to cheerlead until the fight was almost over, then went down to wait by the gate for the others to be ready to go.

Once all the ghouls were dead, the guard opened the gates for us and let us out of the city. We could see the tracks of the group of ghouls in the road. This lot did not come down the river and up the bank the way the ones on Allacross had. When we left the city it was about 9 o’clock at night.

We headed generally eastward on the road, toward the Amorr River, in the direction the ghouls came from (and in the direction Administrator Alighieri sent us). After a few miles the road curved around the wall of the city and wound up closely paralleling the river heading east.

After a ways, the road went into a wooded area -- with a forest on the left of the road (the north side) and the river to our right (on the south side). Joybell was extremely excited to be in trees again -- it was a very long time since she’d been in trees. Joybell and Imaktis were up in the front of the group (which was traveling at the speed of Joy), with Orryk off to the side of them. Mo was off to the other side a few feet behind the front line. Fiona was in the middle of the group with Taman at the back.

Taman saw that there were a couple of wights (1 regular wight, 1 spellcasting wight) in the woods -- none of the rest of us did. He also saw that they were coming right for us, but were being stealthy. One was holding a longsword and the other was holding a longbow. When he saw them, they were about 60’ away.

One of them (the one with the longsword, who was the spellcaster) misty stepped right into the middle of the party, next to Fiona, and hit her for 11 points of Necrotic damage. Fiona then misty stepped out of the middle of the party and moved a distance down the road, then firebolted it.

Water coalesced around Orryk’s hands and he whipped the water around the wight. It saved against being knocked prone by his water whip, unfortunately, but Orryk was able to hit it with his quarterstaff.

From the woods, the other one fired at Fiona (at some distance from the party) with an arrow and hit her for 10 damage. It was 60’ out in the woods, but after the shot we heard it moving.

After that shot, a line of zombies (8 zombies) stepped out of the woods along the edge of the road.

Imaktis turned undead -- catching 5 of the 8 zombies and the spellcasting wight in the effect. The zombies were all turned except one but the wight was unfazed.

Mo blew on his pipe the silent note followed by a crash that is the shatter spell on the 3 zombies that were outside of Imaktis’ turning. Joybell attacked the spellcasting wight and missed. Taman attacked it and missed as well.

Fortunately, the spellcasting wight swung at Joybell and missed, wildly. So at least that was on both sides.

Fiona quaffed a healing potion and ran back toward the relative safety of the group.

Orryk pummeled the wight with a flurry of blows and his quarterstaff doing lots and lots of damage. The wight in the woods responded on behalf of its buddy (or something) by shooting at Orryk, but it missed. In the process, it came out of hiding and stayed out of hiding.

The turned zombies ran away, though their flight was slowed by the forest (difficult terrain). The unturned zombies moved up to Mo, Taman and Fiona, who were all standing in a cluster away from Imaktis, Joybell and Orryk. One attacked Taman and hit him.

Imaktis moved over to that group with the zombies and hit one with his shillelagh. Mo cast another shatter spell on those three zombies.

Joybell hit the wight and was going to smite it but could see how badly damaged it was and just went ahead and dropped it without the smite.

Taman got a big hit on one of the zombies, and then moved toward the wight in the woods. Fiona targeted two of the zombies with an acid splash spell, which does ongoing damage.

Orryk moved to the edge of the woods and targeted the wight there (with the bow) with a web from the wand. It saved against being restrained (third save vs. the web of the evening for the wights we’ve fought) and moved up on Taman, but wasn’t able to get there and attack.

The zombie attacking Joybell missed. The one on Mo hit him and Mo used his stone’s endurance (a Goliath thing) to take no damage from it. The two on Imaktis attacked him and one of them hit. One of those looked like it should have been dropped already but was still standing and then it saved against his sacred flame.

Mo actually broke out his rapier and used it to actually stab at the zombie on him and hit it for 4 damage. Nice! Joybell, on the other hand, critically missed the one in front of her.

Taman tried to get insight on the regular wight, but was unable to get a good read on it. Fiona cast another acid splash for a small amount of damage. Orryk used his Fists of Unbroken Air on the wight and used his ki to push it back ten feet into the web spell AND did a nice amount of damage. So cool! Unfortunately, it saved against the web again (4th save vs. the web) and moved back up on Orryk and Taman. It missed its attack with the necrotic touch, but hit with its sword.

One zombie missed Joybell horribly but others hit Mo and Imaktis (twice). One of the hits on Imaktis was a crit. Imaktis used the sacred flame again, but once again the zombie saved.

Mo got another hit with his rapier, but despite looking like it should have dropped, the zombie was still standing.

Joybell dropped her zombie with a nice hit (yay!) and moved so she could protect both Mo and Imaktis with her shield when they were attacked.

Fiona cast another acid splash, catching two of the remaining zombies. Once again, they looked like they should have dropped, but didn’t.

Orryk missed the wight with his quarterstaff and used his ki to do a flurry of blows. Unfortunately, all but one of those attacks missed as well. In return the wight hit him with its longsword and with its black necrotic hand, though Mo’s cutting words turned that last into a miss, thank goodness.

Orryk: A little help over here…

One of the zombies hit Mo with its attack (Joybell didn’t jump in quickly enough with her shield). Joybell protected Imaktis from the first attack against him but unfortunately the critical hit got through. Imaktis cast sacred flame (I think) and finally dropped one of the zombies. Mo hit one and it should have dropped, but it was an Iron Zombie and just would not fall.

Joybell laid hands on Imaktis, healing him for 15 points of damage, then went to help Orryk and Taman with the wight.

Taman hit the wight and Fiona magic missiled it and it finally dropped!

Then Orryk moved over to the two remaining zombies. He dropped one but the other one was still standing.

The remaining zombie got another critical hit on Imaktis, but he didn’t drop because of his shadow sorcerer connection to the grave. Imaktis hit it with his shillelagh, but once again despite being damaged enough to fall, it remained standing. Mo stabbed it, and it still remained up.

Joybell, fed up with the darned thing, moved back across the road to the zombie and did a divine smite on it -- with the additional radiant damage the Iron Zombie finally fell!

We ended while we were deciding whether to take a short rest and continue, take a short rest while looking for a place to take a long rest, or to just find a safe space and take a long rest. We had gotten about an hour away from the city.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 8: Killing Them With Fire

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM - Everyone Else


8 Sunnin 748 (later that day) (Campaign day 9, an hour after sunset)

While we were taking a short rest, immediately following the combat with the wights and the Iron Zombies in the road, we discussed whether to continue on overnight or to stop for the night. Mo and (initially) Joybell, were in favor of going on -- it seemed like there was a great urgency to this, and if we stopped to rest the city could be overrun with undead. Mo also pointed out that we weren’t likely to get a quiet night’s rest in a forest crawling with undead.

Orryk and Fiona pointed out that Alighieri didn’t know how far we’d have to travel to find the center of the problem -- it could be days of travel away. Even if it was the very next town, it’s probably more than just a few hours travel to get there.

Imaktis appeared to be arguing that we could just abandon the whole city to its fate, but that was not seriously considered. Taman pointed out that Alighieri seemed pretty powerful and it’s likely that he, Ullar Truehammer, and Mogree could take care of the city (with the rest of the guard) for a few days (giving us time to take a rest).

Orryk and Fiona’s argument that we could be traveling for days convinced Joybell and she began to argue on their side that we should rest. Orryk’s absolute certainty that if we went on we’d die and not save anyone was also pretty persuasive.

As part of this conversation, Orryk also pointed out that in the previous combat, the two people with non-magical weapons or attacks wound out fighting the wights (resistant to non-silvered, non-magical weapons) rather than the zombies, which was a sign of unwise tactical decision-making on the parts of some members of the party. Joybell pointed out that some of her tactical decisions have to do with who she can get to with her little legs, but admitted that he really did have a good point.

Having agreed with Orryk on that, and on stopping for a long rest, Joybell and Taman went to look for a good place to camp for the night while Orryk and Mo continued to discuss. (Taman was sneaking around so Joybell stayed as far away from him as possible. To the extent she knew where he was.)

We found a campsite that was off the road, on some high ground with some trees and not a lot of game trails, but not too much underbrush -- so we could see things coming, but have some cover. Orryk used his move earth cantrip (from being a Way of the Four Elements monk) to dig a 5’ wide and 5’ deep trench around the camp at the top of the hill, with a 5’ wide area not dug out to make it easier to get in and out. Fiona cast alarm across that “entrance”. The dirt removed from the trench was spread evenly around on the top of the hill -- and the dirt let us make nice soft places to sleep. Very homey.

Orryk and Fiona took first watch, which passed without incident.

Joybell and Imaktis took the second watch. In the middle of their watch, they heard snarling, like ghouls (not like animals) a ways off from the campsite. We moved to where we could see (hopefully without being seen). There were 4 ghouls (apparently, it was actually 3 ghouls and 1 ghast, but we couldn’t tell that from a distance).

Joybell asked Imaktis if we should wake the others, and he said no. So she went back to hunkering and watching. When it became obvious that they were coming straight for us, not merely wandering around, she went and woke everyone up despite Imaktis saying not to.

When woken, Mo was all snarky about us being attacked by undead in the middle of the night, because he’d predicted this, but he got up.

Immediately on waking up, Taman shot one with an arrow, which was a good start. Mo viciously mocked the same one. Orryk took a shot at the same one (focusing fire) but missed horribly and started swearing in Gnomish. Joybell was shocked at his language.

One of the ghouls moved up faster than the others (that was the ghast) - this was the one that everyone had been shooting at.

Joybell threw a javelin at it, but totally missed (with a nat 1). Basically everyone missed that round, except Taman.

Orryk got a good hit on the ghast, then it ran up and went down and over the trench and got right up on Joybell. (The trench counted as two squares of difficult terrain.) It missed her, though, which was good. Imaktis, who used his shillelagh cantrip, hit it and dropped it right into the trench.

With the ghast right in front of her gone, Joybell threw a javelin at the nearest ghoul. The ghouls then finally got all the way up to the party, though they were mostly standing in the trench, which had them fighting at disadvantage. Taman used his rapier on one.

Mo flicked a spark from his pipe in the air, which burst into sparkling faerie fire that clung to two of them, giving us advantage on our attacks on them.

Orryk dropped one with his fists of unbroken air. Imaktis got a hit. Joybell tried to get fancy with an Ensnaring Strike spell on the one which wasn’t faerie fired, but failed with her attack. Until one of the faerie fire’d ones moved out of her threatened area and she hit it with an opportunity attack. At that point it, saved against the writhing vines.

Fiona firebolted the faerie fired one and then Taman hit the other one and killed it with a mighty backstab.

Mo stepped forward and threw a dagger at the last one and dropped it. With his dagger.

Mo: Are we done with this now?
Joybell: Yes. Go back to sleep.

We got all of the ghouls and the ghast into the trench and Orryk covered them up with his earth moving cantrip. Then Mo cast a sleep spell, though it really wasn’t going to work against the party. But everyone but Joybell and Imaktis did go back to sleep.

Around the time they woke up Taman and Mo for their watch, Taman heard more of the ghoulish snarling in the woods -- we stayed quiet until they moved on, then Joybell and Imaktis went to sleep.

The rest of the night passed without incident.


9 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 10)

The next morning we got up and continued on our way -- we thought about traveling just off the road, until we remembered that the forest was difficult terrain and we’d be moving very slowly. So we let Taman scout ahead of us on the road and we stayed close to the forest side of the road so we could dart off of it and hide if we needed to.

About mid-day, Taman, scouting 60 to 100 feet ahead of us, saw some figures coming down the middle of the road toward us -- they were sort of bony looking, but not skeletons (4 ghouls (or ghasts, as we can’t tell them apart at a distance)) and 1 not-a-wight (GM didn’t say at this time what it was, just that it didn’t look like any of the wights we’ve been fighting all along; later we learned that this was a deathlock)). Taman came back to tell us about them (they hadn’t seen him), and we hid in the forest alongside the road, rather than confronting them. (We wanted to be at full strength when we found the Undead Warlock of Orcus person we were out looking for.)

We succeeded in hiding in the woods, despite Joybell wearing heavy armor. Also despite Joybell getting a look at that not-a-wight thing -- it looked really bad and was heading for the city and not fighting it was killing her. But Taman and Orryk kept her focused on the plan and she didn’t throw a javelin at it. Also Taman kept his hands on her shoulders and held her in place.

After they passed by, we resumed proceeding on our way with Taman scouting ahead. The rest of the day we travelled without incident until just before dusk we saw a logging camp in the distance -- there were a few bunk tents, a big stack of sawlogs, and a pier in the river. All were semi-randomly placed in a 60’ clearing starting at the river and extending over the road. Everything looked pretty tatty and we didn’t see anything moving.

We stopped inside the forest where we could see into the camp without being seen and Taman went in to scout around. Mo inspired him with a hearty “Best of luck!”

Taman cut a hole in the nearest tent and peeked in -- it was very dark in the tent, but the sunlight was coming in through the entrance (at the far corner). Taman saw and heard something in the tent recoil and hiss away from the light. (1 bodak).

(Note: GM told us what all of the big bad guys were after the combat and I’m going to use those names for them rather than the monikers I wrote in my notes. I’d rather not sound like an idiot talking about the hissing thing (later to be called the Abyssal guy), the was-invisible guy, the guy that came from the road, and the tall skinny guy.)

He then went to the next tent and cut a little peephole in that one. There was more light in that one and he could see three figures -- one was really tall and thin and the other two were ghoulish (1 fext and 2 ghouls). They were speaking with one another, but in a language Taman couldn’t understand. (He recognized the rhythms of conversation/speech, but not what they were saying.) The ghouls weren’t very articulate, but the fext was speaking.

(There was a third tent nearby, closer to the river, but there wasn’t any good way for Taman to get to it without risking being seen by whatever was in the other two, so he didn’t go peek in that one.)

As the rest of us waited for Taman to return, Orryk quaffed the Potion of Firebreathing and Imaktis blessed himself, Joybell, and Orryk.

After a few minutes, Taman came back and told us what he saw.

We spent a moment figuring out what we were going to do, and then Orryk moved up along the back of the nearer tent (the one with the bodak that hissed away from the light) to where he could throw a bead from his necklace of fireballs at the second tent (with the fext and ghouls). Joybell moved up along the front of the nearer tent and stopped where she was not visible from the door, but so she could get to the entrance the next round.

When Orryk threw the bead, the second tent more or less exploded in flames, entirely burning, and the nearer tent took some damage and caught on fire at one corner.

After the explosion, Joybell moved up further and stopped, sort of in the middle of the square, and took a dodge action. She was in a position to take on anything that came out of the first tent (burning at the corner and with the bodak in it) or second tent (entirely on fire with the fext and 2 ghouls) or the third tent (not burning at all and un-scouted). The fext, armed with a greatsword, came out of the second tent.

The fext was tall and skinny and seemed to fit the description of the guy that came off the ship at Istin’s Yard -- apparently a big bad if not THE big bad.

Fiona cast firebolt and hit the fext twice (does this make sense?). After she hit it, it turned and glared at her -- casting a Hex spell on her. Then it fired two Eldritch Bolts at Joybell, but missed.

Orryk couldn’t see anything still moving in the tent he fireballed, so he held his action to shoot at something that needed shooting when it appeared.

After a moment, one of the two ghouls came out of the fireballed tent. The other one apparently was killed in the fireball. The ghoul ran across the central square of the camp to the third tent and got just to the entrance. We assumed he was going for reinforcements.

At the same time, we saw 2 more ghouls running in from the far edge of the camp, beyond the pier.

Taman moved up a bit and shot one of the new ones coming in.

Imaktis cast Guiding Bolt on the fext and the fext cast Counterspell -- except he was 5’ out of range for the Counterspell (but well in range of the Guiding Bolt) and had to take the 16 points of radiant damage Imaktis was dealing.

Imaktis, Orryk and Joybell saw the flap at the entrance of the third tent fly open, but didn’t see anything other than that. Joybell yelled out that something invisible just came out of the tent.

Joybell couldn’t get to the fext and attack, so she moved up half her move and threw a javelin at it, hitting well. (This was her last moment of effectiveness until the end of the combat.)

Mo cast Faerie Fire on the area near the entrance to the third tent, hoping to catch the invisible thing. Unfortunately, the invisible guy didn’t get lit up, but the ghoul (which had already been through the fireball and taken at least one arrow) did get caught in the spell.

The fext took two swings at Joybell -- one missed but the other one hit for quite a lot of damage (more than a third of her total), and that was after Mo used Cutting Words to ameliorate the strength of its blow.

At this point, the 1 deathlock (the not-a-wight) and 4 ghouls that we’d seen on the road heading toward the city, came up behind us, from the road. We were all focused on the fight in the center of the camp, so no one noticed them coming up until the deathlock fired two Eldritch Blasts at Fiona. Fortunately, it missed with both.

Orryk moved up and threw a fireball that caught the fext and the ghoul that had already been through the other fireball. Then he breathed fire in a 30’ cone (thanks to the Potion of Firebreathing) in the direction of the fext. The fext managed to dodge and miss much of the damage from both of those attacks, but in doing so, it lost concentration and the Hex spell on Fiona went away. The ghoul, unsurprisingly given all that it had been through, died.

At that, the fext screamed out a name in Abyssal and said, “Get your ass out here!” (Orryk understood and translated for us.)

At that the bodak came out of the first tent and walked right up to Imaktis. It wasn’t a shadow -- it was entirely solid. It also didn’t take any damage from the fire that was consuming that side of the tent, but its skin was blistering in the fading evening sunlight. We finally got a good look at it -- it was barely human, looking like a slightly melted wax sculpture and wearing tatters. It was also wearing the ram’s head Orcus symbol (as the rest were).

Taman moved up to attack the fext, but missed.

Imaktis moved around the knot of combatants to cast Guiding Bolt on the fext, who counterspelled. Imaktis then moved back to his original position.

At the end of his turn he took damage from an aura of death and decay (necrotic damage) that the bodak was giving off.

A skeletally thin undead thing appeared next to Mo and cast Arms of Hadar, which created dark tendrils of energy that battered Mo, Joybell, and Imaktis. Joybell and Imaktis were able to resist it, but Mo took a lot of damage. This was the invisible thing, a deathlock mastermind.

The deathlock mastermind looked mostly like bones held together with stretched tight skin. Sort of lich-like, really, except not a lich.

At that point in the combat, Mo had been badly injured, Joybell was below half her hit points, Imaktis had been hit a couple of times. Everyone had been hit to varying degrees. And we’d killed one ghoul.

Joybell took a swing with her flail at the fext, missing, then moved around him to get out of range of the deathlock mastermind’s Arms of Hadar, if he chose to cast it again. Unfortunately she couldn’t get out of range of the bodak’s necrotic aura without taking an attack of opportunity from the fext.

Mo healed Imaktis with a healing word, then disengaged and moved out of the middle of things to a somewhat better position.

The fext took a swing at Joybell with his greatsword and dropped her with his first swing.

The deathlock fired two Eldritch Blasts at Fiona -- one hit and the other missed.

We had still killed exactly one ghoul. (Note: At this point we were thinking we’d stumbled into a TPK.)

Orryk then moved up to breathe fire on the fext and the deathlock mastermind. The fext finally died -- after two fireballs, two fire-breaths, and several hits from various people. The deathlock mastermind took a lot of damage from the fire and was looking rather worse after it. Orryk then took the rest of his move to head toward the deathlock and four ghouls that came in from the road and threw another fireball bead at them from the necklace. All of them -- the ghouls and the deathlock were burned up in the fireball.

After Orryk’s turn things were suddenly looking very much better.

The bodak took a swing at Imaktis, but missed. The two ghouls that had been running up from the far side of the camp finally arrived, getting right up on Taman and Joybell’s dropped body. Fortunately they both attacked Taman (rather than making auto-crit attacks as they went to eat Joybell). Even more fortunately, both missed.

Taman hit one of those ghouls, then disengaged and dragged Joybell 15’ away. Unfortunately that left her still in the bodak’s necrotic damage radius.

Imaktis turned undead, getting one of the ghouls but neither the deathlock mastermind or the bodak. He then dragged Joybell five more feet out of the bodak’s range so she wouldn’t take that damage (and auto-fail 2 death saves).

The deathlock mastermind moved to where he could see Fiona and cast dispel magic to get rid of her Blur spell. Fiona, in response, backed further away from the center of combat and cast chromatic orb, but missed.

Mo cast healing word and got Joybell back on her feet--figuratively speaking, anyway as she was still prone. Then he cast vicious mockery on the deathlock mastermind.

Orryk used his final firebreath from the potion on the bodak and the un-turned ghoul. That dropped the ghoul. Then he hit the bodak.

The bodak glared at Orryk--the effect was obviously bad because there was a withering energy and Orryk saved and still took 11 points of damage. Orryk then used his ability to Fade Away and turn invisible.

The turned ghoul continued to flee, running out of the field of battle and the logging town. (Note: We totally forgot to track this guy down, so there’s a random ghoul out there in the forest. Later note: Apparently he came back and we killed him later without incident.)

Taman studied the bodak for a bit to gain insight on it, then shot it with his bow, but even with the insight he didn’t do a ton of damage.

Imaktis used guiding bolt on the bodak, wherein we learned that it is not vulnerable to radiant damage, though its skin was blistering and peeling away from the sunlight as we watched. (The GM was surprised by this, too ...) He then reached down and stood Joybell actually on her feet.

The deathlock mastermind moved away from Orryk, who took an attack against him as he moved, which cost him his invisibility. Unfortunately, he missed. Fortunately, the mastermind also missed when he used eldritch blast on Orryk.

Fiona fired a magic missile at the deathlock mastermind, which hit.

Joybell, now standing, and angry, laid hands on herself and marched toward the bodak, getting about 10 feet away before her movement ran out. She was hoping that he’d come to her…

Mo dropped a shatter spell on the bodak and then inspired Joybell.

Orryk attacked the deathlock mastermind, missing with his first attack but doing some real damage with his flurry of blows.

The bodak died without anyone touching it from the damage it took from the fading sunlight -- its flesh blistering and sloughing away.

With the bodak gone and the one surviving ghoul having fled well away, the only opponent left on the field was the deathlock mastermind. Taman took a shot at it. Imaktis cast guiding bolt,and did some nice damage (and gave the next attack against it advantage).

The deathlock mastermind turned around and its hand started to glow with a black glow then it hit Orryk. Mo tried to use cutting words to reduce the amount of damage he took, but it wasn’t enough and Orryk was dropped.

Fiona hit it with a Melf’s Acid Arrow, which did some good damage. But it stayed standing.

Joybell moved up and absolutely botched her swing (with a Nat 1). There were swears at this point.

Mo healed Orryk with healing words then tried vicious mockery, but the mastermind succeeded in saving against that.

Orryk pushed himself to his feet, swore in Gnomish, and attacked. Woozy from having been knocked out and dropped, he missed with his first attack and the first of his flurry of blows, but he did get a hit with the last of them.

Taman moved up and attacked with his rapier but missed. Imaktis hit it with a guiding bolt, which did lots of damage and the next person to attack it once again had advantage.

After all of that it was still standing.

The mastermind took a swing at Orryk and dropped him again.

Mo: Stop that!

Fiona shot it with a firebolt and it took some continuing damage from the Acid Arrow.

It was still standing.

Joybell, really really pissed now, hit it and did a divine smite, calling down the power of nature she’s sworn to protect, and finally dropped it.

Imaktis cast Prayer of healing to get all of us into better shape, because we were all beaten and bloodied.

While the rest of us looted the bodies, Taman skirted around the camp and made sure nothing was in any of the other tents or coming our way from the woods.

All of them had the Orcus symbol (the ram’s skull) either carved onto their bodies or worn as an amulet. The ghouls looked like they were perhaps formerly the lumberjacks and sawyers of the logging camp. We did not find anyone who looked like Alin, which seemed a little surprising, though it had been suggested that there might have been a disguise self spell involved at some point.

We did not find any journals or writings or letters that would let us know for sure that this was the whole of the problem or if there are other deathlocks of various sorts out there planning to attack Embernook.

In the tent that wasn’t burned, we saw that the mastermind was again starting to set up a shadowpool. Fiona recognized it as the work of the same creator as the two we’d dealt with before. We disrupted that and Mo burned the tent down with a prestidigitation spell.

During all of this we took a short rest, so we were feeling much better by the end of it.

On the persons of the dead guys and in the tents, we found:

7 x 50 gp gems (2 jasper; 5 onyx)
12 x 100 gp gems (4 spinel; 5 tourmaline; 3 chrysoberyl)
4 x 25 gp art and valuable objects (1 silver ewer; 3 ornate mirrors with painted frames)
110 gp
1900 sp
2900 cp

GM says that the gems and art are freely interchangeable for money, which means that all divides like so:

293 gp each (with 2 left)
316 sp each (with 4 left)
483 cp each (with 2 left)

We also found:
+1 Greatsword (No one in the party can use this)
Gloves of Swimming & Climbing
Rod of the Pact Keeper (Warlock only)
Horn of Silent Alarm
4 spell scrolls (Hex (Warlock only), Armor of Agathys (Warlock only), Mirror Image and Expeditious Retreat) (Fiona has asked for and really should get the Mirror Image and Expeditious Retreat scrolls.)

We decided to travel through the night to get back to town as soon as possible -- there was enough moonlight to travel safely on the road.


10 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 11)

We got back to town a couple of hours after sunrise. The town was no longer glowing.

As soon as we were in the city, Orryk said: “Hey, Alighieri, we’re back.” But there was no response.

As we went through the city and across Allacross to get to Centerkeep, we noticed that the city seemed to be in remarkably good shape, though the crematoria were clearly working hard. We didn’t see a lot of signs of anything having happened -- the people in the streets looked pretty normal and like it was just another day. However, we noticed that the guards we encountered looked tired, worn, and edgy. They had bloodshot eyes and looked like they hadn’t slept for the last two nights. The citizens were business as usual, but the guards had seen some business.

We reported to both Chief Truehammer and Commander Mogree.

Joybell: We killed lots of things. With fire. We think everything is dead. That’s all. The others can tell you anything I left out.
Everyone Else: No, that sounded good.

We were all aching to go to our respective beds and sleep. On our way out, we were told that the Guard have a storehouse and we should be able to trade in any of the items we got that we can’t use for something they have. Specifically the greatsword that no one can use and the warlock only items.

So that’s cool.

Exhausted, we left and went home.

We will wake later at level 5.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 9: Back to Kalmarn

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM - Everyone Else


10 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 11) (the same morning)

We left Chief Ullar and Commander Mogree after making our somewhat sketchy report “We killed lots of things. With fire.”

We said we’d come back later to trade in the things we can’t use and all went to our respective homes.

Most of us slept for the rest of the day and the night. Fiona slept for a while and then spent the rest of the night copying spell scrolls we’ve obtained along the way.

Joybell cast Find Steed in the middle of the night, after sleeping through the day. Orryk heard some snuffling and whuffling noises from Joybell’s room and knocked to see what’s up -- so she introduced him to her new wolf mount, Darkmoon Moonstone Happyhowl, Defender of Henge and Wold.

Joybell: But he’ll respond to Scooby.

Scooby licked Orryk on the cheek.

Orryk nodded and went back to sleep.


11 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 12)

The next morning, Joybell walked with Darkmoon Moonstone Happyhowl down the stairs and introduced him to Queena. Scooby licked her cheeks. Whereupon it was worked out that Scooby can stay in Queena’s fenced yard, but Joybell agreed that maybe he should have something like the wolf equivalent of the guard armbands, so no one tries to steal (or hurt) him.

Queena accepted Scooby like a champ, which made Joybell very grateful.

We all met up for breakfast at the Pewter Oar, where Joybell introduced Scooby to everyone and there was much licking of cheeks.

At breakfast, Orryk asked Joybell about the Basalt Henge. He’d heard that it has been there as a Druidic circle for about 200 years and that it’s a good place to find elemental magic. He asked if she would take him, or the whole party there, and Joybell said yes.

We decided to leave the next day, after taking care of some things in town. First, we stopped by Centerkeep to see about what exchanges we could make for the things we can’t use. Joybell rode Scooby through the city and got a number of weird looks and double-takes but no overtly freaked-out reactions. And we were able to travel at everyone else’s speed without Joybell having to ride on Mo’s shoulders.

We all went into Ullar’s office, including Scooby. Joybell asked if we could get a collar or something for him. Ullar made arrangements for that, which will be helpful.

There was a bit of discussion as to whether he’d agree to wear a collar. Joybell figured that since he’d agreed to be named Darkmoon Moonstone Happyhowl, Defender of Henge and Wold, he’s probably a pretty easy-going celestial wolf and will be okay.

We asked about what we could trade the items we can’t use for. Ullar wrote a note and sent an assistant out to bring back some items from the stores. Scooby licked Ullar’s cheeks.

While the assistant was doing that, we talked to Truehammer about where we’d go to purchase magic items. He recommended a guy in the Nook named Trannel. He also said we’d do well to get an introduction from Tulmor and Barnett.

Imaktis offered to help heal people, if anyone was still in need. Ullar said that there are some people who could still use restorative magic.

We asked if we should report to Alighieri. Ullar said that he and Mogree had passed on our report already, which made Joybell feel bad that it was so sketchy. While waiting for the assistant to come back, we give a much fuller report that they can pass on to the Administrator.

After about an hour, the assistant came back with a guard collar for Scooby and also:

Shortbow +1 (Orryk)
Pearl of Power (Fiona)
Scrolls of Feather Fall and Illusory Script (Fiona)

The city was very quiet at the moment and he had nothing for us to do, so we all headed over to Tulmor and Barnett’s together to get an introduction to Trannell.

We were met at the door by Tulmor and we explained the situation to her. She said she was not free to leave their shop, because Barnett was at Harl’s house in Kalmarn (see session 4) with a group of mages trying to reassemble Harl’s library. She did give us a letter of introduction to Trannell.

Fiona stayed behind to copy a spell (Leomund’s Tiny Hut) while the rest of us went to Trannell’s.

Trannell is a human man, about average height but very large in build -- formerly someone who worked hard for a living he’s a bit squishy now, but not overweight or flabby. The shop is simply called “Trannell’s”, which is at least easy to remember.

Inside the shop, which was all counters and cabinets for displaying items and a door to a back room. The items on display in the cabinets were very well made armor and weapons. There weren’t a lot of items, but all of them were top-notch.

We showed Trannell the letter from Tulmor. His response was that he trusts Tulmor, though he doesn’t always agree with her or even like her. But he trusts her.

We asked what magical items he had in store and he showed us a Potion of Firebreath, which Orryk purchased (yay!), a pair of Gauntlets of Ogre Power which Imaktis purchased (thereby more than doubling his strength), and a pair of goggles (Goggles of Night) that allow one to see in the dark, which Mo purchased -- at least in part with a great big sack of copper coins.

Orryk asked if he had any items with elemental magic or ties to the elemental planes. Trannell said that most of those items he sells to the Basalt Henge. Orryk gave him a bit of gold so that he’d let Orryk know when Elemental things came into his shop.

He also showed us a pouch with six Beads of Force. Each individual bead cost substantially more than we as a party could afford. Which was a pity because they’re really kind of awesome.

Imaktis asked if there was anything in particular that Trannell was looking for. Trannell couldn’t think of anything specific. He did tell us that if we found anything that we couldn’t use and couldn’t, for whatever reason trade out at the guardhouse, that we could take it to him to sell or trade. He’s mostly on the lookout for anything he can sell.

Imaktis then asked about his thoughts about the undead invasion of a couple of nights earlier.. Trannell didn’t have the slightest idea what he was talking about. Utter non-comprehension.

Mo: Have you had any weird people shopping lately?
Trannell: <<looks around at party>>
Mo: More weird than us?
Trannell: No.

Okay.

We went to the Administrator’s office after that -- Joybell signed her name on the sign-up sheet to see Thalith. Mo went straight to the person who manages the list to see if we could get directly in.

Thalith called us in immediately and Joybell scampered up from where she was waiting in line.

Mo: Wait your turn…

We all went in.

Thalith told us that only people who are wearing armbands would know what we’re talking about if we talk about the undead. Which was exactly what we had experienced with Trannell. We had our armbands on at the relevant moment and therefore our memories are not affected.

Apparently the Administrator had been busy with the Council all day, explaining what happened and what his response was and how he planned to keep it from happening again. Thalith wasn’t sure it was going well. Before any of us could ask if the Council had been affected by the memory-thing that the Administrator did, he said that there were some people not in the guard who were exempt.

Joybell immediately felt even more guilty about not giving a better report when we got back.

We asked about whether this group of undead warlocks of Orcus indicated that Orcus had manifested in our plane. Thalith said that Warlocks of Fiends find themselves powerless to resist the demands of their patrons if the patrons appeared in our plane. Which didn’t reassure. Except that if Orcus himself were here, people would know.

We asked if he or Alighieri had any idea about why these deathlocks were attacking Embernook. His only answer was that Embernook has a range of influence and is a big target. As far as Thalith knew only Embernook was attacked.

After we left Thalith’s office Taman had an urge to go around telling people about the undead attack...but it would probably just have gotten people thinking he was nuts.

Orryk and Mo then went to an armorer to get Mo “studded up”. Mo explained to the armorer that he wanted a lot of pockets all up and down the armor. They said they’d have to alter some -- both for the pockets and to fit his skinny frame -- and would have it ready in two days.

The rest of the day passed with people doing their own things around Embernook. Joybell was providing security in one of the brothels for a while, then went to the Pewter Oar to join Taman and Mo. Mo set himself up in the bar to play music and make some money. He used the Flute of Scribing to put “Mo W. Kang’s Wonderful Wandering Band” on the wall behind him -- he made 2gp and got all of his drinks free for the day.

Note: Joybell thinks “Mo W. Kang’s Wonderful Band” would be an awesome name for our party. She’s totally cool with Mo being the headliner and “Wonderful Band” seems like a great way to advertise ourselves. (She left out the “Wandering” part, because we really haven’t wandered too much and maybe we shouldn’t advertise on that.)


12 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 13)

The next morning we all gathered up and headed out to the Black Field, traveling to the Basalt Henge. On the way, Joybell introduced Orryk to some of the prairie dogs. We got to the Henge in the evening and they had beds available for everyone (in the rooms where they put up pilgrims who are in for festivals).

The resident population at the Basalt Henge are mostly Wood Elves, Firbolgs and Gnomes (mostly Forest Gnomes, but some Rock Gnomes as well). There are some humans and a few Earth and Fire Genasi as well.


13 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 14)

The next morning, Joybell introduced her new friends (and Darkmoon Moonstone Happyhowl, Defender of Henge and Wold) to Naïlo, the head of the Druids in the Henge (a female Wood Elf). Naïlo gave Scooby a scritch and then asked us what we needed.

Orryk demonstrated some of his elemental powers for her and said that he’s looking for information about the thin boundary between this plane and the Elemental planes. He mentioned being from the Stonestream Cloister (where he trained as a monk) and Naïlo said she had guessed that he was connected there based on his abilities.

She told us that the boundary at the Henge (and maybe in the Black Field generally) is thinner with the Plane of Earth than with Fire. The Druids are trying to strengthen that boundary. Joybell asked why and she said because Genies (intelligent denizens of the Elemental planes) are slavers. The Dao (Earth Genies) and the Efreeti (Fire Genies) could come through the boundary on their own and take captives back to sell as slaves.

The Druids have been doing long term ritual magic to strengthen the boundary. Naïlo admitted that it was hard to know if their magic was working or if they were just benefiting from the thousand years since the volcano had erupted.

To do this ritual work, they need items that are tuned to summoning and controlling elementals (mostly Earth Elementals). Items that could be used to make a portal to the elemental plane. They use the items in reverse (sort of) to close the boundaries.

Orryk told her that we helped fight off an invasion of undead in Embernook and asked if they had any pieces that had turned out not to be useful in their work to strengthen the boundary. Naïlo said that all they had has been used.

Imaktis asked what we could help them with. Naïlo said that one of the Cities on the Ends of the Rivers (presumably Pelsoreen) has a school of Elemental Magic -- but that isn't obviously an answer connected to Imaktis’ question.

Orryk asked if there was a library or any written information he could study. She said that theirs is mostly an oral tradition but there are some writings and some elders Orryk can talk to.

While they were still there with Naïlo, Taman asked Joybell why she didn’t become a Druid. Joybell got a little quiet and moved a little away from Naïlo, like she was a little afraid of what would come from that quarter. She said that she’d been going to be a Druid. She’d started her training at a circle in the forest called the Wold, which was where she grew up. She was out in the forest for a couple of days gathering herbs, a normal part of the novice training, and came back and found that the Wold had been destroyed and all of the people…. Orryk asked if this was the masked people she’d asked about before. Joybell said yeah, the children had been taken and all of the adults were either killed or gone. She’d spent a couple of days burning the corpses and hoping anyone, any adult, would come back to make it all okay again, but no one did. She learned from one who died in her arms that some people blamed her and she definitely blamed herself -- she should have been there and done something, helped somehow. Through all of this Naïlo did and said nothing.

Joybell decided to become a paladin instead -- a defender. So she’d be able to help and protect when she was needed.

After that, Joybell went up to the Henge to pray and meditate by herself, curled up with Scooby for comfort.

Orryk was sent to Alsinor, a Wood Elf who is very knowledgeable about the ritual workings at the Henge. Orryk spent the day talking to Alsinor and other people and reading the material they had. It was mostly similar information to what he’d found at the Tulmor and Barnett’s library, but from a different perspective.

Orryk then went to the Henge to see if his elemental abilities reacted differently close to the Henge and the ritual work the Druids have done there. He used Mold Earth to put shapes and colors in the earth -- normally these would last an hour, but at the Henge they disappeared almost instantly. The Earth was resisting being shaped there. Control Flame was much less dampened.

Joybell asked Alsinor if this dampening was because of the work they’ve been doing or because of what they have yet to do. Alsinor thinks that it’s because of the work they’ve been doing. Before the work, the Earth spells would have been more powerful, but less controlled.

Mo and Taman spent the day talking about what kind of being Administrator Alighieri is and what kind of deal he made with the Tundra Queen. (And whether or not he got the better of it.)


14 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 15)

We left in the morning to head back across the Black Field. Joybell pointed out to Orryk the dwarf buckwheat -- cool little plants that space themselves out so that each can get enough water. (Joybell has absolute faith that Orryk is interested in things like this.)

We got back pretty late in the day, but before it was fully dark.

Mo, to the guard at the gate: Any undead attack while we were gone?
Guard: It has been really quiet.
Mo: Good.

We went together to the Pewter Oar and found a message and a package waiting for us. The package was a small crate that had been delivered that morning. It had an envelope on the top sealed with Alighieri’s seal. The box was about 4 feet long, but only 1 foot wide and 1 foot high.

Fiona took 10 minutes to cast Detect Magic and was nearly blinded by the magical radiance coming out of the box, with many schools of magic represented - Divination, Transmutation, many others.

The letter said:

With the gratitude of the City of Embernook and my own personal thanks.

--Alighieri D.​

Joybell put the letter in her bag and opened the box.

Inside on top were six pouches, each with one of our initials on it. Inside each pouch was 100gp. (Joybell treasures the pouch maybe more than the gold -- the gold will get spent and be gone someday, but she can keep the pouch forever.)

Also in the box were:

Potion of Greater Healing (Joybell)
Potion of Invisibility (Taman)
Potion of Clairvoyance (party item)
Scroll of Magic Weapon (Fiona)
Protection Scroll of Protection from Fey (Taman)
Stone of Good Luck (Orryk)
Cape of the Mountebank (Taman)
Mantle of Spell Resistance (Imaktis)
Sending Stones (one each to Taman & Mo)
Rapier +1 (Taman)

After dinner we went home to sleep.


15 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 16)

At breakfast at the Pewter Oar, we started talking about leaving Embernook and heading to Pelsoreen so Orryk could continue his elemental research there. We know that this would be a long trip -- a couple of months to get to the other river and then another month down the river. Longer to come back because we’d be coming up river. Realistically probably a few months each way, on average.

Joybell pointed out that we could go up to Ariqua, but Taman is very nervous about that.

Imaktis said that he didn’t think that things were permanently finished with the undead.

Joybell wanted to go talk to Ullar Truehammer before we left, in case there was something he needed for us to do. Mo wanted to go talk to the Administrator so that we could thank him for the gifts and tell him that we’re leaving.

Joybell agreed to that, a bit reluctantly.

We all went over to the Administrator’s office. While Joybell was signing up on the waiting list, Mo went to talk to Thalith. Joybell followed over when Thalith took everyone into his office.

In his office Mo told Thalith that we’d gotten the package from the Administrator and we all thanked him. Then Mo said that we were planning to head to Pelsoreen.

Thalith told us that Pelsoreen has an active slave trade -- any race or type of person they can catch. The slave trade is supported by the government. Taman asked what kind of government the city has and was told that it’s a criminal oligarchy (suggesting that Pelsoreen is sort of run by the mob). The college of elemental magic is in such a horrible place because all genies are slavers.

Orryk asked if there was anything the Administrator would like for us to do there, or along the way.

As Thalith turned to ask the Administrator that question, portcullises slammed down around all of the entrances and exits to the room and the Statue Sentries that Taman had noticed the first time we were in Aligheri’s office woke up with their red eyes flaring bright.

Barnett and three other people appeared in the room screaming and freaked out.

Barnett: This isn’t my library.
Alighieri, who appeared in the room Batman-style without anyone (not even Taman) noticing him arrive: My apologies. Your teleport was redirected here. What has happened?

Barnett and the other people, all mages, had been working in Harl’s library, intent on reconstructing the library and pulling together the books that had been torn apart, when a thing bounded in through the open door and tore apart one of the mages.

Barnett was clearly Not Okay -- he was at best marginally coherent and totally freaked out. The other three were a bit more together. They described a blob with arms and claws and mouths with teeth that tore Ingurd just to shreds.

Joybell asked if anyone had accidentally read some of the pages of the Crazy Book and they said they were being very careful not to do that.

Alighieri (in Sylvan): Stand down.

At that, the sentries went dormant again and the portcullises raised.

Fiona and Orryk, with their knowledge of the arcane, think the monster sounds like something from the Outer Chaos. Joybell and Imaktis, with their knowledge of religion, had heard of something called the Hunger Between Worlds and knew that there are groups that celebrate this hunger.

We wondered if this could possibly have to do with the Crazy Book that Harl was trying to read and that killed him. It certainly doesn’t seem like a big leap.

The magic users tell us that there was no summoning or flash of light -- the monster just ran in.

Orryk, to Alighieri: Can you teleport us there?
Alighieri: I cannot. Kalmarn is not in the city.

Alighieri, very intently and seriously to Barnett: We need to get people to Kalmarn. Can Tulmor do that?
Barnett: <<nods>>

Alighieri, in response to that, went to a closed door in Thalith’s office and opened it. The door opened to the street outside Tulmor and Barnett’s place.

Alighieri: I believe she’ll be happy to help you. And better able to help Barnett.

Barnett was still shaky and disconnected. He appeared to have had some sort of PTSD triggered…

Before we left Thalith’s office, Orryk asked if Alighieri could use a Sending spell to communicate with us in Kalmarn.

Alighieri: My powers have pretty strong geographical limits.

(Note: The notes don’t give any context for the following conversation:
Taman: We can just slap him until he comes back.
Joybell: We will not beat on the traumatized person.
Taman’s player had been watching Airplane!)

We helped Barnett across the street to his house and knocked on the door. Tulmor answered and, seeing Barnett, immediately had us bring him in and help him to his very spartan room.

While we were telling her what Barnett and the other mages told us earlier, Barnett was stuck in a mental loop.

Barnett: It’s bad. Really bad. It’s bad. Really bad. (Repeat, repeat)

We told Tulmor that we were there so that she could teleport us to Kalmarn. She had a scroll and could get us to the Teleportation Circle in Harl’s library. Before we went, Mo gave her one of the sending stones we just got so that we could contact her when we need to arrange to get out of there.

Mo also cast Longstrider on Taman, Orryk and Joybell. Imaktis, just before the teleport spell opened the gate, cast Bless on the same three people.

Then the teleport gate opened and we went through into a large room with bookshelves on the walls (and some free-standing shelves in the middle of the room) Two people with swords, shields, shaved heads (and not many clothes on) were about 85 or so feet away. Another 20 to 30 feet behind them was a guy in splint mail with a mace and a shield and a guy in robes. Off to one side, next to one of the bookcases was a really nasty Gribbly Monster that looked like a weird cephalopod with sickle claws on the ends of its tentacles and mouths along the tentacles. There was a big maw and eyes that glowed slightly green on the “body” of the cephalopod. (1 Gribbly Monster, 2 Barbarians, 1 Cleric, 1 Sorcerer)

Because of the way the teleportation circle works, they had plenty of warning that we were coming -- they were looking at the circle waiting for us.

Taman immediately took cover behind a bookshelf waiting until someone showed aggression.

GM, contemplating their actions: They placed themselves poorly.

Orryk shot at the Gribbly Monster, hitting once, and then he also took cover behind a bookshelf.

Joybell moved up, on Scooby, and asked “What are y’all doing here? And what the hell is that thing?”

When they didn’t answer, Taman peeked out from behind the bookshelf and took a shot at the Gribbly Monster, doing lots of damage with a sneak attack.

Joybell waffled a bit then rode Scooby as far as he could go and threw a javelin at the Gribbly Monster.

The Gribbly Monster moved up as far as he could, which got him to ten feet away from Joybell and gribbled at her, but couldn’t attack. The closer barbarian (in my notes as Barbarian 2), however, was able to charge her and attack, but he missed.

The cleric cast a spell that would have affected everyone but Joybell and Scooby -- everyone in the party felt a sense of time around them speeding up, then it slowed down again as literally everyone saved against the Slow spell. (This was a preview of how the combat was going to go for the DM.)

Mo blew a Shatter spell on his flute, placing it to catch the Gribbly Monster and Barbarian 2, without catching Joybell. Then he inspired Imaktis.

The robed figure, a Sorcerer, moved up and cast something that Orryk, Mo, Imaktis and Joybell would have had to deal with -- the area started glowing with a dim and sickly greenish light.

Fiona cast a fireball to catch the Cleric and the Sorcerer and did lots and lots of damage. The Sorcerer lost his concentration on that spell -- the greenish radiance of the Sickening Radiance spell dissipated before anyone had to make a save against it.

Imaktis cast Hold Person on Barbarian 2, which froze the barbarian in place, and then Imaktis moved up into the combat. Taman used the Dimension Door ability from the Cape of the Mountebank he’d just gotten and moved up to a position behind a bookcase but near the Sorcerer. He tried to hide there, but didn’t do a good job at all. He’ll have to get used to the disorientation from the Dimension Door.

The other barbarian, Barbarian 1, attacked Imaktis and missed.

Orryk moved up on Barbarian 2, still held, and attacked (with advantage). He missed with his first attack but his second did serious damage, then he backed up and out of range.

Joybell dismounted and sent Scooby back out of the thick of things (back to the teleportation circle) then she dropped the held Barbarian 2 and then got a hit on the Gribbly Monster.

The Gribbly Monster, in return, attacked Joybell with six tentacles. Three of them hit and she took 28 damage. Mo used Cutting Words to reduce that to 20, so Joybell wasn’t down more than half her total hit points in one round.

Then the Gribbly Monster moved like lightning, 40’, around the bookcase back to where Mo and Fiona were.

The Cleric cast a Silence spell that caught Fiona, Mo, Scooby and the Gribbly Monster, but it really only mattered for Fiona and Mo. Mo moved out of the spell and cast Blindness on the Monster, succeeding in blinding it such that every attack against it was with advantage and every attack it made was with disadvantage. (Note: The Gribbly Monster failed a CON save -- and one has to assume that the monster was strong in that.)

The Sorcerer moved around to where he could see Taman and shot four scorching rays at him. Fortunately only two hit, but Taman still took 11 points of damage, after his uncanny dodge. Then the Sorcerer shot 2 beams of crackling Eldritch Blast energy at him. Fortunately only one of them hit.

Fiona moved out of range of the Monster and cast Blur on herself. Imaktis moved and cast a level 3 Guiding Bolt at the Gribbly Monster. He did 18 points of Radiant Damage and dropped the Monster. Hooray!

Taman said “Ow” then used his Insight to learn something about the Sorcerer, then moved up to melee range. He attacked and hit, but even with the sneak attack damage, he didn’t do a lot.

Barbarian 1 (the only remaining barbarian) raged and attacked Joybell. He did a reckless attack and got in a good hit.

Orryk dashed 90 feet (spending a ki point) and attacked the Sorcerer. He spent another ki point for a stunning strike. The Sorcerer saved against the stunning strike, So Orryk hit it again and spent another ki point to try again with the stunning strike and the Sorcerer saved again. Dammit!

Joybell hit Barbarian 1 with a wrathful smite and he failed the save (first successful Smite Spell!), then she hit him again.

Unfortunately on the next turn, the Cleric dispelled the frightened condition from the Wrathful Smite and Barbarian 1 got to use his reaction to hit Joybell.

The Sorcerer cast a quickened Thunderstep, to move away from Taman and Orryk, doing them damage on the way out. Taman was dropped. Orryk saved. Then the Sorcerer missed Orryk with an Eldritch blast.

The Sorcerer and Cleric had, likely inadvertently, moved themselves into Fireball Formation with Barbarian 1, so Fiona, recognizing an opportunity when she saw one, Fireballed them. She did some nice damage -- dropping the Sorcerer and bringing down the silence when the Cleric failed to maintain his concentration on the spell. The Cleric was looking pretty ragged at that point.

Imaktis moved up on Barbarian 1 and got a hit with his Shillelagh, but didn’t drop it.

Which was a bit of a pity, because the Barbarian then attacked Joybell twice with a raging frenzy. The first strike dropped her and then the second immediately had her at two failed death saves.

Orryk ran to Joybell and poured the greater healing potion she’d just gotten down her throat.

Joybell stood up, but still woozy from having been knocked out and nearly killed, missed with both of her attacks. Then she cast Misty Step and moved to the other side of the bookcase back toward where the Gribbly Monster had been killed.

The Cleric cast healing word on Barbarian 1, who then got to immediately use his reaction to attack Imaktis.

Mo moved into range to cast Healing Word, which did a good deal of healing to Taman. Then he cast Vicious Mockery on Barbarian 1. “Why don’t you put some clothes on. You suck!” The Barbarian, flustered by this, had disadvantage on his attacks for the next round.

Fiona cast Scorching Ray on the Cleric but only one of the rays hit. Imaktis hit the Barbarian for 9 points of damage, but it was still standing.

Taman stood up and took a shot with his bow. It initially seemed like he was going to miss, but he got lucky and it was a hit instead.

The Barbarian attacked recklessly (which negated the disadvantage from Mo’s vicious mockery) and attacked Imaktis. Fortunately, Imaktis was able to throw up a Shield spell.

Orryk attacked with advantage against the Barbarian -- the first attack missed and the second hit. Then he did a bonus action to hit him again -- and that was a crit and he just pummeled him with an upper cut into the abdomen and then into the chin when he buckled over.

Joybell moved half her movement and called Scooby to her, then rode up to the Cleric and attacked him from wolf-back and dropped him.

With everyone down, we looted the shit out of them and found:

Splint Armor (from the cult cleric) -- can and will be cut down to fit Joybell
Wand of Magic Detection
Immovable Rod
Potion of Greater Healing (Joybell)
Potion of Firebreathing (Orryk)
(Also 2 regular longswords, a mace, and 3 shields)

Also from the cultists and gribbly monster:
80pp
1200gp
14 100-gp gems (5 jet, 5 amethyst, 4 coral)

(Note: The money from the cultists divides to:
433 gp each (with 2 left in a party kitty)
13pp each (with 2 left in a party kitty))

We ended there -- discussing how to get in touch with the people in Embernook to get back there (whether by boat or by another Teleportation spell) and how to take back the remains of the Gribbly Monster as proof of having killed it. Joybell suggested that maybe there was a wheelbarrow in the garden that the body could be dumped into.


Not directly related to this session, an update on the contents of the Bag of Holding. Despite Orryk’s plan to fill the bag with books, it currently contains:

Potion of Clairvoyance
Potion of Force Resistance
Candle of the Deep
Gloves of Climbing and Swimming
Longsword x3 (2 from the cultists)
Mace x1 (from the cultists)
Longbow x1
Splint Mail (from the cult cleric, mentioned above)
Shield x3 (from the cultists; question as to whether the cleric's shield has his holy symbol on it)
2 Quivers, each with 20 arrows (some arrows from Wights, others from stash of spares Orryk had)
Spare/old gear of Orryk's: Quarterstaff, Shortbow, 20 Darts

Note: the party kitty contains: 2 pp, 8gp, 6sp, and 8 cp.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 10: Why Did We Come Here Again?

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM - Everyone Else


15 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 16) (immediately after the fight)

I failed to note at the end of the previous session that Imaktis stopped the Cleric from dying (he may have cast Spare the Dying). He was unconscious, and going to be unconscious for a while, but not dying. We still stripped him of his armor and his holy symbol.

We also found an additional magical item: a device that looked rather like an orrery -- with eleven rotating rings with pins on them. The pins were slowly rotating.in different directions. A bit of exploration of it determined that it was a direction finder -- like a locate object spell. This was on the Cleric.

The Cleric’s holy symbol was clearly reminiscent of the orrery -- eleven rings nested together that gimbal around in different orientations. The cleric was the only one with a holy symbol and the one carrying the orrery.

We took a short rest, during which we hogtied and gagged the cleric, so even if he woke up he wouldn’t be able to cast any spells or do anything. After our rest, Taman went off to scout around the village. Mo sent him off with some inspiration, telling him he can do it.

Mo, Imaktis, and Joybell looked around Harl’s house to make sure that the rest of the house was clear. Imaktis had a Detect Magic up. In the library itself we noticed that were signs of the work that Barnett and the other mages were doing to reassemble the library -- there were groups of paper piled up and grouped together. Some of those stacks had been disarranged and re-scattered. On the ground floor, we found a door that had been forced.

Neither Taman nor the folks at Harl’s found any sign of a camp where the cultists had been staying.

Taman found the village still abandoned -- there was no sign of anyone living there or settling in. Though the bodies had been properly taken care of. He thought that maybe someone had been in some of the buildings, but it was hard to tell and he couldn’t be certain. He didn’t see a boat at the docks, so the cultists didn’t come that way.

He then looked for tracks and found tracks of four people and a sort of blobby, tentacled thing that could very well have been the Gribbly Monster that came in on a footpath that parallels the river going north. There are a number of small settlements a day or two apart up in that direction with both a footpath and the river connecting them.

After their exploration of the house, Joybell took the orrery out into the garden to see what it did. Over the course of a minute or so, the pins all lined up to point solidly at Harl’s house. Orryk then took it around the house, trying to see if there was a particular part of the house it pointed at, but it only pointed generally at the house.

When we felt we had extracted all the information we could from the house and the surroundings, Joybell did one point of healing to the cleric by laying on hands and woke him up. He came to with Mo smiling right into his face, with the Eyes of Charming on (the Magic Contact Lenses).

Mo: Hi, buddy! How are you doing? We had a bad first experience, but we want to make sure you’re feeling okay. What was going on here? What were you doing here?
Cleric: Something of ours was stolen and we were trying to get it back. A book -- that’s why we were in a library, dumbass.

(Clearly the Charm Person from the Eyes of Charming didn’t take.)

Mo: Who are “we”?
Cleric: We seek to feed the Hunger.
Mo: Does your group have a name?
Cleric: Yes.

(Clearly he was just being obtuse.)

Mo: What is it? Why is this book important?
Orryk: The book isn’t here.
Cleric: This is where it was. The book opens minds…
Mo: We’ve seen that.
Joybell: Can it be controlled?
Cleric: Why would it be? Why would we want that?
Joybell: It didn’t feed the hunger. It just made a man turn into a crazy whispering undead thing that made other crazy babbling undead.
Cleric: [Evil smile]
Joybell: But that’s not beneficial to anyone.
Cleric: [Evil smile]

We gagged the cleric again.

Those of us who talked to the cleric realized that he wasn’t speaking out loud, exactly, he was speaking in our heads, telepathically.

Taman pulled out his sending stone (paired with the one that we left with Tulmor) and sent out a message.

Taman: The house is clear!

Tulmor, not having been in Kell’s Boarding House with us, didn’t realize how great that was. She just said: Okay. We’ll be there in the morning.

Orryk had the idea suddenly to go looking for a basement or hidden rooms -- but the basement is the same size as house, with no space where a room could be hidden.

Mo tried to charm the Cleric again -- Joybell at least wasn’t at all certain that it would work since he resisted it the first time, but this time it worked.

Mo: Are you hungry?
Cleric: Hunger is not my biggest problem.
Mo: What is the name of your group?
Cleric: Servants of the Hunger

That’s so totally not a good name for a group. They need to tighten that up.

We learned that they’d had the Gribbly Monster since shortly after they left The Knot. They travelled from The Knot up to Auriqua and then came south from Auriqua along the roads and footpaths that parallel the river. Before The Knot they were in Ov, which is a smallish city on the river that flows down to Pelsoreen. (Note: There will be geography notes following the conversation with the cleric.)

Mo told the Cleric that the only thing we’ve seen the book do is drive a man mad and make zombies. (I believe Joybell helpfully corrected him here and said they were more like ghouls.) He asked if that’s all it does and why the book is so important to the Cleric and the Servants of the Hunger. The Cleric actually seemed a bit surprised and said that he’d never heard of the book doing that.

Mo: What is it supposed to do?
Cleric: It opens minds.
Mo: Wine opens minds. Travel opens minds. Art opens minds. But they don’t have spinning oratories pointing to them…
Cleric: It is mostly a recruitment tool.

The Cleric only knows of the one copy of the book. Orryk cast a minor illusion of the book next to the Cleric to confirm that we were all talking about the same thing.

Orryk: We know where it is. What will you give us for it?
Cleric: Nothing you want.

Mo told the Cleric that the book has been destroyed and is now confetti but that this is the last place it was whole, which is probably why the orrery was leading him here. The Cleric said that was going to be a problem because the book was their relatively painless recruitment tool. Their other methods are more abrupt and less selective.

Given what the book did to Harl, and what the monster Harl became did to the whole rest of the village, the fact that the book was the kinder, gentler recruitment method is very alarming.

Mo and Joybell each in turn tried to intimidate him -- Mo by asking why we shouldn’t kill him and Joybell by slamming her flail into the ground next to his head. But we didn’t get any further information from him.

So we gagged him again and Orryk made a pit out in the garden (because there is no jail anywhere here in Kalmarn). We put the cleric down in the bottom of a 10’ deep pit, still bound and gagged and at 1 hit point. It’s possible he got konked on the head again so he was unconscious and at 0 HP.

Joybell took a jar from the kitchen and got a jar full of Gribbly Monster bits before it completely sublimated.

We spent a relatively pleasant evening in the house full of dead people and gribbly monster vapor and destroyed books -- Taman went hunting and got us some fresh meat and things to eat and we cooked a decent dinner in Harl’s kitchen. Overnight we stayed in Fiona’s hut (Leomund’s Tiny Hut) out in the garden, next to the pit so we could keep an eye on the cleric and on Harl’s house.

Mo suggested throwing pebbles at the cleric all night (as we kept watches) to keep him from sleeping and getting a long rest (and therefore getting healed up and his spells back). We didn’t think it would be necessary.

The night passed without incident.

Geography Notes:

Before the Severance there was an empire on this part of Urnod. During the Fiend Wars, the capital city of that empire was completely levelled and it has not been rebuilt. However, the roads that led to the city, from all corners of the former empire, are still there and still meet in the former city’s network of roads. This is The Knot. It is about a month’s travel to the east of Embernook.

It is now a trade hub with carriage inns and caravans stopped to trade their wares. But it is not really a city now. There is no organized government, just a cluster of caravanserai and temporary camps of trade caravans.

Also, one presumes, the ruins of the former capital.

From the Knot there are roads to Auriqua, to Tash (another city on the river that flows down to Pelsoreen), to Ov, to Embernook. Possibly other cities we don’t know of yet.


16 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 17)

The next morning, we woke up to find the Cleric out of his bonds and dead in the bottom of the pit. As it turns out, Mo was exactly correct and we should have kept a better eye on the cleric -- since at some point in the night he wriggled out of his bonds and cast inflict wounds on himself. (Though we don’t know how many spell slots he had -- he could have done that before he got a long rest.)

We were watching the pit all night but with him at the bottom of it, we really couldn’t see him. We decided to take his body back to Embernook so that the clerics could speak with dead and maybe learn something further from him.

Getting him out of the pit was looking to be a bit of an adventure, then Fiona cast Tenser’s Floating Disk and that made moving him to the library much easier.

Shortly after we got there, Tulmor showed up in the teleportation circle. When we all gathered up with her, she pulled out an inkwell, that we recognized as from Thalith’s office in Embernook. When she saw us recognizing it, she said, “It’s where we’d go anyway.” (Note: it will allow us to teleport accurately to the place the inkwell is from.)

Taman: Does he know you took that?
Tulmor: He wasn’t using it.

And with that we teleported to Thalith’s office -- as we arrived the portcullises lowered and the Sentinel Statues woke up for a moment and Thalith looked startled. Everything went back to normal when he saw who we were.

We gave Thalith a report -- assuming that Alighieri was listening, though he didn’t make an appearance -- and told him what was going on and what we did at Harl’s. We also told him that the crazy book they were looking for has been torn apart but could be reassembled.

We pulled out the orrery -- it was still pointing at Harl’s house, not at Tulmor and Barnett’s. We figure out that it was pointing to where the book had spent the most time recently (or perhaps where it was last intact).

Tulmor: Good thing it’s in a portable hole.

When we mentioned the name of the group, the Servants of the Hunger, Tulmor said she’d heard of them and they’re beyond crazy. She’d never known anyone who was recruited into their group, but thought that perhaps people being recruited get exposed to the Chaos Between Worlds and that corrupts them, or breaks their minds. Harl may have been strong enough to resist that, but not strong enough to resist trying to understand the chaos. And thus he was lost in a different way.

Mo: What is the Hunger? How do they feed it?
Taman: I assume it eats souls.
Fiona: Souls, worlds.
Tulmor: They probably intend to feed it the whole world.

We started talking with Tulmor and Thalith about what appears to be an increase in extraplanar activity -- with the Cult and Orcus and the Tundra Queen all being active in and around Embernook in the last few weeks. The Tundra Queen’s activities aren’t really changing -- she’s been meddling in the prime material plane in the same ways and at about the same level for centuries, though she does appear to be increasing in power since the Severance.

Orcus does appear to be more active.

Joybell had some questions about these things and why the cultists can worship the Hunger and still get spells -- why weren’t they cut off when they named it the “Hunger Between Worlds”? Tulmor said that they don’t really worship the hunger -- they’re just serving its ends.

Mo asked Thalith what he wants us to do about this. And if the cultists are capable of feeding the whole world to the Hunger. Should we stop them?

Orryk: Something’s always trying to destroy the world.
Taman: That’s depressing.

Orryk asked Tulmor if she had access to teleportation circles other than Harl’s. She said she probably did, but she’d have to make some inquiries and arrangements. She could think of circles in Auriqua, the Knot, maybe Ov… she said she’d look into it and let us know.

Orryk seemed convinced that we learn things and learn about things when they try to kill us, which is sort of true.

When we were done in Thalith’s office, we took the Cleric’s corpse to the Last Doorway, the temple of the clerics of nature, darkness and the grave, who oversee cremations, to see if they could speak with dead with it. They looked kind of uneasy at the prospect of speaking to someone that crazy. We bandied about the idea of trying to charm the corpse while it was under the speak with dead, or possibly using a zone of truth on it, but ultimately decided that those things weren’t necessary. The clerics agreed to try to speak with him and report to us, but it was understood that they didn’t want us there for it. After the speak with dead, they would cremate him and consign him to sky and ground.

Joybell wanted to go with Orryk to the armorer that made Mo’s cargo-studded leather armor (since he knew them) to see about getting the Cleric’s armor cut down to fit her. And maybe the leftover bits made into something for Scooby. They couldn’t do that last part, but with a couple of days work they could cut down the armor to fit her.

After the armorer, Joybell went with Mo to the herbalist -- Joybell got herbs and ingredients to brew two healing potions in the couple of days of downtime she was going to have while the armorers did their work.

Mo bought himself a light crossbow and some bolts, so he’d be able to do damage at range beyond throwing his one dagger (though he’s done good work with that dagger).

We had a couple of days of downtime in here, during which some things happened:

The party went to the guard house to see what they could give us for the wand of detect magic, which we don’t need, though it seemed like it could be useful for the guards. They came back with a Rope of Climbing -- it’s 60’ of silk rope that will tie itself. With the Immovable Rod we could have a self-anchoring rope, which seems like it will be handy.

Orryk went to talk to Tillaron Zun about Pelsoreen to get advice and possibly some contact information. Also to offer to do any small favors (taking messages type thing) we could do for him. Tillaron’s main advice was not to get into debt in Pelsoreen -- that’s the main way people become slaves there. Almost all slavery in Pelsoreen is debt repayment. There is some birthright slavery, so to speak, but that is often repaying a debt so large that one lifetime of servitude can’t repay it. That said, the Efreeti, Marids and Dao will take people who don’t owe a debt as slaves. They’ll also purchase the debt of someone who thought he was going to have a human master and take him off to the City of Brass or the Great Dismal Delve.

Fortunately, it’s hard to go into debt there without knowing it.

Tillaron gave Orryk the names of some merchants that were more trustworthy than others. The Zun family’s main interests in Pelsoreen are spices, fabrics (both luxurious and more commonplace) and exotic woods. Pelsoreen, despite being a port, is not as big a fishing town as New Arvai.

Orryk asked for a letter of introduction to some of the merchants Tillaron recommended and Tillaron agreed to do that, though he’d need a day or two to get that written up.

Joybell spent the days of downtime doing two things: brewing healing potions at the druidic circle (two of them) and, while the potions were simmering or steeping or brewing, going to talk to some clerics about religion and the Severance.

(Note: This is the conversation that we agreed would happen off-line -- I’m adding it to the notes because it’s my information to share. There’s a great big religion information dump here. If you’re not interested scroll down -- the end is clearly marked.)

Her original thought was to speak to as many clerics of as many different orders and domains as possible, but she found Taramor, a cleric of the Lightbringers, an order of clerics of light, knowledge and trickery, who was a fountain of information. She mostly spoke with him and Aramaka, one of the druids at the circle.

Taramor was old, even for an elf, and had memory from his parents and grandparents of the Severance and the Fiend Wars.

Joybell asked him what is making people turn to these arguably more personal, but awful interactions with Supernaturally Powerful beings rather than to the religions worshiping concepts and powers? Even bad or evil concepts and powers seem better than Orcus and the Hunger Between Worlds. Is all of this an indication that something is missing religiously from people’s lives? Is it a sign that perhaps we should be working to figure out what caused the Severance and undo it? People have tried to figure that out in the centuries since it happened, but should it be an ongoing project? Is this world without gods MISSING something important? Clearly at least some people are missing a personal connection and making it through pacts with Supernaturally Powerful Beings (even ones inimical to life) or worshiping the Hunger Between Worlds. Does Taramor (and do the druids at the circle in the city) even think this is a problem?

(Unsurprisingly, Joybell’s questions were rather long and wordy and delivered all in a rush.)

Taramor said that the people making deals with or otherwise choosing to serve entities like Orcus and the Elder Darkness are almost to a one seeking power here in this world.

The cause and possible cure of the Severance is still, after all this time, a mystery. Some people in the various orders are trying to undo it (Restorationists), others think the world is better off now and are working to keep the gods away (Exclusionists), and still others are ambivalent about the whole question because they see more important and pressing needs in the world around right now.

Taramor could say that what was Severed, though, was not merely the ability for the Gods to empower their worshipers, but the ability for worshipers to empower their Gods. What seems to be happening now is that these concepts, which are part of the existence of sentient beings, are being broadly empowered by ... being experienced and acknowledged by sentient beings. What was two streams, one flowing from mortals to the Gods and the other flowing from the Gods to mortals, has become one stream, bending around to come back whence it began. Even before the Severance, there were people who cast as clerics who didn't worship particular Gods; now, that's the rule, not the exception.

Joybell wanted to think about that more ... because that sounded like we are empowering ourselves now, since our worship doesn’t empower gods. Could that be right?

She also learned from Taramor that Orcus is powerful and sentient, but he is not a God. He does not gain power from being served or even worshiped. The Elder Darkness is powerful, but it does not seem to think or otherwise operate on mortal time scales; the general thinking is that it barely notices mortals, if at all. It also doesn't gain power from being worshiped or served.

Those who serve Orcus (or any other Fiend) are looking for power, either as a favored servant, or by somehow using the Fiend for some end of their own; that rarely works out well, and they almost always end up serving the Fiend's ends. While that might gain a Fiend something, it is not the same sort of thing as the power from being worshiped. Those who claim to serve the Elder Darkness are mostly either nihilists or insane; they basically want to end the world, and hope to have a grand time doing it. Since exposure to the Elder Darkness tends to drive mortals mad, even those who start out merely desperate often wind up as insane and/or nihilistic.

What's missing from most current practices of religion is, obviously, that personal connection. Some want a figure to bargain with. Some want a figure to blame. Some want a figure to thank. Given time, maybe that will cease to be missing.

END OF RELIGION INFORMATION DUMP

Possibly Taramor’s most telling thought echoed Orryk’s rather depressing observation in Thalith’s office: Obviously evil people doing evil things is a problem, but that was a problem when there were evil gods, too.

There is some thought (and the druids confirmed this) that the Fey, with their selections of realms, are drifting toward a form of godhood. Whether that is intentional, or whether that would even work, or whether they'd need to undo the Severance, no one seems to know. If the Fey know, they're not telling.


18 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 19)

During the third day of our downtime, Tulmor got in touch with us and we went over there. She has access to circles that will accept us arriving there in New Arvai, Erlin (on the river that goes to New Arvai), Tash and Pelsoreen. All of them belong to people she knows but not everyone would be capable of sending us back using the circle. She can’t promise the return trip.

Joybell, remembering what Orryk reported from Tillaron Zun about getting into debt in Pelsoreen, asked if we’d be indebted to the people who let us arrive at their circle. Or if Tulmor would. Tulmor said that there would be no debt involved.

Joybell turned to the rest of the party and made an impassioned plea: They like us here. They accept us as protectors and guards. We’re doing good work and there are things that need to be investigated and taken care of. I’ll go where everyone else wants to go, but they like us here.

Mo suggested going to The Knot to see if we can find more information about the Servants of the Hunger.

The others reassured them that this is just a trip and that the group would be coming back to Embernook after Orryk’s research in Pelsoreen was finished.

Concerned that the Servants of the Hunger were a ticking time bomb, Joybell and Mo asked Tulmor and Barnett if they had any sense that the cult’s plans were coming to a head. Tulmor said that the cult has been around for quite some time and feeding the Hunger Between Worlds has been their goal forever.

Joybell agreed to go with her friends, but with a heavy heart. Mo said he wants to liberate the slaves, which Joybell is totally behind.

Before we left, we went to talk to the clerics at the Last Doorway, where we’d taken the cultist Cleric for speak with dead to see what they’d learned. What they’d learned was that they couldn’t understand him at all. It was like he was speaking a gibberish language. They thought they could understand one word in ten, perhaps, but it was mostly gibberish.

We also went to talk to Thalith before we left. Joybell asked if we could have something from his office so we could teleport back more easily. Surprised that we asked rather than just nicking something, he gave us a simple letter opener. If we knew a teleportation circle in the city we’d go straight there, rather than to Thalith’s office, but Barnett destroyed the one he’d had in his rooms some time before.

Thalith didn’t have any errands or messages for us there. He said he knows there are some decent people in Pelsoreen, but he doesn’t know any of them personally.

We went to Tillaron Zun’s estate to pick up his letters of introduction to some of the merchants and to thank him.


19 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 20)

The next morning we went over to Tulmor and Barnett’s. Tulmor gave us a scroll of Sending so that Fiona can learn the spell. It’s so useful for getting in touch. We recovered Mo’s sending stone from her, so we have both of the pair again.

When we’re ready to come back, we can contact her. It is possible that she’ll be able to teleport to us and bring us back, like she did from Harl’s place.

Then she cast Teleportation Circle and we all walked through.

We found ourselves in a room, not a large room, which was crowded with the whole party (including Scooby) in it. The only features in the room were the circle on the floor and a door.

After a moment, the door opened and a chubby halfling man greeted us. His name was Ammoch and he had breakfast, or perhaps second breakfast or elevenses waiting for us.

We accepted his hospitality and asked him some questions about the city, starting with an inn we could stay at. He recommended the Flaming Quill because it’s near where the magicians are, so we’ll be close to where he understood from Tulmor that we want to be.

Joybell asked if we should go check in with the guard, since we’re new in town. Ammoch said that he wouldn’t recommend that at all. Pelsoreen is run by five more-or-less criminal corporations, so most of the guard work for one or the other of those. They’re not at war with each other, exactly -- there’s not a lot of overt violence -- but if someone violates the armistice between them then violence can break out for a time.

He recommended strongly finding some way to carry your money that is not easily accessible from outside your person. Some of the pickpockets and thieves are protected by one or the other of the families. Others are not.

Taman: How do you know if they are? Because if someone tries to rob me, I’m going to run them through.

Ammoch said that it’s okay to defend yourself from being attacked or robbed, but if you see someone else being robbed, assaulted, or even killed, it’s best not to help them.

Joybell, utterly horrified: This is a horrible place!! This is awful! There are slavers and it’s run by criminals and you can’t help people who are being hurt and… Just do your thing quickly and let’s get out.… <<deep breath>> <muttering> I want another crumpet.

Before we left Ammoch’s Joybell went back into the teleportation circle room and shifted her money around, putting the copper and silver and a couple gold into one pouch at her side, a larger amount of gold into a pouch secured inside her armor, and most of it in the pouch with her initial on it that came from the Administrator in the Bag of Holding. The party kitty is in another pouch tucked under her tabard, secure and not easily visible, but also accessible.

Joybell also asked Ammoch if there’s a druidic circle in the city. He said there’s not one in the city exactly, but there are some offshore islands, a small archipelago, with an elemental druidic circle. Joybell would like to visit that before we leave because it sounds like it might actually be nice.

Ammoch gave us directions to the Flaming Quill and agreed that we could come back to him when we’re ready to get teleported out of the city. We thanked him and left.

Joybell: I want to get Ammoch a present. Maybe a nice crumpet iron.
Taman: You could get him a slave.
Joybell: <<speechless horror>>
Fiona, slapping Taman on the back of the head: Don’t say that!
Taman: I was joking.
Fiona: She doesn’t know that.

We found the Flaming Quill without incident. The sign outside is actually a permanent fire in the shape of a quill pen hanging from what looks like a more or less normal sign bracket. Mo suspected that the innkeeper might be a fire genasi, and it certainly looked possible given the redness of his skin.

Joybell complimented the innkeeper, Jorly, on the sign and he said that his great grandfather made it.

We asked about the libraries and were told that there are several of them including two in the magical college itself. We asked why there were two instead of them having been merged into one. Jorly said that he understood that they’d originated from two different donated collections. He’s never been to either of them but his understanding is that to get into one you need to demonstrate knowledge and to get into the other you need to demonstrate capability.

Jorly also said that there are a couple more libraries outside the college that are accessible to the public -- you have to pay to get in and that payment is not necessarily in coin. Some of them want a service of some sort.

Jorly said he could give us directions to the ones he knows about but he also had a map of the city available. Orryk bought a copy of the city map.

We took one room for the lot of us (including Scooby, Joybell is not leaving him in the stables where anything could happen to him). Fiona can put an alarm spell on the one room overnight.

We ended in what Joybell, at least, is convinced is the Worst Place In Urnod. It’s still mid-morning.

Pelsoreen awaits.

Treasure:

Orrery of Finding Crazy Book (Joybell wants to spend some time with this and maybe get Fiona to identify it -- it could be handy if it could be used to locate anything other than the Crazy Book)
Rope of Climbing (party item in the Bag of Holding)
Holy Symbol from Cultist Cleric (I’m not sure what we did with this)
2 Healing Potions Joybell Made (She’s planning on giving one to Taman and one to Orryk and just forgot)

Note: After paying 6gp for our room at the Flaming Quill, the party kitty contains: 2 pp, 2gp, 6sp, and 8 cp.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 11: In Which Joybell Lies

Dramatis Personae:


Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM: - Everyone Else

Before we got started there were two corrections to information previously imparted by the GM:
  1. Overland distances are greater than originally reported by a factor of approximately 3. [The GM believes he has fixed this one, above]
  2. The Guard are paying us 3 silver a day, and room and board, instead of one silver a day. We’re rich!

19 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 20) (immediately after the previous)

We got some information about Pelsoreen, based on talking with Jorly the Innkeeper at the Flaming Quill and looking at the map Orryk bought.

Geographically the city is two islands near the mouth of the Gramolos River connected by footbridges, not large enough for cart travel. The smaller, upstream island is called The Breaks and is a lower-class area with slaughterhouses and poultry farming. The larger island is the bulk of the city of Pelsoreen. The Currentside district, which has the river port, is on the upstream side of the larger island. The islands are very hilly and the larger has a perimeter road which gets most of the cart traffic, and the most heavy traffic. About a half mile out toward the ocean is a breakwater that protects the ocean port and its vessels from the sea. Even despite the breakwater, though, the Gramolos River gets a tidal bore and flows backwards for a time every high tide.

There are two causeways connecting the larger island to the banks of the river, each about a mile long. The one to the right bank (as you’re facing downstream) is called Ovverway and leads to the road that parallels the river toward Ov and Tash. The left bank causeway is called Mountainway and leads to a road that goes into the Dunnimar Mountains. The causeways rise from the bottom of the river for an hour and a half at sunrise and sunset on a set, semi-alternating schedule.

There are several districts in on the larger island: The ocean port is in a district called Waveside. The Heights is the nicest and wealthiest parts of town -- in addition to expensive houses there are also city offices and upscale businesses. This is also where the colleges and libraries are. Located. The Stonetree district has nice hotels and upscale brothels, as well as some upper-middle class homes. This is not where the Flaming Quill is located however. That is in Thani’s Truth, which where a lot of the students live, as it’s near the part of the Heights with the colleges. Bloom Cliffs is a series of terraces from the high hilltop down to the sea and it is where all of the agriculture that takes place within the city is located -- fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, and some terraces dedicated to growing plants for spell components, alchemical work, and herbal medicines and other concoctions. The Old Lament district is close to Waveside and is where the banks, gambling dens, slave pens, skeevy brothels, and the Courts are located.

Slavery has arisen in Pelsoreen mostly since the Severance, though there have been genies since the city was founded.

All of the schools of magic and the libraries are located in the Heights district, where they are safe from the periodic tsunamis the city suffers. There are two colleges, or collegiate libraries:
  • Thani-Breel - Which focuses on theoretical knowledge and the Planes. To get into this library there is a test of knowledge.
  • The Demasthy - Which focuses on practical magic and history. To get into this library there is a practical test of ability.
The two colleges share a lot of facilities and even faculty, but are separate institutions. Especially the libraries.

There are other smaller and more focused libraries, which one needs a reference to get into. In addition to whatever entrance fee they charge.

Jorly also told us that there are five Corporations that run the city -- what we were thinking of as mob “families”. They are not geographically separated -- no corporation “runs” or “owns” the Heights, for example. But almost all the buildings in the city (except those that are city owned, like the courts and the buildings associated with various city offices) have one or more plaques outside indicating which corporation or corporations they’ve paid to affiliate with (or paid for protection). The signs are (at least) plated with copper, silver and gold. The preciousness of the metal involved indicates how tightly the building has affiliated itself (i.e. how much it has paid). Some buildings will have multiple copper signs for multiple corporations, but it is rare to see more than one silver or gold sign.

The Five Corporations are:
  • Corbus & Coldin (logo: an intertwined C&C)
  • Ammidorse & Sons (logo: a caravel ship)
  • The Brass Giant (logo: an armored humanoid figure)
  • Dallington’s (logo: the head of a bighorn ram in profile)
  • The Blink Toad (logo: a one-eyed toad)
(Note: We’re prepared to like the Blink Toad just on the strength of the possible Hypnotoad jokes. Even if it did go downhill after the third season.)

The Flaming Quill had a silver sign with an armored figure -- the emblem of the Brass Giant corporation.

Before we left the Flaming Quill to look into the libraries, we went up to our room to stow some of our stuff. When she opened her pack, Joybell gave out a yelp and went pale and stiff when she saw something in her pack.

She put it on the bed for the others to see -- it was a divination card, like a Tarot card, showing a person, recognizably Joybell, in a city, with an out-of-focus wolf behind her, looking determined and frightened and holding a blank mask. She told the others that this card had been following her for years. She left it at the Henge deliberately. She’s also left it at her parents’ house and in fields. It’s why, she believes, she almost didn’t get accepted as a novice at the Wold -- because this horrible card was following her. The picture changes -- it showed her unhappy with trees, which is utter nonsense because she loved trees and the Wold. The last time she saw it, just before she left the Henge to go to Embernook (the day before the campaign started), she looked happy, or at least satisfied, and was wearing armor and had a sword with black stone behind her.

Joybell: It’s been following me since I was a kid. I hate it.

Fiona cast detect magic followed by identify. The card is indeed magical and has an aura of divination. The card is a Card of the Wheel -- it does not require attunement and is not really cursed, but they do sometimes attach themselves to a person. They show a probable near future. But not a definite one.

As we left the hotel room, Joybell left the card on the wash \stand in the room with a note saying “Please feel free to steal this”.

Then we headed out toward the magical colleges. Orryk and Fiona wanted to go to The Demasthy first, so we headed in that direction. The Demasthy is the library dedicated to practical magic and history -- to get in one must demonstrate ability. We had no problems getting onto the university campus -- we don’t exactly look like students (except Fiona and Orryk) but the campuses are open and free to enter.

At the library, there was an anteroom with a reception desk. University students have a badge that lets them get in. Those without the badge must cast spells that produce fire, cold, thunder, lightning and acid. While the rest of us were figuring out if this was even going to be possible, Fiona cast Chromatic Orb, which can (with different castings) produce all five. Satisfied with that, the attendant gave her a card permitting admission. With that card, she could take in one additional person, which was Orryk, of course.

Team Library rides again.

The rest of us, Mo, Imaktis, Taman and Joybell (Team Gettin’ In Trouble) headed down to the Old Lament district. We had a few research interests -- we wanted to see the slave pens and talk to a slave or two, if possible. Mo wanted to know how closely held the slaves are -- are any free-roaming people that we could talk to or are they always closely accompanied by their masters We wanted to see what we could learn about the five Corporations -- their reputations, the distribution of their emblems on houses, etc. Joybell wanted to find a temple and talk to the priests/clerics inside just to get a sense of the religious life of the city.

Joybell: Even bad people need religion.

We went from the Heights, through Thani’s Truth (a bit out of the way, but it let us see more of the variety in the city), to Old Lament to get a bit of perspective on the city and its people.

Observing the Corporate affiliation plaques we noticed that the residences and buildings have them. In the Heights the representation was pretty balanced. In Old Lament, C&C and Ammidorse & Sons were perhaps over-represented and the Brass Giant (as at the Flaming Quill) was perhaps under-represented. The plaques seemed to go in clusters or seams - all the houses in a row or block seemed to have the same ones.

Back at the library, Fiona was looking for information on the Severance and on pre-Severance history. Working together she and Orryk learned the following:
  • The first tidal wave in Pelsoreen was heralded by the sky going black. People heard a banging or a roaring out over the ocean and then the tsunami hit. This was the first notice anyone had of the Severance -- clerics couldn’t get spells to heal people and deal with the disaster by praying to their gods. Just before the sky went black and the tidal wave hit, prayers for spells had been answered as normal.
  • There have been three tsunamis since the Severance have also been heralded by the sky going black and the banging over the ocean, but there was no additional supernatural effect like the Severance.
  • Inside one of the history books, Fiona finds a small piece of very old vellum that has written on it, in Celestial, “I’m sorry”. This is the same handwriting as a letter (or document) that Fiona found when she was adventuring with a dragonborn friend in a temple in an abandoned village. The document describes a group of people from another plane finding a stone table with names of the gods carved on the table.
Orryk was interested in the Outer Chaos and in Orcus, and in Joybell’s masked monsters. Working together on that, they learned:
  • The Outer Chaos isn’t a plane -- it is (or it lives in, it’s a little unclear) the space between planes (like between the Material Plane and the Astral Plane). In mortal time scales it is not aware of us at all and it doesn’t appear to be reacting to mortals at all. Contact with it makes mortals crazy. (When we talked about this at dinner Joybell would have been wondering how warlocks make pacts with something so entirely indifferent and possibly not even sentient. But she didn’t raise the question.)
  • There was no new information about Orcus.
Before we got to what Orryk learned about the mask-wearing, Wold-destroying monsters, we went back to Team Gettin’ In Trouble.

As they were going along toward Old Lament, Joybell spotted a temple of an Order she was unfamiliar with, The Purveyors and Wrights. They were priests of the Forge and Travel and appeared to be a temple of merchants -- people who make and transport things. We went in to talk to the priest there. Joybell asked the priest what kind of religious life the people of Pelsoreen have.

Priest: As expensive as they can afford.

Joybell gave him a gold piece.

He chuckled and said that some pay to have questions answered (pocketing the gold), some pay to be seen by others, some pay to be seen as people who come to the temples, some pay to make social and business connections among other merchants and manufacturers. Some pay the temple for services they can actually provide -- healing, assistance making things, curing diseases. And some legitimately come out of religious sentiment to pray.

This pragmatic religious life is typical of the people here -- certainly a plurality if not a majority of his parishioners are there for reasons other than religious sentiment.

Joybell asked him about getting to the druid circle on the island that she’d heard about. He said that there are almost always vessels for hire both Currentside and Waveside -- we just need to hire a ship with a captain who knows where to go. He recommended a captain who was one of his parishioners -- Captain Doyard of The Elephant, who docked at Waveside. At the least, he wouldn’t take our money if he couldn’t actually take us there.

As we left, Mo hung back to talk to the priest privately, handing him 5gp. Mo asked after an apothecary or alchemist that is discreet and doesn’t ask questions. Whoever would be discrete about what he’s going to be looking for. The priest gave him two names: A rock gnome alchemist in Stonetree named Burnocka and a wood elf herbalist in Bloom Cliffs named Turalee. One or the other of them should be able to help with whatever Mo is looking for.

Then we continued on our way to Old Lament.

As we were walking around, Taman pointed out a store with a sign in the shape of a blank mask hanging from a sign bracket. The sign was hanging out in front of a building that was one of a row of mostly businesses. There were no windows, only a closed door, at the street level. Taman went up to the door and poked his head in. The room was small, with a door in the back wall. As he looked in, three Goliath-sized people wearing masks, armor and with sheathed longswords turned to look at him in unison.

Taman: I was wondering what kind of store this is.
Masks (in unison): This is not a store. We do not sell goods.
Taman: Then your sign is misleading.
Masks (in unison): It is who we are.
Joybell, peeking in under Taman’s arm, saw that the masks looked like the mask that’s on her card now.

Taman apologized for disturbing them and we left.

So we’d remember where we were, because Orryk had the map he’d bought from Jorly in the library with him, Mo used the Flute of Scribing to write, in Dwarven, on the sidewalk across the street: “You are here” in non-glowing letters.

Joybell looked around at the building and the near environs of it -- there are 10’ wide alleys on either side of the house, which is on a narrow lot. There are five houses on either side of it, with alleys separating them, on this block. Joybell went down one of the alleys to see what was there. There were no windows on the ground level even in the alley. The back of the building had a fenced yard, but the fence was not well-maintained. Through some missing slats we could see that there is a back door (still no windows on the ground floor, though there are some on the 2nd floor). The fenced yard ran back to another fenced yard which was behind another similar building that faced onto a different street. That street seemed to be more residential.

The building was under the protection of C&C, with a silver sign.

Joybell wanted to watch over the house and see the masked people coming and going -- to get a sense of numbers and movements and maybe what they’re up to.

Imaktis: It’s their town.

Instead, we continued on our walk around in Old Lament. Mo was keeping his eyes open for any slaves, but we hadn’t seen any we were sure about. We’d seen some people walking together where there was an apparent disparity in wealth and/or power, but we weren’t positive we’d seen slaves out with their masters.

We tried to figure out if there was some way we could tell which people were slaves -- but we didn’t notice anything like brands or tattoos.

(Joybell was also looking for people in masks, but didn’t see any.)

We made our way toward the Courthouse and found ourselves going by some of the slave pens. These were open sided buildings, just roofs without any walls, with prison-like hallways between rows of cages with varying numbers of people in them. The slave pens are open to the public (one supposes so that people can shop) and we were able to walk around and look at the people. There were slave pens under the protection of each of the corporations, so there doesn’t appear to be any corporation that is not involved in the city’s slave trade.

There we noticed that all the slaves have pink eyes -- the irises, not the whites. Imaktis and Joybell consulted about this -- Imaktis contributing knowledge of medicine and Joybell contributing knowledge of herbs and they figured out that this is caused by a medical/herbal concoction that works on every humanoid race. While it might make the slaves a bit more docile, its primary effect is to make the visible mark of slavery. It has to be re-administered every few months, but there is an antidote that can end the effect early if one’s period of servitude ends before the effect wears off.

Once we knew what to look for, we could see slaves doing all kinds of work -- those who were slaves due to debt were using whatever skills they had to pay what they owed. Those who were unskilled were working doing physical labor, repairing buildings, hauling materials, and so on.

Mo was watching to find a slave he could strike up a conversation with -- one that was moving freely without supervision or observation -- but there weren’t so many of those in this part of town. Perhaps in a nicer part of town we’d find more of that.

We went into a bar near the courthouse to talk to people, listen to people and generally gather some information. We were hoping that we’d find lawyers in a bar near the courts. Mo wanted to learn if there was an abolition movement or if there is any instability or insurrection. Joybell wanted to learn more about the mask-people and the different reputations of the various corporations. (What she really wanted to know if there was one that was maybe secretly Not Bad that we could interact with without fear or guilt.)

Mo singled out the most fancily dressed person to speak to. Before he went to talk to him, he asked Taman to keep Joybell away from his conversation, because he was going to be lying and didn’t want her interfering. So Taman and Joybell played darts, while Taman listened to the buzz around the bar.

The person Mo spoke to was a city employee who worked in the courts. His job was to keep track of balances owed to the city. Those balances owed to the city usually start as unpaid fines but if, after several opportunities to pay, the debtor doesn’t pay their fines, the city owns them until that debt is paid off. Slaves owned by the city are generally fairly fortunate, because the city does not sell their slaves. The slaves who owe a private debt can be sold to others and often change hands many times.

Mo asked if the slavery is permanent or if it is just for a term of service. The gentleman said that some unfortunates accrue enough debt that it cannot be paid off in their own lifetimes, so their children are enslaved until it is paid off.

Mo asked if there are any groups that have issues with the system or is the city stable? The gentleman said that the city is stable because the city is prosperous. And if there were problems, the Corporations are capable of working together when they need to in order to solve a problem.

Mo: It’s good there’s no insurrection. We’ve had those in our city and it’s been a real problem.
Gentleman, looking at Mo curiously: Tash is having problems?
(He had apparently recognized Mo’s accent.)
Mo: Yes, but don’t let the news out. It would hurt trade.
Gentleman: Yes. Yes it would.

The gentleman then went on to say that the only problems are when slaves are bought from the genies. No one knows how much debt to attach to them. The genies don’t keep records and have no idea of paperwork. The Dao or Efreeti might have just captured them, so the slave isn’t sold with an amount of debt attached. Fortunately genies don’t sell their slaves very often.

Mo: How many genies are there in the city, approximately? Hundreds? Dozens?
Gentleman: Dozens, at most. You don’t need many genies before you have too many genies.
Mo: You can’t tell me that enough. Where do they live?
Gentleman: Mostly in the Heights or around the causeways. They probably don’t live in the city, though -- they probably have gates that take them back to their home planes.

Then the gentleman asked: You’re in town looking for bardic gigs?
Mo: I’m always looking for bardic gigs.
Gentleman: And your armored friends?
Mo: The roads are dangerous, It’s good to have defense.
Gentleman: Self-defense is always a defense. Vendetta sometimes works too.

While this conversation was going on, Taman beat Joybell handily at darts, though it wasn’t as lopsided as Joybell, at least, was expecting. They were going to be listening for some buzz in the bar about the corporations and their different reputations. Joybell got kind of caught up in cheering for good shots and commiserating with Taman when he made bad ones. Taman, who was listening, got the sense that there is not a lot of difference between the Corporations -- they all have a lot of tentacles in every kind of pie in Pelsoreen. Some people have good experiences and some have bad experiences with any of them. All five of them are all about maximizing profit.

Joybell, once the dart game was over and Mo had rejoined us, looked around for anyone in masks, but didn’t see any. She did find a nice looking drunk guy to talk to. As she sat down, Mo looked at the guy with the Eyes of Charming and suggested that he wanted to answer her questions.

He was extremely drunk, but still the first thing he did was ask for a drink. Joybell asked Taman to take his time going to the bar to get another drink -- because it seemed like if he had too much more to drink he wouldn’t be able to talk to her.

Joybell asked about the building they saw that had the sign with the blank mask. It looked so curious, but there were no shop windows or anything so she couldn’t see what they were selling. The drunk guy told them that’s the House of Masks -- if you want someone made dead and don’t care about whether or not there’s a mess left, they’re really good at that. They’re also really good at collecting living children.

Mo: How much for an assassination? I want to know how much value is placed on a human life.
Drunk: 20,000gp for killing.
Mo and Joybell: They value life very highly, apparently.

The drunk told us that it is less for kidnapping or leaving people alive. Getting living children is less expensive than an assassination.

Joybell: If we wanted someone killed, how would we arrange that?
Taman: Walk into their shop, I suppose.
Drunk: He has the right of it.
Joybell: So how do you get them to take children for you?
Drunk: They get children who won’t be missed or looked for.
Joybell: <<didn’t scream>> <<didn’t hit him with her flail>> <<took a deep breath>> I guess you go to their shop for that too, huh?

In the background, Mo and Imaktis started talking about this.

Mo: We’ve killed a lot of people.
Imaktis: Maybe we’re not charging enough.
Joybell: We’ve mostly killed things that are already dead, actually.

Mo cast sleep on the drunk guy and we left the bar. On the way out, Joybell gave the bartender a silver piece and told him to give the guy a drink when he woke up.

Taman: You’re too good for this town.
Joybell: I told him I’d get him a drink.

We head back toward the Heights and the Demasthy library we’d left Orryk and Fiona at.

Back in the Library, Orryk was finding some information about the House of Masks (Joybell’s mask-wearing monsters).
  • There is no record of how they came to be, but they’re known to have been in that house in Pelsoreen for a few hundred years.
  • It has never been known that there were more than six or ten in Pelsoreen.
  • They have been recorded north of Auriqua and in many cities and various wilderness areas all over Urnod. They only have an open and obvious storefront in Pelsoreen (because Pelsoreen is the only city where this kind of operation can work so openly).
  • When paid 20,000gp for an assassination, they will do anything they have to do to take that one person. There are records of them showing up by the dozen to get to a particularly well protected target.
  • This wasn’t from the library, but Barnett told us that he saw them robbing a caravan up north of Auriqua. They weren’t especially interested in killing people or stealing children. They took what they wanted and left. So either they needed something that the caravan was carrying in order to get to an assassination target or they sometimes take jobs other than assassination or kidnapping.
Team Library and Team Gettin’ In Trouble met back up outside the Demasthy library at this point. The people at the Demasthy told Fiona and Orryk about three smaller libraries with much more specialized collections (presumably ones that are of relevance for to the practical and historical bent of the Demasthy) and what we need to do to get in. This was just for information and does not count as the referral or reference they’d need to actually get in.
  • The Steel Crucible - to get in you need to be able to make something
  • Carveen’s - to get in you need to give them a blood sample that they don’t already have (so your own blood would work for the first visit, but then you’d need to give them someone else’s blood).
  • Black Irnod’s - to get in you need to give them a corpse or corpses. The more corpses you give them, the longer you can stay doing research. There appears to also be some sort of consideration of the quality of the corpses in this corpses-for-time calculus.
Mo asked someone (maybe at the library, maybe he asked Jorly at the Flaming Quill when we went back for dinner, my notes are unclear) about whether there’s a mayor or administrator of Pelsoreen outside of the heads of the Corporations. He was told that there are some limited functions, like the courts and other infrastructure maintenance, that are the City as a whole. The Corporations fund them equally and they are expected to be neutral. Each of these is, in a way, its own fiefdom -- the guy in charge of the city’s sewers doesn’t answer to anyone other than the Council -- which has representatives from the corporations.

At dinner, we talked about all that we’d learned and discovered during the day.

Orryk: The question you haven’t asked yet is who hired the Masks to take the children from the Wold.
Joybell: <<silence>><<anger>> That is a good question.
Orryk: Whoever hired them may have wanted specifically the children from the Wold. Or may have wanted generic children and they chose that village themselves.

After dinner, Joybell wanted to go back to the House of Masks just to look and see if we could see a pattern of activity. If there were lights in the windows. That sort of thing. Everyone said that she couldn’t do that, because they saw her and she’d be obvious. She wasn’t planning on being right outside the door, or across the street, just down at the end of the block maybe.

Fiona: You can’t do it. You don’t have the skill set.
Taman: I was assuming I’d do it.

Orryk worried that the whole organization would know who we are. Joybell tried to make it clear that she wasn’t going to do anything -- just go be down in the vicinity and see if there was anything she could see from a distance away. She just wanted to gather information, so we have information to know if there’s anything we can do.

So, after dinner, we headed out on our scouting mission. As we left, Orryk put on the Gloves of Swimming and Climbing, just in case.

As we left the Heights going toward the House of Masks in Old Lament, we found ourselves going by the back of Black Irnod’s library. There was a cart parked near the open door (the tradesmen’s entrance). Three of the Masks were there -- one of them was getting a small orc child out of the cart. The other two were standing guard.

We saw this when we were still 100 to 120 feet away. There weren’t any visible guards around, and even if there were they might not have been inclined to help.

Joybell kept on moving in that direction, while the rest of the party stopped to plan. Riding Scooby, she proceeded along, a member of the public on the public thoroughfare, moving at Scooby’s normal pace, not hurrying or charging. When she got about 30’ away she could hear more children from inside the open door -- the masked figure had put the child over his shoulder and was walking to the doorway.

Taman drank his Potion of Invisibility and moved up 90 feet with his move, dash and bonus dash actions. Orryk turned down an alley to see how big the building was and to see what people on the other block were doing.

As Joybell got to about 30 feet away the Mask had the orc child over his shoulder and was turning toward the open door of Black Irnod’s.

Joybell: Hi! It’s a nice night! How’s the kid? He’s sure squalling a lot.

All three Masks turned silently to look at her, then two of them went back to what they had been doing while one continued to stare at her.

Taman snuck up to the one with the child and plucked the kid out of its grasp. Because of the invisibility, the child immediately became invisible when Taman grabbed it. Taman then ran up the street and used the Cape of the Mountebank to dimension door around a corner behind a building.

Joybell, not sure what was going on (all discussion of plans and ideas happened while she was being a member of the public on the public thoroughfare), but guessing that her friends were involved, started freaking out and shouting. Really loud.

Joybell: The kid! He just disappeared. Did he run off!? I’ll help you look for him!

The Masks appeared baffled, confused and disoriented. They were having a moment of utter inability to deal with the changed circumstance. (“Norman, coordinate.”)

Down in their hiding place in an alley, the orc child whispered to Taman in common: “What happened? Big men with masks came through our village. There were six of us in the cart.”

Joybell, “frantically” looking around for the missing child, got a look in through the door -- there were five more orc children in there, all looking terrified, ranging in age from five to ten years old. There was also one guy in a robe.

Joybell: Look at all those kids! Maybe he’s in there! Did you see a missing child, sir? He just disappeared.

Then she cast Moonbeam near the cart (not near any of the Masks -- this was not an attack)(at this time) and blathered about needing more light to find the kid by.

Mo moved up and cast blindness on the two nearest to him. Both failed their saves.

Orryk, not having any non-combat options appropriate to the situation, and unwilling to get in combat, turned into an alley a couple of buildings away to see how people were reacting over there. Taman had taken the child to an alley far even further away and instructed it to stay hidden behind some crates. Fiona, also lacking non-combat options appropriate to the situation, went into the alley behind Orryk.

Despite the blindness the two nearest Masks were able to move up on Mo and attack. One missed but the other hit -- though Mo’s Stone’s Endurance reduced that to a just a scratch. Unfortunately the other one hit as well. At the end of their turn they got another chance to shake off the blindness. One succeeded, but the other didn’t.

Through all of this, the Masks still hadn’t said anything. Their only noises had been athletic grunts of exertion while swinging at Mo.

Joybell did some more screaming and yelling (playing “worried auntie” to the hilt), then noticed that the guy in robes inside the house was radiating vibes of having done something his boss may literally kill him for. All the commotion had what appeared to be a naturally sun-tanned and swarthy man scared pale.

Seeing that, Joybell started yelling, loudly: Is there someone else in there? They can come help too! Help! Help! We have a missing child out here! Please, anyone inside, come help!

Imaktis, who’d been moving up this whole time, was finally able to cast a spiritual weapon just behind the blinded one (the weapon missed) and shillelaghed his club.

Mo cast hold person on the two right in front of him -- the one who’d shaken off the blindness failed to save against the hold, but the other one did. Then he moved toward Joybell on the other side of the cart, despite drawing an attack of opportunity from the one that was still blinded.

Fiona (after failing an Int check with advantage) continued up the alley after Orryk and cast a Mage Armor on herself.

Joybell continued screaming and carrying on and playing worried auntie -- trying to get the wizard inside to come out and help look for the child, trying to get the Masks to help look. Then she sent her Moonbeam around the corner of the building (to get more light over there), parking it on top of one of the Masks.

From inside the building, both Joybell and Mo heard someone say: Tarly, what have you done?

The young man in robes in the vestibule looked even more scared at that.

Orryk emerged out of the alley into the street on the other side of the building. The people on the street over there were all studiously ignoring all of the commotion from the other side of the building. No one was going to come help people find a missing child. But no one was going to come interfere with us rescuing them either.

The Mask nearest to Mo swung at him -- Joybell used her shield to protect him from the first attack, but the second one got through. The one in the Moonbeam took some small amount of damage from the spell.

Joybell: I’m sorry! I’ve never cast that spell before. I didn’t know it would do that!

The young man inside, apparently Tarly, turned around and said to the person inside: J-just some beggars…

It was not a persuasive lie.

Imaktis moved his spiritual weapon to the held one, but missed with it despite swinging at a paralyzed opponent. He did hit with the shillelagh.

Orryk continued to the front door of Black Irnod’s library. The door was unlocked and inside the door was a reception desk with a bell. He began to ring the bell.

Mo quaffed a greater healing potion and then cast healing word on himself and moved to a new position behind Joybell, which made both of them feel better.

Fiona continued up the alley and came out onto the other side of the building.

With the child hidden in an alley, Taman moved up to range and took a shot at the held one -- got a crit on a sneak attack and did 14 points of damage.

Joybell continued the frantic worried auntie routine, going carefully around the Mask standing nearest to the door (so she could not be interpreted as attacking him, and so she would not draw an opportunity attack) and went right to the doorway. She didn’t go inside, because that might be wrong and she’d said she wasn’t going to do anything wrong.

As she got to the door, an interior door opened and a tall guy in comfortable looking robes came into the mudroom. He was livid.

Irnod: Tarly, did you do a deal with the Masks? Why are there living people here?
Joybell: I’m so glad you’re here, sir! There are all these children here and another one just went missing from outside! I was hoping he’d come help look.
Irnod, to the Masks: Your delivery is accepted. You may go.

At that the Masks got onto their cart (when Mo released the Hold spell on the one) and drove away.

Irnod, to Joybell: Do you know where these children belong?
Joybell: No, but I’m sure we can find out and we’ll be happy to get them to a safe situation.
Irnod: There are probably places or people in the city who can help.
Joybell: We’ll make sure they’re taken care of.

Joybell and Mo got the children out of Black Irnod’s, gently and without being unnecessarily scary. Taman went back to where he hid the child he rescued and brought him back to the group.

Orryk continued ringing the bell at the desk for a minute or more. Eventually an interior door opened, with a whiff of burned flesh, and Irnod came through.

Orryk: I heard that you take corpses, but I just saw a delivery of a live child at the back door. Is there a different fee at that entrance?
Irnod: My apprentice was making an error. He will not be making another one.
Orryk: Very good. Is there any usual way to obtain a corpse for the entrance fee?
Irnod: Self-defense. Here in Pelsoreen, vendetta is also a reason. The corpses we receive don’t come back.

Orryk asked what the library specialized in and was told anatomy and medicine.

Down at the back entrance, Taman, Imaktis, Joybell and Mo were gathering up the (probably) orphaned orc children, the Orcphans, and getting ready to take them back to the Flaming Quill for the night.

Mo, joking: We could sell these children to a genie.
Joybell: Mo W. Kang!!
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 12: Vendetta for the Wold!

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM: - Everyone Else


19 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 20) (immediately after the previous)

Everyone reassembled on the street outside the back entrance to Black Irnod’s -- with the Orcphans now safe with us.

As we walked back to the Flaming Quill, Joybell talked to the child, Turlk, who could speak common about the situation they were now in. She was trying to convey to them that they were safe with us -- though starting that off with “Bad things were about to happen to you” may not have been the best conversational gambit.

Turlk told us that they were from a tribe called the Jagged Swords. The Masks came and grabbed the children. Turlk remembered seeing them torching the village as they were being carried away. They traveled for a week or so from the village then they met up with a weird looking person who made a teleportation circle and they appeared in the House of Masks in Pelsoreen. (That is not how Turlk described it.)

Which means we can’t glean from that where they’re from.

Imaktis asked how Turlk learned to speak common. He said that some members of the tribe had parents or grandparents who were half-orcs and they were traders with the surrounding villages and spoke common.

Orryk pulled out a map and asked Turlk if he knew where on the continent his village was, but it was apparent the kid had never seen a map before and/or didn’t know the geography of the continent. He was able to tell us that there were mountains and they could see snow-caps on the mountains. And when they arrived in the teleportation circle in Pelsoreen their ears popped.

Unfortunately, there are a number of mountain ranges on the continent where they could be from and since a teleportation circle was involved in getting them to Pelsoreen, we have no way of knowing where their village was.

Mo asked Turlk if they’d like to go back to their village or if they’d like to go to another orc village or what. Turlk and the other children were just...overwhelmed by the whole situation and unable to give a solid answer to that.

When we got to the Flaming Quill, we arranged for a second room across the hall from our room (because six adults, six children, and a large wolf in one room seemed like it would be a tight fit). We also arranged for food for the children.

Imaktis suggested seeing if Jorly would raise the kids in exchange for them working at the inn, but the rest of us were not fans of that idea. Joybell wanted the children with orcs, so they’d be raised in their proper culture. Mo wanted them out of Pelsoreen, because it’s awful.

We asked Jorly if he knew of anyone who could help us and he told us about a tribe of orcs and half-orcs in Pelsoreen at the base of Bloom Cliffs near Ovverway. They’re called the Cracked Shield tribe. The tribe mostly makes a living by working as mercenaries. Jorly had done business with them and found them to be good to work with.

Imaktis expressed some concern at taking them to become part of a tribe of mercenaries.

Mo: I’m not sure what the difference is between us and mercenaries.
Orryk: Mercenaries get paid up front.

Mo then called for a party caucus regarding what our moral line was.

Mo: Are we okay with children being slaughtered.
Joybell: NO!
Orryk: I’m not okay with taking on a continent-wide guild of assassins unprepared.


20 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 21)

The next morning we had breakfast then took the children to a temple of The Joyful (an order focused on the Life, Luck, and Nature domains) to see if they could watch the kids for a few hours while we went to check out the Cracked Shield Orcs to see if they’d be able to care for them and if we were comfortable giving the children to them.

The cleric in the temple spoke to the children in Orcish and they lit up at hearing their own language.

We spoke to the cleric a bit about orcs in general, about the Jagged Sword Orcs the children were taken from, and the Cracked Shield Orcs in Pelsoreen. He told us that orcish culture was devastated by the Severance, because they were so connected to their gods. Historically they had been driven by their gods to violence and sort of continual war against the other races. Since the Severance they’ve been in more of a struggle to survive and remain orcs without that. He said that they fit in well here in Pelsoreen, for what that’s worth. Mo asked if they own slaves and we were told that they don’t make enough money to buy them (other than occasionally buying an orc and manumitting them or otherwise arranging their freedom) and they don’t appear to take debt slaves -- if someone shorts them in a deal, they just kill them.

We headed off to the Cracked Shields -- into a neighborhood where the houses were more spread out. We found a compound with several houses inside one large solid-wood fence. From what we could see over the fence,the houses looked about the same as the others in the area architecturally. On the outside of the fence, we noted copper plaques for all five Corporations.

The fence had an actual door in it, so Joybell knocked on the door. A half-orc answered almost immediately. We told him that we’d rescued six orc children from the House of Masks. He growled in response.

We asked to speak to a tribal leader or council perhaps, because we want to make sure the children will be well cared for and we needed help with that.

He told us to wait then went inside, leaving the door open. Inside the door was a room built into the fence that was somewhere between a reception room and a guard room. It appeared that they generally have someone on duty at the door.

He came back about five minutes later with an elderly orc who introduced himself as Rask, as he stepped out onto the street and closed the door behind him.

Joybell: Do you know anything about the Masks?
Rask: [ground-rattling growl]
Joybell: I’m right there with you! Exactly!

Joybell told Rask that we had rescued these children from the Masks. We made it clear that we wanted the children to go to a very good home where they’d be cared for and learn how to be orcs.

Joybell: They say they’re from the Jagged Swords. Do you know where they’re from?
Rask: They’ve come a long way.

We told him that we believed that the village was destroyed. Or perhaps that it was there available to be moved into if the tribe wanted to leave Pelsoreen. Rask didn’t seem to be overly interested in that, though he said they’d consider it.

Mo: Is the tribe strong and healthy?
Rask: Mostly. We are mostly a tribe of people brought here against our will. We are former slaves who have bought ourselves free. We are cracked in various ways, but we have not been broken.
Mo: Are you accepting new members?
Rask: We are always accepting new members.

We asked a bit about how they live in the city and Rask said that they have learned to fit in but that they also do what they can to remain orcs.

We had a really good feeling about Rask and the Cracked Shields as a new home for the children, so we asked if perhaps some people could come with us to meet the kids -- perhaps an older child so they’d feel comfortable and safe. We were afraid of walking with them through the city and being attacked and having to defend them.

Rask went away for a bit, then returned with a younger orc woman and a couple of children, about the same age as the Orcphans. He said there were some warriors getting ready to come with us and they were preparing a cart.

While we were waiting for them, we talked with Rask about the House of Masks. He began growling again and was obviously Angry With Rage. He said that many members of the Cracked Shield had had occasion to tangle with the Masks, but they had never done so in Pelsoreen.

Some members of the tribe doing mercenary work outside of Pelsoreen had encountered them. He said that they are monstrous -- they heal like trolls, but fire and acid have no effect on them. Taman mentioned that they appear to think with one mind. Rask agreed with that and said that they work as one -- if many of them gang up on one target then it goes badly.

When Rask encountered them, there were spellcasters who slowed down the Masks, which are Goliath sized, holding them off and allowing the rest of the group to escape. They were braver, he said, than he thought spellcasters could be. There was an elf woman who cussed more than he thought possible and he heard the ringing of many many bells.

(We recognized those as Vicious Mockery and Toll the Dead -- which means psychic and necrotic damage. That confirms what Barnett told us about necrotic damage being good against them.)

Orryk: Because you fought them in one place, do the ones here seem to recognize you as a threat?
Rask: They don’t seem to.

That’s good news.

The escort then arrived -- 8 orcs and half-orcs in splint and chain armor with weapons out. Rask, the woman (to whom we were not introduced) and the kids rode in the cart and we all walked together to The Joyful Temple. Taman and Orryk kept watch around us for any problems.

At the temple, we asked Turlk and the other children to come outside. The greeting with the Cracked Shield Orcs was full of joy and warmth. It was a happy moment and Joybell cried with joy and relief for the children.

Mo: If you need us you can reach us via Administrator Alighieri in Embernook.
Joybell: Please send us a message from time to time letting us know how they’re doing.

Rask agreed to keep in touch.

After the orcs and Orcphans left, we walked down the street that the House of Masks was on -- simple pedestrians walking -- to see what was on the the street around them. Across the street from the House of Masks were a haberdashery/millinery store, a pantry/dry goods store, and a leather worker. None of which was at all helpful for Fiona and Orryk hanging out for a couple of hours and observing the place. Dang it.

It was early afternoon, so we went to Thani-Breel, the library with the collection focused on magical theory and the planes. We knew that there was a test of knowledge to get in, which was five essay questions on aspects of magic -- magical theory, magic in history, magic’s interaction with religion and how magic and nature affect one another. Mo, Imaktis, Fiona and Orryk sat for the test, while Taman and Joybell went to talk to Black Irnod about the Masks, since he seemed to know something about them.

Before Joybell and Taman left Thani-Breel, Mo gave Joybell some questions he wanted her to ask Black Irnod. What did Tarly (Irnod’s apprentice) want with them? How much did he pay? And who else buys children? Joybell committed those to memory.

The testing took most of the afternoon. Orryk, Imaktis, and Fiona passed and got library cards that would allow them to return whenever they wanted to. Mo alas did not.

Meanwhile, at Black Irnod’s, Joybell went to the reception desk inside the front door and rang the bell. When Black Irnod came out, she pulled out the jar of Gribbly Monster Bits she’d collected at Harl’s house in Kalmarn before the monster’s remains disappeared into a mist.

Joybell: Hi. We met last night -- you gave me the orc children that the Masks brought to your assistant, Tarly. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about them. I don’t have a corpse, but I have these pieces of a monster that had tentacles and a nasty beak. It was with some cultists who worship (or something) the Hunger Between Worlds.

Black Irnod told her that he’d heard of the monster and that it’s called a Starspawn Mangler. Which is probably a better name than Gribbly Monster. He said he’d never gotten a chance to look at one.

Once he accepted her payment, Joybell asked him questions about the House of Masks and how they operate. As we had gotten from the drunk in the bar the day before -- hiring them is just a matter of going to their “storefront” and placing an order. They usually get paid some money up front and more when the job is finished. Tarly, the assistant who ordered the Orcphans, had clearly paid before any of the children were taken into the building, because the Masks left without requiring any further payment.

When asked why Tarly wanted them, Irnod said that he assumed Tarly thought he would learn something by vivisecting them. He had no idea how much Tarly paid for them. When asked why people might want children he said that people might need children for a ritual element, perhaps. Or they might have them kidnapped for ransom. There are also elements here who keep slaves where it is not a matter of paying off a debt. Genies might pay to get kids. The Dao in particular might be interested in children of more subterranean races to work in their mines.

Then they had one of the most important conversations of Joybell’s life:

Black Irnod: Why are you asking about them?
Taman: Because we want to kill them.
Black Irnod: That’s refreshingly honest.
Joybell: They destroyed my village.
Black Irnod: You can claim vendetta.
Joybell: I can?!?! Really?

He reiterated the advice we’d gotten before about not letting them surround you. At this Joybell remembered Barnett’s description of being in a “swarm of Goliaths”. He said to make sure we have spellcasters.

He also told us that they will react differently to psychic and necrotic damage than we might be expecting, but not to be discouraged by it, because that is the key to dealing with them.

We then thanked him and left.

Back at the library, having failed the test to get in, Mo walked out the door and around the block, casting invisibility on himself when out of sight of the library. He walked back to the library and entered. As soon as he walked in the door, his clothing and gear all became visible again, though Mo himself remained invisible.

Mo: Well, this is suboptimal.

Then he turned around and left without missing a beat, going back to the Flaming Quill to play some music to make a bit of money. He met up with Joybell and Taman relaxing there.

Fiona, Imaktis, and Orryk got a bit of an introduction to Thani-Breel - just enough to learn that it’s as big as the Demasthy, but the layout is a bit different. Thani-Breel will let them bring in a guest when they return.

Then they joined up with the others at the Flaming Quill and we shared information about what we’d learned. Including that Joybell had an actual legit vendetta against the Masks and we could kill them. We began to start making plans to do so. Including sorting out who had what spells that would be useful. Imaktis had Toll The Dead, which does necrotic damage. Mo had Vicious Mockery, which does psychic damage. Both cantrips they could cast all day. Joybell had Wrathful Smite, which does psychic damage, but she could only cast that four times.

We decided to have Orryk go in and talk to the Masks to see if he could learn anything. And to give Taman an opportunity to try and get into the building invisibly. He wasn’t going to lie and pretend that he was ordering a bunch of kids, because he isn’t a good liar. Instead, the plan was for him to talk to them truthfully and give Taman a chance to get inside. Taman used his potion of invisibility and had the Cape of the Mountebank, so he could dimension door out of the building if he got into a tight spot. If it got really bad, the plan was for him to grab Orryk before bamfing out, if possible, otherwise he was to go and leave Orryk to get out on his own.

The rest of the party was in the alleys on either side of the building, out of sight.

Orryk went into the House of Masks, holding the door open for an extra moment to let Taman enter. There were two Masks inside, one standing about 10 feet from a desk with two chairs and the other near a closed inner door that lead to the rest of the building. They turned to look at Orryk in unison.

Orryk: Do you deal in information? I’m looking for items that control elementals.
Masks (in unison): That is not something we do.

While they were talking, Taman sneaked over to the desk to see if there were any papers on top of it, but there was nothing especially interesting to him. The interior door was the only way out of the room other than the main entrance, and that door was closed with a Mask standing about five feet in front of it.

Orryk: If I find information about the location of something of interest to me, do you do acquisitions? I won’t be able to acquire the items myself if they are heavily defended.
Masks (in unison): You want burglars. We do acquisitions, but not of that nature. We do wetwork.

Taman snuck around to the side of the room near the interior door, hoping to be able to pass through if one of them opened it. One of the Masks turned to look directly at Taman. In response the other moved to immediately in front of the door and began looking around.

(Note: So the one sensed Taman (probably heard him) and the other knew he’d picked something up, but didn’t know what. Which means that they share thoughts but not senses.)

Orryk: That’s unfortunate. Can you recommend anyone?
Masks (in unison): We cannot help you.

Orryk, having taken the conversation as far as he could, started walking toward the door. After he left, the Mask that had sensed Taman looked at him and they said, in unison: It’s time for you to go

Taman went.

We all went back to the Flaming Quill, keeping an eye out for anyone to be following us. Which no one was.

Taman decided to go hide on a roof across the street from the House of Masks to keep an eye on things and see if he could learn anything. In preparation for that, Orryk gave him the party's Gloves of Climbing and Swimming. We rested for an hour at the Flaming Quill, during which time Taman attuned with the gloves.

Orryk also reminded us that we had a Potion of Clairvoyance, so we could get a peek inside the House beyond that closed door before we went in.

While we were resting and talking, we decided to see if the Cracked Shield Orcs wanted to help us take on the Masks. We also decided that we were going to move first thing in the morning. An open and legitimate vendetta doesn’t need to be pursued under cover of night.

While Taman was heading off to watch the House of Masks for a while, the rest of us went to talk to the Cracked Shield. On the way, we agreed that Mo would do most of the talking because he’s the most persuasive of us.

When we got to the door, Mo asked the door guard (a different half-orc than earlier in the day) if we could speak to Rask. The door guard went to get him.

When Rask appeared, Joybell jumped in before Mo could talk.

Joybell: Before you get started, I want to say first that I found out that I have an actual legitimate vendetta against the Masks so we’re planning on going and busting them up some and you know killing them and the children may have a vendetta too and maybe you want to help and I’m gonna let Mo talk now.
Mo: So...what are you doing tomorrow morning?

Rask asked if we were sure we had the right kind of magic. We assured him that three members of our group would be able to cast the right kinds of magic.

At that, Rask said that some members of the Cracked Shield had a vendetta against the Masks. Some of their orcs would meet us at an inn between their place and the House of Masks at first light.

On the way back to the Flaming Quill, we went to Turalee, the herbalist in Bloom Cliffs that had been recommended to Mo by the priest of the Purveyors and Wrights

Mo: I’ve seen some poisons that do damage that’s necrotic in nature. I was wondering if you have anything like that.
Joybell, whispering: Nice! Good thinking.
Turalee: I don’t have anything like that, though there are poisons that do it.

She also didn’t have, or wouldn’t admit to having, poisons that did paralysis or that made people unconscious.

Fiona and Mo bought potions of healing and we returned to the Flaming Quill to wait for Taman to show up.

Taman stayed on the roof for a couple of hours and, seeing nothing of interest, returned to the Quill. Once he was back with the rest of us, Joybell gave him and Orryk each one of the potions of healing she made.


21 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 22)

Mask-killing time!!

Mo and Joybell were so excited!!

We met up with six orcs of the Cracked Shields at their chosen place and discussed tactics. The tactical decisions we made in advance were that we wanted to focus fire on one at a time because reducing their numbers would be important. Orryk pointed out that we don’t know how their “moving in unison” works, so if one seemed to react or move little bit, even a split second, before the others we wanted to focus on that one because that might be a coordinator or hub of the collective.

While we were at the bar, Orryk quaffed the Potion of Clairvoyance, putting the sensor just on the other side of the door from the House of Masks front room into the unknown rear of the establishment. He could see what looked like a storage room with shelves of rations and a cabinet with doors. Outside the room was what looked like a large open area and a small cart, possibly the one we’d seen them transport the Orcphans in, parked inside the building.

As he watched through the clairvoyance, Orryk could see Masks walking around and doing things - getting rations off the shelf, moving things around. He got the impression that maybe there were four of them inside. But he wasn’t at all sure.

At the building, we decided to split our forces, so we wouldn’t get bottled up trying to get through the door from the front room into the back. Mo, Joybell and four of the Cracked Shield went to the back door, breaking some boards out of the fence as needed to get through. Fiona, Orryk, Taman, Imaktis and two orcs went to the front door.

When we were all in place, Joybell yelled, “Vendetta for the Wold!! ” at the top of her lungs, then kicked in the back door.

When he heard the yell, Taman opened the front door. There were 3 Masks in the front room. Taman, throwing caution to the wind, ran into the room and held his attack until one of the party was engaged with a Mask.

In the back of the building, Mo cast vicious mockery on the nearer of the 2 Masks (running total: 5 Masks) in the large back room. The information we’d gotten about psychic damage was clearly correct, because it got a derpy look on its face and Mo thought he could see a wisp of smoke coming out of an ear. It also was stunned and unable to do anything.

Awesome!!

Joybell moved in and got a nice big crit on one, kneecapping the goliath-sized humanoid that towered over her.

Unfortunately, then she found herself surrounded by both of the ones in the back, though one of them missed with both of its attacks and the one that had been mocked just stood there, smoking a little, coming to after a few seconds (at the end of its turn).

Taman was in a much worse position, surrounded by all three of the ones up front. The first one attacked twice. Taman used all of his dodging ability and his luck to try and avoid the damage. The second one, hitting in unison on the same places, dropped him. The third nudged him with a boot, shrugged, then turned to look at the door.

Orryk went in, acrobatically tumbling over the desk and beat on one of them, landing a stunning strike that immobilized it. Sweet!! Imaktis followed that up with some healing words for Taman, then cast toll the dead on another one. Toll the dead had a similar effect to Mo’s vicious mockery -- leaving the Mask stunned for a time.

Taman, healed and conscious again, took his held attack from the ground and missed.

Then the Cracked Shield Orcs went in -- four in the back and two in the front, all raging in a mighty berserker fury. In the front, one jumped nimbly on the table in the front room, hitting high. The other one also got a good hit after going around the table.

In the back the four orcs moved in on the stunned Mask and pounded on it with two crits and another regular hit, badly injuring that one.

In front, Fiona dropped a fireball into the front room (from well outside the door of the building), elegantly sculpting the flames to avoid the party members and the orcs but doing a lot of damage to the Masks, none of which saved. The one Orryk stunned fell, smoldering, to the ground with smoke coming out of his ears..

Taman finally got to stand up, disengage from the combat, and move out of the scrum so he could take a healing potion.

In the back, Mo viciously mocked the same Mask again, stunning it and leaving it vulnerable to the orcs’ pummeling. Then he moved inside the building and found a good spot behind his “new orc best friend”.

Joybell cast wrathful smite, which would do one of the right kinds of damage on a hit, only she missed with both of her attacks. Fortunately, the Mask in front of her missed with both of its attacks as well.

In front, Imaktis used a shield spell to hold off an attack but took a crit from another one.

Another Mask appeared at the bottom of the stairs to the second floor, but wasn’t able to get into combat. (Running total: 6 Masks)

With one down in the front room, Orryk moved to a second one, but missed with all of his attacks, which totally sucked. (The Masks were hard to hit. And had regeneration and some vicious advanced pack tactics. Nasty.)

Imaktis cast toll the dead on the one that Orryk had attacked and missed, stunning it, though he noticed that the actual damage wasn’t as much as he would have expected.

The orcs in the front room attacked the one Imaktis had stunned -- one got a crit and the other got in a really good hit. In the back, there were three hits from the four orcs, including a crit that did maximum damage, dropping one of the Masks (though it hadn’t taken any psychic or necrotic damage this round). It was a good round for the Cracked Shield.

Fiona, still outside the building, fired a Melf’s Acid Arrow at one of the Masks, but the arrow missed.

Taman snuck in on one that was already engaged with other party members and got in a good hit, but it didn’t fall. It was wobbling, but stayed up.

Mo viciously mocked the one that had dropped in the back, to prevent it from regenerating this turn.

Joybell, with the wrathful smite still going, missed with her first swing but hit with the second. The psychic damage stunned the Mask and the wrath of her smiting left it afraid of her.

Then the Masks got their turn. In the back room, one died, and the one in front of Joybell was too stunned to attack. The Mask at the bottom of the stairs charged at the orcs, hitting one with a big swing. We could also see another take its place at the bottom of the stairs (running total: 7 Masks).

In the front room, one was stunned and unable to attack. It shook that off at the end of the round. The other one regenerated, and attacked Orryk twice for a lot of damage, but he was still standing.

Orryk then swung back at it and got a stunning strike in on it with his first attack. Then he focused on attacking that one while it was stunned. After that, he moved through the door toward the back room, figuring that the orcs and the rest of the party could handle the situation in the front room.

Imaktis cast toll the dead on the other one (the one Taman had left badly hurt and which had not regenerated) and it fell over twitching briefly before finally subsiding.

The two Cracked Shield orcs in the front room attacked the one that Orryk stunned, one of them moving around the Mask so that both of them could attack and take advantage of it being stunned. Despite both of them hitting (one with a crit) they didn’t actually manage to drop it.

The four orcs in the back focused their attack on the one which had just charged into the fray (#6), which was otherwise unhurt. Two of them missed but two hit.

Fiona, still outside, cast magic missile on the one that Orryk stunned, but it still didn’t drop. Then Taman moved to it and got a lucky crit on a sneak attack. It dropped, but was going to regenerate.

Mo, realizing that while he could stun one with his vicious mockery, it would recover immediately after on their turn, held his spell until after the end of their turn.

Joybell seeing that she had two of them on her, maintained concentration on the wrathful smite (so that the fearful one would be at disadvantage attacking), but missed with both of her swings.

On the Masks’ turn, one of the two in the front room died. The one that was just dropped by Taman’s sneak attack regenerated, but was still prone and stunned (by Orryk’s stunning strike) and neither attacked nor stood up.

The one in the back that the Cracked Shield were focusing on moved away from them, drawing three opportunity attacks from them, to Joybell. Unfortunately, only one of those attacks hit. The one that had just gotten to the base of the stairs the previous round also moved up on Joybell. Then that pack of three attacked her, moving in unison and hitting her over and over in the same place -- two of them each did one hit but the third, the fearful one, hit her twice (despite the disadvantage) and Joybell got dropped by the swarm of goliaths.

Another Mask appeared at the bottom of the stairs (final total: 8 Masks).

Orryk came through the storeroom into the back room and threw one of the beads from the Necklace of Fireballs so that it caught two of the ones that had dropped Joybell and the new one at the bottom of the stairs. It was a big fireball (30 points of damage) and dropped the one that Joybell had smote. The other two were able to dodge out of the way, but still took damage.

Imaktis cast toll the dead on the Mask in the front room that had regenerated the previous turn, then he went through the door into the storeroom heading to the back.

Mo viciously mocked the one on Joybell that hadn’t been involved in the fireball, using his held action.

The orcs in the front room finished off the one remaining Mask up there -- one of them critting it while it was prone and stunned. The other hit it in his rage as he went by, then both of them headed into the back of the building, the front having been cleared.

The orcs in the back focused their attacks on the one Mo stunned with his vicious mockery, but only one hit.

Fiona entered the building!

Taman, still injured, found a position behind the orcs and threw a dagger at one of the ones that had been in the fireball, but it went wide.

Mo healed Joybell then mocked the one that had been dropped by the fireball so it would stay dead. Joybell, really, really angry now, stood up, cast wrathful smite again, and hit the one in the pack on her that wasn’t stunned. Which left all of the three surrounding her stunned and unable to attack on their turn. (Which was very good because she was still badly hurt.)

On their turn, one of the Masks, the last one to come down the stairs, healed some of the damage it had taken from the fireball and moved up and attacked one of the Cracked Shield, but missed.

Thank goodness, because the Cracked Shield Orcs were amazing and made this whole vendetta-raid on the House of Masks possible.

Two of the Masks died (the last one in the front room and one on Joybell) and two of them that had been stunned recovered, but couldn’t attack. At this point only three remained (of eight). Of the three one looked about half gone, one looked lightly singed by the fireball and one was not badly hurt.

Orryk went to attack the more badly hurt of the remaining three -- only one of his hits got through but he was able to get a stunning strike with that hit, disabling it for the round. Imaktis then moved into the room and tolled the dead on the same one, leaving it even more damaged, thoroughly stunned, and with its regeneration disabled for the round.

Then the Cracked Shields went -- the two that had been in the front room came into a situation where there was no room for them to get into combat, so they ended their rage and moped off to the side. Two of the other four hit hit on the stunned one, but two missed. That Mask was looking badly hurt, but not at death’s door.

Fiona did a double move to get to where she could cast spells into the back room.

Taman attacked the slightly singed looking one, but missed. Mo decided that doing a lot of damage to both would be better than stunning one, so he blew his flute and cast shatter (at level 3) on the two least damaged looking ones. Then he inspired Joybell.

Joybell hit the most damaged looking one (the one that Orryk stunned and the orcs were focusing on), dropping it (it had taken a toll the dead and would not be regenerating), then cast wrathful smite and hit the other one she could reach (the least damaged of the ones remaining), stunning it with her wrath.

On the Masks’ turn one died, one was stunned, and one regenerated. The one who regenerated turned and attacked Taman, missing once. The second swing would have hit except Mo said some cutting words to him and his swing faltered and ultimately missed.

Out of Ki points, Orryk threw some darts at the one Joybell stunned with her wrathful smite, hitting with both, then he moved out of melee.

Imaktis moved into the room and cast toll the dead on the one that had regenerated, stunning it and leaving it vulnerable. Immediately, two of the orcs attacked it, one of them hitting it. The other two attacked the one that Joybell stunned and one of them got a hit.

Joybell, seeing that the two orcs who had been in the front room were uncertain how to help, asked them to bash up the teleportation circle we’d seen when we entered the back room. They got to work on that.

Fiona cast a very powerful fireball to get the two standing Masks -- both of them were stunned and failed their saves, taking 38 points of damage. One of them fell, smoldering, and would die on their turn.

The other remained standing and Taman took a swing at it, doing 21 points of damage. Despite looking like it was about to fall over, it stayed up. Then Mo used two charges off his Wand of Magic Missiles and dropped it.

Both of them died a few seconds later (on their turn).

We all took a deep breath and Mo took the mask off one of their faces. Underneath was a Goliath-sized human, but one with acromegaly (note: think Andre the Giant). Looking at all of them, we could see that the faces were not identical.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 13: The Aftermath and The Primal Atoll


Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM - Everyone Else


21 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 22) (immediately after the previous)

After the combat with the Masks, we spent some time in the House of Masks.

Immediately after Mo took the masks of a couple of the Masks, Joybell closed and locked the front and back doors. Orryk collected vials of blood from five different Masks (in case we need to get into Carveen’s library at some point).

Mo argued strongly for burning the place down to send a message -- there would be something very satisfying if their house was burned as they had burned so many villages. And it would have delayed their return to Pelsoreen. He described in glorious detail how the masonry walls of the building would work as a chimney to let the flames leap through the house, without spreading to neighboring structures.

Mo gave Taman some inspiration for his investigation of the house. Joybell searched the front room with the desk and found nothing there. There were no papers on or in the desk. No papers anywhere.

How do they keep track of what has been ordered and who has ordered it without any records?

In the cabinets in the storeroom between the front room and the large back room where half the fighting took place, we found some treasure. While we were doing the searching, Fiona cast detect magic and swept the whole place. We found:

2 small boxes of jade animals (250gp each)
3 gold bracelets (250gp each)
1 magical shortsword
1 magical pair of bracers
1 magical pair of boots
1 magical staff

To our surprise the masks themselves were not magical. Neither were the Masks (the people).

Despite the masks not being magical, Joybell wrapped one carefully in a cloth without touching it and asked Orryk to put it in the bag of holding. WIthout touching it.

On the shelves in the storeroom (and in the back room) there were some bags of rations. Also money. To wit:

1000 cp
4000 sp
1700 gp
100 pp

We put one of the bodies in the cart along with the bags of rations (for the Cracked Shield) and looked around upstairs.

Upstairs was a barracks -- ten bunks, a washroom and a toilet. The whole thing was very spartan -- there was food (basically grains for making gruel), water, stark beds, etc. The Masks were not concerned about comfort.

The fact that there were ten beds and we’d only killed 8 Masks had us concerned until Taman confirmed that two of them hadn’t been slept in for a while.

We also found 8 longbows and 160 arrows upstairs.

We also looked around for any iconography or symbols or anything written at all and found nothing. There may have been some in the nook with the teleportation circle, but the Cracked Shield orcs who’d gone to work on that area did a Very Thorough Job and destroyed everything they saw that had a symbol on it.

As we were going through all of this, there was first a knock, and then a pounding, on the front door.

Mo answered, with Joybell and Taman in the room with him. Joybell stayed quiet, just there in case the person who had the actual vendetta was needed for this conversation, but happy to let Mo handle it.

Guys at door: Corbus & Coldin, let us in!!

Mo. playing the role of “The only sober guy at the frat party”, opened the door to see two men dressed as guards.

C&C Guards: You’re not who we were expecting.
Mo: Who were you expecting?
C&C Guards: Big folks in masks.
Mo: They don’t live here anymore.
C&C Guards: We heard there was fighting going on here.
Imaktis, listening from the back room: There was!

Joybell was biting her lip to stop herself from explaining that we’d been pursuing a vendetta. But she kept quiet and let Mo do the talking.

The C&C Guards made it clear that they were more concerned with protecting the building itself than with the Masks or their possessions.

Mo: Silently dies inside.
C&C Guards: Some people might be thinking about burning the building after looting it.
Mo: People do the wildest things. Incidentally, what about imploding it?
C&C Guards: That would be willful destruction of property.

As it turned out, the Masks didn’t own the property -- they had a mortgage or a lease or something.

Joybell: Can we write on the walls?
C&C Guards: You can redecorate as you see fit.

After a bit more conversation, the Guards left.

Mo, closing the door: Well, that was the fuzz. That went well.

Joybell looked around for ink or paint or anything to write on the walls with, but couldn’t find ANYTHING. So Mo used the Flute of Scribing to write:

CHILD SALES CANCELED. ALL INVOLVED DEAD. USE PSYCHIC OR NECROTIC DAMAGE. THANKS CRACKED SHIELD.

Then we hitched up their horse and took the cart to the back door of Black Irnod’s. After a few minutes of knocking, Black Irnod appeared. Joybell explained that we had a Mask body and wanted to know what made it a Mask instead of just a human, which is what it appears to be. We gave him the body in exchange for a report after he did his dissection and autopsy.

When Irnod agreed, Joybell picked up the body of the Mask (slinging it across her shoulders with hands and feet dragging on the ground) and said, “Where do you want him?”

Irnod led her into a very cold room with small doors or hatches all over the walls. He opened one high on a wall, pulling a long shelf out of the cupboard. He then looked at Joybell, closed that one, and opened one at floor level. Joybell dumped the Mask onto the shelf.

Joybell: Thanks so much. When you have information, you can get in touch with us at the Flaming Quill.

As we left Black Irnod’s the Cracked Shield Orcs, awesome to a one, went back to their compound with the horse-and-cart and the food and such of the armor as was not damaged beyond usefulness.

We went back to the Flaming Quill, and headed toward our room, asking Jorly to please bring us Second Breakfast, or Elevenses, or whatever morning meal would be appropriate.

While we waited, and then while we ate, Fiona identified the items that we found in the cabinet at the House of Masks.

1 Short Sword of Warning (Joybell)
1 Pair Bracers of Archery (Orryk)
1 Pair Boots of the Winterlands (Taman)
1 Staff of the Python (bag of holding to sell or trade or whatever).

After Fiona identified the Boots of the Winterlands, Imaktis speculated that Irnod might be working with the Masks -- drawing a connection between the cold room (the morgue) at Irnod’s and the Boots of the Winterlands. Also on the grounds of general suspicion of someone who takes in bodies.

As it was still fairly early in the morning (we’d attacked the House of Masks just after first light), we discussed what to do with the rest of the day. Fiona, Imaktis, Orryk and Mo (as their guest) planned to go to Thani-Breel library to do their research.

There was some discussion of Joybell and Taman heading out to the druidic circle she’d heard about, but that idea was rejected. Orryk and the others wanted to go to the druid circle as well. So Joybell and Taman planned to go to the Cracked Shield -- Joybell felt very strongly that they’d earned a share of the treasure. We could not have done it without them and they deserved to reap the reward for their labors as well. No one else agreed with her about that, so she planned to give them her share of the coinage (which came to 166 cp, 666 sp, 283 gp, and 16 pp).

Mo: Now that we’ve attacked a bunch of assassins with a hive mind, maybe we shouldn’t let party members get too far.

We also agreed that maybe we shouldn’t talk too much about having killed the Masks. We’d let the Cracked Shield decide if they wanted to talk about it, but we weren’t going to do so.

At the entrance to Thani-Breel, on discovering that in addition to passing the entrance exam, there was a charge of 100gp per day to research there, Imaktis decided not to go into the library and to instead spend the day with Joybell and Taman.

Before Orryk, Fiona and Mo went into the library, Imaktis asked them to look for publications by Black Irnod, to get a sense if he’s a legitimate researcher or not.

Team Library (Fiona, Orryk and Mo) had a very productive day.

With regard to Imaktis’ question about Black Irnod, the library did have some works that Irnod had written on biology. And some other works that cited his research. He appeared to be part of an intellectual community doing a scientific classification of beasts and living things (a la Linnaeus, only in a world where the biology is complicated by magic and extra-planar entities and so on).

Orryk was looking for information about places with portals to the various planes, information about infusing elemental energy into items. Mo was looking for information about the genies and their relationship with and history in Pelsoreen. Also the best way to kill them. Fiona was doing general research of the “find a book and read it” variety.

Orryk learned that there aren’t any permanent portals around Pelsoreen. There are intermittent ones -- when the river floods, when one of the volcanic mountains (or volcanic islands) to the east or south erupts, or when there’s a large and powerful tropical storm there will be portals in those places. Extreme events bring about temporary portals.

He did find information about some permanent portals to the Plane of Earth in the Dunnimar Mountains (the older, more Appalachian-like mountains to the west of Pelsoreen, known informally as the Green Quilt). He even found some hints to the location of one of those -- not an x-marks the spot treasure map, but information that can be pursued further to get more detail.

When Orryk looked into infusing elemental magic into spells and items, he was told about another small library in town -- The Amber Flame. The price for entry there is a magical item. And reminded of The Steel Crucible, which we’d heard about before, where the price for entry is making a magical item (though they don’t want the item itself). It seems like the Crucible, which has information about making magical items, might be the more immediate interest.

Looking into Mo’s questions about the Genies, they learned that Genies are Elementals, but they have more in common with each other, culturally, than they do with other elementals from their own planes. All have slaves, all have solid egos that they love to massage -- the Genie Nobles are powerful creatures that can re-write reality with their Wish spells. The Genies may have originally come through those intermittent portals to the Elemental Planes, but they have been known to be here since Pelsoreen was founded. They only started dominating the city’s culture after the Severance, however, and that’s when slaving became a strong part of the city’s economy.

The Genies in Pelsoreen are not interested in governance or ruling the city. There aren’t many of them -- not much more than a dozen at any given time. And those are generally not the Genie Nobles -- they’re just ordinary Genies.

There are four kinds of Genies -- Marids, from the plane of water, Djinni from the plane of air, Dao from the plane of earth, and Efreeti from the plane of fire. Pelsoreen mostly has Marids and Efreeti -- because of the proximity of the volcanic islands and the sea. The Dao are the biggest slavers -- they need a lot of workers in their mines in the Great Dismal Delve.

There are no genie-specific vulnerabilities. Each kind has immunities or resistances that are appropriate to their elements -- Dao are immune to the petrified condition. Djinn are immune to lightning and thunder damage, Efreeti are immune to fire damage, Marids are resistant to acid, cold and lightning damage. None are resistant or immune to poison.

Fiona, on entering the library, found a book and started pursuing a research chain that led her to learning about High Ritual Magic. At its most basic, this is conducting hours-long, or longer, rituals as a way of casting spells that otherwise would not be able to be cast as a ritual. For example, instead of casting teleportation circle in the same location every day for a year to make a permanent circle, one could perform a high ritual that lasts 8 hours to make one. There are ritual materials and high costs involved, in addition to the time. (Fiona remembered that Black Irnod told Joybell that people might order children from the Masks to use them in ritual magic. Presumably by sacrificing them.)

The librarians told Fiona about another small library -- The Quiet Room, which focuses on this high ritual magic and wants 300gp a day as an entry fee.

She also learned about a library called Urlott’s that wants a service as an entry fee. And she learned that Carveen’s (the one that wants a unique vial of blood) focuses on information regarding summonings - so that one may not be of much interest to us.

While Team Library did their research, Joybell, Taman and Imaktis went to the Cracked Shield. When we knocked at the door, they let us through the waiting room and into their compound. Inside the compound, we could see several houses and children, including the Orcphans, playing. Their play consisted of hitting each other with sticks and throwing rocks, at least in part, but they weren’t being drilled or trained in war -- they were just running and playing in a big, fenced yard.

Joybell gave Rask her share of the treasure, because they earned it and deserved it. He was somewhat overwhelmed.

Joybell: It’ll help y’all support the children. Or relocate to the Jagged Swords’ territory if you decide you want to leave Pelsoreen and do that. Or just to give y’all a bit of extra if you need it.

Joybell didn’t ask if she could be a Cracked Shield, please. She wanted to. But she didn’t.

They then left the orcs and went to find a bar in Old Lament, near the House of Masks, just to have a beer and listen to see if there was any buzz about the Masks being wiped out. As we walked into a bar frequented, we believed, by employees of the city, Taman noticed that there was a moment of quiet as we walked in, then a buzz of conversation. He got an “Oh, shit, it’s Those Guys” vibe from it.

Joybell ordered beer for all of us and we took a table. We drank in the weird quiet, waiting for normal bar-buzz to resume.

Over in a far corner, we heard a game of rock-paper-scissors. Then a nebbishy guy, who looked like one of the City’s administrative workers, a paper-pusher of some sort, walked timidly up to us, occasionally shoved in the back by his peers to keep him moving.

Nebbish: So...you killed the Masks?
Joybell: Yes, with some friends and some of the Cracked Shie...Oops, I wasn’t supposed to say that.
Nebbish: Ummm...Wow.
Joybell: The trick is necrotic and psychic damage. Tell everyone. Got it?
Nebbish: Ummm...yes?
Joybell: Necrotic and psychic.

The nebbish then walked away and went back to his table. Imaktis followed him back.

Imaktis: How do you feel about us doing this? Is this a big deal for the town?
Nebbish: Most of the people who’ve seen them fighting think they’re really tough and didn’t think they could be defeated.
Imaktis: You can stand up to them. Anyone can. You just need to know the trick.
Taman, from our table: Don’t let them surround you.
Joybell: Nobody’s mad?
Nebbish: Someone’s going to have a vendetta if you kill enough people and leave survivors.

Joybell wasn’t sure if he was talking about her having a vendetta against the Masks or about some surviving Masks having a vendetta against the party. It was a bit unsettling.

Imaktis came back to the table and we continued to drink our beers. Eventually the bar-buzz began to build back up again and we could hear some people talking about “Psychotic damage” and “necromantic something” and “what’s that?”.

Joybell sighed and we headed back to the Flaming Quill and commenced to drinking with more intent. Imaktis cast lesser restoration on Taman so he’d be able to drink more and avoid alcohol poisoning. Eventually Team Library joined us there.

Over dinner we discussed which of the smaller libraries might be useful to get someone into. The Quiet Room (high ritual magic) could be interesting, but is expensive enough that we probably only want to get one person in. Joybell pointed out that she can make healing potions and those are magical, so she might be able to get into the Steel Crucible. We’d have to ask to know if that would count for them.

After dinner, Black Irnod showed up and told us that the body we’d taken him was thoroughly disposed of and had been thoroughly examined.

The body was of a human female (we’d noticed absolutely no secondary sexual characteristics on any of the Masks) with gigantism. Despite the oversized body mass, the individual had never gone through puberty. He detected signs that there had been extensive exposure to necromantic magic along with scarring on the bodies. He said it wasn’t exactly this, but it was not unlike someone had tried to make a flesh golem out of a living child.

He found some tumors in the brain that were in similar locations to where structures exist in telepathic species. The species with those telepathic brain structures were those with short-range telepathy -- mental powers that didn’t extend much beyond a mile, perhaps. From that he figured that it was unlikely that Masks elsewhere on the continent would know us or our faces.

We asked who could do this sort of thing? Would it take a necromancer or some other sort of spell-caster?

He said it would definitely need magic, but he was not aware of a necromantic spell or process that would do that specific thing. He thought that high ritual magic might possibly be involved. Otherwise it was some sort of weird magical effect outside the normally known magics.

He said he would write us letters of referral for two of the smaller libraries - The Quiet Room and Urlott’s, which specializes in literature about weird magic. We might be able to find information about the process to create the Masks in those libraries.

Remembering that Urlott’s wants a service as its entry fee, we asked what kinds of services they ask for. Irnod said that the services vary, but he’d never known them to ask for something beyond the capabilities of the person who seeks entry. He also said that one always has the option to decline to perform the service if it is not something that one wishes to do.

He said he would have letters recommending Fiona to the librarians ready for us in the morning.

He also said he was going to get the other bodies out of the House of Masks, in order to examine those as well. Joybell offered to help with that, since he didn’t have an assistant anymore, but he declined the offer. We asked that if he learned anything different from those, please let us know.

He agreed to that and then departed.

Eventually, we retired to our rooms. Fiona cast alarm on the room, but we also decided to keep watches overnight, just in case there was some sort of fallout from fighting the Masks. The first, second and third watches (Fiona, Joybell and Orryk, respectively) passed without incident. The fourth saw Mo and Imaktis standing watch.

Imaktis heard some unusual activity and voices from the tavern downstairs than we’d come to expect as usual. Mo heard nothing. So Imaktis headed down the stairs to see what was going on while Mo woke the rest of us up.

He caught sight of Jorly talking to a couple of well-dressed looking individuals -- two of them, a man and a woman, who looked very much alike. They were both larger than average humans, though not goliath sized, and a little thick of build. They had earthy brown skin and brick red hair. Both were dressed very expensively and well. Imaktis got the sense that they were potentially very dangerous individuals, but that they were not there to do violence at that time.

Imaktis listened to the conversation as best he could and heard them asking Jorly about six people who match our descriptions. Jorly said that we’d been eating breakfast at the inn and they could wait for us in the tavern. Jorly wasn’t exactly subservient to them, but he was clearly talking to someone several stations above him.

Imaktis passed all of this information on to Mo using message spells. Fortunately the two earth genasi were busy talking to Jorly and didn’t notice Imaktis on the stairs.

They were not expecting a giant turtle to sneak up on them.

Fiona: Few do.

We took the time to get dressed and armored up, then went down en masse (Scooby as well). In the tavern we went to them and asked if they were looking for us.

They introduced themselves as Ixal (the man) and Lixa (the woman). Ixal did most of the talking.

Ixal: We represent the Brass Giant. We would like to have you work for us.
Orryk: We weren’t looking for permanent employment.
Ixal: We would pay 50 gold pieces a day to each of you. Any items you found would be yours, but the Brass Giant would expect to be given all coins recovered.
Mo: That’s a terrible deal. Anyway, we’re not looking for a patron.
Ixal: Very well.
Joybell: If you have an individual job, we’d consider it.
Ixal: We’re looking for long-term loyalty.
Joybell: We don’t plan to be here long-term.
Imaktis: The Cracked Shield were great and very helpful in the fight. You might consider them.
Ixal: We will think about that.

Ixal and Lixa then left and we ordered breakfast.

After breakfast, Jorly came to us and told us that we couldn’t stay at the Flaming Quill any longer. The Brass Giant corporation is the Flaming Quill’s protector -- Jorly wasn’t in any trouble because we said no to the offer to work for them, but he would be in trouble if he continued to let us stay there.

Well, shit.

So we gathered up our things after breakfast and headed out. Our plan for the day was to go visit the druid circle on the island, stopping by Black Irnod’s to get the letters of recommendation. We also decided to take a detour by the Steel Crucible to see if making healing potions would be sufficient to get admission to the library.

Joybell to Black Irnod: Did you recover the other bodies?
Irnod: I got enough. There was one that was very well burnt.

(In the background Fiona and Orryk began discussing whose fireball had done that.)

Irnod: I didn’t do as thorough an autopsy on the others. I can tell you that two were female and the rest were male. They had the same combination of gigantism and prepubsecence as the first one I looked at.
Joybell: Can the process be undone? Can we save the children that this has been done to?
Irnod: This appears to be a one-way process.
Joybell: If you have further information for us, we won’t be at the Flaming Quill any longer.
Irnod: Ah. They came and talked to you?
Joybell: Yes. We said no. Can you recommend another inn, perhaps, in this neighborhood? One that’s not affiliated with the Brass Giant?
Irnod: I have heard good things about the Iron Steed.

He then gave us the letters of introduction to the Quiet Room and Urlott’s. As we walked away, Imaktis, concerned that Irnod was sending us into an ambush or some other setup, read the letters. They were standard-looking, boilerplate letters of introduction addressed to the librarians at the other libraries recommending that “a half-elf female named Fiona” be allowed to do research in their libraries. They were both signed and sealed under his name.

At the Steel Crucible, Joybell spent some time talking with the librarians and convinced them that she actually understood the process and the theory of making healing potions and did not merely follow instructions by rote. She was given a card that would allow her and one other admittance to the library.

Then we headed down to Waveside to look for Captain Doyard and the Elephant, the captain and ship recommended by the priest at the Order of Purveyors And Wrights when we first arrived in Pelsoreen. We found the slip where the Elephant would tie up, but the ship was not there, so we went to the office for the docks.

The clerk, a water genasi, said that Captain Doyard would be available the next day. We told him we wanted to get to the druid circle on the island. He said that it is called the Primal Atoll and that it's more than half a day’s sail away, so going there is not a day trip. When asked if they’re amenable to visitors, he said that they do get them from time to time.

Apparently part of the island is an active volcano. Which is cool.

We asked if he could recommend anyone as honest as Captain Doyard. He recommended Captain Whit of The Lilac a couple of slips down. He said he hadn’t seen The Lilac set sail yet today. (We got a reasonable sense that this guy was being straight with us and wasn’t sending us to some crooked friend of his or anything.)

Captain Whit agreed to take us to the Primal Atoll. It would be an overnight trip -- the crew and he would stay on the ship overnight. That arrangement had been okay with the druids in the past. Some of The Lilac’s crew were human, most were water or air genasi.

Joybell checked for the corporation logo on the ship -- C&C, which we thought would be fine.

Joybell wanted to take Scooby along, but the captain looked a bit non-plussed at that. And said that the charge for the trip would be 10gp per pair of legs. So Joybell had a little chat with Scooby and said she was going to temporarily dismiss him, but she’d bring him back as soon as possible. Then she scritched him behind the ears and sent him to wherever celestial wolf-mounts go when they’re not in the prime material.

Then we boarded the ship. Joybell found an out of the way place to sit on deck and watch. Taman sat up there with her. The crew strongly suggested that she remove her armor for her own safety. Joybell wasn’t entirely comfortable with that, so they agreed to tie a lifeline to her so if she went over she could be pulled back on board.

Joybell spent a lot of the trip trying to talk to the various flying fish and dolphins she could see as they went by. She got some hellos from various animals, but wasn’t able to have a good conversation.

After a few hours of sailing, the ship approached an island that sloped gradually up from the sea. After another little while, the ship pulled into a pier on the island. We could see a cloud of white smoke billowing from the far side of it. Lots of smoke.

Orryk and Taman both immediately thought that the druids’ village was burning. Joybell figured it was the volcano.

We followed the path from the pier inland. The path went gently up for about a mile before arriving at a small settlement, which was not on fire. This island, though a volcanic lava shield, had been here long enough that it was forested so the village was made of nicely chinked log huts, irregularly distributed.

In the middle of the village was a clear circle defined by four carved logs placed at the four cardinal directions. Each was carved in the shape of a stylized representation of one of the elements -- a flame in the south, a wave in the north, a cluster of crystals in the east, and a cloud in the west.

There were people about, fairly casually dressed. When they saw us, one, a female water genasi, stepped forward and introduced herself as Irlua.

Irlua: What can we do for you?
Joybell, after seeing if Mo wanted to talk: I grew up in the Wold and trained at the Basalt Henge. I just wanted to visit your circle. My friend, Orryk, is interested in all things elemental and it seems this is a place for him to learn.
Irlua: Here we are far more interested in keeping the balance between the planes stable.
Joybell: Is it unstable?
Irlua: The planes always want to move. We try to keep any one elemental plane from becoming dominant over the others.
Orryk: At the Basalt Henge, they’re trying to reduce the elemental influences in the area.
Irlua: We understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Keeping Dao and Efreeti away from the city makes sense. We maintain balance.
Joybell: How?
Irlua: We keep track of how many portals there are and how...influential those portals are. How hard are the portals pulling our world in any direction. We’ve been maintaining a stable balance for about a century, but recently there has been a lot of pull from fire. Water is not as strong at the moment.
Mo: Do you do rituals to bring about balance?
Irlua: We sometimes set up temporary portals, to increase the pull from a plane. We occasionally use similar rituals as they perform at the Basalt Henge to weaken or destroy gates.
Joybell (or maybe Orryk): Do you have any idea why fire is getting stronger?
Irlua: We think that there’s a big volcano going to erupt, perhaps pretty far away. It might be under the ocean or on the continent.

Taman and Joybell went to meditate in the circle.

Orryk cast mold earth near the earth log on the east side of the circle. Unlike at the Basalt Henge, the spell worked like normal.

Mo: Are there any open portals on the island?
Irlua: Deep in the caldera of the volcano there is a portal to fire. Getting there is fraught.
Orryk: Do you have interactions with entities from other planes, like the Wind Dukes?
Irlua: Not the Wind Dukes. We have occasionally dealt with genies. Of course, every single genie is, in its own mind, the most important being in the Universe.

Irlua then mentioned that 100 years ago, water had gotten too strong and they’d had to bolster fire for a while to maintain the balance.

Joybell, distracted from her meditation: Are you interfering with someone’s plans with the work you do?
Irlua: Sometimes we are. They don’t always like us much.

Then Joybell, Taman and Orryk did all meditate in the circle.

To Joybell, it felt like a druidic circle much like the ones she’d known in the Wold and at the Henge. With, of course a more elemental feel to it.

Orryk, on the other hand, could feel the threads of the elements woven through, like an open weave. It had the sort of elasticity of cheese cloth -- stretchable and malleable.

After meditating for a while we had an early dinner and then asked if we could go to the volcano. Irlua said that they usually require visitors to walk to the volcano, but she was going to make an exception in our case.

Irlua: Today is beautiful. Tomorrow won’t be. And the view is worth it.

She cast transport via plants and took us to the top of the volcano looking over the caldera. It was just after dusk, so we could see the volcano at night.

Joybell asked Taman to hold onto her belt and leaned way over the edge to try and see the portal deep in the caldera, but couldn’t. She asked what it would look like and Orryk told her that a standing portal would look almost like a whirlpool with the lava moving and churning around it.

And there we ended -- shortly after dark with us on the edge of the caldera.


Treasure:

1 Short Sword of Warning (Joybell)
1 Pair Bracers of Archery (Orryk)
1 Pair Boots of the Winterlands (Taman)
1 Staff of the Python (bag of holding to sell or trade or whatever).

2 small boxes of jade animals (250gp each)
3 gold bracelets (250gp each)

1000 cp
4000 sp
1700 gp
100 pp

I don’t believe we’re planning on selling the jade animals or gold bracelets here in Pelsoreen, so I’m not including those in the coinage distribution -- those were put intact into the Bag of Holding.

The coinage divides up thus:

166 cp (with 4 left)
666 sp (with 4 left)
283 gp (with 2 left)
16 pp (with 4 left)

Note: We’ve paid for two more nights of rooms at the Flaming Quill since the last Party Kitty Update. So taking out 12 gp for lodging there and adding the leftovers from the coins as above, the party kitty currently has: 5 pp, 2gp, 10sp, and 12 cp.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 14: Slave Eyes


Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM - Everyone Else


22 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 23)

We spent the night back in the druid village -- Irlua transported us through the plants again. They had some huts available for pilgrims and visitors so we were able to be accomodated. Orryk asked if he could sleep in the circle. He spent some time meditating and then slept.

[Note: His dreams were discussed around the table, but the player said Orryk wouldn’t be sharing them, so they aren't included here.]

Joybell just enjoyed being in a druid place again.

Taman spoke with one of the druids about mixing a military combat style with a druidic style -- with a thought to opposing other planes, or protecting against incursion from them. He talked with someone and got some encouragement along that route.

Joybell asked if there were going to be any rituals, particularly the ones they’re using to balance fire and water right now, but they said there weren’t any at this time.


23 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 24)

In the morning, food and breakfast were provided for us, because we’re kindred spirits (at least some of us) with questions.

Joybell asked if there was anything we could do for them, but they said no. She was a bit disappointed.

So we got back on The Lilac and began our cruise back to Pelsoreen. The captain had been told about the oncoming storm by the druids, so he set sail and set course to stay ahead of it. When we were aboard Fiona and Taman noticed that there was a bit of a cold going around -- some of the crew were sick and snuffly. Orryk also noticed that two of the crew had pink irises, like the slaves have. They didn’t have them when we left Pelsoreen.

When this was pointed out to the rest of us, we went to find Captain Witt.

Mo: What’s going on with those people over there? (Pointing to the two people with pink eyes.)
Captain: I don’t have slaves -- the sea is too risky to force people to be sailors.
Mo: They were free when we left Pelsoreen.

We went and talked to the two guys, Gullin and Inder.

Mo: So...what’s up with your eyes?

They said that they’d been a little draggy and sick the day before but were fine today.

Fiona: Did you get visited by anyone?

They said that we were the only people on the boat other than the regular crew. The druids never came aboard.

Mo: Did you owe anybody money?

They said they don’t owe anyone -- they’re free and their families are as well.

Taman was certain they were being truthful -- but they’ll be treated like slaves as soon as they get back to Pelsoreen.

They had colds (like many in the crew) the day before.

Taman wondered if the pink eyes could be just a symptom of something...though they did look just like a slave’s pink irises. Fiona took ten minutes to perform the ritual to cast detect magic, but whatever the effect was, it was not magical. Talking to the ship’s doctor was not helpful either -- he was pretty much a sawbones (patching up injuries from falls and so on).

Joybell laid on hands to cure Gullin’s disease, just to see if it would work. She was slightly surprised to find that it did work. In a similar vein of experimentation, Imaktis used the lesser restoration bead (from the prayer necklace) on Inder -- that also worked.

The total crew of the ship was 12. Five of the others were sniffly and had those mild colds. The other five seemed unaffected.

Joybell went around and, with permission, cured the diseases of four of the five with the sniffles. The fifth one, Nicklin, she left sniffly -- with the idea of seeing if the sniffles did in fact lead to the pink eyes. Captain Witt said that Nicklin could stay on the ship, rather than going ashore into Pelsoreen as a potential slave. The next morning we could come and check on him.

For the rest of the sail, we talked about what else we want to accomplish in Pelsoreen -- we want to get Fiona in to do some research in the Quiet Room, Taman indicated a potential interest in going to Carveen’s to learn about summoning fey. Joybell and Orryk wanted to go to the Steel Crucible. And we may want to get into the Amber Flame if we have time.

If we had to leave in a hurry, we could skip some of those, but we definitely wanted to get into the Quiet Room and the Steel Crucible.

Joybell suggested to the others that she could summon Darkmoon Moonstone Happyhowl, Defender of Henge and Wold back as a mastiff or small pony or something. So we’d look less like our group, maybe. But Orryk (and the others) looked around at the group and said it really wouldn’t make much of a difference.

As for where we’d stay when we got back to the city, Joybell suggested that we could ask if we could stay with the Cracked Shield (she still wants to be an honorary member), but Imaktis emphatically rejected that idea.

As we approached the pier, Joybell started casting Find Steed, so that Scooby would be waiting on the pier for us when the ship tied up.

Taman volunteered to stay on the Lilac with the Captain and Nicklin, but the Captain didn’t want to have outsiders on the ship in port. However, he reaffirmed that he’d be able to find work for Nicklin to do on board.

As we pulled up at the pier, there were four guards waiting from us -- they were from C&C, the corporation that protected the House of Masks (or at least their building) and also the Lilac.

We started getting ready to disembark, while listening to the Captain’s conversation with the guards. The guards were checking to make sure of the “status” of the employees of the organizations they protect.

Joybell (to the others): Do they do this regularly?

But of course we didn’t know.

Captain Witt was once again very firm that he doesn’t own slaves and won’t force anyone to go to sea.

Watching, it was clear to Mo and others that the Captain was annoyed at the situation -- he had to answer the questions, because he has responsibilities to C&C.

Taman wondered if the guards seemed like they were bored doing a routine inquiry or if they were expecting stuff to go down. Watching them it was clear that this wasn’t routine -- though they weren’t prepared for battle or anything either.

Mo and Joybell wandered over to see what was going on…

Mo: How are things, Captain.
Captain: Fine. I can vouch for my crew.
Mo (to the guards): Is this a regular inquiry? Do you hassle all ships with passengers?
Guard (staring at Mo): We’re not hassling the passengers. We’re just talking to the Captain about his crew.
Guard: We’ve had incidents with slaves turning up in places they don’t belong and insisting that they’re not slaves.
Mo: What did you do with them?
Guard: Put them in the slave pens, of course.
Joybell: What happens if you find someone who looks like a slave and you can’t figure out who they’re slaves to?
Guard: That’s a question for someone further up the chain than me.
Joybell: I...forgot something downstairs!!

Then she scampered below and cured Nicklin, rather than waiting until tomorrow to see if his eyes turned pink.

Another lie from Joybell.

Black Irnod had recommended an inn in Thani’s Truth called the Iron Steed, so we headed there directly we got off the boat. Joybell once again happily riding Scooby.

Taman, Orryk, Imaktis, and Fiona noticed, as we were proceeding, that we were being shadowed by two pairs of operatives (two separate pairs). It was clear to Taman that they were so busy trying to hide from each other that they were not doing so well as all that at hiding from us. They weren’t doing anything to interfere with us, just shadowing us.

Orryk: If a group of people came into our town and killed an organization of tough hired assassins, I’d probably want to keep an eye on them for our own safety.

Taman also noticed that there were a lot more guards in the street than usual and pointed that out to the rest of us.

Joybell was concerned about the people suddenly showing up as slaves and if things were going to be horribly unfair and unjust for them, but we weren’t sure what or how to deal with it.

At the Iron Steed (protected by Dallington’s), we spoke with the innkeeper, a tiefling woman with violet skin and yellow hair and pronghorn horns named Borma. She was dressed pretty conservatively. The room rates at the Iron Steed are the same as the Flaming Quill, 6gp per night. We paid for the first night out of the party kitty.

They had a tavern with food. Orryk pulled a bag of rations out of the bag of holding. Imaktis logged everything he ate. Taman and Mo ate normally. Joybell ate and drank normally -- but something different from what the others ate.

Mo looked around the room to see if anyone was sniffling or showing signs of a cold in the room. He didn’t see anyone. Taman was watching for it, a bit, while we were walking -- though he was mostly paying attention to our tails -- but he did get the sense that there was a mild cold going around. And new since we left early the day before.

The tails didn’t follow us inside - which suggested to us that neither of the groups were from Dallington’s.

Up in our room, we planned what we wanted to do the next day. One part of it was going to be library research in the morning -- Fiona was going to the Quiet Room and Joybell and Orryk to the Steel Crucible. While the research was going on, Mo, Imaktis and Taman would be doing some poking around in the city -- Team Gettin’ in Trouble.

Fiona set an alarm spell and Joybell had her sword of warning. And the night passed without incident.


24 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 25)

Come the morning, no one in the party had pink eyes. Which was reassuring. Fiona, Taman and Imaktis were all sniffly. Joybell laid hands on Taman and Fiona, curing their sniffles, but Imaktis declined to be healed or to heal himself -- he wanted to see how this would play out.

We had breakfast in the tavern -- there were ten to twelve other people in there eating. We noticed that two of them had the sniffles. Taman pulled a bandanna over his nose to use as a face mask.

After breakfast we headed out together to take people to the libraries, before Team Gettin’ In Trouble went off to do their thing. Taman noticed that there were now three groups of people waiting for us to leave the inn.

As we walked to the Quiet Room, we noticed that there were lots of businesses with closed signs and far fewer people on the streets than we’d seen before. We also noticed more guards on the streets. Though slaves had always been less common on the streets in the Heights than elsewhere in the city, there were none on the street at all today.

Mo stopped to talk to one of the guards: What’s up with the city today? Is an orc invasion expected?
Guard: There’s a cold going around and some people are being laid lower than others.

Mo got the sense that the guard was not lying -- he was relaying what he’d been told -- but that he had his doubts.

Mo: I can understand why you have a lot of guards out in the event of a cold.

Then we left.

We noticed as we continued that the guards were from all of the corporations.

We took Fiona to the Quiet Room - the outside of the building was nondescript, but inside was a normal looking room, but it sounded weird. (It was an anechoic chamber.) She showed them Black Irnod’s letter of reference and paid them 300gp (to which everyone contributed).

Joybell: Good luck! Have fun!

At the Quiet Room, Fiona was looking into basics of High RItual magic and perhaps into how the Masks might have been created.

The basic rules of HIgh Ritual Magic:
  • You need accoutrements and ritual gear -- and those need to be individual and custom made (ideally, at least -- it is possible to use someone else’s gear but it is much harder). These are things like candleholders, knives, etc., that can be used repeatedly. These are very expensive (approximately 1000 gp).
  • There is a skill check with a difficulty based on how much of an effect you’re trying to create. The amount of time and the cost in consumable material components (separate from the ritual accoutrements that are not consumed) also scale based on the size of the effect (the level of the spell). For example a fairly basic ritual to create a permanent teleportation circle would be a DC15 Arcana check, take 5 hours, and require 1500 gp in material components that would be consumed during the ritual.
  • Some material components are hard to find. Some are just unpleasant (sacrifices of living things, for example, or lots and lots and lots of blood).
  • This is an old, ancient even, kind of magic. Perhaps a form of magic that evolved into “modern” magic as people learned how to control it.
  • When one finds the instructions for a high ritual to create an effect there are requirements for casting it; You have to have slots of the spell’s level (if it’s a ritual emulating the effect of a spell). You can’t have cast any spells since your last long rest. You have to have ritually cleansed yourself. If it is a normal spell, you can get advantage on the check to cast the ritual by having the spell prepared.
  • High RItuals are not like casting spells (such as Alarm or Detect Magic) as rituals -- those take an hour or several minutes. High Rituals take hours and generally have more wide-ranging effects. They are also more difficult and expensive. That said, you have to be able to do ritual casting (either through a class feature or the feat).
After learning some of the basics, Fiona then went on to look for information about a ritual that could have created the Masks. She didn’t find anything like that here.

She also looked into anything that might be related to the disease that’s popped up in Pelsoreen. She got some hints of maybe a clerical High RItual that could have been used to create a new disease, based off the Contagion spell.

She ended her library time looking to see if there was a ritual that would allow her to make some sort of communication item -- something that would allow two way communication any number of times a day. She found some hints that points to a ritual based off of Rary’s Telepathic Bond, a fifth level spell. She got a sense of what she’d need for the ritual, but she’d need to do more research.

Taman: Wouldn’t that create like a hive mind?
Mo: Oh, snap!

(However, Black Irnod said that the Masks had a tumor-like growth in an area of the brain where telepathic species have an organ. So while that may be connected to how the Masks get their hive mind, it’s probably not that simple.)

That was Fiona’s day.

After the rest of the group dropped her off, we proceeded on to the Steel Crucible. Joybell produced the card she’d been given the previous day and got Orryk in as her guest. Joybell was interested in doing some research on higher-level healing potions, other things she could create with her herbalism kit proficiency. Also communication devices.

She learned that she can make higher level healing potions, but of course the cost and time to make them go up as they get stronger. To make a greater healing potion would cost 100gp of materials and take a week. To make a superior would cost 1000 gp of materials and take 5 weeks. And a supreme would take 10000 gp of materials and take 3 months. She took good notes on the greater healing potion instructions and figured the others were unlikely to ever be relevant to her life.

She also looked into the communication magic for Fiona and found some information about making a set of webbed sending stones. She made notes on how to do that to give to Fiona.

Orryk at the Steel Crucible was looking into how to work magic into clothes and about weaving elemental magic into items. He learned that you can make a magic cloak out of any cloak, it doesn’t need to be one you wove yourself or anything. Same with tapestries.

[Note: At this point the players went into a fun conversation about how it would totally be possible these days to make a Get Smart-style shoe phone -- with panels that regenerated the battery while walking.]

As for elemental magic -- working it into items is not particularly affected by the elemental connection. Making a flaming sword is the same process as making any other magic sword. Creating weapons with specific kinds of damage is all the same. So Orryk did some looking into how to go about that -- what it takes and the tools involved -- he could work with someone else to cast the spells. Orryk learned some techniques of how this all goes together and is able to help someone make a magic item.

Elemental magic is not unique to the other kinds of magic, though it is possibly older or more primal.

That was Joybell and Orryk’s day.

Team Gettin’ In Trouble, after dropping off the library kids, decided that since the guards were taking people with pink eyes down to the slave pens, they’d head down that way. Imaktis wanted to try curing (or restoring) a slave to see if that would fix the eyes.

They thought about trying it on someone they met along the way, but they didn’t see any slaves on the street -- which was unusual.

The slave pens down in Old Lament were closed -- when we went by there before the sides of the buildings were open (or at least large garage-like doors on each side were) and the public was free to walk through (shopping, I suppose). This time the doors were down and there was a guard presence in the streets, especially around the pens and the doors.

Mo wanted to sow a bit of confusion, and see what would happen, by changing the color of one of the guard’s eyes to pink.

They found a group of three guards together on the street -- Taman hid around a corner (quite effectively), Imaktis hid behind a hitching post (large tortle, small post, not so effective). Mo’s spell had a short range, 10’, so he walked by the guards playing his flute.

As he walked by, one of the guards noticed him.

Guard: Why are you here?
Mo: I’m in town on business. I have no idea where everyone went. Apparently you are having a plague. So I took a walk.
Guard: You can’t be hanging around tootling your flute around here.
Mo: Okay. I’ll see if I can arrange my business elsewhere, then. Perhaps in another city.

Then Mo continued down the street and around a corner.

Taman, watching from his hideout thought that perhaps one of the guards had pink eyes.

Mo was going to meet up with the others, but he couldn’t see Taman (who hid really well) so he joined up with Imaktis. As nothing was obviously happening with the guards, Imaktis went over to talk to them.

Imaktis: You guys are doing a great job. My uncle was taken and his eyes were never pink before. I’m sure you’re just overwhelmed...I’d like to see him if possible.

The guards clearly didn’t believe him -- but then Imaktis pointed out that one of the guard’s eyes were pink. The other two guards looked at the guard with pink eyes…

Pinky: Guys! You know me!

There was a brief tussle as the two other guards grabbed Pinky.

Imaktis: If it’s a sickness going around and you are manhandling him, you might get it.
Guards: A sickness?
Imaktis: Yes :): coughing:: and Imaktis was actually sick)

One of the guards got a weird look at that - like a light-bulb went off. Then the other one frogmarched Pinky toward the slave pens while the one who had the light go off started walking, double-time, toward The Heights.

The guard escorting Pinky pulled out a key and opened the door to the slave pen -- there was a lot of noise and chaos inside. And a lot of people -- far more than we’d seen when we were here before. All the people started yelling as soon as the doors were opened. The guard looked inside, then closed the door without putting Pinky in.

As the door closed, Imaktis and Taman both heard someone say, “My eyes aren’t pink anymore! Let me out!”

Mo and Imaktis contemplated putting the guards to sleep with a sleep spell and letting people out, but decided against.

Instead, Mo turned Pinky’s eyes purple and they all walked away.

As they walked, they contemplated what could be going on -- this could be a distraction for something else (certainly the whole city is very distracted). Or an attempt to get a lot of people into the same place.

On the way back to the Iron Steed, Taman looked for the operatives that had been following us -- how had they dealt with people being dropped off at the libraries. (We also recapped what he’d noticed during the day.) When Fiona got dropped off at the Quiet Room, one person from each team stayed there and were still trying to stay hidden from one another. When Joybell and Orryk got dropped off at the Steel Crucible, there was some puzzlement -- the two libraries are at enough of a distance from one another that one person couldn’t watch both entrances all the time. It ultimately broke down this way:
  1. The Blink Toad’s representatives kept one person bouncing between libraries and the other following Team Gettin’ In Trouble.
  2. The Brass Giant’s representatives had one person at the Quiet Room and one at the Steel Crucible. Team Gettin’ In Trouble got in trouble un-watched.
  3. C&C’s representatives left one person at the Quiet Room and one continued following Team Gettin’ In Trouble.
So operatives from C&C and the Blink Toad saw the shenanigans with the guards at the slave pens -- or at least interaction with those guards. (They had gone to the Brass Giant’s slave pens, so those were the guards they’d interacted with.)

Both Teams Library were still doing their research, so after that Mo and Taman spent the day drinking, then eventually picked up the library folks later in the day.

When we left the libraries, the guards that had stayed outside were still there and we were still being followed. Though one of the C&C agents was gone.

Orryk: We’re going back to the Iron Steed.
Joybell: The food was really good. You should eat there too.

We headed back to the Iron Steed with an entourage of five -- still trying to hide from each other and us.

We shared notes on the day and had dinner. Orryk ate rations again.

After dinner, Taman slipped outside without telling anyone. None of our tails had come into the inn for dinner. He saw four sets of operatives out there and walked straight up to one of them -- the agents from the Blink Toad. They tensed as he approached.

Taman: I want to ask a simple question. What does the Blink Toad know about the pink eye epidemic that’s sweeping the city? We’re very concerned and we assume you are too.
Operative: If it were just an epidemic of pink eyes it would be less problematic.
Taman: What do you know? We don’t want to just stumble in the dark.
Operative: Part of the problem is that if a slave catches it, their eyes aren’t pink anymore. We threw people who got it into the slave pens and now some people in the pens don’t have pink eyes.
Taman: Thanks for providing some insight. We’ll be staying in for the night, so come on in and have dinner.

Taman returned to the rest of us, who were unaware that he’d gone anywhere, and relayed what he’d learned.

Taman: Apparently when a slave catches it, their eyes aren’t pink anymore.
Mo: That is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.
Orryk: It seems like someone is trying to mess with the slave trade.
Joybell: Bless their little hearts. How do we help them?
Taman: I’m of a mind to let this play out.

We discussed our next steps -- talking to a cleric (we’ve got previous contacts with two here in the city -- the one from the Joyful who took care of the Orcphans and the one from the Purveyors and Wrights who recommended a ship for us) because Fiona’s research indicates that a ritual could have been done with a contagion spell that could have to do with this. Imaktis wanted to try to use lesser restoration on an actual slave to see if that makes the pink go away. We also discussed going to the Blink Toad corporate offices.

And then, with the alarm and the sword of warning, the night passed without incident.


25 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 26)

When we woke up, Imaktis had pink eyes. Joybell wanted to lay hands on him to fix that, but he wanted to stay that way just in case it would be useful in the future, so Mo used prestidigitation to turn his eyes back to normal. (He also wanted to see if the pink eyes from the contagion will ever change back on their own.)

When we left the inn, Taman noticed that there were only two sets of operatives (he could see) outside this morning, one from Dallington’s and one from Ammadorse & Sons.

Taman pointed/shoved Mo in the direction of the Dallington’s agents.

Mo: Hi. How’s it going? I hope you guys are having a good time surveilling us.
Agent: I’ve had worse assignments.
Mo: What do you guys know about the pink eye problem?
Agent: I know there’s something going on.
Mo: We’re interested in finding out what’s going on. Do you think your bosses would be interested in talking to us about finding out. Like right now?
Agent: I can take you to HQ, but I can’t promise that anyone there will talk to you.

So we followed the Dallington’s agents (the other group continued to follow us) to their corporate office. The building had a double door with the bighorn ram’s head logo of the corporation inlaid in platinum. Very nice. One of the agents opened the door and gestured us inside, the other staying close by. Inside there was a nice office lobby.

The agent we’d been speaking to left to find someone to talk to us. He returned a few minutes later with a human man in his fifties -- dressed very nicely.

He looked us over, then turned to Mo.

Dallington (to Mo): You’re the one who does most of the talking. I’m Etra Dallington. Why don’t we go talk?

He led us all into his office and closed the door.

Dallington: On the one hand, I think I should apologize for having you surveilled. But on the other hand, all the other corporations were, too.
Mo: Can I ask, just to confirm, is there any particular reason why you were surveilling us?
Dallington: Well, we know that you turned down an offer from the Brass Giant. We know that you got the assistance of the Cracked Shield. We know that you took out the House of Masks. And we know that you’ve only been here a few days.
Mo: We’re not here to talk about ourselves. We’re here to talk about the pink eye disease.
Dallington: You know it’s a disease?
Fiona: We think it’s maybe a ritualized clerical spell.
Joybell: The precursor cold is treatable with healing magic.
Mo: Are you interested in hiring us to help?
Joybell: Strictly on a one-time, freelance basis. We’re not interested in a contract.
Dallington: I’m not sure that will be necessary.
Mo: Are you not interested in seeing this solved?
Dallington: If it’s a disease, we can probably solve it ourselves.
Orryk: But that doesn’t tell you who did it or why they did it. You can possibly fix this, but can you stop the next thing? Or the one after that? That third one is going to be really bad.
Dallington: This is, as it is, destabilizing the city.
Joybell: There are so many possibilities as to what’s going on…
Orryk: Is there another player in town other than the corporations? All of the corporations are being equally affected...so who benefits?
Dallington: I can think of no organization in Pelsoreen that would benefit.
Joybell (interested in the careful wording): What about outside of Pelsoreen?
Dallington: The only city we have a problem with is New Arvai, but this isn’t the kind of thing they do.
Mo: What entities in Pelsoreen would have this kind of power?
Etra: Other than some genies, I can think of no one who would casually have this kind of power.
Mo: What about the genies? Are there any new ones? Are any of them acting strangely?
Dallington: We don’t have direct dealings with the genies.

Taman suggested testing to see if cure disease would affect the normal pink eyes given to slaves in the ordinary course of things. Etra Dallington agreed that would be useful to know, so we left for a moment and came back with a house slave.

Joybell asked permission and then laid on hands to cure disease. The slaves eyes were still pink. Imaktis used lesser restoration from his prayer necklace and that didn’t change anything either.

Mo cast prestidigitation and changed her eyes to blue, just before she left.

We left, discussing options. Orryk wanted to go to the Amber Flame (paying with the Staff of the Python which we don’t need) and Fiona wanted to go to Urlott’s (where they want a service as payment for entry.

As we walked out, Taman saw that the operatives who followed us from the inn had left and we have a whole new set -- five groups were following us (four groups of three and one of two).

We left Orryk at the Amber Flame to learn about some theoretical magic and went with Fiona to Urlott’s to learn what the service they required would be.

At Urlott’s they first asked what Fiona wanted to learn -- about the contagion ritual and whatever magic could have created the Masks. Then they asked who would be performing the service -- which we said would be the five of us (since Orryk was at the Amber Flame).

To do research into the kind of magic that goes into making the Masks, they want the head of a Gorgon. As fresh as possible. We asked if they knew where a gorgon might be located -- they told us the southern end of the mountains to the east has gorgons. This is about one week travel, overland, each way. They will permit us to add Orryk to the group performing the service.

To do research into the Contagion, they sent us to the Quiet Room.

At the Amber Flame, Orryk paid with the Staff of the Python and looked into how Elemental magic is created. He found himself looking into some druidic texts, written in Druidic. Elemental magic and the elements themselves are structural blocks of reality. The purest elemental magics are druidic in nature -- there weren’t Elemental Gods before the Severance because the elements predate the gods. When the world makes magic, it makes elemental magic. The druids are the ones who really do a lot of shaping of elemental energies and make magic closest to natural magic.

He also started looking into theoretical magic about the contagion.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 15: Leaving Pelsoreen (For Now)


Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM - Everyone Else


25 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 26) (immediately after)

We began where we ended last time with Orryk in the Amber Flame researching elemental magic and how elemental items are created. He also was looking into some theoretical magic about the contagion and the pink eye disease in the city.

The rest of the party had just left Urlott’s library with a mission to bring them a fresh Gorgon head as the charge for being allowed to research the kind of magic that might be involved in making the Masks. We spent some time talking about what we know about Gorgons and have the following knowledge among all of us.

Gorgons look like bulls but their skin is steel plates and their breath turns people to stone, in a 30’ cone. They live in the mountains (below the treeline) and are, unsurprisingly, immune to petrification. In addition to the petrifying breath they also charge and gore, They live outside and not in caves, They eat their petrified prey -- crushing and chomping on the stone. It is a matter of constitution to save against the petrifying breath. (Note: In game terms, it’s a constitution save vs. the petrification. On a failed save you’re restrained -- then a second failed save leads to petrified.)

At the library, Orryk learned that the Contagion spell, which is what we suspect is the underpinning of the pink-eye contagion in Pelsoreen, creates a limited number of possible diseases and none of them are similar to the pink-eye disease. So apparently the Contagion ritual here went pretty well off the rails of the normal spell. The librarians then pointed him back to the Quiet Room -- and told him exactly where in the stacks there to look.

Joybell wanted to talk to the cleric of the Joyful who watched the Orcphans about the plague. (His name is Tormaz and he’s a human.)

Joybell jumped straight to the point.

Joybell: What do you know about the disease that’s causing the pink eyes?
Tormaz, almost creepily cheerful: I’ve heard about it.

Joybell asked if he knew anything about high ritual magic. He’d heard of it but never done any.

Joybell: I’m sure there aren’t that many religious officials in the city so you probably know most of them, at least by reputation. Do you know of anyone who would be capable of casting a high level spell and also have knowledge of high ritual magic?
Tormaz: You want to talk to the people at the temple of the Lightbringers. They’re the knowledge people.

The Temple of the Lightbringers is located in the Heights, unsurprisingly near the universities and libraries.

Mo: Are there any groups you know of working to upend the social structure here?
Tormaz: It is not uncommon for people to come in from outside the city and try to do something about it, without having adequately considered the ramifications.

Joybell studied her boot tips and focused her attention on Scooby.

He went on to say that from time to time one or another of the Corporations in the city gets the idea to change the rules to reduce the prevalence of the debt slavery in the city. It doesn’t usually last long because doing that puts the corporation at a competitive disadvantage.

Mo: On an unrelated note, do you have anything we could take with us that would help us deal with getting turned to stone?
Tormaz: What are you going to be doing?
Mo: We need information from Urlott’s and they want a Gorgon head.
Tormaz: That sounds like Urlott’s. I might have something.

He stepped into a back room and came back a couple of minutes later with a couple of bottles or vials. They contained a magical oil that protects from petrification -- it takes 10 minutes to apply and renders one immune to petrification for an hour. Mo bought both bottles.

Joybell: What does Urlott’s get out of having us do this? Is it just fun for them to send people scurrying around?
Tormaz: They probably want to examine the head of the gorgon to see what makes the petrifying breath.

As we left, Mo filled up the poorbox outside the temple with silver. Unlike the coins he donated that were left out there for people to take if they needed them, Tormaz collected the majority of them and brought them inside the temple. He explained that otherwise people would be tempted just to steal them all. Mo was satisfied with this.

We headed off to the Lightbringers. As we entered we were greeted by a novice.

Joybell: Hi! I think we’re going to need to talk to one of your superiors.

She was thinking in terms of religious superiors but it was a very awkward moment. She then explained about the contagion spell and the high ritual magic and if the Lightbringers might know who in the city could do that.

Novice: Let me take you to someone more senior.

He took us to Brinora, a female high elf and a senior cleric in the order in Pelsoreen.

Joybell: What do you know about this disease with the pink eyes? What do you think? We’re really concerned, but we’re not from here, Thank goodness.

After her second social blunder of the day, Joybell tried to cover for it by explaining about the disease and the contagion spell and the high ritual magic.

Brinora: What makes you think it’s a high ritual?
Fiona: The research I did at the Quiet Room suggests that this scope and size of effect would be consistent with that.
Brinora: I don’t know of a ritual that would do that.

Mo got the sense that she’s not precisely lying but there is more to what’s going on that she’s not talking about.

Mo: Can you think of anything similar?
Brinora: I can think of rituals that would be analogous -- spinning a spell to get a result not normally in its range.

She told us that there are a couple of clerics in town who have done high rituals.

Joybell: Paladin magic is very straightforward -- it’s all about hitting things better, But I know that when casting a spell you can change things -- tug on the magical energies in different ways, Who would have the knowledge of magic to know how to pluck a thread or change a stitch in a high ritual to change things? And have the ability to cast contagion.
Brinora: I don’t know of a cleric in the city who would have the motivation to do this.

(Mo, Fiona, Taman and Imaktis all got the sense that she was again speaking the literal truth.)

Imaktis: No good can come of this.
Brinora: Maybe someone felt there was a lesson to be taught.
Joybell: There are terrible injustices being done -- people are in danger of being sold to the genies who have never owed anyone a copper.
Brinora: I’m pretty sure that the people who did this aren’t in Pelsoreen anymore.
Mo, Joybell and Fiona (sort of all at once and finishing each other’s thoughts): We just want to know if we should stop it, or help it, or just have an answer for our curiosity.
Brinora: You don’t work for any of the Corporations?
All of us: No.
Brinora: Okay. There are a couple of identical twin rock gnomes in the order who are firm believers in education through trickery.
Mo: I like these people! They sound great!
Brinora: Even by gnomish standards they’re kind of giddy and scattered. Irresponsible. No offense.
Joybell: No, it’s okay.
Brinora: They were trying to make a statement about the arbitrariness of the system of slavery here.
Mo: Where does the order stand on it?
Brinora: We don’t have much political power or venue to share our opinions, but we’re against it. There is nothing to be gained by forcing people to work against their will.
Mo: I’m inclined to agree.
Joybell: Me too.
Mo: Do you know where they’d hole up?
Brinora: I don’t know where they’d go, but I’m pretty sure they were in Anestri before they came to Pelsoreen. I don’t expect they’d go back there - but I don’t know they wouldn’t. They had some other people with them in their group.
Joybell: How do you think this is going to play out in the city?
Brinora: If the Corporations haven’t yet figured out it’s contagious, someone will. Once someone figures it out, they’ll look for a high ritual to fix the disease. At least in Pelsoreen. One or more of the clerics from the Enthroned will take care of it.
Joybell: What if only one Corporation knows? Would they play it to their benefit?
Brinora: Probably they’d extract some sort of payment from the others for the service.
Joybell: So in the interest of fairness, should we make sure that all of them know?
Brinora: Are you sure that one knows?
Joybell and Mo: Oh, yes. We’re sure.
Mo: It was a failed negotiating tactic.
Joybell: We didn’t come here to disrupt things, Or, well, some of us did. I’m not committing to anything in that regard. But whatever we were thinking about that, it wasn’t this way.
Brinora: If you want to protect the balance of power, maybe you should tell the rest.

We decided that we weren’t that fond of the status quo ante in Pelsoreen and didn’t feel any need to work to re-establish it. Our curiosity satisfied, we decided to leave things to the people of the city to deal with.

As we left the temple of the Lightbringers, Joybell got concerned about the Cracked Shield and whether any of them had been turned pink-eyed and taken to the slave pens. So she and Taman headed down there to make sure they were okay and see if they needed any healing. Taman mostly went along to keep Joybell out of trouble.

When Joybell knocked at the door to the compound, the priest-hole door opened (at orcish eye-height).

Joybell: Hi!
Cracked Shield: I hear you, gnome.
Taman: ::points down::
Joybell: Hi! I just wanted to make sure you’re okay, There was this disease going around and it turned people’s eyes pink.
Cracked Shield: Yeah, It started as a cold, And we’re a small, tight-knit community, Everyone got it. We’re not taking visitors.
Joybell: Oh, no! Is anyone in the slave pens?
Cracked Shield: No! But we’re staying holed up. We have supplies here.
Joybell: It is our understanding that it will be dealt with in the course of things. So just stay holed up, If your clerics can cure diseases with magic, that will take care of it.

After asking after the Orcphans (they all had the cold and now have pink eyes, but they’re settling in well), Joybell and Taman left and joined up with the others, including Orryk.

We caught him up on what we’d learned. He was on board with the idea that the pink eye contagion was none of our problem.

So we started planning the Great Gorgon Hunt.

We did some shopping for supplies. Mostly trail rations. A rope. And a cart with two horses.

Orryk: One horse will get petrified and one will be eaten.
Joybell: We could get another horse and use it … Oh, no! That would be horrible!
Orryk: Did you just suggest getting a horse to bait the Gorgon?
Joybell: I started to, but that would be horrible!

We also got a map of the southern end of the mountains east of Pelsoreen. And some grain and a bag of horse treats.

The Ovverway causeway will be up in the morning for two hours starting an hour after sunrise.

We went back to the Iron Steed to rest, still being tailed of course. Joybell, excited, was bouncing all evening. After dinner she went outside to talk to the horses, using a speak with animals spell. She reassured them that we’ll do our best to take care of them and keep them safe, She also reassured them that Scooby is a well-behaved wolf and wouldn’t do them any harm. They weren’t entirely convinced. But they were also not very bright, so they may not remember any part of the conversation later.

We then went to bed and set up our usual precautions and the night passed.


26 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 27)

We woke up early and headed toward the Ovverway causeway. Joybell paid the fee for everyone in the party to cross and get out of Pelsoreen. The operatives who were tailing us stopped following us when we got on the causeway.

Joybell noted that it was sloppy of them because we could have crossed and crossed back into the city without them knowing.

Once across the river, we look at our map and decided that the best way to get to where the Gorgons are at the southern end of the mountains was to go along the coast to the mountains. There are several mountain villages out there where we can talk to people and get information to guide us on our Gorgon Hunt. It seems certain that villagers would know if there was a Gorgon in the vicinity.

So we followed the road in that direction. According to the map, there are small waysides and travelers’ rests at about half-day intervals.

Before we left the small landing wayside at the other end of the causeway, Imaktis cast animal friendship on the horses to make them a bit more tractable and trusting when it comes to animal handling checks.

We proceeded with Joybell riding Scooby well in front of the horses pulling the covered wagon -- for their peace of mind. Imaktis was driving the cart with Taman riding shotgun. Fiona and Orryk were in the back of the wagon exchanging notes and discussing ideas based on their library work. Mo was sort of zoning out on their voices.

We traveled for about half a day and, as expected, arrived at a small wayside called Ivvereen. It’s kind of like a truck stop -- traveling supplies for sale, food and lodging available. Most likely the only permanent residents are people who work at the shop and inn.

We stopped to stretch our legs. Joybell asked one of the workers how far the road went into the mountains. She was told that it goes another couple of days into the mountains and then the road ends at a town called Rodzun, though smaller tracks continue into the mountains connecting settlements and villages. There are smaller roads branching off the main road along the way as well.

Joybell: We’ve heard there are Gorgons.
Barkeep: There are many things in the mountains.

We resumed our trip for the next half-day trek to a slightly larger village called Tummeleen. There we confirmed with the innkeeper and the map that there are two more small villages and then Rodzun, the end of the main road.

The inn in Tummeleen, the Sterling Scythe, was comfortable enough and seemed like it would be a better night’s rest than sleeping on the ground in the Leomund’s Tiny Hut. Mo offered to play in the inn for our stay for the night -- he got us a reduced rate for the night’s stay. And made some tips for himself.

Joybell and Fiona got the money they’d stashed in the bag of holding back out (since we were out of Pelsoreen).

With our usual precautions, the night passed without incident.


27 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 28)

The next morning, we headed out on our way for another full day of traveling. After a couple of hours, the terrain was getting more hilly and terrain-y. Over one of the hills ahead of us, Taman heard a crunching sound. He signaled Joybell and she circled around to parallel the cart.

Taman snuck ahead to look over the hill and see what was going on. When he came back he told us that there were 4 ogres menacing a merchant cart,

Joybell: Are the merchants in danger?

At that moment, we heard screaming.

Joybell urged Scooby into a run immediately, without waiting for the others.

Over the hill, there was a single cart with a dead horse. There was a halfling on the cart screaming and another one was sheltering under it. A few feet away from the cart there was another halfling lying still on the ground. Unfortunately, one of the ogres was holding a dead halfling by the leg and chewing.

Taman kept pace with Joybell as she ran up, with Orryk just a bit behind them. Imaktis stayed with them, for the most part. Fiona and Mo were hanging back.

Taman moved up to just inside shortbow range and fired at the nearest one with a shortbow -- hitting, Orryk took two shots with his shortbow at the same one and did a great deal of damage (21 points).

Joybell moved on Scooby to about 10 feet away, then dismounted and attacked the one who was eating the halfling (the same target as the others), taking two swings and hitting.

Imaktis took a shot with a fire bolt. After all of that it was looking a little rough.

Mo used 4 charges from the wand of magic missiles, One of the darts went to the same one everyone else had been targeting and three went to the one near the unmoving halfling on the ground. Unfortunately, ogres are tough and the one missile wasn’t enough to drop the one that was previously injured.

The very damaged ogre that everyone had been hitting on, who was holding the halfling corpse and eating it, disengaged and moved away down the road past the cart, The one near the body on the ground stepped on the body as it walked to Joybell and attacked her - hitting her. The two that had been threatening the cart both moved up on Joybell and attacked, doing rather a lot of damage.

Fiona dropped a fireball that hit the three ogres that hadn’t fled and missed the halflings and Joybell and Scooby. One of them (the one Mo hit with 3 magic missiles) saved and the others did not -- but Ogres are big bags of hit points.

Taman took a shot at one of the ogres engaged with Joybell, which could have been a sneak attack except he missed. Orryk took a shot at one of the three on Joybell and did a lot of damage.

Joybell swung at one of the other ones, missing with her first swing but smiting with her second - destroying its pelvis and dropping it.

Imaktis picked off the one fleeing with a fire bolt - it fell in the road smoldering.

Mo cast a shatter spell, placing it so that it hit the two remaining ones and missed Joybell and the halfling on the ground. One saved and one didn’t.

The two remaining ogres, not being very bright, didn’t flee but instead attacked Joybell -- both missing.

Fiona moved up a bit and cast Melf’s Acid Arrow -- hitting and doing some damage now and more in the future. Taman dropped that one before the additional damage could come to pass -- sneak attacking it with his shortbow.

Orryk moved right up on the last remaining one and did a stunning strike, leaving it incapacitated. Then he followed up with a flurry of blows, disassembling the ogre’s knee. Joybell then dropped it with her first swing.

She immediately went to the halfling on the ground -- he was still alive so she laid hands on him to heal him up.

His eyes immediately flew open in terror and he saw Joybell smiling over him.

Joybell: Hi! I’m Joybell. They’re all dead now,

His scream died as soon as it started.

We looted the ogres’ bodies, but found that all of their loot came from the halflings and their wagon, so we gave it back to them.

It turned out that the halflings were a group of siblings, two brothers and a sister surviving, now grieving and in shock from the loss of the brother the ogre had been eating (beyond saving by the party). Joybell asked where they were heading and they said they were on the way to Tummeleen.

We hooked their cart to one of our horses and went with them back a couple of hours to Tummeleen, with the remains of their brother. In the village, they’d be able to get a new horse and find someone to either properly and appropriately handle the corpse, or perhaps get their brother raised or resurrected.

They were traveling artisans with a variety of skills, who went from village to village in the mountains repairing small items of all sorts. Their cart was filled with many kinds of artisan’s tools, They made their living traveling between these little towns and villages doing repairs and small jobs, then moving on.

Since they had a lot of contact with the various villages in the mountains, Joybell (perhaps a bit insensitively since they’d just lost their brother) asked if they’d heard anything about Gorgons in their travels. They said they’d heard some stuff in Rodzun about homesteaders who’d had their homesteads torn apart by something apparently very tough and nasty.

A place to get started asking around.

After we took them to Tummeleen, we turned around and went back on the road toward the next town -- Orlimmun. Our net travel for the day was one town (a half day’s worth).

We found an inn in the town called the Talking Tree and stayed there. Taman and Joybell noticed that the art on the walls depicted treants. Joybell was very excited about that. Mo played for our supper again -- or at least for his supper and for half price lodgings for us,

WIth our usual precautions, the night passed without incident.

Or at least with the only incident being that we all went up to level 6.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 16: Land Shark


Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer

GM - Everyone Else


28 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 29)

The next morning we headed out on the road toward Rodzun -- all of us feeling stronger and more capable.

As we were proceeding we discussed important issues such as whether there is a market for gorgon parts. Joybell would like to try harvesting some of the armor -- it might be possible to make into armor for her.

Around lunchtime we passed through the town of Lunn. Joybell asked about the homesteads and settlements we’ve heard about being torn apart by something large and voracious. That was confirmed, though we got no further details beyond “It’s big” about what was doing it. We did learn that ogres and other creatures like that have been more active -- or at least there have been more incidents of attacks on the road than usual.

Joybell, to bartender: Do you have any idea why?
Orryk: Because we’re out here.

Mo asked of they’d heard of any people or animals being turned to stone, but they had not.

Mo: We need to keep going until we find gorgons.

And on that thought we continued on our way to Rodzun. As the afternoon wore on, Taman noticed that there weren’t any birds around. None. Not even vultures or the usual sorts of things one would expect to see circling high in the sky. He pointed this out to the others.

Joybell found a little chipmunk and asked if he’d noticed the birds being missing. He said no. She asked if there were anything new and scary around and he hadn’t noticed that either. Apparently chipmunks aren’t as bright as rats.

The road was travelling through woods and still skirting the coast, though at this point there was a lot of relief. The coast was down a sheer-ish cliff to our right and the forest and increasingly rugged mountains were to our left and in front of us.

About an hour after Taman noticed the lack of birds, he saw some things flying in our direction -- they had wings but also arms and legs and horns. They started coming from the left (the forest and mountains) and circled around us so their final approach was over the cliff and the bit of scrub between road and cliff.

Taman noticed that their bat wings didn’t appear to be really catching the air -- the membranes weren’t flexing -- though the creatures were flying. We finally recognized them as 6 Gargoyles.

They flew in low -- about 10’ off the ground -- and weren’t at all subtle about their intentions. This was an attack.

Taman, on the cart, took a shot at one -- hitting but not doing as much damage as he expected. Mo cast faerie fire, catching four of them in the sparkly cloud of dust he blew out of his pipe. All 4 of them failed their saves, so we had four sparkling gargoyles to fight (with advantage). Then he gave inspiration to Orryk.

Orryk took two shots at one with his magical bow -- getting two hits and doing the expected damage this time. Joybell noticed the difference between the damage level of their hits and had an idea, saved for the future, that magical weapons hit them better. Orryk moved around to the side of the cart where the gargoyles were approaching from.

The gargoyles flew, really fast, and got right up to the party, skimming over the ground, in no time. Two of them attacked Taman -- one hit him twice, but Mo used cutting words to reduce the damage down to nothing. The other one on Taman missed. One landed on the back of one of the horses and attacked Imaktis, missing him. One attacked Mo and missed. Two of them didn’t make it into combat this round.

(This is a preview of how the GM’s evening went -- failed saves and missed attacks.)

Fiona cast slow on all six of the gargoyles -- and all of them failed their saves and could only move or attack (not both) and had other nasty impediments.

Joybell stayed on Scooby to attack the one on the horse (otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to reach it) and swung with her flail, hitting twice. Imaktis cast Toll the Dead on that one, but it saved.

Taman dropped his bow and attacked one of the faerie fired ones attacking him with his rapier, getting a good hit (18 points of damage, which all got through because the rapier is magical). Then he rolled off the side of the cart near Joybell.

Mo got three of them in a big shatter spell -- one of them saved -- then he inspired Joybell and retreated back to where Fiona had positioned herself -- way back out of the front line.

Orryk moved up and started punching one -- he got a hit and a critical hit with his first attack and could see some cracks in its stony form. Then he did a flurry of blows and, inspired by Mo, hit with both of those punches as well. He punched it into absolute rubble. With his hands.

One of the gargoyles moved to Orryk, but couldn’t attack because of the slow, though it snapped out of that at the end of the turn. Another one of the two that had been unengaged moved up to Joybell, but couldn’t attack. (So there were two on Orryk, two on Joybell and one on Imaktis. Four of the five were still slowed and a different four faerie fired.) None hit with their attacks.

Fiona cast Melf’s Acid Arrow on the one on Orryk that didn’t shake off the slow, critically hitting it in a vulnerable spot and leaving it smeared with acid that would do more damage in the future.

Joybell attacked the one on the horse again - she’d promised the horses she’d protect them - getting two hits.

Imaktis tried to inflict wounds on his but missed, just barely.

Taman moved up and stabbed the one on Imaktis and got in a good sneak attack on it, because its attention was focused on Imaktis. Then he jumped back off the side of the cart.

Mo used his wand to cast magic missile on the one on Orryk that had shaken off the slow - the three darts did a total of 8 damage. Not the wand’s best moment.

Orryk punched the slowed one (that was Melfed by Fiona) and got a crit. Then he followed up with a flurry of blows. Unfortunately that didn’t drop it, but it looked like the acid damage from Fiona’s spell would.

Indeed, when the gargoyles attacked Orryk the one that had shaken off the slow got both of its attacks and missed with both. The slowed one missed with its attack, then it shook off the slow spell, moving normally for just a moment before the acid damage dropped it. The ones on Imaktis and Joybell all missed. Then all of them that were still under the slow effect failed their saves to break out of it.

Fiona firebolted the one on Orryk -- that was the only one not under the slow, but it did have the faerie fire on it. The thermal shock left it looking really rough.

Joybell hit the one on the horse twice, again, and again it failed to drop. She regretted not having used a divine smite. Imaktis (having as rough an evening as the GM) cast shillelagh on his staff and then missed with his attack.

Taman again jumped on the cart and stabbed the one on Imaktis with his rapier, doing a lot of sneak attack damage and dropping that one. Then he moved around beside Joybell and Scooby.

Mo used the wand to magic missile the one on Orryk, blowing huge chunks of stone away with the first two missiles and crumbling it to rubble with the third.

Orryk climbed back onto the cart and used his fists of unbroken air to get a crit on the one on the horse, and another hit, dropping it! Yay!

The last remaining gargoyle got a hit on Joybell, but Mo used his cutting words to reduce the attack damage to nothing. It was still slowed, so it could do nothing other than the one attack.

Fiona moved up next to Mo and cast Magic missile on the one remaining, slowed and faerie fired gargoyle. Joybell hit it for 11 points and once again regretted not smiting it. Imaktis cast toll the dead but it saved.

Then finally, Taman got in a sneak attack in it and dropped it!

After the combat, while we were regrouping and Imaktis was checking on Horse 1 (the one that had been landed on), Orryk was stretching his hands and checking his knuckles.

Joybell: Are your hands okay?
Orryk, with a slow smile: Yeah. I’m good.

Then he bent down and gathered up some of the rubble from the gargoyles he had punched to death with his bare hands.

Other than some sentimental rubble, the gargoyles had nothing of value. Imaktis wondered if they had been looking for us specifically, but Taman, remembering how they’d approached us, didn’t think so. It looked more to him like they’d been out flying around and seen us and came in for the attack.

We continued on our way, with Mo taking a short rest in the back of the wagon. As we proceeded we talked through what we know about gargoyles -- they’re not really part of any ecosystem. They don’t happen naturally and to see them out in the woods or in the mountains is really unusual. Usually they are either summoned or created by someone and they’re almost always chaotic evil.

Mo: They’re a sign that someone is up to some hijinks.

We continue on our way. Mo’s short rest finishes about when we get to Rodzun. Rodzun is definitely the Big City in this part of the world -- It has three inns, Gorni’s, the Melodic Mushroom and the Brass Boulder. It also has three tracks, or one lane roads, out of town -- one to the east, one to the north and one to the north-east.

As we walked through the town we tried to get a sense of whether the people in town were stressed or panicking or anything like that. We didn’t see any signs of panic, but we overheard people talking about folks having been attacked by moving statues.

Joybell was about to make a pitch for the Melodic Mushroom, because that sounded pretty, when Mo noticed a sign in the window at Gorni’s that said, in Dwarvish, “real beer served here”. So we chose Gorni’s.

We parked the cart and horses at a livery and went into the Inn.

Mo, in Dwarvish: Hi! If you want someone to play, I have some songs you might like.

Gorni gave Mo the same deal he’d gotten elsewhere -- half price lodgings for us and free food for Mo. Mo also ordered around of real dwarvish beer for all of us.

Joybell found some people who looked like they were from the mountains and more distant villages and settlements to talk to. She found one who was talking to a local and asked if any of them had heard anything about a Gorgon. Neither of them had, but they had heard about whole villages being torn up to the north and east of Rodzun.

Mo: How long have these attacks been going on?
Dude: The last few days.
Orryk: A few days. That’s surprising.
Mo: Are people in the town tense?
Dude: We’re nervous. Rodzun isn’t a big town and we don’t have a lot of defenses.

They started talking about people being attacked by moving statues and Joybell told them about being attacked by the gargoyles on the road. They said that the moving statues are different -- they don’t have wings. The gargoyles can sometimes be evaded if you’re on a track going through the woods, because you can get under the trees out of sight and away from them.

After this conversation, Mo played some dwarvish songs he knew. He played with conviction, but the Dwarven beer had clearly gotten to him, because he was not having a great night. The response was more polite than enthusiastic. He was convinced that he was great, however!

Joybell, with Taman to keep an eye on her, slipped out of the bar to pay a visit to the temple of the Hearthkeepers to talk to a Nature cleric about Gorgons. Joybell figured that if there were Gorgons in the area someone in tune with the natural order in the are might have a sense of where. The cleric told us that there have historically been gorgons in the area to the north and east, however that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find them. They are large and voracious predators that have a tendency to depopulate a region of suitable prey, then move on to another territory. The cleric had heard of settlements and villages up in the mountains being attacked by something large and voracious, which at least sounds similar. We asked which of the roads out of town we should take and the cleric recommended the north road.

Taman asked if there was anyone in town who might have a map we could purchase, but the cleric couldn’t think of anyone.

We went back to the inn and told the others about the conversation.

Orryk: Maybe the first thing that attacks us in the morning will have more information.

We spent the rest of the evening in the inn listening to Mo play (though not to his usual standards) and drinking the real beer. Because we were on the road in a new city, Taman got buzzed but not really drunk.

We retired to our rooms and with our usual precautions we slept. The night passed without incident.


29 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 30)

While everyone was getting breakfast, Joybell spoke privately with Gorni and got a small keg of the good Dwarven beer and some extra-nice food to take with us. She stashed all of that in the cart.

As we were finishing our breakfast and Joybell was making her purchases, we heard a bustle and movement outside in the street. The door to the inn opened and two young halflings, a boy and a girl, who looked like teens (or at least about at the developmental stage of human teens) came inside. They looked as though they’d been running all night.

Joybell: What’s the problem?
Kids: We’ve been running all night to get here. Our settlement was attacked just about dusk last night. Something dug into the cellar of the house and came up through the floor and started attacking people.

Joybell was ready to immediately go to check this out and asked Gorni if the kids could stay there while we investigated. The kids weren’t interested in that -- they wanted to go back with us to see how their village had fared.

Joybell: Okay. You can ride with us and tell us how to get there…

The kids were cousins -- Tilia Boughweave and Allard Softfoot. They had run all the way from their village Tall Orchard by themselves through the night. When they left, about eight hours ago, there were still people alive in the village and it was not totally destroyed. But that was eight hours ago.

We decided to move quickly, making it harder for us to see possible dangers along the way, but also allowing us to get there in six hours. We hoped. Imaktis rocked his animal handling, so Horse 1 and Horse 2 were very willing to go as fast as they could through the more mountainous terrain on a track not much wider than the wagon itself.

As we proceeded, Taman started walking along through the woods near the cart, keeping as much of an eye out as our speed would allow. Orryk was jogging along behind the wagon, keeping up with no problems (getting his miles in).

About four hours after we left Rodzun, still two hours or so away from Tall Orchard, Taman sensed something...a vibration under the ground heading toward the cart.

Taman: Alarm! Burrowers.

After giving the alarm, he moved toward the cart. Mo hopped off the cart, which Imaktis brought to a halt, and moved backwards so that he was behind Orryk, then held a vicious mockery spell in case a target presented itself. The children followed Mo, as much as their movement would allow, anyway. Fiona cast fly on herself then flew up 25’ and ended up just behind where mo was, but up in the air. Joybell kept her position next to the cart on Scooby and cast bless on herself, Taman and Imaktis.

Orryk used a new ability he’d developed, Patient Badger Listens, and moved up from behind the cart until he could sense the tremors of the beast. He told all of us that it was moving toward the cart and about to come out of the ground.

About when he said that a Bulette leapt up out of the ground and landed on the horses and Taman. (Like those breaching Great White Sharks only on land.) The creature was very large (size large, in fact) with hard scaly plates across its back and large beaky jaws kind of like a snapping turtle. When it landed, it pushed Taman several feet and did him a considerable amount of damage. The horses were dropped unconscious and pushed out of their traces and to the side of the road. (And that’s after they all saved.)

Mo’s vicious mockery went off and it did not make its save, so it had disadvantage on its next attack.

Imaktis cast spiritual weapon and attacked with it, but missed, then he cast sacred flame and that did some damage. Taman attacked and got a hit, but not for a lot of damage.

Mo moved to a position where he could see the beast without the cart in the way, then he used the wand to cast magic missile on it. Then he inspired Orryk. Tilia and Allard ran to hide behind Mo. Fiona cast a firebolt, but missed.

Joybell got off Scooby, sending him into the woods, and attacked twice. Orryk attacked twice, missing with both attacks, then he used some of his ki for patient defense.

The bulette then turned around and bit at Joybell, missing entirely. (Note: My notes here are cryptic. It says “The crit misses and it misses entirely.” I have no idea what would have made the crit miss, though. So it’s a mystery.) (Turns out it was attacking with disadvantage because of Mo's Vicious Mockery. Nat 20 and a 7.)

It then jumped away and as it moved to do so Orryk, Joybell and Taman all got attacks of opportunity on it. And all of those attacks hit. Then it leapt 30 feet away and burrowed into the ground and disappeared.

Mo, to Orryk: You should burrow after it and punch it. That would be amazing.

Imaktis cast healing word on one of the horses and stabilized the other one. Joybell laid hands on the stabilized one, healing it and helping it to its feet. Taman moved up into the forest and climbed up a tree. Mo moved forward to Imaktis, telling the kids to stay there. Which they did. Fiona, still flying, moved up to a position sort of over the cart and held a cantrip in case a target appeared.

Orryk moved around a bit to feel out with his patient badger tremorsense, but he didn’t pick it up. He told us the last he sensed it, it was moving away. He pointed out that we’d done it a lot of damage.

We pooled our memory and research about bulettes and remembered that they like especially to eat halflings. Joybell went to the kids to help them get back onto the cart and off the ground. Joybell stayed on Scooby, walking beside the cart near where the children were. The kids confirmed that this looked like the same sort of thing that had attacked their village the night before.

Imaktis cast guidance on himself, then went to handle the horses, which were thoroughly freaked out by the whole experience. Fortunately he was able to get them calmed down and back in harness so we could resume proceeding after a short rest.

We got to Tall Orchard in the mid-afternoon. The town had once had 50-60 residents, in eight extended families. There were only 20 survivors of the attack the night before, so the people were all pretty traumatized and freaked out by it. They were still trying to collect themselves and figure out what to do.

Fortunately, Tilia and Allard were able to find surviving family members to take care of them.

Asked, gently, about the attack, the villagers said that this was the first time that a monster like that had attacked Tall Orchard. They, like us, didn’t really have any way to track it, though we could see the “mole holes” where it burst through the ground.

We also didn’t know if it would come back to this village again. Orryk didn’t think it would, but Joybell was a little hopeful that after being pretty badly damaged, it would come back to a village of its favorite prey to build its strength back up. It was certainly worth trying.

We decided to set up the Leomund’s Tiny Hut in the center courtyard of the town. There were three intact buildings on one side and three that had been reduced to rubble on the other. On the far side of the rubble was a long barn. We put Horse 2 in there. One of the intact buildings had a small outbuilding, and we were allowed to put Horse 1 in there. (So they wouldn’t both get eaten by the bulette.)

(Note: The GM ruled that Leomund’s Tiny Hut has an impervious bottom as well as the domed top, which made it a really safe place to stay for the night.)

Joybell recommended to the halflings of the village that they stay the night up on the second floor of a building -- off the ground -- if they have any. There was an intact large warehouse with a second floor that was big enough for all of the villagers to stay there, so that’s where they slept. It was a bit away from the central square in the village, not easily visible from the hut, but not so far that we wouldn’t know if the beast emerged at the warehouse.

We spent the night in the hut, with watches as follows: Joybell and Fiona, Mo and Scooby, Taman and Orryk, and finally Imaktis on his own.

During the third watch, Taman felt the ground vibrating and started waking people up. Imaktis blessed Joybell, Taman and himself as soon as he woke up. Fiona cast Mage Armor. Mo cast haste on Imaktis. Joybell cast Shield of Faith on Taman.

As all of this was going on, Taman figured out that it was moving toward the small barn with Horse 1 in it, so he stepped out of the tiny hut and did a tap dance to attract its attention.

Which totally worked -- it changed course and burst out of the ground right next to him. At which point Taman realized that there might have been a problem with his plan. Fortunately, it all worked out because the bulette missed with its attack.

Fiona stepped out of the hut, causing it to disappear, and cast slow on the bulette -- we watched as the spell took hold on it and cheered. Then Mo cast faerie fire on it and it was too slow to dodge out of the sparkling cloud.

Joybell moved over to attack, riding Scooby so she could get there.

Orryk ran over and proceeded to pummel it with his regular attack and a flurry of blows. With each hit he attempted a stunning strike. It saved against all of the stunning strikes but there were at least two critical hits in the battering and despite it shaking off the stun every time he did masses of damage to it.

Taman hit it with his rapier, then backed away out of melee with it. Imaktis cast inflict wounds -- hitting it because of his blessing. Then he bonus action cast shillelagh and hit it again because of the haste Mo put on him.

The bulette attacked Imaktis and would have hit but he cast shield and the massive bony beak skittered across his arcane shield.

Fiona cast Chromatic Orb, choosing acid damage -- which dropped it, the acid eating through one of the wounds on its head and into its brain.

Imaktis and Taman looked to see if that bulette was the same one we’d fought earlier. As they looked it over together they found scars and evidence of the wounds we’d inflicted on it in the afternoon. We also remembered that bulettes are very solitary, so it’s unlikely that there’s another one in the area.

Within a minute or so after the battle was over the residents of Tall Orchard emerged from the warehouse where they’d been trying to sleep.

Joybell: Is this the same one that attacked you?

The idea that there might be more than one clearly shook some of the halflings, but one of them recognized a very long scar on the side of the bulette.

As we took a look at that, we realized that it looked like the bulette had been gored -- the wound had healed, but not long before, maybe a week or two ago. An encouraging sign that there might be a Gorgon in the area.

Mo: Does anyone have speak with dead...animals?

Mo, randomly, to the halflings: This is not the monster we’re here to kill. This will not get us into any library.

They looked appropriately baffled at that.

Orryk, with Joybell’s help, worked on getting some of the heavy plates and claws off of the corpse.

Joybell also went to check on the horses, which were fine.

We finished our long rest, sleeping well into the morning.

Imaktis plans to spend 8 hours casting Plant Growth to enrich the land and help the halflings who remain grow enough food. It will boost crop yields for one year. But that will happen next time.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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