Erkonin (Campaign #1) [Session 46: Making Deals with Devils is Stupid as well as Bad]


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
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!!

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Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
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.


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.


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
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:


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, naughty word, 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: 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, naughty word.

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.


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.


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
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 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.


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
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.


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
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.


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Session 17: We are the Wonderful Band! Also, The Great Gorgon Hunt Gets Complicated

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

30 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 31)

First thing in the morning, Imaktis began casting plant growth on the lands just outside of Tall Orchard -- the spell takes 8 hours to cast so that it will improve the productivity of the land for a year, so we were going to be staying in the town for the entire day.

Joybell and Orryk, with the horses, dragged the bulette corpse out of the center of Tall Orchard to the edge of town and worked on removing the armor-like plates from it.

Mo tried to figure out who was the leader of the town, but that hadn’t really been determined yet -- the mayor and most of the elders had been eaten (or at least killed) by the bulette. Despite the horrible losses they suffered, they wanted to try to make a go of it staying there.

When Joybell finished helping Orryk with the bulette armor, she went to help the halfling villagers with whatever they needed a strong back for. As it turned out they were moving the possessions of families whose houses had been destroyed into intact houses left by families that had been killed. As she helped them move their possessions, she listened to them talk about and reminisce over their lost friends and relations, giving grief counseling as she could.

As she talked to the villagers and helped them, Joybell assembled something of a map of the small villages in the area of Tall Orchard. The next village to the north (the only road out of Tall Orchard) is called Greendle and there are villages to the north-east and north-west of that.

She asked if they’d heard of any of those other villages having problems with being attacked. They hadn’t specifically, but as they talked they realized that they heard anything from Greendle in several days.

While Joybell was doing that, Orryk helped them build a pyre and move the bodies of the dead to it. Taman scouted the area around the village.

Around 10am, Taman spotted five gargoyles flying overhead. It’s hard to estimate altitude from the ground, but he could tell they were out of arrow shot. They were coming from the north east. He gave an alarm -- so the party (all save Imaktis, just outside of town and busy casting the spell that would help the villagers remain in Tall Orchard) worked on spreading the alarm and getting the villagers into cover.

As that was happening, Taman saw the gargoyles circle lower to take a look at the village, as the villagers were running into the intact buildings. They circled down to 200 or so feet right over the village (not where Imaktis was casting his spell) as the villagers were running for cover then they flew back up and away in the direction they had come.

Mo and Orryk talked about trying to stop them from flying away, as they were doing so. Joybell, with absolutely no way to attack an opponent in the air, listened but didn’t have any ideas.

Mo: We once let a lot of warlocks pass us….
Joybell: And that didn’t work out so well.

After the gargoyles flew away, Joybell helped them reinforce the front of one of their houses built into a mountainside, using some of the rubble from the destroyed buildings, so they’d have a safe retreat to barricade themselves into. Once she’d gotten them working on the project, she went out to where Imaktis was performing his ritual to keep watch over him. Taman went with her.

An hour or so after lunchtime, the gargoyles returned, only now there were 8 gargoyles. They were coming in from the north(Ish), in generally the direction Imaktis was performing his ritual. Over the course of the three hours after the first gargoyle sighting, the whole party had moved in that direction. When the alarm went up, Mo cast rope trick and sent the eight halfling children still surviving in the village up into the extra dimensional space where they’d be safe.

The gargoyles were coming in lower and with clear intent to attack this time.

Taman took a shot at them as soon as they got in range and got a crit on one. Orryk and Mo also took shots at them when they got in range but didn’t hit.

Joybell, on Scooby but standing near Imaktis who was still casting his spell, cast shield of faith on herself. (It occurred to her later that she should have cast it on Imaktis, but as it turned out it didn’t really matter.)

Fiona held a spell (Fireball) until they got in range. When they did (on their turn), she let it go, catching four of them in the blast. They were still 130’ away and about 40’ up.

Taman took a shot and hit one, but with his nonmagical bow he only did a small amount of damage. Orryk did the same, but his magical bow did a bit more damage.

Then Mo stepped forward a few feet and said, “Look at the birdies!” before playing a little song on his pipe which emitted a hypnotic pattern of lights into the sky around the gargoyles. Four of them were caught up in the lights (we weren’t sure how many of them, if any, were the same as were caught in the fireball -- they weren’t in a static formation coming in). Three of them went still and glazed and then came crashing down to earth. One of those shattered on impact, breaking into rubble and gravel.

Joybell, with no ability to do anything at range, stayed near Imaktis on Scooby, waiting for developments to develop.

Fiona then moved up a little bit and cast slow on the ones that were still in the air. Three of them began visibly flying more slowly.

At that the four still in the air, three slowed and one moving normally, turned around and began flying back the direction they came from, leaving the ones that had crashed into the ground behind. The three surviving ones on the ground took off and began flying as well, trailing a bit behind the others.

Joybell (on Scooby), Taman and Orryk tried to follow them as far as possible but they apparently noticed that and split into two groups pretty quickly, one heading off to the north-west and one to the north-east. So the party members turned around and re-joined the others.

We contemplated the situation -- it had been about three hours between the initial flyover and the return with reinforcements. So they couldn’t have flown more than an hour and a half in each direction. Translating that from their airspeed into our overland speed, it seemed like about four hours, perhaps, to wherever they’d gone.

After another couple of hours, Imaktis finished his spell to benefit the fertility of the land around Tall Orchard.

When he was done, Imaktis suggested finding a cave for the halflings to shelter in, rather than the house built into the hillside Joybell had helped them reinforce with rubble, but there wasn’t anything suitable right in the town where they could get to it quickly.

We wound out suggesting to them that they stay out of the village for a little while until we investigated where the gargoyles were coming from. They decided to travel down to Rodzun the next morning -- some of them know Gorni the inkeeper and they hoped to arrange to stay with him for a few days. We can use a sending spell to let them know that it’s safe to return to Tall Orchard.

After sorting that out with our halfling hosts, Joybell pulled out the real Dwarven ale and fine wine and good food she’d bought in Rodzun.

Joybell: We’ve been traveling and working together for one month now, y’all! So happy anniversary!
Orryk: It’s amazing we’ve survived this long.

Someone commented that we’d been together for a month and didn’t have a name for our party yet.

Joybell: I really like the Wonderful Band, or Mo W. Kang’s Wonderful Band. We’ve done wonderful things and really helped people!
Mo: I don’t mind that.

There was general agreement -- we are Mo W. Kang’s Wonderful Band (just the Wonderful Band for short). Yay!!

We celebrated together and with our halfling hosts for the rest of the evening, before spending the night in a tiny hut Fiona made.

1 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 32)

In the morning, we headed north out of Tall Orchard (more or less the direction the gargoyles had come from and gone in, and the direction the road went). We opted to leave Horse 1, Horse 2 and the cart here in Tall Orchard, with access to plenty of food and water, so we’d have the flexibility to head off-track.

At the same time, the halfling villagers headed south toward Rodzun.

About four hours after we left Tall Orchard we came to a village -- Greendle -- with a few buildings (a couple with damaged walls) and a lot of statues scattered around. Some of the statues showed signs of damage -- chunks broken off and missing -- others are entirely intact. Mo said that when we see the Gorgon, he’d cast a rope trick so we could climb up and safely use the oil of preventing petrification.

We scattered a bit, looking around the first couple of buildings we came to. Joybell pinged for undead, but didn’t detect any then went to look in one of the buildings, calling out to see if anyone was in there. Imaktis and Mo headed around the corner of another building. Fiona went toward one of the damaged walls.

Taman moved up the central track in the city, looking for tracks. There were a lot of gorgon tracks, which looked like very large cattle tracks, all around.

All of a sudden some of the statues which were adjacent to party members started moving (3 living statues). Joybell wasn’t adjacent to one, so she wasn’t attacked. Because of the Sword of Warning, Joybell wouldn’t have been surprised if she had been, but she had moved far enough away from the rest of the party that it was unable to help anyone else. When her friends were attacked, Joybell remembered that we’d been told about moving statues (that were not the same as the gargoyles) when we were in Rodzun.

The one on Fiona hit her for a great deal of damage. Worse than that, her muscles locked up and the process of petrification had clearly begun on her.

The one near Taman missed him and the one on Mo and Imaktis missed Mo. Orryk, like Joybell, hadn’t been near one and wasn’t attacked.

Before any of us got a chance to do anything, Fiona wasn’t able to force herself to move and break out of the petrification and she was turned to stone.


Orryk went to attack the one on Imaktis and Mo, missing with his main attacks and hitting with only one of his flurry of blows. Though he thought it was only a glancing blow, he could see cracks in the statue as a result.

Joybell rode on Scooby as far as he could go, then jumped off and ran to the one on Fiona and attacked, missing with both of her swings.

Taman attacked the one in front of him with his rapier -- getting a good hit for 8 points of damage. Then he disengaged and moved to the one on Fiona. As he moved in that direction, he passed another one, which animated and took an opportunity attack. Fortunately that one missed. (Running total: 4 living statues)

Mo used a charge from the wand of magic missile to drop the one in front of him, then he inspired Taman. Imaktis moved over and shillelaghed the one that had turned Fiona to stone (which Joybell was also on), hitting it and exploding it.

Apparently, they’re vulnerable to bludgeoning damage.

Then the one that had activated to attack Taman, attacked Scooby but missed, thank goodness.

Another one activated and missed Imaktis. (Running total: 5 living statues)

Orryk, not wanting to get close to things that could turn people to stone with a hit, used his fists of unbroken air to hit one, blowing it apart with his air-punches.

Joybell turned to the one that was menacing Scooby, but missed with both of her swings. Scooby disengaged and ran back behind Orryk. Taman attacked the same one Joybell had, also missing.

Mo used two charges off the wand of magic missiles and sent two darts to the one Joybell and Taman were on and two to the one that had originally attacked Taman.

Imaktis took a look at Fiona and, seeing that she was fully petrified but that she looked odd somehow, turned and attacked the one that Joybell and Taman were on, missing with his shillelagh.

Another one in the street animated and attacked Taman from the back, but missed. The one that had originally attacked Taman, and the one that was surrounded by Joybell, Taman and Imaktis both attacked Joybell. Both missed. (Final total: 6 living statues)

Orryk again used his fists of unbroken air, this time on the one that had just attacked Taman from behind, and again exploded it. Nice!

Joybell took a swing on the one in the middle of the group, getting a crit that blew it into rubble and dust. Then she turned to the other one that had attacked her and exploded that one in to rubble as well.

Then all was quiet.

Imaktis, looking at petrified Fiona: We could leave her like that. She’s safe.
The rest of us: No.

So he used the Restoration bead from his prayer beads to bring her back. Which left the party without any way to deal with someone getting petrified until the next day.

Orryk and Taman set about making rubble of all of the remaining statues in the village. At the same time Joybell went to all of the buildings and looked for any survivors, but there were none. Mo looked for papers that might mentioned what had happened, or any valuables, but found none of either.

There was no sign of gargoyle tracks in town -- just the gorgon tracks and the tracks of the statues that had animated. Taman looked to find where it had entered and where it had left the village and was able to determine that. It moved through the forest knocking over trees leaving a very clear trail. It entered the town from the north-northeast and left to the south-southwest in the general direction of Lunn (the town before Rodzun on the coastal road).

The statues were clean and unweathered, highly detailed. We estimated that they’d been here for a couple of days, so the gorgon had a head start on us.

Joybell voted for going after the gargoyles -- they seemed to be a more immediate threat, and a warmer trail. Also, once we got the gorgon head we wouldn’t be coming back to deal with the gargoyle threat. And it wouldn’t be that hard to pick up the gorgon’s trail -- it moved through the forest without regard for trees or the underbrush, so it left a very clear trail.

We left town on the road to the north. Just outside of town it forked, with roads going to the northeast and northwest. The fork in the road was very near where the gorgon trail entered torn, so we decided to follow that instead of the road hoping it would lead us to the center of the outbreak of earth-magic badness.

We followed the gorgon’s path, like a bulldozer’s track, through the forest for about four hours. Taman noticed 10 gargoyles and we were not surprised by them, partly because of him and partly because of the Sword of Warning. Then he noticed something rumbling through the woods -- something large and bull-shaped with a dull, steel gleam (1 gorgon!)

Orryk used the wand of web to create a cube of webbing on the gorgon, then he used his bonus action to use patient defense and dodge.

As we had discussed in advance, Mo cast rope trick, but didn’t climb up. He planned to wait until everyone else had gotten up before climbing up himself.

The gargoyles came in at ground level through the trees and split up so that there were three on Taman, one on Joybell, two on Fiona (oh, dear!), one on Mo, two on Imaktis and one on Orryk. It wound out better than it might have -- Taman was only hit by one of the many attacks he faced. Joybell was missed. Fiona got hit by a claw and a bite, but Mo was able to reduce the damage with cutting words. Mo got hit once but was otherwise missed. Imaktis cast shield to avoid a hit. Orryk was dodging but still got hit by one attack.

Before any of the rest of us could do anything something humanoid in shape rose seamlessly up out of the earth -- it seemed almost xorn-like, but not quite. The best we could liken it to was an earth salamander. (The GM told us later that this was 1 myrriq -- we called it the earthamander through the combat. The notes will call it a myrriq.) After rising out of the earth, it did not attack.

The gorgon was not restrained by the web, but was unable to get out of the difficult terrain. So it breathed its petrifying gas on Taman, Joybell and Scooby. Fortunately we all saved.

As Taman got his turn, he was slowed as if under the slow spell. We figured out that this was an aura given off by the myrriq (and a big one - 40’ radius). He was able to retreat up Mo’s rope trick without issue.

Imaktis was not affected by the slow aura. He cast spiritual guardians, creating a protecting aura around his own self of tiny, protective glowing spirits that would damage any enemy that entered it. The spirit guardians were catching all but two of the gargoyles and the myrriq, but not the gorgon. Then he cast spiritual weapon on the gorgon, but it missed.

Fiona was affected by the slow aura and found herself in a pickle -- because she was slowed she couldn’t disengage from her attackers and move. Also with her movement slowed she could get to the rope but not up it. She ultimately decided to risk the attacks of opportunity from the two gargoyles on her and move to the bottom of the rope. Fortunately, only one of those two attacks hit.

Joybell was also affected by the slow aura, but fortunately Scooby wasn’t. So she rode him over to the base of the rope then climbed up, slowly. As she entered the extradimensional space, she told Scooby to try and get clear.

Orryk was also affected by the slow aura and decided to go up the rope. He faced four opportunity attacks, but again only one hit.

Mo, unaffected by the slow, lifted Fiona up into the extradimensional space, then climbed up himself.

Leaving only Imaktis (and Scooby) with what seemed like a million enemies around him, including a freaking gorgon. And that myrriq thing.

Eight of the gargoyles moved in to form a box around Imaktis, blocking him off from the rope. All of them, plus the two that couldn’t fit into the box, took varying amounts of damage from the spiritual guardians. The eight around him all attacked and, with the help of a shield spell, all missed.

The myrriq looked puzzled at the disappearance of almost all of the party and moved back a bit. The gorgon moved up so it was standing next to the myrriq but didn’t attack.

In the rope trick, Taman freaked out in slow motion and stayed slowed.

Imaktis missed with his spiritual weapon and then dodged because he didn’t feel he had a good chance of getting through the gargoyle between him and the rope without getting pummeled. Between his shell, his shield, and the shield spell, dodging seemed to him like the best way to survive.

As he stood there dodging and weaving all nimble-like, Joybell noticed that he dropped the prayer beads, with the greater restoration bead. If he got turned to stone, the beads would still be available to the party.

Scooby attacked the gargoyle between Imaktis and the rope, missing with his attack, then Joybell, still moving slowly, dismissed him.

Orryk did shake off the slow, but didn’t see anything useful to do in the situation, so he stayed in the rope trick.

Mo popped out of the rope trick to cast hypnotic pattern in a 30’ cube. The cube included Imaktis, but his wisdom is good and Mo felt he’d save against the pretty lights. All of the gargoyles but one and the gorgon, but not the myrriq were included in the effect. And most of them failed their saves, including the gorgon. Then Mo climbed back up the rope.

Almost all of the gargoyles were stunned, staring at the pretty lights -- unfortunately the damage from the spiritual guardians shook them out of their daze. Fortunately the guardians dropped some of them. The last gargoyle moved in to fill in the box around Imaktis, not paying attention to the spiritual guardians. Then all the gargoyles attacked Imaktis, but because he was dodging all the attacks but one missed and that one he was able to use his shield spell to hold off.

The myrriq, standing on the other side of the gorgon, was not in the hypnotic pattern. It was also apparently too smart to go into the cloud of tiny protective spirits. Instead it gave the gorgon a smack, to shake it out of being stunned by the pretty lights, then it spoke, in Terran to Imaktis, who (fortunately) knows another dialect of Primordial (Auran) and was able to understand and respond.

Myrriq: I do not believe your friends have actually abandoned you.
Imaktis: Oh, they know I can take care of myself. I dare you to breathe on me again.

The myrriq’s eyes flashed at that and it glared at Imaktis, doing a great deal of damage and slowing him. Then it dissolved into the ground beneath it as seamlessly as it had emerged and disappeared. The gorgon then turned away and started trotting up the trail.

With the myrriq gone, the slow effect on Taman, Fiona and Joybell in the extradimensional space faded.

Taman came out of the rope trick and moved into the woods, then he hid and fired an arrow at the gorgon, doing a fair amount of damage with his sneak attack.

Imaktis didn’t shake off the slow from the myrriq’s gaze, apparently that was more durable in the myrriq’s absence than the slow from its aura. Still in the middle of a box of gargoyles, he set himself to dodge their attacks.

Fiona, moving freely again, came out of the rope trick and cast fireball on the gargoyles, conveniently all in a cluster around Imaktis. Imaktis felt the heat of the fireball all around him as he stood in a calm center, completely untouched by it.

All but one of the gargoyles, the one closest to the base of the rope, died in the fireball. Or fire torus.

Joybell came down the rope and dithered about the right thing to do for a second -- she had no chance of catching up to the gorgon with Scooby dismissed -- and finally settled on attacking the remaining gargoyle, missing with both of her swings. Then she moved away from the bottom of the rope to make room for others to come down, grumbling all the way.

Orryk came down the rope and moved to a position away from the gorgon where he could shoot at it with his shortbow, and not be in Gorgon-breath Formation Alpha. He took two shots at it, but missed.

Mo came down the rope and blew the loud crashing note on his pipe that cast shatter on the gorgon. It failed to save against it and took 19 points of damage.

The last remaining gargoyle, still harassed (and damaged) by the spiritual guardians and having had absolutely no luck against the nimbly dodging tortle, turned to Joybell and bit her for a small amount of damage.

The gorgon, without the myrriq to guide it, and having been attacked and hurt twice, turned back toward us, moving toward and past Mo without attacking him and continuing on until it was closer to the party.

Taman hid in the woods again and took a shot at the gorgon, but merely bounced an arrow off its steely hide.

Imaktis shook off the slow effect and looked around himself. Seeing only one gargoyle now, he picked up his prayer beads and rushed the gorgon, ignoring the gargoyle and its opportunity attack. Then he cast bless, from the prayer beads, on himself, Mo and Joybell. His attack with the spiritual weapon missed.

Fiona cast fly on herself and moved up and away so she’d be out of range of the gorgon’s breath should it do that again.

Joybell, staring into the nostrils of the gorgon and with an injured gargoyle at her side, ignored the gargoyle and moved to the flank of the gorgon, away from the end with the petrifying breath. She cast wrathful smite and hit it, doing maximum damage from the spell. It failed its save against the fear effect of the wrathful smite and was now afraid of her. With her second attack she did a regular divine smite, which wasn’t as powerful but still wound out doing a fair amount of damage.

Orryk used the wand to place another web -- right on the gorgon on the side opposite Joybell. Unfortunately, it saved against being restrained, but the web still made difficult terrain that it was reluctant to enter

The gorgon saved against the spiritual guardians but because of its fear of Joybell (which it would have to take an action to steel itself against) it couldn’t move closer to her. So it was sort of wedged in between scary Joybell and the difficult terrain of the web spell with Imaktis in front of it and just a little off to the side. It was pinned between bad options and blamed Joybell for its predicament, so it attacked her with itshorns and missed.

Taman took a sneak shot at the gorgon and did a goodly chunk of damage to it.

The last gargoyle, determined to be the last one standing in this combat, didn’t fall to the tiny angry spirits.

Fiona cast magic missile on the gorgon but didn’t manage to drop it. Finally, Joybell hit it with another divine smite, dropping it at last. Then she moved to the last gargoyle and dropped it.

Taman, yelled into the sudden quiet: Come out, you dirt monster piece of naughty word!

But the dirt monster piece of naughty word did not come out.

Unfortunately, Orryk’s tremorsense wouldn’t be able to pick up the movement of the myrriq through the earth (earthglide doesn’t make tremors) even if it was within his 30’ range.

The party compared notes (well, everyone but Joybell who’d never heard of these things) and assembled the following information about the myrriq -- it slows people and that starts a progression. Anything slowed has a chance of becoming paralyzed. Anything paralyzed has a chance of becoming petrified. Then it can turn anything petrified into those living statues we encountered in Greendle. It’s an elemental from the plane of earth and can dominate anything that’s innately immune to petrification or that has a burrowing speed.

We cut the head off the gorgon in the waning end of the day and found, to our pleasure, that Fiona’s Tenser’s floating disk will be able to carry it (until we can get back to Tall Orchard and the cart and horses).

While Fiona performed the ritual to cast Leomund’s Tiny Hut, Taman scouted around the area and found that there was a trail for at least one more gorgon. And we don’t know where the myrriq went, but it clearly needs to be stopped.

Joybell pondered what we’d learned from this combat and her main takeaway was that 10 minutes in combat is an eternity. If we’d all gotten into the rope trick, the monsters (including the gorgon) would have all wandered off, bored, before we got the oil of prevention of petrification on. If a subset of the party started oiling up and another subset stayed out to keep the enemies occupied, the combat would be over one way or another before the oil was on. Either the party members would be dead or all the monsters would be.

On the other hand, the rope trick totally saved our butts with the slow effect from the myrriq. If we had not been able to retreat to a safe space to shake it off, we would have been in a really bad place.

So we can’t use it to make a safe space to put on the oil, unless we spot the gorgon (or the myrriq) on the horizon, less than an hour away but more than 10 minutes.

In the morning, Joybell will prepare Find Steed so she can bring Scooby back.


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Session 18: Earth Elementals Gone Wild!

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

1 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 32) (immediately after)

Fiona, still flying after the combat, flew up to the top of the tree canopy, just poking her head out, to look around and see if there was anything that looked like a lair around. She saw the gorgon’s trail through the trees heading on in the same north-east-ish direction we’d been generally traveling.

Off in the distance, some miles away, she saw some rocks that formed a notable outcropping in the valley we were traversing.

When she came back and reported we decided to approach that outcropping of rock from a direction other than the gorgon’s bulldozed path through the forest.

Orryk: I’m in favor of not taking the ambush trail.

While we talked about this we got a short rest, during which Taman switched out his shortbow for a longbow from the bag of holding.

Fiona cast Leomund’s tiny hut and we rested for the night. Our watch order was: Taman and Imaktis, Joybell and Mo, and Orryk and Fiona.

The watch was mainly to keep an eye on what was going on all around us, because we were very safe inside the hut.

In the middle of the second watch, Joybell and Mo noticed that something was moving around under the ground -- it wasn’t so much that they felt tremors as that the trees around would shake as something disturbed their roots. After a moment they saw a big vaguely humanoid-shaped head made of rock and stone (not the myrriq) pop up out of the ground and look around. It didn’t seem to notice the tiny hut. It did however seem to be looking around, perhaps on patrol of some sort. We couldn’t tell if it was looking for us specifically or if it was just generally keeping an eye out.

Then it went away and the trees around stopped rustling, without us getting any sense that it had found us (or anything else that it was either looking for or needed to report).

We figured that it was probably an earth elemental, because that’s a creature that would be easily dominated by the myrriq.

When Joybell and Mo woke up Orryk and Fiona for their watch, they told them about the earth elemental and that it didn’t appear to have spotted us.

Indeed, the rest of the night passed without incident.

2 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 33)

The next morning, the first thing Joybell did was cast find steed to get Scooby back. She greeted him with a big hug and he greeted her with a lick on the cheeks.

Imaktis cast gentle repose on the gorgon head (to keep it from getting stinky and nasty) and then we buried it to keep it safe. We can come back and collect it when we’re ready to head back to Pelsoreen and Urlott’s to do research.

We headed out through the woods following a game trail (not the gorgon’s Ambush Alley, just an ordinary deer trail). Taman and Joybell were in the front, pretty much next to each other, with Imaktis close behind. Fiona and Mo were a bit behind them and Orryk kept watch from the back.

As we were proceeding, a gigantic vaguely humanoid thing, made of rock and earth, came up out of the ground right in the middle of the party. Fortunately the Sword of Warning gave us enough of a heads up that we weren’t surprised by this. It looked like a big earth elemental, perhaps the same one Joybell and Mo had seen in the middle of the night, but it’s hard to recognize individual features on an earth elemental.

Mo thought about casting blindness on it, rejected the idea on the grounds that it probably had tremorsense and blindness wouldn’t slow it down much, and viciously mocked it instead. Then he inspired Imaktis: “Go get him, Turtle Guy!” Then he backed up behind Imaktis, provoking the elemental to take an opportunity attack. The attack hit, but Mo’s goliath endurance kept it from doing any damage to him.

Taman turned around and walked right up to it and stabbed it, getting a critical hit and a sneak attack on it, because its attention was on Mo and Imaktis. Doing a fantastic amount of damage to it (39 points!) with his magical rapier.

Orryk used one of his elemental powers, water whip, on it, trying to knock it prone, but it avoided that. So he used his fists of unbroken air to get a critical hit.

Joybell cast wrathful smite, her favorite spell right now, and took two swings at it. The first missed but the second connected and it failed to steel itself against her wrath. So the large elemental was afraid of the tiny gnome. With the glowing flail.

Fiona misty stepped away from the monster that had appeared right next to her. Then she threw an acid splash spell at it, but it saved so it only took a very small amount of damage. Imaktis cast toll the dead on it and it failed that save.

The elemental took two swings at Joybell with its stony fists, but missed both times.

Mo shot it with a magic missile from his wand, then inspired Orryk.

Mo: Punch the stone thing!
Orryk, with a smile: Okay

Taman stabbed it with his rapier, once again taking advantage of its distraction to make a sneak attack. That killed it and it fell apart into dirt and muck and rocks.

We sifted through the rubble remains looking for anything like a magical heart or some core essence of elemental that made this pile of rocks and dirt an animated and intelligent single thing. We found nothing.

We took a short rest and then resumed our way. Between Taman’s upbringing in the wildlands and his skills as a ranger, we were not in danger of getting lost, but we didn’t take the exact route to the rock outcropping that we were anticipating either. We were, however, staying out of the gorgon’s ambush alley.

Orryk hoped that we’d find something we can take back that could be made into an item that would grant control over elementals.

Mo: Or maybe we can sell something in Pelsoreen. This is the nature of spec work.

About five hours of walking through the difficult terrain of the forest later, 9 gargoyles flew overhead. They looked like they were patrolling more than looking for anything (us) in particular.

Taman: Do we want to get their attention?

We discussed briefly hiding under the trees and letting them fly away.

Orryk: But if we let things go, we’ll just have to fight them later when it will be worse.
Imaktis: They don’t see us.
Orryk: We’ve learned this lesson.

Orryk, Taman and Mo all started shooting at them. Only Orryk was using a magical bow, and the gargoyles were 200 feet away, so they didn’t take much damage. However, it did get their attention, which was what they were aiming for.

8 gargoyles wheeled around and came toward us -- even moving at their top speed it was going to take them more than a few seconds to get to us. The other one turned and flew in the direction of the rock outcropping. The gargoyles were clearly spreading out. They also had learned from prior experience and stayed out of fireball formation. They came at us in a large semi-circle pincer formation.

Orryk took a shot at the same one he’d shot before then backed up 30’ to keep them from getting up to him as quickly. He had expectations, perhaps, that the rest of the party would follow this very sensible approach. Fiona moved back as well and held a cantrip until one had moved into her range.

Taman took a shot at the one that was heading back toward the rock outcropping but missed. It really was a long way off (though in longbow range). Joybell readied a javelin and prepared to throw it as soon as one was in range.

Mo shot with his crossbow at the one heading away but missed it, then he inspired Joybell. “Be ready for gargoyles!”

The gargoyles then flew into range. Joybell threw her javelin and hit, because of Mo’s inspiration. Imaktis hit one of them (#6) with a firebolt.

Orryk took a shot at one coming in from the side (where they’d spread out to semi-encircle us), then moved forward again with a sigh, putting himself between the gargoyles and Fiona and Mo. We had not followed his sensible example. He then did patient defense.

Fiona cast firebolt on one of them on the other side of the pincer around us (#9).

Any hope of stopping the one flying back to the rock outcropping faded as he flew away out of all range, even the longbow.

Taman did his insightful fighting so he was able to sneak attack one of them (#5) even though no one else was in combat with it. It would have been a lot more damage done to it if he had a magical bow.

Joybell threw another (non-magical) javelin. She missed and waited for them to get in melee range.

Mo, to Orryk: Thanks a lot for having our back!

Then he cast haste on Orryk and inspired him. “Please kill that thing.”

The gargoyles moved from 80 feet away to right on top of us, though they were then unable to attack.

Joybell: Yay! They landed!

Two went to Orryk, three to Joybell, and one each to Taman, Imaktis, and Fiona. (Oh, dear!)

Imaktis cast spirit guardians and moved behind Taman and Joybell so his guardians, little flying turtles with wings and halos, would catch as many gargoyles as possible.

Orryk, hasted, started punching the one on him that was already damaged -- with his regular attack and his haste attack and he got a LOT of hits and dropped that one. Then he did an extra bonus attack on the other one, but missed it.

Fiona, looking at a gargoyle right in front of her, cast misty step and moved 30’ away, then she threw a firebolt at the one that had moved up on her.

Taman dropped his bow and drew his rapier, but he missed with his stab against the one he had insight against. Joybell then attacked that same one, the one menacing Taman, and hit it pretty solidly.

Mo cast shatter on that one and one of the ones that was just on Joybell. They both failed their saves. He inspired Joybell. “Joybell, go kill these things please.” Then he moved back to where Fiona had misty stepped to.

The gargoyles all failed their saves against the damage from the tiny angry flying turtle spirit guardians. The one that had been on Fiona, briefly, before she misty stepped away, went to Orryk, rather than following Fiona. (From its point of view, that was possibly a poor choice.) One of its attacks hit Orryk -- Mo tried to use cutting words to prevent the hit, but it still got through for a small amount of damage.

Joybell took a claw from one of the ones on her and a bite from the other, doing a chunk of damage to her. Then she protected Taman from one blow with her shield. Unfortunately he then took two more hits from the other one on him. None of them were able to hit Imaktis.

Imaktis cast shillelagh and hit one of the ones on Taman (#7) with it. Orryk attacked one of them (#1) for two hits, then he channeled some of his ki into patient defense.

Fiona observed that they’d abandoned the tactically-sound spread out pincer formation that they’d started in and were instead mostly bunched up around Joybell, Imaktis, and Taman (with a couple of outliers on Orryk). Fireball-formation.

Fiona: Huh. Well, then.

Then she cast fireball centered on Scooby and Joybell. This caught five gargoyles, but she was able to leave all of the party members, including Scooby, out of the spell. Two of them dropped, their stone forms shattered by the thermal shock. Another one looked really really rough.

Taman disengaged and moved around behind one of them and attacked it from behind (an actual backstab!) but missed. Joybell moved to the one Taman had disengaged from, sidling through another one’s threatened area without provoking an opportunity attack, then hit it for a goodly lot of damage. Mo used the wand of magic missiles on one of the ones on Orryk (the one that had gone to Fiona) for some damage.

The gargoyles then took damage from the spirit guardians. One of them (#3) dropped to the little winged turtles. One of them clawed Joybell and hit her. One missed Imaktis. Both of the ones on Orryk were unable to hit him through his patient defense.

Imaktis dropped one of the ones in that cluster then moved over to Orryk, taking the spirit guardians with him. Both of the gargoyles on Orryk were then forced to save against the spirit turtles.

Orryk, still hasted, took many swings at one of the ones on him but only hit once. So he used his bonus action to hit it again. Fiona firebolted the one that had come to menace her and shattered it with a firebolt.

Taman once again moved to attack one from behind. And once again he missed it. Fortunately, Joybell got a crit on that same one and it died very thoroughly to that.

Mo cast vicious mockery on the last remaining gargoyle. “All your friends are dead.” But it saved.

It then took damage from the spirit guardians and missed Orryk with both attacks.

Imaktis missed with his shillelagh. But Orryk shattered it with his second punch and just kept punching the gravel chunks out of the air as they fell to the ground.

Joybell suddenly put two and two together: Orryk! Your fists are magic weapons now?!! That’s amazing!

He confirmed that graciously, even though Joybell should probably have figured that out a few gargoyle fights ago.

Taman climbed a tree and looked around, but didn’t see anything else incoming. However, one of the gargoyles had definitely gone back to report. We moved half an hour off the game trail, then Fiona cast a tiny hut so we had a totally safe place to take a short rest.

We resumed on our way, after deciding to get off this game trail and loop around toward the rock outcropping from another direction.

After another couple of hours, we saw a grassy area with a few scattered clusters of trees between the forest and the rock outcropping. We found a safe place in the forest so Joybell and Imaktis could oil up with the oil of prevention of petrification. There was a bit of fun with the slickness on Imaktis’ shell. We believed that the oil would halt the entire petrification sequence from the myrriq - so they'd be immune to the slow aura and all of its additional effects.

Joybell peeked out through the trees, but didn't really see much except Orryk casting a minor illusion of a bush in front of himself looking out. Brilliant. She moved a few feet and did that herself but still didn’t see much.

Fortunately, when Orryk, Taman and Imaktis looked out from the shelter of the forest they got a good sense of the situation. We were looking at an approximately 120 foot wide grassy strip between the edge of the forest and a rocky scree covered slope with some huge protruding rock outcrops. There was a clear path in the scree leading up the slope and around behind one of the rocks. It was clear that one or more gorgon had rampaged around in the grassy area several times, clearing the underbrush and leaving only small groups of trees that provided some cover.

There were 10 gargoyles spread out on three different rock outcrops. (Note: My sketched map is below. It’s not great, but it’s not horrible either.)

We talked for a moment and remembered that the myrriq's slow aura only worked if you were on the ground - being in the air, or in a tree, or even mounted would keep you safe. From that anyway. So Orryk and Taman climbed trees and Fiona cast fly on herself. Joybell stayed mounted on Scooby. In retrospect, she didn’t really need to do that because she’d oiled up and that left Scooby vulnerable.

Orryk drank a potion of firebreathing.

We decided to stay where we were in the trees, at least on this side of the grassy area, and let them come to us.

Mo, Taman, and Orryk took shots, all at the same gargoyle (the nearest one, #5), hitting it for 14 points of non-magical damage.

(Note: Then we rolled for inits. Joybell, with the advantage on init rolls conferred by the sword of warning wound out with an init of zero. Two nat 1s. Oy!)

Taman and Orryk took shots again at the same one - both hitting.

Mo cast haste on Imaktis -- making him the fastest Tortle in the land. Then he inspired Joybell.

Fiona held a magic missile spell until something was in range.

As we prepared for the gargoyles, a gorgon came charging along the trodden path in the scree, coming just around the rock outcropping toward us.

The gargoyles moved up so they were flying over the no-man’s land of the grassy strip and taking cover in the clusters of trees. Fiona’s magic missile got one of them as it came into range and went into the trees.

Imaktis moved up 45’ into the grassy area and dodged, coaxing them to come to him. Joybell, on Scooby, moved up to right near him and dodged as well.

Taman took a shot at #10 -- it was in the trees and in some cover, but he could get a clear line on it from his position. He hit and did some damage, but the non-magic bow could only get so much through. Orryk shot again at #5, which was in cover but he still hit and did a good deal of damage.

Mo cast shatter on the group taking cover in the same clump of trees (4, 5, 7, and 8). Because gargoyles are made of stone, they had disadvantage on their save against the spell, though most of them saved anyway. But he still did a fair amount of damage to them.

Fiona, flying right at the edge of the trees, moved a little so she could get a clear shot then firebolted #8 and did a good chunk of damage, but didn’t drop it.

The gorgon charged right up to Joybell and Imaktis, but wasn’t able to attack that round. Then the gargoyles moved up so that six of them were surrounding Imaktis and Joybell (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8). The other four moved to different clusters of trees closer to the edge of the forest. Staying in cover.

Joybell, observing the knot of baddies that had formed: Oh, Fiona!

The four gargoyles on Imaktis all missed him with both of their attacks (eight attacks against him total), because a hasted, dodging Tortle is both armored and nimble. The two on Joybell also missed her.

Imaktis cast spirit guardians, because the winged, flying turtles are bad-ass. All of the ones around him and Joybell were in the cloud of guardians, but the others were not. Then he reached out and clawed at the gorgon with his powerful tortle-claws, doing 7 points of damage against it.

Joybell was unable to get to the gorgon because of gargoyle #1 right in front of her so she attacked it, missing with one attack and hitting with the other.

Taman and Orryk (acting on the same init) each targeted the gorgon with their arrows. Taman was able to sneak attack it while it was focused on Imaktis and did 30 points of damage to it. Orryk hit it as well, but not quite so dramatically.

Mo, about 20 feet behind Imaktis and Joybell and right in the way of the gorgon’s breath, cast shatter again on some of the cluster around Imaktis and Joybell -- he couldn’t get all of them and avoid the party members, but he did get the gorgon, and three gargoyles in it. Gargoyle 8 completely blew apart in the shatter spell, the others took damage. The gorgon took some damage but saved. Then Mo moved along the treeline toward where Orryk was in a tree, moving away from the gorgon and its petrifying breath.

Fiona flew closer to Orryk’s tree, which gave her a clear view of the fireball formation of gargoyles and gorgon around Joybell and Imaktis. She took the invitation and cast fireball on that cluster, doing a good deal of damage. (Note: I think she dropped #7 and #4, as I can’t otherwise account for them dying.) Then she flew higher, up above the tree canopy.

The gorgon took a step back, provoking a claw attack from Imaktis. It also took damage from the spirit guardians. Then, having lined up a better attack, it breathed on us. Because of the oil, only Scooby had to actually save and he had no problems (Nat 20!). (To anyone watching from the rocks, it looked like we all just made our saves.)

Then the gargoyles were attacked by the spirit guardians, which dropped #5 and #1, leaving only #2 of that cluster of six. It attacked Joybell and missed.

The gargoyles that had been taking cover in the trees moved out. Mo was attacked by #3 and #10 and one of them hit him but he was able to use his goliath resilience to ignore the damage. The other missed.

#9 and #6 found Orryk in his tree. The first one hit him, so he used his gnomish ability to fade away and go invisible, so the second one, unable to see him, missed.

Imaktis moved up to right in front of the gorgon again and attacked it twice. The first attack missed but the second dropped it. Yay!

Joybell dropped gargoyle #2, the last of that cluster, then moved on Scooby over to where she could protect Mo with her shield from the two on him. And hopefully draw some of their attacks.

Orryk in the tree had two gargoyles flying around him, #9 and #6, but couldn’t get both of them in a firebreath. So he punched #9, hitting once, and then did his patient defense, dodging their attacks nimbly, while perched in a tree.

Taman ran to the end of the branch he’d been perched on and leapt off, flipping through the air somewhat ungracefully, but landing behind one of the gargoyles on Mo and stabbing it in the back for a lot of sneaky damage.

Mo used the wand of magic missile to shoot #10 with three missiles, then he inspired Taman. “Please kill the things that came to kill me.”

Fiona, seeing that all of the flying monsters were occupied, flew over the grassy area and took a shot at #9 with a firebolt, but missed.

One of the gargoyles attacked Taman and Joybell tried to protect him from the first attack, but despite her interposing her shield the attack still got through to hit him The gargoyle’s second attack missed him and the other gargoyle they were facing missed her entirely.

The two on Orryk, who was dodging through the branches of the tree, both missed.

Imaktis moved up to where Joy, Taman and Mo were dealing with gargoyles #10 and #3, forcing them to take some damages from the spirit guardians. Then he missed with both of his attacks (regular and hasted) on #10. Fortunately, Joybell then dropped #10. Unfortunately, even with Mo’s inspiration (from early in the combat) she missed #3. Taman attacked #3 and, inspired by Mo, hit it, and did damage, but not as much as earlier sneak attacks.

Orryk punched #9 again, hitting once and missing once. Then, because he had two opponents on him, he spent a ki point for patient defense and went back to dodging through the tree branches.

Mo stabbed and #3 and got a hit, but because his rapier is not magical, it just knocked a chip off the gargoyle. Fiona took a shot at one of the two on Orryk with a firebolt, but missed.

#3, surrounded by Joybell, Imaktis, Taman, and Mo, and harrassed by the winged spirit guardian turtles, mussed with both of his attacks against Taman. Orryk, on the other hand, was hit twice, despite his athletic and graceful dodging in the tree.

Imaktis, still enjoying the effects of the haste spell, took a swing at #3 and did a good chunk of damage, but didn’t drop it. Then he went over to Orryk’s tree, provoking an opportunity attack which missed. The very large tortle then began climbing Orryk’s tree, his tortle claws gaining purchase in the tree’s bark, to get the gargoyles attacking Orryk into the cloud of spirit guardians.

Joybell attacked #3, missing once and then hitting for maximum damage, but it didn’t drop.

Orryk punched #9, getting a critical hit, then dropped it with his second punch. Now no longer outnumbered, he used his bonus action to punch #6.

Taman stabbed #3 for 23 points of damage, because he was able to sneak in the attack while it was focused on Joybell, dropping it finally. Then he moved to the nearest cluster of trees in the grassy strip and climbed into it.

Mo used the wand to magic missile the last remaining gargoyle, #6 on Orryk.

That gargoyle then attacked Orryk, hitting once for a small amount of damage, despite the harassment and damage from the spirit guardians.

Imaktis cast toll the dead on the final gargoyle. It didn’t save against the spell, but didn’t drop to the ringing of the bell either.

Joybell, figuring that Imaktis and Orryk had that situation in hand, moved (still on Scooby) into one of the groves of trees in the no-man’s land of the grassy strip, taking cover.

Before anyone could act, a shatter spell went off next to Fiona, floating in the air well above the grassy area. Fortunately she didn’t take a lot of damage from it and was able to maintain her fly spell.

Taman immediately looked around to see who cast the spell. What he saw was some rippling in the ground on the scree-covered hill, like something was diving back into the earth.

Taman: Earthmander!

Orryk, with a gargoyle still in front of him, punched with three strikes against the gargoyle, getting two hits, one of them a crit. He punched another gargoyle into rubble. His hands were covered in gargoyle dust and his clothes had chips of stone and dust on them.

Mo moved a little closer to the tree Taman was in and started dodging. Imaktis ran at full, hasted tilt across the grassy area, ending at the start of the path through the scree. Joybell moved up next to him and started dodging herself.

Two rocks (2 boulder creatures) started rolling toward Imaktis and Joybell, one from each rock outcropping flanking the path. Imaktis hoped they were creatures, because they'd take damage from the spirit guardians. They were apparently enemies at least, because one attacked Joybell and got a crit on her, even with her dodging. Ouch!

Then the myrriq came up out of the ground behind Imaktis and Joybell. Its eyes flashed and it flared its aura toward us in a potent cone attack. Only Scooby had to save against the slow and he was able to do so. Then it sank back into the ground.

Orryk, still in his tree, nocked an arrow and held his attack, waiting for the myrriq to appear again.

Taman took a shot at the boulder on Joybell, but missed. Mo moved up just a bit and took a shot with his crossbow at the boulder on Imaktis, but missed.

Fiona held a chromatic orb spell for the myrriq to appear.

Imaktis attacked the boulder-thing in front of him twice with his shillelagh, then attacked it again because of the haste. Joybell took two swings at the boulder in front of her but, unfortunately, missed both times.

The two boulders attacked. The one on Joybell got hit again for 14 points of damage. Imaktis was missed.

The myrriq appeared further up the path, higher on the scree-covered hill. Fiona, seeing that it was just barely in range, let her chromatic orb spell fly, but it missed. The myrriq did something and the earth around Imaktis, Joybell and Scooby erupted, rocks and gravel and large stones flying all around. Imaktis was able to avoid some of the damage, but Joybell and Scooby were not. Scooby disappeared, back to the celestial realm he comes from. Despite the damage, imaktis was able to keep his concentration on the spiritual turtle guardians.

Taman and Orryk both took shots at the boulder-thing attacking Joybell, who was looking a bit ragged, and both of them were able to hit. Because the boulder was focusing its bouldery attention on Joybell, Taman was able to make a sneak attack.

Mo moved up just a bit and cast healing word on Joybell, giving her some welcome relief from her injuries, then used the wand of magic missiles to shoot the boulder attacking her.

Fiona, not wanting to have to aim her spell the next time, held a powerful magic missile spell for the myrriq to appear again. That would definitely hit.

Imaktis hit his boulder twice. Joybell missed hers twice then cast misty step and moved away 25 feet, out of the difficult terrain created by the myrriq’s spell (the one that took out Scooby). Her plan was to lay hands on herself then get back in the combat.

The boulder that had been attacking her went to attack Imaktis instead -- not a great decision on its part, but it was a boulder, so okay. Both of the boulders took some damage from the spirit guardians. Then both missed with their attacks against Imaktis.

The myrriq popped up out of the ground right next to Joybell. It immediately took 18 points of damage from Fiona’s magic missile spell. It also clawed at Joybell, missing with one attack and doing a glancing blow with the other. That “glancing blow” did her 13 points of damage.

Taman shot the myrriq doing a lot of sneak attack damage (though it was non-magical damage). Orryk moved closer and took two shots, adding up to almost the same amount of damage as Taman did.

Mo viciously mocked the myrriq. “You look like a pile of dirt.” But the myrriq saved against the barb. Fiona tried again with her chromatic orb, and again the spell missed the target.

Imaktis disengaged from the boulder-things and moved to the myrriq. The spirit guardian turtles attacked it. Imaktis, still hasted, also cast guiding bolt, but that missed. Joybell cast wrathful smite and attacked but missed with both of her swings.

The boulders followed Imaktis, reentering the cloud of tiny winged turtles and taking damage from them. They both missed with their attacks.

The myrriq slashed at Joybell, who was once again very badly injured, with its rocky claws. One attack missed. The other almost hit but Mo said some cutting words that distracted it and saved her from the blow, which would certainly have dropped her. Whew!

Taman tried to use his insightful fighting ability on the myrriq, but it was able to remain inscrutable to him. He took a shot at the myrriq with his bow, using his luck to try and force the arrow to strike true, but even with what seemed like a lucky deflection off a branch, he still missed. Fortunately, Orryk was able to shoot it twice with his magic bow.

Mo used the wand to magic missile the myrriq then moved a little closer to the action -- but not too close and definitely still outside of the slow aura.Fiona cast a magic missile at second level on the myrriq and damaged it. Imaktis attacked the more damaged looking of the boulder-things, bludgeoning it with his shillelagh in his first attack, but his second attack missed.

Joybell, on her last legs, got a hit with her flail, triggering her wrathful smite. She also called down divine energy into the blow and dropped the myrriq, which collapsed into earth and rock.

The boulders settled to rest on the ground, no longer animate.

An elemental, different in type from the one we’d fought on the way here, rose up out of the ground and apologized in Terran. (Imaktis speaks Aquan, a different dialect of Primordial, so we were able to communicate with this entity.)

We all started to move in the direction of the elemental. Joybell laid hands on herself on the way, giving herself all the healing she could muster.

The elemental told Imaktis that there was a minor portal to the plane of Earth here. He has been here protecting the portal and protecting this plane from what might come through for a long time. The myrriq overwhelmed his mind and dominated him and he has been forced to do its bidding.

Imaktis: What is your name?
Elemental: I don’t have one.
Imaktis, in common to the party: His name is Rubble.

We decided to call him Barney.

Barney: I am what you call a galeb duhr.
Imaktis: These creatures have caused a lot of damage to the villages around here. Can you help them rebuild?
Barney: I would be happy to help repair the damage, but the gate still needs protection. I can close it for a short time, but not for long.

Barney said that he would summon an earth elemental with a control gem and let us take it back to Tall Orchard to help with the rebuilding. It would be able to help in any way the villagers needed. He summoned an elemental through the gate and then closed it.

Orryk is not going to be happy about giving up the elemental.

He told Imaktis that the myrriq had been collecting things for some time and that we were welcome to anything he had collected. He led us up the path toward the gate to where the myrriq’s treasure was collected.

Orryk and Taman each noted the location of this portal on his personal map.

Imaktis: Is there anything we can do for you? This has been a difficult experience for you.

We spent some time going through the myrriq’s hoard of treasure.

150 pp
2200 gp
4000 sp
1100 cp

2 silk robes (250 gp each)

3 boxes of figurines, one each in obsidian, turquoise and jade, with figures representing gods from before the Severance. (250 gp each box) (Joybell would like these -- so she will add 750gp to the pool of dividable coinage and take them if that’s okay.)

Magical items:

Keoughtoum’s Ointment - 3 doses
Potion of Radiance Resistance
Belt of Hidden Knives (Orryk) - produces +1 daggers on demand, though they disappear immediately after their attack.
Medic’s Blade (Joybell) - +1 shortsword that allows you to use your reaction after dropping an enemy to cast healing word on someone else.

There were also three scrolls with three unknown 3rd level spells:

Ameliorate (Cleric, Bard) - grants temporary hit points to several creatures over the course of several rounds.
Shadow Bolt (Wizard, Sorcerer) -- an illusion that does damage. (Fiona)
Mass Vicious Mockery (Bard) - allows the bard to viciously mock up to six creatures at once. (Mo)

Now that Imaktis knows about Ameliorate, he can pray for it and prepare it as with any other cleric spell. Mo has the option to learn the bard spells when he gains a level. And Fiona can transcribe Shadow Bolt into her spellbook in the usual manner.

The coinage divides up thus:
25 pp
491 gp (with 4 left over) (this is taking into account Joybell buying the boxes of religious figurines and putting that gold in the pot to be divided)
666 sp (with 4 left over)
183 cp (with 2 left over)

The Bag of Holding has some items that we recovered from the House of Masks but didn’t want to sell in Pelsoreen. We can add the robes to it so that the Bag of Holding now has the following coinage-nearly-equivalent items that are party treasure:
2 small boxes of jade animals (250gp each)
3 gold bracelets (250gp each)
2 silk robes (250 gp each)

The religious figurines were described as including an obsidian jaguar curled around in a circle -- which someone recognized as the symbol of a god called Smoking Mirror (Tezcatlipoca), a turquoise dog recognized as a god called Coyote, and a multi-armed humanoid figure in jade representing a goddess called Kali. Kali was worshiped to the east just across these mountains, but Smoking Mirror and Coyote were not historically worshipped in this part of Urnod. They were worshipped across the sea to the south of Pelsoreen.

Joybell wants to reexamine the boxes of jade animals we found at the House of Masks to make sure that none of them are pre-Severance gods before we sell them. (Note: They are not.)

Party Kitty:
Since the last Party Kitty Update we paid for 3 nights of lodging at the Iron Steed in Pelsoreen (at 6 gp/night) and three nights of travel on the road (at 3 gp/night, because Mo sang us a discount). So taking out 18 gp for lodging in Pelsoreen, 9 gp for lodging on the road and adding the leftovers from the coins as above, the party kitty currently has: 2 pp, 9 gp, 14 sp, and 14 cp.


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Session 19: More of the Crazy and Back to Pelsoreen

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

A bit of retconning before we got going: Barney did not create a living boulder-thing for us to take back to Tall Orchard to help the halflings, as those only last for a minute and have a very limited range. Instead…

Barney said that he would summon an earth elemental with a control gem and let us take it back to Tall Orchard to help with the rebuilding. It would be able to help in any way the villagers needed. He summoned an elemental through the gate and then closed it.

2 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 33) (immediately after)

After we talked with the galeb duhr, Barney, and while FIona was identifying the magical treasure, Joybell cut up this gorgon to see if she could find the source of the petrification breath -- starting at the nostrils and working backwards. She found something in the sinuses that seemed like a strong candidate and collected that. Mo suggested we could bottle it or extract it and have Essence of Gorgon Snot. Joybell thought about that idea for a second and realized that she couldn’t really do anything with it with her herbalism kit. It was going to take someone good with alchemist’s equipment to make anything out of it.

She put a wad of the gorgon snot (well the part of its sinuses that seemed to be connected to the petrifying breath anyway) into her iron pot and put that into the bag of holding. She also put the longsword that she left the Basalt Henge with into the bag of holding for the party to sell when we get to someplace Nicer Than Pelsoreen.

Orryk asked Barney about the other side of the gate and whether there was a city nearby on the Plane of Earth. Barney said that he didn’t remember there being one.

Barney, pointing to the sunset: I have seen over 700,000 of those.

That translated to over 2000 years that he had been guarding this portal, since before the Severance. Joybell asked him if he knew anything about the Severance, since as an extra-planar being he might have had a different perspective. He said he was summoned by a druid to guard the gate. He didn’t personally notice the Severance, though he noticed some of the effects, and he wasn’t personally affected by it.

Joybell asked if we could see the gate, just to look at it like we had the fire gate at the Primal Atoll. He told us that the gate was currently closed and inactive, but there was still something to see. Barney told us that the borders between this world and the other planes are very porous, especially since the Severance, but this gate is from before that and is pretty stable. It mostly doesn’t open accidentally. The myrriq didn’t come through here -- it had been wandering around on this world for a few years before it came to this gate a couple of weeks ago.

We were led into a cave where there was a patch on the wall like the inside of a geode -- the crystals were swirling and moving around each other. Very pretty!

Mo: Aren’t we on the plane of earth. There’s all this earth around us…

Orryk and Taman both made careful note of the location of this gate on their maps.

We spent some time talking about if we really needed to give the elemental to the halflings at Tall Orchard. Well, Orryk raised the question, anyway. We discussed the logistical difficulties of going to Pelsoreen, getting it into the teleportation circle for the trip back to Embernook, etc. As part of this discussion, we asked Barney if the elemental was always there or if it could be dismissed and summoned again using the gem. He said that it was always there.

Joybell asked Orryk if she could look at the elemental’s control gem. He said yes and let her look at it. While he was still holding it. He didn’t let it go. For a second.

On that note, we made our usual precautions to rest. WIth the addition of the earth elemental patrolling around us, gliding through the earth with only its head out of the ground as a moving rock.

The night passed without incident.

3 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 34)

The first thing in the morning Joybell cast find steed again (or as she thinks of it “find Scooby”). Fiona cast a sending to let the halflings of Tall Orchard know that it was safe for them to return to their village.

We headed out toward Tall Orchard, following the direct and cleared gorgon trail (which we figured would shave several hours off of the travel time). The earth elemental sometimes walked, sometimes earth-glided. From the sound the elemental made when the rocks that made up its body ground against each other, it came to be called Gurn. As we traveled, Orryk studied everything he could about Gurn -- how it moved, how it passed in and out of the earth, how he was able to control it. He traveled at the back of the party because he was mostly interested in Gurn and what it could to.

We followed the trail back to where we’d buried the first gorgon head (after preserving it with a gentle repose spell). As we arrived at the spot where we’d first fought the myrriq and killed the gorgon, Taman saw three huge figures moving through the forest.

Mo cast the rope trick and we all climbed up into it. (Mo passed Scooby up to Joybell once she was in it). Imaktis dithered a bit and thought about staying out, but then he went up into it as well. Orryk had Gurn gliding around under the ground beneath the rope trick.

Three hill giants plodded through the clearing. They didn’t appear to be heading toward Tall Orchard or any particular place. Certainly not any place we felt a need to stop hill giants from getting to. So we let them go by. They’re evil, lazy, destructive and dumb, but this is their natural environment. And they weren’t heading toward Tall Orchard.

Of course this meant that we were forgetting the lesson that if we let things go by we only fight them again later when it’s worse. But we figured it was okay in this case.

Once the giants passed, we came out of the rope trick and dug up the gorgon head. Then Gurn grabbed it by one of the horns and carried it as we continued on our way to Tall Orchard. Orryk continued to be really focused on Gurn and not so much on the outside.

We arrived back at Tall Orchard toward the end of the day.

We could see across the small village center that the halflings were arriving at the village at almost the same time, coming from the opposite direction. Between us and them, we could see a troll. It was looking toward where it could hear the halflings in the town until it heard us, then it turned in our direction.

Taman: What the hell is that?!

Then he took a shot with his longbow at it.

Orryk took a shot with his shortbow and had Gurn sink into the ground and then rise up in front of the troll. Joyell rode Scooby to about 10 feet away from the troll -- then she jumped off and engaged the troll, while Scooby circled around toward the halflings to protect them. Joybell attacked with her new sword and got one hit.

Fiona cast a scorching ray on the troll and got one hit with fire damage. Mo cast a shatter spell on it and it reeled from the damage it took. Then he inspired Imaktis.

Mo: Kill it.
Imaktis: Okay.

Because of Fiona’s scorching ray, the troll wasn’t going to regenerate any damage this turn.

Another troll came out from between a couple of buildings to the north and attacked Joybell with two swinging claws and a bite. Only the bite hit. The one Joybell had attacked missed with all three of its attacks. Then a third troll came out from behind a building to the south but it couldn’t get into a good place to attack her, or anyone else. (Total: 3 trolls)

It did however move into a good formation for FIona.

Taman moved and dashed to stab the one that came from between the buildings to the north for a nice lot of sneaky damage. Orryk tried to use his water whip ability to knock that same one prone, but it it saved and wasn’t pulled over. Gurn took two slam attacks on the same one and hit it once for a lot of damage. Unfortunately, the second slam missed. Orryk then shot at it twice with his bow and got one hit.

Imaktis missed the first one with a firebolt then cast shillelagh and closed on it, but wasn’t able to get into position to attack. Joybell hit it twice, dropping it, but we knew that since it hadn’t taken fire damage yet, it would be regenerating.

FIona, seeing her cue in the cluster of enemies, cast a fireball on top of all three of them, including the one that was dropped. The downed one automatically failed the save and began to burn. The one that came from the north was screaming and on fire and the one that came from the south was very unhappy looking and lightly smoldering.

Mo cast a high-level blindness spell on the two remaining trolls. After that both of the trolls were screaming -- one from the fire and the other from being blinded.

The blinded troll then attacked Imaktis -- at least that’s who it seemed to be attacking, but its blind flails missed entirely. Frustrated, it shook its head and appeared to be able to see, but it couldn’t attack again immediately. The other one ignored Joybell and turned around to attack Taman, but it also missed wildly.

Taman, in return, attacked it, taking advantage of distraction to sneak attack. He dropped it with his attack, but knew that it would regenerate if someone couldn’t get fire or acid on it soon.

Orryk had Gurn slam twice at the one left standing but it missed both times. Orryk then took two shots with his bow and hit once.

Imaktis, in an attempt to deal with the one that just needed a bit of fire damage to keep it from regenerating, took a shot at it with a firebolt. Unfortunately, because it was prone he was unable to get a good shot at it and missed.

Joybell moved around the smoldering dropped troll to attack the one that was still standing. Fiona cast another fireball at ground zero on the trolls (and Taman, Imaktis and Joybell). The one that was still standing didn’t drop but the other two were burning corpses at the end of it.

Mo then viciously mocked the one remaining. “All of your friends are dead. Why don’t you join them?” And it died, mocked to death.

We attempted to loot the bodies, but the trolls had no loot. Orryk put out the fires using his ability to control flame and Gurn took the bodies out into the forest.

Joybell went to talk to the villagers and asked them about whether the trolls are a regular threat. They said that while the trolls have been in the area for a while, they didn’t generally come into the village to cause problems. Joybell told them that the source of the bulette and other hazards in the area was gone so they should be more or less back to normal now. She also told them that Gurn would be staying with them, under their control for a year. Then he would return to the plane of earth. She suggested that he could help them rebuild and possibly help survivors of other villages relocate to Tall Orchard.

Orryk spent the evening “teaching” the halflings’ cleric how to control Gurn. Mostly he was controlling Gurn while the halfling was there watching and maybe occasionally trying to get his hand on the control gem without success.

We made camp with our usual precautions. Orryk still had control of Gurn and had him bolstering our watches with a mostly subterranean patrol around the tiny hut.

The night passed without incident.

4 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 35)

In the morning we hitched up Horse 1 and Horse 2 to the wagon. Gurn put the gorgon head into the wagon and we covered it with a tarp.

As we left, Joybell and Mo told Tilia and Allard, the halfling teens we’d initially met, and the town elders that we could be contacted through the Administrator in Embernook. He’d hold letters for us if they were sent to him. Orryk and Joybell (at least) left the copper and silver coins they got from the myrriq’s hoard with the people of Tall Orchard to help them pay for rebuilding and reconstruction. (And so we didn’t have to haul it around with us.)

As we walked through the town, Orryk enjoyed his last few minutes of controlling Gurn, then, at or just beyond the borders of the village, he passed over the control gem, reluctantly, to the halfling cleric. Mo and Joybell talked about the value of setting up some sort of communication network so that people could get in touch with us if they needed our help -- sending a letter to us through the Administrator is not a quick way to communicate and emergency.

We traveled the six hours to Rodzun without incident and decided to press on for another four to get to Lunn, since the days were still quite long. Once we were on the main road, we moved pretty quickly so we could get to Lunn without it being too dark when we got there.

Orryk was Sad Orryk the whole way. We need to get him an elemental again.

In Lunn we found the most perfect inn -- called the Flying Turtle. Of course we stayed there. (There was another inn, but we didn’t care -- the Flying Turtle was the obvious choice.) Mo offered to perform for our lodgings (at a discount) but didn’t play his flute and sing this time -- instead he did a stand-up routine focusing on Dwarvish humor (rather earthy). He was an absolute riot and everyone loved him.

At the inn, we made our usual precautions and the night passed without incident.

5 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 36)

First thing the next morning, while we were having breakfast right around dawn (while the light was still quite dim in the town) there was a commotion out on the streets. The moment we heard screams, Joybell jumped on Scooby and ran outside.

Fiona took a last bite of her eggs, looked around for a second, then cast mage armor on herself.

When Joybell got to the door of the Flying Turtle’s tavern room, she saw a big long skinny thing with no skin wrapped around a person on the street, babbling crazily. The limbs didn’t bend right and it moved in a disturbingly off way. There were also 10 small creatures shaped like balls with big teeth in mouths that were continuously disappearing and reappearing in different locations on the creature’s body. They were also gibbering and babbling. There were two of them around the same civilian the tall lanky boneless looking thing was wrapped around and four around each of two other civilians. (1 Skinned One, 10 Star-Spawn Grues).

Taman moved out of the tavern, keeping his back to the wall by the door, and shot the skinned one with his longbow. When the arrow hit, the skinned one’s arms tightened around the civilian it was holding and that civilian went limp in its arms. Oh!

Fiona moved to just inside the door and took a shot at the skinned one with a firebolt and got a great shot for 15 points of damage. For good or ill, the civilian in its arms was already apparently dead, so this caused no further damage to be passed along to him.

The grues attacked. Four of them ripped a civilian apart just outside the door to the inn. The other four attacking a civilian got some hits, but didn’t kill her. The two that had been next to the skinned one came over to Taman, but weren’t able to attack.

Orryk, still annoyed at the world because he’d had an elemental under his control briefly and now didn’t, threw daggers from his Belt of Many Daggers at one of the ones on Taman and did a nice chunk of damage. Then he used his fists of unbroken air to punch it as well.

Orryk: If Gurn was here….

Mo moved next to FIona and viciously mocked the one that Orryk attacked (“Screw you guys!”) and then inspired Taman. Imaktis moved up and cast his spirit guardians -- flying turtles in the Flying Turtle!

The skinned one dropped his dead victim and moved up to the civilian that had been hurt by four grues and attacked twice. Joybell was preparing to scream in anger at having to watch it kill the civilian, but it missed both times.

Joybell rode over there on Scooby -- stopping a few feet away then sending Scooby off to protect any civilians not currently under attack before she closed on the skinned one on foot. She attacked but appeared to be hindered in her attacks by the small grues all around and missed both times.

The other civilians in the street screamed and scattered into houses and places of business, closing and locking doors behind them.

Taman drew his rapier and stabbed the same one Orryk attacked, dropping it. Then he turned to the other one on him, feeling a bit less nervous now that he wasn’t outnumbered.

We noticed that when the grues died, they sort of broke apart into flickering image fragments (like a hologram breaking into static), leaving no corpse or even residue behind.

Fiona stepped out of the building and found herself in a target rich environment. She cast scorching ray at the skinned one and two of her three rays hit.

The grues moved -- one group moved to surround Joybell and another to surround Fiona. Most of the ones on Fiona moved into Imaktis’ cloud of spirit turtles and took damage. All of the attacks of the four grues on FIona missed. The one remaining on Taman attacked him and missed. And the four on Joybell all missed.

Orryk moved to where he could back up Taman and threw two daggers at Taman’s grue, dropping it (with 21 points of damage!). Then he turned and did a flurry of blows with his fists of unbroken air on one of the ones on Fiona.

Mo moved out into the street and used 3 charges off the wand of magic missile to hit three of the four on Joybell (two of them with two darts each). None of them dropped but they all took some damage. Imaktis used a dash action to come up behind the grues on Joybell -- getting his spirit guardians into play against them.

Joybell attacked the skinned one, again hindered by the grues all around her, and managed to get one hit, despite them.

Imaktis noticed that the skinned one didn’t take as much damage as he should have from Joybell’s blow. It seemed like his shadow was absorbing some of the damage. (Joybell had two opportunities to notice this and failed both of them.)

The skinned one attacked Joybell and missed. He also failed to move out of the cloud of spirit turtles.

Taman moved over and sneak attacked one of the ones on FIona, doing enough damage to drop it.

Fiona cast misty step and moved out into the middle of the road and away from trouble. Then she firebolted one of the ones that had been attacking her for 15 points of damage. But that didn’t drop it.

On the grues’ turn, most of the ones in Imaktis’ spirit guardians cloud dropped to the claws of the tiny flying turtles. Only one stayed up. The two on Taman (formerly on Fiona) both missed.

Orryk moved into melee with one of the two on Taman and attacked with two daggers, getting two hits. He then did a flurry of blows - the first punch dropped one and the second punch dropped the other.

Mo viciously mocked the skinned one, but it saved. Then he inspired Imaktis. Imaktis, inspired, cast guiding bolt on the skinned one and it died in a brilliant flash of sparkling light. Joybell attacked the last grue and dropped it with a critical hit.

The civilian that had been surrounded and threatened (and even attacked) for several rounds broke out of her paralytic fear, screamed, and ran into the nearest building.

We got a look at the skinned one -- it looked like a big, deformed, skinless, slightly glistening humanoid dead guy. He didn’t appear to have any internal structure, no bones or cartilage. He did have internal organs, just no bones and no skin.

Imaktis: He probably left tracks.

Taman and Imaktis were both able to track the trail of bodily fluids and slime left by the skinned one. They came into town from Orlimmun, the next town on the way to Pelsoreen. So backtracking the monster would even be right on our way.

We put the skinned one’s body onto our cart, with the thought that Black Irnod might be interested in him when we got back to Pelsoreen. Then we loaded up the rest of our things, finished our breakfasts, and headed out toward Orlimmun.

After only about 15 minutes, we found a wagon on the side of the road. The trail of bodily fluids started there. In the back, we found a corpse that was literally nothing but skin and bones -- the parts that were missing from the skinned one. The empty skin was slumped back against the side of the wagon and had a book sitting in its lap. A few steps away from the wagon in the road we found the body of what we assumed had been the driver -- he had a bunch of open holes, like huge cysts the size of grapefruits had developed on his body and burst open. Or like things had hatched out of his body.

Glancing at the outside of the book, carefully, Fiona and Orryk didn’t see anything ominous about it. There was no title or marking on it -- it was just an ordinary looking book bound normally in ordinary looking leather.

Imaktis cast detect magic and found that the book is definitely magical and had elements of transmutation, conjuration and necromancy magic on it.

Fiona sat down and performed the ritual to cast identify and learned that it’s a book of the Hunger Between Worlds. Reading it is dangerous. Reading it out loud is even more so.

While she was doing that, the rest of us looked in the cart to see if we saw anything else. We found a traveler’s trunk or chest. Inside were some coins (amounting to 18gp in value total) and some papers which turned out to be correspondence.

The envelopes had all been discarded, so we had nothing with either the address of the recipient or the senders. All of the letters were written in different handwriting but they were all addressed to “Jorlas”. All of them were personal enough that there was no last name given.

One of the letters particularly caught our attention -- it told Jorlas (presumably the skinned one) to go to New Arvai to meet Elledrian, an elf librarian at the School of the World, and pick up a package, a book. He was to meet the letter-writer on the cart-track heading east from Rodzun. The letter was signed only with N.

Another letter gave Jorlas “greetings from the shadows of Promontory.” Taman remembered that Promontory is a neighborhood in Erlin, a city on the river between Embernook and New Arvai.

(Note: These letters are at the end of this session’s notes, they will be available as a handout and are also on the shared drive now.)

As we were looking at the letters and the cart, we noticed that Imaktis’ eyes weren’t pink any longer.

Joybell: Aw. It looked festive!

We left their wagon on the side of the road (on the grounds that it was not better than our wagon), but took the bodies (including all the parts of the skinned one) and cremated them.

Before we continued on our way, Joybell asked Orryk to take the orrery we got from the cleric of the Servants of the Hunger (see Session 9) out of the bag of holding. After a few moments of spinning, it began to point to this new book. When we put the book into the bag of holding, the orrery went back to spinning without indicating a direction.

Right. Both of those were left in the bag.

We took the box of letters to Jorlas and continued on our way to Tummeleen. We passed through Orlimmun around lunch time and continued without more than a brief rest stop. When we got to Tummeleen, we stayed again at the same in we’d been at on the way out -- the Sterling Scythe.

Mo played music at the inn, but it was a weird and unsettling day and it was not his best performance. Despite that, we did get our usual discount at the inn and he made 3gp in tips, because Tummeleen was hopping.

During the evening meal, Joybell asked the innkeeper if the two people from the cart -- Jornas and the driver who had the grues burst out of him - had stayed there, but the descriptions (as best she could give them) didn’t ring a bell.

Joybell: Have you heard of anyone in these parts whose name begins with N who might be into books?
Innkeeper, puzzled: No…

There was a three-cart trade caravan out of Pelsoreen staying at the Sterling Scythe for the night. They were traveling together for safety, but one was a spice merchant, one a fabric merchant and the third, much like the halflings we rescued from the ogres on the way out, a group of traveling artisans offering their skills in the small towns they went through. They were heading out to Rodzun and back, but didn’t seem to plan to head out into the smaller villages beyond Rodzun (like Tall Orchard).

We asked the fabric merchants if they were interested in the silk robes we’d gotten from the myrriq. They purchased them for 250gp each. (Which divided to 83gp each and 2 for the party kitty)

Joybell asked the innkeeper after those halflings we’d rescued and was told that they got gentle repose cast on their brother’s body and then headed to Pelsoreen. Hopefully they were able to get someone to resurrect him there.

Joybell, to the merchants: How are things in Pelsoreen? We left when there was this cold going around and there was some craziness with the slaves.
Merchant: They started looking at records and sorting things out to free people who shouldn’t have been slaves. Then right as we were leaving, we heard that some of the clerics of the Enthroned had made it all go away.
Joybell: Do you know of anyone whose name begins with N who might be interested in library books?
Merchant: No…
Joybell: Okay, thanks!

We then rested for the night, taking our usual precautions. It passed without incident.

6 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 37)

In the morning, before we left our room, Fiona cast a sending to Tulmor.

Fiona: We found another book of madness. Please advise. We’re a day out from Pelsoreen.
Tulmor, immediately: naughty word! <<long pause, but Fiona could tell that the spell’s connection remained open>> Book in bag of holding. Go to Pelsoreen. Moving probably safer than standing still.

This put Taman on edge and he spent the day on high alert as we traveled.

As we traveled this last day back to Pelsoreen, Mo named Horse 1 and Horse 2, Mr. Ed and Secretariat, respectively. Amazingly, despite having been named, the horses survived the day’s travel back to Pelsoreen.

The whole day’s travel was without incident and we were even fortunate that the causeway was up when we arrived, so we could cross straight into the city. (By certain broad values of fortunate, anyway.)

The causeway cost 1sp per person or mount and 1gp for the cart. So we just gave them the two extra gold from splitting up the proceeds of selling the robes the night before and crossed into Pelsoreen.

Taman started looking around for people following us as soon as we were in the city.

It looked pretty much like it did when we first arrived there. It was kind of late-ish in the day (the causeway is up just before sunset), but we went to Urlott’s with the gorgon head first, because we didn’t want to have to worry about it once we were in the city.

Taman: There are too many libraries in this city.
Fiona: <<blank disbelief>>

We gave the librarian at Urlott’s the gorgon head -- he received it with glee -- and got in return a library card allowing Fiona and Orryk entrance to the library.

We took a slightly round-about route from there to the Iron Steed so we could go past the House of Masks to see if it was occupied. Nothing was obvious from the street outside, so Mo cast clairvoyance, holding his hands over his eyes like a junior birdman hand-mask.

The circles over his eyes flared bright then glowed and he was looking into the back room of the House of Masks. He placed the clairvoyance sensor so he could see both of the storage rooms (but not the teleportation circle). It didn’t look the way we left it, but it wasn’t clear whether the place was reoccupied by Masks or if someone was squatting there. There were some supplies, but not as many as there had been. So Mo moved his hands away and held them out vibrating them, then covered his ears and listened for a moment through the spell -- he heard some movement from upstairs. When we looked at the upstairs windows, we could see a small amount of light.

Mo cast the spell again, this time placing the sensor in the barracks room upstairs. He could see 8 Masks moving around. They weren’t sleeping - they were resetting the barracks and fixing things up.

We don’t know if the teleportation circle had been repaired, but guessed most likely not because the Cracked Shield orcs busted it up good and that would take a bit of time to undo.

We continued on our way to the Iron Steed.

Orryk: If we had an earth elemental, we could just send it in to deal with them…

Later, after we’d had our dinners and were in our room at the inn, we talked a bit about the fact that it was not going to be difficult for the new Masks to figure out who had destroyed their operation here. Some of the citizens knew it was us even before Joybell failed to keep quiet about it. And we figured word like that would travel. We weren’t sure how good the Masks would be at extracting information from people (at least without breaking them in the process) and we weren’t sure how quickly word would spread that we were back in town. But we definitely need to stay on alert for the Masks to come after us.

Taman: Are we going to kill these new Masks?
Orryk: If they’re just going to go kidnap more kids to make more Masks, that’s not a good idea.
Joybell: I agree with Orryk. I hate it. We need to find their home base and destroy them there. Entirely. If we kill these, more kids will be hurt.

We then made our usual precautions and set watches, in case the Masks came for us. And in case cultists figured out how to track the Book of Madness in the bag of holding. Taman and Joybell had the first watch, Mo and Imaktis the second and Orryk and Fiona the third.

With, or despite, all of our precautions, the night passed without incident.

7 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 38)

Over breakfast we made a plan for the day. Orryk and Fiona were going to head to Urlott’s to do research there -- into the House of Masks and what kind of weird magic could turn pre-pubescent children into goliath-sized assassins with a hive mind. Joybell wanted to go talk to Black Irnod to see if he could do anything with the gorgon snot (or recommend someone who could). She also wanted to check in with the Cracked Shield and see how they’d weathered the pink-eye plague and how the Orcphans were doing. Taman planned to go with Joybell to keep her out of trouble. And Mo and Imaktis, after realizing that they didn’t know where to start with their idea of finding a genie to kill, decided to go with Taman and Joybell.

When we left the inn, we had two tails. So at least two of the Corporations had figured out that we were back.

It was just a matter of time before the Masks did as well.

We ended there as we were heading out of the inn to drop Orryk and Fiona at the library to do their research.


We converted 2 silk robes (250 gp each) into gold.

18gp worth of assorted coinage from the wagon where we found the Book of Madness

Dividing that up each of us got:

89gp (the 2 gp left over went immediately to pay the toll at the causeway to Pelsoreen)

Book of Madness (Crazy Book 2, in the bag of holding)
Box of letters to Jorlas

Party Kitty:

We paid for 1 night of lodging at the Iron Steed in Pelsoreen (at 6 gp/night) and 2 nights of travel on the road (at 3 gp/night, because Mo sang us a discount). So taking out 12 gp for lodging, the party kitty currently has: 1 pp, 7 gp, 14 sp, and 14 cp

Note: The letters we found with the Book of Madness are below.

Jorlas —

Greetings from the shadows of Promontory! I'm thankful this morning that the winds are blowing off the Hochor, so neither Feedlot nor The Silos are spreading their smells over my breakfast.

I know you have a reputation to uphold, as a finder of things, but it's been months since you've been here for more than a week at a time, and the kids are missing you in their lives (and I am missing you in our bed). Maybe you could take a few months off, when you finish this job you're on now?

Last letter, you said you expected to be in New Arvai for a while. I heard from Allina that her Talnan got the pox while he was there, and he gave it to her. So if you're lonely of an evening, there, go ahead and spend more to keep us both healthy.

Timma and Ennert are doing well. Ennert has been going down the Ladder to Shift Beach a lot, lately, and he's been bringing back fish that have been good eating indeed. Timma has just started trying to help me with chores and errands around the house.

All my love and loyalty,


Jorlas —

Good that you tracked down the book. Better that it hasn't been at the School of the World for long. You probably won't be able to steal it from them; mages protect their libraries well.

There's an elf working there as a librarian, name of Elledrian. Ask him if the Raven Queen knows where he is. Once you do that, you can probably get him to give you the book. I'd be happy to come and negotiate on my own behalf, but I'd rather not take the risk of meeting my cousin.

Once you have the book, you'll need to start moving. There are people looking for the book with ways to find it. Go to Pelsoreen, then head east. The main road ends at Rodzun, but you can keep going east on a cart-track. I'll meet you on that cart-track, and then you can get back to your wife and kids.


Dearest Martra—

This job has been trying, indeed, and I hope that my employer (whose name I have promised not to disclose to anyone) lives up to their word and pays me exceedingly well.

I received your letter right before I left New Arvai. I assure you I am not coming home bearing a pox, just the more conventional gifts a traveler picks up for his family. I just left Pelsoreen, on a cart, with a hired driver named Landrim. He's a quiet guy, content to drive and leave me to my thoughts.

I wish I were home right now. The book I have found scares me like no other item I have held. In the quiet I swear I can hear it whispering my name, and my dreams at night are of a writhing blackness


Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Session 20: Vengeance Is Another Word for Pain

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

7 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 38)

In our room before heading out for the day, we discussed both our immediate plans for the day and sort of intermediate-term plans about what our next steps would be.

We hoped that Tulmor would come to Pelsoreen, take the Book of Madness back to Embernook, and then we’d head out east of Rodzun to see about meeting up with the mysterious N. and learning about things there. None of us were keen on taking the Book of Madness that killed two people just by reading it to the Person Who Wanted it without a lot more information about what they wanted it for and why. (Joybell continued to hold out hope that N. wants to take the Book of Madness out of circulation and is really a good person.)

Mo suggested hiring the Cracked Shield to go deal with N. Imaktis suggested talking to some clerics about the Servants of the Hunger (and the Hunger Between Worlds) and what they know about the various Books of Madness.

Fiona used a sending spell to ask Tulmor when she could come to Pelsoreen to get the Book. Tulmor responded that she’d come to Pelsoreen around dinner time but can’t take the book for reasons she’d explain when she got here.

Before we left, Orryk took out the Orrery and let it spin. After a few moments, it settled that it was wavering in an arc that pointed toward the Heights district of the city -- where the libraries and universities are.

Mo suggested that he and Imaktis should go sneak around in the Heights and find where the Orrery is pointing to on the grounds that they were very stealthy.

Orryk: Sure. <as he put the Orrery back in the bag of holding>

So the plan for the day had Fiona and Orryk doing research on the Masks at Urlott’s. Possibly also on the Books of Madness if Urlott’s will let them do side research that wasn’t included in the gorgon head contract.

Joybell (with Taman as a minder) wanted to do 3 things: talk to the Cracked Shield to warn them that the Masks were back in town and see how they were doing; talk to Black Irnod about who could do something with the gorgon sinus material and if he knows anyone out in the mountains who might be N.; and to find a nice present for Ammoch, the halfling with the teleportation circle in Pelsoreen.

Mo wanted to talk to the Cracked Shield about how much it would cost to hire them to go deal with N. and then he and Imaktis planned to talk to some clerics about the Hunger Between Worlds and the Books of Madness.

Imaktis: It’s really sad when the orcs are the high moral compass in this town.

As we left the inn, Taman noticed, sort of in passing, that we had two groups of tails. He noticed initially one set, but then he noticed that they were avoiding being noticed by someone else and that cued him to spot the other group. We dropped FIona and Orryk off at Urlotts and continue on to the Cracked Shields.

Taman, as we were walking: We need to take on all five corporations and take down Pelsoreen.
Mo: I’ve been saying that since we got here!

At the Cracked Shield, Joybell knocked then backed away from the door so that the orc looking through the priest hole could see her.

Joybell: The Masks are back in town.
Orc: We know. They’ve been here about five days.
Joybell: You haven’t had any problems with them? Do your healers and clerics know the right magics?
Orc: We’re working on that.
Joybell: Good. How are the children?
Orc: They’re good.

To emphasize his point, we heard happy kid noises from behind the compound fence -- squealing and running and laughter.

Then Mo started talking to them about if they could be hired to go and kidnap N. He made it clear that he was just gathering information at this time, not making an agreement or contract. The orc at the door went to get Rask, the leader of the Cracked Shield. Rask said that because we know so little about N. and what N. is capable of, he would not be comfortable agreeing to kidnap or kill N. But for 5 gp a day, he’d send a group out to get information. Mo suggested that perhaps, in addition to the 5 gp a day, there could be a bonus of 300 gp if the team felt they could take the person and they brought the person back. Rask suggested that, depending on the difficulty of kidnapping the person and transporting him or her that bonus might appropriately be more or less than 300 gp. Mo accepted that and said we’d let them know if we were going to hire them.

Once done at the Cracked Shield, Joybell and Taman went to Black Irnod’s. He did not know anyone out east of Rodzun whose name begins with N. who might be interested in books. He did, however, recommend an alchemist in the Stonetree neighborhood, a rock gnome named Burnocka. This is the same alchemist who was recommended to Mo by the cleric at the Purveyors and Wrights we spoke to when we first arrived in Pelsoreen.

While that was happening, Mo and Imaktis shopped around and bought a wooden box with a lead lining that would hold the Book of Madness. They met up with Taman and Joybell again at the temple of the Joyful.

Meanwhile, Team Library was figuring out the system at Urlott’s. Unlike the other libraries they’ve researched at, Urlott’s doesn’t allow direct access to the stacks. There is, however, an excellent catalog and the librarians will bring you the books that you want. With the help of the thoroughly indexed catalog (and some great rolls) Fiona and Orryk found their way to some records, including a hand-written journal, from a group of soldiers at the end of the Fiend Wars who’d gone down into the underdark to the cities of the Duergar and Drow to close gates to the Abyss. While there, they found some Illithid hives. The hives were in the process of being abandoned, perhaps because demons and devils had started occupying the underdark.

These soldiers found that the Illithid had sort of techno-magical (or magical-techno) machines that could modify their slaves physically -- making them more useful or more suited to specific purposes. Some of those modifications seem to be like what has happened to the children who become the Masks. It’s possible that someone found or took one of those machines and made it so that it would make the Masks.

These reports and journal entries were from near the end of the Fiend Wars, and therefore 800 or so years old, so there’s not likely a direct line from the writers to whoever might currently have one of those machines. However, they were found in the Dunnimar Mountains (the ones to the west of Pelsoreen in the southern part of Urnod). When we talked about this later, Joybell noted that the Wold was located at the northern edge of the Dunnimar Mountains, which is broadly in the same area. (On the other hand, Barnett’s encounter with the Masks was up near Auriqua, a long way away.)

Unfortunately there were no names associated with these journals and reports. And, according to the reports, they broke up and destroyed the machines they found.

The only Illithids reported by any of the expeditions into the underdark were those in the Dunnimar Mountains.

After that tremendous success, they looked into the Crazy Books and the Hunger Between Worlds, but didn’t learn much that they didn’t already know.

While they were in the library (in the Heights), Orryk took out the Orrery to see what would happen. It spun freely.

Team Not-Library rejoined at the temple of the Joyful to talk to Tormaz the cleric. As we entered, Mo dropped a couple hundred copper pieces in the poor box outside the door. As they have before, someone from the temple came by and collected most of it, leaving some for the poor to take if they needed it.

Mo: We found an artifact and are looking for information about the Hunger Between Worlds.
Tormaz, with a knowing nod: You found a book.
Mo: Yes. Do you know anyone who would be interested in one? Or why someone would be interested in having one brought to him?
Tormaz: Someone might be trying to keep it out of circulation.
Joybell, satisfied that someone else mentioned her theory: Thank you!
Tormaz: Some of the books are rumored to have power that doesn’t make you mad. But I’ve never known it to happen. Also, a member of a cabal may be trying to move it from where no one is reading it to where people can.
Joybell: That makes sense. It was in a library -- maybe the librarians were keeping it safe. So removing it got it out into circulation.
Imaktis: Do they affect everyone the same? Can some people control what happens to them?
Tormaz: The results can be unpredictable. Different readers get turned into different things.
Imaktis: Can people control the chaos?
Tormaz: I suppose it’s possible. But I’ve never heard of it happening. Someone who’s already corrupted might get something other than more corruption.
Joybell: Do you know of anyone whose name begins with N. who might be looking for a book like this?
Tormaz: Not in Pelsoreen.
Joybell: What about out of Pelsoreen?
Tormaz: I don’t know anyone.
Imaktis: Is it possible to track or detect the corruption?
Tormaz: It might be detectable.
Mo: What are they getting out of this? The books kill people.
Joybell: They’re increasing the chaos in the world. Think about what happened in Tummeleen.

After that we left the temple of the Joyful and went to the alchemist in Stonetree, Burnocka. On the way, Joybell found a nice tea set for Ammoch (the halfling with the teleportation circle) as a present for letting us use his place as a transit hub.

The alchemist, Burnocka, was very gnome and he and Joybell had a very gnome conversation of hepped-up, fast talking, the upshot of which was that he’s going to work on the gorgon snot (and sinus material) and see what he can make out of it. He’s excited to work on it. Joybell is excited to have him work on it. There was much excitement all around. He should have something in a couple of days and will know how much it will cost when he’s done. He’ll hold whatever he comes up with for a month after he’s done and then he’ll sell it or whatever to cover his costs.

After that, we all met up at the inn. On the way from Urlott’s to the Iron Steed, Orryk sold the random swords and armor and bows and crap that had accumulated in the bag of holding. (Treasure disbursement is at the end of the notes.)

Once we were assembled, we went together to Ammoch’s so that we would be there when Tulmor arrived. She showed up a little bit before dinner, looking a bit harried and haggard. Over dinner (location undetermined, but possibly back at the Iron Steed), she explained to us that Barnett had been wearing himself thin working to restore Harl’s library. As a result of that, he’d been spending more time in Kalmarn than she anticipated, which was taking time and energy away from other things. And she was having to shoulder more of the load of their operations in Embernook.

We asked her how Barnett was doing and she said that he’d doing better than when we left, which is good because he was bad then. However, their library is shared and she wasn’t going to put a Book of Madness in it where he could stumble over it unawares.

Joybell: We got a lead box for it and could put a lock on that. I understand that your library is shared and you don’t want to put a dangerous book in it. But could you have a box in your room?

That just got her a look from Tulmor.

Tulmor: How did you come to have this?
Orryk: One thing led to another...there was screaming and we investigated.

Joybell then gave her the full story.

At that time we slipped the Book out of the bag of holding and directly into the lead-lined box. Orryk took out the Orrery to see what it would do - as it had in the Iron Steed before, it pointed generally toward the Heights again, swinging slowly back and forth in an arc.

We talked a bit about the little we know of N. and Jorlas, the courier/procurer of books.

Mo: What do you think?
Tulmor: I wish I knew more about this person.
Joybell: That’s why we want to go see who wanted it.
Fiona: But we don’t want to deliver the book to him or her.
Joybell: But there’s a chance it’s a good person who wants to take the book out of circulation. It’s not likely but it could be.

Tulmor thought for a little bit then said she had an idea about where we could take the book.

We followed her to Thani-Breel, past the library and into the faculty lodging in the magical college. She was able to walk through the faculty lodging, which had a sort of upscale hotel feel, without anyone stopping her -- she was walking like she belonged there.

She knocked on a door and was greeted by a very old looking dwarf, who looked both surprised and happy to see her. We were all introduced to Amlorr.

Tulmor, to Amlorr: We need to use your safe safe for a while.

He looked at her for a second then nodded. Standing on a chair he reached into a painting over the fireplace that flickered as he passed his hand through. Taman could hear the sound of clicking tumblers in a combination lock. Then there were some other noises and he opened the safe behind the illusory painting. When he opened it the whole room got a little dimmer, like the interior of the safe was absorbing the light.

Amlorr: What needs to go in?
Orryk, to Tulmor: You trust him?
Tulmor: He’s saved Barnett’s life several times.
Orryk, to Amlorr: A book of the Outer Darkness.
Amlorr: Ah.
Joybell: We have it in a lead-lined box.
Amlorr: That probably made it safer for you to carry.
Orryk: In the bag of holding.
Joybell: Belt and suspenders.

Joybell told him that it was in the library of the School of the World in New Arvai. An elf librarian there, Elledrian, gave it to the courier/procurer. Amlorr knew that librarian and was surprised that he gave the book to someone -- Elledrian is a sensible librarian, quiet and bookish. We mentioned that the letter told Jornas to ask Elledrian about the Raven Queen. Orryk was sure that was some sort of threat, and that’s the explanation that makes the most sense.

Amlorr asked to look at the letters so we showed them to him. After reading them he told us that he believed that N. is one of the youngest fey, a woman known as the Keeper of Secrets.

We speculated for a bit about why she might want it. Taman knows a bit about the fey but not tons and mostly about the Tundra Queen. But if she’s the Keeper of Secrets, she’s probably not going to be sharing it or giving it to others. Secrets are only secrets if they’re kept hidden.

Joybell: So she would take it out of circulation.
Amlorr: You night be able to negotiate with her to get information. Maybe about other fey, including her mother, the Tundra Queen.

As we were talking, Orryk took out the Orrery to see what it would do. It spun for a bit then settled down to pointing in three different directions in turn.

Amlorr, noting the Orrery: There might be some things in less safe storage. There are many who use some of the storage here in the university and the library. They may not all be books. There may be other magic items connected to the Hunger Between Worlds in personal collections.

(GM: Or in warehouses waiting to be looked at by Top Men.)

Joybell: When we want to collect the book, can we just come to get it? Will we need Tulmor?
Amlorr: I can make arrangements for you to come in without her.

Before Tulmor left, we asked how Embernook is doing. She said that the city is fine.

Orryk: Of course. We’re not there.

She also said that there were rumors that Administrator Alighieri was looking into installing scorpion pits.

Just before she left she handed Fiona a card with a series of symbols on it.

Tulmor: It’s best if no one else sees this. This is the sigils for the teleportation circle in Barnett’s room in Embernook. We rebuilt it.

Then she left and we made our goodbyes with Amlorr.

We proceeded to walk around the Heights, attempting to triangulate the locations of the three things the Orrery was pointing at. Orryk and Fiona tried to figure it out but were having trouble working out the locations. Fortunately Taman’s knowledge and understanding of geography and spatial relations gave him an edge on figuring the three locations. One of the sources was in Carveen’s, the library that deals with summonings (and requires blood samples as payment for entry). One was in the headquarters of the office of the city government responsible for sewage and water. And the third was in one of the buildings of the college of Thani-Breel.

After that, we went back to the Iron Steed, making our usual preparations (a tiny hut and an alarm spell) and rested for the night. It passed without incident.

8 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 39)

The next morning, our plan was to head back to Rodzun when the causeway came up in the evening. So Taman, Fiona, and Mo worked on getting the wagon and Secretariat (Horse2) and Mr. Ed (Horse1) ready for the journey -- getting supplies as needed.

While they were doing that, Orryk, Joybell and Imaktis went back to Thani-Breel to talk to Amlorr about the three points we had mapped using the Orrery. He was amused that we triangulated those locations and told us a little bit about them. He also reminded us that the Orrery doesn’t only point to books -- apparently, it points to all manner of things connected to the Hunger Between Worlds.
  • One point is in a classroom in Thani-Breel. It’s a summoning stone that summons starspawn. It is used as part of teaching a class on Really Bad Ideas as a sterling example of one. It is harmless unless someone is handling it and it is kept in a locked and sealed cabinet.
  • Carveen’s may have intact specimens of monsters from the Hunger Between Worlds. Or they may have means to summon things that they can then examine.
  • He had no idea why one might be in the sewers. No idea at all.
He told us that the Orrery would point to the monsters as well as the book. Also to other types of items, like the summoning items.

We thanked him for the information and then left, heading back to hook up with the others at the Iron Steed and finalize preparations to head out to meet with N. to see if we could get information about the Tundra Queen and Ildna, the rogue dilyarli that killed Taman’s family, from her.

That plan was entirely derailed, because as we were approaching the Iron Steed, we heard a some commotion and saw people running. They said something about things happening at the Cracked Shield. (Note: They must have been coming to find us specifically because we’re known to have a connection to the Cracked Shield -- otherwise Pelsoreen is big enough and the Iron Steed is far enough away from the Cracked Shield that people wouldn’t be screaming and running and stuff from something happening way over there.)

Orryk and Imaktis stopped at the inn to get the others, but Joybell continued riding Scooby hard to get there as quickly as possible. Because of that she got to the street outside the Cracked Shield’s compound with the rest of the party 300 feet or so behind her.

When we got there the fence surrounding the Cracked Shield’s compound had 12 Masks (eep!) along the whole street facing side, with six of them near the end with the entrance (a little cubicle area that jutted out from the rest of the fence, and the others in groups of two ranged out about 30 feet further along.

Taman, seeing the situation from a distance, took a shot at the nearest one and hit it, doing a nice bit of damage. Then he moved and dashed.

In the nearer group of Masks (1-6) half of them started working on dismantling the doors and the other half drew their swords and turned to face Joybell and the rest of the party.

Fiona cast flying on herself and took off. Orryk took two shots with his shortbow, but because of the distance he missed with both. Then he went back to running forward.

Joybell, on Scooby, suddenly realized that she was a long way ahead of the rest of the party and there were a whole lot of Masks there. She decided against riding right into the middle of them -- so she stopped in the road and threw a javelin at the same one Taman had shot at, missing.

Joybell: Hey! Stop that!

The Masks from the other end of the building (7-12) started moving toward this end, but were still a ways off.

Mo, running, paused for a moment to cast haste on Orryk.

Mo: Go get ‘em!

Imaktis and Taman decided that Taman would use the Cape of the Mountebank to dimension door both of them into a closer position. So Imaktis cast spirit guardians, calling up his cloud of protective flying turtles, and otherwise kept pace with Taman. Taman then grabbed a hold of him and bamfed both of them to a point a few feet in front of Joybell. Then Taman moved back some, not really wanting to be in the front lines against the Masks again.

The Masks that had drawn their swords (1, 3, and 4) moved to a position just outside of Imaktis’ cloud of Spirit Guardians and waited, though we weren’t sure for what.

Fiona continued flying closer, still working to get into spell range. Orryk, crazy fast anyway and hasted thanks to Mo, closed a lot of the distance and took two more shots with his shortbow, hitting Mask 3. Joybell moved up to a position where she was inside the cloud of spirit guardians but could attack Mask 3 then she cast wrathful smite and hit it for a pretty modest amount of damage but, importantly, stunning it and knocking out its regeneration for the round. Then she stepped further back into the cloud of spirit guardians.

Masks 7, 8 and 9 moved up, drawing their swords and taking up positions to sort of surround Joybell and Imaktis, boxing them in. However, they wouldn’t enter the guardians.

Mo continued running as fast as he could. Everyone else had taken off and left him behind. (Literally -- Fiona flew away, Orryk was off like a hasted cheetah, and Taman and Imaktis bamfed away with the dimension door.)

Imaktis moved 10 feet forward, to get some Masks into the spirit guardian range, then he cast shillelagh on his staff and started to dodge -- nimble tortle evasive maneuvering.

Taman took a shot with his longbow at Mask 3 (already injured and stunned) and got a nice hit for a good deal of damage. He was also keeping an eye on a group of Masks that was coming along the fronts of the buildings across the street from the Cracked Shield compound -- sort of approaching the party from the flank.

Masks 1 and 4 moved past Imaktis and into the cloud of spirit turtles to attack Joybell. Mask 1 hit twice and Mask 4 hit once and with the three hits she took 38 points of damage (and was down by almost 2/3ds in one round). Eep. Those two Masks did take some damage from the spirit turtles. Unfortunately, at the end of the round Mask 3 came un-stunned.

Fiona flew up and cast fireball on the cluster around Imaktis and Joybell, catching Masks 1, 3, 4,7, and 8. Mask 3, which had been unable to regenerate the damage it had already taken, dropped, but was going to come back if it didn’t get some psychic or necrotic damage on it.

Orryk took three shots with his shortbow, thanks to being hasted, hitting with all of them. Nice! Then he moved around the side of the cluster of Masks, staying out of the group, and used a bonus action to dodge. Joybell cast wrathful smite again and hit Mask 1 with both of her attacks, dropping it for good.

The Masks (from the far end) coming around the flank of the party moved toward Taman, but didn’t get all the way to him.

Mo kept on chugging.

Imaktis tolled the dead on Mask 3, killing it for real. Then he cast healing word on Joybell to her great relief. Taman moved around toward where Orryk was, off to the side and out of easy range, then used insightful fighting to try and get a read on Mask 9, which worked, but then he missed with his longbow.

Mask 4 attacked Imaktis, who used a Shield spell to protect himself from the attack. Then the Mask took damage from the spirit guardians. Masks 2, 5, and 6, which had been working on the gates this whole time broke through into the fenced compound of the Cracked Shield and whatever the orcs had waiting for them.

Fiona cast a fireball that caught Masks 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. (Literally all of them that were still standing, except the three at the gates to the compound, were in range of the fireball.)

Orryk took a shot at Mask 4, hitting it and dropping it, but it was going to regenerate without the right kind of damage to keep it down. Then he shot at Mask 8, hitting it as well. Then he backed off a bit to stay out of range.

Player: Orryk is basically a machine gun of arrows.

All of the Masks that weren’t already surrounding Joybell and Imaktis moved in -- Imaktis was in melee with Masks 4, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 and Joybell was in melee with Masks 4, 10, and 9. Imaktis was almost completely surrounded. Mask 9 hit Joybell, not quite hard enough to drop her, but oh so close (3 hp left).

Imaktis got critted by the first of the Masks to attack him (54 points of damage) and was dropped on the first swing. The others surrounding him attacked as well, and in the space of a few seconds Imaktis was dead, slashed into ribbons by the Masks’ brutal attacks.

We didn’t have time to react, because there were still seven Masks alive, and they were all going to be surrounding Joybell (who was hanging on by a thread) any second now.

Mo moved forward and, finally in range, cast hypnotic pattern right on top of Joybell. Everyone had to save against the mesmerising effect of the pretty lights. Fortunately, Joybell had no trouble with the save. Even more fortunately, most of the Masks were stunned by the pattern (Masks 4, 7, 9, 10, and 12), leaving only two un-stunned.

The three Masks at the gate had gone inside the compound and we could hear combat and the ringing of bells.

Taman moved around so he could get a good shot on one of the Masks that wasn’t stunned by the hypnotic pattern. After using insightful fighting, he was able to do a lot of damage to Mask 8 and dropped it.

Mask 4 regenerated some of the damage it had taken, but it was still stunned by the pretty lights.

Fiona cast magic missile on the only one still standing that wasn’t stunned by the hypnotic pattern and did 11 points of damage. Orryk moved around to attack Mask 11 with daggers from the belt, doing 9 points of damage. He then tried to do a stunning strike but the Mask saved. His flurry of blows both missed.

Joybell moved and attacked the same one (Mask 11) with a wrathful smite -- hitting and stunning it and leaving it afraid of her (and therefore at disadvantage when attacking).

Mask 8 regenerated and stood up. It was at that point the only one not stunned by one effect or another. Instead of attacking it turned and headed toward its colleagues in the compound -- where we could still hear the sound of combat and the ringing of spiritual bells.

Mo continued his advance and used the wand of magic missiles on Mask 11, hoping to drop it before it shook off the stunned effect from Joybell’s wrathful smite. But it stayed up. Then Taman drew his rapier and attacked the same one, hitting it for a lot of damage (22 points) but still not dropping it.

Mask 4, which had been dropped at one point, kept on regenerating, Fortunately, it was watching the lights and didn’t take any action.

Fiona cast magic missile at Mask 11, finally dropping it for real! Because of the wrathful smite it was going to stay down.

Orryk moved so he could see through the broken doorway into the compound. He could see two dead Masks, really dead (of the four that had gone that way). He also saw a few downed orcs and a lot of orcs fighting. He could hear someone that sounded like Rask giving orders. The Masks had gone deeper into the compound, past the vestibule which is all we’d ever seen of it. He then moved back to where the party was with the stunned Masks in the hypnotic pattern and held his action to punch anything that got viciously mocked by Mo.

With the situation at least temporarily in stasis and no opponents able to attack her, Joybell laid hands on herself giving herself all the healing energy she could muster.

Then the injured Masks regenerated.

Mo moved up and viciously mocked Mask 9 -- which broke the stun from the hypnotic pattern but stunned it from the psychic damage. Orryk then took his held action to attack and got a hit himself. Taman attacked and hit with a sneak attack. Fiona used a magic missile, but because it had been regenerating the damage it had taken from the fireballs, it was still up. Finally Orryk dropped it.

Proceeding thusly -- dog-piling all together on one Mask at a time and with Mo’s vicious mockery to provide the requisite psychic damage we dropped all the Masks out in the street before the hypnotic pattern ended.

When the last one dropped, Joybell ran into the compound to see how the orcs had fared and if they needed help. She found 4 dead Masks and 4 dead orcs. The survivors inside were very grateful we showed up, because without us all 12 of the Masks would have gotten into the compound.

She acknowledged that with a distant nod and went back out to where the party was clustered around Imaktis’ fallen body. She sat down near Imaktis’ body, next to Taman, and cried.

Imaktis is dead.

Treasure (from the sale of the bows and swords and crap in the bag of holding)

53gp, 8sp and 5 cp per person (including Imaktis)

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