Gears of Revolution: Notes on my campaign


In my group, the party just bargained with Asrabey for Nathan and left. They didn't bother to try and fight him...or rescue the Duchess.

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First Post
Session 8a: A Day in the Life

Session Recap

In the days and weeks after the incident on Axis Island, RT3 returned to their usual routine. Wilheim heard from one of his contacts that Nathan Jierre has indeed been offered asylum by Risur and was hosted by a Flint noble named Anton Feldspar. The young tiefling was said to be continuing his studies in astronomy.

For a while, the investigators were minor celebrities, but news soon became old and the press moved on to current stories, like the impending wedding of well-to-do socialite and famous bachelor Guy Goodson.

As spring blossomed throughout Flint, a badly mauled body was discovered in the Nettles and RT3 was assigned the case. Their investigations soon discovered that a pit fighting ring had sprung up in which the involuntary combatants were pitted against wild animals. Tok convinced some ne’er-do-wells that he was interested in betting on the fights, and managed to talk his way into the underground area where a fight was taking place. Unexpectedly, the floor shook and dust fell from the roof as Flint shuddered under a minor earthquake – the first in living memory. RT3 knew they were outnumbered, but recorded the names of a number of people present and collared them later. Under interrogation, they revealed that Barris, a dragonborn lieutenant of the crime boss Lorcan Kell, was organising the fights. RT3 tracked Barris to a fight at a dockside tavern named the Undertaker’s Repose. With the aid of squads of Flint police, RT3 busted the fight and took Barris alive. The dragonborn was convicted of arranging the fights and sentenced to 6 months prison in the Goodson Estuarial Reformitary, a floating prison in Flint Bay. The greater charge – murder – didn’t stick.

Sara’s pregnancy progressed apace, and she began to show the signs of her impending motherhood. She complained to Erik that he was away too often, and that she didn’t feel safe among the isolated houses of Pine Islands. She insisted that Erik install iron bars on the windows and a crossbar on the door, and she took to scattering salt at the thresholds to the house – a folk ward against magical creatures.

Late one afternoon when Erik had called in sick, Assistant Chief Inspector Delft called RT3 into his office. Brandishing an official-looking scroll, he angrily informed the investigators that Minister for Outsiders Lya Jierre had filed a formal complaint against them. “What were you thinking, lying about the whereabouts of her cousin?” Fortunately, Delft seemed more concerned about the pressure he was receiving from Inspectress Saxby than about Lya Jierre’s displeasure. When Tok explained that it had been Erik that mislead Lya and that Tok had not felt like he could counter his sergeant in front of a Danoran, Delft accepted the excuse and dismissed the squad

As spring faded, and the heat of summer approached, a spate of thefts in the Artisan’s market in Bosum Strand drew the RHC’s attention. The thefts were not violent, but the merchandise taken was valuable, so the RHC was called to investigate. Initially RT3 were baffled, but when the thief attempted to lift Thornt’s purse, the shifter discovered that it was a pixie behind the crime wave. Another quake – bigger than the last – threw the market into chaos and the thief escaped. Tok and Thornt set up a sting, and RT3 tracked the thief into the Cloudwood. Passing through the thick forest, they felt eyes on them at all times, and a primal feeling of dread settled on them. Only Thornt seemed immune.
Eventually, RT3 discovered the pixie’s home – decorated with the sparkling proceeds of his crimes - and his heavily-pregnant wife. The creatures were too agile to capture, but Tok managed to (with some assistance from Erik’s brandished pistol) convince the pixie to cease his crime wave. RT3 took back the stolen wares, and in return Thornt left his coin pouch behind.

RT3 returned to Central District and filed their investigation report. As they left for the day, Tok discovered a scroll in his pigeonhole. Delivered shortly before by the RHC mail clerk Alton, it was nevertheless strange:

I wasn't comfortable hand-waving the three months between Island and Skyseer, so I wanted to fill that time with some events to give the campaign a feeling of continuity.

I also wanted to investigate the interplay between the PCs, to see what could be made of it. I knew that Wilheim's player wanted his PC to be the group sergeant, and I also knew that Erik's player disapproved of Tok sneaking off during the assault on Axis Fort. I had planned to open the session by asking Erik's player exactly what he put in his report - and then Tok's player what he thought of that. Unfortunately, Erik's player couldn't make tonight's session so that opportunity went begging.

Once I do know, I have plans to use any discontent between the two characters. Specificially, Inspectress Saxby will approach Tok to ask him to file secret reports on Erik's actions. Purportedly, she is concerned about his leadership in the wake of the Jierre incident, but in reality she wants a mole inside RT3 to make sure they don't discover anything they shouldn't.

I adopted the same question and answer format as in Session 0, and the resulting investigations are almost entirely player-created. My only contributions were the earthquakes (I didn't want to first mention them during Skyseer itself), identifying Barris as a lieutenant of Lorcan Kell (for obvious reasons; although the fight ring is the sort of deliciously cruel thing the Kell Guild would get involved in), and naming a pixie as the thief in the second investigation.

I obviously also worked in mention of Sara's pregnancy. I tried not to overplay it, but Checkov's Gun applies here and I'm sure Erik's player will be suspicious when he reads the recap.

I've been thinking for a while about what side plots I can run for the other PCs. Thornt's player has stated that the PC was created by a weretiger, and it occured to me before the session that I should aim higher: a rakshasa! I'll dwell on that plotline for a while, and it'll probably play out in late heroic or early paragon.

Wilheim's player believes that the PC was an eladrin before becoming a Deva, and I'm toying with the idea of in fact making him one of the Clergy's generals - the one who struck the killing blow to Srasama. Again, that's something that would play out at higher levels, but I can throw the odd flashback and strange feeling his way in the interim to keep him baited.

As for Tok, I had an epiphany while mowing the lawn 4 hours before the session. The most notable character trait of the changeling is a love of puzzles, so I'd use that as his plotline by taking a leaf from the Riddler's book in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Someone or something out in Flint is up to no good, and it has decided to taunt Tok with riddles hinting at what is going on.

The first note was a simple cryptogram, that translates as:
Eight there will be, and many more
On street, in sewer, neath swampy shore
A warning is given, for one to tell
Hear it tolling, devastation's bell
I haven't quite determined where I will take this, but I'm leading toward a sort of zodiac killer - someone or something who kills a victim for each of the distant planes using an appropriate method: radiant energy for Vona, sleepwalking for Av, etc. Tok is the intended final victim, and his death (Nem) will cap a ritual that brings devastation to Flint. The killer will leave riddles at each of the crime scenes, hinting at what is to come.

I'm leaning towards a Mind Flayer as Tok's nemesis. Their psionic powers lend them well to getting others to do their dirty work - such as convinced Mail clerk Alton to deliver an innocent scroll...
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I enjoyed solving the cryptogram. It's been a while. Glad I didn't scroll down too fast.

Heads up. In adventure 3,

there is a psionic villain, sort of mind flayer esque, but the adventure kind of precludes him from being your zodiac killer, because he was trapped on a different plane for thousands of years.

Also, Governor Stanfield eventually reincarnates as a rakshasa in adventure 9.[/sblock]


First Post
Session 8

Session recap:

RT3's members returned to RHC headquarters the next morning, eager to quiz Alton about how the strange scroll had made its way into Tok's pigeonhole. Unfortunately, Assistant Chief Inspector Delft summoned them to his office before the mail clerk arrived at work.

Delft had a new investigation for them. A young woman had perished, having jumped from the window of the Danoran consulate and impaled herself on the fence outside. The distance from the window to the fence – 40 feet – suggested that the woman might be connected to the eladrin terrorist Gale. As the investigators looking for Gale, RT3 were the obvious choice to investigate the woman's death.

The constables took an RHC carriage and headed straight to the consulate. On arrival, they were met by officer Belastair of the Flint Police. He informed RT3 that most of the witnesses gave the same story. They had heard gunfire, seen the woman jump out the window, and land on the fence. One scoundrel had apparently stolen items from her body and ran away as she was bleeding out. Belastair explained that by the time the first of his men got there the Danorans had taken the victim off the fence and carried her inside. He recommend that the constables speak to Danoran Security Chief Julian LeBrix.

Belastair was clearly keen to hand the investigation off to the RHC and didn't want to get involved in any "international incidents", but when Tok reminded the policeman that the scoundrel's theft had occurred outside consulate grounds (and thus within the Flint Police's jurisdiction), Belastair grudgingly agreed to have his men attempt to track down the thief. He pointed out Chief LeBrix standing inside the fence and the crowd where any witnesses might be located, and then he and his men moved off.

RT3 first moved to interview the witnesses in the crowd, only to discover that most of the people who had seen the incident had already moved on. Erik entered the consulate to speak with LeBrix and secure the scene, while the rest of the squad were able to quickly track two witnesses.

The first, a businessman, told them that the victim had crashed out the window, hit the fence, and then there were two gunshots, a few seconds apart. When she had jumped, she had had her arms covering her face, as if to shield herself.

The second witness, a washerwoman, relayed that after the victim impaled herself on the fence, a well-dressed man with a goatee went up to the dying woman, she handed him a bundle of papers and folders, then whispered something before she died. The man had yanked a yellow pendant and necklace off the woman’s neck, before running away.

Unable to locate any other witnesses quickly, Tok, Thornt, Wilheim and Cassi returned to the consulate. Erik and LeBrix, a balding and rheumy-eyed veteran, were waiting for them. As he walked the constables into the consulate, LeBrix hoped aloud that they would take the woman’s body and go quickly. He suggested the consular shouldn't have to be bothered with such things while having to deal with treaty negotiations and trade contracts. "You don’t want powerful men thinking about death when they’re deciding our fates, you know? “

LeBrix advised that the victim went by the name Nilasa Hume. She’d visited the consulate a few times in recent months and seemed nice enough. She had brought the consulate staff breakfast that morning, and had been dating one of the security personnel, Braden. Le Brix suspected that she had used him to case the building, and must have overheard someone talking about upstairs. He had noticed that she had slipped out while everyone else was eating the food she’d brought. A hunch had led him upstairs, and he found her slipping gold forks and spoons into her pockets. He had shot her in the leg when she tried to escape, and when she jumped out the window had shot her again, this time in the back. When Nilasa's body was brought down from the fence, he had discovered a priceless jewelled egg in her clothing.

At the squad's request, LeBrix lead them past a room full of consulate staff and up to the fourth floor. He took a position outside the consular's office and refused them entry to it, citing diplomatic reasons (and indicating that the door had been found locked after the incident in any event). He allowed the constables to inspect an attache's office from which the cutlery and egg had been stolen. The desk drawers in the room were locked, and Erik was able to ascertain that the locks had not been picked. A shattered glass case stood in one corner of the room, filled only with an expensive-looking cushion and shards of glass. LeBrix confirmed that it was where the egg had been kept.

Out in the hallway, Thornt moved to inspect the broken window from which Nilasa had leapt. The glass had shattered outwards, confirming that the window had been broken from the inside. However, when the shifter looked down, he noticed a gap in the thin layer of dust near the window. Suspecting that the hall rug had been recently moved, he lifted it up to discover fresh blood underneath. He called Cassi over, and she determined that the blood pattern was not consistent with a fusil wound. The blood spray had been caused with a slashing weapon.

Careful not to reveal their discovery to LeBrix, RT3 next asked the Danoran security chief to take them to see Nilasa’s body. The aging chief led them back downstairs and into the consulate’s basement. There they came across a body draped in clean white linen. A lantern-jawed young man sat disconsolately nearby, and LeBrix confirmed that he was Nilasa’s boyfriend Braden.

While Thornt and Wilheim moved to inspect the body, Tok went to speak to the grieving guard. Braden was clearly distraught over Nilasa’s death, but the changeling managed to calm the young man long enough to learn that the two of them had first met at the Thinking Man’s Tavern, and that Braden knew Nilasa worked at an acid factory named Hewards. Even from across the room, Thornt noticed that the youth seemed more hyperactive than would otherwise have been expected.

Meanwhile, Thornt and Wilheim’s inspection of Nilasa’s body revealed glass wounds on her arms, two puncture wounds to her abdomen consistent with being impaled on the consulate’s fence, gunshot wounds to the back of her left thigh and shoulder, and an unusual wound on her scalp. Thornt called Cassi over to examine the wounds, and the young knight quickly determined that the scalp wound had been caused by necrotic energy and that the gunshot wounds probably came from above after Nilasa was impaled on the fence.

Examination of Nilasa’s clothes revealed a bail certificate from the Parity Lake police station. The certificate indicated she had been picked up in a contraband raid recently but released on bail paid by Heward Sechim. Better hidden in her blouse was an empty vial, which Tok quickly identified as an elixir of invisibility.

Careful to again keep their discoveries from LeBrix’s notice, RT3 thanked the security chief and made arrangements for the RHC’s coroner to come into the consulate and collect the body. As they left, Thornt again noticed hyperactive behaviour, this time among other members of consulate staff. RT3 made their way out of the consulate and returned to RHC headquarters to consider their options.


Unfortunately I had one missing player this session, and another who was constantly being distracted by his 3 young kids, so we were effectively down to 2 players for most of the session.

Still, those two players seemed to be having a ball checking facts and searching the consulate for clues. Interestingly, despite one of them being a bard, they focused more on the forensic evidence than on interviewing consulate staff and witnesses. I blame CSI.

Interestingly, at this point in the adventure, they have nothing in relation to Dr Recklinghausen other than a brief description of him, did not discover the laced chocolates and have shown no interest in investigating the source of the elixir of invisibility. Of the 3 possible routes of investigation, they've therefore only found one. They expressed an intention to visit Heward's factory next, which will likely place them on track to meet Nevard and Gale, and to experience a night on Cauldron Hill.

Speaking of which, that is the first encounter I've ever been sad that I'm DMing online. It just screams to be played in a darkened room by candelight with spooky music playing on the stereo.

I plan to have Recklinghausen's cab driver turn up at RHC headquarters later that day as per the adventure outline, so the Recklinghausen angle (which contains the scene - Quital's appearance - that I am dying to play out) will come into play soon enough.


First Post
Session 9

Session Recap:

Upon arrival at headquarters, Erik went to speak about Heward Sechim with Ziggy in administration, an old contact of his who had access to the RHC’s archives. Ziggy knew of Sechim as an industrialist and was happy to help, disappearing into the record stacks for a few minutes before returning empty-handed. Neither Sechim nor his factory had previously attracted the RHC’s attention. When Erik mentioned the bail ticket they had found on Nilasa, Ziggy advised that the RHC did not have access to the Flint police’s records. RT3 would need to visit the issuing station in Parity Lake.

RT3 travelled to Sechim’s Alkahest & Etchings, only to discover the street filled with women protesting the imprisonment of their husbands, sons and brothers by their industrialist masters. When Tok questioned one of the protesters in the guise of a young woman, he learned that the men had been locked in the factories as a response to docker campaigns for improved wages and working conditions. The factory owners, led by Mr Dupont, were refusing to release the workers until someone came to replace them.

The doors to Sechim’s factory were not locked, and there was no crowd of woman protesting outside. RT3 were shown into the factory by the guards stationed on the front door, and met personally with Heward. Although initially disappointed that the industrialist was not the goateed man who had taken Nilasa’s bundle, Sechim nevertheless proved to be a font of information.

Nilasa had been one of Heward’s first workers, and he was distressed (but not surprised) to hear of her passing. A week earlier, Heward’s skyseer uncle Nevard had told him that “an adopted daughter would blindly ride the wind to her demise”.

Heward had done his best to protect Nilasa from the ‘wrong crowd’ with which he knew she associated, but he had also given the half-elf her privacy. He knew her boyfriend Braden by description, and that Nilasa had been enthralled by the activities of the eladrin terrorist Gale, but he knew little else about her. He asked RT3 to find her killer.

When they agreed, he asked them for another favour; to visit his uncle Nevard in the Cloudwood. Heward hoped that Nevard might serve as a facilitator for a meeting between Gale and the authorities, and might therefore prevent further people dying. RT3 again agreed and Nevard gave them directions on how to reach Nevard’s henge. Then he bid them good day.

As RT3 left Sechim’s factory, the guards out front queried whether ‘the boss’ had spoken to them about ‘the guys who smelled like burnt grease’. Realising that the industrialist had left something out, RT3 returning inside. Heward admitted that he had been approached recently by two men who had asked him to sell them universal solvent off the record. When he refused, the men had grown angry and made heavy allusions to the fires that had been striking the warehouses around Parity Lake. They left, saying they’d be back, but Sechim hadn’t heard from them again.

RT3 then split up. Wilheim and Tok headed to the Thinking Man’s Tavern to investigate its connection to Nilasa and Braden. Erik and Cassi headed to Parity Lake police station to investigate Nilasa’s arrest. Thornt returned to the Danoran consulate, intending to stakeout the entrance until Braden emerged and then follow the young man home.

Erik and Cassi reached their destination first, and were shown in to see Sergeant Belastair. The policeman seemed more helpful now that he was back in his office, and happily fetched Nilasa’s file. The half-elf had a significant juvenile record that had been expunged under Stanfield’s Matriculation Act of 328, and her subsequent recorded history was slight. The file did however name two known accomplices, Ford Sorghum and Travis Starter, who had pleaded guilty to various warrants and were held in Goodson’s Estuarial Reformatory.

Erik quizzed the officer on his men's response to the factory owners locking in their workers. Sergeant Belastair shrugged non-committally and said only that it was a matter for the workers and their bosses; clearly they hadn't checked their work contracts well enough.

As Erik and Cassi prepared to leave, Belastair proudly told the constables that his men had also tracked down a carriage driver whose vehicle had been hired by a blood-covered man with a goatee. Belastair had directed the man to RHC headquarters. Keen to follow this new lead, Erik and Cassi went to meet Thornt and the three of them set off across town.

Tok and Wilheim found the Thinking Man’s Tavern crowded with patrons but dominated by two distinct groups; a dozen minstrels and musicians known as The Band, and a cluster of professional scholars. As they entered, a tremor shook the room, causing a small panic and distracting attention from their arrival. Wilheim’s keen eyes picked out Thames Grimley sitting alone in the darkened corner of the bar, but Tok instead moved to speak to the old woman who acted as the tavern’s hostess. Barb took an instant liking to the disguised changeling. She was devastated by news of Nilasa’s death, and informed Tok that Nilasa had had dealings with both of the main groups that frequented the tavern.

While Tok comforted Barb and escorted her home, Wilheim attempted to maintain a low profile at the bar. Unfortunately, a scholar named Hennet spotted him and somehow made him out as a constable. He challenged the deva to a philosophical debate about the rights of authority to enforce its will, and Wilheim promptly responded by hand-cuffing the man and leading him back to RHC headquarters. The Band followed behind, loudly singing songs about repression and heavy-handed authority and drawing a crowd of onlookers.

Meanwhile, Erik, Cassi and Thornt had arrived at RHC headquarters to find carriage driver Jack Byron impatiently waiting for them. Byron told the investigators that he had collected a goateed man with bloody hands from an alley near the consulate that morning, and had taken him to a hostel named the House of Blue Birds. The man, dressed in respectable clothes, had been carrying a bundle that the carriage driver opined were surgical tools. After dropping the passenger off at the hostel, Jack had waited half an hour for his fare to be paid, then left disappointed and returned to his pickup point. He had discovered the Flint Police in the area and told them his tale.

Erik thanked the carriage driver for the new information. “Let me know if you get my fare, won’t you?” Jack asked as he left.


This sessions marked two in a row that contained no combat - or confrontation - at all. It went surprisingly well, and I don't think anyone really missed the combat.

I did fall foul of a split party though. When Wilheim and Tok headed to the Thinking Man's Tavern, I paid that portion of the investigation far more attention that I payed to Erik, Cassi and Thornt. That's somewhat due to the in-game time those three spent travelling to various destinations (I wanted to remain chronological), but also heavily due to how much fun the tavern can be from a roleplaying point of view.

Either way, be careful to not leave players with nothing to do. I'm going to use a 5-minute timer in future to make sure the scene spotlight doesn't stay too stationary.

The player who ended up handling the tavern scene was the one least inclined to engage with the tavern's patrons on their level. His response (handcuffs and a dubious assertion that being tapped on the shoulder constitutes assault) didn't go down well with the bards and his heavy-handed response will no doubt cause trouble if Docker/Flint support is needed in future.


First Post
Session 10: Cloudwood

Sorry for the big gap between updates. We had a LONG Christmas break...

Sorry also for the two spoiler blocks. When I try to edit the post, there's only one sblock so I have no idea what's going on there.

Session Recap

[sblock]RT3 soon regathered at the constabulary’s headquarters in Central District. They exchanged the information they had obtained and reported on their activities. They all agreed that Nevard Sechim seemed to be their most promising lead into exactly what Nilasa was involved in, and therefore made plans to journey into the Cloudwood to visit the skyseer early the next day. No one was keen to venture into the wood with night fast approaching. Instead the team journeyed back to North Shore to visit the House of Blue Birds. They were met by the hostel’s proprietress. The matron was obviously proud of her establishment, and initially reluctant to release too much information about her guests, especially since a police officer had visited the House earlier in the day. However, once her half-orc chambermaid Julietta identified the goateed suspect as “the doctor with funny accent”, she seemed enthralled by the investigation and happily showed the investigators around the premises.

The guest in question was Dr Wolfgang von Recklinghausen, and he had returned to the House almost half an hour after Nilasa’s fall. Julietta recalled him coming in. His hands were slick with blood and the doctor asked for water to wash them, claiming he had come from a surgery. Then he hurried to his room and exited through the House’s back door a few minutes later.

The police officer had appeared an hour later and showed a badge identifying him as officer Porter. Julietta described him as a “tall, skinny man, yellow hair, thin moustache”. She also mentioned that he seemed to be wounded, with a bandage around his chest barely visible beneath his collar. Officer porter had spent a few minutes in Dr Recklinghausen’s room, flipping over mattresses and pulling personal items into a small bag then had left. Julietta cleaned the room afterwards.

The matron and Julietta showed RT3 up to Dr Recklinghausen’s room, which had been restored to order. Unfortunately, it was also clean of any clues as to where the doctor might have gone.

That problem soon solved itself when Erik asked whether the proprietress had any documentation for Dr Recklinghausen’s stay. She showed RT3 her books, and a letter of recommendation from Dr Barnaby Camp. Suspicious that the letter was forged, Thornt checked the house’s guest book for Dr Recklinghausen’s signature. The writing in the book and the writing in the letter were by different hands.

RT3 emerged from the House of Blue Birds just as the sun was beginning to set. Moving through the twilight, they located and visited Dr Camp’s well-appointed residence in the North Shore district. Camp confirmed that Dr Recklinghausen, a native of the malice state of Arrovia, had been a student of his years earlier. They had kept in contact for many years via letter, and when Recklinghausen mentioned marital problems and a desire to travel to Ber, Camp had arranged residence for his former student in the House of Blue Birds.

Camp had also been visited by Officer Porter, who had rudely refused Camp’s offer to allow one of his students to treat Porter’s injury for free. Dr Camp had not heard from Dr Recklinghausen over a week, but had not found that strange. The two men were not especially close.

RT3 thanked Dr Camp for his assistance, and gave him their contact details at RHC headquarters. Then, with night descending, they called it a day.

Day 2

The next morning, the constables assembled at RHC headquarters and Erik filed a quick report on the previous day’s investigation, then they headed into the Cloudwood to meet with Nevard Sechim. The directions given to them by Nevard’s nephew Heward made it clear that Nevard’s Henge lay four miles past Flint’s outer boundaries, and the Cloudwood was well known as a wild and dangerous place. RT3 went prepared.

The feeling of intrusion that the constables had earlier felt in the Cloudwood was still there, and all but Thornt walked the wooded trails with unease. The road rose continually as RT3 moved away from the city, and thick clouds and sweltering air cut visibility to only a few feet in places.

As Wilheim led the investigators up a series of switchbacks towards a forested plateau, shots rang out and then a panicked horse streaked past. A snapped carriage harness trailed behind it. A woman screamed up ahead.

RT3 moved cautiously forward and came upon an ambush. A man and a woman sheltered behind a carriage, exchanging fire with brigands on the overlooking crests. Another scream sounded from the wagon, which was visibly sliding towards a steep drop. Thick fog banks drifted through the area, hampering vision.

Wilheim, Thornt and Tok moved forward quickly, targeting a druid that seemed to be controlling the clouds. The elf saw them coming, and swarms of black and red chitinous hummingbirds swooped down to slash at the constables. Wilheim swapped at one with a practiced palm, and the swarm dispersed in a cacophony of cries.

Erik and Cassi followed more slowly, seeking to round on the bowman harassing the carriage’s defenders. As they cleared a fog bank, Tok called out to the combatants, “We are the Royal Homeland Constabulary!” One of the carriage’s defenders uttered a curse, reloaded his pistol, and fired it into Tok’s shoulder.

Despite that new complication, Wilheim, Thornt and Tok continued their pursuant of the cloud-controlling druid, taking them right past the carriage defenders. The two took their opportunity to make a break for the city, only for one to be felled by the woodsman above. Almost simultaneously, Erik and Cassi reached the bowman’s position. Between Cassi’s hammer and Erik’s gunblade, the brigand had no chance.

While all this took place, the carriage continued to slip closer and closer to the precipice. As it lurched on final time before tumbling over, its occupant screamed in terror. The cry was cut short as the carriage shattered on impact. The woodsman cried out in rage and despair, and Erik immediately realised how badly his squad had erred in assessing the situation.

A blow from Cassi sent the woodsman to his knees half-senseless, and a shot from Erik crippled the leg of the fleeing carriageman. Nearby, the druid and his guardians fell to Wilheim’s masterful blows and the living cloud of insects that Thornt had become.

As silence descended again, RT3 regrouped to consider what had just happened.[/sblock]


Nothing too exciting to report here, other than the immediately obvious point that my players completely misjudged the Fog of War encounter, made no attempt to rescue the woman screaming in the carriage, and thus hav earned Renard's everlasting enmity. I'm very interested to see how the meeting with Nevard goes.

On the bright side, I think my players have now been shocked out of the "kill it and take its stuff" D&D mentality. Three times now things have been nothing like they imagined (they thought Sokana Rell had killed the duchess until they saw her sinking beneath the waves, they suspected Heward Sechim of mistreating Nilasa, and most recently they jumped to the conclusion that the brigands were the bad guys). As Erik's player put it in jest: "The guy that wrote these adventures is a bastard. Nothing is like it seems".

Take a bow, Rangerwickett :)
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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
"The guy that wrote these adventures is a bastard. Nothing is like it seems".

Take a bow, Rangerwickett :)

That's quite a compliment! But I agree: The great thing about these adventures is that they shake the players' sense of complacency without simply misleading them (which is all too easy to do and simply leads to mistrust).

Here, the situations they find themselves in are complex and subtle, and force them to think before piling in.
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Agreed. My players have begun taking separate notes and sharing them afterward to ensure their recollections of what happened match up. :devil:


See, on the other hand my players are too paranoid. Back in the first adventure, when they saw Lya Jierre in the RHC headquarters, one of them assumed she was mind controlling Stover Delft and trying to start a war. Even before they'd had a chance to hear the mission parameters, the PC assumed that was the only explanation for why they would be sent to attack other Risuri citizens.

Like, I'd planned for treachery and tricky stuff later on, but at that point everyone is actually on the up and up.

Good on you for the horrifying and tragic death of an innocent young woman. Soon your journey toward Rat-Bastard-DM-ery will be complete.


First Post
Session 11: Meeting with a skyseer

Session summary

[sblock]While their companions paused to ponder what had just happened, Tok and Wilheim sprinted down the switchback to the crushed carriage. The changeling clambered into the wreckage and began lifting shattered timber from the pile, soon uncovering the body of the carriage’s unfortunate occupant. Tok pulled the woman from the clutter and laid her one the ground, practised fingers moving to her neck and finding a weak pulse.

Tok immediately commenced CPR, but had little success. When Wilheim arrived, the deva surveyed the scene for a second. Then he reached past Tok and jabbed the woman’s chest with two rigid fingers. She inhaled sharply and jerked upright with a scream. Her eyes were momentarily wild as she looked around, then calmed as she saw the woodsman rushing toward her. Wilheim smiled at Tok. “Pressure point”, the monk said.

Once he was sure that his love Morena was safe, the woodsman Renard turned his fury on the captured pistoleer. He explained to the constables that Lorcan Kell’s criminal gang had been pressing into the Cloudwood. When Renard and “the men who valued his opinion” refused to pay off the thieves, Kell had sent cronies to kidnap Morena. RT3 had wandered straight into the situation.

Renard urged RT3 to set Kell’s pistoleer free, and to allow him just one shot at her. RT3 refused, but Erik convinced Renard and Morena to make statements about what had happened. Although he knew that neither would appear in court to give evidence, the statements allowed him to take the pistoleer into custody, which defused the situation. Renard happily guided RT3 the rest of the way to Nevard’s henge, dispatching Morena and his wounded compatriots into the Cloudwood as they travelled.

The skyseer camp was located in a small clearing high in the hills surrounding Flint. A large marquee tent dominated the clearing, and it was into that tent that RT3 was shown. Nevard Sechim, once one of the most prescient and respected of skyseers, was now feeble and bent. His eyes were cloudy with cataracts and the smell of age was deep on him, yet when he talked the wind itself seemed to quiet in respect.

Nevard confirmed that Gale had come to him several times asking for guidance. She hadn’t listened to his urging to eschew violence, but the last time she had visited she had said that she had followed his advice, finding a mutual threat that even the people of Flint would take seriously. Nevard agreed to arrange a meeting between Gale and RT3, but first he asked a favour. He wanted RT3 to arrange passage to - and an overnight stay at - the peak of Cauldron Hill so that he could seek one last good look at the stars before he died.

Once the den of a coven of witches that terrified the Flint area, Cauldron Hill was still steeped in dark magic and the supernatural even though the witches were destroyed long before. Access to the hill was restricted, and RT3 wondered whether it would be better to seek permission or to secretly climb the hill. They agreed to Nevard’s request, and the skyseer made plans for his departure. Erik offered Nevard a bed under his roof that night, and the skyseer and his retainers happily accepted.

RT3 returned to Flint in the mid-afternoon, leaving Nevard and his retainers to follow at a more leisurely pace. Once back in the city, Erik , Tok and Wilheim asked around town for ways to gain access to Cauldron Hill. All replies were the same; only the mayor of the Nettles, Reed Macbannin, had the authority to grant access. Aware that the sun was soon to set and that they wanted to climb Cauldron Hill the next day, RT3 hurried to Macbannin’s manor.

As they climbed the lower slopes of Cauldron Hill, they realised that the only serviceable road on the hill led straight to the Mayor’s manor. It would be difficult – if not impossible – to climb the hill without being discovered. They were received by Mr Creed, mayor Macbannin’s butler, who went to announce their arrival. While they waited, a courier named Doro joined them, musing aloud about the chaos of life in Flint and how it could be assuaged. After Doro left, Thornt commented aloud how much his thoughts matched those of Rutger Smith, captain of the RNS Impossible.

Mayor Macbannin was at first reluctant to grant RT3 access to Cauldron Hill, warning them that it was still a place of darkness and danger, but Tok swayed him by referring to the possible boon to the city that Nevard’s vision that could be. Realising that being associated with such a boon would bring him glory, Macbannin agreed to grant RT3 passage. He insisted on two conditions; that RT3 pass though his manor on the way up the hill so that he could ward them against the dangers on the hill, and that they pass through the manor on the return trip so he could check them for possession. RT3 agreed, and after Macbannin and Tok exchanged subtle innuendo about political life, took their leave for the night.

RT3 quickly made their way down Cauldron Hill in deepening darkness, splitting up once they reached the Nettles proper. They agreed to meet at Erik’s house in East Bank first thing in the morning.

Wilheim returned to RHC headquarters, where he surreptitiously filed a report outlining the deal made between Renard, Tok, Erik and Thornt.

All others except Erik went directly home. The sergeant passed by RHC headquarters on his journey, and discovered a note from Heward Sechim waiting for him.
I had another visit last night; two different men this time. I stalled, saying I needed time to arrange something, then had them followed. They went to a seedy part of Parity Lake, nearer to the Nettles, but that’s as far as they could be tracked.
Erik folded the note and kept it in his pocket, then headed home to find Sara busily entertaining Nevard and his retainers. During the evening, Erik took the sksyeer aside and detailed Sara’s recent behaviour. He asked Nevard to do a reading on his wife. The aged man replied that he was not a clairvoyant; he could not read people, but he agreed to watch the stars that night and see what he could discover about the Pride family’s future.

In the morning, while the Pride family entertained Nevard, his retainers and the rest of the RT3 team, Erik again took Nevard aside. The skyseer confirmed that he had had a vision; of Erik and Sara standing with a baby in a circle of light. A musical voice asked something the skyseer could not hear, and Erik shook his head. Then shapes moved in the darkness and – as Nevard’s vision ended - Sara screamed.

Across town, Wilheim was woken in the middle of the night by a rapping at his door. He cautiously went to open it, and found a note and a parcel waiting for him. Opening the note, he read it.
The Unseen Court is watching. Take this gift, and deliver it to Gale.
The deva unwrapped the brown paper, discovering inside a bizarre mirror made of gnarled wood. Instead of glass, the frame was filled with a sheet of running water that stayed put no matter how Wilheim tilted it. The Deva surveyed the road outside his residence a final time, then returned to bed.

After breakfast, Sara left RT3 and their guests in privacy to prepare for their day’s activities. Nevard and one of his retainers, an orc shaman named Pazamu, asked RT3’s assistance in a ritual that would make the journey easier for the aged skyseer. As Pazamu laid a scroll and ritual components out on the table, Tok recognised the Bond of Forced Faith. The bard’s extensive education meant he knew full well the horrors of how the ritual scroll had been created, and that it would link Nevard’s health to their own, effectively fortifying the skyseer with his charges’ own vitality.

Wilheim noticed Tok’s pause, and Erik demanded an explanation. The bard complied, and Nevard confessed that he knew of the horrific creation of the scroll. “Better that it be put to good than wasted,” he said and RT3 eventually agreed. They bound their health to Nevards, and then set off for Cauldron Hill.

As agreed, they passed through Macbannin’s manor on their ascent. The mayor and a blue-robed acolyte cast rituals of warding over the journeyers, and provided them with rusted iron amulets that would protect them against possession. Then he gave them four kegs of goats blood and directed them to paint a ring around their campsite as a misdirection of the terrors that might approach.

RT3 made their way to the peak of the hill and settled in for the night. They built a small fire among a ring of fallen hengestones, circled their camp with the goats’ blood, built a small hide and then used tent canvas to screen the area from prying eyes. As a supernatural cold descended on the area, Nevard turned his eyes to the stars and they settled down to wait.

It wasn’t long before the terrors of Cauldron Hill arose. Mad screams and laughter rode the wind, drilling into the constables’ sanity. Spooks swept across the sky, and creatures made of madness – a legless skull-faced human that dragged itself around on its hands, a serpent-maned lion and a bent and misshapen hag – emerged from the darkness and began to circle the ring of blood. RT3 crouched within their prepared position, hoping to avoid the notice of the creatures beyond.

Then a velvet curtain manifested in the middle of their camp, and Nilasa Hume stepped from it. She placed a finger to her lips, then pointed into the darkness. “The man who killed me. He is coming. His face is scarred, so he hides behind many faces.” Then she raised a featureless black mask to her face and vanished as the air filled with the stench of burnt engine grease.

Then RT3 saw the stars overhead streak into lines, and then to the north, down by Parity Lake, a building caught fire with dreamlike swiftness. Suddenly they found themselves standing between two factories, and two tongues of flame leap from one to the next, like burning dragons. Screams erupted from the people trapped inside. The flames consumed the factories, and the charred buildings collapsed to reveal the sunrise. A blackened sign sat in the ash, “Sechim’s Alkahest & Etchings.”

The vision ended with a snap, and RT3 was back in the bitter cold at the peak of Cauldron Hill. Nevard looked skyward, and pointed out that Jiese, the plane of fire was brighter than usual. Then he noted how the light reflected off Parity Lake. He turned to the constables and asked “You saw it didn’t you?”

The night stretched on interminably, with RT3 crouching behind the stones as gibbering horrors cavorted just beyond. Then, just after midnight, Thornt’s keen ears picked out the crack of a sunrod. The nearby peak was suddenly awash with light. RT3 and the horrors of Cauldron Hill turned to look. A humanoid figure held the sunrod, its body inhumanly angular, its skin featureless and black like a silhouette. It sprinted to the near edge of the other rise and then hurled the sunrod. The glowing beacon arced toward the center of RT3’s camp, and Cauldron Hill’s denizens watched its passage with inhuman eyes.[/sblock]


Another great session, and I sowed some seeds of distrust by taking Erik and Wilheim aside (ie. into another Ventrillo channel) to handle their personal activities.

Everyone loved the tension buildup on Cauldron Hill and is looking forward to the fight to come.

Oh, and as for Morena, guess I still have along way to go before I become a true Rat-bastard. :)


First Post
Session 12: Fall of Indomitability

Session Summary

[sblock]The sunrod landed square in the middle of RT3's camp, and Wilheim immediately moved to scoop it up and cast it back into the darkness. Even his fleetness proved insufficient and the semi-transparent crone circling the camp swept up into the sky with a cackle, from where she could clearly see the investigators sheltered within the ring of stones. The sudden light and the crone's insane chattering drew the attention of the other horrors, who abandoned their mindless circling of the ring of blood and began to push into the hidden camp.

The serpent-maned lion roared with the force of nightmares and chilled blood rooted RT3 to the spot as the beast bounded through a concealing sheet of tent canvas and moved to attack Wilheim. On the opposite side of the camp, the legless horror dragged itself toward Cassi. It's eerily glowing eyes drilled into her mind, filling it with mindless terror. The hag wraith hovered overhead, its miasmic stench filling the air. As if in a dream, Erik looked to the hag, then pointed his loaded pistol at Wilheim and fired. Misshapen denizens of Cauldron Hill swooped in to join the fracas, their demonic chattering and dance biting at RT3's sanity.

Cassi lashed out at the cackling crawler with her warhammer, even while trying to manoeuvre closer to the lion that was savaging Wilheim. Occupied with the legless horror, she had no opportunity to defend herself when a black-robed spirit manifested nearby. The vestige drifted over to her and caressed her hair with a bony hand, and Cassi felt a burning tugging as if on her very soul. The vestige disappeared as quickly as it appeared.
Thornt moved to the north of the camp, filling the area with swarms of biting and clawing insects that took a toll on the lesser swooping terrors that ringed the camp. Tok moved among the combatants, blasting at the nightmare-creatures with his magic and shouting warnings to his companions.

Erik recovered his senses just in time for the hag to swoop down and attempt to plant a vomit-filled kiss on his lips. RT3's sergeant leapt aside and moved quickly to aid Cassi against the crawler. The lumbering thing moved with surprising agility when Erik levelled his pistol at its back, latching onto his legs and climbing the constable's body towards his neck. Erik wrestled with it, eventually managing to free his weapon. He rammed his pistol-bayonet into the crawler's mouth and pulled the trigger, scattering the creature's skull pan over a nearby fallen menhir.

Freed from the crawler's gaze, Cassi moved off to engage the lion and in turn allowed Wilheim and Thornt to turn their attention to offence against the swarming spooks. While the risuri knight held the creature at bay, the balck-robed vestige appeared twice more, each time caressing her face. At the third touch, Cassi felt its grip on her soul solidify. She called a warning to her companions, and Erik turned against to aid her.

When the vestige appeared for the fourth time Erik's pistol roared and the black robe danced wildly as the vestige spun. The shot had not been enough. A bone scythe appeared in the vestige's hands and swung down. Cassi, assaulted on one side by the serpent-maned lion and on the other by the vestige, could not avoid the blow. The tip of the scythe blade passed into the gorget of her armour and continued downward until it was buried almost entirely in her flesh. Cassi gasped once, and then slid wordlessly from the blade.

Even in death, the young knight had served her companions well. Using the time Cassi had bought them, each now turned their attention to the lion, the hag wraith and the vestige. First one then another fell under a fusillade of pistol shots, blows and magic until the peak of Cauldron Hill was empty but for Nevard and the survivors of RT3. The skyseer moved quickly to Cassi and felt for a pulse. When he found none, he looked sadly to the investigators then calmly suggested that they should leave as soon as possible.

The silhouetted figure had slipped away unnoticed during the battle.
RT3 regathered their breath before fashioning a little for Cassi's body, and then set out with utmost haste for the safety of Mayor Macbannin's manor. As they travelled, Nevard confirmed that their time at the peak had been sufficient to grant him a vision. Now he needed time to interpret it. That knowledge did little to raise RT3's spirits.

When the investigators eventually reached Macbannin's manor, they were surprised to find a throng of people gathered inside the rear gate.[/sblock]


Even though I knew the vestige of the death was distinctly capable of causing a PC death if it managed to get its keystone attack off, I can't say I was truly prepared when it eventually occurred. It certainly shook Erik's player up, as he confessed that he had already planned to use Display of Heroism to get Cassi up and running again if she were knocked unconscious. Oddly, at the time of Cassi's death only Erik's player and the player who controls Cassi and Thornt were at the table. Wilheim's player was absent for the session and Tok's player had had to leave halfway through the session. As a result, they heard about Cassi's death second hand. I'm not sure whether that makes the death more or less foreboding, but one thing is certain - the players now know that there is no guarantee of safety in the Gears of Revolution campaign.

An old D&D friend (who played Fian and Caelen in my previous Stones & Shadow, Trees and Light campaign) is looking to rejoin the group at the end of march, and it's not clear whether he'll roll up a defender, or whether Wilheim's player will replace his monk with a paladin. If the latter, I hope to repurpose Wilheim as the sergeant of the RHC's second squad, and perhaps pit him as an NPC against the party at the end of Digging for Lies.

The Good

The three main antagonists in the ring of blood encounter are amazingly diverse, which made it quite difficult for the party to figure out how to combat them. The serpent-maned lion's roar allows them to get in amongst the party early, and the grabbing of the cackling crawler and the dazing attack of the hag wraith inhibit PC's usual responses. It was really enjoyable to have an encounter where it felt like I was just as much in control as the players.

It was also great that the three "clear and present threats" made it difficult for the PCs to truly gauge the threat level of the vestige of death. In truth, I had expected it to face a barrage of readied attacks the first time I mentioned Cassi feeling a "tugging on her soul", but clearly everyone was too busy with the other monsters to make time to deal with the vestige.

The Bad

Unfortunately, not many of the auras in the encounter (and there are plenty of them) really had much of an impact on the encounter. Tok fired off his daily Verse of Triumph, which allows all allies within 5 squares of him to shift when an enemy is reduced to 0 hp. That ability, coupled with the number of minions involved, meant that there were only two or three instances all encounter that someone ended their turn in an aura. Annoying!

The Ugly

I'm not really a fan of the spooks' Pandemonic Dance aura, specifically the section that specifies that spooks will damage each other. Given that they're minions, that makes them incredibly difficult to use en masse, which is really the whole point of minions. If you don't use them en masse, the PCs can pick them off fast enough that the aura never kicks in.

The lack of a melee basic attack on the spooks also means they can't make opportunity attacks. Once my players realised that, the spooks really became secondary targets. In order to be effective minions, I recommend that you ignore the bit about damaging other monsters and/or give them a weak MBA.


Interesting reading your thoughts on Cauldron Hill. I got three shrouds on the PC psion, as well as two on Nevard. The psion was sure he was done for once he had three shrouds, so he kept using Memory Hole to prevent the vestige from landing the final blow. I responded by going after Nevard - the entire party was low enough on HP and healing that it would likely have dropped 3/4 PCs, leaving only the swordmage standing. That would probably have been a TPK.

The minions worked much better for me than they did for you, probably because my party didn't have that shifting aura power you mentioned. In a less mobile, melee-focused party like mine, I think the minions are fine as-is, but I could see them being less useful for a party with a lot of shifting or telepporting.


First Post
Just finished session 13, which I'll post about another day (it's 11.45pm here).

Before going to bed, I thought I'd pop in and give a friendly warning to other DMs about the Arson encounter. It's deadly.

My group's swarm druid Thornt went from 27 hp to -15 hp in one round (a combination of a critical hit from Arsonist's Greatsword plus Wall of Fire), and would have died at the start of his next turn if I hadn't "forgotten" to inflict 5 fire damage on him from the Arson Bolt zone*.

The adventure text says that the party likely won't be able to take the brothers, but I didn't expect to have the party sizzled to a crisp and wondering how to survive by the end of round one.

Let's just say that they were very relieved when the dragonborn brothers ran off.

*Yes, I know I missed a change to secure my rat-bastardness, but I felt it would be unduly penalising the player. Thornt's player thought he had to move where he did to save Tok (who was on 2 hp after meeting Eberardo's greatsword), and it wasn't an unreasonable thing to do when he was on 27 hp.
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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Before going to bed, I thought I'd pop in and give a friendly warning to other DMs about the Arson encounter. It's deadly.

Seeconded! As I said in my own account, our party would have been TPKed if the brothers had not prioritised flight.

At one point I had three of the party on the ground and - not realising how close they were to negative bloodied - had one of the brothers use his breath weapon.

This was a mistake on my part. I hadn't realised how badly injured they were and neither I (nor the dragonborn) wanted to actually kill them.

Our house rule benny system came to the rescue when the party leader, a genasi who can now manifest watersoul, used his watery shift power to extinguish the flames.

The dragonborn brothers are indeed very deadly!


First Post
The dragonborn brothers are indeed very deadly!

I'm actually quite interested to see how my players respond over the next few sessions when given the chance to track down the brothers (whether via Cippiano or their own investigations).

Hopefully they buy some fire resistance potions and return for a grudge match, but I wouldn't be surprised if they conveniently ignored the arsonists on the loose in Flint ;)

I'm also interested to see whether anyone takes Durable as their level 4 feat. Lack of surges is really crimping their style at the moment.


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
My players hired a hydromancer and went straight after them. I decided the brothers would have left their old hideout (leaving a firetrap behind). That almost caused another TPK when the players forgot to check for traps!

(Three of them were left prone and smouldering in the hallway, leaving the water wizard with nothing to do but put them out with a cantrip.)

They finally took them down in Lorcan Kell's theatre - prearranged by Morgan Cippiano.

A great pair of secondary villains, in that they are actually more dangerous than Macbannin and Creed!

Cheezmo Miner

80's DungeonMaster
We don't have no fancy dragonborn in Pathfinder, so the path makes them lizardfolk. I'm going to make them kobolds though. Because it's awesome-er that way. To me.

And because I'm using lizardfolk a lot in an off path adventure.

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