Gears of Revolution: Notes on my campaign


Yeah, they pasted my PCs too, dropping multiple players and bringing one PC within one saving throw of death. I expected that, though, otherwise I would have scaled them down. My PCs probably won't be able to face them on semi-even footing for another 1-2 levels, so I may actually push the resolution of that thread out to after the end of adventure 2.

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Sound of Azure

Contemplative Soul
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.

Yeah, I was incredibly worried when my party's team leader rounded up some of the night-time Constables at RHC headquarters and went after the arsonists.

Lucky for her (a monk), Eberando couldn't connect with his Greatsword attack. Her tactics, and working well with the other (player-controlled) NPC constables saved her bacon, but there was still a huge component of luck.

I'm starting to get used to my PCs having long odds and still pulling through. I expect that the encounter with the Bleak Golem is going to be a tricky one.


First Post
Session 13: Twin Dragons

Session Summary (part one):

[sblock]Almost as soon as the manor’s guards allowed RT3 through the gates, the constables found themselves surrounded by armed and armoured Risuri soldiers. Their leader, Lieutenant Dale of the 4th Regiment, stepped forward and demanded to know why the investigators had been up on the hill at night. At that precise moment, Mayor MacBannin emerged from the house, and assured the lieutenant that RT3 had ascended the hill with his permission.

When Tok spoke up, Dale recognised him as a fellow student at the Battalion academy. Recalling other classmates, Tok asked after Cassi (who had also been at the Batallion at the same time), and expressed his condolences when Tok sadly gestured to the little carrying the knight’s body.

MacBannin brought the constables and Nevard into the manor. He checked the wards on the investigators and performed rituals to cleanse them of any lingering taint, then went with them to his study to ask what had happened on the mountain. Erik relayed to him all they had seen at the peak, particularly the dark man, but MacBannin had never heard of such a creature. He told the constables he would think on it, and would contact them if he came to any conclusions.

RT3 knew that they needed to get to Parity Lake quickly check Heward’s factory, so they asked the mayor to take possession of Cassi’s body and to care for Nevard until an escort to Flint could be arranged. MacBannin graciously agreed to do so.

However, when the investigators relayed their plan to the aged skyseer, Nevard wordlessly reminded them that the Bond of Forced Faith ritual was still in full effect (and thus he was perfectly capable of keeping up with them) and then expressed the wish to return to Flint and his retainers as soon as possible. MacBannin repeated the offer of hospitality, but Nevard was keen to reach his henge and ponder his vision.

After making arrangements with MacBannin’s provisioner to requisition some of the manor’s healing elixirs, RT3 hastened to Parity Lake. As they moved, Erik shared with his companions Nevard’s vision about Sara. None of the investigators knew what to make of it. Passing through the streets, they noticed that the area was quiet but not deserted. Even before dawn, the Lake’s industry didn’t sleep. All but a few stalwart protesters had gone home, and those that remained lay sleeping in the street.

In an alley beside Heward Sechim’s factory, they discovered a crew of men and a towering dragonborn unloading crates and bottles. The greatsword slung across the dragonborn’s back hinted strongly that the group were up to no good. When Erik and Tok stepped forward to question the dragonborn, they noted the contents of a bag lying open on the ground: firegems.

Almost before they could act, the dragonborn’s mouth opened and fire filled the alleyway. Wilheim vaulted forward and felled one of the human arsonists and then Tok moved forward to catch the dragonborn and the humans behind him in a blast of musical magic. In return, the scaled warrior almost felled the changeling with a vicious blow from his blade.

Already worn by the events on Cauldron Hill, the investigators quickly began to suspect that they were outmatched, and proof soon appeared on the roof above. Another dragonborn, skinnier than the first and carrying a gem-tipped staff, pointed the weapon down into the alley and a bolt of flame burst beside Tok, Erik and Thornt. Then he swept his free hand and a wall of blazing fire filled the alley, cutting the investigators off from their quarry. The dragonborn warrior laughed, the turned and ran off.

The heat of the flames dropped Thornt and Tok to their knees, and Erik himself only narrowly escaped. Heedless of the danger and fortified by a potion Erik handed him, Wilheim sped into the flames and dragged Tok clear. As he turned to go back for Thornt, the flames guttered and died. When the investigators looked to the roof, the arcanist above had also fled.

RT3 patched their wounds. Perhaps shaken by two such close calls with death on the same night, they chose not to pursue the fleeing dragonborn. They secured the one surviving human arsonist (his companions having expired in the flaming wall erected by their former partner in crime), and then Heward Sechim came out of his factory to find out what was going on.[/sblock]


Imagine what went through my mind when the players suggested that Nevard should remain behind at MacBannin's manor. For a split second, I contemplated having Nevard remain behind only to be murdered in his sleep. Ultimately I decided against it largely because I wanted his prophecy to be heard. It's so relevant to the campaign overall that I thought it would be a shame to miss it. So I had Nevard insist on returning to Flint.

If I had a spirit medium PC, I might not have been so generous (because I could have relayed the vision via Nevard's ghost).

As already mentioned, the combat against Eberardo and Valando was a whitewash, and very nearly resulted in Thornt's (unintended and shockingly sudden) death. Two deaths in two sessions would have certainly had my players cursing me :)

As it was, no one had managed to land a Slowed or Immobilised condition on Eberardo, so with the alleyway blocked by a wall of fire that none of the PCs could survive a trip through, the dragonborn brothers took the perfect opportunity to escape.

Later in the session, the party discovered a hint of the greater Obscurati plot and received Gale's messenger wind. But more on that in a later post.


First Post
Session Summary (part 2):

[sblock]After ensuring that the arsonists had truly fled, RT3 conducted a thorough search of Heward’s Alkahest & Etchings. They found nothing to indicate that the dragonborn had been inside, but Thornt’s keen nose did lead him to a small vial hidden under a bat of acid. The lack of fresh tracks in the soot-covered area suggested that either the vial had been there for some time or that whoever left it there had flown.

When the shifter uncorked it, he noticed an odour similar – but not identical – to the stench left behind after Nilasa’s spectre vanished on Cauldron Hill: burnt engine grease. Thornt took the oil to his companions. Tok examined it and noted similarities to the sample that they had collected from the headless golem on Axis Island, but the aura around the oil seemed incomplete; as if it were missing its most powerful ingredient.

When Erik showed the oil to Heward, the industrialist had no idea what it was. At RT3’s request, he carefully mixed a portion of it with his stock of universal solvent. The two swirled in their sample dish, but nothing momentous occurred. As the constables pondered their next move, Heward confirmed what he had written in his note. A member of his staff had tracked the visiting dwarf and a half-orc to the Nettles end of Parity Lake, but then lost track of them.

Exhausted after their long night, RT3 returned to RHC headquarters and delivered both oil samples to Elbert, the constabulary’s alchemist. The bespectacled gnome gladly took the samples and promised to ‘rush’ his analysis of them. He asked after Cassi, and was saddened to learn of her death.

Before RT3 could head to their respective homes, they were called into Assistant Chief Inspector Delft’s office. The superior officer was not impressed, and between stamping around his office with his cane and spitting gobs of tobacco juice into his bin, soundly berated first Wilheim for his heavy handling of the scholar Hennett, and then Erik for failing to keep his squad under control. Flint was heaving with unrest, and the last thing the RHC needed was a groundswell of public distrust of the constabulary caused by a spurious arrest in front of a group of minstrels! “And then you didn’t even question him!”

When Delft’s ire subsided, the constables quickly left the building. They paused only long enough to check their message boxes, where Erik found a note from Dr Camp. Camp had received a missive from Dr Recklinghausen, asking him arrange safe passage out of the city for the doctor, and the message alluded that Dr Recklinghausen had made deals with criminals in order to avoid a monster that he thought was chasing him. Dr Recklinghausen directed Camp to contact Lynn Kindleton at Pardwight University, who would know how to get in touch with him.

Too exhausted to follow this new lead immediately, RT3 left headquarters and began to make their way across Central District for a well-earned rest. But as they moved through the crowd, a gust of wind sprang up and a golden canary swept down out of the sky. The wind itself seemed to speak to them, and Gale’s voice invited the investigators to a meeting at Nevard’s request. Erik accepted, setting the meeting time two days hence. Then the wind was gone, leaving only the golden canary perched on Tok’s shoulder.

Wondering what could possibly happen next, RT3 said quick goodbyes and hurried home to get some sleep.[/sblock]


I was a bit surprised when the players chose to search the inside of Heward's factory, but ultimately it proved quite a significant decision. An excellent perception check by Thornt, and then an equally good Arcana check by Tok built on their Axis Island decision to keep a sample of witchoil.

During the week, Erik's players sent a group email outlining the various clues that they have uncovered but not yet followed, including Nilasa's associates in the Goodson Estuarial Refomatory. It'll be very interesting if they pursue that lead, because at the time of writing it's about noon on the 4th of Summer in Flint. They'll need to interview the prisoners, find and interrogate the Wareyes, and get to the smuggler's meeting all in one afternoon.

Rangerwickett will be pleased to note that the same email included this:

I'm getting the feeling that we are in a multi crossing thread story and we might be lucky and spot where the threads cross now but won't really see the picture till later...




First Post
Session 14: Theatre of Scoundrels

Session summary:

[sblock]When the investigators reconvened at RHC headquarters that afternoon, they set out for Pardwright University, a loose collection of buildings and offices on streets in the souther portion of Central District. They soon found Professor Lynn Kindleton in her office. Professor Kindleton was distraught to hear that her friend Dr Recklinghausen was in trouble, but maintained that she had not heard from him for some time. While Tok and Erik quizzed the surgeon, Thornt studied her office and soon cam across an envelope with the initials WvR on the reverse. Confronted with evidence that the two had been in touch, Kindleton reluctantly confirmed that she had been exchanging daily letters carried by child courier - with the missing doctor, and had begun to fear for Dr Recklinghausen’s safety. She agreed to send a letter rquesting a meeting the following day.

RT3 then split up to try to track down the dragonborn arsonist. Each investigator crossed Flint to meet with their contacts.

Thornt crossed Central District to meet with Jimmy “the eyes” Tibs in a dingy alley near the gate to East Bank. Tibs was certain that the two dragonborn had not passed through the gate at any time in the recent past - “I would’ve taken note of two bloody great lizards” – but agreed to put the word out. If Jimmy’s informants turned up any information, he would get a message to Thornt via the ex-RHC tavern owner at the Open Door.

Wilheim headed for the north-eastern quarter of Central District. He met with a bardic contact there, calling the man offstage between acts to quiz him about dragonborn in the city. Although the actor had not encountered any – “not big fans of the exquisite arts, you know” – he recalled that dragonborn consumed large amounts of raw meat (10 to 15kg a day) and suggested that Wilheim make enquiries with butchers. Wilheim thanked his friend for the tip, and then returned to the agreed meeting point.

Erik and Tok headed to Bosun Strand and a small gambling den run by Wilfredo Zinger. Zinger had served with Erik in the famous Risuri 4th company, but the two had never seen eye to eye and the enmity had simmered over the years. Nevertheless, Zinger’s involvement in the seedier side of Flint life had sometimes proved useful to the investigator. Zinger’s dislike of Erik had not abated, but the proprietor did see any opportunity for profit. If RT3 could deliver to him a crate of contraband that had been seized by RT3 customs, Zinger would have his connections track down the dragonborn.

After reuniting with the other constables, RT3 continued to the headquarters of the Flint's Butchers and Meatmen Guild. RT3 explained to the guild’s morbidly obese secretary that they were searching for dragonborn arsonists, and the man agreed to enquire with the guild’s members whether they had had an unusual spike in sales recently.

Next RT3 headed to the customs impound lot at the Royal Shipyard. They convinced the clerk on duty there that Zinger’s crate was needed urgently as evidence for a case the next day, signed it out, and then took it to a secluded location to open it. When the crate was opened, they discovered it packed with fey pepper (wrapped with coffee to mask the drug’s scent), poisons, and illicit potions and scrolls. By vote, RT3 decided to destroy the fey pepper and the poisons rather than hand such dangerous substances over. They repacked the scrolls and potions and resealed the crate as best they could, then delivered it to Zinger.

the fey pepper and poisons missing, he refused to co-operate. When Erik and Tok attempted to convince him that some contraband was better than none, Zinger was not persuaded. “And if I let you rip me off this time, you’ll do it next time too. And then everyone else will. You need to keep to your word in this business, Pride!”

~ ~ ~​

Dejected that their best lead had fallen through, RT3 returned the half-empty crate to customs impound, uncomfortably aware that the missing contents would be reported and that they would need to answer to ACI Delft soon enough. They were making their way through the darkening streets towards RHC headquarters when a man approached them. He confirmed that they were the ones looking for “that foreign doctor”, then led them to Dr Recklinghausen.

Or so RT3 thought.

On the northeastern corner of Parity Lake, a woman cried out in alarm as two bandits waylaid her carriage driver. RT3 pursued the fleeing felons into a darkened building, only for a vast velvet curtain to open and reveal that they were standing on the stage of a disused theatre. A mean-looking crowd armed with pistols and crossbows prevented any immediate move to escape.

A voice called out from the upper circle of theatre boxes, and the constables were shown to a small bex at the centre of the ring. Lorcan Kell, criminal overlord, awaited them inside. While Kell calmly ate a sandwich, Tok studied their surroundings and realised that musket-armed criminals were stationed at each end of the round, with clear lines of sight into the box. Six more thugs waited just outside the box. Kell was taking no chances.

The gang leader eventually turned to the investigators and offered them a deal: he would reveal to them the location of Dr Recklinghausen in return for one thousand gold pieces. RT3 initially scoffed at the idea, but then Kell called for a ‘comedy’ and a drugged docker was brought on stage. Initially a strumpet flirted with him and made a show of picking his pockets, but then another gang member appeared and stage and the entertainment took a turn for the darker. The Kell guildmembers took turns beating the docker, first with their fists but then with a piece of timber.

RT3 held out as long as they could, arguing with Kell that Dr Recklinghausen was not worth 1000 gp because no one else wanted him, but when Thornt saw blood and teeth spray across the stage, his reserve cracked. He tossed his pouch - filled with almost seven hundred gold pieces of stipend - into Kell’s lap, and Erik and Wilheim soon made up the difference. Kell amiably thanked the investigators for the trade, and then ordered his crew to release the docker and RT3, and then show them to Dr Recklinghausen.

Tok administered first aid to the drugged docker in the street, and then RT3 delivered him to an infirmary. Only once they were sure he would recover did they follow Kell’s henchman Johan to an abandoned church built into a cliff-face in the Nettles. Dr Recklinghausen waited inside, guarded by a trio of Kell Guilders who left without incident when Johan arrived.

~ ~ ~​

Dr Recklinghausen was initially suspicious of RT3, but they soon convinced him they could be trusted. When asked about Nilasa’s death, Dr Recklinghausen freely admitted that it was he that collected the documents and pendant from the dying half-elf. He handed the documents to Tok, who flicked through them.

The changeling quickly identified numerous reports and notes written by Security Chief Julian LeBrix that referenced financial irregularities of Danoran-owned factories. He also came across papers detailing LeBrix visiting factories and discovering flasks of strange black oil with floating motes of white light in them.

Tok pointed the documents out to Erik, and Dr Recklinghausen identified the substance as witchoil. He was familiar with it from his homeland of Arrovia, where it was created in small quantities by alchemists for use as a power source and as a stand-in for ritual components. He also vouched that he had never heard of it being manufactured in the quantities mentioned in LeBrix’s reports, and that certainly no moral man would use it, since it was composed of souls that were awaiting their final rest.

As Dr Recklinghausen finished his revelation, Tok asked about the golden canary pendant around his neck. Wolfgang had earlier confirmed that Nilasa gave it to him, but when Tok moved to take it, Dr Recklinghausen reflexively stepped back. Simultaneously, crumbled masonry crunched underfoot and a whispered voice at the church’s entrance said “Get them”. Thornt, Wilheim and Erik looked up in time to see shadowy figures moving into the light. Barely visible behind them was a silhouetted figure; just like the one they had seen the night before on Cauldron Hill.[/sblock]


As anticipated, my players were very keen to track down the dragonborn arsonits, but they seem to be doing it (or at least it's the expressed reason for it) on the entirely civic basis that an arsonist in an industrial-era city has the capacity to set the whole place aflame. Erik's player has spent his stipend on leather armour of fire resistance, but so far none of the others have taken active steps to prepare for the rematch they're all obviously keen to have.

It was good to have the players use their contacts for the first time in the adventure, and I plan to reward them by having news of the dragonborn reach them on day 5 (the next day), but that will align with Nevard's speech so I'm not sure whether they'll be interested in pursuing the lead eventually. In the meantime, I'm trying to track down a sewerish map (or a shanty area) suitable for use in Maptool as the dragonborn brothers' lair.

The meeting with Kell engendered the sort of enmity that I expected it would (indeed, Erik's player emailed me the next day along the lines of "It's okay so long as we get to take him down"). My players will probably expect their revenge to come sooner rather than later, so to assuage that bloodlust I'm going to reward their largesse by reversing the previously poor relations they had been building with the dockers. The public learning that constables outlayed 1000 gp of their own money to save the life of a docker is going to do wonders for RT3's currently poor public image.

Cool times. 15kg of meat a day? Dang. I guess they're still growing boys.

I'm running a group through the adventure now, and they just thwomped the arsonists in their first meet-up. When you daze and knock prone an elite, it really kills the enemy side's momentum, and they managed to do it to both brothers once each. They even hypnotized Eberardo to attack his own brother.

They're probably going to meet Lorcan Kell next session. I've got a schtick of bringing themed food to each session -- donuts for the first session, tropical fruit on Axis Island, actual brigadeiros (a Brazilian snack) for the investigation at the consulate, and cherry pie for when they met Lieutenant Dale after Cauldron Hill.

I think next session, I'll bring a bunch of delicious food, and eat it all by myself when they meet Kell.


First Post
I only wanted to convey appreciation for posting a log of your campaign, Colmarr. I'm kicking off my Zeitgeist campaign this coming up weekend, and getting the chance to read through what you have done has been fantastic help.

So, thank you. I hope you keep it up :)


First Post
Cool times. 15kg of meat a day? Dang. I guess they're still growing boys.

10 to 15kg, yeah. I might have overestimated a little (the informant was a lower-class thespian after all), but I figured that a race with an average height of 6'5, an average weight of 123kg, a metabolism that creates fire/lightning/acid etc and teeth that appear to all be incisors probably get through a lot of protein.

I also wanted to play up the monstrous nature of the dragonborn, as well as give them some quality that would allow them to be 'tracked' by means other than "yeah, I saw two scaly guys go down that alley", and "eats a heck of a lot of raw meat" fit the bill nicely.

It's actually the bit of DMing ad lib that I'm most proud of from the session. A little detail that nevertheless has pretty big impacts on the setting.

I only wanted to convey appreciation for posting a log of your campaign, Colmarr. I'm kicking off my Zeitgeist campaign this coming up weekend, and getting the chance to read through what you have done has been fantastic help.

Not a problem. Glad you're enjoying it/finding it useful.

Feel free to join us in the campaign journal brigade. It's always interesting to see how different DM and different groups react to the same core adventures.


First Post
Session 15: Old Faith

Session Summary:

[sblock]One of the attackers gestured with his wooden orb, and the sunrod Wilheim held aloft instantly filled with darkness, then exploded in a flash of searing cold. In the sudden confusion, Tok stuffed the recovered documents into his clothing and Erik snatched the golden canary pendant from around Dr Recklinghausen’s neck.

Another nethermancer gestured at a torch burning on the wall, and it too fell dark. The attackers moved in, taking advantage of their ability to see in the suddenly darkened room. While his companions struck out ineffectually against the attackers, Thornt sought to even the score. Calling on the primal spirits of nature, the shifter coaxed the weeds and lichen that covered the floor into a burst of life. Plants surged up, filling the main chamber with brambles so thick that finding targets within was almost impossible.

Fortunately for RT3, the attackers seemed more interested in Dr Recklinghausen than in the constables themselves. A dagger-wielding assailant moved in to attack the doctor, and the shadowy figure followed suit. The dark man fired a chrome pistol, then began slashing with shadowy claws. Dr Recklinghausen and his defenders fought back as best they could, but the dark man seemed to exist only partly in the world, and RT3 struggled to land a telling blow against him.

Two dagger-wielding assailants eventually fell, but not before Dr Recklinghausen had been sorely pressed. Even through the pressing vegetation and despite a continuous barrage of shots, blows and spells from RT3, the shadowy figure managed to land blow after blow on the surgeon. Finally, the figure retrieved a chrome syringe from somewhere within its form and sank the instrument into Dr Recklinghausen’s neck. The Arrovian’e eyes rolled up in his head and he sank to the floor.

In the confusion that followed, Tok called on ancient magic. His chant evoked the energy of a dawning sun, and when the blast struck the shadowy figure, it burned away his matte black skin. For the few seconds before the cloak of shadowy flesh returned, the light of Thornt’s hastily-lit sunrod revealed raw muscle and sinew weeping rivulets of blood. The figure snarled in anger, before bending to scoop up the unconscious Dr Recklinghausen. Erik was ready. As the dark man turned to carry off his victim, RT3’s sergeant lunged forward and cracked the figure across the back of the skull with the butt of his pistol, sending him sprawling unconscious on the floor of the church.

The two remaining nethermancers desperately extinguished the room’s lights and tried to extract Dr Recklinghausen from his protectors, but could not prevail. As the first fell, the other turned and fled for the entrance, shouting briefly in a tongue that none of the constables recognised. He stood no chance of outrunning Wilheim. The deva quickly chased him down, and a flying kick sent the nethermancer flying head-first into a wall. He did not stir.

Looking up from his fallen foe, Wilheim could see the lights of Flint, glittering on buildings and reflected from the clouds above Parity Lake, framed in the church’s narrow entrance. A dozen steel bars now blocked that entrance, somehow embedded in the stone of the doorway. Beyond, a carriage sat in the plaza fronting the church, and a dozen figures milled around it.

Wilheim called his companions to see, and as Erik and Tok moved forward, one of the figures brought a chair from the carriage and placed it on the ground. A bearded man calmly took a seat in the chair, and a metal tray bearing cheese and expensive-looking wine floated to his side. The man spoke to his companions and they hurried away, boarding two other carriages, which moved away towards the Nettles.

The figure waited calmly for a minute, then called for Tok by name.[/sblock]


This session was dominated almost entirely by the combat with Creed and his shadow operatives. Between the nethermancers putting out the lights in the church and the party druid filling the space with briars, I don't think there were many attacks made during the combat that didn't have an attack penalty involved. It slowed the combat down significantly, but was a sound tactical choice.

The other notable aspect of the encounter was that the party - having paid Kell for Dr Recklinghausen's location - had a full-strength doctor on their side for the combat. Even though there are currently only 4 PCs, Recklinghausen drew so much fire that the PCs never really looked like losing. It was really just a question of whether the doctor would go down or not and whether Creed & Co would successfully retreat or not.

As it turned out, the attackers were close to taking Wolfgang down, so hung around probably one round too long. The PCs thus prevented any from escaping and therefore have access to 6 amulets that will let them bypass Leone's metal bars. They don't know that yet, of course...

After the session, we had an extensive exchange of emails in which 3 of the 4 players expressed concern about the tone of the campaign. Specifically, they feel powerless and clueless.

On reflection, the first complaint is justified in context. The PCs' last 3 NPC encounters were with Wilfredo Zinger (who refused to deal with them and taunted Erik over their personal dislike for each other), Lorcan Kell (who blackmailed them into handing over 1000gp) and now Leone Quital (who has them trapped in a church). That unfortunate sequence of events, playing out over 2 sessions, has left the players feeling like extremely small fish in a big pond.

I've been relatively up-front about the issue, informing them that they've encountered the last of the "don't mess with this guy" moments in the adventure.

As for feeling clueless, they feel like they have so many clues and leads, but don't actually know how any of them connect or what to do with them. I initially assured them that they were close to having answers (they are!), but on further thought I had them overhear Leone tell an accomplice "Tell your boss that Creed failed to recover the documents, but the situation is under control". Having met Creed and been introduced by name at MacBannin's manor before ascending Cauldron Hill , at least one of the players now has a strong suspicion that MacBannin is involved. I think that insight will relieve the confusion and feeling of helplessness.

In part this problem may be at their end - they're not doing any actual work to think about how various facts might connect up (they are convinced that the witchoil stashed in the factories is intended as accelerant in a plot to burn Flint to the ground) - but it's equally my job to keep the adventure moving and the players entertained.

I think things are back on track now, so most of the above is intended just as a heads up to other DMs!


First Post
After all the drama of last session, a healthy payoff for the PCs this session.

Full report to come in due course, but for now I'll just say this: "What's the best way to confirm a suspicion? Have the changeling impersonate MacBannin and wake an unconscious Creed".


First Post
Session 16: Revelations

Session Summary:

[sblock]Erik moved to bind and search the unconscious shadowy figure as Tok moved slowly toward the church’s entrance. Meanwhile Thornt called Wilheim aside and the two of them commenced a ritual that would send Gale’s canary to RHC headquarters for help. Erik confiscated the shadowy figures chrome pistol and syringe.

As Tok peered cautiously outside, he overheard the bearded figure address one of his companions. “Tell your boss that Creed has not reported in, but that the situation is under control”. When Tok made his presence known, the bearded man introduced himself as Leone. He demanded that RT3 hand over Dr Recklinghausen and the documents he was carrying. If they did so, he would take the doctor and the documents and leave RT3 to escape at their leisure. If RT3 refused to co-operate, Leone would not be so benevolent.

Tok returned to the church and relayed what had been said to his fellow constables. They soon deduced that the shadowy figure must be Creed, and connected that name to Mayor MacBannin’s butler. Erik opined that the mayor himself must be involved in the conspiracy. He and Tok studies the canary pendant Erik had snatched from Dr Recklinghausen and realised it granted significant defensive wards and also a limited power of flight. It easily explained how Nilasa had managed to fly so far from the Danoran consulate window before impaling herself on the fence.

Thornt and Wilheim finished their ritual, and the canary cheeped twice before flying up the churches chimney and winging its way toward Central district. The two keen-eyed investigators then moved around the church checking for hidden passages. They found one hidden behind the privy, and when the wall swung open they were surprised to find a half-elf crawling up the hidden passage toward them.

The stranger introduced himself as Xaresti a constable with RT5. Xaresti’s old faith connected him to the abandoned church, and when he had heard rumour of it being inhabited days earlier, he had decided to surveil it. For a few nights, he had secretly watched the comings and goings at the church, but when he saw RT3 enter and then the attackers follow, he had decided to act. He confirmed that the passage would allow the constables to sneak out of the church, but they would need to pass near Leone’s men to escape. Thornt immediately began preparing a ritual to disguise the squad’s passage.

Erik and Tok dragged the unconscious Creed into a side passage, then Erik hid himself around a corner and Tok assumed the form of Mayor Reed MacBannin. He gently shook Creed awake. Creed looked around groggily and, seemingly unsurprised to find the mayor present, asked what had happened. Tok explained that Creed had been defeated but that Leone had recovered the document. He asked Creed about Leone’s plans and the butler replied that the Steelshaper hadn’t told him anything. Creed then realised that his hands were bound. When Tok hesitated in untying them, Creed realised what had happened.

Erik revealed himself and together he and Tok attempted to convince Creed to reveal the conspiracy he was working for. Creed would say nothing other than that they were acting in Risur’s best interests. He maintained he had given Risur 15 years of his life, and would gladly give her his death if necessary. He called on Erik’s patriotism and urged the constables to abandon their investigation for the good of Risur and her people.

Intrigued by that turn of events, Erik offered Creed a choice: come with RT3 willingly and without tricks, or they would be forced to “deal with” the butler in the church. Creed maintained that he would not reveal further information, but agreed not to foil their escape out of respect for Erik’s service to Risur.

The constables then barricades the main hall of the church to buy themselves time and, with 20 minutes remaining on Leone’s deadline, snuck out the secret passage. Thornt’s ritual proved decisive, dampening the footsteps of the injured Dr Recklinghausen, which otherwise would have given them away. Instead, RT3 escaped into the deep Flint night and headed for RHC headquarters.

They met one of Wilheim’s contacts along the way, who informed them that Skyseer Nevard had called a rally at Dawn Square for the next day, to announce to the people a vision of the future of Flint. Intrigued – but somewhat annoyed that Nevard had not bothered to convey his vision to RT3 first – RT3 pressed on.

RHC headquarters was in chaos when they arrived, whipped up by the urgent message carried by Gale’s canary. When RT3 walked in the door with a captive and Dr Recklinghausen, the constabulary visibly settled. Armed and armoured constables began to disarm themselves, and most officers went back to work.

Erik delivered the bundle of paperwork RT3 had recovered from Dr Recklinghausen to Ziggy in administration, hoping that the bookish clerk would be able to piece together the network of transactions it contained. RT3 then delivered Creed to the mage cells in the basement. True to his word, Creed did not resist. When Thornt suggested to Erik that he should bring his wife and her family to headquarters for the night, Erik asked the butler whether she was at risk. Creed simply replied, “Cover all angles”.
A messenger was swiftly sent to Erik’s house and that of Assistant Chief Inspector Delft, and RT3 filed reports of all they had learned. After obtaining Dr Recklinghausen’s full story of the events at the consulate, Creed was charged with the murder of Nilasa Hume, impeding an investigation, and possible treason.

RT3 was now sure that something big was going on; bigger than the murder of an intruder at the consulate. Suspecting that the terrorist Gale might know more, Erik addressed her canary in an attempt to reach her. The bird stared back uncomprehending. Thornt instead dispatched it to Skyseer Nevard with the message that RT3 wished to bring forward their meeting with Gale. RT3 retired for a well-earned rest.

When they woke in the morning and Erik stepped outside for some Nicodemus leaf, he was met by an insistent wind. It invited him to whisper a message into it, and he responded. “We have information. Many things happening. Can we meet sooner?”[/sblock]

To come (Masterchef stopped distracting my wife just as I started typing this :)).


First Post

This session was the first in which I feel my group really deviated from the script as written. Previous incidents (such as the Duchess' death, Asrabey's escape, and lying to Lya Jierre) could all have long-term implications, but those implications are not yet being felt. They're quasi-results, as it were.

Capturing and tricking Creed, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. Their suspicions about MacBannin's involvement are confirmed. Creed is no longer able to lead the flayed jaguars in their attack on Nevard or ambush the PCs when they emerge from the underground laboratory in the adventure's denouement. They have a captive who Dr Recklinghausen can positively ID as the man who attacked him and who murdered Nilasa Hume.

Possible changes ripple out from there. If Creed doesn't lead the attack on Nevard, who (if anyone) does? Will Creed eventually talk or is he willing to go to the hangman's noose for murder to protect the conspiracy? Will the Obscurati attempt to rescue or silence Creed (thus potentially exposing their route into RHC headquarters)? My mind is racing with possibilities for how to handle things from here.

Creed's capture also gave me a chance to play up the moral greyness of the obscurati's plot. Yes, MacBannin is a 'Bad Guy' (he's consciously plotting to capture souls and burn them to fuel the golem), but Creed isn't. He's a patriot who's willing to cross some lines to protect Risur.

Having painted that picture, I'm looking forward to introducing Morgan Cippiano at some point (it might even be during Digging for Lies). Another nominal bad guy who nevertheless seems to be quite respectable will really fill out the detail of Flint as an ambiguous place.

On a group front, Xaresti is the new PC for Wilheim's player. With Cassi's demise, the group felt it needed a replacement defender. Wilheim's player has never been one for complexity of play, and the monk was simply proving too finicky for him. He should sit much better in the "hit me, I can take it" role.

As I see it, Creed would never talk, he would rather die. I wouldn't have the Ob track and kill him because you will spoil the surprise at the end of adventure 3.

About the flayed jaguars maybe using one of the technicians from the warehouse would make it. Adjust his stats to make it a weak version of Creed and toss some extra jaguars if you want to challenge your players. I wouldn't have the Ob track and kill him because you will spoil the surprise at the end of adventure 3.

Lucky for me, my players have already met Creed at the Mayor's House but McBannin never told his name, in fact he limited the contact with the butler to a minimum.


Also, my advice would be to try to limit kills on people in custody. After MacBannin and Kaja's deaths in my campaign; my PC's have grown incredibly leery about bringing in prisoners; and don't fully trust the prison; which might make the finale of Digging for Lies trickier to set up for me.

In hindsight, since Kaja had agreed to cooperate and work against her former employers; I should have waited until she was released before having the Obscurati kill her.


Yeah, I'm inclined to agree with Falkus here. I'd say Macbannin still has someone arrange the attack on Nevard -- this could be another opportunity to use Doro again, on the thinking that Nicodemus himself comes to view Nevard as a threat after Nevard's night atop Cauldron Hill.

Once Creed figures out he's being tricked, I'd have him clam up.


First Post
Session 17: Audience with the Wind

Session Summary:

[sblock]As Gale's messenger wind whipped away into Flint's packed streets, RT3 received word that Assistant Chief inspector Delft had reported for work and wished to see them. Delft introduced the constables to Kuri, a gnomish constable assigned to RT1 but whom he had temporarily reassigned to RT3 to assist with their investigation into the witchoil. Kuri had spent much of the night with the Constabulary's alchemist Elbert, and had reached a number of conclusions:
  • The sample containing white motes was the same substance as the sample without, but some transformation had taken place to introduce the motes to the substance;
  • The moteless sample was little different to normal oil, although it did contain a reagent that was often used in snare rituals; and
  • The mote sample was powerful. It burned with an intense but controlled flame, and burned for far longer than oil normally would.
RT3 asked Assistant Chief Inspect Delft to dispatch surveillance to monitor comings and goings from Mayor MacBannin's manor on Cauldron Hill. He cautioned them against levelling accusations against such a prominent politician without proof, but agreed to send RT6 as requested. Delft also seconded Xaresti to RT3 to assist in their investigation.

The constables next returned to the danoran consulate, where they met with security chief LeBrix in private. The danoran initially maintained his earlier position, but when the discussion turned to the witchoil LeBrix had found and its ability to capture souls, he suddenly exclaimed and left the room. When he returned, he explained that he had just realised something: the moteless samples he had discovered had been in factories that had not had recent fatalies. The samples containing motes came from factories where workers had recently died. When he reported on the investigation, he had been ordered to shut it down.

With this new piece of information about the witchoil, RT3 realised that it was likely being placed in the factories to 'charge' it.

Swayed by the new revelation and convinced that RT3 were pursuing issues greated than Danoran industrial interests, LeBrix opened up. He admitted that he had not been the one who shot Nilasa. Cillian Creed – who had visited the consulate multiple times in the previous few weeks - had. LeBrix maintained his loyalty to Danor, but gave RT3 his home address in case they needed to contact him further.

As RT3 left the consulate, a messenger wind descended on them and urged them to meet with Gale as soon as possible atop the 'Pardwright clock tower', a rickety and patchwork astronomical observatory rising tall about the Pardwight campus. Upon their arrival, Gale swept up to meet them from the surrounding rooftops. She hovered just outside the tower until sure they would not make any hostile moves and then landed to speak with them.

RT3 explained what they had discovered about the witchoil and what they had seen in the vision atop Cauldron Hill. Gale in turn confirmed that Nilasa Hume had been working for her, and that she feared Nilasa had been killed because she discovered evidence of a greater conspiracy. The eladrin terrorist told RT3 about a visit she had recently made to the Bleak Gate, and the signs and sounds of massive construction she had observed there. She cautioned them that sizeable conspiracies were at work, and urged them to investigate further. To assist, she gave Tok a book containing a ritual that would allow the constables to track elemental energies.

Gale maintained that, while she opposed industry, she had come to realise that she could not stop it altogether. She hoped instead to keep some areas safe and sacred. As she stepped off the ledge and floated away, Wilheim called out to her. She paused and the deva presented her with a brown parcel. Gale unwrapped it to reveal a strange mirror who surface appeared to be a sheet of running water. The eladrin read the note within the parcel, then glanced silently at Wilheim.

Gale produced a swirling ball of wind from her pocket and handed it to the investigators, telling them to use it if they ever needed to contact her. Five golden feathers danced inside. While RT3 studied the strange gift, a wind whipped around the tower, bringing thick smog that blanketed the sky. When it cleared, Gale was gone.

RT3 used the ritual book to track a trail of Bleak Gate energy up the canal leading towards Parity Lake, before the trail ended abruptly at a bridge near the base of Cauldron Hill. Another trail seemed to lead to a boarded-up warehouse in Bosum Strand, but with only a few hours left before Nevard's rally in Dawn Square, the constables opted not to investigate further. They moved instead to the site of the rally, which was already filled with more than a thousand people. Clearly much of Flint would be in attendance..

RT3 moved into the crowd to assess possible threats to the aging skyseer. [/sblock]


I couldn't believe it when the players chose not to investigate the 'creepy warehouse'. One of the disadvantages of playing via Maptool is that you need to plot your maps and code all of your tokens ahead of time. I'd spent a lot of time getting the Bleak Golem coded up as three separate tokens, and then my players went and decided not to enter the building. Wasted time... unless I move the golem to MacBannin's laboratory. Hmmm.

The new PC, Kuri, has the technologist theme, and is arriving at just the right time. To establish the character's expertise, I gave the player the three insights mentioned above before the session started. Thornt's player almost immediately suggested it must be souls that represented the difference in the two samples, but it wasn't until the discussion with LeBrix that the party considered that the witchoil was being planted for reasons other than arson.

One of my real concerns about Dying Skyseer is that parties without a technologist are hard pressed to successfully prevent the witchoil explosion at the end of the adventure. I don't really want to see half of the Nettles disappear under a scalding flood of soul-capturing oil, so when the Kuri's player expressed interest in playing tinkerer and scientist, it was music to my ears.

The player is a little unreliable, so I'm not banking on Kuri staying around for long, but the gnome is the sort of character that is useful to have on standby, a quasi-scholar of technology for the rest of the party to take queries to.

I still haven't finalised my plans for Dawn Square and Creed. At this stage I'm leaning towards having MacBannin's acolyte control the jaguars - Creed doesn't normally appear in the combat anyway so the identity of the controller is somewhat academic.


First Post
Session 18: Dawn Square

Session summary:

[sblock]Tok, Erik and Kuri took up position near the empty stage and scanned the crowd. Two skyseer-liveried wagons stood behind the massive stage, each tended by a white-robed druid. A small knot of skyseer attendants waited on the southern edge of the square for Nevard’s arrival. Behind the stage, a ring of trees surrounded a fountain and were in turn outlined by three towering frameworks of wood and iron. At the top of each frame, a continual flame burned in memory of Flint’s founding.

Tok pointed out a group of tall buildings approximately halfway down the square, and asked his seargeant whether they were a possible vantage point for a sniper. Erik replied around the nicodemus leaf cigarette in his mouth, indicating it would be an extremely difficult shot at that range. Tok nevertheless asked two nearby policemen to investigate, and they happily complied.

Xaresti and Wilheim moved among the crowd, searching for anything out of the ordinary. The deva monk spied a group of industrialists seated at the front window of a cafe, clearly unhappy about the rally. He returned to the stage with Xaresti to report their presence. Tok decided to investigate further and, changing form to match his appearance to theirs, joined the men in the cafe. They briefly studied him as he sat down, then returned to their conversation. The men were convinced that Nevard’s vision would be detrimental to their business interests, and more than one muttered aloud that the city would be better off if the rally did not proceed.

Nevard’s carriage eventually pulled into the square, and the crowd buzzed with anticipation. The venerable skyseer took the stage with almost a dozen attendants, and ritual magic cast his voice far beyond the range it might otherwise have reached. Nevard reminded Flint’s people that for centuries the skyseers had used their visions to guide Risur, and though the clarity of their future sight has faded in recent years, they believe they can still guide with their wisdom, to mediate between the conflicting forces of a changing nation. But, he said, he sensed danger was approaching, and so had sought guidance by studying the sky from the one clear spot in the city - atop Cauldron Hill. And he had a vision.

A shot rang out, and RT3 quickly pinpointed its location in the tall buildings Tok had earlier noticed. Someone in the crowd screamed in shock, and confused murmurs filled the square. Nevard paused and looked to his attrendants. Wilheim glanced to Erik and when the sergeant nodded, moved through the crowd with monastically-trained speed.

When no further shots were heard, and no attack came, Nevard returned to his speech. “I saw a dark figure, standing atop Cauldron Hill, towering over our city. The sun set, and he cast a shadow across Parity Lake, stretching northwest, into the sea, beyond the horizon. And also—”

Behind the stage, the white-robed druids whipped the covering from the wagons to reveal two mechanical platforms bearing quadruple-carbine mounts. The fusil golem in each wagon whirred to life and the barrels of their armaments swivelled towards the skyseer party on the stage. Before RT3 could react, the carbines exploded into action, smashing some of Nevard’s attendants to the ground. Only the fact they had been standing behind the skyseer saved his life.

Screams spread through the crowd and people fled in panic.

RT3 leapt into action. As Erik blasted away with his pistol, Kuri reached out with his mind to seize the nearest golem. The weapons platform, despite weighing almost a third of a ton, was dragged from its wagon and flung across the square. It landed with a crunch at the base of the stage, from where it could target neither Nevard nor his attendants. Xaresti chased after the machine, drawing his sword and levelling his shield.

Thornt’s nose wrinkled, and he realised just in time what it was that he was smelling. Death. Other white-robed druids in the crowd threw back their hoods to reveal the age-bleached bone of skeletons. Two rushed up the southern stairs onto the stage, felling a skyseer attendant, while the others advanced on the constables with rusty blades. Erik‘s battlefield training and impetuous kicked in, and the yerasol veteran sprinted up the stairs until he stood beside Nevard. His pistol barked, and one the attackers’ skulls shattered.

The second fusil golem fired again. This time its hail of fire hit Erik, cut down all but one of Nevard’s remaining attendants and sorely wounded the aged skyseer himself. Nevard clutched at a stomach wound that was quickly soaking his robes red. Kuri moved to the base of the steps, shadowed by a skeleton that attempted to halt his progress.

The waters of the fountain rippled and three great cats leapt out. Their bodies were a mass of exposed muscle capped with a nightmare visage – plain bone where the creature’s faces should have been. The first flayed jaguar launched itself at Xaresti while the others bypassed the half-elf and surged to the top of the stage. Erik fired at them as they came but the creature didn’t flinch as the investigator’s shot struck home. Razor-sharp claws flashed out, and Erik fell clutching a bleeding arm. The second jaguar leapt over his prone form and lashed out at Nevard.

Even as its claws rent the old man’s robes and the skyseer’s lifeblood spilled out onto the stage, Nevard’s form vanished and reappeared at the base of the stage near the newly-arrived Tok. The changeling’s magic healed Nevard’s wounds and clouded the jaguar’s sight so that it could no longer see its prey.

Xaresti and Thornt battled the fusil golem and jaguar at the rear of the stage. The paladin deflected both slashing claws and fusillades of carbine fire with skilled precision, but even Xaresti’s divine might was not a complete protection. The jaguar’s claws found a route beneath the half-elf’s breastplate and scored lines of blood across his back, and a shot from the golem knocked a massive dent into his cuirass. Thornt surrounded Xaresti’s enemies with swarms of stinging and biting insects. The jaguar roared in annoyance, and the golem sparked where its targeting processes seethed with crawling bodies. Xaresti saw his opportunity. He knocked the golem’s carbines aside with his shield and then pierced the creature’s central core with a thrust of his blade. The golem sagged and then was still.

In front of the stage, Tok and Kuri held off the two remaining jaguars long enough to revive Erik and protect Nevard, then RT3 finished off the skeletons, the jaguars and the remaining fusil golem. In the aftermath of the battle, Wilheim returned to the group. He had discovered a sniper hidden in the buildings, and the gunshot had been the assassin firing on the police officers who had discovered his vantage point. Both officers had been killed, and the sniper himself fell to his death from a roof while fleeing the Deva monk.
Nevard urged the constables to do what they could to rally the panicked crowd, and gradually the citizens of Flint returned to hear the skyseer’s prophecy.

“I saw a dark figure, standing atop Cauldron Hill, towering over our city. The sun set, and he cast a shadow across Parity Lake, stretching northwest, into the sea, beyond the horizon. He is born in our city, but his ultimate goal is elsewhere. And also things moved in his shadow—indeed, his shadow moved before he did, for while he was mighty, he was controlled by others.

“I saw smoke hiding his face, for he was made mighty by industry. In my vision, a king chased him out to sea and defeated him by slicing him free from his shadow. But the cauldron had already shattered, and many thousands were drowned and devoured in its roil.

“I saw three birds alight on the peak, the first of black silk, the second of black steel, both weeping blood. But the third was made of stars, and it sang many songs.

“I tell you this: Cauldron Hill is not safe. Twice will danger arise, and twice will we be deceived into thinking it is safe to return, but we must avoid the place and avoid being tricked. I have arranged shelter in the Cloudwood, where people can be safe until the darkness passes.”

No sooner had Nevard finished speaking than people began to trickle out of Dawn Square, first in small groups and then in numbers. RT3 could tell from their murmurs and exaggerated speed that those present were taking Nevard’s warning seriously. Many would take up his offer of safety in the Cloudwood.

As he watched the crowd go, the aging skyseer turned to his saviours. “Thank you again,” he said. “Twice now you have saved my life. There is more to be told, but not here.”[/sblock]

When considering how the Dawn Square encounter might play out differently after Cillian Creed's capture, I decided that MacBannin would try his best to arrange things so that he could both remove Nevard and create a distraction big enough to attempt to free Creed. The most obvious way for him to do that was to assassinate the skyseer in such a way that the people of Flint thought that industrialists were behind it. The uprising of anger would create rioting in the streets, and the MacBannin could use the chaos to launch a rescue mission for Creed.

To that end, I swapped two of the flayed jaguars for fusil golems (reflavoured Dwarven Crossbow Turrets from Orcs of Stonefang Pass) and mounted them in the wagons nominally used for iron rings in the adventure as written.

The resulting combat and scene worked really well, with the industrialists in the cafe and the sniper in the buildings (together with the fact that the Ob wagons were adorned in skyseer livery) making it unclear to the players exactly what was going on. At the end of the day, I'm sure they'll conclude it was MacBannin's work, but the confusion make means that it's at least plausible that the plan could have worked.

The combat itself was great fun. My session recaps generally skim over combat, focusing only on the highlights. As you can tell from the summary, this recap is one of the longer ones I've written - the combat was that full of "cool stuff": Kuri dragging the fusil golem off the wagon and out of LoS was breath-takingly effective, and would have removed an elite from the combat in one shot had Xaresti's player not been brash enough to charge after it. Erik's assault on the skeletons and subsequent savaging by the flayed jaguars was vintage Erik heroics.

Tok's saving of Nevard's life was the only event that gave me pause. I would have been within my rights to rule that Nevard was dead (he was on 0 hp), but as I previously mentioned, I so like RangerWickett's prophecy that I wanted it to be heard. It just wouldn't be the same if the PCs found it on a note. But I also want there to be a real sense of threat when the PCs engage in these sort of protection missions, so I'm contemplating having Nevard die of his injuries after the adventure ends (he is old after all, and even magic can only do so much).
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Nicely done.

I figure letting Nevard retire back to the woods, provide a bit of guidance to the people taking refuge there, and then hanging onto life for a few adventures longer, so the party can go to him again on his actual deathbed, might have more effect.

The bulk of Nevard's attendants did die, so perhaps there'd be a large funeral to remember them.


I figure letting Nevard retire back to the woods, provide a bit of guidance to the people taking refuge there, and then hanging onto life for a few adventures longer, so the party can go to him again on his actual deathbed, might have more effect.

My party also saved Nevard, and this is pretty much what I'm planning to do with him. I may have him die between Skyseer and Lies. He'll be happy to receive Nilasa's canary amulet from them, which they just obtained from Dr von Recklinghausen.

I like the idea of a large funeral for Nevard's attendants, too.

Nice work with the encounter change-up, too!

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