Piratecat's Updated Story Hour! (update 4/03 and 4/06)

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Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
The new member of the group is the same person who plays Aravis in Sagiro's campaign - who, remarkably enough, posts here as Aravis. :)
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
“All right, no one has any weapons, right?” TomTom looks nervous as he scans his friends, and Tao curses and pulls a tiara out of her hair. “It’s got a longsword magically hidden in it,” she explains apologetically, and TomTom hands it to the staggering page who is already holding a huge armful of the group’s other weapons. “Don’t worry,” says Karthos, tucked under the page’s left armpit. “I’ll watch them.

Other than the githzerai Galthia (still locked in his room in the temple of Calphas), almost all of the Defenders in Eversink are standing in this gilded and ornate anteroom, accompanied by their barrister Daedalus Tellingstone. Even Lady Sharala Clearwater is present. Most disturbingly, Judge Daver “the Slaver” is also waiting on the other side of the large room, glaring at the Defenders in silence. Another stranger also stands in the room, eyeing the heroes nervously; this man is dressed in dark clothing and has narrow eyes, as well as long greasy black hair slicked back on his head. He walks over.

“Excuse me,” he says in unctuous tones, like satin being dragged through grease. “I am Dagwillow the Younger, of the firm Dagwillow and Son, Morticians. We are caretakers of those who have sadly departed from this mortal realm. I am here to represent the interests of your loved one the late Sir Valdek Nurin, Knight of Gaunt.” The group looks at him with undisguised surprise and disgust. He nods, understandingly, and continues on as he spreads his hands wide. “I know you are in quite a dangerous line of work. Without being presumptuous, I was wondering… have you already engaged anyone to care for your mortal frame after you have departed from this all-too-brief realm of flesh? We are quite experienced in such matters, and would be honored to have your patronage.”

The looks of disgust become more pronounced. Velendo finally finds his tongue. “Let me get this straight,” he says wonderingly. “You want to take care of our bodies when someone kills us?”

The man nods slowly. “Yes indeed, your Reverence, or when you die of natural causes. Whichever occurs first.” Most of the group snorts in amusement. Dagwillow ignores the irreverence. “Your loved ones and many thousand faithful churchgoers will wish to view your earthly form once your soul has ascended into Calphas’ care. You will doubtlessly wish for someone competent and discreet to manage the bureaucracy, to handle the will, to distribute your belongings, to contact those who would not otherwise hear of your death, and to bury you in the manner you choose. These things should not be entrusted to the person who happens to stumble across your body on the street.” He smiles, showing slightly too many teeth. “That is why Dagwillow and Son exists, to ease your entry into immortal life.”

Velendo rolls his eyes and tries to avoid being offensively blunt. “I don’t think there will be enough of us left to bury when that time comes, Mister Dagwillow. But thank you. We’ll certainly consider it.” Dagwillow bows and silkily offers Velendo a card. Velendo accepts it and tucks it in a pouch, where it is quickly forgotten.

The heroes are more concerned with Judge Daver. They haven’t seen him in months. He was the judge who sentenced half the group to five years of slavery for their role in the murder of Lord Niccolo Diavoli (along with the accompanying destruction of public property.) He’s a harsh man, but remarkably fair and honest in a city full of graft and corruption, and his presence makes the group nervous.

Tellingstone draws them close. “Remember, this isn’t just about Tao suddenly producing the deed to Rakers prison. The rumor is that there’s a movement to pardon you for your crimes here in the city.”

“Why?” asks Nolin. “Not that I object, mind you, but….”

Tellingstone’s lips are pinched tightly as he tries not to smile. “I don’t think anyone expected you to have such a… hrmm… high profile. You’re surrounded by influential allies and enemies. Two… no, now four of you are prophets for their Gods at a time when the Gods are walking abroad, and two of you are important priests. Another of you has ties to the city’s druidic guardians. You’re knights and confidantes of the King of a neighboring kingdom, and his High Magus is your former companion. One of you is the fiancee’ of a Prince. Another is a possible heir to a Great House, and a third seems to have inherited the island that our prison is built on. Not to mention your group includes one of the most popular entertainers in the city, a person who constantly leaves broken hearts behind him.” He eyes Mara and Shara. “AND her AND her. And now the daughter of a council member sees you in combat against the ghouls back in Hundle’s Crossing, and not only does she see the ghoulish threat, she sees what you’re capable of when you’re angry.” Tellingstone’s grin breaks through, like sunlight from behind a cloud. “I heard a third hand retelling. It was quite impressive.”

Tellingstone looks around at the circle of faces. “I think a few people are scared. Have you heard the phrase ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out if the kitchen’? Even as slaves, you’ve managed to keep stoking that fire, and I think they don’t want you in their kitchen any more. My sources tell me that there have been those on the Council who think you should be fed to Brinedeath, or dropped down a hole and forgotten. I’ve been encouraging those who think the best solution is to graciously buy you off in the hope you’ll leave. You may have been accidentally involved with the church of Yorrine and killed one of the most popular men in the city, but Eversink’s memory is only as deep as its pockets, and I’m banking on that.”

The great portals to the Council Chamber swing open on silent hinges.

Velendo grimaces as he shifts his shield. “Let’s go find out.” And as one, the group turns and walks into the Council Chamber.

To be continued….
 
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Wolfspirit

First Post
Piratecat said:
My sources tell me that there have been those on the Council who think you should be fed to Brinedeath, or dropped down a hole and forgotten. I’ve been encouraging those who think the best solution is to graciously buy you off in the hope you’ll leave.

You know, it strikes me as a rather stupid idea to either attempt to feed them to the dragon or just hide them away for a while. I rather doubt that the Defenders would go willingly, and I'm sure while it'd be possible to subdue them, it would be rather messy (both politicaly and "assailants strewn about"). Of course, with Brinedeath, unless they were sent as a feast naked, gagged, bound in barbed wire and in an anitmagic sphere, I'm sure that they would be a difficult meal to chew. Heck, Nolin would present some nasty heartburn either way.

On the other hand, I'm guessing that Valendo could just disbelieve that anyone would be stupid enough to try to "drop in a hole and attempt to forget" a cleric that had the ability to disbelieve things (not that I'd like that ability to be a crutch, but if push came to shove...)

For the third alternative of "buying them off", is it just me, or could that have some bad implications? I wonder if they'd still be slaves, in which case, it'd probably be better off if the Defenders were under the control of the *relativly* just Council. And even still, I'm sure that whoever did pay would probably try to use that to their advantage at some point.

I personally think the best alternative is for them to be sent to fight Brinedeath. Even if they lost, it'd be interesting to see what kind of explosion they could cause (There'd be a lot of fortitude saves from the small armory of magic items carried about if the Area of Effect type spells started flying, or if Nolin went down)
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
Wolfspirit said:

You know, it strikes me as a rather stupid idea to either attempt to feed them to the dragon or just hide them away for a while.

Sure, but lots of people do irrational, petty things out of fear, hate or jealousy. The Defenders came in to someone else's kiddy pool and then inadvertently made some REALLY big waves. Just by their presence they changed the balance of power, and that's terrifying for those with an entrenched interest.

Even more galling, the Defenders are heroes. They may have made a horrible first impression (what with the confessed Yorrine worship, and the killing the Doge, and the destruction of one of the oldest buildings in the city), but inherent nobility ended up showing itself, and peoples' opinions of the Defenders is not what it was six months ago. Then, they were foreign troublemakers; now, they're local celebrities, and prominent ones at that. Not everyone on the Council has truly internalized the fact that today's political realities are different than last year's. And that's a pity; grasping political realities is a survival skill for Eversink. *grin*
 

Wolfspirit

First Post
Piratecat said:

And that's a pity; grasping political realities is a survival skill for Eversink. *grin*

Especially when some of the political realities can cast level 9 spells now, eh?

Three words: Storm of Vengeance
 

KidCthulhu

First Post
Nah, the real thing that's throwing the nobs of 'Sink is that we don't give a rat's ass for their machinations. We've seen Sigil. We've destroyed economies. We've saved the world more times before breakfast (the meal or otherwise) than most heros do in a lifetime. The politics of 'Sink, so important to the people here, are really of no interest to the Defenders.

And that's what really bugs them. When you get really obscessed with something like that, spend your life balancing smiles and the nuances of every word spoken, watching every shift in the breezes of power, to have someone treat it as nothing is disturbing and unsettling. And to be unable to really touch them, despite all your power? That's antacid time.

I mean the Defenders were happy to help depose Griggan, but that's not becasue we care about 'Sinkish politics. We just don't like Griggan.
 

Altin

First Post
Sito Rotavele said:


Yup, the defenders are good at saving anything larger than an inn. They wreak holy (and occasionaly unholy) havoc on inns, though. I mean the Manticore has been burned down or blown up, what, four times?

So much for the 'no problem too small' shtick, huh? :)

Although, come to think of it ... what was the point at which you guys stopped doing the 'small fry'-type stuff? What I mean is, the 'early years' thread has the Defenders adventuring in much the way most parties do - you know, going on adventures and delving into dungeons as they present themselves; reacting to situations and doing so in relative anonymity. Then, on the other hand, you have the Eversink era of the economy-destroying, God-embodying, world-saving superstar Defenders who do things in their own inimitable style. Granted, there is a vast gap (both in terms of levels and time) between those two eras but what would you say was the point where you looked around and realised you'd hit the big-time, as it were?

Yours,
Altin
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
Altin said:

Although, come to think of it ... what was the point at which you guys stopped doing the 'small fry'-type stuff?

I can pinpoint it precisely: at exactly the moment that 2e Velendo got aerial servant. I sent them on a dungeon crawl to fight their way into a mercenary headquarters located in what was once a giant termite mound, find a leader, and kidnap them. Instead, the stinkers camped a quarter mile away from the dungeon. TomTom scouted it ethereally and saw someone who looked important... then Velendo summoned an aerial servant and told him "go fetch!" A few minutes later, they had their man by using brains instead of brawn, and off they ran.

The trend continued. I gave them a massive Imbindarlan temple of seeping evil... they had no interest in going anywhere near the place. I gave them G2 (the Frost giant module) with some changes, and they scouted it ethereally and did a 3 am commando style raid on the place. Sneaking in invisibly, they used wall spells to seal the dragons and 95% of the giants into their sleeping quarters. Then they killed the jarl and his wife (and two or three guards), recovered the item they came for, and headed down into the subbasement to save the kidnapped villagers that I added.

So, I gave them more of what they seemed to prefer (tricky interpersonal or political puzzles with a fair amount of combat), and cut back on dungeon crawls. That was a little frustrating for me, but they were playing to the party's strengths, and once I learned to not bother mapping any dungeon ahead of time, it got much easier. :D
 
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KidCthulhu

First Post
Actually, PC, I disagree. I think the question is when did our adventures stop being local and distinct. When did they become all interconnected and messy? I'd say the Ebon Mage Rot/Doppleganger plot (not yet recorded on the boards). That was our first complex, interwoven, peel away one layer of evil to expose yet more juicy evil story line, and it's just gotten worse (better) from there.

I should point out that I think these adventures started about the same time Sagiro started his campaign. PC saw the layered, story heavy world Sagiro had created, and he got all inspired. Now I live between these two geniuses, each feeding off the other to create greater and greater badness to inflict on their players. Woe is me.
 




Henry

Autoexreginated
note the phrase "failed creation" under Imbindarla. No wonder she tries to **** up daddy's stuff so much...
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
Yeah - I'm on my way out the door in a minute, but as a compensation for being patient with me I'll post the story behind Imbindarla (and some fascinating beginning-of-the-world legends) on Sunday.

In the mean time, go check out that art thread that Planesailing linked, featuring art by David Hendee (littlejohn). He paints like my imagination works, and he has works up of the necropede, Saint Aleax, and Velendo (as well as Morningstar from Sagiro's story hour.) Truly wonderful.

By the way, on our printed copy of the pantheon, someone has written in a little note next to each god. "Likes us." "Hates us." "Hates us a whole lot." "Hates paladins." And so forth.
 
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aithdim

First Post
And to think, one question we asked ourselves, and the King (of Gaunt), when he origionally sent us to Eversink was: Why us, what should we do? We're not diplomats. To which he replied: just be yourselves.:confused:

So have the defenders done well for Gaunt? The chamberlin would likely say no you cast too much.

FYI: I played Valdek/ Glimmer before moving to VT. Leaving the two campaigns I was involved in was the hardest part of the move for me.
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
FLASHBACK: Three years ago, heading west.

------------------------------------------------------------

It's dark, and the shadows have weight. They rise up around the heroes sitting crosslegged on the forest floor. High above the towering silhouettes of the trees, the eternal stars burn in the heavens, and the air is redolent with the smell of moss, leaves, and streams.

Light flares. A candle has been lit by one of the many elves surrounding the Defenders. Flickering wanly in the open air, the pale yellow light shines upon the unnaturally smooth skin of an ancient elf that has been lowered from the tree above them.

Nolin tries to meet the old elf's eyes. With a horrified thrill, he realizes that the elf is blind, eyes bandaged by a red-soaked strip of cloth. Tears of blood slowly slide down the elf's cheeks from underneath the bandage.

"It is the price I pay for my Sight." No one has spoken, but the seer answers their question nonetheless. "You wish to know the truth of the Ages Before. What you were taught is not the truth. The Gods did not create this planet. They did not build it solely from breath, or heat it in a forge, or dream it from the ether. Those are myths.

"Many humans think that elves are the elder race. That too is a lie. Before us were the giants and the lizard folk, and the dragons, and those from other worlds who found a home here. But neither were they first. There was a world before our own, and it was eaten by the worms."
His voice trembles with age, and the horrible sight of the blood dripping from his hidden eye sockets is mesmerizing.

"The First God came here when he heard a scream. It was not a loud scream, as such things go, but it caught his attention. It was the scream of the last living thing on the planet... dying. It was the scream of a person who had no Gods, and it begged for one as it died. When the God arrived, however, the person was long dead, and the world was worms. Huge squirming coils of darkness, the worms were the world and the world was dark, and the shambling husks of the once-living served them as slaves. The worms were as Gods themselves, and naught could be done at first.

"But the First God Abbath called to him his love Aedrae and her clever friend Trea, and showed them the world, and showed them the worms and the mumbling dead. It was Trea the clever, Trea the Deceiver, who thought of the plan. It was she who tricked the worms, and convinced them to trust her, and soon all but two were locked in a red prison where they would never escape. The Gods set the lock in stone and breathed life into the key. And they looked upon the worm-riddled world, and Abbath breathed upon it. He fathered a child with his wife, and called him Aeos, and lifted the incandescent child into the heavens. There, the Godling ignited the endless night and brought the sun to a world that knew only darkness, and he forged chains of light to bind the last two worms within the earth. The dead were burned from the pitted world, and the globe was made anew.

"The world now lived and breathed, and Aedrae named it Spira, and it was good. The children of the Gods have been good to us. But the worms still exist, in this world and the next, and they hunger most terribly. The children of Imbindarla call to them and worship them. They...."
The elven seer straightens his back in the candlelight, and it seems that real tears are mixed with the blood.

"They are fools."

------------------------------------------------------------

END FLASHBACK
 
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Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
The name Spira actually comes from the words of the first lizard kin as it came out of the mud "Suspira. Serva." (I live/breathe. I serve.) KidCthulhu ccreated that, and beautifully done, too.

The whole comet-cycle that keeps getting alluded to was all about the Imbindarlans doing their level best to destroy the "lock" keeping the worms out (a big stone circle). They almost succeeded, too. The "key" was a piece of stone called the damming stone that could show and affect force lines - gravity, speed, energy, wind, that sort of thing. But the heroes prevented the destruction of the lock and the freeing of the worms, and almost noone knows how close they came to dying messily.

It was a dual plan that couldn't fail.

1. Use life energy to wrench a star out of a constellation and sending it shooting through another constellation, thus making the stars correct. Use that alignment to perform the rituals that will release the worms from their imprisonment under the stone circle.

2. On the off chance that the ritual fails, use the falling star to break the stone circle itself. With the lock broken, the worms could emerge - and probably nothing else could have done it. It was put up by the Gods, for one thing.

It's always good to plan for contingencies!

I posted this because it's worth noting exactly why Imbindarla has it in for Our Heroes (and why the other Gods are irked at her), and what with the Pantheon chart posted, I thought you deserved a little creation myth. The story of Imbindarla and her Dad can wait for another time. Next update coming tonight!
 
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Bandeeto

First Post
A few points to be made. Before we met the ancient elven Seer we had only the vaguest ideas as to what to do next. We had figured out that the Brotherhood of Night was, again, planning to use a conjunction of the stars to power a major ritual and bring darkness upon the land.

It was… to say the least… typical.

The scope of the catastrophe was entirely unknown. We had recovered several texts from the BoN, and knew that the denouement was to occur at a place called Tovag Baragu, far to the west, and that a multi-ringed group of standing stones would be involved. That was about the limit of our knowledge.

The other hints were all derived from a madman’s prophecy, thousands of years old.

This was it:

Fragment from the Tale of Ycriss (transcribed and translated from Kanach’Hurian to the Common Tongue of Northern Trade by the humble interpreter Aldef’aliah, in the Year of the Lizard’s Tomb)

…or the well could fill before they fill it. There in the foundation, built the earthdeep hatredhatred! The skin of the fallen blows upon the thirsty and their screams, oh their screams! echo off the polished air. The eye stares, but some are oh so shy. And in the month when the eye is shut, the Martyr tests his fate against his shadow in the place where dry tears blow and spheres focus and the moments rebound between white doors. Twice, twice and once ringed the plinth shall be, and the worm’s brethren shall be waiting in their cage of vermillion, bars of cinnabar, and the fey shall betray, and the eye’s own shall blaze and call between the teeth, calling are there none here to stop her? For when the river of damned is dammed by dammedosel, who is caught in the flood? My duck! His beak is as wide as a riverway….

How we howled at P’Cat over this one.
“Somebody’s beak’s gonna be as wide as riverway when all this is done!”
“My duck?! My DUCK??!!”
“So who wants to be the Martyr? I volunteer Arcade!”

You get the idea.

Although the story told by the Seer was not quite as detailed as the one posted here, it finally gave us an idea of what we were up against.

Oh, yeah. And about that Damming Stone….

We had learned that the Damming Stone was connected to the prophecy, but had no idea what it was for. We argued about it for weeks. We were fairly sure that the BoN did not even know that it existed. Was it needed to initiate the conjunction? Should we try to use it to stop the prophecy?

We did know that it was buried beneath an ancient dwarven king’s throne under thousands of feet of water at the bottom of a lake in the country of Solthrag; this pleasant land being ruled over by a demon-goddess who actively encouraged her people to sacrifice strangers in her name.

Many of us thought that it should be left where it was, and that to bring it would delay us, and ensure our doom. (“Oh. That’s the piece that we neeeded to complete the prophecy. Thank you so much for dragging it across hundreds of miles of desert for us! Ho ho ho ho!” Don’t think that P’Cat is not capable of this kind of subterfuge.) Others were certain that it had to come along, or we would find ourselves needing it at a very bad time. Heated debate shook the Werehouse gameroom walls. Finally, after some broad GM hints via the Seer, we decided to fetch it along.

But who should carry it?

We had some idea from a previous prophecy that Alix was the Martyr, so it seemed that perhaps he ought to carry it. But the stone bound itself to the mind of the wielder, and would repeatedly attempt to take over. This effect was inversely proportional to the wisdom of the character (Alix’s being the lowest in the group) and may also have had something to do with alignment. Alix actually managed to touch it twice, making ludicrously unlikely percentile dice saves, before Velendo stepped in.

Now, another point. The stone was a large boulder, the size of a hefty cauldron. Under normal circumstances, Velendo could not have even picked it up. However, the enchantment of the stone permitted the user to realign lines of gravitational force. At Velendo’s command the stone weighed less than a feather. We strapped it to his back with a large sash.

But… the stone was also a malign artifact. It would whisper to Velendo, hinting that if he were to tug ‘here’ and push ‘there’, he could remake the world one piece at a time. The Damming Stone had the power to rip apart continents, and it wanted badly to be used.

He carried it all the way to Tovag Baragu.
 
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