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

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Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Fade said:
Sure the dim door was a suicide move, but the Royals are no stranger to death. He can always be raised later.

Or maybe he wasn't a Royal at all but a dominated townsperson, and someone else cast the door on him. Puts a new light on Velendo's judgement doesn't it?

Two things to consider:

1) You cannot cast teleport or dimension door on someone else. It affects yourself, and you can take others with you if you want. And since Velendo had true seeing cast, he would have seen any invisible casters who were also there. And to counter the argument that the enemy might have been given a magic item and been ordered to use it,

2) the guy looked and moved like a high-level adventuring type. He arrived, dropped immediately into a fighting stance, and looked like trouble. After 16 levels of adventuring, Velendo can tell the difference in body language between a dominated peasant and a high-level adversary. And as if that weren't enough, the divine true seeing lets one tell alignments at a glance... and the guy was eeeeeeevil.

-Sagiro
 

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Tremere

First Post
Anti-magic

Dawn said:
If the Anti-magic shield is playing havoc with the Defender's weapons, wouldn't it also do the same for the bad guys' armor and protection devices?

The anti-magic did negate their own armor/protections, but they were stading in 3x3 formation lobbing missiles or stabbing out at us.
Very difficult to counter, particularly when 2/3 to 3/4 of your abilities are negated by the Shell.

As for the D-door man carrying presents: he had no armor or obvious weapons, yet dropped into a very competent fighting stance...
 

Blackjack

First Post
coyote6 said:
*Say, a trident's a piercing weapon, and piercing weapons can't normally be used to strike at other weapons. Probably a special ability of the trident.

Don't worry about the trident for too long. Malachite despises this evil thing, and periodically takes it out of his pouch to mock it. (Before removing its shaft entirely, Malachite carved "I LOVE AEOS" into the wood.) The trident is not long for this world.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Back from Texas! My work went really well, but the coolest thing was that I got a chance to hang out with “~D” of Talon Comics and buy out half his stock of gaming books. Consider this my gratuitous plug for him; if you need gaming stuff mail order, he’s absolutely the guy to get it from. Sorry I didn’t post before I left, but the server was hiccupping when I tried, and I was already late leaving for the airport.

So where were we?


The sea elf fighter swings his weapon at Malachite, and Shara leaps at her chance. Her telekinesis seizes his wrist; he tries to resist, but is inexorably flung forwards out of the anti-magic field. Both Malachite and Mara slash at him as he flies past them towards the seagulls.

The air elemental that Nolin had just summoned as support for Tao can’t reach the seagulls in time, so Nolin reaches inside himself and calls on the power of the phoenix. As he does so, a flaming pillar of holy energy slams down like a juggernaut, badly frying both polymorphed rust monsters and the sea elf. TomTom follows this up with a greater biocurrent arcing from one creature to the next, and both seagulls transform back into rust monsters as the energy kills them. The sea elf isn’t looking especially good either, bleeding and smoking as he struggles against the telekinetic force. Malachite and Mara both turn on him, and he drops into the shallow water, dead once again. Whether he goes to the elven or the lizardfolk heaven, no one is sure.

Unfortunately, Nolin was summoning when he should have been worrying about the green slime eating into his chest. He takes six points of constitution damage, ensuring that his next action will be setting his entire body on fire in an attempt to burn away the slime.

TomTom uses his hasted action to dimension slide to the other side of the field, right next to Tao and Nolin’s summoned elemental. Tao has a moment of surprise as she tries to figure out if the invisible creature next to her is her friend or not, but the mental link helps immensely, and she hammers her sword into the kobold. He screams, and spins to try and defend himself. The halfling and minotaur turn as well, but Tao gets six attacks with her weapons, and the kobold isn’t well armored. The results is messy, and the tide of battle turns.

As the halfling and the bullywug both drop, Nolin begins to taunt the half-orc barbarian. Nolin’s voice is rough due to the constitution damage, but he calls the half-orc every name in the book, inventing amazingly inventive insults about his parentage and just-killed mate. Frothing with anger, the barbarian snaps and charges out of the anti-magic field at Nolin. Unfortunately, he takes three steps – and vanishes completely. The Defenders are mystified.

On her way to attacking the sea elf wizard, Tao steps forward and grabs the older woman in an iron grip. With a casual twist of her body, Tao flings the woman behind her, directly into the vaporous arms of Nolin's air elemental. Tao then steps forward and attacks the sea elf wizard, blades cutting above and below the baby he is carrying. Within seconds she kills the elf and leaves the baby unharmed, almost cutting the wizard in two despite non-magical weapons.

Trapped by the air elemental, the older woman watches her companion cut down, and she finally decides enough is enough, what with five members of her group dead or missing. Ignoring the elemental as best she can, she musters her concentration and casts a spell. She - and the baby strapped to her chest - vanish completely.

The rest of the Dockside Royals panic. The minotaur and the doppelganger both rush forward to where the minotaur went and likewise disappear, taking the third baby with them. The rat psion is already dead, killed by Kiri and Shara, and the Defenders realize that the only creatures left alive are their allies. “Where did they disappear to?” asks Malachite.

Shara thinks to the group, “Be careful where you stand! There must be a teleport circle inscribed under the water there, perhaps meant as a trap for us. We’re water walking, so we didn’t set it off.”

“A teleport circle? Isn’t that a little… powerful?” asks Velendo, but Shara just shrugs. Velendo continues, “We’ve got to follow them, now! Otherwise they’ll just try this again.” Quickly healing those who need it most, Velendo and the others look down at the unremarkable patch of watery ground.

Tao takes off her slippers of water walking. “Well, lets hope they don’t have a trap set!” she says, and takes a step forward… and disappears. Still linked to the group mentally, her first thought is, “Glub.. auggh.. underwater! Can’t breath!

To be continued….

Tomorrow! A guest player, a deadly underwater trap, giant grappled lobster-things, and the amazing iron missile!
 
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Rel

Liquid Awesome
Another drawback to the "strap on a baby" strategy just occurred to me. In addition to it being an express elevator to hell after you die, wouldn't that screaming kid cause a Concentration check when spellcasting?

I've got a kid and when I'm holding her and she's screaming, I can barely work the buttons on the microwave to reheat my coffee (FYI, you never again get to enjoy an entire cup of coffee before it gets cold once you have children) much less perform any arcane rituals that require words, precise movements and material components.

Besides, how long do you have to stand around with three screaming babies strapped to you while you wait for the Defenders to show up. I mean, those guys could take hours or days running around Eversink with their silly roleplaying before they showed up for the fight. Trust me, more than about an hour of that screaming and you'll be begging for the Defenders to put you out of your misery.

DISCLAMIER: I love my daughter very much. Especially when she isn't screaming like a banshee.
 

KidCthulhu

First Post
Re: ... I don't trust babies

Bronz Dragon said:
my question is "Where the heck did they get those babies?!" I mean, someone would probably report it if their baby got swiped by a pirate, wouldn't they? Wouldn't the guard at least have heard of it by that time? There aren't many places you can hide with a screaming infant, that's why mothers never play hide-and-go-seek

We thought this too. But poverty does funny things to people, and the Dockside Royals are very powerful and very rich. And Eversink is not a nice place.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
One by one, the Defenders get ready to hold their breath and sit down in the watery circle. *Fwssh!* Each of them vanishes one by one. Mara borrows Velendo’s necklace of iron body first, turning herself to unbreathing metal. Velendo waits nervously in the tunnels; he doesn’t want everyone to be trapped underwater with no means of escape, so he refuses to go through the magical teleportal until he knows the group is relatively safe. Velendo fidgets, and then summons a water elemental, sending it through the teleportal to help the Defenders after first instructing it to find pockets of air and lead the party to them.

Other than Velendo, only Kiri stays behind, taking the extra baby and making sure that all valuables and interesting clues are stripped from the bodies.

The rest of the Defenders are holding their breath in cold, dark water. They find themselves at the bottom of a large flooded stone chamber. It is totally dark, with one obvious door (locked) on the north wall, and no obvious inhabitants. Tao uses her small magical hammer to burst the obvious door open, and the water elemental rushes down the hallway it conceals, accompanied by an arcane eye conjured by Agar. About this time someone remembers that they found potions of water breathing and a necklace of water breathing on several of the Dockside Royals, and they use them with embarrassed grins on their faces. Luckily, they remember before anyone drowns! Upon the assurance that people can breath, Velendo joins the rest of the group.

The water elemental still hasn’t detected air, and Agar’s eye shows that the long winding corridor seems to be a trap; it doesn’t lead to any exit, just to a grinning sculpture on a wall, near several dead and floating corpses.

Still holding his breath, Nolin can't sing or play his instrument... but he uses the time effectively by drumming on the stone wall. The noise echoes beautifully through the water, inspiring greatness as the primal beat throbs and reverberates.

Meanwhile, Tao has discovered two secret doors. She thought she had seen some bubbles by one of them, so she tries to open it, and fails – setting off an ineffectual glyph in the process. Malachite and Mara also try to open it, but Malachite can’t get any kind of leverage while swimming, and Mara’s iron body is slowed somewhat by the water. Agar checks the other secret door, setting off another glyph, and concludes that it is nothing but a false door.

TomTom joins Tao and manifests clairtangency. He sees the other side of the secret door in his mind’s eye, and uses the power of his thoughts to lift the iron bar holding the secret door closed. Pushing the door ajar, TomTom checks for more traps, and detects a glue-covered trapdoor, counterweighted to sink you farther underwater and hold you there until your air runs out. Everyone manages to avoid it, even the clumsy iron Mara, and the heroes file out into an underwater corridor. Using a clairvoyance, TomTom discovers that the tunnel that the trap covers leads farther down into the rock before opening up, and they file that fact away for future exploration.

At the end of the corridor the group can see a horrible insectoid, lobster-like monster… almost as if you crossed an Apparatus of Kwalish with a demonic scorpion. It is chained, and its chain doesn’t appear to be long enough to reach the group. Mara approaches it cautiously, and Nolin amuses himself by activating his ring of incontinence. The monster succumbs, and the water near it is filled with a cloud of foul-smelling ordure as it voids itself. Then Nolin finds out the hard way that it has an extremely long chain, and was just trying to draw them closer.

Whoops.

It swims madly for Nolin, claws snapping in anticipation. However, Mara stops it cold, grappling it around the tail and squeezing. It fights with her, freeing itself, only to be hit with magical attacks from Shara and Agar. Tao and Malachite swim forward to attack while Nolin moves back, and Mara manages to grapple the large beast once again. Its fearsome claws snap ineffectually at her iron body, sliding off the polished metal of her face, and Mara grins as she stabs it with a gutroot spear and then once again grapples it in place. As seaweed bursts from the creature's orifices (thanks to the gutroot spell on the spear), Tao swims through the blood-clouded water and invokes a prayer to Galanna against abominations that Should Not Be. The creature quivers and spasms, slain by the slay living, and everyone smiles with relief.

“Nolin? What were you thinking?” asks Velendo. “Why’d you use the ring to make it… to make it empty its…?” Velendo gestures uselessly, the effect partially lost underwater. Nolin can’t stop grinning, though. Nothing’s more fun than magical diarrhea, even in godless abominations.

The elemental helps people swim up a 40’ tall shaft, exiting out of a rock outcropping on the sea’s floor. Above their heads, a storm still rages, and they can see several ships at anchor in the murky water. TomTom is the first to reach the surface, and he sees the minotaur pulling himself up onto a nearby ship. Tao is next up, and she dives underwater and starts swimming for the ship. Everyone else uses their water walking to precariously pick their way across the rough seas.

Agar decides to take the initiative. Sending a prying eye ahead, he sees that the minotaur, the half-orc and the doppelganger are in the captain’s cabin, a cabin they have seen before while scrying for Brindle. They have with them two of the three babies, and the minotaur and half-orc are loudly arguing while the doppelganger stares deeply into a large gem. “Can’t have that!” decides Agar….

….and without any backup, he teleports into the cabin.

To be continued….
 
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KidCthulhu

First Post
PC is right. Nolin gets more damn amusement from making bad guys poop themselves. tee-hee. That never gets old. And hey, he's not a front line fighter, so he seldom has to deal with the consequences.

Dawn said:
What are the consequences of Nolin’s ring? I mean other than the obvious……release, what sort of disadvantage does it put on the victim? Seems like it would require at least some sort of Concentration check.

Well, for starters, you should be standing well back.

And it's best if you aren't really attached to your current shoes.

Oh, and nose plugs. Nose plugs are key.

Wait, did you mean game effects? Dunno. I leave that stuff up to Pkitty.

I just use it 'cuz it's funny.
 
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Sito Rotavele

First Post
Sure when Nolin uses it, it's fun. But when the Torazian (ptuh!) Deathgranter (also ptuh!) uses it to split up the party and take them one-by-one...well, then it's not quite as funny.

That's how PCat used it originally Dawn. Dunno what the combat-whoopsie consequences are, but it certainly was a crafty way to split the party. There are some things even the Defenders don't do together.

Course that's the beauty of Nolin - what others deploy fiendishly, he uses for slapstick.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Bronz Dragon said:
What would the effect of the ring be if the target creature had some unusual physiology? Say they had Iron Body or some such spell on them at the time?

Iron body negates all pshysiological effects. Thus, it'd negate the ring. It probably wouldn't work on undead or constructs, either.

Rules-wise, it necessitates a fortitude save at DC 15. Failure means messiness, with lost actions for several rounds, huge concentration checks, and big penalties to social skills like diplomacy, bluff, and intimidate. Success still causes urgency, but not quite as immediate, with combat and skill penalties as the target becomes... distracted. Lord help me if Nolin ever decides to use the thing at a formal social gathering!

Incidentally, if Agar seems more lively than normal, there's a reason! He was played this session by our old friend Mike Selinker from WotC. Mike (who authored the Marvel Superheroes SAGA game, the Dragon column "Mind Flayers," as well as a ton of other stuff) was in Boston for a puzzle convention. Similarly, Shara and Kiri's players were in town for the previous game.

Man, Agar's been played by some of the best! Wulf, DoctorB (who just started a story hour here), Mike....
 
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Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Hindered by wind and rain, the Defenders make their way over the rough seas towards the Dockside Royals’ ship. Several people try to run and end up tripping over waves, splashing face-first into the frothing sea.

Meanwhile, Agar has teleported into the cabin. Before anyone can react, he casts a spell and focuses his power on the concentrating doppelganger. Power courses down his arm and out his hand, striking the doppelganger in the small of the back. With a soft *POOF*, the creature explodes into fine dust, its clothes settling to the ground over a large sapphire that it had been holding. “Nice use of a disintegrate,” thinks Agar to himself, and then he realizes that the half-orc and minotaur have both stopped arguing. Agar’s tentacled familiar Proty begins to wiggle nervously against his neck, and Agar shrinks back as the two hulking forms draw their weapons and back him into a corner.

Outside, it’s been slow going for Mara, since she’s still made from iron. Shara casts fly on her; elated, Mara takes to the air and flies above the ship. Tao is clambering up the anchor chain as the water elemental lifts several members of the Defenders up on to deck. One glyph after another spit and hiss as the Defenders run across the rocking deck, but the magical wards aren’t powerful enough to have any effect. Malachite wrenches the cabin door open and piles down the stairs into the minotaur. He’s closely followed by Tao and a dimension sliding TomTom. The rest of the Defenders are close behind, crowding the entrance and trying to get line of sight. Shara notices that although she’s seen this cabin before in her scry, the magical ship in a bottle is now missing.

Once again, the battle is joined.

The Defenders clearly have the advantage now, but the bulky humanoids are putting up a fearsome fight. The minotaur cleric has healed them already, and the half-orc swings his greatsword in lethal arcs as he tries to kill at least one of his opponents. Then mentally, the Defenders hear Mara asking, “Where’s the half-orc?”

“In the far corner at the back right,” someone answers. “Why? Where are you?”

Mara doesn’t answer. Sixty feet above the deck of the ship, she lets herself fall, aiming her one ton iron body at what she hopes is the correct point. She smashes through the wooden planks of the poopdeck as if they were balsa wood and miraculously comes down directly on top of the half orc. The floor beams groan and bend but somehow hold, and Mara finds herself facing a number of surprised Defenders and one very horrified minotaur. “That went well,” she says, dusting her hands off with soft clanging noises, rain splashing down on her through the jagged hole above. Then she looks around for the half-orc.

She’s standing in his stomach.

“Whoops!” she says primly, and moves her foot. Before long the half-orc is fully dead and the minotaur is knocked unconscious. The Defenders look around with satisfaction, only irritated that the dark-haired woman is still missing.

  • --> You know how much damage a one-ton paladin does when she falls 60’? I’ll tell you how much: 16d6, that’s how much! That poor evil half-orc barbarian, already wounded, never had a chance once he failed his reflex save to get out of the way; Mara’s fall brought him down to exactly -1 hit points and triggered a massive damage save. That was all she wrote. Mara’s just lucky she didn’t keep falling out the bottom of the ship as well! Very, very clever tactic on Mara’s part, and with 50-point damage reduction she barely got hurt at all.

“Oh, I absolutely can’t believe this is happening.” The Defenders spin. A morose man in dark clothing is leaning up against the wall of the cabin. His face reminds you of the kind of animal you’d see poking their snout out of a sandy hole, and he’s pinching his nose in irritation as he looks around the room. “Is anyone left alive?” He looks around the room, a pained expression on his face. “What happened to my ship?”

Malachite looks at him and growls, “We were… redecorating.”

“So this is it? You’ve killed all of them?”

“Not all of them,” answers Tao, as she kicks the unconscious minotaur in the head. *THUNK* “Who are you, anyways?” Mentally, she hears TomTom say, “Whoever he is, he isn’t actually there. See, he’s leaning through the wall! I think it’s an illusion of some kind.” Silently, Agar slips away, shifting into wind walk form to explore the ship; by his reasoning, anyone using project image must be relatively near by.

Not answering the question, the man looks at the babies with a sneer on his face. “Babies,” he says with disgust in his voice. “I can’t believe they used babies. I hope you killed them all. They’re responsible for their own actions, but I have to say I’m quite disappointed. Oh, what a mess.” He shakes his head morosely. “Lady Tao, you should kick him again.” Tao gladly complies - *THUNK* - thinking, He knows my name! The man sighs. “I must apologize. You’re visitors in our fair city, and you don’t deserve this sort of rudeness. I hope you’re all alright; none of you badly hurt?” He raises an eyebrow politely, not looking very hopeful.

“Some of us are dead,” answers Velendo. “Who are you, anyways?”

The man frowns again, long nose wrinkling. “These people reported to me. They run the docks. Without them things wouldn’t get accomplished. Of course,” he sighs, “I expect we’ll find that out. They were very efficient; they kept people in line, collected the appropriate bribes, kept out the wrong element, and made sure that things flowed smoothly. Hmmm…. Are you going to keep their valuables and bodies?”

“We might,” Nolin answers over the screaming infants. “We deserve them. Why, do you want them? And why do you think we aren’t going to simply track you down as well?”

“Me?” the man answers wearily. “You’ll never find me. It’s not as if this is my real appearance. But I will say you’re thorough. The Dockside Royals were idiots when they thought they could ambush and kill you. I know better. You’re important people, valued guests, not the kind of people I like to annoy. I at least know better. How’d this come about, you mind telling me?” He looks at them nervously, as if half-fearing the answer.

The Defenders explain what happened to them, and the skinny man becomes more and more morose as they do. Malachite steps forward, fists clenched, looming in front of the image and just oozing intimidation, while Nolin plays good cop, asking polite and respectful questions. Everyone else contributes in the conversation, except for Agar who is still searching for the originator of the project image. The man confesses that there is a bullywug shaman somewhere near the docks that has learned how to reincarnate without a body, although he isn’t cheap. The man never admits his true name, but he does offer to make a deal with the Defenders. They go through several iterations of bargaining as he tries to get the bodies of his fallen associates, including the minotaur (*THUNK* ~ "I could do that all day," says Tao), in exchange for the Defenders keeping what gear they want.

Interestingly enough, he also offers to trade the large sapphire and the ship for Brindle’s life. The man says that he is just going to turn the rogue assassin Brindle over to the Children of Lethe, the local assassins’ guild which wants him dead. Thinking that Brindle may still be of some use to them, the Defenders agree to the trade, assuming that the man isn’t lying and the sapphire is only useful for communicating back and forth with him.

As the deal is being wrapped up he suddenly disappears, and the PCs regroup. Nolin sings a glorious lullaby to the children, and they quickly fall asleep, nestled in his arms. He summons his onyx dog Angus to care for them while he helps search, and they systematically scour the ship for secrets. They decide that the magical ship in a bottle is actually gone; the best guess is that the dark haired woman, who was probably a wizard or sorcerer, took it before fleeing.

Standing on the low-floating ship (“Did Mara spring any timbers? I think we’re taking on water, and that might make the r-r-roaches come out in the open.” asks Agar worriedly), they take any treasure they can find and leave the bodies (including the half-conscious minotaur - *THUNK*) in a pile on the deck. Then as a group they wind walk back to the Temple.

And there, asleep in a back pew, they find Raevynn, bruised, exhausted, and covered with dried blood.

To be continued….

Tomorrow: a heart-to-hart conversation with Tao’s Goddess. Raevynn’s dilemma. Lots of loot! And a conversation with Brindle that no one expected….
 
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Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Re: Baby Armor

Grover said:
Um, I hate to be a nit-picker, but how did the half-orc's baby live through the splattering the half orc received from Mara? Had they taken the babies off by then, or is that something you just missed.

Oh, I forgot to say! The babies had been taken off and placed on the shelf when they got to the ship. Nolin whirled into the stateroom, scooped up both babies (drawing attacks of opportunity in the process), and withdrew. I should edit that into the story.

As for how the babies survived underwater, it's something I did think about (as did the Dockside Royals), but the Defenders don't know the reason.

Regarding the ultimate fate of the Royals... the illusionary man very much gave the impression that Eversink is about business, and that the Royals are a cog in that vast wheel. He promised that if they are reincarnated (which is by no means certain), they would never bother the Defenders again. They would be getting weaker, too, losing life energy as they travel the great circle. In the end, the group decided that speaking to Brindle was more important than anything else.

I don't know if they're going to confront the bullywug or not. They'd probably be on shaky legal ground, and even their moral ground may not be too sound; if it isn't evil per se, what are they going to accuse it of? It's an interesting dilemma, though.

Good questions!
 
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Fiery James

First Post
;)
 

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Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!


Most of the Defenders are talking to Raevynn inside, but Tao is not with them.

She is outside, leaning against the carved stone wall of the Temple of Calphas. Thunder rumbles and the rain pours from the dull gray sky, sluicing out of the gargoyles above her head, each of them carved to look like a cleric or saint. She ignores the water splashing merrily off of her cloak and focuses her attention inwards. "Galanna," she softly calls within her mind, "Galanna...."

And then she is tumbling inwards, all sense of the rain lost as she whirls through a silvery void. Now dry, she is there. Standing under arching trees that dwarf her, before a deer that towers up to the sky. Its antlers are as the pillars of the heavens, its muscles are the strength of the earth, its solid green eyes are the wisdom of life. Tao is in Audience with her Goddess, and she can't help but drop to her knees in awe and piety.

"My daughter,", Tao hears as the deer looks down upon her, bathing her in radiance. "You are blessed. Ask me what you wish to know."

1. "Will my going to the White Kingdom be damaging to the Knights of the Horn?" No.

2. "Is the decision to 'knight' Raevynn acceptable to you?" Yes; she will soon be houseless and beset by enemies, and will need My aid.

3. "Does the rod of the Al'Quith do more than just destroy abominations?" Yes. (*whump* - the knowledge appears in her mind. see below.)

4. "Will the Knights of the Horn fall to disrepair if I should die in the Underworld?" Trust the one you killed, Annela, to follow in your path.

5. "If you were in my position, given what we did originally to get this 'task', would you go?" Yes, but not only out of duty; also out of necessity.

6. "Is Telay a prisoner?" No.

7. "Is Telay charmed or otherwise mentally controlled?" No.

8. "Is the new saint of Aeos what he appears to be?" No.

9. "Are Knights of the Horn bound to remain virgins?" Not once they are knighted. Yes, until they take their vows.

10. "Will there be any more assassination attempts upon the group?" Yes.

11. "Is the choice of Annela, the new Sigilian Knight of the Horn, acceptable to you?" Yes.

12. "Is there any way to free Nolin's father from the family curse?" I do not know. I believe so.

13. "Is Valdek's spirit in Valhalla?" Yes. (For just a few seconds, the faint clinking of mugs and sounds of battle can be heard, before fading on the wind.)

14. "If faced with the situation of either T'Cri or I dying, would it be damaging to the world if it was T'Cri who died?" The question is irrelevant.

15. "Is Raevynn in physical danger?" Not currently.

16. "Is the new Saint of Aeos a danger to Mara or Malachite?" Not immediately; not directly.

17. "Is there anything else that my holy sword does?" Yes. (*whump* - the knowledge appears in her mind. see below.)

18. "Is there anything I can do to save Raevynn from danger?" In saving the Al'Quith she has damned herself, but she has not fallen from My favor.

19. "Is there another task I can do for you?" There is more to the Kingdom of Ghouls than anyone knows. Their religion must be stopped, others have failed, and time grows short.

20. "Am I living my life in a way that makes you proud?" You please me, Tao; celebrate your life, and honor me thereby.

With that, Galanna moves her head and the heavens move. Tao has been straining to the utmost to translate the Divine Will into words she can comprehend, and it is almost a blessing as her exhausted form is drawn backwards, away from her Goddess and into the silvery void. She comes to still leaning against the wall, tears on her face, a dozen people staring at her in awe.

And almost without registering it consciously, Tao notices that the rain has stopped, and a rainbow arches over the city.

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

The Rod of True Nature: This minor relic of Galanna is made from the living wood of the Al'Quith. It is two feet long, sprouting small leaves, as if it were attached to the tree itself. The rod constantly acts as plant growth: enrichment. Once per day it can cast plant growth: overgrowth. Once per week it can cast control weather and purity of flesh (15d6 damage, only to abominations, in a 100' r.; fort. save at DC 24 for half damage). The rod does 1d10 points of damage when touched to an abomination. All effects are at caster level 20.

Nature's Wrath: +4 steel longsword glows with a pearlescent, misty glow. Grants freedom of movement when grasped and a short prayer is recited (standard action to activate); undead-bane does +2d6 points of damage to undead. When wielded by a Knight of the Horn in unicorn form, this sword replaces the unicorn's normal horn.
 
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LightPhoenix

First Post
Piratecat said:
9. "Are Knights of the Horn bound to remain virgins?" Not once they are knighted. Yes, until they take their vows.

20. "Am I living my life in a way that makes you proud?" You please me, Tao; celebrate your life, and honor me thereby.

You know, out of every question asked, these two were the best... and if ever such a thing as an Audience existed in real life, these would probably be the two questions everyone would ask.

Props to Tao's player! :)

LightPhoenix
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Raevynn explains that she was “invited” to a secret druidic council, and didn’t have time to heal after the huge fight. She doesn’t tell them that she was the one on trial at the council. In order to learn key information about the Al’Quith, the holy tree recently purified by the Defenders, Raevynn had agreed to trade secret information on her elite druidic organization “The Oakenshield” to the head of House Roaringbrook, himself a druid of a competing circle.

This has apparently caught up to her, and while the Defenders were fighting in the Smugglers Tunnels under Eversink, she was questioned for hours in a dark grove of trees by hooded strangers. Eventually she was brought back to Eversink, exhausted and unhealed. The words “Perhaps she has spent too much time around the city-dwellers” still rings in her ears; all in all, Raevynn couldn’t agree more.

Tao takes Raevynn aside for a long talk. Galanna had told Tao some troubling things in her Audience, and Raevynn deserved to know. What Raevynn hears doesn’t do very much to cheer her up.

As Agar, Shara and Nolin spend the next day identifying loot taken from the dead Dockside Royals, the other Defenders tend to their business, healing and resting. Tao discusses the results of the Audience with the rest of the group. The Defenders also discuss tactics, capabilities, and strategies; they go over their magic items to decide what to replace or swap, count their money, and brainstorm what to do next.

Finally, Nolin, Shara and Agar have identified or legend lored everything that they’ve found. It’s a fairly sizeable list!

  • Tom-Tom got a Power Stone of Control Sound, a Potion of Water Breathing, and five various psionic tattoos.

    Velendo got a coral Necklace of Water Breathing and the Grimrod, a rod of metamagic that allows him to maximize three spells per day, and quicken one spell per day.

    Tao got a feathered Cloak of Feather Falling, a Nosering of Natural Armor (+4; she’ll probably use it as an earring), and the Greatsword +1 "Neckslitter" (effective against creatures with +5 Damage Reduction.)

    Mara received a Belt of Giant Strength +4, a Potion of Water Breathing, and a Potion of Endurance.

    Nolin took the psionic Ring of Dragonfire (manifests breath of the dragon once per day), and a Quaal's Token of an Anchor.

    Malachite got a Ring of Swimming (actually bringing his swimming score up to positive numbers!), a Cape of the Mounteback, a Potion of Water Breathing, and a Potion of Endurance.

    Raevynn received a Quiver of Greater Magic Weapon usable once per day, giving her a renewable supply of +3 arrows for her bow.

    Agar received an almost-Used-Up Necklace of Missiles; as the cohort, he offered to wait for a better pick next time.

    Shara took a Wand of Unexpected Love, a wand with a Valentine heart on the end that trails golden sparkles when swung through the air. It casts charm person on a target of the same gender, and an improved version of the spell (a lot like the old 2e philter of love on people of the opposite gender. It’s worth noting that it will affect targets based on their own personal gender preferences.

    Undistributed: Scrolls of Water Breathing, Water Walking, Greater Magic Weapon, Harm, and Jumpcircle. (Jumpcircle is a dimension door variant of teleport circle, with a much shorter range and a much shorter duration.)

    Selling: Heavy Crossbow +1, Leather Armor +4, and a Greatsword +2

    Possibly Selling, Possibly Using To Arm Dwarves: Chainmail +2, Leather Armor +1, and a Longsword +1

    Destroying: Ring of Urchins, Evil Trident Head.

    Handing Over To The Authorities: +2 Short Sword of Disease.

The Ring of Urchins was especially disturbing to several people; when Nolin put it on during the identify, several children down the street started robbing strangers, only to dazedly deliver the ill-gotten gains to Nolin at the Temple of Calphas. The paladins and Velendo were horrified, and although Nolin and TomTom thought it was kind of cool, it went on the “to be destroyed” list.

At long last, everything was sorted and distributed, when another knock sounded on the door. “What is it again?” asks an aggrieved Velendo. “Another child to see you, your Grace,” answers the cleric, and a small boy enters the room.

“Hi there!” he says. “I understand that you have something to deliver, and I’m supposed to tell you where something is. Are you waiting for something called a ‘Brindle’?”

To be continued….

Next game: Confronting the assassin!
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
The young boy isn’t charmed or enchanted, and explains that someone has paid him a pittance to deliver the message and pick up a package. Deciding to trust the mysterious man that they’ve made a deal with, they place the large magical sapphire in a bag and hand in to the boy. In turn, the boy gives them an address of a warehouse in Eversink. “Your brindle should be there!” he says cheerily, and leaves the Temple. The Defenders watch him magically for a few minutes to make sure he isn’t mugged, and then prepares to go and collect Brindle.

Ahhh, Brindle. First met in the trillith’s Library of Screams, strapped to a table and flayed raw, he was perhaps the only victim to have preserved even a fraction of his sanity. His psionic power had managed to preserve his mind under torture, and he used those psionics to possess Tao’s dead body after the trillith’s astral constructs had killed her. Brindle had been a rogue assassin, on the run from the Children of Lethe, and the Defenders had given him a new lease on life when they had his battered body taken from the demiplane and healed. The next they knew of him was when his hired wizards tried to kidnap the Defenders in a canal ambush. And now? Now with any luck, he was delivered to them in a nice safe package. Luckily, the Defenders’ negotiations had demanded a means to nullify psionics, and it had been promised to them.

The Defenders took an hour or so to prepare specific spells. Soon they were standing in front of a row of dingy warehouses, moss-covered and work-stained. Above their heads one of the city’s two massive stone bridges arched across the sky, more than fifty feet up. An occasional workman walked by on business, giving the Defenders odd looks, but there was no sign of guards or assassins.

TomTom popped the lock on the warehouse door with scarcely a second thought. In the dark, musty space stood stacks of crates, rising up towards the ceiling. On them, placed carefully, was a rolled up carpet.

Unrolling the carpet on the warehouse floor revealed a bruised and unconscious man with pinkish skin and pinched features: Brindle. His arms were bound with oddly silver manacles, a linked silver neck-manacle clamped around his neck as well. Velendo prepared for questioning by casting seven zones of truth. Of the Defenders, only Nolin is affected, but the hope is that Brindle had succumbed. Velendo heals him back to consciousness, and Brindle’s eyes visibly widened and contracted as he recognized his “rescuers.” “Oh thank the Gods,” he started, “You’ve saved me!” He tries to activate a psionic power; electricity arcs along the manacles, and Brindle screams.

“Saved you?” answered Velendo, “That remains to be seen. We’re going to ask you a lot of questions. You can’t use psionics and you can’t lie; but how helpful and complete you are is going to make a big difference in what happens to you.”

“A big difference,” echoes Malachite in an intimidating growl, fists clenched and looming over the recumbent assassin. “Your life is solely in the hands of the people who saved you once and who you then betrayed. I recommend you make the correct decision.”

Brindle does.

He throws himself on the mercy of the Defenders and confesses everything. Working backwards under sharp questioning, he explains that he had been blackmailed by Caladone Markworthy, the missing Lord Griggan Clearwater’s second-in-command, the protégé who once had been considered the heir apparent to House Clearwater. His plan had been to kidnap the Defenders and hold them in high-security cells in the basement of the Rakers Prison. That would require bribing guards, but Brindle had already taken care of that. With the Defenders captive, Markworthy could then blackmail Sharala to renounce her claim to House Clearwater and to admit what she had done with Lord Griggan.

Brindle swears that he has no great love for Lord Griggan. He had been on the run from the local assassin’s guild, the Children of Lethe, when the trillith had taken him. He had been running from the assassins because they wanted him dead; they wanted him dead because he had done three free-lance assassinations in Eversink, and that was strictly against the assassins’ code. The assassinations were free-lance because Brindle had fled the Children of Lethe; he fled from the Guild because he had killed another member over a woman. “I guess I’ve made some bad choices,” Brindle says miserably, “and I was trying to get away from this city and make a fresh start somewhere else when Markworthy contacted me. But my past… my past keeps dragging me back.” Revolted by the reluctantly-confessed trail of murders, the Defenders can’t help but agree.

The Defenders have a purely mental discussion, standing around the nervous assassin, silently debating his fate as they stand over him in the shadows. They could kill him; they could turn him in to the authorities; they could turn him over to the Children of Lethe; they could let him go. They lean towards turning him over to the authorities until someone realizes that he knows all about the demiplane in the basement of House Clearwater. Not only is Griggan still trapped in the demiplane, it’s a source of Eversink information that could precipitate a local civil war if the other Houses learned about it. It’s a secret that should be kept, and Brindle is absolutely capable of talking about it in order to save his own life. What to do?

“TomTom,” asks Velendo mentally as Brindle fidgets nervously at Tao’s merciless stare, “Can you change Brindle’s memory?”

“Oh yeah,” answers TomTom. “I have a psionic helm that should be able to do just that. We took it from those githyanki on the Astral Plane. It should do the trick, if we do it right. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” All of the Defenders confer a bit longer, and then turn back to Brindle.

“Brindle,” they begin, “do you really want another chance?”

“Yes!” he squeaks excitedly, clearly already having accepted the fact that he was about to die – or be handed over to the Children of Lethe, a fate worth than death. “Anything you’ll consider! I’d love to restart, to leave Eversink and never return!” (”Take me with you,” mutters Raevynn.) If it helps, I’ll give you the money I’ve saved. Will it help?”

Eyes light up. “Really, take it, whatever you decide to do with me!” Brindle tells them where it is hidden, underwater in a canal, and describes the traps keeping it safe.

“Treasure or not,” says Velendo, “We’re going to be merciful and give you another chance. But you’ll need to start a new life, and choose a new profession.”

Brindle’s face falls. “But killing people is all I know how to do,” he says. Seeing the Defenders faces at that statement, he quickly adds, “But I’m willing to learn!”

TomTom continues, “It will probably be best if you start with a new identity, as well.” Brindle nods in agreement. “We’re going to give you new memories to make it easier. You must have alternate identities?”

“Yes,” answers Brindle, clutching at the only straw available. “A few. How about a merchant named Roodlin? I… you’ve been merciful to me, better than I deserve. My life is in your hands. I… I guess I trust you.” The zone of truth is still active; clearly, he’s telling the truth.

Malachite, with Mara at his side, interrupts. “Not so fast. First you must vow to give up your old ways. This is a memory that’s going to remain; you must swear.”

Brindle looks up at the two paladins, fearful, his eyes wide. “I swear to live my life… to live my life in a manner that I think would make you proud.”

“That will do.” Mara and Malachite nod at each other in approval, and TomTom slips the psionic helm over Brindle’s head. His eyes roll up in his head, and TomTom goes to work altering his memories. They implant the new identity, confusing his memories of the location of the demiplane and (while he remembers having killed people in the past) imparting a new repugnance of murder and violence. With luck, he’ll be a new man.

“Where shall we leave him?” someone asks. “How about Mechanus?” answers Raevynn, thinking of the worst place she knows. “Good idea!” says everyone. At Tao’s suggestion, Velendo casts quest on the unconscious assassin ~ errr, ex-assassin and new merchant.

“I think he’ll stay busy,” says the elderly cleric, smiling. “He’s going to be filled with an overriding urge to discover why the modrons are all marching early.”

And with the casting of a planeshift, Tao delivers Brindle to the gears of Mechanus, and the start of a new life.

To be continued….
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
theRuinedOne said:
Hmm, using a psionic helm to affect someone who has their own psionics inhibited by special manacles? Not sure if I'd trust that, but that's the players' choice. [Remember the Rat Bastard part!!]

Whoops! They stripped off the manacles first. Brindle was cowed enough that he didn't try to flee when they did so. If they hadn't taken off the inhibitor, the feedback would have killed him.

That whole twist surprised me. TomTom has never used that helm, and actually trying to redeem Brindle hadn't even occurred to me! They handled it beautifully, and even though Sito's old character Claris (a pilgrim of Vindus, the God of Vengeance and Justice) wouldn't have approved, I think the Defenders were quite proud of themselves. They solved several problems at once, and didn't create any new ones. :D
 
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Artoomis

First Post
I rarely post in the Story Hour to avoid discussions taking over from the story, but I really wanted to say that the latest forgiveness of an assassin is what good characters do. Too cool. A reformed assassin. MAJOR brownie points (though taking the law into their own hands might count against paladins).

Piratecat: I love you, man. (I know, I know, I still can't have your Bud Lite.)

P.S. Piratecat - have you ever played a computer game called "Captain Claw?" An arcade-style computer game about a pirate who also happens to be a cat (and a good guy, more or less). Complete wth dog bad guys, of course!

edit: P.P.S. Check out:

Captain Claw

For more details and a picture of Captain Claw himself

P.P.P.S. An animated gif of Captan Claw shooting his pistol.

Shooting
 
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