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ZEITGEIST The chronicles of Team Big-hearted And Determined (B.A.D.)

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 40 - Holy Glowing Arm Batman!
Courtesy of Lisandra's player


With grizzly rumours of ritual murder and shocking nightmares pushed neatly aside, our undercover constables head to board their train headed to Sid Minos. The mood aboard was quite sombre and reclusive, with many passengers only visiting the meals cart in passing, keeping to themselves in the wake rumours there may be a killer on board.

Some time after departure, Cassie's new friend, Dan the eye doctor, came to visit the cabin, brandishing a fetching pair of eyewear with tinted lenses. After a brief fitting and lecture on the proper use of such an accessory, Dan thanked Cassie for all her help with studying such esoteric anatomy and left her with his address in Vendricce before saying his goodbyes.

As hush and privacy fell upon the cabin once more, Lisandra finally pulled herself from quiet reverie. She thanked Ella for the kindness shown that morning, when the Oracle had awoken in tears. They gathered under a cloak of secrets as Lisandra explained what she had been dreaming of since they left Beaumont. She reveals that she believes them to be memories of the first spirit she ever encountered, her mother, who bore the same face as the half-eladrin visage the demon wore at the arena. She told them of apparent Vekeshi rituals, strange blades and betrayal, before the dream ended with the demon holding her arm out, flaying back the skin so the Clergyman could scribe something into the bone. The pain was so unbearable she awoke from the shock. She hoped that this new development would not cause any disruption with their mission ahead. Grateful for the support of her teammates, the oracle pressed on and rerouted focus to the job at hand; no one was about, so who should they peek in on with the help of a little clairaudience-clairvoyance?

The lucky winners were Verzubak, Dan the eye doctor and the only somewhat suspicious pair left in first class, Luc Jierre and Octavia. A listen into Verzubak’s car revealed, unsurprisingly, the sounds of rolling dice. He noticed the scrying sensor and seemed quite amused at the idea that he was important enough to spy upon. A peek into Dan’s car revealed the old man asleep, wearing a pair of sunglasses with a broad grin on his face, clearly content. Meanwhile, back in the Musgrave’s suit, Angharad was resisting the urge to prank the distracted Lisandra, and Ella took the opportunity to magically examine the oracles arm, which now seemed to contain a strang necromantic aura, though the magic was obscured by the density of the flesh and skin around it. Ella quietly informed her colleagues and suggested perhaps they hold off on telling Lisandra to avoid distracting while they still had work to do.

Finally the peek into Luc’s suite revealed the pair having a gestured conversation. Ottavia seemed to be persuading a nervous Luc before the pair came to a conclusion and left the suite together. Not a few moments after Lisandra regained her senses, the pair knocked on their door bearing gifts. A ornate, femeinine necklace detailed with clergy scripture and cosmic motifs for Lynette, and a matching, more masculine designed bracelet for Henri.

Ottaivia explained, via Luc, that they had been shopping in Nalaam when she saw the gifts, and she had wanted to wish Lynette all the best for her wedding after hearing she was engaged to a Cergy man. The set was designed to be worn by those linked by blood, and she thought the star motifs were appropriate given their Risuri origin. A sweet gift indeed, without any malicious intent it seemed, as Bheed stepped forth as the dutiful bodyguard to inspect the items for any magical auras. He caught both Luc and Octavia in his gaze and confirmed that they were just as devoid of magical auras as their gift was.

Before the pair took their leave, Lynette hesitantly asked if she could impose on them a little and inquired if Ottavia had ever seen any kind of divine magic like what happened to her arm at the arena before. Ottavia asked if she could see Lynette cast a spell. With Cassie's permission, she cast a simple Guidance spell on the tiefling. After observing and considering the situation a while, Ottavia signs a response to Luc and conveys that she is concerned that Lynette’s power does not come from a God, like her own does, and suggested the Clergy could potential help diagnose the case for her, but it is not possible them to lift all curses, her own deafness for example. The medium went a little paler at the mention of curses and Ottavia continued to sign, conveying that not all members of the Clergy are corrupt like Father Balthazar was. Grateful, Lynette thanked them both again for their time, and for the lovely gifts, and once her dutiful bodyguard Bheed was finished with inspecting the gifts (and the givers) for magical auras, the pair departed.

Curious to gauge their post-conversation reactions, Cassie cast invisibility on herself to follow them back to their suite, and Keyhole to watch them through the door. Ottavia spent some time calming Luc’s frayed nerves, assumingly from the social interaction, and the pair settled in to play some cards.

The team spent the rest of the day sifting for leads, chatting with the train staff, looking for ring-wearers and gathering information. The cleaning staff, all ringless, were all fairly wary of the wealthier passengers (even Henri and Bheed), with the female staff commenting that Olivert Boone was very uncomfortable to be around. The guards echoed sentiments about the wealthy, and Law confirmed he hadn’t seen anything else particularly noteworthy to report. Cassie discovered the staff gets the option for some time off in Vendricce and though Doris and Xorin will return for the round trip, Malia will be taking time off. Ottavia greeted them with a smile in the hall on their way back to their suite, noticing that Henri and Lynette both wore the gifts she’d given.

Fresh out of any further work, the team assembled back in their quarters, not too far from their evening department to Sid Minor and then… something strange happened. The lamp lights in their suite flicked red to signal nearing their destination, but then deepend into a purple hue. The sounds of the train and passengers around them became muted and the sky outside turned black.

Ella cast detect magic, which took more effort than it normally did, and picked up nothing unusual as Lisandra check the corridor outside to see if anyone else was experiencing the same issue. She saw Malia patrolling, but her body was translucent like a spirit. Lisandra called out, but was completely unheard. In fact the chief of security walked right through her on her way passed.

John opened the window to look around outside and saw at the front of the train a glowing purple light on the first car and as Lisandra rejoined them she shared her concerns that Malia may not be the issue… and that they were more likely the incorporeal ones.

Ella deduced that, somehow, they were on another plane. Not one that they had experienced before, but perhaps the place souls go once they pass through the Bleak Gate; a place called Nem, a plane of death and ruin. Not dead ourselves, but Lisandra explained that spirits don’t wander too far from their bodies upon death and with their bodies travelling on a train still, if they didn’t find a way back fast, they may find their spirits permanently untethered from their bodies with little hope of ever returning to them.

With that revelation, the group jumped into action and Ella cast Haste to quicken our journey. Lisandra opened the hatch in the roof just outside the cabin door and climbed onto the train roof - knowing from past experience that leaping over the carriage roofs was faster than running through them opening doors. Everyone followed, John safely converting Sydney into a small stone figurine for safe travel before climbing up to join them.

Leaping from carriage to carriage, Lisandra took the lead and quickly came upon a collection of Reapers wielding scythes. Her arm began to glow with a bright, white light, but not painfully so this time. It seemed to be radiating with a unique connection to this plane. She heard it whispering to her, though she couldn’t make out the words, she felt like she could channel the energy in her arm to her advantage. Magic missiles came barreling over her shoulder as Ella hit three of the spirits and Lisandra leaped across to strike into melee, slaying one of them. As it’s spirit faded, the scythe came down for one last swipe and the medium’s arm grew brighter, deflecting the blow completely. The remaining spirits were taken care of without much trouble, John shooting right through several of them in short succession from a distance, obliterating them.

As the conflict settled, the hatch in the car Lisandra stood on flung open and a familiar skeezy tiefling crawled his way out, crying out in distress for something to get away from him. When he noticed the group assembled he paused in shock, demanding to know what the hell the team was doing here. Spirits began to rise up from the train. Potentially hundreds of transparent, indistinguishable figures encircled him. The most visible stood just behind him with their own livers and hearts in hand, intestines wrapped around their throats, pointing accusing fingers at Olivert. They matched the description of the ritual deaths reported at each Enclave. It seemed they had stumbled onto the serial killer the passengers had been gossiping about.

When Ella asked him if he recognized the women, he admitted to murdering them, under duress he insisted at Angharad’s further interrogation. When pressed further he revealed that his gun was not just a fancy magic gun, it was possessed by a demon, one who he needed to satiate every so often or it would rob him of his own life and find a more agreeable wielder. He also revealed he was headed to Vendricce, working as a bodyguard for Luc Jierre. The name drop may save his life, at least for a little longer, as Team BAD repress their inclination to shoot the murderous bastard, or leave him stranded in Nem with his victims.

Will Team BAD get the answers they seek? Will they be enough to stop John shooting Olivert in the head for his crimes? Will they make it back to their bodies in time or should we have all brought back up characters to this session? Find out today, on the extraplanar adventures of Team BAD!
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 41
Courtesy of Ella's player


(Sigh) ...Ghost train… Plane of death! …Serial killer… Less than 10 minutes to stay alive! …Sound familiar? It should! Because that’s how we started last week’s session: rocketing toward an early demise as our physical bodies were dragged ever further from our spiritual ones - while some misogynistic, murdering naughty word tried to justify his actions to us. John was having none of that nonsense and shot him down cold. Quite literally: as a full-round of hasted rapid shot bullets put Olivert Boone down on the carriage roof and bleeding out. He stabilised but… we didn’t care - we were goneskies. Lisandra did stop to pluck a piece of paper from his pocket though: it contained instructions on how to kill us. Charming.

We continued our mad dash along the train roof: pausing briefly to recast Haste and murder some scythe-wielding spirits. As we ran, the world around us became ever darker: the sun and sky darkening until the only light that seemed to exist was the purple glow at the front of the train. John compensated by turning himself into a human torch via wild shape - leaving Angharad, presumably, very jealous - but he was brought up short when Lisandra’s arm started summoning spirits for us to fight. Or… just one spirit really, and it was accompanied by a story! Narrated in Lisandra’s own charming Father Balthazar voice.

And yes, Lisandra, we know you’re good at faking accents: there’s no need to show off.

Father Balthazar’s story was… as creepy as you might expect from a murderous, self-aggrandizing naughty word who alternates narrating in first and third person and likes to curse people’s arms. And the ghost the story summoned didn’t seem much impressed either: as it turned its empty eyes on Lisandra and ripped out her memories: inflicting two negative levels.

As Lisandra stands in Nem, the words etched onto her bone come to life. Lisandra's very body knows each word. As the words take over, ghostly wisps act out the scene. Upon its conclusion, victims from the scene rises up and attack Lisandra (and allies). Although the party can fend off these spirits, only a blow by Lisandra with a Blade of Srasama, restored from Balthazar's corruption, can put them to rest. Once the final story to and the last spirit put is put to rest, Balthazar's Nemian Legend is destroyed. He would no longer be capable of regenerating when destroyed.

The spirit ripping out memories and crushing them doesn't translate to a mechanical loss of memory. I just wanted to represent the events of which Lisandra had gained her past two levels disappearing.

The story recited by Lisandra describes Balthazar's first delve into the Perpetual City.
Alongside the disgustingly pious Goro Verdino and our rather attractive prisoner, Riskasha Yero, we continued our pilgrimage through the Elfaiver catacombs. Heretical, yes, but oh so enticing. We captured Riskasha for her knowledge of these hall’s hieroglyphics, but my personal desires are much more expansive. For you see, reader, we share a deep yearning for each other. After Goro rests his pretty head and dreams of the archbishop acknowledging all his good deeds and once the campfire dies down, our fire flourishes. Why, without my masterful dominance of the divine spell ‘silence’, our moans would carry throughout- Ah, but I digress. This tale isn’t about my untold powers to pleasure women…

For you see, Goro, Riskasha, and a rather handsome Father Balthazaar had come across the first hieroglyphics. I could not read them, but I could feel their power. Along the walls carved rituals so powerful, their whispers transcended mundane boundaries of linguistics and morality.

Goro piped up as if an organ from Alais Primos: “Roberto, bring forth the prisoner! She shall translate these walls lest we pluck her sinful eyes.” I groaned, as to not arouse suspicion. When I retrieved Riskasha, I slowly cut the ropes that bound her wrist, placing a dagger in her hands. As we stood on opposite sides of Goro, Riskasha plunged her dagger into his kidney, and I took the pleasure of extracting his life with my sickle. After he laid limped, I locked eyes with the half-eladrin, and we made passionate love atop the fallen pilgrim.

Angharad brought out the big flames though, and incinerated the spirit before it could do anything more: sending its incorporeal essence wisping away on the breeze. We made our way to the front of the train - Lisandra briefly becoming distracted by the spirit of a train guard which she decided to leave in peace - and contemplated the source of the purple glow.

It was coming from a lantern: a magical one - naturally. One that allowed that rarest of magical phenomena: interplanar travel. Or, well… we’ve been assured it’s rare. I mean, I assume it is? Even though it keeps happening to us all the titans-damned time.

Thoroughly familiar with this nonsense by now, John was quick to discern that we could return to our home plane by simply extinguishing the lantern. Unfortunately, turning it upside down and attempting to empty the oil failed to produce any results, so the gunslinger just shot it to pieces instead. In a flash of purple light we found ourselves back in our physical bodies, with Law and Malia looking at us rather concerned. Oh, and our entire train cabin and half our belongings were covered in Nem-related runes. What a coincidence!

  • One of the coins Bree handed to John, claiming she won money by betting on them in the Nalaam arena.
  • The sunglasses given to Ella by Dan. Although not part of the Ob, Ottavia (via Luc) started a conversation with Dan. After he mentioning making sunglasses for Ella, Ottavia asked to borrow them. With subtle misdirection, she palms them off to Luc who inscribes a rune. Not mentioned in the recaps, the party saw Ottavia, Luc, and Dan chatting at the station. Ottavia was trying them on the sunglasses.
  • The jewelry handed to Angharad and Lisandra by Ottavia and Luc. Hence Luc's nervousness.
  • And of course, their actual cabin room for good measure.

Gifts from Dan, Bree and Ottavia all proved trapped: etched with runes designed to draw us into the Plane of death and ruin upon the activation of the lantern. This was… disheartening, to say the least. But we regained our wits, told Law to look after Olivert’s gun, and dashed off in chase of Ottavia and Luc - who’d been spotted leaving in a carriage earlier, along with Bree and Verzubak. Dirty, rotten traitors.

Angharad bribed a carriage caller extravagantly to find out where the four had gone: and received a slip of paper in return, asking for transport to Isle of Odiem. It wasn’t until we reached the harbour that we realised we knew exactly where that was. Pete’s story of his long-dead ancestor came back to us, and we realised we were headed for the infamous Crypta Hereticarum.

The Roscommon took us there, few questions asked, and we set foot upon the rusty shores. At the crumbling lighthouse we discovered just one of Luc’s party though: Ottavia, who had been set there to destroy us if we managed to survive Nem. Well, her and the thousands of undead that cover the Isle at night, that is.

We managed to avoid fighting either of them though: convincing the... essentially good-hearted oracle that we meant her no harm - and that the Obscurati were actually the menacing party here. We all retreated into the Vault of Heresies to wait out the night - not particularly keen on being nibbled on by zombies - and managed to make it… a good thirty minutes, before we gave into the whispers in our heads and ventured further into the crypts.

The traps were disabled, the treasures gone, but... some ominous remnants of its history remained: corpses and doors marked with a burning hand.

We made our way to the final chamber, and there encountered... the infamous: Gene. The lunatic godhand was talking to a mirror as we arrived, but wasted no time in darting off into the darkness. A short game of hide and seek ensued: with Ella being the unfortunate soul to encounter the monk and his doppelganger mirror buddies. Fortunately mirror Ella turned out to be absolute garbage. Unfortunately, Gene was not.

We had Angharad the doppelganger-hating Cipith on our side though - and a convenient oracle healer - and it wasn’t too long before Gene was dead and the irritating mirrors were smashed.

The most terrifying confrontation of all still remained though: meeting Ashima-Shimtu, Lady of the Forked Tongue, Last of the High Fiends, Seneschal of the Demonocracy, and Keeper of the Secret Which Must Not Be Lost.

She was… precisely as Pete described her: terrifying, meditative, sad. Hanging from twelve chains hooked into her bare flesh, while a thirteenth swung free and holy water fumes constantly burned her wounds.

The Clergy really are naughty words.

We had a conversation, and the demoness revealed that it was she who had shared with mankind the secret to binding a goddess: and to bringing Srasama into reality in her avatar’s form. This was very nearly enough to make Angharad do something very stupid, but thankfully he refrained and settled for being mildly threatening later on.

Meanwhile Ashima-Shimtu had granted us the use of her teleportation pool, and we had a big decision to make: do we run away to become pirates? Go on vacay wherever in the world we like? Or actually do our job? Dilemmas…

Thankfully we were distracted by Ottavia: who, after some discussion, revealed the location of the secret meeting between Luc and the Obscurati leaders, and agreed to seek sanctuary in Flint - provided Delft agreed of course. Turns out our boss was more than happy to actually receive some form of communication from his agents for the first time in days, and accepted Ottavia teleporting into his office with only mild gun-brandishing.

Left alone in an ancient crypt with a demoness, we decided to rest, plan, and teleport to Vendricce in the morning - from there to head to the Obscurati meeting and hopefully not get ourselves killed.

Hopefully

My optimism fades with every passing moment… But hey! We’ve done so well with stealth missions in the past, right?


Text Roleplay

Between sessions, the party has an opportunity to roleplay over a text channel in our Discord sever. The setting for this week's roleplay was Ashima-Shimtu's room. Here are some snippets.

[Ella's player]
Ella chuckles at the story but her smile fades with Lisandra's final comments. "I..." She fiddles with the cuff of her jacket for a moment before sighing. "It's not necessarily a curse, Lisandra, but... I did detect Necromancy magic in your arm today." Her tail curls guiltily. "I took a look at it while you were distracted with Clairvoyance/Clairaudience."

The wizard purses her lips and examines the arm in question, as if such simple mundane observation could reveal its secrets. "It's very difficult to detect: you wouldn't know it was there unless you were really looking." She glances up at Lisandra apologetically. "Magically speaking though, curses are generally drawn from the Necromancy school, so..." she winces "...an actual curse is within the realms of possibility."

"There are ways to deal with that though!" The gnome hastens to add. "Spells for breaking enchantments and the like - I'm just afraid I can't cast any of them yet." Ella looks rather disheartened for a moment. "But we'll find out what he did to you, Lisandra." She looks up at the oracle earnestly. "I promise."

[Lisandra's player]
Lisandra can't help but smile at the look on Ella's face and she reaches out to give the tiefling's hand a gentle squeeze, "I know."
She [Lisandra] settles back against the wall with a conflicted expression.
"I've hated this... ability to speak with spirits ever since I was a kid, " she admits with a frown, "I spent most of my childhood sleep deprived and terrified. Soldiers brought home and succumbing to injury turning up to apologize to their families were especially common. After the war ended, it became easier to block it out, but it never went away. When Otis got sick, we needed money for his treatment... more than any of our tricks could turn out, so I decided to try to make it work for me. I could make it work just often enough to convince people I was the real deal, and the rest of the time... well..."
She pauses, looking a little uncomfortable at the idea of admitting to conning people in front of her college.
"... I embellished," she settles on before continuing, "But it's the reason I was offered a position at the RHC... If this damned arm is the source of that... ?"
Conflict crosses her face again and she sighs, leaning her head back against the wall, "I want to know everything. But I won't go back to being powerless. Whatever he did to me, he is not getting it back. I don't care who he is."

[Ella's player]
"Alright." Ella calms her nerves and turns toward the pool. She tries to block out the creeping dread of what she might see and instead focuses: conjuring a mental image of the place she wants to view. "The Demetriou campsite, within the refugee camp in the Cloudwood," her voice rings out across the water.

[DM]
Another drop of blood trickles from the demoness. The image of moonlit Flint ripples, transforming into a darkened tent filled with sleeping gnomes. Andy tosses and turns in his sleep. The image draws backwards, through the doors of the tent. Outside, Clara rocks gently on a rocking chair made from at least four different kinds of wood. The same moving image of Clara repeats over the next few minutes: she slowly falls asleep, suddenly wakes up, then slips back into sleep. Eventually, she props herself up out of the chair and walks inside the large tent. She returns with a cast iron pot. She bends down carefully to ensure her balance, placing the pot near the entrance of the tent. She opens the lid, revealing cookies—Ella immediately diagnoses the contents as lemongrass and blueberry, her favourite. Clara gently places a piece of parchment atop the delicious bounty. Just before the parchment is subsumed in the darkness cast from the shadow of the approaching pot lid, the words can be made out: "To my sweetest Ella. You are always welcome in Gran's arms."

Clara sits atop the rocking chair once more, wrapping herself in several blankets. From the comforting sheets, her small hand extends to adjust her glasses. She scans the horizon in hope, but instead slips into sleep. Her hand dangles outside of the sheets, pale from the chilling winter nights spent outdoors. By her chair, a black bird feasts upon a pile of old biscuits.

[Ella's player]
Ella barely resists the urge to reach out and touch the image. The yearning to be there with her family is a physical ache, and she has to clasp her hands to her chest to stop herself. In a single step she could be hugging Gran... soothing Andy's restless slumber... surrounded by family. Tears prick her eyes. The tiefling almost takes a step forward, then abruptly turns and sprints away up the steps.

Ella falls to her knees beside her handy haversack in the next room and pulls out an inkpen and sheet of paper, before dashing back to Ashima-Shimtu's chamber. She spreads the paper out on the stone floor and quickly scribes a short letter, then begins folding it along carefully precise lines. In just over a minute she has a miniature paper glider, like her father used to make. Ella stands beside the pool and studies the scene intently, trying to judge distances and determine wind velocity from visuals alone. Then, heart pounding, she draws her hand back and throws the glider. As its tip touches the water Ella prays that the teleportation magic can transport unattended items.

[DM]
The paper pierces the well, causing an abrupt splashing that distorts the image. Once the water calms, only streaks of blood remain.
 
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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 42

(NB: John's player, and therefore John, was absent for most of this session).

Unfortunately, I don't have a fully fleshed out recap for this one. Things went as expected. The party got to Vendricce early, so spent some time finding a cleric to heal Lisandra's negative levels. After some culture shock (the cleric would only speak to the men in the party), Team BAD went to their location of interest. They scoped out many buildings. Lisandra used an augury identify where Luc would be meeting. The party positioned themselves, hidden in bushes. Angharad, who has very low stealth, was conveniently polymorphed into a bush by Ella.

The party watched the meeting unfold, freaked out when they saw Lya, and didn't know what to think of Nic. When the vision limitations of the lantern became clear, the party used it to their advantage. Lisandra quickly approached a door whilst Angharad charged in, immediately slaughtering one of the marksmen. As the guards scrambled to catch the intruders, an invisible Ella with her eyes set on the lantern. They wanted to destroy it and capture Luc, but they knew Luc's amulet made completing both of these tasks difficult. Nic coolly plead for Team BAD to drop their weapons and just talk this over. Lya was not so talkative.

As soon as Ella grabbed the lantern, Angharad dashed into the building dodging four attacks of opportunity (even one from Lya's razorburst blade) and sliced Luc's amulet free. Lisandra prepared to cover their exit and Ella made her way to escape. Things got very messy as Lya closed in on the lower HP PCs. First she struck Lisandra, critically hitting and immediately lost her arm (not the magic one). Ella also tried to dodge an attack of opportunity from Lya, and also lost her leg. Angharad then tried the exact same thing, and also lost a hand. Things were looking bad. Lisandra punched Nic, knocking him through the door

At this point, John's player arrived in session, so I let him open fire on Lya.

John turning the tide gave Team BAD the wiggle room they needed. Ella exited the building, and tore the lantern apart using Magic Missile. Nic, smoking a cigarette through a bloodied mouth, shook his head, vocalizing his disappointment in Ella's destruction of an invention that could help so many lives. After all, he thinks he can find common ground with this technologist.

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Things get complicated. Luc, Bree, and Verzubach remain. They break for the train, and make it. Angharad, uses his domain power ability that allows him to borrow 'conditions' from allies, temporary relieving them of their burdens. The player asks me if he can remove Ella's "missing leg condition". I say yes. Ella grows a firey leg and runs for the train. A legless Angharad yeets himself onto the moving train using his flame jet ability. John turns into the fastest animal he can and bursts through the front carriage window. As the players board the train, they defeat Bree and capture Luc. Verzubach sneakily sprints away.

The sounds of bells and horses make it clear the party needs to move quickly. They ride the train into the harbour. Their dockside contacts cut off the routes of inquisitors by conveniently cutting barrels loose. The Roscommon quickly rescues the waterbogged party. As the ship breaks for the harbour exit, two more ships enter, forming a barricade. John commands ship to teleport over the barricade, and they fey spirits answer their drinking party. A submarine appears but is quickly deterred by John's adamantine bullets.

The party questions Luc en route to Flint. Luc becomes a reluctant asset to Risur under the condition he can safely settle in Flint with Ottavia. Delft questions the party thoroughly on their perceptions of things. He tries to crack dry humour about the missing limbs to little avail. He then changes tactics, promising he'll find other agents to track Woflgang von Recklinghausen to attach their limbs, and hopefully, their sense of humour.
 




Echolocation

Explorer
Interim sessions

Three quarters of Team BAD were missing a quarter of their limbs.

Ella's leg

Whilst waiting for Delft to deliver Wolfgang, Ella had the neat idea of crafting herself a clockwork leg. A few rolls of dynamic crafting later, and Ella had an intelligent, magical leg that was hellbent on destroying Egal the Shimmering and his legion. It is capable of casting haste, and when the heavens open, it will gain a power that will help the constable fight the forces of evil that plague the Gyre. Until then, Ella has an excitable leg that tries to move Ella away from her rod of Egal the Shimmering (though it is never successful, due to the rod's powers).

Angharad's hand

Back in Flint, Angharad debriefs the Old Stag on his mission, his contact with Lord Kulp and Ashima-Simtu's tale. In reward, the Old Stag told the Inquisitor of the Ash Wolf a ritual that could restore his hand. That night, Angharad walks into the forests of the Cloudwood with ritual components. The next morning, he awakes with wooden hand.

Ashen Hand
Price: 16,000 GP, Slot none; CL 10th; Weight --; Aura moderate evocation
Description:
The recipient's charred wooden hand burns with an unquenchable flame.

As a standard action, the ashen hand can shed light like a torch (can be deactivated with a standard action). If the hand remains in contact with a flammable object for 1 full round whilst shedding light, it deals 1d6 points of fire damage to the object.

If the recipient is a follower of the Ash Wolf and has a Detect Alignment class feature, they gain an additional ability. When touching a creature as a full-round action, the recipient can gain information on the target as if they had focused for three rounds using any Decect Alignment spell-like ability they possess that can be casted at will. This ability does not emit any signs of obvious spell casting.

The recipient must have an arm (or armlike appendage) to receive this elemental augmentation.

CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS
Cost 8,000 gp; Special Must follow the philosophy of the Vekesh.

Lisandra's arm

Lisandra opted to wait for the good doctor to return to Flint, and he did. I ran a one-shot called Wolfgone Von Whereklinghausen? where the RHC rounds up a few citizens of Ber who owe the institute a favour. I've attached the information I gave my players, in case anyone is interested. The adventure involved a shaman minotaur armed with a backpack full of kobolds (a psychic and a rogue) walking alongside a goblin magus to investigate a ransom note delivered to Cavallo de Guerra. The group traces the note back to a goblin tribes nest, and infiltrates it without much violence (in diplomatic negotiations, a goblin died from overthinking). The goblin leader explains some of the situation with Cavallo. The party accepts Wolfgang under the condition that they misdirect Cavallo's troops from finding the lair. The adventure ended with the Beran group deciding to spend time protecting the tribe. This of course will come back to haunt the party in Adventure Six. I won't make things more difficult, but their decisions have changed the story.

Back in Flint, the storytelling Constable Pete explains the Beran tale of Wolgang's rescue (thereby negating metagaming concerns). Wolfgang reattached Lisandra's arm. Lisandra tells the doctor that Andrie is likely in Flint, and the doctor leaves as quickly as he arrived.

Other things

Two other things of note happened:
1) Ella went to check up on Andrie and his crush. Though, the eladrin explains Andrie disappeared overnight on their ship.
2) Ella visited her family. It was an emotional affair, given Ella kidnapped her brother under the influence of Distant Madness. Her grandmother, the first to forgive her, came clean whilst walking with Ella. Her family had traveled to Flint after receiving word from a distant brother of Ella's mother: a gnome named Tinker. Ella's father was slowly dying to the bleaching, and Tinker promised he had a cure. However, when they arrived in Flint, Tinker was nowhere to be found. Ella's father died from the bleach shortly thereafter, and the family disowned Tinker. Ella's grandmother never told her about the incident, fearful of her gnomish disposition towards obsession.

Tinker had indeed promised Ella's father a cure for the bleaching. Additionally, Tinker recruited Ella's father into the Ob operations in Flint. To cover up Ella's father's disappearance, the Ob falsified documents to make it look as if he died from bleaching. Ella's father heart could barely take the blow of leaving his family, but he believed the Ob project could end Danoran-Risuri conflict; thereby, saving many more families than his own.

So what is the cure for the bleaching? I changed the typical lore behind the illness. In this world, bleaching is caused by prolonged exposure to the same angular momentum. Gnomes must be near as many things spinning clockwise as are spinning counterclockwise. This comes from the fey dislike/sickness caused by spinning wheels. Ella's father, who mainly worked on perfecting gears, was exposed to the same gears spinning the same direction for years. Now, he carries a brooch of a gear spinning the opposite direction. His arm remains bleached, but the illness has not progressed.

Newspaper clippings

I handed out the ones from the book with few modifications. Though, for book four, I did take some creative liberty in changing the story slightly. An ex-member of Team BAD, Avvakir, took a rather direct approach to workplace negotiations. Additionally, I swapped out the head technologist for Frank Perlo, a name I randomly made up when the players asked about the origins of the steamsuit design (from the gun fair).

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I like the idea of small mechanical choices for players to hook them into the premise of an adventure.

That's a really clever explanation for why fey wouldn't like spinning things. Almost makes me wish I'd not decided otherwise for canon, but hey, fey are odd, so if your is makes more sense, they'll probably act as if it's true.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
We kicked of 2021 as all years should start---with a new Zeitgeist book.

Session 43
Courtesy of Lisandra's player

Last session took off with a carriage arriving, housing both Hudsworth Hudgins, the cheer royal carriage driver, and a summons to meet with King Aodhan. The carriage ride was filled with light and evasive banter about the rumours of Team BAD’s deeds, particularly with a certain train and bay in Crysilliar not too long ago… and it came to light that Hudsworth was a Yerasol vetran and acquaintance of good old Pete. The team was only too happy to direct the driver to the Fatal Footstep when he had some time, as Constable Pottinger spent some of his down time there with other Veterans. But this is Zeitgeist, and we all know pleasantries cannot last long in this universe of chaos and strife.

Gunshots rang out ahead, and a moment later poor Hudsworth’s body slumped from the driver’s seat. The horses gave way to a spooked, high-speed chase as two carriages, filled to the brim with armed men approached quickly. They assaulted the carriage with strange weapons. Lisandra recognized a man amongst them, a Lieutenant of Lorcan Kell by the name of Rufus Hammerton.

The team sprang into action… literally, as Angharad flung himself from their carriage onto another, and as Ella and John backed up his approach with bolts of force and expert shots, their resident Ghostspeaker climbed her way out into the driver seat to tend to the horses.

Kell’s men were dropping like flies, but not without leaving a parting gift as an explosive shot buried itself into one of Kell’s carriages, veering off into the street as Anghard sprinted off down an alley to chase down the fleeing thugs. Lisandra teleported from the speeding carriage to the flagstone, helping the district police secure prisoners as Ella and John sped off on the wings of birds, thanks to their canny magic skills, to check on poor Hudsworth.

They found the man dead by the roadside where the chase had started. Immediately, John began pulling bottles of oils and ritual curiosity from his satchel, setting up a Druidic ritual on the roadside to begin his work. Ella, aware of the concept of druidic resurrection, wanted to stay, but not long after Lisandra and Angharad left to meet with the King, she too left John to finish his ritual.

Delft met with them in the lobby of the newly erected Hotel and asked them to wait for John, and informed the King of the delay. Meanwhile, the Druid finished his resurrection, bringing into being a new, very Dwarven (and very naked) body for Hudsworth to live out his second chance in. He took it as well as could be expected, and after inspecting his new, well-made body with some shocked approval, Hudsworth stayed in the emergency services to be clothed and cared for.

Once John had rejoined the team and shocking news of his resurrection success subsided, Team BAD accompanied Delft to the meeting. They met with Principal Minister Lee and the King to discuss our constables' next mission; Figuring out the Obsurati’s hiding place in the Bleak Gate and dragging them out before his probably dodgy fiance arrives in four days to begin the peace talks. No pressure. Oh, also, apparently the King has a cooky supernatural fae connection to everyone in the land and people of Risur… and can open portals to the Dreaming at the drop of a hat if he needed to. You know… just Risuri King things...

As Team BAD reviewed the King’s dossier of information, B-Team were awaiting the arrival of a Beran diplomat. As Dima went through awkward formalities with the ship’s gruff bossun, a large crane hoisting a crate slipped, smashing open on the dock to reveal a dire bear, rearing up defensively as Risuri dock workers fled away in a scurry. The Beran crew barely hid their entertained grins as they watched on, but the grin was wiped from their mugs as the bear made eye contact with Carlao and calmed, staring him square in the face as their guest arrived on deck. Mediator Brakken of Hefinita was impressed at Carlao’s poise with the animal, and quickly made introductions, including Feroz the dire bear, and informed the team of his plans for the day.

Dima was happy to oblige in a tour of the city, offering historical tidbits or interesting recent events as they made their way to the Hotel stables to see Feroz safely housed.

Back at the hotel embassy, Team BAD met with Officer Deb, the King’s appointed contact on this mission and debriefed over the kinds of resources they would have access to as they made moves on the first part of their mission; dismantling Kell’s guild for leads. Definitely leads, and not personal revenge. Probably. Maybe. Who knows, because before any plans were made, the meeting was interrupted by a commotion outside. A guard was failing to stop an announced guest from entering the King’s chambers and the group were all surprised to see Asrabey, the fae warrior they had fought on Axis Island just over a year ago. Well, everyone but Angharad and Delft. The group followed the fae man into the chambers, keeping a keen eye on him as he approached the King to deliver a message and make a request;

On behalf of the Unseen Court, he wished to make known that there is a renegade fae in Flint named Ekossigan, Herald of the Four Seasons, He Who Defends Stags From Arrows, Widdershins Prophet and Liege of Changelings. He informed the King of a poem the rebel penned before leaving that read;

When spring turns to winter, the cauldron births a spark.
The steel betrays the vintner, the silver spurns the arc.
The fire-bride’s dissension: Dismissed by green-adorned.
The wheel-woven dead man, shall wake the cauldron-born.


Asrabey requested permission to search for the rebel, invoking the Rite of Kelland’s Tribute so that the King’s agents may dispatch the rebel in Asrabey's stead, without causing war with the Unseen Court.

Will we find out what stupidity or boldness drove Kell to attack a royal carriage of constables in the middle of Central by light of day? How will Team BAD retaliate? And will Angharad get to hunt down this rebel fae when their infiltration to the Bleak Gate is over?

Find out probably none of the answers to these questions, today, in Zeitgeist: The Adventure of Team BAD!
 
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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 44
Courtesy of Ella's player

(Sigh) Well, as if mid carriage drive shoot-outs, meetings with the king, and time-sensitive secret missions weren’t enough, now we had to deal with a representative from the Unseen Court. Namely: Asrabey Varal. A man who, previously, had almost killed most of us in his quest to execute the king’s sister.

Such a charming fellow. And now he wanted us to help hunt down and kill a fey fugitive hiding in Flint. Naturally, Angharad volunteered and - by proxy - volunteered all of us. The king gave us his blessing, Asrabey gave us a meeting time, and the fey turned on his heel and left.

Meanwhile, the B Team was having a slightly easier time of it. Simply escorting Brakken the Beran mediator to the Pardwight District for lunch with Drakr’s delegate: Steffan Eberhardt. Steffan proved to have a decent sense of humour and seemed on good terms with Brakken. Lunch passed pleasantly enough until the explosion. The incredibly loud boom shook the building and knocked people from their seats as there was the squeal of a train derailing.

Jumping to their feet, B Team quickly discerned that their charge was safe, but the skywalk outside had been destroyed and a train was lying derailed beside the tracks. A single figure stood out: a male dwarf strolling casually away from the destruction. As he went, a gargoyle fell off the roof above him and hit the dwarf.

Carlao and Dima rescued him from being completely crushed, and then immediately apprehended him on grounds of lying through his teeth. Before they could get anything out of him though, the dwarf bit a poison pill that turned the blood in his veins to ice, killing him.

Steffan recognised the dwarf’s general appearance: stating that he was likely part of an obscure religious sect from northern Drakr. The dwarf was also carrying a newspaper dated for the next day, and a pocket watch counting down the time until 2:40 PM - 5 minutes away from now. Despite the strangeness of this, there were more pressing matters: train wreck survivors to aid and explosion remnants to examine.

Upon examination, it seemed the explosion had been triggered by a wire running across the train tracks between the two pillars supporting the skywalk. It was likely rigged shortly before the train arrived, but no witnesses had survived to identify the culprit. As we were investigating, a second explosion sounded - the Flint Tribune building to the west collapsing. Immediately after gunshots started sounding and civilians started falling.

Dima ushered Brakken and Steffan to safety between two buildings, out of sight of where the snipers seemed to be located. After a brief discussion it was decided to split the party: Josiah and Dima heading west and Carlao and a number of police officers heading southeast. As they ran they heard shouts from some of the snipers, exclaiming in Drakran accents how merciful it was to release these people from their lives.

As the constables approached their targets they found themselves confronted by snakes made of ice, but wasted little time in dispatching them and getting to their true targets before the snipers could kill any more innocents. Carlao and his officers injured the snipers in the southeastern building, only to have their foes die from poison pills; but Dima and Josiah masterfully combined Hold Person and nonlethal damage to take two captives alive. As the last dwarf died he smiled and said: “Your end will come for you too.”

The rest of the day passed, with B Team safeguarding Brakken and Team BAD organising their workload for the next few days. The next morning - the 9th of Spring - both teams gathered at RHC HQ, meeting in one of the satellite buildings with Frank: Risur’s fantastic Royal Technologist and his adorable mechanical doggo Justin. After Ella and Frank nerded out for a bit, Frank got down to the business of attaching the steelmill construct’s head and activating it.

After some initial twitching, the construct’s fingers began to tap out a message in Morse code: one Angharad, Ella and Carlao recognised as “Would you kindly give me a pen?” After providing it with pen and paper, we waited with bated breath to for what would happen next.

It’s been a week and we’re still waiting... but now, hopefully, we can get some answers! Or… possibly just more questions. So sit down, strap in, and get ready for whatever the hell happens next! This week, on Zeitgeist.

DM Notes

Frank, the Royal Technologist, is the Outback Mage from this meme (in my headcannon, Primordial is Australian lingo):
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