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


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Echolocation

Explorer
(Also, I make calendar reminders for everything I have to do, even if I'm planning to do it later the same day.)

Sage advice. The calendar reminder for my Zeitgeist game is one-hour off for about 1/3 of the year, due to daylight savings (which half of my players experience). I must be getting old, because I'm too stubborn to fix it.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Our mini-adventure was intended for a one shot, but we played it in 1-2 hour bursts due to players failing IRL fortitude and will saves.

Exploration Extreme - Live at Nalaam (Part 1)

It is the year of 501 After Our Victory. Unbeknownst to most of the party, a superstar team of Risuri spies are currently infiltrating a conspiratorial conference in another plane. But that is the least of your worries. Instead, their adventure takes place in the libertarian paradise of Nalaam, sitting high atop the Penance Peaks. The independent city state sits between the borders of Drakr, a nation of philosophical doomsayers, and Chrysillir, a nation under the iron grip of the Clergy. In the streets of Nalaam, the decadent playground, money and mana flow freely. Under the rule of a cabal of powerful wizards, the infamous den of inequities harbour many crimes and cruelties the rest of the world forbids. Only criminals who cause damage are expected to repay their dues in equivalent coin. And unfortunately, each member of the party committed a crime they could not afford.

Things have moved quickly. Only fifteen minutes ago, the party was collected from their cells. Now, they find themselves escorted by a patrol of guards through Nalaam’s arena, guided by a long-haired, suited up man whose face you are yet to glimpse. The walls around them occasionally shift, redirecting their route to ever increasing altitudes. Eventually, the suited man turns, revealing a skeleton visage instead of a face to address the crew:

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Please welcome our criminal crew:
Ulek Draugak. A half-orc two-handed fighter with The Family Man trait. The softly spoken blacksmith (with a gentle New Zealand accent) got himself involved with the wrong crowd to help his blood relatives. Played by someone outside of the regular crew.
Ziz. A goblin alchemist (trap breaker/winged marauder) with The Doctor trait. She's a med school dropout who was banned for her enthusiastic but unsafe work practices (like experimenting with volatile concoctions to cauterise wounds) and decided to put her chemistry training to use elsewhere. She'll cheerfully heal her companions just as readily as she'll blow stuff up. Despite her abysmal wisdom, she's intelligent enough to aim bombs away from the companions she's trying to keep alive. Played by Ella's player.
Lam. The lammergeier/giant vulture animal companion/unwilling accomplice of Ziz. Ziz "liberated" (stole) Lam from a rich collector of exotic animals. He'd probably be quite happy if someone liberated him again and put him in a wildlife sanctuary or something, but as it is he was raised in captivity and doesn't really know any better or how to survive in the wild. Ziz believes Lam is a brave volunteer prepared to sacrifice all in the name of medical science, but really he's just a very obedient but confused bird who's inhaled too many alchemical fumes. Also played by Ella's player.
Simon. A blue skinned alchemist kobold with The Arsonist trait. Earlier this season, Simon assisted an elite squad of Risuri constables in tracking down a man that could move metal with only his mind. For his services, they brought him and his fellows a suit. Simon loves fire (previously fed Angharad nachos reduced to ash) and is teased relentlessly by other kobolds. The party took a liking to him, and Panda's player decided to play him in this adventure. Unbeknownst to the player, Simon is here on a mission from his spymaster.
Lorenz. A blue haired gnome bard with The Thief trait. He grew up with kobolds before travelling the world to steal from magic stores, until he was finally arrested in Nalaam. He's played by Angharad's player, who despises both gnomes and bards.

The skeleton's teeth chattered: “Zo! Will see you now” He tilted his top hat towards a now-parted wall, which revealed a viewing suite that sits atop the arena.

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Wizards worked their arcane magics atop the bloodied snow that layers the arena floor. To the party's left and right, thousands of seats were being filled by commoners and travelers of every class. Directly ahead, the wall of the arena were open to only a ledge, giving a clear view of the Penance Peaks.

Now, to the contents of the suite. Most occupants were undead, hovering on the edges of the suite, setting up luxurious furniture, refreshments, browsing clipboards, chatting, or sipping refreshments. Only three occupants sat: Dallatonna Elzarro, the party's lawyer, and Lord Kulp, master of the arena, politely listened to the story of the other occupant, some creature who looks sickly only in skin-tone.


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“And of course, production insurance did not cover decapitation!”, the undead creature laughed, “That was the last time our associate producer requested the service constructs to ‘get ahead’”. Dallatonna looked deeply concerned, before politely laughing alongside her cackling host.

The skeleton accompanying the party then introduced the sitting undead creature as Zo!, the most famous undead in all of Nalaam.

“Yes. Yes! You’re everything I was hoping for,” exclaimed the undead showman while looking over the new arrivals. “Oh Dallatonna, you’ve truly outdone yourself. They’re so exciting, so energized, so—”
“—alive?” finished a ghast woman wearing well-tailored clothing as she looked up from her clipboard. Zo! frowned at the blunt observation and tried to respond, but Dallatonna intervened: “My clients, no doubt this is all happening a little fast, so let me explain. Under exceptional circumstance, I have negotiated your release with the leadership of Nalaam. They will pay your debts to the city, but there is a catch.”

Zo! visibly bounced in his seat with excitement as Lord Kulp spoke: “You will be required to explore the depths of Nalaam. Our city is not founded on solid mountain, no. There are tunnels that run deep, littered with solidified crystals of mana. But investigations into the deepest tunnels have revealed strange, mishappen bodies and tremors. We want someone to investigate.”

The skeletal mogul waved his hands. “Oh, but Lord Kulp, we couldn’t just send a single crew. No, Nalaam’s greatest triumph deserves far more production value.” He hopped up from his chair and gazes out at the Arena, now drooped in shadow by the setting sun. He paced and gesticulated: “Imagine: underdogs from the streets of Nalaam, the mysterious depths, untold secrets, limitless adventure—all broadcast before a live audience in our greatest production yet!” He spun to look back at the group, his lipless mouth smiled gleefully. “Exploration Extreme! Live at Nalaam!”

The ghast with the clipboard clapped politely before interjecting. “To translate, you’re scheduled to explore part of Nalaam’s underground accompanied by a professional tele-illusionist crew and production team. You will find exciting things and be thoroughly entertaining. Any questions?”

Zo! laughed, “Always straight to the point. Please meet the associate producer, Wazasha Kevir.”

The party asked a few questions, before Zo! ushered them to makeup. After donning more-beautiful faces and some last-minute bartering with a skeleton merchant, Zo! returned.

Everyone rolled a charisma check, to see who appealed most to the skeleton mogul Zo!. Lorenz out from everyone else and led away for a private chat. Apparently he’s a very stylish, highly charismatic gnome kobold and it might improve the profit margins of the show if he were to showcase a sponsoring company’s gear. He received two options:
  1. The Drakran weapon company, Scorched Earth (slogan: "Why end the fight when you can end the world?"), has offered a weapon augment that increases the first damage dealt each turn by +1d6
  2. The Malice Lands boutique fashion label, Clashwear (slogan: "Dress to impress"), offered a variety of accessories that increase AC by +2 if the wearer has moved in the last round.
Lorenz naturally, chose the stylish choice of Clashwear.

The party were escorted to an impromptu portal chamber and introduced to the production team. Accompanying the party on their adventure was: Wazasha Kevir and her underling ghasts to produce the show, several skeletons with magical crystals that transmit instructions to the arena illusionists, and two six-legged metal constructs, one of which held a tray of appetizers for the party.

Lord Kulp spoke an elfish phrase ("the best revenge is to live"), in a last minute check of Vekesh mystics in the party. If there is a mystic, he would have liked to warn them of the dangers of Marblemaw. Fortunately, the party did not recognise the language. The party entered the portal, which teleported them deep below Nalaam. A tunnel with embedded crystals leads deeper into the earth. Before beginning the exploration, Wazasha offered to show the party the introduction reel to tonight's show. They gladly accept, and she activated her arm-brace to project a small three-dimensional audiovisual illusion:

Zo! spoke with great enthusiasm and showmanship: "Welcome citizens and visitors of Nalaam to tonight's entertainment! I'll be your host for tonight's evening, Zo! You may recognise me from the tele-illusionist hits: The Hydra Needs Six Wives"

The illusions coalesced to a depiction of a woman standing in a swamp. Two hydra heads emerged from the water. They then lunged down, latch onto the woman, and fight over her.

Zo! continued: "Dance Mummies"

The illusions shifted two a mummified mother and daughter, both in wigs, blush, and fake eyelashes. The mother scolded: "You better score perfect tens, or I'm breaking your last canopic jar." The illusions cut to a scene of a snake, crane, and sphinx raising cards with a 10, 10, and 9 printed on them, respectively. The shattering of clay is heard 'off-screen'.

Zo! announced: "The Real Housewights of Sid Minos"

The illusions formed a pale-skinned undead abomination, who speaks directly to the tele-illusion crystal: "Of course I'm going to that skinny ghoul's dinner! Without me, they'd have nothing to talk about."

"And who could forget the show that had dwarves from Drakr travelling to Nalaam to wed the objects of their desire..."

The illusions shifted to reveal a heartfelt scene of a church, filled with a large audience, a dwarven groom and a beautifully-dressed bridge, obscured by a veil-

Zo! introduced the last show of the reel: "I now pronounce you husband and knife!"

-the dwarven groom pulls back the veil to reveal the barrel of an upright rifle. The pair begin to passionately make out.

The crowd of Nalaam cheered in excitement, many recalling the tele-illusionist masterpieces of Zo! The undead mogul liplessly smiles, convinced that tonight's show will double the size of his superyatch. "And now" he spoke quietly, with great anticipation, "let me introduce you to tonight's underdogs..."

The illusions shifted to reveal Ulek, repeatedly hammering a glowing blade. The illusion shook, as if the ground was rumbling. Stoically, the half-orc continues his work as the 'camera' zooms out slowly.

Zo continues: "He forged his legendary blade from the thousand of weapons of his conquered foes. He went too far for his family and now he's going further. Give it up for the bold, the strong,..."

The camera zooms out enough to reveal Ulek is not in a workshop, but atop a volcano. Ulek holds out the blade with thick gloves over the crevice, and the volcano erupts, leaving the illusioned Ulek shirtless.

"...the steamy, Ulek!"

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The crowd roared with wolf whistles and applause, before Zo! continued: "This dream team has flown the world, providing alchemical cures that has the hierarchs blushing. There's no substance they won't steal, no experiment they won't preform. Meet the Queen without a spleen: Doctor Ziz and her assistant Lam!"

Applause bellowed through the arena at the illusions of a figure atop a majestic bird, raining needles from the sky.

"Off the coast of Sid Minos lays the Crypta Heriticarum, the Vault of Heresies. Only one has raided it, evaded its traps, and returned with more treasure than a lich can use in their unlifetime. Give it up for the radiant, the daring, the swift: Lorenz!"

Similarly, applause echoes at the illusion of an Indiana-Jones sequence of a gnome darting through elaborate traps to score an artifact.

"Now, we've all heard of the scaled flame, the daunting ashbringer, who picks buildings to the bone. Meet the kobold responsible for burning a collective area the size of Elfaivar. Tonight, he'll set more than just your hearts alight, give it up for Simon!"

A final applause booms out at the illusions of a kobold standing triumphantly atop a flaming building as it topples towards the audience. Many darted from their seat to avoid the collapse.

Wazasha deactivates her arm brace, rolling her eyes. Much of the party bicker about the untruth of their introductions, but Ziz is thrilled to be called a Queen...the details of course, do not count.

The party begin heading down the tunnel, light dramatically by the production crew. Occasionally, the ground shakes with tremors. Eventually the party reached a thin metal strip that outlined the cross-section of the tunnel. Simon deduced that this must mark a threshold beyond Nalaam, for no crystallized mana can be seen ahead. Corroborating his hypothesis, Simon threw a crystal from the wall behind him ahead, which promptly disintegrated. They cross this metallic threshold and continue into the depths.

Unbeknownst to the party, this metallic strip marks the threshold between Lanjyr and the Marblemaw's actively-projected demi-plane, which currently holds his favourite world: a demi-plane of demonocracy era dwarves that worship him as a god. The dwarves of this world know this threshold to be the membrane, and are forbidden to cross it.

As the party continue into the crystal-less tunnel, they find something strange cemented into the walls...misshapen bodies. Some dangle from the ceilings and others grasp from the walls and floor. These are not pale undead creatures, but are red in colour. The party spent a great deal of time poking them before moving further into the deep, gruesome arteries of Marblemaw's masterpiece...
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Sorry for the delay, too many research proposals to write.

Exploration Extreme - Live at Nalaam (Part 2)

After exploring the tunnels for some time, Wazasha, the ghastly associate producer, stopped the crew. She commanded one of the constructs to unfold into a private booth, allowing for her to interview a member of the party one-on-one. She roped in Ziz, asking her some pointed questions about her companions. Namely, did she trust them? In a very goblin manner, Ziz promptly confessed that she trusts herself the most, and her unrelenting prowess. Wazasha wrapped up her interview, and commanded the booth to re-assemble itself back into a walking spider-legged construct.

The booth allows for an opportunity to garner fan favour and establish characters as celebrities. In the Starfinder analogue of this adventure, the authors emphasise the need to get each player to consent, in case characters start naughty word-talking other characters. All of my players were on board with this idea, but none went too overboard with insulting each other. Throughout the adventure, I took notes on: what players said in the booth, what drama they created/resolved, what risks they undertook, and what words they spoke. I used this information at the adventure's conclusion, to emphasise the reputation each celebrity had created.

The party continued down the tunnels. Occasionally, a tremor would shake the walls, and a reddened body would dislodge itself from the ceiling. Eventually, the party entered a rather strange room. 100 x 100 x 100 feet, this perfectly cube room was lined with the decor of the tunnels before it: smoothed, rock walls embedded with red, misshapen bodies. Ziz took off on her companion, Lam, to scout the room. Meanwhile, Ulik drew his blade and advanced slowly with Lorenz and Simon. Another tremor shook the tunnel, and soon Ulik felt something warm slide down the side of his cheek. It was blood. The bodies lodged in the room began to flex and convulse. Many could not dislodge themselves, but some heads started flapping their elongated ears. Unbeknownst to the party, Marblewmaw's demi-plane defences were re-writing the plane, trying to generate threats that would dispose of intruders. Lacking the energy of Urim, the best the plane could offer for now were a few floating heads, flying desperately with their ears. The party rolled initiative.

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Ulik charges with huge swings whilst blushing (he's camera shy). The alchemists threw their bombs. The bard...barded. The heads chirped in an ancient language, Draconic, some of which the party happened to know. In between biting the party, the heads declared the party "confounds", screaming of "critical errors" and "violated protocol". As if this was not chaotic enough, a convulsing arm of a corpse dislodged itself, changing it's shape to become eel-like, an manifesting a greatsword from the very rock of the walls. The fight became even more bloody, as the party fought not only heads, but a very disturbing and deadly electric eel.

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Throughout combat, the party were given the option to take wild risks by rolling disadvantage on attacks. If successful, the party would earn even more of a reputation. This did not have any mechanical effects, but of course, the players tried their luck. Ziz especially failed to prove her prowess, earning her the reputation of a prideful fool. Still, she was loved by fans.

Despite the camera crew obstructing the battlefield to get the best angle of the fight, the party persevered and complete combat with no causalities. Whilst inspecting the bloody aftermath, a group of dwarves emerged from the other end of the room. They are headed by an armour-clad woman, who introduces herself in Dwarven as Mawmaster Toma Vorobeva. Around her neck hanged two necklages: one of a rocky jawbone (unholy symbol of Marblemaw) and the other of a preserved finger threaded with a nail. She is accompanied by two scouts, an elderly 'cyptogrpaher' Kolsto who charts the ever-shifting tunnels, and Daximus the Sceptic.

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The Mawmaster informs the party that they are intruders to Marblemaw's domain. Yet, she claimed, Arsha-Hish the Marblemaw is all powerful, so their presence must be desired by her master. Daximus disagreed, claiming all evidence indicated Marblemaw has long-since forgotten his followers. The Mawmaster wondered how Daximus the Sceptic could be so doubtful of their god.

The Mawmaster informed the party that the tunnels are ever shifting, and this passage is new. When asked about the red bodies, the Mawmaster told the party that her demonic lord carves sentries to protect her people, the citizens of Pulstov. But of late, the bodies have begun misshapen, the living sentries have become weak, and the tunnels have become more erratic.

It begins to click for the party. They soon realise that the dwarves infront of them somehow believe the Demonocracy is alive and well, and that their master founded the city of Pulstov in the cradle of the Nothern Drakr mountains to shelter them from the ongoing war with the Clergy. The Mawmaster refuses to believe that the Demonocracy fell, and offers to escort the party to her city to meet her lord. Cryptographer Kolsto identifies the safest passage, and the party continue.

Before leaving the cube room, Wazasha interviewed Ulik in the booth. The gentle-hearted half orc had little insults to issue to his companions, claiming that his mother said "you always catch more flies with honey". Wazasha finds this incredibly infuriating, and tries pressing Ulik on any discomforts. He eventually confesses he's prone to becoming hangry, and come to think of it, he was a little bit peckish. After exiting the booth, Wazasha 'accidently' trips the construct carrying the remaining trays of antipastos. Lorenz accused Ziz of not attending medical school. Tension was heating up.

En route to Pulstov, the party are met with middling and inconsequential threats. The corpses that lined the wall would occasionally limply grasp at the party, strange weather would harrow some tunnels, such as a blinding rainbow, and corpses would speak in Draconic, decrying a "critical error". The Mawmaster religiously echoed the phrase whilst solemnly bowing her head, seemingly oblivious to the meaning of the words. Eventually, the party find some branches of tunnels would lead to a dark void of nothingness. The Mawmaster titles this the "marbled breath", an increasing occurrence in the tunneled wilds. She found it strange that the breath had made it's way so close to the city. Unbeknownst to the party, the 'marbled breath' is void created by the demi-plane converting the latent energy of material to energy. Since the connection to Urim has been servered, only the outer parts of the demi-plane were converted to energy. Now that the party have arrived, the demi-plane has accelerated the energy conversion, in order to create new defenders to dispose of the intruders. Pulstov was already doomed, but now it's doom is approaching quickly.

As the party traversed the final tunnel, Lorenz apologised for accusing Ziz of not attending medical school. Ziz snapped, claiming she did go, but they "just weren't ready for my genius!" Their bickering is interrupted by another dwarf jogging towards the party. The dwarf, a messenger from Pulstov, spoke with desperation. The marbled breath has grown and swallowed the entire eastern district. The Mawmaster commanded the party to move quickly. They soon emerged from the tunnels into a city cradled on snowy peaks. Currently, the weather is a storm of wild rain and lightning, as the demi-plane is devolving into chaos. Incongruent with the current weather, flaming rocks of brimstome have seemed to just struck down buildings prior to the crew's arrival. The marbled breath has swallowed half the city. The dwarves wonder how Marblemaw allowed this to happen, the party and production crew wonder how a city with an open sky could exist under Nalaam, and Zo! wonders if he'll ever top this production. With everyone in shock, there has never been an better opportunity to cut to an ad break.
 

Sorry for the delay, too many research proposals to write.
Welcome back! What's the research?

I am very tempted to do a reality TV dungeon myself now. The closest that I've had was a game where we were all lizard folk, sent on a mission by the general manager of our cities sports team to acquire the blessing of a volcano God by sacrificing humans in order to ensure that the hot tub of our sports team was the perfect temperature before the big match.

We discovered an affairs plot by mindflayers to pirate the signal that we use to broadcast our sporting events, and we stole one of their relay stations to make sure they could not violate lizard folk copyright.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
What's the research
I'll be vague to accommodate whatever research plans go through. I study belief and social change, with a special interest in conspiracy theory belief. I'll let you know more about the research once the ball is rolling!

I am very tempted to do a reality TV dungeon myself now.

Do it! It is incredibly fun. Especially if you can find some way to rope in live footage/commentary. One thing I would do differently is have the audience members vote for the contents of a 'care package' to be teleported on site. Alternatively, the audience could decide on a monster to be unleashed on the party. Or an adorable animal companion.

You were very well-mannered to simply disrupt the relay instead of using it for your own nefarious deeds. Think of all the sporting events you could subtly rig and profit. Soon, that god-blessed hot tub could be yours.

Exploration Extreme - Live at Nalaam (Part 3, The Finale)

The city of Pulstov was dying. For centuries, screams of Marblemaw's sacrifices could be heard from the un-roofed central spire of the city. But for 50,000 forgefires (Pulstov's metric for days), the spire was silent. Now, the screams echo meekly from the marbled breath that encompasses most city districts. One remains, standing tall above the shadows: the church district. The party followed Mawmaster Toma to the infernal halls that have defied the shadow. But the church was not spared from the judgement above. Brimstone had rained from the sky, blocking the temple's entrance. The mountain itself threatened to crack open, rupturing the church's foundation with massive fissures. Lightning crackled overhead, illuminating the few dozen dwarf survivors gathered before the church and the few hundred fallen citizens and sentinels, the lifeless flesh once imbued with Marblemaw's power. As the party arrived, the survivors took a knee in front of their Mawmaster, desperate for answers. She explained that if anyone had answers, it would be the Radomil the Marbletongue, he who speaks for the Marblemaw. Unfortunately, the Marbletongue was trapped inside of his church.

One of the survivors, a dwarven engineer, highlighted the three options for infiltrating the church: moving the boulder, scaling the building and entering through the roof, or entering a fissure and climbing into the church. Wazasha instructed the party that the audience will vote on each option, but the party may always go their own way. She opened her holographic wristband, projecting a count of spectator votes for each option. As the dwarf explained the hazards of each approach, the votes for that approach surged. Entering the fissure won the popular vote, and the party followed suit.

Before climbing into the fissure, Wazasha pulled Lorenz into the booth. Like Ulek, Lorenz was difficult to stir up. He also genuinely seemed to believe he was a kobold (as he was raised by such). Despite not earning many fans in the booth, Lorenz attained his fame by impressive acts, such as speaking the language of the dwarves and skipping with the steamy Ulek.

Next, the party descended into the fissure. At the bottom of the descent pooled strange, viscous liquid. This was the spacetime of the demi-plane becoming liquified into a malleable form. Upon contact, roughly half the party began to move and talk quickly, as if under the effects of haste. Some other members moved and talked slowly. The players had great fun roleplaying this. The production crew followed the party by professionally rappelling down the fissure. They did the same when the party ascended the figure into the temple. As the party climbed, the time-distortion effects wore off.

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In the blood-lit temple, rain poured through the destroyed roof. Ziz scraped blood off a nearby alter (...for science). Meanwhile, Lorenz opened the northern double doors. The bard quickly found Marbletongue, trapped under a fallen beam, groaning for help. Ulek and Lorenz free the dwarf, who immediately scolds them: "You did not bargain for my life. You must be some demon-forsaken do-gooders." The half-orc responded sadly: "I would have just accepted a thank you."

The Marbletongue was insulted by the presence of forbidden outsiders. He yelled that the intruders must be vanquished. Then, a nearby blood well began to gurgle. The party turned in fear as a monstrosity pulled itself from the depths below. A sentinel of two torsos stitched together emerged and reached for the party. Then, it barely managed to grown with it's two eyeless heads "I...was....an....optional...encounter..." before falling flat, lifeless.

At this point, Mawmaster Toma and her crew manage to enter the church. Marbletongue is furious at Toma. He claimed disaster had befallen Pulstov because the Mawmaster hesitated to sacrifice the cursed-eyed Timur. The Marbletongue explains that there is a tradition of sacrificing the 5% of children born with white eyes, long ago decreed by the Marblemaw. In truth, these are children who rolled a natural 20 on their will save to see through the demi-planes illusory nature. Marblemaw knew such children would likely disrupt his experimental demi-plane, so ordered them killed. The Mawmaster birthed such an atrocity, Timur, but hesitated to sacrifice him. Initially, she had hoped for redemption, and sent her son to study under the Marbletongue. Timur proved too deviant, scalding Pulstov and its master, so she eventually did sacrifice him devotion to her demonic patron. She still wears Timur's preserved finger as an amulet as a reminder of her faith. The Mawmaster is in despair, if she has wronged the Mawmaster, why must he punish his devout followers? Daximus the Sceptic piped up claiming that all of this is consistent with the underlying truth that the Marblemaw has no power. Lorenz jumped in, telling the Marbletongue he knows nothing, he's just a tongue! Ulek, Ziz, and Lam sit on a nearby beam, whilst the adults argue. The Marbletongue scolded Daximus, and claimed the problem was that Pulstov was not devout enough. It was time for another sacrifice to prove Pulstov's devotion, and who better than the forbidden intruders? The party took issue with this. With an excellent diplomacy roll and several successful aid another actions, Lorenz convinced the surviving dwarves that the Marbletongue should be sacrificed instead. As the head cleric was dragged off to the sacrificial blood well, the Mawmaster spoke somberly: if anyone had offended the Marblemaw then it was her, and she wished to confront her god and ask why he’d done what he had to Pulstov. She asked us the party come with her. The party jumped into a pool of blood - along with gagged and bound Radomil, the Mawmaster, Daximus the Sceptic (who expects to find nothing), and a production crew.

The party emerged in a dark, bloodstained tunnel. Wazasha quickly pulls Simon into the booth, who presented himself rather modestly. He seemed unphased by Lorenz's teasing, much to Wazasha's disappointment. Then, the party set off down the tunnel, as Lam sprayed blood with every flap of his wings. Deeper in the tunnel the party find large scratch marks and scorched portions of the walls. Here, Toma's antipaladin powers begin to fade with her faith. In truth, the demi-plane is collapsing and can no longer sustain the divine powers of Marblemaw's followers.

The keep is strange, lacking the furniture and decadence expected from a demonic lord. Along the walls are platforms at various heights. A pile of dwarven bones lay scattered along the walls, accompanied by empty chests and other corpses, human? Once armed with swords and shields, these skeletons each have a finger draped in melted gold (Ob agents with golden rings). Perhaps the most pressing detail is the headless dragon skeleton.

A sickly dwarf with white eyes emerged on a platform 30 feet above the ground. His hand, which misses a finger, clutched a staff of simple copper, topped with a complex orb of marble plates that shift, back-lit by some supernatural light originating from its center. This orb is a key to controlling the demi-plane, though the dwarf that wields it does not know it's full power. When the dwarf finally spoke, he spoke with the voice of a choir: "You are no dwarves".

“I saw this world for what it is. Not material, but magical. Have you not seen it’s strangeness? This world once made sense, but it has turned on itself. It is failing, no longer sustained by the magic that once flowed from beneath it. The breath, the beautiful breath, repurposes the remnant life, but repurposing is wasteful, and it is only a matter before the breath comes for us all. I know it, for I have steered its direction. I enjoyed my watch from this keep, the occasional scream as a child is plunged back into the dark void from which it was plucked. And for some time, I thought I would be the last creature consumed. But now, you 'confounds' have carved a way out for me. And I will trace it out of this world, through the forbidden membrane, and to the true world that awaits!”

Timur stretches his arms to the heavens, and the screams of dwarves can be heard outside. Suddenly, a skeletal object behind Timur lurches forward, scooping him up. It is the skull of a dragon, with a jaw made of solid, black stone. Accompanying the dwarf are two identical versions of Timur, each armed with an identical staff that they point in your direction. The skull veers downwards, flying unnaturally in the air, and the dwarven bones near the party begin to stir.

“Come, mother and her friends. Do not look so grim! There is one demonic teaching I understood well: that the body should be of stone. Fear not, my heart is not soft with forgiveness. I have rejoiced in my mother’s paralytic suffering as the breath encompassed all. The slow clasp on the throat of the city. Just as you, mother, tortured me for years, sending me to train under the Marbletongue. Fear not! Fear not mother! Your demise will be quick!”

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Timur has legitimately cloned himself with the power of the demi-plane, and has reversed life to allow the deceased dragon skull to fly and breathe flame, and the dead sacrifices to resurrect and fight for him. Though, the magic is costly, the demi-plane is being drained of its last reserves, like a sponge wrung out for the last drop of water. The laws of physics are failing, and each round I rolled a 1d10 to see what strange effect occurred. Here is the table for the interested. For this combat, Ulek and Ziz swapped bodies, the party became confused, and winds picked up. Throughout the combat, screams could be heard from outside the keep, as Pulstov was being torn apart for all the latent energy it had.

The end of time. Roll a 1d10, if the result is:
1. Two PCs switch bodies for one round
2. A cloud of daggers rains from the sky (2d6 reflex save DC 13 for half). Target: everyone.
3. Time slows down, everyone (including enemies) are staggered
4. Gravity is shifted either north/south/east/west (1d4), everyone moves 30 feet in that direction. 1d6 damage if hitting a wall.
5. Butterflies heavily obscure a 30 foot area (as per obscuring mist)
6. Everyone changes size, either enlarged or reduced
7. Lighting (2d6 reflex DC 15 for half) reigns down in 25% of areas (1d4). If struck, metallic weapons deal an addition 1d6 electricity damage
8. Will save on one random person, else they become confused (DC 15). New save each round.
9. Wind surrounds each person, giving a +4 AC to ranged attacks
10. A burst of speed affects one PC, giving them haste for one round

Some crew was lost as collateral damage, but all the dwarves survived. Simon finished off the last Timur with a stylish explosion. Then, the shadow that had swallowed the city began swallowing the room keep too. There was nowhere or time to run. Wazasha screamed at her crew to continue filming, Ulek spoke heavily "I love you, mum", and Ziz turns to her animal companion and quietly speaks in Goblin "You're a good bird, Lam. Thanks." The darkness covered the party and then turned into something else: a stone room with many numbered orbs. One particular orb on a pedestal in front of us. A monotone, emotionless voice (robotic, in modern terms) began speaking. It described the end of the simulation the party had been in, how long it had been running for, and problems encountered along the way. Apparently it failed because of a lack of mana to power it. It was begun in -900 Before Our Victory by a dragon who built its lair beneath the Penance Peaks and created its own experimental demiplanes, each with a particular scenario playing out within.

Simulation #20,553
Dwarven Followers of Arsha-Hish: A Study into the Religious Fervour
Circa: -900 Before Our Victory
Simulation demi-plane initiated t minus 300 years.
Status: Simulation terminating.
ALERT: ERROR! Immediate repair required. Link to earth mana reservoir severed. Repairs required to sustain simulation. Error logged at t minus 137 years.
ALERT: ERROR! Recycling protocols enacted. Dissolve low priority experimental features to sustain core aspects.
ISSUE! Administrator last logged in 100 years ago. Issue logged at t minus 37 years.
NOTICE! Administrator log in at t minus 3 years.
ERROR! External influence detected. Confounding variables threaten experimental validity. Error logged at t minus 4 hours.
ERROR! Control measures enacted. Error logged at t minus 4 hours.
ERROR! Experiment unsustainable. Recycling protocols have cascaded. Magical reservoir levels critical. Experiment will be terminated in approximately three years. Error logged at t minus 3 hours.
ERROR! Magical reservoir levels channelled at above-average levels. Experiment unsustainable. Termination of demi-plane initiated. Ejection imminent!

Ziz triumphantly declared: "I knew it was fake!"
Ulek questioned: "What's a simulation?"
To which Lorenz responded, "A type of story, bro."
Ziz added "An experiment!"

Wazasha commanded the party to gather for one final, triumphant shot before she sternly declared: “and that’s a wrap!” Her skeleton crew take a few final shots of the scenery, before they packed their equipment. Wazasha asked aloud, “How about we hear how they’re wrapping up the event in the arena?” She activated her magical armband, which played the live audio feed of Zo!, who shouted excitedly: "What a discovery! What a destination! What a band of unlikely heroes! What could lie deeper in the Penance Peaks? Find out on the next episode of Exploration Extreme! when our heroes return to—"
"What?" shouted the party's lawyer Dallatonna with alarm from near Zo!’s microphone. "That was not part of our deal, Zo! You can’t just add a sequel when we haven’t—"
Zo!’s voice insistently cut back in. “Ha ha! And now a word from our sponsors!”

A booming add for Scorched Earth blared out of Wazasha’s armband before she deactivated the device, rolled her eyes, and commented that “With all of these advertisements, you have surely paid back your debt to Nalaam.” She then ordered her team to retrace their steps. The party venture back through a wide chasm, filled with hundreds of shelves housing marbled orbs. A few dismayed dwarves accompany them, unsure of what awaits them. Toma gulped as she crosses the metallic membrane. Eventually, the party make their way back to the portal. They exchange a look with the dwarves, who have turned to face their now-evaporated homeland. They then turned back to the portal, took a breath, and stepped through.

A montage of scenes briefly shows that the party enjoyed temporary fame in Nalaam for a few weeks before the public eye turned elsewhere. Ziz’s fame was of the negative kind: people staying far away from the explosive, erratic medic. Once fading into obscurity, Ziz was once again on the lam, both figuratively and literally.

If this was a movie, the final montage shot would end in a burst of white light. Then, after a few seconds, the white light fades. In this scene, Simon sat, idly stirring his bowl of ashes and spaghetti. He managed to curl a thick, red strand of spaghetti around his fork, a surprising find given he cooks his pasta without water. A distant voice echoed in his head, indecipherable, but slowly getting louder and clearer. The voice, now loud and clear, shook Simon out of his own head. "Agent Simon, do uncurl my whisker. It is not very professional of you."

Simon immediately dropped his fork, and looked down at his ashes to find the head of his spymaster, El Extraño. "Excellent work, Simon. You executed my plan just as intended. I had long suspected the scientist dragon below this city had been slain. Another failed tyrant toppled. Unfortunately, the disturbance of a magical reservoirs suggests the ziggurat of Urim below Nalaam has been tampered with, likely by the Obscurati. Do not be impressed, Simon. The melted rings on the human skeletons within the keep demonstrate the Obscurati were successful in their to destroy the ziggurat’s keeper, though incurred causalities. As for missions, Simon, your next will be overseas. Have you heard the Clergy tale of Jonah?"

The scene fades to black.

(Simon will make a return appearance in Adventure 10, after infiltrating Axis Island via an undead whale.)
 

I had a class in college eighteen years ago any conspiracies and paranoia. I recall thinking how quaint it was, how fringe. It was such a different time. I don't think we even mentioned the Internet once.

My favorite conspiracy theory was, I think, Chilean, involving some rural villages that believed that American doctors were vampires who would suck out fat from the locals that they were treating and then would take it to Americans and injected into the Americans. How else could Americans be so healthy, looking and fat?
 

Echolocation

Explorer
I can't believe it's been over six months since I've posted a recap from our actual Zeitgeist game. Let's dive into the convocation, shall we?

First, I'm a shameless thief, so I'll cough up my inspiration. I loved Deathwyrm's idea of playing recordings of Ob speeches.

I was too selfish to give up Nic's speech, but I subcontracted Han's planar primer and the major faction speeches to different friends. I also wrote a small speech for each minor faction, and friend's sent me recordings for those too. I had two friends eerily sing the Voice of Rot's nursery rhyme, so I could play it to creep out my players. I also had Romana's voice actor come back and record a short speech that silences the room right before the second vote.

Here are the speeches for the minor factions, if you're interested.

“Listen ye bunyips. I have a proposition, one that will have you froth at the mouth for excitement, adventure, or perhaps as a symptom of an alien contagion. For the plane of Apet is a fickle warden, keeping us at bay from the infinite cosmos. What if we could explore the skies? What if we could conquer the distant lands and reap their bounty! I am Bruse McDruid, and for the last decade I have sailed explored the seas of Lanjyr. And now, I wish to explore the sky. I, representative of The Trekkers, propose we throw out the planes preventing planar transportation and replace these with literally anything else. We don’t care what.”

“Shut up! Your brain has been poisoned by all that dialect. Had you a mind between your two ears, you'd know there is plenty we do agree on; for instance, that the Clergy has no place in our new world.

"Religious conviction lead to the great malice, it lead to bombings in the city of Flint, it leads to countless despicable acts in Crisillyir every day. We have all revolted against it, but none of us have made it our cause like I have. The Mortal Mind seeks to completely remove the feeling of religious awe from the world. It causes nothing but harm, it's only sound contribution to society has been in the form of the arts - all, which have been tainted by the aforementioned conviction. I'm not even a representative of the Bards - though, perhaps Mr. Praesidia and I can discuss an arrangement later - but even their vision of imbuing talent and appreciation to the arts and entertainment would be more than sufficient to replace whatever contributions have been made in that department."

“Oh yes, I have heard the proposal of Mr Willimarkanova, and I must say, it is hard for me to support the hatred of something that has been intrinsic to the collective humanity. The divine reverence of the soul need not be directed towards the heavens. It is the beauty of our world that makes life worth living. Consider a world where society places art on the pedestal of science and economics. Consider beauty and wonder walking hand-in-hand with industry. The expression of the worker will be both profitable and wonderful. The fires of productivity refined by pure glee. We at the bard faction wish for every major proposal to consider infusing their world with expressions of longing and love."

“My home nation of Danor has prospered not from war, but from defence. In its humble beginnings, Danor was wracked by plague and ill-faith, but we persisted. Four wars with Risur, but we persisted. And now, we are one of the strongest nations of Lanjyr. Why tinker with an old, traditional recipe that has succeeded for hundreds of generations. The current planes prevent invasion from other worlds, and it has worked well so far. My Aegis plan insists that if the current planesof Space and Death—which are the source of that protection—are changed, that some other defenses be put in their place.”

“Let me ask you fellow friends, collaborators, and conspirators: why are we gathered here today? To change the world? No, no. You are here to change your world. You are here to profit. Be that morally or materially, you are here to indulge your vices, yes? The planes linked to our world imbue it with energy, but it is the common man who imbues it with MONEY. And why is it that few economic schemes succeed in this world? Why is it that the unwashed worker is so poorly discerning in their consumption and purchases? Because the logic of exchange is fickle, unpredictable, and distasteful. My economic proposal will give people stronger sense of the value of things and a more intuitive grasp of economics. Then, workers will engage passionately in their crafts and rationally in their consumption. Support my proposal and you will support a more utilitarian world, where the profits of industry will be reaped by the intelligent.”

“Enough of this meager squawking! …Now that we have quietened down, I have a question for you? Why is it always the human nations warring and bickering? Meanwhile, the dwarves sharpen their philosophy, the eladrin rebuild their empire, and the gnomes refine their gadgets. The long-lived races are blessed with an inconceivable wisdom to the minds of short-lived folk. Humans? Humans choose tiny problems that can be solved in a decade or two. What if we could dream longer, not bigger? The Long Now proposal wishes to find a Plane of Time that will make people consider a longer timespan in their decisions.”

The MAP and Blue Sky proposals were pretty much copied this thread, so I won't repeat them here:

And now, the promised recap, courtesy of Ella's player:

Session 75
Let’s get right to it, shall we? We traveled to an obscure island, met Mayor Macbannin in ghost form, watched someone get incinerated by a shadowlisk, and found ourselves on the upper floor of the Obscurati’s Bleak Gate palace: sitting in a room with six other members of the conspiracy. Chief among them were sovereign Han Jierre and the so-called “Nicodemus” - who was currently inhabiting the body of Mr Mapple.

We managed to conceal the shock of that well enough to avoid breaking cover, and the meeting proceeded smoothly. It was revealed that there are three leaders of the conspiracy: Nicodemus; Han Jierre; and Asrabey’s wife, Kasvarina. That last one… didn’t really surprise us but it was still disheartening to know we’d had one of the Obscurati’s leaders in our grasp and let her slip away.

Grappa - AKA Leone - did manage to convince the Ob that we, Team BAD, are dead though, which is nice. Especially since they’d been about to hold a workshop on how to defeat us. That’s… an odd kind of compliment I guess but still intimidating. We didn’t have much time to ponder it though, as our official Obscurati meeting schedule dictated that we find our rooms, unpack, tease Ella, and mingle with the other guests for “enlightening discussion” before the main event later that evening.

As we left the meeting, Lisandra realised that we had, in fact, met Nicodemus before: not just in Crisillyir but also at Macbannin’s mansion over a year ago, in the guise of a philosophical courier. He’d spoken of chaos and building a better world, of ending people’s suffering. A noble goal apparently bathed in bloodshed, given all the events since…

A bloody revolution that every Obscurati member present seemed willing to participate in, as they shared tales of treachery and murder in pursuit of the Obscurati’s goals. The individuals present ranged from nobility to scientists to philosophers: ambitious individuals all. It begged the question though of what, exactly, they were fighting for? How did the Obscurati intend to make a better world?

Nicodemus soon provided the answer, standing tall atop a stage as he and Han Jierre laid out a plan to move the very planets themselves: using an Ancient ritual to change the eight planes attached to ours and infuse our world with all new traits and realms of possibility!

It was… an astounding proposal. Insane even, but with every word the Ob leaders showed just how carefully they’d planned for this. Extraplanar experiments with meteorite dust had discerned the traits associated with different planes. Luc Jierre’s lanterns had been used to create stable areas of extraplanar influence. And Born the colossus had been created to move the massive golden plate protecting the Ancient ritual site so that the Ob might rewrite what our ancestors had set in stone

All they needed was the colossus… and a definitive plan. Because as it stood they had five: five plans to create a better world. Five plans that we, as supposed Ob members, were expected to vote on. A decision that would change the very heavens and life as we know it.

No pressure… right?

The first proposal was presented by Mayor Macbannin: a simple plan known as The Arboretum. In this plan nature would become completely predictable: responding perfectly to magical control to ensure bountiful harvests and preventable storms. Although at the risk of creating natural disasters and barren landscapes in any place not controlled by magic… Not to mention they’d be replacing the moon and possibly destroying the Dreaming and all the fey within.

Team BAD was… largely unimpressed by this plan, and cooled down by exploring some experimental pocket dimensions. Angharad bathed in lava, Lisandra walked forever downwards, John found the shapeshifting plane, and Ella learned to fly.

The next proposal was Colossus: a radical plan presented by the Risuri noble Catherine Romana. She explained that putting ultimate power in the hands of a few trusted Obscurati members for a limited time each month was clearly the best way forward. This would involve increased risk of extraplanar invasion by creatures such as Sijhen, more storms, lower seas, colder weather, and possible megalomaniacs getting their hands on the source of the power without accepting the drawbacks. You know… a reasonable plan.

Angharad seemed all for it but the rest of Team BAD was undecided on this one…

We went to explore the Colossus demonstration dimension and Ella briefly experienced the intoxicating feel of incredible power before Lisandra briefly broke down in an internal personality crisis and we retreated.

Third on the proposal list was Miller’s Pyre: a gentle plan presented by one of Kasvarina’s followers. The goal being to make everyone in the world an empathetic debate master so that they might talk through their problems rather than solving them with violence. Problems included storms, alien invaders, and those with the strongest opinions overshadowing others.

Overall, this plan met with some approval and we visited the demonstration portal with Ella, at least, hopeful that it could actually create a better world. That feeling ebbed sharply when she watched two malnourished men almost murder each other, and then returned hesitantly when they set aside their differences to help each other.

The fourth proposal, presented by Han Jierre, was called Panarchist. A plan to give everyone enhanced natural healing and teleportation powers so that they might better defend themselves, along with the ability to imbue their soul into objects and promises, so that property might be protected and oaths fulfilled.

This one was received fairly positively but we had no time to test it before rushing off to the final speech: the Watchmakers proposal, presented by the ghost of a Danoran gunsmith. This one, of all the proposals, was the only one to completely strike Team BAD dumb.

Amielle Latimer laid out a perfectly calculated plan to enslave every single person on the planet, turning the globe into a clockwork prison of perfect niceness for a thousand years so that our descendants might be brainwashed into good-aligned automatons. Because, obviously, being a good person isn’t something you can simply do on your own. It must be forced upon us.

While we were still recovering from that declaration, two guards approached: obviously agitated but trying to remain calm. They told us that it was fine, everything was fine, and we should remain calm, but, uh… there’d been a murder.

Naturally, all thoughts turned to Angharad, and then secondly to John. It was only on the third time round that the question really sunk in: if the undercover RHC agents hadn’t killed someone, then who had?

Find out the answer to… probably not that question, next time: on Zeitgeist!
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 76-78
Courtesy of Lisandra's player

[Echo: ] The guests were gathered in the theater and told of the murder and precautionary measures. All guests were to speak with Nicodemus. Ella, in the body of Livia, and Nicodemus spoke on the beach. When asked what she would change about the world, Ella admitted she didn't know. Most things are interconnected, and she noted that changing one thing would be unlikely to create lasting change. All of the players immediately shipped Nic and Ella. Meanwhile, the party casts their preliminary votes. Everyone voted MAP, except for Angharad who voted colossus (the feysworn liked the idea of rulers, and became even more convinced when the proposal incorporated the rites of rulership). Team BAD learned of the minor factions, mingled in the company of villains, and explored portals. They stayed away from things that could draw attention to them, like investigating the murder or the ghostly sobbing from the rocks of the southern shore. Unfortunately, the party exchanged enough quips about paperwork and constabulary duties that it drew the attention of Pemberton. Then, as they were retiring for the night, they heard gunshots (the guards firing at targets).

BANG! A gunshot at a convocation that had just reported a guests murder. The concerned members of team bad had darted their way to the window… everyone except an overly sober Angharad, of course. Another shot rang out and sent Ella darting off to inspect, with a worried Lisandra behind her. Turns out the off-duty guardsmen were either naughty word with us, or the on-duty one lying, as he told us it was just target practice to blow off some steam and apologized for the inconvenience before escorting the guests back to their rooms for the night.

Holed up for the night, Lisandra used the fireplace to invite Ella around, requesting assistance in inspecting something she’d found; a fish hook pendant, slightly rusts and very magical. Ella made an entrance through a vent system she’d discovered and inspected the object, but was unable to identify it specifically, likening it in power to the First Blade of Srasama.

The group settled in for the night and weird dreams were had as Team BAD and their physical hosts met in dreamscapes. Oscan dreamt of old marks, hung upside down and bleeding out. Pleasant, in his opinion, but less so Lisandra who remained in control while the Family narc dreamed on.

Xavier dreamed of the Avery Coast, but awoke to John’s presence and gained control, finding himself in a strange room, shared with a strange man, clutching at a strange rifle not his own. John regained control quickly and returned to sleep without incident.

Livia dreamed of the Royal Library, researching their vast catalogue for the Obscurati and excitedly awaiting the Convocation. She opened a book to a page that just read WAKE UP. So she did.

Angharad awoke as the original Livia, now back in control of her body found herself in a strange room, darting from her bed to grab Ella’s rapier and gain her bearings. Ella eventuall regained control and return to sleep before it was Ken’s turn to dream.

A desk in the Grand Librarium. Flickering lamplight, and a wolf howling in the distance before the man snuffed the light, muttering about disruptive ghosts and unaware as Angharad remained in control.

Within their dreams, Team Bad heard a familiar, terrifying voice speak. The Voice of Rot called out as Ken’s form dissolved into Agharad and asked for his allegiance to be pledged to the Fey Titan. Pledge your eyes, so I may see, came the request. Meeker than usual, Angharad declined, announcing he was already pledged to another.

The Voice of Rot receded with the parting words; "The rites of Old will be upheld. But your hands work my work. They are not just your own.”

To foreshadow the Voice of Rot's plot, the titan will reach out to the party every now and then to ask them to pledge themselves. Angharad refuses, having already pledged himself to the Ash Wolf. The Voice of Rot alludes to having Angharad's hands, a line that has two meanings: Angharad's hand was long-severed by Lya and Angharad uses the Absurdist's Web.

The team awoke fresh on the day of the final vote to another murder and a note from Grappa, who let them know Leone was being called to meet with Nicodemus. Lisandra tailed at a distance, pretending to be on a mission for coffee as John alerted their comrade to follow.

Ella headed past the crime scene, overhearing the guards talking about the death of Dame Constance Bayden, burnt to a crisp. Suspecting perhaps a tiefling with a royal bloodline capable of such feats, or paranoid that Team BAD was somehow responsible.

Beyond the murder, Ella and John snuck into a spare supply room as Lisandra kept watch, and Agharad took time to compose his sober self back in their quarters. The druid transformed into a rodent, climbing through the vents Ella had opened to eavesdrop on the meeting with Nicodemus.

Leone was in a meeting with the organizers; Nicodemus, Han Jierre and Vecimi. They spoke about the Colossus, Borne. Though protected from divination and impossible to track with magic, Ob reports tell of giant footprints matching appropriate description making the land in the Waking, destroying the landscape. When asked, Leone confirmed that Borne was created with the capacity to operate under water and was tasked with compiling a report on Borne’s capabilities.

It was mentioned the Ob believes Kasvarina to be in an Elven enclave in Elfaivar, located between the Waking and the Dreaming and their priority beyond the Convocation was to reclaim the Colossus.

Grappa’s voting was brought into question, those present possibly surprised that Steelshaper was taken by the Watchmaker faction. As the meeting adjourned, he was implored to consider one of the more popular ideas.

During her coffee break, Lisandra’s eavesdropping yielded more information about the previous murder as guards spoke of the victim being kept in the Ice Room, and the only visible injury to the body a small nick near his ear. Divination proving unsuccessful, suspicion turned to potential Ob members due to the protective rings.

A distant rattling down the hall caught their attention as the team reconvienced. A door handle. Grappa’s room. Becoming weaker and more sporadic. Ella sprinted off with the other close behind, yanking the door open to find Leone, hovering mid-air, choking. Failing to call on his power to manipulate metal as life was choked from him… and the ghostly figure of Reed Macbannin in the corner. Ella immediately shot off a blast of powerful magic, sending several magic missiles at the ghost and Leone’s body was flung dramatically to the floor as he gasped for air.

“Stop it at once!” Macbannin implored, “This man voted for a different faction than us. He is our common enemy.”

“His faction lost the vote, you moron!” Oscan tried to reason, “You could bloody recruit him!”

As the tense conversation with the wounded ghost continues, guards in the distance coming to investigate, Angharad tried to sift through Ken’s mind and lost control. Macbannin tried to sway Ella’s mind by casting Suggestion and failed as the guards approached the ghost floated off to the garden.

Questing ensued of both the group and Reed Macbannin who was called back up to make a statement. The ex-politician smoothed things over annoyingly well, claiming the he and Leone were old lovers fond of erotic asphyixiation and that Livia, who was MOST CERTAINLY, only capable of the level of magic her Obscurati dossier claimed she was, intervene on a misunderstanding.

Leone, reluctantly confirmed. Cover was tentatively maintained as the human guards seemed convinced (or just horrified and wanted to leave). The ghosts didn’t seem so convinced, but with the so-called misunderstanding smoothed over, the guards called the matter closed and everyone was free to go.

Ella and John stayed back with Grappa, keen to keep him safe and assist in helping him in his task of putting together an dossier while Oscan and Ken, who Angharad had regain control of, decided to keep Erskine, their forgotten +1, busy with breakfast and the conversation that accompanied.

Radical factions began to pop up over breakfast, with minority groups pitching ideas for the voting to come as Ken attempted to circulate further rumours about Aloquacious and Latimer being involved in the recent murders.

Everyone eventually gathered for lunch, including the heads of the gathering and Catherine Romana decided to take the floor, attempting to cause district in the leadership. Nicodemus seemed unphased, but Ella couldn’t help but speak up, snarking back and even suggesting that perhaps Romana was the murderer, though she seemed genuine in her denile.

And so we joined Team BAD today awaiting the final vote of the Convocation. Who will win? Who else will die? Will Reed try to blackmail Livia? Will Angharad survive the mission’s relative sobriety? Maybe we’ll find out next time, in the wacky adventures of Team BAD.
 
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Echolocation

Explorer
Sorry about the previous, non-linear post. I omitted a recap of two short sessions we had, which have now been edited in.

Session 79
Courtesy of Ella's player

Infiltrating a top secret Obscurati meeting in another dimension using the bodies of unwilling Ob officers… Not the easiest of tasks to be sure, and yet - despite everything - we’d been doing surprisingly well!

Sure, someone else was running around killing Obscurati and that person wasn’t us. And yes, Macbannin knew something fishy was going on but… overall? Not bad!
…Despite our team name.

Of course, “not bad” means “far too well” in Zeitgeist, so it was time to throw a spanner in the works. Or three spanners! Because why not?

The first spanner came in the form of Angharad. Having sat through boring speech after boring meeting after not-quite-so-boring demonstration, he was ready to spice things up a little. After all, it’s not like we were there to help the Obscurati. Right, Ella?

The last round of boring speeches Angharad had endured - two of them presented by Ella and Erskine - finished with a word from Nicodemus: as the immortal Ob leader explained that… while the world might be a truly naughty word up place filled with foul people committing countless atrocities, the Obscurati’s own atrocities had a chance to fix all that! So the next - and perhaps final - round of voting was very important. A process that could determine the fate of the entire world - and eight other worlds besides!

No pressure.

Han, Nicodemus, Grappa and Erksine all voted for the MAP proposal, yet Colossus still managed to take the lead by the time Team BAD came around. Ella/Livia’s vote went to MAP, as did Lisandra/Oscan’s and John/Xavier’s. Which left MAP one vote ahead of Colossus and Angharad with the final vote in the room.

Enter Spanner #1.

Ken Don [controlled by Angharad] stepped up to the board, took his vote… and placed it with Colossus, creating a tie. Because what’s an extradimensional secret meeting to determine the fate of the world without a little chaos?

Nicodemus forestalled the imminent uproar as he commended everyone on “voting their conscience” and began speechifying over the sound of gas filling the room’s lanterns. Lisandra was the first to notice, shrugging off the effects of the soothing blue glow that was so very similar to the light she’d fallen victim to in Knutpara. Everyone else though began to feel remarkably calm.

A quick kick to Angharad’s shin disabused him of his newfound peace, and John and Ella eventually followed suit, leaving the true Ob officers in an agreeable daze as Nicodemus invited the Watchmakers and MAP supporters to follow him out of the room while the Colossus advocates stayed behind. With nothing more than paranoia and vague unease to go on, we followed his directions, leaving Angharad to hobnob with wannabe tyrants.

In the foyer, Lisandra, Ella and John found the second spanner: a giant, roiling mass of spirits comprising the Obscurati’s oft-mentioned but never-before-seen Ghost Council. A spectral monstrosity that Nicodemus very calmly proposed setting on the Colossus supporters in the theatre hall. A suggestion that nearly everyone present wholeheartedly agreed with.

Sodding Murderati.

The only exceptions were the people that weren’t even supposed to be there: undercover Team BAD.

Ella/Livia spoke up first, trying to make an eloquent case for the Obscurati not murdering half of their own people, while Lisandra frantically tried to think of a way to extricate Angharad from the potential slaughter. Seeing Ella’s pleas falling on death ears, the oracle - in her guise as ruthless murderer Oscan - stepped up to the plate and rebuked those present for advocating peace while proposing murder! Berating them for betraying the ideals of the MAP proposal so easily. With her final denouncement, she span toward the theatre hall doors and demanded to be let in. For if the Colossus advocates were going to die, then someone from the MAP proposal should stand by their bloody grand ideals and die with them!

Her ploy to get to Angharad was foiled by the third spanner in our increasingly complicated evening, as Erskine stepped forward and spoke in a horribly familiar voice: “For those who do not know me, my name is Benedict Pemberton.”

The dwarven duplicant’s chest opened, revealing a ticking bomb, as the dragon-in-dwarf’s-clothing stated that while he really hated the Ob, there were some present who he hated more: Team BAD.

And then he pointed at us. Because of course he did.

Stupid Gradiax.

Chaos ensued: Ob officers panicking, Ella trying to disable the bomb, Han Jierre vanishing, John being very confused about who to shoot, the Ghost Council floating toward the theatre hall full of blissfully unaware Colossus supporters, and Nicodemus watching it all with calm interest.

Through the theatre hall doors, Angharad heard the muffled commotion and decided to take advantage of the calming effect in his room to coerce Catherine Romana into his Absurdist’s Web. An endeavour that was going fairly well until a scream from the foyer interrupted.

For in Lisandra’s haste to get to the theatre doors, she’d stood in the way of the Ghost Council, and the ghosts had no qualms about sucking out her life force as they drifted by. The oracle didn’t back down though, enduring the energy drain as well as Nicodemus’ irritatingly calm comments with only terse replies. Their one-sided conversation was interrupted by a new voice: one coming from Nicodemus’ own mouth. A voice much more akin to that we’d heard upon first meeting Nicodemus’ current form: Mr Mapple.

The brief usurpation of his body by its true owner was enough to convince Nicodemus to leave, and with a snap of his fingers he vanished. Leaving us, a bomb, some fleeing Ob officers, and a room full of perturbed Colossus supporters. That perturbation soon turned to panic as the Ghost Council drifted through the theatre hall doors and began murdering people. Fortunately Angharad had finished ensnaring Catherine in his web and Dimension Door’d out of the room, leaving the Colossus members to their fate.

Almost simultaneously, eight Ob officers in the foyer were going up in flames, courtesy of John’s Flame Strike. The flames were intense enough to turn them to ash, as John made good on our orders to capture or kill when the opportunity presented itself.

Ella was… less than pleased though, as she suddenly found herself disabling a bomb for the benefit of nearly no one: with most of those who’d been present now dead or fled.

Angharad turned to one of the few remaining Ob - the eladrin Cula - and said “Sorry about this” as he grappled her. The Srasama follower slapped him away with burning hands though and John proceeded to fill her with bullets, while a plucky Ob officer likewise shot at Lisandra.

Drained of energy and now minus some flesh - but bonus a bullet! - Lisandra took one look at her attacker and sent him fleeing from the room with a spell.

In the midst of the flames and gunshots and screams, Ella decided she wanted none of it. No more death. No more unnecessary suffering and hate. With a final, bitter comment, she teleported through the theatre hall’s doors and out of sight.

Upon making it to those doors a few moments later, Lisandra found no sign of her friend, only an invisible barrier - as evidenced by Alloquacious the halfling slamming into it on his way out. The oracle didn’t have eyes for him though: instead searching for Ella amongst the chaos of fallen corpses, fleeing Colossus members, and writhing ghosts. She finally spotted her friend in the grasping arms of the Ghost Council: a tiny, ghostly tiefling who only gave her a brief look before stepping into the Council’s embrace.

As she vanished, so did something in Lisandra. But there was no time to consider that. No space for grief. She gave Alloquacious some curt advice to seek a vent and left him to his fate, turning back to Angharad and John’s struggle with Cula.

The eladrin had shot them both with lightning, slapped Angharad with fire hands, and stabbed the kineticist a few times, but John’s bullets were finally wearing her down, and it was with contempt that she spat: “I would sooner die to the beasts of this world than you fiends!” before teleporting away on 0 health. Probably condemning herself to a lonely death by blood loss…

With the final combatant gone, the constables found themselves in a bubble of calm - not counting the screams from the Ghost Council’s hunt. When John and Angharad questioned Lisandra on Ella's whereabouts, the spirit medium simply replied: “Ella’s already left”.

John immediately understood the morbid implication, but it took Angharad a moment longer. And when it clicked, it was only Lisandra’s reminder that dying here would prevent taking revenge later that kept the Mystic from flinging himself into the theatre.

His scream of rage echoed alongside the panicked cries of the Obscurati as he turned away, abandoning the Colossus members to their fate: unwitting actors in a theatre of death, following the unknown script of their immortal leader.

Yet the stage Team BAD find themselves upon now seems darker still: as they step from the lights of the palace into the shadows of the Bleak Gate. A place inhabited by monsters, filled with ghosts, and haunted by grief.

Will they escape from this nightmare realm? Or find themselves joining its spectral denizens?

Find out next time, on Zeitgeist.

GM Notes

Ella died! The lede is buried in this recap, but she teleported into theatre hall to save Colossus members. The ghost council took no pleasure in destroying her. The party assumes the soul of Livia and Ella was sent to Nem, as per the spell used to implant their minds into their hosts. However, the council saw use in Ella, who was ideologically predisposed to the Ob's goals. When the many hands of the council dragged Ella's soul inwards, it was for safe keeping. As the possessor of Livia and a Pardwight graduate of law, she is uniquely equipped to challenge King Aodhan for the throne. She'll return in Adventure Nine, as leader of the ghost council.

Admittedly, the ghost council was pumped up a bit. I gave it energy drain, knowing the party had several ways to outright protect themselves against negative energy and energy drain. However, Ella acted too hastily and was punished harshly for it. Out of character, the player admitted to knowing they could have prepared and survived, but that's not what she thought Ella would do in such a dire situation. Before this session, I also talked to this player about Ella's ideological alignment with the Ob. She thought the main reason Ella wouldn't join the Ob is because she trusts her friend's judgement over her own. I wouldn't normally bring a PC back as an evil character, but I think my players will enjoy it and I think it makes a huge amount of narrative sense. I'm looking forward to bringing her back and hearing (damn virtual games) my player's reactions...

Also, RIP sexy Harry Potter and Gran Guiscard. The two Ob agents who shacked up at the convocation. They had one last embrace before being incinerated by the John's pillar of fire.

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Echolocation

Explorer
With Ella dead, I gave her player control of Vitus.

Session 80
Courtesy of Drift's player

Right from one chaotic bedlam to another… as we began our session not in the Bleak Gate surrounded by monsters, but in Ella’s family home watching her relatives squabble over dinner. Gran Clara set a place for an absent Ella, while Auntie Ana became increasingly exasperated with trying to serve Tinker pie. The engineer kept insisting that his piece be “smaller”, until Ana irritably informed him that any smaller and there’d be no slice at all! In an oddly calm voice, Tinker replied: “Now it’s as small as her.”

An invasion of chickens disrupted the scene and foiled Marcel’s attempts to question his brother-in-law, but through it all Tinker’s gaze remained fixed on the mantelpiece: where a small wooden glider - previously tied to Ella’s soul - sat slowly draining of magic. As Tinker watched, the last of its ethereal essence faded, and so too did the scene: cutting back to the scene of Team BAD stranded in the Bleak Gate.

Having exited the Ob palace they found themselves facing ghosts, guards and a hissing shadowlisk that seemed all too aware of their identities. Neither side had a chance to act though, before shattering glass heralded the arrival of a fifth Obscurati guard: this one plummeting from a second story window. A haloed figure followed them out, glowing with light as he jumped toward the falling guard and unleashed a vicious flurry of blows before slamming the guard into the courtyard below.

Not to be outdone, Angharad strode forward with all buffs blazing: showing off his scorched, elementally charged skin for all to see. Ghosts flew in, John’s bullets flew out, and combat was initiated.

The surprise Clergy entrant beelined for the shadowlisk: slamming his feet into it but having difficulty locating the creature’s flesh through its shrouding shadows. Meanwhile, Angharad’s short-lived attempt to 1-v-1 a ghost ended in possession, as the spirit seeped into his flesh and directed him to kill Leone, AKA Grappa. John summoned a swarm of dogs on the shadowlisk and Lisandra - seeing naughty word hit the fan - summoned magical protections to aid against both Angharad and the Obscurati.

Needless to say, things were not going well. The shadowlisk annihilated John’s hounds, Angharad slammed a fire blade into Grappa, and calls from the Ob guards to stand down were ignored as a ghost drained Grappa’s health and John shot Angharad unconscious. The ghost that had been possessing the kineticist slithered out and chased Grappa out of the room, and all the while Lisandra was desperately trying to keep people alive and destroy ghosts at the same time.

The shadowlisk entering the room was really just the cherry on top of the cake. Fortunately John’s expert marksmanship gunned it down before it could do much and Vitus crashed through a window to pummel one of the ghosts out of existence.

Between Lisandra’s mass cure spell, John healing Angharad awake, and Angharad stabbing the remaining ghost in the face, we suddenly found ourselves with only the four Obscurati guards to deal with. …Until four more arrived and pointed their guns at the other guards.

This confusion was compounded by the arrival of two more shadowlisks and their immediate execution by none other than Amielle Latimer and another set of Ob guards. The ghostly tiefling seemed unprerturbed by the infamous Team BAD’s presence and explained that she’d come to rescue the - clearly now very dead - Ob officers.

She followed up all of this with a calm comment to John: “Nice gun.”
“You should see my other one.”
“Oh, you toned it down for the evening’s affairs, did you?”

And thus, with the weirdest gunsmith flirting ever, we found ourselves out of immediate danger. Vitus Sigismund the godhand was awkwardly introduced and Amielle asked what the party’s plans were. Upon learning that we were trying to leave the plane, she suggested searching the lighthouse - all of the Ob’s most important magical items were kept there.

This discussion was briefly interrupted by a screaming man full of butter knives falling through a doorway with Alloquacious behind him and Angharad deciding to stuff a shadowlisk in a web.

Throughout the convention, I played Alloquacious as both jealous and murderous. Beyond Angharad, he was the only colossus faction member to survive, as the party pointed out a vent for him to escape through.

Eventually though, we politely refused Amielle’s offer of a guarded escort, accepted her other offer of a convenient distraction, and set out in search of the lighthouse - Vitus tagging along at Lisandra’s invitation. We hadn’t made it far before we found Cula’s body hanging from a tree; a dark fey lurking in the shadows beneath. It grinned at us and vanished, leaving Cula’s blade on the ground.

Before voting, the party overheard Vicemi ask Macbannin to check the island wards. He wanted to ensure no monsters interfered with tonight's affairs. Naturally, Macbannin sabotaged the wards instead. Knowing it's only a matter of time before he is found out, he will fight alongside the party once the council arrives.

Lisandra retrieved it, Vitus blessed John’s gun, and we finally wound our way around to the ocean side of the palace. Down by the beach a steamship was loading passengers, and Lisandra could still hear ghostly screams echoing from a rocky island, but we ignored all of that in favour of reaching the lighthouse as soon as possible. A quick opening of the door courtesy of Steelshaper, I mean Grappa, revealed four guards and a ghost waiting for us.

One of them swiftly raised the alarm, calling “They’re here!” and emergency anti-Team BAD measures were activated. These apparently involved Antonio the guard refusing to use a gun he didn’t know how to shoot as another guard scolded him profusely. While they were arguing, Lisandra instructed Grappa to bring down the elevators the guards were standing on and cast Serenity at Antonio and his companion. John then shot the revolver in Antonio’s hand for good measure.

The Ob built a small compartment inside the lighthouse walls, shielding by thin glass stating: "Break in case of Team BAD". The Ob guards cracked this glass, which triggered an alarm spell. It contains a revolver and a letter from it's creator, Vicemi. The unique six-chambered +1 unholy revolver is loaded with three slaying (human), distracting bullets (distracting), one slaying (tiefling) distracting bullet, one slaying (animal) bullet, and one slaying (magical animal) bullet. The last two bullets were designed for the druid's animal companion and Ella's familiar, respectively (though, Ella's familiar died in Book Three). For those that don't know, the distracting property makes spellcasting more difficult for the target struck by the bullet.

The letter reads:
To the unfortunate soul that happens upon this letter,

Please find encased this glass chamber uniquely commissioned weapons to combat the threat of Team BAD. Please distribute the revolver to the healthiest of your comrades. I have etched these bullets with sigils to disrupt the magics that sustain heroic physique and focus. Within the chambers are six bullets, one for each member of Team BAD and two for any accompanying animals. The white bullets are for humans, red for the tiefling, brown for the lion, and blue for the bird.

If the revolver chambers are emptied upon Team BAD, you may be lucky enough to succeed. Unfortunately, you cannot comfort yourself with statistics — it is unlikely you will survive to fire a second bullet.

I suggest fighting boldly. Otherwise, you will have the pleasure of answering to the council.

May your impending death grant you the mental clarity to maximise your utility,

Vicemi Terio,

Spectral Archmage,
Head of the Ghost Council

The guards on the second elevator weren’t spared their share of humiliation, as Grappa tipped their elevator out from under them and they fell 60 ft to the floor, landing wounded but alive. Meanwhile, the ghost in the centre of the lighthouse had drifted down to ground level and Angharad looked ready to stab it with an angry fire blade.

Will Angharad burn down the ghost and the lighthouse with it? Will Antonio ever get to shoot his special gun? And will Team BAD make it out of this alive? (Well… most of them.)

Find out next time, on Zeitgeist.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 81
Courtesy of yours truly

This session began with a bang. Several, actually. Antonio (which I now realise is the default I use for naming Chrysilliri men) desperately fired at the godhand, who lept onto the elevator with ease. The bullets skimmed past the agile monk, defending by both magics and might. Meanwhile, John dropped to his knee to fire his rifle, and the scene flashed back:

Slate’s summer sun glistens through the vast window that lines the eastern wall, tinted of course to obscure curious onlookers. Facing this window stands Nigel Price-Hill, the Viscount Inspector, who stares at his reflection sternly. In the reflection, a complex rifle sits atop a pine table. Then, Nigel sees the door behind him open, revealing a younger John. He tips his hat to the Viscount as he enters, though his eyes are immediately drawn to the rifle.

The Viscount Inspector speaks solemnly: “A gift for you, son. I am not playing favourites here. I consider this an investment as much as a sign of appreciation, I have great faith in you.” As John inspects the weapon, Nigel makes introductions: “A Mosin-Nagant M1891 Rifle. Advanced Drakrn technology. Mr Scoursoft had to retrieve it from storage, it’s been quite some time since it’s seen the light of day. I’ve been lead to believe it’s quite a reliable weapon. I do hope you find it to your liking.”

John thanks the Viscount Inspector, who explains the weapons origins:
“John, you know my so-called ‘claim to fame’, where I thwarted a dwarven cult hoping to resurrect a dragon? Yes, well, I didn’t approach the cult alone. Fate was fortunate to me, and me alone that day. Good constables, good people, John, fell that day. In fact, my partner of ten years was slain by this rifle. Worst, when he succumbed to the necromantic rituals of the cult, I had the unenviable position of sending his twisted soul to the Bleak Gate.” His gaze falls to the floor for a moment, before looking up at John. “I had one fear that day. You may think it fear worry for my life. No, I feared for the lives of those I swore to protect.

There may come a day where you are holding this rifle, and your trigger finger will falter. You may look around and find your allies have long left you and all odds are stacked against you. Remember, you may be the last bastion of hope before the doom of Risur. You’re a good man, John. I know you’ll in that dark time, you will do what needs to be done and keep the light of hope alive.”

Once the scene returned to the lighthouse, John immediately fired his rifle. The combat ended without friendly casualties, with Grappa telekinetically helping allies holding metal close distances. Snakes were summoned. Ob were punched. Lisandra used her healing energy to damage the council member. And Angharad cleaned up the litter by shoving knocked-out guards into the web. The party looted the storage for a few casks of lantern oil, some amulets to transition back to the Waking, and Vitus' possessions.

When the party reached the top floor of the lighthouse, Lissandra and John began discerning its function via spirit communion and engineering knowledge, respectively. Angharad shared with Vitus the Ob's ultimate goal, of which the Godhand did not agree with. The lighthouse was activated, with destination: The Waking. As the party solemnly sat waiting for five minutes to pass, Grappa tried apologising for bringing them all here, claiming he got caught up in the excitement and neglected the risks. He blames himself for Ella's death. Angharad, currently under the calm emotions spell, cautions Grappa to never bring this up again if he values his new body.

After four minutes, John spied an approaching force: three guards and a construct. Then, an altercation. One guard killed the other before taking his own life. The other guard's chest exploded with bugs. The construct failed, as a frenzied Alloquicious emerged from its insides (the party previous helped him escape the Collosus faction massacre).

Meanwhile, a fog began encompassing the lighthouse room. Emerging from blue wisps was the ghost council and their leader. As initiative was rolled, Reed Macbannin floated through the floor, standing between the party and the council. Smiling, he spoke to Vecimi: “I stand with my king and his agents, despite their horrible welcome to me earlier today. You may have shackled my soul but you won’t shackle my country.”

Vecimi simply responded that after all of the talks today, he'd prefer if the party and Reed died without speaking.

Some brief bickering between Reed and the party about their altercation earlier that day lead to an understanding. Reed sliced open his palm, bleeding a deep blue ectoplasm that helped the party defend against the council's wretched energy drain. Poisonous gas was summoned.

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Then, lightning was thrown by Vecimi. As it arced around the room, this turned out to be a tactical error. Lightning struck the control panel, dials began spinning wildly, and oil from other planes began mixing with the oil from The Waking to make strange effects. I rolled randomly each turn to see what Ob concoction affected combat for the round. Twice, I rolled "Menagerie", which staggered all undead in the area.

Macbann pulled out a ghostly pocket watch: “Colleagues, would you look at the time? We’re a little late for church.” The sound of distant church bells began to inexplicably toll as the Ghost Council turned corporeal: the mass of writhing ghosts turning into a mass of stitched together bodies. This provided an opportunity for the party to attack with their unenchanted weapons (they were worried the Ob would recognise their powerful signature weapons). When the council fell, Vecimi tried disintegrating Grappa by failed. Then, in a final act of self-sacrifice, Reed stabbed his own heart with a ghostly dagger and pointed to the ghoust council leader. The lighthouse's lanterns and windows shattered. As Reed and Vecimi departed for Nem, the old mayor asked the party to keep the Nettles safe, whereas the council leader simply stared with hate-filled eyes.

With the lighthouse lantern shattered, the party had worried their escape plan had failed. But as they looked around, it was clear their transition to The Waking was completed.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 82 - Some Downtime
Recap courtesy of Lisandra's player

Last episode of Zeitgeist began with a flashback. A wild, verdant forest beneath a fey-green sky, the backdrop to an interrupted game of chess from a pair of disgruntled cockatoos lamenting the ruckus of the surrounding events. A human boy trampled his way across the forest floor, a much younger Angharad, pursued by a clutch of viscous tooth faeries. In his desperation, the boy caught the edge of a rise, tumbling down the fall below into the midst of the Wild Hunt. Another interruption, this time causing the Huntsman’s son to lose his First Prey. In recompense, little Angharad was bound by vine to become bait for the next hunt.

As we transitioned back to the Waking, so did Team BAD, having recently evacuated the Bleak Gate with the help of Vitus, looking for a way to put this island behind them as soon as possible. Lisandra only had a Sending to the Roscommon to suggest as the group began to make their way down the dilapidated stairs of the Lighthouse to the shore below. The Druid had other plans, striking up a conversation with a local raven to get a quicker lay of the land, searching for a tree large enough to get them back to Flint in a hurry.

As the group followed their black-feathered guide, Vitus and Lisandra spoke in hushed tones of what had and would transpire. Putting two-and-two together in the wake of their escape, Vitus had guessed he was in the presence of the infamous Team BAD. He asked what the team would do, after going home and informing its leaders. Would they inform their people as well?

John tried to stay out of it, brushing the question off, but with a bit of encouragement from Lisandra decided that he believed being open would cause undue panic. The oracle didn’t necessarily disagree, but admitted Flint was in a delicate state, socially and politically, and conceded they’d likely debate the subject later–once returned to civilization.

The Godhand was curious about the future of the people the agents inhabited and Lisandra informed that they’d be held for interrogation, at least, and that her vessel at the very least, assuring that at least the vessel she held had a number of gruesome crimes under his belt, before turning the questioning back on Vitus and his future plans.

He informed her that he would return to Crisillyir and report his findings to the Clergy, and Family– for they were one and the same. He departed from the Obscurati wharf with a warning; there were good people in the Clergy, and they would always be welcomed, but to enter Crysillyir with care.

The Team followed suit as John opened the trunk of a nearby trees, and created a passageway back to Flint.

They arrived on the shore of their home, wracked with extreme nausea and dizziness as Grappa threw up into the sand. Not the usual accompaniment to John’s teleportation. After checking the engineer was alright (and apparently was more-than-so, after his first probably first exhilarating experience of teleportation), they were all eager to head back to HQ and check in with Delft.

A slightly more confusing affair, as their real bodies were still over in Drakr. Mirsk, to be exact. After greeting a befuddled, yet exceptionally polite, Maxwell. Lisandra informed him that Dame Lisandra, Sir John and Sir Angharad would like to speak with the Chief Inspector and calmly took a seat as the boys stared down the nervous guards while they waited.

Delft, while unimpressed with the ‘ambush’, but easy enough to assure of identities and ushered the team into his office to speak. A veteran, the man could easily tell by the grief-ridden exhaustion and the unusually deadpan calm on the Cipith’s face that Ella’s absence wasn’t because the gnome was busy elsewhere.

Lisandra explained. A mission success, technically, but Pemberton had gotten a Duplicant on the inside that blew their cover and naughty word hit the fan. Ella teleported off to a locked room to reduce casualties, and it had… well, been far less of a success. She confirmed that Ella’s body was still in Mirsk, but that she wouldn’t be returning to it. The Oracle’s professional veneer faltered and she held back tears in silence.

Delft congratulated them on making it back and extended his condolences, especially to Angharad who was experiencing his first personal loss on the job, and suggested that perhaps John, who had weathered the loss before, may be able to guide the team on how to process such matters.

Morbid silence filled the office before Delft broke it once more, to lament the loss and open up to the team over a glass of scotch about his experience with grief and moving forward. Angharad mumbled another incantation to calm his emotions and silence fell over the room once more.

When glasses were emptied, the team offered a more technical debrief of the mission and at its conclusion, were asked if they required time off before resuming duties. Though Angharad, quite honestly, admitted to intending a bender, John and Lisandra were both eager to keep busy.
A timeline was set. That night they would return to their bodies, be escorted back to Flint by Lauryn Cineburg and have a few days to attend to their affairs before the funeral. Delft informed the other constables and took care of Ella’s body, while Lisandra escorted Skeet into Grappa’s care, John sought to break the news to Millie and Angharad dragged Rhys and Pazamu out for a bender that wound the three of them in lock up the next morning.

Grappa will begin working to give Ella's sentient clockwork leg (Skeet) a whole body. The construct will likely make an appearance in the Battle for Flint in Book 13.

Delft paid a personal visit to Ella’s family to inform them of her death and return her body. Ella’s family sent messages to Team BAD: telling them they needed time to process and they wouldn’t see Team BAD until the funeral, but… thanking them for the roles they’d played in Ella’s life. The members of Team BAD were clearly dear to Ella and so they’d become dear to her family too. Tinker’s workshop stopped for the first time in months. Word of Ella’s death got out and the city of Flint was solemn during the days leading up to her funeral.

Angharad spent most of his time in the Cloudwood, getting high with fey - although he managed to find very few actual fey. He ended up spending most of his time with fellow Mystics, including the Old Stag. Angharad turned up at the RHC at some point - obviously high on fey pepper - to let the prisoners out of the web and dump the single shadowlisk corpse that he’d been shoved in there for the Battalion, then he disappeared again. At one point Kenna Vigilante managed to rope him into a publicity stunt for the Risuri-Beran joint martial school they’d been advocating for building in Flint. The school focuses on combining magical and martial techniques. Who knows if he was conscious enough to remember it, but the papers sure do.

With construction of the Dawn Nettle Children’s Home complete, and now under the care of Otis, Lisandra spent time checking in with her family. In the days to follow, she spent time with Avvakir, already late in breaking the news of Ella’s death but content to share and drink or two. She decided to return Oscan into the care of the Family, a gesture of friendship to Morgan as she caught up with the crime lord for coffee to keep a finger on the Family pulse. She also headed out to the Bosum Strand, to a place on the northern shore where she and Connor used to watch the sun set and count their earnings. She called out to the spirits of place, seeking answers to questions that gnawed at her. Though they weren’t certain of the state of Nicodemus, she did learn that the Ob is responsible for the local conspiracies causing divide in Flint between the Dockers and authorities. Someone still working for them, that Team BAD were yet to cross paths with. She learned her father was not yet suspicious of her deceptions, and that Ella’s spirit was at rest.

Ella’s state funeral was a massive turnout. The procession passed RHC HQ, where most of the RHC staff joined - leaving behind just a skeleton crew to man the headquarters. Conrad Keppler and Nathan Jierre attended, with Nathan being allowed a rare exception to his house arrest. His cousin Luc, and the oracle Ottavia were also allowed out of their house arrest for the funeral.

The most surprising guest made a late entrance as the eulogies were concluding, as King Aodhan and Harkover Lee appeared with an unexpected announcement; he commended Ella’s service and her strength of character, before drawing his sword above her still body… and awarding her with the station of nobility– a rare honor in Flint, as new nobility requires the current nobility to unanimously agree. The crowd cheered as the King stepped down, and the last speaker took the stage; Pete, who ended the event with a grand retelling of Ella’s adventures.

The King offered his personal condolences when the service ended, and reminded the team to speak with Delft if they required time off–his eyes landing heavily on the very-obviously-high Anghard. He apologized that he would not be able to attend the family’s private event to lay Ella at her final resting place, and urged the Team to do so in his wake. With a small note of reservation, Lisandra assured him they would, and Minster Lee silently cast a spell on Angharad, amplifying his high, before following the King with a subtle wink.

Ella’s body was laid to rest in a grave at her family home, in a grave marked by a wooden glider she had made with her Father many years ago. WIth the body returned to the earth, John infused the wooden toy with druidic magic, reforming the wood into a tree– and like mother, like daughter, a grand willow marked the final resting place of Lady Eleanora Cassia Arista Demetriou, Royal Constable, Knight and humble protector of Flint.

Ella's nobility will come back to haunt Aodhan, in many senses of the word. In Adventure Nine, Ella will use her nobility to challenge King Aodhan for his crown.

With their affairs in order, stipends spent and Angharad returned to a state of relatively functional intoxication, Team BAD prepared for a briefing on their next mission. Delft has arranged for Lauryn Cineburg to transport them to the Roscommon, still docked in Vendricce, to brief the team away from ‘prying eyes and ears’, though Lisandra got the sense he was more concerned with seeing the team off personally, before sending them out on another dangerous job.

Teleportation again was sickening, with Lisandra overcome by nausea and Delft emptying breakfast pasties over the port bough. The constables retired to their rooms to unload their gear, but the Cipith found something unexpected waiting in his. He opened the glyph-stained door to find a woman sitting on the end of his bed, twirling a peacock feather in her fingers that marked her a servant of the Unseen Court. She looked up and smiled, “Angharad Cipith, the Summer’s Subducted.. Yer a bloody hard man te find!”

GM Notes: The Flint Times, courtesy of the Google Drive template by @Meigeall. Unfortunately, I botched season of Frank Perlo's wedding, it should be Winter (due to occur when the Ob ambush King Aodhan in Adventure Nine).

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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 83
GM Recap

Some notes before I begin. I ran Adventure Eight with a focus on grief and transformation. To this end, we began this session with another flashback for the players.

We see a terrified Angharad, bundled in vines, bouncing on the side of a sturdy horse. Reaching down to him is the hand of a young fey, Riffian, offering cured jerky. The Cipith quickly snatches it, to which the huntmaster commands “Do not feed him son, he must be desperate for our hunt”. Then, the blare of a horn, and we zoom out, first to see the huntmaster and his son Riffian riding the same horse, and then to see the scope of the hunt, a pack of horse-riding fey roar with warcries and drums. The environment of the scene flickers, but the hunt remains the same, with fields of storms, hail, blaring sun, and autumn leaves, the season’s cycle for three years before the screen fades. Superimposed on this, we hear the screams of a young Angharad, the roars of impossible beasts, and the sounds of arrows darting through the air. Then darkness.

A night like no other, pitch black. A blast of gunfire briefly illuminates a terrified, panting Angharad trying desperately to untangle himself from the vines. He has aged a couple of years older than we last saw him. Darkness again. The panicked neigh of horses, bullets tearing through blood. Swords clang. A sniper’s shot. Then a thud. The darkness is lifted again briefly to reveal Angharad, who is now trying to escape the corpse of a fey who has landed atop him. The lifeless body, face down in the dirt, has spoiled his once-majestic, silvered antlered helm with blood streaming from his heart. Angharad manages to slither out, gets to his feet, and halts immediately. Time slows as we see the centre of the Cipith’s attention, a man dressed in full black except for a silver bookpin brooch raises a weapon the child has never seen—a shotgun. He fires, but a force throws Angharad out of the way. Riffian, the huntmaster’s son, tackles Angharad to the ground. Riffian forces a mushroom into Angharad’s mouth: “Chew Cipith. Ya never deserved this fate” The Cipith chews desperately, as a kaleidoscope of colours swirl around him, transforming his surroundings to a once-familiar forest, lit by a pale green sky

It's been a year since that night, and Riffian has visited every noon since. Today, he brings an antlered beast. He wears a silvered helm of antlers of his father, it sits awkwardly on his young head. “Ya recognise this one, Cipith? This was meant to be my first kill. But us meeting, it was destiny, you know? I’m glad this boy got to fatten up. He’ll make a good lunch.” Riffian draws his knife, and begins to gut the strange deer. “I’m glad we met, Angharad, you make a good huntmaster. Pa wasted your talents hurling ya as bait. But then, maybe that’s why ya so good at anticipating the cowardice of animals, eh?” Angharad frowns a little, to which the now blood-covered Riffian laughs “Don’t take it personally Cipith” he removes two livers, “We all have our…” Riffian’s smile fades, as he reaches into the deer and yanks out a large, peacock feather “…our weaknesses.” Angharad begins to panic, his hunting friend and protector from the feywilds has been summoned by the Court. Riffian takes off his helm, holds it in two hands, and turns it to its front. “Sorry pa. I know ya wanted to be up there with them Unseen Lords, but I’m not too interested in all of that. They always be poking their fingers where they don’t belong.” “Well, naughty word this.” Riffian tucks the peacock feather behind his ear. “Those unseen bastards can wait, we’re having lunch.
Roughly twenty years ago, Riffian's father, leader of the Great Hunt, discovered the ultimate beast: an Ob construct. The Hunt tracked constructs down, with Riffian's father on the cusp of discovering the Ob's affairs at Cauldron Hill. Riffian's father hoped this would be the kill that earned him a seat at the Unseen Court. Unfortunately, Kasvarina used the Flint mystics and Ob gunslingers to ambush the Hunt and slaughtered their leader. The Lost Arc of Rieda will reveal this perspective of the shootout later in the adventure.

After the flashback, we returned to Angharad's chambers aboard the Roscommon. The woman introduced herself as Naomi Osborne, sent by the Unseen Court to guard the kineticist. See below for Naomi's full, and more complex, backstory.

Naomi is actually a widow kitsune named Kin Miura, who was previously married to a human RHC constable named Naomi Osborne.

The Miura's have a long history of service to the Unseen Court. A family of kitsune blessed (or some say cursed) with black fur and a reputation as creatures of ill omen: a clan of slinking, shapeshifting spies and assassins. The shadows of the Unseen. The fangs in the dark… Or so the rumours go. In reality, the services the Miura's perform are much more varied, although their abilities do lend themselves to covert work.

Rin never had much interest in that side of things though, despite a rare knack for taking on others' appearances. She was content doing bodyguard work for minor fey dignitaries visiting the Waking, and occasionally more mundane individuals when the Court didn’t require her services. Something about the simplicity of the mortal world appealed to her: a place where a shapeshifter in human form could go unremarked. No sideways looks of mistrust - or at least no more than the average stranger - and no obligations other than her current job.

Until a ruby-eyed human started sniffing around Rin's latest protectee like a hound on the hunt: Naomi Osborne, an undercover constable from Bole's RHC and the daughter of a wealthy family of Drakran mages and Risuri industrialists. Naomi charmed her way into the company of Rin’s charge for an evening at the theatre and everything went smoothly until Naomi couldn’t hold back her disgust at the terrible acting any more. (It offended her professional pride as an undercover agent.) Her target became rather miffed and replied that if she wasn’t enjoying the entertainment, then perhaps she should leave so everyone else could? Rin escorted Naomi out before the fey could take more serious offence.

The RHC agent immediately turned her charms on the bodyguard, seeking an alternate source of information, and Rin returned the attention: determined to learn the reason behind Naomi’s interest. Their mutual prying brought them closer than either intended, and when Rin's charge returned to the Dreaming and Naomi's investigation led elsewhere, neither of them was left empty handed: as the engagement rings eighteen months later proved.

Another seven months and they were wed - a low-key affair - and happy together, despite their demanding (and occasionally conflicting) careers. Or as happy as a fox in human form and a rogue who liked to pull people’s tails could be… And then almost a year later, "Till death do us part" became more than words.

…Although an actual parting might have been kinder.

Rin returned home one night to find her wife dead with a witchoil-coated blade in her chest. Shocked and horrified, she reached out a trembling hand to touch the hilt, and as soon as she did she could feel her wife's terror. Hear it. Almost sense her own life force pouring out of her as Naomi's had: pouring into the blade, trapped forever in unforgiving steel. In her mind Rin experienced Naomi's last moments: saw her injured attacker stumble out of the room and flee.

Reeling back from the connection, Rin spotted the blood trail and feral anger took hold. Tracking the murderer was easy - he hadn't made it far - but his last words made it clear that he was only a pawn: a piece in someone else's game. Vengeance unsatisfied, Rin found herself with two dead bodies and a ghost-infused blade. Eventually she brought herself to touch it again and in her presence Naomi's frantic soul calmed. Between them they devised a desperate plan: as a minor agent of the Unseen Court, Rin's reach in the Waking was limited, but as Naomi her resources would be greater. And as Naomi, there was a chance that whoever orchestrated the attack might try again - having seemingly failed the first time - and this time they could both be ready.

A favour from the fey altered Naomi's corpse to look like Rin's (probably something akin to this spell) and Rin's shapeshifting took care of the rest. Disguise in place, she reported herself dead. The initial uproar and investigation led nowhere useful: the killer was dead and no concrete evidence was found to support Naomi's insistence that someone else had been involved, despite the presence of witchoil. Eventually the case was closed - ruled as a personal grudge or break-in gone wrong - and it was tactfully suggested that Naomi might benefit from focusing on something else; with especially concerned glances directed at the murderer’s weapon she'd appropriated from evidence and taken to wearing.

With their RHC leads dead and the expected attack not forthcoming, "Naomi" requested a transfer: to a position as liaison between the Unseen Court and RHC. From the RHC's perspective, her former wife's ties to the Court made Naomi an ideal candidate for the position - with the additional hope that it might give her space to work through her loss. And from Rin's perspective, it gave her the perfect excuse to continue associating with her fey patrons while maintaining the guise of being Naomi.

Rin's fey contacts proved unable or unwilling to offer meaningful insight though, and her new position's distance from regular RHC affairs stymied further investigation on that front. All Rin and Naomi knew was that the murderer had had access to witchoil and that divinations seemed useless in identifying the true culprit/s. Facts that have them contemplating the newly infamous Obscurati with increasing suspicion…

And now, three seasons after Naomi’s death, the Court needs someone to keep an eye on one of their most volatile assets: the fire kineticist Sir Angharad Cipith. An individual that the Seen of the Unseen, Asrabey Varal, also has an interest in, and whom Rin has had an encounter with previously… For when Angharad escaped from the Dreaming, it was Rin - acting on the orders of Thisraldion - who helped him. To Rin's knowledge, the fey have no particular plan for Angharad… but what mortal mind can truly comprehend the Court's intentions?

As the conversation wrapped up and Naomi went to leave the cabin, a bell sounded from above deck: signalling an alert. Wisps of smoke began drifting under the cabin doors. Naomi cracked open the door to find the smoke thicker in the corridor: grey, ashy smoke. John and Lisandra exited their cabins and magically identified the smoke as a large Obscuring Mist. Naomi gave a brief, blase introduction and strode off into the smoke, subtly casting spells on herself as she went. The constables soon followed.

Atop the deck, the Roscommon's gnome crew shouted from the shadows:
“Lookout Lingenhall, can you spot anything from the crow’s nest? It’s all smoke down here!”
“Four ships! 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The smoke bellows from a source about 2 o’ clock, quarter of a mile out, it’s moving close.”
Delft: “Why aren’t we moving? Tell me why we aren’t moving!”
Glittergem: “Lay day, Inspector. The anchor is still being pulled.”
Cynerburg: “Not hazardous, just obscures vision, Inspector. Strange, also traces of the Bleak Gate…”
Delft: “We’re moving now. Move this ship, Captain Maekkelferce! We’re sitting ducks.”
“Aye Inspector” a thud shakes the ship “I can’t move her, something is tugging starboard, someone check. Miss Roscommon, would you mind teleporting?”

The teleportation fails, for the thud was caused by Lya's Lament, a golden-horned submarine latching itself onto the vessel. Another vessel rams the opposite side of the ship as attackers board. A man swiftly scales the Roscommon from the submarine with a long, scorpion whip. It's an Ob ambush.

Delft quickly checks whatever surroundings he can through the smoke. Naomi introduces herself as a constable from Bole.
Delft scolded Naomi for worrying the Bole Chief Inspector: “Bloody hell, you should have notified them if you were going on leave!”
Naomi: “Look if they can’t find out where I went themselves… not the best constables.”

In combat, Delft drew his sword cane: “I’ll skinny dip with She Who Writhes before I let another one of you die!” He barked orders at the constables, acting as inspire courage (Delft is a rogue/examplar brawler). Lauryn threw a delayed fireball at the onboarding enemies before teleporting to the vessel of the large ship that rammed them. She returns moments later, after sabotaging their boiler. During this time, the large ship point-blank fires their cannons into the Roscommon, tripping up friend and foe aboard with the shuddering impact. Using a planar lantern, the two other ships at a distance attempt to burn the Roscommon and its crew with spotlights.

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Lissandra threw some spells, Naomi and Angharad closed the distance, whereas John provided covering fire. Eventually, Team BAD killed enough of the Ob that the captain of the large vessel, a haughty naughty word-talking dwarven captain named Fulstov boarded with his cannon- and anchor-wielding ice giant. An ice giant that was promptly shrunk by John's mad shootist shrink ray. The captain returned fire by shooting a grappling hook from his steam-powered gauntlet, grappling Naomi and drawing him in for the kill. Angharad used an ability granted by the Ash Wolf to transfer 'conditions' from allies to himself, so he supernaturally remove the spike from Naomi’s flesh and implant it in his own. Naomi swore: “Bloody hell… I think ye’ve got the wrong idea about our relationship!” In ‘retaliation’, she cast Displacement on Angharad. Fulstov's ship began to retreat once its boiler exploded, and once his ice giant perished, he attempt to escape by swimming. He could was no match for the fire-jetting kineticist. When Angharad returned to the Roscommon with Fulstov, he had been fatally wounded by a fire blade delivered underwater. Lya's Lament retreated, leaving Team BAD with a few arrested Ob. The ships began to fade out of The Waking, presumably returning to the Bleak Gate.

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A smol giant

Delft ordered the Roscommon crew to secure the prisoners, as he had a briefing to deliver to Team BAD. In lieu of a meeting room, the Inspector ordered everyone to a bedchamber.

Naomi: “Invited to yer bedchambers on the first meetin’, sir? Gosh. They do things differently in Flint, I see.”
Delft: “Yes, like doing our jobs.”

Naomi headed belowdecks while the others followed more slowly.

Lisandra to Angharad: “Not a friend of yours, I take it?”
Angharad: “One thinks, more of a handler from the Court.”
Lisandra: “Earned yourself a legit babysitter, I see. Impressive.”
“Only if she can keep up. If she interferes with one’s plans later on… people burn.”
“And what plans are those?”
(Angharad gave a decidedly not-nice smile) “Well there’s a spot open on the Court.”

Once everyone was snugly packed together in a bedchamber, Delft gave the party their next mission: find Kasvarina Varal and extract intelligence. Naomi has been in touch with Asrabey, who has requested she find Angharad and convince him to come meet Kasvarina, so she informs everyone of Kasvarina's location. Lauryn gave an overview of Elfaivar. John asked Cyneburg what was happening with teleportating, and she responded that she genuinely doesn't know. But she's sure it's something Team BAD could fix.

After spitting on the ship for good luck, Delft teleports out, worried that this might be the last time he sees his constables. The party make landfall and teleport via trees to a location close to Rumah Terakir. The Roscommon sails to Sawyer for repairs.

Angharad kept one of the +1 human-bane rapiers from the attack and after Delft was gone handed it to Naomi and told her to stab herself. The Cipith was suspicious of her red eyes indicating something inhuman and Naomi informed him he was right - partly. Half of her family is from Drakr and have demonic influences, although they are still human. The explanation proved sufficient to avoid a stabbing.

After the teleportation, Naomi felt nauseous and leaned on a tree. Angharad wood shaped the tree to entangle her in its branches in a kind of hug. She was unimpressed. He eventually instructed the tree to let her go after openly laughing at her struggles.

Angharad to Lisandra, as Naomi stalked off: “This One was never that bad, right?”
Lisandra: “Darling, you still are. It just grew on us over time.”

Looking around, Angharad and John spotted a massive footprint - tens of feet across - impressed into the ground.


John saw a druidic sign, containing directions to some kind of celebration nearby. Perhaps a wedding? Naomi was quiet at this. John suggested we go pay our respects and Lisandra agreed that making friends couldn’t go astray.

The party met a mad druid who was marrying a woman made of mud. Angharad officiated the wedding in the name of the Ash Wolf. Why did I as a GM do this? It was to give a bit of flavour to the maddening, Dreaming distortions around Sentosa.

After leaving the wedding, Angharad remarked that we needed to meet better druids. Pazamu and John were okay but the underwater druid off the coast of Ber and this one…
Angharad: “One was just being nice by saying you’re interesting, John. You’re actually kind of boring sometimes.”
John quipped back and grinned, unoffended.

En ruite for the ruins, the constables came upon a Dreaming-manifested cottage with the door ajar. Examining the individual parts from afar with a critical eye, Naomi detected no traps or signs of magic. It was only after getting close enough for Detect magic and seeing the entirety of the place past the jungle vegetation that she realised there was something terribly wrong about it…

It looked exactly like Naomi and Rin’s home in Bole.

Same flower filled garden surrounding it - completely out of place in the jungles of Elfaivair. Same architecture and paint job. Same dark splashes of witchoil and blood as that horrible night…

Upon realising that, Naomi froze. She scarcely noticed the questions of her fellow constables… Barely responded to their attempts to snap her out of it. She almost stayed still long enough for Lisandra to give into the temptation to cast Detect Thoughts to figure out what was happening. Then Naomi started toward the cottage. Lisandra and Angharad followed while John hung back.

As Naomi swung the door fully open, she was met with a horribly familiar scene: blood, witchoil, and a long-dead woman tied to a chair in the middle of the room—Naomi.

Unique loot

From Fulstov, the party got some neat technological loot:

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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 84 & 85
GM Recap, courtesy of Rin's player's exceptional notes

Seeing two Naomis, Angharad immediately moved forward and manifested a flame blade.

As she stared at Naomi’s body and the sword in it, Rin realised that she could no longer sense Naomi’s presence in her mind. She darted forward, reaching for the sword embedded in Naomi’s corpse. Angharad tensed, but Lisandra held up a hand to stop him as the living Naomi’s entire posture relaxed as soon as she touched the weapon, obvious relief on her face as she felt her wife’s consciousness again.

Lisandra demanded answers about “what the bloody hell” was going on and Rin let her disguise fall away, revealing her true kitsune form. Angharad barely refrained from stabbing her.

Amongst much confusion, the fox woman revealed that she was Rin Miura, Naomi’s wife, and that Naomi was dead - if not exactly gone. Rin demonstrated how the blade in her hand transitioned between steel and witchoil before vanishing into her mind. Witchoil with a single white mote of light within it: Naomi’s soul.

Lisandra questioned Rin/Naomi’s loyalty: was she there for a personal vendetta, or was she telling the truth when she said she’d been sent to guard Angharad? The kitsune replied both: one purpose didn’t override the other. The oracle then asked whether she could be trusted to keep her cool around the Ob, and Rin replied that she had some self-control but Naomi…? Questionable.

Once the questions had died down, Rin had some of her own: namely about the Ob and their use of witchoil and undead. Lisandra admitted that while there are souls who serve the Ob, the souls trapped in witchoil by the Ob typically only have one purpose: being burned. Rin’s fur bristled.

John was called into the cottage and introduced. His initial reflex of shooting the humanoid fox standing beside a dead Naomi was quelled by Lisandra, and a tentative truce was reached. John mentioned that he’d spotted signs of Rumah Terakir nearby: namely the rather large arm of an ancient statue washed up on a nearby riverbank. The party eventually decided to investigate that and continue the mission rather than standing around staring at each other. The cottage faded from reality, having been only a psychic manifestation brought forth by the Dreaming.

Rin shapeshifted back into Naomi’s form (her most commonly used form - even in the Dreaming it’s what she uses; the fey know that Rin and Naomi are one and the same now).

The party advanced on the ancient ruins of the Eladrin city. Asrabey and Kasvarina are in an eladrin enclave: a demiplane of sorts located somewhere in the ruins, but the party were unsure where. Lisandra suggested scouting. Naomi volunteered but Angharad immediately vetoed the idea. John went instead, turning into a small native bird. No immediate signs of danger, but very large footprints all over the place and small signs of smoke came from the brush in the north. Strangely, nature seemed to respect the boundaries of old, refusing to venture into the ruins (unlike the picture below which I used to set the scene).

08_ramar.jpg


Once John had reported back, Naomi enquired how Team BAD usually went about things - she was used to solo missions, not teamwork. Lisandra replied that they generally tried the stealthy approach first and then burned everything to the ground when naughty word hit the fan. Naomi commented: “Not so different from solo missions then.”

The party opted for a stealthy approach:
  • John as a nondescript bird
  • Angharad invisible thanks to Naomi’s spell
  • Lisandra relying on her Stealthiness and an illusionary clothing change to blend in with the surroundings more
  • Naomi in fox form
Angharad was very unimpressed by Naomi’s further evidence of shapeshifting. Angharad interested in seeking out the demiplane detected planar energy: faint, untraceable scent of the Dreaming in the area; very strong Dreaming scent on Naomi.

Despite their GM narrating terribly exciting ruins and temples, the party had no interest in taking a leisurely holiday—they were here for business. Instead, Team BAD approached the northern source of smoke peacefully. As they neared, they spied a flicker of fire through the trees. Drifting sound of voices. The scent of the Dreaming getting slightly stronger as they approached. Angharad stepped on some twigs to signal their presence. A Danoran voice immediately snaps to attention: “What was that? I thought your patrol came back empty?”

A man with a rifle in his hands appeared before Team BAD. Angharad yelled things at him in Elven. The man, ignoring the Cipith, bellowed out: “Four! There’s four here!” As the armed man questioned the constables, Angharad spoke the same questions back, mimicking him. The man turns back to the forrest, yelling: “Professor Ormand! I think this man is mad!” The so-called professor approached, well-dressed with vials adorning his belt. Angharad smelt the scent of the Dreaming coming from the vials.

Lisandra smoothed things over. She explained they were exploring the ruins. Lisandra went to shake the professor’s hand but caught the glimmer of a spell and jerked back. Muted booms from the left and right that John recognised as the sounds of experimental mortars firing at the Risuri. The sound of mortars was enough for John to pull out his gun and blast the professor to bits. The gunmen panicked, one tripping through a ruined arch and triggering the eladrin lion to enter The Waking. Team BAD had no problem taking down the lion, with Angharad tanking many heads.

In the arch, the party spied the silhouettes of two arguing figures, shadowed by a small army.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
A Flashback: Rin and Naomi's Honeymoon

Some context


Rin's player and I had some spare time on night and I ran an impromptu one-shot. I used it as an opportunity to flesh out Rin and Naomi and their relationship. And, as a GM bonus, it allowed me to flesh out Drakr (I love Zeitgeist dwarves). I ran the freely-available adventure, No God But Dissolution, from the pen of Edward Lockhart and Michael Prescott. I themed the adventure to concern the hideout of a dead Dwarven cult. Here is an introduction, adapted from the original material:

Long before the fall of Srasama, was the death of She-of-Dissolution. Her followers, however, endured.

For thousands of years, The Noble Order of Non-Extance fulfilled their terrible duties, and interred each god that died, beginning with their own. This complex is but one of many interment sites throughout the wicked world. Of course, no one knows any of this. The Noble Order kept no records and followed its god into nothingness.

All would have been happily disremembered if some wretch hadn’t stumbled upon the door, deep within a lifeless Drakran wasteland. Surprisingly, she was smart enough to sell its location to an eccentric Risuri quatermaster, who handed it over to a Royal Homeland Constable as a wedding gift.

And so began Rin and Naomi's honeymoon.

This is one of the few adventures where Naomi is alive. In the current events of the campaign, Rin carries and wields her spirit.

Some content

One of Rin and Naomi’s more intriguing wedding gifts was given by Uncle Ivan: a map to what he informed them would be their "honeymoon destination". A place in Drakr.

Intrigued, Rin and Naomi decided to follow it. They got to Drakr via some RHC teleportation and followed the map to find an ancient iron door wedged into a mountainside. Written on the door in Dwarven: “Tomb to She-of-Dissolution”. And below that: “The Noble Order of Non-Extance”. Symbol below the words depicting brain matter and intestines entwined.

The door was clearly old but untrapped and unlocked. Rather difficult to open but Rin managed to get it open after a few minutes. Found a chamber containing a bridge across a supernaturally dark chasm leading to a corridor opposite.

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The light of Naomi’s badge and Rin’s Light spell couldn’t penetrate the darkness of the pit, from which whispers emanated. Naomi stepped up to the edge and listened to the whispers, trying to discern some meaning. Rin tried to pull her back when she’d been standing there too long but the rogue shushed her. In Naomi’s ears the whispers gradually blended into a song of entropy and destruction. After a few minutes Naomi realised that these were the last whispers and memories of She-of-Dissolution, and as they finally faded they imparted esoteric knowledge to her. Namely how to cast Disintegrate once per day, with the caveat that Naomi must cast it before the end of the day and must use it in the most destructive way possible.

Naomi, delighted with her first taste of true magic after a lifetime of coming in second to her Drakran mage relatives, refrained from telling Rin what had happened.

They crossed the bridge without incident and ventured down the tunnel to find several dead ends littered with bones - mostly dwarven, some human. Eventually found a door leading to a large, circular chamber. Stairs leading down to a porcelain mask on the wall that constantly wept liquid. Large canopic jar in the centre, sealed with gold. Faded silk curtains off to the side, hiding two chairs and a table set with eating implements and a teapot.

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Naomi skipped down the stairs and tasted the tears from the mask. They weren’t salty - didn’t taste like anything at all, in fact. But as soon as she tasted them she began to feel incredibly lethargic and melancholic.

Rin facepalmed and told Naomi to stay while she checked the rest of the room. Potent Abjuration aura on the canopic jar: Rin sensed that the magic was designed to keep something suppressed and decided to leave it the hell alone. Meanwhile Naomi sat on the floor and silently pondered whether to disintegrate the jar (she did not).

Locked wooden doors at the top of stairs to the northwest. Picture of a cast shadow above the doors.

Balcony to the southwest overlooking a gladiatorial arena, with stairs leading down under the balcony through an arch marked with a fist. Rin decided not to go down there.

Teapot on the table behind the silk chairs contained remnants of ancient tea. Did not drink it.

Rin managed to convince Naomi to unlock the locked doors. Led to an oddly shaped room with a polished sphere of mirrored silver in the centre. The sphere reflected paintings of trees on the walls but also seemed to draw viewers in so that they felt they were standing in a soothing forest. The odd effect removed Naomi’s lethargy curse from drinking the tears.

Spotted a floating humanoid silhouette in the reflection and spun around to see a shadowed figure: a dwarven ghost who stopped nearby. Rin put herself between Naomi and the ghost. The dwarf’s ghostly face was etched with what seemed like centuries of tears, eroding his long-lost skin. He looked at Naomi and Rin solemnly for a long while before eventually speaking: “Hello.”
Naomi asked his name. It took him a while to answer: “Ruldoph Yakimov, part of the Noble Order of Non-Extance.”

He explained that for thousands of years the order had tended to this tomb of their dead god, She-Of-Dissolution. Each chamber reflects the part of her body that they buried there. The noble order fulfilled their duty and built the tomb to be forgotten, keeping no records of the place or their duty there. All with a single goal: to follow their god into nothingness. This ghost still wanders the world, so clearly his goal was unsuccessful. He wishes peace and release to Nem to meet judgement and a final oblivion.

Rudolph persists in death because of a terrible crime he committed in life, one that he must repent for; the worst thing anyone of his order could do: he fell in love.

His lover’s name he dared not remember, but he said that there’s one aspect of her that persists: a pendant, made from two pieces, both keys. Hers is in the tomb of She-of-Green-Entropy. His is in his bedchambers to the west. Find them and connect them, then destroy the combined pendant to erase the last mark of his love and allow his soul to find oblivion. Rin queried whether forsaking his love was what he really wanted, but Rudolph was adamant.

Upon questioning, Rudolph revealed that the most dastardly foes exist in the tomb of She-of-Dying-Strength: the gladiatorial arena looking place.

Found the bedchambers and a storage room. Chest in the storage room contained 38 silver coins and a key pendant. Naomi attempted to sneakily hide the coins on her person and then showed the pendant to Rin.

Examined the desk in the bedroom, with a diary sitting on top of it. Naomi read the diary. Dated 253 A.O.V. It documented Rudolph’s journey through the order. He heard mention of a god who killed herself and ventured here to discover more, joining the order. He began to develop feelings for someone else in the order and an incredibly secretive love slowly blossomed between them. His lover, torn between her love for him and her desire to serve the order, eventually took her own life in the tomb of She-of-Green-Entropy.

Rudolph, too terrified to even attend to his lover’s body and one of the last remaining people within the cult, succumbed to despair himself and decided to brew a tea made of the tears of melancholy and kill himself.

Proceeded to the tomb of She-of-Green-Entropy. Heart entwined with plantlife etched over the double doors. Within, a small tree flourished in a dank, suffocating hall. A mound of rubble and wet earth glowed faintly green. Part of a skeleton embedded in the outer bark of the tree - from the skeleton’s neck hangs a key partly consumed by bark.

As soon as Rin and Naomi stepped inside, magic sparked and swirled over the interior and the room began to fade and succumb to oblivion. Rin was at a loss as to what to do, but Naomi came up with the wild hunch that in order to combat the malfunctioning magical wards of an order so opposed to mortal attachments, she and Rin ought to display some attachments of their own. Naturally that meant planting a kiss on her wife’s lips and reminding her of their wedding day. The room briefly flickered into stability as she did so.

Rin, catching on, spoke about how she almost bit Naomi’s nose off when she first realised Naomi was a constable snooping around her protectee and not just some nosy reporter or wannabe lover. Naomi replied that Rin couldn’t hurt her if she tried - Naomi trained at the famous Battalion military academy in Flint, and wins all their sparring matches besides. Rin rebutted that she only let Naomi win because she’d never hear the end of it otherwise. It turned to talk of family - Naomi’s eccentric relatives and Rin’s scary grandmother - and possible alternative honeymoon/holiday destinations, and by the time they’d finished bickering the room had mostly stabilised.

The two dashed over to the tree and pried the key pendant free before the room could try to dissolve again.

Returned the two pendants to Rudolph. He joined the keys together into a single pendant. Naomi volunteered to destroy it with her disintegrate ability but Rudolph desperately snatched it out of the way at the last moment. “I heard your stories. Maybe after three centuries of waiting, I’ve acted too hastily. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that I loved her.”

The dwarf’s ghost faded as he embraced his love rather than rejecting it for the order’s goal of dissolution, and vanished into the afterlife, finally free.

The chamber (the tomb of She-of-Calm-Knowledge) shook as the patch of floor Naomi had hit with disintegrate instead of the pendant began to disintegrate further, and Rin and Naomi fled out of the room and the temple-tomb entirely. Back in the snows outside, they discussed where else to go for their honeymoon as they headed back towards civilisation.

As a memento of their honeymoon, Rin carries Rudolph's Diary and the Keys to Rudolph’s Heart

A journal dating from 253 A.O.V., written in Dwarven and detailing the involvement of one Ruldoph Yakimov in the Noble Order of Non-Extance: a group in Drakr dedicated to the dwarven goddess, She-of-Dissolution, who succeeded at the impossible by killing herself. The members of the order built a tomb for their goddess in an inhospitable Drakran mountainside and enshrined each part of her body within a different chamber. They then devoted themselves to tending the shrine until they could forsake their own mortal attachments and follow her into oblivion.

The diary describes Rudolph's discovery of the order, initiation into their ranks, and subsequent secret love affair with one of the female members. Eventually, torn between their love and her devotion to the order's ideals, Rudolph's lover killed herself. Terrified of what he'd caused and the implications for his own faith, Rudolph couldn't even bring himself to deal with her remains. Instead he brewed a tea made from the goddess' cursed melancholic tears and followed his lover into the afterlife.

Or so the plans written in his last diary entry predicted...

A few fresher pieces of paper - written in a different hand - are slipped into the back of the diary. They recount Rin and Naomi's meeting with Rudolph's ghost in 500 A.O.V.

Having followed a map given to them by one of their wedding guests, Rin and Naomi found the tomb on the second day of their honeymoon. They met Rudolph's ghost in one of the chambers and agreed to find the matched pendants owned by him and his lover. The dead dwarf believed that destroying the pendants would allow him to properly embrace his faith and finally forsake the mortal attachments that had kept him tied there for so long. While watching Rin and Naomi overcome the trials of the tomb together though, Rudolph decided to embrace his love rather than rejecting it. This decision brought him peace and allowed him to pass on.

A note at the end reads: "Bunch of batshit crazy cultist buggers... but it sure makes for a hell of a tragic love story. Maybe I can get it published one day? Not that you'd catch me angsting around dead after some lost lover in a dusty old tomb. What a waste of eternity."



A simple pendant made from a pair of keys: one retrieved from Rudolph Yakimov’s belongings and the other from his dead lover. Where Rudolph’s ghost initially desired these keys destroyed, his eventual acceptance of his forbidden love saved them from disintegration.

Naomi keeps them alongside Rudolph’s journal as a memento of her honeymoon.
 


Echolocation

Explorer
Thanks! We're still playing regularly. Currently, the players are tracking down some salamanders on behalf of the Ash Wolf.

Session 86
Courtesy of Rin's player

Having successfully navigated a tussle with a ten-headed lion, the remnants of Team BAD (plus bodyguard) watched as Asrabey and a group of eladrin appeared. The eladrin warriors chased down the remaining Danoran explorers while Lisandra retrieved an Obscurati ring from their leader's corpse.

Asrabey scolded Naomi for being late, the eladrin gate guardian scolded Asrabey for letting us in, and we meekly followed as she opened the way to the demiplane of Sentosa. Asrabey led us to Kasvarina, explaining that Borne had left the previous morning and hadn’t been sighted since. Despite the colossus no longer being present, the Seen of the Unseen still had a use for us: namely speaking with his wife, who’d become rather insistent on leaving.

Kasvarina was studying with a half-elf when we entered, but soon ordered everyone else out of the room. As we questioned her, she related her patchy memories. Of life before the wars. Of training with spell and sword. Of fighting for her people, losing her two daughters, becoming an eladrin matriarch, authorising assassinations, and marrying various men for political reasons.

Of the Obscurati though she remembered little. She had no knowledge of the Miller’s Pyre movement she’d founded, or of Cula Ravjahani who’d spoken on its behalf. Upon being pressed though, she did experience a flashback: seeing a nearly completed metal titan and then a glimpse of Srasama’s death. The memory sent Kasvarina to the floor, half fainting even as a cruel smile curved her lips. Then she shuddered and came back to herself, looking around in confusion before apologising. Apparently these flashbacks are fairly common - although Lisandra's description of her vicious expression was new to her.

The news that her flashes of memory might also briefly reinstate her past personality disturbed Kasvarina, and reaffirmed something she’d already decided: to seek an ancient artefact called the Arc of Rieda- and to recruit our aid in doing so. This item is said to allow its wearer to relive past memories, provided they’re in the location the memory took place. Given our orders to find out what Kasvarina knows about the Obscurati, we agreed. Naomi raised the question of whether Kasvarina was worried about changing back into her previous self after receiving the memories, and the eladrin replied that despite her disgust toward her past actions, she couldn't guarantee she'd be able to hold onto her current personality.

Nonetheless, we agreed, and after gaining some information about the Arc’s likely location - apparently a temple full of dead-god-worshipping weretigers who can convert people with their bite - we relayed our plans to Asrabey and spoke with Kasvarina’s half-elf assistant. The half-elf claimed to be knowledgeable about teleportation, but actually just wanted to beg us for his freedom - since he’d apparently been abducted by Asrabey. We left him with scant reassurance and no real promises.

Lodgings had been arranged for us, as well as a local guide, and we decided to rest. The guide came in the form of an excitable eladrin called Desok who was ecstatic to meet us and fanboyed about our accomplishments all the way to the inn. The appearance of Copperhat the Headless in the barroom interrupted Desok's description of Naomi’s martial thesis. Copperhat informed us that he’d gotten lost on the way to the Court and dropped Rock Rackus… somewhere. A sad circumstance for Rin’s boss, who’d apparently been the one to send for him, and for Rin too, who apparently enjoyed his music.

After an evening's chatter and rest, we explored Sentosa. Lisandra acquired some eladrin jewellery, Naomi swapped trashy romance novels with Desok, and John got to shoot Naomi a hell of a lot while teaching her martial techniques.

Then it was time to meet a matriarch…

Our initial attempts to convince Matriarch Athrylla to let us and Kasvarina leave the city met with resistance, and it was only after making her realise that Kasvarina was no longer the murderous, power-hungry matriarch she’d previously been, that Athrylla agreed. The matriarch specified, however, that Kasvarina would only be allowed to leave with us after we’d acquired the Arc of Rieda.

Thus, with permission to leave acquired and a means to re-enter assured, we set out. John found a tree to teleport us and stepped through to find himself face-to-face with an angry weretiger… Because life’s just like that.

Will our druid be able to calm this cantankerous cat? Is turning into a spiritually corrupt weretiger really a bad thing? And will Rock Rackus ever show up again with his ridiculously flashy gun? Find out next session, on Zeitgeist!

GM Notes

Forgive me for randomly throwing a weretiger at my players, I wanted to end the session on a cliffhanger.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 87

The surprised weretiger immediately bolted, only to be caught by John's lion animal companion. The party questioned her, tied her up, and took her to the Bramblehome. Upon bringing the foreigners to her kin, she transformed, breaking the rope binding her. Weretigers appeared from various huts built into the brambles and a male weretiger flanked by two white tigers stepped forward. “Stop! Hold your weapons. These are not Clergy.”

The leader told us the Lost Arc resided in the temple but that we may not enter. John asked what the entry fee was. The answer was Clergy heads. Lisandra asked whether simply convincing the Clergy to leave would suffice and the leader answered yes. Naomi asked how many Clergy there were (60-70) and suggested the weretigers should take all of their forces if an attack were orchestrated, to make sure they wipe out the colonists utterly and make anyone else think twice about settling in the area. The weretigers failed to realise that she was simply angling for them to remove all their forces from the temple so we could raid it, and agreed.


We volunteered to scout the Clergy outpost before starting any sort of conflict. 3 miles to the outpost. Over an hour by foot. As we traveled, we discussed potential plans in Primordial:
  1. Encourage a weretiger attack on the Clergy settlement and use the opportunity to raid the temple
  2. Help the weretigers kill the Clergy to be granted access to the temple
  3. Help the Clergy kill the weretigers
  4. Leave things be and attempt to sneak into the temple unnoticed

We noticed a weretiger following us - the same one we'd captured - and called out to her mockingly. She didn't reply and stopped following us about two miles from Bramblehome.

A group of people approached and called out inquisitively. Group of 3 battle-worn soldiers led by a blonde woman with matted hair. Many fresh cuts and old scars among them. Not overtly hostile.

The woman, who introduced herself as Lina, asked who we are and what we were doing in such a perilous place, and Lisandra replied that we were looking for a friend who'd gone missing. She responded that anyone in this part of the jungle likely wouldn't last long, given the weretigers.

We asked about the weretigers and were told that years ago the Clergy sent this group to establish an outpost and combat those who spread sin throughout the eladrin populace. They've skirmished with the weretigers ever since and recently had a major battle with them that whittled down the numbers on both sides. The weretiger leader was felled but the weretigers are quick to reorganise and already have a new leader. With the death of the previous leader though, the magical protections around Bramblehome fell and the Clergy have finally divined its location.

Lina seemed keen to leave this godsforsaken jungle but her leader is not. The leader of the Clergy outpost is a godhand, who cares deeply for his people and takes care to boost their morale in this trying situation.

Lina took us to Vigil Longus, the colonist outpost.
We were led to the chapel where a towering, muscular human man in robes with a halo was praying. As he finished, he rose to greet us. “Outsiders. It is rare to see such friendly faces in these parts.”

We introduced ourselves as: May Weatherspoon (Naomi), Lyra Hanley (Lisandra), Michael Dorma (John). Angharad wasn't present for this session.

Allus led us around and asked why we’re so far from Risur. Lisandra replied that we’re looking for someone: a friend of ours, Cassandra.

As they spoke, Naomi scrutinised the outpost's defenses. The barracks could easily house 150 people but now has half as many: there are around 60-70 people in this outpost, all trained warriors. Sheer numbers mean that even we would likely be unable to take this outpost on our own.

We asked Allus about the apparent lack of manpower. Over the course of half a decade, their numbers here have dwindled. Clergy orders dictate that reinforcements come every three years, but a military disruption in Crisillyir means they haven’t had any reinforcements at all since they arrived five years ago.
  • Team BAD disrupted Crisillyir in the past few years.
  • Each country is also ratcheting up military matters thanks to increasing tensions between Risur and Danor and the threat of war.

The godhands are quite a selective bunch, but, tending to be paladin-monks, they live for quite a long time - often centuries.

Both sides have injuries. The weretigers took a big blow to their structure with the loss of their previous leader. The Crisillyiri are clearly drained and wounded. Neither has a clear advantage, but Allus seemed entirely unwilling to abandon his holy duty and leave. The current leader of the weretigers is pure evil: intent on spreading his curse to as many as possible.

We retired to the chapel for privacy. Lisandra communed with a local spirit to ask some questions:
  1. Is the Lost Arc of Reida inside the temple at Bramblehome?
    • Yes
  2. Does the current leader of the Children of Hewinharimau intent on spreading their curse to others?
    • Yes
  3. Is their curse able to be completely dissolved?
    • Temporarily; all the current bearers could be cleansed, but if someone new were to worship Hewinharimau then the curse would arise anew
  4. Are the odds of this conflict in the Clergy’s favour?
    • No

We eventually conjured a plan:
Incite the weretigers to attack the Clergy outpost ASAP. Sneak away during the fighting, using John’s tree teleport to get back to Bramblehome quickly, giving us at least an hour to search the temple before the weretigers return.

We bid the Clergy farewell and set out 'in search of our missing friend', returning to Bramblehome. Betronga, the weretiger rajah, met us, wielding a cool-ass bow made of hair and bone.

Batronga was pleased with our news of the outpost's weakness and decided to attack tonight, when the sun sets. He asked us to open the gate and let the weretigers in to grant them an overwhelming victory and reduce his people's casualties. We noted that opening the gate of an armed encampment on high alert would be difficult but Batronga replied that an entire weretiger army marching toward the outpost should provide sufficient distraction. We agreed, with no intention of following through on it, and headed back to Vigil Longis to ask if we could stay the night.

John was unhappy with the duplicitous nature of our plan - essentially betraying both sides - but agreed to go through with it for the sake of our duty. Lisandra volunteered her leg for wild shaped John to scratch to make it look as if we’d been attacked by weretigers, to provide validity to our request for shelter.

We were welcomed back to Vigil Longis without suspicion and allowed to stay the evening. Allus even promised the aid of their healers for Lisandra, once they regained their spells in the morning. We waited until sounds of alarm in the outpost and a cry of "They're here!" indicated the weretigers had arrived and then Dimension Doored away into the jungle, leaving the two sides to their slaughter.

We tree-stepped back to Bramblehome to find it inhabited only by civilians: children, mother's, the elderly and infirm. They watched us fearfully but didn't interfere as we entered the temple.

We explored the seemingly-abandoned temple, finding an abandoned kitchen and a purification chamber. Cool fog floated in the doorways of the remaining rooms; couldn’t dispel it. Got the odd sense that the rooms were ephemeral and unable to be seen because they somehow didn’t exist yet. Naomi stepped through the doorway of one and vanished into the fog. Lisandra called out after her: “Are you dead?” but there was no response, and after a moment the oracle stepped into the fog after Naomi.

John hesitated before following and decided to think things through. He went into the “purifying” chamber and knelt on the prayer mat. Thought about his friends and their safety and got the sense that somehow the purifying power of flame would see them through this. In his mind's eye the druid saw 3 yellow flames.

Meanwhile, Naomi and Lisandra found themselves atop a thousand foot tall tower, near coloured portals which abruptly darkened and spewed forth shadowy creatures. One of them swooped at Lisandra, stealing some of her life force. Combat persisted whilst John continually meditated in the purification chamber for clues. Kindly, John's GM gave the druid visions of his friend's peril, and John dashed to their rescue ;) Meanwhile, the tragedies attempted to scramble the minds of Rin and Lisandra, to no avail.

Eventually we defeated the three Tragedies and combined the flames from each into a single large flame, with which to illuminate the shadowy corpse at the center of the tower---the corpse of Mister Mapple.

We quickly deduced we needed to clear up the other three smoky rooms, so we dashed into another. It was monochrome. Upon the deck of a seafaring vessel, converted into the site of a grand party: the deck of the Coaltongue. Stover Delft present; he instructed Lisandra to go “Check on the Duchess”. The back of the ship erupted in monochrome flames which coalesced into two giant forms that began attacking those on the ship - including us.

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GM Notes

Rin is making this party ruthlessly efficient. The party deliberately optimised the carnage between weretigers and Clergy. Needless to say, Lisandra's fish-hook amulet was not pleased. I think mechanically it should have abandoned it there and then, but the fish-hook, never too quick to judge, was willing to give the oracle another chance.
 


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