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


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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 88
(Angharad was absent for this session)

The tl;dr here is that the players completed the trials of the temple, snagged the artifact, and teleported back to Kasvarina. In between the trials, I gave players a description of what was happening in the battle they orchestrated between weretigers and the Clergy. This was a 'meta' thing, the player's characters were unaware. Though, Lisandra would later discover the outcome via divination.

One thing I decided beforehand was that Harkover would be sentient in the trial of distant past, given Pemberton was sentient during the trial of near past. I think their fiery souls, powerful magics, and ancient stories find a metaphysical home in the temple of tales.

Some highlights from the trials:
  • Distant past. Minister Lee casted invisibility on the party to aid them, but Naomi died. Harkover discovered that the trials were psychic, not physical. People killed in the trial are unconscious in reality.
  • Near past. Naomi got her hand caught it a turbine, but otherwise, this was an easy trial for a wild shaping druid, a flying spiritualist, and an acrobatic rogue. The party mostly ignored Pemberton.
  • Far future. Now this was fun. Rin (who wears Naomi as her disguise) is enamoured with Rock Rackus, as is her patron Thrisraldion. As the ground split open, Rock dramatically saved Naomi/Rin from falling into the ravine of witchoil. Rock insulted the combat music choice of the demons and queued his own beats. Naomi fiercely defended Rock. Rock, somehow, still managed to land the killing blow on most of the enemies, despite only doing a portion of damage of the party. John was thrown into the ravine, but reappeared dramatically after polymoprhing into a dragon.

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The battle, as recorded by Naomi's players notes:
  • Many miles away, the weretigers and Clergy are skirmishing: the weretigers trying to find a way through the wall. Weretigers peppered with silver crossbow bolts. The weretiger leader dashed for the gate himself, climbed the fence, and thrust open the gate from the other side.
  • Weretigers inside the outpost. Atticus in his quarters. Shouting outside. Atticus looking at his golden breastplate with the iconography of Clergy warriors fighting the Demonocracy. He rested his hand on it gently, closed his eyes and uttered a prayer. The breastplate dismantled itself and reshaped around his form. Lina knocked on the door.
    Lina: “The visitors! They’ve left!”
    Atticus looked to the side: “Triegenes will judge them.”
    Weretiger leader: “I suspect you’ve already prayed to each of your various gods, I’m here to say they’ve failed you.”
    Intense battle between Atticus and the weretiger rajah.
    An angel appeared and snatched the rajah’s arrow out of the air. The rajah whistled and his two white tigers appeared and engaged the angel.
  • Atticus and the weretiger rajah both badly wounded. Rajah looked at one of his white tigers and said softly: “Benji, forgive me, in this life and the next.” The tiger groaned as wounds opened on its hide and the rajah’s wounds closed.
    The rajah killed Atticus as an angel simultaneously stabbed the rajah in the back. “The godhand is dead! Retreat!” The weretigers and Clergy both scattered, the Clergy fleeing in fear and disorder. The weretigers turned on them and hunted them down, spending the rest of the evening hunting down every Clergy survivor.

Overall, an action-packed session. Angharad's player returns next session, so the party's detour into the jungle to collect the Lost Arc became a nice, self-contained adventure for Naomi, Lisandra, and John. And by nice, I mean bloody.
 
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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 89
Courtesy of Naomi's player

Having acquired the Lost Arc of Reida and returned to Sentosa, Team BAD and their bodyguard spent a lazy evening of drinking, sleeping, and handing out cryptic soul-shattering revelations to their resident phantom.

Y’know: normal stuff.

The morning was just as slow, with John and Naomi chatting over hot drinks about meditation and smutty romance novels. They eventually decided to find Lisandra, but knocking on her door yielded no reply. Likewise yelling and roaring. Undeterred, Naomi picked the lock while John looked the other way.

They found Lisandra at the tail end of a spirit communion, gathering details on the weretiger attack at Vigil Longis. Apparently the Clergy were all dead - or soon to be - while the weretigers had only lost a few warriors. Left to their own devices though, it seemed they wouldn't be posing a significant threat to the local eladrin. And on the bright side: the Clergy wouldn’t have received reinforcements from Crisillyir anyway! So we'd just turned their war of attrition into a quick, easy massacre.

Nice of us, right?

…Consciences unassuaged, we asked one final question: were the visions at Ingatan’s Refuge true? The answer was simple: 'as much as any prophecy'.

Which totally means we get to meet Rock Rackus again in the far future! Gosh dang, I can't wait.

Curiosity satisfied, we headed for Kasvarina’s cottage. Asrabey was gruff, Kasvarina grateful, and Kieran completely ignored. The Once-lost-now-found Arc hovered peacefully over Kasvarina’s head as she donned it, transmitting the location of a nearby memory. Since it seemed to be in Sentosa itself, Asrabey agreed to accompany us before he left for the Court.

Lisandra quizzed him on the way about Kieran the half-elf scholar's fate. Apparently he’d be staying here in Kasvarina’s absence, like an abandoned house pet - although Asrabey offered to let Lisandra take him instead. The oracle graciously declined on grounds of Kieran being “too weaselly” for her taste.

The Arc led us to a tall house, owned by an elderly eladrin who refused us entry until Naomi browbeat him into submission with Asrabey’s name. The eladrin’s protests about his “oat soup” burning on the stove were cut off by the Arc transforming his living room: furnishings changing to lavish decor as Kasvarina and Asrabey’s outfits likewise shifted.

The married couple strode into position like clockwork puppets: acting out a centuries old conversation as the rest of us watched - including a very confused homeowner.

Past Asrabey was uncharacteristically angry, encouraging Kasvarina to return home to Ushanti to rally their forces against the humans - humans who all deserved to die. Kasvarina cut him short to give him a different mission: going to the Unseen Court in Risur to offer his services as a warrior. To serve the fey so that they might someday serve Elfaivar in a time of need. Without a trace of regret, she told him that this mission would take a long time, and they’d likely never see each other again.

Asrabey agreed after a moment, but requested one last night in his wife’s arms, only to be rebuffed. Kasvarina noted that she was going to Resal to pay her respects to their daughters, and then left, falling asleep in a separate room as the two spent their last night together in centuries alone.

Asrabey was obviously displeased as he regained control of himself, and announced he was leaving, although he took Naomi aside first and promised her certain death if Kasvarina died. Both “in this life and the next”.

With the angry enforcer out of the way, we decided to replay the memory for practice, this time trying to keep Kasvarina lucid and aware of herself, rather than being subsumed by her past self's actions. John frogmarched the protesting homeowner outside for a garden tour, and Lisandra and Naomi accompanied Kasvarina back into memory.

The eladrin immediately fell into the same puppetlike state as before, but Naomi snapped her out of it by making a lewd remark about Asrabey undressing for bed. Thus aware, Kasvarina managed to relive the rest of the memory with a clearer mind and keener awareness of events. Her newfound clarity left her deeply concerned…

She’d been so… cold in the memory. So devoid of love. How could she have married a man she didn’t love?

Lisandra assured her that politics and personal gain are just as common reasons for marriage as love, but the eladrin didn’t seem satisfied. She let it slide though, noting that the Arc was indicating another memory nearby. We collected John from his surprisingly pleasant garden conversationand left the homeowner to his burnt porridge.

The second memory proved to be at Sentosa's central pyramid, where Matriarch Athrylla and her advisors were holding court. The matriarch's guards were alarmed to see Kasvarina's surroundings warping as she climbed the pyramid, but Athrylla recognised what was happening and told them to stand down. Once again, Kasvarina fell into the clockwork mechanics of the past, but this time Lisandra snapped her back to awareness with a shout.

Memories of eladrin soldiers and a famous war hero followed the eladrin as she strode toward the summit, greeting Athrylla and a memory-matriarch sat there.

Their welcome was warm enough, but when Kasvarina explained that her daughter had been abducted by a dragon and she sought their aid, Athrylla abruptly broke script by trying to yank the Arc off Kasvarina’s head. Kasvarina tumbled to the ground, screaming as the memory shattered around her and broke a little of her mind too.

Athrylla apologised but was adamant that Kasvarina shouldn't see what had happened next, and it was only with careful diplomacy that Team BAD convinced her otherwise.

The memory restarted - this time with Kasvarina managing to maintain lucidity all on her own - and played out uninterrupted. Kasvarina greeted the matriarchs, explained her daughter’s abduction, and asked for aid. The third matriarch promised to help personally, but Athrylla hesitated before simply offering troops in her stead, and though Kasvarina accepted, the betrayal was clear on her face after the memory ended.

“Athrylla, why did you not join me?”

“I… thought something was amiss, but I did not speak up.”

Athrylla explained that she’d suspected a trap, and had been proven right when the matriarch who agreed to go with Kasvarina betrayed her, instigating the death of Kasvarina’s daughter and very nearly Kasvarina herself.

After some painful consideration, Kasvarina informed Athrylla that she didn’t blame her, and the Sentosan matriarch let out a long-held sigh of relief.

In the wake of those emotions, Athrylla offered us any information she might offer on locations we were considering taking Kasvarina, as well as the use of Sentosa’s teleportation circles. We thanked her and retired to consider our options.

Which is where we find ourselves now: with a list of possible locations Kasvarina could have been, and a tentative plan to explore her personal memories first before working up to Obscurati related things. Hopefully that way she can build some mental fortitude before facing the worst of what she's done.

But when chased by a world-spanning organisation of murderous philanthropists, is anywhere truly safe? And even if the Obscurati don't intercept us as we drag Kasvarina all over the world, can we keep her safe from herself?
 
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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 90

After some discussion, the players set their eyes on Resal.

With the blessing of Athrylla, Faedraven teleported the constables close to a cave close to Resal. Team BAD made some minor adjustments to disguise themselves: Naomi used makeup on Kasvarina, John stowed Sydney as a status, Lisandra changed into different attire, and after some careful consideration, Angharad took off his hulking RHC-labelled jacket.

As the constables advanced towards Resal, they noted how time had stripped Kasvarina of her home. The landscape was devastated by mining, with rivers flowing thick with sludge. A few very old eladrin men working in the fields and resting under trees; possibly old enough to have even fought in the holy wars and lived in the town before it was colonised. Most of the town was human.

Kasvarina picked up a memory event and led us through town to an open field. The many guards dotted throughout the town glanced at the party as they walked through town but didn’t stop them or ask questions. An old eladrin selling flowers in the town square waved at at the party. Kasvarina offered a polite wave back and Angharad went over to buy a flower from him in Elven. The eladrin noted that not many humans speak his tongue. Angharad offered to buy all his flowers. The eladrin offered them for 1 gold. Angharad palmed him 5 platinum. Angharad gave Lisandra one flower and started throwing the rest at Naomi as we walked through town.

Eventually, Kasvarina lead the party to a large field. Initially, she was gripped by the memory, but thanks to the spirit medium Lisandra, she managed to regain her lucidity. The memory was somewhat strange, as it was a memory of Kasvarina holding the Arc of Reida itself surrounded by masked mystics. Several memories replayed overlapping each other as Kavarina raised the Arc to her head, each with her, the Arc, and a different collection of mystics. Eventually, the memory booms out and she is instead surrounded by unmasked figures:
Sor Daeron and half a dozen eladrin women including Athrylla, Latika, and Launga.

The women discussed the circumstances in which they avoided Srasama's cull. Sor Daeron is in despair, having wondered whether it would have been more merciful to have left his men to die in Alias Primos. The memory plays out a funereal. Rites were given. Then, a man introduced as Vekesh takes the stage and delivered an eulogy via song, with another man playing a guitar.

GM Note: I strayed from the layout of the Dirge of Vekesh in the book. I wanted something with lyrics, so I took a Leonard Cohen song (Take this Waltz) and changed it up. Unfortunately, I had a chaotic day so didn't get to refine it as much as I would have liked before the session.

The Dirge of Vekesh
There's an open field in Resal
Where your death had a thousand reviews
There's a street where the boys have stopped talking
They've been sentenced to death by the blues
Ah but who is it clings to your visage
With a garland of freshly cut tears?
Aey, aey, aey, aey
Take this song, take this song
Take its scorched ash in your hand

[The maiden]
Oh I want you, I want you, I want you
Dancing with a blade never seen,
In a cave at the tip of the lily
In some hallway where love's never been
On a field where the blood has been flowing
In a cry filled with footsteps and sand
Aey, aey, aey, aey
Take this song, take this song
Take this song its been dying for years

[The mother]
There's an attic where children are playing
Where I've got to lie down with you soon
In a dream of Resalian lanterns
In the mist of some sweet afternoon
And I'll see what you've chained to your sorrow
Wrapped in sheets and your lilies of snow
Aey, aey, aey, aey
Take this song, take this song
With it, I'll never forget you, you know

The audience seemed amazed by the very act of singing after such destruction. Angharad clearly recognised the song, sang along under his breath. Vekesh paused to inform the audience that this is only a mourning song if it ends in death. The eladrin should endure, grow strong and prosper in strength rather than following the crone into death. Many wept throughout the song but Kasvarina did not, and when Vekesh was done she swept into the circle around him and informed the eladrin that not one man there would take his life in grief. Hope remained in the six eladrin women present. Reject grief so that the eladrin may never die. The eladrin women, Kasvarina and Launga included, began to sing and dance together.

[Kasvarina] And I'll dance with you in Resal
I'll be wearing a crone’s disguise
Wild flowers on my shoulders
My hand wipes the dew of your eyes
[Launga] And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook
With the stories there, and the moss
[Latika] And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty
[She smirks at Vekesh] My cheap guitar and my loss
[Athrylla] And you'll carry me down on your dancing
To the pools that you left on your wrist
Oh maiden, oh mother
Take this song, take this song
It's yours now, it's all that there is.
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The scene faded as Kasvarina danced with her daughter and the eladrin spent a few more seconds dancing after the vision of Launga faded. As she was regathering her wits, Naomi greeted a nearby staring guard cheerfully and thanked him for attending their historical reenactment but noted that we’d be moving on to our next performance now. The guard - thoroughly disconcerted and more than willing to not have to deal with this powerful magic naughty word - encouraged Team BAD to leave peacefully and quickly.

While Naomi was talking, John examined the old man who’d sold Angharad flowers, noting his interest in the proceedings, and that when the old man had opened his coat to tuck the coins in an inner pocket, John had spotted a pack of cigarettes. This old man doesn’t seem like he has the constitution to be smoking. Naomi started shooing the team out of the field.

Kasvarina felt a pull toward another part of town - perhaps her old home. The old eladrin man stopped picking up flowers and followed us at a distance of ~60 ft. Guards stared at the constabls but didn’t follow.

Kasvarina led us to a patch of disrupted soil near a toxic river. Cottage appeared upon the soil. Kasvarina entered the memory with lucidity; it seems the previous memory has really helped her start to understand herself. Kasvarina walked into the cottage and closed the door behind her.

John and Lisandra were watching the old eladrin man and he abruptly just disappeared. Just vanished from his position 60 ft behind us. He didn’t seem to have activated a spell so maybe it was the Arc’s radius of influence expanding and shifting the landscape? Lisandra started toward where the man had been standing, leaving the memory’s area to investigate, but he wasn’t there. (GM Note: In truth, the old man had been jaunted into his position in the memory---inside Kasvarina's cottage).

Kasvarina was packing bags while her two daughters prepared for some sort of trip. The younger daughter looked the equivalent of a teenager and was using Prestidigitation to alter her hair’s colour. Around her neck was a pendant carved with Srasama’s three forms. After ending the arguing with a motherly glare, Kasvarina turns to her other daughter and tells her: “Go with the blue, it suits your eyes.”

The elderly flourist eladrin who walked out of a nearby room. He was smoking and his form was shifting between an old eladrin form and a human form with salt and pepper hair and beard. He watched with amusement as Kasvarina’s daughters thanked him for saving their mother’s life. He reached out and touched each of their faces. “I am sorry I was not able to save you. If I had my time again…” He looked at Kasvarina. “Rina, I’m here to help you.” Then he turned to Naomi. “A new face. I am sure we will be acquainted in time.” The man asked the constables and Kasvarina to accompany him.

John stuck his hand in the door, middle finger raised. The rest of Team BAD were likewise unimpressed. Taking their lead, Naomi gave her name as "None-of-yer-fookin-business-old-man" when asked, although she was overall more willing to talk than the rest of the team and asked Nicodemus what he wanted. Angharad begun counting down from 100 under his breath.

Things devolved into Team BAD and Nicodemus flinging blame between them about unnecessary deaths and such, at which point Naomi interrupted with the question of who Kasvarina wants to go with. Kasvarina spoke to Nic, "I want to know more about you, but I trust my companions. I cannot leave them.” Nicodemus was disappointed but repeated his offer that we should all come with him. Naomi made a counter offer that he should come with us - we’ve got our trip planned out already after all and it'd be a shame to waste all that scheduling…

Nicodemus looked like he was seriously considering it, when Angharad finished counting down and cast Howling Agony on him. Nicodemus winced and called for “Professor Bugge” to kill us. John immediately shot Nicodemus dead. The memory shattered, with Kasvarina screaming as part of her mind broke. The cottage vanished and purple glows centred on 3 witchoil golems bearing Wayfarer Lanterns appeared, overlapping the Waking world with another plane (likely the Bleak Gate). A horde of eladrin zombies appeared.

From beyond the golems an ominous voice spoke: “What a cruel twist of fate. Could that be: Naomi Osborne? I’ve already killed you once! Don’t you remember me? Or better yet: don’t you remember yourself?” From beyond the golems appeared a quadrupedal figure, crawling along the ground, which called out in a raspy voice: “Rin, my love!”

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Bugge is somewhat of a bigger-bad in our campaign than the adventure path, as written. Naomi was looking into Bugge's disappearance when she was murdered by him and his agents. He performed a bit of soul surgery with a mindless hulk from the Bleak Gate, infusing it with Naomi's rogue-ish ways and martial scientist techniques. Having no use for Naomi's defiance/personality, he left it lingering in witchoil lingering on her corpse. By pure force of Naomi and Rin's will, Rin was able to capture Naomi's defiance/personality within her own mind as a psychic imprint (which she manifests as her spirit blade)...classic convoluted Pathfinder 1E mechanics.

Critically, unbeknownst to Rin and Naomi, the Naomi within Rin is only a fraction of her soul....the rest is in the beast calling to the party. Rin and Naomi's other-soul never knew, because Naomi's defiance applies to the very end and perceives itself to be complete. Reality will hit hard (in many ways) next session.

Another GM note: I love Bugge. He was very fun to play as a villain, despite the convoluted backstory.
 

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I like your version of Bugge.

(I based him on one of my college English professors. Dude had a great voice for reciting Old English poems, and he looked nearly old enough to have been around when they were written.)

I'm trying to recall if one group playing ZG actually managed to get Nicodemus to go along with them in adventure 8. I know there was some discussion of that once.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
(I based him on one of my college English professors. Dude had a great voice for reciting Old English poems, and he looked nearly old enough to have been around when they were written.)
I've shared that tidbit with my players, I'm sure they'll love to know. I played him in a verbose manner. When players attempted to discern the properties of their undead foes, Bugge would lecture them on their characteristics, creation, and disposition.

I'm trying to recall if one group playing ZG actually managed to get Nicodemus to go along with them in adventure 8. I know there was some discussion of that once.

I've not ready all the group threads, but I'd be interested to know if some players took a bite.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 91
Courtesy of Lisandra's player

Last session started with a intimidating battle with deformed undead from the Bleak Gate, monologued maniacally by Naomi’s murderer. As professor Bugge waxxed psychotic about the soul surgery required to craft the two-headed Naomi abomination that was about to annihilate us, Team BAD made quick work of the hoard of zombified eladrin that swarmed them as an appetizer. The Abomination launched into combat, slicing at Lisandra’s weapon when it couldn’t hit her. The Oracle could tell the creature was incredibly powerful, possibly more powerful than Team BAD could handle.

Thankfully, we didn’t get much of an opportunity to find out as Angharad and John tore through the Witchoil constructs, destroying the lantern light bridging the two planes and leaving Profesor Bugge and his horrific pet on the other side.

Furious at the missed chance for vengeance (and the insinuation that Naomi was more like a shadow of the actual Naomi), Rin proceeded to argue with the Naomi in her mind Angharad no-so-helpfully chiming in to nettle the other kineticist. Gosh, that was a lot of Naomi for one sentence.

Kasvarina gathered herself, confused about her feelings of fondness for the man in her vision that seemed to draw nothing but distrust and animosity for Team BAD. Lisandra explained a little about what they knew of him, and hoped that further memories might clear up her confusion. The Oracle also requested a few moments to speak with the man Nicodemus has possessed, leaving the kineticists to squabble amongst themselves as she entered the state in which she can speak to the dead. The spirit’s name was Ruso Trusio. Lisandra regretfully explained what had happened to him, and asked what he remembered of it. Not a lot, as it turned out. The last thing he remembered was tending to his flowers in the square, then feeling a prick at his neck. He requested Lisandra bury him with his children, giving her directions to a clearing to the north.

Before fulfilling the request, Lisandra requested to see Kasvarina’s memory again, without the interference. She remained lucid this time, glad to see her daughters again as the memory played. The man Nicodemus had played the part of had saved Kasvarina’s life when Sasrama fell near Alais Primos. With no new memories left in Resal, the team gathered to put Ruso to rest.

They buried the old eladrin in a field of flowers in a clearing north of town, Angharad content to help dig the grave and leaving the rest to conduct the sparse and impromptu funeral. As they were packing up to leave, Lisandra opened her haversack to hear the Godmind Urn whisper to her. It spoke of Naomi, confirming what the oracle suspected since trying to commune with her spirit in Sentosa–that Naomi’s will and personality are present, but that the experiences and memories are reflections are not. Those are gone. Anything Naomi remembers is appropriated from Rin’s knowledge. Given the kitsune’s emotional state, and the delicate nature of the topic, Lisandra thought best to keep this realization to herself for now.

The funeral ended with an odd flare, as the tree Angharad stood near morphed into a familiar face and a bemusingly familiar “Ello Mister Angharad!” came out of its newly formed mouth. Apparently Cador has sought Pazamu’s help to get a message through to chat, since it’s been a while. He talked about learning to read the thesaurus with Pazamu’s help, and Naomi offered to help expand his library options when she was next in town. He read about Ella’s death in the papers and wanted to give his condolences, which the Cipith stiffly accepted. He also mentioned his best customer, Uncle Ivan, was temporarily transferred from quartermaster to another position, to cover someone who was ill.

The next stop was Alais Primos. Kasvarina teleported them to the outskirts of the city in disguise. As she worked the magic, Lisandra and Angharad cast some of their own to detect planar energies. Lisandra got a faint whiff of Apet from the Arc of Reida, but not the teleportation itself and Angharad detected some energy from Jiese.

The first memory was in a field outside the city and the active area seemed to spread further than those previously witnessed. Kasvarina remained lucid as the memory played out of a battlefield, littered with worn battlements and thousands of corpses of women. Half an army remained - all men. Bell tolled loudly from within the city alongside the triumphant cheers of humans, hidden beneath a brilliant shield of golden light, powered by the faithful. Kasvarina fell to her knees, sobbing, clutching a charred corpse in her arms as she wept. For a moment, a brief outline of a 100-ft-tall, 6-armed woman outlined against the sky before it was swept away by the wind.

As the memory ended, a handful of farmers near the edge of Alais Primos panicked and ran to the city. As Kasvarina wiped her eyes, she pointed in the direction of another memory nearby. Lisandra helped her to her feet as Naomi suggested they be quick about it, before the locals came to investigate.

The second memory was set amidst an eladrin army. Kasvarina remained lucid, now donned in battle attire, standing behind the eladrin general, Sor Daeron, this time with an arm of flesh instead of salt. surrounded. In an eladrin army. Kasvarina in battle attire, standing behind a superior. Behind them, a hundred unarmed human soldiers were forced to march ahead at spearpoint toward the shielded city of Alais Primos.The general gave an ultimatum to the enemy; he challenged the Clergy’s greatest champion to a duel, and threatened to kill their hostages if his demands weren’t met in the next minute. When no response came, the humans were slaughtered one by one.

Eventually an army marches from the city led by a Cardinal of the Clergy. Sor began to shout a formal challenge at the Cardinal but was interrupted by the Cardinal summoning pillars of salt, turning Sor’s arm and many of his troops to salt. Battle was joined. The human troops tried to usher the humans back into the city as Sor fought the Cardinal. The eladrin general almost died before landing a killing blow on the Cardinal. As he fell, the golden dome faltered - the prayers of the faithful weakening. Eladrin ran for the breach - including Kasvarina and Team BAD closely behind. The golden dome closed behind her, trapping only a portion of the eladrin army inside. The humans overwhelmed them quickly. Thanks to her lucidity, as Kasvarina fell ‘unconscious’ to the ground she continued to witness the scene.

A healer with salt and pepper hair scolded human soldiers who readied to coupe de grace eladrin combatants, saying that if there were nobles among the wounded eladrin then they might be able to be ransomed back in exchange for human soldiers. Kasvarina was picked up and carried to a church. The healer lit a cigarette and followed.

The memory transitioned straight into another one: leading the team to head inside an actual church. None of the current-day people present interfered as they watched in shock and awe as history unfolded around them. Kasvarina was carried to a church and chained by a wrist to a wall along with other eladrin, those who were conscious were heavily sedated with painkillers.

Time flickered forward. The salt and pepper haired monk tended to Kasvarina and the other survivors. He was consistently friendly and polite, despite Kasvarina’s initial reaction to spit on him, hatred in her eyes for the death of her loved one. The monk explained that while he was raised in the Clergy, he no longer had faith in it. In later stages of the memory he no longer wore his robes.

Eladrin prisoners occasionally left as time flickered forward–but only those who didn’t express strong religious fervor. After a week had flickered by, only four eladrin remained, including Kasvarina. The monk removed Kasvarina’s chains, and they had a long conversation. It was clear that she now had a strong trust and respect for him. It was here Team BAD learned of the monk’s name: William Miller.

Miller gave Kasvarina medicine and told her a plan to help her escape. She asked about the other prisoners. He lied, telling her they had already gone. The monk closed noise-muffling curtains around Kasvarina’s chambers. Thanks to her lucidity, even Kasvarina heard the muffled murders of the remaining prisoners beyond.

Lisandra’s tremorsense detected a patrol approaching, likely guards from their formation. She alerted the party and Naomi Dimension Door’ed us back out into the fields to figure out their next move. Kasvarina said she sensed two more memories; one near the center of town, and the other towards Enzyo Mons, the volcano that housed the Cathedral to Trigenes.

Team BAD made their way to the heart of the city without trouble, thanks to some quick feet, distraction and direction from the city itself to avoid patrols. The memory was inside the Grand Librarium. Archmissionary Cornelius, the clergyman Lisandra spoke to previously about Balthazar was in the foyer on arrival. With the help of a little magic to see through her illusions, he recognized the oracle and feinted to accidentally bump into her, quietly letting her know he had progress to share with her if she could spare the time. With barely a nod to acknowledge, she helped the man to his feet, wishing him a good day in her natural accent, in all its rural Risuri glory, much to Naomi’s impress.

The group headed within. Thanks to the memories gleaned from his time in Ken Don’s head, Angharad was able to navigate to their destination without much concern for security patrols. They found themselves in a private nook of the third floor, by a 20ft high rosette window that overlooked the city square.

This memory showed a handful of people gathered at night; two bishops, a young priestess, William Miller and Kasvarina. Miller spoke of Kasvarina representing the eladrin in upcoming peace talks–peace talks being conducted without the archbishop’s approval–and said that the Hierarchs should be disposed of. As he spoke, the priestess cast a Light cantrip that shone through the window. Shadowy figures moved outside, followed by the quick arrival of guards and an inquisitor. The bishops informed them that Miller had turned against the archbishop. He pleaded with them but Kasvarina told him to face death with dignity. The inquisitor said they wouldn’t be dying just yet, they’d be taken to the Isle of Odem: to live long, tormented lives with the other heretics. The memory ended with Miller swearing in protest as they dragged him away.

Lisandra requested time to speak with the Archmissionary before leaving for the volcano, leaving Angharad and Naomi to explore the smutty sections of the library. Spoiler alert; they only found a single book in the whole Librarium, and it was more a historical record than juicy bits.

In the office of the Archmissionary, Cornelius told Lisandra he’d finished the headband for combatting Balthazar and presented it to her. He reminded her that she needs a gem imbued with a rage-filled spirit, and the blood of someone who has betrayed Balthazar and lived to make it work. With those elements, she can wear it to dismantle the wards around the psychic lich to make him vulnerable. Blood that she had yet to obtain. She thanked Cornelius for his help and his time, promising to keep him informed on her efforts to see the task done.

Kasvarina summoned horses for the long trip to the Cathedral of Trigenes. It was a somber, pensive trip for many… except the kineticists. Rin internally grumbled and squabbled Naomi most of the way, distracting herself with telekinetically perching foliage amongst Angharad’s ashen crown. The Cipith seemed blissfully unaware, as she excitedly absorbed the growing energy of the fiery volcano they approached and let Gariad (Angharad's tiny flying fire dinosaur that usually exists inside his mind) out to play.

Parishioners passed them on their way down, and by the time Team BAD had reached the destination, the Cathedral was rather empty, with only a few Clergy remaining, including Father Eneenya as he waved the last of the congregation off.

Kasvarina seemed confused, leading them in the direction of the memory. She said it seemed different. Like a memory of something being told to her, not witnessed like the others. The arc trembled in Kasvarina’s hands and she called out Lisandra's name, before the circlet flew through the air and planted on the oracle’s head.

The memory bloomed around them, glitching awkwardly between past and present. A memory of Lisandra, still a young babe, and a decade’s younger version of Father Eneenya.

What answers about our Oracle’s past will this memory glean? And will it distract Angharad from swimming in a volcano? Find out next session, in the adventures of Team BAD!
 

Echolocation

Explorer
A NPC glossary for this recap:
Father Balthazar is Lisandra's psychic lich father, whose phylactery is Lisandra's arm.
Riskasha is Lisandra's half-eladrin mother, whose soul is captured in a corrupted blade of Srasama, wielded by Father Balthazar.
Father Aneenya is an ex-Family priest who leads the Cathedral of Triegenes atop Enzyo Mons.

Session 92
Courtesy of Naomi's/Rin's player

We began atop a volcano, where all good stories should start. It was neither dark nor stormy but there was a baby being laid upon a sacrificial altar. That baby being Lisandra: summoned forth from decades-old memory by the Arc of Reida.

Father Aneenya was present too - flickering between his younger self and current, shocked personage. Baby Lisandra had apparently been brought here to be destroyed: thrown into the volcano along with all the other ‘cursed’ items Aneenya disposed of for Clergy.

Much like the coins and valuables thrown in by pilgrims though, Aneenya was reluctant to let this offering be incinerated, regardless of what Father Balthazar wanted. After hours of magically examining baby Lisandra he found it: an odd spiritual energy in her left arm. It was enough to stay his hand and send her to Risur instead: to be secretly raised by his brother Otis. For perhaps her powers could prove useful to the Family in the future?

And there he thought she’d stayed… until now.

As the memory ended, there was a moment of shocked silence before the questions began. Father Aneenya was… quite concerned that Lisandra had discovered her past - and even more so that she’d already met Balthazar. After a long discussion though, the priest agreed to aid Lisandra by donating the last ingredient she needed to destroy Father Balthazar: the blood of someone who’d betrayed Balthazar and survived. His blood.

The serpent ring bearing a drop of Aneenya’s blood clicked neatly into place atop Archbishop Cornelius’ headband, and for the first time Lisandra felt perhaps a glimmer of hope that her father’s evil might soon be removed from the world.

The touching moment was interrupted by dissuading Angharad from jumping in a volcano and Kasvarina’s announcement that the Arc was tugging her toward Risur: with a sense of memories there for all of the group - even Naomi

We stayed at Enzyo Mons until morning, and Naomi and Angharad spent some time tormenting each other while John watched. Eventually Naomi retired to bed with Angharad’s martial thesis stash, and Lisandra got some alone time to process the day’s discoveries.

Come morning, Naomi had to climb out a window to escape Angharad’s wood-shaping, but that didn’t stop her spectating John’s morning meditation. As the druid carefully arranged packs of soil and seeds and vials of oils, the spiritualist watched with more than mere curiosity. Under her observation, John’s emotional aura gradually came clear: abundant love toward Sydney; caution toward Naomi; and a controlled kind of anger toward Lisandra and Angharad that wasn’t actually directed at them - one that covered subtle sadness.

There wasn’t time to ponder it though, as we rounded up Angharad and Ghariad from the top of the volcano and teleported to the Isle of Odem: ever-delightful home of the Crypta Hereticarum. Grand inquisitor Serafima Sabelli greeted us there: a dwarven Clergywoman and our self appointed guide to the Vault of Heresies. We couldn’t think of a polite way to say no without shooting her in the face, and so descended into the depths together: following Kasvarina.

In memory, she and William Miller were shoved into the labyrinth, doomed to walk its halls until death or madness took them. They bypassed the initial traps skilfully but found something unexpected in the second chamber: Father Balthazar. Sitting amid the scattered parchments of the Vault of Heretical Texts, he reached for his sickle in surprise as he asked Lisandra what the naughty word she was doing there.

“I guess you hadn’t figured out my little ruse yet?”

“Clearly not.”

Naomi sprang in to uselessly attack, while Angharad pulled Steelshaper’s soul gem from the Web and handed it to Lisandra, who placed it in her headband and activated it. A ray of energy blasted Father Balthazar and his form began to splinter and fragment. For the first time, uncertainty touched the arrogant lich’s features.

The battle had only just begun though, as demonic companions, fear effects, forced teleportation to Nem, confusion effects, and various illusions twisted the battlefield into a chaotic mess. Balthazar’s facade of humanity melted away as Naomi killed his Nemean shadow - revealing his true skeletal form - and the necromancer responded by drawing everyone into Nem: domain of the dead. His domain. Filled with the souls of those he’d tortured and killed.

From amidst the wailing spirits skipped a horrific nightmare version of baby Lisandra, giggling as she unleashed illusory horrors and stabbed her older self. Lisandra managed to break free from the widespread insanity and for a moment stood alone against her father: armed with his dropped sickle and the voice of her mother screaming in her mind to kill him!

It was John who ended up gunning down the psychic lich where he floated, hovering amid an ever-expanding wave of darkness. But it was Balthazar’s daughter who drove his sickle deep into his chest and cut out his still-beating heart. A blackened, shrivelled thing that continued to beat even as his other remains crumbled to dust.

For a moment there was peace, and then the sickle turned on Lisandra and tried to cut out her heart. In her head, Lisandra heard her mother snarling that her own body was hers! She’d made it!

Before Riskasha could pursue her own quest for immortality too far, John shot the sickle from Lisandra’s hand and Naomi carefully levitated it into an extradimensional bag. It was soon followed by Balthazar’s heart, and for a long moment there was silence… as a quest begun nearly a year ago in Nalaam finally came to a close.

We were subdued as we healed and continued following Kasvarina’s memories: watching the eladrin and William fight past and outwit the dangers of the Crypta Hereticarum in a time when the traps still worked and the occupants were in their prime.

It might have been impressive if we hadn’t just killed a lich…

Eventually we came to the final chamber, familiar to half the party as the Prison of Ashima-Shimtu, Lady of the Forked Tongue, Last of the High Fiends, Seneschal of the Demonocracy, and Keeper of the Secret Which Must Not Be Lost.

What could possibly go wrong inside, I wonder?

Find out this week! As we watch Kasvarina speak with an ancient demoness from the past and possibly get interrupted by grand inquisitor Serafima. A perfectly lovely dwarf who really didn’t deserve to be shot in the chest twice by Confused John, but might if she breaks this memory and makes us redo it after we’ve been stuck inside for several HOURS!

Make your choices wisely, Serafima...

And for everyone else: good luck! With Obscurati ambushes ongoing, an angry Gradiax lurking in the wings, potentially problematic personal memories waiting in Risur, and a witchoil colossus stomping around the Dreaming, we’ll probably need it!

PS: Mentioning Gradiax was a complete fluke by Naomi's player. Little did she know how closely Gradiax was lurking...
 


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