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

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 34
Courtesy of Ella's player

Our first day in Danor began well before the sun was up, with Ella sneaking into her fellow constables’ rooms and stealing their Feathers of Messenger Wind. This left her feeling rather guilty when John made her hot chocolate later, but... she’d only done what she had to do, right?

Meanwhile, Lisandra was blissfully unaware of the nighttime theft, and had been having a rather odd dream. She was lying down, being whispered to soothingly by an eladrin woman, but when she tried to get up she found she couldn’t - she was strapped down. As Lisandra started to panic the dream faded, leaving her with... an odd sense of familiarity.

This is a lot, so I'm going to give the shortest version I can.

Two parts of Lisandra's past have been left a mystery: the source of her ghost-speaking powers and her biological parents (she was found as a child abandoned in a Flint parish). I used this book to bring these mysteries to the light.

Lisandra’s biological father, Father Balthazar, is the corrupt Clergy figurehead in Nalaam. Commonly flanked by two once-humans-now-demons, Balthazar is no stranger to evil deeds. Perhaps the most sinister was his transition into false psychic lichdom, granting himself immortality in exchange for former half-eladrin lover (Riskasha Yero) eternal undeath. Her soul is bound to his corrupted Fourth Blade of Srasama.

Over the course of Lisandra's railroad adventure, she has dreams of increasing clarity. From her perspective as a small infant, she witnesses a ritual between Balthazar and Yero. Discovered on the walls of the Perpetual City by the couple, the ritual is completed with a Blade of Srasama. The ritual ends with Yero forsaking the crone and killing herself. Yero becomes a spirit, and immediately tries consoling Lisandra (Mori). Yero believes the ritual will bring the family immortality at the cost of her old body. This is of course a deception by Balthazar, who uses the now-corrupted blade to absorb Yero's spirit. As a psychic lich, Balthazar is required to write a memento, that is bonded to his Nemian Legend, a sentient collection of spirits that maintains Balthazar's immortality. As his first act of lichdom, Balthazar exerts his evilness by having the flesh flashed from Lisandra's arm, having the corrupted blade transform into a scalpel, then writes his momento on Lisandra's bones. The momento has imbued Lisandra with necromantic energy, giving her the ability to communicate with the deceased.

To destroy a Nemian Legend, one must conduct a ritual with the momento. For Balthazar, this will involve Lisandra finding Balthazar's corrupted blade, travelling to Nem (likely via Luc's lantern), and destroying the Legend.

A bit paranoid, Balthazar sends for his daughter to be throne into the volcano Enzyo Mons. Knowing he and his memento are immune to fire damage, he expects this plan will keep anyone from finding his memento and ending his lichdom. When Lisandra is delivered to the cathedral atop the volcano with his demands and a generous contribution to the church, the head priest falters. He recognizes the capability of the child, and knows she will be of use to The Family. Instead of casting her into the volcano, she sends her to a parish in Flint. He hopes her upbringing with indirectly draw her to The Family, which has set its eyes on the newly industrial city. And in a way, it did.

Balthazar believing he is a brilliant schemer, has no reason to believe Mori is alive.

Angharad and John hadn’t experienced any odd dreams, but they did notice their missing feathers. Upon investigation, Angharad found a single black hair on the floor and scratch marks at the window - as if someone with claws had broken in.

Whether from unwillingness to accept the evidence - or perhaps a desire to watch her squirm - Angharad approached Ella and asked her to help him look for clues about the theft. She reluctantly agreed and scanned the room, reporting that Illusion and flight magic had been used by the intruder. At which point Angharad started to wonder whether Gale might have stolen the feather?

We convened over breakfast and John revealed that his feather had also been taken - and based on the impressions in his carpet, by a small feminine figure. At this point Ella was pointedly avoiding looking at anyone. Lisandra checked and discovered that her feather was also missing. Ella excused herself from the meal to supposedly check on her own feather, but while she did go to her room and retrieve her Handy Haversack, she already knew exactly what was in there.

The next few days passed uneventfully in shopping and sightseeing: Lisandra made some social connections, Angharad visited Beaumont’s martial academy, and Ella investigated the local factories. Eventually Angharad approached Ella and asked her to look for planar energies in his room, just in case the feather thief had left any traces of that kind.

Already knowing it was hopeless, Ella nonetheless agreed, and after a cursory scan and a brief argument with Angharad she stalked out, wound up far too tight with too many conflicting emotions.

Lisandra, noticing the tension, had a heart-to-heart with Angharad and convinced him to try to make nice with Ella. Angharad decided that the best way to do this was to let Ella stab him. Lisandra immediately told him that that was a very bad idea - not that the kineticist listened.

He went to Ella’s room to apologise, but his attempt backfired when he inadvertently revealed that he’d been giving Andy secret combat training lessons. (Although he did at least manage to keep it to himself that Andy had psychic magic and Angharad had been teaching him how to lie better.) Ella was nonetheless furious and accused Angharad of going behind her back and betraying her trust - which was ironic really, considering what she’d been doing…

Regardless, Ella stormed out of the room and Angharad decided to leave her a friendly apology note: instructing her to stab him when she got back. He even left her a dagger to do the stabbing with! How thoughtful.

When Ella found the message though, what she saw wasn’t a weird Angharad apology, but a note telling her that the hotel was under attack by Obscurati agents and that she was needed downstairs.

Meanwhile, Angharad had been telling Lisandra just how poorly his conversation with Ella had gone, and the exasperated oracle was on her way to Ella’s room to smooth things over. She arrived just in time to see the wild-eyed tiefling slam the door open: note in one hand and dagger in the other.

It only took Lisandra a moment to deduce that something was very wrong and she tried to usher Ella back into the room where they could talk about it. Ella took a swipe at her with her claws, and Lisandra finally realised that Ella was suffering from Distant Madness. A very, very prolonged case of it.

The oracle tried to cast Delay Disease in the hopes of suppressing Ella’s madness until something more permanent could be done about it, but the tiefling was having none of it. When Angharad and John arrived after following the sounds of fighting, they found a scratched and bleeding Lisandra and an almost feral-looking Ella.

Their attempts to calm her down only led Ella to believe that they were all Obscurati assassins there to kill her, and things went downhill after that. As the tiefling became more and more desperate to escape, an insane Rage overtook her, turning Ella’s vision dark and showing her a vision.

It was the same memory the steel mill construct had shown her: of reaching out toward a blurred figure with kindness and forgiveness. Of approaching someone who was the source of hatred and resentment with hope. Something about the vision sent darkness crashing over Ella’s mind, and she fell to the floor unconscious.

Lisandra wasted no time in casting Delay Disease on her. It suppressed Ella’s distant madness for 24 hours and brought Ella back to consciousness. But while technically awake, she was still trapped in her own mind: no longer by insanity but by her own memories. Every action of the past three months passed before her mind’s eye: no longer distorted by insane paranoia and hatred but viewed with the cold eye of logic. So many unforgivable things that she couldn’t take back…

When Ella finally snapped out of her reflection an hour later, her friends were all still there: patiently waiting. Seeing the dried blood on their skin and the wounds her own claws had caused, Ella was overcome with guilt. She quietly apologised and returned her friends’ stolen Feathers to them. Upon questioning, she revealed a little of what she had done over the past few months...

Fireballing Kell’s factories, luring a band of his thugs to a secluded location and murdering them, alienating her own family, and - maybe worst of all - burning down her parents’ tree: the one they’d been buried under and the only thing she had left of them.

Her fellow constables each comforted her in their own way: Angharad expressing approval of all the Fireballs, Lisandra offering kind words and hugs, and John - the most practical of all - ensuring that by the next morning he had Remove Disease prepped and ready to remove the distant madness permanently.

The remaining days before the scheduled train trip passed quietly: with Ella in shock and recovering in the hotel suite, while the others either kept her company or left to gather information and keep up appearances. Notably, Lisandra heard a rumour that a number of grisly murders had been popping up around Beaumont - and also that some unfortunate ship’s captain had lost his ship to a termite infestation.

The morning of our departure we were at the station bright and early, and even in her troubled state Ella couldn’t help but be fascinated by the technological marvel of the Avery Coast train.

With the technologist suitably distracted, Angharad and Lisandra played up their roles as traveling nobility and were shown around the first class accommodations by the train conductor himself: Xorin Marchand. The staff seemed friendly enough - or at least the first class chef was certainly enthusiastic about having an opportunity to experiment with Danoran and Risuri ‘fusion’ flavours - and Angharad managed to snag an invitation to participate in “The Great Safari”. Basically the opportunity to shoot any Malice Lands monsters that tried to attack the train during its passage to Drakr.

As we settled in we met one of our undercover operatives - a security guard called Law Rightson - and a family of half-orcs from Ber called the Grientos. They would be staying in the first class rooms next to ours.

Shortly after the train got underway we were treated to a complimentary breakfast in the first class dining carriage: where we got to meet the rest of our traveling companions. Jacques was the captain of the unfortunate termite-infested ship that Lisandra had heard rumours about. Alexi was a traveling magic item trader with an adorable dinosaur companion called Emil. Bree was a scarred woman with a lot of colourful war stories to share with the Griento children. Emily was a tiefling war veteran with a fondness for tabletop roleplaying games. And Bethany was a quiet tiefling woman who took quite the interest in Angharad.

We had a few hours to mingle with them all before the train stopped at a large agricultural settlement, and two rather striking passengers boarded: a broad woman with a constant expression of disdain, and a humanoid figure of unknown features... shrouded head to toe in black cloth. The two were joined at the wrists by ornate bracelets of gold.

Intense curiosity gripped everyone as the two figures entered the first class lounge. Who are they? Where are they going? Why is one of them roleplaying as a mummy? Find out the answers to possibly none of these questions this week: on Zeitgeist!

DM Notes:

I ran this adventure with the red herring NPCs. I regretted it half way through, because the party spent a lot of time following up the red herrings. By the time the party faced down Boone in Nem, they had not once tailed Bree, Verzubak, Boone, Luc or Ottavia. On the positive side, it did test the limits of my GMing (having to GM group discussions/interactions, keeping tabs on 15+ NPCs at each stop). The players did enjoy it too.
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 35
Courtesy of Lisandra's player

Last session began at Keskay, as a new lot of passengers boarded the train, the most noticeable of which was Elanor Yanette, a rather lavish and intimidating woman, and her veiled companion, linked at the wrists in decorative gold cuffs. Also in tow was a dwarven man, Verzubak Tantalovich, seemingly enthusiastic about mathematics as he promptly began to oversee Emily’s game of strategy in first class. A charismatic blonde man named Ford Zugosky boarded, and an awkward gentleman named Leroy Flowers, dressed in an attention-grabbing red-suit, followed in by a bearded older gentleman with a slew of scrolls and papers that appeared to be an academic.

As passengers settled in, orders bowls of chips and slipped into tables to make new acquaintances, the BAD got to work. In the first class quarters, John met our final Keskay boarder, a tiefling man by the name of Olivert Boone who caught the sight or John… or should I say John’s gun, through the doorway and struck up conversation, inviting the gunslinging duid for a drink.

As John and his new gun-enthused friend joined the rest of the crew in the meals car, Angharad was bravely going where none other braved, slipping into a spare seat on Elanor’s table. The veiled woman’s humming halted at his presence, but Elanor remained impassive, eagerly devouring a plate of cream pastries. Once her flaky, sweet prey was devoured, she turned her hungry gaze upon the kineticist to inquire his interest. Price for conversation with her, it seemed, was a kiss on her hand, which Angharad stared at until the penny dropped and he reluctantly gave in to the social convention. But when the woman’s hand wandered to reveal a little more of her intimidating cleavage, Angharad’s attention promptly shifted to her much more modest companion. Just another scar for life to add to the collection. Though the veiled companion, Isobel, was not the chatty sort, he got a good look at the delicate gold chains linking them together and determined they seemed to be primarily decoration. Eventually, Elanor interrupted with an air of disdain and informed him not to speak to Isobel, that she did not enjoy it. His apologies were met with acceptance and another flash of cleavage that even the great Angharad could not brave, and the actor who played Henri exited stage-left with a hasty farewell.

Meanwhile Lisandra had set her attention on the man in red. He seemed a little shocked as she approached him, but recovered enough to wipe his chip-greased hand clean on the leg of his pant before shaking her hand. Well, he certainly wasn’t a first-class passenger, was he? They spoke of his threads, which he acquired in Flint, a supposed small town near the Anthras Mountains named “Gabro”. Apparently he had been there for work, inspecting some of the mines. He quickly changed the subject to Lisandra, employing the tedium of returning a question about her ‘pretty dress’ and inquired to where she was off to. When she mentioned travelling with her brother to Crysillir, Leroy abruptly excused himself and with an awkward departure left her curious considering none of the reasons why a man would take issue at them mention of a chaperone as she made her way over to the bar, ordering one of Kov’s ‘Risuri lattes’ and to eavesdrop on the bustling conversation between John and Olivert.

The tiefling regaled tales of his work adventuring and the pair made a toast, along with a morning dose of liquor, to good travels and fine weaponry. Olivert fawned over John’s weapon without restraint, asking of its origins and proudly showing off his own in return; a pistol brimming with fire magic by the heat radiating from the barrel. Both Lisandra and Ella caught the flirtatious vibe from the tiefling as they observed the conversation, but it seemed to be all a show for the feminine audience, as he winked in their direction before taking another drink.

Ella’s attentions redirected to Ford Zugosky, a small town politician from Ashkov, near Bhad Rhyzhavdut (Buhd RYEZ-hav-dut) headed for Cheurge to fundraise for his campaign. He spoke of the trouble of being a human, and a blonde one at that, running for mayor of a town composed of mostly Dwarven constituents, with the history between the Dwarved of Drakr and the golden-haired godhands of the Clergy. Enthusiastically, he ran his draft campaign slogans by Ella, who gave him some heart-felt advice about making sure to lead from the heart, and truthfully so and he accepted her advice gratefully.

Lisandra decided to try her chances joining John with his new drinking buddy as her coffee arrived. The expected flirtation and the kiss of the hand was all well and good, but the medium knew she had perhaps under-estimated the level of sleaze the tiefling exuded as his grasp never left her, diverting from her hand to linger down her arm and slip around her shoulder as he continued to chat. When she heavily dropped the reason for their travel was to organize a marriage contract, Olivert seemed vaguely disappointed and expressed that John should marry this ‘Enzo’ instead and Lisandra should shoot him a Sending when she was available.

Travels toward their first Enclave continued as certain dwarves discussed probability and gaming, the bearded academic debated magic theory with Alexi before leaving in a fluster. Angharad played protective big brother and inquired with the guard about which quarters Olivert was staying in. John brought Sidney out for her debut appearance in the meals car, with an ominous queue of music from the talented pianist as Kov got to work preparing a bowl of raw meats for the feline passenger.

Meanwhile Ella stuck up a conversation with Bree, who sat quietly, still on her own and no longer keeping an eye out for whoever she was waiting for. Ella offered her a drink and tentatively enquired about her missing friend. While the subject was a sore one, Bree seemed to be thankful for the company and despite her obvious military background, content to respectfully socialize with a Risuri. Ella was especially curious about the woman’s arm, to which Bree was happy to humble brag about how it was torn off by a summon jaguar in a scuffle against a druid. She said she had been approached by a very unconventional doctor after the battle who used a blend of science and magic to reanimate and attach her arm. Fascinated by the story, Ella asked to inspect the work, casting a little detect magic to find a mix of conjuration and necromancy magic keeping the lifeless limb attached and functional.

Finally the train made it to Cheurge, where the passengers allotted for the evening to stay in the Enclave. Team BAD booked their suite, a joint room upon Lisandra’s request, and dropped off their luggage before quickly debriefing and setting about their work for the evening. Ella and ANgharad decided to tail Leroy, and Lisandra would follow Elanor while John made his way to some of the local drinking establishments to gather some general information on any passengers who dropped in for a drink.

Ella and Angharad followed Leroy to the same establishment as John and many of the train passengers for a drink. Alexi and Bree both drinking in solitude, while Olivert quickly put moves on a pretty patron for the evening and Verzubak busied himself with drunken speeches, lost dice games and buying a whole round for the room with what little he had left.

A while into the night Leroy left the bar in a hurry. Angharad and Ella followed, watching him tailing a shaggy-looking mark of his own into an alley out back. They watched, perplexed, as Leroy shoved the man, who promptly pulled a knife of Leroy and robbed him blind.

Meanwhile Lisandra had spent the evening subtly watching Elanor, who left the district after obtaining a pass from the local police. She followed the carriage to the gate in which it left, settling in for a rather long wait as she staked out the area for Elanor’s return. The pair returned, several hours later, accompanied by an armed escort back to the hotel, where the Team regrouped and debriefed for the evening.
Before the drama of the evening was over, Team Bad heard a tapping at their window. Their window on the seventh floor, with no complimentary balcony. A little perplexed, Lisandra cautiously pulled back the curtain to reveal a grinning man, quite athletic from what she could see--which was plenty, considering he only wore a coat and nothing else. He waved as she stared. At Angharad’s prompt, she opened the window and the pungent stench of bath oils followed the man in, along with the distant sound of guards screaming above.

He introduced himself as Mister Mapple and inquired if they had any pants to spare. As Angharad offered him a towel and Lisandra wandered off to find a hairpin to secure it, Mister Mapple discussed with Ella his bathing activities in the unrented penthouse above. As the guards pounded on the door, their barely clothed guest seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, and poised himself on the windowsill as Lisandra answered the door, before vanishing into the night. Curious Ella peeked out the window, to find him casually waiting at the ground floor for the guards to catch up and she cast Message to ask his first name. Mister. Mister Mapple, came the reply, before he sprinted off with the guard in tow.

As midnight approached, the team took Sidney for a walk and met their Guard contact, Law, for a quick rendezvous near the gardens. He reported that a death had occured in coach that morning, shortly after arriving at Keskay. A man had choked on a small nut in the common food car. He was found to be carrying a poisoned dagger and a portrait of a dwarf; bearded and bald-headed and a few of the team wondered if perhaps it was an image of Verzubak. They requested he keep tabs on Elanor the next day while on the train and pass on a message to Writha to try to keep tabs on Bree and Bree’s room for any further information she could uncover. They kept things brief, and returned to the hotel to settle in for the evening.

That night, Lisandra found her dream once again became a little stranger than normal. Again she dreamed of an Eladrin woman by her side, whispering wordless comforts to her as she was pinned down to a hard surface. Only this time three humanoid figures stood in the background, two that appeared to have wings. She tried to focus on them, but found her gaze kept returning to the Eladin. Opening her mouth to speak, to tell the woman she didn’t understand, the only noise that came out of her mouth was the sound of a baby’s giggle.

She awoke to find her companions getting ready for the day, and the group made haste to board the train before departure for the next leg of their journey. The first class meal car was a buzz with rumours of a murder in Cheurge, but the group’s attention promptly shifted to the Griento family, who bordered looking dejected, Damata carrying his badly beaten daughter in his arm, and his son sporting a black eye as they made their way through.

Several more passengers boarded at Cheurge, including Luc Jierre, as Elanor gossiped loudly about the apparent shut-in as she had a conversation with his companion in hand gestures. Despite the notable name-drop, Lisandra quickly approached Damata, quietly inviting him and his family to enjoy a private breakfast in their quarters together.

Away from the crowd, Damata opened up over walnut croissants and honey-nut oats that his family had been attacked by drunken militia when touring the city last night. His daughter had taken their insults poorly, which was often a little more violent than non-orcish temper tantrums, but before Damata could pull her away, she was beaten badly and his son had earned a kick to the face for trying to help his sister.

Interrupting Sidney’s epic pat session with the children, Lisandra called Dabbo over to inspect her wounds and ask permission to help ease the pain. With consent, she lay hands on the girl, calling on healing energy to ease the girl’s suffering. Grateful, Dabbo rolled her shoulder around with more ease and promised to fight alongside Lisandra in future. With breakfast coming to a close, the Griento’s returned to their quarters and the group decided to take Xorin up on his offer to show off the engine, and also submit a complaint to the conductor about the treatment of First Class passengers in the Cheurge Enclave. Along the way they took note of the cars and their contents, noting the many crates and containers in cargo as they passed through. One in particular was of a curious note; a crate filled with religious items and… was that snoring? Ella cast Keyhole and put her eye to the newly created hole, only to see an eye staring right back at her.

Bursting forth from the crate, a familiar, but thankfully very much clothed, man greeted them.

What the hell is Mister Mapple doing stowed away on our train? Who’s clothes is he wearing? What new acquaintances will our constables-in-hiding make today? Find out today, in the undercover adventures of Team BAD!
 

Lisandra's backstory is cool.

Sorry for suggesting red herrings. I guess I didn't consider including all of them, but more like, making them available in case the PCs latch on to someone you describe in passing. But it sounds like you're having fun.
 


Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
Yes nice backstory and evil villain. Some players really enjoy cool and weird secrets in their backstory which tie them into the plot.
I put in a lot of extra Red Herrings but they were not convincing enough and the players did not waste a lot of major effort on them. They did decide they really hated Elenor really fast and it was a matter of time before she was dealt with
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 36

The players didn't chuck Mister Mapple off the train, despite thinking he was a risk to the mission. There was more discussion to be had between the party and passenger, and between passengers themselves. Unlike the impression I got from the book, Luc and Ottavia would often leave their chambers. Luc had a dash of social anxiety, and Ottavia had challenged him to confront it. Despite his discomfort, he would engage in short conversations with NPCs and PCs.

Regarding passenger interactions, one highlight was Alexi and Professor Sansdotter immediately entering an argument over the pragmatics of different magical communication.

As the party journeyed, the Professor regaled them with useful exposition (on the dead magic zone of Danor). His lecture was interrupted by Malia, who took the constables and others upstairs for a safari. Lisandra and Ella used this as an opportunity to judge personality based on the enjoyment, targets, and markmanship of passengers. Little did they know Malia used the safari for a similar purpose.

When stopping at the Malice Lands, Lisandra tailed Elanor (bumping into Mister Mapple on the way), Angharad kept an eye on the Grientos, and Ella hosted a small picnic on the hills to watch the aurora. John's player couldn't make this session. Everyone eventually met up on the hill, alongside a few red herring NPCs. Around this time, the city plunges into darkness and Angharad begins to drown (the elemental fire that constitutes his being was swapped with water). After a few seconds of the kineticist violently coughing up water, Angharad's connection with fire is restored and he slowly begins to feel better. Lisandra and Ella take Angharad to their hotel room to rest, before venturing outside to find their their security guard contact, who they had posted to outside Elanor's room. The timid guard blushes, telling the constables that he heard lewd moaning for most of the day.

The party rests and hops back on the train the following morning. Lisandra bumps into the rather pleasant Cardiff. The constables join Malia for another safari, Cardiff instructs Lisandra on how to use a rifle, and the bandit trap is sprung. Ella, who was discussing magic with Sansdotter in the second-class cabins was the closest to the Screaming Malice.

DM Notes

I didn't write up, but the red-suited Leory is based on a terrifying friend-of-a-friend who I met only once at a casino. When someone asked this man for one of his chips, he replied with a swift, apathetic "I will fucking kill you." People laughed. I didn't. I know deep down this man has killed at least one person. Not for pleasure, but for obligation to the inevitable.

For the rest of the adventure, Leory's chip eating habits perplex the constables.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 37
Courtesy of Ella's player

We all have moments in life when we pause to reflect on what exactly we're doing, and how the hell we wound up here. For Ella, the most recent of these was while running toward a giant screaming hydra with nothing but her claws and a bunch of prepared spells that could just as easily spellblight her as do anything useful. That didn’t stop her doing it, she just knew how intensely stupid it was. As evidenced by immediately being bitten almost to death and punted through a train window.

Ella’s antics did succeed at getting the monster's attention though: drawing it away from the other passengers while Ella climbed out a window and hid on the far side of the train. Fortunately Angharad and Lisandra came dashing to the rescue: leaping across the tops of train carriages like the heroes in every action movie involving a train ever. And they were just in time too! As wriggling swarms of mini tentacle monsters descended on Ella. Because of course we weren't just fighting one monster. No, we were fighting the swarms of mini monsters that it could create by detaching its own heads and exploding them into masses of tentacled monstrosities.

You know, just your average screaming swamp hydra tactics.

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The Screaming Malice attempts to derail the train and crush the party. Fortunately, the players realised what it was up to and repositioned.

Meanwhile John and the train guards were still on their way, and something suss was happening at the front of the train - but we didn't have time to worry about that. Angharad was busy mowing down mini tentacles with a cavalry saber, Lisandra was taking pot shots with a borrowed rifle and Ella was trying to bait the hydra away from the train. Not entirely successfully, as the giant monster turned its attention to Lisandra and almost bit her to death, and then snatched Harper the rapier-wielding half-elf off the roof and actually bit her to death.

The mysterious half-elf’s sacrifice was not in vain though, as a combination of rifle shots from John, the train guards, and the other passengers - and some saber stabbing fun-times from Angharad - managed to drive the monster away. As we watched it retreat we realised the fight was still far from over though: there were still distant humanoid figures milling around at the front of the train, riding some kind of odd-looking mounts.

Angharad ran right into the fray, coming across the closest two and managed to dismount one and scare the other off. As Lisandra detained the grounded bandit, Angharad chased and Ella chased the other. Unfortunately this accomplished little other than getting Angharad shot with a critical hit from a pistol. The rest of the bandits fled, mounts loaded with cargo, and we were left with only one bandit to interrogate.

Or rather, for the train guards to interrogate, since we are - after all - not meant to be constables.

The dead were collected - including Harper - and the traumatised passengers ushered back to their carriages as the train got underway. We were asked to stay in our room during the staff’s investigation into the attack, and were politely questioned. Ella shared what she knew of the Screaming Malice - that it’s summoned by sacrificial rituals, so its presence was likely planned for the attack - and Lisandra skillfully persuaded Xorin to keep us informed about the results of the investigation once it was over.

Fortunately we had a more immediate source of information in Writha (a cleaner contact on the train): who slipped us some details of the interrogation of the captured bandit. Apparently the bandits had a contact on the train who tipped them off on where to stage the attack, but no one knew who it was. The stolen cargo had been of an industrial nature, and the bandit leader was called Ronin. Writha also revealed that about 20 passengers and a dozen guards had died during the attack...

It was a sobering number, and prompted a brief heart-to-heart between Lisandra and Ella about not dwelling on the past and events we could no longer change. Meanwhile Angharad was being distracted by a Sending from Delft. The Inspector warned him that Ella was under the effects of Distant Madness and likely highly unstable - and that if she’d already gotten everyone killed then Delft had probably paid for this Sending for nothing. Good to see his priorities are still in order…

Fortunately, Angharad was still alive and able to respond: reporting that the Distant Madness was old news and the mission was going fine. Although with... admittedly more tentacles than expected. This prompted a brief lecture about laying off the drugs from Delft before the Sending ended.

That wasn’t the end of the day’s excitement though! Confined to our carriage and unable to do much, Lisandra decided to continue our investigations using more magical means. The oracle cast Clairaudience-Clairvoyance on 4 of the train carriages. The first to be spied on was Giles, and his mysterious black case: which - as it turned out - contained nothing more than a trumpet.

The second spellcast went to Leroy: sitting alone in a second class cabin and eating chips. So. Many. Chips. And so very slowly. Watching him was… possibly the most unsettling six minutes of Lisandra’s life, but she did notice a dark grey ring on one of his fingers.

The third Clairaudience-Clairvoyance went to the first class dining carriage, where some off-duty guards were talking. Apparently they’d found blood in the carriage the industrial cargo had been taken from, but no bodies to explain the blood… hopefully it didn’t belong to Mr Mapple...

Finally, Lisandra’s last magical spying session went to Dan: the older gentleman with nice glasses. Who apparently helps Professor Kipana with odd experiments involving strange eyewear? Perhaps he was just fitting the Professor for a pair of glasses? Or maybe they were testing a set of x-ray goggles! Who knows! Lisandra did note that both Dan and the Professor were wearing pale grey metal rings though…

Our speculation was cut short by the arrival in Trekhom: capital of Drakr and the most polluted city we’ve been in. The train’s 20 minute late arrival had already stirred up rumours at the station ahead of us, and the arrival of the damaged train and the shrouded bodies that were wheeled off of it only stirred up more concern. Soon train tickets were being refunded left and right as people decided that the Malice Lands wasn’t quite safe enough to travel through. Not until the giant tentacled monster problem could be dealt with at least.

In all this commotion Damata approached Angharad and asked if he’d like to attend a philosophical lecture with the half-orc? Sensing that there was more to this request than mere politeness - that, for some reason, Damata needed company - Angharad accepted, and Lisandra and Ella decided to tag along too.

Traveling through Trekhom was… eye-opening. Apparently the guards here aren’t afraid to throw around 5th level spells like Dominate Person - or Necromancy spells like Boneshatter - while doing their jobs. We also saw some of Drakr’s famed philosophical debates: with several dwarves yelling various ideologies at each other in a kind of “marketplace of ideas”.

Fascinating, but not as fascinating as the lecture we were about to see: being given by Vlendam Heid, the founder of the Eschatologist school of thought and the idea of finding a proper ending to things.

The dwarf proved to be a compelling speaker - especially to Damata - but it wasn’t long before Heid interrupted his speech to take special note of us: singling us out as survivors of the attack on the train. He sat companionably on the edge of the stage and spoke to us directly, asking about our experience with our own narrowly avoided ends.

Damata was first to respond, stating rather disconsolately that such a near-death experience had made him reflect on his own past mistakes. That he’d hurt his family and he didn’t know how to fix it without getting himself killed.

As the half-orc spoke the other audience members began to take furious notes, apparently enthralled with this insight. But not perhaps, so enthralled as the members of Team BAD. What has our half-orc friend gotten himself into? What did he mean by hurting his family? Why did he think trying to make amends would get him killed?

Find out the answers to hopefully some of these questions this week: on Zeitgeist.
 


Echolocation

Explorer
Session 38

Team BAD learned of Damata's sad tale. They agreed to help.

Following the theater, Team BAD tracked a few suspects. The bloody and beaten Leory, who sulked in his room, ignoring Lisandra’s offer of medical care. Ella, who bore witness to a violent academic debate in Trekholm’s bar. And Angharad, who tailed Luc Jierre through a gathering of some sort, perhaps late to the party. After concluding his business, Angharad made his way to one of Trekholm’s holy cathedrals of law. He had his wounds banished from the record (if the Screaming Malice cannot pay damages, are there any damages to be paid?). Of course, Angharad took a moment to gaze into the roaring bonfire, recalling the history of the Ash Wolf (I conjured up a story of the Ash Wolf's lover).

The night concluded, with Lisandra once again plunging into a vivid dream.

The following day, the train was abound with rumours. Another body found in Trekholm. Could the killer be on the train, and responsible for the beast that attacked it? Many seem to think so. The mood was deary, with Team BAD occasionally bumping into the fellow passenger. Olivert at the bar, Luc and Ottavia snacking on cheese, Mister Mapple confessing his love for Isobel, Dan testing Ella’s skull for eccentricities, and Bree casually mentioning Caius Bergeron…

Now Team BAD finds themselves in Nalaam, the Decedent Playground. A city run by a cabal of mages. Both mana and coin flow freely here, with no temptation off the table. Before departing the train, they received a letter from Elanor Yanette, inviting them to the Nalaam Arena. The party departs, meeting with Damata who produces a bag of strange and powerful totems.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 39
Courtesy of Ella's player

Another day, another criminal organisation to threaten or bribe… Emphasis on the threaten this time. We arrived at the Stoneforge ready for a fight: armed with magical totems from Damata and some stylish warpaint! Or… well Angharad and Damata had warpaint. The rest of us were boring and plain-faced as we marched into the Stoneforge to speak on Damata’s behalf.

The actual speaking only lasted about... thirty seconds before we unanimously agreed that the asshole in charge of this gang needed to die. ...Or at the very least receive a very physical lesson in not threatening our friends. Sylvester and his thugs were thoroughly educated in short order: by means of a Fireball, a dozen bullets and some sharp lioness claws. Lisandra did take a rather nasty hit from a human-bane dagger in the process, but got her own back by ordering the last two thugs standing to surrender and pin the blame for the missing money on Sylvester. Making sure that Damata and his family’s names were not mentioned in the process.

Satisfied that the Grientos were safe, we parted ways with Damata - although not without some tears, handshakes and hugs - and received an invitation to visit him and his family in Ber sometime. With the pleasant part of the evening thus concluded, we made our way to the Nalaam arena: to see what Elanor had planned. The arena turned out to be an absolutely massive building - guarded by security guards using magical telepathic earpieces. We managed to get to our first class viewing box without Ella dying of jealousy on the way - and ran into Professor Kipana on the way. He said his farewells and explained that he wouldn’t be getting on the train the next day, as he teaches here in Nalaam.

That left us with plenty of shady individuals still to investigate though - with Elanor first on the list. And no, I don’t care that we knew at that point that she wasn’t Obscurati. She was still on the list. Fortunately she was seated in the room right next to ours, so we had a clear view of her shmoozing three of the most notoriously corrupt and wealthy mages in Nalaam. This included the necromancer Nikola, the ex-druid Jamie the Weevil, and the Clergyman Father Balthazar. Elanor was attempting to sell them Isobel, who - as it turned out - was an eladrin woman raised as a sex slave.

While we were processing that information, the fighting in the arena had begun, and it wasn’t long before we saw a familiar face being dragged into the arena: Mr Mapple. He managed to survive the initial bear fight, at which point Elanor offered up a thousand gold pieces to have him fight something a little more dangerous instead. But before she did, she wanted to know one thing: his name. This demand sparked quite the speech from Mr Mapple - or, as he soon told us: Andrei (“Audrey”) Von Recklinhausen. After threatening to murder every single thing in the arena and build a corpse ramp out of it to tear out Elanor’s heart, he was sentenced to fight the pyrecat: a one-eyed beast as tall as an elephant that could breathe fire like a dragon.

In a show of badassery, Audrey almost managed to kill it before it set itself on fire and burned him horribly. Fleeing from the flames, he leapt off the cat’s back and stuck his axe into the wall just below our viewing balcony, staring up at us desperately. It didn’t take long for us to decide to help him - although Lisandra, oddly enough, was the most hesitant about it. John healed Audrey, Ella cast Glitterdust on the pyrecat, and Lisandra gave everyone communal fire resistance - although when she touched Audrey to transfer the spell she found herself drained of 5 points of Constitution. The man apologised to Lisandra profusely as he climbed into our room, then looked at us expectantly and asked if we were going to save Isobel.

We, of course, agreed. Because firstly: fuck Elanor. And secondly: fuck Elanor.

With the aid of Ella’s Haste we dashed around to Elanor’s room - the guards oddly moving out of our way as we approached, and the crowd in the rest of the stands going absolutely wild at the unexpected turn of events. On the way there, Lisandra cast a spell - a simple Divine Favour - and her left arm began to glow. This was only the first of many weirdnesses though, as we entered Elanor’s room to find one of the couches occupied by a very familiar figure: the red-haired half-eladrin woman from Lisandra’s dreams… the one who’d called her Mori. The one who seemed to be her mother...

Inscribed on the bone within Lisandra's (AKA Mori's) left arm is a momento, an autobiography of all of Father Balthazar's evil deeds. It sustains Balthazar's immortality, as well as Lisandra's ghost speaking powers and divine connection. Once Lisandra's fate destined her to meet with her Father, her arm began to ache and her dreams became more vivid, dredging up long forgotten memories. Now, her arm radiates with Nemian power.

The half-eladrin here is not Lisandra's mother who has long since perished, though her soul remains trapped within Balthazar's sickle (actually a corrupted Blade of Srasama). Instead, it is a demon under Balthazar's command. A fan of nostalgia, Balthazar has commanded the demon to use alter self to take the form of his semi-departed wife.

Contrary to popular belief, Balthazar cannot summon demons. He transforms humans under vile rituals to take their form then dominates them.

Lisandra wasn’t the only one shocked. Father Balthazar - the highest ranking clergy member in Nalaam - stared at the oracle as she came into sight and said: “You should not be here!” He scowled at Lisandra and as he did her glowing arm started to burn with pain. He looked at the half-eladrin woman and ordered: “Riskasha! Bring me her arm: a… memento Mori, if you will.” Then the punny twat vanished with a cast of a Teleport spell.

Lord Kulp - the arena’s master of ceremonies - ushered Isobel off to one side, leaving us plenty of room to murder Elanor and her allies. And murder we did.

John killed Jaime the ex-druid in a single volley of bullets - only to have him raised as a zombie immediately after by Nikola the necromancer. Meanwhile Sydney was chewing on Elanor’s butt and the half-eladrin - Riskasha - was picking up a double-bladed sword. As she walked toward Lisandra, her form shifted: changing from the familiar features of Lisandra’s dream mum to a winged demon with lash marks across her face.

Ella decided she wasn’t going anywhere near that and clawed Elanor instead. Audrey finished off the despicable woman by bull rushing her over the balcony into the arena below. She was likely dead when she hit the snow… but the blind pyrecat wandering around down there made sure of it. Meanwhile Lisandra was facing her personal nightmare by zapping the mum-turned-demon with an Admonishing Ray and John followed her example by filling the outsider with so many bullets that dropped dead.

Good thing… she wasn’t important… or anything… right? Aha… uh… anyway

It didn’t take long for the combat finish after that, with Audrey punching the zombie’s head clean off and Sydney ripping off the necromancer’s butt. Lord Kulp quietly invited us all to talk somewhere more… private… as the stands around us erupted in wild applause.

After some initial suspicion we followed him down some stairs to a secret chamber and had a nice chat. Apparently, Lord Kulp was quite pleased with our outright slaughter of three of his guests. We’d done him quite the political favour. And in thanks, he offered us the dead mages’ gear - which he agreed to turn into a Scroll of Sending for us. He also let slip some possible Vekeshi leanings… but we didn’t have time to investigate that, because Lisandra was having a quiet mental breakdown and Audrey Von flipping Recklinhausen was in the room.

Also Isobel. Who seemed somewhat unmoved by the whole affair - aside from a very quiet sense of satisfaction at the deaths of her former owner and future potential owners. Lord Kulp offered Isobel a chance at freedom: the opportunity to go wherever she liked, and after some thought she replied that she’d rather like to go to Flint, to meet Gale. Audrey volunteered to go with her and so it was settled - without any intervention on our part. Two more colourful characters to liven up our home city and give Delft a headache! I’m sure he’ll thank us later…

Having just saved Audrey’s life though, we rather thought that he owed us some answers, and - after much prodding - found out that Wolfgang Von Recklinhausen was, in fact, Audrey’s father. Also that Audrey was a living construct - a fact that Ella has thus far failed to share with the party. But it could explain his ability to drain the life from people he touches…

At this point Lisandra was on the verge of having a quiet mental breakdown so we said our farewells and retired to the enclave hotel to rest. There Lisandra had a dream: a dream of a now-familiar scene, but with quite different circumstances…

The red-haired half-eladrin woman - Riskasha - was performing a ritual: helped by Father Balthazar and a familiar winged demon. Riskasha called upon Srasama and then cut her own neck, using a 15 ft long black-stained blade that turned into a dagger in her hands. Riskahsa fell dead to the ground and her ghost rose from her corpse, turning to Lisandra to comfort her. "It's okay, Mori, it's going to be okay. We'll all live. Forever." But as her spirit spoke, Father Balthazar stepped forward and stabbed her with the black-stained blade. The ghost faded and her voice emanated from the blade: cursing him. Father Balthazar smiled and turned to Lisandra, speaking to the demon behind him as he gestured at one of the baby’s arms. "Pull back the flesh. I always preferred the medium of bone."

With a razor sharp quill and a vial of blood, he wrote on the bone of Lisandra’s left arm, leaving the oracle wondering WHAT THE HELL WAS HAPPENING!!! as she woke up. Being a calm and mature young woman, she reacted in the way any reasonable person would: by bursting into tears and being hugged until the world made some kind of sense again. Well… maybe not that last part… but she managed to pull herself together enough to get ready to depart for the train at least.

Ella and John gave her some personal space to prepare while they ferried luggage down to the lobby, where they were greeted by several excited rumours about their combat in the arena the previous evening. As well as talk about a grisly ritualistic murder that had taken place in the city - one very similar to the other murders that had occurred at each of our stops in previous cities.

Is there some kind of murderer on the loose? Perhaps on our very train? Could it be us? Ah, who am I kidding… we already know we’re murderers. More importantly: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH LISANDRA’S MUM? And are we ever going to do our jobs and find the Obscurati agents?

Find out the answers to almost certainly none of these GODSDAMNED QUESTIONS… (sigh)... this week, on Zeitgeist.
 

Echolocation

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 41
Courtesy of Ella's player


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Clergy really are assholes.

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

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

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

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

Hopefully

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


Text Roleplay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explorer
Session 42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Echolocation

Explorer
Interim sessions

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

Ella's leg

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

Angharad's hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisandra's arm

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

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

Other things

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

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

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

Newspaper clippings

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

fired.png





hired.png
 

Attachments

  • Wolfgone.pdf
    1.6 MB · Views: 9

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

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

Echolocation

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

Session 43
Courtesy of Lisandra's player

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Explorer
Session 44
Courtesy of Ella's player

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DM Notes

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