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

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 58
Courtesy of Ella's player

It’s not often in our line of work that we get to sit down, have a nice chat, and eat some free food... Unfortunately our soon-to-be lunch was rather destroyed by black-clad figures shattering the skylight and streaming in from above. We just had time to recognise the familiar face of Lya Jierre’s half-elf bodyguard before the entire room went black - cast into Darkness by a spellslinger standing on the roof.

Confused shouts and screams echoed as guests panicked and our hostess Melissa hid under a chair. John was quick to react though, turning into a giant lizard whose senses could penetrate the darkness and darting up to the rooftop to eat the mage. Meanwhile Angharad was unphased by the darkness: simply forming a flame blade and stabbing out at where the half-elf had been.

Glaucia struck her staff on the floor, dispelling the darkness, and Angharad received an Immovable Rod to his foot from the winking half-elf. With an odd mix of flirtatiousness and self-deprecation, Lya’s bodyguard proceeded to try to beat Angharad senseless with his remaining magic stick while the Cipith and Lisandra cut him down to size and Brakken came perilously close to dying.

Sydney burst into the room with a roar, Ella failed a bunch of acrobatics checks, and Glaucia kept us all alive with channelled energy. Eventually we managed to subdue all the ambushers - well, all except the half-elf... who sank into the floor in a swirl of shadows, swearing profusely at his own ineptitude.

The philosophers gathered their wits as the turtle-chef mourned the death of our lunch and Melissa gingerly crawled out from under her chair to ask us what the hell was going on. We didn’t have much information to share with the journalist - other than that we and Lya Jierre were clearly after the same thing and therefore rivals - but she nonetheless gave us Lya’s supposed address despite the destruction we’d brought to her house.

We excused ourselves as Beran police took over the scene, and decided to head straight to the Summer Court rather than risk whatever trap might be waiting at Lya’s address. The beginning of this trip proved uneventful: Brakken providing commentary as we rode through the city and its outskirts and examined the statues of old conquerors and leaders who’d helped the original Bruse unify the people of Ber. Things got more interesting as we headed uphill into a giant redwood forest and Glaucia suggested we stop for lunch.

The gnoll had something on her mind: the subject of prophecy. After some discussion, Glaucia announced that she’d rather like to have her fortune told - if only so she could prove it wrong. Lisandra offered her services as party Diviner and Glaucia accepted, requesting insight into a particular issue: that of her vengeance against a group of gnolls that had attacked her village.

Explaining, the gnoll laid out her story: fifteen years ago gnolls from the Cult of the Steel Lord attacked her village, abducting children to convert to their beliefs. Glaucia refused to allow her children to be enslaved, killing two of them with her own hand rather than give them over to the cultists. The raid leader panicked and let Glaucia and the rest of her children go, and ever since the gnoll has trained herself for revenge: joining the Executores Dola Liberta and gaining divine powers of justice. Unfortunately the Cult of the Steel Lord lairs on an island off the shores of Ber, and Glaucia has no official right to commandeer Beran troops to deal with them. In light of this, she wanted to know whether she would ever have her revenge.

Lisandra descended deep into a trance, calling to the spirits of Ber for answers to the gnoll’s questions. The oracle was rather shocked to have her summons answered by a ghostly dragon, and even more so when it granted her leave to ask it questions in light of her “generous donation to its coffers”. Confused, Lisandra nevertheless focused on the matter at hand and began her questioning.

I wasn't expecting this, so I had to improvise quickly. I decided the dragon would be Yerov, whose eye the player's encounter later in the book. Only later did I double check my notes and read about the potato field and stuff...so uh, my bad. I could have set this up better. When Lisandra encounters the eye, she will need to make will saves each round to avoid the eye absorbing her soul. If she fails two consecutive saves, her soul will be sucked in. As a spirit medium, she can assume control of the eye and engage in the fight, but her body will lay limp. Tinker and Lisandra may fight for control of the eye beam structure, which will result in it's deterioration. If so, the eye will fall into the volcanic lava, likely triggering the onset of an eruption.

Her nine questions revealed that yes, Glaucia would get her revenge against the cult - and she’d have allies in doing so. These allies would come at least in part from the party and maybe Brakken, although not necessarily all of them. The vengeance quest would lead to her death and come to pass within the next three months, although it wouldn’t affect our own mission here - so long as we didn’t join the Cult of the Steel Lord anyway.

Glaucia seemed quite satisfied with these answers - and confident in her ability to prove both prophecy and a dragon wrong. The next leg of the ride was quietly contemplative and only interrupted by the appearance of a concealed pit trap. Ella spotted it in enough time to shout a warning, but as she dismounted to examine it an ear-piercing high-pitched whining noise vibrated through the air and sent our steeds into a panic. As they began to buck and scream a rumbling sound approached and two giant, freaking dinosaurs appeared.

...I don’t know about the rest of you, but this is not how I wanted to experience Ber’s native fauna…

Still! At least Ella can get some solid first-hand field experience before she’s eaten! Such fascinating reptiles; imagine the study potential! Do you think they prefer their gnome tieflings crushed or shredded?

I suppose there’s only one way to find out!
Tune in this week: on Zeitgeist!
 

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Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
Is the humanoid turtle a Teenager and/or a ninja. These are important things to know, especially if it is delivering pizza.

The Ghost Dragon stuff sounds fun, a lot of good ideas come from teh consequences of sorting out pc actions on the fly
 

Echolocation

Explorer
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No pizza, just salad for those with a Beran anatomy unable to process cheese. He's slipped on a fake beard to look more philosophical.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 59
Courtesy of Lisandra's player

Session 59 began at the inception of the most bizarre ambush. As Ella and Glaucia inspected the pit trap barring their the groups way, the terrifying shrieks of two huge dinosaurs pierced the air and the ground began to rumble ominously.

As the travellers attempted to steady their horses, and dismount the source became clear as a herd of large, 10-foot tall goats sprang from the undergrowth, barreling towards the group with startling speed as they fled the enormous predators chasing behind them.

With the giant reptiles ignoring the free lunch and heading directly John and Angharad as they clamoured out of the stampede way, taking refuge atop a stone wall. Shots were fired, spells were slung, and a reckless Kineticist yeeted himself in a jet of flames toward one of the approaching creatures. Chaos, naturally, ensued.

Glaucia took cover on top of a fallen tree, joined by Ella and Brakken as she swept them out of the stampede’s way through a dimension door. Lisandra levitated above the herd, hurling searing light at the beasts as Ella rejoined the fray, darting back to where John was perched, as Angharad landed between the razor-sharp jaws of the very dinosaur he had hoped to assault. The creatures mate joined in, and the constables looked on in horror, as two King-bred Tyrannosauruses tore their comrade in two, both his arms ripping free of his torso, all pieces dropping to the ground.

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Panic set in as Lisandra drew the beasts attention away from Ella and John. With a herd below her, and nowhere to go but up, the oracle found herself quickly grappled in a toothy maw. Bleeding profusely, she rammed her flaming blade into the roof of her captor's mouth, sending the gargantuan body slumping the ground as it’s mate, still searing from a fireball’s blaze, made its way towards Ella, the fey-formed origin of the spell that seared it’s flesh. Empowered by the flames of Ella’s spell, it’s mouth ablaze, it stalked it’s way down the path towards John and Fey-Ella.

To avoid the beast’s reach, the Druid rolled into the pit trap, falling partway down before transforming into an eagle as Ella flapped her translucent wings and soared upwards out of reach. In the brush below, another problem revealed itself, as Merton (Lya’s half-orc bodyguard) lobbed an explosive into the pit and revealed his position.

Thankfully, as Ella turned her frustration on the new target below, Glaucia had kept Angharad from the brink of death, and brought him back to consciousness. Brakken, kindly, retrieved the Cipith’s arms as Fey-Ella ripped into Merton with ferocity. John flew up onto stable ground, transforming back into his human form, and riddled the orc with bullets. Merton, eyes still locked on Ella, vanished in a haze of black smoke.

So we join our recovering party, as Brakken collects the terrified horses from their escape route, wondering what else this insane day has in store. A journey to Slate, transport via teleport to Ber, moonlighting as lawyers in a foreign court, a lunchtime ambush through skylight, conversations with a dead dragon and a second ambush before dinner. Well Team BAD, this is your life now. Isn’t newfound knighthood fun? Enjoy figuring out how to reattach Anghard’s limbs, and whether that needs doing before you meet the Bruce and his infuriating, Danoran guest…. Today, in the misadventures of Team BAD.
 


Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
Tyrannosaurs they are the family fun pack monster, Not in this campaign but another my players killed one by firing a cannon inside it's stomach said cannon being in a portable hole carried by the swallowed pc, tragically so was a valuable and irreplacable wine collection
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Sessions 60 & 61

I'm recapping these, so expect a gloss over. They considered turning back to Seobriga for aid with Angharad's arm problems, but deduced that Lya must be trying to keep them from the Summer Court for a reason. So, the party pushed onwards. After all, Angharad could still make kinetic fire blades on his feet, so they still packed quite a bit of firepower (but no hands for inquisitor spells). Though, the party spared a quick scroll of sending to book a 9:45 appointment with Wolfgang at Seobriga on the 5th of Summer.

The party were initial excited for the Adulthood Challenge, but they found the combat and navigation to be a bit of a drag towards the end. However, the B.E.A.R was well received, and manged to pick up and throw the party's wizard a couple of times.

Then, the Court. The players despised Bruse Shantus. The characters despised Bruse Shantus. However, all other NPCs were well-received. Pardo scolded the gnome tiefling for her clockwork leg, claiming she was unworthy of such a thing. Lisandra and Angharad agreed to go jogging with Kenna. Meanwhile, the players dobbed in Lya and her goons to Zarkava, readily detailing the damage she has caused Ber.

After agreeing to play the Bruse's game, Shantus called for Marco and Polo, his favourite lizardfolk aides. Each took one party to their own cottage. The players had great fun roleplaying with the cook and maid. When Lya showed up, the party were curious but exhausted...they had a hell of a day. After Team BAD crammed into a small stable with Lya, they briefly discussed their motives. Then, Lya pulled Ella aside to talk recruitment. Ella uses it as an opportunity to probe for more information, trying to understand the structure of the Ob and their goals. Lya tells Ella to throw the game, and she sincerely considers it. But she has no intention of joining the Ob, at least not yet.

"You have a chance to steer the future. Or, you can stay here, with your friends, and have no impact at all." - Lya

When Lya leaves, Ella immediately gathers her fellow constables under Lisandra's cloak of secrets (a spell that masks conversations as mundane).
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 62
Courtesy of Ella's player

Last week’s session began huddled within a Cloak of Secrets on the upper floor of our cosy Beran villa. Having barely survived our first -and very long - day in Ber, we were all looking forward to a good night’s rest, but Ella had one more problem to add to the pile before bed.

Lya had tried to recruit her. To the Obscurati. As a double agent. Which Ella clearly wasn’t suited to since she’d wasted less than ten minutes in telling everyone. The gnome was quick to explain though that she didn’t want to work for the Obscurati, rather she wanted to spy on them while pretending to work for them. To ferret out all their juicy secrets. To become a triple agent of sorts.

Everyone else was… understandably concerned by this scheme, but not particularly surprised to hear of Lya’s recruitment efforts. Which is frankly just insulting. Did everyone assume Ella was going to turn Obscurati eventually? Was there some kind of betting pool I wasn’t aware of? What about Sydney? Sydney could be an Obscurati agent! You don’t know!

...Potential secret agent shenanigans aside though, Lya’s requirement for Ella’s recruitment - that she throw the Bruse’s games - wasn’t entirely out of the question. It even made a kind of sense. Why pander to the Bruse’s whims and risk hostility between Ber and Risur simply for the chance to talk to Tinker first? Speaking to him second wasn’t the end of everything; it might even be beneficial - assuming Lya didn’t break the Bruse’s rules by teleporting Tinker away.

After considerable debate, we made a tentative decision and sent two Sendings to Delft. Our surrogate dad figure was quick to assure us that any potential attack by the Cavallo would be dealt with, and to suggest that while what we did with the games was up to us, having a channel into the Obscurati would be incredibly useful. Thus confirmed in our thoughts, we decided: come morning we’d inform the Bruse of our withdrawal from the games.

That settled, we could finally - finally - go to bed. After what may have been the longest day of our careers.

Sleep passed restfully, until Lisandra began to dream. A confusing vision of Glaucia standing with a glowing staff near a sleeping black serpent, only for the serpent to wake and shed its skin: becoming several smaller, paler snakes which swarmed the gnoll and began to devour her feet. In the background an invisible presence approached - marked only by its distorted footprints on the floor - and ripped Glaucia’s throat open. The gnoll’s flesh began to decay, devoured by necrotic energy as the snakes also devoured her.

Lisandra woke with her last glimpse of the gnoll’s shame-filled face imprinted in her mind.

Lisandra's dream is a vision of Glaucia's demise. Given the party enjoy her company, she will travel with them to Pemberton's lair. However, according to the vision, Glaucia will light her staff to dismiss the darkness of the gnoll ambush in the pump room. Then, following the detonation of the water tanks, a wire (black snake) will become exposed (shed its skin), and send electricity coursing along the ground (small, pale snakes) that will devour Glaucia from the ground up. An invisible Pardo will then enter the room (marked only by distorted footprint; i.e., the ripples of his movement), approach Glaucia, and kill her with slay living. I rejigged the encounter a bit to keep Pardo at full casting capacity.

The reason why Lisandra is having such a prophetic dream is because the source of her divine power is near...

Something else from the dream remained too: warped footsteps, etched onto her bedroom floor by phantom outlines. Spectral wisps of past torment, showing dozens - hundreds - of people writhing in agony rose from each footprint. The trail of torment led Lisandra out of her room: through a bedroom door standing ajar where previously she had left it locked, to the courtyard door likewise hanging open. In the pre-dawn light, Lisandra saw the courtyard splattered with blood.

She roused the others, now hearing Ralfa’s cries of pain from below: begging someone to stop, please. Wasting no time, Lisandra dashed outside with the Blade of Srasama in her hand. Through the blade’s divine connection she could feel Ralfa’s lifeforce ebbing. When she flung open the door of the dining room though it was to an unexpected scene: Dejaro hacking at Ralfa with a cleaver and helpless grief in his eyes, while a familiar figure sat nearby, watching. Father Balthazar.

The psychic lich looked at Lisandra and smiled as he casually commented, “That’s enough,” to Dejaro. The orc stopped his unwilling torture as Balthazar examined his daughter. “Tea, darling? Are your friends with you? They can join us, of course.”

The oracle responded by casting a searing blast of light, but the lich simply absorbed it with a shadowy, ghostly shield and scoffed at her rudeness. As Lisandra’s arm glowed with growing pain, John knocked Dejaro out cold and Balthazar explained that while he could murder the lot of us and rip Lisandra’s arm off her screaming body, he would show rare restraint for now. But only if Lisandra wore a ring. One that would allow him to monitor her location and condition. And if she ever died, he’d be coming to take her arm back.

In the meantime, he hoped she would come to accept her inherited power and eventually approach him herself to unlock the full measure of her potential.

Or… some egomaniacal, self-serving naughty word like that.

Wracked with increasing pain, Lisandra agreed, and after placing the Prisoner’s Dungeon Ring on her finger, Balthazar sweetly informed her that Ralfa had betrayed us all, then Teleported away.

It's a prisoner ring. The lich was surprisingly honest, intending to use the ring to track his daughter until her death. He truly hopes the world will corrupt Lisandra. The strange sensation of hope has instilled Balthazar with a foreign sense of patience.

During the contact with Balthazar, his sickle (corrupted blade of Srasama) briefly called out in a desperate plea for aid. Lisandra's mother is trapped within, and knows a soul gem of intense fury is the only way to dismiss the lich's defenses. Fortunately, Grappa will help the party collect such a gem in Adventure 7.

Lisandra questioned Ralfa, and discovered that Lya had paid the goblin maid to place loops of golden thread in two party members’ pockets - presumably as an anti-teleportation measure. Given that the goblin maid was now missing her feet due to Dejaro’s enchanted violence… Lisandra decided she’d suffered enough and left her with her coins.

Three minutes after Balthazar disappeared Minister of Dragon Affairs Kenna Vigilante arrived on her morning jog. Angharad provided to her a…. brief description of the morning’s events and guards were quickly summoned. Many questions later, the Minister, Angharad and Lisandra departed for their jog, while Ella and John cleared their belongings out of the villa.

During the jog Kenna discussed her interest in martial theses with Angharad and Lisandra, expressing her desire to establish a joint martial school where Berans and Risuri could collaborate on research - thus improving efficiency and reducing research costs. Meanwhile Ella, John and Polo chatted as the lizardfolk led them to the Court, expressing condolences for the dead guards and acquiring an invitation to their funeral.

When we finally regrouped at the Court for an audience with the Bruse, our declaration of withdrawal was… met with a mixed response. Lisandra presented our excuses eloquently but her carefully crafted words did little to allay Shantus’ tears, as the Bruse tearfully sent us out of the room to wait while Lya was recalled and Tinker was sent for.

Lya smiled at us as she arrived, and Tinker pouted as he was escorted past by guards, saying: “I don’t want to talk to them!” While Ella had a minor crisis over that comment, Lisandra noticed that - much like the Minister of Rebellion, Pardo - Tinker's soul was oddly stretched toward the south.

The gnome’s temperament seemed similarly strained: as partway through Lya’s meeting the gnome yelled at everyone to leave. He gave them till the count of 16, and as he began counting, Lisandra saw that the guards’ souls in the antechamber were also stretched. Chaos erupted as a guard ran in from outside, only to be cut down by another guard partway through yelling “We’re under a-!”

Eerie, unnatural red glowed in the eyes of the guards as they began murdering each other - some of them turning towards us with the same violence. And in the midst of everything, Ella and John heard an ominous, descending whistle... as if something were falling toward us from above…

Will we make it out of here alive? Is Tinker some kind of evil, soul-warping mastermind? And will Angharad ever get to play a game of cards with the Bruse? Find out the answers to hopefully one of these questions, this week: on Zeitgeist!
 

Wow, Lya pulled it off? Awesome. I don't know any other team that actually decided to, well, um, skip 50% of the adventure.

oh

Hm, maybe I shouldn't have made that an option. I hope it didn't dispirit you, Echolocation.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
I hope it didn't dispirit you, Echolocation

Not at all. I'm glad my players have the freedom to defy the Bruse. They enjoyed his hysterical denouncement. All in all, the party really did think that waiting until after Lya 'talked' to Tinker, they would be able to counter anything Lya told the gnome. Despite Lya's blatant lying, the party see her as noble. I don't think they've considered she will simply kill the gnome, but instead thought she may kidnap him.

At first, I was worried about the structure of the story. However, I think it still holds up well. It's just more about the Cult of the Steel God. The emphasis is reinforced by the party's divinations on the topic whilst on the road with Glaucia.

I have no idea about how this 'triple agent' thing will pan out. There is no way Ella can bluff her way through Ob interrogation. She has good bluff, but it's entirely dependent on her magic items. I plan on seeing if the party kills Lya this adventure, and go from there...
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
I think a lot of groups respect Lya, of the Ob leadership she is the one who is most sincere and honest with the least involvement in the dodgy goings on. Even after killing her my group continued to try and work with her to reform Danor and the Ob, Ressurection means you can say sorry.
Could always be a Quadruple agent with the Ob Knowing she is faking betraying Risur to them and instead passing bad information to Risur through her because they know she is betraying them. That way the player gets to think their plan worked while the Ob in the end get to demonstrate their cunning
 


Echolocation

Explorer
Session 63
Courtesy of Lisandra's player

We began the session with an attack on the Summer Court. Tinker Oddcog had just been escorted against his will into the throne room to speak with Lya Jierre, and was very vocal about not wanting to speak with anyone--Ella included. But as the discussion happened behind closed doors, all chaos broke out as a Soul-Stretched Marco lashed out, attacking his beloved reptilian friend and chaos began to unfold.

Ella made haste (literally) to head to the throne room to see if such madness was also ensuing with Lya and her entourage as Lisandra scanned the room for enchantments and Angharad did what Angharad does best; got ready for a fight with the 11 guards with firearms stationed around the waiting room. The oracle saw the souls of those present, save for her fellow Knights and dear Polo, were stretched, strangely to the south, just as the Minister of Rebellion’s soul had been. Something was very wrong.

Angharad pulled his punch as he struck out at Marco with a fiery strike, and was surprised to see the scaly fellow took no damage at all from his blow. Guards began loading their muskets and readying aim as shouts from the throne room rang out; Tinker apparently, had brought a bomb to the discussions.

Although not mentioned in the Pathfinder template, I could not imagine duplicants would take damage from non-lethal attacks.

Angharad held off the guards as Lisandra moved to back Ella up, now cornered at the doors by two guards. As the tiefling flung open to the doors, she saw the guard inside bearing down the Lya and the Bruce. She also saw the bomb yanked out from inside her uncle’s chest. Yes. Inside. Because apparently the gnome is made of metal and has a Bender door in his chest like a robit. The technologist could tell by looking at the ticking device, there was only about 6 seconds left before an explosion, one perhaps 70 feet wide, would fill the throne room. On the upside, as her uncle spotted her, he irrately told her she wasn’t meant to be here and she should just GO AWAY. Apparently he hadn’t planned on blowing her up.

As Lya and her men fight to protect the Bruce and get the quivering manchild evacuated, Ella watches in horror as Kenna, though hesitant in her actions, raises a claw and sliced down into the Bruce swiftly, cutting him down with a heavy injury. It wasn’t long, despite Lya’s attempts to protect him, before Kenna ended his life with another strike.

BOOM.

The Summer Palace shook with the explosion, the flame of it not quite broad enough to lick the face of Ella where she stood, or Lisandra a few feet behind. But the heat and force rushing past turned the oracle pale with memory, and as Ella vanished from sight to slip past the guards, Lisandra insisted they flee and teleported as far as she could from the throne room.

She was greeted at the door to the hall by a bloodied, armless Angharad, dragging a bloody, invisible Ella with one foot. Crestfallen, and a little guilty at her actions, Lisandra made quick work of healing Ella back to consciousness and the three made their escape.

They met with Glaucia and her entourage cleaning up a slew of possessed constructs in the courtyard and told her of the Bruse’s demise before regrouping with her people and helping take back the Summer Palace.

As it seemed the thread was quashed, and the survivors picked through the shattered remains of constructs about the throne room, they found a familiar face attached to a metallic spine. Kenna Vigilante. The only soul left stretching to the south. The red light from her eyes fades and the head calls out, recalling her surroundings, guards of the summer court, people she knows… the sound of gnollish spoken… before the face becomes suddenly silent and still, reverting to its metallic state.

Serkava enters the throne room with an entourage of guards and Lya’s group in tow. She surveys the destruction around them and demands to know if they were responsible for this or the corpse of the Bruse still spread across the dias. With support from Glaucia, as surprisingly Lya, the advisor seemed content to believe the Risuri knight had no part in the attack. With a solemn expression, she announces that the Danoran and Risuri guests will remain within the Court as cleanup ensues and a new Bruse put into power to turn the martial forces on the Cult of the Steel Lord.

The next few days are a blur of studying construct remains, divinations, the sewing on of missing limbs and a memorial for those lost. It also was marked by the simple, no-fanfare affair of appointing Cavallo de Geurra the new Bruse and the unexpected visit of a Risuri ally, Principle-Minister Harkover Lee. Lee arrived with another bomb, only this time it wasn’t the kind that exploded bodies, it exploded our minds. He revealed that good old King Boyle never actually slayed all the dragons that lead hostile action against Risur, as history tells. I mean, he mostly did. With the exception of Gradiax, who he cut a deal with. Take refuge in Risur, remain alive and with your wealth if he never took hostile action against Risur again. To secure the deal, he agreed to live in a human form for 100 years. The form, currently, of Benedict naughty word Pemberton.

So now we plot and plan with the new Bruse and his people to launch an assault on the Cult of the Steel Lord, recover Tinker before Lya can… oh, and maybe face off against a naughty word Tyrant Dragon who hopefully isn’t inconvienctly coming up to his 100th year in human form just as we roll up to hopefully stop whatever his lackeys have planned in the south.

Let's do this; today, in the insane adventures of Team BAD.

DM Notes

I will say, my favourite part was the duplicant maestro pulling out a musket from his harpsichord.

Have some maps. The first is of the Summer Court generally, and the second is in the antechamber to the throne room.

summer-court-outdoors.png

North is a little whack on this map. The ocean is the eastern shores of Ber. I made this in Wonderdraft.


View attachment summer-court-waiting-room.png
The harpsichordist played near the tree. Even he was kicked out of the throne room when the Bruse demanded everyone leave. I made this in Dungeondraft.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
I'm after a bit of DM advice.

My party is approaching Pemberton's lair. Lisandra is hoping to use a supernatural ability from her Oracle mystery on Lya, who is also infiltrating the lair:
Brain Drain (Su): You can take a standard action to violently probe the mind of a single intelligent enemy within 100 feet. The target receives a Will save to negate the effect and immediately knows the source of this harmful mental prying. Those who fail this save are wracked with pain, and take 1d4 points of damage per oracle level you possess. After successfully attacking with this ability, you can use a full-round action to sort through the jumble of stolen thoughts and memories and then attempt a single Knowledge check using the victim’s skill bonus. The randomly stolen thoughts remain in your mind for a number of rounds equal to your Charisma modifier. Treat the knowledge gained as if you had used detect thoughts. This is a mind-affecting effect. You can use this ability once per day at 1st level, plus 1 use per day at 5th level, and 1 use for every 5 levels beyond 5th
If she pulls it off, she may have a few rounds to sift through Lya's knowledge. Lya knows a lot, and I don't mind sharing that with the party. However, I think I'd prefer if Lisandra didn't discover the goals of the Ob, particularly around the exact mechanism of the Axis Seal. I understand the adventure can still works when the party discovers that knowledge, but I am not sure the players themselves would like a 'spoiler' of this sorts.

What do other people think? Am I blowing this out of proportion? If not, how should I handle it?
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
I think keeping the Ob secret is both a good idea and a major objective of the Ob.
The ability as written is not mindreading so you could say that knowledge of the Ob is not a skill check. However that is a bit harsh, better to reveal that the Ob's divination blocking extends to mindreading and the ability cannot pull anything about the Ob from her mind. It can pull Danoran military secrets, the secret embarassing things she had done any anything else she wants to hide but nothing about the Ob. Century old conspiracies with divination blockers have good divination blockers and no one can steal their secrets unless they actually digest the brain
 

In 4e, there is a DC 34 Arcana check to bypass the defense against divination. In PF we failed to convert that; it'd probably be a DC 28 caster level check, like bypassing nondetection. If you fail, you get some innocuous result.

In this situation, Lisandra's got a neat ability and is really digging around, and she knows Lya is involved with the Ob, so I'd give her a clearer sense that she's getting fake information.

Each time Lisandra makes a Knowledge check, have her roll the caster level check. If she fails, let her retrieve some of the following memories. If she gets close, maybe mention a few details flickering, like the faces of people, and locations. Maybe she half-hears a second conversation whispered in the background.

1. Lya talking with her uncle the Sovereign about how he's concerned about a secret society infiltrating both Danor and Risur, and that he wants her to let him know if anyone suspicious approaches her. This seems to occur some time after adventure 1.

(In truth, her uncle recruits her to the Ob after Axis Island is secured, and tells her she'll be in charge of the excavations there.)

2. Lya at the sovereign's hall in Cherage, seeing her uncle distressed, talking with a man whose face Lya never glimpses, worried about an industrial accident.

(In truth, she and Han Jierre meet with Nicodemus using needlewire who updates them about the crisis in Flint after Macbannin was captured. Nicodemus says that he intends to go recruit the mayor before his trial.)

3. Lya counting gold coins. Eight coins specifically.

(In truth, she's reading a ciphered report from Caius about having retrieved the golden icons from all eight ziggurats.)

4. Lya talking with the figure the PCs previously met at the end of adventure 4 (since they don't yet know that Nicodemus is a ghost possessing various bodies). Lya and the leader, who the fake memory says is named Johan, discuss that Luke Jierre will do well as a glassblower's apprentice.

(In truth, Nicodemus is saying that they'll need to be more careful about installing the lanterns now that the RHC has a hint of what they're up to. It won't do to be totally obvious and put them in lighthouses.)

5. Lya and her uncle watching a toddler stumble around and fall. Lya wants to help, but Han tells her it's not their child to interfere with.

(In truth, Lya and Han are fleeing Flint as the colossus breaks free. She wants to reveal what they know to help protect innocents, but Han says that the long-term value of their plan will save far more lives than revealing their secrets now would.)
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
There is a mechanism to defeat the divination block in the PF version I can't remember what it was , I decided it was too easy so the effect was more along the lines of Mindblank . I seem to recall I thought people would make the check too easily as well so pushed it up to a number they could not get until high level
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Thank you both for your suggestions.

It doesn't look like the ruling was converted. From the "Obscurati Ring Code" of the Campaign Guide (from the Act 1 book, pg. 69):
Divinations that do not relate to his involvement with the conspiracy can function, but have a chance of yielding useless, innocuous results. Whenever a character attempts to use magic to divine an Obscurati officer’s location, thoughts, status, or the like, that character must make an Arcana check (DC 34). If he fails, the magic reports something deceptive, usually in a way to lessen suspicions.
I was unsure about applying this 'block' to thoughts that were not divined (but instead magically yanked out of someone's head). But now that I think about it, it is quite similar. Surely after Shijen, the Ob would have reviewed their protocol to account for intelligent creatures that may eat officers' brains.

I think giving some meta-knowledge to Lisandra about the boundary of rings would be useful, as the players currently think it is impossible to divine information about the Ob officers. In truth, they just attempted to do so at very low level and had no chance of coming remotely close to the check. I'll make it clear to Lisandra where the boundary of the protection is.

And thanks for those scenes. I'm excited to see how this pans out.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 64
Courtesy of Ella's player

Having spent the past week cleaning up after the coup, we found ourselves invited to a mission briefing with the new Bruse and his allies. Some of his advisors were… less than keen on sharing their secrets with us, but de Guerra reassured them that if we were allies then we’d need the information, and if we were enemies… well… we should learn what to fear.

With that charming message we were given the overview: the Bruse’s forces would invade the gnoll’s coastal city with tsunamis and cannons and armies, while Lya’s team, Glaucia and our team headed to the heart of the cult itself: Gradiax’s old volcano lair. Between the two attacks the gnolls - and the Cult of the Steel Lord - should be decimated and scattered into harmless nomads with no real power.

...Because the systematic displacement and destruction of an entire race is a reasonable response to a coup. Yes.

Despite Ella’s horror - especially at the tsunami-generating magic devices - we all agreed to our part and set about preparing for the voyage: using a scroll to Teleport directly from the court to our ship.

The discovery of a ziggurat off the coast of Ber has spurred great discoveries. One of which, so-called 'Project Skittles', allows for the generation of large waves.

This is what the chief scientist (naturally, a goblin in a lab coat) had to say about it:

"Using recent archeological findings near Pazarillo, we have developed so-called skittles. These are devices designed to be submerged in large bodies of water. Once calibrated, they emit a pulse of water magic that can alter the tides. Before dawn, we will deploy a network of 124 skittles surrounding the Isla dolas Focas. Each skittle will emit a near-imperceptible wave from different directions at a common frequency. However, each skittle wave has a common destination. The placement of the skittle network will ensure each wave emitted from a skittle will converge, and superimpose upon themselves shortly before arriving at the gnoll capital of Karch. The small waves will pass harmlessly underneath the Beran and allied vessels, and indeed, the gnolls of Karch will not notice the wave until their shores are dragged hundreds of feet into the ocean, and return as a 600 foot wave. The single attack will devastate the unwalled city. The infrastructure is surely not reinforced with metal, and will collapse in the devastation!"

Skittles themselves look like large stone spinning tops, inscribed with the language of the Ancients.

Before we left though, Lya offered to travel with us, but was firmly declined.

No thank you, Miss Obscurati, we’ll be just fine on our own. You take your ship, we’ll take ours, and Angharad won’t have to throw anyone overboard.

The quick teleportation to Seobriga left us with some time to think though. In addition to the military info, the Bruse’s briefing had given us a little more info about Tinker: namely that he didn’t seem to be under a geas like some of other Obscurati members, and he’d likely been working as a duplicant for Gradiax for quite some time. Oh, and apparently he really likes playing with desert foxes. You know, useful information.

Glaucia had something more serious on her mind: asking Angharad if he expected us to die during the mission - Lisandra had prophesied her death after all. The Cipith shrugged, replying that potentially fighting a dragon would undoubtedly be dangerous but also exciting. The judge nodded, noting that if she did survive she’d rather like to meet more Vekeshi Mystics.

Xambria also had questions: these ones for Lisandra. She wanted to know if it would be possible to give her one of the cult’s duplicant constructs - they’re controlled by souls after all and… well, it was the best opportunity so far to get her out of Lisandra’s head. The oracle tentatively agreed that it might be possible but suggested focusing on the mission or now.

And so, with some last-minute preemptive spellcasting, we set sail for the Isla dolas Focas. There to hopefully find Tinker - and maaaybe a Pemberton-dragon.

The voyage was uneventful - thanks to Lisandra’s divinations of gnoll patrol routes - and we arrived at the island in good time. The hike across the blackened volcanic landscape gave John the opportunity to spot that the volcano was very much still active, but that obviously hadn’t stopped the gnolls, as Ella spotted an entrance into the lower section of the volcano.

A single gnoll with a dagger was meditating in the entranceway and cackled as we approached: “You cannot stop the Steel God! Your flesh is weak! My flesh is weak too! But the Steel God will reward me with a body as strong as my soul!” With that he slit his own throat.

(DM note: this gnoll was merely an alarm to alert the gnolls at the pump station).

Sodding fanatics.

Preparing ourselves for more of the same, we cast some spells, drank some potions, and proceeded into the facility. A 100 ft tunnel with a magically self-repairing carpet led us to a processing room full of pipes and angry gnolls. They shut off the lights and attacked, blowing up a water tank to flood the room and then electrifying the water.

Considerable damage was taken before everyone made it safely onto the walkways, and the fight turned into a free-for-all. John slammed things as an air elemental, Angharad fire-knifed a fire priest, Sydney and Glaucia saved Ella from gnolls with battleaxes, and Lisandra got into a duel with a gnoll near a tunnel down south.

The oracle found her vision flickering constantly between reality and her dream of a week before: seeing Glaucia surrounded by slithering serpents as she waded through flickering electricity, and hearing phantom footsteps like those in the dream. The footsteps turned out to be very real however, as the gnoll priest called toward the south for someone to kill the hostages! and Ella flew off to investigate, only to CLANG into something invisible and metallic.

The invisible figure revealed itself as Pardo: reaching out toward Ella with a spell she identified as Slay Living. The necrotic energy roiling in the gnoll’s palm was horribly familiar to Lisandra, who recognised it as the same energy that had slaughtered Glaucia in her dream. This time though, it was heading straight for Ella. Thankfully the distractions of combat foiled Pardo’s concentration, and the spell disappeared when it had scarcely begun.

That wasn’t the last of the Minister of Rebellion’s tricks though, as he summoned a Wall of Fire to hem Lisandra and Ella in and proved frustratingly resistant to damage. Lisandra kept up a determined assault but Ella withered under the heat and had to retreat - teleporting through the wall of flames as Angharad Flame Jetted in as backup. The tiefling wizard’s arrival in the southern tunnel was greeted with a cry of “They’re approaching! Kill the hostages!”

Chaos immediately ensued, as Ella Dimension Doored deeper into the tunnels in hopes of finding the hostages before the guards could kill them, while the rest of the party tried to finish off the gnolls in the first room and rescue her. Ella’s teleport left her in the midst of many, many bloodthirsty gnolls, and it was only Angharad’s quick thinking in impersonating the gnoll priest’s voice that saved her.

The combat ended swiftly after that, as the gnolls in the tunnels ran to support their “priest” and were slaughtered along with Pardo’s duplicant. Ella found a hidden door while the fight was finishing, and after regrouping we opened it to find Kenna Vigilante and the other missing guards from the Summer Court.

As we freed them from their enchanted restraints, Xambria noted a few empty duplicants hanging on the walls, and convinced Lisandra to help her possess one. The attempt ended successfully, if unexpectedly, with Xambria in control of the construct and Lisandra unconscious on a cot.

Flashes of Lisandra’s time with Xambria’s consciousness sped through the oracle’s mind, rewinding all the way back to the day Xambria’s body had died. In this memory though, Lisandra saw things that she - and Xambria - had both forgotten. Sijhen slipping through the portal. A glimpse of an alien planet. Thought-form plants growing on red rocks. And a sense, a very real and immediate sense, that just as she was seeing this alien planet, it too was seeing her.

I wanted to give Lisandra's player a reward for being such a good sport with Xambria. So, I gave her the knowledge that Shijen bailed and a bit about their home planet.

The shock of that realisation was enough to wake the oracle from her stupor, while the sound of Xambria’s voice was enough to bring the rest of the team running. News of sentient alien planets, Sijhen’s escape, and Xambria’s newfound autonomy had to take a backseat though. We still had a mission to finish.

Glaucia rallied Kenna and the Summer Court guards and we headed back to the first room. Although not without John pointing out that: oh hey, there’s a mural of Gradiax’s hoard on the wall and by the way it has dragon eggs in it.

Nothing that will be relevant, I’m sure.

Glaucia and the guards offered to stand guard while we ventured deeper into Gradiax’s lair and slew the dragon tyrant (Glaucia’s words, not mine). We opted to do that by opening the circular hatch in the first room and seeing what was under it. Unfortunately, this would requite a lot of technical engineering and time. Or… we could just break the hatch and say screw the mechanics. That works too…

Having successfully opened the hatch, we found ourselves faced with… well, a face. As a disembodied duplicant head bearing Tinker’s deranged expression bounced around excitedly inside a minecart. He told us to Jump in! Time’s a-wastin’!

But… well…

Honestly that was where we left it. Because quite frankly we need a week to figure out what to do with someone as weird as Tinker. And no, just because Ella’s technically his niece, doesn’t mean she knows how to deal with him either. Some gnomes are just… too gnomey even for gnomes. Y'knowgnome?

We’d better figure out what we’re doing soon though. Because with Lya competing against us to find Tinker’s body - if such a thing even exists and isn’t just a series of increasingly uncanny constructs - and with a possible dragon lord to fight - and maybe a clutch of eggs to deal with - not to mention a flipping active volcano. Well… let’s just say it’s a very busy day.

Best get to it!
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
I must express my Joy at finding other people have mad Goblin Scientists in their campaign worlds, although I suspect Manuel would have said the inventer of the Skittles needs more time in front of the Ethics Committee
 

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