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ZEITGEIST The Flint Irregulars, whose portraits you may have seen

The combination of base vulgar braggadocio combined with forays into social commentary remind me a bit of Kanye West's "Diamonds from Sierra Leone."

He had one version that's actually kind of respectable which comments about conflict diamonds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Do3iJ6DWvpQ

Then he made this version which completely abandons any lyrics that matter so instead he can talk about how cool he is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92FCRmggNqQ

We need to get you a producer and some backing vocalists.

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You know, I think I'd only ever heard the second version of that. Interesting.

I've actually got recording gear (guitars, drums, keys, mics, effects processor, interface box, DAW). It isn't currently set up, because I was sleeping in the underground lair my desktop lives in while I was working night shifts. But I could certainly record a higher quality version of the song.

Next session is on Wednesday, so I'm prepping the Gala setpiece.


Brief report this week, because we didn't even make it to the Gala. The constables spent most of the session following up on Sijhen's false lead -- the barge with a red-headed female captain on which he has stashed an amberglass vial leaking Apet energy from a tiny embedded golden fragment.

The constables were able to track down the barge by cross-referencing barge mooring logs at various Parity Lake factories with the time and location where they detected the Apet energy. They narrowed the search down to five barges and commenced a long stakeout. When they found the barge, Murdok, Viveen, and Vesta immediately dropped down from their bridge vantage point onto the deck of the barge. Murdok fell prone, but the other two quickly announced themselves as RHC officers on police business to the very surprised barge captain and crew.

The barge captain introduced herself as Susan Merriweather, and in a somewhat confused tone said that she would be happy to help the officers however she could. She extended a hand to Murdok and helped her up.

The constables explained that they were looking for something on the barge as a result of energy traces, and a brief surge turned up Sijhen's planted amberglass vial. After some additional questioning confirmed that neither Susan nor her crew had any knowledge of the vial, the constables asked to be dropped off at the next pier. The crew, while confused, were happy to comply. Vesta noted that they would have to confiscate the vial but would of course write a receipt... leading to more puzzled looks from the crew.

Leaving the barge, the constables continued their stakeout to verify that the rest of the barges on their list did not carry traces of Apet energy. They then took the vial to the RHC offices and checked it in to evidence, and collected Reginald so that he could use his Spirit Medium powers to divine the item's history. Reginald received another image of Sijhen's face and one of the barge. Some study of the vial did confirm that it had likely been deliberately sabotaged to leak planar energy.

The next day, Vesta worked to correlate the amberglass vial's travels on the barge with brain removal murders and/or Distant Madness cases, but there were no links in either case.

Finally, all of the constables went to the Museum of Natural History to meet with Hans Weber to get a tour and talk security. They called in a favour with Flint to get four allied police officers for additional security. Next week, we'll actually do the Gala.


Dang, I could have sworn I posted to this thread yesterday at some length. Guess my post is lost to the luminiferous ether.

The constables arrived at the secure storage facility ahead of time to inspect the carriage for transport of the Ancient relics. Finding no issues, they proceeded. Upon arriving at Pardwright Museum, they conducted a thorough review of the premises, noting only the extensive dusting done by museum personnel. They elected to lock the loading door to the storage area.

Once the Gala began, the constables noticed plenty of familiar faces in the crowd.

Nathan Jierre personally thanked Murdok for standing up to Asrabey on Axis Island. He feels strongly that Murdok's courage saved his life.

Prof Lynn Kindleton and Dr Wolfgang von Recklinghausen thanked Viveen for saving them from the Kell guild.

Maitland Whitecliff had stayed in town for the Gala, and was attending with Raybould Starke, Attorney General. Maitland introduced Reginald to Raybould, and Reginald was surprised to observe that Raybould seemed genuinely happy to meet him. After a courteous conversation, Reginald took Maitland aside and warned him about the potential for an attack, giving him his potion of gaseous form. Maitland conferred with Raybould, and they elected to leave immediately, returning the potion before departing. Maitland agreed to head to RHC HQ and alert Stover Delft.

Murdok approached Col Sebastian Haverlock and thanked him for the missives on battling thoughtform and tentacled creatures, noting that interdepartmental collaboration was a positive step. Haverlock agreed enthusiastically, much to the amusement of my playgroup (four of whom work on various government contracts).

When Rock Rackus was able to tear himself away from the crowd of archaeologists enthusiastically critiquing his performance art, he headed over to talk to Vesta. What follows is verbatim as best as I can recall.

"I see you're packing tonight," Vesta observed.

Rock drew his golden gun and stroked the barrel. "Always."

Vesta chuckled. "That's good, because there might be some action later."

Rock raised an eyebrow. "Interesting. Thanks for the heads-up."

We have not yet conclusively established Rock's gender preferences, beyond knowing that at minimum he likes women. Playing with that ambiguity with Vesta (who is a gay male eladrin and played by a female player) was quite amusing for both us and the rest of the group.

After Hans Weber finished his extended spiel about the exhibit and the relics, guests continued to mill around and converse amongst themselves. At the stroke of 8 PM, however, the skylight above the relics came crashing down, and Dr Xambria Meredith descended from a rope. We rolled for initiative, and stopped there. :p


Session Notes
Just another night at the museum...

A dozen implanters flowed down through the skylight, ravaging the gathered crowd. Murdok and Viveen fought their way through them, trying to allow as many civilians to escape as possible. Reginald assisted, placing psychic anomalies in the middle of clumps of enemies.

Vesta engaged Xambria, or at least attempted to, but Sijhen burrowed into his consciousness with the threat of dire consequences if his assault continued. Sujhen also blew Murdok back into the map room with its force push, then began slowly lifting the artifact cases toward the skylight.

A worm maw followed the implanters down, trying to entangle anyone within reach.

Colonel Sebastian Harlock, undeterred, attacked Xambria. Upon missing, the martial scientist grabbed a golden crown from a nearby statue (he was in area 8) and slammed it down top first on Xambria's head, blocking teleportation and giving her a nasty cut. (Yay, Experimental Strike!)

Rock Rackus joined the battle as well, firing his golden gun. He hit the worm maw every time.

As civilians reached the doors and opened them, they found more implanters waiting outside. The constables' police backup, stationed at each door, engage the implanters and worked to protect the civilians.

Murdok grabbed a huge canvas map of the Ziggurat of Apet from the wall behind her, and slammed it down onto the worm maw, breaking the map and entangling many of the maw's tentacles.

Reginald tried to use Telekinetic Lift to stop one of the artifact cases from floating up through the skylight, but Sijhen immediately began lifting them faster.

Not long after this, though, a shot from Bela bloodied Sijhen, and it seemingly relinquished control and surrenderd. Xambria collapsed, vomited, and began to babble.

The fight wasn't over, but it was almost over -- another bullet from Bela and a golden one from Rock Rackus finished off the worm maw. After helping the remaining civilians and cuffing Xambria, the constables deliberated briefly and decided to take her to RHC HQ.

DM Notes
This encounter was pretty interesting. The players all raised their eyebrows when Sijhen took its second standard action for the first time. The illusory twin thing was pretty cool, too.

I tried to give them a couple of mild cues suggesting that Sijhen wasn't really giving the battle its all -- I had it raise the artifact cases slowly, rather than at its max of 10 squares per round, only increasing the speed when Reginald used Telekinetic Lift to try and counter. I also had it lower the cases slowly after surrendering, then drop them when the constables cuffed Xambria. They seemed to pick up on it, but ultimately concluded that RHC HQ was the safest place to take Xambria, despite the untimely deaths of more than one prisoner.

So next time we do the climactic RHC HQ setpiece. I'm going to have to spend some time figuring out how I want to set that up in MapTool. Right now I have each floor as a separate map, but that seems a bit clunky.


Session Notes
The constables took Xambria back to RHC HQ and locked her up. After a little while, she came to her senses, and started babbling about Sijhen and some group called the Obscurati. However, she realized that Sijhen was still in control, which forced its hand -- everything turned transparent, and Sijhen escaped through the ceiling. The change also revealed a group of killers sneaking in to the basement, using this surprise round to kill the guards at the other end of the cell block, as well as an empty and incomplete subrail tunnel below RHC HQ.

The constables immediately agreed that pursuing Sijhen was the right thing to do. They all made it up the stairs and onto the first floor, but Bela and Reginald decided to continue on to the second floor. More accurately, Reginald kept a consciousness fragment on the first floor, placed a memory shard (or something... he has 3-4 different pyschic projections that he can send floating around) on the second floor, and placed himself safely outside the building. On the second floor, they found a worm maw trying to break into Delft's office.

With the second planar pulse, a group of implanters appeared, scattered around the first floor. They began attacking whoever was closest -- bystanders, constables, enemies.

Bela darted through the wall into Delft's office while everything was transparent, and tried to convince Delft that he wasn't here to eat his boss' brain. Delft was unconvinced, but as long as Bela didn't attack him, he was willing to have both of them fight the worm maw. Delft was deranged enough that he would fire his pistol even while the walls were solid, but Bela waited for opportunities while continuing to try to talk Delft down.

On the first floor, the kill squad pursued the constables and engaged them in the long hallway. Murdok charged into a group of 5 Kell-Guild thugs, who focused their attacks on her and dropped her in a single round ("They were supposed to be minions!"). Viveen assisted, trying to keep both Murdok and herself on her feet. Vesta engaged as well, while still keeping tabs on Xambria -- who, as a Vekeshi Mystic, he could unerringly track. Xambria had split in two, though, so all he knew was that one copy was outside the building and circling it, while the other copy was in Lady Saxby's office.

The leader of the kill squad was a nethermancer, and he suppressed the light in the hallway and created a zone of shadow tendrils that held several squad members in place. He seemed quite focused on killing them specifically, over other targets like guards or staffers.

On the next pulse, while everything was transparent, Viveen managed to inspire the nearby bystanders to help them. I don't recall the specifics, but it was an Endurance power that granted temp HP to all allies in burst 5. So it applied to Viveen, Murdok, Vesta, 2 RHC guards, 3 staffers, and the B squad of Carlao, Dima, and Serena upstairs. I allowed that to rally the guards and staffers, gaining the party some allies.

Murdok was up and down like a yo-yo; once she was healed by Viveen, then she rolled a natural 20 on her death save (not the first time; IIRC she also did it in the warehouse battle with the witchoil golem), and then Viveen helped her up again.

Just as Carlao knocked on Saxby's door to see if she wanted assistance, Saxby attacked Sijhen and called for help. Carlao and Dima burst inside, but all three of them failed to hit Sijhen, who decided that it really was in Saxby's office and not outside the building. It then turned invisible and dropped through the floors all the way down to the subrail tunnel.

Vesta immediately followed, not wanting to lose the chance once the floor became solid again. He saw the Seal of Apet mounted on the stone wall, surrounded by a circle of howling lanterns...

The worm maw burst into Delft's office, but Bela managed to finish it off with some help from Reginald. This calmed Delft down considerably, and Bela was able to convince him to assist. Delft began to rally the staffers on the second floor, dealing with the Apet creatures that had appeared there, while Bela dropped down through the floor into the evidence room and the ran out into the ground floor hall to help Murdok.

Reginald dropped his physical form through the ground to the subrail tunnel, as did Viveen. With some help from Carlao, Serena, and Dima -- who were escorting Lady Saxby out of the building but couldn't get out without encountering the kill squad -- Bela and Murdok were able to subdue the remaining killers. Murdok called out to Carlao that Saxby was on the side of the enemy, but Saxby replied that Murdok was a liar and that Carlao should follow orders. Carlao looked apologetically at his former squadmate Bela, but nodded his assent to Saxby, and the three of them saw her safely away. Reginald's consciousness fragment followed them, however...

Seeing Vesta appear close by -- with no attempt to sneak up -- Sijhen concluded that there was no choice but to rush its ritual. It coded the portal for Gidim, then became visible and attempted to parlay with the party, saying that it just wanted to get home. At this point, though, none of the constables trusted a word Sijhen said, so it sighed and attacked them, dropping Vesta immediately. However, Vesta's first death save was a natural 20, so he wasn't out of the fight for long. Reginald, Viveen, and Vesta engaged Sijhen and managed to render it unconscious. Vesta was certain that the only way to force Sijhen out of Xambria was to kill her body, though, so he did so. The constables sensed her consciousness floating around the room. Vesta agreed to accept it, immediately sensing tremendous relief from Xambria that she was not dead, and seemed to be in the body of a somewhat kindred spirit (Vesta's History training granted an immediate +2 concordance bonus, ensuring that Xambria would be at least neutral).

Murdok and Bela rounded up the two killers who surrendered, cuffed them, and locked them up. Just then, some more Apet creatures appeared, so they refocused their efforts on dealing with those.

In the subrail tunnel, killing Xambria's body did force Sijhen out, and it attacked, attempting to dominate Viveen. These attacks failed, however, and so the three constables engaged Sijhen's thoughtform.

That was where we had to stop, so we'll continue the battle next time!

DM Notes
The adventure text is unclear on a couple of points:

  • I waited to start the scene until the PCs had Xambria locked up in a cell. The text doesn't specify, but based on the description of the kill squad's arrival, it's implied that the scene should actually start as soon as the PCs return to RHC HQ -- i.e. while they and Xambria are on the first floor.
  • What happens to Xambria's consciousness if she is reduced to 0 hp with nonlethal damage -- i.e. if she is unconscious? I read through the text and the call-out blocks about her and Sijhen, but it was unclear if it was possible to separate them without either Sijhen being willing or one of the two being dead. I decided that it was impossible to separate them without killing Xambria unless Sijhen left willingly. I also decided that Xambria knew that, so I didn't penalize Vesta when he was the one to accept her consciousness.

Phew! We spent six hours on this scene and it wasn't all done. Definitely the closest the party has come to TPK so far, but they're still (barely) standing, thanks to two very fortunate natural 20s on death saves. Murdok was within 5 hp of actual death, too, having been caught in the shadow tendrils while unconscious.

If The Thing from Beyond comes out, though, it's going to be tough for them. So far they haven't focused much on the ritual, since Sijhen has kept them quite busy in the subrail tunnel.

I'll be very curious to see if they split up the next time there's a huge setpiece. They've done so every time so far and it has generally resulted in near-disaster. Maybe they're getting the wrong message... ;)

Sound of Azure

Contemplative Soul
That sounded tense! It was great to read your account here, as always. My players always seem to find themselves right on the brink of failure in the setpiece battles. In this situation, Delft saved the day, under control of our striker's player (who had died to Xambria/Sijhen's miner's pick on the way to Saxby's office). The party had always been close to him, but that cemented their bond fully.
As for the Thing from beyond, my group was lucky they could banish it back through the gateway during stage 2. It's a very tough battle, especially if your group is small or under-leveled.


Thanks for the feedback and comparison to your group. I always try to read the accounts of other DMs who are ahead of me in the campaign, so I have some idea of how the scenes went for them.

My PCs are close to Delft as well. They turned down Morgan Cippiano's offer -- even when he sweetened the pot by offering to kill two birds with one stone by hiring the escaped dragonborn arsonists to burn down the Theatre of Scoundrels as a setup. They actually told Delft about that offer in full, which gained them his confidence and resulted in him taking their side when Kell framed Reginald for murder. Right now Delft is clearing up the Apet monsters on the top floor of RHC HQ, but once the building is secure I can definitely see him coming down to help the squad.


Somewhat anticlimactic wrap-up, but the constables managed to take out Sijhen, stop the ritual, and deal with the remaining extraplanar creatures with no casualties. I didn't get to unleash the Thing from Beyond.

Reginald's consciousness fragment lost track of Saxby when she and Carlao's squad boarded a carriage. Delft and Bela investigated Saxby's office, but found only the empty safe. Murdok interrogated the Kell-Guild killers, but they faded away before she gained much information.

Vesta, Viveen, and Reginald hauled the seal onto one of the rail cars, and then drove the rail car to the nearest station and sent Viveen to get a work crew to haul it back to HQ.

Carlao's squad returned later that afternoon, reporting having dropped Saxby off at a safe house in Bosum Strand. The constables immediately headed there, but it was already deserted.

Reginald checked Saxby's safe with his object memory power, but the only images he saw were of Saxby putting the star map into the safe and then Saxby removing the star map, documents, and a large purse from the safe.

At this point, we zoomed out a bit and wrapped up the adventure. Given Murdok's protestations about prisoners dying in RHC custody, Delft had RHC HQ turned over from top to bottom, uncovering the rusted ring, which was then destroyed. Vesta spent some time getting to know Xambria, and also met with the Old Stag, who commended him on handling the affair with Tyler Starke.

A week later, Delft was officially awarded the position of Chief Inspector. Commendations for him and for the squad from the Lord Viscount and the Governor ensued, although no mention was made about the extraplanar nature of the attack or about Lady Saxby's mysterious disappearance.

Delft requested a meeting with the squad aboard Il Dracon de Mer. Onward to Always On Time!

Edit: My PCs are very, very eager to go after Lorcan Kell. However, they accepted Delft's reasoning that the only evidence of his involvement in the attack on RHC HQ is their word.


My players' plan for their cover identities in Always on Time is for Rock Rackus to go on an international tour and for them to be his backup performers. Each night when the train stops, Rock would do a concert in that city. They do love their Rock Rackus. :D

Their plan for maintaining secrecy is to get the Theatre of Scoundrels burned down, kill Lorcan Kell, and get themselves "fired."

They're still talking things over, but these plans seem promising...

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