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ZEITGEIST The Flint Irregulars, whose portraits you may have seen

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We haven't been able to get another session since that last one, because Murdok's player moved in with and got married to Reginald's player, and started a new job on top of it! So at least it's happy events that have kept us from playing. We're hoping to have our second Dying Skyseer session tomorrow night, but I did finally retroactively resolve Reginald's posthumous questioning of the Duchess.

Here's the email I sent out:

A hand resting gently on the Duchess' brow, Reginald enters his medium's trance. In his mind's eye, the Ethelyn's spirit looks surprisingly calm. She doesn't seem to be surprised by his presence.

"I'm sure you have questions," she says, quietly.

Reginald nods. "Yes. You told Asrabey that you suspect the Danorans plot against both Risur and the Unseen Court. Is Lya Jierre involved in this conspiracy?"

The Duchess shakes her head. "I don't know for certain, but I don't believe so. According to Nathan, she was involved in recruiting researchers to work on this island, but didn't know about the weapons program. If she had known, I think she would have discouraged Nathan from going to the island."

"I see. What about your own conspiracy? Do you still have allies in Flint, or elsewhere in Risur?" Almost immediately, Reginald can see that he's made a misstep. The Duchess' spectral visage grows colder.

"I won't answer that. Go back and find out for yourself."

"I'm very sorry to have offended you, Ma'am," Reginald replies, tone formal but warm. "I asked only out of a sense of obligation to my work. Before I depart, do you have any final message for me to convey to your brother, King Aodhan?"

"I do. Nothing I can say will convince him that Danor is not the ally it seems to be, but please entreat him on my behalf to not be so damn trusting. I assume you can convey that with sufficient gravitas. Use my betrayal to show him that anyone, even those closest to him, could harbour deadly secrets."

Reginald nods again, slightly shaken by the exchange, and withdraws.


Finally had our second Dying Skyseer session last night! I was pretty rusty and botched the first scene a bit, but things settled down after that.

The party decided to follow up on Dr von Recklinghausen first. At the House of Blue Birds, they got the story about "Officer Porter" from the staff, and were allowed to search the doctor's room -- finding nothing, of course. One of the staff did mention the officer's apparent injury, and handed over the greasy rag left behind.

After checking the alley behind the hostel and finding no signs of the doctor's passage, they decided to check up on his sponsor, Dr Camp. Dr Camp hadn't seen Dr von Recklinghausen recently, but gave them all of the info he could.

At this point, the PCs decided they had no hope of tracking down Dr von Recklinghausen today -- this is still Day 1 -- and decided to head back to base via the Thinking Man Tavern. They were just asking Barb about Nilasa when the earthquake hit, and Hennet spoke up, assuring everyone in my best over-the-top "faux pompous Brit" accent that all was well, it was just the ground settling. This spurred a fun RP scene between me and two of the players! :)

Faced with Hennet's query about why the RHC has the right to enforce the law, Murdok initially retreated to "might makes right." Hennet was unimpressed, so Murdok made reference to a treatise she'd read at her Academy and they discussed its finer points for a few moments. Once Hennet had thawed, Reginald launched into his life story, telling Hennet about his extensive experience with other cultures, then observed that in all societies, law enforcement is "the skeleton that holds the gelatinous mass of society together." Hennet thought this was an absolutely tremendous observation!

All of this was straight back-and-forth RP with me doing Hennet's accent on the fly, something I almost never do. The players loved it and I had a blast playing Hennet. Since the PCs had won him over, Hennet admitted his letter-writing for Nilasa, and gave them a name: Morgan Cippiano.

Meanwhile, Vesta had gone over to chat with Thames Grimsley, who recalled the PCs warmly and remained grateful for their intervention on the dockers' behalf. As they were catching up, it came out that one of Vesta's brothers, a worker at Crinkshire's Munitions, was part of Grimsley's union organization. Grimsley had also heard a handful of reports from various factories about the strange pair going about asking for specific items. Vesta made some notes about this, hoping to piece together what exactly they might be looking to build based on what factories they're trying to strongarm.

Viveen sat at the bar, where Tad was quite impressed by the imposing goliath. He corroborated the fact that Nilasa had often come to the Thinking Man with her boyfriend, but didn't have much else in the way of concrete answers for Viveen.

After these conversations, the constables went to talk to the Band. Their positive reception in the rest of the tavern led to the Band being reasonably receptive to them, but not quite enough to admit their criminal plans.

Satisfied with what they'd learned, the constables headed back to the RHC. Since by this point it was about 6:30 PM and the day shift was over, they left a note for the RHC's police liason officer with their concerns about Officer Porter, in the hopes of getting confirmation of whether Officer Porter is actually an officer of the law.

They settled on three questions for Reginald to ask Nilasa.

First, they wanted to know how she sustained her necrotic head wound, which she willingly answered, even providing a rough description of her assailant.

Second, they wanted to know what her mission at the consulate was. She willingly answered this as well.

Finally, they wanted to know who Morgan Cippiano was, but that was where Nilasa drew the line. Her spirit retreated and the conversation was over.

We ended the session with the PCs planning an evening trek into the Cloudwood to find Nevard Sechim, and all of the players seemed excited and eager to carry on. After the long break, I finally feel like I've got the shape of the adventure back in my head, so next time should be a smoother ride!


Dying Skyseer session #3 finished!

On the evening of Day 1, the constables decided to head up into the Cloudwood to visit Nevard. They came across Morena's kidnapping, though, and managed to subdue and handcuff Renard before he'd killed all of the Kell thieves. However, the fog obscured that from the other Cloudwood brigands, so they finished off the Kell thieves even as the constables rescued Morena.

Once Morena was safe and the Kell thieves were all dead, the constables were able to talk the handcuffed Renard down. Murdok had him prone at the edge of the cliff, and threatened to push him off when he remained somewhat belligerent, but Renard simply smiled, shrugged, and said "go ahead, push me off." Murdok did! Renard landed on his feet 4 squares from the base of the cliff, and the constables, impressed by this apparent sign of wind magic similar to that of Nilasa and Gale, agreed to take his cuffs off and let him escort them to see Nevard.

They brought along the corpse of one of the Kell thieves for Reginald, the Spirit Medium, to interrogate the next day. Renard gave the constables a warm introduction to Nevard's handlers. Reginald made a good case for the PCs needing to meet Gale, and Nevard was willing provided they would agree to help him get up to the top of Cauldron Hill. The constables accepted and a deal was struck.

They stayed the night, and posthumously interrogated the Kell thief in the morning, learning that he was part of Lorcan Kell's thieves' guild and that they were trying to get at Renard, but not why. They returned to the RHC and filed a report to be passed on to the Cloudwood district police about Morena's attempted kidnapping, then gave a verbal report in Delft's office. He was impressed with their progress, but having read Nilasa's file, he pointed out the Reformatory as a lead that they hadn't followed up on yet.

The constables made and appointment with Mayor Macbannin, then headed to the reformatory... which will be next time!


At the reformatory, they made sure to interview the two prisoners one at a time, and isolated from the rest. They interviewed Ford first, asking general questions about Nilasa before revealing that she died. Ford was reluctant to reveal additional information. I played him as being kind of stupid, and accidentally had him ask for his conjugal visits rather than asking to get out of prison. This turned out to work great, though, because when the PCs interviewed Travis, he claimed he'd been the brains of their con schemes, and that he was smart enough to ask for a ticket out of prison, while Ford had probably only asked to see his girlfriends.

"I've known Ford a long time," Travis said, "and the man thinks with his unmentionables."

The constables asked him to give them something to make them believe he really had info. Travis told them that something was going to happen on the 4th day of summer. Murdok asked if he was talking about Nilasa's court date, but he replied that he didn't know anything about that, this was something else. The constables said they'd see what they could do about getting Travis sprung early, and then called Ford back in. Vesta solicitously asked him for the contact info for his girlfriends... and then threatened to reveal them to each other if they didn't talk! The Intimidate check failed by one point, so Ford told them off and called for the guards to take him back to his cell.

The constables confirmed with Mr Goodson that he'd be open to releasing Travis, provided they came with a police order allowing it. Crossing back to Pine Island, they went to a local police station and called in a favour to obtain that order. They were informed that the document would be ready for them to pick up the next morning.

Then they headed to their appointment with mayor Macbannin. Murdok suspected that Doro the courier was actually the mayor leaving in disguise, but after meeting with the mayor, they seemed convinced that that hadn't been the case. They agreed to Macbannin's terms, and went to collect Nevard. They'd prearranged a safe house in the Central District for him, so while the constables were off at the reformatory, Nevard's caretakers had been carrying him down from the Cloudwood on a litter. The constables found him at the safe house as planned. Along with his orc shaman companion, they went down to the basement to perform the ritual. Vesta and Reginald both noticed the dark provenance of the ritual, but declined to make an issue of it.

Nevard was quite spry as the whole group travelled back to Macbannin's mansion to get his amulets and kegs of goat's blood. Then they scaled Cauldron Hill and scouted the peak. Murdok spotted a cauldron stuck on an outcrop partway down the cliff, and held a rope so Viveen could climb down and get it. Reginald and Vesta looked at it and concluded that it could be used to store magic, and that it would spook animals. Because of its provenance, they decided to throw it off the cliff. :devil:

As they were setting up camp, Viveen let passed on some information about the Ragman that she'd picked up from a former army buddy. Vesta's player cracked and told the others about his secret mission to deliver the mirror to Gale... but claimed she was only telling the players, and that Vesta wasn't telling the other constables! We'll sort that out next session. :devil::devil:

Next time: Night on Bald Mountain! (I love the section titles, RangerWickett!)


Combat-heavy session today. The fight on Cauldron Hill came down to the wire, with 3 of 4 PCs in single-digit HPs at the end, and one of them having gone down before being revived. The Vestige of Death had 3 shrouds on Reginald, but he kept using Memory Hole on it to keep it from attacking him. It also had 2 shrouds on Nevard, and if it had gotten to 3 on Nevard, it would have used its scythe on him. With how low the constables were on HP by that point, it might have dropped 3 of them all at once, leaving only Vesta to battle it -- but instead, Reginald managed to destroy it before that could happen. The Hag managed to dominate Viveen, but only long enough for her to pass out from ongoing poison damage.

The constables did go back to Macbannin's mansion after the battle, and managed to convince Lt Dale's entire squad to come with them to check out Sechim's Alkahest & Etchings. They quickly located the arsonists in the alley, and didn't buy Eberardo's delaying tactics. Valando dropped his wall of fire in the alley, and they tried to make an escape, but the constables and their allies did an excellent job of harrying them and slowing them down. Vesta and Viveen moved down through one of the parallel alleys, while Lt Dale and his group moved down the other, enabling them to cut the dragonborn off whichever way they tried to go.

Valando managed to light their wagon of explosives on fire, but Reginald telekinetically grabbed 50 gallons of water from Parity Lake and dropped it on the wagon to put the fire out.

Vesta pinned Eberardo with his impaling blade, which is really tough to escape from -- the target stays immobilized until Vesta is no longer adjacent. That forced Eberardo to focus on Vesta rather than on escaping, so he pummeled the poor eladrin into the ground.

Valando blasted Lt Dale and his squad with his flaming breath, killing most of them. Viveen -- the erstwhile goliath runepriest -- got within 8 HP of death, as she was unconscious and taking ongoing fire damage. Once Vesta was down, though, and Eberardo was free, the pair of dragonborn fled.

The constables did manage to subdue one of the human arsonists for later questioning.

In the aftermath, Heward was very grateful to the constables for saving his factory, and much of Parity Lake, since the flaming wagon could have ignited the firedust processing facility next door. He was also very surprised that the three guards he normally posts in front of his factory at night were nowhere to be found -- he gave their names to the constables so that they can find out if the guards were bribed, threatened, or killed.

That actually seems to have been a very minor oversight in the adventure: the intro to Heward's section mentions that he posts 3 guards out of fear of sabotage by other factories, but those guards aren't mentioned anywhere in the arson section. I'm leaning toward the guards having been bribed, and then they will be taken into custody to serve time.

One thing I'm noticing is that I'm having some trouble figuring out how to translate the encounter descriptions to what I actually put on the maps to prepare. For example, I couldn't figure out from the text which of the two factories next to Sechim's was the firedust facility, so I just decided it was the one on the left. Since there are a lot of places where details recur or matter, I try pretty hard to make sure I've caught everything and that I don't make something up that might turn into a conflict later. So far I'd say it's going very well, though, so this is just a minor comment.

Two of the constables went to get a duty officer from the district police station to collect evidence from the scene, while the others stayed to guard the scene. Then they brought the unconscious arsonist and the dead soldiers back to RHC headquarters, and rested.

After their rest, it will only be the start of day 3, so they have all kinds of time to follow up on their leads. They've moved so quickly that the smuggers' night and letters from the doctor are still a fair way in the future. I suspect that day 3 will be returning to the Reformatory and following up on the House Elf lead, as well as likely a conversation with Gale -- I'm pretty sure that the constables will want to set up the face-to-face as quickly as possible once the canary finds them. I think the conversation with Gale will be pretty interesting, since while the other PCs know about Vesta's secret Vekeshi Mystic mission, the characters don't!


Oh, one other thing for other DMs: I have a 4-player party, so I took the two brutes in the Cauldron Hill battle down to level 4. I didn't change anything about the arson encounter.

Thanks for posting these synopses. How are the players responding to these near-death situations? I know players hate to see villains escape, so are they annoyed, or motivated to track them down?


The players weren't frustrated that they couldn't go after Cillian Creed in the Cauldron Hill sequence. They were baffled by his reluctance to engage them directly, although they believed his target was Nevard, so they probably figured that Creed -- or rather, "Unknown Assailant," as his MapTool token called him -- didn't know about the bonding ritual, and figure it would have made more sense for Creed to move in during the melee and try to take out Nevard.

In the arson, I think rather than being frustrated at not being able to take out the dragonborn brothers, they felt guilty about convincing Lt Dale's squad to assist them and then watching most of them die. I got to play up Eberardo a bit during his engagement with Vesta, since they exchanged mocking jabs, and I think between that, the beating they got, and the deaths of the soldiers, the PCs are looking forward to encountering the dragonborn again... when they're a little more prepared.


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Yes, players do get frusrated by escaping villains, but isn't that the point? As Ajar says, it paves the way for a fantastic rematch later on.

Only if the campaign was forcing such an escape - which it never does - would it be a problem, and only if it did so repeatedly.

I once played in a game where the DM had us tangle with the same bad guy repeatedly, but the means of his escape become ever more ludicrous and forced. That was frustrating because we could see the strings. He got understandably cross with me when I rather petulantly asked if there was any point in us fighting the guy, or should we just let him go and save ourselves an hour of combat.

But in the case of the dragonborn brothers, my players felt lucky that they had decided to run, instead of continue a fight which was already going badly for the party. (The brothers' priority was escape, so they fired off a few warning shots, dropped a few officers and then scarpered.)

They spent a lot of their hard-earned stipends on resist fire potions the next time they went up against them, and because it was a 2nd encounter, it didn't seem necessary for me to up the ante. I allowed their prep to pay off, and the fight was, relatively speaking, a cake-walk. Cue happy smiling player faces!

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