ZEITGEIST The Flint Irregulars, whose portraits you may have seen

Ajar

Explorer
Here's the email I sent them with the reveal. I had them do History checks at a very hard DC to be able to identify the handwriting, but Vesta got a 30.

The papers describe a gruesome ritual for turning great cats --
specifically, jaguars -- into witchoil-fueled servitors.

Each cat must first be sedated, then flayed and drained of blood. Once
the blood is drained, the heart is removed, and replaced with a
witchoil vessel. A collar is then attached. The collars allow the
jaguars to be controlled once the ritual is completed: anyone grasping
the collar and saying the word "obey" can then command the beast. An
amulet is also implanted, which allows the jaguar to phase between the
material world and the Bleak Gate.

Once these preparations are done, a ritual is performed to infuse the
witchoil into the jaguars. If the ritual fails, the witchoil vessel
can be quickly destroyed, killing the creature instantly. If the
ritual succeeds, then a metal chest plate is to be attached over the
front of the jaguar's rib cage to protect the witchoil vessel. A note
of caution in the instructions specifies that those performing the
ritual are to "take the same precautions you would at the manor
reservoir."

There's a checklist attached to one of the cages that summarizes the
steps; each has been checked off. There are also detailed sketches of
each step, including how the chest plate is screwed into the bones of
the rib cage.

Something tickles the back of Vesta's mind. Maybe he's seen this
writing somewhere before...

...yes. In the office of Mayor Reed Macbannin, at the base of Cauldron
Hill, he'd glanced at the mayor's desk. A letter, signed by the Mayor
and likely written by him as well, matches the handwriting on these
instructions.
 

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Ajar

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Short session tonight. They interrogated one of the techs at the warehouse, but didn't learn much -- their intimidate checks were terrible, so the tech was kind of cavalier. He did let on that he was a graduate student and that this project was being conducted under the purview of the Risuri military.

Then the techs faded away. The PCs sent the golem remains and the alchemical equipment back to HQ on a flatbed wagon. The wagon also brought them a letter from Dr Barnaby Camp, asking them to deal with an enclosed letter from Dr von Recklinghausen, in which von Recklingausen asks for help arranging passage out of the country. The PCs asked if the carriage driver could inform Stover Delft that he needed to come see the warehouse.

Shortly after the wagon was dispatched, Gale arrived. She was very troubled by the description of what had happened, and by the witchoil itself. She visibly recoiled from it, and told the constables that it reeked of the Bleak Gate, and that it had been created in part using living souls. The PCs didn't tell her about the potential military connection or about Macbannin, though. In exchange for being shown the warehouse and witchoil, Gale let them know that she'd done a little more checking into Nilasa's dealings, and uncovered the names of the two ships involved in the smuggling exchange that was supposed to be happening that evening.

Gale left just before Delft arrived. The PCs explained what they'd found, which led to another Delft explosion: "Why do your investigations always have to get POLITICAL?!?" After a Delft double facepalm, the PCs explained what they'd learned, and Delft said he'd take some of the papers back to RHC HQ and have the handwriting validated, then obtain a warrant to search the mansion of Mayor Macbannin if it was confirmed to be his handwriting. He also said that this information would have to go to the Lady Inspectress.

After updating Delft, the constables headed to Dawn Square. They looked around enough to pick up some friendly groups -- Thames Grimsley's dockers, and various PC contacts -- in the crowd. They were also suspicious of the wagons, but just then, Nevard started his speech. I ended the session just as the flayed jaguars emerged from the wagons and attacked, a perfect DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN. :D

We're playing again next week. Nothing much to report for my fellow Zeitgeist DMs here, since this session was pure RP. I always have a blast playing Gale and Delft, but the halfling tech the constables interrogated was also pretty fun this time around.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Phew! Back in the saddle again after a month that involved a lot of travel on the part of my players, and a lot of Mass Effect 3 being played by me. :D

Even though my PCs are only level 3 (they levelled up yesterday, so I'm holding off on levelling them again just yet) and there are only 4 of them, I left the Dawn Square encounter alone in terms of balance. Since they'd recovered so much info by saving all of the documents at the warehouse, the encounter ended up being quite fair. Nevard was hit once and taken down to 8 HP, but after that the PCs were able to successfully control the jaguars and turn them against each other/the skeletons or remove the chest plates and destroy the witchoil vials.

After saving Nevard and most of his druids, the PCs talked to Nevard and listened to his visions. They took notes, but I'm going to send them an email since there was a lot of content.

Their next stop was back at RHC HQ, to check in with a clerk and ask them to look into the registration of the Silvo under Captain Deorn Feldman -- whether this was a legitimately registered vessel, and if so, if it had a listed berth. Question: Would either of those things be the case? I'm guessing it would be a registered vessel, but listed as a private berth, since the smugglers' wharf seems to be secluded. They do still have the House Elf lead they could follow, as well.

After HQ, they headed to Pardwright University to talk to Lynn Kindleton. With a letter of their own from the Doctor, forwarded by Dr Camp, Kindleton accepted the PCs as legitimate. Initially she simply wanted to set up a private meeting with the doctor, but the PCs offered her the use of an RHC safe house for this purpose. Unbeknownst to them, of course, Kindleton will be captured by Kell's crew, and therefore won't show up at the safe house.

I'm thinking Creed contracted Kindleton's surveillance to Kell's crew, so the PCs' visit to Kindleton triggers the Theatre of Scoundrels sequence, where the PCs are contacted by one of Kell's agents, who tries to lure them into a trap. I figure that will happen on Day 5, but the PCs will already be pretty busy on Day 5, since Delft is already working on a warrant for Macbannin's arrest! Things are coming to a head... :D
 

Ajar

Explorer
Finally had another session last night, but it was shortened when one player's internet died and she couldn't get back online to join the hangout.

For other online DMs, there's a new plugin for Google+ called Tabletop Forge that integrates basic tabletop RPG functionality into Google+ hangouts. It's still in development, so it isn't quite ready for prime time, but we tested it in a different game over the weekend and it worked reasonably well. Image upload for maps, grid overlay and snap to grid, token import, etc. For Zeitgeist, we're sticking with MapTool for now, since I've already set up the next few maps, but we may switch after Tabletop Forge gets a little further along. Having the hangout and map integrated in one window is really nice.

The session itself was fairly short, all RP. The constables returned to HQ, where a clerk was waiting with information for them about the registration of the Silvo and Grifoni. Both vessels had legitimate registration, but the Silvo had just surrendered its listed berth as of the day before, and the Grifoni was not scheduled to dock in the immediate future. This definitely raised the constables' suspicions.

They went to talk to Vesta's brother Nornan, who has been involved in Thames Grimsley's unionization efforts. Nornan knew that some dockers moonlighted as loaders for smugglers, but couldn't point them to anyone specific. He did, however, know who the House Elf was -- "You mean, that gnome who does magic shows for kids?" Between Nornan's info and a bit of asking around, they were able to get the location of Waryeye's Apothecary.

They returned to the central district to pick up their shiny new steam cutter, and took it across the bay to Pine Island. There, they went to one of Murgard's preferred watering holes -- Murgard being a fellow veteran and friend of Viveen's. When asked if he knew anything about smugglers, Murgard cursed. "Damn piranhas." His preferred shrimping grounds in the north of Pine Island had been decimated by a bunch of yahoos with a private wharf who regularly dump raw meat into the water to feed the meat-eating fish. He was pretty sure they were smugglers, since they were generally active at night, but wasn't sure if they were who the constables were looking for.

After this, the constables decided to approach Blander, posing as interested buyers. Reginald has a psychic ability that lets him create a facsimile of a small object, so he plans to create a fake astral diamond to convince Blander that they're serious about buying wands.

That was when we lost Vesta's player, so we stopped. Now I have a week to decide how Blander will respond, based on Reginald's bluff check!
 

Ajar

Explorer
Reginald successfully bluffed Blander into thinking he was replacing Nilasa in their scheme! So Blander and Danisca agreed to proceed as originally planned, with Blander and Reginald going to the rendezvous with the smugglers. Meanwhile, the other constables hid their boat offshore and waited for the smugglers to depart, then followed them to the meetup.

They waited for the Silvo to dock with the Grifoni, and timed their stealthy approach to give Reginald about five minutes with the Silvo and Grifoni tied together -- just enough time to perhaps get some introductions.

We left off just as this was about to start, so next week will be the smuggler encounter. My group has gone about things in a pretty unique way, so I've been enjoying how things have worked out with them meeting Gale days before meeting Blander and Danisca.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Session Notes
On the Grifoni, Reginald participated in the meet & greet with the smugglers. When Captain Feldman had his crew produce a hefty chest filled with platinum, Reginald pulled an illusory pouch out of his jacket with a slit in the bottom, then pretended to look shocked as though his precious astral diamonds had been pilfered. The smugglers were fooled, but Captain Bandia kept her cool and quickly began coordinating a search.

However, just then the smugglers noticed the constables' steam cutter headed toward them at full speed! It slammed into the Grifoni, and the hulls ground together, but neither ship was holed. Several smugglers were knocked overboard! The constables clambered up onto the Grifoni and ordered the smugglers to surrender, but Captain Bandia pointed out their numbers advantage, and the smugglers attacked.

The battle was fairly short, but quite a lot of fun for everyone. Captain Bandia swung across the deck with her whip, which the players loved, but she was quickly dispatched. Still, her men fought on for a while longer, trying to blast the constables with magic wands. Sadly, they mostly failed, but one stray fire blast did set the Grifoni's centre sail on fire. Captain Feldman didn't connect with a single attack before going down, although not for lack of trying -- he just had terrible rolls.

Partway through the battle, Blander and one of the Silvo's crew began hauling the platinum back toward their ship. At that point, Reginald finally revealed his treachery, telekinetically pushing Blander into the drink. Blander responded by teleporting to the deck of the Silvo, then pushing Reginald into the drink!

With both captains down, though, the constables intimidated the Silvo crew into standing down and turning over Blander, and intimidated the Grifoni crew into surrendering. In exchange for Blander, the constables released the Silvo, and we ended the session with their steam cutter (unnamed so far!) and the Grifoni headed back toward port.

DM Notes
There were no ramming rules! I had the steam cutter's captain, Murdok, make a Command check vs the Grifoni's Fort. On a hit, they rolled Xd12 damage, where X is equal to the captain's Command score (5 in this case), and the damage was dealt to both boats (subject to their resistance, of course). If the damage took off 1/4 of a boat's HP after resistance, then the boat was holed above the waterline and couldn't accelerate beyond tactical speed. If the boat was bloodied in one hit, it was holed below the waterline and began to sink.

Murdok rolled 21 on 5d12, so the Grifoni and their steam cutter were unaffected, beyond the Grifoni crew being jolted and some of them getting knocked into the sea.

Questions
At the start of the encounter, Blander signalled Danisca, who would then have contacted Gale. Right now, I'm thinking Danisca relays Blander's location to Gale, then Gale intercepts the PCs on their way back to port, gets a read on the situation, and then requests that they release Blander, since Reginald had convinced him that he was working for Gale.
 

Sorry for not including ramming rules. My understanding of naval mechanics suggested that a ship the PCs' size wouldn't have enough force to cause any noteworthy damage to another vessel. But we definitely will have ramming rules in the full system in Admiral o' the High Seas.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Yeah, you actually mention that in the adventure text, but figured I'd at least give them a chance at it. With the Grifoni's HP, it was unlikely that it would be holed, and it didn't end up happening.

When they were deliberating the ramming, we determined that they had saved the Water Breathing scrolls they got in adventure one, which will come up in the audit in the future. :devil:

A long session today!

Session Notes
[sblock]About halfway back to port, Gale alighted on the prow of the Grifoni. She congratulated the constables on their work, but asked what they intended to do with Blander. They had a somewhat prickly conversation, and while Gale never used the word "entrapment," she certainly implied it. She said that Danisca was a friend, and she was aware of the gnomes' telepathic connection, but not that Blander's stage name was The House Elf (since I previously hadn't had her give the PCs Blander's identity in Audience with the Wind).

After confirming that the constables only wanted Blander to testify against Captain Feldman, she was satisfied. Then she asked, in jest, if she could have one of the crates of wands. Naturally, the constables declined. She also congratulated them for saving Nevard before departing.

Back HQ, the constables had the night duty officers put the smugglers in cells before heading to a safe house for the night -- a precaution suggested by Delft the day before, since he was set to pursue a warrant for Mayor Macbannin on their behalf.

After an extended rest and levelling up, the PCs reported in to Delft, summarizing everything that had happened since Dawn Square. He was quite pleased and impressed with their efforts, and confirmed that the warrant was ready, authorizing them to bring Mayor Macbannin in for questioning on suspicion of conspiracy to commit the murder of Nevard Sechim. He also noted that since this was a case of high importance, any requisitions they had submitted would be handled immediately. The constables spent a couple of hours at HQ finalizing paperwork for the smugglers while their requested items were being located.

I had the Kell guild messenger arrive at that point, since with the way the Doctor thread has played out, Lynn Kindleton went to talk to the Kell guild that same morning (day 5) about speaking to Dr von Recklinghausen, at which point she was immediately taken prisoner. Hearing that she was contacted by certain officers of the RHC, Kell dispatched his messenger to try and lure them into Theatre of Scoundrels.

Unfortunately for Kell, the constables considered Macbannin to be a much higher priority. They agreed to meet with Kell -- fully aware that they were likely walking into a trap -- but not until later in the afternoon.

That thread resolved for now, the constables took a carriage up to the mayor's mansion. The guard tried to stall them, initially asking if they wished to make an appointment -- exactly what happened the first time they tried to meet the mayor, several days previously -- and then asking what exactly he was supposed to tell the mayor to get him to come out and talk to them immediately. Murdok bluffed and said something about how they would be willing to come back with a warrant (despite already having one!), and the guard scampered off.

A few minutes later, Macbannin swept out the front door and into the garden. Initially he spoke to the PCs through the gate, but they persuaded him to open up. His "gardeners" remained close at hand, eyeing the constables warily. Viveen approached, and said "Sir, we have a warrant for your arrest on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder. If you'll come with us, we can discuss this at the station."

Macbannin was skeptical. I used most of his adventure text as it was written, melodramatically portraying the cliche villain, sarcasm radiating from him. But Viveen stuck to her guns, replying that if there was a mistake, then surely it could be cleared up quickly at the RHC offices. At that point, the ground began to shake, and Macbannin dispatched Creed to the reservoir while casually ordering his men to kill the constables.

That didn't work out for him very well (see my comments on encounter balance below), and the witchoil sinkholes and geysers that opened up in the ground never threatened anyone other than a few of Macbannin's minions. Once they'd dealt with Macbannin and his men, they tied him and the "gardeners" up and promptly repeated the mistake of gideonpeys' party by leaving them in their carriage: they woke up one of the thugs, who told them about the shack and the amulets, then recovered amulets from Macbannin and some of his staff and descended in to the witchoil lab.

Because the Doctor thread hasn't progressed very far, they found one of Macbannin's techs in the lab rather than finding the Doctor. With a great Intimidate check, they browbeat him into helping them. They made their way down to the eldritch machine, and Murdok used a speed charm on Vesta before the eladrin dove into the witchoil, shut the machine off, and then clambered out in a single round. He immediately ran back up the stairs to the pressure plate for a shower, so he took very little damage.

They did not, however, destroy the machine. And to make matters worse, when they returned to their carriage, they found the carriage driver unconscious and Macbannin gone.

They woke up the carriage driver, who told them he was attacked by a "shadowy figure." That's where we wrapped up. The constables plan to try and track Creed and Macbannin. They're hoping that they can use the flayed jaguars that they captured in the witchoil lab, since plenty of Macbannin's blood is still soaked into the ground in his garden. [/sblock]

DM Notes
After today's session, I reread gideonpeys' account of his PCs' battle with Macbannin, and saw that he had made Macbannin an elite for a party of 6. I'm wondering if I should have made Macbannin an elite, then cut most of the staff minions; my party dropped Macbannin before he even got to act. The biggest threat to them was actually the staff minions, since their flat 10 damage was a significant chunk of a PC's HP at level 4.

The witchoil sinkholes didn't really threaten anyone. The battle mostly happened on the south side of the roundabout portion of the garden, and the sinkholes occur along a diagonal that's well south of that area. Plus, I rolled the same number several times. Just for fun, when I rolled the same number a third time, I had new sinkholes appear in every area adjacent to the triggering geyser. But even then, no one was ever touched by the sinkholes/geysers. A couple of staffers had to move on their turn to avoid them, but that was all.

I think this is the only encounter that I'd modify if I was going to run it over again. I'd cut down on the staffers, make Macbannin an elite, and have witchoil spread out from the sinkholes somehow once they're formed, rather than keeping the witchoil on a strict diagonal.

Questions
With Creed fleeing, carrying an unconscious Macbannin, the constables' next move is definitely to try and track them. I should have just had him steal their carriage, but I didn't think of it, so I figure Creed hauled Macbannin to their stables, then rode away on horseback.

I don't think the flayed jaguars should be able to track Macbannin. Undead aren't really known for their sense of smell, are they?

So the PCs will be able to track the horse away from the mansion with a good Nature check, but once it gets into the city all Creed has to do is turn onto a cobbled street and the PCs will be reduced to Streetwise checks to find out where they went.

I also reread gideonpeys' post about how he handled this sequence, but I don't think his solutions work for my party. I don't think Gale would make a timely appearance here, and my PCs have yet to meet Morgan Cippiano -- they'll be getting those letters later this afternoon. Cippiano's letters will probably arrive while the PCs are in the Theatre of Scoundrels. :p

It seems to me, though, that the adventure actually works fine if Macbannin gets away. Nicodemus can still contact him and induct him into the Obscurati. It does lose the great cell scene where the PCs find his body, though, so I'd certainly like to see them catch him.

I'll have to think it over. Anyone have any ideas?

Edit: Maybe a skill challenge chase scene if they pass their Nature check to follow the horse... along the lines of Mike Mearls' complex "Moving through Sunderham" skill challenge.
 
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First off, I love how your group is taking the adventure in a really weird order. But you've got it put together well. Nice.

Second, I realize now that the text wasn't clear for the geysers. I intended for you to roll 2d20, and use one die for the latitude, one for the longitude. Not just a simple diagonal.

I worry that your party might be disgruntled that the villain got away, especially if you haven't done the attack at the Nettles church yet. I figured in designing the adventure, have Creed make an appearance on the hill and then leave before they can engage (this didn't work with my party, since we have a pixie who just sprinted in to attack; but Creed took him down and left him for dead). Then have him possibly get away in the Nettles church. But he would likely stick around to finish the party off in the laboratory.

In this case, hmm.

You could have Macbannin guide Creed to a ring of rusted iron in the Nettles, and have Macbannin pass through to some sort of Bleak Gate checkpoint the Ob have.* Then send Creed off to work with Kell, trying to lure the party to the church -- and you can have that act as the 'climax,' where they're under siege. Maybe replace Leone Quital with Macbannin, and actually encourage a fight.

Or you could just have Macbannin get away, sail to Orithea, lay low, and eventually show up at the end of adventure 4. If your players aren't expecting a big showdown, that actually works in a sort of film noir way. You solved the murder of the beautiful young woman, but the killer got away.

* My players noticed something that I hadn't considered in the adventure: where the hell did the carriages outside the Nettles church come from. They wanted to track them, and they were bitter that the shadow man had escaped again. So the next day they looked for wagon tracks, and I told them they followed a trail for a bit until it dead-ended into a rock wall. More examination uncovered a rusted metal ring set into the stone.
 

Ajar

Explorer
The flexibility of the adventure design has served me very well when figuring out how to respond to my PCs doing things out of the "expected" order. Nicely done on your part as well. :)

One thing that rolling a single d20 in the mansion encounter does have going for it is that you end up getting something that looks like an actual fissure, since the sinkholes appear along a straight line. I might keep that if I was doing it again, and just move the diagonal closer to the action.

I like your ideas for what to do next. My players are frustrated with themselves for leaving Macbannin unguarded in their carriage, but cognizant of the fact that they deliberately prioritized stopping the witchoil over getting Macbannin back to HQ -- definitely the right call. So I don't think they'll be unduly put out if they can't catch him, but I'm still going to give them a shot at it.

Since they have amulets, I would think that if Creed and Macbannin flee into the Bleak Gate, and the PCs successfully track them to the entrance, they should be able to follow. I have quite a bit of Shadowfell material between my D&DI sub and Gloomwrought boxed set, planning to steal liberally from it for a setting of my own. So if it won't break future adventures if the PCs enter the Bleak Gate now, that's an option, and it could lead to a pretty cool showdown with Creed able to operate in his "native" environment.

That said, if the PCs can enter the Bleak Gate, they could theoretically blow Colossus Cell wide open. I don't think my PCs would do so, simply because they have no inkling of Colossus Cell beyond a notion that all that witchoil must be going somewhere.

I also like the option of having Macbannin show up at the Nettles church along with Creed, although that would make him a bit more bloodthirsty and less patriotic. He might have been contacted by Nicodemus in the interim, though, in which case, once part of the Ob, he would definitely see the PCs as thorns to be disposed of. Either way, assuming they escape the PCs' initial pursuit, Macbannin and Creed would like low while trying to arrange passage out of the city. Kell would then tip Creed off about the church after his meeting with the PCs on the afternoon of day 5, giving Creed and Macbannin time to get there and attempt to neutralize the PCs.

Food for thought! Thanks for the great ideas. :cool:
 

My thought was that there are three types of Ob paths to the Bleak Gate.

1. Stanfield Canal. A lot of rings of rusted iron that's been enchanted to slowly transit material that is specially marked so eventually it ends up in the Bleak Gate.

2. Private nodes, like the witchoil laboratory. Here are there just one or two rings of rusted iron that get you to an interim location where folks from this side can interact with folks from that side. In the laboratory, you're actually producing the witchoil from this tear in the veil. Then you pump it down a tube which has more rusted iron rings, to complete the transition to the Bleak Gate.

(So yes, if you drained the witchoil basin and hopped down it like a horrible necrotic waterslide, you'd reach the colossus.)

3. Personal paths. There might only be a couple of these. You slap a rusted iron ring on a stone surface in the real world, then dig a tunnel at that same spot in the Bleak Gate, and place multiple rings in close succession. At the end of the tunnel, you're fully in the other world, but the whole thing's hidden from folks in the real world.

These pathways would be very highly guarded, with plenty of alarm, mages, and soldiers keeping watch, probably with some sort of spirit hound trained to track down any intruders.
 

Ajar

Explorer
(So yes, if you drained the witchoil basin and hopped down it like a horrible necrotic waterslide, you'd reach the colossus.)

I love this idea. :D My players won't do it, of course. So I'm thinking I'll take your idea of Macbannin and Creed entering the Bleak Gate through a differently-keyed portal -- which the PCs can't follow them through -- and then returning for A Weight of Crumbling Stone.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Weeknight sessions are shorter, but we had some interesting developments.

Session Notes
[sblock]Disappointed that the flayed jaguars couldn't be used to track, the constables got on their carriage and set off in pursuit of Creed and Macbannin. They were able to track the pair's horse down the hill, through some streets, and then back into the woods to some ruins, where the trail ended at a stone wall. Searching the wall, they found a rusted iron ring, and they realized what had happened.

They then returned to the manor to do some more searching, but didn't turn up anything useful. They tried the detect planar energy ritual again, but any subtle hints that may have been there were utterly overwhelmed by the Bleak Gate energy of the witchoil.

They did send a feather off to Gale, asking her to meet them at the manor at 7 PM.

Next, they headed back to base and reported in. Delft was unimpressed with their failure to apprehend Macbannin -- "I went to all that trouble to get you the warrant, I ask you do one simple thing" -- but was ultimately mollified by the explanation of how they'd left Macbannin in the wagon to deal with the witchoil problem.

Then, they set off for their meeting with Kell. Kell tried to trick them by staging a robbery scene outside his theatre, but the PCs didn't fall for it, so they were "invited" into the Theatre of Scoundrels by a large group of armed thugs.

Kell told his men to put on a comedy, so a docker was shoved out on stage and mistreated in various "humourous" ways before the thieves started beating "him" for real... at which point the PCs realized that the "docker" was actually Lynn Kindleton, who they had asked to try and set up a meeting with Dr von Recklinghausen on their behalf. Kell demanded 1,000 gp to set up the meeting, and the PCs assented on the condition that Kell also gave them Kindleton. He agreed, and had a runner head to the doctor's hideout to let the bodyguards know the constables were OK, and had second thief escort the PCs.

Quite a few sick and injured people were queued up outside the Nettles church, hoping for treatment. Inside, the bodyguards had disabled the traps and alarms, and left once the PCs saw the doctor.

They managed to convince the doctor that they weren't going to take him in, he wasn't suspected in the murder, and that they were actually looking out for him, so he gave them his side of the story about Nilasa's murder, and told them about the documents she'd given him before dying.

The PCs warned him that Kell had sold him out, and that someone else ("Officer Porter") was looking for him as well. They offered to let him stay at an RHC safe house, which he accepted.

Just then, the constables realized that someone was sneaking up on them...[/sblock]

DM Notes
I had Creed collect the unconscious Macbannin from the constables' carriage, then flee on horseback. I handled the pursuit as a skill challenge, with the PCs tracking the horse down the dirt road into the city, then through the cobbled streets by shouting at people or observing which way crowds were moving, then back up into a wooded area in the Nettles, and finally into some ruins where the wall was located. They did have a shot at catching up, but it was tough.

After the PCs left the manor, Creed and Macbannin arrived back there, and confirmed that the witchoil lab remained intact. While working on fixing it to pump the accumulated witchoil down into the Bleak Gate reservoir, Lorcan Kell's runner arrived to tell them that the constables were headed for the Nettles church.

I had a lot of fun hamming up the staged robbery, and also playing Kell, alternating his short sentences to the PCs with descriptions of what was transpiring on stage as the conversation progressed. The PCs cracked pretty quickly and coughed up the 1,000 gp when they realized it was Lynn Kindleton being beaten on the stage.

My PCs still haven't put together that Creed was the killer, but I'm pretty sure they'll get it once they actually engage Creed in combat -- or once they get a chance to examine the doctor's documents.

Questions
I'm adding Macbannin to the church encounter, which already had Creed. If I keep the two nethermancers (which I think I should) and the two knife-fighters, that's 1200 XP, or a level 7 encounter for 4 level 4 PCs. That makes it the toughest encounter in the adventure (Earthquake was level 6).

I might delevel Creed to 4, which would get it a bit closer to a level 6 encounter. I considered cutting the knife-fighters, but someone needs to keep the constables off Macbannin, or they'll just pummel him into the dirt like they did at the manor. That said, they're down a few dailies (and consumables) after that fight...

What I'm not sure of is whether to keep Leone Quital. Creed/Macbannin could have contacted Quital after Kell's runner reached them, to ask for his help. Quital then bars the church doors as normal, but not before sending Macbannin in along with Creed "because you have to clean up your own messes." Of course, Quital has a contingency plan of his own in the explosives, which he doesn't tell Macbannin about.

Otherwise, I cut Quital, and the whole plan with the explosives comes from Creed and Macbannin.

Thoughts? [MENTION=63]RangerWickett[/MENTION], I know you mentioned replacing Quital with Macbannin earlier, so I take that to mean Quital's appearance in this adventure isn't crucial for the future?
 

Having Quital does help set some stuff up for later. He reappears in adventure 5 (from afar again) and 7 (up close and personal), but you don't _have_ to see him. Still, I like the set up of him sending in Macbannin to clean up his mess, and locking the guy in so he can bring the whole place down and cover their tracks if Macbannin fails.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Cool. I'll keep Quital and tinker with the encounter a little bit so it's a satisfactory capstone (at least as hard as the manor encounter) without being overwhelming.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Session Notes
[sblock]A shadowy figure darted around a corner, and then Macbannin and two knife fighters emerged from the entrance. Murdok quickly charged up to engage the knife fighters, but Macbannin's abjuration aura made it tough to do much damage. The others retreated past one of the gates and closed it, preventing a flank, then headed toward the entrance to back up Murdok.

A pitched battle ensued, with Macbannin cursing Murdok and Creed making liberal use of his chrome pistol and shadow claws, but with the Doctor's help, the PCs managed to triumph. They knocked out Macbannin, but Creed stuck around, trying to finish them off, striking then retreating into shadows. The constables managed to pinpoint him for long enough for Murdok to charge in and finish him off with a double axe swing. They specified that it was lethal damage on Creed, having been quite put out by his attempt on their life on Cauldron Hill. [/sblock]

DM Notes
I removed one nethermancer from the encounter, leaving it at 1075 XP for four players plus Dr von Recklinghausen -- basically a level 6 encounter, just like the Manor encounter earlier in their adventuring day. I thought the encounter went well -- I dropped Murdok three times, and she was down to one surge by the end of the encounter. I bloodied Vesta as well. Creed fell victim to a string of 6-8 bad rolls against Vesta, otherwise I probably would have dropped him as well.

We stopped right after the battle, so they still don't realize they're sealed in, or that Leone Quital is outside. I'm looking forward to dropping that bombshell on them next time. :devil:
 

Ajar

Explorer
Session Notes
[sblock]After confirming that Macbannin was still breathing, the constables took stock of their surroundings... and realized the exit was barred. Viveen headed for the exit, and looked out to see Leone Quital enjoying some fine wine and cheese. Quital informed her that he wanted the Doctor and the documents, and that they had one hour to comply. Viveen asked for a glass of wine, which Quital floated over to her. She toasted him, then retreated back into the church.

Searching the church, the constables quickly found the secret door in the privy. With Viveen carrying Creed's body and Vesta carrying Macbannin, they made their escape... until Viveen scraped the exit door against its frame, and the rogues watching the entrance above heard it. The PCs immediately took off into the Nettles, hoping to lose their pursuers, and managed to do so.

Safe from Quital for now, they headed back to HQ to report in. A clerk gave them letters from one Morgan Cippiano, requesting a meeting in the near future to resolve the matter of his imprisoned "family members."

Delft congratulated them on apprehending Macbannin, stated that Creed had clearly died resisting arrest, and told them to get their stories straight ASAP, since they would undoubtedly be called to testify in Macbannin's trial. The constables requested a forensic accountant to assist in reviewing the documents, and arranged for a safe house for the Doctor. [/sblock]

DM Notes
I enjoyed playing Quital, even though the PCs didn't interact with him all that much. I'm looking forward to his return. I handled the chase through the Nettles as a simple skill challenge, but mostly using group skill checks, which worked well.

I don't think the PCs have figured out that Creed killed Nilasa yet, but I expect Reginald (spirit medium) to question Creed posthumously, which will likely lead to that information.

I'm planning to have Morgan Cippiano offer the to set up the dragonborn brothers for the PCs, stealing Ryan's brilliant idea to have Cippiano hire the brothers to burn down the Theatre of Scoundrels. If the PCs go for it, and Kell finds out the PCs were involved, it should make things kind of fun in adventure 3!

First up, though, is the PCs' meeting with Gale at Macbannin's manor. They arranged to meet her there tonight to show her the witchoil lab. Given that Lady Inspectress Saxby is already aware of the case -- she reluctantly approved the warrant for Macbannin's arrest, based on the documents from the golem encounter -- I'm thinking she may have already arranged to have the manor cordoned off by the time the PCs and Gale arrive. I figure I'll have the "rival" constables posted there as guards, foreshadowing them taking over the case from the PCs after Macbannin dies. "Sorry, guys, but direct orders from the Inspectress herself: no one goes in." I'll be very curious to see how that scene plays out!
 

Ajar

Explorer
Phew! It's been a while since I posted. Things have been pretty ridiculous for me all summer, and it looks to continue through the fall, so we're squeezing in sessions wherever we can. We had one in July-August, and are starting Adventure 3 tonight!

Session Notes
[sblock]The PCs arrived at Macbannin's manor to find it cordoned off, and another squad of constables guarding it. They claimed that no one was to go in or out, direct orders from the Lady Inspectress herself.

The PCs retreated into the Nettles to rendezvous with Gale, updating her on the situation and on what was going on in Macbannin's manor.

The next morning, they met Morgan Cippiano for breakfast. In exchange for the freedom of his Family members, he offered them both Creed's carriage driver and the dragonborn arsonists. The PCs asked if they could think it over. One of the players specifically asked "Just how dirty do we want to be?"

They returned to Delft and reported in, and even decided to fully report the conversation with Cippiano, and that they would be declining his offer.

Next up was Macbannin's hearing! However, he didn't show up, and when the PCs rushed to his cell, they found him dead, apparently of suicide. Reginald attempted to commune with his spirit, but found it absent. The constables requested some arcane support to check out the cell, but nothing unusual was found.

Since Reginald had already expended his speak with spirits ability, the PCs asked the rival squad's spirit medium to posthumously question Cillian Creed on their behalf (forcing me to make up a stat block for the spirit medium!). However, some mediocre rolls meant that the only information they got was a definitive admission that Creed had killed Nilasa Hume, and that he still considered himself a patriot, even in death.

At this point, we went into time-lapse mode. The PCs reported to Gale that Creed had confessed to Nilasa's murder. Murdok trained with Dr von Recklinghausen to learn his surigal precision skill. The constables asked forensic accountants to review the doctor's documents from the consulate, and pieced together the witchoil project. Finally, they attended Nevard Sechim's funeral, and noticed Gale off in the distance, observing as well.

Some time later, they heard about an interesting development:

goodson_gale.jpg
[/sblock]

DM Notes
I was happy to reveal the consequence of Vesta advocating nonviolence, although I'm not sure the PCs really got that Gale actually did restrain herself as a result of his advice. I'll be sure to emphasize that going forward, though.

The PCs were relieved to finally get a concrete answer to the question of who murdered Nilasa -- so much so that they never bothered to follow up and try to find out why LeBrix lied to them initially.

They weren't frustrated by Macbannin's suicide. I was a bit concerned that they might be, since he escaped them the first time (or rather, was rescued by Creed) before coming back to try and finish the job.

My players are all very excited about attending the expo at the start of Digging for Lies. I'm running that -- and most likely the first encounter -- tonight!

Edit: Also, I finally caved and set up an Obsidian Portal site for our campaign. I tested the secrecy features out by creating a character profile for Rock Rackus and adding a secret note to the bottom of it for Vesta's player about the Vekeshi gathering where the Old Stag jokes about having him killed. It's pretty cool, and I used it extensively before the last Skyseer session to keep my notes about what I expected to happen, what certain NPCs would say, etc. Very useful to have that stuff right there next to the players' session notes.
 
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Ajar

Explorer
My PCs tonight: "The lesson from Macbannin's suicide is that we need to kill more suspects instead of arresting them!" :p
 

Ajar

Explorer
First Digging for Lies session tonight!

Session Notes
[sblock]The PCs decided to go straight to the Expo, although since Reginald is a junkie who spends a lot of his stipend on drinkable/snortable consumables, I did give him a Streetwise check to recognize that the Expo and similar events tend to coincide with influxes of regulated or illicit substances onto the black market.

After talking to Officer Lockheart, their Flint police liason officer, they visited the trinket stand. They didn't learn anything, though, and continued on to explore the Expo. They stopped off at Sechim's Alkahest, and were pleased with his success since they saved his factory.

Next they went to the Gun Alley to check out the firearms. Reginald used Diplomacy to entreat a drunken halfling to fire the Nock gun, so I played a loud explosion sound as I narrated the halfling firing the gun and getting knocked on his ass.

From there, they went to check out the badger guns, which they were actually very impressed by. They're definitely considering buying a badger gun or a Nock gun, maybe one of each.

Next up was the ammo store, but with no guns, they decided to continue on.

Finally, they approached the stage, but Rock Rackus was too busy for them (Flint Prestige 2). And at that moment, horrible monsters appeared near the ammo tent...[/sblock]

DM Notes
All RP tonight. Lots of laughter -- this was a nice comic interlude after the bleaker ending to The Dying Skyseer. My players were thrilled when Reginald convinced the drunk halfling to try firing the Nock gun loaded with 7 bullets.
 

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