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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Ajar

Explorer
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.
 

Ajar

Explorer
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.
 

Ajar

Explorer
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
 

Ajar

Explorer
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.
 

Ajar

Explorer
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.
 

Ajar

Explorer
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.
 

Ajar

Explorer
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.
 

Ajar

Explorer
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...
 

Ajar

Explorer
We've been doing the planning montage for the last few weeks. We're going a bit faster than one montage week per real week, but not much faster...

Still, their plans are coming together.

Week 1
Bela - History to look through files and learn about business from studying professional criminals. Cover identities. Success.
Vesta - Investigation of kinds of events going on at each destination city when the train gets there. Contingencies. Success. I need to clarify what these events are and what cities they're in.
Murdok - Shows up at police grunt work, bitching about how she thought things would be different under Delft. Secrecy. Success.
Viveen - Attempts to find common pilgrimages that might put a religious type on the train. Secrecy. Failure.
Reginald - Reginald hints to Hans Weber that they may be dispatched to a ziggurat in the near future. Secrecy. Success.

Week 2
Reginald - Ridealong on the train to Bole as an inspector, studying the construction of the cars and looking for spots that contraband could be placed. Contingencies. Success.
Murdok - Obtained more detailed maps of the Avery Coast, geography around cities on the route. Contingencies. Success.
Vesta - Attempts to request the Impossible to take them out to sea as a ruse, where they later meet up with their ship. Level 6 favour, prestige 5 with Risur, fulfilled in a day -- no problem. Cover Identities. Success.
Viveen - Goes to talk with Heward Sechim. If they're going to pose as businesspeople scouting for new factory locations. Cover Identities. Success.
Bela - Goes to talk to the Skyseers about portals, providing more cover for their cover story of going to investigate another seal. Secrecy. Success.

Week 3
Reginald - Goes to dinner with his posh aunt and her friends to learn more about the railroad and how posh travellers travel. Cover Identities. Success.
Vesta - Spends time with eldest brother Belaver trying to investigate their family tree and see if any relations live near any of the stops. Contingencies. Success. Relation lives somewhere near Vendricce, eladrin assassin.
Bela - Falsifies paperwork to ensure nobody picks up on the fact that they aren't doing their normal jobs. Secrecy. Success.
Murdok - Takes Rock Rackus out for drinks and suggests that he perform somewhere along the route. Contingencies. Success.
Viveen - Using the knowledge she gained from Heward to try and coach other party members on factory construction. Cover Identities. Failure.

Week 4
Viveen - Archer montage! Practicing her train fighting moves in secret. On trains. Secrecy. Failure.
Vesta - Works to obtain false passports for the party's cover identities. Cover Identities. Success.
Bela - Creates a paper trail for the false identities - e.g. correspondence between Murdok and false people who may own land where she would want to site a factory. Cover Identities. Success.
Reginald - Obtains clothing, accoutrements for the cover identities. Tooth & Claw guidebooks. Cover Identities. Success.
Murdok - Works on logistics with Rock Rackus. How to ship their pyrotechnics without it all exploding, etc. They want to perform in Nalaam. Because Vegas, baby! Vegas! Contingencies. Success.

Week 5
Viveen - Quizzes people on cover identities. Cover Identities. Failure.
Bela - Quizzes people on cover identities. Cover Identities. Failure.
Reginald - Obtains clothing, accoutrements for cover identities. Cover Identities. Success.
Vesta - Spends some time communing with Xambria about how to pass as a scholar. Free success in Cover Identities. Also does paperwork. Secrecy. Success.
Murdok...

Identities:
Scholar - Vesta
Bela - Transporter
Murdok - Factory Owner
Reginald - Dilettante
Viveen - Reginald’s bodyguard on his drying out tour


They've come up with some pretty cool ideas so far. I gave Vesta a free success in working on his scholar cover identity, since he has Xambria in his head. They've convinced Rock Rackus to play Nalaam, and are working on helping him get his gear over there -- Murdok used her Dungeoneering skill to assist Rock and his people with the careful packaging of their fireworks so that they don't all explode on the way over.

So we're in week 5, and Murdok decides she wants to look up Dr von Recklinghausen and see if he can arrange to meet them along the route. Given the presence of Andrei on the train, this seems like it could mess things up. [MENTION=63]RangerWickett[/MENTION]?
 

That's a fun list.

[sblock]Wolfgang's supposed to have headed on to Ber by this point, but it's not that critical to the narrative. You could bring him along, and perhaps have a big reveal at the Nalaam Arena where Wolfgang thinks his creation will try to kill him. Andrei thinks he's gotten over his vendetta, but seeing Wolfgang in the flesh might enrage him and complicate matters unless the party is able to get the two to focus on the mutual threat at hand.

Or, y'know, have Wolfgang blow their cover. Maybe he actually has been recruited by the Ob.[/sblock]
 

Ajar

Explorer
Ohhh, sblock. Whoops.

Yeah, they've come up with some interesting ideas. I still need to figure out what kinds of events (conferences, festivals, etc) are going on along the route, as well as the particulars of Vesta's distant relation.

Since it won't break anything for Wolfgang to show up, I'll tell them that he has gone to Ber (after all, it's been weeks since they saw him at the Gala of the Ancients), but that they can get a letter to him if need be. Then I'll have the person writing the letter make their check for the week to see if the letter convinces Wolfgang to help them. It works out either way. If they succeed, he helps them, potentially triggering an explosive scene with Andrei. If they fail by a lot, I'll have him decline. If they fail by just a little bit, I'll tell them they succeeded, but secretly have him be an Ob spy. :devil:

I'm hoping to finish up the montage tonight, then start the trip next week.
 

Ajar

Explorer
The Wolfgang check was failed by one point. Ob spy it is!

Session Summary:

[sblock]
Week 6:
Bela and Viveen - Quiz other party members on cover identities. Two successes.
Vesta and Murdok - Go to libraries to do research on the countries they will be visiting. Cover Identities. One success, one failure - failure shifted to Contingencies.
Reginald - Busy work. Secrecy. Success.

Week 7:
Reginald - Viveen introduces Reginald to Murgard, her shrimper contact, in the hopes that Murgard will agree to meet them somewhere along the train route. Contingencies. Failure. Murgard sees this as too dangerous.
Murdok - Looks into whether trainspotting/fan groups exist for the Avery Coast railroad. Contingencies. Failure. Such groups do exist, but not in Risur, and it's too late to try and contact the international ones without an "in."
Vesta - Contacts dockworkers in Trekhom who Xambria hired for a previous expedition. Contingencies. Success. The PCs will be able to smuggle things in/out of Trekhom and will have the aid of 5-6 dockworkers if needed.

85 Autumn arrived, and it was time to set off! The constables had sent their own ship out into the Yerasol Archipelago earlier in the week, making it obvious that they were not on board. On 85 Autumn, they boarded the Impossible and set sail toward Seobriga. After a couple of days at sea, they turned around and headed for the Yerasol Archipelago.

Early one morning, Reginald noticed odd ripples approaching the boat, and felt a faint vibration. He sent a consciousness fragment underwater to investigate, and found a spike embedded in the hull. He telekinetically pulled it up, and after some study concluded that it was a tracking device. Some discussion with the party and Rutger Smith resulted in a plan: the spike would stay on the Impossible, which would rendezvous with the PCs ship and transfer them as planned, then set sail for Seobriga with the spike aboard, hopefully misleading the Ob as to their whereabouts.
[/sblock]
DM Notes:
The PCs have complete successes across the board in the skill challenge, but didn't have 5 consecutive weeks of secrecy successes, so the Ob think they might be on the Impossible but don't know where they're headed or what their goal is. Therefore, the sub pod only approached and planted the tracking device - no ambush. I missed in the adventure text that a PC should need darkvision to spot the ripples, so Reginald shouldn't have seen it, but I don't think it affects anything that he did, since the tracking device is staying aboard the Impossible anyway!

I didn't get a chance to philosophize as Captain Smith this time, but I'm going to prepare another dissertation on Millerism for next time. After that, time for the train!
 

Ajar

Explorer
We've had a few sessions since I last posted. Since my players split the party yet again -- three in first class, two in second class -- running the train scenes and the stop scenes has required a ton of jumping about and some delicate chronology management to keep everything straight. I seem to be managing so far, though.

Viveen's player's notes are actually a solid summary of what's been going on. She takes them stream of consciousness as we play, so they're largely unedited, but they definitely cover the bases.

[sblock=Beaumont]After switching boats, the rest of the journey is uneventful. We arrive in Beaumont two days before the train is scheduled to depart -- the 9th of winter. Due to the excellent nature of our forged documents, we have no trouble with the feds. Vesta happens to know from his research that a conference of noted military historians and strategists is taking place at the local military academy, Lamarr University. He also knows that noted burlesque artist Victoria Fanning is performing here this week only.



Bela seeks out a coffee house to sit in a dark corner and listen. Viveen and Reginald seek out lodging. High end lodgings tend to be inland in Beaumont. Since the city is quite close to the mountains, there are neighborhoods on the foothills. We hire a carriage and head out. Bela ends up in a similar neighborhood.




Murdoch goes to check out the industrial corridor. Beaumont is a mix of scenic and industrialized. The area is older, with a long history of heavy industry. Many of the factories have changed hands several times.




Vesta and Dr. Meredith do some research -- they look for a museum or archive that might related to her interests that wouldn’t have been available in Flint.




Murdoch and Bela notice that Beaumont doesn’t have any of the little magical flourishes that you see everywhere in Risur. There’s no signs that sparkle, or lights that are magical instead of fire based. There are beat cops on patrol, about the same number we’d expect back home. In the industrial areas the density and age has created more smog than in Flint. The prevailing winds don’t blow the stacks out to sea as well, and there’s more industry.




Bela’s shadow trick still works, but it’s a bit harder than at home. He thinks the enchantments on his pistols will still work, but he suspects that when we actually enter the malice lands that will change.




Reginald and Viveen find lodgings for 5 gp a night. Reginald will look into getting some drugs, Viveen will stop him.




We are in Danor, and there are a lot of teiflings. Some of them look at us weird, but we don’t have any real problems.




Bela checks out the railroad and looks for the fan club. At the rail office, he meets an elderly teifling who is not in the employ of the rail line. He is an officier of Friends of the Rail, and is happy to talk about the trains. Bela asks what’s unique about this railroad as compared to the other one. The speed is it’s most obvious feature. The rail in Risur takes several days merely to go from Flint to the Southern Mountains, where as the Avery Coast railroad travels 3000 miles in a mere 6 days. Bela asks if it’s just the speed that guarantees it’s always on time? Yes -- it is able to go so much faster than necessary that it’s never late. It’s also never early. One of the things he admires most about the operators of the railroad is their dedication to punctuality. Being from Risur, he imagines that you may know that the engines of that train are fueled by burning fire gems. Obviously here in Danor the magical properties of fire gems are somewhat muted, so the train achieves it’s amazing speed while running on actual coal from Beaumont to Trekor. From there on, it runs on fire gems, since they’re cheaper. It’s quite an accomplishment, the dual fuel source in a steam locomotive. No one else seems to be staking out the station.




Murdoch hangs out near the conference. At lunch time, a group of several people who look like academics show up for food. She eavesdrops. There is actually an academic from Risur here giving a talk about a magical technique used to forge a bond between combatants and their weapons. The name of the academic is Jayne Cobb -- one of her favorite professors. She runs away.




Vesta looks for lectures that would be of interest to the kinds of people we are trying to find. The conference seems to be dominating the academic agenda in Beaumont right now. As to her other research, there is surprisingly little scholarship about the ancients available. From talking to curators and librarians, there is no Hans Weber here -- no one with enthusiasm for inquiry into the nature and practices of the ancients. They’re not hiding anything, it’s just not a thing here. What are the local academic focuses? Largely industrial in nature. Colleges of science & engineering, alchemy, herbalism to an extent. Focused on supporting the city’s industries.




Reginald and Viveen take a cable car up the mountains to a scenic restaurant for lunch. Reginald gets squished copper souvenirs. Reginald checks for Apet/Bleak gate energy and doesn’t find any. The burlesque show is pretty impressive for being staged without magic. Viveen sees several contingents from out of town in the audience, and makes note to watch for them on the train. Reginald has no trouble charming his way past Victoria’s assistants and into her dressing room, where she is more than happy to give us autographs and is thrilled we enjoyed the show. (She is human, and speaks with a Danoran accent, and looks like Betty Page.) Reginald chats her up. She is from Orethia, which is in the no magic zone. She had a boyfriend that took her to a show when she was younger, and she thought is was so cool that she talked to the performer after. She didn’t start right away, but it stuck with her. She tours within Danor, and occasionally goes to Crysiler, but has never been to Risur. Reginald thinks she’s be well received, and she’s heard that Flint is a lovely city.




Vesta looks for someplace other Eladrin might be found. No luck.




Bela keeps an eye out for a firearms dealer. There are several, each with somewhat unique twists on their wares. One catches his eye that has introduces a cartridge based system for rapidly reloading their weapons. Bela talks shop with them.
[/sblock]

[sblock=Train Day 1]On the morning of the 11th of winter, the train is set to depart at 7:30 AM.




Time to choose what class passage we have on the train:
Bela: Second Class
Murdock: First Class
Vesta: Second Class
Viveen: First Class
Reginald: First Class




We are going to get on the train. It is super impressive, as is the station. The symbol of the line is a pair of train tracks woven in an infinity symbol. The conductor introduces himself as Xorin Marchand to the first class passengers. There are around 10 first class passengers. He offers to personally escort the first class passengers to the rear of the train. The porters take our luggage. We board car 19, the lavish first class dining car. On our way we are introduced to the first class chef, Kov Marik, and to Doris Gavagne, the pianist. After brief introductions and showing off of the fineries, he escorts us to car 17. While the porters are depositing our bags he suggests we may enjoy a complimentary breakfast in the dining car shortly after we get under way.




The other first class passengers are a family of half-orcs. As Xorin is giving us the tour, they’re oooing and ahhing, seem to be tourists unused to this form of travel. (Parents and 2 kids.) Reginald does not see Apet energy anywhere. Damata Giento peppers Xorin with questions about engineering. His wife and the kids gawk at everything.




Meanwhile, the rest of the party boards the train and find their way to their 2nd class seats. They carry their own bags. Once everyone is sorta settled an attractive dark skinned uniformed woman passes through the cars, checking tickets and making sure everyone is in the right section of the train. As she passes through Bela & Vesta’s car she stops at their seats and they notice she’s stopped at a couple other people’s seats along the way. Bela tries to eavesdrop -- she seems to be talking about some kind of safari. When she gets to his seat she asks if he will be staying with the train on to Trekkom, and says that it is traditional for distinguished guests to enjoy a safari in the Malice lands. They sit on top of the train with muskets and with assistance of the security force can shoot at any Malice beasts they see. Bela is in. Her name is Malia Baccarin, and she offers to acquire a fine rifle in a prior stop if he wishes, for 100 gold. There is a developing industry in Drakkar of weapons manufacturers collaborating with wizards in the creation of new weapons, and all manner of interesting devices are available. Their weapons are known as some of the finest around.




She continues through the cabin, talking mostly to passengers who appear wealthy or tough. Bela notes which ones near him she speaks to. Vesta is in too.




She makes the same pitch to first class. Damata is in. Viveen & Reginald pass. Murdock’s in.




Shortly after the security check the train starts. Soon the scenery of pastoral Danor is flying by at a staggering 60 mph. We head for the lounge for breakfast. The Gientos are there, one of the children is bouncing around near a tall blonde woman who looks about 50 and has a jagged scar around the circumference of her right arm. At the bar Kov is bring out plates of delicious breakfast food from the kitchen.




Reginald introduces us to the woman, she introduces herself as Bree. She’s meeting someone. She’s somewhat taciturn. Reginald and Viveen say nice to meet you and excuse ourselves to get breakfast.




Murdoch wonders if the woman might be meeting a hookup or something, but isn’t sure.




Reginald eavesdrops on the orks. Damata is trying to get his son to stop pestering Bree about her scars. The discussion about the scars seems to be upsetting the daughter. Bree smiles and tells Taro if his sister’s arm ever gets cut off he should hang on to it in case they can sew it back on.




Viveen talks to Kov -- she compliments the food and asks how long he’s been on the run. Almost since it’s inception. He likes to travel in this style, but wouldn’t want to travel by boat. Train is civilized.




Back in second class. Bela is in car 16, Vesta is in 14. Vesta checks out the people in his compartment. There’s a tiefling -- Bethany Cousineau. She is a native of Danor. Another native is Dan Boyene, a traveling opthamologist. He shows Vesta his suitcase full of eyeglasses. None of them are magic, but they’re all science!




With Bela there is a group of Danoran soldiers led by Lt. Emile Davion, who is taking them to enroll in a martial university in Cherage. Bela tells them he admires their advancements to firearms and their contributions to those sciences. They are impressed! Emile notes that the prevailing sentiment in Danor is that foreigners tend to deride their accomplishments. They have a nice chat.




The train stops about once an hour at small cities, waiting only about 10 minutes for people to board or disembark. No one joins first class initially, but the ranks of 2nd shuffle. At 11:17 we stop at the agricultural hub of Keskay. About 3 hours of Beaumont. Out the windows we can see a couple of people who stand out a bit. A pair of travelers joined at the wrist by ornate bracelets of gold. A broad woman in a flowing gown with a look of disdain, and a figure wrapped entirely in black, so much that we can’t tell gender. Even their eyes are covered. They come to first class. There is also a tall tiefling wearing a red velvet vest and two beautiful women draped over his shoulders. His horns sprout through a rough hat that shields his eyes from the sun. He is in car 14, but not Vesta’s suite, stows his luggage and makes straight for car 13, the common food car. There is also a dwarf, who boards in coach. Vesta does not detect energy traces.




As soon as the two women board they head for the dining lounge while the porters take their luggage. The unveiled one demands food, the veiled one sits across from her silently. Viveen can’t tell anything about them. Reginald doesn’t know anything about the bracelet thing.




Shortly after lunchtime one of the soldiers comes back to the suite where Bela is and says some guy in the common dining car choked on a nut and died. Bela heads down to the car after a while, by that point things have been cleaned up, there’s no sign of whatever happened. He finds someone who looks like they’ve been there for awhile and chats. The fellow is Alexi Mohrbacher. He’s from Darkor and is a businessman on his way home. He was here when the fellow choked, and has been nursing a drink since then. The guy just seemed to be enjoying a bowl of nuts and then suddenly was choking. The security staff (Malia) took him away pretty quickly after it happened. The person who died was a young human, middle height, brown hair, nothing too remarkable about him.
[/sblock]

[sblock=Cherage]4/2/14: We are going into a city! Keep an eye on your things. It is a shining wonder of wealth and prosperity. The city has a curfew for visitors. Cherage is the capital of Danor, built around a bay. Different districts are separated by elevation. The railroad enclave is a few city blocks, surrounded by a 20’ wall. The enclave contains two hotels, literally on either side of the train tracks from each other (one is cheap and one is expensive).Those of us with suites can stay on the train. Reginald and Viveen go to the expensive hotel, Murdoch stays in her suite. Bela and Vesta go to the cheaper hotel.




(Beaumont was cold.) Vesta is going to the dance hall. It’s not really hopping, since it’s still pretty early. He goes for a walk instead. The wall isn’t really a wall, there are obvious gaps, open gates, security is not tight.




Reginald and Viveen get a room and check their valuables with the manager. The lobby is fairly crowded with other passengers. There isn’t a bar, but there are some people playing dice. Reginald checks the game out, but is not invited to join. They go for a stroll on the good side of the tracks. They pass the orc family. They seem to be seeing the sights.




Reginald consults Tooth & Claw. Respectable citizens are advised to stay away from the docks. The Dockers are a hard drinking hard fighting bunch, and there were riots some time ago. The curfew is taken fairly seriously, although bribes are sometimes accepted.




Murdoch goes to dinner.




Bela is going to go find a busy place with a dark corner. He hears some chatter about train related things, like there’s a duelist aboard headed to Milong to fight in the arena. Someone mentions an opthamologist. There’s some discussion of the person who choked on the nut. He recognizes a small group of Danoran militia members sitting at a table, drinking probably too much.




Vesta goes back to the dancehall, checks the layout and chats with the bartender. It is a little more populated than before. There is a mezzanine level with tables and a secondary bar, Vesta goes up there, and hangs out. There are a few familiar faces from the train, but not anyone he’s interacted with. He keeps an eye out for who they might be meeting with, or clusters of people that might be interesting.




Reginald and Viveen talk to the Grientoes, and say he’s obviously making this a super educational trip for his kids, and is he an architecture buff? He is an engineer by training, so he has an interest in this sort of stuff and is excited to share it with his family. They continue on. They see the group of Danoran soldiers, and Viveen hails them. They chat and go for a beer. The lieutenant is taking the 5 soldiers to the military academy here. Viveen wishes them luck in their academic endeavors, and a good night tonight, and she and Reginald take their leave. We see a police station, the office of the transportation authority, and several touristy museums along with the hotels, restaurants, and dancehall.




Murdoch goes to find dinner. She goes to the local place. She also sees some familiar faces, but no one she’s talked to. She slips the host a fiver to seat her near some people she wants to eavesdrop on. Someone she recognizes from the train is at the bar meeting with someone else. From the conversation he seems like a minor politician, and he’s here for a fundraiser.




Two humans who appear to have met on the train are talking about their errands, they are both going to Nalamn. A talk blond human is a duelist, going to fight in the arena. The other is a female college professor from Nalamn, who was doing experiments on how magic decays in various parts of Danor and is on her way home.




Bela wants to go skulk around the train station. He gets a hotel room with a balcony overlooking the station. A number of people enter and leave the hotel. Nothing interesting happens around the train, the workers are just sitting around shooting the :):):):). But the dwarf who boarded the train at the first stop and the tiefling with the ladies both come in to the hotel, and the businessman he talked to after the dude choked on the nut. At about 8:00 he sees the tiefling saunter out and head towards the railroad. He follows. He is not really stealthy.




The tiefling heads from the fancy hotel to the other hotel. Bela doesn’t follow him in. About 10 minutes later he notices the dwarf arrive and go inside. Bela goes into the bar. The tiefling is flirting with everyone available, and the dwarf is drinking and playing dice. He does not seem to be winning. The tiefling, Boone, seems to be settling in with a buxom young woman. A cheer goes up from the dwarf’s table, and his stack of chips and gold gets larger. About 9:00 he stands up, quiets the room, and offers to buy a round for the room if they will join him in a toast. “To adventure, and never waking up in the same town twice. Or at least not in the same bed!” After the toast he heads over to the bar, obtains another mug, and brings it to Bela. He puts down the mug and suggests you play some dice. Bela accepts. The game goes back and forth, other people come and go, but it ends up about even. Bela thanks him for the game. Verzubak, the dwarf, looks tired. As he’s taking his leave Bela notices he compliments him three times in the span of a single sentence, which is a little odd. He then continues to work the room. Liza thinks this was a recognition signal and he’s totally a member of the conspiracy.




Murdoch doesn’t hit it off with the duelist and college professor she was eavesdropping on in the restaurant. They ditch her and enter the dance hall that Vesta is staking out. She encounters some Danor militiamen and discovers they are racist jerks (their group is composed of mostly humans and a tiefling). Vesta also eavesdrops on the duelist and college professor and intuits a budding romance.




Reginald and Viveen go to the Crysilari restaurant. They do not see any familiar faces, but there is a man dining alone with a case that he seems somewhat paranoid about. When he goes to the restroom, Reginald waits a bit and follows, trying to jostle the case passing so he can apologize and strike up a conversation. He waits too long to make his attempt and the opportunity passes. He makes another attempt with after dinner drinks and succeeds, he joins us. They chat, the case is a trumpet. He was part of an orchestra for quite awhile. His name is Giles Bonhomme, and he is going to audition for an orchestra in Chrysilia. He’s traveling coach, so he’s very protective of his instrument. Reginald invites him to come have a drink with them in first class, and he’s appreciative. He’s a human of about 35. Reginald mentions he heard about someone choking in coach, and did he hear about it? Giles says yes, he was there, it was while people were coming on at the first stop. There were a lot of people moving around, and the guy was eating a bag of peanuts and all of the sudden he started choking and died. Viveen is aware that spells that asphyxiate you exist, but they would be hard to do in Danor.




As Bela is heading back to his hotel, he sees a shabby looking gentleman wearing nothing but a long coat covered in patches and holes runs past him, smelling pungently of bath oils, pursued by 4 enclave guards. He is running away from the hotel towards the train. He is much faster than the guards and then Bela would expect. He runs up the bridge, jumps over the train and run out of sight. Bela commits the details to memory. The guards continue to the train, but can’t see where he went. Bela asks them what’s up. They ask what he saw, and he obliges. They say they were sent up to the top floor mayoral suite at the fancy hotel, which was supposed to be unoccupied, and found this man bathing in the tub. He shoved his way past him, went somewhat slowly down the stairs, and then took off. Bela nods and shrugs. Then he asks if this is normal, and is the enclave secure? They reassure him. If he sees anything out of the ordinary he should report it to the front desk, and they will notify the authorities. Bela checks out where he jumps from. It is an impressive jump for a human to make.




Reginald and Viveen encounter the group of drunken militia members shouting at the Grientos, who appear to be attempting to return to their hotel. One throws a bottle. We approach. The daughter, who has been crying, shrieks and charges at the militiamen. We anticipate this, and Viveen reaches out and catches her as she runs by. Orc children tend to get physical when they throw temper tantrums. She hands her off to her father. Reginald attempts to diffuse the situation, and they shuffle off. The orcs are grateful, and we escort them back to the hotel.




The train is set to leave at 7:30 AM. We have porters bring our luggage back from the hotels. Bela keeps an eye out for other party members in the lobby. He sees Viveen and Reginald, and they walk to the train together and exchange information.




As we are all approaching the train, we see Malia the train guard followed by a pair of men carrying a huge chest marked with the logo of a prominent gun manufacturer. She directs them to put it in the first class lounge. As this is happening, a tall man with a case strapped to his arm drags her off for conversation. She brushes him off her arm, but talks to him quietly.




There are some new passengers! Bela and Reginald notice a flat face tiefling man with an air of boredom walking arm & arm with an eerily beautiful elf woman with geometric tattoos, marking her as an oracle of the clergy. They are both dressed in high fashion and their luggage is carried on by servants. Others react to them with open interest.




The stern-faced man with the briefcase goes to car 14.




The two women who were linked together are in the luxury lounge, and the heavyset one is gossiping loudly about some tiefling, saying she’s surprised to see him and she thought he was something of a shut in and hadn’t been seen around town for a few years. The tiefling and the elf woman are boarding, as they do she stops, and makes some unusual gestures with her hands, he replies with some gestures of his own, and then stops and thanks the porters in a stutter. The gestures are not religious or arcane in nature. Reginald turns to the gossipy lady and asks what’s their story. She says he’s clearly not from around here, he’s Luc Jierre, a famous arcana scientist, and she’s surprised to see him in the company of a comely young lady because he hasn’t been seen in town for several years. She assumes she’s his wife and is disappointed, as having not been invited/involved in the arrangements. Viveen asks if she’s a matchmaker then, and she says in a manner of speaking, and it’s interesting. Her name is Elanor Yanette, and the young lady is Isobel. We introduce ourselves.




It is time for the train to get underway! Through the day it will stop roughly every hour until 4:51 PM, until it reaches a station at a fort that marks the border between Danor and the Malice Lands.[/sblock]

Managing the night in Cherage as a DM was pretty crazy. I had to keep track of where each PC was relative to the key NPCs while jumping from PC to PC frequently enough to keep each player engaged. It seemed to work, although I had to go a bit slower than I would have preferred. I think now that I have the hang of it, the next stops will be easier.
 
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Ajar

Explorer
Phew! We're back at it after being derailed (heh) by a couple of players taking a trip to Spain.

From Cherage, the next major stop was Orithea. On the way, a few of the players and some NPCs shot some malice beasts. I had fun holding my Monster Manuals up to the camera to show them pictures of the horrors they were going past. I particularly enjoyed the catoblepas.

In Orithea, my players once again split up -- Viveen and Reginald went to a pricey restaurant atop a spire and attempted to join Cardiff for dinner, but he was having none of it. Reginald tailed him with an aerial consciousness fragment, but didn't find out anything of interest.

Bela attempted to stake out the train, perhaps hoping to see Mr Mapple again, but flunked his checks and saw essentially nothing. Vesta tailed Luc and Ottavia to the hotel, then left before them and beat them to the Effervescent Cup; when Boone arrived, having seen Vesta tail the couple, he made the appropriate toast. The players think the toasting thing is a bit odd, but haven't put the pieces together yet.

Murdok stayed on the train, but not much was happening there.

The next day, after a bit more malice beast shooting, the train was ambushed! Several of the shooters fell off the back of the train -- including poor Tarro, who was knocked out by the fall, and Vesta. When the five-headed screaming malice rose up and I showed my players the picture, I was gratified to see their looks of concern.

After a couple of rounds, we realized the normal train map wasn't really going to work, so my wife constructed this map for us, spoilered for bigness:

[sblock]

Screenshot%202014-06-01%2015.42.14.png


[/sblock]

Which would really only work on a virtual tabletop. But work it did!

We went for about 10 rounds. Viveen and Murdok moved fairly quickly to engage the screaming malice, but Murdok didn't go for her axes in order to maintain her cover as an industrialist. Instead, she used one of the shooting expedition guns.

Bela had been wearing his pistols openly the entire time, so he headed toward the front of the train to find out what was going on. We ended just as he came upon the bandits opening the car Mr Mapple is hiding in!

Reginald stayed in the luxury dining car, but sent his consciousness fragments, memory shards, etc, etc to engage the screaming malice.

We'll conclude the battle on Sunday. I'm quite curious to see what happens.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Well, that was interesting.

Viveen, Murdok, Vesta, and Reginald engaged the screaming malice and malice spawn, with Cardiff and guards supporting. Meanwhile, Bela closed the door to car 6 as the bandits battled Mr Mapple inside, and used his carbine to jam it shut. That left him alone with the malice steeds outside the car. He killed one and triggered his pact boon to teleport up to the car... but they leapt up onto it as well, and ultimately dropped him.

Murdok was knocked down, but the others finally drove off the screaming malice, and Viveen got Murdok back up. Hearing the gunfire from Bela fighting the malice steeds, they headed toward the front of the train. Bela passed one death save with a Heroic Effort, but failed the next two.

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN!

Fortunately for him, he passed the two after that, managing to hold on just long enough for help to arrive. If not for that Heroic Effort, he would actually have died. I think that's the closest we've come to a player death so far.
 

Ajar

Explorer
I've been remiss in my updates!

Viveen revived Bela, and the group quickly got Rodinn restrained to await the arrival of train guards. Since he was helpless, Bela took the opportunity to interrogate him with Rending Fear of Khirad, a power that compels truthful answers from helpless enemies. He asked where their base was, if they knew what was in the luggage cars, who their fences were, and some other stuff... but NOT whether they had any insider info. I couldn't believe it! So Malia gets away clean, despite Rodinn's capture.

Murdok headed to the front of the train, finding a very distraught Engineer Steeg trying to at least arrange the bodies of the guards in some semblance of dignified repose. Murdok isn't generally a comforting sort, but did her best, and left Steeg her rifle.

Reginald followed all of this from back in the luxury dining car -- where he was trying to encourage passengers to stay on board, and buying drinks for all concerned -- via his various and sundry psychic projections.

When Murdok and Vesta investigated the boulders and found them to be illusory, Steeg just about lost it, letting loose a tremendous stream of invective.

Meanwhile, back at car 6, Bela and one train guard were watching over Rodinn, who correctly concluded that he could take them even with his hands tied, killing the guard and dropping Bela once more. Since he hadn't gotten a short rest, that meant Bela was once again a single death save from meeting his doom. However, he had better luck this time, making the saves he needed until Vesta returned to the car, having stopped Rodinn again en route.

The night in Trekhom was somewhat uneventful in comparison. Bela visited a local gun shop, picking up a number of interesting pieces to bring back to Risur. Murdok went out drinking with Steeg and got to know the engineer a bit better. Vesta kept an eye out for persons of interest, but didn't see much beyond Boone chatting up a new drinking buddy. Murdok went to meet up with the constables' boat, which I don't think they've named yet (so I guess it's still Il Draçon de Mer). She requested that they leave a couple of crew members to see if anything of interest happens with Rodinn. Viveen and Reginald went to Vlendam Heid's lecture with Damata.

At the lecture, a conversation started up between the famous Eschatologist and the woebegone Orc. Viveen and Reginald listened with interest, interjecting only occasionally, and finally agreeing to help Damata with his problem. After conferring with their colleagues later, they agreed to let Damata know that they were more than they appeared, and could bring further backup along -- on the condition that he explain the whole thing to his wife, Ejeka, first. Damata agreed, on the condition that the Viveen and Reginald also be present so that he wouldn't have to face the full brunt of her fury alone. And she was FURIOUS! At Damata for having gotten himself into the mess, and also at Damata for not telling her about it! Once she calmed down, she was also grateful to Viveen and Reginald for offering to help, and agreed to keep the children far out of harm's way for the evening in Nalaam.

Bree also sought out Viveen to thank her for going toe-to-toe with the screaming malice and more or less saving everyone. Since Viveen's cover is that she's Reginald's bodyguard, she didn't have any problems showing her full range of powers during the battle (unlike Murdok, for example, who stuck to using the malice beast hunting rifle instead of getting her axes). Bree name-dropped Caius Bergeron, but made a horrible Insight check to notice Viveen and Reginald reacting to the name, so she didn't catch it. Verzubak did go through the cars making dice rolls, though, so he may have some ideas...

DM Notes
I've got a few unusual things going on that are going to make the rest of the adventure a bit tricky.

First, Rock Rackus is performing in Nalaam, due to the PCs' successes on contingency checks during the planning phase. I planned for his concert to be after the arena scene is done, but I think I'm going to also have him performing at the arena during the arena scene, and have him help if the PCs get into a fight. I'm almost 100% certain that there will be a fight, since there is NO way that Vesta -- a Vekeshi Mystic eladrin -- will allow Isobel to be sold when he figures out what's going on. They've been very, very good at keeping their cover so far, but I wouldn't be surprised if he blows his cover here, along with some of the other party members.

Second, they're all travelling in different parts of the train. I actually had to add an extra first class car to the train because the PCs have two suites (Murdok alone, and Reginald + Viveen). Bela and Vesta are travelling separately in second class. So far this hasn't been a huge problem, but it's going to make Luc's lantern trap a challenge to spring. When you add in the fact that the PCs have been outstanding at keeping their covers intact, but not great at identifying their suspects, I find myself in a situation where neither the PCs nor Luc and his crew know that the other group is up to anything. The PCs have some suspicions, because they noted Boone's toast after Vesta was spotted following one of the crew, but that's about all they've really got to this point. Luc's crew has spotted PCs tailing their members on two occasions, but that and Verzubak's magic dice are all they've got.

I'd been thinking of having Wolfgang von Recklinghausen blow their covers, since he's now secretly an Ob spy, but I'd forgotten that they arranged for him to meet them in Sid Minos. Since they'll be otherwise occupied then anyway, the good doctor isn't likely to do either them or me all that much good.

I guess I'll reassess after we finish the scenes in Nalaam!
 

Ajar

Explorer
The entire party went along with Damata, and even attempted to negotiate with Sylvester, but to no avail. They put the Family goons in the dirt pretty quickly, though. We'll be continuing on Thursday with Sylvester unconscious and potentially available for interrogation.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Damata took the opportunity to hack at the unconscious Sylvester with his axe, saving the party the need to decide whether to kill him or not. After a quick survey of the cave and the dead Family goons, they made an exit. Viveen asked Damata how it felt to swing an axe, and he replied that this was the first time he'd felt connected to his ancestors. They discussed his contingency plan to go into hiding with a business friend near Sid Minos, and agreed that it should still be sound.

After taking a circuitous route back to the train, including splitting up, they went to the arena. They were in one luxury booth, Luc and Ottavia in another, and Elanor, Isobel, and three potential buyers at the centre.

They all watched the 'festivities' -- which horrified my players -- while the bidding escalated. When Mapple came out, they seemed interested. When he announced himself as Andrei von Recklinghausen, they seemed extra interested... and yet, though they waffled during his battle with the pyrecat when he almost escaped and hung off the edge of their balcony for a moment before the cat dragged him back down, they ultimately decided not to intervene. Elanor auctioned Isobel off to Father Balthazar for 1.5 million gold. Murdok and Bela left the arena and went to Rock Rackus' concert (the party had previously declined to go get him before the arena trip).

Vesta, Viveen, and Reginald decided to try to help Isobel. Vesta's an eladrin, and couldn't abide Isobel being sold -- not to mention to a Crysillyri priest. Once again, my players decide to split the party! Vesta figured out the most likely route Father Balthazar's carriage would take from the arena to his mansion. Balthazar and his entourage left in four carriages, each with two guards and a driver, plus an escort of a dozen personal guards on horseback. Before leaving the arena, Vesta used his Vekeshi Mystic tracker ability on Isobel, so for the next day he'll know unerringly which direction she's in.

Reginald's consciousness fragment stealthily tailed the carriages and figured out that Isobel and Balthazar were in the lead carriage. When they're ready, Vesta will teleport into the carriage through Reginald's consciousness fragment and attack Balthazar, while Viveen creates a distraction among the other carriages and Reginald supports either Viveen directly or Vesta through his consciousness fragment.

What. The. Crap. I spent a bunch of time making a huge arena map. I was sure Vesta wouldn't be able to refrain from interfering... but I thought he would interfere AT THE ARENA. Now I'm having a hard time seeing how he (and possibly two other characters) don't die when we play again on Sunday. In the meantime, I guess I have an entirely new encounter to design. And if they do fail but escape, their next plan is to try breaking in to his mansion...
 

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