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ZEITGEIST The Flint Irregulars, whose portraits you may have seen

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.
 

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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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