ZEITGEIST The Hounds - a Zeitgeist Campaign

MarkM

Explorer
(Jovan's player missed a couple of sessions, so missed out on the first part of the Ziggurat dungeon crawl; his character has failed several distant madness saves and hasn't quite been himself lately)

Session 20 and 21 (6-10-21, 6-17-21):

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I was a bit out of it… the others said insane so I don’t remember too much. I know there was a room with different lights that was a puzzle of sorts. Then, there was a room with a map that seemed to indicate there was another location like this one off the coast of Ber. Finally, I remember a room with a giant golden seal and several dead bodies lying around… Bergeron’s team I think… But, then there was the sound of rushing water… the temple was starting to flood behind us. And, the dead bodies began to rise up…



Session 22 (6-24-21):
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I had a vision… it was of my dead brother. He was washing dishes and he looked older and healthy… not like he’d been when I last saw him. A woman walked up behind him and kissed him on the neck. He smiled at her and said, “I have much to think about.”

Then I snapped out of it and there were still dead bodies rising up and water rushing in. Coming from around the corner, 2 and then 4 mummies with spears shambled toward us. I wanted to take the south passage and get away from them but the others thought the mummies must be keeping us from taking the passage behind them. So, we battled them while the water crept closer and closer. When we finally brought them down, the water was on us and we had to move.

Further down the passage was a room with more of the “thought form” creatures in it. Gyldiel was the first in the room and I followed closely behind. There were spears coming out of the walls and crab-like creatures came down from the ceiling. This was a very bad room. I tried to cross to the other side but when I was still a ways from the exit, vines sprang up blocking the way out and the way we’d come in. The others were still in the hall and now Gyldiel and I were trapped… I really hated this room.

Then, a crack appeared in the center of the room and the floor started drawing into the walls. This room really, really sucked.

But, after a bit, Bell was able to tell that the floor was actually an illusion. So, while some held the line, others finally tore through the vines blocking escape. Like before, the water was upon us… except I found out the hard way it was more acid than water.

Moving along, Bell and Sylvia kept the remaining creatures off our backs while the rest of us found fire traps and other nasty things trying to prevent us from getting away. There were more mummies ahead as well. One almost killed me before we finally took them out. We were so close to the entrance but there were more undead ahead blocking our path… this is going to be close.
 

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MarkM

Explorer
I stopped posting these for quite a while, but we kept playing and my player's character Jovan kept writing in his journal...

Session 23 (6-26-21):
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We were all severely wounded, mostly out of spells, and just ready to get out of this crazy temple. Unfortunately, blocking our way were several undead… and these looked even tougher than the last.

Fun fact… they were. We had the water coming at us from behind and powerful undead trying to block our progress from the front. Our goal became simply escaping and not necessarily killing these creatures. There were some close calls. Sylvia was forced by spell to retreat back further into the temple at one point. Later, the same spell forced Vic to retreat as well. But, in the end, we made it out and the mummies didn’t follow us.

However, we looked up to see hordes of undead now shambling out of the swamp at us. Just as we were about to give in to despair, a huge creature… snake-like but obviously undead, rose out of the swamp and batted away the minions moving to engage us. It began to speak and told us a “creature of reason” had come out of the portal in this temple and defiled the land. We were to destroy it or send it back to it’s world. If we did this, the creature in front of us would be appeased. If we failed, Risur would suffer in some way.

Then, the temple began to sink into the swamp beneath us. But, we were left unharmed and standing there not sure if all that had happened could actually be true.

We also discovered that all of us could now cast the spell that detects planar energy. Casting it, there was a trail of Apet energy leading away. We followed it and it eventually took us back to Flint.

We reported to Delft. He told us good job but to continue the work and try to track down Xambria. We’d begun to suspect she could be involved.

When we arrived at her apartment, there was strong Apet energy leading to her door. She wasn’t answering and so we broke in and found signs of a struggle but no professor. The trail of energy led out of the building and ultimately up to a large house inside a compound… which we found out belonged to Inspecter Saxby!

Her guards, after a bit of strong handing, admitted there was a break in a few nights ago but that Saxby ordered them not to talk about it.

The trail went a ways further but we eventually lost it and went back to Delft. He told us to wait and that he’d bring it up to Saxby. But, he came back less than 5 minutes later and told us she wanted to see all of us… uh oh…

When we walked into her office, she wasn’t alone. Standing beside her desk was Viscount Inspector Nigel Price-Hill… head of the entire RHC. He told us he was investigating whether the RHC had any other leaks. He expected us to be forthright and honest about anything we’d done that could be deemed suspicious and then dismissed us.

Back downstairs, we discussed it and all agreed that full honesty was the best course of action. Delft said he’d write up everything we’d done but that perhaps we should continue on with our mission and check out the second location supposedly of another Ziggurat out near Ber.

Bell surprised all of us by going back to Inspector Hill and letting him know we were heading out of town. Hill seemed taken aback but appreciated the heads up.

We later found out someone from the RHC had been to all of our houses looking for any evidence of wrongdoing… ok…

We booked passage on an RHC ship that would head out later that evening. But, before it came time for that, we received word Bergeron was last seen entering an inn nearby and it was believed he was still there.

So, we decided to run that down and, long story short, found him dead in a room. Searching it, we found a gold ring that read “Old Bergeron Gold”, several maps and charts, and a chest with 5000 gold and 10 Sending scrolls.

It also had a false bottom we spent soooooooo much time trying to get into only to discover it had nothing in it… grrr.

With that, we checked out a few items from Peggy and boarded our ship. It was an uneventful week’s travel to the location near Ber. But, when we got there, 3 other ships had beat us here. One was a Reaver vessel. One was a ship from Ber. The last was Risuri and we could see Xambria on board.

We circled as far from the Reaver ship as we could to get near the other two ships. The Beran vessel had an archaeologist hired by Bergeron but was being told to stay back even though the Reavers supposedly were also hired by Bergeron.

Xambria was interesting. She told us the Reavers were guarding the location of the ziggurat and not letting anyone down. Apparently, they had a druid with them with shark friends who were making the trek down impossible.

But, while she was telling us this, I cast detect planar energy and she gave a strong signal of Apet. When questioned, she said it was her amulet which I asked to see. But, even when I had the amulet, which was definitely Apet energy, she still radiated strong Apet energy. Hmmmm… Not quite sure what to do with that but we need to get down to that ziggurat…
 

MarkM

Explorer
[As a reminder, the Reavers are a band of mercenaries who became pirates after the last war between Risur and Danor. They perpetuated a myth of a teleporting ship that can be everywhere by secretly having similar ships each with a large man impersonating Captain Reiland in command. Jovan, the author of this journal, was captured by them as a naval cadet, and eventually did very bad things in order to "prove loyalty" and become a crew member rather than a slave. After he deserted, the Reavers tracked his family down and Jovan found them murdered. Jovan rejoined the military under a false story of having been a slave the whole time, in part to get safety, before being recruited to the RHC -- All this was player backstory. In this scenario, the Ob had hired the Reavers to provide protection.]

Session 24 (6-29-21):
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After much discussion, we decided the best course of action was to send Bell’s and my familiar on a stealth mission with alkahest to try and sink the Reaver ship. I cannot express that this may have been the most successful mission in the history of our time together (all of DND). The octopi made it successfully into the ship and dumped their payload before death. It took nearly an hour but eventually the Reaver ship listed to port and then sank beneath the waves. I can’t describe to you the feeling inside me. I played it cool around the others but… I was feeling emotions I haven’t felt in a long time. Elation. Satisfaction. Empty. It was everything.

Afterwards, we made the move to go underwater and head down to the ziggurat now that the Reavers were out of the wayl. It was simple… until it wasn’t.

There were enemies using diving bells to work down there without air. They saw us coming and a battle ensued. Besides just Reavers and their captain (a Reiland fake named Bernard), there were mages who were a problem. But, we held them off until one of them walked across a seal at the entrance to the ziggurat and several fish creatures as well as an elemental came out.

At that point, we were all of the same team and we tried to close the portal. It was successful, albeit complicated, but Bernard ran off in the confusion.

I made my way after him while the others finished closing the portal and finally caught up to him at the surface. He thought he was going to finish me quickly but I gave him more of a fight than he expected. I actually thought I was going to die but… strangely… I was ok with it. I dealt him severe wounds and seemed on the verge of victory when Gyldiel came up and cleaved him in two.

And that was it… victory. We collected the spoils and made our way back to the ship…
 

MarkM

Explorer
Session 25 (7-1-21):
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Our first order of business was convincing Paco not to return back to the ziggurat for fear he’d release the seal again. He was a bit pouty about that but seeing as how his sea lanterns had been destroyed… and how expensive they apparently are… he really didn’t have a good way to get back down anyway.

So, we set off with Xambria’s ship following us. She’s definitely still suspicious to me and the others all seem to agree. But… she’s so nice. I wonder if that’s clouding my companions on this issue. I think I’d take her into custody right now under the guise of protection. But, the others still seem to want to drag it out. Anyway, it will be nice to get back to Flint and get some direction from Delft.

Finona was the only prisoner we’d managed to keep alive and so Gyldiel and Sylvia questioned her thoroughly. She told them what she knew of the other four ziggurats, her working relationship with Bergeron, and a few other things. What I found most interesting was the confirmation that Bergeron was working for some sort of collective.

It had only been an hour or so since leaving the dig site when all of a sudden, the water exploded around us. Strange mudmen clambered onto our boat followed by a creature from legend… the hydra. It was incredibly harrowing. Gyldiel cast a spell that compelled the hydra to come after him which, I thought, saved the day. It allowed the rest of us to focus on mudmen which were tough all on their own.

After we destroyed all of them, we focused on the hydra. Unlike legends, fire didn’t seem to stop this one from regrowing heads. We guessed it might take cold… which none of us had unfortunately. So, it became a battle of attrition. Could we kill it before it regrew too many heads for us to fend off. I believe it got up to 8 before it finally fell. But, not before tearing down our mast.

We looked to port to see why Xambria’s ship hadn’t joined the fight, only to notice that a fire had started onboard her ship. Several of us swam as fast as we could over but the ship was past saving. I took a look in the hold to see that the captain and crew of her ship were all dead… their jaws broken and brains seemingly sucked out… but no Xambria. I think we’re now past the point of niceties should we see her again.

We fixed the ship up as best we could and made our way back to Flint. But, because we weren’t at our best, the trip took 10 days. We’ll see what’s happened while we were away. I’m sure it’s been quiet...
 

MarkM

Explorer
Session 26 (7-8-21):

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As soon as we stepped off the boat, we made our way back to the office and reported in with Delft. We weren’t talking long though before he remembered Lady Saxby was looking for us to go over the results of the internal audit.

We made our way to her office where she had us wait outside for quite some time. The Viscount wasn’t there yet but she began the report anyway. She began to go through much of what we’d done on the job in a… how do I say it… pretty much the worst possible interpretation of the events. I could see most of my companions getting very defensive and some even began to quip back at her. I was feeling defensive too but kept completely quiet. I thought anything we said in that moment could only come back to hurt us in the end.

Before she finished though, the Viscount finally appeared and concluded the report by saying he thought that we, while not perfect, had performed quite admirably. I’m not quite sure what Saxby’s game was or what she was hoping to accomplish but she comes off to me as… insecure? Arrogant? Both?

As we were leaving, the Viscount pulled me aside and told me they knew about the Reavers. I assumed that was the case but it was still a relief to hear it officially. He then went on to tell me of a time during his military service where he felt like he betrayed his men and country. He told me the guilt I felt could only concern him if I let it control my future. I thanked him knowing I’d process this more during some future downtime.

Returning to Delft, he told us the museum was going to be putting the 3 items of the Ancients on display for a gala tonight but also gave us a letter that seemed to be from Xambria. In it, she described being controlled mentally by this creature but that she’d broken free for a moment. She told us it wanted the 3 items as well as other useful information. But, the items stood out based on the gala happening tonight.

Delft told us we had tickets if we wanted them but that either way, we should take guard duty at it this evening. He placed Sylvia in charge of the evening and we set off to get ready. I copied a spell over the course of a couple of hours while the rest went to local law enforcement to work out an evacuation plan of the museum should it be needed.

Then, in the evening, we all went and set up in our places pretty much on pins and needles expecting a monster to come out at any moment.

The one highlight was Rock Rackus came in with a bunch of children he wanted to bring to the event… he’s such a kind hearted man...

About an hour in, things got out of control when Xambria crashed through the skylight in the roof and began levitating the items out of their cases. A battle ensued with more of those thought-form creatures showing up. In the end, only one civilian died though many others were wounded. We captured Xambria, cuffed her, and brought her back to headquarters. I thought this was a little dangerous on our part knowing of her possession… I’m not sure what else we could have done but… it still made me a little nervous. But, it was Sylvia’s call and she was adamant we needed to take her back immediately.

When we had her back in a cell and the questioning began, interesting info began to come out. Bergeron and MacBannin she confirmed were in an organization called the Obscurati. It has many cells and most don’t know the identities of others. Only those at the top have that information. She also told us Saxby was involved and was at the same level as MacBannin had been… fascinating! I’m not certain we can fully trust that because we can’t know if it’s really Xambria telling us this or the creature inside her trying to throw us off.

But, she went on to say Saxby had something, a star map, the creature wanted. Right about then, a wave of disorientation washed over all of us. Everything turned translucent and Xambria floated up and out of her cell to the floor above us. We could see creatures swarming the RHC and then… we were back to normal. But, hearing commotion above us, it seemed like this was not a dream but rather, a real emergency...
 

MarkM

Explorer
Session 27
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This turned out to be a very long night. When the walls went transparent and Xambria floated through the ceiling, I thought we’d immediately go after her. Unfortunately, some dark robed individuals (some working for Kell) were down in the basement with us and forced a decision. Do we fight or chase?

Initially, we wanted to save Finona since she might still have information on this secret organization. But, she was killed almost immediately and so Sylvia shouted to head up the stairs and to Saxby’s office. Don’t have to tell me twice… I dashed up the stairs and made it to the top floor only to see another of the large maw creatures to my left and inside Delft’s office. I also saw the A-team seemingly confused and still in their office so I ran to them, gave them a quick rundown of what was going on and then encouraged them to help me save Delft.

I’d later find out that though I thought my companions were right behind me, they ended up getting bogged down in the basement and I was on my own. Also, the walls kept phasing in and out. You could walk through them one second and then they’d be solid again the next.

We broke into Delft’s office just as the creature was lighting into him. We did some quick, good damage but then the A-team asked me if I could handle the rest while they went to check on Saxby. Still thinking my team would burst through the door any second, I told them to go for it.

That’s when I noticed something was wrong with Delft. The mind madness seemed to have gotten to him. He called me a doppleganger and I could tell he wanted to kill me should he get out of the tentacles of the creature. That put me in a precarious situation…

Right around then is when Bell came through the stairs. Together, we finished off the creature and I dashed out of the room before Delft could attack. He did take a shot at poor Bell however and it looked like it stung…

Down the hall I could see Saxby and the A-team coming out of her office. She saw me and called that we should secure the building. But, Bell and I decided to follow them instead. Again, poor Bell couldn’t quite keep up with me and I’d later find out he was waylaid by creatures in the hallway upstairs while I was making my way down the stairwell.

When I got a floor down I found the A-team and Saxby. And, shockingly, even though a few seconds ago she’d told me to secure the building, now she was telling the A-team that the Hounds were traitors and not to leave any of us alive. Just as shockingly, the A-team seemed to go along with it and began attacking me. That’s when Sylvia and the rest of the team finally made their way up. With the help of a suggestion spell, we were able to talk the A-team down and Sylvia and I ran after Saxby.

Right before I went however, Gyldiel said he’d seen Xambria go into a tunnel down in the basement and he believed the phasing we were experiencing came from down there.

We caught up to Saxby and she claimed she was confused and didn’t remember telling the A-team to kill us and that we should all go back. I didn’t believe her at all but Sylvia said we had more important matters to deal with. She grabbed me and using her pendant, flew us back toward the building. I guess we’ll see if Saxby follows or not.

Back in the building, we regrouped, went down to the basement and found the spot Gyldiel had seen Xambria enter. We were beat up, most of my companions were out or almost out of spells, and now we were about to follow after someone we know is very dangerous… I guess this is the job...
 

How behind the current game are these recaps?

Man, it's been years since we wrote this adventure. We were kinda nuts to tell GMs to have reality flicker and phase every few rounds. Wow.
 

MarkM

Explorer
We are early in Chapter 6 now, so I'm posting recaps intermittently (as I think about it) that were written quite a while ago.
 

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