The Slave and Her Sovereign

1 Successes (0 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skills Available/0 Advantages Available)

"Will you allow us passage back to the Mortal Realm, where we may stand as your allies against the encroaching forces of the Far Realm there?"


I have no doubt of your mettle...of your prowess. But I must know more of your judgement if I am to rely upon it...a reliance I am presently reluctant to grant.

Two of your numbers have fallen out with kin. Your own kin is now in bondage as a result. Tell me; who did this bondage serve?

The other, free kinsman of your consort has perhaps great, perhaps terrible designs on your homeland.

How do you know if he is wise or a fool? How do you know if he delivers you or damns you?

In such a material collision, the Gods above and the Primordials below would have both chosen a path that led to the destruction of your world and the undoing of the life it was imbued with. So how will you decide between dispatching him or granting him clemency...or perhaps even acquiescence and alliance? Who does this decision and the action that stems from it serve?"

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CHANVATI feels his face flush with rising anger at the words of the Soul Serpent. Did the Being not comprehend his self-effacement? His acknowledgement of brashness and transgression?

“Great Spirit,” he utters between gritted teeth, “You ask whom is served in my kinsmen’s bondage, how I can discern the nature and designs of my consort’s sibling, how his fate will be decided, and to what end.

Know you that our mortal mythology opens with demigods; their genius is paramount. The world is upheld by the veracity of great men: and I am one. The gods of legend are the shining moments of great men. We run all our vessels into one mould. Our colossal theologies are the necessary and structural action of the human mind. Man can paint, or make, or think nothing but man. He believes that the great material elements had their origin from his thought. And our philosophy finds one essence collected or distributed.

I know that to believe what is true in my heart is true for all men. I know the power that resides in me is new in nature, and in myself I trust. No law can be sacred to me but that of my own nature. Truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the common motives of humanity.

And yet, I assert what I believe to be true in my private heart is true for all humans, would they embrace the gleams of light that flash across their minds and subsequently reach for the stars. Alas, too few are bold enough!

But I lack such shackles. I embrace my genius and know that in my strength is a bulwark for the weak, a puissance to battle our enemies, and a judgment to know what action is required, and when.

So that is my answer to you: I trust in myself, my own judgments, and your designs would be best served in doing the same.”

Chanvati makes a Primary Skill Intimidate Check to remind the Spirit Serpent that it does not trifle with a plaything but rather questions, impudently, an equal, r(12) +8 = 20 vs 16 Moderate DC. Success.

2 Successes (0 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skills Available/0 Advantages Available)

The serpent considers Chanvati's words for what seems like an eternity. uncoils ever slowly from the gate. Not fully no. But just enough to draw its serpentine face, prismatic scales gleaming, very near to the spirit of the Psion. Yet all of its words are projected directly into the mind. It simply says:

"Do you know the Dawn War tale of Khala, goddess of winter?"



CHANVATI returns the communication in kind, the force of his telepathy augmenting his natural tenor with a deep rumbling echo, like thunder in the mind of his interlocutor.

<<The tale of Khala, goddess of winter? Indeed, an episode after the Dawn War proper, the War of Winter as I recall. We had a course unit on that subject at Xerxes’s, in Cosmology and Theoretical History.

Khala was a fool, so emblematic of the foibles and failings of the gods. She would have fixed the world in eternal winter to serve her own ends. So like a god! The Divine Beings are no different from their eternal enemies, the Primordials, in this way, captured by a fixed idea taken to extremes that provides the only prism through which to view all experience.

Serpent, when you and your Primal Kin locked out the gods and Primordials from the Mortal World, you acted with sagacity, for it is the mortal races that align most genuinely with the nature that is your own being and essence. What we call nature is a certain self-regulated motion, or change; and nature does all things by her own hands, and does not leave another to baptize her, but baptizes herself through her exemplar actors, the mortal races.

So, yes, I know the cautionary tale of Khala, whose failings led to her own death.

Now, tell me: was it you or your close kin who wrapped Khala’s exarch and the Primordial lord of ice in mighty coils and crushed them into a shattered mass that Everflame burned away as cinders and ash in warning to the gods?

I ask you a second time: will you allow us to pass, to return to the Mortal World as your allies against such forces of stagnation, destruction, madness?>>

Chanvati uses Send Thoughts (Encounter Power) for a +2 bonus to Primary Skill History check to demonstrate that he not only knows the history but understands its lessons and implications, r(5) +11 +2 = 18 vs 16 Moderate DC. Success.

3 Successes (0 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skills Available/0 Advantages Available)

Abruptly changing its interrogatory line and aggressive bearing, the Elder Spirit extracts itself from the more intimate posture with Chanvati and recoils itself fully around the gate:

"When you return to your home, do you know how to investigate the psionic trails of your passage to this realm in order to confirm if prying eyes from the Far Realm have surveilled the emanations of the corridor you generated for your transit? Do you know how to undo whatever remnant emanations that might persist and any associated, perturbed positional coordinates that remain?

If not, do you need assistance in these material matters?"

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Realizing he has communicated his point to the Serpent, CHANVATI eases up on the hubris and aggression, sincerely.

"Great Spirit, I did not seek any quarrel with you; again, I apologize for my transgression, necessary though it was. In my mortal being is imperfection. I acknowledge that.

And I acknowledge that I do not stand alone, that I require aid in my actions, my dreams, my obligations."

Using psionic energy to fuel a scan of his memories from studies long past, Chanvati unlocks what must be answers to the Serpent’s questions.

"Do I have it aright that performing the rituals Analyze Portal and Signal of Pursuit together will allow me to retrace the psionic trails of my journey to this realm, to confirm or reject your suspicions? And similarly that the Dream Concordance and Magic Circle rituals, when combined, can ward off or battle Far Realm monstrosities that may threaten to breach the boundaries of your Realm?

If I am mistaken, Wise Serpent, please correct me and teach me the proper methods to enact these safeguards and provide recompense to you for my failure to properly acknowledge your custodianship of these Gates."

Chanvati makes a Secondary Skill Diplomacy check to assure the Spirit Serpent he is true in his humility, +12 vs 12 Easy DC = autosuccess for +2 bonus; uses Adept's Insight AUG 1 for r(1) +1 = +2 bonus; makes a Primary Skill Arcana check to identify the necessary safeguards, r(14) +12 +2 +2 = 30 vs 16 Moderate DC. Success.


Per @Manbearcat:


: 350/2 = 175 apiece


*60 gold

*Ritual Book level 8 or less

The Spirit Serpent yields, finally, an alliance assured, with promises by the Sojourners to return to the Gate with a powerful Ritualist to enact the scheme Chanvati concocted. With the mutual foe of Far Realm aberrations looming, petty transgressions and mundane concerns are set aside.

When the Sojourners step back through the gate, their spirits reanimate their physical forms. Chanvati raises his head from its drooped position where he stands above the submerged Goliath, eyes opening and blinking rapidly. Bita-Bousseh gives a great sigh of relief when Pa’avu rises from the mud like a dreamer sitting up in bed from a vivid nightmare, gasping for air. Hazard leaps from the bath and shakes violently, showering the three in a rain of mud.

The withdrawal from Stoneroot’s Perch passes in a flash, and with relative ease. They emerge from the deep stairs beneath the oily moat and then make their way down the Breathless Chimney in half the time of the ascent. Bita-Bousseh seems confident in her climbing skills now, which master the reflexive fear of earlier.

Whatever the mutant Goliaths of the Cult of the Iron Gorgon are about in the Gray Grove continues, for their weird drumming, continuous chanting, and foul musk are constant reminders of their activity and proximity.

Before long, Chomrok is visible on the horizon. The weary foursome enter the caravanserai, Raathya bowing and scraping obsequiously at their return, and collapse into exhausted rest.


The next day, Pa’avu draws her gosb’tar aside and makes a startling revelation to him; when she communed with Stoneroot in the Spirit Realm and received his blessing, he communicated to her staggering information: The Cult of the Iron Gorgon Goliaths worship a foul, pulsating, purple rock, fallen to the surface of the world through the heavens from some Far Beyond; a sentient entity calling itself the Meteorite of Caiphon that has warped their very bodies and minds to some inscrutable purpose!

Extended Rest: all Daily and Encounter resources refresh.

L8 Ritual Reward: Sending Ritual Book (L6; Chanvati can master this next level).

Pa’avu Major Quest: Destroy the Meteorite of Caiphon, freeing the warped Cult of the Iron Gorgon Goliaths from its dread influence.

Chanvati Minor Quest: Procure the aid of Mirage Moonstar, Psicrafter Ritualist teacher at Xerxes’s School for Gifted Psicrafters.

Chanvati Major Quest: Investigate any psionic traces of his circumventing the Spirit Gate and seal a possible breach between the Spirit and Far Realms.


The smell of anise pervades Ibhea's senses as he deliberates. At first he casts the sensory experience from his attention; a mere trick of his numbing mind combined with the arak on his lips or the remaining traces in the nearby bottle.

But like an angry rebuke of his willpower, the scent grows to a powerful crescendo and then disappears suddenly.

No. Not a material trace of his liquor.

A sign.

Ibhea recognizes that Omthala, like all the gods, often communicates to her worshippers through signs. This scent of anise, not of his bottle, connects to the slave girl somehow. He racks his brain of doctrinal matters concerning anise or its uses. If the goddess wants her acolyte rescued, there must be something there! But what is it?!?

Ibhea makes a Primary Skill Religion check to interpret the sign from his goddess, r(7) +11 = 18 vs 15 Moderate DC. Success. (I updated the Skill DC and Ibhea’s level from L4/3 to L6/5, respectively.)


CHANVATI carefully considers Pa’avu’s revelation about the Cult of the Iron Gorgon and Caiphon. If what she claims is true, then the Spirit Serpent’s suspicions may be underselling the threat. The forces of the Far Realm may already be amidst a full-on assault upon all reality! Action to seal the breach to the Spirit Realm is of the utmost importance.

The Merchant Prince summons the Goliath into his chambers while Bita-Bousseh is occupied with a regimen of hot salt baths and a firm rubdown with oil. “Sahtree, you have a way with the creatures of this wild place. Call to us a cactus wren so that I may ensorcel its mind and send a message back to Bantouk.”

Pa’avu complies, stepping out onto the balcony and producing a high-pitched, melodic whistle that calls one of the local birds to the railing, cocking its head quizzically. Meanwhile, Chanvati raises the frequency of his psionic pulse to fall in time with that of the small avian. In no time at all, the wren is captivated by his mind, servant to his will.

<<Professor Mirage Moonstar. Xerxes’s School for Gifted Psicrafters. Please come to Chomrok with great haste. Rituals of scrying and sealing needed or great calamity befalls us all. Receive my offering. Yours, Chanvati Audaseie.>>

Chanvati reluctantly withdraws the jade hairpin Bita-Bousseh had given him lo those many days ago and attaches it in a small leather pouch to the bird’s leg. The barrister will not be pleased, but Mirage does love baubles and ornaments. Perhaps Bita-Bousseh will be none the wiser?

Chanvati pays the Ritual cost (10 gp) for Animal Messenger, an autosuccess in the subsequent Skill Challenge to recruit a powerful Ritual Psicrafter. First Success in the SC.

He then pays the hireling price (250 gp) to engage her services as an autosuccess in the SC. Second Success in the SC.
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Ibhea recognizes that Omthala, like all the gods, often communicates to her worshippers through signs. This scent of anise, not of his bottle, connects to the slave girl somehow. He racks his brain of doctrinal matters concerning anise or its uses. If the goddess wants her acolyte rescued, there must be something there! But what is it?!?

Ibhea makes a Primary Skill Religion check to interpret the sign from his goddess, r(7) +11 = 18 vs 15 Moderate DC. Success. (I updated the Skill DC and Ibhea’s level from L4/3 to L6/5, respectively.)

4 Successes (0 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/2 Secondary Skills Available

Ibhea’s liturgical offerings are sincere and unbroken, yet no answers from His Lady come.

With all hope lost, he breaks his prayer and picks up his sprits-containing ceramic to dash it on the floor. At the apex of his hand’s angry arc, his outburst is arrested by
the chief steward calling out to one of his subordinates:

“Boy. Take the small purse from the safe to the largest high-rise in Burning Row. The one with the roof bearing the greenhouses. You know the one. Fetch me two bushels of anise and have them satcheted. The triage center is growing rather rank with the scent of wither and decay.”

Every action remaining is MEDIUM DC.

Of-Level C1 SC to Secure the Services of Psicrafter Mirage Moonstar to Journey to Stoneroot’s Perch and Seal any Psi-Breech. DCs 10/15.

2 Successes (0 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skills Available

Mirage Moonstar cuts a startling figure on her pegasus, looking the part of Valkyrie, red cape trailing, psi-bow and quiver of Astral Arrows secured on her back.

“The school appreciates your donation, Stout-mind”; the rank Chanvati achieved in his technical studies under the professor.

Never one to mince words nor waste time, she disembarks her steed and gets right to it.

“Your missive bore catastrophism. Link with me and project your recall of these events.”

Every action is MEDIUM DC.
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[Flashback to an earlier moment in Chomrok]:

PA'AVU lies back in one of the cooling pools, eyes unfocused, letting her thoughts float through her mind like dust motes. Her lips smile slightly as she remembers how – in the Before-Time – one of her fellow younglings, frustrated by his inability to best her records of enduring some of the more difficult trials, suggested that Pa’avu’s mind is made of rock and that her receptors recognizing pain are thus slowed. He might even have been right, the goliath thinks, for she is always deliberate in her thought, like the stone of her skin. At moments such as this one, her body at rest, her brain unimpeded with thoughts of “protect” and “defend” and “attack,” that the young giant can allow herself to “think the same as that the sleeping rocks dream of.” Again, she gives a slight smile, recalling those words often said by K’m’ot’hi, the clan-uncle who attempted to teach them rational thought... with only moderate success.

As Pa’avu falls into a waking-dreaming state, the thought-motes begin to slowly move into a gentle constellation, her inner attention focusing briefly on one mote, then another, and so on, a pattern slowly falling place:

[a series of motes of memory]

[In Bantouk]: Defending Arunny, Priestess of Omthala, against Hakhaman’s thrall.

[In Bantouk, prior to the secret meeting in Ruffly Gelded]: As Chanvati strolls leisurely through the marketplace, stopping to idly examine an ornate vase here, a jewel-encrusted mask there, Pa’avu follows, maintaining a distance of a few paces so as to be able to thwart any possible threat. The variety of wares in the numerous stalls are not of much interest to her, and she allows her eyes to wander over the crowded road, looking for but not expecting any threat. Her attention is momentarily caught by one nearby stall: the hawker and her small child are wearing a style of clothing that the goliath recalls seeing in the long before time – in the Issyc Sehari region, wasn’t it? These are not as splendid as some of the other merchants’ garb in this marketplace: obviously this family has traveled far and recently and has only been moderately successful in cleaning their garments. And they look tired, very, very tired, the goliath thinks briefly, before returning her attention to her gosb’tar.

[In Bantouk, on a rooftop near Ruffy Gelded]: Pa’avu stares down at the merchant “owning” the little girl and reflects on her own relationship with her “master,” her gosb’tar. She has never fully understood the concept of “ownership” with regard to herself: apart from living in a dense city, Pa’avu is following her life’s purpose of being a warrior, albeit in defense of only one being. She does not feel “owned” particularly by him: after all she is stronger. This child, however: her purpose is being perverted, derailed, misaligned. Her “ownership” is Omthala and service to her Sect, not this merchant who is not allowing her to use her proper skills.

[In Bantouk, in tunnels under the city]: As the large group wanders through the tunnels, following Chanvati’s direction, Pa’avu barely pays attention as the revolutionaries-turned-fugitives talk among themselves, not only pondering Bita-Bahlin’s words (occasionally breaking out in hot debate) but also worrying about their change in situation. Walking alongside her, Bjorkus murmurs something about the pampered rich.

[In Bantouk, on a rooftop near Ruffy Gelded]: Moments before leaping down on the soldiers below, Pa’avu witnesses them shedding their “merchant” disguises.

[On the plains outside Chomrok]: The moment Chanvati finds a sphere in the loot of the raiders and realizes that it is an icon of the Sect of Omthala. His subsequent discussion with Bita-Bousseh: perhaps they can raise funds with a reward for its return? A brief argument whether it is more valuable by itself or in reaping a reward, followed by a debate on what is value, followed by Pa’avu returning to her task of deboning a dactyl so that its meat can be properly harvested.

[In Chomrok]: Accompanying Chanvati to the Shrine of Omthala to return the recovered icon to its rightful home, Pa’avu leans against the wall, taking a moment for rest, vaguely overhearing the conversation between her gosb’tar and the Elven Priestess Berylana about a dismaying pogrom against Sect of Omthala.

[In Bantouk and elsewhere]: Reflecting on the effect of the Stonefang spider on her and of her own effect on it and of its subsequent attack. Of spiders in general and their astonishing abilities. Of Audaseie family trade in Phase-spider silk.

[In Chomrok]: Pa’avu starring up at one of the signs of the Old Faith, only barely registering the voice of one of the many recent refugees, an old man relating the confusion of the attack against his town’s temple of Omthala and themselves, of hallucinogenic smoke smelling of anise, and of the strangely “soft hands” of the bladeling attackers, attackers who also seemed to disappear at will.

[In the before-time]: A hyenic body felled by one of Pa’avu’s clan-mothers, unusually slight of build (perhaps a Gnollish youngling?), wearing the clothing of a V’linski shepherd, but clearly one of the dactyleer raiders disguised as an elf.

Pa’avu allows her stone-mind to gather the thought-motes from the constellation and weave them into a tapestry of truth-possibilities. Some central ideas begin to draw attention to themselves: Disguise. Spiders. Omthala under attack. Many sources? Combined forces? Bladelings in disguise? “Soft Hands” disguised as bladelings? Anise. Arunny must be told! As Pa’avu steps out of the pool, pondering how to do so, her golden-eyed Hound frolicks up out of the pool as well, shaking his fur thoroughly, causing Pa’avu to laugh and others to scramble hastily away. Perhaps the barrister can be of some assistance.

BITA-BOUSSEH stares speculatively up at the gargantuan goliath as Pa’avu explains her need of aid in writing a letter to be sent to the Omthalan Priestess back in Bantouk. In answer to her demand for explanation of such a request, Pa’avu outlines her reasoning, relating the path of her “thought-motes” to the goliath’s conclusion. Looking downward, blushing slightly, Pa’avu murmurs that she would do it herself … but that writing is not one of her skills, as Bita-Bousseh is well aware. The ideas the giant suggests are staggering: The Empress’s forces disguised as bladelings! Possibly working with other forces? Insane! But certainly possible, perhaps even going far in explaining the change in the Empress’s attitude toward herself. The barrister agrees and quickly scribes a letter for Pa’avu to slip into Chanvati’s packet of epistles heading to Bantouk.

[Present Day]: Letter clutched in hand, ARUNNY hurries up the circular stairs leading to Ibhea’s cell. <I should have shown him ages ago,> she thinks desperately. <Why have I not done so before? What has been causing this constant disturbance in my mind??> In her distraction, the priestess is not looking where she is going and consequently slams into another body, moving in a similarly hurried fashion. As that person’s hands clutch her shoulders, steadying her and keeping her from tumbling downward, Arunny registers his identity. “Ibhea! Thank Goddess! I have something I must show you! Something most vital!”

Note: On a failure, it will be bad information given to Ibhea, and the Cost will be Hard DC for his follow-up move, but...

* Secondary Skill Streetwise check to gather information in aid of Primary Skill Insight: r(15) + 2 = 17 vs. 11 Easy DC = +2 bonus to

* Primary Skill Insight check to understand the pieces of information gathered: r(14) + 3 + 2 (bonus) = 19 vs. 15 Moderate DC Success!
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CHANVATI opens his mind to his former mentor, removing all impediments to that most intimate of connections, the marriage of two minds into one. A flood of images.

<<The journey through the petrified forest and mud sinks. Weird drumming. Eerie chants. Acrid odor of blood. The climb through the Breathless Chimney. The impossible, oily moat. Secret stairway. Mud baths.

Pa’avu’s ritualistic descent and immersion. The Spirit Serpent and the trial at the Gate. Chanvati’s transcending of Planes, a loophole in liminal space. Cascade of light, a swirling power tapestry. Is that something watching? Aspects of Vezzuvu battled and defeated. Stoneroot. A meteorite of Caiphon. Emanations. Echoes.

The Serpent’s fury. Its suspicions and fears. Conjecture. A complex interplay of Ritualistic Psionics. An entity expelled. Breach sealed. Promise made.>>

Mirage Moonstar breaks the mindlink. Chanvati suffers an intense, momentary loss, the identity with another dissipating, evanescent, fleeting.

He sighs, a bit forlornly. “That has you up to speed on matters here, Bon Shri.* Have you any news of the state of affairs in Bantouk? My family and business enterprises? Any whispered rumors of stirrings among the Empress’s inner circle, perhaps regarding a group calling itself the 2nd Nation?”

*(Respectfully) Elder Sister in Elvish

Chanvati makes a Primary Skill Arcana check to mindlink with Mirage Moonstar and share the full details of their journey to Stoneroot’s Perch, into the Spirit Realm, and the startling revelations about a possible planar breach and incursions from The Far Realm, r(17) +12 = 29 vs 15 Moderate DC. Success.

1) On Ibhea and the Slave Girl: We'll leave it right there (at 5 Successes) as a cliffhanger and resolve later.

2) Recruit Mirage Moonstar to Seal the Breach: You can have 2 Successes for that last, nearly double DC move. There isn't any conflict left there. She is recruited and will journey to the ritualist chamber to analyze and seal the breach.

2a) XP & LOOT: 200/2 = 100 xp apiece and 60 gold.

3) We'll cut right to the ritual chamber. You already defeated the journey challenge prior so you've earned the eliding of it. So you're there at the ritual chamber. Now.

Mirage Moonstar fixates on a point in space that looks entirely unremarkable in contrast with all the others. She unshoulders her kit, opens it on the floor, and pulls out various and sundry implements, reagents, and paraphernalia; talisman, vial of quicksilver, tongs, travelling crucible, and a decanter containing who-knows-what.

As drums bellow in the background, she doesn't even look up but says stoically with her face buried in the technical demands before her: "They will come. I mustn't be disturbed from my labors. I entrust you with this task."

Two mutated goliath trackers with equally mutated hounds-on-chain pour into the ritual chamber just as Vezzuvu's minions did prior. Behind them are a pair of drummers, heralding the hunt. The drums stop abruptly and the wet, revolting sound of a mutated jaw snarling picks up where the drums left off. A jolt from a tracker signals to the beast to quiet.

The Cult of the Iron Gorgon are outfitted for war but they pause long enough to take measure of what is happening here. A scowl settles over their faces as they regard Moonstar's toils. In severely broken Common, one of the hunters says "Not your place. We claim for Star. You go now with life or we take it from you."

Figure out what you want to do here. Regardless, you must keep Mirage Moonstar uninterrupted. If she takes 56 damage, the ritual is spoiled and her material components lost. The Cult of the Iron Gorgon will take up lair in Stoneroot's Ritual Chamber and summon foul horrors to besiege The Spirit Realm and Material World alike.

If you with to attempt to Stall The Cult via parley, it will be a difficult Skill Challenge with high stakes:

* C3, Level +4 (so level 9 DCs) w/ the typical usages of Advantages. They want war. They are here to protect their patron's interests no matter the cost. And Moonstar needs a lot of time to complete these efforts.

* Failure 1 = Encounter Budget for Wave 1 & 2 increases by 2 Minions each. Failure 2 = Moonstar takes 14 damage due to distraction. Failure 3 = Encounter Budget for Wave 3 increases by 1 Standard and we cut to combat.

* Success = You stall them long enough for Moonstar to effect her rituals and resolve the breech. The Cult members leave the chamber to report back to their master (and receive their punishment). We then go to an Escape the Mountains chase Skill Challenge.

* If you want to go this route, make your initial move at Medium DC.

Otherwise, if you want to escalate straight to combat:

* 3 Waves of increasing difficulty.

* You can use 1 of your 2 Companion Characters per Wave, but not both. You can pick which one you want per wave after you see the dynamics of the enemy force.

* Short Rest after each wave. Milestone after Wave 1 and 3.

* As above, you have to prevent Moonstar from taking 56 damage or the rituals are disrupted (Loss Con).

Let me know by either making a move or vignette an initial interaction and go to combat (I'll get first map up in that case).


We're choosing the SC rather than immediate combat, subject to change with the outcome of the roll.

PA’AVU calmly steps forward, sword in hand but blade resting on the chamber’s floor. The goliath stares at the skin of the intruders, lesions oozing iron-colored crystals visible on their arms and faces. These scabs remind her of similar marks – not quite so virulent – suffered by some of her clansfolk after coming into contact with a fouled water source. They had been scouting ahead for the clan’s seasonal move without much success. These pustules look far worse than those.

“R’giz’rod’nki*,” she addresses them, trying to draw their attention to her and away from the others, “how long have you suffered those lez’ja**? They look painful: maybe we can help you.”

At first the diseased goliaths stare fixedly at Moonstar at work; then one seems to register the language being spoken, and the focus of his dull, cloudy eyes slowly rises to meet Pa’avu’s gaze. “It is the price we pay to the Z’vez’da***,” he mumbles in Giantish.

Hearing the slur of his speech while witnessing muscle-twitches in both goliaths and their two hounds, Pa’avu puts together her observations and realizes that they are all afflicted with a sickness, possibly curable, that accounts for their mutation and behavior.

* literally “regional kinsmen/kinswomen” (nongendered) in Giantish, used to address goliath unknown to oneself.
** lesions in Giantish
***Star in Giantish

* Secondary Skill Perception check to note the visible lesions on arms and faces of goliaths and hounds, plus slurred speech and muscles twitches: r(4) +12 + 2 (w/in 10 sq of Chanvati) = 18 vs 12 Easy DC, gaining a +2 bonus to

* Primary Skill Heal check to analyze health of these goliaths and hounds and what afflicts them: r(15) + 8 + 2 (bonus) = 25 vs. 17 Moderate DC Success

1 Successes (2 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/2 Secondary Skills Available/2 Advantages Available

Caught off guard by the display of seemingly genuine curiosity and empathy, the bands' arms holding hound-leashes and drum-mallets go relaxed and slack. The hounds, picking up on their alpha's posture changes, relax in kind.

The male hunter who Pa'avu began parley with, massive and green-hued contrasted with his hunt-mate's relative diminutive side and customary grey, continues in Giantish:

"The purple star fell from the great void above to give us gifts of sight. We are imbued with prowess beyond our other kinsfolk. The price for this is great..."

He looks at the female huntress next to him who suddenly takes on a forlorn look and absent-mindedly touches a tattoo on her forearm that is a classic, metaphorical expression of a lost child in Goliath culture. He then looks back at you and continues:

"...but the rewards are greater."

He telekinetically pulls a piece of kindling from your camp cache leftover from your prior site. It accelerates through the air to him, he catches it, and it spontaneously combusts at the end.

The forlorn huntress next to him looks up, follows the action with her eyes, and breaks into a large, deeply asymmetrical due to the wrath her mutation has wrought upon her face, smile at the show. With profound effort due to her mandibular deformation she says; "You should take the blessing of the purple star." Looking up and with an excited, rather deranged look in her eyes; "You will."



CHANVATI watches impatiently as Pa'avu speaks with the mutants in their native, inscrutable tongue. Immediate hostilities are forestalled, that much he intuits. Then he feels a probing thought reach out to him, that of his slave.

<<Gosb'tar, they are infected by the Herald of Caiphon. They wish to expose me to its influence! What do we do?>>

<<Peace, Sahtree. I will show these twisted brutes they have no control here, over you or anything else!>> he returns.

"Hold, half-giants!" Chanvati calls out, his voice resonating and echoing against the chamber walls. "You misunderstand. Your 'kin' here is not free to come and go as she pleases, to pay homage to a rock fallen from the sky or otherwise. For she belongs to me and bows to my will and sufferance. You would do well to follow in her stead, to bow to a superior force!"

The Psion projects his final word into their very minds. <<Kneel!>>

Chanvati uses Send Thoughts (Encounter Power) to obtain the necessary information from Pa'avu on the details of her interchange with the mutants for a +2 bonus to his Primary Skill Intimidate check, r(7) +8 +2 = 17 vs 17 Moderate DC. Success.

2 Successes (2 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/2 Secondary Skills Available/2 Advantages Available

The drummers, conditioned to follow the stern words of chain-of-command, reflexively kneel at the display of impassioned authority. The mutant canines instinctively sense the change in mood and look to their masters for guidance.

The large goliath hunter, still beaming from his showy telekinesis and pyromancy, looks intensely at the <puny> human through the flame at the end of the tender he holds. He draws out the moment for a long time before he speaks, first to the cowed drummers behind him in Giant-tongue but without taking his eyes from the Psion; "Ut'rah ublecht."

Surely some epithet akin to "rise cowards" as the two drummers immediately and sheepishly carry out just such a command.

Then to Chanvati; "Words make no power. This <holding out the object of his display> make power. Can you make power?" Insofar as a mutated goliath who doesn't speak the Common tongue can project incredulity, this one does.

"Make power", project power, or otherwise answer this one's incredulity with some kind of show of force or prowess. HARD DC.


Pa'avu's brow furrows at her gosb'tar's words, and her gaze redirects away from the scene. "He may bluster and rant of his own superiority," she thinks, "but one day he will realize our partnership. I am no man's slave. I choose to serve!"

Meanwhile, as the Goliath drummers scramble to their feet, CHANVATI narrows his eyes at the hunter grasping the charred remains of kindling in his meaty fist.

"You wish me to make power?" he asks calmly. "I shall make POWER!" he finishes in a thunderous shout, jutting one fist out in the direction of the lead Goliath. In an explosion of telekinetic force, the hunter is seized as if in a mighty hand's grasp, flung through the air and across the chamber, and crashes into the opposite wall, struggling, immobilized there.

"You see now? This is my power!"

We're wagering an Advantage here (sort of in advance, since there's no roll) for two Successes, and Chanvati wields Living Missile Daily Power for an autosuccess (x2).

4 Successes (1 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/2 Secondary Skills Available/1 Advantages Available

If this escalates to combat, we'll put this Hunter (H1 - Standard) at 1/4 HP down to start.

The Hunter is flung from his feet and across the ritual chamber, his hound's leash ripped from his grasp. The eyes of all of the mutated goliath's companions along with those of their canines follow his arc until he is deposited soundly on the earthen floor.

The now-free hound immediately reacts with ferocity to protect his master. Barks and snarls erupt and rebound violently off the walls and ceiling of the chamber. You can both feel Hazard's hackles raise. Every signal of an impending clash is on full display by the two loyal dogs.

Hazard's hind legs uncoil as he prepares to explosively pounce!

What are you guys doing to deal with this? MEDIUM DC


PA'AVU quickly bites out “stop!” in both the common tongue and in Giantish. She then makes a sharp barking alpha-growl at the diseased hound, staring directly into its eyes and causing it to lie down in submission (if only for the moment). Laying her hand on her own Hound’s head, she murmurs, “easy, my H’z’lahto, easy!” She then meets the angry gaze of the male goliath still lying in a heap against the wall for a moment.

Understanding the nature of goliaths and of humans and of unnecessary male power-play in both cultures, she continues watching the goliath as she speaks to Chanvati, being as deliberate in her choice of words as she was in her lupine vocabulary. “Gosb’tar,” she pronounces slowly and calmly in her deep gravelly voice (using the name she has chosen for him, a Giantish word connoting respect for a favored elder but a term very clearly not implying ownership, not the word a slave would ever use to address one's owner - even if the merchant-prince remains unaware), “you have made your point, I think, perhaps more so than necessary here.”

* Primary Skill Nature check to calm everyone down (dogs, human, goliaths – the females of her party don’t seem involved) and to stop escalation: r(9) + 9 = 18 vs. 17 Moderate DC = Success
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5 Successes (1 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/2 Secondary Skills Available/1 Advantages Available

With the dogs’ hostilities ceased, the hunter picks himself up and, under a fading tremble of anger, warily moves forward to pick up the dropped leash of his now-docile hound.

Quiet and the soft murmurs of ritual incantation momentarily haunts the cave. But not for long. Percussive rhythm in the distance subtly finds its noisy way down the winding stair. The drummers present look for instruction.

“Answer them. Tell them we require reinforcement here,” the pair of hunters eerily speak in unison via the Giant tongue and with the same tonality.

The pair of drummers raise their mallets skyward…

HARD DC to forestall the instruction-following, downward strike of the drummers.

Epic Threats

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