ZEITGEIST tragicThaumaturge's 4e Zeitgeist Campaign

We finally started the campaign with Bonds of Forced Faith, on the same weekend of a lunar eclipse no less! Despite this being a 4e D&D campaign we used the 5e version of the adventure because I had already printed the character sheets for that version.We began by choosing characters, but I'll save my comments on this for the end. Since there are only five players I played the mayor Roland Stanfield.

We played through the teaser as written, there's not much room for player antics here. I did like that the mayor (whom I assigned to the player who picked the king for this part) confronted the Red Contessa valiantly and swore to avenge the fallen witch hunters.

So, on to the adventure. The players exchanged information in the mayor’s mansion until Amielle’s arrival interrupted them. They argued about whether a tiefling should be trusted but king Lorcan didn’t want to take any chances, and decided they would move against the witches tonight. It was then that the Red Contessa summoned her blood simulacrum and gave her speech, taunted the king and destroyed the Hinc ad Aeternitatem. The king emerged onto a balcony and addressed the panicked citizens, proclaiming that for his fiftieth birthday he would take the head of the Contessa as present and free them from her reign of terror.

When the police chief brought news that a mob had attacked Rachel Lang and her acolytes the king asked Melissa for advice, to gauge her attitude toward the people of the city. She expressed concern about their tight schedule, but told him that she would help him save the skyseer if he gave the order. The king made up his mind and asked her to help, and told Amielle that he wanted her help in this mission if he was to trust her. As a preventive measure Harkover used his black gem to block scrying for the rest of the day.

They rode to Parity Lake where they found Husky Pete inciting a mob to attack Rachel. Immediately suspicious of the beadle, Melissa warned the group to take precautions. Amielle hung back beside the mayor, ready to shoot if the others got in trouble. The rest of the group got close and were noticed by the people. Husky Pete began shouting happily that the king had come to save them and kill the witch. Harkover stealthily cast Detect Magic and noticed the magical aura around Pete and the mob (which we ruled as being perceived only by the caster, since they are the ones detecting magic) and used Message to warn Melissa about an illusion effect on the man and an enchantment and necromancy effect on the mob. She then told the beadle that they wanted to know what had happened, but because of recent events they had to make sure he was trustworthy, and proceeded to cast Zone of Truth. Pete noticed the compulsion to speak truthfully and tried to casually walk outside the area of effect. Melissa told him to stay put and the mob, already angry and enchanted by Deliria, tried to jump to the defense of the man, but a successful intimidate check stopped them in their tracks. Noticing the rising suspicion of the heroes and realizing she had been found out, Deliria removed her hat of disguise and ordered her trolls to attack. Amielle used her readied action to pull out her musket and shoot the woman, but the ritual she had used on the citizens redirected the damage to another person, killing them.Now, I am aware that the damage should be distributed among those bonded to the caster, but I like to make things difficult for my players. So, the man dies and the other people panic, breaking free from Deliria’s enchantment.

Battle between the heroes and the witch ensues, and the players do surprisingly well. They save against the curses and dodge the trolls’ attacks, except for two grabs: one against Melissa and one against the king. The trolls then pull them underwater in an attempt to drown them. To increase tension I changed the rules for suffocating so they would only have rounds equal to their CON modifier (so 1 round) before dropping to 0 HP. Harkover considers dropping a fireball on the trolls but decides instead to trap one using Wall of Force so the king could escape, and lowkey trying to get Melissa killed so she wouldn’t take the crown (preventing Melissa from becoming queen is one of the mage’s goals in 5e, while 4e Harkover doesn’t seem very concerned with this).
The king escapes and uses his powers to create a bridge to land, and to create a depression toward Deliria (so water from the lake would pour into the hole and get closer to the witch). Melissa succeeds on her escape check and Tomas recites from his holy scriptures to protect Harkover, so he would be able to maintain concentration on the Wall of Force. Meanwhile Amielle stabs and shoots the other troll, doing a surprising amount of damage. Finally the mayor lands a Hold Person spell on Deliria and Harkover drags the paralyzed woman to the water and begins drowning her. Melissa and Tomas go help him, and Melissa has her stag stand on top of the woman to keep her pinned to the ground. After a while she drowns and dark magic escapes from her corpse. Tomas uses his hook necklace to redirect the magic toward him and becomes cursed, though the curse is removed soon after by a spell. Amielle kills the free troll and the rest of the group readies actions to attack the trapped one. Harkover dispels the Wall of Force and the troll is vaporized.

After the battle Tomas punches and yells at Deliria’s corpse, casting Speak with Dead. From the dead witch the group learns about the scarecrows and Pernicity’s cabin, as well as the location of the cauldron (which they also learn is the focus for the ritual they are preparing). Additionally they learn that by destroying the cauldron they can stop the ritual. Amielle apologizes for the civilian casualties, explaining she did not know about the ritual since she arrived after Tomas and Harkover had explained how it worked. The mayor says that her help made up for it, and the king agrees, although he’ll have to visit the family to give his condolences after tonight. He asks the mayor and Melissa to accompany him when he does. Amielle lights a cigar, picks up her guns (she had dropped them during combat to pull out other, loaded ones) and starts reloading them. Finally Rachel and her acolytes reach shore and thank the king and his retinue for saving them. She offers healing magic but no one in the group had taken any damage during the battle, so they politely decline. She then tells them about her vision and here I thought for sure that they were gonna find out she was lying, since her vision was somewhat contradictory to the information Tomas had obtained from Deliria’s corpse. Fortunately (for me) they instead interpreted the vision as an omen that they were gonna fail in their quest and one of them was going to sacrifice himself to dispel the ritual.

Since they remain adamant in their decision to attack tonight, Rachel offers to cast a ritual to protect them. They agree and she offers them a gourd, saying she needs them to shed a drop of blood inside so the protection will reach them from such a great distance. The group is suspicious, particularly Melissa, but Harkover tells them the double-bluff is unlikely (I was afraid my face would give things away so I hid behind a cup of coffee). The mage makes an Arcana check to see if Rachel’s ritual checks out and rolls low, so he thinks it’s safe. The group all give the skyseer their blood, and Tomas says that under any other circumstance he would refuse taking part in such pagan rituals, but the situation calls for it (plus, he’s been granted full indulgence by his church).

The ride to Cauldron Hill takes the group half an hour, during which Amielle and the mayor talk about guns. He had seen her gunplay up close and expressed interest in the technology, and the player told him a bit about them, how she had crafted them and what she had named them (the musket was Bertha. He didn’t actually come up with more names for the other guns but told me he felt Amielle would have named them). Tomas offers the group his holy water and they coat their weapons with it.

Once they reach the mountain and start climbing they leave their mounts behind, except for Melissa (I didn’t want to take one of the character’s features away from the player, plus maybe stags can climb mountains? We aren’t sure). The king comes up with the idea of using his land-shaping powers to create stairs and makes group’s ascent super easy. He also gives them an inspiring speech, granting them temporary hit points.

As night falls Tomas lights his halo and they come upon a corpse tied to a tree. Roland recognizes it as one of the witch hunters from his last failed excursion, and tries to get close to pay respects. The others stop him and tell him it might be a trap (which it is) and convince him that the best he can do for them is make it to the summit to avenge them. They keep going, avoiding the scarecrows thanks to Harkover’s darkvision. He and Tomas then detect a supernatural chill in the air, and Harkover casts See Invisibility. He sees spirits honing in to their location, alerted by Tomas’s brilliant Halo. The godhand snuffs the light and the group begins devising plans to escape. They ask the mayor to send one of his incarnations into the forest alone, so the spirits will give chase. He does but the spirits ignore it (since the Red Contessa likes to kill him herself). The next plan they come up with is splitting up, sending Harkover alone to lure them away and then casting Dimension Door to escape quickly. However he’s the only one who can see them (I made them invisible because it’s more fun that way), so the others would inevitably stumble upon them by accident. They finally decided to try and sneak away in the darkness, but they had taken so long the DC was too high. The spirits caught up and surrounded them. A fight ensued.

The spirits won the initiative and attacked the heroes, mostly missing. Only one managed to hit Amielle, dealing cold damage, which was halved because of Rachel’s ritual. This served to remove any ounce of suspicion from the players about Rachel’s true intentions, which made the reveal later all the better. As soon as the players got to attack they destroyed the spirits, since their weapons had been anointed with Tomas’s holy water. Before more spirits could show up the group absconded, succeeding the stealth check.

After a while they reached Pernicity’s hut and managed to sneak up on her. They saw the fey dragging prisoners to the stakes and throwing charred corpses into a pile, upon which the witch rested inside a flying cauldron. They knew attacking her would kill innocents, and since there was no water around they concluded they had to push her off the cliff, since that would get her far enough from her bonded victims before gravity killed her. They devised a plan.

They would wait for the fey to tie the prisoners to the stakes, so the forest would conceal them from the witch’s line of sight. Then Roland would cast Spider Climb on Harkover, who had the highest stealth and strength of the group. While they were distracted tying the prisoners Harkover would climb along the face of the 1000-ft high cliff and stand just below the fey. Then the king would shoot an arrow from his bow, silencing the creature, and Harkover would pull it and throw it off the cliff. This way, if the creature survived the arrow it would fall to its death, and if it died from the arrow its corpse would not attract attention, since the others might think it had simply gone elsewhere. Meanwhile Amielle would ready herself to shoot one of the other fey (who was guarding one of the cages) as soon as the group was discovered. Tomas and Melissa stayed by the king’s side to protect him. Good planning allowed the players to take out 5 of the 8 fey and prevent them from lighting the prisoners on fire. The sixth and last fey beside the cliff managed to spot Harkover and sounded an alarm with minor illusion, which caused Amielle to shoot one of the other fey with her readied action. They rolled initiative.

The fey went first and the one near the cage moved toward Harkover. The other one, who was already next to the mage, tried to push him away from the cliff using a fire and wind spell, but the man was immune to the fire damage and resisted the push with a Strength save. Since everyone else was too far away Pernicity went for the easy kill, flying toward Harkover (but staying above the rock of the cliff) and casting Dispel Magic on the mage, which ended the Spider Climb and caused him to fall. He quickly cast Feather Fall to slow his descent. Pernicity ordered her zombies to action, and the horde began shambling toward the group. The king used his land-shaping powers to create a protrusion of rock from the face of the cliff, so Harkover would land not too far down. He also created some convenient stairs for the mage to climb back up, and rushed toward the zombies. Amielle followed him, while Tomas ran a staggering 100 feet toward where Harkover had fallen and punched the fey with his bonus action. Melissa then moved toward Pernicity and cast Command, ordering her to throw herself over the edge (we play in spanish and the player said “lánzate”, which means “throw yourself”, so the command did obey the one-word limitation. Also, since she was in a flying cauldron that wouldn’t actually fall even if she moved over the edge, I allowed it). Immediately after Harkover (whose player consistently rolled 5 or less on his initiative check) cast Dispel Magic of the flying cauldron using a 5th-level spell slot (they didn’t want to take any chances). Long story short, they killed her in a single round. I kept the zombies alive afterwards in hopes of putting some additional pressure on the group, but two grenades and a fireball afterward there were hardly any zombies left.

Everyone still had all their HP, but combat resources were running low so the group decided to take a short rest to refresh some of their powers. They freed the prisoners from the cages and untied them from the stakes. The king used his powers to build more rooms for the cabin so all the prisoners had a place to stay for the night while the group finished their quest. A few prisoners offered to accompany them and the king sought the mayor’s counsel. Roland told him that, thought maybe useful, the men would certainly die in the confrontation with the Contessa, so they turned down their offer.

After an hour the group resumed their ascent. The wind picked up and the air was filled with the howl of beasts and spirits, which threatened to demoralize them. Tomas recited from the holy book of Triegenes so the group would focus on the prayers and not on the snarls and howls, giving everyone advantage of their Wisdom saves and helping them stay sane.

Once they reached the summit they saw the witches dancing around a cauldron on the west plateau, while on the eastern one a group of prisoners was being guarded by two spirits. Harkover, with his 120-ft darkvision, warned the group that a lion with a mane of snakes lurked in the darkness between the plateaus. The Red Contessa was laughing and stabbing herself with a knife, and her wounds were redirected to the prisoners, who screamed in agony. Several dark fey patrolled the area, and the group decided to send the king together with the mayor to stealth-kill the creatures, silencing them as before with his bow while Roland used Mage Hand to catch the lanterns. They rolled well and managed to take out all the sentinels. Afterward they took up positions around the area and prepared for a surprise attack. Everyone rolled stealth and managed to beat the Contessa’s 14 Passive Perception.

So, on to the assault. Harkover, Roland and Tomas stayed near the eastern plateau, ready to attack the spirits and free the prisoners. The mayor even summoned all of his incarnations and the politician applied poison to his dagger. The others snuck toward the bridge that connected the plateaus and attacked the serpent-maned lion (everyone landed their attack and the king scored two critical hits on the poor lion, so it didn’t survive). Harkover attacked the spirits to weaken them and Tomas killed them, using his powers to keep them alive under his control. We rolled initiative and the Contessa spoke her piece to the king and revealed Sister Langour’s (Rachel’s) deception. Their jaws hit to the floor! They totally didn’t expect that! Still, the king remained resolute in his decision to kill the witch and save his people, so they fought.

The minor witches were the first to fall and the Contessa animated the standing stones and the cauldron. Rachel tried to curse the king so he wouldn’t regenerate, but Tomas redirected the curse toward him and saved against it. The animated objects attacked the heroes but they managed to dodge their attacks (they loved how silly these enemies were). One of Tomas’s dominated spirits managed to grapple the Contessa and began pulling her toward the cliff. The Contessa called down a lightning bolt which they dodged. Roland cast Hold Person on the Contessa and paralyzed her. On the following round Rachel dispeled the mayor’s magic. The spirit continued pulling the Contessa toward the cliff while the heroes battled the animated objects. The Contessa tried to curse the king with curse of the writhing cauldron, but Tomas once again took the hit and saved against the effect. King Lorcan taunted the stones, saying how pathetic and stupid they were (they had missed all their attacks due to having a rather low modifier) but immediately two of them landed a hit on him and dealt some serious damage (I love instant karma). Amielle and Melissa attacked the cauldron and managed to destroy it, ending the larger ritual. However Rachel’s ritual was still active, so Harkover began using his scrolls to dispel the effect from each member of the party, one by one. Once the spirit had pulled her close to the cliff the Contessa used one of her legendary actions to phase, freeing herself from the grab and moved toward the mayor. Using another legendary action she struck Roland and two of his incarnations with a lightning bolt, killing the politician incarnation and damaging the holy warrior and the real Roland, and leaving him with just 19 HP. Tomas wanted to help him but he had already used his reaction that round. Afterward the king struck Rachel with his claymore and left her close to death, and with a successful Persuasion check managed to convince her to switch sides. Fearing for her life, and realizing the Contessa had set the three of them (Rachel, Deliria and Pernicity) up for death, she turned on her former leader. The party still couldn’t attack her, since Melissa was still under the effect of the bond (Harkover had already dispelled the ritual from the others). The Contessa used a lightning bolt to attack the mayor again, hoping to kill him. Tomas, who had accepted Rachel’s alliance as a strategic maneuver, saw his chance to protect his allies while dealing with the witch simultaneously (and without invoking the ire of the others for killing her). He used his necklace to redirect the lightning bolt toward him and dodged it, but since it’s an area attack Rachel was targeted as well. She failed her Reflex save and died, electrocuted. The Contessa laughed and said that she deserved it for betraying her. As a note, one of the standing stones was also in the area of effect and king Lorcan’s player said he would “cut his balls off” if the stone managed to dodge a lightning bolt. Cue the 18 Reflex save and everyone realized the stone had a bigger DEX modifier than some of them.

Finally Harkover dispelled the ritual on Melissa and they saw the Contessa’s strength slipping. They fell upon her with a vengeance and Roland attacked her on the back with a sneak attack, yelling it was payback for all the lives she had taken. The woman screamed in pain and Tomas ran toward her, punching her in the face and giving her a bloody nose. Before she could use her blood to empower herself, Melissa charged and impaled her with her spear, scoring a climatic critical hit that dealt 63 damage. With her dying breath the Contessa cursed the king, causing him to vomit blood. Harkover still had one scroll of Remove Curse and tension was high as he rolled his Arcana check. The die rolled and landed on 18, ending the curse and saving the king’s life.

As the hurricane’s intensity increased Amielle rushed to grab her guns, which lay scattered around the battlefield. Harkover called to her and she ran toward the group, managing to stay her ground despite the force of the wind. The group huddled close together and Harkover cast Wall of Force on them, creating a dome to protect them from the winds. The storm died down and the sky cleared. The red moon shone down upon the city of Flint and the group enjoyed the stunning vista. King Lorcan addressed the group, thanking them for their help. With some nostalgia he recalled his reign and said that in an hour and a half he would be king no more. Everyone was surprised to hear him say this, but he looked toward Melissa and sadi “you’ve been by my side and have fought valiantly. So I ask you: what is it that makes a king strong?” Melissa hesitated a little but finally said “it is unity. We, who hail from different countries, are reunited here, victorious, together.” The king, satisfied that his knight understood, decided to pass on the crown of Risur to her. She accepted the crown and looked toward Risur, now her own nation.

So what can I say about the start of our new game? The players LOVED it. Seriously, we had so much fun and laughed so much my throat was sore afterwards. Everyone loved their character and Melissa’s player, who wasn’t too hot on 5e, said he had changed his mind after playing. He was also sort of backing down from the campaign but this session rekindled his interest. He is now considering scrapping his tiefling skald and making a warforged something (he’s not sure yet). Amielle’s player resented a bit that the tiefling didn’t have any spellcasting, since everyone else had crazy magical abilities, but he enjoyed how deadly and cool she was. My girlfriend, who player Tomas, enjoyed immensely being able to fight while protecting her allies, and having utility outside of combat as well. She usually doesn't like being a “tank” but enjoyed Tomas’s active participation as opposed to being just a meatshield.

A note about Harkover’s player: He immediately latched onto Harkover Lee, intrigued by the mage's 25 Strength score (which is particularly suspicious in 5e, since scores above 20 aren't compatible with the rules) and spent the whole adventure pointing out other things that stood out to him, such as certain spells that the character shouldn't actually be able to learn. I think that character was a great fit for him, since he likes to formulate theories (plus, he's the most familiar with the 5e rules and thus the one most likely to notice these subtle details). As a note, he's the player who was making the artificer/seeker, although he is now reconsidering and exploring other options.

During Melissa’s coronation Harkover’s player was left seething since he didn’t want her to be queen. The king added salt to the wound by saying that Harkover would now serve her as advisor, and everyone laughed when the player offered a forced grin and muttered “hooray”.

Overall the game was a blast and everyone is looking forward to Island at the Axis of the World.
 
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Okay, first, amazingly thorough write-up. Thanks!

Second, I'd forgotten that I wrote that Tomas has to 'berate' a corpse to speak with it.

Third, I'm thrilled your group liked the adventure, and dang, I wish I'd thought to run this for some friends last night during the blood moon. Good luck on your campaign!
 
The Party

My group and I have finished the first adventure. It took us around two months and I have been busy writing the recap, trying to make it succinct and failing spectacularly. I'll try to post more frequently from now on. Before that, though, I’ll devote a few paragraphs to their characters and their backstories. Some things may change or be added in as the players explore their characters through play. I also worked with them a bit to try and weave their personal stories with the campaign’s narrative to make certain parts a bit more intimate.

1) First up is Jasbeer Leafburn, a female veteran of the Fourth Yerasol War who enlisted in the army to help her family with the money she received from the military. She comes from a family of farmers and has three younger siblings. During the war she served under a somewhat superstitious commander (unnamed as of yet) stationed on Axis Island. Jasbeer, being a simple farm girl, looked up to him as a beacon of strength and bravery in those trying times, and became infatuated with him. Near the end of the war a surprise attack by Danoran forces fatally wounded her commander, and the intense emotional stress combined with the strange magical phenomena of the island helped her awaken her psionic powers. Using her newfound abilities she helped fight off the attackers and dragged the dying commander to safety, and tried to save his life with a magic serum she found on his first-aid kit, but succeeded only in relieving his pain. Knowing defeat was inevitable the man instructed her to order a retreat, hoping to at least spare the life of the Risuri soldiers. He passed away in her arms and she made a vow to keep his memory alive, and to become a hero and an inspiration to others as he had been to her. Unable to let go completely she retrieved from his hand his “lucky charm” to serve as a memento: a golden ring with the inscription “Omens Become Real”. (Human Battlemind).


2) The half-elf Juza Sechim grew up in the Cloudwood under the tutelage of the skyseer Eva Sechim (female Nevard, I tried to make the name as similar as possible), who found her abandoned as a child. It is unknown if she was actually abandoned by her parents, stolen by fey or something completely different. Eva, sensing the child’s innate connection to the planes and foreseeing that she had a part to play in a prophecy that had not been revealed to her yet, decided to raise her and teach her the ways of the skyseers, a tradition that was slowly beginning to disappear. Upon reaching adulthood Juza became more and more interested in the city that was so close to her home, and started venturing there more often. She eventually learned of the war happening overseas and, being an orphan herself, volunteered to help destitute children who had lost their parents. This snowballed as she began participating in numerous welfare campaigns, developing a fondness for the people of Flint that evolved into a zealous loyalty to the citizens of all Risur. (Half-elf Cosmic Sorcerer Skyseer, with a fitting background: Trained from birth for a specific prophecy).

3) Gwen doesn’t know who made her, but she knows why they did. Since its inception the project's goal was to create mechanical soldiers who would fight in future wars, but a more sinister course was taken with the implementation of a newly developed synthetic compound that could mimic the flesh of organic beings. Wearing her manufactured skin, Gwen and future warforged would be able to infiltrate society and subtly manipulate it from within according to the whims of their owners. She was taught how to behave like a person and during the course of her training somehow developed consciousness. Despite having a vast database of lore and the martial prowess of a machine made for war, the stealth and likeability protocols were never implemented, rendering her clumsy and socially awkward. The RHC, under instructions from Harkover Lee, shut down the facility and put an end to the project. Gwen was brought to Slate to be inspected by the mage, who after talking to her and discovering her true nature helped her adapt to society and gave her a purpose. He pulled some strings and got her a spot in the RHC and since then she has fought to keep Risur safe. However the knowledge that she was created with a specific purpose gnaws at her, and she wonders if she can ever hope to be something more than what her creators intended. As a note, her official surname is 2-ELF-α (sort of like a serial number but pronounced “Two elf ah”). That’s just a joke between the player and myself when we tried to come up with terrible names for our Divinity: OS characters. (Warforged Berserker Martial Scientist who forsook DEX to pump her INT).

4) Uzziel Naekran grew up in Danor, fascinated by technology. He saw the future of mankind in the inventions of his people and scorned magic, but his perspective changed when he traveled to Risur. Bereft of arcane energy he had never stopped to consider how similar technology and magic were, but in this nation he found people much like himself, who toiled to create better spells and integrate magic into their lives with more efficacy. He realized that progress was not inherent to technology but that it lay with the people who studied and used their ingenuity to improve and create. This epiphany brought him closer to the very idea of progress itself and though he hardly was the first to come to this realization, his championing of these ideals allowed him to tap from a shard of divine power. Wielding tools he once thought incompatible he sought to merge both arts to create wonders. Today his philosophy is closely aligned with that of the Clergy, but he cares little for their hierarchy. He joined the RHC to gain access to newly developed technology, and his knowledge of science and magic makes him an invaluable asset to his team. (Githzerai Artificer/Invoker Technologist.).

5) Beldrum Muktus graduated from Pardwight University with a medical degree. During his time in the university he discovered his talent for speaking with the dead, and went on to collaborate with the police in numerous cases. His talents got him into ever more dangerous missions, and he received combat training to aid police and defend himself. Eventually he was noticed by the RHC and earned a spot in the institution, serving both as doctor and as diener. (Human Cleric Spirit Medium.)
Note: The backstory for Beldrum is a bit of a placeholder. The player told me he wanted to change it but he’s the busiest one of us and hasn’t gotten around to it yet. What little I know is that he wants to come from either Danor or the Malice Lands, and after losing a dear friend to sickness decided to study medicine, since they could not rely on magic. I’ll update this entry once I know for sure.
 
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Session 1

So, on to the adventure. I’ll gloss over anything that doesn’t deviate from the script, since I figure anyone who reads this has probably read the adventures already. I’ll focus mostly on the ways the players overcome obstacles and roleplay, with a bit of mechanics on the side to give readers an idea of the resources at the group’s disposal.

The opening skill challenge went well and the hard DCs forced the players to spend a few powers and action points to catch the dockers. It was fairly straightforward. The party listened to Thames Grimsley’s request and agreed to deliver the message to the governor.

Afterwards the party was approached by Stover Delft who introduced them to Harkover. Gwen, not quite grasping social conventions, followed Stover’s example and greeted Harkover by calling him “old man” (which by the way sounds waaaaay more rude in spanish, as the word “anciano” is rather pejorative). Since Harkover knows the deal with Gwen he brushed it off, but the rest of the group was left baffled by their comrade’s insolence (especially since Harkover established himself as a badass during Bonds of Forced Faith and they don’t want to get on his bad side). The mage gave the PCs their orders for the night and left. Stover followed suit.

I gave the players the Prominent NPCs Handout and they read through them. Duchess Ethelyn’s background raised a gigantic red flag, since the constables realized that she was basically an Old Faith adherent / fey ally / veteran (so, all the groups that meant trouble, except for docker). They decided to keep an eye on her and went on to mingle (except for Beldrum since the player was absent from this session).

Intrigued by Rutger Smith’s pacifism, Jasbeer went to meet the captain. She found him talking with a dwarf and readily engaged the men in a discussion about the nature of randomness, which the dwarf argued would inevitably undo even the most agreeable of societies. My apologies, but I don’t remember the details of the conversation.

Uzziel wanted to learn more about the ship so he went to see Geoff, who was busy answering questions to people from the military. He managed to ask a few questions and learned about the ship, so I gave him the Ship Handout (minus the layout, which they would see once they boarded).

Gwen stole a chocolate from the halfling cook and was going to eat it when her attention was caught by a burst of laughter from the crowd. She turned and saw people congregated around a man who spoke with a Beran accent. As she got near to investigate Benedict Pemberton called her over and pulled out his knife, grabbed her by the wrist and proceeded to snip the loose thread from her sleeve. She was very intimidated, so it worked perfectly. However she decided to hang around and hear the story the man was telling, so after a while Pemberton addressed her and asked if she liked the countryside. She answered that she’d never been outside Flint before, and Pemberton said “So you’re a city gal then? Yes, I can practically smell the steel in you!” This completely freaked out the player, even though it was obviously a joke…

Juza was called over by duchess Ethelyn, who asked her to arrange a room for her to nap in. She went to talk to Elian Aughtbrook, who quickly went through his notes trying to figure out who she was. Upon realizing she wasn’t a VIP he scoffed, but Juza managed to get on his good side by giving him tips for interacting with nobility and convincing him to take her advice instead of following his misinformed notes (the perks of a +11 in Diplomacy at first level). He promptly arranged a room for the duchess, who thanked both him and Juza for their help. Sokana remained quiet throughout.

The king arrived with the governor and the ship set sail. The constables took a tour of the ship and learned more about its design and how it worked, and then went to the main deck to talk with people. Jasbeer asked Rutger about his philosophy (the player really liked the captain) and he told her the story of the monk WIlliam Miller’s works and his tragic death. Gwen went to talk to Geoff, who was already a bit tipsy, and proceeded to get him drunk out of his mind. Juza went to meet governor Stanfield and relayed Thames’s message. Roland agreed the situation was getting out of hand and promised to look into it. Uzziel decided to venture into the engine deck to look around and talk to the engineers, which no one else did because it was too hot down there. Jenner and Ostman were somewhat indifferent to his presence, and told him to talk to Fitzcairn if he wanted to chat. He found the young technician fiddling with some pressure valves in the back room, a bit cross because his coworkers had complained he was hardly any help. They got to talking and eventually Fitzcairn mentioned he had hoped he’d meet a girl at the party, but had instead ended up stationed below decks. Uzziel’s player (a computer engineer himself) responded in the most heartfelt way imaginable “yeah, it doesn’t happen”. We laughed so much it hurt.

After a while the band began to line up on the main deck and Juza decided it might be a good idea to check on the duchess. She began heading downstair and crossed paths with Stover, who asked her what she was up to. She told him she was going to check on the duchess and Stover told her to hurry because after the band finished playing the king would give his speech and it was important his sister was present. And this is where everything spiraled out of control.

Juza went by herself to talk to the duchess and upon arrival found the door locked. She knocked and Sokana answered, saying the duchess was asleep. Juza insisted while Sokana stalled enough for the duchess to make her escape and for Ilton to poison his sword and ready an action to attack. Juza, suspicious, put her ear to the door to listen and with an impressive perception check heard the splash as the duchess fell into the water. Thinking she had been tossed overboard by assailants she immediately kicked down the door and was immediately stabbed in the leg by Ilton. She fell to the floor and the poison took hold. Meanwhile on the main deck Jasbeer and Gwen noticed her absence and asked Stover where Juza was. He told them she’d gone downstairs to get the duchess, and asked them to go get her because she was taking too long. It would be two rounds before they reached her. As for Uzziel, he had been asked by Fitzcairn to go to another room and adjust some valves there, since it was difficult for him to do it himself. As Jenner and Ostman finished packing the furnace with fire gems they decided to take out Uzziel and Fitzcairn so they wouldn’t get in the way. They were ambushed and unfortunately the damage roll against Uzziel was a 17 (1d12+5). He tried to fight but was forced to escape. Fitzcairn was immediately knocked unconscious and left bleeding to death.

In the duchess’s room Juza tried to fight off Ilton while Sokana escaped and teleported belowdecks, leaving her fire sprites to destroy the fire wards. Eventually the skyseer bled to unconsciousness and Ilton fled the scene. The other players reunited in front of the ship’s magazine, having missed Sokana. Uzziel began to kill the fire sprites while Jasbeer and Gwen ran to the furnace room to stop the sabotage. While Uzziel was by himself Ilton burst into the room, his clothes burned and his face bloody. He asked for help, saying he’d been attacked by more saboteurs, and succeeded on his bluff check. Uzziel lowered his guard and told him to stay near him while he fought the fire sprites. Ilton got close and got a surprise attack on the constable, but he missed. For the rest of the fight they both tried to take each other out, since they were both on their last legs. As for the fight in the engine room, well, it went to hell pretty quickly. Sokana neutralized Jasbeer with a well placed beguiling lure as a readied action (she fled and used her AP to ready the attack, so when Jasbeer followed her and turned the corner she was left dazed and in a wall of fire). Gwen engaged the two engineers but was outmatched; they flanked her and shoved her into the furnace, where the intense heat quickly killed her. Uzziel managed to kill Ilton and Juza recovered from near death, but as they reunited they stumbled upon Sokana, who had finished her work in the engine room. They tried to take her on but she was still at full HP, and had little reason to let them live. So, the first encounter ended with a TPK.

We ended the session here and I’ll admit the players were pretty bummed about the situation. Mind you, they were actually really curious to see how the story progressed after everyone died in the explosion, but it was the first encounter and they’d been working on their characters for months. So it wasn’t really that they weren’t willing to keep going with a failure, but rather that they didn’t want to lose their characters so early into the campaign. If we had found a way for them to be resurrected afterwards we would probably have made that canon, but all the ideas we came up with shattered our immersion so much that we decided to redo the battle. We changed a few things. For starters Beldrum was present, since the player joined us for the second session. I also changed a few things that were completely on me (such as letting Juza go by herself instead of having Stover suggest she’d better link up with the other constables first, or having Uzziel be surprised by the engineer’s attack when he should have noticed the alarm siren had been sabotaged, since he is a technologist and has a passive perception of 19). I know I was unbelievably nervous during the session, and I messed up because of that. I had this fear that I’d somehow ruin the adventure and I let it get to me. Fortunately, the other sessions went much better.
 
Session 2

I’ll spare you the details of the second attempt since it was pretty much the same except with Jasbeer and Gwen joining the battle sooner, Uzziel not being surprised, Juza not falling to Ilton (since Jasbeer was with her to protect her) and with Beldrum present. They did pretty well! Uzziel fixed the alarm so Geoff and a few engineers joined the battle halfway through. Beldrum stopped the fire sprites from removing the wards in the magazine. And Jasbeer moved across one of Sokana’s fire walls and reached into the furnace to retrieve the amber rod, taking a total of 30 fire damage in a single turn and yet remaining on her feet. In the end all enemies were knocked unconscious except for Sokana, who had been left with 1 HP and cornered. They tried to get her to surrender but failed the intimidate check. As her turn in the initiative came up she locked eyes with the constables and said “I know I have failed. If the only thing I can do now for my cause is be a martyr, so be it”. She raised her hands and began conjuring a fire wall on herself to commit suicide. Realizing what she was doing Gwen and Jasbeer, who were beside her, tried to stop her with their opportunity attacks. They managed to hit her and knocked her out before she could kill herself.

During the interrogation the engineers were the first to break, and Sokana tried to kill them with her magic, so the constables decided to take her to another room and interrogate her separately. Juza took it upon herself to do so, expecting to connect with her due to their fey ancestry. However Sokana proved to be more determined than she’d imagined, so the skyseer resorted to violence, smacking her across the face until she talked. I suspect the player herself was somewhat taken aback by her own behavior. Eventually the players learned that the duchess had been behind the attack and they relayed the info to Harkover and the king.

King Aodhan was shocked and deeply concerned that his own sister would try to murder him. He asked the PCs their names and about their families, but the only one who had siblings was Jasbeer. Placing his hand on her shoulder he told her he would pray she never found an enemy amongst them, and the player was thoroughly moved by this. The night proceeded without any further problems and the king gave his speech as originally planned. Juza decided to gaze at the night sky, something she could not normally do because of the smog. The vision she received warned her that the duchess would rally allies and prepare for war.

Throughout the following week the constables were accosted by reporters who wanted their take on the terrorism attempt and the king’s announcement. I tried to back the PCs into a corner with a bunch of loaded questions, but they did a pretty good job of keeping quiet on the more controversial subjects and giving reasonable answers. I also took the opportunity to introduce Bartholomew Pryce, the editor for the Pryce of Progress (Adventure 5), whom I’m trying to roleplay as a somewhat Jonah Jameson-esque figure, for laughs. Unfortunately my players were all very careful and didn’t give him anything to use against them, but since they considered this a victory I think it payed off.

A week went by between stacks of paperwork. Juza told Delft and Saxby about her vision and a few days later the constables were called by Carlao to Delft’s office. Upon arrival they saw their boss was not alone, but in the company of the tiefling Lya Jierre. She presented them with a puzzle and Beldrum instantly realized it was unsolvable without moving into 3D. Lya smiled and congratulated him, and both she and Stover proceeded to give them the details of the situation and their mission. They were handed their stipend and told to get ready, since their ship sailed that very night.

The players agreed on buying three consumables as their daily favor (one potion of healing and one of clairvoyance if memory serves, along with a nail of sealing). However they also wanted more stuff, so Juza had to make special arrangements and get on people’s good side (I wasn’t actually sure who was in charge of greenlighting those favors so I just had her make the Diplomacy check to keep things moving). She succeeded and they decided to buy even more healing potions. And they still wanted more stuff. A second Diplomacy check beat the INSANE difficulty class for the second additional favor and they got their hands on some mage-cuffs. So all-in-all I’d say they were pretty well equipped.

Before going to the Impossible Gwen decided she wanted a word with Sokana, who was still in the RHC cells, awaiting transfer to Shale. They had a pretty interesting chat. Gwen is a very open-minded woman with a serious problem with expectations and prejudice. She knows she was built to cause strife and does her best to be something different, all the while knowing she’ll never fulfill her true purpose. Because of that she tries to reaffirm her stance by helping others defy their fate and refusing to believe they cannot change. So she asked Sokana about herself and listened, about her life and her suffering at the hands of the Danorans, and about Danor’s treachery. She told Sokana about her mission and the eladrin begged her to expose Danor’s crimes. Gwen agreed.

The Impossible set sail that night toward Axis Island. Since it was already late nothing of importance occurred that night. They were scheduled to rendezvous with the other team of constables on the following day. At supper captain Smith asked the PCs about their opinion on the state of affairs and a very interesting discussion ensued. I had the captain ask all sorts of complicated questions to see what the players would say and I was pleasantly surprised by their earnest answers.

The main topic of the discussion was the existence of free will and if people could be responsible for their actions if these were the result of a life forged by events outside their control. The captain didn’t take any particular stance, I just had him play devil’s advocate to promote the discussion. Jasbeer and Gwen were the main participants in the debate, having radically different opinions. Jasbeer believed that people were indeed responsible for their actions and that free will existed, while Gwen argued that not everything could be imputed to a person if they had been urged by necessity, such as a crime committed to feed one’s family. Jasbeer countered by saying that there was always another option, even if it was inaction, so that a thief would still be responsible for their actions regardless of motivation. Any other way of thinking would not be functional it people hoped to live in a society. Here the captain intervened and said that functionality didn’t always point toward the truth: the idea of responsibility could be “necessary” because it was useful but it didn’t mean it was accurate. Changing her argument Jasbeer replied that responsibility could have either negative or positive connotations, and that the moral value assigned to a deed was irrelevant - if hailed as a hero by their relatives, the thief would still be responsible for the theft and thus worthy of praise.

As to the topic of determinism, the captain asked Juza about her visions and if she believed their existence was proof that free will was a fabrication. She said that, although visions did come true, they did so not by lack of the individual’s own force of will, but in spite of its possible existence. To put it another way, they always came true because they were vague and subject to interpretation, so that it was impossible to tell if fate had been determined from the start or if it had been thwarted and the prophecy merely took on a new meaning from events previously undivined. Uzziel added that the idea of a preordained future was ludicrous, as it was the collective will of mankind that had ushered in the current age. Additionally, people always had a choice on whether to better themselves or be complacent and succumb to circumstances.

I also dropped the question of whether people in a country should be allowed to choose despite lacking crucial knowledge (as in democracy) or if those in power, who were more qualified to make choices because of the knowledge they possessed, should act against the wishes of their people to secure the greater good. This all came up because discontent about the upcoming peace summit was evident, yet everyone on board was in favor of pursuing peace. I wanted players to consider what it meant for them to be in favor of peace despite the wishes of some Risuri, and what stance they would take if things were the other way around and the dissidents were the majority. Would they break off and fight for what they believed in, trying to impose their own vision of the world despite going against the consensus? They agreed that although it was important to let people decide for themselves, there were situations in which qualified people should be the ones who made decisions, instead of simply letting a majority decide.

Overall I really felt the players gave some thought to what they and their characters believed, and I loved how thoroughly they answered. I especially liked how Gwen’s opinions were evidently influenced by her backstory. That particular player, who was originally on the fence about the campaign, was so damn happy… Seriously, I rarely see him so evidently happy while playing. He couldn’t stop smiling all the way through that conversation. Needless to say, I was incredibly glad they had engaged with the situation so willingly and joyfully, since it is undoubtedly one of the things that sets this campaign apart and might not be within some player’s comfort zone or interests. Anyway, once everyone had had the opportunity to contribute with their own opinion we agreed it was time to move on. The captain ended the conversation by abruptly declaring that despite what had just been said everyone here was still loyal to the king. This was met with a burst of laughter from everyone before they all replied “yes, of course” in the most unconvincing way imaginable.

After supper they rendezvoused with the other group of constables and began discussing the infiltration plan. Tanya took out a map of the island and showed the PCs the route they would take, explained the layout of the fortress and showed them the ritual scrolls they had been given for the mission. Seven-foot Dan made quite an impression and Gwen took him up on his offer to teach her how to “break stuff” (by the way, Gwen fights unarmed and unarmored. I think she multiclassed into monk just to gain access to ki foci. The player really embraced the idea that she was a weapon unto herself). Beldrum also really liked Seven-foot Dan, but they all knew these guys weren’t going to make it out alive. Jokes ensued, mainly about how everyone would be wiped out and Dan would probably sacrifice himself to save the PCs at the adventure’s climax, screaming “be good” to Beldrum like the giant gingerbread man in Shrek 2.

As they discussed the plan Burton, the goblin surgeon, took out his surgical kit and placed it on the table, thinking of telling the group he would treat their wounds if necessary. But Beldrum was right next to him and decided to one-up him by taking out his own, fancier surgical kit and placing it right next to the goblin’s (think Mr. Bean taking an exam). The poor goblin didn’t say anything else for the rest of the meeting.
Letmas escaped to the kitchen with the aid of his illusion powers, but Uzziel noticed. He told Tanya about it and she told him to go get him, evidently annoyed by her companion’s behavior. Uzziel followed him into the kitchen and confronted him, and Letmas accused him of “ratting him out”. However he convinced Uzziel to help him make tea by offering to tell him Burton’s latrine adventure.

At 9 pm the constables put their plan into motion. They used the ritual scrolls to cast water breathing on both parties, and the NPCs set out to secure the mine. After a few minutes the rope they had taken went slack and then began to move furiously, so they dived in after their fellow constables. Midway through the submerged tunnel they found a cave in had occurred and Burton’s leg had become clamped by the rocks. He desperately urged them to cut off his leg and Beldrum freaking agreed and sawed off the goblin’s leg. He took him back to the ship while the others deliberated on wheter they should go back or explore further, since they had limited water breathing rituals. Eventually they decided to push onward until they reached the mine, just to check if it was safe. Jasbeer was not happy with that decision, but the mine seemed to be empty (they were seen by Nicolas Dupiers, but since they went away he did not attack).

Beldrum took the bleeding goblin back to the Impossible and treated his wound. It took him about and hour, during which the goblin told him about the strange things he had seen when the cave-in occurred. Meanwhile the others dedicated themselves to the task of removing the rocks to see if the other constables had indeed perished, and found this to be the case. They were all pretty shocked, and told me that although they suspected they were going to die, they thought it would be gradual, and definitely not something that would happen before their mission even began. At 10 p.m. Beldrum finished treating Burton and I had him make a Heal check to instruct the rest of the crew on how to take care of him. He failed to beat the DC and I told him he could stay for another hour to thoroughly show the crew what they should do, but they didn’t want to waste more time and decided to leave the goblin to his fate.

They swam through the tunnel and emerged into the mine, where they were immediately assaulted by Nicolas and his elementals. They quickly realized he was just a scared survivor of the duchess’s attack, and convinced him they were here to help. He explained what had happened, how he’d gotten here, and what the iron spikes were. Jasbeer explained their mission and convinced him to guide them to the fortress, to which the miner agreed. Juza examined both of his amulets and the one on the white column and identified the symbols in them as representations of different planes. Suspecting they might have something to do with the fluctuations in reality she made an Arcana check to determine if they were somehow linked to the island and rolled a natural 20, for a total of 25. So I told her that she felt a connection between the amulets and Axis Island, and immediately explained the special powers they possessed while worn by someone on the island. I was hoping she would think this was the connection she had felt, but she just turned to the others and said “they’re probably a seal of some sort”. I was sweating bullets.
 
Session 3

The players left the mines with Nicolas and decided to take the road to the fortress. They convinced the miner to lend the golden icon of nem to Uzziel, so he could act as lookout. They stumbled upon the abandoned wagon and Gwen picked up one of the weapons, triggering the trap. Everyone was dealt some serious damage and Nicolas, in his panic, fired his pistol. Knowing the blue glow of the magic and the sound of the gunshot would attract patrolmen (they’d already seen some and avoided them) the group began frantically trying to escape their shackles. Juza was the first to escape and she helped the others, but just as they began moving toward the trees to hide a group of rebels arrived at the scene and spotted them. The players tried to escape into the forest so the rebels would think they were just some survivors of the attack and not elite forces sent by Risur. However the fairy fire of the investigators made this difficult and the group had to resort to violence. Jasbeer teleported to the middle of the enemies’ formation and attacked one, killing them. She realized then that these were not trained soldiers but rather common people recruited by the duchess for the attack. She decided to hold back and merely knocked the others unconscious. The rest of the group did the same, but the elementals had little qualms about killing the attackers.

Once the fight was over the constables hid the bodies in the jungle and moved the dirt to cover the blood in an attempt to cover their tracks. They then took the remaining hostages deeper into the jungle and tied them to a tree to interrogate them. Uzziel was tasked with this but he didn’t do a very good job showing they meant business, and since the rebels had noticed the PCs reluctance to kill them they began mocking him. Seeing his comrade’s plight, Beldrum impulsively killed one of the hostages to frighten the others into talking. The entire group was rather shocked but didn’t say anything then, realizing that would only ruin their chances of getting information. Needless to say the rebels were terrified, so much so that most of them could not give out very useful information (they stuttered and mixed up information). Still, the group managed to calm one of them so he could tell them what he knew. He explained they were looking for evidence of Danoran military activity and their accursed war machines, which they would undoubtedly use to destroy Risur. The constables believed him but were sceptical of the existence of such machines. But just then they heard something moving towards them and decided to hide. The sound of heavy footsteps got closer and Beldrum could make out faint voices, as if a crowd of people were walking through the jungle. The trees began to shake and from the foliage emerged a headless humanoid machine, leaking black oil speckled with white. The disbelief was palpable. The party could not believe the rebels had been right all along. They waited until the robot left and then began discussing what had just happened. Beldrum mentioned the voices he had heard, all coming from the robot, as if they were trapped inside. Since only he’d heard the voiced the group concluded they must’ve belonged to spirits, and hypothesized that maybe the robot was fueled by the souls of the dead. The rebel hostage was terrified but saw this as confirmation of their fears and tried to win the party to their side, saying their actions were justifies. Nicolas spoke on behalf of his country, claiming that the robot may have been built as an automated worker, not as a weapon. Still, the constables had a hard time believing it was not a military project and Uzziel, knowledgeable as he is, rolled a natural 20 on his History check to recall information about humanoid machines. I told him he had read about a supposed military endeavor that began shortly after the Third Yerasol War, but it was widely considered an urban legend, since it never amounted to anything and there were no traces left. Gwen knew better, but kept quiet for obvious reasons.

Feeling a bit less sure of themselves the group pushed on, leaving the hostages tied and gagged. The continued along the main road and stumbled upon another patrol group. We didn’t run this battle, since it was identical to the last one. I just had them lose a healing surge. However an interesting situation arose, completely unprompted by me. See, the players had used most of their rope (we don’t keep count but they decided they had probably used up most of it tying the other rebels) and they knew if they just left these people untied they would go and warn the guards at the fortress as soon as they had the chance. Jasbeer, Beldrum and Nicolas wanted to kill the rebels, but Juza, Uzziel and Gwen wanted to spare their lives. A somewhat heated debate ensued, with the evident pragmatism of some versus the compassion of the others. It was really interesting to see the players taking such radically different stances. For a while it seemed as though Jasbeer’s side would win (I say Jasbeer’s because her player was the most adamant about offing the rebels) but then Gwen (whose player, in turn, was the most adamant about sparing them) spoke.
“I have lived all my life fighting against what others wanted to see in me. To this day I do not know if it’s possible or just a waste of time. I understand your fears. But it is fear itself that has caused this, fear of what others may do to us. That’s why the duchess attacked Danor. If we let these people live they may go and warn their allies, yes. That may make things more difficult for us. But maybe, just maybe, they won’t. I want to believe they can change, that they are more than what we see in them. I know that probably won’t happen. And I know we have permission to kill in order to accomplish our mission. But our mission goes beyond reaching that lighthouse. Our mission is to protect the people of Risur. And I may not like it, I may disagree with them, I may even hate them. But these people are risuri too.”

Everyone was floored. Beldrum, regretting the murder of the hostage a couple of hours back, was immediately won over to Gwen’s side. Nicolas, having no real say in the debate, decided it was better to accept those terms and keep moving than stand around just waiting to be discovered. Jasbeer, seeing everyone else had made up their mind, reluctantly agreed.

They continued at a brisk pace until the fortress came into view. Nicolas told them this was as far as he would accompany them and asked for his amulet back. However, since the darkvision and elemental companion were so useful, the group talked him into lending it to them for the rest of their mission. He asked them to come for him once everything was over and then fled to the jungle to hide. The constables climbed the hills on the south of the fortress toward the weak spot in the walls and began feeling dizzy. Then they suddenly found themselves standing in a swamp with yellow frogs and a blue sun overhead, snapping back into reality before they’d had time to process what was happening. They were weirded out by the event, and Jasbeer held the gold ring close to her chest, frightened of the island. They decided it was no use thinking about it now, so they just kept moving toward the south wall. They found the weak spot and Uzziel cast the spell from the ritual scroll, but failed his check. Juza granted her knack for success to Gwen, who used the second and last scroll, barely managing to beat the DC. A passageway opened in the wall and the constables ventured forth.
 
Session 4

The session began with the PCs infiltrating the fortress. They looked at the map Lya had provided and planned their route, which went along the south wall toward the northwest. They caught wind of the makeshift brig and decided to get close and look for Nathan, and they used their elixir of clairvoyance to take a peek inside and see if any of the tieflings matched Nathan’s description. After realizing Lya’s cousin was not here they continued toward the lighthouse, and on the way they overheard a few rebels delivering news of their assault on the patrol a couple of hours back. I wanted them to feel the consequences of their actions, not so much to punish them but rather to make their decisions more meaningful. As news of their presence in the vicinity spread security tightened. They took precautions and moved slowly, so they managed to avoid detection. Upon arriving at the wall that separated the fortress from the harbor they decided to use the medallion of Avilona to jump onto the wall (using the iron stakes to hold on and perform a second jump, like in Assassin's Creed) and sneak past the guard stationed above the west gate. However the rubble on the wall made them nervous and they decided they didn’t want to risk attacking the lookout, since a failed attempt would allow him to alert the other soldiers.

They climbed back down and talked at length about their next move, and finally decided to cast water breathing and then use the obelisk north of the inner wall as cover to climb the divisory wall and reach the harbor. I’m not actually sure what that structure is supposed to be, so I told them it was just decoration and they could use it if it suit their needs. So they snuck perilously near the inner wall and jumped onto the divisory wall using the medallion, jumped back down and dived into the water. Throughout all this the invisible air elemental served as their scout, flying upwards and warning them to the presence of soldiers on the wall. Its rudimentary intelligence came in handy since it managed to communicate simple things by moving the wind around Juza, the medallion’s wearer.

Once in the water they pulled out their now waterproof map and got to planning once more. The debate was, unsurprisingly, between Jasbeer and Gwen once more. Jasbeer wanted to swim past the piers, climb the wall and attack from the front, while Gwen wanted to sneak underwater toward the lighthouse, climb along the rock face (it’s not in the map but it appears on the illustration so I said sure) and infiltrate the lighthouse. Evidently Jasbeer’s plan was much more dangerous, but she was worried they’d be caught and would be shot from on high while they struggled to swim back to land. Plus, not everyone in the party was stealthy. However everyone else was on board with Gwen’s idea, so once again she won out and they got to swimming. After a couple of minutes they got to the rock on which the lighthouse had been erected and Juza went ahead with the group’s last rope. She just barely managed to sneak to the roof of the main building without being seen by the wizard on the second floor of the lighthouse, who got closer to the window upon noticing movement but concluded it “must’ve been the wind”. She realized there was no way the others were getting up without alerting that guy, so she decided to use one of their silence scrolls. One the roof. In full view of everyone. And succeeded in remaining undetected. It wasn’t even that she had particularly good stealth, she just rolled high. So with the -10 penalty to perception check to hear stuff the guards obviously didn’t notice the constables climbing to the ceiling of their building, pulling themselves up onto the metal staircase (again, it’s on the outside of the lighthouse in the illustration so how could I say no).

They checked with Uzziel to see if he had any idea where the mechanism to control the gate could be located, and he concluded it must be near the gate itself. Realizing they had basically been standing above it they decided to go down the staircase. They stopped at the door into the first floor of the lighthouse, which by my approximations from the illustration had to be located on the sea side of the structure (so, right where no one could see them). They tried to open the door and I told them it was locked- No one had thieves’ tools so of course they decided to use the other scroll of silence to make sure no one heard them knock down the door and barge into the room. Fortunately for them there was no one there, so they had time to look around and spy on the guards conversing next door. They didn’t manage to make out what they were saying, but they didn’t seem to be moving from their posts. No sound was coming from the front door of the lighthouse, but since they knew there were guards outside they decided to lock it from within and jam the mechanism with Beldrum’s surgical tools.

The battle went as follows. Gwen tried to knock down the door to the room where the mechanism and guards were, trying to take them by surprise, but she critically failed her strength check and just crashed against the door, alerting the guards on the other side. Juza picked up for her partner and kicked the door open and blasted everyone inside with a blazing starfall, setting the floor aflame. A guard heard the screams of his compatriots and entered the building from the other front door, but was intercepted by Jasbeer, who made short work of him. She then took out the nail of sealing she had bought and magically sealed that door with a DC of 25. The other two guards, having rolled low on their initiative check, perished to Juza’s spells. Uzziel heard footsteps outside by the staircase and Gwen went to look, and saw a man standing on the stairs above her, right outside the door to the second floor. She began running up the stairs to reach him but was ambushed by the invisible fey drake, who had climbed down the wall of the lighthouse. Beldrum went to her aid and the others waited patiently inside as the guards rushed to the doors and tried in vain to open them. Since the door to the side building was closer and housed the mechanism to the sea gate, they all tried to open it first. Naturally they could not, since their strength modifier wasn’t high enough to beat the DC. I could have had them atack the door, but I didn’t want to rain on the PC’s parade. It was a good plan.
Most of the battle was Gwen and Uzziel fighting the drake, and the air elemental going after the wizard. The patrolmen who weren’t dead were all crammed outside the door to the lighthouse, having given up on the other one. However the veteran was having none of it, so he tried to break down the sealed door and rolled a natural 20 on his check. Everyone was certain it was over now, and they couldn’t believe their luck when I announced that the door held. It was now officially impossible to open that door.

After a while the drake died and the wizard was killed by the wind (kinda ironic isn’t it?). The party gathered before the front door as it broke and unleashed their readied action on the poor patrolmen, who crumbled in a pile of bodies. The party emerged and only the veteran and investigator remained, but this last one was quickly neutralized. Finally the veteran, his men dead and his mission failed, began singing Risur’s national anthem as the shadows of the elemental closed around him and took his life.

The party shut the doors and began barricading them almost immediately. A single patrolmen had escaped to warn the others, so they knew time was short. Gwen rushed to the top of the lighthouse and began casting pyrotechnics while the others took a breather. The rebels arrived and Uzziel activated the mechanism to open the seagate. They moved to the front of the lighthouse to meet the attackers and sent the elementals ahead to kill a few while they worked on creating more barricades and traps. The first couple of waves were pretty easy, and I realized the elementals were helping out a bunch, so I decided to get a little mean and use the waves for larger parties. Slowly but surely the rebels began to gain ground, destroying more barricades and even gettin some hits on the elementals. It came to a point were the constables had to retreat into the lighthouse and let the traps do their work. Juza expended dazzling ray, her daily power, to kill three units. It was decided the elementals had to be sacrificed to stall. And they gave themselves gladly for the constables, fighting for the lives of nations they did not know and dying for a future they would never see but that they had helped create. It was, oddly, a really emotional moment for the players. They had become really attached to those guys.

Finally the Risuri ships arrived and the party could breath once more. They collapsed to the floor and were quickly aided by their allies, who used healing spells on them. They were in pretty bad condition resource-wise. Almost no dailies or healing surges, except for Beldrum. They met with Rutger Smith and were introduced to Sergeant Glassman, whom they found amusing. The poor man’s honesty was abused to the hilarious expense of Uzziel’s player (just off-color in-jokes), but Jasbeer wanted to know what the man thought of her. I thought about it for a minute, trying to figure out what would be a thought-provoking thing to say that Glassman could plausibly think with just one look at her. I decided he would at least know she was a war veteran and told her “I think you are good soldier, but that you are overconfident, and your pride will get us killed.”

That’s when the ship outside exploded in flames. Uzziel managed to make out the silhouette of someone leaping from the deck and running away, and saw their fire sword and shield. Smith asked them to accompany him to investigate and they discovered the magical nature of the fire, and tied it to the Vekeshi. Gwen pieced together the information and recalled the storied about the warrior Asrabey from the first Yerasol War, a fearsome eladrin who wielded a fire blade and lion shield. And I just realized I think I forgot to mention Juza’s vision from two sessions prior! So, it turns out, when the party was aboard the Impossible, Juza decided to use her skyseer powers to see what the future held. She specifically wanted to know where they would find the duchess, where was Nathan, and what dangers awaited them. The vision she received was of a labyrinth made of plants, and she was being stalked by a lion. The plants around her caught fire and the dream vanished into smoke. I purposefully made the vision really accurate but incredibly vague without context, and I had a lot of fun seeing the player slowly coming to understand its meaning. Anyway, back to the present.

The constables received a message asking them to come to the brig and they tried to get the captain to accompany them, but he politely refused wading into the battle. They parted ways, bringing along Glassman and the other soldiers. Upon reaching the brig the talked to Sander Wodeham, who instantly bailed. They agreed to report him later and tried to negotiate with the prisoners to get information and calm them down so they could be released. However they were all pretty riled up and angry, so the party asked what they wanted in return. This is when Hessar Marseine stood up and got everyone else to shut up. He asked the PCs for weapons so he could join the fight, and they agreed. Gwen gave a pistol she had salvaged from the ice wagon trap, but they didn’t have other weapons on hand, so they told him he’d have to tell them what he knew before they’d let him go. He responded he hadn’t agreed to talk until they gave him what he wanted, and Jasbeer told him they had already given him a gun. “A gun” he said “without bullets. I might as well have asked for a rock.” This is where Gwen :):):):)ed it up.

Gwen has a hard time understanding sarcasm so, thinking a rock would make the man happy, picked one up and handed it to him. He got SUPER pissed. He screamed that they were making fun of him and threw the rock at Gwen, and told them to get lost before going toward the rear of the brig where the party couldn’t reach him. The other prisoners clammed up and refused to listen to the PCs. The PCs were still trying to negotiate with them but Jasbeer was angry now, and began accusing them of being useless, selfish and cowardly when their people needed them most. She especially accused Hessar, which got him mad enough to come back and take part in the shouting match. He spoke of how his ancestors had all fought in wars and smiled as he recounted how he himself had killed thousands of Risuri during the Fourth Yerasol War. I swear I could feel the anger emanating from Jasbeer’s player, I was so scared. Jasbeer listened through it all before responding that she had also fought in the war and that she didn’t care how many he’d killed. In her eyes he was still a coward because he’d rather moan and yell and get angry because his every wish was not instantly granted. She told him they just wanted to know what they knew about the attack and then they would be free to walk out of the prison and pick up weapons from the hands of hundreds of dead soldiers outside. Realizing he had misunderstood the party’s intentions, and swallowing his pride, Hessar decided it was best to reluctantly apologize and accept the offer so he could go and kill some people, maybe the duchess herself.

I was left quite shaken after that bit of roleplay. It’s always scary to have a heated argument with a friend, even if its make-believe. Hessar told the group how the attack has started, and they immediately came to the conclusion that it Nathan was probably the person who had fed intel to the duchess. He gave them his key and told them about the sewers, which he knew they could use to reach the keep unseen. They agreed to go through the sewers and take Hessar along with them as extra backup when they heard screams from outside about a fire monster. They exited the brig in time to see Asrabey use the immurement and shift the world into another plane. Throwing caution to the wind the constables decided to chase after Asrabey and into the labyrinth of Gillie Dhu.
 
Session 5

The party rushed into the labyrinth and immediately regretted it. Juza jumped with the medallion to survey the labyrinth and tried to land on a hedge, but she fell halfway into it. She saw Gillie Dhu approaching and got scared, warning the others. It did little to help, ad the fey attacked them from deeper into the maze with his area powers and restrained Jasbeer and a few soldiers. He also whacked Juza with his cudgel and dealt considerable damage. Gwen and Uzziel tried to chase after him by navigating the maze, while Beldrum healed the wounded. They soon realized they were in no condition to fight this creature and Jasbeer tried to parlay, and rolled an incredible diplomacy check to convince him they weren’t trying to hurt his plants and just wanted to pass though. I wanted to push them a bit harder than that so I had Gillie not focus his attacks on the party, but not caring a bit for their safety if they happened to get caught in his bursts.

They tried to run through the ashes of the hedges that Gillie extinguished but as the fey moved through the maze he shoved Hessar aside by critically hitting him and knocking him out, and then attacked Juza as well to get past her and knocked her unconscious (Gwen burst out laughing when Hessar was knocked out, since he had been gloating about his combat prowess in the war and whatnot, only to be knocked down with a single strike). Jasbeer once again asked him to stop attacking them, promising to help him extinguish the flames. Beldrum used his shield to shovel dirt into a bush a managed to put out the flames in that square, which helped Jasbeer’s check and made Gillie realize these people weren’t enemies. He apologized and helped them get through the maze quickly, and in exchange the PCs helped him put out the flames while Jasbeer got back on her feet after the beating she had taken. Beldrum used healing word on Juza to bring her back to 1 HP, since she had no healing surges remaining.

They reached the inner keep and found everyone inside dead. They followed the trail of blood to the upper floors, where they found Nathan’s research equipment and the yellow frog. Uzziel managed to piece together a vague idea of its purpose, but they knew they didn’t have much time. They reached the observatory and got into position near the door, and Uzziel tried to listen in on Asrabey. However the door was making this difficult, so they decided to open it just a bit… Fortunately they succeeded their stealth check and Uzziel managed to listen to what Asrabey was saying. He listened attentively up until Asrabey said “prepare yourself, and you may die with dignity”. The player knew they might miss out on something, but didn’t want to risk it. He signaled the others and they all burst into the room, weapons drawn and yelling for Asrabey to freeze.

Now normally this encounter is supposed to start with a lot less violence, but the constables burst into the room ready to attack so I figured of course Asrabey will rather intimidate them through action than stand around and get stabbed. The party used their surprise round action to open the door and get into position in the room, so not much happened. Asrabey won initiative (I decided to use the level 20 version) and teleported into the midst of the group, slashing with his sword in a close blast 3. I purposefully targeted all the allied soldiers, since the automatic damage they could deal meant Asrabey would go down like a chump. Unfortunately Juza was standing right next to them, with her singular hit point. I didn’t want to kill her but I wasn’t about to make any concessions, so I rolled and lo and behold, I critically missed. All the soldiers went down in a burst of fire while Juza remained unscathed. Asrabey then activated his smoke cloak and dodged all the incoming attacks with ease. Juza, having almost soiled herself, ran down the corridor to the back door which they had seen while spying on the conversation. She reached Nathan and pulled him out of the room to hide. The others tried to take down the eladrin but they were having no luck with the crits. Jasbeer was restrained by the lion shield and Gwen became trapped against a wall by Asrabey’s fire wall. Uzziel went down and when the fire wall erupted he was incinerated and died.

Things were not going well. Juza asked Nathan about other escape routes and he told her about the door that led to the roof. Recalling the key she had received from Hessar Juza led Nathan to the roof, tied her rope and began descending from the outside of the structure with the tiefling. Uzziel managed to get away from Asrabey thanks to the fire wall and reached the wounded duchess. He took out a potion of healing and administered it to the woman, but he didn’t think about cuffing her first with the mage-cuffs. It shouldn’t have healed her since she didn’t have healing surges, but it was somewhat strange to think that it wouldn’t have any effect, so I had her regain 1 HP. Now, thought the adventure suggests the duchess might help the PCs fight Asrabey, things were not looking good for the constables. One of them was dead and the other had already made her escape, so she said “nah, I’m outta here” and dreaming-flight-ed the F out of the building. Uzziel saw in this a mixed blessing. Yes, they had lost their target, but on the plus side maybe Asrabey had other things to worry about than killing them. He called for the eladrin, who got very mad he’d let the duchess escape. However this opened the door to conversation, and the PCs explained they only wanted to interrogate the duchess and would gladly convey the message that the coup was not sanctioned by the Unseen Court. Asrabey tried to intimidate them into getting out of his way but the constables didn’t budge, saying that unless he agreed to let them talk to the duchess they would continue fighting. If they didn’t kill him, they might just delay him long enough to let the duchess escape. Asrabey got really angry but by now he really didn’t want to fight if he could help it, so he agreed. He told the PCs to wait for him in the tower and bolted after the duchess.

The PCs were far too scared of him to break the deal, so they just waited. But since Juza didn’t see that happen she didn’t know, so she just tried to take Nathan to a safe place. We rolled to see if by any chance she crossed paths with Asrabey and thankfully she did, so I had an excuse to bring her back so she could be present for the interrogation. They all gathered back at the inner keep and the constables got the info they needed from the duchess, including the prophecy she had received from the skyseers. Upon hearing about the “man who has died a thousand times” Jasbeer immediately whispered “the governor…” but everyone else told her she was just paranoid. They got to hear the rest of the conversation between the duchess and Asrabey, and Nathan mentioned he’d heard the name “Varal” somewhere. No one paid him any heed and he didn’t have a chance to drop Kasvarina’s name because the subject of his involvement in the attack came up. He admitted to having given confidential info to the duchess, but explained his motives and said the key to the teleportation circle had been delivered accidentally since it was fairly new and he didn’t realize it was among the documents he’d given her.

After the interrogation was over Asrabey told the PCs to hand over both Ethelyn and Nathan, but they were determined to honor their promise to Lya and bring Nathan home. They figured the duchess would be taken care of by the Unseen Court, so they told Asrabey he could have her but the tiefling was coming with them. That was pretty bold of them, but Juza had the intimidate to back it up so Asrabey agreed to leave Nathan behind. Gwen, suspecting Asrabey was just going to kill the duchess as soon as he was out of sight, stopped him by grabbing his arm, looked him in the eye and said “please don’t kill her”. Juza used knack for success to give her a +4 and she rolled a natural 20. Even with her penalty to charisma that was a 23, so Asrabey just shrugged and went on his way, but now they’ll be meeting duchess Ethelyn again in adventure 9, I guess.

They went back to the Impossible and Nathan asked them to omit his involvement from their report, and to grant him passage to Risur. They agreed to his second request but told him they obligated to report his involvement, come what may. Realizing he would be put on trial for treason Nathan begged the PCs for mercy, and they told him they would try to help him but would not hide the truth. Rutger Smith asked them where the duchess was and they explained, and he understood matters had gotten out of hand and the final decision hadn’t been up to them. A cleric was brought over from the mainland to resurrect Uzziel, since I happened to remember the thing about souls going to the afterlife when the body is moved more than 3 miles from its place of death. We haven’t really decided how to explain why resurrection works only on PCs, but we’re just kinda ignoring it for now. Meanwhile the others took a bath and Jasbeer went to talk to Nicolas Dupiers to tell him it was over, they had won. The old miner was relieved and very thankful for saving him and stopping the attackers, so he gave Jasbeer the golden amulet of Urim, since he didn’t need it anymore. At least that way he wouldn’t be found with it.
Gwen and Uzziel decided to trek south to explore the fabrics Nicolas had told them about, and see what the Danorans had been building. They were already suspicious because of the robot that had crossed their paths, and they found the adamantium refinery they began getting really nervous. They both knew quite a bit about it and concluded a metal so hard and unmalleable, in such large quantities, could only be destined for something really big and really dangerous.

At sunset of that third day the Lux Profectusque arrived on the island, and with it Lya and her two bodyguards. The constables explained briefly what had happened to her cousin, and told her about his involvement in the attack. She was sad to hear it, but decided this was no time for that and proceeded to hand them the documents for the handover. They all signed and followed her back to the dock. She boarded her ship and invited them to her wedding next year. Gwen thanked her for the invitation and asked whom she was marrying. She smiles and said “king Aodhan”. The players looked at one another and said “oh shit”.
 
Session 2.1

We finally started playing through the second adventure, after about a month of trying to get my players to come up with their contacts. Life getting in the way and all that. I won’t go over their contacts right now, and instead I’ll mention them as they come into play. Please forgive any typos, I wrote this in a hurry and there's still so much to cover. I’m trying to be thorough because the roleplaying and decision-making is what really makes this adventure shine, but it ends up being quite lengthy.

First I’ll go over the events of the spring, after the players finished Island at the Axis of the World. Jasbeer and Juza spent some time with their families after the harrowing events of the first adventure, while Gwen went on to befriend a group of dockers in an attempt to learn more about their situation. Uzziel, still worried about what he’d seen on Axis island, began researching more about that robot project he’d heard about before, but didn’t manage to learn anything new. Beldrum’s player has been busy and has already missed three sessions, so for now his character is recovering from the severe burns inflicted by Asrabey.

Newspapers had been rife with articles accusing the RHC of allowing Duchess Ethelyn to escape to the Dreaming with her fey allies. Both Delft and Saxby knew this wasn’t what had really happened, but it didn’t save the party from being yelled at. To make clear the RHC’s stance against the actions of the Duchess and other terrorist sympathizers, the party was assigned to investigate the activities of Hana “Gale” Soliogn, leading into the second adventure.

1st of Summer​

The party was in their office when their boss Stover Delft entered and told them about their new lead, a murder in the Danoran consulate. The party found his dark humor amusing, which I appreciated. They have an interesting relationship with Stover so far, teasing each other in a good-humored way. After the briefing they left HQ and used their boat to reach North Shore.

At the consulate they had a brief conversation with Alfred Bellastair, the officer in charge, who was miffed at being denied entry into the consulate. The constables were annoyed the scene of the crime had been cleaned, but Julian LeBrix assured them there was nothing to investigate, since he had caught the woman stealing from the upper floor and had shot her, causing her to fall and impale herself on the fence. Gwen suggested that next time he should perhaps place greater value on life that on gold, to which he responded that he was simply doing his job.

They followed the chief of security to the storage room where the body was and spoke with Braden, Nilasa’s boyfriend. Jasbeer tried to get him to calm down in preparation for uncovering the body, but the man could not handle the sight. He left the room in a hurry and Jasbeer asked LeBrix to go after him and make sure he was OK. Sensing something was wrong Uzziel seized his chance and began searching the body in LeBrix’s absence, and discovered the strange wounds on her scalp, the bail certificate and a receipt with writing on both sides. He also determined the depth of the gunshots and their lethality.

Once Julian returned he asked them to take the body and leave, so they took it back to the coroner at the entrance. Meanwhile Juza asked around to see if the staff could provide additional clues, and from Tia Jedeau she learned of a foreign doctor who had been present for a visa appointment, and that consular duNadria had been meeting with a guest in the basement. She was offered brigadeiros and politely accepted, but during the course of the conversation she noticed the secretary was acting strange and seemed overly enthusiastic and craved the chocolate a bit too much. She decided to inspect the sweets and discovered they had been spiked with fey pepper, an illegal drug. She realized almost the entire staff had been drugged.

After taking the body to the carriage Jasbeer decided to go ask around the bystanders to see if anyone could corroborate LeBrix’s story. From a passerby she learned that the gunshots had come after Nilasa impaled herself on the fence, which intrigued her. Since most of the people present at the time of the incident had already left she decided to leave for a bit and visit Armelia, a friend of hers who was a total gossip. She owned a posh flower shop in North Shore, so naturally news of the murder had already reached her. From her Jasbeer learned that a man with a goatee had taken a package and pendant from Nilasa, and that whatever had shot the woman had been obscured as if by a veil, giving it the appearance of a shadow.

Back at the consulate Gwen and Uzziel convinced LeBrix to take them upstairs to where he had discovered Nilasa stealing. Uzziel, who is a very perceptive man, noticed on passing that someone has tampered with the lock on the consular’s office’s door. LeBrix showed them (as best he could) where Nilasa had been when he found her and where she had been when he shot her. Uzziel realized the distance wasn’t completely accurate considering the depth of the wounds, but that was hardly conclusive. They decided to move the rug and saw a blood stain, but the shape indicated a cut from a slashing weapon, not a puncture from a bullet. They wanted to check the consular’s office but LeBrix told them nothing had happened there, and he didn’t want them bothering the consular. Gwen asked him to recreate the scene to create a distraction while Uzziel drank an elixir of clairvoyance to spy on the consular. He saw him quite busy going through stacks of documents that seemed to be about danoran-owned factories, but from so far away he could not see much else.

Believing LeBrix wasn’t being honest with them, Uzziel decided to intimidate him. While they were going down the stair he insinuated that Julian was lying and said they would “report everything” once they got back to HQ, unless he had anything else to add. He used an utility power to gain a +5 to his intimidate check and rolled marvelously, scoring over 20 on his check despite his lack of Charisma. Julian looked visibly nervous and cautiously told them he was glad he could be of help since he was simply doing. His. Job. He suggested they should leave quickly and do theirs, heavily implying that if they wanted more information they should go and investigate elsewhere following whatever leads they had. Uzziel then realized that Julian was not the bad guy, but was simply following orders from his superiors, and that he was terrified and wanted nothing to do with the situation.

The group reunited downstairs, thanked LeBrix for his help and left. They discussed what they had discovered and stopped for lunch on their way to Heward’s factory, since he had paid for Nilasa’s bail. Juza’s player was just now learning that she had a cousin, and this came with extra baggage since she also learned that he might be involved in something illegal. And this might be as good a time as any to mention that the players have been having difficulty pronouncing Nilasa’s name, accidentally calling her “linaza”, which means “flaxseed”.

As they arrived at Heward’s Alkahest and Etchings the first thing they noticed was the protests in the street. They spoke with the people, who were mostly women, and learned that the owners had locked the workers and were refusing to let them leave until they filled their quota, and even then only if someone came to take their place. They were even refusing to pay them until the protests stopped, so they were basically enslaved. Gwen wanted to do something about it but Jasbeer reminded her that they hadn’t come for this, and it was better if they just talked to Juza’s cousin and left.

Inside the factory they found Heward at work, and after pulling him aside they asked him to talk in private. They went to his office and told him what had happened to Nilasa, and he was visibly hurt. He told Juza that Eva (his aunt and her guardian) had told him of a vision she had had, and although he hadn't understood it then he now comprehended it had been about Nilasa’s imminent death. He told the group about his relationship to her and showed them to her room, in which they found nothing of note. They asked about places she frequented, and he said she sometimes went for walks in the Cloudwood, and that she accompanied them when he took the workers to dinner at the Thinking Man’s Tavern. He also told them he was aware she had a boyfriend, but had never met him.

Once they had finished asking questions he asked them to give him some privacy and let him talk to his cousin in private, so the rest of the group decided to wait outside. Heward then told Juza that he had visited Eva and had discovered she’d been meeting with Gale, and although he didn’t want her to get in trouble he also didn’t want any more young people to die, lured by the terrorist’s propaganda. So he advised they go talk to her and enlist their help in tracking down Gale.

They decided to visit the Thinking Man’s Tavern, since it was nearing sundown. On their way out Heward called out to them and told them of something strange that had happened recently, in case it could help. Some men had come asking to buy alkahest but didn’t wanted him to report the sale, and when he refused they made allusion to the fires that had been destroying factories as of late. They had come twice and both times they had the stench of burnt engine grease with them.

In Bosum Strand the party realized they were a bit too early, so they decided to split up and meet at the tavern at 8 p.m. Juza took a hike to visit her contact: an orphan named Rider who lived with his four younger brothers in the Nettles. She asked him to keep an eye out for people who smelled like burnt engine grease. Jasbeer and Gwen went for a drink in a different establishment, called the Golden Scale, which was owned by a dragonborn immigrant named Rasmorn, whom Jasbeer had befriended. Uzziel went to gamble with constabulary money and lost. He wanted to win back his 50 GP so he left the others hanging.

At 8 p.m. the three constables met at the Thinking Man’s Tavern. They were quite surprised at the number of patrons, but quickly got to talking. Thames Grimsley was present and he recognized the group, and thanked them for delivering his message to governor Stanfield. He informed them he’d been given permission to form his union and had begun organizing protests, and the constables asked if that was the reason the factories in Parity Lake had locked their workers in. Thames answered that sadly it was, but they were here trying to find lawyers sympathetic to their cause who might help them make a law proposal so they would be released. Of all the constables Gwen seemed the most pleased with the development of the situation, and I assume the player was not only glad but actually surprised anything at all had come of it. She congratulated him for his work and he responded that this was as much his victory as it was theirs.

After the chat Gwen remained on the first floor, since she wanted to talk to Thames and his companions a bit more. Jasbeer and Juza went upstairs to talk to Barb, having been tipped off by a waitress. Jasbeer began the conversation, and upon telling Bard about Nilasa’s death the old woman screamed with anguish, which caused Tad Hilly to come make sure she was OK. They assured him they hadn’t done anything to her and just wanted to talk, and Barb agreed to talk to them outside on the balcony. Jasbeer continued telling her about what had happened, but upon hearing the accusations they were pinning on Nilasa the woman got angry and told them to check their facts before coming here and making accusations. She walked out on them and went inside, with Jasbeer visibly annoyed. She tried to press the issue, which only caused the old woman more distress. The whole bar went silent and all eyes were on them. Uzziel arrived at that precise moment, making things more awkward.

The other constables got Jasbeer to shut up and Thames asked them what had happened. Jasbeer explained the situation and Thames told them to sit down and wait for him while he talked to Barb. He eventually returned and told them she didn’t want to talk to them, but he had convinced her to tell him about other people who might tell them more about Nilasa. Jasbeer was not letting go, insisting they had to talk to her, but everyone else agreed it was better to let her be, lest they got on the wrong side of everyone here.

First they went to talk to the Professors, and Hennet Rinus told them he would not follow the ritual of interrogation, and proposed that instead the constables should answer his questions first, and then he would talk. Jasbeer was already not in a great mood and this only served to anger her even further. She comes from a family of farmers and never received formal education, so she dislikes snobbish people who look down on others because they are more knowledgeable. Now in my opinion Hennet might be a snob, but he isn’t particularly unlikeable. I would even argue that his attempt to make the constables think about what they are doing is conductive to a more worthwhile discussion. But in that moment Jasbeer was having none of it. She got angry and sharply told Hennet that what made their authority legitimate was that they had been invested with that power, and he should comply. Naturally the man dismissed her, which made her even angrier. The others realized she was about to cause a scene and told her to leave and let Uzziel answer the man’s questions. He answered as best he could, which prompted even more questions, until at last he implied that their authority was legitimized by the people whom they represented, and that those people had conferred that power to them because they ultimately trusted them (or al least this is what I understood from his answers, and thus what Hennet understood). He asked Uzziel if they were really trustworthy and after assuring him they just wanted to know who had killed Nilasa and why, he decided he’d messed around with them enough and told them what he knew.

Meanwhile Jasbeer went to talk to the Band, who had just finished playing a song by Rock Rackus. I took a gamble and had Jered Lawman attempt to make a deal with her - in exchange for information he wanted her to convince a group of policemen to leave their posts on the night of the 5th. She showed willingness but wanted to know what they were going to do, so Jered told her about their plan. He assured her they didn't want to hurt anybody, just throw a ship’s cargo overboard. Deciding this was fairly innocuous she agreed, and Jered told her about the brigands who Nilasa associated with, even going so far as to tell her how to find them.

Having gotten the information they were looking for the group decided to leave and rest for the night, but Uzziel and Juza had to stop by HQ first because Uzziel wanted to check Nilasa’s clothes for hidden pockets (he had missed the DC in the consulate, but since the player realized he hadn’t thought about checking for hidden pockets I decided to let him try again) and Juza wanted to go get some things they had requisitioned. After checking Nilasa's clothes Uzziel discovered a vial that still had traces of an invisibility potion.

Afterwards they all said goodbye and went their separate ways, and Juza took a carriage because her house was a bit far from HQ. During the trip she conversed with the driver, who told her about the :):):):):):) day he had had. A man who claimed to be a doctor had come into his carriage, stained his seats with blood and ditched him without paying. Juza prompted him for more information and discovered he’d picked up the man from an alley in North Shore, near the Danoran consulate, and had already talked to the police about it, who had told him to go to the Constabulary, but by the time he got there everyone had already left (he hadn’t realized Juza was a constable). She asked him about the place where the man had gotten off the carriage, which gave her a new lead: The House of Blue Birds.

A few thoughts: players are becoming more comfortable roleplaying their characters, and their personality traits are beginning to shine through more clearly than before. They were somewhat traumatized by the first adventure so they spent all their resources in gearing up for combat, and were surprised by the lack of fights so far. Jasbeer is beginning to exhibit a “bad cop” attitude that will make things difficult for the group down the line (we’re already on day 5 of summer). She has also shown she’s more than willing to break the law to suit her needs, exhibited by the deal she made with Jered and her omitting to hand over the golden icon of Urim from the first adventure, which she decided to keep as a memento. Uzziel’s ludopathy will probably get him in trouble if he keeps it up, but it’ll make Adventure 4 very interesting once they meet a certain dwarf.
 
Session 2.2

2nd of Summer

My memory of these events is a bit hazy. The party started the day by going to their office, where Juza relayed the information she had received from the carriage driver. Jasbeer and Uzziel decided to visit the House of Blue Birds, where they learned officer Porter had already come asking about the doctor. They went to his room and talked to the cleaning staff, learning of the wound of the policeman’s chest and the smell of burnt engine grease. They also got the cloth with the black stain, which they took for analysis.

Juza decided to go to the Nettles to check up on Rider and his brothers, to see if they had discovered anything new. Unfortunately they hadn’t, so she decided to link up with the others. Gwen’s player was absent since he’d had to leave early (this bit happened during the previous session).

Jasbeer and Uzziel decided to visit the police to ask about officer Porter, and learned he did not exist. This confirmed their suspicion that it wasn’t a policeman, but someone else, who was probably up to no good. After linking up with Juza (and Gwen), they ventured into the Cloudwood in search of the bandits.

As they traveled through the woods at night they heard the sound of battle and saw a horse running toward them. They managed to stop it and calm it down, and realized it had broken free of its harness. They ran following the sound of gunshots and came upon the bandits attacking a group of men who had taken cover behind a carriage. They won initiative and proceeded to attack the bandits, so they responded in kind.

The battle went as follows: Juza opened fire against the bandits on the ledge near the bridge and then moved to take cover behind a tree. One of the bandits summoned the hummingbirds and sent them down to go around the carriage and attack the men, splitting them up so they would flank them. Jasbeer and Uzziel, followed by Gwen, began going up the road to help the men. Renard used show your face, so I can put an arrow there to prepare an attack against Juza, and landed the shot when the woman left the safety of the tree to attack. On his turn he attacked Gwen, and she decided they were too obnoxious to be left alone, so she decided to climb the cliff. Kell’s men missed all their shots because of the distance, darkness and fog. The players were somewhat frightened of the hummingbirds because of the viciousness of the concept. After a couple of rounds the carriage began slipping toward the cliff edge, prompting screams from Morena, the woman trapped inside. Realizing she was going to fall to her death Jasbeer rushed toward the carriage, using a double move and her action point to both earth-shape the cliff to create a wall (using the golden icon of Urim she had kept) and to pull the carriage and knock it on its side (succeeding the DC 22 strength check). Uzziel was left fighting the hummingbirds, against which he shot divine bolts. Juza attacked the men above the cliff with blazing starfall, and Gwen succeeded in climbing the cliff only to be hit by Renard’s axe and knocked down, taking damage from the fall. The brigand who had stayed near Renard to protect him decided to climb down the cliff to attack the injured woman. The bandits near the carriage focused their attention on Jasbeer, and reinforcements came from the upper cliffs, heading straight for the two gunners. The falconer attempted a risky move: he took a running start and jumped off the cliff to get close enough to Jasbeer to use earthsurge, hoping to hit her and send her flying off the cliff to her death (she had already revealed they were police). His attack landed and dealt a good amount of damage, but as she fell toward the cliff she used persistent harrier to teleport adjacent to him, hitting him while still in the air. Both then fell to the ground and continued to fight, but Jasbeer was the first to stand up (since she hadn’t had her turn yet that round). Uzziel managed to drive off the hummingbirds and rushed to the gunner’s aid, while Juza continued to attack from afar. Gwen tried to hit the brigand, missed, and used her experimental strike to disarm the enemy, taking away one of its axes and rendering him unable to use his double attack. Jasbeer decided to talk to the falconer to get them to surrender, and though she didn’t manage to pull that off she learned the gunners were criminals who had kidnapped a woman, and that the leader of the Cloudwood brigands was a man named Renard. Deciding against bloodshed Jasbeer informed the others and got the team to devote its efforts to taking out Kell’s men and ensuring Morena’s safety. They tried to keep the hummingbirds from killing them, but succeeded in saving only one.

After the battle was over Renard tried to kill the surviving gunner, but the PCs managed to talk him out of it, promising they would take the man to prison and make him pay for his crimes. They asked the bandits about Gale and Nilasa and they confessed to having dealt with them both, but said they could not contact the eladrin. However, they offered to provide safe passage through the forest to talk to skyseer Eva Sechim, who would know how to reach her. Jasbeer agreed and although the others weren’t too excited about the idea, they followed through.

After a bit the party reached Eva’s henge and talked to the old woman’s caretakers, who asked them to wait for sunrise as it was very late already. They settled down for a night in the camp, with the intention to talk to Eva in the morning.

3rd of Summer

The constables woke up early and went to see the skyseer in her tent. They asked her about Gale and she admitted she knew how to contact her, but to do so she wanted something in exchange. The party agreed to listen to her request, and she said she wanted them to accompany her to the peak of Cauldron Hill so she could have a vision before she died, for she had foreseen that in less than a year she’d be dead. This revelation shook Juza, since Eva was her surrogate mother. Eva apologized for not telling her before, and explained that she hadn’t wanted to worry her considering the other things Juza had had to deal with. After hearing her request the constables readily agreed, thinking they would have the rest of the year to fulfill their part of the arrangement, but the woman quickly told them she would only contact Gale after she had had her vision. Needless to say, this complicated the constables’ schedules even further.

Despite this complication the party still agreed to help her, since being able to arrange a meeting with Gale was too good to pass up, and Juza wanted to honor her nanna’s wishes.

Knowing they had to get permission from the mayor Reed Macbannin, the constables decided to head back into the city. They split up, with Juza and Gwen going up to the mayor’s mansion in the Nettles while Jasbeer and Uzziel went to the Police Station in Central District to turn in their prisoner.

At the police station Uzziel stayed to deal with the formal arrest of the man, while Jasbeer went by herself to “take care of personal business”, agreeing to meet up at the surgical theater where Dr. Barnaby Camp imparted class. She dropped by a few cop friends in Bosum Strand and called in a favor to convince them to leave their posts on the night of the fifth so Jered and his band could mess with the cargo of the ship.

As Uzziel finished his business in the police station he emerged onto the street and proceeded to make his way by foot to North Shore. As he turned a corner, out of the corner of his eye (and thanks to his 21 passive perception) he saw a man whom he had passed just a few blocks after leaving the police station, more than a district away by now. Realizing he was being followed he decided to confront the man, and waited for him after turning the corner. The man nearly crashed into him, stopping a few inches from Uzziel’s face. The constable immediately demanded to know what his business with him was. To this the man simply leaned in and whispered “Lorcan Kell wants to talk to you about the doctor you’re looking for. Meet him at Lammers Theater in Parity Lake. The curtain goes up tonight at 8 pm.” Uzziel was stunned and the other man simply walked away.

Juza and Gwen arrived at the mayor’s mansion and were greeted by the Butler, who introduced himself as Cillian. He asked what business they were in and the constables informed him they wanted to discuss something with the mayor. Cillian left to inform the mayor of this, and asked them to wait in the garden. They wandered around, taking in the sight and smell of the flowers, and decided to go see the horses in the stable. Another man approached to retrieve his horse, and engaged them in conversation. As he lead his horse through the garden he retrieved a cigarette to smoke, and offered one to the PCs. Gwen accepted and introduced herself, asking what the man’s name was. He said his name was Doro, and that he was a courier. His stare drifted towards the slums of the Nettles, and he expressed his disappointment in the state of things, saying he’d gladly renounce chaos if it meant people would stop suffering. Gwen replied that although she also felt sympathy towards the poor, she wouldn’t want to forsake the spontaneity of the world, since it also led to marvellous things. The courier finished his cigarette and mounted his horse, bid farewell to the women and departed, leaving them in the garden feeling like they had just let a sidequest slip out of their grasp. Doro’s words did rise a bit of suspicion amongst the players. They told me he’d sounded like a villain giving a speech.

Jasbeer and Gwen arrived at the surgical theater and found Barnaby Camp giving a lecture, so they decided to wait for him. Uzziel told her companion about Lorcan Kell’s offer and they decided they would accept and go talk to him after they had linked up with the others. Once Dr. Camp finished his lecture he saw the constables as he made his way to the exit of the building, and was immediately wary once he learned they were police. However Jasbeer was able to convince him they could be trusted, so he asked them to accompany him to his house. Once inside he locked the door and after making sure they were alone he told them he had received a letter from Wolfgang this morning, asking him to contact professor Lynn Kindleton. He didn’t want to get involved in whatever sordid business his former student had gotten himself into, so he gave the constables the letter and asked them to get in touch with Kindleton in his stead. He also said he’d been visited by an officer named Porter, who’d been very rude. Jasbeer and Uzziel told him this man was impersonating a cop, and should not be trusted. He’d figured as much.

At the mayor’s mansion Juza and Gwen met with Reed Macbannin. He asked what they wanted to discuss with him, and then interrupted himself to ask them if they wanted something to drink. They were willing to accept some coffee, so he asked Cilian to make some and bring biscuits. Once the butler had left Juza and Gwen explained that they were in the middle of an investigation to apprehend Gale and Eva Sechim, the renowned skyseer, had offered her help if they could help her reach the peak of the cursed Cauldron Hill so she could have a vision of the future. Macbannin took on a sombre demeanor and began muttering to himself. Gwen asked why he was so pensive, and he said that if the newspapers got wind of his involvement in helping both a beloved prophet and the police capture a terrorist, he could use that leverage to get more money to help the poor people living in his district. The constables were delighted at the idea, and relieved that Macbannin was completely on board with granting them access to the mountain. To make it official the mayor asked them to sign a document with the scheduled date for the ascent. He asked their names and hesitated after hearing Gwen’s absurd surname. They even heard Cillian chuckle from outside the door, and Gwen decided to get back at him by emerging onto the corridor and tipping the tray he was carrying, which made the butler lose his balance as he tried desperately to keep the coffee and biscuits from falling to the floor. It was a very lighthearted scene, and they seemed to really like the mayor and his butler. Luckily for me, both Juza and Gwen have garbage Insight, and Jasbeer and Uzziel were busy elsewhere.

Meanwhile Jasbeer and Uzziel went to meet with Lynn Kindleton. By this time it was already late in the afternoon, so they found the professor about to go out to a hospital morgue to teach class. Suspecting officer Porter might have come here already they quickly shot down suspicions that they were working with him, told her that man was an impostor and probably a criminal, and reassured her they wanted to protect Wolfgang and ensure both his safety and hers, even offering to grant her asylum in the RHC until the whole situation was resolved. She finally agreed to share what information she had, including that she had been communicating with Wolfgang via letters delivered by a boy. They asked what his name was, and I figured “yeah, let’s do this”. His name was Rider, she said. Jasbeer and Uzziel didn’t know Rider peronsally, but they knew that was the name of an orphan boy whom Juza had befriended.

After locking up her office Lynn Kindleton followed the PCs to the RHC, where they arranged for her to stay in one of the cells where she’d be safer than in her home. Carlao told them Stover Delft was looking for them, and he was rather mad. They went into his office and he asked where the hell they’d been, since Lady Saxby had been waiting for them all day to talk to them about the case. He suggested they go talk to her right now, and they both went in like children who knew they were in for a scolding.

They found Margaret Saxby in her office, going through their reports. She glanced at them as they came in and told them to approach. Without looking at them she asked where they had been, and they meekly explained they had followed a lead into the forest, where they had apprehended a member of Kell’s guild and gotten the aid of Eva Sechim, which pleased the Lady Inspectress. They explained they would ascend Cauldron Hill with the old woman as soon as they could, but in the meantime they had learned Wolfgang had been communicating with Dr. Camp and Professor Kindleton, to whom they’d already spoken to. They had also learned Lorcan Kell might have more information on his whereabouts, which was why they were going to meet him in less than an hour in a theater in Parity Lake. Despite her usual attitude towards the party, and her initial displeasure at their failure to report for duty in the morning, it was hard to imagine she’d be mad considering the astounding progress they had made in just a couple of days. Especially since that would reflect well on her. So she let them off easy, telling them to give notice whenever they planned to spend the morning doing field work, and said they’d done a “good job”. She also told them to keep their cool when they went to talk to Lorcan Kell, reminding them that though a criminal, he was not their target on this mission, and they shouldn’t get in over their heads and do anything stupid. That was mainly so they wouldn’t try to take him down, considering they were going in alone and that would most likely get them killed. It was already 7:30 pm and they didn’t have time to link up with Juza and Gwen, and because of Jasbeer’s previous favor with the police they couldn’t call in reinforcements quickly enough.

The two constables took a carriage to Parity Lake to get there as quickly as possible, and I gave them a bit of leeway so they wouldn’t miss their appointment. As they walked through the streets of the factory district they realized this neighborhood looked a bit better off than the others, and Uzziel noticed that people were looking at them from their windows. This made them incredibly paranoid, so when they heard screams and saw the woman crying for help they were suspicious. They saw the two men with the red scarves running off after apparently assaulting the carriage driver and stealing something from the woman, but they did not move. The woman yelled that they had taken her baby, trying to spur them into action, but Uzziel’s player asked if he’d heard a baby’s screams, and the answer was no. He questioned the woman a bit and rolled Insight, and automatically succeeded since I had lowered the DC considerably because of his previous observation. They called BS on her and the woman got mad and began running after the men herself, but someone quickly told her to stop and a man arrived, parting the crowd and telling everyone to return to their business - these people were not falling for it. The players felt a knot in the pit of their stomachs. They realized they had been incredibly close to falling into a trap, and the thought that all these people were in on it scared them.

The athletic man who had dispersed the crowd told them to follow him to the theater, where his boss was waiting. They obliged and handed in their weapons with the promise that they would be returned. They didn’t believe it, but they had no choice.
Lorcan Kell was waiting for them in one of the theater’s balconies, and he quickly got down to business. He explained that he knew where Dr. Wolfgang was, but in exchange for his help he wanted the constables to stop a smuggling operation that would happen the following night and hand the contraband wands over to him. Jasbeer and Uzziel were sure this was a bad idea, but they were in no position to negotiate. They agreed, figuring that it would probably make little difference if the wands ended up with one criminal syndicate or another. However, they other possibility was to stop the smuggling operation and turn the wands over to the RHC, but this would mean Lorcan might harm Wolfgang. To drive the point home Lorcan asked the constables to stay for the comedy show in celebration of their business agreement. The curtain opened and a drunken docker walked on stage, where a woman flirted with him. Uzziel’s player was the first to realize what was up, and he timidly asked me if it was going to be like a “red room”, almost dreading the answer. Gwen’s player asked what that was, but got her answer quickly.

Another man arrived on stage, angry that the drunkard was flirting with his girlfriend. He began to chase him around in a comedic fashion, but it quickly took a grim turn as someone from the audience handed him a board with nails. More people began to hand the man and woman crude weapons of various kinds, and together they beat the docker to within an inch of his life. Jasbeer and Uzziel stared in horror and Uzziel tried to do something, but Jasbeer stopped him. She told him “I know you want to help that man, but right now there’s nothing we can do. I also want to do what’s right, but sometimes, that means you have to submit.” Kell overheard this and was greatly pleased. So he decided to stop the show just as the actors were about to kill the man, ordering to take him away and have him healed. He turned to the constables and said “he’ll live… as long as you uphold your part of the deal”.

Jasbeer and Uzziel were shaken. Juza and Gwen’s players were shaken too. The constables rendezvoused at the RHC and Jasbeer and Uzziel asked their companions to accompany them to drink. Once at the “Golden Scale” they explained what had happened and proceeded to drown their sorrows and fears in copious amounts of alcohol.

The players told me they had really liked Lorcan Kell’s character, and that he was obviously meant to be a monster. Jasbeer’s player said he’d really liked that the campaign was willing to go that far. Uzziel’s said he saw it coming at the last second and felt terrible about not being able to do anything, and that his character had despaired at realizing that maybe he couldn’t really make a difference despite his best efforts. Juza’s player just said that she was glad she hadn’t been around for that, because she didn’t think she’d be able to handle it. Gwen’s player even told me it had made him sick to his stomach. I later asked him why, since extreme violence was nothing new to our D&D games, and he told me that he felt there was a difference between confronting violent and sadistic monsters and confronting violent and sadistic people. It had hit close to home, because he knew that although we live in a relatively safe city, there actually exist people like that in the world. Hell, our own country, Mexico, is full of that kind of stuff happening in the north, and that was why it had shaken him so much. We ended the session there, at about 4 am, and all the players were really excited. They’d had fun, and despite that last part hitting them like a truck, they had found it engaging and enjoyable in its own way.
 
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4th of Summer

The party spent a good amount of time during and after the last session discussing an issue that had come up, namely Rider’s involvement with all of this. Jasbeer and Uzziel had learned of the boy’s role as liaison between professor Kindleton and an unknown group, whom they could only suspect (correctly) were Kell’s people. They were all worried, Juza most of all, but they had wildly different ideas on what they should do with this information.
The thing is, they thought Rider had been lying to them, withholding information from Juza while at the same time working for Lorcan Kell. He was an orphan and had four younger siblings to support, so they figured he must be in it for the money. But in truth the boy was a bit too loyal to Juza, one of the few adults he trusted, and had been diligently scouring the Nettles for any sign of the “men who smelled of burnt engine grease”, as per the constable’s instructions. He knew nothing of Wolfgang and had only incidentally become involved with Kell’s people. Neither had any idea who the other was, they had just hired the boy to deliver the letters because he didn’t know how to read.
However, after witnessing Kell’s cruelty, Jasbeer was determined to shake up the boy as much as necessary to make sure he would leave the life of crime behind. And nobody could argue against her because they all thought he was falling in with Kell’s people. Gwen, however, made an argument for a more understanding approach, saying that perhaps the boy needed people whom he could trust to feel better and reject a life of crime. She thought that if they ambushed him and treated him like a criminal, it would only reinforce his idea that he couldn’t trust others and could only look out for himself by any means necessary.
Those two spent a long time debating this, and the argument did escalate somewhat. It finally ended when Juza took a stance and told Jasbeer off, saying she would talk to the boy to see what was happening and would make him see reason. Or at least that was the plan.
That night they all stayed at Jasbeer’s house because it was close by and it was late, but Juza took a midnight stroll to North Shore where the party had left their boat. She took it for a ride to get away from the city smog so she could see the sky and have a vision. She wanted to know what would happen if they handed over the stolen wands to Lorcan Kell, where they could find the doctor and who was Kell’s competition. She saw fire and explosions, a dark forest and a bald man fishing in a small pond and drinking coffee. The vision itself didn’t help them too much this time, but at least it confirmed that helping Lorcan Kell would have unpleasant consequences for the city. The important thing about this, however, was that because of the time Juza spent stargazing, she woke up late the following day.
The other three constables got up early and headed for HQ. There they spoke with professor Kindleton and got her to lend them the keys to her house. Uzziel also wanted to talk to Serena to see if she would be willing to help them with their investigation (that is, transfer her to their team for the day). Jasbeer insisted he didn’t have to talk to her, they could just ask Stover to transfer her, but the others thought that might rub Serena and the others the wrong way. So Uzziel went to ask her and she said it was ok, but they would need to get Delft’s approval. Unfortunately they didn’t manage to do that, since the most he could do was approve it for the next day once they had more concrete leads to follow. They told him that wouldn’t do, and he offered to assign them four officers so they could search a wider area (because of Serena’s level, the favor was too high to get approved quickly, but they could get the policemen). The PCs refused, preferring to save the favor for later when they might have more info.
After settling that Gwen decided to wait for Juza while Jasbeer and Uzziel left for the professor’s house since they didn’t want to miss Rider. They got there before he did and waited for him inside the building. By now Juza was already up and with Gwen, both of them hurrying towards the professor’s house. Uzziel saw Rider approaching through the window and Jasbeer went towards the door. The boy knocked and was greeted by the woman, whom he did not recognize. This is when everything fell apart. Jasbeer’s player told me he used a minor action to mark the boy with battlemind’s demand. He (the player) wanted to make sure the boy did not run off, but I asked him what the power did in-game. According to the book “you draw your foe’s concentration, taunting the foe to strike at you”, but I let players reflavor stuff if they want and just roll with whatever they say, as long as it makes sense. So the player tells me he is using psionics to make a creature see Jasbeer as the biggest threat, thereby drawing the creature’s attention. I said sure, and now Rider was immediately wary and his attitude shifted from neutral to unfriendly, his fear preventing him from being outright hostile.

The two constables took the boy inside for questioning, but they decided to wait a bit for Juza. Once she and Gwen arrived they went inside and Juza began talking to Rider, trying to figure out what he knew. By this point Juza had actually told him about Wolfgang (the previous day if I remember correctly, the point is Rider hadn’t had a chance to relay this information, but he wasn’t withholding it. He had managed to figure out the letters he was delivering had something to do with it, but he had kept doing it so he could get more information for Juza, knowingly putting his life in danger to help her). But he was still under the effect of Jasbeer’s mark, and his discomfort had built up. He felt uneasy, angry and scared because he didn’t know what was happening to him, since he doesn’t know anything about psionics. So he wasn’t really in a talkative mood, and was dodging Juza’s questions. She managed to learn that the letters were given to him by a man and a woman in the Nettles, and decided to press the issue to make Rider more helpful. So he told her where in the Nettles he met with them.

Rider was pretty angry by now, because up until this point Juza hadn’t done anything to make him feel better, or more relaxed, or explained anything. She had just been pressing him for more information. So he felt used, like one of his only friends didn’t care about him and didn’t trust him. They had all ganged up on him, made accusations and not once had any of them apologized for treating him like a criminal even though he hadn’t done anything wrong. He just wanted to be left alone, so he told the group that was all he knew and proceeded to leave. They told him to stop but he was having none of it, he wanted to be alone and had already told them everything he knew. Jasbeer enforced her mark to move next to him and grappled him and he began fighting to break free. Juza began talking to him and telling him to calm down, saying they needed him to take them to the place where he’d met with the couple. So now Rider was being grappled by Jasbeer, was even more scared, and Juza wasn’t standing up for him, instead acting like he was in the wrong for wanting to be left alone. I allowed a very difficult check to get him to calm down but they didn’t make de DC, so I told Juza she could try again and risk ruining her relationship with the boy, or could let him go and try to fix things later. Reluctantly she told Jasbeer to release him, and she had no choice but to comply.

Well that could have gone better, I thought. They were all pretty bummed about losing their lead, but at least they had an address. They decided to investigate the Nettles, and I granted them a Streetwise success because of Rider’s previous investigation (I had previously rolled to see if the boy had managed to find anything, granting him a +8 bonus from 16 CHA and training in streetwise, simply because it sounded reasonable since that’s his main method of income. I’d rolled a 25 total, so that was a success). The PCs only needed two more to find the doctor the hard way. Juza decided to stay behind because she needed to come to terms with what had just happened, and Gwen decided to keep her company. Jasbeer and Uzziel went ahead and hired a guide to take them to the address Rider had given them. And this is when they realized things weren’t going to be as easy as they thought. They had an address, sure, but the guide told them there were multiple streets with the same name in the Nettles, and many of the locals didn’t know how to read so they actually called streets by different names because the nomenclature had been changed several times throughout the years as the district expanded. So they had no real way of knowing exactly where to look, and would have to visit several places and ask around. Knowing it would be faster if they split up they hired different guides, haggled a bit and set off. Juza and Gwen ran into the same situation when they got to the Nettles, and after a while they crossed paths and shared information. I granted them a Streetwise check, which Jasbeer rolled (taking only 2 hours since the four of them had been searching). She rolled high and they narrowed things down, learning that a group of Danorans had been active in the northern part of the district, looking for someone.

Fearing walking into an ambush they decided to stick together for the final search even if it took longer. I began counting the hours: one, two, three, four, five… the player’s eyes widened with each hour that went by, their disbelief evident. I was waiting for them to tell me to stop, so when I announced six hours had passed I made a long pause. No one said anything so I went to the seventh hour. Now everyone told me to stop, said they thought I had finished at six and told me they would call off the search after six hours to discuss what the hell they were going to do. They had spent all day walking around the Nettles, it was already 8 pm and they still hadn’t found anything. They knew they risked running into a dead end if they kept this up, and now they were mere hours away from failing to stop the smuggling. They didn’t even know where it would take place, and they were desperate.

They discussed going back to HQ to ask for reinforcements so they could split up and send half the group over to Pine Island (Jasbeer had taken a guess where the smuggling would occur, and although she was right they didn’t know that). They even looked around for an information broker to ask about illicit activities and found one, but since they were pretty far from the district he didn’t know anything about Pine Island. He offered to point them to someone on that district who could give them more information, for a fee of course, but after thinking it through the party decided they didn’t have time to go on a wild goose chase. They decided to go all in on finding the doctor and spent two more hours looking around the Nettles. It was 10:30 p.m. by now. I asked them to roll Streetwise. Jasbeer would roll. She had several bonuses, including a +1 from her background, and the player realized he needed a 13 on the d20 to reach DC 25. They knew if they messed this up the doctor would be a goner and their investigation would take a major blow. He rolled: 13. We all got very excited, and they all cheered and high-fived each other. That +1 streetwise from her background made all the difference.

The constables followed rumors of a doctor hiding in an abandoned church, and found a couple begging to be let in so the man could reattach the husband’s severed thumb. They were driven away by a group of beggars who had settled in the church, and the party decided to try and convince them to let them through. They approached and told the men Juza had been bitten by a venomous snake, and they were somewhat convincing. Still, the beggars refused to let them through, insisting there was no doctor in the church. They said they didn’t want to lose the place they’d found, since they had no place to live, and the party offered to pay them. The men asked for a remarkable sum (10 gp for each) and the party was a bit tight on money, so they didn’t want to go giving away that much. Uzziel’s insight tipped them off that the men were probably asking for that much because they had been bribed to keep people away, and were trying to come out on top. After being told of this Jasbeer had no reservations about getting a bit more violent. She recalled her summoned armor (they had requested it earlier, don’t remember the day) and drew her weapon. The didn’t even need to roll Intimidate, since the beggars weren’t about to get into a fight with an armed person. They fled and the party ventured inside the church.

They searched the inside of the church and found the secret passage in the latrine. Uzziel noticed one of the saw traps and they avoided it. It was a good thing he was leading the group, or else it might have crippled someone. They reached the heavy curtains that led to Wolfgang’s hiding place and used an elixir of clairvoyance to spy on the men. They’d been pretty sneaky and had avoided triggering the alarm or the saw traps, so the doctor and his “bodyguards” didn’t know they were there. One of Kell’s men was stoking the fire, another one was lying on a cot, and the third one was sitting on a chair while Wolfgang wrote a letter on the table. The group charged in taking them all by surprise and made short work of the criminals. They were surprised when Wolfgang attacked them with stop your heart, since they weren’t expecting him to be hostile. He managed to heal one of his bodyguards but the constables avoided attacking him, and once they had knocked everyone else unconscious they stopped fighting and told him they knew their friend Lynn Kindleton and that they were here to rescue him. He didn’t believe them at first, but they put their weapons away, handed him the letters and rolled well on Diplomacy. I found it hard to believe he wouldn’t believe them after all that, especially since they hadn’t harmed him during combat.

They rested for a bit to recover and the constables told Wolfgang they needed to leave quickly and mentioned the hidden passage near the latrine. Unbeknownst to them Cillian Creed and the Obscurati were already in the church with them, and they overheard them talking. Wolfgang told the party he wanted to talk to them about what was happening before going anywhere with them, to make sure he could trust them and so they would hear his side of the story, since he didn’t want any trouble with the police. They agreed and he told them what had happened that day on the consulate. They realized he had just been an innocent bystander who had been at the wrong place at the wrong time (up until this point they thought he was involved somehow). They assured him they would keep him safe and he told them about the documents, asking for help to retrieve them from the hole in the ceiling. He said he hadn’t read them since he figured the more he knew, the worse things would be for him.
As the party prepared to leave Creed struck. The only one to notice him was Uzziel. He saw the man appear from the shadows, cover Wolfgang’s mouth with his hand and stab the man’s neck with a syringe. He scored a critical hit and dealt massive damage to the doctor. Everyone freaked out. Uzziel shot a divine bolt but missed, and he saw the man fade and disappear (he’d become invisible, merged with Wolfgang’s shadow). Then the nethermancers destroyed their light source and plunged them into darkness.

As the players realized this was an assassination attempt they got really scared. They hadn’t known what they were dealing with. It was the sort of fear that came with knowing that even if they made it out alive, they and everyone they knew were in terrible danger. They didn’t know how they’d been found, and since Uzziel told them the attacker had become invisible, they could only assume all enemies could do that too, and they’d been following them since god knows when.
They fought desperately to stay alive and to keep the doctor alive. For all they knew, if he was reduced to 0 HP he would die and they would lose a key witness. Jasbeer’s potions and other consumables saved the day. Almost all their potions were used to keep Wolfgang alive (they were the kind that doesn’t consume healing surges if the creature is bloodied). They tried lighting more torches but the nethermancers destroyed them, and the party realized they would only take more damage if they kept trying. They all fought pretty well, and Jasbeer used a vial of darkness to grant total concealment in a burst 1. I ruled this would block the enemies' line of sight, so despite their darkvision they were now fighting on less unfair terms. They told Wolfgang to stay within the magically obscured area so enemies wouldn’t be able to hit him as easily. They had several of those vials too so they managed to keep it up for a good chunk of the fight. Juza’s radiant powers were especially effective against Creed, and in the brief flash created by the blazing starfall the constables were able to see the man’s skin peel away, revealing oil and raw muscle. They even had an elixir of invisibility which helped the doctor survive more easily. Eventually they defeated the assassins, and Creed escaped upon being bloodied. Another nethermancer escaped too once he was the last one standing, taking Jasbeer’s sword with him (she had dropped it during the fight).

The party took a bit to realize the shadow man had fled, but they did see this last enemy flee the scene, and they decided to bail too. Unfortunately Creed had already warned Leone Quital of the secret passage, and he ordered his people to guard it. Before fleeing Jasbeer suggested they kill the unconscious enemies, or else they would report to Kell. Gwen and Juza didn’t want to kill defenseless people, but Uzziel agreed it had to be done. The doctor offered to stop their hearts painlessly so they wouldn’t suffer.

After murdering everyone the constables tried to escape through the secret passage, but were met with gunshots and had to back down. They contemplated making a run for it, but took so long debating this that Leone just sealed the passage shut. He called for them and said he just wanted to talk, and with no other option the constables agreed.

They met the man at the church’s entrance, and he introduced himself as “the Steelshaper”. I wasn’t sure if he was supposed to tell them his real name, but I thought it would be more interesting if the PCs had to figure things out, so he only gave them a nickname. He said he wanted the doctor and the documents, and in exchange he would let them live. They were in no hurry to hand over Wolfgang and the documents, so Leone told them he would give them an hour to make up their minds or else things would get ugly.

They retreated to the area with the fireplace and decided they would read as much of the documents as they could while they thought of a way to escape. Wolfgang suggested the fireplace, but said it was too small to climb, although they could try to destroy the wall that separated the chute from the well. They recognized LeBrix as the author of the documents and Jasbeer wrote down the names of all the companies involved in the smuggling with a special invisible ink she had purchased. They realized the materials were going to the construction of something big, but didn’t know what. After their hour was up Leone called for them. They decided they needed to get the doctor to safety, so the plan was as follows: they would distract the Steelshaper while Uzziel accompanied Wolfgang to the fireplace. Using the canary in a coal mine Wolfgang would fly and escape through the fireplace, since that way he wouldn't need a lot of mobility and thus the enclosed space wouldn’t be a problem. He would then cast pyrotechnics with a scroll they had bought, and the assassins would have to escape when they realized the police would be on its way. Wolfgang was thankful the party weren’t going to hand him over, and were even offering to cover for him while he escaped, so he gave Uzziel his malice-wrought rapier and told him to give it to Jasbeer so she would be armed, since they were pretty much going to attempt a suicidal last stand.

Jasbeer, Gwen and Juza went to talk with the Steelshaper, who once more told them to hand over the doctor and the documents. To up the ante he ordered his people to bring the boy out, and the constables realized they had captured Rider. The boy was terrified and Juza was about to have a nervous breakdown. Leone allowed her to touch the boy so she would know it wasn’t an illusion, and then telekinetically placed a knife on his throat, threatening to kill him unless they did what he asked. He began to count down from 10, and the players began discussing amongst themselves. Jasbeer did not want to hand over the documents, and in fact seemed pleased Rider had gotten in trouble. The player let slip his most arrogant side, I think, since he was completely OK with letting an innocent die simply because he hadn’t agreed with Jasbeer before. Juza was, of course, not OK with that, and she began to discuss with Jasbeer. Juza was concerned for a boy who was like a son to her, and Jasbeer wanted to keep the document because the safety of their nation was more important. It was finally Gwen who stopped the man at the last second and submitted. She handed Leone the documents and he pushed the boy to the ground and bent the steel bars so he could crawl towards the group.

Once reunited Rider hugged Juza and cowered behind her. Leone told them now they had seen he was a man of his word, and promised to let them live if they gave him the doctor too. Gwen broke the news that the doctor was gone by now. Leone didn’t believe it at first, but once the pyrotechnics lit the sky he had no choice. They unloaded explosives and bid the party farewell, and then set off to catch Wolfgang. But the PCs had been tested to their limits and they were more determined than ever to survive. They rushed to the fireplace and Gwen began to climb, with Juza following to push her upward (I made the chute small to complicate things). The woman got into position and attempted to break the divisory wall, and succeeded on her Strength check. The constables began to climb and used ropes to help those who were having difficulty. They managed to get away from the explosion in the nick of time as the church collapsed behind them. They still couldn’t believe they’d gotten away from that.

The walk back to HQ was not a pleasant one. The group had had enough of Jasbeer and they gave her a piece of their mind. They told her she had almost gotten Rider killed and almost got them kicked out of the Thinking Man’s Tavern. For her part she refused to accept any of it and told them off, saying they also did all sorts of imprudent things, particularly Gwen. She recalled how on Axis Island they had let a group of rebels live, which had allowed them to report to the other rebels. It had been needlessly risky but she had allowed them to do it because they were all for it, so now it was hypocritical of them to accuse her of putting them at risk or for making deals with criminals. Gwen, who was just now hearing of Jasbeer’s deal with Jered Lawman, got angry. She couldn’t understand why Jasbeer had actually followed through on her promise to the man instead of just getting the information and then reporting the planned sabotage. Jasbeer told her it was important to foster relationships with people who could prove valuable sources of information, and that they weren’t going to do anything too serious anyway. Gwen told Jasbeer she wouldn’t allow Jered’s band to commit the crime tomorrow night, and Jasbeer replied that she could do as she pleased, but she wasn’t going to help foil the Band’s efforts.

The players were all a bit on edge. I might as well give my own opinion on the characters, which I keep to myself during sessions to let them sort things out.

Jasbeer is very utilitarian and Uzziel, though pragmatic, has a stronger moral compass in my opinion. Juza is a lot more empathic and is frequently annoyed by Jasbeer’s actions and opinions, but she has a hard time thinking straight when she's stressed. Gwen is probably the one whose philosophy most strongly disagrees with the veteran’s, and I cannot help but see a curious situation arising. On one side we have a woman who, after a traumatic experience in the war, has become brave and heroic but also cold and single-minded in the execution of her duty. And on the other we have an altruistic and empathic machine who sees the good in others and encourages them to choose their own path in life while at the same time unsure if she herself is free to do so. Jasbeer is thought of as a mindless bully and servant of the government by many people she has met, but sees herself as a kind leader (that’s how the player described her to me). And at the same time Gwen is seen as understanding, compassionate and humane while being uncertain of her free will and not even being human.

It might sound as though players are bringing a bit too much of themselves to the table, but I believe that’s important for this campaign, so I actually encourage it. Obviously I don’t encourage making things personal, but I think letting players discuss things and offer arguments in favor of their point of view is valuable, and I trust my friends so I can assure you things are fine.

After that brief argument Juza decided to stay in the Nettles and search for Rider’s sibling, which Jasbeer thought was a terrible idea. She proposed going to HQ to report and request backup, which would make the search safer and more likely to succeed. “If you find them and they’re in trouble, what are you going to do?” she said to the skyseer. I found myself agreeing with Jasbeer on this one. Juza wasn’t thinking rationally, being sick with dread, but this was something she needed to do. She countered by saying “if it were your family would you leave them in danger to report first?” And Jasbeer say yes, she would, because it was reckless and foolish to rush into what could very well be a trap. Juza didn’t care. She took off to search for the children and Gwen went after her.

During their search Juza and Rider talked, and Gwen listened. Rider told them what had happened, explaining why he’d acted the way he did when they interrogated him. He explained that he'd been afraid when he saw strangers waiting for him at the professor’s house, especially because he had already come to suspect she had something to do with the people Juza had been investigating. He didn’t know Jasbeer or Uzziel, and he felt something strange in his mind, like he was suddenly angry and didn’t know why. That only made him more scared, and being forced to wait for Juza to come only to be questioned like he’d done something wrong made it worse. He was hoping Juza would arrive and make things better, explain things to her companions and believe him, but instead she hadn’t stood up for him. Gwen, who had been worried about Rider’s behavior during that interaction, realized that Jasbeer had used her psionic powers on the boy, and that had caused the entire ordeal. If it hadn’t been for that, if they had approached trying to understand instead of making accusations, Rider would have been calm, his trust in Juza wouldn’t have suffered a blow, and he would have agreed to help them look for the doctor. This would have made things easier and would have let them keep an eye on him, preventing Steelshaper from kidnapping him and using him as leverage to get the documents. If it hadn’t been for Jasbeer, they would still have the evidence.

Back at the constabulary Jasbeer and Uzziel sent for Delft and Saxby, who showed up a few hours later. It was past midnight by now, and their bosses wanted to know why they’d been summoned. The two constables explained the situation and Jasbeer handed them the list of factories who had showed up in LeBrix’s reports. They mentioned finding doctor Wolfgang, the assassination attempt and meeting a crissilyri man who called himself “the Steelshaper”. Since the doctor hadn’t arrived yet they got worried and quickly mobilized the police to search the Nettles. They didn’t find him.
 
Session 2.4 (First half)
Fifth of Summer

Gwen had been tormented by thoughts of the oil creature that had assaulted them in the church that night. She could not shake the feeling that it was somehow tied to her own origins, and could not help but wonder if that monstrosity was something similar to herself. As they headed home that night after failing to find Wolfgang she had taken the usual route along with Uzziel, since they lived nearby. During the trek she confessed the truth about her nature, and explained that he was the one she trusted in the most. She carefully explained her fear that she might go berserker at some point and harm them, because she didn’t know who had created her but her purpose she did know. Fearing that at some point she might lose control, or be directly controlled by someone else, she warned him so that he at least would not be taken by surprise. That way, maybe he would be able to stop her from harming others. Uzziel, being a technologist (and an artificer to boot) listened carefully to her confession and decided to trust her despite being an artificial intelligence.

The party arrived at HQ in the morning and were relieved beyond belief when they learned Wolfgang had arrived by himself earlier that day. After questioning him they learned he had gotten lost in the Nettles but managed to avoid pursuit by spending the night in a dumpster (I rolled for both Leone’s group and the police and both failed their check to find him, but Wolfgang succeeded in his second streetwise check to find his way to HQ).

They’d gotten most of the useful information from him already, so they really just wanted to keep him safe by principle and because he was a key witness. After locking him up in a cell in the basement (for protection) they decided to go get Eva Sechim and meet with Macbannin so they could start making their way to the top of Cauldron Hill. Since the group had split up (one half went to get Eva, the others went to tell Macbannin they were ready to climb the mountain) Eva had to wait until they were reunited at the mayor’s house to reveal the magic scroll containing Bonds of Forced Faith. Macbannin was certainly surprised by this, as were the constables. They hesitated about participating in an evil ritual, but finally decided it was for the best.

Borrowing climbing kits from Macbannin (they had forgotten to bring their own) the party began their ascent. During the climb they talked at length with Eva about what she hoped to see in the night sky. She answered that she hoped to see something that would be able to bring the people of Flint together despite their ideological differences so that they could work together and reach a peaceful agreement. She explained that she had already tried to persuade Gale previously but the woman had been too stubborn, and she had decided not to betray her trust in hopes that she might come around eventually. After all, at least Gale listened to what she had to say.

To Juza she admitted that, when she had taken her in as an infant, she had done so not exclusively out of good will, but because she had sensed something within her, a connection to the cosmos that would prove pivotal in the future, but as part of a vision she had not received yet. During all her life she taught her everything she knew about skyseeing so that she would learn to harness her power and be prepared when the moment came, but even now, several decades later, she still hadn’t had that vision. She hoped that this, her very last skyseeing attempt, would let her glimpse the prophecy for which she had trained her.

As the group was making a particularly steep climb a tremor - stronger than the one they’d felt before - shook the ground. Everyone was secured to the rope they were using, and so came unscathed save for a few bruises. It was enough to make them wary though.

After a couple of hours they made it all the way to the top with enough time to set up camp. They used the barrel of blood Macbannin had given them to pain a circle around the area they designated for their camp: the ring of standing stones used by the witches of old. They gathered branches, leaves, vines and rocks and made a makeshift wall to conceal themselves from the exterior. During this forage they came upon the cracked cauldron, which they decided to keep.

The sun began to set and the constables got a fire going. They huddled around it and Eva, together with Juza, began to gaze at the sky. Jasbeer decided to focus on listening in case something approached. Gwen and Uzziel listened intently to Eva’s explanations to learn about the ancient art of skyseeing. After a few hours Jasbeer heard a faint song which began to increase in intensity. She warned the others and everyone kept quiet. Soon shadows appeared on the wall of leaves illuminated by the light of the fire, sort of like if the light were coming from the opposite side of the wall and cast shadows upon it. Dozens of silhouettes appeared prancing around their camp: gremlins, tiny devils, a lion with a mane made of snakes, and naked women, the witches of Caudron Hill. Having played Bonds of Forced Faith, the players were shitting themselves. Eva simply ignored the apparitions and urged Juza to focus on the sky. After a while Gwen and Uzziel decided a distraction might be better to pass the time, so they shifted their attention back to the night sky. Only Jasbeer continued to keep watch.

“Look” said Eva. She pointed toward a glowing red dot, which Juza identified as Jiese, the plane of fire. From the plane she saw a streak, like a shooting star, descending rapidly toward the lake. It landed on the reflection of a factory, and the place burst into flames. Two fiery dragons emerged from the pyre and leaped from building to building, until the whole district was ablaze. And as the sun rose on the horizon a sign could be made out among the ashes and rubble: Sechim’s Alkahest and Etchings. Gwen and Uzziel, through the blood bond they shared with Eva, saw this too, although not as vividly. They were startled when Jasbeer called out to them, drawing their attention to the glowing red veil that hovered above their fire.
The group hesitated for a moment, unsure of what to do. Finally Jasbeer went ahead and touched the veil, which fell to the floor and disappeared, revealing the figure of a ghostly woman: Nilasa. She put a finger to her lips and whispered: “the man who killed me is coming. His face is scarred, so he hides behind many faces.” Afterwards she vanished and the smell of burnt engine grease filled the air. A sudden glow illuminated the night and a sunrod landed at their feet. Immediately all the spirits on the mountain fixed their gaze on the camp and began tearing at the makeshift walls, trying to make their way to the party.

Alright, so this battle was brutal. The PCs huddled close together as they tried to fight off the onslaught of monsters, which resulted in them getting surrounded by the spooks and taking a lot of damage from the stacked auras. I had the hag go after Uzziel since he was the only male in the group, playing up the “seduction” aspect of the monster. She flew up to him and gave him a kiss, puking worms down his throat. The effect was instantaneous. Everyone was super grossed out, and the poor player was in shock. Gwen engaged the lion and did a fantastic job of keeping it off the others, but took a serious beating. The cackling crawler unfortunately was also draw toward Uzziel because (apart from Eva) he was the most fragile-looking member of the party. So after downing a mouthful of worms and vomit, he was used as a mount by a zombie until Jasbeer managed to get the damn thing off him. Meanwhile Juza was focused on dealing with the ever-increasing number of minions that were trying to get to them. Eva was simply using look skyward on her protégé (it was most useful on her because of her area attacks). However there came a point where everyone urged her to attack the minions too because they were being overwhelmed, which resulted in her kicking one and scoring a critical hit (inconsequential, but man, was it funny). The vestige of death began placing shrouds on the old skyseer from the start, and no one knew what that meant, so they didn’t care too much.

Uzziel, dazed from the hag’s kiss, was victim to the woman’s rancid allure, and his mind was filled with a burning hatred for his former companions. Trying to defend the love of his life he began attacking the other constables until he was rendered unconscious by the pandemonic dance of the spooks. Gwen was downed by the lion and Jasbeer finished the job of bringing down the beast. A miraculous 20 on Gwen’s death saving throw got her back on her feet. They had realized that the vestige’s shrouds were similar to the assassin’s shrouds, and shuddered at the thought of the devastating attack hitting Eva, since the ritual of bonds of forced faith would cause the damage to be split among the whole party. However, they hadn’t even bloodied the vestige, because it kept disappearing into the Bleak Gate. So Juza readied an action to use her daily: dazzling ray. An action point allowed her to attack a group of spooks that had congregated around Uzziel and Eva, but she didn’t manage to kill all of them. The tiny creatures swarmed Uzziel, who perished on the mountaintop that night.

By now all of the big monsters were dead, except for the vestige. The moment came and the vestige appeared. For dramatic effect I rolled the monster’s attack before Juza’s (Juza’s attack was going to hit first because the trigger was “when the monster appears”, but I wanted everyone to see what the outcome would be if Juza missed, since even with half damage on a miss and the monster’s radiant vulnerability, it wasn’t going to be enough). I rolled and the vestige got a crit. That’s 60 damage from its reaper’s scythe. That was a TPK. Knowing the stakes Juza attacked. Drum roll. And she hit! And rolled high to boot! She vaporized the vestige and saved the party. Jasbeer kicked the sunrod down the mountain, sending the spooks after it. They picked up Uzziel’s body and rushed downhill themselves (in the opposite direction as the monsters, of course). It was such a close call they couldn’t believe they had made it out alive. They had used everything and lost a party member. Jasbeer was devastated and angry, because she felt it was Eva’s fault for bringing them here. Eva, of course, was saddened too, and apologized for putting them in so much danger.

Upon reaching the mayor’s mansion they were intercepted by a squad led by Lieutenant Dale, who demanded to know what they were doing. Mayor Reed Macbannin arrived and explained the situation, apologizing for the confusion. He performed a quick purification ritual on the group to make sure they weren’t possessed, and the constables explained they needed to run and asked him to hold on to the cauldron and Uzziel’s corpse (since moving him too far away from the place of his death would cause his spirit to move on to the afterlife). They told Dale about Juza’s vision and convinced him to send along backup. And so Uzziel’s player’s new character joins the group!

Short summary of the character: Holster Glock (yes, I know) is Lieutenant Dale’s second in command, a gunsmith who served during the Fourth Yerasol War as a scout. He has a grey morality, is a bit trigger-happy and hates bureaucracy because he hates people who waste his time. More on him later. Right now I’m going to leave this here because it’s getting too long and it’s already been months since I last posted.
 
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Session 2.4 (Second half)
6th of Summer

The party rushed toward Sechim’s factory and arrived just in time. Juza flew up to the roof using the Canary in a Coal Mine, because she heard footsteps there. Holster went around the factory to block off escape, accompanied by his comrades. Jasbeer and Gwen approached the alley from the main street and found a dragonborn and some humans unloading crates and barrels from a wagon. They began interrogating the men about their activities, and they said they were simply delivering materials to the factory. Jasbeer asked to take a look and the dragonborn told her to go ahead. As she took a peek inside the wagon the dragonborn attacked, but she was prepared for it and managed to dodge his monstruos sword. Juza charged toward the dragonborn on the roof, falling for his trap. He hit her with his staff and pushed her off the roof, causing her to fall on top of the wagon. He then later shot a fireball on top of the wagon, which burst into flames that caught Juza, Jasbeer and Gwen. The men began making their escape but were intercepted by Holster and the other soldiers. The humans engaged them and downed several of the soldiers while Eberardo fled. Jasbeer teleported on top of the roof to engage Valando and attacked the water tower, which extinguished most of the fire on the alley. However, it didn’t put all of it out. Valando wasn’t interested in a fight, so he blinded Jasbeer with its torchstep, which simultaneously allowed him to teleport to the roof of the adjacent factory. Since Jasbeer couldn’t see him, she could not follow.

Gwen and Juza, having an easier time crossing the alley now that most of the fire was out, gave chase to Eberardo, but still took quite a bit of fire damage on the way. Holster shot the lock on the chains that blocked the (adjacent) factory’s back door. While Eberardo ran down an alley toward the main street, Juza, Gwen and Holster gave chase through the factory while all the workers inside fled. Valando climbed down the ladder toward the factory’s entrance and broke the lock to escape, with the constables on their heels. Jasbeer jumped down from the roof and crushed one of the human arsonists below, killing him. She was too slow to give chase because of her armor, and was already too far behind, so she remained there and convinced the factory workers to stay and help her put out the fire. She coordinated their efforts and managed to stop the fire from spreading. The soldiers had all been rendered unconscious during the fight.

Meanwhile Eberardo and Valando fled the seen, with three constables on their heels. They split up with plans to meet back at their lair, forcing the PCs to split up as well. Gwen went after Eberardo and Juza and Holster after Valando. After running for several blocks they managed to catch up to their targets, and resumed the fight. However, things didn't go well for the officers.

The pyromancer made short work of Juza and Holster thanks to his area attacks, and escaped. Gwen tackled Eberardo, who was already gasping for air, unable to out-compete a machine. She pinned him to the ground and began beating the ever-loving shit out of the dragonborn, who was unable to land a hit on the woman. She even got him bloodied from the pummeling, but her luck ran out. Eberardo managed to land a hit with his greatsword and dealt massive damage to her, knocking her unconscious. He left her for dead and escaped too.

After the fire was out Jasbeer left the wounded soldiers to guard the scene while she went looking for her coworkers. On the way she ran into some trouble, because she’s wandered alone into the turf of Lorcan Kell, who was not pleased with her betrayal. Since he only knew Jasbeer and Uzziel personally, he’d already told his minions to teach those two a lesson, and so Jasbeer was ambushed in the predawn hours of the night as she made her way through Parity Lake. Men and women, all carrying knives, blocked off the streets and alleys. She was already wounded but most importantly, she was outnumbered. She began pondering it it would be better to stay and fight or make a run for it when a carriage arrived from a side street. The door opened and the man inside yelled “get in”. She didn’t hesitate. She got inside and the carriage sped down the street, away from danger.

Inside she met a man with a Crisillyiri accent who knew her name. He asked if she had a family, and then said he also had one. He said family was very important to him, and that his boss, Morgan Cippiano, wished to meet her and her team. He gave her a place and time, and then got down from the carriage, saying it had been paid for already. He encouraged her to go find her companions and she took his advice. Thanks to the carriage she scoured the district much more quickly, and got to Juza and Holster in time to save them from bleeding out. They didn’t manage to find Gwen, though, but she survived thanks to warforged’s resilience, which makes it so that she can never roll less than 10 on her death saving throws. Eventually she recuperated and made her way to the RHC. It had been a rough day, and it was barely 9 a.m.
 

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