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ZEITGEIST Zeitgeist re-mixed

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
I just posted about my post-Zeitgeist game here. Additionally, I am running a new group through Zeitgeist. As this will be my third time through the first several adventures, I am mixing things up and doing things out of order as it entertains me best. I'm treating this game as an alternate timeline / parallel universe of my other Zeitgeist game, in case any crossover between the games happens.

If you're interested in seeing either how flexible Zeitgeist is, or how much we can screw up this latest incarnation, I encourage you to stick around. We're barely three sessions in and already a constable has died and the city is about to riot. I'm not sure these folks are cut out to be cops...
 

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roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
The Constables:

first, the two who follow directions and provide backstories:

Dr. Aubrey de Gascoigne (human wizard Skyseer)
Though of an ancient Danorian name, de Gascoigne, the good doctor's family came to Risur more than a century ago, and stayed. He spent his youth studying astronomy at Pardwright and Mitchell University, receiving his doctorate 12 years ago. His dissertation: "On the Orderly Arrangement of the Beautiful: Cosmos as the Source of Arcane Knowledge" was published and got him a prized admission into the Royal Society of Astronomy. He's worked with the Royal Constabulary as an unofficial consultant in the past. There's a rumor that he can set his orreries spinning and divine the future from them, but people are always making up stories about things they don't understand...

A pasty modern Celt, Aubrey dresses professionally in a coat and vest, with a top hat, a pocket watch, and an ornate cane. He wears a gold signet ring and always has a small satchel or two under his jacket, filled with various odds and ends, including a small book in which he constantly writes. He carries a knife on his belt, hidden under his coat, and he has been known to carry a shotgun on expeditions, strapped to his pack.

He lives alone, but for an small brown and white barn owl he cares for. No one knows where the owl came from, but Aubrey has been known to bring it with him around town, securing his reputation as something of an eccentric.

Joe Actual (half-orc barbarian Martial Scientist)
Joe Actual was born in Ber (somewhere along the border) to a human mother who was married off to an orc as a gift to end a small border conflict.

The mother fled this arrangement first to Bole, then on to Flint. She begged for money and shelter and briefly held a few jobs at local bars and as a maid until she fell on even harder times and was forced into the oldest profession. She was killed by one of her customers when Joe Actual was 7. He was briefly a ward of the state, but promptly ran away to live on the street, destined it would seem to live a life of crime amongst the street urchins. And he was well-received in the streets owing to his size, his intimidating look, and an easy way with a club. As he grew, so did his reputation as a protector of the street children who all still know his name. It was in his defense of a child being beaten by a sadistic shop-owner, that he caught the unhappy eye of a recruiter for the gladiators.

Joe trained tirelessly and had an easy time learning fighting styles and understanding tactics. He was naturally talented in the art of fighting. Where he struggled, was as an entertainer. He fought hard and fiercely and well, but he won too quickly and with little flare. He rose through the ranks despite this, and developed a small but rabid following. It was this that almost cost him his life. Though he lacked the sort of seat-filling broad appeal sought after in the circuit, it would be impossible to just get rid of him both due to his loyal followers and due to the fact that his stern benefactor thought of him as a son and wouldn’t be easily persuaded to retire him early. So, a plan was made at the upper levels to have Joe Actual fight his last battles. The idea was to have a short crescendo of more and more difficult battles ending (inevitably) in Mr. Actual’s demise.

And that would have been the end if not for a fortuitous matchup fight with a dragonborn (Zamfir).

The Battalion:
reported PSAT score of 1580
Thesis: An Ethical Case for the Use of Deadly Force in Non-urgent, High-reward Negotiations

next up we have the others:

Zamfir (dragonborn fighter Martial Scientist)
Played by the brother of Joe Actual's player. He helped write Joe Actual's backstory and then didn't follow up with one of his own.

Glim Glim "One-Shoe" Timbers (gnome rogue Gunsmith)
no back story. Just some bloke.

Rian Rhionnan (human bard Vekeshi Mystic)
the wife of the Glim Glim player. No backstory and has been AWOL for the first four sessions.


So, as you can see, we have some folks putting more into it than others. This will show in the session reports.
 
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roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
1st of Summer, year 500: Constable Joe Actual, together with RHC consultant Dr. Aubrey de Gascoigne, apprehended five subjects of Crisillyiri heritage in the process of planning a transfer of a shipment of stolen magical wands from Crisillyir. Under interrogation, the subjects divulged that a meeting is planned for the following night in the Ayres near a specific uninhabited island. One small ship will sail from a small dock in Pine Island to meet the merchant ship, Li Grifoni Grinyandi, at midnight, at which point a transfer of goods will take place. As it seems likely that these wands will make it into the hands of more Family Bravuras in an escalation of the violence caused by their turf war with Kell's thieves, it is in the interest of the Kingdom to disrupt this trafficking. Delft will confer with his constables tomorrow to form a plan of action.

(I set up a warm-up fight for the two people who actually showed for the first session, but I tied a little bit of story to it)
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
2nd of Summer: Constables Joe Actual, Zamfir, and Glim-Glim Timbers, together with RHC consultant Dr. Aubrey de Gascoigne, intercepted a supply of Crisillyiri wands being smuggled into the country. The constables intercepted the maritime vessels Silvo and Li Grifoni Grinyandi south of Ilha do Sol in the Ayres. Li Grifoni escaped, but the constables were able to ram the Silvo and apprehend eight subjects, including Deorn Feldman, captain of the Silvo, and recover six crates of illicit wands.

The crew of the Silvo resisted arrest and unfortunately one of them perished in the fighting to a gunshot. One turned invisible and got away. The Crisillyiri Consulate has already sent a message thanking the RHC for apprehending the "pirates" who stole their legitimate cargo bound for Ber and requesting the return of the stolen property at our earliest convenience.

Glim Glim starting stuffing wands in his pockets during the cleanup. Zamfir confronted him about it and he stopped, but not before pocketing four wands. Zamfir told him that the incident would go in his report. Glim Glim later forged Zamfir's report, replacing it in Delft's office, and then hid the wands in Zamfir's desk in case anyone came looking.
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
And then all hell broke loose:

3rd of Summer, year 500: Delft’s B Team followed up on a lead from informant Nilasa Hume regarding her employer, Heward Sechim, of Sechim Alkahest & Engravings. Nilasa told the team that Mr. Sechim had been threatened by two different groups of men who wanted to illegally acquire the powerful etching solvent Alkahest. Alkahest is in high demand for the new field of arcanoscientific technology, combining the technology of Danor with the magic of Risur for even more powerful machines. Nilasa thought the event might be related to the recent rash of factory fires in Parity Lake and hoped the constables would help.

After meeting with Nilasa at The Thinking Man Tavern, the team staked out Mr. Sechim’s factory. Around 10pm, constable Glim Glim ambushed a carriage horse pulling a wagon on the road in front of the factory, apparently on a hunch. That wagon happened to be carrying firedust and firegems. Constable Zamfir attempted to apprehend Glim Glim for the unprovoked attack on a horse, but the gnome kept evading him, even after the four thugs in the wagon stabbed him many times.

Meanwhile, Dr. Aubrey successfully surveilled two red Dragonborn emerging from Parity Lake (the body of water). These two seemed like the proper suspects, and Dr. Aubrey apprehended one of them without a fight (Suggestion spell on Valando after Eberardo ran past the illusion concealing Dr. Aubrey). The other engaged the RHC constables during their own altercation and successfully ignited the explosive wagon before escaping back into the lake. Constable Glim Glim perished in the explosion, which also caught three buildings on fire, including Sechim’s.

Zamfir heroically toppled the water tower atop Sechim’s to control the blaze on that side of the street, but the Pemberton Firearms, Explosives, and More warehouse across the street could not be saved. The resulting inferno ripped through several city blocks leading to hundreds of deaths as workers locked in their factories could not escape.

Security forces in the city of Flint are on high alert as the civil unrest threatens to rip over into full-on riots. The Kell Guild street gang is successfully spreading rumors that the RHC set the fire intentionally after murdering a horse. Public opinion of the Royal Homeland Constabulary is at an all-time low.

On the bright side, maybe the arrested Dragonborn will tell us what he was up to and who hired him before his lawyer makes us release him since Dr. Aubrey apparently arrested him for swimming.

-=-=-

This was a complete mess. Glim Glim surprise sneak-attacked a carriage horse for no reason other than we were on a combat map. Zamfir's player went deep into roleplay and was just offended that this dude murdered a horse. The four arsonists dropped Glim Glim in three straight attacks thanks to 3 crits (with advantage). No one else was close enough to make a melee attack, so Zamfir tried Persuade to convince the arsonists he was just there to arrest Glim Glim. The gnome did not cooperate, and ended up unconscious adjacent to the cart when Eberardo breathed on it. It exploded the next round, killing Glim Glim.

There was still the small remnants of a peaceful protest at one of the neighboring factories, and Glim Glim did his equicide right in the middle of the road. All four arsonists escaped after Eberardo pulled all the aggro.

This weekend's event (after a dressing down by both Delft and Saxby) will be dealing with a protest being put on by Thames Grimsley. He and some dockers (the docker encounter from adventure one) have taken over a market square and will be putting on a parody of RHC policies, with a line of horses being led to the gallows. The first horse is two guys in a horse costume, but the other five are real. There are about two dozen bystanders just watching the show, including Rock Rackus and his entourage. We'll see if they can defuse the situation or just start murdering civilians (with a new constable to replace Glim Glim, and, I'm told, an actual appearance by the bard).
 




roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
4th of Summer: Delft interviewed Valando while Dr. Aubrey "observed" from behind the one-way glass. Unfortunately, the dragonborn resisted both Delft's and Dr. Aubrey's attempts to get information out of him. He claimed to be on his way to a late-night magical reagent market and that he had certain personal enemies in the neighborhood whom he was avoiding by swimming ashore instead of using the roads. The most information we got out of the interview occurred when his lawyer arrived. Quentin Augst has a reputation of representing members of Kell's gang when they run afoul of the law. While we need to release Valando within 24 hours, learning that he's represented by Kell's lawyer is probably enough to know who he works for.

Constable Zamfir was given a formal warning on suspicion of disrupting the chain of evidence in regards to the Crissilyiri wand snuggling operation.


Constable Joe Actual was given a promotion to Sergeant and put in charge of his squad, which currently consists of himself and Zamfir, with the consultant Dr. Aubrey de Gascoigne available to assist as needed. Delft hopes to have some more manpower available to the squad in the coming days.

Constables Joe Actual and Zamfir, along with two junior constables, investigated a report of a missing research team from Pardwright University. They met with young professor of archaeology Dr. Xambria Meredith at the university. She told them of her graduate student Ignatius Vren, who had gone missing while researching an old abandoned Clergy church in the Nettles. The research team was exploring the possibility of stable planar gateways being possible at old holy sites. The constables tracked the team to the church and then to an abandoned street in the Nettles, where Ignatius was leading a cult ritual that seemed to be opening up portals to the Bleak Gate. Ignatius's followers were knee-deep in wells filled with a strange oil-like substance which included bright motes of light that seemed to move of their own accord.

Ignatius was grappled and cuffed, but his followers dove head-first into the 2-foot-deep wells. Two of the three seemed to return as creatures made of shadow, while the third seemed to die in the attempt. The senior constables hurried to meet this threat, and Joe Virtual found the university students being held captive. Unfortunately, during this time, Ignatius managed to slip his bonds by using a spell to control Zamfir. Ignatius made a run for it, but was killed by Joe Actual before he could flee the scene.

The constables noted after the fact that the two wells were encircled by rusted iron chains with arcane sigils stamped into them. They also recovered a magical tome from Ignatius entitled The Application of Oxidized Ferrous Metals in the Creation of Interplanar Gateways, and the Repercussions Thereof by Friedrich Liutbert.

-=-=-=-

We once again had short attendance, so I scrambled to make an adventure out of an encounter in the Roll20 Tactical Maps Adventure Atlas, which has 22 WotC maps, each with 4 one-night encounter/adventures.

I managed to squeeze in an early meeting with Xambria, a reference to rusted-iron Bleak Gate portals, the ruined church in the Nettles, witchoil, and Kell's attorney from Cauldron Born. So far, we are basically just puttering around Flint waiting for something big to happen (probably Nilasa's death, probably after I've had another opportunity to roleplay her while alive)

Video archived on twitch for the next 60 days:

going over the 5e death rules, I realize I've been doing them quite wrong. Oh well, something to fix for the future!
 
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roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
At this point, it's basically the Joe, Zamfir, and Aubrey show, with Glim Glim's player now at 50% attendance (and only being disruptive when he is here) and the 5th player not showing at all in 4 sessions.

I've decided to use experience points for character advancement, mostly to encourage people to show up. I will of course be adding in quest xp to keep them properly leveled on average. Joe Actual and Zamfir both made level 4 after taking on a cult and two Shadows.

Further, since their bard has not arrived, Delft is equipping them each with healing potion before sending them into the field.
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
Wow, Glim-Glim surely seems to have been a CN/E PITA. Slap 'em hard with the Audit :D

Also, I feel bad for the dead workers... and a lot of sympathy for Dr. Aubrey

And I'm really curious about your mix-up. This seems to be a refreshingly unique take :)
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Two new constables joined the squad:

Rian Rhiannon finally showed up for work. Or maybe she was working other cases. This human bard was found with no memory in the Cloudwood some time ago by Glim Glim and recruited into the RHC. She drinks a lot of whisky and has fond feelings for elves but doesn't remember much else. This is my apparently one-per-game standard-issue amnesiac. She's not Kasvarina; I already did that. But there's a chance she's a relative who was shapechanged and memory-wiped. or maybe just an Ob member who Grappa memory-wiped. I'm going to do some digging on this one. Nothing I love more than a "wait, I did what?" moment.

Thorruki "Thor" Axebringer. The Glim Glim player is back with a Dwarf Barbarian who works out of a foreign office (we are negotiating between Drakr and Crissilyir) and was undercover on Li Grifoni. His months-long undercover operation to infiltrate the Family was ruined by the Flint RHC. Now stuck in Flint with no assignment, he was re-assigned to the Flint RHC to fill a sudden vacancy. We don't know much about him yet, but he didn't do anything particularly stupid this session, so maybe that's a good sign. Still hasn't picked a theme, though I'm pushing for Eschatologist because I'm here for a short Viking who's a Ragnarok prepper.

Thursday, 5th of Summer: Assistant Chief Inspector Delft brought in Constable Sergeant Joe Actual and Constable Zamfir, along with consultant Dr. Aubrey de Gascoigne to advise them of some changes to the squad. Two new Constables were being added to their unit: Rian and Thor. There was some icebreaking and getting to know each other over morning coffee and donuts, and then Delft got to business: a civil disturbance was underway in a market in Bosum Strand and the Flint PD was requesting RHC assistance. Before the briefing ended, Chief Inspectress Margaret Saxby interrupted to lay into the squad for various performance issues, including the death of their former Sergeant, an exploding munitions warehouse, and a dragonborn arrested on zero evidence.

She also once again informed everyone of the impending visit of King Aodhan to christen and launch the RNS Coaltongue, Risur's first steam-powered warship. The King would be in town on Monday, and Saxby needed to send some constables to make nice with the VIPs. She made it clear that this was a volunteer opportunity, but also that it was an opportunity to make good on previous failings. She also made it clear that somehow messing up this schmoozing mission would not be good for anyone's continuing career in the RHC.

"High risk. High reward. Volunteer in my office. Don't fuck it up." She then left.

Also during the briefing, Joe Actual apprised the squad of the goings-on in the Nettles the previous night, and expressed an interest in reading the book they had recovered.

After the meeting, the constables took a moment to strategize on how to calm the anti-government in the Strand. Word from the Flint PD was that the crowd was mostly upset at the RHC for slaughtering a horse and the ensuing fire that cost many lives. Rian suggested that perhaps a few horses to donate to the poor would be a good gesture, so they requisitioned the money to buy a couple of carriage horses and brought along a handler for the horses.

Upon arriving at the scene, they met with two Flint PD officers who were very casually keeping an eye on things from as far away as was practical. The scene in the open-air market was stable at the moment, but could blow up at any time. Pro-workers-union agitator Thames Grimsley was on a stage built to look like a gallows in the center of the square, leading a horse to the noose. There were another half-dozen horses lined up to go up on the stage. Grimsley was wearing a costume police hat and badge and was telling a tale of how the horses were guilty for the crime of being driven down the street by common citizens, and so, as is standard RHC policy, they had been summarily sentenced to death. He was hamming it up for the crowd, mostly for laughs, but was hitting on his main points that the common people needed more influence to prevent such abuses of power. Nearby on the stage, a docker shantyman was improvising some songs that were very insulting to the RHC, Governor Stanfield, King Aodhan, and anyone else he could make rhyme.

The Flint PD noted that the local sellers had not been able to set up their stalls in the chaos, so Grimsley was at least guilty of putting on a public performance without a license. The nature of his show could also be considered incitement to riot. However, they knew they could not intercede in that atmosphere.

The RHC drew up a plan. First off, they would not play into Grimsley's narrative by entering the square leading horses, so they left those behind. Rian, Zamfir, and Joe Actual would infiltrate the crowd to get a feeling for what could be done, while Dr. Aubrey would use Illusory Script to draft up a license for Grimsley that they could make a show of handing over. The idea was that they needed to repair their PR, so if the RHC were seen to be okay with this farce, maybe it would smooth things over a bit.

In the crowd, the constables spotted several notables. Rian encountered Rock Rackus, who she already knew from infiltrating his inner circle on behalf of the RHC. Joe Actual encountered his friend Nilasa, whose home/workplace had been saved the night of the fire. And Zamfir spotted Lorcan Kell, together with a bodyguard, watching the spectacle with a self-satisfied expression. Zamfir kept tabs on Kell while Thor climbed the nearby rooftops in case a surprise dwarf attack would be useful soon. Joe Actual caught up with Nilasa and met her new boyfriend, a security guard at the Danoran Consulate by the name of Braden Sarkin. Rian had the most impact as she cajoled with Rock to take the stage and put on a show in an effort to quiet Grimsley and his message.

Rock resisted at first, since there was no money in it, but Rian convinced him that putting on a free show now would make more fans who would buy tickets to his next show. Rock took the stage with his entourage, telling Grimsley to "let the professionals do it." Grimsley had by this point put a rope around the horse's neck, but it was also obvious that the horse was a costume with two more dockers inside. Grimsley hanged the horse costume, and Rock got the crowd going with his hot new hit, "Fuck Tha Police."

Rian advised Dr. Aubrey of this development, and he changed his spell to instead be a license for a Rock Rackus concert. The illusory license (which would persist for 10 days) was delivered on-stage to Rock. He read that he had the legal right to occupy the square for the duration of his concert and declared to the crowd "We're going all weekend!"

To pacify the local merchants, the RHC commandeered a nearby park and convinced them to set up concessions and other services, noting that attendance to their part of Bosum Strand would probably be very high until Rock ran out of energy.

Dr. Aubrey used Detect Thoughts to get a surface-level read on Lorcan Kell. The crime boss seemed to be happy with the event. Luckily, Thor did not dive onto him axe-first from two stories up, and the RHC headed back to HQ having turned a potential riot into Flint's first music festival. As of Friday morning, the Rock concert continues...
 


roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Friday, 6th of Summer: Sergeant Joe Actual delivered the morning briefing. The usual suspects (Gale, Kell, Cippiano) still needed to be investigated. The Rock concert was continuing into its second day. The King was due to visit in three days. More pressing, however, was a suspicious death at the Danoran Consulate. The four constables and their consultant headed out for the hour drive to North Shore. Their drive was interrupted when the horses panicked as the ground shook. Thor and Doctor Aubrey agreed that this was no natural phenomenon. They surmised that it may have been the result of underground industrial activity.

At the scene, they encountered some Flint PD holding the scene. Officer Alfred Bellastair told them that the victim had apparently flown out of a fourth-story window, been shot, and fallen and impaled herself on the consulate's wrought-iron fence. An unknown individual had absconded with some of the victim's possessions and fled the scene.

Thor held the crime scene by intimidating the local rabble while the rest of the squad split into two investigative teams. Joe Actual and Rian Rhannon headed inside to interview the consulate staff and inspect the body while Zamfir and Dr. Aubrey searched for signs of the feeling individual.

Zamfir and Dr. Aubrey followed a trail of blood into an alley to the west of the consulate, where they found signs of a scuffle. Evidence found in this alley:

  • latent electic energy
  • blood infused with necrotic energy
  • a copy of a deed of ownership for a canal barge, marked with the seal of the Danoran consulate

As they investigated the alley, a coachman approached them and asked if they knew "the doctor." Doctor Aubrey replied that they did and the coachman told the constables that this doctor had stiffed him on his fare, so maybe they could settle it for him. The constables offered to pay the doctor's fare plus a new fare taking them to wherever the doctor had gone. During the ride, Zamfir questioned the coachman about this doctor, and he described a human male with a goatee who spoke with a strange accent from across the sea, probably from one of the smaller Malice nations. The doctor had blood on his hands and was carrying a bundle. He claimed to be in the middle of surgery and in need of supplies, but after the coachman took him to his lodgings, the doctor vanished without paying his fare.

Those lodgings were a hostel by the name of the House of the Blue Birds. Doctor Aubrey disguised himself as a known local necromancer and the two went inside and presented themselves as friends of the doctor. The attendant told the two constables that the doctor had rushed in a few hours prior with blood on his hands, asking for water and a towel to clean himself. He had then gone to his room and within a few minutes fled via the back door. The attendant mentioned that a police detective had been by about an hour after that in pursuit of the man. They also notede that this detective had a bandage on his chest and smelled of scorched engine grease, like one would smell in the factories of Parity Lake.

The only evidence they found was in the hostel's laundry:

- a rag blackened with oil and possibly blood.

The two finally revealed themselves as RHC officers and got a look at the file on the doctor, producing a name and two references. The doctor was Wolfgang von Recklinghausen and his references were Dr. Barnaby Camp of North Shore and Professor Lynn Kindleton of Pardwright University. Feeling they had enough for the time being, the constables headed back to the consulate, but not before tasking some junior constables with canvassing the neighborhood to try and follow the trail of Dr. von Recklinghausen.

Meanwhile at the consulate, Joe and Rian were meeting with chief of consulate security Julian LeBrix. While waiting to meet him, they noticed a meeting room with what appeared to be the leftovers from a morning snack. A box of brigadeiros had been mostly picked over, but Joe Actual swiped one while he waited and detected the distinctive taste (and effects) of fey pepper. LeBrix told the constables that a consulate guest had brought the treats and then, while the staff were distracted, headed upstairs to steal some valuables. He intercepted her on the 4th floor and tried to stop her, but instead she ran towards the window. Thinking she was going to jump, he shot her in the leg. She jumped out the window anyway, and then flew across the courtyard, at which point he said he shot her in the back and she fell.

The constables were understandibly suspicious of this story and asked to see the fourth floor. LeBrix resisted, but Rian intimidated him into compliance. Upstairs, they found a broken window and recovered the following evidence:

  • a rug moved to cover a bloodstain
  • the blood spatter itself, which suggested a slashing injury, not a puncture wound as LeBrix claimed
  • the presence of necrotic decay in the blood, as though it were caused by something undead.

Satisfied with the scene, the constables headed downstairs, where LeBrix led them to a storage room and showed them the body of Joe Actual's friend Nilasa Hume. Joe kept a brave face and attempted to examine the body, but was too overcome with emotion to do his job. Rian performed the examination and found the following:

  • four parallel facial lacerations consistent with a slashing attack, then healed postmortem
  • unhealed lacerations to the scalp
  • one gunshot wound to the back of the leg, delivered from about 40 feet away (longer than the hall; about the same distance as that from the window to the fence
  • one gunshot wound to the back, which pierced and lodged in the left lung, delivered from about 40 feet away
  • latent transmutation magic (consistent with a flight spell)
  • latent illusion magic (consistent with an invisibility spell)

On her body were found the following items:

  • a bail certificate, paid by Heward Sechim, with a court date of the 10th of Summer
  • an empty glass vial with residual illusion magic inside (consistent with an invisibility potion)
  • no canary necklace, which she'd been wearing every day for the past few months

Joe was clearly overcome with grief. As Rian headed back upstairs to make friends with Tia, the receptionist, Joe Actual confided in LeBrix that Nilasa was his friend while also pointing out the many inconsistencies in LeBrix's story. LeBrix seemed affected by Joe's story and suggested they meet later that night at a bar in the Central District. Upstairs, Tia shared with Rian that Nilasa had been chatting with a poor foreign doctor who was having passport difficulties and kep coming by every morning to try and make progress. Tia also mentioned that at the time of the incident, the consul had been meeting with a man in the basement, but she didn't know who that man was.

The constables reconvened at the consulate and then made a plan to visit Dr. Camp, Heward Sechim, and Lynn Kindleton before the late-night meeting with LeBrix.

Doctor Camp's surgical theater was in North Shore, so they went there first. The Doctor explained that von Recklinghausen had been a student of his a decade prior but they had kept in touch via correspondence. Wolfgang sent him a letter saying he was having marital troubles and needed to travel abroad on his own, but was having passport difficulties and would need a place to stay in Flint, so Doctor Camp set him up at the House of Blue Birds. Doctor Camp mentioned that a police detective who identified himself as Roger Porter had stopped by earlier, asking about von Recklinghausen. The man was injured, so Dr. Camp offered to help, but the man rudely refused treatment.

After that meeting, the constables headed back to Sechim's Alkahest & Engravings in Parity Lake, where they had prevented an arson attempt just a few nights prior. They met with Sechim to ask about Nilasa's bail. He said she was his best employee, one of the first he hired when he opened his factory five years ago. He was surprised and angry to hear that she had died during a crime, claiming that she had put that life behind her. However, he did admit that she had become enamored of Gale with the past couple of months. During their conversation, Sechim seemed to break a little and angrily demanded the constables find Gale and hold her accountable for influencing young people to do stupid things in her name and die. He suggested that his uncle Nevard in the Cloudwood might know how to contact her, and even offered to help arrange a meeting.


... and that's where we cut the session... they're on their way to Kindleton's at Pardwright. I'm toying with having her in the same housing unit as Xambria, just to help establish a sense of place when they need to return in that adventure. Maybe four apartments in the upstairs above the butcher shop (and maybe another business). I'll probably have them encounter Creed there, just to give them a combat after two weeks of conversation. I'm not a fan of the Cloudwood bandit encounter on the way to Nevard, so I'll probably put something in its place. I love the bloodsucking hummingbirds, so maybe we'll have a fey incursion of some kind.

All is going well. The Coaltongue is going to happen right in the middle of all this, and then Axis Island probably after they go to Cauldron Hill, and then Nevard's rally when they return from that, and then we'll have the showdown with Macbannin (maybe) before giving them a nice amount of downtime before the Kaybeau Arms and Technology Expo (which I have renamed because I like the acronym KATE).
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
ouch, right in the feels. Both happy and sad to see Joa Actual react that humanly when confronted with the death of his friend Nilasa. What a beautiful opportunity to get him personally invested in this case by using her as a living NPC for a while.
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Later that night, Thor and Rian separated from the rest of the group to coordinate the search for Dr. von Recklinghausen. Dr. Aubrey, Joe Actual and Zamfir headed to The Cracked Cauldron wine bar to meet with Danoran Consulate security chief LeBrix to get his uncensored version of the morning's events.

He told them that Nilasa had been visiting the consulate regularly since she started dating security guard Braden, and had brought breakfast that morning, clearly as a distraction for the security staff. At the time, the consul was meeting with an unknown Risuri guest in the basement. LeBrix first became aware of the situation when he heard gunshots from the fourth floor. Investigating, he found the Risuri stranger in the hallway. He shouted orders to LeBrix as though he were in charge and then rushed out of the embassy in pursuit of someone.

When the blonde stranger returned, he was injured and smelled of burnt industrial oil. This stranger ordered the Danoran consul to have her on-site cleric heal Nilasa's facial lacerations post-mortem, and then had the consul order LeBrix to cover up the Risuri person's role in the morning affairs. LeBrix offered the cover story that Nilasa had stolen some valuables and that LeBrix had been the one to shoot her.

Witness testimony from bystanders on the street, according to LeBrix, indicated that Nilasa had been seen flying out of the fourth-floor window, then two gunshots dropped her to the fence and a man matching the description of Dr. von Recklinghausen had taken items from her as she died and then fled the scene.

Based on his assessment of the situation, LeBrix believes that Nilasa stole his files on an investigation into wide-spread smuggling from Danoran-owned factories in Parity Lake. He had uncovered what appeared to be a large amount of industrial supplies going missing somewhere between being loaded onto barges on Parity Lake and arriving at the Flint docks at the other end of the Stanfield Canal.

However, when he told the consul, Methia DuNadria, what he had found, she ordered him to drop the investigation and took his files into her own office. LeBrix hasn't pursued the investigation in a few months.

After promising to look into this matter again, even if only to find out why Nilasa wanted this file, LeBrix agreed to share any information he found with Joe Actual.

The constables then headed for their last stop of the night: the apartment of Professor Lynn Kindleton of Pardwight University. She was the last of von Recklinghausen's references. As they arrived, they noticed that many streetlights around the apartment building had gone out.

They approached Kindleton's flat carefully, with Dr. Aubrey's owl Loki scouting ahead. The stairwell and landing light inside Kindleton's building were also extinguished. Joe Actual led the way to a landing with three doors, two of which had light coming from them. Opening one, he discovered Professor Xambria Meredith washing her face. She was surprised to see Joe and asked if he had come to report on more information about her cultist grad student. As Joe tried to explain the situation Xambria grew alarmed and asked why Joe had turned off the the landing light. When Joe said it was that way when she arrived, she told him that the light in her room had been left on when she came to the bathroom, but was now off.

Loki scouted out Xambria's room (right next door to Professor Kindleton's), and discovered a blond man in a police uniform lurking near the doorway. The owl immediately fled. Joe followed and found the room empty. Going to the open window to see where the man had run to, Joe was clawed across the face by the invisible man, blinding him. The others tried to follow, but the shadows around them seemed to grow thick and began to grab at them and hold them in place.

Dr. Aubrey tried to use Suggestion to make the invisible man surrender, but it failed. However, the effort of resisting that compulsion made him visible, revealing a man who seemed to be made of shadows. Rapidly, the shadows dissipated. revealing bare muscle and sinew in Zamfir's torchlight before the torch extinguished itself and they lost sight of the man again.

He seemingly fled out the window and disappeared into the night. After this encounter, the constables had a brief chat with Lynn Kindleton, who mentioned that she had already spoken to an officer earlier that day at her office. She said that she told him the same that she was telling them: she went to school with von Recklinghausen, briefly dated, and remained friends. Recently, he needed to travel to Flint and she gave him a letter of recommendation. He stopped by for lunch within the past week, but that's the last she saw of him.

The constables headed back to RHC HQ with much to sort out...
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
Since Dr. Aubrey’s player has decided that Divination school (where you roll two d20s at the beginning of the day and can then assign those rolls to anyone, including enemies) plus Suggestion is just the Win button, I have decided that on Obscurati-folk, the Ob Geas is going to stop those shenanigans.

“Oh, one of my dice today is an 8. Cool, Suggestion on someone to make him surrender. He rolls an 8. Glad we only have like one encounter a day in Zeitgeist!”
 

roadtoad

aka skotothalamos
After several days of no further leads in the death of Nilasa, the constables were tapped by Saxby to provide security for King Aodhan's visit. Dr. Aubrey, as a consultant, was not invited to what was expected to be mostly an RHC Public Relations mission.

The Constables met with the King's right-hand man, Principal Minister Harkover Lee, to discuss security concerns. There would be a multitude of representatives from the various nations in attendance, and any of them could be likely to try to cause the King embarrassment during this momentous launch of the RNS Coaltongue, Risur's first steam-powered warship.

Aboard the ship were the following, some of whom the Constables did not have a chance to meet:

King Aodhan
Principal Minister Harkover Lee
Duchess Ethelyn of Shale, the King's sister and presumptive heir, along with her handmaiden.
Admiral Morris Dawkins, head of Risur's navy
Geoff Massarde, the Danoran Tiefling who had defected to Risur and designed the Coaltongue
Captain Rutger Smith of the RNS Impossible, the fastest ship in the fleet
Roland Stanfield, Deva Governor of Flint
Catherine Romana, a noblewoman representing the Risuri Parliament
Benedict Pemberton, Risur's preeminent industrialist
Brakken of Heffanita, a softspoken Minotaur diplomat representing the nation of Ber
Vitis Sigismund, a Clergy Godhand, representing the nation of Crisillyir
Kvarti Gorbatiy, a Dwarven marksman repesenting the nation of Drakr
Lya Jierre, niece to the sovereign of Danor, representing that nation
Kasvarina Varal, a very serious Eladrin matriarch, representing the shattered nation of Elfaivar
Asrabey Varal, an eladrin warrior from the Dreaming, representing the interests of the Unseen Court

The Constables brought along some junior members of the team to help with the massive job of securing an entire warship. Including Saxby, there were eight RHC representatives on the ship. Rian and Saxby handled the schmoozing duties while the rest of the team spread out to the various decks to watch for threats.

The foreward part of the main deck was arrayed for a celebration, and the VIPs and their handlers mingled and talked affairs of state. Rian and Saxby inserted themselves into that crowd while Joe and Zamfir looked on from afar. Thor made himself at home on the engine deck, and junior constables were entrusted with the berth deck and gun deck. After a while, the Duchess Ethelyn flagged down Joe Actual and asked if there was a place she could rest before the main celebration started. Joe consulted with Captain Rutger Smith, who had given the constables a security tour of the ship, and the Captain suggested a lounge in the aft of the berth deck.

Joe escorted the Duchess and her handmaiden to those quarters and remained outside the door to make sure nothing untoward happened to her.
Rian chatted with Asrabey Varal, the fey emissary, who did not seem very impressed with the "mechanical monstrosity" they were riding on. He stayed near the rail, looking quite queasy. She then talked with Admiral Dawkins for a while about terrorist activities. When Dawkins slipped into the kitchen to procure some comestibles, Rian tracked him down for some private conversation.

At this point, the engineers in the engine room had a shift change, which the junior constable on duty, Frederick Douglass, reported via intercom to Zamfir on the top deck. Zamfir thought that was suspicious, so went to alert Saxby and Rian that something was odd. Just then, the band at the rear of the ship broke into the Risuri national anthem, making it hard to hear anything on the upper decks of the ship.

As the music started, an invisible halfling chef stabbed Joe Actual in the back and ran off across the berth deck. The Duchess's handmaiden came out to see what the commotion was. Joe ordered her to go back into the room, as there was a belligerent halfling in the hall. The handmaiden approached Joe, seemingly confused by his statements. When she was very close to him, she vanished and Joe could hear a door down the hall opening. Realizing that something was very amiss, Joe burst into the Duchess's room just in time to see her jump out the window. Rushing to the window, Joe saw that the Duchess was being plucked out of the sea by some sort of mermaid riding a kraken. With no time to deal with the repercussions there, Joe rushed to deal with the appearance of two saboteurs.

In the engine room, the two engineers attacked junior constable Frederick Douglass and began sabotaging the engine. There were now four saboteurs loose on the ship and only a few constables had any idea what was happening.

Thor was surprised to find the Duchess's handmaiden rushing into the boiler room with a wand in one hand and a fiery red gem in the other. As he confronted her, she smashed the gem to the ground, releasing a Fire Elemental, and teleported two decks upward to the gun deck, where she linked up with the halfling. The two of them overpowered the ship's guards and removed the fire wards on the ship's magazine. The Fire Elemental dove into the boiler furnace, intent on overloading it.

Thor pushed on into the engine room, where he found the two engineers beating the junior constable into submission and rusting valves shut with some sort of wand. He quickly killed them, and started opening every pressure relief valve he could find.

Rian and Joe Actual met the halfling and handmaiden on the gun deck, but failed to detain either of them before they could throw the fire wards into the sea and leap out the gun ports after them. Now all the saboteurs had been dealt with or escaped, but the ship was well on its way to a catastrophic explosion, and the band played on.

By this time, Zamfir had made it down to the engine deck, where he revived Frederick Douglass and sent him to warn everyone to evacuate the ship. He saw the fire elemental at work int he boiler and decided to approach the problem head-on, starting with a bolt of lightning, and then wading into the fiery ember of the furnace to fight the thing. Thor looked at that and decided it was a fool's errand, and left to find the nearest lifeboat. Joe Actual and Rian separated form the gun deck; Rian headed up to begin the evacuation while Joe headed down into the engine room to help Zamfir, passing Thor on the way.

The pair of former gladiators from Ber worked the problem for a bit, with Zamfir attacking the elemental, and Joe shoveling firegems out of the furnace. junior constable Joe Virtual and ship architect Geoff Massarde arrived to assist in the effort, and they struck on a plan: a few well-placed firedust charges could crack the hull enough to bring water in and flood the furnace. With Massarde there to guide them, finding the weak points, setting the charges, and getting all of the hatches closed was hastily achieved, and the RNS Coaltongue was crippled, but did not explode.

King Aodhan was alone on the top deck to greet them as they ascended. His teleportation contingency had not worked, apparently fouled by some fey magic, leaving him as the last man on board after all the lifeboats had launched. The ship shuddered as the charges went off, but it remained afloat. Nearby vessels were able to tow the mighty warship back to port. Only once it had been towed back did King Aodhan leave the ship. Massarde and the three constables stayed with him and listened as he regaled them with stories of his adventures in the Third Yerasol War.
 

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