Death for Any Price

Session 18: An Ax to Grind
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Queen of Spades, Urisk
Ring of NPC: Xeal, Ms Terspungecake
Sunday, 4th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

As the last of the children was taken in arms by a disguised Jack of Spades the door to the nursery was opened and Mother McKinney came to check on the wards on the window which had been disturbed. With what little warning he had, Jack flew up to the ceiling and remained dead quiet with the child in his arms. As Mother McKinney checked the cradles of the nursery, Jack inched his way along the roof and towards the open door. He made it out the door without being noticed, but McKinney cast a spell of some sort and rushed out the door, narrowly passing him.

Meanwhile, Garny and Urisk realised something was awry when Dawn and her fellow Sisters Superior were called away from their dinner. After politely offering to help Garny retired to her room, where she was able to recall Jack (with the last child) before he could be discovered. Urisk leisurely finished his dinner, then checked in with Garny to see what the plan was from there.

While the other three regrouped, Toad had a handful of children to take care of. So, in typical Toad fashion, he decided that magic was the solution: he led the children in a line and cast an illusion over them so they appeared to be drunken halflings. In this fashion he was able to lead them past the Daughters of Day rushing towards the alarms in the orphanage.

The group gathered at Emmett’s Emporium with all the children, and with a quick Knock spell broke into the shop once more. They were met at the door by the villainous group led by Felicity, trading false niceties before they quickly exited the building. Those of the group who kept an eye on their counterparts noticed that they didn’t go far, instead using the external stairs of a nearby building to head to the rooftops.

Heading into the shop, the party went straight to the clock and attempted to activate it. Rather than teleporting them into Norgorber’s pocket dimension, a message appeared on the wall: “Move- QUICKLY”. As the group scrambled to evacuate the shop, an explosion sent everything up in flames. Picking themselves up outside the shop they hastened to gather in a nearby alley, out of sight of any paladins rushing to combat the flames. Understandably confused as to why Emmett would destroy his own shop, the group did a quick pat-down of their clothes and were rewarded with one of Emmett’s notes. The note was a riddle which (after a bit of head-scratching) yielded a new portal to Norgorber’s private dimension, which the group quickly stepped through.

The group were dumped into the waiting room as before, and an earth elemental led the children off to another room. After waiting for a sufficient length of time, the party were led through to the corridor which the majority of them walked through. Urisk’s curiosity got the better of him, however, and he slipped into one of the many doors lining the corridor. The item held within was a book that held the ability to capture a creature’s attention and slowly drain their sentience into the book. Fortunately for Urisk he was saved from a mindless existence by Emmett’s timely intervention, the older rogue separating Urisk from the captivating pages.

Once all the party members had reached the end of the corridor, they were led into the next room. Instead of the boardroom they had previously been in, the room was a vast expanse of marble, with a raised dais and altar at its centre. The children were waiting in front of the altar, all robed in white, and Norgorber was standing with them. The dark God then offered a sacrificial knife to the group, and gestured to the children. Acting on the implicit suggestion that the children were to be killed, Toad, Urisk and Garnidelia chose to kill their children, each doing so in their own brutal or efficient way. Xeal drew the line at killing his child, however, reasoning that these children must be more than just sacrificial lambs. Given that he wasn’t immediately struck down suggested that he was right, and Miss decided to follow his example.

After the two remaining children were led away by the earth element, Norgorber congratulated them on a job well done. He granted each of the party a new power and invited them to stay and use the research facilities of his private libraries. Upon prompting, Emmett also revealed details of the List of Names, specifically that each number signified a special item or thing that acted beyond the laws of the world. The names are the owners of the items, each of them having knowledge of the list. The group’s task from here on out is to hunt down the items and kill their owners as to preserve the secret.

Notable points from Norgorber’s pocket dimension:

  • Toad expelled the chaotic element within him via a ritual in the Book of Dis, creating an eidolon-like creature that is affectionately referred to as Barks
  • Jack of Spades killed and absorbed Garnidelia, transforming into the feminine Queen of Spades
  • The characters that killed the children received three extra skill points, while those who did not were granted fearsome demonic warriors to do their bidding

After the group had made their preparations they were transported back to Iomedaea, where they took the chance to have a good night’s sleep. The next day was their match against Quarth, which sorely tested the skills and resolve of the group. Quarth was also made aware that there was something strange about Queen of Spades, but was (for the time being) dissuaded from following it up. In any case, the group were triumphant, and are soon to face off against the last and greatest of their challenges for the Tourney- the Red Judges…

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Session 17: It's Like Reverse Santa Claus
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Garny, Ms Terspungecake, Urisk
Ring of NPC: Xeal
Monday 3rd of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

In the couple of hours before their bout, the party all decided there were some individual actions they wanted to take:

  • Garnidelia went to the Embrace of Kindness Orphanage to approach Dawn about her and her shield sisters to join her for tea later that evening
  • Toad went the libraries in Foi to investigate if there were any secret tunnels under the city that led to the Hall of Judgement. In one of the smaller libraries that was dedicated to the architecture of the city he was able to find plans for escape tunnels leading from the Hall of Judgement to the sewers.
  • Urisk investigated whether there was any gambling taking place on the outcomes of the matches among the common citizens. He was able to find a half-orc book-keeper named Edgar who was willing to give him one to three odds on the Upstanding Citizens winning their next match. Urisk bet as much as he could (to a maximum payout of 100gp), then left to find the others.

It was then time for their bout against the Sisters Superior, with the audience seeming to have lost none of their eagerness to see the combats. While the Upstanding Citizens were perhaps a little more well matched against the team of paladins, they were still able to defeat their opponents without too much trouble. The group went to some special effort to take down Dawn early on in the match, but otherwise behaved themselves in front of the audience.

Upon conclusion of the combat the group were all given a coin purse as a reward, and were allowed again to choose from one of four magic items. The group chose to take what they believe to be a metamagic rod for enlarging spells (though they weren’t quite able to make sure that was its effect). The casters of the group were led to believe that they would be able to guess the command word after a couple of weeks of study (three weeks).

With the day’s combat wrapped up, the group decided it was time to sit down and thoroughly work through their plan to abscond with the children. Garny shared with the others that she had invited the Sisters Superior to dinner to hopefully keep them away from the orphanage. This of course would require some of the party to stay with the Daughters of Day to entertain them, a job that Garny, Xeal and Urisk volunteered for.

This left Miss, Jack and Toad with the job of extracting the children from the orphanage. At first their ideas were a little less inspired, being no more than stuffing the children in a sack and running. Luckily for them, Toad remembered a popular ritual that was held in Iomedaea known as Io’s Night. On this night it was said that the Goddess would visit young children and bless them with a mark of their trade (toy swords, books, holy symbols, etc.). While it wasn’t the correct day, the group were reasonably sure it would be enough to fool the children.

With their plans ready, Garny and her group met the Sisters Superior at the Red Parrot, with a special guest in tow! Quarth (having won his match) had decided to join the Sisters and ordered the first round of drinks. With not much required of them besides keeping the Daughters occupied for as long as possible, Garny and Urisk engaged in polite conversation.

In the meantime, Toad’s group got into place to mimic the ritual. They used Jack’s Hat of Disguise to have him appear as Iomedae, then flew him down the chimney and into the rooms of the children. Toad’s imp then directed him to which children needed to be taken, and the children were then taken in hand or carried out of the orphanage. Interestingly enough, the children did not seem alarmed to be taken, though each one held close a toy from Emmett’s Emporium.

With the children safely in their grasp, the last hurdle to overcome is taking evasive maneuvers when a city of paladins starts looking out for the children. . .

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Session 16: In Which Lying is Still a Bad Thing
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Xeal, Garny
Ring of NPC: Ms Terspungecake, Urisk
2nd-3rd of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

Despite the alchemists’ bombs dealing some significant damage to Toad (leaving him at a single hit point of health), the party hit back with characteristic efficiency and brutality. Less than a minute passed before the gnomes were ready to yield, allowing the Upstanding Citizens to advance to the next round. The group eagerly accepted their winnings for the match, and chose a Ring of Rat Fangs for Jack of Spades as their magic item reward.

After being healed up by the attendant Daughters of Day the group decided to split up for a while, partly because of Xeal’s two watchers. Toad made himself as inconspicuous as he could and made to meet up with his imp to learn what his familiar had learned about the children at the Embrace of Kindness Orphanage. The imp had spent the first half of the day putting names to children so that it could identify who needed to be taken.

Xeal, Garny and Jack made their way back to the Red Parrot with Xeal’s watchers close behind. Xeal was understandably eager to ditch the paladin escort and to regain his mask, so after quickly freshening up, Dawn and Eliza escorted him to Verite, where he was to be interrogated.
The Dragon’s Flames Captain was an intimidating female half-orc who gave no quarter in her pointed questions to Xeal. Normally this would be no problem for the silver-tongued Xeal- unfortunately for him, his normally subtle web of lies was too complex and quickly fell apart under the scrutiny of the guard captain (natural 1). Realising that Xeal wouldn’t give anything away about his companion, the captain ordered him locked up overnight with the intent to give him time to change his mind about telling the truth.

Upon returning to The Red Parrot the group were met with cheers and free drinks as they were recognised as the victors of their round. Garny took this praise with indifference, though Toad was happy to take advantage of it (under the guise of his illusion). As the night stretched on Jack brought up Xeal’s absence, but it was generally ignored (as Jack at times is) by the group.

The next day brought with it a small message to each of them in the script that was now easily recognisable as Emmett’s. The message simply said “We watch with interest”, and gave no hint or clue as to their next best course of action.

Xeal was once again taken to the interrogation room after his breakfast meal and faced with the same guard captain. With Xeal once again lying through his teeth (but this time not failing in doing so) the frustrated captain was forced to let him go for now, but told him that he would be charged with obstruction of justice if this were to occur again.

Xeal rejoined the others late in the morning (11.00) and the party readied to do combat with their next opponents- the Sublime Sisters, including the lovely Dawn and the matronly Eliza…

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Interlude: A Cunning Con, Part 1
GM Notes

PCs: Kiril (Caleb), Peri (Chris), Salvador (Michael)
Ring of NPC: Steve, Bartholomew, Nodrak
3rd of Gozrehta, 179th Year of the Goddess

No sooner had the Hand of Iomedae accepted the Kiril into their ranks than Salvador was struck with a vision. With Nodrak and Peri on hand to translate the group were able to decipher some of the vision, specifically that there was trouble to be found in the southern capitals of Vrena and Vertan. With no time to waste they spurred their horses south along the major trade route from Jebagara towards the two sister cities. Over the twenty or so days of travel the group got to know each other a little better, slowly growing more comfortable in each other’s company.

Upon reaching the fork in the road to Vrena and Vertan, the group chose to take a minute to review what they knew of each city. As usual, Peri seemed to know the most about the two cities and quickly shared what she knew with the others. The group chose to take the road right to Vrena, reasoning that they would be more welcome there than in Vertan where use of magic is a necessity.
As they followed the road it gradually became a boardwalk, and the earth underneath them became sand. The occasional fisherman’s shack gave way to closely clustered houses, and the boardwalk changed to accommodate piers and seaside taverns.

it was at this point that they were stopped by two official looking guards who challenged them and asked for their adventuring licences. This took the party by surprise, as they genuinely had no idea that they needed such a thing. They asked about the licenses and were told that they were a new initiative being introduced in the Southern Kingdoms to hold adventurers liable to any damage that they might cause. Wanting to be a lawful citizen, Salvador asked to be referred to the closest office where they might be able to obtain a licence.

The building they were directed to was a dingy little dwelling in a back alley, with a crudely drawn crest of the Eglingtons painted on the door. Entering the office with some trepidation, the group were met by a bored-looking halfling who was scribbling away on a stack of papers in front of him. Nosing around a little yielded one crumpled and stained license form. Upon filling this out, the group were informed that the cost of registration was 700 gold- per adventurer!
At this point the group used their common sense, with Kiril remembering that he’d heard about this exact kind of scheme before. Bartholomew wanted to get violent with the halfling for this trickery, but Salvador held back the angry wizard. Stuck between an angry wizard and the implacable block of justice that is Salvador the halfling was only too happy to give up details of the scheme.

The halfling’s information sent them to a barrel outside Luck of the Draw where the halfling was instructed to store any money received. The group did their best to be stealthy about checking out the surrounding area, but Salvador showed his trademark lack of subtlety and ran around asking bystanders if they were involved (nat 1). Luckily for the group, it seemed that the lookout for the barrel was just as incompetent at being inconspicuous, being dressed in an oversized black overcoat with black hat and sunglasses (another nat 1).
Choosing to lay low so they wouldn’t be spotted, the group entered the casino. This was a new experience for all of them, one that Kiril and Peri were eager to take part in. The two of them lost no time in finding tables to bet at, with Kiril choosing to play at a gold table and Peri at a platinum. Peri found herself pitted against the skills of Lecturer Bob and Adiamus Linton, managing to win a modest amount despite losing the first game. Kiril likewise won a modest sum, winning just enough to avoid being the object of anyone’s anger.

In the meantime, Salvador and the other members of the party were seated at a table with a view of the barrel, carefully watching for when someone might come to retrieve the money. Steve relayed to the others that he had also noticed an elf hiding in the shadows of a boat moored nearby who had swiftly signaled to Mr Conspicuous. The elf cast a spell and vanished, prompting the group to rush out and surround the area where they last saw the elf. Steve got in a lucky blind shot which allowed Salvador the chance to jump in and grapple with the invisible elf.

By this point Kiril and Peri had made it outside and were readying themselves to help their companions. Just as the invisible elf slipped out of Salvador’s grasp there was a mighty gunshot from Kiril’s musket and a spray of gore from the invisible target. A couple of seconds later the elf reappeared, face blanched with pain from the gunshot wound to his knee.
Mr Conspicuous didn’t have a chance to flee either- Kiril swung around with his musket still at the ready, and took another shot. The second shot yielded similar results, the gnome howling in pain and anger.
The shouts and screams brought the guards, however, who quickly surrounded those who were visible. Salvador explained the situation to the guards who took Mr Conspicuous and the wounded elf into their custody but offered no extra explanation of what would happen next.
Satisfied that the guards should at least have things in hand, the group checked the barrel only to find that the drop had been taken! Clearly there was more to uncover yet in Vrena…

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Session 15: Round 1. . . FIGHT!
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Xeal, Garny, Urisk
Ring of NPC: Ms Terspungecake
2nd of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

The party managed to regroup through the mess of the melee as they were able to spot their companions in short order. They chose to keep to the edges of the conflict, a strategy that meant they avoided the majority of combat (though Toad got a nasty jolt from a gnome wizard). Staying away from any major engagement allowed the group to get a better look at some of the other competitors, particularly the Daughters of Day who had escorted Xeal, Quarth and the team of Red Judges.

Solomon eventually called for the melee to halt, and the wounded were taken to an infirmary to be tended to. Some Daughters of Day offered healing to the party who were more than happy to take the free healing. After all combatants had been tended to a herald announced the groups that would be proceeding to the next stage of the Tourney. The groups to make it through were:

  • Jorrbun’s Hammers
  • Slice’n’dice
  • The Crescent Waning (the contingent from the House of Moon & Stars)
  • Quarth
  • The Sublime Sisters (the group of Daughters of Day)
  • The Pain Train
  • Bombs Away
  • The Upstanding Citizens (the “inconspicuous” name the group chose for themselves
  • Crimson Reckoning (the group of Red Judges)
  • Slash Happys (a group representing the mercenary group of the same name)
  • Bloodrunner Elite (a group representing the mercenary group of the same name)
  • Sigrud’s Six
  • Og & Co.
  • United Front
  • Squad Superior
  • Old-timers

The herald announced that the first party vs party combats would occur shortly, much to the delight of the waiting crowd. The party had a brief respite before their next combat, being able to watch the first combats and move through the crowd as they pleased.

Xeal’s minders were required to fight in the first round, so he was gently encouraged to watch their match and be within reach. He took the opportunity to observe the tactics that the paladins were using, clustering close together while a cleric buffed them with spells. After the match he approached his two minders with his game face on, complimenting them on their fighting prowess. The younger of the two, Dawn, was quite taken by Xeal’s suave ways and happily chatted away with him until he was called away for his bout.

Toad chose to spend his time before their match watching Quarth’s battle with the elven mages. He noted that Quarth had an impressive level of proficiency with the greataxe, wielding it as if it were a much lighter weapon as he cleaved through his opponents.

Garny chose not to do anything herself, instead sending Jack to follow one of the snack sellers who were catering to the large crowds. When the snack seller had run out of food he returned to a large fire pit where several roasts were being turned simultaneously. While this was of no particular interest to Jack, he found that the snack vendors sold little finger puppets of the heroes as well. Delighted in this find, he purchased some, and went back to Garny to show off his find.

Urisk had the most practical of concerns in mind, and wanted to sabotage the group’s opponents. He was able to sneak into a barracks that was being used as a changing room for the alchemists and obtain their bombs. Unfortunately for Urisk, an alchemist’s bombs are unlike traps and standard explosives, and he was unable to do anything that he was sure would provide results.

With the first matches of the first round completed it was now time for the party to step on to the field. The herald announced the two groups, and the battle began! Now all that waits is to see if this match ends in victory…
TBC

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Session 13-14: We'd like to steal and eat your children
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Saad, Xeal, Ms Terspungecake
Ring of NPC: Urisk, Garnidelia
1st – 2nd of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

Session 13 was solely dedicated to the combat between the two evil parties, so we won’t spend much time to describe how that played out. Some highlights, however:

  • Saad poking at things with his trident
  • Urisk shaping the fabric of the pocket reality that they were in to create a giant glowing disco ball above them that permanently illuminated the opposing party
  • Girthy being stuck in a web and being utterly useless for an entire combat
  • A massive detonation of fireballs as Jack of Spades triggered eight fireballs of a necklace of fireballs (each fireball 5d6, total 40d6 damage).

In any case, Emmett called the combat to a halt following the fireball explosion, pronouncing our protagonists to be the winners of the combat. The space around them once again resolved into a boardroom, with the two parties facing each other and Emmett standing at the head of the table. Their victory had clearly won them no favors from their counterparts, and the enmity between sides was palpable, especially Lilly at Saad and Girthy at Toad.

Emmett congratulated both teams on their efforts, but dismissed Felicity’s team while he spoke to the party. He also made Ginko and Miss switch teams, cryptically telling the group that Miss’s skills would be valuable for the tasks ahead.
He then presented the party with a choice- to take the Path of Might and be the major villains of this era, or take the Path of Subtlety and carry out missions of precision and stealth to further Norgorber’s objectives. Weighing up their individual skills, they chose the Path of Subtlety, and were granted new knowledge and power as a result.

  • Once a week, with three members of the party concentrating together, an hour of memory from the last 24 hours can be wiped from an unconscious or sleeping target. At least one member of the party must be in physical contact with the person, with the other two a maximum of 20ft from the target.

Emmett then informed the group that one last task was required to prove their faith to Norgorber (and in doing so, prove themselves worthy of receiving their next reward). They were to take certain children from the new orphanage in Foi and bring them to Norgorber’s realm to be sacrificed for the cause. The individual party members took this news in different ways- evil aligned members such as Toad and Miss simply saw it as just another objective and Xeal found himself in self-denial over the term “sacrifice”. Saad saw this as one step too far, however- callous and hardened as he is, he wasn’t willing to slaughter toddlers for power.

Having given them their instructions, Emmett left them to sit in the boardroom, only for them to realise they had missed yet another chance to ask him about the mysterious List of Names. With their attempts to call him back from whatever pocket dimension he had disappeared into failing, they chose to leave the boardroom. With a choice of two doors, they chose not to go through the long corridor they’d entered through, but instead through the door that Felicity’s group had exited through. To their relief, this led back into the reception, where the bored receptionist was still filing her nails and generally paying no attention to them.

One by one they were teleported back to Emmett’s Emporium to find that no time had passed since they had entered Norgorber’s pocket dimension. The majority of the group made their way back to their rooms at The Red Parrot, with Miss going to The Toulouse a couple of blocks down. All the group had agreed to meet up after eight hours rest (because really, who needs a proper sleeping schedule) to discuss exactly how they were going to get the children away from the orphanage. They all went to sleep at around 10, with plans to wake at 6.

Saad, on the other hand, had other plans. Having secretly taken a number of items from Toad’s Handy Haversack, he decided to get the hell out of dodge. Leaving his rooms at the inn at midnight, he bought the first horse he could and rode as fast as he could over the Scales of Justice, hoping to put as much space between himself and the others as he could.

Six o’clock came around, and the group gathered at The Red Parrot. They had planned to meet in Saad’s room, but found a “do not disturb” sign hanging from the door and a sock on the doorknob. Knowing Saad’s reputation with gentlemen and one night stands, they decided not to push the issue, instead convening in Toad’s room. While checking to see if the room was secure from curious ears Toad found that the room had previously been subject to a Permanent Silence spell, but that the permanence had worn off to some extent. Miss also found what appeared to be a map to a specific location, somewhere in the swamps on the other side of the continent.

The group spent the next two hours discussing potential plans- invisibility, kidnapping, pretend adoption and (of course) Xeal lying to the orphanage management. This was all discussed in code, with “stealing the children” being replaced with “eating food”. As the clock chimed the 8 o’clock bell, the group decided to check on Saad once more. Xeal chose to tactfully message Saad via magic, but received no response. Beginning to realise that something was up, the group opened the door to find a perfectly pristine room, devoid of any trace of Saad.

The group raced down to the common room to ask Octavius the barkeep if he had seen Saad leave during the night. Xeal got quite chummy with him (nat 20) and Octavius happily told the group that he had seen Saad leave in the early hours of the morning. Miss decided to take the lead at this point with her superior tracking skills, following signs of Saad’s passage through the city back to the guard checkpoint at the Scales of Justice.

The guard checkpoint posed a problem for the (at this point) mostly evil group- their alignments would be quickly picked up by the paladins’ ability to detect evil. Toad, however, was very confident in a spell that he had just recently mastered, and cast a spell to swap his alignment with a coin he had picked up on the streets. To their credit, the rest of the group stayed back while he tested the effectiveness of his spell by nonchalantly walking up to the group of Knights of Egalite guarding the bridge.

Unfortunately for our young wizard, the gnome captain made his will save, and Toad found himself quickly surrounded by a group of five paladins. With a sigh (and perhaps a partial facepalm) he fell back on his normal escape strategy, turning invisible and hightailing it out of there.
Seeing this, Xeal thought that he’d try and take some of the heat off Toad by faking shock at the sight of the wizard disappearing. His bluff failed dismally, however, as the normally eloquent sorcerer did some of the most wooden acting of his life. The already wary paladins decided to take no chances with their second suspect, and quickly tied Xeal up (Xeal chose not to resist).

A few minutes earlier saw Saad briefly stopping at the Last Rest, pausing only to sell his exhausted horse and buy a new one. He also made the risky choice to tinker with the Cube of Disasters, aligning a reasonable section of one side. Abandoning the cube in case it drew the disaster to him, he spurred on his new mount to take him down the trade road to Jebagara.

As Xeal was apprehended by the Knights of Egalite on the bridge, the effects of the cube became clear in a big way- a large meteorite came sailing through the sky and impacted where Saad had left the Cube on the bridge. The explosion was powerful enough to be seen a full day’s travel away, throwing the crowd at the exit to Iomedaea into disarray. The Knights at the bridge did their best to maintain order, with teams of paladins being sent out immediately to assess the damage and tend to the wounded.

Toad and Miss took full advantage of the chaos to move away from the city checkpoint, deciding that attempting to follow Saad was not as high a priority as not getting caught. The pair headed back to Foi and the new orphanage, hoping to find out more about the children that they needed to steal.
The pair had a very simple plan: pretend to be partners looking to adopt, find out which children they needed to take and come back at a later point. Toad chose to do the talking, confident in his ability to bluff through the situation.
Unfortunately for Toad, luck was not on his side (natural 1). He had been thinking and speaking in the code that they had decided upon that his tongue mixed the two together- instead of informing the Daughter on duty that they wanted to see the children, he said that they wanted to steal and eat the children!
Miss chose to step in at this point, trying to ease the awkwardness that had resulted from Toad’s mistake. While she was unable to get on the duty Daughter’s good side they were able to leave without causing further incident. The pair were politely escorted off the premises and the doors slammed in their face. With nothing else that they feel they could do for the time being, they felt entering the Champion’s Tourney was the most productive way for them to pass the time.

At this point Xeal was being led to the holding cells in Verite by the gnome captain and his group of Knights. The captain had confiscated his mask, deeming it risky to allow Xeal to retain it, but Xeal drew on all his powers of persuasion to argue that he should be set free to go heal those in need at the Last Rest. While she was initially resistant to the idea, the captain deemed it appropriate if (and only if) he was accompanied by two Daughters of Day.

The captain (who introduced herself as Lavendrop) led them into Foi, stopping at the Embrace of Kindness orphanage. One of the Knights detached from the group to go and bring two Daughters back, one older and one younger. After a quick exchange of words, the Knights went back to their positions at the bridge check point and Xeal was left alone with the two Daughters. The older of the two informed him that they were actually instructed to take part in the Champion’s Tourney, and that he would need to accompany them to the melee as a resuit.

Arriving at the training ground that had been set up for the melee the group got their first glimpse of their good counterparts. They also saw the High Priest of Iomedae, Solomon, who was helped to his seat by a Red Judge. With magic amplifying his voice, Solomon spoke to the competitors and the audience to tell them the particulars of the tourney:

  • All combat is non lethal- should a combatant be near unconsciousness, opponents should take great care in how they deal the final blow.
  • The first stage of the tourney will be a general melee. Individuals may fight on their own or as groups.
  • Those who do well in the melee enter into the final rounds of the Tourney, with three rounds of fighting before the finals. Winners of each round receive rewards in gold pieces as well as the chance to choose one of four magic items.
  • The winner of the finals will fight in an exhibition match against the heroes. They will also be able to select one treasure each from the vaults in the Hall of Judgement.

With the formalities out of the way, Solomon signaled for the combat to begin. The group accounted for themselves well with their normal strategies: Toad used Create Pit and Stinking Cloud, Xeal tried out his new Fireballs and Miss sending arrow after arrow into the other combatants.

Somehow in the chaos they all managed to find each other, so all that remains to be seen is how they ultimately fair in the melee…

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Session 12: High Quality Toys at Suspiciously Low Prices
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Saad, Urisk, Xeal, Ginko, Garnidelia
30th of Phara – 1st of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

Having successfully bested the bone golem, the group took a moment to pause and take in their surroundings. There was little loot to be found among the bones and skeletons, though an examination of the walls found some magical writings, presumably about the golem. The party chose to take no interest in this, however, choosing to make their way through the sewers as quickly as they could. Having no magical means or map to find their way, the group decided to trace the wall on their left on the assumption that this would at least prevent them from getting lost.

As the hours passed trekking through the darkness, Urisk found himself feeling ill and on the verge of vomiting several times. He assumed that he’d caught a disease from one of the traps that he’d accidentally set off earlier, but had no way of knowing exactly what it was from.
The group continued through the inky blackness for five or six hours, losing themselves in the dank hallways of sewerage. At one point they came close to encountering a party of dwarves, but chose to avoid engaging with them. From what they could hear and what Toad’s imp reported back it seemed that they were another adventuring party combing the underneath of the city for natural monsters.

Eventually the party found their way up into the light of day (at this point around 5.00 in the evening). To their surprise no-one gave them a second glance as they emerged from the sewers- apparently adventurers were known to do stranger things in the city. Having finally reached their destination and with a day’s time to spare, the group decided to split up.

The majority of the group opted to head towards to the nearest inn, the Red Parrot, where they paid for use of the baths and rooms for the night. While they settled into the inn they had the good fortune of meeting up with Garny and Jack who had been at the inn for a couple of days by this point ([[Session 8.5: Knowledge is Power | Session 8.5: Knowledge is Power]]). Garny had spent some time in Foi in the libraries that the second ring of the city held, while Jack had been scouting around to improve his local knowledge. After discussing what their next step would be in the morning the group took the rest of the night off: Saad went to flirt with strangers (unsuccessfully), Xeal faked being drunk to have a conversation with an inebriated tailor and his friend while Toad, Garny & Jack chose to eat their meals and observe the tavern’s patrons.

Ginko opted to wander into Foi to investigate the hospitals there. Unfortunately for him, the nurse on duty at the closest hospital had some strict ideas on hygiene that didn’t include a grimy adventurer fresh from the sewers. After receiving a few stern words, Ginko set out to find a bathhouse where he could scrub the sewerage filth of himself.
Once he had cleaned himself, he went back to the hospital which at this point had changed the duty nurse. The new nurse was happy to let him treat patients once he had demonstrated his expertise, and he spent the next couple of hours treating minor wounds, cuts and bruises.
After this, he asked if the hospital had any books of healing spells that he could copy from- his true objective all along. Given his good actions, the nurse felt that there was no problem in letting him do so. After memorising the spells that he could, he left the Hospital for the Red Parrot, where the group awaited him.

Urisk also chose to make his way to a hospital but first made sure to wash off the grime and muck of the sewers. Presenting to the first hospital he came across he was quickly diagnosed with filth fever. Luckily for him, one of the treating nurses had an appropriate spell ready to cure the disease, and he was able to make his way back to the Red Parrot disease free.

By this time it was late in the evening, and the group chose to retreat to the privacy of their rooms. At this point they were unsure where they would be meeting with Emmett, or how to go about finding him, but decided to leave it to the morning.

The next day saw the group rising early with the dawn. Working on their local knowledge of Iomedaea they knew that the last ring of the city was barred to them unless they put up a hell of a fight against the Red Judges. With that in mind, wherever Emmett wanted to meet with them had to be within Espoir, Foi and Verite. With a lot of ground to cover, the group decided to split up once more, this time wandering around the city as individuals:

  • Ginko went back to the hospital, seeing if he could pick up any interesting tips on healing from the clerics there
  • Xeal and Garny went to meet with Xeal’s new friend Varen at the tailors’ shop where he works, called Andron’s Weaves
  • Toad chose to look around for any shops that sold scrolls or books. While he was able to find some interesting history books he was unable to find any magical writings in the city.
  • Saad walked through the merchant district, doing his best to pick up any gossip that might have passed through the city.

Their search of the city eventually yielded one lead: a toy shop in Espoir called Emmett’s Emporium. With little else to go on but very skeptical it could be this easy, the group went in to the shop one by one. What they found was a friendly old shopkeeper and a variety of carved wooden toys. Suspicious of the quality of the toys, each member of the group decided to check the toys over very carefully. This yielded no results, which further puzzled and confused the group. With a shrug, some members decided to buy a toy as a souvenir, then left the shop.
Those who chose to inspect the shop itself saw an old grandfather clock behind the register. Chatting with the shopkeeper (whose name was indeed Emmett) let them discover that the clock hadn’t worked for years, and had been there since before he had set up the shop. The owner was strangely protective of the clock, however, and wouldn’t allow anyone a chance to try and fix it.

The party regrouped back at the Red Parrot at around 4.00pm and shared what they had discovered through the day. With Emmett’s Emporium still being the only clue to meeting up with Emmett, the group decided to investigate the shop after hours.
Breaking into the shop at around 7.00, the more magically inclined among the group took a better look at the clock up close. It seemed to have an aura of conjuration upon it, specifically a magic that might help it act as a teleporter. After fluffing around for a little while and figuring out how the clock might work, the group eventually realised that setting the hands to the correct time would teleport them into what seemed to be a reception area.
After waiting for a while, the group were teleported to a long corridor lined with doors. As they made their way down the hall, they heard screams coming from some room, and eerie silence from others. Choosing not to open any of the doors in the hallway, they proceeded straight to the end of the corridor to find themselves in a board room.
Around the table in the center of the room were seated some familiar faces- Lilly, Felicity, Nazareth, Piper, Girthy and Ms Terspungecake. At the head of the table was a cloaked figure that at first appeared to be Emmett, but whose presence seemed fill the room with a demand to bow down to him. The group realised this was Norgorber, and most of the group genuflected out of respect/reflex.
Norgorber congratulated the group on making it this far, on surviving the trials they had and fulfilling His requests. He then informed the group that from here on, they could take one of two paths- one of subtlety, or one of might. Emmett then stepped forward to tell the group that they would need to earn the privilege to make that decision, fighting against their old travelling companions as a group.

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Session 11: Why No-one Likes Dusty
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Saad, Urisk, Xeal, Dusty
Ring of NPC: Nazareth, Garnidelia, Jack of Spades, Ginko
24th-30th of Phara, 179th Year of the Goddess
1 day left til Iomedaea

Saad was joined in Jebagara later that evening by Toad, Xeal and Ginko. Xeal had successfully managed to convince the villagers of Huxton that he was a replacement for Father Gregory, and carried out his sermon as planned. He’d also swindled a few of them through claims of extra donations for the church, and left Huxton a little richer than when he’d arrived.

The group caught each other up with their stories, then realised Urisk was missing. Saad was rather nonchalant about it, believing that if he was deserving of being part of the group that he’d catch up before too long. The group agreed that they would meet outside the city at dawn to keep moving on the north trade road towards Iomedaea. Saad reluctantly also informed Dusty of their plans so that she would accompany them in the morning.

True to form, Dusty turned up early to the rendezvous point, determined to start the day with a bang. The others were somewhat alarmed at being met with fireworks at the rendezvous point, and again questioned the wisdom of bringing her along.

At that point they had something else to worry about, however- Xeal and company had decided to take the harvest tribute for Iomedaea, and the cart was slowing down their travel. After a couple of hours the group decided to sell the cart and its goods to the first merchants that they could find. Being on a major trade route they were able to find two merchants that were willing to not ask questions in exchange for a better price.

In the meantime, Dusty had decided that she wanted to make things a little more exciting, and had added explosives to the cart. No sooner had the group made the trade than cart exploded, showering those nearby with pieces of merchant and burnt grain. Realising how incriminating the circumstances looked, the group spurred their mounts on and sped away from the carnage.
With a little bit of a head start, Dusty’s quick getaway (and the following explosion) attracted paladin attention, and it wasn’t long before she had three paladins hot on her heels. Rather than keep running, she turned around to meet them and, with the most sincere possible tone, told them that she’d been frightened by the explosion and it had nothing to do with her (natural 20). The paladins accepted this, and went back to the cart to try and heal the remaining merchant.

Not in the slightest amused by Dusty’s antics, the group continued on from Jebagara to the Last Rest. The group wandered from magic shop to armour shop to tavern, casually chatting to who they could to gauge what the town was like. What they quickly determined was that there was a significant paladin presence in town as well as a paladin checkpoint to the bridge that led to Iomedaea. At some point the group lost track of Dusty (which to them was a blessing!).

Luckily for the group, Saad had run into an old friend of his, Amos, who was willing to get them into the city at a price. An hour later and the group were setting off across the ocean on the smuggler’s little sailing ship. About half a day’s travel eventually saw them to the base of the great city, where a sewer entry acted as an informal port for the little boat. Once coin had exchanged hands Amos made himself scarce and the group entered the sewers properly.
While exploring the sewers:

  • Urisk closed a sewerage valve
  • Urisk triggered some old traps
  • Saad leaped into a gelatinous cube to retrieve an adamantine weapon
  • Xeal found a sentient coin
  • The group found the lair of a necromancer, complete with bone golem
  • The group destroyed the bone golem and retrieve a necromancy token from it
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Session 10: Racial Profiling
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Saad, Urisk, Xeal, Ginko
Ring of NPC: Nazareth, Garnidelia, Jack of Spades
21st-23rd of Phara, 179th Year of the Goddess
8 days left til Iomedaea

With Esveralda now a distant concern, Xeal and Toad began cleaning the chapel of any evidence of the night’s wicked deeds while Urisk and Saad considered where next to head on their way to Iomedaea. The party agreed that it would be best to leave quickly before the Knights could return and question them, but Xeal still wanted to have the chance to do a special dawn service for the villagers. In the end, the party chose to split up- some remained with Xeal to back him up if things turned ugly, and the others followed Urisk and Saad in leaving the town early.

Urisk and Saad’s group made good time in their travels, passing through verdant grasslands and the occasional village as they made their way east. After a day’s travel, they were surprised by a female gnome that came sprinting from the trees lining the road. The gnome stopped to catch her breath, giving Urisk and Saad a chance to get a good look at her- her armour identified her as a fighter, and a patch sewn on to her armour marked her as a Slash-Happy mercenary, part of a guild based out of Jebagara. After regaining her composure, she introduced herself as Dusty, and proceeded to tell the group how her fellow mercenaries had fallen prey to a monster they had been sent to kill. While Urisk and Saad were for the most part uninterested by her woes, the opportunity for looting her dead friends was too good to pass up, and they casually asked her where the bodies might be.

While Urisk attempted to get the exact location of the bodies from Dusty, Saad noticed another figure approaching from the trees, hair obscured by a hood. His keen eyes noticed a snake head dart out from underneath, however, and he quickly realised that this was a medusa. Taking care not to look at the medusa’s face, Saad signalled to Urisk that the approaching figure was a threat, and they both started shifting away from an oblivious Dusty.

To their surprise, the medusa didn’t immediately attack, instead attempting to draw their eyes to hers with a mirror. When this failed, she dropped all pretense of amicability and threw herself at Dusty, eyes locking on her face. The quick-witted gnome managed to don her ever-present darkened goggles, however, saving her from a stony fate.

Seeing more value in slaying the medusa than not, Urisk and Saad came to Dusty’s aid, quickly besting the beast through their superior numbers. Conflict was not over, however, as Dusty and the pair disagreed on how the bounty should be split. Their disagreement quickly turned to violence, and Dusty was set upon by the two. After taking some serious wounds she decided that discretion was the better part of valour and used an invisibility spell to evade her attackers.

With Dusty more or less dealt with (though still messaging them while invisible) the pair decided to take the head and track down the bodies of her comrades. Urisk was able to effortlessly follow Dusty’s tracks back to where she had come from but was disappointed to find the medusa’s victims had been petrified completely (including their equipment). They did, however, have a bounty to claim, and the two set off for Jebagara (with Dusty hot on their heels).

A day and half’s travel later saw all three separately approach Jebagara by the east entrance. The more observant members of the party noted the elven encampment on the banks of Lake Maseron, and the wary attitudes of the city guard. Still, they passed through the checks at the gates without fuss, and Urisk and Saad chose to split up to attend to their own matters.

Urisk chose to go to the local branch of White, Grey & Associates, investigating what valuable magic items they had for sale and whether he might “liberate” them. He was able to tamper with some of the alarm spells, but realised he’d been caught doing so when the shopkeeper barred and locked the door upon his departure.
Not deterred in the slightest by this, Urisk enlisted the help of the beggar Little Jimmy to direct him to the shadier elements of town in the slums. Jimmy led him to the thief Manus, who was more than happy to tell a fellow thief some of the more promising targets in town. With Manus’ recommendations in mind, Urisk chose to case out the Merchant Guild’s warehouse.
Upon arriving at the warehouse, Urisk attempted to take a stealthy look around. He lacked subtlety in doing so, however, and the guards quickly dogpiled and tied up the hapless Strix before handing him over to the authorities. Urisk protested loudly to any who could hear, claiming his innocence and blaming his capture on racial prejudice.

In the meantime, Saad was at Blackwing Keep claiming the bounty on the medusa that the group had slain. It was by chance that he also ran into Dusty again, this time following Smitty Gorehands, leader of the Slash-Happys. Saad managed to keep a cool head, despite Dusty’s antics, and persuaded Smitty not to place a bounty on the group.
Moving on from the Keep, Saad sought out an apothecary to see if anything could be made with the Medusa’s head. Despite insulting the owner he was able to obtain a couple of potions that would work in a similar way to a medusa’s deadly stare.

Retiring to a tavern for the night (and still followed by an over-enthusiastic Dusty) Saad was met by Emmett, who was interested to check in on the group’s progress. He also advised that Dusty was to stay with the group, to Saad’s puzzlement and frustration.

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Session 9: Date with a Devil
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Saad, Urisk, Xeal, Ginko
Ring of NPC: Nazareth, Garnidelia, Jack of Spades
20th-21st of Phara, 179th Year of the Goddess
11 days left til Iomedaea

Having handily slaughtered the population of Casta, the party decided that they had best move quickly to prepare Toad as best they could for his “date”. Grabbing the town’s horses, they galloped the four hours ride to Huxton, where Toad had previously spotted a small chapel. Their ride was painful for some members of the party who developed riding sores from the cheap saddles, but otherwise uneventful.

The group arrived in Huxton at around 10 in the evening, riding into town quietly and without fuss. The village was quiet, with most of the villagers being in their homes and settling down for the night and only a few stragglers making their way in from the fields. It was the chapel that was of most interest to the party, however, and those in the party with keen eyes and ears quickly realised that it was occupied by some of the faithful engaging in a late service.

Urisk immediately volunteered to sneak up and get a closer look, stealthily making his way to the door of the chapel and peering inside. In the chapel were five armoured individuals in prayer with the heraldry of an eagle on their tabards- Urisk identified these as Knights of Egalite, likely here to collect the offering of grain from the village to take back to Iomedaea. Unwilling to face the odds of an even fight, the group quickly threw together a plan of deception centered around their newest member.

With a Hat of Disguise activated to hide his Mask of Stony Demeanor, Xeal burst into the chapel, faking exhaustion, terror and panic. The cleric quickly moved to comfort him, and Xeal spun a realistic tale of death and destruction in Casta with such artistry that two of the Knights immediately rode off to investigate. The half-orc cleric introduced himself as Father Gregory, and did his best to comfort the weeping Xeal while the other two paladins standing awkwardly to one side.

Having succeeded in bettering the odds, the group made preparations to storm the chapel in force, Saad summoning his ghostly pirates and Toad making ready to summon his hell hounds. Urisk quickly checked for any extra entrances, deciding that entry from the bell tower would be the best way to get in (natural 1 for perception). He managed to maintain his stealth, however, quietly slipping down the tower without sounding the alarm to the whole town.

With everyone in place, Saad directed his ghosts to go first, the surprised paladins quickly being subjected to multiple attacks from all directions. Urisk joined the fray, twin short swords striking deep into the gnome paladin and drawing a grunt of pain from him.

Meanwhile, a solitary figure rode into town on horseback, looking for shelter for the night at the chapel. Toad, standing at the chapel doors, quickly lied to the stranger, saying that the house across from the chapel was a tavern and that the chapel was not friendly to strangers. Believing him, the elf tied up his horse and strode across to the house, ready to be received warmly and instead being greeted by a half-asleep and slightly grumpy villager. Realising at this point that he had been deceived, the elf turned back to see Toad slip into the church, and the door close solidly behind him.

Inside the church, the combined force of ten or so creatures bearing down on the paladins quickly brought them down- the human was the first to fall, falling unconscious to a shocking grasp from Xeal then ripped into pieces by the hell hounds, and the gnome falling to Urisk’s blades. Saad took a little time in grappling with the cleric but was able to easily subdue him once enlarged by Toad’s spells. As the combat wound up Saad secured Father Gregory with the Rape Shackles while Urisk and Xeal did their best to loot the chapel (there was, unfortunately for them, little to find).

It was then that the door blew in with explosive force and flames, making Toad leap forward for cover. The elf outside had quickly grown impatient with the situation, and chosen to fire an alchemical grenade at the doors to remove the obstacle. As the majority of the party stared with horror at this stranger who had just destroyed any chance of their being subtle, Xeal chose to speak up and try to convince the elf that he had just intruded on a normal church service. Being successful in the lie, the elf was convinced, but indicated that he didn’t really care.

Before things could descend into combat once more, a familiar brown-robed figure walked into the chapel, clapping slowly as he did so. Saad and Toad quickly recognised this as Emmett, and demanded to know what he was doing here. Being cryptic as usual, he introduced the elf as Ginko, and said that he would be joining the group on the way to Iomedaea. This was (unsurprisingly) met with negative reactions, the group protesting that Ginko had likely spoiled their plans of subterfuge with a large and conspicuous explosion. Emmett offered to deal with this, however, and swept off into the night to attend to the villagers.

Shrugging off the odd circumstances, the group got to work preparing for Esveralda. Toad was handily aware of the appropriate rituals as a priest of Asmodeus, and set out a summoning circle of blood, three skulls (one having to be obtained from the graveyard, the other two being ripped from the dead paladins’ corpses) and a variety of small cutting instruments.
Esveralda made her appearance at midnight, being met at the door by Toad and led by hand to the sacrifice. The next three hours were a gory nightmare of violence and pain for Father Gregory as Esveralda took great pleasure in slowly escalating the torture she performed. Between strewing the priest’s intestines around the room, she offered Toad a kidney, which he unwillingly took a few mouthfuls of, marking his first taste of cannibalism.

Overall, the “date” went without a hitch- the erinyes sat with Toad on the altar beside the remains of the cleric and had a quiet chat about how things would pan out from here. The important points of the conversation included:

  • Esveralda is trapped on the Material Plane until Toad dies. She doesn’t seem to mind being stuck here, but did say that she would need certain pursuits to occupy her
  • Any creature summoned from a Book of Hell will attempt to kill you, regardless of what it may say to the contrary
  • Despite a long and unnatural life, she was unaware of the List and what it might mean

After what was an amicable conversation, Esveralda kissed Toad goodbye, and left him thankful that he had avoided her wrath once more. With that particular danger unlikely to surface again for now, the party now has a sermon to prepare for in a few hours time…

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