Death for Any Price

Session 27: From Flesh to Dust
GM Notes

PCs: Markas, Queen of Spades, Toad, Urisk, Vanir
Ring of NPC: Xeal
Tuesday, 13th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

The night passed without anything going amiss, and the group woke up feeling rested and ready to face a new day, vampires or not. Toad was delivered back to them as a cloud of smoke, carrying news from Du Pont. Apparently Du Pont wanted something back from a thief, a thief whose description matched that of the woman they had rescued some time earlier. Toad agreed to this act, noting that the vampire lord was treating him with respect, and had chosen him above the others to speak to.

After having told the party his tale, Toad received mixed responses. Some were of the opinion that the vampires needed to be eliminated for the inconvenience they had caused the party, while others thought that taking Du Pont’s offer was a good idea- he was, after all, a powerful vampire, and potentially a powerful ally. It eventually came down to one thing, as most of the group’s murder sprees did- who was on the List. As it turned out, Fleur’s name was found next to a single number (but a number nonetheless). With this in mind, the group decided they would avoid killing vampires unless absolutely necessary, kill Fleur and get the item, and deal with Du Pont another day.

They left the safety of the room and ventured back into the main corridor. Urisk’s mind was immediately assaulted by Alessandra’s psychic grip upon doing so, and he led the charge into a side room where he was promptly assaulted by two other vampires. These proved to be weaker members of the court, however, and the group was able to quickly dispatch these opponents.
The party was then confronted by a much displeased Alessandra, infuriated that the group had smashed her laboratory equipment. While she did some significant damage to some of the melee members of the group, Markas mercilessly thrashed the life from the vampire lady with his adamantine flail. After a few sharp blows, all that was left was an ashen outline on the manor floor and a small golden locket.

With their initial plan officially derailed, the group were still determined to find and kill Fleur, and so proceeded down to the lower levels of the manor and into the vault.

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Session 26: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
GM Notes

PCs: Xeal, Markas, Queen of Spades
Ring of NPC: Toad, Urisk, Vanir
Tuesday, 12th-13th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

The group burst through the wall in a shower of rubble and dust. The vampire stopped, needle -like teeth centimeters from Urisk’s throat as she took in the group assembled against her. Weighing up her options, she opted for heaving Urisk into the capsule occupying the main space in the room, then taking a step back and eyeing the group warily.

Taking in the room, the group saw it was quite small but comfortably furnished. There were velvet curtains draping the wall, and a coffin standing ajar directly opposite the door. The most interesting features of the room were the capsule that Urisk had just been placed in and a small altar. The capsule was similar to a humanoid sized stone sarcophagus, save that it had a glass lid. Attached to the inside of the glass lid were a variety of needles (which were now placed dangerously close to Urisk) that fed out through tubes to assorted flasks, as well as a large metal keg. The altar was a humble affair, but Xeal and QoS were quickly able to identify it and its religious symbols as belonging to Lamashtu.

The party had obvious reason to believe something was up, but opted for diplomacy over an outright attack. Through their short verbal exchange they learned that the vampire’s name was Alessandra, and that she claimed she was working on a process that would create a super vampire. She claimed that Urisk was to be a test subject for this, and would be returned to the group without any harm. Despite the group’s automatic distrust of her, her sly words convinced them, and they chose to leave Urisk in Alessandra’s clutches. Markas was not as easily convinced, and opted to stay and watch the procedure. As soon as the others were out of sight, however, Alessandra quickly set about bending Markas to her will, and under her telepathic onslaught even the dwarf’s mighty mental resistances were overcome, leaving two of the party’s members at the vampire’s mercy.

In the meantime, Xeal and QoS cautiously ventured down the corridor where they had left off. QoS’ sharp senses alerted her to the presence of a set of swinging axe blades. With Urisk still in the clutches of Alessandra, the two had to depend on QoS’ abilities with traps. Sadly at this particular time those skills were lacking, with the blades moving in deadly arcs, cutting into QoS before she could dodge back. After two consecutive failures with the axes QoS opted to dodge between them before they reset, leaving Xeal on the other side.

Given that they were separated at this point, QoS ducked into the shadows before the next door, ensuring that she would enter as stealthily as possible. Opening the door just a crack to see into the gloom within, QoS saw two coffins placed centrally in the room. Given the group’s luck with rooms with coffins, she quickly closed the door and backed up to regroup with Xeal.

One set of axe swings later and the group was together once again (albeit somewhat diminished). By this stage the group had decided that they were very much lacking in strength, and needed a rest before Du Pont threw any other challenges at them. It was then that they walked past the concealed entrance to Alessandra’s room and QoS felt a prickling on the back of her neck- a deep sense that something was wrong. Taking initiative and charging in, QoS found Alessandra feasting on Markas’ blood. QoS quickly put a stop to this by changing to her combative form and slashing away. While this did distract Alessandra, it also drew her ire, with the vampire striking at QoS with necrotic energy.
Xeal tried his best to join in the combat, but with few spells left to his daily limit he was forced to send Alan forth to do battle in his stead. Even with the full might of the party (minus Toad) the fight did not seem to be going in the group’s favour- the magic that Alessandra wielded alongside her unnatural vampiric abilities seemed more than a match for them. Only Xeal’s scorching rays eventually dissuaded her from continuing the fight, fleeing through the broken wall in the form of a cloud of mist.

Thoroughly exhausted, the group decided to use this as an opportunity to rest and regroup. Quickly reviewing what they knew about vampires, the group quickly sealed up the cracks in the hidden door with what silver they had on hand, then strung up the holy robes that Xeal had bought in Iomedaea over the entrance to Alessandra’s lab. They smashed the more delicate instruments and flasks connected to the capsule, reasoning that whatever purpose it had ran counter to their survival. The altar to Lamashtu they left alone, reasoning that they didn’t need to potentially earn the enmity of another god.

And so the group settles down for a restless night’s sleep, unsure of whether their wards are suitable for lasting the night. . .

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Session 25: On the Subject of Vampires and How to Kill Them
GM Notes

PCs: Xeal, Markas, Urisk, Vanir, Queen of Spades
Ring of NPC: Toad
Monday, 12th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

The group had been a little roughed up by their encounter with Gronk but were still determined to take anything that this vampire lord could throw at them. They decided to quickly double back and find the rest of the gang before going further, reasoning that it wouldn’t hurt to have the extra manpower. In the meantime, Urisk, QoS and Vanir had made it out of the pit trap by way of a hidden door and had started following the same path as the others. The group rejoined as Urisk & co. were having difficulty with one of the puzzles, the other group opening the door to the next room just as their frustration was mounting.

With everyone back together the group went to investigate the miniature arena in which they had fought Gronk. While the sandy arena itself yielded no items of interest, they discovered two rooms that were adjacent to the arena.

The first was behind the wall that Gronk had burst through- those with a sharp eye for detail noted that it was an incredibly neat break in the wall, and those with a knack for engineering nothing that it had been rigged to break apart and reassembled easily. Stepping over the rubble they looked into a roughly hewn but large-ish room, with a troll sized coffin in the centre of the room and some animal carcasses in the corner. The group put two and two together and made the reasonable assumption that Gronk was now resting within, restoring health and still being a potential source of trouble for the party. The general concensus was that he should be exterminated with extreme prejudice, which brought up the question of how much the party actually knew about vampires. Casting their minds back to when they each had first heard of vampires, most of the party remembered that you could kill vampires with a stake when it was helpless, but that to finish it you would need holy water- not a commodity that was easy for the group to procure.
There were, however, multiple glowing runes carved into the coffin which interested Xeal. Casting detect magic on them, he was alarmed to find that they had a very strong evocation aura attached to them, and backed out of the room very quickly. The rest of the group soon followed suit upon asking him what was the matter, and took a second cautious look at the coffin from a distance. After determining that the runes were probably activated by contact, Vanir decided that he would try to fire some arrows to disturb (and thereby activate) the runes. While it was a good idea in theory, the arrows merely skittered off the stone surface and faded into the darkness. While the party wasn’t enthused at the idea of leaving a potentially deadly enemy behind them, they also didn’t want to be blown up (I believe Urisk rolled a nat 1, making disarming the trap difficult, if not impossible).

Leaving the first room, the group went to investigate the second room, found by listening for the wind coming through gaps in the wall. After entering through the false wall the group found a small armory with sets of ceremonial plate resting on stands in the corners of the room. The most interesting feature of the room was a beautiful mural on the ceiling of Lord Du Pont astride a chestnut stallion. Naturally the group looted the most expensive looking armour, then left the room.

Having exhausted all avenues to proceed further, the group retraced their steps back to where they had chosen to take the right fork. Choosing instead to take the left path, the group were treading warily on the off-chance of a bone box being present. While there were no immediate traps, keen eyes spotted two concealed passages. The party chose to go left this time, which led to a sealed room.
Urisk stepped forward to trigger the door mechanism, but the wall slid open without prompting. Furthermore, he felt a force grip his mind and beckon him to enter. As he did so, the wall closed behind him, leaving his puzzled comrades behind. He was not alone, however- stepping out of a velvet lined coffin was a lady vampire, who wasted no time in quickly draining as much blood from him as she could.

Realising that something was wrong, the more brawny members of the party rushed the wall en masse. Through their combined efforts the old bricks and mortar exploded inwards, revealing the vampire and her half-finished meal.

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Session 24: All Vampires, Big and Small
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Xeal, Markas
Ring of NPC: Vanir, Urisk, Queen of Spades
Guest PC: Fleur (Claire)
Monday, 12th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

The cover of the pit slid smoothly shut, separating Xeal and Vanir from the others. While Vanir tended to his critically injured leopard, Xeal quickly used a Message spell to see if Urisk was able to trigger the trap to open the pit again. After a few moments he was answered by the satisfying click and whirring of the mechanism as the pit opened up once more (but with no-one falling in this time). A rope was lowered down into the pit, and Xeal made to climb out of the pit first. In his haste he didn’t grab the rope as securely as he could have, tumbling back into the pit. He was much more careful the second time, though, and made it up the rope successfully.

With the group now reunited the next priority was to check the hall for anything they might have missed. With the chandelier no longer lighting the room Toad summoned some Dancing Lights so that the party could better assess their surroundings. The long wooden table had been flipped in the battle with the crystal golem, wrecking the sumptuous feast that had previously been laid out before them. Toad and Xeal took the time to examine the shards of crystal and appraise them (Toad being more successful in doing so). Each of the large chunks they had found were worth roughly 50gp each, but also had the more interesting quality of being from the elemental plane of Earth. Toad discerned that they would work well as arcane focuses and decided to pocket some of the larger chunks (with Xeal following suit).

Although the room had not been fully pillaged the group decided to prioritise finding and killing Du Pont so that they could claim the manor as theirs. Having been discouraged from going to the upper levels, the group decided to try their luck with the lower levels. Urisk and QoS went first, striding in confidently with the knowledge that there were no traps- only to be dropped into a pit and be cut off from the others. Recognising that Urisk had a pretty good chance of getting out of there by himself, Toad and Xeal decided to head down the stairs, carefully skirting around the edge of the pit.

In the next room they were greeted by the sight of two prisoners chained to stone pillars. Both were garbed in basic homespun robes and securely fastened to each pillar. One was a lithe, attractive half-elf woman and the other was a well-built but somewhat wiry dwarf. Upon realising the party were not vampires, both clamoured to be released from their bonds. The party were their normal paranoid selves, of course, and huddled in a corner to discuss which of the prisoners was likely to be a trap. With not enough info to go on, they reluctantly freed both of the prisoners. This turned out to be advantageous as Fleur was not only a rogue, but had navigated her way past many of the traps before she was caught.

As they were releasing the prisoners from their bonds, Xeal put on his most winning smile and tried to charm Fleur. However, something must have disagreed with his stomach because as soon as words started leaving his mouth the contents of his stomach followed suit (natural 1). While Fleur avoided the worst of it, she hasn’t deigned to respond directly to Xeal since.

With Fleur’s help the group quickly made their way past a variety of traps. Following the corridor to their right led to a small arena built into the rocky walls. Although the group smelled a trap from the start, they still chose to go forwards. As Toad stepped into the amphiteatre (going as close to last as possible, as usual) a portcullis slid shut behind him, separating Fleur from the rest of the group. Torches around the room flared into life, illuminating the pallid faces of Elias’ vampire court. Elias stood from his massive stone throne to greet the group and congratulate them on making it this far.

Du Pont spoke for a little while about the nature of vampires, and the nature of the curse (or blessing). It was in doing this that the group were introduced to Gronk the vampire troll, the culmination of Du Pont’s siring programs.
The battle against Gronk was brutal but quick, and after a combination of fire, roiling water and hacking blades Gronk disappeared into the air, a ghostly laugh on the wind. Elias looked at the group with the beginnings of respect. He challenged them to continue on their exploration of the manor, with the promise to challenge them once more at some point soon…

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Session 23: I Roll to Check for Treasure
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Xeal, Urisk, Vanir
Ring of NPC: Queen of Spades
Monday, 12th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

The group took a moment to take in the large well-lit space that was the dining hall. There were between ten and fifteen villagers dining at the long wooden table, with the throne that Du Pont had recently vacated at the far end. Both the throne and table seemed to be reasonably humble affairs, carved from large logs and fitted together to form more complex structures. The most eye-catching thing in the hall by far was a large crystal chandelier, with crystals ranging from clear quartz to deepest amethyst. It was, however, beyond the reach of any in the group, so they decided to leave it be (for the time being).

To the sides of the hall were two painting galleries, with seats to sit and admire the paintings. The paintings were of exceptional standards, the actual paintings appearing to be almost emerging from the frames. The frames were also high quality, fine oak with gold trimmings. The paintings seemed to be mostly portraits, tracing the Du Pont family line through history. The most recent painting was dated about 400 years ago, and showed Du Pont with an elven partner and a young daughter.

Of more interest to the party were two display cases behind the throne (2x nat20s on Perception). One of these was identified by Toad to be a Lesser Oathbow, and the other was a [can’t remember what it was]. They very carefully inspected the cases for traps and found both magical and mundane systems intended for murder. However they were able to disable the traps and grab their new loot without a single hitch.

As the group were buoyed up by their little triumphs, the chandelier suddenly broke free from its securing chains and crashed to the ground over the party. Shards of the crystals started whirling around in the air, slowly coming together to form a golem. The crystal golem put up a good fight against the group but was no match for the team’s might. As the last blow was dealt the golem exploded, shards of crystal driving deep into anything within range.

After the group had suitably recovered, they decided it was time to leave this room for the next. The party chose to go upstairs with Urisk in the lead to detect traps. Upon reaching the top floor, however, a phantom skull came screaming at the group, turning the stairs they were on into a chute heading straight for a pit of spikes! While most of the party managed to jump in time to avoid the pit, Vanir and Xeal fell straight in, with the trapdoor quickly shutting above them
TBC

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Session 22: An Invitation to Dinner
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Queen of Spades, Xeal, Urisk, Vanir
Ring of NPC: Nada
Tuesday-Monday, 6th-12th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

After having finished off Solomon and his guards the group had the significantly more easy task of disposing of the bodies- Toad summoned hyenas and crocodiles to devour the remains, with QoS using acid to dissolve what little remained. They then used what time they had to fake the evidence of a fight between QoS and the others so that the Red Judges would not have any reason to suspect them of any wrongdoing. QoS then blew a hole through the roof and split off from the others, aiming to lead the Red Judges’ attention elsewhere.

While this excitement was going on, Amos’ ship sailed into the hidden harbour at the entrance to the city’s sewers. This was not manned by Amos, but by a ranger named Vanir Fistmele who had come into Amos’ employ by Sasha’s recommendation. Furthermore, he had received advance payment to join the group that he was to pick up and keep an eye on them from a mysterious cloaked figure. At this point, however, his patience was wearing thin as there had not yet been any sign of the group.

Fleeing from the Red Judges, QoS made good use of her invisibility and returned to the (relative) safety of the sewers. As she was making her way back to the rendezvous point, she felt the very slightest of pulls from within the bowels of the sewer. Backtracking a little she found an off-shoot of a tunnel that had resulted in a cave-in, and protruding from it was a skeletal arm holding a box. Ignoring the danger that this presented, QoS stepped forward to take the box, and was instantly assaulted by a crashing of rocks as the tunnel behind her collapsed.

The rest of the group had in the meantime convinced the Red Judges that they needed to go after the perpetrators of these vile acts at once, and left with all the haste they could muster. Those who were able to clear the Detect Evil checks left the city via the Scales of Justice, while those who were not left for the sewer rendezvous.

Upon realising that QoS hadn’t made it to the rendezvous, Vanir began searching the nearby tunnels for her (as he wouldn’t receive full pay without retrieving every member of the group). By chance (and by QoS’s efforts to be heard) Vanir was able to find the tunnel and dig enough of the rubble out that QoS could be retrieved.

When all the group had gathered the ship set off for the Last Rest at a fast clip. QoS took the opportunity to discover what was in the box, and was aghast to find that it was a Deck of Many Things. While various members of the group had different levels of knowledge about the Deck, the major consensus was to leave it the hell alone (or perhaps sell it to someone who might be interested).

Arriving at the Rest they were greeted by Amos with a message from Emmett. Their new instructions directed the group to an old villa on Lake Maseron. Emmett had written that the villa belonged to an old friend of his, and that the castle in the centre of the villa would work as an excellent base of operations should his friend be willing to let them stay there. The message also recommended that the group include Vanir in their adventures, though left his reasons for doing so unexplained.

They departed the Last Rest with all due haste, not waiting around to potentially have any Red Judges discover what had actually taken place. With Toad providing magical mounts the group made good time on the trade road between the Rest and Jebagara. They deliberately chose to avoid Jebagara and the political instability brewing between the Eastern Kingdom and the Khanate, instead heading straight to Lake Maseron.
The party was surprised to find a not insignificant number of people building a boardwalk between the shore and the villa in the center of the lake. The workers seemed to be unusually fixated on their work, but gave cheerful responses when spoken to. Upon asking if there was any way of getting across to the villa the group were directed to a barge being manned by a cheerful young man named Samson. Samson offered to take them across for a few coppers each, saying that they were expected by the Master.

One boat ride later and the group stood in the midst of a villa under reconstruction. The more observant members of the group could discern the building work as being quite recent, with a number of outbuildings seeming to be entirely new buildings started in the past weeks. The party were most interested in the main building, however, a hulking structure that was part castle and part mansion.

Upon entering the mansion it was as if the group had been transported into a completely different building- the crumbling bastions of outside had been replaced by neat brickwork, the dull lights of lamps were replaced with the bright flames of braziers and various decorations hung from the walls to breathe life into the place. The party proceeded with caution into the main hall, where a feast was spread out before them. A group of villagers were stuffing themselves with little regard to the presence of the party, but the man at the head of the table was very much interested in them.

The man introduced himself as Lord Elias Du Pont, and invited the group to have a seat at the table. The group politely declined, and he “requested” again that they take a seat and eat. Given the magical emphasis behind his words, most of the group recognised that they were being manipulated and made to draw weapons. Du Pont chose not to directly challenge the group, however, turning into a cloud of mist and vanishing, a chilling laugh the only reminder that he had been there just seconds ago.

The portcullis then slammed down behind the group, leaving the group with no choice but to further explore the manor and hunt down the vampire Du Pont…

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Session 21: Vault Plunderers and Priest Killers
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Queen of Spades, Xeal
Ring of NPC: Ms Terspungecake, Urisk
Tuesday, 6th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

The night passed uneventfully for the group with the majority continuing their stay at the Red Parrot and QoS staying in the warehouse that Emmett had provided for them. While waiting for the others to meet her in the morning QoS took another look around the warehouse. Her search yielded rations, a basic survival kit as well as a set of glamered robes, the last of which she was very happy to find. A closer inspection of the crate that she found these items in yielded a similar traces of magical energy similar to those generated when the party moved between the Material Plane and Norgorber’s pocket dimension. Reasoning that this was probably a safe house for any of Emmett’s agents passing through, QoS decided to only take what she needed.

The party regrouped at the warehouse in the morning after having made the decision to break into the Judges’ Vault as a party. The group took the route through the sewers with QoS leading the way. They didn’t run into the gelatinous cube that had previously been acquainted with QoS but did have to cautiously make their way around two paladins in the lower chamber. One of the paladins appeared to be praying to the gauntlet down in the depths of the water while the other appeared to be on guard (likely as a result of QoS’s antics.

Using the rungs from the wall and the ceiling the group stealthily made their way up the chute and into the Hall of Judgement. The others gathered around Urisk as he concentrated on disabling the locks and wards on the basement access to the Vault. Eventually he was successful, and the group stepped into a dark and dusty room lined with artifacts and magical items.

The Vault proved to be far larger than expected, with eight large subterranean rooms in addition to the room above ground for our villains to peruse. Luckily they were able to come across an inventory list for each room indicating what some of the more significant items were. Items taken from the vault included:

  • A bag of holding Type III identified by Toad
  • A sack (incorrectly identified by Xeal as a Bag of Holding Type III)
  • A small fist sized black cube identified by Xeal as an Instant Fortress (but later identified by Toad as a key to the Astral Plane)
  • A hat of disguise identified by QoS
  • An adamantine rapier studded with diamonds appraised by Urisk
  • A set of red lenses owned by the leader of a powerful cult some 300 years ago
  • A monkey’s paw, identified by Toad
    (I believe I may have forgotten some items, please tell me if I forgot anything)

Toad remained focused on finding the most important item(for him): the third Book of Hell. Following his imp’s directions he quickly found a large, leather-bound tome pulsing with infernal energies- but it wasn’t the Book of Hell. The book was entitled “The Ten Thousand Paladins” and detailed how the paladins protected the Book of Hell from any who might take it. Alongside the book was a pair of bookends in the shape of dragons that the group determined were linked to the book- the party decided to err on the side of caution and pocket both book and bookends.

In the meantime Xeal was drawn to an attractive set of furniture (two chairs and a table) that were in chains. The magic in them was particularly strong, and prompted the group to set up the table for a conversation, with Xeal sitting down in the plain chair. As he did so, an amazingly beautiful woman in a seductive red dress appeared in the opposite chair and offered him a deal of power for the loss of his looks. Xeal tried to bargain down, but the entity seemed unmoved by his lesser offers of trade. Given that they were beginning to grow short on time before they were potentially discovered, the group opted to stuff the furniture into the Bag of Holding.

Eventually the party decided that they’d risked being in the Vault long enough and retreated via the path they’d come in. Going back to the warehouse, the group decided to wait there until Solomon’s speech. When the time for the speech came they left for Foi, arriving just in time for Emmett’s distraction- two of the audience members being horrifically polymorphed into demons. With the Red Judges scrambling to take care of the situation, the group lured Solomon and his personal guard into the warehouse under the pretense of taking him to a safe location. Then, when the moment was right, the group struck, disabling Solomon and his guards with a dazing aqueous orb and finishing them off with deadly strikes from the Queen of Spades.

The party has officially crossed their first name off the list- what new adventures await them now?

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Session 20: Some Call It a Curse, Some Call It a Blessing
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Queen of Spades, Urisk
Ring of NPC: Xeal, Ms Terspungecake
Monday, 5th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

While the majority of the party was being victoriously paraded through the streets of Iomedaea Queen of Spades was doing her best to make good her escape from the tournament grounds. Knowing that both her guise as Garny and her outsider appearance were compromised, QoS took to the sewers to avoid her pursuers. Her invisibility gave her a significant advantage against those hunting for her, letting her lose them with ease.

That was not the end of her problems, however, as the group had not designated a meeting spot if things were to go pear-shaped. QoS reasoned that the next best course of action was to go investigate the underground access to Jugement that Toad had discovered, since she was already down in the sewers. Her hope was that the rest of the group would eventually make their way down there to infiltrate the Hall of Judgement.

QoS made slow progress through the cavernous tunnels that made up the sewer system without a map to rely on. Using her limited knowledge of stonework she was able to recognise that there were three types of stonework that were present in the construction of the sewers: brick and mortar (human construction), dwarven granite and large granite boulders. By following the areas that were made of the latter two and marking her passage on the walls, she was eventually able to find a dwarven-made passage that sloped downwards.

Proceeding with caution (as all competent adventurers should) she realised that the corridor ahead seemed unnaturally clean, being bare of any sewer muck or even molds or lichen. Choosing to hang back a little, she was soon met by a gelatinous cube slowly squelching its way towards her. Seeing that the cube took up the whole corridor, QoS backtracked a little to see if the cube would follower her. It did so, and for its efforts received an acid splash to its. . . face? Faced with prey that would put up more of a fight than sewer scum sent the cube fleeing in the other direction, and allowed QoS to resume her previous path.

As she continued to wander the winding sewer tunnels her keen senses let her know that someone was attempting to sneak up on her. Readying a spell, she spun around to confront Steve Moncrieff. Steve was quick to recognise QoS and was able to let loose a few arrows despite QoS casting Hold Person on him. Unwilling to risk a potentially deadly confrontation, QoS turned invisible and fled from the ranger.

She eventually stumbled upon the chamber that she’d been searching for: a wide, domed space where the water from the tunnels ran down into a central pool. Strangely enough the water was crystal clear, to the extent that QoS could see a single silver gauntlet at the bottom. There were also three giant chains that led from the walls into the pool- a quick use of detect magic allowed QoS to ascertain that these chains were intended to move somehow.
The main feature of the room that QoS was interested in, however, was the view of the sky far up above- a clear sign she’d made it to the right place. She spent the next hour carefully examining the room to see if there was a way to climb up to the chute, chancing upon a cunningly hidden switch which allowed a user to spiderclimb their way up the wall and onto the curved ceiling.

MEANWHILE

The rest of the party arrived at Jugement and were granted access by the Judges to the Red Judge compound. Once inside the compound the Judges escorting Solomon relaxed significantly, with some leaving the group to attend to other duties (including overseeing the manhunt for QoS). Solomon congratulated the group on having won against the Red Judges, and invited them to take one item each from the Judges’ storehouse. Items chosen include:

  • a Sword of Subtlety for Urisk
  • a Headband of Inspired Wisdom for Queen of Spades (stolen by Urisk)
  • a Lesser Rod of Dazing for Toad
  • a ____ for Xeal
  • a _____ for Ms Terspungecake

While there were other potentially more powerful items that the group could have taken, the majority of these were good aligned, and the group didn’t want to risk negative levels or worse.

After being gifted with their new loot Solomon then proceeded to lead them to the main prayer room of the Hall, informing the group that is was here they would be given the blessing of Iomedae. The group were very hesitant to take on the blessing, especially when they recognised that the sword they were to be blessed with was good-aligned. Not wanting to risk themselves on the touch of the blade, Xeal was shoved forwards protesting and forced to receive the blessing of Egalite:

  • Protect the Innocent, Uphold the Law – While taking part in actions that can be considered good or lawful, 5/day the individual can choose to re-roll a d20 and take the higher of the two.
  • Lest Evil Take Root, Remain Pure in Action – If the individual takes actions that cannot be reasonably argued to be good they are subject to the negative effects of a Lesser Geas. A suitably good action or a day spent in prayer will reverse the effects.

Toad was able to identify the geas aspect of the blessing, and flatly refused to take the blessing, likening it to slavery. Urisk joined in the argument, saying that he felt this was akin to the oppression his race faced and that he would not subject himself to it. Despite Solomon’s insistence that this was a blessing, the group’s arguments won through with some very convincing arguments (and a lucky nat 20 mixed in there). Solomon then left the group to retire to his quarters, with Rognuk close behind.

Back underground, QoS decided to climb up the chute to try and get a better view of things. As she climbed she passed openings to what appeared to be old living quarters, now relegated for use as storage. As QoS cautiously approached the surface opening to the chute, she stealthily extended a hand to detect any living beings. Unfortunately for her, one of the Red Judges had heard the sounds of her sneaking up the chute, and she was quickly grabbed and held at arrow-point.This was just as the rest of the party finished up with Solomon, and there was an awkward moment where they all waited to see what would happen next.

Thankfully for the party, the Red Judge let QoS off with just a warning, making it clear that things would be more serious if she were to sneak in again. The group left separately to QoS, but both groups received a message from Emmett that there was a warehouse in Foi where they could regroup. Toad and Urisk were less than pleased with QoS being caught, but quickly got down to planning their next move.

The group knows that Solomon will come out of Jugement once more to address the townspeople regarding the damage that Felicity’s group did to the city. They also know that the third Book of Hell is kept within the Hall of Judgement’s depository of evil items and artifacts. The only thing left for them to do is kill Solomon, grab the book, and find out what 738 and 826 are…

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Session 19: Final Judgement
GM Notes

PCs: Toad, Queen of Spades, Xeal
Ring of NPC: Urisk, Ms Terspungecake
Sunday-Monday, 4th-5th of Nethysta, 179th Year of the Goddess

With Quarth laid low by the party’s combined might, it seemed like nothing could stop them. They had the adoration of the crowd and the rewards of their win, choosing the Boots of Haste from the magic item rewards as well as receiving a not insignificant sum of gold. While the group as a whole treated the boots as insignificant, Xeal took the boots for his own (they were, after all, very nice dragonskin boots).

Quarth came over to give them his grudging congratulations (except to QoS, to whom he only gave a suspicious glance). Edgar came up to Urisk to present him a heavy purse of gold, and the Sisters Superior came to congratulate the group on their win. QoS mentioned in passing that she had sold her previous armour and had been unable to attain a suitable replacement; Dawn immediately offered to equip her with a spare chain shirt from the Daughters’ barracks.

As the group set off through the city they were met by cheers from those who had been in the crowds, or even those who had only heard of the fight’s result. Gossip in the city was now predominantly regarding who would win the tourney, though there were still whispers of the damage to the city in Espoir. The more watchful members of the group also spotted Quarth following them, doing his best (which was not very good) to stay out of sight. They chose not to confront him, deciding that they would keep their do-gooder image for as long as they could.

With only the final round left before them, the group spent some time discussing what they would do once the Tourney was over. QoS found one of Emmett’s trademark messages giving them a gentle reminder that Solomon needed to be dealt with, though it didn’t seem to indicate any particular urgency. Upon further testing the piece of paper the message was on was actually found to be a form of two-way communication, and kept for later use.

QoS brought up the possibility of corrupting Dawn to gain some brownie points with Norgorber, but the notion was voted down by the rest of the party, who were reasonably certain that they couldn’t achieve that as well as their primary objective. After some time spent planning the group decided that the best way they could handle things post-Tourney was to accept entry to the Hall of Judgement, receive their magic rewards from the vaults of the Red Judges, then leave Toad’s imp to assassinate Solomon while he sleeps. So far the group is uncertain how they will leave the city, though a messenger from Oleg let them know he was willing to take them back across to the mainland for 1000gp each.

Toad and Xeal both spent the evening of the 4th attempting to find activation phrases for their magic items, Toad working on the metamagic rod and Xeal working on his ring. Both were successful in eliminating a large number of common phrases as potential activation words, but still had a long way to go before they could unlock the items’ magic. (One success out of seven required spellcraft checks)

With their plans ready, the group slept easy, knowing that no evidence could yet link them to the abduction of the children. The group were met in the morning by one of the children that had been left in the care of Norgorber, now supernaturally aged and wearing the garb of a capable warrior. He identified himself as the child that Xeal spared, and swore his allegiance to Xeal. Xeal was a little nonplussed by this but gladly accepted his new minion, dubbing him Alan Notsteve.

Eventually the party departed the Red Parrot for the last combat of the Tourney. The audience erupted in cheers as they stepped onto the parade ground, ready to support the Upstanding Citizens against the former favourites of the competition. The Red Judges faced off against them, crimson armour shining in the brilliant sun.
After a short speech from Solomon and with the formalities out of the way, the fight was soon underway! The Red Judges put up a tough fight, with the group having difficulty penetrating the enemy’s defenses. The fight soon went in the group’s favour, however, with superior positioning and tactics winning the day (as well as strategic use of pits).

Not everything went to plan, though, as one of the more canny Judges saw through QoS’s disguise and discovered her evil nature. QoS fled as soon as she realised she had been compromised, with the others covering for her. The Red Judges quickly rushed in to cover up the events from the puzzled crowds, and a contingent of Judges led by Solomon began to lead the group to Jugement, promising answers as soon as they had reached the inner circle of the city.

With the promise of powerful treasure and items (not to mention their objectives) so close within reach, will the party be able to continue hiding behind their carefully maintained lies?

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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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