Sunday, 16 May 2021

Belswick 31 - the burglared Jarl

Over 30 sessions of this campaign, unbelievable! I'm still enjoying it, even though Planescape, Eberron, Star Wars and Delta Green are very tempting. So many campaign ideas, so little time.


Last time in Belswick, the newest members of the Eagle Rider mercenaries made their way to the Frostreaver clan of ice giants, to bargain for safe passage into the enemy kingdom of Arrayne. Right before getting there, they fought a bunch of Arraynian spies with either impressive training or mental powers that allowed them to act and fight as one.

THIS SESSION

We pick up a replacement for the fallen Ungulu the Inquisitor priest of the Exile. Pyrrha, who had introducing herself as the sister of dead Mike the Druid back in Crossroads, wakes up next to a massive wolf with a white front leg. "Morning sis. What's up?"

The party make their way to the Three Spires mountain landmark, the last (hard) climbs before the ice giant stronghold. With Mike's shapeshifting into a giant ape, Pyrrha getting buoyed up by the Winter Court's winds and solid rock climbing by Shams the dwarf, the party make it up without serious problems. Guy the wizard bitches about having to make this hellish climb, but does fine in the end, as does Barak the holy fighter of Gromesh.

At the Frostreaver stronghold, the group find themselves in a thievery plot!

This session's Dwarven Forge build is Asdir's Hall, made with the Emperor's Mega Pack and some bits and bobs (Walls & Pillars set for the throne, and pieces of dungeon wall corner for the fallen rubble.)


THE GIANTS

  • Jarl Asdir Rimebeard has lost the sacred Cup of Thrymm from the clan's locked tower shrine. He's not sure who stole the 5 foot silver drinking bowl, but is willing to grant the wish of whoever brings it back.
  • Brynna Jarlsdottir is Asdir's (sole surviving) daughter and is a handful of trouble. Has confirmed through throwing the runes that the Cup is not in or near the giant fort.
  • Wisewoman Kitha Frosttongue is tasked with keeping the clan's stories and memories, and protected the Cup of Thrymm.
  • Jantru Shardfist is a hot-headed brute who comes close to challenging Asdir and picks on weaker Hagden.
  • Warak Fogbreath is an older hunter.
  • Hagden is a grey-tinted, slender mongrel of an ice giant; it turns out his mother was a stone giant captured on a raid. The clan look down on him as a lesser specimen of gianthood. Jantru in particular pesters him constantly.


THEIR GUESTS

  • Julie de Rennes, emmissary from Arrayne here to win passage for her armies into Belswick; wasn't here with her servants when the Cup of Thrymm was stolen but has pledged to find it.
  • Yutrus of the Spear, servant of the yet-unnamed Lord of the Spear somewhere in these mountains; was here on other business when the Cup was stolen, pledged to find it.
  • The party, housed not in the halls themselves but with Hagden in a hut outside. He gives them his pillow to use as a communal bed.


THE REST OF THE SESSION

Lots of investigating, talking, following and otherwise sleuthing. Basically, we're playing a game of Guess Who ("do they have glasses? a beard? red hair?"), inspired by Triple Suns' posts on how to structure mystery plots. I'll let the players sort out their own notes because I don't want to give out too much info or steer them in any particular direction.


FINAL SCENE

Barak sneaks after Yutrus' Orc band when they take the giant's stairs into the pass below the fort. There the Orc meets with a runner from Yutrus' bands in the area; apparently the search for the Cup of Thrymm isn't going too well for the Orcs, who have run into a band of harpies in the high mountains. (Aren't the players happy they took the longer route through the hinterlands?)

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Belswick 30 - onto the pyre

Last time in Belswick, our band of newly minted mercenaries set out through the hinterland mountains of Belswick and the Stone Principality. Their goal: to negotiate free passage for their mercenary band into southern Arrayne with the border-tribe of frost giants. On the way, the group drank with orcs, haggled for canvas at a quarry, and partook in a nice paganheretical ritual at a lightning-stricken tree. Pyrrha the Warlock lost her powers and everyone gained resistance to electricity. At the top of the last mountain before the Three Spires and the lair of the giants, the group met up with some woodsmen from Arrayne, chased up the mountain by a storm.


THIS SESSION

Much manoeuvering around the Arraynian woodsmen, who seem very in touch with each other, even finishing each others' sentences. Their leader appears to be a strawberry-blond woman in the habit of inhaling purple smoke, who claims to be a trader from Arrayne looking for a profitable route into Belswick. Or, you know, they could be a nest of psionics spies like the ones that murdered the group's last patron.

Something you said?
Pyrrha gets something caught in her throat: it feels hard, and sharp, and is slicing into her as she coughs blood. A robin alights on a nearby rock, picking at Pyrrha's hand as she tries and fails to get the sharp object out of her throat. "Need help?" asks the tiny winter fae. "You shouldn't gamble away Grandma's Gifts so easily. Consider this a lesson." With the help of Barak, half-orc paladin of Saint Gormesh, Pyrrha manages to get the piece out of her throat...and wins back her powers, three days and three nights after selling them for lightning resistance.

Here's a Suggestion for you
At the campfire at night, there are songs shared by the two groups in a semi-comfortable setting. Pyrrha manages to wreck the mood by casting Suggestion on one of the well-armed 'woodsmen': "How about you tell us what you're really here for?" Before anyone can act, the man blurts out that they're here to trade favor with the giants and win Arrayne's armies a back road into Belswick. The big trick would be to find the Giant Jarl's lost silver drinking basin, which disappeared weeks ago and should be somewhere in the area.

The two groups look at each other and walk around the campfire a bit, until party priest and inquisitor Ungulu decides that it's fireball time. The smoke-wreathed lady counterspells his magic, and the fight is on: Ungulu gets hammered by two trained veterans, the woodsmen throw spiritual weapon spells, and the enemy wizard goes to hide and throw fireballs, only to get hit by one in return.

I cast fireball centered on myself
It looks like Ungulu is going down...so he decides to up the stakes and cry out to his patron the Exile (local equivalent of Satan and Nyarlathotep all rolled into one), offering his life and any the Exile should want to take to bring his brother Harald back to life. And casts a fireball on himself, three opponents, Barak, Barak's pet boar Zendod, party wizard Guy and party fighter Shams.

After the blood rite, a detonation of hellfire claims the mountain top and all the baddies (including Ungulu) and Zendod expire. Guy, you couldn't make it to the session, so we hope your wizard could take 26 fire damage.

And in a corner of the field, Ungulu's 'silence-sworn novice' (disguised zombie) wakes up and takes his first breath since years.

Aftermath
I had NOT expected this kind of action when I plopped down some spies on a mountain top! But hidden character goals are a wonderful thing, and Ungulu with his many intimidating moments may have been one of those stars that shine twice as bright and twice as short. Also, his player has joyfully gone through four different characters by now, which is actually a bit under par for him.

As the party picks through the Arraynian spies' encampment, they all talk about Ungulu's unfortunate end. Shams the Dwarf finds one opponent still alive and drags him out of sight of bloodthirsty Pyrrha so the poor guy can clamber down the mountain in the dead of night. Pyrrha nonetheless tracks him down for even more information about the spies and their goals...and lets the man go.

Harald collects Ungulu's burnt and broken body and announces he will try to get his idiot brother back from the dead. This will likely take serious magic and deal-making, but the man seems convinced he can make that happen.

Barak, finally, unbothered by the raw emotion and skullduggery around him, loots:

  • 1300 gp in gems, nondescript coins and easily-traded goods [2 equipment slots]
  • a circlet with two gems that can be slid in front of one's eyes (magical) [0 slots]
  • a very bare but well-made amulet with a closed eye engraved on the back (magical) [0 slots]
  • edit: 2 packs of dense purple incense powder, and a shallow bronze hand bowl to burn it in. [1 slot]

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Belswick 29 - Climbing Mt. Heresy

Last time in Belswick, our adventuring party joined the Eagle Lances of the Rock, a mercenary company that's fighting off the invasion by nasty, possibly heretical and definitely semi-French Arrayne in the south. To open a new route for the company, the party is to negotiate safe passage with the frost giants of the southern snake mountains. Off you trot.

Player comments in red, DM's notes in...teal?

Player-facing map of this path crawl. All connections take one day to walk (unless the random dice gods intervene). Dotted lines are hard-to-find paths, zig-zags are extra-hard climbs that take a Constitution save to avoid getting a point of exhaustion. The party mostly took the left-most branch (the Hinterlands), veering into the central path (High Mountains) by crossing from the Old Gate to the Ruined Tower. There are much more of those secret passages on the map, but they'll have to find those on their own :)


WHO WOULD ACCEPT THAT KIND OF SUICIDE MISSION?

  • Guy Montfaulc, diviner wizard and occasionally afflicted with psionic blackouts ever since his youth
  • Shams Metalgrog, dwarf and arcane knight looking for reasons to stay on the surface and not join her race's Downward Crusade
  • Barak Sapat-Gromesh, holy warrior of the ...god? saint? Gormesh, and scout for Tyaak's Free Lances of the Rock. Rides a massive dire boar named Zendod, Orcish for "fluffy".
    Shams: I love how there's an orc word for "fluffy". That changes my whole way of looking at them.
    DM: versatile beast, that one. Riding animal, totem beast, bedroll, emergency ration...

  • Pyrrha 'little red', wild girl of the small remnant of people that still follow the old ways. Big rages, summons flint weapons from the ground and flings dangerous magic around when "playing with people"
  • Ungulu the Vulture, birdling cleric of the Order of Light and member of the Inquisition. Very interested in heresy perpetrated by the new religious order of "Zulin" in Arrayne

 

WHAT DID THESE LOONS GET  UP TO?

A good old-fashioned pointcrawl, that's why! I mapped out the region, gave them the choice between three routes to the Frost Giant fortress, and entrusted my fate to the dice. Out of the hill road (long, boring), the high mountains (short, dangerous) and the hinterlands (middle length, weird), the players choose weirdness. They buy rations and trust to their survival skills to find food and water.

Every day, the group elects someone to lead them, who then rolls for weather conditions and random encounters. Chaos, take the wheel:
Pyrrha: mini-map and random encounter rolls were a treat! Too bad that we didn't roll any of the really kooky stuff, but this still was a very interesting trip.

  • Barak leads the group out on the road to the Quarry and further into the hinterlands, gets them lost a couple of hours out of mercenary HQ because of cruddy encounter roll. Extremely steep climb means half the party is exhausted. Worse still, it started raining like hell because of crappy weather check. Only one character has thought to bring a tent. 
  • Ungulu sneaks out in the middle of the night with his acolyte Harald. Catches a wild beast and sacrifices it to definitely not the Authority, asking to speak with "his brother". Such power is granted, and the normally almost entranced "Harald" becomes more animate, speaking to his brother of "the pain that this half-life causes him". Ungulu promises to sacrifice more often so he can talk to Harald more. He is warned that the price will increase. Just this once, he will agree to bleed himself, and Harald slowly carves the sign of a key into his brother's palm. The party notice when Ungulu and Haralad come back all bloody from their "prayer" (lucky perception roll!) but their religion check is low enough that they don't know what the key symbol means. Probably nothing bad.
    • Barak: no-one is who they seem in this party. What the hell is this guy's deal!
    • DM: mad props for Ungulu. He's scary even for an inquisitor, he's got a dark secret and he's not afraid to show that at the table. Very fun to see the party come to grips with that.
    • Pyrrha: the way he goes through characters (Mike the Druid - Sydney the Sorceror - Morrti the Artificer - Ungulu the Inquisitor), he has to, or those secrets never make it into the session ;) But definitely a highlight: very dark, foreboding and emotional.
  • Next day the weather is better, and the party makes it to their first marker on the map: the Quarry. Here the blue-lipped workers are hard to distract and hard to stop talking when they start. The foxling overseer is happy to sell the party canvas for tents at a mark-up if they help make dinner. He gives them directions: continue to the Dwarf Farm, detour to the Cloven Oak (a lightning-struck tree), or take a short cut into the Raging Gorge in the high mountains. The group rests up and decides to go for the Cloven Oak.
    • Barak takes the opportunity to tell the story of his patron saint Gormesh, who preached to the Orcs and was struck by lightning but finished his sermon before exploding. He'll tell it daily or more this session.
    • Barak: Man I love playing this guy and coming up with his one-liners. Bless me with your lightning!
    • Pyrrha: keep the Flemish accent!
  • The climb to the oak is pretty doable, and the party meets up with the purple-robed beetlefolk acolyte Hannah of the Order of the Scroll, who is gathering old folk tales and who wanted to see the lightning-stricken oak. Apparently it's almost the anniversary of an old lightning spirit casting its might at the tree, and she'll hang around a couple of weeks to see if anything happens.
    • The party wake up at night to an atmosphere charged with electricity, and see Hannah performing a ritual with copper at the cloven oak. Shams gets her to confess that she's not tale-gatherer but a minder of this sleeping godling: she has to finish the ritual and ground the tree before the godling can awaken!
    • Touching the tree, the party get the idea that a proper offering might bring...attention. Shams places her family greatsword in the cleft, Guy sets a child's doll, Barak leaves a trusted handaxe,...and Pyrrha, Harald and Ungulu all climb into the tree. Pyrrha wants to use her magic power to draw the lightning, Ungulu wants to give of himself to bring Harald back to life. Hannah is FRANTIC at this heretical ritual, but cannot stop the group.
      • Ungulu: let's face it, Shams intimidated the shit out of her. Who is that dwarf really? One moment she's having her familiar heal the wounded, then it's browbeating beetlelings. I thought I was the scary one.
      • DM: he is. Fuck does that vultureling inquisitor scare me.
    • Lightning strikes! I roll a sick amount of damage and call for saving throws: everyone lives, but the tree-dwellers take a solid 40-something lightning damage. All the gifts evaporate under the discharge...including Pyrrha's magical abilities! Her spells, cantrips and especially her power to call weapons out of the earth are gone. In return, everyone has resistance to lightning for a month. And Harald? Harald looks a bit more present, a bit more focused. He's still pretty quiet...probably because he chooses to now. There's a bit of lightning deep in his eyes.
      • Ungulu: thanks so much to Guy for using his daily prophetic insight to improve my aweful dex save. Sadly even the higher result wasn't enough to avoid getting fried.
      • Pyrrha: my previous character Tilly the Dealmaker would LOVE to find out that the group has been indulging in a little heresy on the side.
      • DM: yeah, we should play a one-on-one session soon and find out how "retirement as an abbot" is treating Tilly. 
  • The group continues south, finding a short cut (lucky encounter roll!) as the weather turns fair. Shams leads the group past a still (moonshine made by the farm hands) and takes a small keg for a couple of gold pieces. She then takes the group to the Old Gate past the Dwarf Farm. Here the group finds five orcs in a hunting band, who are pretty sick after pestering an old lady at the Crystal Lake one day out. The party shares their own food and makes friends.
    • Pyrrha: Poor Shams. "I don't know what to do with my life anyway - oh hey, alcohol!"
  • On the next morning, Guy decides to lead the party not ahead to the Waterfall but into the high mountains, where he has spied a Ruined Tower through his familiar's eyes. Halfway the grueling climb it starts to rain again, then hail and lightning break loose: clearly they're in danger! Guy pulls up a magic dome of force that will keep out pretty much anything for eight hours. Barak stares at the lightning - did he tell the group about how his patron saint handled lightning? - and Pyrrha marvels at the dome and her own complete lack of magic.
  • The next day, the group completes the killer climb up the mountaint (by amazing rolls, no-one got exhausted!) and meets a bunch of...woodsmen? at the top, sheltering from the last of the storm in the Ruined Tower. "'ello? Oo are vous?", their leader calls out.

    "Shit, did we cross into Arrayne?"
    DM: We'll find out next session!

...DM, while writing up this log: fuck, only NOW does the little part of my brain that runs Hannah the Beetle realise that she saw a heresy-hunting Inquisitor participate in a witch rite to get power from some old god! I'm sure that won't come back to haunt the group.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Belswick 28 - junior mercenaries

Last time in Belswick, the players fought off assassins at the wedding of lord Haine Kerjules the Hedgehog and Olga the Widow - not succeeding in saving either of them (although in Olga's case, she'd been dead for a few years already). Now under the control of Haine's son Silas, fiefs Crossroads and Culfield are preparing to join the war of wider Belswick against southern Arrayne.

update: now with loot / gifts

 

CHARACTERS

  • Guy Montfaulc, diviner wizard and occasional haver of psionic blackouts (player sadly not present this session)
  • Shams Metalgrog, dwarf and arcane knight looking for reasons to stay on the surface and not join her race's Downward Crusade
  • Lomin Mor, elf rogue, disgraced former noble and longtime impersonator of the Lady Olga of Culfield after she passed away, to avoid a useless nephew inheriting the fief (leaves the group at least temporarily this session)
  • Barak Sapat-Gromesh, holy warrior of the ...god? saint? Gromesh, and scout for Tyaak's Free Lances of the Rock (new character of Lomin's player)
  • Pyrrha 'little red', wild girl of the small remnant of people that still follow the old ways. Big rages, summons flint weapons from the ground and flings dangerous magic around when "playing with people"
  • Ungulu the Vulture, birdling cleric of the Order of Light and member of the Inquisition. Very interested in heresy perpetrated by the new religious order of "Zulin" in Arrayne


THIS SESSION

Young hedgehogling Silas is a different ruler than his father, and the PCs find themselves out of favor. The old Kerjules' house wizard Guy is summarily dismissed after failing to save his lord, Lomin Mor no longer has his lady's ear (and wig, and dress), and it seems no-one has any more ties to Crossroads.

After the old lord and lady's funeral, they decide to head south to follow up on an invitation from Tyaak the eagle, a noble son setting up his own mercenary band to fight in the war against Arrayne.

Before leaving, some last affairs to take care of. 

  • Shams gets their former party member Abbott Tilbord to draw them a map of all the Du'van tombs in the area, and write a separate scroll with all the information the group has gathered on the old snake people. 
  • Lomin says farewell to the group, telling them that he has personal affairs to take care of in Arrayne. He then talks to Bishop Urael - his brother - and asks him to go back to Arrayne together. Urael agrees, but will need to make a detour to the north first. Lomin then has the sword of assassin St. Etienne de Cours identified by Guy: it's a magic sword that bites extra hard when facing werewolves. Lomin - actually Azrael d'Arendil - gives the sword to Shams, and gifts Guy with a scroll of the Knock spell.
  • Pyrrha puts her request to Silaw Kerjules: she was sent to inherit the estate of her brother Mike, which has reverted back to Silas after Mike's death. Silas will consider the request, if Pyrrha will spy on her companions and try to determine if they were connected to his father's death.
 

The trip is fairly quick and uneventful:

  • in barony Walden, one meeting with a bog hag just east of Crossroads, who trades Ungulu one happy memory for a secret of a person he can name. He describes his summoning spirits of the damned to lay waste to assassins at the wedding, and she's surprised to discover that he actually considers that a happy memory! In return...well, Ungulu just walks off and says he'll be in touch.
  • in barony Corsewall, one ambush by three giant spiders that quickly get turned into meat for dinner; Ungulu and Pyrrha whip out spices and pans and turn the ghastly things into a proper meal.
  • in barony Nether Stowey, one encounter with celebrating monks of the Circle of Thorns, celebrating nature's bounty with all kinds of meals. Pyrrha gives them a bit of the spider meat and they bless her with one use of Inspiration.
  • in barony Ballumbie, one encounter with a trio of bog mummies bearing the holy symbol of the Order of St Vivione the healer; they appear to warn people away from a plague that has vanished over 80 years ago. The group easily outpace them.
  • in barony Ballumbie, one charge by an enormous boar bearing an even bigger Half-Orc - the group get ready to roll initiative, when we introduce Lomin's new character: Barak Sarpat-Gromesh, a scout of Tyaak's and a holy warrior of Gromesh. Ungulu immediately wants to know - he is talking about the Authority, yes? But of course

Barak takes the group up to the Eagle's Eyrie: a steep climb of stairs and slopes going up maybe a kilometer from the valley below to a rock outcrop bearing five tall towers. You can take the place by force, if you can fly or have a lot of people to spare for the inevitable bombardment on the stairs.

Inside the castle:

  • Tyaak welcomes the party - he actually knows all of them: Shams and Guy met him in the mildly heretical Devil's Ring tournament half a year ago, and young Pyrrha (about 16) and devout Ungulu participated, what, 10 years back?

  • Tyaak explains that his mercenary troup, the Eagle Lances of the Rock, will undertake fast raids behind enemy lines rather than slogging it out with the Arraynians.

  • The Eagle Lances have had a couple of setbacks: surprisingly well-coordinated tactics without flags or horns in a confrontation outside Lissecourt to the south, and a band of negotiators with the mountain giants getting eaten while negotiating a back passage into Arrayne.

  • The PCs decide to join the Eagle Lances, stipulating that they do have other obligations. As long as those don't collide, they'll work for Tyaak to the best of their ability. Barak will join them as scout on their first mission: arrange safe passage for the Eagle Lances of the Rock from the ice giants of the southern Snake Mountains!

  • Pay: 4 gp / week, plus 25% of all ransoms and loot that the party acquires during their adventures. Ungulu waves this pay for an as of yet unspecified future favor.

 

LOOT AND GIFTS

  • Pyrrha: Inspiration (advantage on one d20 roll) for celebrating the feast of nature with monks of the Circle of Thorns
  • Guy: scroll with the Knock spell
  • Shams: +1 longsword, +2d8 damage to werewolves, belonged to Ser Etienne de Cours

Friday, 5 February 2021

Belswick 27 - wedding crashers

Last time in Belswick, my players worked their way through a wedding between two local nobles (one being their patron, the other an alter ego of one of the PCs). After getting a leading member of the Inquisition out of the way with a good dose of purgatives, their way is clear to a relaxed wedding dinner...until a band of assassins crashes the party and shoots their patron in the chest. Wartime is a bitch and all those nobles together were a juicy target. It's a party! 

This 'red wedding' session was very much inspired by Yames Young's If you Love your World, Set it Free - sometimes, you need to shake up the comfortable little world your players have built (and that you loved to build for them). War was already visible as backdrop a couple of sessions; now it's come to their doors and cost them a patron. I'm very curious to see how they'll respond.

 

OUR BEST MEN AND MAIDS OF HONOUR

  • Guy the wizard - human diviner of the Lodge of Augurs, player absent due to real life. Missed you man.
  • Lomin Mor the rogue - elf sneakthief and secretly a big softie with a heart of gold. Which he probably stole somewhere.
  • Pyrrha the barbarilock - young human girl raised by...well, we'll get into that at some point, but for now this tiny redhead is raging and throwing warlock spells.
  • Shams Metalgrog - dwarf fighter noble from the Deepward Crusades, not-so-quietly looking for a good way to stay in the surface lands.
  • Ungulu the inquisitor - vultureling cleric of the Authority and the Order of Light. Which means fire. Which means godawful murder spells and a more intimidating demeanor than the fucking warlock. Love it.

 

Ungulu, Cleric of the Authority

PLAYER SUMMARIES AND RESPONSES

UNGULU
Great session! Even waiting for my turn there was never a dull moment. Great job by the DM.

Highlights: Lomin ending up in the thick of the fight sacrificing his healing potions to NPCs? Where's the real Lomin?? (Then after the fight he starts looting. Aaannd he's back)
Shams - how often can you miss people with a greatsword?
Pyrrha - using your decapitated enemy like a pillow to sleep off the post-rage exhaustion? Genius.
Ungulu, to guard: "No authority, you say? I AM THE AUTHORITY."
DM: good job playing all the different NPCs, exciting combat, fun interactions and everything that happened was connected.

PYRRHA
Yes, very cool session. I get that the DM was a bit anxious to run it, but it was very good. Maybe you felt like you were endlessly flipping back and forth in the Monster Manual, but it really wasn't an issue. You had cool enemies on the board and a lot of interesting and impactful actions.
The assassin sticking with Kerjules again, and again...wow.
The intrigue during and after the fight, delicious! There are big changes coming
Lomin turns out to have had a real relationship with Olga. Big softie indeed!
Shams out of armor seems completely out of her comfort zone. And also personally hit by this attack and eager for revenge.
Ungulu, sweet lord! Burn em, rip their chests open, judge them all.. let someone else sort em out
Pyrrha could wade in and do her thing - targets softened up by fireballs go down nice and fast 😌

Very curious to see what this will all lead to. Looking forward to next game!

SHAMS
Super cool session with lots of different aspects. Applause for the DM, because there were a lot of NPCs to keep track of 👏🏼
Great roleplaying by the players, lots of intense but quiet conversation.
Shams is very disappointed. Big failure with her sword. So all the accusations from around the village have wormed their way into her head. And losing the old Kerjules is a big let-down. Especially now Kerjules the younger seems to go the war mongering way of the White Rose followers. I hate revenge, so let's look up those people.
Shams is not feeling like hanging around Crossroads for much longer. Her original mission of setting up a trade route is complete, so she's free to go her own way.
After seeing them in action, Shams is a big fan of Urael and Ungulu. Clearly first impressions don't tell the whole story.
Let's see if we can stop this war. Step one, the White Rose's followers.
That is, if we're not going to hell first. Welcome back Ricky!

This new d20 (a holiday present from my wife) went on an absolute murder spree this session.


THIS GAME, MAN

I'll admit, I wasn't feeling it before the game started. I'd just sprung an assassination attempt on a wedding party at the end of last session. Great cliff hanger, but it involved about 16 different NPCs, most with their own stat block. All represented by paper minis on a Dwarven Forge build, streamed over crappy video...it was going to be a lot of work and I was really knackered from work.

Of course, then the webcam conked out completely. Fuck you, microsoft livecam. But on the plus side, it meant I had to run the entire combat theatre of the mind style. That sure got me going! Old school baby. Well, old school with camera photos over whatsapp. Next time I'll try and use the phone as a webcam with iVcam.

 

THIS GAME

Long combat. Surprisingly cool to run; there were a lot of little roleplaying moments I could tuck in there. Sure, it ran to 2/3rds of the session, but it was fun!

Some highlights:

  • Shams dispelling the targeting beacon on Ungulu with a fist in his stomach. That sabre-wielder would have fucked him up. Of course karma means that she then hits absolutely no-one with her zweihander (summon weapon is key if you have to check your murdertools at the door) for the rest of the combat...so sorry!
  • Peter Walden, Hedgehogling noble, pulling the feet from under some thug on the banquet table, critting and breaking dude's neck
  • Peter's new wife Liselle trying to bodycheck her very spiky husband into another thug
  • Lomin Mor, Lomin EVERYTHING NOT NAILED DOWN IS MINE Mor, dancing past the entire mass of enemies to pour healing potion after expensive healing potion down his liege's throat
  • Lomin's older brother, bishop Urael, surreptitiously helping out in the fray with sagitta arcana spells (dog latin for Eldritch Blast, a very warlock and very heretical spell). Not that any of the party saw, but the party definitely took note :D
  • Pyrrha, new at this wedding shit and not impressed so far, ripping a flint greatsword out of the very earth and lopping off heads left and right. Biggest kill: Ser Etienne de Cours, a displaced knight whose family held holdings in Ozillac; an Arraynian barony before Belswick took it as recompense for the last war
  • Lightning bolts from an invisible mage (greater invisibility is murder) laying down scores of wedding guests
  • Ungulu, already a fairly creepy cleric, popping Spiritual Guardians. "Four white-robed spirits weeping blood rise from the earth and attend me. I go down everyone in the room: ignore, damnation, damnation, ignore...for now, damnation, damnation..."

In the end, the party prevents the entire table of collected nobles from being killed. They don't save everyone though: Haine Kerjules, Hedgehogling lord of Crossroads, sighs his last. While the entire band of knights, thugs, clerics (and what was up with that "For the White Rose" and "In the Name of Zulin" shit anyway?) and rogues gets mowed down by the group, one lone assassin buries his swords in Kerjules' chest up to the hilt. And again, because there's Lomin with the healing potions, and again...and then a couple of lightning bolts cut across the room, finishing the old knight.

Busy map. Even busier to run this theatre of the mind because the webcam broke.


CHASE

A pop in the air signifies the invisible mage has teleported away, and the chase is on through dark Crossroads. Guy leads the way with his diviner mentor Fergus, intuiting tracks and finding a bolted-shut shack with ritual chanting coming from inside. Pyrrha and Shams try but fail to knock down the door, and Ungulu gives it the last push with bright light focused into fire. Right before the enemy wizard can walk through a just-opened teleportation circle, the party's old cleric Tilbørd becomes visible behind him and whispers a word, stunning the mage. Ropes come out as the circle flickers and fails.

 

GOODBYE

In the feast hall, old Lady Olga of Culfield lies down to her new husband and says goodbye to him and to Lomin. Olga was formally still in mourning for her original husband Malcer. And if we're being pedantic, Olga has been dead for years; her old friend Lomin has been taking her place to keep an incompetent nephew from controllnig the fief. Lomin's bishop brother Urael has somehow managed to bring Olga back for this one wedding day. Lomin says his goodbyes - again.

 

INTERROGATION

We skip a couple of days. Haine's son Silas, now lord of Crossroads and Culfield, takes charge. The mage-assassin is in his dungeon; new knights are being elevated and war taxes are raised even further than before. Haine's court wizard Guy and his mentor Fergus are dismissed as useless conjurers of tricks. The party, formerly friends at court, are looked at as failures by the new strongmen assembled by the young hedgehog. Worse, there's dark mutterings about Guy and Lomin's slight Arraynian accents...are they working for the enemy?

And in the middle of all that, Pyrrha and Ungulu stride up to the dungeon, scare the guard witless and have a fifteen minute talk with the captured wizard. We fade to black and they get the information that southern Arrayne, newly at war with Belswick, is behind the attack.

More information: Zulin is the god of a newly elevated sect within the Church; the True Authority, it is claimed. (Heresy!) Finally, the White Rose was the name of a young Arraynian lady knight in the last war with Arrayne.


FROM HELL

As the PCs sit in the Crossroads inn, mourning and nursing wounded egos, they discuss where to go next. Suddenly, the flagstones begin to shake and smoke fills the air. A sinkhole opens up under the table and reddish-yellow light flares up. In the smoke, a shadow of what comes from below can be seen. Giant horns curving back over the skull, a tail snaking back and forth, clawed hands and bat wings flapping. The shadow grows. Cries of anguish sound from beneath. PCs cower behind furniture.

Up rises...Ricky the Imp, Shams' 1 foot high familiar whom she sent out to get One Answer from Hell (five remaining) a few sessions ago!

They really deserved a hope spot. Of course he had to open his mouth. Anguished: "you're all going to hell!"

 

SPOILS OF WAR

  • some 300 gold worth of coins and gems in hidden pouches
  • the magic sword of Ser Etienne de Cours, not identified yet

 

THE ENEMIES

All from the Monster Manual NPC section, with small changes:

  • Priest, leveled up to lvl 7 for a Stone Shape escape spell (not used)
  • 2x Acolyte, for spell support, blessings and minor healing
  • Knight, for buffing attack rolls
  • Veteran, bodyguard to the Knight and secondary anchor for the front line
  • 2x Thug, support fighters
  • Assassin, for taking down the noble targets
  • Spies, support assassins
  • Mage, with level 5 swapped out for Teleportation Circle and a level 4 for Evard's Black Tentacles (not used)