World in Flames

Session 16
Skinwalkers: Part 1

We have yet another new party member – Mystify, Legend’s unofficial chief power gamer, replacing Xiphon III. Mystify is playing Third Hand member Thel Aswad, whose name was quickly retconned to Thel Abidad. Also, this session was cut short for various reasons that are too long to adequately explain here.

After settling matters in Alfreish, the party moved on towards Mornbar. On the way, they “coincidentally” encountered a merchant party from the desert, led by a rather colorfully dressed and entirely humorless halfling. After some conversation, Sigurt pulled the leader aside with the party and explained that the man was in fact a member of the Third Hand named Thel Abidad, and the party and halfling continued together.

Once they arrived at the edge of the forest, Sigurt helped everyone into the trees. They were greeted by a massive network of platforms and bridges that stretched as far into the forest as they could see. Once everyone was up, they made their way into the trees.

After about an hour’s journey, they came upon a village that at first glance appeared completely abandoned. However, soon after the party began to investigate, people began to file out of their huts cautiously. One of them, who looked to be some kind of leader, approached the party and told them that they had to move on as soon as possible. The party naturally responded by asking why. As if on cue, the man’s eyes widened as he saw something behind Aisling’s back and the villagers all rand back into their huts.

Aisling turned around and saw what looked like a large piece of skin floating gently on the wind. Given that there was no wind to speak of at the time, this was somewhat unusual. The kite was soon joined by several more, and they floated around the edges of the village for a few minutes. Then, as one, they froze in midair. A few seconds later, they darted directly towards the party.

The party immediately readied themselves. Thel shed his merchant disguise while Mary and Amusel began firing off magic and metal at the kites. Aisling, however, decided that apparently the halfling should get a taste of how things generally went with this group, and maybe pay a bit of tribute to Gerard’s antics in the process. He began by sprinting towards the edge of a platform and throwing himself off it directly towards a swarm of kites. While in midair, he brought his sword around and managed to neatly bisect every single one of them, making a perfect three point landing on another platform. He followed this up by teleporting into the center of yet another swarm, literally screaming a thunderclap that caused all of those to fall to the forest floor, and running off the platform again to finish off two stragglers on a nearby bridge.

And with that, I had to cut it short.

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Session 15
Village of the Damned

This requires a bit of explanation – due to technical problems, power loss, and attendance issues, we ended up having a few very short sessions followed by one big, entirely free form, boss fight. I did try to make sure that everything that happened in it was mechanically possible, but I needed to take a few liberties. I also do not have notes from a few of the small ones, and may be remembering certain elements wrong. Feel free to correct me if in the comments if you remember how it really happened.

As the party continued to make their way into the depths of the center, they began to notice a strange whirring sound. They followed the noise and found a teenage girl using airborne machines to saw away at the bars of a cage. Said cage happened to be suspended over acid. The party was able to get her out, and she introduced herself as Mary.

As the party attempted to make their way out of the dungeon, they were stopped by Father Myst and a cadre of his personal guards. Myst explained that Mary was the scion of the Chanton family, a group of powerful and very malicious mages that had secluded themselves in the Marshlands generations ago. Because of the evil perpetrated by her family, Myst viewed Mary as being beyond salvation and had left her to rot. He sent several of his guards down to deal with the party, who dealt with them in short order.

The party emerged from the center to find Alfreish in a state of complete chaos. The werewolves, city guard, and Myst’s men were engaged in a three-way battle royale. Myst himself was commanding his forces from the bridge in the center of town. Sigurt climbed onto the roof of the Center to provide sniper support while Shamus and Denzai raced off somewhere to help out the werewolves and city guard.

After tearing through about a dozen of Myst’s men, the remaining party members prepared to face the mad priest himself. Myst, by that point, had clearly lost what precious little remained of his sanity. He simply snarled as wings sprouted from his back and his sword caught fire.

After fighting for a while on the bridge, Myst retreated to the church’s roof. The party climbed up after him. As Myst prepared to take flight once again, a well aimed rifle shot took out his wings. During the ensuing melee, the roof caught fire. Myst lost his footing an fell into the building, impaling himself on a candelabra.

The party looked inside, waiting for the priest to stop twitching. When they were satisfied tha he was dead, they made their way down from the roof. Just as they started to relax on the ground, the church exploded.

Myst rose from the ashes and yanked the candelabra out of his chest. His body began to change – he grew horns and a tail, his wings shed their feathers, and his teeth and nails elongated into fangs and claws.

Aisling and Mary were having none of this.

They immediately began to beat down on the demon. As Aisling fought, the smoke his tattoos emitted when he raged grew so thick that it encased him completely. His attacks grew more brutal than ever, culminating with his destroying Myst’s body so thoroughly that only stray bits of bone and gristle could be separated from the mass of blood on the ground.

Aisling’s rage subsided, and he subsequently passed out.

The party awoke the next day to find the town quiet once again. Aisling had no memory of the battle’s finale. Shamus and Denzai decided to stay behind to help manage relations between the people of Alfreish and the werewolves, while the rest of the party moved on towards the forest.

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Session 14
Dog Soldiers

We were down Xiph and Neuman this week, and Envyus was in and out, so this writeup is mostly Shamus- and Aisling-centric. Also, I should note that the cherry on top for the night requires a bit of context: Before we got in the game, we were discussing our beverages of choice. Somehow, The Most Interesting Man In The World came into the discussion, and we spent a few minutes riffing on it. “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do…” and all that good stuff. Anyway, writeup:

The party went to go find the captain of the guard, who sent them off in the general direction he thought the werewolves might have come from. After several hours of searching the woods, they located what appeared to be the wolves’ den. There were two guards outside, so the party retreated to discuss how they wanted to proceed. While they were discussing this, things took a turn for the silly as Shamus began to mouth off and Aisling tried to throw him up a tree.

Needless to say, this activity alerted the guards to the party’s presence. They came to investigate and ended up grabbing Aisling and Shamus while everyone else scampered up into the trees as quickly as they could. One of the guards recognized the party from the fight at the church earlier, and both were suspicious. After the first social encounter we’ve ever had that worked the way it was supposed to, the party agreed to enter the den without weapons.

Instead of the den of monsters that they had been led to expect, they instead found what resembled a refugee camp, with most of the inhabitants sick and/or severely malnourished. The guards escorted the party to speak with the chief, who, upon finding out that Father Myst had sent them, grew furious. He ordered the party to come with him and brought them down a narrow passage towards a makeshift curtain.

The chief stopped at the curtain, then turned around to face the party. “Did that priest – no, that’s not right,” he said. “Did that madman tell you what actually happens at the Center?” The party shook their heads. The chief snarled “Allow me to show you,” and pulled back the curtain.

The first thing that hit the group was the smell of blood and decaying flesh. As they adjusted and their heads cleared, they saw that the center of the room was occupied by a man lying on a makeshift operating table. Huge patches of his skin had been completely removed, exposing the muscle and bone beneath. His arms were broken and bent in multiple places. One of his legs had been amputated, and the other was rotting away. He was still alive, and, mercifully, unconscious, breathing rapidly and erratically.

The party stood in stunned silence while the chief continued to speak. “I’ve been trying to do what I can for him, but I’m no medic. He somehow managed to escape from the Center a few days ago, along with a few others. Myst’s private goons hunted them down, and he was the only survivor. He’s the only reason we know anything about what’s going on down there.”

Shamus started to look over the body to figure out how to heal the poor man, but trailed off. Aisling’s tattoos began to glow again as his rage overwhelmed him. “We are doNe,” he snarled. “He muST paY.”

The chief smiled grimly. “That’s the plan,” he replied. While Aisling calmed down and Amusel and Shamus finally collected themselves enough to begin healing the man on the table, the chief outlined a plan to assault the Center and break out the prisoners. The goal was to minimize unnecessary casualties – the bulk of the city guard didn’t know what actually went on inside the Center, and there was no need to kill those who weren’t knowingly complicit.

Alfreish is situated on two opposite riverbanks, with a bridge connecting them. The werewolves were on the east side, while the Center was on the west. The original plan had essentially been to try and kick in the front door, empowered by that night’s full moon, and push through the guards and civilians towards the center. Aisling suggested an alternate option – run a rope across the river a hundred yards south of the town and have everyone else climb across.

The chief agreed to this, and decided to start the raid an hour after sundown. This left the party with some time to kill, so they made their way back to the village to see what they could do to help prepare. As they entered, they noticed a large commotion. A large group of guards had surrounded some unseen person or creature and were making their way towards the Center. The party tried to get a look at the prisoner, but saw nothing beyond a brief flash of red.

After Shamus told the captain of the guards to prep for a werewolf attack by placing all of his guards in the wrong place, the party went down to the riverbank to wait. After the werewolves appeared and they all made their way to the other side, Shamus came up with a plan – tie the werewolves up, loosely enough that they could easily escape, and bring them into the Center posing as prisoners. This went off without a hitch, and they all found themselves inside the Center.

The ground floor of the center was a clean, comfortable looking prison, but it was also conspicuously empty. Once inside, the werewolves broke their bonds and transformed. The guards inside were able to sound an alarm before the wolves tore them to shreds, and the party found a secret entrance leading down into a dungeon.

Once inside, they made their way down a long, narrow hallway, passing by cramped cells filled with corpses, creatures that were about to become corpses, and a few that had become feral thanks to their horrific treatment. As they approached the end of the hall, they two guards speaking with each other about the new prisoner that had been brought in a few hours ago. The conversation went something like this:

“Hey, did ya see that new prisoner? She’s kinda cute…”

“Yeah, I saw her. I might just have to pay her a visit… offer up some extra rehabilitation on the side, if you catch my drift.”

The party charged immediately.

Aisling made quick work of one, vertically bisecting him with a few precise strikes, while Shamus, as usual, took a more tactical approach. He noticed that some of the creatures locked up in here were straining at their bars and reaching through, so he carefully positioned himself before bullrushing the psychopath into one particularly vicious creature’s reach. The guard was immediately dragged screaming through the bars as the creature started to tear at him, before falling silent as the room was filled with the sounds of crunching bone. Shamus calmly walked back towards the party, stating, “As a Paladin, I don’t always sacrifice people to ravening beasts, but when I do…”

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Session 14 (Exelixi's Version)

When we last departed, the band was on its merry way to locate the den of the werewolves that had been plaguing Fantasy West Virginia. We found ourselves on a not-at-all-creepy dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Well, even more in the middle of nowhere.

Due to unforeseen complications, the GM was forced to depart for a while, leaving the three present players (Mura, Exe, and Envyus) to fuck around with trees, progressive rock, and professional gnome-tossing.

Jacobs returned, and we found that our shenanigans had alerted the watch-wolves. Our very first social encounter unfolded, concluding with the party entering the werewolf dwelling on good terms, without weapons.

Instead of the den of ravening monsters the band (and the players) expected, they were confronted with a group of starving, sick and weary people. They spoke to the werewolf leader, who, after a few moments of conversation, furiously tore open a curtain leading to what resembled a sick room. On a makeshift bed lay the singularly most horrible sight the group had seen- and they had spent their entire lives in Sanctum, which, as you’ve guessed isn’t a pretty place. An innocent man had been tortured near death, and of course the GM described this in awful detail. The werewolf chief explained that this was what Myst meant by “rehabilitation.”

The heroes were not impressed. The barbarian Aisling swore to avenge the atrocity, and the rest of the party fervently agreed. Amusel and Shamus did their best to heal the poor sap on the bed, and Sigurt distributed rations to the hungry clan. A plan was hatched, a scheme to assault the Center and rescue the innocent werewolves inside. The party rode back to the town, and with some luck and clever improvisation from Shamus, managed to get those werewolves capable of fighting inside the Center. Some guards on the inside grew suspicious, and a fight broke out. The werewolves, powers enhanced by the full moon, held off the assault while the protagonists went underground to free the imprisoned.

They found themselves in a proper dungeon, caves and cells and all. A conversation between the two on-duty cellkeepers was heard. It involved the notion of molesting a pretty prisoner. The heroes charged, of course; Aisling bisected one in a single strike, and Shamus rushed the other into the reach of a ferocious caged ape-beast.

With only two players remaining, the GM opted to cut the scene there.

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Session 13
Lords of Dogtown

We had perfect attendance this week… for about half an hour. Then something happened on Envyus’s end that I don’t have the details of. He popped back in at midnight just in time for Xiph to go to bed. Aside from that, I’d call this one of the best sessions so far. It says great things about a group when you can go two and a half hours between encounters and not have people complain. As for the writeup – I’m picking up right where I left off.

As the black knights advanced on the party, our heroes heard a sharp crack echo through the cavern behind them, followed by a whizzing sound as a bullet flew past them and embedded itself in the rock. The knights turned around to look at it just in time for a second bullet to slam into one of their helmets. They turned around to face their unseen attacker, remembered that the party was there, and began the fight.

As the battle continued, the party could hear some strange sounds coming from the cavern, getting louder, as though someone was jumping from outcropping to outcropping. Finally, their mysterious assistant got close enough to see. He took aim and fired off another shot that hit one of the knights squarely in the chest, before lifting his hood and saying,

“I ’’did’’ warn you about Lady Borafont, you know.”

Those of the party who had met him at the gala recognized him as Sigurt Meirsu, while those who hadn’t were grateful for the assistance in any case.

After the party defeated the black knights, the assailants’ armor faded away and a disembodied, primordial howl echoed through the caves. Aisling noted that the killing blows had each cut clean through the tattoos on their necks.

Sigurt apologized to the rest of the party for his deception and his inability to reach them in time to save Gerard before leading them towards the cave’s exit. The party emerged into the night from a small hole in the wall of a cliff, where they found Okerzale and Mara waiting for them. Okerzale immediately began to talk to Sigurt as Mara looked around excitedly. As the whole party exited the cave, Mara’s face began to fall. Finally, she quietly asked,

“Where’s Gerard?”

Everyone shut up. Okerzale’s eyes widened slightly as he realized what had happened. After a few moments of silence, Aisling stepped forward and said, “He’s… he’s not coming.”

Mara stood, stunned and unmoving. As Sigurt started to move towards her, a fireball formed around her fist as she punched the cave exit hard enough to crack the bare rock.

“He… he… promised he’d…” she said, holding back tears as well as she could. “I… wasn’t strong enough… still not strong enough… I could have… he’d still be…”

At that point, Aisling knelt down and hugged her to comfort her as she began to cry uncontrollably. After a few seconds, she went still and began to speak in the Phoenix’s voice.

“I FEEL IT IS BEST TO LET THE CHILD ALONE WITH HER THOUGHTS FOR THE TIME BEING,” said the Phoenix. Aisling nodded in response.

Okerzale stepped in and informed the party that they were now wanted in Tel Phonen for several counts of murder, breaking and entering, destruction of property… basically, for being PCs. Pissing off the wife of the guy who pays the guards’ salaries didn’t help matters. He also told the party that he and Sigurt were members of the Third Hand, a covert organization within the Guardians that handled the Phoenix’s dirty work.

He gave them tents for the night and told them that one of his men would be by in the morning with horses. Lady Borafont had been working with Mornbarian diplomats, so everyone reasoned that the party’s next step should be to head to Alilei, Mornbar’s capital, to investigate. With that in mind, they set off west towards the forest at dawn.

After several days of taking a somewhat long route to the border, the party found themselves in the small town of Alfreish. The place was essentially a backwater – the kind of town that an Avatar passes through once every ten years or so. Many of these rural villages have churches established, and while the Phoenix doesn’t necessarily approve of them, she doesn’t usually step in unless she finds that her message of universal kindness is being twisted.

This village’s priest, Father Uben Myst, greeted the party at the main gate. He was friendly and polite, and the party took a liking to him despite their initial apprehension. Father Myst offered them a free stay at the inn in exchange for putting in a good word for the town back in Alilei, which the party accepted. After a night of gambling and drinking, the party turned in.

The next morning, they were woken up by the innkeeper, who recommended that they go listen in on Father Myst’s sermon. The party, minus an extremely hung over Denzai, made their way to the church. Father Myst mostly talked about making those who had fallen away from the Phoenix’s light see the error of their ways, and while some of his talk was more forceful than the Phoenix generally cared for, nothing was particularly over the line.

As the sermon continued, a shifty-looking man in a cloak entered the church and approached the pulpit. Father Myst continued to talk for a moment, then turned to address the man. “Is there something I can help you with, son?”

Three more men entered the church as the man at the front looked up and snarled. “Where is he,” he growled. His face had started to elongate, and hair was beginning to grow all over his body. The three men in the back had removed their cloaks and were also beginning to change. They grew taller and leaner, and sprouted claws and fangs.

Father Myst’s eyes widened as he realized what was about to happen. “Everyone,” he said as he cast Sanctuary on the crowd, “please calmly make your way out of the church through the side exits. It seems we have a werewolf problem.”

The werewolves attacked as one, moving straight in for Father Myst without even attempting to break through the enchantment protecting the crowd. It almost seemed as though they were intentionally avoiding the civilians. Meanwhile, the party drew their own weapons and entered the fray. Father Myst pulled a sword from behind the alter and began to chant, lighting the blade up with a brilliant flame.

The battle ended quickly, as Sigurt, Shamus, and Father Myst were able to incapacitate the lead werewolf. Father Myst drove his sword through the wolf’s right arm, pinning it to the ground. The others advanced, but the leader barked a mournful-sounding order to retreat. Reluctantly, the free wolves fled.

Father Myst approached the werewolf, knelt down, and softly said, “My child… I know not why you have been tested as you have. My heart goes out to you. I have done nothing but attempt to bring the light of the Phoenix to those who need it.”

A group of guardsmen arrived to take the werewolf to something called the Center. Aisling and Shamus asked to speak with him for a while, but Myst told them that the werewolf needed to be quarantined as soon as possible. He offered to buy the group a round of drinks at the inn while he explained the situation. They accepted.

At the inn, Myst began to talk. "Most of the time, things are pretty peaceful around here. It’s a nice town, with nice people, so things run smooth. Problem is we just so happen to be near the Marshlands. Now I know most of the folk down there are fine, upstanding men and women who just want to know more about the magic and power that flows through this land, but there’s always exceptions. It might not look it, but there actually used to be a fortess near this place that they built when the Undead first started to spill out. We’ve also had to deal with a few crazed sorcerors now and again.

“I’ve been livin’ in this place my whole life, but the way things are now started when an avatar came through while I was a kid. Male one, too – not many of those around. That man changed my life.

“Time was, Noxvale’s guards’d just kill the poor creatures once they got too close – no chance to do somethin’ better. But that man – Renmic Winnet, he called himself – changed the way I thought about… well everything, really. He taught me about the phoenix, about how she helped fight against her own creators because she believed that everyone – EVERYONE – could be good. Yeah, I’d heard the story before, but this man really lived by its message.

“The incident that really stuck with me was – we’d found this vampire, see? Attackin’ the town, killin’ livestock, things like that. So one day the guards catch him, and they’re about to execute him when Winnet stops them. He says, ‘Look at this creature. Really look at ’im. Try and see what I see. I don’t see a monster – I see a man, a cursed man, a man changed by things beyond his control, tormented into takin’ leave of himself. This man doesn’t need to die – he just needs to be shown a little bit of light.’

“So Winnet took the guy under his wing. We all thought he was crazy, but a few months later they both came back, and the vampire’d become a model citizen. Even set himself up as a farmer – all the blood he’d need, legally his.

“That’s what I try to do with these poor creatures that come through my town – show them the way. That said, until they do turn out well, they’re still a danger. The Center’s an unfortunate euphemism for what it really is – a prison. But a comfortable one – it’s just to hold them while myself and my dedicated staff try to help them see that they can still do some good.”

Aside from this, the key facts were the following:

  • The current batch of werewolves were considerably tougher than anything the town had dealt with for quite some time
  • The werewolves were mostly poaching livestock, but there were unconfirmed reports that they’d been following a few women around.
  • There is no cure for lycanthropy – the only option Father Myst sees is to capture and rehabilitate the werewolves around Alfreish.

Before Father Myst left, he had one last topic to discuss. He was able to identify the guardians in the party as what they were, but noted that Aisling’s eyes gave off a very unique, somewhat disturbing feel. He also said that he’d seen guardians turn away from what needed to be done or go too soft to carry out the Phoenix’s will, and that unlike those transformed against their will, guardians who failed their responsibilities to the Phoenix might need to be put down.

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Session 12
You Shall Not Pass

After they recovered from their encounter with the hydewings, the party made their way down into the depths of the catacombs. As they progressed, they were assaulted by a nauseating miasma that gave off the smell of death and decay. As they exited the stairs into a large chamber, they found the source: a chamber containing several pits of both acid and stripped off bits of flesh. As they entered, they heard a low rumble followed by some wet, squelching sounds from behind them. They turned around to see an organic barrier forming across the door. As they turned back around, they saw flesh from the pits begin to move and assemble itself into a living, pulsating mass – the abomination.

The abomination roared – an evil, utterly alien sound that rattled the chamber. Two Hydewings swooped in from above, while several ghouls rose from the flesh pits. All turned their attention to the party, which wasted no time in getting down to business.

After a grueling battle, all the enemies were defeated. The fell magic holding together the abomination began to grow into a visible aura while the corpse dissolved into a pile of entrails and gore. The magic itself let out another roar, a bigger one, crackling with energy and hatred.

The chamber began to fall apart as the barrier dissolved, revealing an army of hundreds of enraged Vermin. At the same time, a section of the wall gave way to reveal a long, relatively thin passageway. Most of the party ran for it, but Gerard stayed behind to hold off the vermin and buy his friends some time.

As the rest of the party bolted for the cave, Amusel stopped for a moment and through one last healing incantation Gerard’s way before sprinting off to join the rest. Returned to full combat capability, Gerard turned to face the vermin. He threw open his coat, revealing dozens upon dozens of throwing knives, and snarled, “Go back to the shadow! You shall not pass! You shall not harm my friends! YOU WON’T TOUCH MARA!”

With that, Gerard began to unleash a hail of blades at the Vermin. Knife after knife flew through the air, striking with deadly precision. Even so, the vermin simply charged over the corpses and pushed through the barrage. When they started to get too close, Gerard began to whirl about, punching and kicking hard enough to smash bones and shatter skulls before resuming the storm of steel. Once he saw that the rest of the party had made it to the exit, he began to retreat, hurling knives as he went.

Unfortunately, as Gerard backpedaled, the falling rocks from the cavern closed off the acid pits enough that the vermin could safely run over them. Enraged at the one human who was decimating their ranks, they began to change, growing more bestial and dropping to all fours to charge straight towards the monk en masse. While Gerard still kept up his assault, it wasn’t long before the enemy surrounded him.

Gerard Phoenixson smiled sadly as he realized his fate. Filling the air with knives, whirling amongst the vermin, he called to his friends, just barely out of reach, his voice calm and studious. “I have no regrets. Take care of Mara for me, and let no harm come to her. Return the book to the monastery. We were a good team. And they shall not pass.” Without another word, he plunged into battle once more with a look of fire, doing his best to hold them back from escape, not a single scream escaping his lips as he fell.

As the vermin clambered over Gerard’s body, the cave wall finally gave way and shattered, the separate boulders falling into a rushing underground river thirty feet below. Just before the Vermin swarmed them, they jumped to safety.

The river carried them to a cavern. As they floated into it, they heard the sound of a single pair of hands slowly clapping echoing off the walls. They made their way on to dry ground and saw that the clapping was coming from the mysterious man they’d seen speaking with Lady Borafont and the Alilei diplomats. He was flanked by a man and a woman, both of whom looked strangely, creepily blank. Each had a black mark on their neck, but the party was too far away to see it in detail.

The man introduced himself as “The Prophet”, congratulated the party on their victory over the abomination, and mentioned that not even Lady Borafont knew that it was down here – she’d just expected the party to rot in their cell. He then said,

“I’m sorry to have to do this to a group as capable as you, but unfortunately you’re still an obstruction. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have other things to do.”

With that, he shimmered and vanished, revealing that his presence had in fact been the result of a high-powered illusion spell. The people at his side, however, stayed right where they were. Their eyes rolled back into their heads and they began to twitch while a pitch-black miasma began to pour out of the marks on their necks, coating them in impenetrable darkness. As the black began to recede, a red glow began to emanate from within the cloud. Finally, the shadow solidified into two suits of plate armor – identical to the fearsome black knight that had nearly slaughtered the party earlier.

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Session 11
Bats out of Hell

Unfortunately, Evii and PP both had to bow out of the campaign for the foreseeable future, and Envyus couldn’t make it. Shamus has changed hands to a new player, Mura. He has quickly proven that he fits in perfectly well with the group, and is a welcome addition to the roster.

After some wandering about, the party located the stairs leading to the next level of the catacombs. Once they got to the bottom, they found themselves in a room with the walls covered in tapestries depicting the Wyrm War. The events depicted in the tapestry cut off around the same time that the ancient city was known to have been destroyed. After some time looking around, Amusel noticed what appeared to be a structural weakness in the wall and asked Gerard to try and punch a hole in it. The monk complied, and the wall shattered to reveal a bizarrely natural looking set of caverns on the other side of a reasonably large gap. After some time spent attempting to jump the distance, Shamus suggested that the party try to make a bridge. Denzai, wondering why he hadn’t thought of that himself, created one out of shadows that allowed the rest of the party to make it across safely.

As the party began to investigate the caverns, they noticed that the floor was littered with bones. Shamus made the mistake of stepping directly on a particularly weak one, causing it to break with a loud snap that echoed through the cave.

Everyone froze to listen carefully, and they soon heard a soft rustling sound coming from behind them. They turned around to see two enormous spiders scuttling through the cave towards them. The spiders wasted no time and immediately lunged at the party, attempting to push them back into a cave full of webs and acid. One of them succeeded in entangling Denzai, but Shamus managed to scrape an arrow on the ground to generate a spark that set the spider’s web on fire. Denzai proceeded to take advantage of this and covered the spider in grease, which caused it to slip and fall prone.

Since a prone, immobile, flaming spider isn’t much of a threat, the party decided to focus on the other one. After they dispatched it, they turned their attention to the disabled one just in time for it to explode from the heat.

After some more exploration, they found another chamber filled with acidic, stagnant water. They were attacked by a group of colossal, batlike creatures called Hydewings. The encounter was uneventful aside from Gerard’s attempt to ride one that ended with both him and the hydewing in the water 30 feet away from the safe areas. They took a long rest afterwards.

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Session 10
Dragons and Dungeons

Exelixi, Xiph, and PP were absent, the latter two without leave. I am currently plotting revenge for this. As for the session itself, it was mostly hack and slash, so this entry will be considerably shorter than usual.

After deciding to bring the disabled archer back to the stairs leading upwards, the party continued to fight their way through the catacombs. After easily dispatching a hydra-like creature made out of what can only be described as flesh worms, the party was swarmed by giant spiders. The spiders didn’t pose much trouble either, and were soon dealt with. Aisling fried the last one with a lightning burst, causing it to explode rather messily.

Inside the spider’s remains, they found a set of bones and several pages of a journal. Inside, they found a century-old account of someone else’s time in the catacombs. The unknown writer had witnessed the birth of a dragon made from scraps of flesh, and the arrival of a man who was presumably named Krall.

All things considered, the party took this revelation rather well.

Afterwards, they killed a few fleshy tentacle things and we called it a night.

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Session 9
Out of the frying pan...

We had perfect attendance this session, for the first time since the campaign began. Woohoo!

The party awoke to find themselves in a cell at the bottom of a large pit. Through the gloom, they were able to make out Aisling tied up in a corner. He looked incredibly ragged, and his once-blue tattoos had now turned jet black. After they untied him, he explained that he had no memory of anything that happened to him between falling asleep in the Temple of the White Wyrm and waking up in this cell.

After looking around for a bit and letting his eyes get accustomed to the darkness, Gerard found a weak point in the wall of the cell. After failing to break it, he beckoned Aisling over to smash his way through. The barbarian obliged.

When the dust settled, the party found themselves staring out at the ancient catacombs beneath Tel Phonen. After walking around for a while, they hard some shuffling and crunching noises coming from a room to the side. They looked in and saw an enormous pile of flesh, skin, blood, and tissue. It looked fresh. While trying to sneak in, one of Gerard’s knives fell out of his coat and hit the ground.

The munching stopped.

As the party began to back away, two creatures walked around from the back of the pile to face them. The creatures were vaguely humanoid, but were emaciated husks with bestial proportions. Amusel confirmed that they had been human once, but had been mutated and corrupted by something. The vermin shrieked and charged at the players, but were no match for the party.

After dispatching the vermin, Denzai reanimated one and asked it for information on the dungeon. Between a bunch of inarticulate shrieking, the vermin was able to communicate that it had been collecting flesh for its master before it dissolved into another pile of gore.

After exploring the floor some more and finding a massive cache of items to replace the ones that had been taken when they were thrown into the dungeon, Shamus discovered a secret entrance that led to a staircase descending downwards.

As the party exited the stairwell, they found 2 vermin and a gnoll. During the ensuing battle, Denzai and Creig got severely scared by the gnoll and fled to the safety of a previous room. Fortunately, the others managed to dispatch the gnoll without too much trouble. This caused the vermin to panic and attempt to flee. While the party took down one of them easily, Gerard decided to show off a bit. He bullrushed the remaining vermin, pushed it through a door, and shoved it screaming into the depths below.

Afterwards, the party found a few crazed adventurers who had clearly been running around for a while. These new adventurers attacked the party almost on sight, causing . One was disabled, while the others were killed. Temporary reanimation of a paladin revealed no useful information. At present, the party is arguing over what to do with the remaining archer.

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Session 8
The Taking of Platform 1-2-3

Before we like to start, I would like to point out two things: First, I needed to reintroduce Aisling to the campaign so we could give Exelixi something to do next time, and second, during sessions 6 and 7 I was specifically asked to give more direction.

Denzai and Shamus went back to the apartment to get some much-needed sleep, Mara went back home, and Gerard, Creig, and Amusel made their way to the upper levels to investigate Lady Borafont. After unsuccessfully asking the guards for information, they learned from a particularly stuck-up news vendor that Lady Borafont would be hosting a gala that night. While they searched around for more information, they entered an item shop. As is typical of the upper and innermost circle of Tel Phonen, the store’s wares were so expensive that the party’s combined resources might be able to purchase a few square inches of the material the price list was printed on.

Inside the store, they saw none other than Lady Borafont herself. She personally invited them to the gala, stating that having the unlikely heroes who saved Sanctum there would be excellent publicity. After she left, a halfling approached the party and told them that Okerzale wanted to see them at their apartment.

On the way back home, a man jumped off the wall and landed on the party’s platform. He was clad in pitch black armor with a blue glow visible through the seams and slits. Without a word, the mysterious assailant drew an enormous greatsword and began to take the party apart. Gerard was brought to the brink of death, and only survived thanks to quick intervention from Amusel. Still, they gave as good as they got, and eventually did enough damage that the man in black armor had to teleport to a platform heading the opposite direction to escape.

As his platform receded into the distance, the man’s helmet dissolved into shadow as he downed a health potion. Unfortunately, the party was too far away to get a good look at his face.

When they got back to their apartment, they found Okerzale sitting at their kitchen table sharing a very expensive bottle of wine with Denzai and Shamus. Okerzale informed them that he’d found out they were invited to the gala and had prepped formalwear with armor built in.

“My coat is the height of pirate fashion,” protested Creig.

“Yes, because clearly people at a well-to-do high society gala are going to welcome a pirate with open arms.” replied Okerzale.

“Well to doers can shove it,” snapped Creig.

Okerzale glared at the pirate for a moment before gesturing slightly. An instant later, Creig slammed against the ceiling and was pinned there. Okerzale walked underneath him and calmly said,

“That tongue of yours is going to get you killed one of these days. I’d be more than happy to preempt that by cutting it out for you. Look, I understand that I asked for your help. But I know how this city works, and it’s painfully obvious that in that specific area you have no idea what the fuck you’re doing. You want to do anything in this city, you’ve got to play by the rules, and I’m the only one in this room that knows what they are. So, we clear?”

Creig actually shut up for a moment before grudingly responding, “Yeah, we’re clear.”

Okerzale returned to his usual friendly demeanor as he let Creig down slowly and left the apartment. The party all got changed, with the exception of Shamus, who protested the focus on superficiality and appearance that galas like this promoted.

Now that they’d suited up, the party made their way to the gala. They were treated to an awe-inspiring display of wealth that bordered on decadence. After several minutes of attempting to schmooze with guests, they noticed Lady Borafont quietly duck through an out-of-the-way door. Once it had closed, a guard stepped directly in front of it. The party decided to ignore this and continue chatting up guests, and soon found a young elf named Sigurt Mairsu.

Despite an imperfect command of the Common tongue, Sigurt was extremely amiable and quickly bonded with the group. He explained that the purpose of the gala was to celebrate the arrival of a group of diplomats from Mornbar that Lady Borafont had known growing up as a political hostage, and that he didn’t trust Lady Borafont any further than he could throw her. He recommended that they investigate whatever was going on behind that door, which the party promptly decided to do.

Gerard first managed to bribe the guard to throw a certain object behind the door. This object turned out to be a floating eye, which Gerard maneuvered around until he found a skylight looking over a secret chamber. Inside, Lady Borafont was speaking with a group of people including a hooded figure, two of the diplomats from the Mornbarian delegation, and a mysterious bald man who appeared to be from the desert.

The table in the center of the room displayed a particularly complex illusion spell – a three-dimensional map of Sanctum, focused on something in the Marshland. The group in the chamber was having a conversation, but because Gerard hadn’t thought to send back a floating ear along with the eye, they couldn’t make any of it out.

The party decided that they’d need to get to the skylight themselves. They approached the guard again. Denzai, Creig, and Amusel formed a barrier around Gerard while he attacked the guard and covered his mouth so he wouldn’t scream. They quickly slipped though the door. Once on the other side, Creig used a strip of the guard’s uniform to hogtie him and keep him gagged. Denzai stayed at the entrance to keep watch while the other three moved forward.

Once the three got to the skylight, they saw that a panel on it was slightly ajar. If they got close enough to it, they could barely hear what was being said. Unfortunately, they found that the group below was rotating languages. They were starting to get discouraged when they heard Lady Borafont switch to Common and say,

“No, we’re not doing that again. I know that’s the blueprint he laid out, but look how well it worked for him! We can’t focus on active destruction; that hasn’t worked and it’s not going to. I don’t see why we should bother when we can just keep doing what we’ve been doing and watch things play right into our hands.”

The party looked at each other, confused. Gerard leaned in closer to the skylight to hear better when disaster struck.

The glass cracked.

Everyone in the room immediately looked up at the party. Lady Borafont recovered first and smiled. “Speak of the Wyrms,” she muttered as she raised her hand. The party was pulled through the skylight and landed amidst a group of glass shards on the table. Amusel hit at a bad angle and landed on his back, but was able to roll out of the way as one of the hooded figures brought a knife down right where his head had just been. Lady Borafont and the bald man fled, while everyone else readied weapons for battle.

Guards quickly poured into the room. Gerard saw this and, thinking quickly, grabbed one of the diplomats and held a knife to his throat, threatening that if a diplomat under Lady Borafont’s care was killed, it could spark a war. Both the guards and the diplomat called his bluff, with the latter stating that Lady Borafont’s plans were more important than his life and that they both viewed him as expendable. Upon hearing this, Gerard slit the man’s throat.

As the battle went on, more and more knights swarmed into the room. After killing six or seven of them and blinding the remaining diplomat, the party was finally overrun and knocked out.

When they woke up, they were in a strange set of catacombs beneath the city. Bodies and bones littered the room, and corpses in various states of decomposition were chained on the wall. Denzai and Shamus had also been caught and thrown in. Their weapons had been confiscated, but Denzai was nice enough to make replicas for everyone.

As they were discussing their next move, they noticed that one of the chained up bodies was still alive. As they went over to investigate, the man on the wall raised his head and gasped.

“Ger…ard? That you?”

Suddenly, everyone came to a realization. Gerard moved in on the man and cautiously asked,

“…Aisling?”

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