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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    Shenanigans have ensued for a couple of weeks now. In the interest of writing anything at all, I’m starting with the most recent session and may include sparknotes when necessary.

    Spoiler: Episode... 1? 3?
    Show

    The scene opens with who else but our trusty adventurers: Freya, a druid tabaxi cougar mom; Zavrazina, a definitely-not-Russian noble valenar elf who is half rogue, half mystic; Vo-shai, an emo shadar-kai necromancer charlatan; and Kaylor, a delightful, 7-foot wilden warden who is stuck in a lifelong contract with Zavrazina. Oh, and one very courageous DM who has to put up with this group.

    The adventurers begin by long resting in a lab they cleared of vile experiments. Freya sleeps restlessly, dreaming of a mysterious black rot and a voice which tells her, “The road ahead is dangerous, but you have good competent allies.”

    Completely undeterred by the weird omen, the four head into an arena at the back of the lab, which is full of plants and bad juju. This is reaffirmed when each sees a different object of desire. Kaylor sees a fairy; Vo-shai, her normie high school bully; Freya, a clingy ex-lover; and Zavrazina, an incubus who scammed the party after Vo-shai and Kaylor tried to scam him (the incubus is important, remember him).

    After a somewhat vigorous stompdown where Freya explodes the aberration, (who may or may not have called for mommy during the event), she then burns down the “forest” and sees that it’s really just a cave.

    Afterward, the group stumbles across some frog people and DON’T go full murder hobo on them. Instead, Kaylor and the frogs get to chatting, and the group learns that the Empire (mostly non-human) is planning to invade the Kingdom (primarily humans) using the bioweapons created in these labs. Frog people and snake people, you know, the works.

    The group opts to set the frog people free and heads back to the nearest town. The last time they were there, goofy-looking fruit had popped up in the fields that Kaylor recognized as dragon heart fruit — fairy food. Now as the adventurers arrive, the fruit is gone and the village is empty save for a few ravager-esque survivors Zavrazina shoots down without much incident … that is, until the group is attacked by invisible bladelings.

    Wondering where all the villagers went, Kaylor is granted ethereal sight from a fairy informant of his. He manages to contact the ghost of a villager to ask where the bladelings went. The ghost tells Kaylor the transformed villagers went to a nearby cave, but doesn’t really know where the bladelings went.

    Kaylor: “What good are you?!”
    Ghost: “That’s what my wife said :(”

    So the party heads to the cave and encounters the worst monster of all: a door. Zavrazina nearly gets herself disintegrated and only avoids this fate through DM inspiration gained from a previous session. Kaylor sulks since he is not free from his contract. However, the door isn’t finished yet, blasting the crew with a nice toasty fireball upon opening.

    Then, surprise surprise, the ex-villagers and bladelings attack.

    Things look bleak for the party at first, with both Zavrazina and Kaylor going down at one point and leaving the two squishies gaping — they didn’t believe it was even possible to knock down Kaylor, who tends to flourish like the big ol’ tree he is. (Rules of combat with Kaylor: you will be punished for hitting him, not hitting him, getting near him, and staying away from him.)

    However, Freya did a good job of cheese-grating the enemies with spike growth early on, and contributes again by healing Kaylor. Invigorated, Kaylor rises with a fearsome laugh and draws the enemies closer to him — through the spike growth. One drops dead right there. Another takes a nice dousing of moonbeam from Vo-shai and withers away, granting the necromancer some delectable HP. Zavrazina slices and dices her way back to Kaylor’s side. Then, looking to burn his impressive collection of once-per-day abilities, Kaylor activates several different monster-crushing moves, shrinking the enemy numbers considerably.

    Kaylor: “And now for my action!”
    DM: “...what?”

    They go back to the town after finding some spooky red and black gems and deciding not to mess with them. Vo-shai, not wanting to leave all the town’s valuables to potential robbers, loots the entire village for a whopping 8,000 gold. Kaylor builds his second trebuchet of the campaign (presumably using Vo-shai’s blueprints from the first) and lobs half the destroyed town on top of the cave.

    The next day, the party heads back to the capital of the Kingdom and splits up to explore the town. Vo-shai and Kaylor follow a rumor that the local Duke Kairan is a vampire. Zavrazina goes to strike up a relationship with the local thieves’ guild for potential jobs, and Freya just wants a nice night out on the town after having more than one date ruined by Kaylor in particular.

    Pointed toward Duke Kairan’s abode by a few human villagers, Vo-shai and Kaylor are immediately turned around by the guards there. “You’ll want to talk to the magistrate at the king’s palace,” one says. “You gotta go back the way you came.”

    Zavrazina uses thieves’ cant to weasel out the location of the Silver Sparrows. Their leader, meditating in skimpy harem clothes …

    Kaylor’s player: Please tell me the leader is a guy.
    DM: She’s not.
    Everyone: Dang.


    … tells Zavrazina the Sparrows have contracts to kill A) undesirables and B) members of the rival guild, the Crimson Aegis. The leader’s assistant rolls out lovely crayon scribbles of the targets from Contract A, which include a curvaceous cat woman, Groot, a definitely-not-Russian princess, and an emo shadar-kai.

    (In the distance, Vo-shai can be heard screaming, “I’m not emo! I’m GOTH!!!”)

    Freya, meanwhile, starts chatting up a silver fox of a dwarf blacksmith who may be compensating for something with his massive swords. “Don’t get too close,” he says to Freya. “You might get burned.”

    “Oh, I like it hot,” the tabaxi replies with a wink.

    “Mrrow.”

    “Oh, and if a giant tree person comes by saying I have brain parasites, just ignore him.”

    The dwarf is too preoccupied with flexing to be disturbed.

    Freya has two things on her mind: a good time, and scorpion scale mail. Fortunately, it seems the first will lead to the latter, so the two agree to meet up later in the evening. Freya also remains on the lookout for suitors for Zavrazina, since giving the noble an heir would ruin Kaylor’s life by continuing his contract to the bloodline.

    She doesn’t notice how intently the dwarf himself eyes Zavrazina when she walks by. As per usual, the noble is oblivious, having collected Contract B and looking to pick out the rival guild through gossip at the nearest tavern. Whistling and singing folk songs in thieves’ cant, she soon attracts the attention of a burly-looking guy near the harbor.

    He stomps over and introduces himself: “P--- off.”

    Despite her abysmal charisma, Zavrazina manages to talk the man into revealing that he is a member of the Crimson Aegis by telling him she wants to pick up contracts for his guild. He tells her there is a contract out for members of the Silver Sparrows, and one for none other than Duke Kairan, the suspected vampire. There’s a third contract for a celestial gem Zavrazina declines for the present, though it is worth a lot of money if found.

    Not realizing the bounty out for the Duke, Vo-shai and Kaylor squeeze past the magistrate’s interns, ignore some nobles in a waiting room, and bust down the door to the king’s chambers to find, shockingly, the king — and a very pale Duke Kairan.

    Without even an ounce of ceremony, Kaylor drags the duke away from his conversation with the king and starts questioning him. Remembering something the incubus said the last time the party encountered him, Kaylor correctly guesses that Duke Kairan and the incubus are in kahoots.

    After Kaylor’s detailed description of his business with the incubus (the wilden wants to rip his, er, sword off, so the incubus can’t procreate with Zavrazina … after all, he did wink at her with a rose in his mouth), Duke Kairan says he can’t let that happen.

    “Why?” Kaylor asks. “Do you need his sword for something? Are you a couple? Are you trying to prove something?”

    “Can’t you just get a souped-up carriage and jack it up on big wheels?” Vo-shai adds.

    As it turns out, the Duke and the incubus are working under the same boss with the goal of getting Duke Kairan installed as the next king. He’s second in line after the king’s daughter.

    Not interested in anything but retrieving the incubus’ sword, Vo-shai and Kaylor offer to “let the king die” and take the princess to a convent in exchange for the incubus. Duke Kairan agrees, and even gives the two a small loan of 2,000 gold so Kaylor can enhance his scythe for the deed.

    The Duke then makes one more request. “Can you give me a description of the villagers spreading this slander about me being a vampire? Even if it is true.” (Which it is.)

    “Oh, sure,” Kaylor says.

    “...well?”

    “They were human.”

    Zavrazina, sensing that somehow, somewhere, Kaylor is being obnoxious, looks up and sees Freya has arrived at the tavern. The tabaxi seats herself far, far away. Zavrazina mostly ignores her and strikes up a conversation with another local. When the topic of the labs comes up, the two switch to thieves’ cant, which in and of itself draws some stares.

    “What?” the noble says in Common. “Don’t you all have prostitutes where you come from?”

    Uncomfortable mumbling ensues. Zavrazina and the local go outside to talk further, and he gives her a gem of communication (a sort of walkie-talkie, if you will). He says to share any new information about the labs and goes back inside.

    Zavrazina frowns, walks to a busy street corner, and tosses the gem into an alley.

    Down the same street and behind an illusory wall, Kaylor and Vo-shai enter into tense negotiations with a hag who will upgrade Kaylor’s scythe. They have the full 11,000 gold, but when the hag mentions a desire for soul gems, Kaylor gets an idea. They knock 4,000 gold off the total price by telling the hag the location of the red and black gems from the cave the party cleared. She also takes a noted interest in purchasing the incubus’ sword, mounted, once Kaylor and Vo-shai get ahold of it.

    While the hag does the upgrades, she and Kaylor complain about the agonies of binding contracts. It’s like a hair salon for fey types, so Vo-shai casts deafen on herself and broods in a corner.

    After the hag vanishes to find the gems, Kaylor turns to Vo-shai. “Those things in the cave were soul gems, right?”

    Vo-shai shrugs.

    ***

    At nightfall, Vo-shai, Kaylor, and Zavrazina meet under the docks, where Duke Kairan set up a meeting with the incubus.

    Zavrazina, having been informed of the plan and telling the others of the contract for Duke Kairan’s head, telepathically threatens Freya into ditching her date and helping out before leaving the tavern. Freya sighs and decides to at least wait for the dwarf to turn up before abandoning him.

    At the docks, Zavrazina then sequesters herself away in a crate, rogue-style. Vo-shai casts disguise on herself to look like the Duke after seeing Kaylor’s miserable attempt to drape a stately cloak over his antlers. Happy enough to lie in wait, Kaylor then lurks into the river and makes a very convincing piece of driftwood.

    An hour later Freya arrives holding hands with the dwarf, whom she had to convince to put on more than just a toolbelt before coming along with her. But, in truth, she was pleased with his enthusiasm.

    “They should be around here somewhere…” Freya says, then pulls up short when the dwarf stops dead in his tracks. “What? What is it?”

    He smiles, procures a rose from thin air to stick between his teeth, and winks. “I believe we have a date, my dear,” he says to the crate where Zavrazina is hiding.

    Freya sighs. “I knew this date was going too well.”



    TL;DR: wait, you’re not going to read the whole thing? I spent DAYS on this!

    Alright, fine. Our heroes curb-stomp an aberration, loot an entire town, and return to the Kingdom’s capital. It seems they’re on the verge of starting a gang war between the local thieves’ guilds, and the party’s wilden gets one step closer to vandalizing an incubus.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    Spoiler: Episodes 2 and 3: Midnight Double Feature
    Show
    “My date is ruined! Again!” Freya cries.

    Kaylor shrugs his big leafy branches. “Hey, it’s not my fault this time.”

    “I’m still mad!"

    Freya’s former date grins, feeling confident in his first strike. As Freya tries to dash away from him, the dwarf (likely the incubus) takes a swing. However…

    “How DARE you attack someone who isn’t me!” Kaylor says, pulling the dwarf 15 feet closer and halving his movement with one swing. Zavrazina then goes full assassin on the poor goofus and swats him for 78 HP. Desperate now, the dwarfcubus’ caster, appearing from the shadows, surges forth to cast hold person … on Kaylor.

    Kaylor: “I’m a fr*ckmothering fairy!!!”

    And, as all spheres are two dimensional, it fails (of course). He tries to engage some backup in the form of some Syndicate members, but these fellows have been known to be silly, and mostly useless. They jump from a bridge onto Kaylor, both taking fall damage. One misses completely. Kaylor traps the other in a struggle snuggle.

    Meanwhile, Vo-shai spots the caster and summons a moonbeam. The caster counters. Vo-shai flips her off and counters the counter.

    The fight, which once looked to be daunting, now looks to be winding down without much ceremony. Kaylor dimension anchors the dwarfcubus and Freya, still furious about her ruined evening, incinerates the poor guy. But not before Kaylor gets his … sword.

    Vo-shai and the caster remain locked in a wizard’s duel while the others swat the Syndicate members like flies. Big, arrogant flies. As they do, a conversation materializes on the breeze…

    Mystery voice: “Should we intervene?”
    Duke Kairan: “No. Let this play out.”

    Undeterred, Kaylor wipes most of the remaining crew off the face of the planet with an AOE, and the skeletal hand from Vo-shai’s chill touch squeezes a pesky rogue into oblivion. Things look to be winding down, until a fireball launches out of nowhere and smacks Zavrazina for a good chunk of HP. It is only then that the party realizes that the mystery voice is no mystery … it’s the real incubus, and the dead guy on the ground was just a normal, enchanted dwarf.

    It’s a bit of a bummer. Nonetheless, Kaylor decides it’s time to go find the hag who enchanted his scythe and “PUT HER IN THE BAG!” to send her back to the Feywild. However, when the party arrives, they can’t seem to get into the shop. Several creative approaches are attempted before a handwritten note appears out of nowhere: “Out to lunch.”

    Kaylor tries some voodoo to draw the hag back to the shop (or kill her, whichever is easier), then gets annoyed by the note from the unseen servant and sets the shop on fire. Vo-shai grabs a burnt stick and draws the symbol of the Sparrow guild on a nearby wall to frame them and hopefully kick the impending gang war into motion.

    Then, realizing loot was forgotten, Vo-shai and the others head back to the docks only to find that a city crew is throwing corpses into the river, including the ones from the recent battle. Zavrazina asks Kaylor very politely to retrieve them, but forgets to be specific.

    So Kaylor just keeps throwing corpses onto the beach until she yells at him (telepathically) to stop.

    There’s some cool stuff, including new Hot Topic outfits and a concentration-enhancing circlet for Vo-shai. Then, ever the necromancer, she builds a flesh totem pole with help from Kaylor.

    Vo-shai: “It’s like a sandcastle, but made out of corpses!”

    Zavrazina, having been hit by a fireball, refuses Vo-shai’s offer to borrow the available skin for grafts and instead accepts directions to the temple of Loriel (the goddess of … hair products). The clerics there cast regeneration on Zavrazina, but regret asking for donations when Kaylor offers up the dwarf’s disembodied sword.

    Freya takes note that the cleric has a brother…

    DM: “Thor...iel?”

    ...and Vo-shai hangs the sword up on the way out out of enforced gratitude. Then the crew decides to go burn the Duke’s house down, as another show of gratitude (and to find out if he’s really a vampire as the rumors say). However, the guards seem hesitant to let in the motley group of banged-up adventurers, even though Zavrazina says they have an important message for the Duke’s ears alone.

    Kaylor is once again annoyed. “Listen, we’ve been dealing with a lot of incompetence lately. We don’t need any more.”

    To which one of the guards replies, “You’ve been attacked by the Syndicate, haven’t you.” (It’s not a question).

    Still, the guards won’t let them pass. Kaylor offers up Freya’s “services” to any guards that stay behind; if looks could kill, Freya’s glare would have blighted Kaylor into a shriveled pile of mulch, but she amps up the flirting for the sake of the party. Meanwhile, Vo-shai storms off and comes back disguised as the Duke, but the guards are familiar enough to see through it.

    Kaylor finally has enough of the talking. “Fine, which one of you wants to deliver the message?”

    One of the guards steps forward. Without missing a beat, Kaylor pours a flask of ale on his head and lights him on fire.

    Desperate to maintain some semblance of diplomacy, Freya looks at the other guard. “This is … romantic lighting, right?”

    Zavrazina sighs and pats out the flaming guard with her cloak. “Listen, we can hash out accusations all we want, but there’s overwhelming evidence that Duke Kairan is a vampire. You can both come with us, or you can both deal with Kaylor.”

    The guards take them to the Duke’s house, sending a third member to go investigate at the docks. They use a special amulet to open the gates, but Vo-shai doesn’t steal it … yet.

    Inside the Duke’s mansion, the group splits up to search and come across a journal in a hidden drawer and a secret passageway in the library. The journal details some very ancient history, including a war that shattered the world and shifted Duke Kairan onto the current plane of his existence.

    There’s also writings of an elf called the Sapphire Witch, who found the Forbidden Temple and became cursed. She then turned on her allies, became a demon lord, and started a war. The Duke submitted to her and became her general. The journal ends with the Duke writing that the others in his old party also became generals and started a war on the world, and that he himself gained the power of immortality through the blood of others.

    The guards are not totally convinced that this ancient journal of misdeeds in the Duke’s handwriting is really enough evidence, so they agree to go with the party down the secret library corridor.

    At the entrance, Kaylor gestures to the first guard, whose eyebrows are still smoking from the confrontation outside. “You go first, Candles. You can light the way.”

    At the bottom of some stairs, the group finds a great chasm with a floating rock made from the same metal they found in the laboratories. On the other sides are some strange contraptions, also familiar from the labs.

    After some discussion, Kaylor grapples the rock with a hook and pulls it over. Vo-shai identifies it and discovers the material comes from the part of the world that split apart in the war mentioned in the journal. It can be used as a conductor for spells as well as a material for armor and shields.

    These discoveries cue an argument about circumstantial evidence and suddenly, a 5e mod becomes DnD: Legal Edition.

    “But look,” Kaylor says. “Me and Vo-shai know about this whole plot the Duke has to gain power.”

    “Yeah,” Vo-shai says. “He wants to kill the king and kidnap his daughter to send her to a convent. How evil can you be?”

    Slightly more convinced, the guards agree to keep an eye out and lead the group back to the front door. Kaylor lights the house on fire on the way out, which for some reason surprises the guards enough that they don’t notice Vo-shai stealing the amulet to open the gates.

    The group heads back to see the magistrate with the flustered guards in tow. When they arrive, however, the magistrate snaps his fingers and puts everyone but the party into a trance. He then sighs. “Present the evidence.”

    For once it seems the party members are not the bamboozlers, but the bamboozlees. However, they tell the magistrate what little information he doesn’t already know, such as what they found in the Duke’s house.

    The magistrate turns to Vo-shai and Kaylor. “And what interesting things YOU two found out while talking to the Duke before his cronies attacked you on the beach. I believe you also took something important,” he says to Vo-shai before making her hand over the amulet she snatched from the guards. He sighs again. “I suppose the cat is out of the bag, now.”

    “Say what?” Freya hisses.

    The magistrate straightens his lapels. “I only meant to say, it’s probably worth telling you all what I know. The Duke is a highborn, one of the oldest vampires in the world. You would do me a favor by getting rid of him — and the Syndicate, and the labs, while you’re at it.”

    The party members look around at each other, then the dazed people standing behind them. Candles is drooling a bit.

    “Now, let’s talk money,” the magistrate says. “Taking down the Duke isn’t easy.”

    “And we already gave away our most prized possession after the last battle,” Vo-shai says.

    The magistrate facepalms. “It was a SWORD.” He then turns to Zavrazina. “This will be a sort of delivery mission.”

    “Are we gonna be escorts?” Kaylor asks, eyeing Zavrazina. “She’s not allowed to have escorts.”

    “Freya knows all about escort missions,” Vo-shai adds. Freya raises an imaginary glass and throws the magistrate a wan smile.

    It is, in fact, not that kind of escort mission. The magistrate (who the party finally finds out is named Rhinehart) gives the party an amulet to take to his connection, Maximilius, in the Empire; in return, she will give the group an item to help defeat the Duke. This amulet can be used to disrupt time and gain ethereal sight, and has three charges.

    Rhinehart also tells the group where and when they can next find the incubus. He says they can use the amulet once if they need it to find the incubus in the ethereal plane.

    Before the party sets out to kill the incubus once and for all and deliver the amulet, they decide to rid the city of the Sparrow guild and thereby remove their names from the local “Most Wanted” list.

    It’s a murder montage. Vo-shai throws some sick shadow daggers and uses a rapier of vile damage, two weapons she looted from the last fight. Zavrazina pushes past the waves of low-level rogues to find the leader. She’s still zenned-out in her hotboxed downstairs hangout, and Z has no trouble stabbing her through the heart.

    Kaylor … is Kaylor. Freya, the resident pacifist, steps through the mess to go sip tea in another room.

    Afterward, Zavrazina writes an formal protest to the Syndicate telling them to leave her party alone and nails it to the door. And, once the 5,000 gold worth of loot is collected, the group heads out on their next adventure.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AT THE MIDNIGHT, DOUBLE FEATURE…

    BUT, before they leave, the party also cashes in the Sparrow heads with the Crimson Aegis. Then they leave to go find the incubus.

    On the way there, the party opts to take a shortcut through the plains using Freya’s survival knowledge. However, somewhere a few days in, the sky gets dark and spoopy (DM’s words), and the nearby grass turns black and shrivels.

    Vo-shai realizes this is some sort of supernatural blight plus something more sinister, but nobody can figure out how to dispel it. Kaylor, unnerved by the blight and its effect on the plants, wants to punch something. Vo-shai advises he summon in his little fairy friend from before, so he does and serves the poor little guy a knuckle sandwich before sending him off again.

    Zavrazina can feel that deeper into the center of this darkened area is some real bad stuff, so she and the group decide to turn around and avoid it for now.

    Arriving at their destination in Shadowfen, the group sees that the town is dominated by a military presence, especially the armed ships in the harbor. Kaylor asks a little boy what’s going on. The kid, amazed at Kaylor’s unusual appearance, says he doesn’t know, but that his mother is in a nearby house and might know.

    Kaylor scoops the boy up on his antlers and gives him a piggyback ride to his house. It takes a moment to get the boy’s mother to stop screaming, but when she does she tells the party that the Empire appears to be preparing for war, so a local branch of the military moved into Shadowfen and enacted martial law.

    Satisfied, Kaylor gives the kid a stick horse (aww!) and the mother a piece of bark to protect her family.

    The party regroups and forms a plan for the incubus: Zavrazina will serve as bait to attract him, and the others will lie in wait to attack.

    When Zavrazina tries to protest and say the plan is stupid, Freya wags a fluffy finger. “Ah-ah-ah, no complaining. We’re going shopping!”

    While they gussy up, Kaylor and Vo-shai go fishing for mermaids using an unsuspecting fisherman as live bait. He actively avoids drowning, Vo-shai actively avoids getting a tan, and Kaylor fails to catch any mermaids.

    At twilight the party meets up at the Silver Knight, a local tavern. Zavrazina has to ditch her arsenal of weapons for the psi blade she snagged of some guards at the last lab, since all the other stuff would be noticeable when she’s wearing a tight dress and heels.

    (The table agreed the setup is very much a mix of “Queer Eye” and “To Catch a Predator.”

    The dragonborn tavern owner seems eager to have any business at all. His friend in the dark corner seems less eager, but the party goes to bother him anyway.

    Kaylor plops down a lantern and immediately notices the man’s scarred and damaged eye. “Ya want me to fix that?” he asks, opening up his literal chest to expose the tools inside. “I’m a licensed surgeon, you know.”

    “Have you seen anything weird around here lately?” Vo-shai asks.

    The guy just stares at her. “...THAT is weird,” he finally says, pointing at Kaylor.

    “No, weird like guys hitting on her,” Kaylor says, pointing at Zavrazina at the bar. “Usually she dresses like a guy.”

    (The local weebs intensify. “It’s a trap…”)

    The guy thinks for a moment and recounts that he did see a woman with silver hair and celestial robes accompanied by a man in black. He saw them over at the Red Queen, a much shadier local tavern.

    Then Kaylor and Freya argue about brain worms and AIDS for a little bit while Zavrazina dumps out an aphrodesiac drink from the bartender and Freya turns the moment into a lecture on consent.

    At the Red Light Dis...sorry, Red Queen, Kaylor hides on the roof, Vo-shai pretends to be a bouncer, and Freya and Zavrazina go inside. The Madame immediately rushes over, but Freya warns her to take it slow with Z since it’s “her first time.” They order drinks, and Zavrazina whips out her chess set in hopes that someone will challenge her.

    Outside, Vo-shai notices people acting shifty, but realizes after some soldiers walk by that it’s because of the enforced curfew. She starts charging people to enter the Red Queen, with the warning to “get in before someone sees you out here!”

    Kaylor collects pigeons on the thatch roof. He enjoys it thoroughly.

    At the chess table, a sweet but dim Magic Mike wanders over to play. Z excitedly explains the rules since he’s very clearly new, and doesn’t even roll her eyes when he sets his rook up upside down.

    Freya peers into her drink. “Well, I suppose that’s a start.” She then looks at Mikey. “Seen anyone interesting come in here?”

    “Well, sure,” he says. “A dark looking fellow came in with a shiny white-haired lady. She was a strange one. White-blue eyes, a real bright glow. The air around her felt almost unnatural.” Mikey moves his pawn three spaces forward and one to the left. “The guy seemed odd too.”

    Vo-shai can hear bits and pieces of the conversation from outside and, with her keen vision, spots a man with a black and gold cloak of nobility in the distance. He smirks, almost to himself, and without a word Vo-shai goes inside.

    Seeing a woman in white coming down the stairs, Vo-shai gets Zavrazina’s attention and mentally warns her that they’re being followed. Then she walks to the middle of the room and clears her throat.

    “You know what I think?” Vo-shai exclaimes. “I think it’s time to burn this house down! Raise the roof! Let’s burn up the dance floor!!!”

    Kaylor shakes away his pigeons. “Okay,” he says, and proceeds to dump out a bunch of lamp oil and light the roof on fire. He then makes a stunning dynamic entry.

    Zavrazina yells “Fire!” and starts helping the Madame evacuate bystanders. In the midst of this she sees the woman in white and starts running over as if to aid her in escaping the burning building.

    Instead, the woman yanks her arm away and starts spellcasting, so Zavrazina swings. Her psi blade does no damage and the woman blasts a spell, nearly hitting Zavrazina and instead disintegrating Magic Mike, who turns to dust and blows away.

    Freya and Zavrazina, seeing this, both fly into a rage. Freya ignites the woman with red fairy fire, and Zavrazina crits with her normal blade — HARD — to slice the woman nearly to death.

    With a screech, her angelic facade fades and the woman’s true fiendish form is revealed. She tries to approach Vo-shai, but Kaylor steps in and stuns her. The duo hi-fives over her head.

    At this, the incubus appears and frowns to see Kaylor there as well. He tries to charm Freya, but, in her words: “I’m a force of nature!”

    Zavrazina is not finished avenging Mikey. She lunges forward and sinks her green flaming blade into the fiend. With an utterance of “Get good,” Z yanks the sword free and the fiend collapses in an explosion of black fire before being yoinked back to her own dimension.

    Kaylor lurches over the incubus with a fearsome wail and dimension anchors him, to the incubus’ clear dread and dismay. Freya sneaks behind him and steals one of the contingency spells contained in statuette form around his waist.

    The incubus turns and snarls. “Hey, give that back!”

    “Mine,” Freya replies.

    In the midst of battle, two figures enter: an armored tiefling and a familiar rogue assassin (he was the buddy of another one of Freya’s failed dates). The tiefling tries to fireball Kaylor but Vo-shai counters, which prompts the assassin to attack and poison her.

    Seeing the dark road ahead, the incubus tries to calm the situation. “Look, we could make this a group thing,” he says to Kaylor. “I’m into plants.”

    “Sorry,” Kaylor says, though he is not sorry at all. “I don’t do manage a trees.”

    Zavrazina swings at the incubus for all she’s worth and downs him, though he manages to activate a death ward statuette. This only postpones his death, however, as Kaylor then hits him and the assassin and kills the incubus for good.

    The tiefling tries to banish Kaylor, but Vo-shai counterspells it. Doing the math and seeing only bad outcomes, the rogue tries to run, but Kaylor follows and smashes him with the scythe before Vo-shair shocking-grasps him out of existence.

    Freya casts heat metal on the tiefling. As a last-ditch effort, the tiefling tries once again to banish Kaylor; Vo-shai’s counter fails, but Kaylor’s charisma saves him and Zavrazina beheads the tiefling for the trouble.

    Kaylor finally gets the one true incubus sword, and Vo-shai scores some sick tiefling horns for an eventual cosplay.

    Freya brings the Madame the last of the wine that survived the fire. “You’re gonna need this, honey,” she says.

    Vo-shai struggles with some internal conflict and eventually gives the Madame the mithral plate and mace she looted from the dead enemies. “Here,” she says. “Use this to rebuild your tavern.”

    “Oh, thank you, my dear,” the Madame says. “You’re a saint.”

    “Just remember, when you trade them … tell them these things are worth more than they actually are.”

    “Thank you dear. I’ll hustle them for all they’re worth.”

    To wind down, Kaylor goes fishing, and not using human bait this time. He also plants some remaining dragon heart fruit at the edge of town as another kind of bait.

    Vo-shai buddies around with the Madame, and the two hold a viking funeral with the scant remains of Magic Mike.

    Needing a real girls’ night, Freya and Z return to the Silver Knight to get wasted. Zavrazina, being definitely-not-Russian, needs six stiff drinks to get sloshed. At that point, Kaylor returns and carries her to the nearest hotel to read her a nice violent bedtime story.

    When Z leaves, Freya stumbles over the the guy in the corner, who is now asleep with his thumb on a burning pipe of herb. She wakes him up and they share three things: the pipe, a nice conversation, and some very cool hallucinations.

    And, for once, Freya also gets to share a bed with someone without one of her friends ruining her evening.


    TL;DR: Part Two sees the noble adventurers killing the wrong guy on the beach, then uncovering some dirt on Duke Kairan, taking up a deal with the local magistrate, and starting the gang war themselves. In Part Three, the group finally gets their hands on the incubus ... and all his various parts.

    Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems, so you'll have to read the rest for all the neutral-alignment shenanigans and silly dialogue you could ever want.
    Last edited by notareptilian; 2019-05-12 at 04:43 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    Spoiler: Episode 4
    Show
    The session begins with a little bit of table talk.

    Freya: “So … how does my one night stand react to waking up alone after sleeping with a cat-person ‘abomination?’ Is he like, ‘What have I done?!’”

    DM: “He’s done worse.”

    Freya: “There is that orc camp nearby…”


    ***

    Back in the capital city of Reise (where the temple of Loriel resides), the adventurers split up to take on several tasks of utmost importance. Zavrazina wrangles Vo-shai to go negotiate with Rhinehart the magistrate, while Freya goes to seduce Thoriel (brother of Maybel Line, one of Loriel’s clerics who the party met in the last episode) and Kaylor volunteers at a soup kitchen.

    Zavrazina and Vo-shai don’t make the best second impression on Rhinehart as Vo-shai excitedly recounts the burning of the brothel and Z is her usual awkward, antisocial self. However, Zavrazina does step in after Vo-shai gets off track and requests that Rhinehart grant the party quick passage to the Republic.

    Rhinehart says he’ll be happy to see the party gone and agrees to fly them there the next day. After pitching her idea for a monster hunting club (to which Rhinehart replies that he doesn’t have the most competent people to offer), Zavrazina heads off to the local library to read up on things and stuff.

    Freya uses her cat sense to track down Thoriel’s flowing golden locks and square jaw. She gets a dinner date without Kaylor intervening.

    After the meeting with Rhinehart, Vo-shai goes to lurk in an alley and commit petty crime. In the midst of lurking, however, she feels a clumsy fumbling at her cloak pocket and snags the arm of a small, starving child.

    “What are you doing, kid?” Vo-shai snaps. “That’s not how you rob someone. Look.”

    Vo-shai then shows the proper way to rob someone on the street and hands the kid the gold pieces. As the kid tries to run off, Vo-shai yells after her. “Want some free soup? I know a guy.”

    Terror has somewhat subsided at the soup kitchen despite the large tree-person volunteering behind the counter while wielding a ladle in one hand and a giant scythe in the other.

    Kaylor hums a twee little fairy tune as he pours soup into one trembling bowl after the next. Upon seeing a set of hands that aren’t shaking in fear, he looks up. Vo-shai stands next to the kid who is impatiently waiting for soup.

    “Vo-shai,” Kaylor says, “you’ve found a child.”

    “My name is Breanna,” the girl says. “Gimme the soup!”

    “What are you, small child?”

    “I’m a human. What are you?”

    “I’m a fr*ckmothering fairy.”

    “You’re not a fairy,” Breanna retorts. “I seen them before. This morning I saw a pixie in the meadow outside of town.”

    “Is that so?” Kaylor says, dropping his ladle and hopping over the counter. “Could you take me to where you saw the pixie? It’s my job to … reunite fairies.”

    “Wow,” Breanna says. “Do you know the fairy king?”

    Kaylor smiles, clenching his teeth so hard they start to crack on a microscopic level. “I SURE do!”

    Ever the upstanding citizen, Kaylor finishes his volunteer shift while Vo-shai teaches Breanna how to apply some very dark eyeliner. Then Kaylor props Breanna up on his antlers and the trio takes off to reunite some pixies with Oberon.

    Meanwhile, Zavrazina reads up on the cult of Aikala, which started 600 years ago when Aikala started interacting with mortals. What started out as simple pranks later devolved into weird orgies and now, murder.

    Z also discovers that Lady Muriel, a noble the party protected from the Syndicate early on in their adventures, was actually volunteering to be cloned. Since her butler had a symbol of the Dark Host (an all-around bad news sort of powerful being), it’s possible both were involved with some bad juju.

    (Too bad Z and Freya sort of helped facilitate the demise of the Syndicate assassin sent to kill Muriel … although the guy sort of offed himself by falling out of a closet and into a window. Not OUT of the window, just into it. Most of his damage was self-inflicted.)

    As late afternoon falls, Freya and Thoriel meet up at a nice little tavern. Thoriel, ever the gentleman, asks Freya what she does for a living.

    “Well, I used to be a combat medic,” she begins. “But I’ve been wandering around for some time now, healing my party members and trying my best to keep them out of trouble. I suppose someday I could volunteer here with your sister Maybel, but I’m not sure I’m ready to return to my medic days yet.” Her eyes take on a distant glaze. “It’s good work, but, you know … sometimes they die, and there’s just not much you can do for them. I’ve seen so much death…”

    Then she stops and laughs, waving one fluffy paw. “Oh, but look at me, blathering on and on about nothing. What do you do, Thoriel?”

    A little lost, Thoriel says he’s a merchant. He goes on to explain that sometimes he helps Maybel, but he’s usually assigned to the morgue.

    After dinner and some lighter conversation, Freya says she has to leave but hopes to see him later in the evening. Thoriel whips out a golden switchblade comb and runs it through his locks with a wink.

    At the library, Zavrazina learns that the Empire uses a three-tier battle strategy when they invade: first, there’s the diplomatic “join or die” recruiting process; then those conscripts are sent to the front line and, on the rare occasion that doesn’t work, the Empire sends in its real troops. These real troops can’t fail because they can’t die.

    That seems pretty sus, but then Z finds out that the monsters created within are coming from somewhere else, and it also seems like the very long-lived empress might be a devil.

    There’s a lot of info to unpack, so Zavrazina heads to the soup kitchen to find Kaylor. To her horror, he is not there anymore.

    Cut to Kaylor bounding through the forest on all fours with Breanna and Vo-shai in tow. Breanna leads them to a clearing with an unnaturally blue pool surrounded by strange feywild plants. And, sure enough, Kaylor instantly spots the pixie sunbathing on a rock.

    “Roll for stealth,” says the DM. “I’ll roll for Breanna.”
    Kaylor’s player: “I got a 23 on my stealth check.”
    DM: “Holy sh-t, Breanna rolled great too.”
    Vo-shai’s player: “...nat 20?”


    So seemingly out of nowhere, the trio pops up around the pixie and Kaylor stuffs her in the bag. Breanna is only a little terrified when the wilden throws back his head and lets out a triumphant screech.

    Zavrazina hears this nearby in the forest and takes off running.

    “Hey kid,” Kaylor says. “Wanna meet the fairy queen?”

    Vo-shai crosses her arms. “I think I hear your contract sprinting toward us.”

    “Kay...lor!” Zavrazina wheezes, breaking into the clearing. “No taking … children to the … feywild.”

    Kaylor pouts.

    Back in town, Freya has decided to volunteer in Loriel’s temple alongside Maybel Line. While setting broken bones and such, she finds a quarantine section and gets a look at the guy inside.

    His eyes are cloudy and surrounded by black veins, and his skin is scabby and loose. There are no bite marks. Maybel says the clerics have tried everything, but nothing seems to be working.

    Freya pulls her aside, away from the other clerics. “I’ve seen this before,” she says. “I don’t think we can save him.”

    Maybel frowns. “So on a scale of, ‘We should kill it now…’”

    “Yes.”

    The two go back to the quarantine, but to their shock, the creature is gone and in its place is a 10-year-old boy. He looks at Maybel with big doe eyes, and Maybel freezes.

    “Why did you leave me here, sister?” he whimpers. “I was scared by myself.”

    Freya knows what a fetch is and is not fooled for an instant. As she approaches, the boy hisses.

    “You need not get in our way,” he says.

    “Ah-ah-ah, no buts,” Freya says, wagging a finger with one hand and grabbing a metal fruit bowl with the other.

    Maybel is reluctant to fight something that looks like her own brother. Undeterred, Freya hurls the bowl at the fetch but misses. However, her entangle spell lands.

    But alas, Maybel’s trauma gets in the way and she manages to paralyze Freya. In return, the tabaxi digs her claws in and grapples Maybel.

    In the midst of this Mexican standoff, Kaylor arrives (likely following the scent of the fetch). As he bursts into the temple, the fetch opens wide and swallows the airplane (in this case, the airplane is Maybel), but Kaylor stuns the fetch and makes it throw Maybel back up.

    Shaking off the paralyzing effects, Freya points a finger and, with a shout of “’Murica!” casts red, white, and blue faerie fire on the fetch.

    While the creature is distracted, Kaylor knocks it prone and Maybel flees. As the fetch tries to stand, Kaylor grins.

    “How DARE you do anything other than attack me?!” he roars, and kills the fetch on his reaction attack.

    Vo-shai, Zavrazina, and Breanna arrive at the temple just as the fight is over. Z quizzes Breanna about the location of her parents, something nobody else bothered or cared to ask. Breanna reveals that her parents took her to a park and then left her there.

    “Ugh,” Vo-shai says. “I wish my parents had abandoned me as a child.”

    “You, cleric,” Zavrazina says, snagging the fleeing Maybel. “Take after this tiny child.”

    Z ushers Breanna toward Maybel. The child then proceeds to pickpocket Maybel and runs away into the street, disappearing in the bustling foot traffic.

    “Vo-shai!” Freya says, aghast. “Look what she did!”

    Vo-shai looks at Maybel’s empty coin purse. “Oh. Sick.”

    ***

    Later, the group takes off for the docks to harass (re: murder) every single member of the Crimson Aegis. However, the docks are strangely empty, and the few people the party spots try to hide, albeit poorly. Kaylor sniffs about for fairies and successfully finds one: himself (gotta love a good nat 1).

    Freya spots a person peering through the window of a nearby warehouse, so the party heads over to it. Zavrazina disables the trapped door, and Kaylor kicks it down.

    “Border patrol!” he yells. “Everybody down on the ground!” He then turns to look at Z. “It’s funny because we’re here illegally.”

    Z rolls her eyes and goes inside. Right away she sees the Crimson Aegis member she spoke to last time she was in town. He’s hanging from the rafters. Extremely dead.

    While the others search around on the floor, Z climbs up to the rafters to cut him down and is almost knocked off by an invisible impact.

    This sets off a fustercluck of the party trying to smack an enemy they can’t see. Freya tries to nail it with faerie fire, which triggers Vo-shai’s witch bolt. Both miss, and Z and Vo-shai both get hit with bludgeoning impact.

    Fortunately, this helps Z pin down the attackers location, and she swipes with her psi blade for a good amount of damage. Seeing this, Kaylor leaps up some boxes and stabs with his scythe, marking the enemy as well as stunning and deafening it.

    On the ground, Freya feels something whoosh past her and lays down spike growth, to good results.

    Vo-shai spins toward Freya. “Where is it? Where is it?”

    “Right there!” Freya says, pointing at nothing. Vo-shai’s moonbeam hits anyway, and Freya is then able to incinerate the guy with fire bolt.

    The fight in the rafters continues. Z gets hit with a wicked blast of energy which encases her in ice and nearly kills her. A red figure with black tattoos emerges from the shadows in the rafters and lets out a low chuckle.

    But now Vo-shai can see him, so she moves her moonbeam to hit him. Zavrazina, free from the ice but facedown and low on health, teleports to swap places with Vo-shai and still tries to shoot from her new place on the ground … and HITS.

    Kaylor continues fighting an invisible enemy. The tattooed figure, which Z recognizes as a cambion, tries to encase those on the ground in a fire column, but Freya dispels it.

    “I need to kill that caster!” says the cambion (and every enemy ever).

    Feeling dead inside and out, Vo-shai uses vampiric touch on the invisible enemy, who is now trapped between her and Kaylor. In return, the attacker smacks her pretty good. The cambion fire bolts Freya, so she turns around and slams him with pink sparkly faerie fire.

    Vo-shai keeps up her blood slurpee with one hand and chugs a healing potion with the other. Z shoots the cambion off the rafters, and he boinks to the ground for a pretty good extra chunk of damage.

    Kaylor then kills the invisible enemy and heals for 11 HP. He then screeches and jumps to the ground. The floor takes more damage than he does.

    Noticing this disturbance, the cambion starts charging plane shift, but Vo-shai counters it before Kaylor is banished. Kaylor drags the cambion closer because he dared to exist. Then Zavrazina shoots him straight through the eye which, in the words of the DM, “destroys the fr*ck out of him.”

    While everyone patches up, Z finds all the other members of the Crimson Aegis — in boxes. Also extremely dead. She also finds a full suit of armor made of that weird metal from the labs. The armor is floating in pieces over the floor. Vo-shai identifies it as +2 armor, and since nobody in the group can wear heavy armor, they decide not to mess with it.

    Then Kaylor finds some stairs going downward, and as he steps onto them they turn into a slide. He shouts a gleeful “Whee!” as he slides into a pit full of bones. Nothing more happens, and Zavrazina orders Kaylor to stay put as she walks carefully down the slide to retrieve him.

    Finding little else of interest and still feeling pretty beat up, the party decides to head back to town so they can catch their ride to the Republic in the morning. As they leave, Kaylor lights the warehouse on fire.

    Or rather, he thinks about lighting it on fire, right before it bursts into flame seemingly on its own. The group turns and sees battleships approaching on the horizon, joined in the sky by magical flaming meteors which strike down buildings left and right.

    “Well,” Vo-shai says. “Time to die, I guess.”

    “We can’t fight an entire army,” Zavrazina says. “How are we going to get out of here now? Rhinehart is going to be preoccupied protecting the city.”

    Kaylor shrugs. “We could go to the Feywild.”

    With some reluctance, the others agree that passage through the Feywild with Kaylor as a guide might be their best bet for quick travel. Adjourning the council on the beach, the party starts running through the increasing destruction and dodge attacks from on-edge townspeople. As they run past the castle, Z shoots a telepathic message to Rhinehart, telling him that she and her crew got their own ride to the Republic.

    The group bursts into the clearing where Kaylor found the pixie, and while everyone else catches their breath, Kaylor goes into full diplomacy mode to contact his boss, the fairy king.

    “Oberon, you half-baked fr*ckbucket. Open up, homeskillet!”

    The veil between worlds begins to thin, and the party is yoinked through a psychedelic wormhole. The clearing they land in looks similar to the one they stood in before, but with trippier colors and shiny birds that swoop around Kaylor before flapping away.

    Vo-shai, disgusted by all the colors, flips her dark veil over her face. “Ew.”

    “I expected more … dark storm clouds and thick trees,” Freya says, peering at the dawn/dusk colors of the sky.

    “He’s the thickest tree around,” Vo-shai responds, knocking on Kaylor’s head. Kaylor grumbles in response.

    After resting, the party wanders over a hill to see a crescent of white trees circled around three thrones (archfey not included). They walk down and look around the thrones.

    “You must have really p-ssed Oberon off to have to catch so many fetches,” Zavrazina says to Kaylor. “What did you do?”

    “Allow me to demonstrate.” Kaylor proceeds to sit on Oberon’s throne in a somewhat … vigorous manner (he tried to sit on Titania’s throne first, but it grew legs and walked away).

    “Ah. Kaylor.” A nearby leaf grows and morphs into the horned fairy king himself. “What possible reason could you have to be here?”

    “Takin’ a shortcut.”

    “Mm.” Oberon shoos Kaylor from his throne and sits down. “I liked that last little pixie you sent me. Still short, though.”

    “When do I get turned back into a cloud? I miss being a cloud.”

    “Soon.” Kaylor glares, but Oberon just gives him a sh-t-eating grin.

    Then the two switch to speaking Sylvan. The rest of the party watches uncertainly as Kaylor and Oberon appear to negotiate something. That something, as it turns out, goes beyond terms for escaping the Feywild: if the party is left to Oberon’s mercy, he will end Kaylor’s contract.

    “Good news: you have a new quest,” Oberon says, switching back to common. “Find a way out … alive.”

    A hedge springs up around the party.

    “Kaylor?” Z asks. “What just happened?”

    “This is our way out of the Feywild,” Kaylor says, growling at a branch that tries to wrap around Freya’s leg. “Only it’s a maze. That’s Oberon for ya.”

    As the party makes their way through the maze, the colors around them start to change to tie-dye as Titania takes over the throne. Not much of a Titania fanatic, Kaylor attaches a rainbow leaf to his voodoo doll and stabs it. Nothing happens.

    Eventually the group comes to a fountain with a color-changing stone at the bottom. While they puzzle over it, Kaylor tries to get information out of a worm. All of this proves to be very useless. Vo-shai, growing increasingly hostile at the excessive colors and lack of a certain angsty Prince of Frost, disguises herself as Oberon and stumbles around in a drunken manner.

    After some debate over a fork in the maze, the party follows the worm’s path and finds two guys guarding a door.

    “Is this one of those things where one door can only tell the truth and the other can only lie?” Freya asks.

    “No,” says the guard on the left, as the one on the right says “Yes.”

    “You’re getting bad at this,” Kaylor says.

    “We’re the best!” says the left guard.

    “No we’re not,” says the right.

    After figuring out who had the interplanar door (and suffering psychic damage from the pure idiocy of the two guards), Zavrazina creates a psychic image of Nekhet, the capital of the Empire, based on what she saw in her readings at the library.

    “Why are we going there now?” Kaylor asks.

    “We have to make that delivery for Rhinehart anyway,” Z replies. “And since it seems like we’ve got bigger problems on our hands with the war in Reise, our trip home to the Republic will have to wait.”

    With that, the party goes through the liar’s door into a swirling vortex, each picturing Nekhet and hoping to land there on the other side.


    TL;DR: The party takes on some side quests, including research, healing, hunting pixies, and teaching kids to be emo. They get into a fight in a warehouse and later must escape to the Feywild for quick travel to the Empire.
    Last edited by notareptilian; 2019-05-12 at 04:33 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Post Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    Spoiler: Episodes 5 and 6
    Show
    Disoriented from the vortex trip, the party members open their eyes to the blinding sun and colorful streets of Nekhet.

    It’s big, even compared to Reise. Tall, narrow towers dot the skyline, each adorned at the top with gems…

    Vo-shai’s player: “The family jewels, as it were.”

    ...and hovering above the party, encased in a large, green gem, is some kind of trapped humanoid.

    By asking around, the party discovers they were in the Feywild for a little over a week. They also learn the location of the magistrate’s palace and go there. It’s marked by a sandy brick archway and lots of serpent-y decorations.

    The lizardfolk receptionist directs them to the second floor (the third floor is blocked off) and they meet Maximilius, Nekhets’ magistrate. Zavrazina tells Max they have a delivery and demands she describe it, which the magistrate does with ease.

    As Z hands Max the amulet, Vo-shai holds out her hand. “Shipping and handling?”

    “You can expect payment from Rhinehart,” Max says.

    “He may or may not be dead by now,” Zavrazina says.

    “So I’ve heard. But I think I have something else of interest.” Max explains that she can help the party take down the Duke by lending them access to the catacombs beneath the palace. Within lies the Sun Blade, a creation of light which can kill ancient undead beings.

    As Max describes the blade, however, she also seems to be eyeing Zavrazina’s psi blade. “May I see that?” she asks. Reluctantly, Z hands it over, and Max frowns. “This is Empire technology,” she says. “I have to ask you to hand it over.”

    “Absolutely not,” Zavrazina says.

    “Only citizens of the Empire are allowed—”

    “I am a citizen of the Empire!” Vo-shai interjects.

    Max rolls her eyes. “Yes, of a different Emp—”

    “Of THIS Empire!” Vo-shai whips a stack of papers out of her black cloak and, sure enough, they are documents confirming her citizenship in the Empire. (Of course, they’re falsified, thanks to Vo-shai’s charlatan background).

    Max isn’t particularly fooled by them (as the magistrate, it’s sort of her job to know what’s going on), but with some hesitation, she agrees to let Z keep the psi blade in exchange for information about the labs. After reading some of the information Z collected, she says she believes the labs to be a creation of the Duke’s and some unknown benefactor. She confirms they are not sanctioned by the Empire.

    With that settled, Max leads the party downstairs to the entrance of the catacombs. As they descend, she gives a few warnings. “The catacombs are constantly shifting, so I cannot help you find your way,” she says. “There are only two constants. One is a large metal golem, who lived here before the city was founded. The other constant is the series of challenges you must complete to gain access to the Sun Blade.”

    Max then implores them to return if/when they retrieve the Sun Blade. The group agrees to these Terms and Conditions (re: Legal Edition) and begins what will be a lengthy dungeon crawl.

    The first chamber is full of urns, bones, and other assorted dead stuff, as many of the following chambers are. A statue of a dragonborn holding a large tome stands in the room, but no one in the party can read Draconic and thus must continue forward, uninformed.

    Behind a secret door Z finds, the next room’s statuettes depict a battle between two different kinds of snake people (“sneople” as Kaylor’s player informs us), the Yuan-ti and Naga. There’s also inscriptions of the symbol of Shalathar, “the Sneople King.”

    In the next room lies a serene blue pool with a white crystal stalactite dripping into it. Vo-shai runs an arcana check on the pool and discovers that it contains divination and conjuration powers where, if one were to submerge oneself, that person would enter an altered mental state from which they may not return without the proper mental aptitude.

    Kaylor thinks it’s a wishing well and throws a coin in. “I wish that Oberon has a bad day,” he says.

    Unsure if it’s wise to go for a swim, the party moves on to the next room. A skeleton in fine robes sits on a throne, holding a serpent staff and peering at the group with his eyeless gaze.

    Kaylor tries to buddy up to the guy, sitting on the arm of the throne and chatting him up, but the skeleton stays silent … until Z simply asks for his name.

    He is Vor Khan the Ruthless, and he is a guardian of the catacombs. He reveals that both his spellbook and the Sun Blade reside here, and the party can retrieve one or the other by completing the tests Max mentioned.

    Vor Khan elaborates: the first is a Test of the Mind, where a person must submerge himself in the pool and face the mental trials presented. Next is the Test of the Body, activated by finding the silver mirror of Shalathar and defeating the demon within; and finally, the Test of the Soul, where someone must combine one of three rods contained in the catacombs with one of six emblems of the Demon Lords to create a key.

    Vor Khan clears his bony throat. “Then comes the fourth test—”

    “I thought there were only three,” Kaylor says. “Why is there four?”

    “The fourth test is the Test of Knowledge,” Vor Khan continues, still ignoring Kaylor. “You must then take your key to the main hall and place it in one of the two symbols on the wall.”

    The party decides to return to the pool in the other room and begin the Test of the Mind. Kaylor immediately launches himself in, with Vo-shai close behind. She can’t hold her breath as long as Kaylor, and when she goes unconscious the wilden hauls her to the surface.

    After a moment she snaps awake, coughing up water. “I saw something,” she says. “A glade, with three figures. I have to go back.”

    Vo-shai takes five healing potions from her copious stash and goes back into the pool with Kaylor again lifeguarding. This time he leaves her in when she goes unconscious.

    Vo-shai opens her eyes in the glade and sees that the three figures are actually three dragon statues: one green, one red, and one blue. Each has a plate at the base which reads a cryptic poem, but the shadar-kai realizes each represents a possible entrance to the Forbidden Temple, or a series of triangular coordinates.

    Then the scene changes, the glade closing in to become a small cement chamber with a chute 30 feet up. Using the strength of mind (the power of believing!) Vo-shai wishes for rockets on her feet and instead gets plain old levitation. She soars out through the chute…

    ...and emerges, gasping, on the surface of the pool, a crescent sapphire amulet around her neck.

    Kaylor helps her out of the water, and the crew heads back to bother Vor Khan about the next test. Usually he wouldn’t say much, but thanks to Vo-shai’s persuasion (and nat 20 religion check) he tells the party about the demon they will encounter through Shalathar’s silver mirror.

    “The Nezkeri take on a hellhound form, but they will often rise on their hind legs to fight,” Vor Khan says. “They’re tricky beings, preferring one-on-one fights so they can cheat.”

    “How so?” Zavrazina asks.

    “They attack in three ways — mind, body, and soul.”

    With that information, the party pushes forward. The next room has an earth theme based on its design and emblems (earth, it seems, being one of the elements of the six demon lords). A desperate warning is carved into the wall in this room indicating that some horror lies in the room beyond.

    So of course the party chooses that room and stumbles upon a dark shaft which feels as though it drains each member of their life force and emits a wave of cold. Z tries to shoot into the pit and becomes paralyzed with horror; Kaylor has to drag her out of the room. They realize some kind of eldritch horror lives at the bottom of the pit.

    But they have to get past it to the next room. As they walk by, it tries to talk to Zavrazina through telepathy, which is a rather draining experience. Kaylor flips a coin into the pit and wishes for Oberon to have a bad day. The coin flies back up and pings him in the head.

    The next room contains a mask that Vo-shai identifies to be a precise copy of an original, left here as part of a test. “It could be really dangerous,” she says. “We should be careful…”

    Kaylor puts it on. Thanks to his boundless pool of wisdom (nat 20), he feels a dark presence trying to overtake his mind but easily brushes it off and takes off the mask.

    “That was fun,” he says as the mask shifts into one of the three rods — the Rod of Redemption.

    The next room holds little more than a few emblems for summoning Shalathar, but the room beyond that contains the Rod of Exultation under a vast ceiling designed to look like the night sky.

    Then the party enters a room where, beyond a gate on one side, they can feel the outside breeze and hear running water. Kaylor tries to lift the gate, but Vo-shai sees the lever on the other side and uses mage hand to open it. Kaylor takes credit for opening it anyway.

    The group looks in, and suddenly, plates of metal on the ceiling spin and grind together, launching down in the form of a massive golem. In a panic, Vo-shai closes the gate with Kaylor and the golem still in the cave beyond.

    With the screech of metal on metal, the golem smashes Kaylor’s arm, but he soon manages to regenerate as part of a reaction. Vo-shai continually uses chill touch so the golem can’t restore HP, and Freya casts faerie fire to illuminate the being in hunter orange.

    The golem continues whaling on Kaylor and taking almost no damage itself, eventually beating the wilden to 0 HP … which then triggers Endurance of the Bear, and Kaylor recovers 22 HP. “I don’t always die,” he grumbles, standing up, “but when I do, I don’t.”

    However, the fight still looks grim for the party, and in the end they decide to flee to avoid getting beaten to a pulp. As the gate opens and Kaylor escapes, the golem no longer has a threat and again becomes pieces of metal which reattach to the ceiling.

    The next room is made with tiles decorated with the symbols of various deities. Z tries to unlock one of the doors and fails — with a nat 20. So the party opens the other door which shows a water symbol (another demon lord element) to a hall full of arm-sized holes.

    DM: So … that was supposed to be a super intense water trap, but you guys went around the wrong way and completely avoided it.

    Beyond the hallway lies a room with one last arm-sized hole. Freya produces flame so Vo-shai can look inside. She finds a silver box covered in shifting runes within and knows the box is a codex. Using mage hand, she retrieves the codex and avoids the needle trap protecting it. She and Freya check all the other arm-sized holes in the hall, but they are all just needle traps … except for one which contains a lever to deactivate the water trap the group never activated.

    The next door hits Kaylor for 1 point HP reduction when he tries to open it, so Vo-shai thunderwaves it open. One of the doors in this room is marked with an air symbol, also known as the symbol of famine. While the party deliberates entering, a rift opens and a coin smacks Kaylor in the back of the head.

    When the group finally enters the next room, they discover a small room with sarcophagi, each sealed shut with straps. The following room has walls of what appears to be moving moss, until Kaylor looks closer and sees that it’s actually just made of bugs. Prison cells line the bug-walls, each holding an open sarcophagus with sneople remains tumbling out.

    Z investigates and finds that one of the cells also contains the week-old remains of another adventurer who died of both poison and constriction.

    “I think we should not mess around in here too much,” Z says. “There is a recently dead adventurer here.”

    “Recently dead, you say?” Vo-shai appears on the scene and, while the others look around, she reanimates the corpse and a bonus skeleton.

    Freya is not a fan of this development. “This seems very wrong.”

    “Think of it this way,” Z reasons. “They can stay here and rot, or—”

    “They can come with us and rot!”

    In the end, the reanimated buddies gets to rot with the party. The crew continues to a room with a dragonborn statue like the one in the first chamber. It is joined by four other statues of various beings. However, the group is more preoccupied with Vo-shai’s new traveling companions.

    Z watches as the corpse starts to pick its nose, pulling out bits of brain in the process. “Vo-shai, are you not going to try and … befriend them?”

    “Well…” Vo-shai pulls in the corpse for a noogie. Its scalp slides around, and even Vo-shai is a little grossed out. “It’s a distance relationship,” she says, pushing the corpse to arm’s length.

    The five coffins in the next room are broken open and surrounded by recently disturbed dirt. As the party enters, the door slams shut and some spoopy undead things appear.

    True to style, Z swings in right away and takes out four of the undead beings, while Freya sets a flaming sphere on an undead caster. Vo-shai is caught by surprise when a horrifying ghost appears, and the fear ages her ten years (which is about one year in elf time, putting Vo-shai right at drinking age).

    The caster then activates Hunger of Hadar, blinding everyone except Zavrazina. But then: “How DARE you do something!” Kaylor shouts, cleaving the caster for 34 damage and ending the spell just as soon as it started.

    Z capitalizes (communizes?) on this moment and brings an abrupt end to the caster, then swings around to help Kaylor pummel the ghost. Freya’s fire sphere incinerates one skeleton, and Vo-shai’s skeleton punches the head off another. As the fight ends, the party finds the final rod: the Rod of Damnation.

    ***BRIEF INTERMISSION: AKA, THIS IS NOW PART 6***

    The encounter quickly over, the party searches a few more rooms before finding an eldritch mask, the last emblem of the demon lords. They also find a black tome on an altar which tells the tale of the original entity behind the Dark Host, and Vo-shai explains that it can boost charisma.

    Kaylor throws a coin at the altar, and a candle flares. Unimpressed, he starts following a trail of rats and finds a secret door. It opens into a chamber with another door marked with the emblem of fire…

    Everyone: “So … it’s Fire Emblem?”

    ...and beyond that is a room made of mirrors which contains the silver mirror of Shalathar. The mirror’s frame is decorated with shifting symbols of gold and green, and its face shows no reflections.

    “Are we vampires?” Vo-shai asks, staring at the blank mirror. “Oh my gods, I knew it!”

    “Must be a dream come true,” Kaylor says.

    Looking closer, Vo-shai recognizes the shifting symbols from the codex. She produces it from her bag of holding and learns that, using the codex and the mirror, she can A) ask Shalathar one question for the truth, after which he might lie, B) summon the demon for the Test of the Body, C) enter the mirror dimension, or D) obtain one of Shalathar’s three artifacts or learn its location.

    Aside from needing the demon to complete the tests, it’s been Vo-shai’s lifelong dream to summon a demon, so that’s what she does.

    The mirror swirls in darkness, and out leaps a black and red, six-legged hellhound. Zavrazina surges forward and strikes for 60 HP, Vo-shai casts moonbeam, and Kaylor slices with his scythe.

    This is enough to send the monster into its second form. It rises up on its hind legs and steps out of the moonbeam, provoking Vo-shai’s undead army into attacking for 11 damage.

    Freya, meanwhile, is having a moral quandary: she wants to cast spike growth, but will hit Kaylor in the process (and the zombois, but that’s of less concern to her). Seeing her hesitation, Kaylor calls out to her.

    “Hey, remember all those times I ruined your dates?”

    Flames spark in Freya’s eyes. “Casting spike growth.”

    Furious, the demon’s body explodes in a fireburst which hits the party members for a good chunk of damage and allows the hellhound to regenerate most of its own damage. It still gets hit by the moonbeam, but when Vo-shai tries to banish the demon, the runes on the mirror light up and counterspells.

    Freya then tries to dispel the mirror’s magic, which the mirror also counters. Shrugging, she heals Kaylor, which activates his reaction and drags the demon to his side.

    “That was a cool body explosion you did there,” Kaylor says. “Be a shame if I did the same thing.”

    “Yes, it would,” the demon responds, before Kaylor uses Form of Mountain’s Thunder to stun and deafen the demon with 15 points of damage to boot.

    Next, the demon tries an attack of the mind against Zavrazina, but she mentally imposes disadvantage on his attack and it fails. Then he uses a soul attack on Vo-shai, draining her for 8 maximum HP and 8 regular.

    Freya tries to throw an unlightable candle she found at the demon and fails. Desperate to escape Kaylor, the demon tries to draw out the wilden’s life essence. It fails, and Kaylor baps the hellhound on the nose: “Bad dog!”

    It’s clear the demon is tiring, though little physical damage is evident. The room of mirror starts to blacken, the ceiling and walls slowly morphing into deep voids of the abyss.

    “Hey now.” Kaylor frowns. “What is this?”

    The demon laughs, a terrible raking sound. “Reinforcements for reinforcements.”

    While the demon is distracting, Vo-shai uses her chill touch spamtrip and her skeleton scratches at the hellhound, then plays a little ditty on its ribcage. Freya casts faerie fire, and as the demon realizes its regenerative body explosion will fail because of chill touch, he tries to move.

    “How DARE you move!” Kaylor shouts, activating Pursuit of the Hunter to impose advantage on the demon.

    With that, Zavrazina is able to behead the demon with a quick swing of Rakuyo, and the hellhound’s body crumbles to ash. The room returns to normal, and the party finds a crescent ruby emblem buried in the dust.

    “Great,” Kaylor says. “Time to go stick rods in holes! You’d know about that, Nurse Freya.”

    Freya (a medic, not a nurse) sighs. Vo-shai does an arcana check and discovers that each rods has a relation to the six demon lords. The Rod of Damnation represents the four demon lords of the abyss. The demon lord of decay, who returned to a mortal form after the ancient war which split the worlds, is represented by the Rod of Redemption. Finally, the Rod of Exultation represents the most recent demon lord who reached an exalted place just 300 years ago.

    As the others discuss which rod to combine with which emblem, Vo-shai digs around in her bag of holding and pulls out the codex. “Uh, guys?” she says. “The codex is working again.”

    “We should use it to ask where Roland Night Breeze is,” Freya says. When the others stare at her, she explains further. “He’s a druid who’s been poisoning the bread in lots of bakeries. I know it seems silly since we already have so much to do, but he’s killing lots of innocent people.”

    (For backstory, Roland is a member of a rival campaign who will undoubtedly come into contact with this group at some point along the way.)

    Nobody really opposes, so Vo-shai summons Shalathar. Slowly her own reflection appears in the mirror, but it has some snakey features like scales and slitted eyes. She asks the reflection for Roland’s location.

    “It’s your lucky day, because I feel like answering,” Shalathar says. “The druid is currently at his family estate in the Republic, to the northwest of Tae-alafan.”

    Me, trying to understand what the DM just said: “...Talalafa-what?”
    DM: “I’ll spell it for you.”


    Their answer retrieved, the party backtracks to one of the last unopened doors and finds a collapsed tunnel with two skeletons of adventurers lying near the entrance.

    “Sweet! More friends!” Vo-shai reanimates the skeletons, which stumble to their feet and clack their jaws. “They’re so cute!”

    “Wait! A small intruder!” Zavrazina levels her bow at a short figure in the darkness, which falls to its knees.

    “Oh god. I knew I’d start hallucinating soon!” The figure’s arms come up over its face.

    Cautiously the party approaches to see it’s a gnome. After calming him down and introducing themselves — the gnome’s name is Randall — he explains that the skeletons were his former party members, along with Vo-shai’s zombie and another who got dragged into the eldritch being’s pit. Randall survived by drinking the water on the walls and eating his friends’ rations after they fought to the death.

    “Oh, Steve,” Randall says, tears in his eyes as he watches the skeleton chew on his own arm. “You were always such a glutton in life.”

    The party explains their quest and the information about the demon lords/rods/emblems. Randall doesn’t quite follow but agrees to come with them to the main chamber.

    The elemental emblems (earth, fire, air, and water) represent damnation and the four demon lords of the abyss; the skull emblem, redemption; and the mask of chaos, exultation (take my word for it that we found and collected all of these).

    Freya, being decidedly good aligned, volunteers to perform this last Test of the Soul. The party chooses the Rod of Redemption and its matching emblem (the skull) and Freya puts the two together.

    Divine power washes over Freya, and after some mechanical B.S. the emblem transforms into a token which she understands can alter time to change a past event. As the aura of power fades, Freya can feel a final crescent piece in her other hand, this one with an embedded emerald.

    By looking at the two symbols on the wall of the main chamber, the party can see that each has indentations for the three crescent pieces they collected through the tests. Before they make a decision, they return to Vor Khan to get his advice (and, in Z’s case, look for his phylactery).

    “Which indent should we choose?” Vo-shai asks as Zavrazina noses around a set of golden doors to the west. “We’re trying to get the Sun Blade.”

    “You won’t find anything here,” Vor Khan calls to Z, then turns back to Vo-shai. “Have you even looked at them?”

    “Duh, that’s what we’ve been doing.”

    “Look closer,” he says drily. “I’m sure you can figure it out.”

    As it turns out, one indentation is engraved with a sword design, and the other with Vor Khan’s spellbook. The party activates the sword indent by placing the crescents inside, and a stone door slides open somewhere beyond the chamber.

    They find this new doorway, and inside is a room made of the strange metal from the labs. A snakey, demonic pedestal stands in the center with a black hilt hovering above a narrow hole.

    Kaylor tosses a coin at it, and even though it doesn’t fit, he still hopes Oberon has a bad day. Z thinks it might be a blood sacrifice, and when she cuts her hand over the hole, a blade of radiant energy appears on the hilt.

    When she takes the sword, the dungeon starts to collapse. Kaylor grabs Zavrazina under one arm and Vo-shai under the other and takes off with Freya bounding behind him. They escape up the crumbling stairs, losing a skeleton and the zombie (who was apparently Randall’s beautiful lover before she died) in the process.

    Maximilius is understandably surprised to see a couple of undead zombois with the party, but agrees to let Vo-shai keep them around if she can disguise them. Which she can, thanks to her oversized black cloak and a hazmat suit Kaylor snagged from the labs in an early episode (now pre-journal lore — sorry).

    Z chews Max out for the eldritch being and the lich king, stating that the magistrate should take care of her own problems before getting involved in international affairs.

    “This eldritch horror,” Max says, “did it speak to you?”

    “Yes, and tried to drain my life force while he was at it,” Zavrazina says.

    “It ate one of my friends!” Randall cries, still traumatized from his weeks-long ordeal in the collapsed tunnel.

    Max shrugs. “I cannot control the ancient beings of this world. It hasn’t attacked us, anyway.”

    “You haven’t been in the catacombs, now, have you?” Z retorts.

    “I’ll take note.”

    Max then leads the party to the doors of the castle, and they depart. Randall and Zavrazina head to a bar, while Kaylor volunteers at another soup kitchen and Vo-shai plays cards with her skeletons at an outdoor table.

    Freya, meanwhile, heads to a nearby clinic to volunteer. The head nurse is all too excited to have her there and hands her a form containing the terms of her temporary employment; upon reading closely, Freya sees a clause stating that if she dies, she agrees to be reanimated for the Empire’s skeleton army.

    “Not a fan of that one,” she says, and the nurse crosses it off. “Now, if someone … say, a large plant person … came in claiming to be associated with me and violated any of your rules, am I liable for that?”

    “That’s … specific,” the nurse says. “But no, you’re not liable.”

    “Good.” Freya gets to work. At first, she comes across the basics — broken bones, lacerations, nobles with papercuts. But then she finds another quarantine with patients sick from a powerful form of blight. Blue skin, black veiny eyes, hemorrhaging, the works; they’re not fetches or ravagers, but they look like it.

    The head nurse tells her the clinic hasn’t been able to heal them and has been forced to keep them isolated until they die. She also says these aren’t the only victims, as a large party of several hundred went to investigate a malicious cloud of blight and all got infected.

    “Excuse me for a moment,” Freya says, then leaves the room. She paces a hallway for a few minutes, holding the token she got from the catacombs. She’s interrupted once by yet another noble with a papercut, but she tells him she’s all out of spells (she’s not).

    Finally, the tabaxi decides to use the token to close the blight sphere before the victims ever enter it. The token activates, its surface becoming like water that Freya’s fingers sink into, and deep within she sees the adventurers approaching the cloud. Instead of it closing, however, the adventurers merely wander away before they enter it.

    A change in reality ripples through the clinic, and even in town the other party members can feel it. Freya watches as the guard outside the quarantine disappears and the ward itself reverts to a normal wing of the clinic.

    With at least 213 people saved, Freya passes the ongoing Test of the Soul, and she senses that another positive effect has gone unseen, at least for the time being…

    (...and everyone gets 2K XP and DM inspiration, so happy endings all around in this episode. Stay tuned.)


    TL;DR: A lengthy dungeon crawl. Set aside some time to read this one. Also, huzzah, new party member! :P
    Last edited by notareptilian; 2019-06-06 at 02:26 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    Spoiler: Episode 7
    Show
    This episode opens in a nearby tavern. Zavrazina is playing chess against a gnome who describes himself as a “Steve Jobs-looking mofo,” who Z finds out is a former member of ROSE (Resourceless Operatives of Stealth and Espionage) (aka, this world’s KGB). Freya pours six glasses of wine, one for everyone in the group, and spikes one with a love potion.

    The gnome, named Morgen, drinks the spiked potion but realizes he’s been drugged when he starts to fall for Z. “Can you tell your cat friend to stop spiking drinks?”

    “What?” Zavrazina responds. “Freya would never.”

    Freya twirls her own wine glass and looks into it. “Oh, did you get that?” she asks Morgen. “It was supposed to be for me.”

    You know, an average day with the crew.

    After this, Z gets to talking with Vo-shai about returning to the Republic to check in on Lady Muriel and investigate her weird culty butler. Vo-shai is only half listening, because she can see Freya trying to hit on Z’s snobby doppelganger across the room and notices it isn’t going well.

    “Sure, whatever, we can go to the Republic,” Vo-shai says, then wanders over toward Freya in time to hear the elf disgustedly berate Freya for being “beneath her.”

    Annoyed, Vo-shai sneaks around behind the elf and tries to steal her bag of holding. “Tries” being the key word, of course.

    “Do not touch me again, underworlder,” the elf says, releasing Vo-shai’s arm and wiping her hands at her sides.

    “Come on, Vo-shai,” Freya says, noticing that a few creatures around the room have surreptitiously reached for their weapons. “Let’s go somewhere else.”

    Sneering, Vo-shai stalks after Freya. “What a normie,” she mutters, watching the elf woman leave. “She doesn’t deserve that bag of holding.”

    “...Don’t you already have one?”

    “Look, there’s a couple of hobgoblins at that table over there,” Vo-shai says, pointing. “What say you we enlist their help in getting back at that snob?”

    Freya thinks about it, then gets on board. “What if we told them the pretty elf lady who just left wanted to marry one of them?”

    “Perfect.”

    Of course, it’s not that simple. The hobgoblins either don’t speak much Common or pretend not to, so after a few screwups where they think Vo-shai is the elf in love with them, they keep getting more and more confused. Fortunately, Vo-shai has mad art skills (probably drawing anime characters) and illustrates a flipbook showing the hobgoblins what to do.

    “Aah! Pretty elf!” They trip over each other running out of the tavern after the elf woman. Vo-shai also commands her skeleton and zombie friends to follow the pretty elf lady just in case the message really did not get through.

    Cut to brief intermission where Z goes to find where Kaylor went. She discovers he’s attracted quite a crowd of children with a puppet show he’s putting on. She sits at the back to watch.

    “Oh no, it’s the fairy king Oberon!” he says, holding up a barely disguised Socko. “Quick kids, stone him!”

    Rocks fly and Kaylor laughs.

    After a brief visit to the tavern, Randall heads off to get his bardic drum fixed. On the way, he sees an elf woman, followed not-so-subtly by one hobgoblin. The elf raises her hand without looking behind her and the hobgoblin falls into a hole.

    Freya and Vo-shai also see this from the alley they’re hiding in and say some very censor-able things. There’s no sign of the undead army.

    Back at the puppet show, things have gone awry as some of the rocks turn and start to land on the children. Kaylor doesn’t seem to notice, or he’s not surprised. “Hail Titania!” he shouts. “She’s the nice one.”

    Noticing a guard starting toward the front, Z stands and steps in front of him. “What do you think you’re doing?”

    “We can’t have this kind of blasphemy happening around here,” he says.

    Z rolls her eyes. “Look, isn’t your shift over anyway?”

    “Not for another hour or two,” the guard replies, checking the sundial on his wrist.

    Zavrazina reaches over and tilts his arm so the light shifts on the sundial. “There, now you’re done.”

    “So I am.” The guard stares at his wrist for a moment, then shrugs. “Well, off to the bar.”

    ***

    When the group reunites, they agree with Zavrazina that they should go back to Lady Muriel’s estate, if not just to watch another Syndicate member throw himself into a window and sustain a concussion.

    Before they leave, Vo-shai’s undead army comes stumbling into view, and Bob 001 wraps what’s left of his arms around Zavrazina. “Auuughh,” he groans.

    Vo-shai huffs impatiently. “I said the pretty elf lady!”

    After Freya picks up some travel supplies (re: 6 drugs and 1 bubblegum), Vo-shai uses her last blood coin to summon Jolly Wally.

    Around the party, mists roll in, and suddenly they are on board the frigate with its skeletal captain and ghostly crew. “Long time, no see, Wally!” Kaylor greets the captain.

    “It’s been minutes to me,” Wally says.

    “Hahaha, me too.”

    Away from the others, Zavrazina takes out the sun blade and her psi blade and practices dual wielding. Morgen catches sight of this and, despite the many oddities around him, he seems most interested in Z’s practicing.

    “What is that?” he asks, pointing at the psi blade.

    Z stops blendering the air and wipes her forehead (very carefully, so as not to become blended). She explains what she knows about it.

    Morgen nods. “We should try to reverse engineer that thing.”

    Meanwhile, realizing the trip is coming to an end too soon to copy all the spells she wants, Vo-shai gets Jolly Wally to take a detour since time is totally irrelevant to him. He even pretends to be confused when the others tell him they weren’t heading for the capital. *Absorb elements acquired*

    Once in Bettai, Freya and Randall buddy up and head to the local tavern, still headed by Olga the burly barmaid and her equally swole sister Helga. “Couldn’t get away from this, eh?” Olga says, flexing as Freya sits at the bar.

    “I guess not,” Freya responds, fluttering her very long kitty eyelashes.

    Randall climbs up next to Freya and tries to get a better look at Helga around the kitchen doorway. After several drinks, Freya has explained all of the events since the party was last here and has since moved on to the existential dilemma of war and making a difference.

    “Here,” Olga says, waving Freya behind the counter. “I know how to fix all this.” As a side thought, she thunks a half-full bottle of liquor in front of Randall. “On the house.”

    Meanwhile, Vo-shai, Zavrazina, Morgen, and Kaylor head to the mansion. The culty butler lets them in, and Lady Muriel agrees to let them stay at the estate as long as they want since they technically saved her from assassination by the Syndicate (though, really, the Syndicate guy did most of the work himself).

    Interestingly, Muriel says the Syndicate has since stopped their assassination attempts, though she herself does not seem all that interested. “And how is that scythe we fixed up for you?” she asks Kaylor.

    “Murder-tastic!” Kaylor says with a grin.

    Exhausted, Morgen heads off to bed. While Muriel goes to another room and the butler makes tea, Zavrazina asks Vo-shai to try to pickpocket either of the two residents for clues once she gets the chance.

    That chance comes soon enough, because Muriel gets to chatting with Kaylor in the hallway about maybe building her another trebuchet (...long story). It’s hard not to be distracted by Kaylor, so Vo-shai manages to rifle through the contents of Muriel’s pockets: a golden pen and a pouch of some black powder. From the smell, Vo-shai guesses it’s some kind of explosive.

    Knowing time is short, Zavrazina goes upstairs into Muriel’s room, but finds only a diary which contains nothing of interest. In the butler’s room, she finds a drawer with a hidden compartment. The hidden section contains a duplicate of his Dark Host amulet and a sacrificial dagger, also with a hidden compartment.

    This contains a scroll, sealed with a black wax symbol of the Dark Host. The scroll holds instructions for various meetings with a sponsor of the labs, including one set within the next few days. There are also instructions for various procedures and injections. All of this confirms the butler’s involvement with the labs as well as the potential that he is using Muriel for some kind of experiment, whether she knows it or not.

    Disturbed, Zavrazina does one more sweep of the room and finds a secret door behind some bloodstained clothes in the wardrobe. It’s trapped.

    She creeps back to the stairs and overhears Muriel telling Vo-shai and Kaylor about a siren problem in a trench between the Republic and the Kingdom. In the time it takes Z to get down the stairs, Vo-shai has hashed out a deal where Muriel will pay 150 gold for the main siren plus 100 for any additional, all with a 50 gold advance.

    As Kaylor details a few of his lovely exploits, Z pulls Vo-shai aside. “I need you to set a distraction.”

    “What for?”

    “There’s some suspicious stuff going on with the butler. I can’t have him or Muriel coming upstairs while I’m searching.”

    “Hmm.” Vo-shai spots the butler returning from the kitchen with a tray of hot tea. “I can do that.” She starts walking toward him and very convincingly trips on the edge of a rug, totters in the air, and falls straight into the tray, dumping boiling hot water all over herself.

    “AAAGH!” she screams. “All of me is in pain! But I feel so alive!”

    The butler starts panicking and Lady Muriel rushes over, which Zavrazina takes as her cue to grab Kaylor and head upstairs.

    “I need my nurse!” the two hear as they head toward the butler’s room upstairs. “She knows all my allergies. Nurse Freya, where are you?”

    “I think the tree said his nurse went to the tavern,” Muriel says. “Go find her, quick!”

    With the butler out of the house and Muriel watching Vo-shai, Zavrazina and Kaylor have plenty of time to disarm the trap and enter into the secret room beyond the door.

    There’s a lot of general riches: golden vases and chests full of gems and the like. But there’s some more expensive stuff too, silver and gold and a platinum crown — symbols of royalty, in other words.

    Z pockets a gem inscribed with arcane runes to study later and gets to work disarming and unlocking the ten chests on an upper shelf. Six of these contain pieces of weapons made of the laboratory metal. Two hold tools to assemble the weapons. Of the last two, one contains a gem like the ones used to power the labs. The last has a claw-like gauntlet of leather and metal.

    Literally everyone: “Is it…”
    DM: “It’s not the Infinity Gauntlet.”


    After this thorough search, Z and Kaylor do their best to put the room back in order and search for any last clues.

    At the tavern, the mood is destroyed as the butler bursts through the door. “Where’s Freya? Where’s Freya?” he asks, running over to the only inhabitant he can see.

    “Busy,” Randall says, nodding toward the painting which has just fallen off a rattling wall.

    “It’s an emergency!”

    “Fiiine.” Randall bangs a fist against the wall. “Freya!”

    A few moments later, Freya emerges. Impressively, she is very nearly dressed. “Oh, dang it all,” she mutters. “Olga … I’ll have to see you later.”

    Olga winks at Freya through the doorway as the butler leads her away, explaining about Vo-shai’s accident.

    Randall wastes no time in walking over to the room. “Olga, you ready for seconds?”

    At the mansion, Freya gets to work fixing up Vo-shai’s scant injuries and is smart enough to not ask why a shadar-kai necromancer, who thrives on pain and general mayhem, is screeching over first-degree burns.

    While this is going on, Kaylor comes down the stairs, bearing Socko on one branch. “You,” he says in his own voice, pointing at the butler.

    “Walter,” he responds, vaguely annoyed no one ever remembers his name.

    “We need to talk.” Kaylor grabs Walter’s arm and hustles him up the stairs into his room where Z is waiting. She shuts the door.

    Kaylor lets go of Walter and brandishes Socko. “Hi Walter, I’m Socko!” he says in a disturbing, bootleg Mickey Mouse voice. “I’m gonna hurt you!”

    To his credit, Walter takes the hint. “What do you want to know?”

    Zavrazina tells him she found the secret room, and Walter explains that the chests are all gifts from the Empire.

    “Neat!” Socko says. “Why do you have it? I’ll bite off your toes one at a time if you lie!”

    Sweating now, the butler says he and Muriel were approached with an offer: items worth thousands of gold in exchange for testing on Muriel. Of course, he says, Muriel never really understood what was happening and still doesn’t know much about it. In short, she knows they’re getting money from a beneficiary, but she doesn’t know why, and she certainly doesn’t know she was cloned.

    “There’s going to be another drop-off in a few days,” Walter continues. “Usually there’s this angelic chick and her pretty boy friend—”

    “The incubus,” Z says, and Kaylor laughs.

    “—and a guy in dark, fiendish plate,” Walter adds. “He seems to be the one in charge of these drop-offs.”

    “Maybe Duke Kairan?” Zavrazina mumbles to Kaylor, who shrugs. She turns back to Walter. “If you help us out these next few days and take us to the drop-off, you get to stay intact at least until then.”

    Walter nods fervently.

    “Good. Enjoy a peaceful week of us in the house.” Zavrazina opens the door and steps into the hallway.

    “Here, soldier,” Kaylor says, tossing Socko to the butler. He almost doesn’t catch it. “Hold onto Socko. That way, he can’t hurt you!”

    He laughs and follows Z into the hall. Walter stares at the sock puppet in his hands and wonders what level of hell Socko crawled out of.

    Downstairs, Vo-shai is propped up on a couch. Lady Muriel is nowhere to be seen, having gone to bed. “Where are the other two?” Zavrazina asks.

    “Oh, Freya went back to the tavern to pick up Randall,” Vo-shai says. “She’ll be back soon.”

    “Okay. In the meantime, can you identify this?” Z holds out the gem she pocketed. Vo-shai tells her it can be used to breathe underwater and walk on top of it.

    Sure enough, Freya makes it to the tavern and looks around. Randall’s chair at the bar is as empty as the tall bottle underneath it. She listens for a moment and hears some faint sound coming from Olga’s room.

    She opens the door, and Randall gives her a cheeky (haha) grin. “Just keepin’ her warm for ya,” he says.

    ***

    The next week, the party heads out to the meeting point, led by a bedraggled and somewhat distraught Walter. Unbeknownst to him, throughout the week Kaylor has been engaging in what he calls “stealth carpentry.” This entails rearranging Walter’s entire room without telling him or leaving any indication that such a thing happen.

    This has taken quite a toll on Walter’s mental state, especially since the last time he did it, Kaylor knocked him out, put the room back to normal, and took Socko back.

    Two other things don’t help the butler feel any better: one, Kaylor keeps insisting he doesn’t know what’s happening, and two, when Walter turns around to talk to the group at the meeting point, there’s no one there (stealth scores of 19+ will do that).

    Uneasy, Walter heads down the open hill to the skull-inscribed rock face at the bottom. He places gem keys into indentations indicating the elements of the demon lords, and after a few minutes the signal birdcall echoes from the trees.

    Soon after, two figures emerge from the forest in the black and gold robes of the Empire. From their vantage points, the party members can make out dark elf features underneath the figures’ masks. One starts to approach Walter with a box bearing the seal of the Empire while the other stays at the treeline.

    Zavrazina attacks, one-shotting the drow with the box as he hands it to Walter and prompting Randall to shout, “Did you just sandblast a soup cracker?” He then turns to the surviving drow and asks, “What smells like blue paint but is red?”

    Knowing the punchline, the dark elf falls prone laughing. Randall tries to tie him up but is bent over laughing himself. “I forgot how funny that one is,” he wheezes.

    Freya uses her feline agility to cross the clearing and tie up the drow (she’s suspiciously good at tying people up). Zavrazina saunters over as well, one hand on her hip.

    “Well, Kaylor,” she says, “want to question him?”

    “He won’t stop laughing unless he’s hit,” Randall points out.

    “Right,” Kaylor says, then punches the drow with Socko.

    Down by the rock face, Walter starts trying to escape, but Kaylor whips around. “I can always see you!” he says in Socko’s terrible falsetto.

    The butler drops to his knees and starts praying to the rocks.

    Satisfied, Kaylor turns around, but then he feels a strange force almost act upon him. “I think there’s more people here,” he says as another drow appears at the treeline. She shoots at Vo-shai but misses.

    “An ambush. How original,” Zavrazina says. The irony in the air intensifies.

    Vo-shai tries to throw witch bolt at the archer, but the spell is silently countered by, assumedly, another enemy. Kaylor doesn’t take kindly to this and lurches over to the archer.

    “Tell me,” he says, “are you important?”

    “...No?” the drow ventures.

    “Hahaha, wrong answer.” Kaylor smacks the archer with his scythe, stunning and deafening her.

    Two more figures appear: a dark elf cleric and, of all people, the snobby elf woman from the Republic. However, it looks as though the elf just finished casting dispel magic to make the cleric visible, since the cleric turns around and swings at the elf.

    The attack misses, so the cleric then casts twin inflict wounds on Zavrazina and bangs her up pretty good.

    However, this is a mistake on the cleric’s part. Z moves in to flank with Kaylor as the snobby elf misty steps away and finishes off the drow with a classic “Get good.”

    After a few more attacks, the archer kneels to the ground. “I surrender!” she says, then starts to bicker with her tied-up companion about who should die if only one of them gets to live.

    Kaylor decides for them, offing the archer and then approaching the tied-up drow.

    “We need answers,” Kaylor says.

    The drow trembles. “You’re not going to kill me, are you?”

    “No,” Kaylor says, then pulls out Socko, “but he might.”

    The drow quickly explains that he and the other were sent by Clemoh, an authoritarian leader of an intel agency that functions within the Empire. The plan was to set up a stronghold in the Republic — for example, at Lady Muriel’s mansion — so that when the Empire invades, they will have supplies and backup established.

    As he rambles, Z kicks open the chest and waves Vo-shai over to identify its contents. It’s a feather of Ramael, the fallen archangel of wrath who turned to serve one of the Demon Lords. It grants its wielder the power of flight one per long rest, or a one-time full healing. Alternately, one can ritually attach it and all Ramael’s other feathers for ongoing power.

    With that knowledge, Freya and Randall take the priceless artifact and start tickling the drow with it (again, Freya is a little too good at it).

    Zavrazina asks about the significance of the gift, but the drow seems just as surprised to see the contents of the chest. “We don’t determine the gifts,” he says. “We’re just the messengers.”

    At Socko’s encouragement, the drow gives the location of his boss. Then he explains to Zavrazina that there are a number of Empire soldiers smuggled into the Republic who reside at a captured keep northwest of Tae-alafan.

    “That’s near where the mirror said Roland is supposed to be,” Freya says.

    “But that’s not all,” the drow says. “There’s a demon living underneath the keep. He preys on the minds of the weak to turn them into Empire vessels.”

    Disgusted by this, Zavrazina leaves the interrogation circle to talk to her snobby doppelganger, who is standing a few feet away. “And who are you supposed to be? You been following us around?”

    “It’s in our best interest,” the elf says, inspecting her nails.

    “Who is ‘us’? And why should any of us trust you?”

    The elf sighs. “It will all be revealed in time.”

    That’s not a good enough answer for Zavrazina. She manages to weasel a bit more info out of the elf, such as the fact that she works for a third party meant to observe happenings around the Republic. This includes Roland’s bakery poisonings and whatnot. It’s not much, but Z can’t seem to intimidate the woman into revealing much else.

    Back at the interrogation, the party decides not to execute the drow, much to his relief. “I promise I won’t tell them anything,” he says.

    “Oh,” Kaylor says, “you’ll tell your boss a few things, buddy.”

    “Rogon,” the drow offers.

    “Rogon. You’re going to go back to your leaders and tell them that we’re coming for them.” Kaylor waves with Socko as Freya unties Rogon and he takes off, his cloak shifting to make him invisible as he reaches the trees. “But don’t include me in the report!” Kaylor yells after him.

    “It is … likely in our best interests that we get rid of Walter’s physical belongings,” Zavrazina says, walking back over to the group. “I think you know what to do, Vo-shai.”

    Vo-shai stares blankly. “You want me to strip him naked?”

    Z stops just short of a facepalm. “The chests, Vo-shai.”

    “Ahhh.” Vo-shai smirks. “That’s much more in my realm.”

    The doppelganger watches the exchanges with mild interest, then turns to leave. “I’ll be around,” she says over her shoulder.

    “Wait, you,” Kaylor says.

    “Kara,” the elf says drily. “You can call me that for now, anyway.”

    “Kara,” Kaylor repeats. “Leave. And don’t bother coming back. We don’t need your help.”

    “It’s in our best interest,” Z says with an exaggerated sneer.

    Kara shrugs. “You’ll need me one of these days.” She then evaporates … sort of a devilish quality, not that anyone is terribly surprised or interested.

    ***

    Vo-shai spends the better part of a day clearing out Walter’s closet with the help of everyone except Kaylor. The wilden has convinced Lady Muriel that Walter wants a room change, so he moves all of the butler’s remaining belongings across the hall to a new room. He sets up everything identically, leaving Socko under the fitted sheet at the foot of the bed.

    “That might take him a while to find,” he says with a chuckle, then heads downstairs to say goodbye with the others before heading to the capital. Lady Muriel offers the party horses, which they accept.

    Upon arrival, Vo-shai finds the nearest buyer of fine goods and starts unloading everything from her bag of holding. “You won’t find stuff like this anywhere,” she says to the shopkeeper, sorting all the gold into one group, silver into another, and so on. “I mean it, all of this is one-of-a-kind—”

    “Vo-shai?” Z says, sounding strangely concerned. “You’ve got a nosebleed.”

    “Happens all the time,” Vo-shai says, though she starts to feel lightheaded and hazy. “It’s so dry up here aboveground … gotta get back underground one of these days…”

    While she continues mumbling and sorting, Freya does a medicine check and realizes the gold is poisoned — and now, so is Vo-shai. “It’s poisoned,” she says, trying to pull Vo-shai away. “We need to get rid of that stuff right now.”

    “Well, I’m trying to!” Vo-shai slurs, fighting back but not very hard.

    Zavrazina inspects the gold from a distance and determines the poison to be something exotic. “They must have been trying to poison the Republic nobility,” she says. “Why else poison something this expensive?”

    “I don’t know, but we need to get her medical attention right now,” Freya says, struggling to hold up a slumping Vo-shai.


    TL;DR: Freya and Vo-shai try to prank a Zavrazina doppelganger. Then the party checks in on Lady Muriel and confirms that they were right to think her butler is sus. After a week of fun with Kaylor, the butler takes the crew to a meetup where they get in a brawl, collect information, and run into the doppelganger again. After all this, Vo-shai learns that sometimes looting backfires ... though whether or not she'll acknowledge that lesson is questionable.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    For context, I was gone for a couple weeks, so some of my tablemates are (hopefully?) going to do short character write-ups to fill in the gaps between episodes 7 and 8. There shouldn't be too much missing, other than the fact that there was an assassin following the party for some time and they ended up traveling to another plane, all while Vo-shai was in the hospital due to the poisoned gold incident.

    Spoiler: Episode 8
    Show
    Alone and dazed, Vo-shai checks out of the hospital where she wakes up and signs the bill under Zavrazina’s name. She remembers being poisoned by the gold and shakes her head as she walks through the lobby.

    “Lesson learned,” she grumbles, grabbing a handful of mints off one desk and pens from another. (What? They’re just sitting out in the open!)

    When she steps outside, it becomes apparent she’s in a familiar part of the Republic — in fact, she realizes her grandpa’s summer house is just a few miles out of town from here.

    It’s convenient as far as coincidences go, and becomes even more convenient when her companions fall out of the sky just in view of Grandpa Yevgeny’s house.

    “Oh, cool,” Vo-shai says as the party dusts themselves off. “Thanks for abandoning me at a hospital in the middle of nowhere.”

    “I’m sorry, but we had to,” Freya says. “I hope the bill wasn’t too expensive.”

    “Me too,” Vo-shai says. “Otherwise Z might not be able to pay the whole thing.”

    Z looks up from dusting off her pants. “What?”

    “You all lucked out anyway,” Vo-shai says. “We’re right near my grandpa’s summer house.”

    “How strange,” Zavrazina says. “My uncle Yevgeny’s dacha is around here somewhere—”

    “Wait. Did you say Uncle Yevgeny?”

    Z tilts her head. “Yes?”

    “Could be anyone,” Vo-shai mutters to herself.

    As the party approaches the house in the distance, Z becomes convinced this is definitely her uncle’s dacha, judging by its crumbling exterior and boarded-up mine shaft full of disgruntled zombies in the front yard. So either Vo-shai was mistaken about her grandfather living here, or…

    Vnuchka! Vo-shai!” Yevgeny emerges from the hole in the front door wielding his favorite tool: a bottle. Could be vodka, could be explosives. “And you brought Zavrazina!”

    He gives the two fellow elves hugs. Vo-shai does little to hide her horror, but while Z is baffled, she’s not upset by the development. It’s possible the shadar-kai has been growing on her, and, well … the rest of her family doesn’t set so high of a standard.

    “Come in, come in,” Yevgeny says, going so far as to open the door rather than crawling through its missing center (the whole thing is somehow made out of bottles). “I have many beet in kitchen somewhere. We can make much borscht!”

    To Z’s surprise, Vo-shai looks happy at this announcement. Uncle Yevgeny’s borscht is not good. But, she too can acknowledge the nostalgia factor.

    It’s all very sweet until Freya gasps. “Yevgeny, is that a crossbow bolt in your leg?!”

    Yevgeny looks down. “Ah, da,” he says. “Is there to remind Yevgeny that life is only pain.”

    Kaylor has already pulled the bolt out in the time it takes Yevgeny to say that, and Freya quickly heals the wound.

    Yevgeny does not notice, because he has begun pulling out some blueprints he’s been working on. He’s actually the one who taught Vo-shai how to draw blueprints, which is how she designed Kaylor’s trebuchet. “Come, have look,” he says.

    His blueprint shows a crossbow, drawn three times. “What is this?” Morgen asks.

    “You see, Yevgeny have been trying to design high-powered crossbow,” he says. “So, I have drawn three times, for three times ammunition.”

    It becomes clear then that Yevgeny is far beyond plastered, and it looks really fun. Everyone but Kaylor and Vo-shai join in the drinking, and soon most of the party is passed out. Vo-shai goes to bed, still weary from her time at the hospital, and Kaylor goes to sit on the roof like the wretched weathervane he is.

    While he’s up there, he sees Kara standing across the yard near the edge of the zombie mine shaft. She does not look pleased with its existence.

    “Hello!” Kaylor calls. “Snobby Zavrazina imposter!”

    She looks startled. Kaylor doesn’t help that fact when he goes full horror flick and climbs down the side of the house on all fours. She recovers. “That assassin is not following you anymore.”

    “Gooood,” Kaylor says. “Yet for some reason, you still are.”

    “I’m tracking your progress for my boss. There’s—”

    “Who’s your boss? Where’s he from? Why does he care?”

    Kara is beginning to realize why Kaylor gets along with children so well. “If you must know, my boss and I originate from Celestia.”

    “Ah,” Kaylor says. “Hoity-toity good-guy types. What’s his address?”

    Kara wrinkles her nose. “I am here to observe, not hand over information. If you need anything—”

    “Great! Here’s my Christmas wish list.” Kaylor produces an impossibly long piece of paper from his chest cavity (cabinet?). “There’s an endless rum and coke and also a pizza that never runs out.”

    “For the love of…” Kara conjures up a jar and performs a little alchemy on it. “There. That should never run out of rum and coke.” Then she dissipates back into the night.

    ***

    The next day’s breakfast is raw mystery bacon and ancient elf army MREs from Yevgeny’s time in ROSE (the definitely-not-KGB organization). Yevgeny himself heads into the backyard in the middle of breakfast, and after hearing some possible explosions the others start to trickle out.

    Morgen is the first brave enough to ask about the giant canister under Yevgeny’s arm.

    “Ah,” Yevgeny says, spinning around so the business end of the thing points at the group. Everyone steps a bit to the side. “Is Yevgeny new project. Like crossbow, but shoots metal ball.” He frowns. “Or, should shoot metal ball. Projectile too heavy. Whole thing too heavy, too.”

    He drops the canister on the ground, still smoldering on one end, and pours vodka on it from his ever-present bottle. The others stifle gasps and get ready to hit the turf, but nothing happens and the smoke fizzles out.

    “Other problem,” Yevgeny continues, pointing at the mess on the ground. “Not enough flammable.”

    “What’s all this for, anyway?” Freya asks.

    Yevgeny sticks a thumb over his shoulder toward the old mine shaft. “Zombie, I can handle. Not so much these new things that show up in past few weeks.” His craggy face wrinkles even deeper. “Intelligent frog-people things.”

    “Probably some connection to the labs we’ve been shutting down,” Zavrazina says, then curses. “I thought we got all of them.”

    “No need to worry,” Yevgeny says. “I will murder rest of frog people once my invention is complete.”

    For all his gruff kookiness and horrible meals, Yevgeny has charmed the party enough that they spend a few hours helping him with his invention. Morgen suggests mounting two smaller canisters on the top and bottom of a crossbow frame, and Freya comes up with the idea to use bolts with tiny canisters of alchemist fire as the projectile.

    The second prototype works much better than the first, firing far into the scrubby woodlands beyond Yevgeny’s house and exploding on impact, likely destroying a small ecosystem.

    Satisfied, the party discusses where to head next. They want to address some rumors of werewolves they’ve been hearing, but Kaylor and Vo-shai remind them that they’ve been commissioned to fix a siren problem. Considering that the trench with the sirens is closer, the group departs with the promise to return and help with more Yevgeny inventions. Randall also stays behind.

    ***

    A few days later, the party arrives in So’revalis and boards The Majestic, a crew ship turned cargo ship which is now a crew ship again, albeit briefly.

    Three days of sailing pass without incident, but the sky gets noticeably darker and stormier the longer they travel. At the center of this storm is a rocky island ringed with ongoing lightning strikes. Camilla, the captain of the ship, knows there’s a cove with an underwater cave around the back side of the island.

    As she explains this, her eyes suddenly go blank, and she starts steering toward the rocky waters in front of the island. Freya, Kaylor, and Morgen hear a woman singing beautifully, but they are seasoned adventurers at this point and resist the call.

    Meanwhile, Vo-shai and Zavrazina can’t hear anything. “What is she doing?” Zavrazina asks. “She’s going to steer us right into the rocks!”

    “We need to drop anchor somewhere safe,” Vo-shai says.

    “Great idea,” Kaylor says, anchor already in hand. He hurls it over the edge of the ship. The whole thing lurches to a halt, nearly throwing a few crew members overboard.

    At that moment, three winged women with scaly tails swoop over the ship’s deck and hover overhead. Z reacts fast, shooting at one with her bow. One of the crewmembers fires the ship’s weapons and knocks one of the sirens into a plummeting spiral. Injured, she barely manages to stop before hitting the water and flaps back into the sky.

    “Don’t worry, Z! I’m going to waste them with my crossbow!” Kaylor whips out a cobwebbed piece of equipment and shoots without aiming. Kaylor is not a ranger.

    Morgen, however, does waste one of the sirens with sickening radiance and badly injures another, who retaliates with a sword attack. The second remaining siren tries to cast a spell on Vo-shai. She counterspells, but gets slammed with psychic damage and is stunned.

    With a crit on both Kaylor’s wellspring strike and Zavrazina’s bow, the sirens aren’t looking too good. But they still have control of Captain Camilla, who turns on the party and captivates Vo-shai and Freya with a suggestion spell, forcing the two to fight against their companions.

    Seeing this, Morgen turns his sickening radiance on Camilla. The sirens retaliate by charming Zavrazina and Kaylor into believing everyone is their enemy, leaving only Morgen uncharmed.

    Freya, still a pacifist, panics when Camilla takes the spell’s hit. “Don’t kill her! I have plans for her later!”

    “And I have anti-plans!” Kaylor interjects. He walks straight past Zavrazina to where most of the party is facing down in a confusion-fueled Mexican standoff, raises his scythe, and swings it in a wide arc to hit literally almost everyone.

    Table talk: My notes on this simply state, “Wellspring strike f-cks everyone.”

    And not only wellspring strike. Kaylor also activates form of mountain’s thunder, killing the second siren and knocking Vo-shai unconscious with two failed death saves. Zavrazina is also hit with extra lightning damage, but with the death of the second siren, Kaylor is no longer charmed and probably won’t be doing that again. Probably...

    Z, however, is still charmed, but fortunately her closest target is the last siren, who she kills with rakuyo and ends the charm effect. But…

    “I forgot to mention that you’re still marked by that last attack I did,” Kaylor says. “I never thought I’d say this, but how DARE you do something other than attack me…”

    He swings and misses. But Camilla the cleric captain, still a little out of it, adds damage to his attack, so he hits Z for 8 damage and Freya for 2.

    Once she comes to, Camilla is horrified. She casts mass healing word on the party, followed by a prayer of healing. She then gathers the party together in a gameplay huddle.

    “I hear legend that the mother siren lives in that cave, just over yonder,” she says. “But unfortunately, the narrator didn’t prep the stats—”

    Kaylor’s player: “I have a stat block for that.”
    DM: “Well alright then!”


    ***

    The party takes a rundown dingy, barely big enough for all of them, to the entrance of the underwater cave. At the cave’s mouth is a single stalagmite cresting through the water, with the surrounding rock covered with glowing mushrooms and bugs. The mother siren is curled around the stalagmite.

    Freya peers into the dark beyond the siren and sees the walls of the cave are covered with eggs. Squinting a little harder, she can also see the eggs are mixed in with bones. Humanoid bones.

    She turns her head slowly and makes some very strong eye contact with the siren. She then produces flame.

    Or tries to, anyway. The siren teleports and bites Freya before she can finish the cantrip. Zavrazina steps in and starts slashing, but the siren uses her breath weapon and knocks Freya unconscious and into the water.

    While the siren throws down with the melee fighters on the boat, Vo-shai weasels her way to Freya and casts spare the dying, then administers a healing potion. After Z sustains a poison effect, Vo-shai also gives her a vial of antivenom.

    Meanwhile, Kaylor scythes the siren in the back for 10 damage, and slowly the monster turns around. “How dare you … NOT move,” she says, then knocking Kaylor prone and halfway off the boat.

    In one move, the siren stuns Kaylor, Z, and Vo-shai and imposes disadvantage on Morgen and Freya’s next attacks. These effects also hit Vo-shai’s undead army of two, so the siren is able to flap back to the stalagmite without incident.

    Undeterred, Freya lights the stalagmite on fire for a solid 29 damage, and Morgen’s Melf’s minute meteors does another 15.

    The siren quickly realizes ranged fighting is going to be a mistake, so she teleports back to the boat. Morgen stabs the siren on his attack of opp, but this triggers the breath weapon and angers the siren into pulling Morgen into the water. Adding injury to … more injury, a black tentacle emerges from the deep and pulls Morgen even deeper underwater.

    Vo-shai casts moonbeam, and Kaylor uses his coldiron scythe to anchor the siren and prevent her from teleporting. She also keeps taking meteor damage while Morgen tries to wiggle out of the tentacle’s grasp.

    Morgen’s player: “...I rolled an eleven on that strength check.”
    Kaylor’s player: “Well, at least there’s no penalty—”
    Morgen’s player: “Oh, you’re right. Ten.”


    The octopus-thing eats Morgen, and then the siren pulls Kaylor into the water as well. Freya remains in the water as well, dodging tentacle attacks left and right. Eventually she too is pulled down.

    With those distractions, Z teleports to the stalagmite and starts shooting with her bow. Vo-shai spikes the siren with witch bolt, Kaylor wriggles back onto the boat, and Morgen absorbs the acid damage inside the octopus.

    The siren continues to take Vo-shai’s moonbeam damage in the boat’s close quarters, so she tries to move out of it and provokes a hearty 12 points of opportunity damage from Kaylor. She still manages to escape and flaps back to the stalagmite … where Zavrazina is waiting. With many stabby-stabs.

    While those two are duking it out, Vo-shai runs to the edge of the dingy and teleports down to Freya, casting spare the dying once again. Inside the octopus, Morgen absorbs more acid damage and strikes back with the added damage.

    On the stalagmite, the siren claws twice at Zavrazina and bites her, poisoning the elf. Z returns the favor by straight-up murdering the monster.

    As this is happening, the octopus opens its maw to devour Freya…

    Freya’s player: “I’m using that DM inspiration from a few sessions ago.”

    ...and a coin appears from a rift underwater, choking the tentacle monster (thanks, Oberon).

    Vo-shai summons her zomboi and skeleton, who fall into the water and sink down to her. They smack the octopus with their weapons a couple times, and when Vo-shai whips out the shadow daggers, the monster dies of edginess and releases Freya and Morgen. (Cue “Skeleton Warriors.”)

    Reconvening on the dingy, Freya is about to light all the eggs on fire when Vo-shai stops her. “Wait,” she says. “These are all fetches, right? We should let Kaylor have them.”

    So Kaylor puts all his eggs in one bag, as it were, and once they’re back on the main ship the wilden gets a call from Oberon. As it turns out, Kaylor has collected enough fetches in this haul to return to the Feywild and go back to being a cloud.

    Kaylor gins. “Heyyyy Obie!”

    “Yes?” Oberon says, always a little suspicious of this particular subject.

    “I’m getting these guys back to solid ground, and then I’m making you fried siren eggs.”

    “Whatever.” Oberon makes his departure, and Kaylor turns to the others. There’s a lot of mixed reactions, but most party members don’t look happy.

    “Well, I guess if I could not exist, I would too,” Vo-shai says as Zavrazina storms off.

    Kaylor watches her go. “What’s her problem?”

    “Which one?” Vo-shai replies.

    ***

    That night, Zavrazina finally lets Kaylor into her room in the cabin of the ship after the wilden spends a few hours smooshing his face up against the window.

    They have a rather touching heart-to-heart, where Z admits she actually likes having Kaylor around. “I mean,” she says, “you’ve been with me for what, 60 or 70 years?” (It’s been centuries.) She sighs. “The point is, I want you to stick around. I know you got Oberon to end your contract anyway, but I’d miss having you here.”

    “You would?”

    “Of course. Heck, even Freya might.”

    “Well, why didn’t you just say so?” Kaylor pauses. “By the way, that reminds me.” He leaves, which is a bit jarring, but Zavrazina thinks her point probably got through.

    Freya and Camilla are enjoying an evening together in the captain’s quarters when Kaylor kicks down the door. Then he freezes. “What’s going on?”

    “You’re too late!” a fully-clothed Freya says. “We’re already done!”

    “NOOOOOOOOOOkay,” Kaylor says, abandoning his Darth Vader moment. “Want a rum and coke?”

    ***

    In the morning, Z and Kaylor hash out a new contract, and then Kaylor makes waffles for breakfast with authentic maple syrup (don’t ask where he got it). The party puts their heads together during breakfast and concludes that the siren’s cave was the second landmark for finding the Forbidden Temple, the first being the sky temple they got directions for in the Empire catacombs.

    The final landmark is the source of the River Styx. But, having had enough water for the time being, the party decides to return to Yevgeny’s house and dig into a different adventure: the story of Zavrazina’s past.


    TL;DR: The party reconvenes at the house of a bottle-crazy Republic inventor, who turns out to be related to one or more party members. Then the crew goes on a siren-hunting excursion and Kaylor almost pulls a tearjerker moment.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    My fellow players have informed me that our characters almost exactly represent the Seven Deadly Sins. Vo-shai is greed, Kaylor is wrath, Zavrazina is pride, Freya is lust, Yevgeny is gluttony, Randall is sloth, and Morgen is envy. Some are more self-explanatory than others, but you get the idea.

    Spoiler: Episode 9
    Show
    The four days of boat travel back to the Republic prove to be stormy, and the bad juju that formed around the sirens’ island doesn’t seem to let up. The foreshadowing is heavy in these here parts.

    Randall and Morgen depart, citing ROSE business as the reason. The rest of the party agrees to return to Zavrazina’s townhouse and check in on it. Of course, it would be too boring if everything was intact, so they find the place has been ransacked.

    Vo-shai eyes the broken windows. “Huh. Looks almost as nice as Grandpa Yevgeny’s house. How’s the interior?”

    “Only one way to find out,” Kaylor says, setting the broken door back on its hinges just so he can kick it down again.

    While the others investigate inside, Vo-shai walks the perimeters and finds a set of exquisite boot prints alongside some reptilian claw marks. They lead to a hole in the ground.

    Freya spots some blood on the side of the house on the second floor, so she and Zavrazina stealth their way up the stairs. They hear footsteps in Z’s old room, but only manage to briefly spot a spellcaster before he sees them too and vanishes.

    Exploring the room, Zavrazina finds a loose floorboard under the bed. In the cubby underneath it, she finds a metallic container, but its contents are long gone. She also realizes there’s a book missing from her extensive collection. It’s about hags and certain abominations, not unlike the ones that tried to disintegrate Z a while back.

    While thinking about the book, Zavrazina remembers that it is the presence of a relic which, uh…

    DM: “Abomin-ifies?”

    ...these creatures. She also remembers from her readings that these abominations are created to be conscripts for one of the demon lords.

    As Zavrazina tries to think why the home invaders would want to know about something so niche, Freya investigates the blood and notices it’s not from anything humanoid. She feels a little silly for not realizing this earlier, since blackish-blue is not typically a humanoid blood color.

    She analyzes the blood splatter and deduces that the creature must have cut itself breaking through the window because the trail leads outside. So she and Z follow the trail, which leads them to where Vo-shai is staring at the hole in the ground. A quick arcana check from Vo-shai indicates from the blood and tracks that the creature may be a product of the labs, due to a chemical presence.

    Stumped, the party decides to canvass the neighborhood save for Freya, who stays back to mend the house.

    At the first house, the door swings open before anyone can knock. “Kaylor!” the old woman inside the house exclaims. “And little Zavrazina! My, how you’ve grown. How have you been?”

    Kaylor cuts her off. “No time for that. Have you seen anything strange recently?”

    “No, dear. I’ve been cleaning.”

    There’s a pause. “For several years?” Vo-shai deadpans.

    “Has it been that long?” She looks to Zavrazina. “You know old Betty Kratchka can’t keep track of time like you youngsters. Why don’t you come in?”

    The trio reluctantly obliges, but Kaylor soon manages to crawl out an open window without Betty noticing. Vo-shai and Zavrazina protest staying too long, but old Betty guilt-trips them into staying for dinner, since her own grandkids never visit.

    “Are you sure you didn’t hear or see anything?” Zavrazina asks as Betty sets down a large pot of actually edible borscht.

    “Well, I did hear glass shatter and some shoveling near your house a few days ago,” she says. “Or was it weeks?”

    “All of that, and you didn’t think to let someone know?” Vo-shai snaps.

    Betty shrugs. “I’ve been living next to Zavrazina and Kaylor.”

    Kaylor, surprisingly, is causing little havoc in his search around the neighborhood. After little success, he does find one witness, a well-dressed gnome with a twirled mustache. He says he saw a gray-haired noble with a scaly, purplish-black dog-thing digging in Z’s backyard. He also saw a blond rogue break into the house the next day and could see him breaking things through the upstairs window.

    “Breaking things? Sounds like the Syndicate.” Kaylor then glares down at the gnome. “I have three things to say to you. First, can you imagine what a reverse mermaid looks like?”

    The gnome squints. “Yes?”

    “Good. Two … you saw TWO BREAK-INS and you didn’t call anyone?!”

    “I was minding my own business—”

    “And three, how often have you been peeping through Z’s windows?!”

    Kaylor starts threatening to shove the gnome’s poorly-hidden telescope up certain places, at which point the gnome threatens to call the local guard.

    This only heightens Kaylor’s rage. “Oh, NOW you want to call the guard?!” he roars, then sets to work “fixing” the gnome’s house.

    Back at Betty Kratchka’s house, the old elf has taken out a rolled-up tapestry to show to Vo-shai and Zavrazina. The two party members are both desperately trying to think of excuses to leave until Betty unrolls the tapestry.

    “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she says. “Took me weeks. Maybe years.”

    “Vo-shai,” Zavrazina says slowly, “doesn’t this look like the forest from Freya’s dream?”

    Vo-shai snorts. “I’m not a dream interpreter,” she says, gesturing to the shadowy trees and red-eyed figure. “It just looks like standard shadar-kai art to me.”

    “But this looks exactly like the dream Freya described after we found the sun blade.”

    “I saw this in a dream as well,” Betty says. “The shadowy being told me there was something I needed to take from the next visitors to arrive. Some kind of time amulet…”

    That’s all the excuse Z and Vo-shai need to thank the old woman for dinner and hustle out the door.

    Once outside, they hear construction noises coming from another house and come across Kaylor installing a second set of doors over the originals. The gnome peers down from the second-story window in distress. Kaylor justifies his actions to Z by explaining that the gnome was a serial peeping tom.

    “Besides, I’m being kind,” Kaylor says, whipping out his most recent creation: Socko Jr.

    “Creepy,” Vo-shai says when Kaylor hands over the sock puppet, now with horrifying button eyes. She takes on the customary falsetto and points Socko Jr. up at the quivering gnome. “I’ll hang you up by your nostrils!”

    “Did you actually find anything out or are you just harassing the locals?” Zavrazina asks Kaylor. He relays the gnome’s information to her, at which point she returns to her townhouse to put the pieces together.

    Terrified of being left alone with Kaylor again, the gnome leaps through the second-story window to escape. Kaylor screeches and crawls up the side of the house and through the window.

    At Z’s townhouse, Freya found a piece of bloodied cloth while she was cleaning. She shows it to Zavrazina when she arrives.

    Z recognizes the fine material immediately. “This is the kind of thing my father would wear.”

    Freya tilts her head. “Are you two on … good terms?”

    “Well, let’s think. I live all by myself in a townhouse in the capital city with two servants and Kaylor as a bodyguard.”

    “So…” Freya looks around at the vast library and mahogany furniture. “...great terms?”

    “I got disowned.”

    “Ah.”

    ***

    In the gnome’s house, Kaylor doesn’t have to do much searching to prove his accusations. The walls are covered floor-to-ceiling with paintings of Zavrazina, all from the perspective of the second-floor window. It’s a real big yikes, and Kaylor takes great disliking to it.

    “Vo-shai!” he shouts out the window.

    “What?” she yells back.

    “Go get the guards.”

    She leaves, and he starts nailing the paintings to the outside of the gnome’s house. He has to yell at more than one passerby to “stop ogling the evidence.”

    When Vo-shai comes back with the guards, there’s plenty ogle-able evidence for them to arrest the gnome. Vo-shai, realizing that Zavrazina must be the most eligible bachelorette in the area due to her status and looks, snags one of the smaller paintings for its future marketability.

    Unaware that her likeness is plastered all over the house next door, Z has climbed down into the catacombs to retrieve a deadly skeleton wheel from the bottom of a well. While down there, however, she notices that the place where she found Kaylor all those years ago is immaculate, unlike the rest of the floor.

    She reaches out and feels something solid. She takes off her coat and throws it over the spot, then hears flapping and feels something land on her shoulder. “What are you?” she asks, not in the mood to deal with intruders.

    “I’m an imp,” it says. “My name is Rufus. I got deals—”

    “And I’ve got a wilden,” Z replies. “I’ll give you a one-hour head start.”

    The imp leaves in a hurry, and Z gets back to trying to haul the skeleton wheel out of the well. After struggling with a rope and hook for a minute, she calls for Freya.

    The tabaxi gasps when she looks down into the well. “What is that?” she asks, horrified. “Will it try to kill us?”

    “It’s only tried that once, and then it spent a decade in this well,” Z replies. “I think it will behave.”

    The two drag the skeleton wheel upstairs just as Vo-shai and Kaylor return to the house. Zavrazina reveals that it’s a present for Vo-shai, who for once seems appreciative of someone else’s kindness and starts drawing blueprints for a skeleton chariot.

    On a heavier note, Z shows the piece of fabric to Kaylor, who licks it and is subsequently stunned. After the effect wears off, he shrugs. “It’s not fey type.”

    “I thought not.” Zavrazina sighs. “I’m concerned about these break-ins, Kaylor.”

    “Look, at least the second guy is probably dead in a ditch somewhere,” Kaylor says. “You know, the blond rogue guy. He seemed—”

    “Syndicate,” he and Z say in unison.

    “But the first guy,” Zavrazina persists. Her brow furrows with worry. “You don’t think…”

    “I do think. This fabric has Novikov written all over it.”

    Now it’s Zavrazina’s turn to be stunned. She wanders to the kitchen and aimlessly throws ingredients into a pot to make something resembling borscht. For a while the others leave her be to think, but when the smell of burning beets becomes too unbearable, Freya puts down the dress she’s been knitting for Randall. “Someone needs to talk to her.”

    “You should,” Kaylor says to Vo-shai. “You’re related to her.”

    “No way,” Vo-shai protests. “You’ve known her longer.”

    “But you’re her cousin.”

    “If anyone should, it’s Freya,” Vo-shai says. “She’s the one who’s good at talking to people.”

    “Fine.” Freya gets up, shaking her head. “You two are pathetic.”

    She goes to the kitchen where Z is stirring pieces of blackened crust around the bottom of the pot. “Zavrazina…”

    “I can’t believe it,” she mumbles. “After 60 years, he decides to come back. And what for? To steal my stuff?”

    As she continues talking, Vo-shai’s eavesdrops, and her interest is piqued enough that she steps into the kitchen too. “What’s with the daddy issues?” she asks. “What happened?”

    Z explains everything: Her mother died mysteriously those 60-some years ago, and soon after, her father’s lieutenant tried to kill her. She escaped into the catacombs where she found Kaylor, and with his help she defended herself against the lieutenant and killed him. Angry, her father banished her to the townhouse.

    “Then, just before we met you two, we went back,” Z continues. “We snuck into his mansion and found some … letters. They indicated he might have some involvement with the labs.”

    Through all this explanation, it’s hard not to notice that Kaylor has been whistling a twee little tune out in the sitting room. His obvious avoidance is noted, and Zavrazina heads out of the kitchen, leaving Freya and Vo-shai to deal with the smoking, charred remains of dinner.

    Z’s player: “Well, time to pit my sh-t insight against Kaylor’s sh-t deception.”

    The metaphorical (and literal) dice are rolled, and Kaylor tries to forestall his fate by shoveling the burnt garbage into his mouth.

    Zavrazina, of course, knows every one of his tricks. She also knows that, as a fairy, Kaylor can’t lie to anyone but another fairy. “Kaylor. Were you in a contract with my mother?”

    “Yes,” he says, muffled by the failed borscht. “She was a lot nicer than you.”

    “If she was so nice, why did she lock you in the catacombs by yourself?”

    “She said she was going to do a stupid thing, so she put me in the basement away from her kid.” He shrugs and tries desperately to avoid eye contact. “I don’t know why. I’m great with kids.”

    “Kaylor…”

    “Okay, fine, she was going to kill Novikov, but she failed and he killed her instead.”

    For the second time that night, Zavrazina looks stunned. She goes pale before an angry red flush covers her face. “Why did you never tell me?”

    “You never asked.”

    Speech: 0

    “But why?” Zavrazina presses. “She must have had a reason.”

    Able to avoid a non-direct question, Kaylor goes off about body pillows. Z stands in the middle of his speculation and stomps up the stairs. The slamming door shakes the entire house.

    Through a series of yes or no questions, Vo-shai and Freya get Kaylor to explain that Novikov was part of a cult to “Make the Republic Great Again” and that Z’s mother felt she had to stop him.

    This time, Vo-shai takes the initiative to go talk to Zavrazina. She is surprised to find Z’s door is unlocked (left that way due to Z’s distress — she merely forgot to lock it).

    Vo-shai starts to enter, then sees Zavrazina is holding a worn picture of what Vo-shai can only guess is her mother. “Z…” she begins, then stops when Zavrazina looks up. She composes herself and explains what Kaylor told her after Z left. The conversation is awkward and stunted despite the new information, and finally Vo-shai thanks Z for the skeleton wheel and excuses herself.

    ***

    By the time Kaylor has planted some of Z’s mother’s favorite flowers and Freya has returned from the city with Empire fast food, Zavrazina has gone analytical. She surmises at the dinner table that Novikov must have hidden some information here long ago and returned to take it back, dominating the creature when it also broke in.

    Vo-shai also theorizes that the rogue was after the same info, but, finding it missing, stole the book instead — Novikov would have no reason to steal the book since he likely already knew the information it contained.

    Kaylor adds that he sniffed the fabric piece again and caught traces of a fairy, so after dinner the party follows him as he tracks the scent. It leads to an alley, then stops abruptly. Kaylor can sense the veil is thin here, but is unsure why.

    He summons his fairy companion. “What do you make of this, Toot-Toot?” he asks.

    Unfortunately, Toot-Toot doesn’t know anything about it, so the party heads back to Z’s for the night. In the morning they decide to break into Novikov’s mansion and find out what he stole. After some debate over whether to sneak in through the catacombs or just kick down the door aboveground, the party ends up going for the stealth option.

    For being a straight-from-the-books dungeon crawl, there are exactly zero encounters. Terrible beings crawl out of dark crevices only to run away screaming when they see Zavrazina and Kaylor. As it turns out, they are the overpowered encounter of an alternate universe.

    The only excitement comes when Zavrazina purposely triggers a trap of flaming arrows to take out a cluster of skeletons. Vo-shai takes this opportunity to reanimate one and bring her undead army back up to four (including the skeleton wheel).

    At the end of the catacombs, the party climbs a ladder, and Kaylor kicks open the trapdoor into a basement pantry. As the others climb up, they can hear two voices upstairs who were alerted by the noise.

    One starts to come down the stairs. Kaylor goes into lurking mode at the bottom while the others hide behind some barrels of wine. The second the man comes into sight, Kaylor wraps his branchy arms around him. “I’m a hugger!”

    “That looks like the rogue the gnome described,” Zavrazina says. “Kaylor, perhaps we’d get more information from him if we—”

    “Into the catacombs!” Kaylor shouts as he piledrives the rogue through the open trapdoor.

    Thoroughly intimidated, the rogue starts spewing information to the party as the gather in the catacombs. He says he trained for 30 years in the Shadowfen as an operative against the Empire. Recently, he says he was approached by a well-dressed elvin man with gray hair.

    “Could be anyone,” Kaylor says.

    “The jobs started small,” the rogue continues. “He asked me to retrieve things, get information from people. I went after some schmuck in Reise, a Duke—”

    “Could be anyone,” Vo-shai says.

    “—but then I was given a better offer to work against this elvin noble,” the rogue continues. “An undead illithid came to me through my dreams, told me to retrieve some things hidden in Zavrazina’s townhouse.” He registers Z’s sudden shock and shrugs. “You all are well-known these days.”

    She composes herself. “What were you supposed to retrieve?”

    “Lab research notes,” he replies. “That, and some kind of relic. The illithid promised to send a thrall to Ai’avara with payment should I succeed.”

    At this point, the party can hear another set of footsteps coming down the stairs. “We cannot let him go,” Zavrazina says, nodding to the rogue.

    “Don’t worry,” Freya says. She digs in her pockets and pulls out some candies. “Here, dear, try one of these.”

    The rogue reluctantly swallows one of the candies, then two. Turns out, they’re the drugs Freya bought before the party boarded Jolly Wally’s ship to the Republic. As they start to kick in immediately, Kaylor smashes his head into the wall to ensure he stays out.

    Then it’s lather-rinse-repeat with the dark elf caster who comes downstairs to check on his friend. Kaylor struggle-snuggles him in the pantry, Zavrazina takes away his arcane focus, and then Kaylor asks him if he knows what a German suplex is.

    “No?”

    Cue a vigorous demonstration of the German suplex. As the other party members climb back into the catacombs to join them, Kaylor gives the caster a rundown. “She wants your money, she wants to sleep with you, and she wants answers,” he says, pointing at Vo-shai, Freya, and Zavrazina respectively. “And me? I’m a rage-filled monster.”

    “I can live with that first part,” the caster says in response, “I would be happy to oblige with that second part, and I’ll do my best with the third.”

    After some questioning, he explains that he and the rogue were working together for the illithid. They had a third, they said, but he got caught in an alley meetup by a platinum-haired noble.

    Z looks at Kaylor. “Could be anyone?”

    “Could be anyone.”

    With all that said, Freya drugs the caster, and Kaylor sets him down very nicely next to his friend.

    Kaylor petitions Titania for fireworks before the party leaves the catacombs, as he discovered some kind of fairy block in the upstairs. The fairy queen says not a word, but a barrel of black powder does appear out of the ether.

    Kaylor grins. “That’s why you’re my favorite.”

    Upstairs, he splits off from the rest of the party as they go to investigate the upstairs rooms. “Are you sure?” Z asks. “It could be dangerous for you to be by yourself.”

    Kaylor laughs. “Trust me, I have a plan.”

    He heads outside. Zavrazina stealths her way up the stairs, while Freya disguises herself in a maid outfit she copped from Z’s house and Vo-shai magically transforms herself to look like the cook, who was knocked unconscious in the kitchen by the rogue.

    Kaylor, meanwhile, is planning to blow up Novikov’s carriage. He drags it into the front yard, far from the stables. In the grass, he use the black powder to draw a rendition of a famous, lewd, definitely-not-Canadian meme (we’ll call it a “duttbick”) with a trail leading to the carriage. He then hauls several barrels of fine wine up from the pantry, lights the fire, and starts singing Travis Tritt’s “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive.”

    He’s so very tweehaw.

    The guards, of course, take notice. But with their collective Nat 1, they see the barrels of wine and the bonfire and decide they want to join in. (Perhaps Kaylor is a siren?)

    Meanwhile, this has helped the others significantly. Most of the guards are too distracted by the bonfire in the front yard to notice the trio, and the few that do get a free turkey leg from the “cook” to take to the barbecue.

    The three agree to check Zavrazina’s childhood room first, since Novikov was hiding things in Z’s townhouse room and it makes a certain amount of sense. The door is locked, and even Z’s 25 can’t unlock it. She teleports in.

    Immediately, an acrid smoke fills the room. Zavrazina catches on right away. “Oh, f-ck that,” she says, quickly unlocking the door from the inside and throwing it open.

    She’s fast enough that she even gets the first attack on the hellhound now standing in the center of the room. She slices away, giving Vo-shai and Freya enough time to gauge the situation and lay down two fourth-level memebeams.

    The dog reacts with a necrotic breath weapon, causing mass damage and HP reduction (even to Vo-shai’s undead army? Come on, 5e!). Z keeps tanking away with duel psi and radiant blades, dealing sweet, sweet damage even after a second use of the breath weapon wreaks havoc.

    As it takes damage, barbed tentacles start to burst from the dog’s body and stab at the party members. Z dodges its first attack, but a second hits and kills yet another skeleton warrior. After this, Zavrazina decides it’s slapchop time.

    Slapchop guy: “The skin … comes right off!”

    She brings the pain, but it’s not enough. The dog paralyzes her and runs past the last undead fighter toward the casters. In a brilliant attack of opportunity, the zomboi stretches out its arm, nearly misses, then stumbles on a wrinkle in the carpet and trips. It snags the hellhound with its diseased fingernails on the way down, and thus, the doggo meets its demise.

    The zombie even survives the subsequent explosion.

    This is followed quite suddenly by a second explosion out in the yard. Carriage shrapnel slaps the upstairs windows as a cheer rises up from the drunken revelers below.

    Zavrazina doesn’t bother looking to see what happened. She finds a trapdoor under the bed like the one at her townhouse. As she reaches to open the box within, Freya grabs her hand and points out the trap. Flustered, Z disables it and opens the secret compartment.

    It’s got a leatherbound journal and three letters marked with the seals of each country.

    Goldmine. “I should copy these down,” Zavrazina says, getting out her pens and paper.

    Vo-shai jabs a thumb over her shoulder to the window. “I think the duttbick on the lawn—”

    “—and the exploding carriage—” Freya continues.

    “—you’re right.” Z relocks the box and places it back in the secret compartment, leaving everything as it was. A little more secure, even. The three race down the stairs, past a guard who suggests burning the house down, to meet up with Kaylor.

    “Did that guy say we should burn the house down?” Kaylor asks. Before anyone can respond, he whips out a box of matches and throws one into the garden. Not surprisingly, the fire turns away from the mansion itself, but it finishes the job of scorching the once-exquisite front yard.

    “Well, back to the catacombs.” He leans down and elbows one of the guards. “You know, you should really take some of those nice horses in the stable and race them. Maybe start a gambling ring.”

    Then he and the rest of the crew take off for the catacombs. When they make it to the pantry, Vo-shai and Freya come to a halt. “Should we?” Vo-shai asks.

    “We shouldn’t,” Freya responds, but she’s already got a barrel under each arm. They load all but one into Vo-shai’s bag of holding, leaving the last to spill onto the floor.

    There’s one more stop once they’ve all dropped through the trapdoor into the catacombs. Z starts heading down the corridor with the others, then stops and turns back. She beheads the dazed rogue.

    “D-mn, Z!” Vo-shai says. “Ice cold.”

    “It’s a favor,” Zavrazina says solemnly. “He betrayed Novikov. He’d be in for it if he lived.” She follows suit with the caster while the others look on. Then she walks past them to lead the party through the catacombs.

    They come back to the surface near the southern edge of the city, the closest Z could get them to Yevgeny’s dacha. It’s also near the city’s cemetery. As she promised Yevgeny, she picks a few wildflowers and lays them on his daughter Kolya’s grave.

    Vo-shai watches from a distance. She didn’t know her mother had a grave in the Republic. She wants to thank Zavrazina for the flowers, but, unsure how to say it, she stays silent.

    The journey back to Yevgeny’s is a quiet one.


    TL;DR: The party investigates Zavrazina's townhouse, and it's up to you, the reader, to decide if breaking and entering or window-peeping is the worse sin. Then it's a quick pop-in to Daddy Novikov's mansion so the party can do a little breaking and entering of their own. Mostly breaking.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    Spoiler: Episode 10
    Show
    Zavrazina sits down in Yevgeny’s kitchen and opens the leatherbound journal she found in Novikov’s mansion. She’s hoping for answers but, true to Novikov’s style, the single page of writing leaves her with more questions:

    My secrets are not here, my child, the journal reads. These letters are merely breadcrumbs, a hint of what you seek.

    “A challenge,” Zavrazina mumbles. “He’s issuing a challenge to come find him.” She closes the journal and shuffles through the letters. Each of the three bear a seal: Empire, Kingdom, and Republic.

    She breaks the Republic seal. This letter contains a poem about an ancient elven city, one Zavrazina knows from folklore, the ruins of which lie under Ai’avara. The Kingdom letter speaks of a dangerous ruby, and the Empire letter instructs to pray at the chaos goddess’ temple, located in the ruined city.

    Not-so-subtle directions. Zavrazina leaves this information to simmer as she goes to meet with the others outside.

    Kaylor, Vo-shai, and Morgen, the latter having returned from his ROSE mission, are locked in a debate about the average silicon content of soil.

    “There should be a large amount,” Morgen says. “Soil is, in large part, made of silica.”

    Vo-shai shakes her head adamantly. “Yeah, maybe sand is,” she argues. “But this is swamp clay. All you’re going to find is hard-packed earth and peat moss.”

    “Anyone want a rum and coke that doesn’t cost $12.50?” Kaylor asks, holding up his alchemist jug of the aforementioned mixed drink.

    This is all strange enough to make Zavrazina forget about the troubling riddle, at least for the time being. “What is going on here?”

    “We’re trying to figure out how much silica I can extract from a 120-foot radius,” Morgen explains excitedly. “After which, I’ll convert whatever I have into glass vials. Then we’ll go into the city and sell them.”

    “Better yet,” Vo-shai interjects, “we’ll fill them with Kaylor’s alchemist jug. That way, we can sell a rum and coke that doesn’t cost $6.50.”

    Zavrazina just stares. Then she starts working the math, maybe to distract herself. “Well, first we need to figure out the silica content of the soil around here. I’m sure I have a book on that.”

    She does. The characters (and the players themselves) put their heads together and determine that, with the percentage of silica in a 120-foot radius circle that is 1 foot deep, there is enough to produce … a lot of vials. Thirty-six thousand of them, to be exact.

    “Cool, well, now there’s no silica for a 120-foot radius,” Morgen says.

    Zavrazina sighs. “There goes another small ecosystem.”

    “Hey, Vo-shai. You got room in your bag for a sh-t ton of vials?”

    “Is that a metric sh-t ton, or a royal sh-t ton?” Freya asks.

    “I don’t know,” Vo-shai says. “How much do 36,000 vials weigh?”

    More scribbling with sticks in the silica-less dirt. “Well, one vial is 5 grams, converted into pounds…” Morgen straightens. “That’s 198 pounds.”

    “Cool. Yeah, I got room.”

    The insanity has become unbearable at this point, and Kara emerges from the ether next to Kaylor. “My gods, you people are ridiculous,” she grumbles. “I’m going to need a drink if you keep up like this.”

    “Oh, you’re still following us around,” Kaylor says. He holds out his alchemist jug. “Want a rum and coke that doesn’t cost $4.50?”

    She takes it. This kicks off happy hour at Yevgeny’s, with Morgen getting so plastered he passes out and Zavrazina drunkenly practicing weapons in the backyard. Vo-shai animates a new zombie from Yevgeny’s boarded-up mine, and Freya just generally stays out of the nonsense.

    ***

    The next morning doesn’t get any less silly, at least for a bit.

    Kaylor wakes up early to make waffles and a homebrew rum and coke syrup. Bleary-eyed, Morgen stumbles downstairs and sits down. The rest of the party trickles in, including Kara, who sits across from Zavrazina.

    Vo-shai laughs. “It’s like you’re looking in a mirror, Z.”

    “No it isn’t,” Zavrazina and Kara protest together, turning to make the same grouchy expression at Vo-shai.

    “Here,” Kaylor says, distributing plates of waffles to everyone at the table. “Stuff your faces.”

    “I won’t be eating,” Kara says.

    “Nonsense!” Freya says, aghast. “You’re far too skinny!”

    “Kaylor,” Morgen says with irritation. “Do you even know the alcohol content of this syrup?”

    “None?” Vo-shai ventures. “It’s boiled.”

    “Exactly! NONE!”

    “I fix,” Yevgeny says, leaning across the table to pour vodka into the jug of syrup.

    “So what are we doing today?” Vo-shai asks Zavrazina, who has been noticeably brooding over her waffles. “What was in those letters?”

    She looks pained. “I hate to say it, but…” She pauses to glance at Kaylor. “I think we’re going to track down Novikov today.”

    ***

    The party departs midmorning, leaving Yevgeny to continue work on his explosive crossbow.

    Morgen crafts a wagon (skeleton wheel installation included) and the group makes the 12-day trip to Ai’avara without incident.In the city, Morgen sells a considerable number of glass vials, and Zavrazina insists everyone buy special gear. “This will be no ordinary fight,” she warns.

    After a failed attempt to intimidate the city folk into revealing a nearby sewer entrance, the party backtracks to an entrance outside of town and drop in. It’s none too perilous finding the ruined city since Morgen’s arcane eye can transverse the sewer network without danger.

    The eye eventually finds the ruined city. It’s vast and mostly crumbled, but the temple at the front and center looks pristine, as if protected by a divine power. The doors at the top of the front steps are open, and Freya spots a small opening near the roof in the back. But the windows are closed off with metal plates, and the place appears to be empty.

    “Found it,” Morgen says. He provides a map, and the party pushes forward.

    As they descend, however, a palpable tingle forms in the air, and suddenly Vo-shai’s undead army disintegrates, and the skeleton wheel with it. “No!” she shouts, reaching for bones that become piles of dust. “What was that?”

    “Someone must not be a fan of necromancy,” Freya says.

    Vo-shai turns to Morgen. “You better make me a skeleton wheel just like that one when we get back to the surface,” she threatens.

    “Don’t worry,” Kaylor says. “I’ll shake him until he gets it right.”

    Despite the threats against fellow party members, the group stays quiet afterward and walk a little closer together. They arrive at the temple a while later and immediately size it up.

    It’s about 100 feet by 300 feet, its balconies hung with banners of Ledray, the goddess of chaos. As the party begins to search for traps, Morgen (with a 27) detects the sound of someone in armor trying to sneak around the other side of the building.

    Zavrazina and Freya go into stealth mode. Kaylor picks up Morgen and Vo-shai and follows.

    They find a man in black and red plate wielding a halberd — waiting, it seems, for the party to come around from the other direction. Zavrazina informs the group that he appears to be Ven’asi, the most ancient kind of elf. An original, so to speak.

    Not one to respect authority, Vo-shai unceremoniously blights the guy. His legendary resistance reduces the damage to half, but doesn’t do much to help him against Zavrazina’s blendering. Then Morgen summons his owl familiar, Rasputin, to “puke fire” on the Ven’asi with dragon’s breath.

    Next, Kaylor lumbers into his range. “Nice pointy stick,” he says, gesturing to the halberd.

    “You too,” the Ven’asi replies, then stops. “You … the Master does not like you.”

    It’s not without reason. After Z gets in another good hit, Kaylor crits with a new ability called Earth Gift for 41 points of damage.

    At this point, the Ven’asi is clinging to life. “Please,” he stutters. “I’m not Novikov. My name is Ivan! I’m just a—”

    “Obviously, we know you’re not Novikov,” Zavrazina spits. “Now, tell us where he is.”

    “I … I …” The elf struggles to put words together. “Look, I was only here to prevent an ambush if the deal went wrong. I—” Suddenly he stops. Then he screams, clutching at his head and squeezing his eyes shut, before he falls writhing to the floor and dies.

    Everyone but Kaylor and Zavrazina stare, wide-eyed. “Ivan,” Vo-shai mutters. “What did you do to get on Novikov’s bad side?”

    Distracted by the horrible death, no one but Kaylor notices Zavrazina freeze as she hears a voice telepathically. “Pity,” it says in a familiar, droll tone. “Just get in here already.”

    “We have to go,” she whispers. The group looks up from the body.

    Kaylor moves to stand in front of her. “We’re going to go in,” he says as she starts to protest. “But I want you to listen to me first. You shouldn’t be the one to kill your father.”

    Zavrazina stares at him blankly. “You don’t understand, Kaylor. It should be me.”

    “No way. There are some things you just don’t get over,” he continues. “Your great-great-great grandmother killed her dad, and she never got over it.”

    “Well, we’ll deal with when we get there,” she says irritably and walks past him.

    The others try to follow as she enters the temple, but a wall springs up between them. Zavrazina turns, momentarily shaken, but steels herself against the surprise. When she turns back to search the room, she notices a ruby on the front altar light up. It starts to cast its light around the room, scanning.

    Zavrazina grits her teeth. “Here I am, Father,” she shouts. “What do you want?”

    No response. She tries to reach out telepathically, but finds herself blocked. “Ah. Ignoring the child, still,” she says. “I suppose nothing changes.”

    Meanwhile, the others remember the hole near the ceiling and go around the back of the temple. Freya climbs the wall, with Kaylor close behind carrying Vo-shai and Morgen.

    At the top, Freya wildshapes into a bat and flies through the hole, activating the guillotine trap within.

    Kaylor’s player: “Well, at least you have a bat’s 3 temporary HP.”
    DM: “And, scary enough, the trap does a whole 2 damage.”


    Hearing that Freya has entered without significant injury, Kaylor starts to feed Morgen through the entrance and realizes he, himself, is blocked by something else. “It’s hallowed ground,” he says to Vo-shai, dropping Morgen through onto the interior balcony and leaving the gnome to fend for himself against the trap (he’s fine). “No undead, and no fairies.”

    “We’ll see about that,” Vo-shai growls, casting dispel magic as Kaylor picks her up and drops her into the temple. To her mild surprise, the spell works, and a bright flash illuminates the temple.

    As Kaylor starts to shove through the hole in the ceiling, Freya’s bat vision picks up on an platinum-haired elf standing near a pillar, one that would block him from Zavrazina’s sight.

    He’s staring right at them. A scowl marrs his noble features. “I see you continue to disobey your father by bringing uninvited guests,” he says.

    On the floor below the balcony, Zavrazina’s head snaps upward toward his voice. “Show yourself!” she demands.

    “I assure you, your friends can see me just fine,” Novikov replies, watching as Kaylor drops down onto the balcony. He sighs. “Have I taught you nothing, Zavrazina? You should—”

    He’s interrupted as Rasputin soars by and unleashes dragon’s breath on the noble.

    Novikov’s eyes narrow. “I suppose this was inevitable.”

    ***

    The fight doesn’t look good for the party. Even though they outnumber Novikov five to one, the shadar-kai noble has more than a few tricks up his sleeves.

    His first move is to turn and fireball the main group. Twice. This gives Zavrazina enough time to teleport up to the other end of the balcony, but she can’t get a good shot on Novikov with the pillar in the way.

    She shoots the ruby instead. Its beam of light splits apart and starts flaring around the room. Pieces of the balcony crumble away.

    “What happens if I destroy this thing?” she shouts to Novikov, drawing back another arrow.

    Novikov’s smug voice echoes across the room. “I invite you to try.”

    While he’s distracted, Freya dashes behind a second pillar to heal herself. Morgen follows. Vo-shai tries to escape by teleporting down to the floor, but she lands in the ruby’s fractured light. She takes enough fire damage to knock her down.

    Zavrazina meets Freya and Morgen at the second pillar. “You take care of the ruby,” she says to Morgen. “I’m going after Novikov.”

    “Got it,” Morgen says. He steps out from behind the pillar alongside Zavrazina and firebolts the ruby. It cracks open further and spills more light and black, swirling spirits into the room.

    An agonized wail emanates from the spirits, a painful screeching that tries to stop everyone in their tracks.

    Morgen’s player: “No worries, I’m good at this. I have a +10 to saves!” *rolls, stares at the die for a second, then up at the DM* “Does an 11 pass?”

    Morgen is paralyzed. So is Zavrazina. Kaylor uses his body explosion feature to knock Novikov prone, but the shadar-kai is fast and stands up almost immediately.

    He turns his back to Kaylor and gives Zavrazina a thin smile. “I’m impressed you and your friends didn’t all die to my fireball.”

    He swings. Paralyzed, Morgen and Zavrazina can’t move, so they take the full damage and Morgen drops. Novikov seems to swell, healing and gaining strength from the fall of his opponent. He swings again and takes down Zavrazina.

    Freya reacts fast, healing Zavrazina and a severely burnt Vo-shai. Barely conscious, Vo-shai teleports back up onto the balcony and casts witch bolt. Zavrazina leaps up and slashes Novikov with rakuyo, to which his thin smile only widens.

    “Ah. Maybe I did teach you well,” he says, hardly acknowledging Kaylor’s warden’s sacrifice attack. He closes his eyes, and Zavrazina, Kaylor, and Freya feel immense mental pain that knocks them all prone.

    Freya is able to heal most, and Vo-shai’s raven familiar flies a potion to Kaylor while she continues using witch bolt. Zavrazina leaps up again and swings at Novikov. This time, he’s prepared, and his riposte throws most of the damage back at Zavrazina.

    Kaylor is not pleased, but with a twee shout of “Whee!” he stands and hits Novikov with tempest assault.

    It’s enough to knock the smile from the noble’s face. “Well,” he says with a sneer, “It must be time to get motivated.”

    Black energy springs from his fingertips as he casts eldritch blast four times, killing Morgen’s and Vo-shai’s familiars and weakening a couple party members. He then takes 20 damage from Vo-shai’s witch bolt.

    Freya does her healing, then spits on the ground and stares Novikov in the eye. “You should apologize to her,” she growls, nodding toward Zavrazina.

    Novikov laughs. “For what? Her existence?”

    “No. For yours.”

    As she says this, Zavrazina lunges and slices her father for 43 damage. He coughs and seems to be nearly dead, but something revives him enough to stay standing. Zavrazina is horrified by this, but even more horrified to realize for the first time that none of his wounds appear to be bleeding.

    “Power is everything, Zavrazina,” he says. “Didn’t I teach you that?”

    “It’s not everything,” Zavrazina whispers, a shell-shocked emptiness forming in her eyes as Novikov shrugs off Kaylor’s attack and Morgen’s firebolt.

    Her father appears to again revive after his injuries. He’s still not bleeding. “I guess I didn’t teach you,” he says, then closes his eyes a second time.

    Zavrazina takes the full brunt of his psychic attack, 33 points of damage. Novikov then turns on Kaylor and strikes him with the predator-to-prey effect, inflicting 25 damage and reducing his threat range to zero.

    Freya sees Zavrazina crumple to the floor and darts past Novikov, provoking for 21 damage. She heals Zavrazina while Vo-shai casts blight.

    Struggling, Zavrazina manages to stand and move in on her father. As he turns, she puts rakuyo’s blade through his heart. “Goodnight, Father,” she says quietly, starting to lower him to the floor.

    Novikov’s laugh is choked. “My dear,” he says as first his limbs, then the rest of his body, turns to snow and ice and starts to melt. “You didn’t think it would be this easy, did you?”

    Zavrazina gazes at the point of her blade, now planted in a shallow puddle of water. “Ah,” she says with an inherited sneer, though she’s shaking. “A simulacrum. I should have known better.”

    She looks up at the others, who limp and wince at bruises as they gather around her. “What was that?” Freya asks, incredulous. “Was that not Novikov?”

    Zavrazina shakes her head. “It’s a test,” she says drily, still unable to hide the fear rising up and threatening to drown her. “And we passed.”


    TL;DR: Early-morning shenanigans with Yevgeny lead way to a much darker afternoon of tracking down a certain elven noble. The ensuing battle leaves everyone, but especially Zavrazina, with a lot more to fear than they originally thought.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    Spoiler: Episode 11
    Show
    Somebody else is writing this, stay tuned (to be edited later)

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Wheeling and Dealing: the Forsaken

    Quick recap: After busting a cabin of mindflayers and ice-bending a squiggle monster to the top of a well, the party finds a hidden box with a letter inside. They don’t open it right away, wasting no time in traveling to Erstonia in the Kingdom to intercept Novikov. Morgen, as has become the norm, disappears mysteriously on ROSE business.

    Spoiler: Episode 12
    Show
    When the party arrives in Erstonia and opens the letter, it reads:

    “Dear daughter— I admit your training has improved, if only slightly. Yet you made a poor decision in letting your pet destroy that crystal, and you are missing far too many signs. Simply put, I am on a mission to bring the Republic back to its former glory, and I won’t have any more interruptions. I may even let you join me in my plan, if only you choose the right path.”

    The letter also includes a riddle Zavrazina knows to be referencing the catacombs beneath Drakkon City, located in the northwest reaches of the Kingdom. Nobody is quite sure what might be hidden there, aside from the riddle’s mention of “three stars,” but right now it is not their main concern.

    Novikov’s ship, the Maelstrom, arrives in Erstonia. The party lies in wait near the center square and watch as Novikov and a black dragonborn leave the ship and head toward them. But then, the dragonborn splits off, leaving Novikov alone.

    Zavrazina starts reaching for rakuyo. Vo-shai eyes Novikov, her mouth a thin line. “Are we ready for this?” she whispers.

    “Sure we are,” Kaylor says, a little too loud. He has no inside voice.

    “I think maybe we should go after the dragonborn first,” Vo-shai says. “I’m feeling a little rusty. And that way, Novikov won’t have any backup once we face him down.”

    “You may be right,” Zavrazina replies. Her hand stays on rakuyo’s hilt. “What do you think, Kaylor?”

    “Alright!”

    Z’s player: “I rolled a 29 for stealth—”
    Kaylor’s player: “I’m running screaming at him, scythe overhead.”
    DM: “Okay, well … roll for athletics? There’s a building between you and him.”
    Kaylor’s player: “Nat 20.”
    DM: “OK, uh, roll a d10 for strength…”
    Kaylor’s player: “I rolled a 10.”


    Kaylor “Kool-Aid Mans” through both walls of the building, bursting in front of the dragonborn with a boisterous “OH YEAH!!!”

    The others run through the alley, excited that Kaylor’s antics worked and ready to practice some new moves. They round the corner to see Kaylor looming over the dragonborn … or what used to be a dragonborn. Its features fade and distort, becoming more humanoid, and some familiar platinum hair sprouts from the top of its head.

    DM: “So, I have a surprise … the guy who looked like Novikov was actually the dragonborn, and you guys were supposed to fight him while the real Novikov got away.”
    Kaylor’s player: “We outsmarted your plan, and thus, outsmarted ourselves.”
    Vo-shai’s player: “We played us like a d-mn fiddle.”
    Freya’s player: “Quick question, does this world have an equivalent to the Geneva Convention?”
    DM: “Haha. That’s funny.”


    Novikov stands before the party and sneers. Four armed men gather around him. “So,” he says, “this is how it’s going to be.”

    He blasts the party with two fireballs in a row, and Vo-shai goes down. Z gets to a better vantage point and starts picking off the mooks with her arrows, while Kaylor swings and hits three of the four, killing one.

    Barely on her feet, Freya throws up an ice wall to block the enemies and heals Vo-shai. Randall runs into the building Kaylor redesigned and casts stinking cloud through a Kaylor-shaped hole in the wall.

    Grateful for the high ground, Z teleports to the top of the ice wall and shoots at the mooks. Her father gives her a calm two-finger salute. She returns with a wry smile.

    Novikov then teleports into the building and downs Randall. He uses Demon Dance on Kaylor. Kaylor responds with a crit on Earth’s Gift and heals himself, pulling the remaining mooks closer through the stinking cloud as he does.

    While Novikov is distracted, Vo-shai sends her crow familiar to heal Randall, and Freya races behind a different building to heal herself. Randall rises and magic missiles Novikov, and Z kills a second mook. The same swing bloodies both of the surviving soldiers.

    Panting, she turns to Novikov. “Are you impressed yet?”


    “You’re starting to get there,” he responds.

    He returns to the doorway of the building and hits Randall and Vo-shai’s familiar, knocking down both. His second use of Demon Dance on Kaylor does enough damage to severely injure Kaylor as well. Kaylor returns some of the damage with his scythe.

    Still low on hit points, Vo-shai misty steps into a nearby abandoned building for line of sight and casts magic missile on a mook, killing him and healing 4 HP. Freya dashes from her own hiding spot to the center square, drops moonbeam, then uses feline agility to return to safety.

    Despite her bold banter, Zavrazina is rattled, and her next few attacks miss the final mook. Instead of fighting back, however, the soldier turns to give Novikov leader bonuses.

    Novikov seethes. “What are you doing? Fight them!”

    Furious at the wasted opportunity, he turns and crits his next attack, downing Kaylor … except this triggers Endurance of the Bear, and the wilden pops right back up with 28 HP. Kaylor’s Tempest Assault hits both Novikov and the last mook.

    Through the window, Vo-shai magic missiles the soldier and heals when he dies. Now free to face Novikov, Zavrazina dives through the Kaylor-shaped hole with her psi blades and crits on Novikov.

    But her father just shrugs. “I guess it’s time to get motivated.”

    “Aw, sh-t,” Vo-shai says from down the street, her voice muffled through the window.

    Novikov takes a deep breath and swings with Steel Unity Strike. Zavrazina manages to stay standing, but Kaylor joins Randall on the ground; the latter dies with the addition of two failed saves.

    Vo-shai watches this happen from her vantage point and grits her teeth. She turns from the window and looks up at the ceiling. “Hey!” she yells. “Kara! Are you still following us?”

    There’s a pause, then footsteps above. “Yes?”

    “We got people down. Can you revive them?” Vo-shai sees an opportunity and blights Novikov. His various abilities reduce the damage to 8 of his 9 temporary HP.

    “I have revivify, yes,” Kara replies.

    “Use it!”

    Freya also witnesses the damage and leaves her hiding place. She drops another moonbeam, then joins Vo-shai in the abandoned building and heals Kaylor.

    Meanwhile, Zavrazina hesitates before swinging the psi blades. “What is it that you want from me?” she asks her father.

    He grins. “Experience.”

    She swings. Her 49 damage is reduced to 23, and Novikov only takes 2 from the moonbeam. He swings back with Visions of Terror, sending Z down into the moonbeam for two failed saves. He then steps out of the blinding light and hits Kaylor twice: once to knock him down, and again for two failed saves.

    Kaylor’s player: “Kaylor will continue obnoxiously clinging to life, despite everyone’s best efforts.”

    Suddenly, Kara appears in the room, reviving Randall and healing Zavrazina.

    Novikov glares. “Your presence is not warranted,” he hisses.

    Kara clicks her tongue. “Take it easy on them, would you?”

    “I am.”

    Vo-shai spends a few uncharacteristic seconds freaking out over everything before casting magic missile. Freya runs out of the building to heal Kaylor and Zavrazina. Randall wakes up to Novikov looming over him, so he disengages and gives Bardic Inspiration to Z.

    Zavrazina uses this to swing at Novikov, then downs a health potion. “Experience?” she says, barely able to catch her breath. “And then what?”

    “Perhaps a place at my side, if only you can stay out of the ground.”

    In Z’s shocked silence, Novikov uses Predator to Prey on both her and Kaylor. Z passes; Kaylor fails and goes down once again.

    Novikov then teleports to Freya. “You’ve thwarted me for the last time.”

    “I see I got your attention,” Freya says with a gulp.

    Novikov hits her, but not hard enough to knock her down. In that timespan, Kara casts Death Ward on Zavrazina and Kaylor and then disappears. Kaylor pulls himself to his feet and lumbers through the building to stand in the doorway behind Novikov.

    “Heeellllllooooo!” he sings, then smacks him.

    Freya Wildshapes into a bear and, growling, Z-snaps at Novikov. Randall takes this distraction to cast magic missile, and Zavrazina’s father is bloodied at last.

    He starts to turn on Randall, but Z gets his attention. “What did you mean by the ‘three stars’ in your riddle? What do you need them for?”

    Novikov sighs. “Would you believe me if I said they were for decorating my Solstice trees?”

    “Give us the information, and at least your death will be worth it.”

    “Prove you can get that far.”

    Zavrazina swings with Green Flame Blade for 46 damage. Novikov crits on his next attack. It downs both Zavrazina and Kaylor, but Death Ward returns them to 1 HP each.

    But then Novikov crits again, and both go down. He then goes after Randall and knocks him unconscious as well.

    He then notices Kara standing at a distance. “Why are you here?” Novikov says irritably. “This is not your fight, woman.”

    “It is when the nefarious deeds outweigh the cost of interfering.”

    While they talk, Vo-shai dashes out of and back into her hiding place to cast spare the dying on Randall, and Freya abandons her bear form to heal Zavrazina.

    “Come on, get up, get up,” she murmurs as Z’s eyes flutter open.

    Zavrazina then lurches to her feet and runs at Novikov, swinging with all her strength for 53 damage. Novikov coughs and staggers back. His expression darkens.

    “Fine,” he says icily. “I guess you want me to try.”

    He attacks the party with psychic energy, causing 11 damage and knocking them prone. Randall takes two failed saves.

    Kaylor dies.

    Novikov follows up by hitting Freya with two attacks and downing her as well. He stares at the growing crowd of onlookers, then into a nearby building at his last standing opponent: Vo-shai.

    “Come on, Kara,” Vo-shai pleads as Novikov approaches. “I know they’ve all said they don’t need your help, but I need you to help them.”

    Kara is unmoved. “They said they did not need me. Who am I to go against them?”

    Panicked and angry, Vo-shai gathers the courage to run into the open and heal Freya before ducking back around a corner. Freya stands slowly and confronts Novikov.

    “How can you do this?” she says, her face stone. “How can you abuse your own family like this?”

    Novikov snarls. “Who are you to judge?”

    “I’m a decent tabaxi, for one. A licensed doctor for two.”

    She heals Zavrazina and Randall, who quickly turns himself invisible. Zavrazina again springs to her feet and runs between Novikov and Vo-shai, dealing 27 damage with her psi blade.

    “You are noble and dutiful to your … friends,” Novikov says. It’s hard to tell if his injuries or his words pain him more. “Perhaps you would make a worthy successor. Perhaps.”

    He lunges to grab something off Kaylor’s body: an amulet of fireball. He throws it down and hits Freya, Zavrazina, and Randall. Z stays standing while the other two go down.

    The fireball barely misses Vo-shai, who runs down the alley with the last of her healing potions to heal Freya. The tabaxi stands and moonbeams Novikov, then heals Randall and ducks into the building Kaylor smashed through.

    Randall, no longer invisible, starts backing away from Novikov. “I’m not scared of you,” he stutters. “I’m just backing up.” He casts magic missile for 21 damage.

    Zavrazina attacks with the hope of swinging three times, but Novikov ripostes her first swings and drops her with 25 damage. He corners Freya and Randall at the end of the alley and drops them both, then turns to attack Vo-shai. She nearly goes down as well, but Kara had silently cast Death Ward on her, so she survives with 1 HP, and Kara heals her for another 6.

    Vo-shai misty steps to Zavrazina and administers a healing potion she finds in her cousin’s pocket. “You can’t just go around killing your family, Novikov,” she says, her throat going tight.

    “It’s worked for me so far.” Novikov’s expression is smooth as Zavrazina stumbles to her feet, but something — maybe pride — glints in his eyes.

    Z moves in. She hits Novikov for 21 damage, of which he takes 6. As he raises his own blade to attack, she puts her hands up. “Take me and let us go.”

    “You are…” Novikov seems to search for the words. “...offering surrender?”

    “That, or my life.”

    He shakes his head. “I thought I taught you better.”

    “It is not low to sacrifice myself for my friends.”

    “Very well,” Novikov says after a moment. “I accept on one condition. The plant,” he gestures to Kaylor’s body, “stays away.”

    Zavrazina’s gaze lingers on Kaylor. “I think that’s what he would have wanted.”

    “Very well. In exchange for your services in the future, I will help you take down this druid that troubles you so. Roland, is it?”

    “Zavrazina!” Vo-shai’s voice rings out across the square. She barely stands, holding herself on the edge of a building. “Don’t do it. You’ve never backed down from a fight.”

    Zavrazina freezes. “I…”

    “You never surrender!”

    With that, Vo-shai starts to cast blight, and Novikov’s attack triggers. It hits everyone but Vo-shai, who is far enough away to avoid it, and kills Freya and Randall. Zavrazina clings to consciousness, and the blight takes hold of Novikov.

    His face twists. He sinks to the ground. “Well … played,” he says to Zavrazina before the life drains from his body.

    ***

    At Vo-shai’s pleading, Kara brings Freya and Randall back to life. Kaylor’s body has long since crumbled, leaving his belongs and a pair of antlers in the pile of splinters in the city square. While the crowd beyond rumbles in confusion, the black dragonborn stepped through the masses to deliver a scroll to Zavrazina.

    He then fades back into the horde of onlookers. Scroll in hand, Z slumps against the wall of the alley and cries.

    Kara walks over to Vo-shai. “You are still terribly injured,” she says. “I have three healing spells—”

    “Give it to them,” Vo-shai says, gesturing to the others. She smiles, but it’s devoid of humor. “I thrive on this, you know. I’m shadar-kai.”

    As Kara leaves, Vo-shai carefully approaches Zavrazina. “Z,” she says. Zavrazina stops crying, but stares straight ahead, not acknowledging Vo-shai or the body of her father slumped next to her on the ground. “Zavrazina,” Vo-shai repeats. “This is important. Listen. I need to know if you want me to spare Novikov.”

    Freya hears this down the alley. She drops her medicine kit.

    “I can do it,” Vo-shai continues. “I will do it, for you. If you think there’s any reason to save him—”

    But it’s too late. Freya, standing a few feet away, casts produce flame on Novikov’s body, killing him for good.

    Behind her, Randall wakes up. He rubs his eyes and looks around the square. “Hey,” he says, “where’s Kaylor?”

    ***

    The next few hours take a toll on the party.

    After the battle, they head to the nearest tavern and split up. However, before leaving the square, Vo-shai makes the local guards swear to preserve the building Kaylor smashed through, and she quietly slips Kaylor’s antlers into her bag of holding. She takes nothing else from the bodies.

    She also watches as a little blond boy comes from the crowd to place a stick with the others where Kaylor fell.

    Randall stays in his room. He, too, is devastated by the loss of Kaylor.

    Freya goes to her room as well. That night, she puts on her finest dress, smooths her fur, and closes herself in her bathroom to wash up, hoping a date will soothe her spirits.

    She practices flirting in the mirror. She runs through her best pick-up lines.

    It doesn’t help.

    Tears start to fall as she disappears into her own thousand-yard stare. Suddenly she starts screaming curses and throwing things around the bathroom. She pounds her fists against the mirror, shattering it.

    In the room across the hall, Zavrazina hears this and bursts out of her room and into Freya’s. “Open up!” she yells through the bathroom door, then hastily picks the lock herself and enters.

    Freya collapses. Zavrazina kneels on the ground with her. “I’ve never willingly killed anyone,” Freya whispers. “Not until today.”


    TL;DR: The campaign takes a dose of Cerebus Syndrome as the party faces down their biggest enemy thus far.

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