Support the GITP forums on Patreon
Help support GITP's forums (and ongoing server maintenance) via Patreon
Results 1 to 15 of 15
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    The Knights of the Brazen Helm, or just the Brasshelms for short – whether you consider them knights, mercenaries or just adventurers, they're definitely a ragtag bunch. Their valiant mission is to "do what the lords don't": to aid citizens with problems that others can't or won't solve, whether that means bodyguard duty, detective work or just good old dungeoneering. Few such guilds last long before turning into plain old sellswords, but the money on the side is just to cover expenses, honestly.

    As a very young and humble organization, the Brasshelms only have a few dozen members for now, but that includes our three... heroes, all from very different walks of life. They receive the surprising honor of being kicked upstairs and shipped off to an unfamiliar environment where they're expected to do the Knights proud with little to no resources.

    Whether the dysfunctional city actually can and will accept their help remains to be seen.







    Hey! As a placeholder-slash-replacement for a game that had to be put on hiatus due to two players becoming unavailable, I'm running a campaign for three good friends of mine. We're using D&D 3.5, with Pathfinder material and some rules liberally sprinkled in; the players have varying levels of experience and optimization skill, but luckily little interest in breaking the game.

    The main structure is what you might call "episodic", but the players have plenty of freedom in between, there's a "rich" setting if I say so myself and it all should hopefully tie together on the long scale.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-07-17 at 08:13 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [3.P]

    The Lore

    Background information will be added here and in the session where it becomes relevant or is otherwise mentioned. Some entries from the previous thread are carried over.
    Includes way more information than you technically need. You should be able to follow just fine even if you don't feel like reading all or any of this.
    The Lore will contain spoilers up to the latest session posted! You should check out The Dewport Knights though.

    The Campaign

    Spoiler: The Dewport Knights
    Show
    Eadmund: Human Magus, 25 years. A rookie "Wanderer's Lantern", a traditional mercenary escort from northern Glacruor. His northern heritage and blonde hair stand out a bit from the tanned people of the Emperor's Bay. Trained in swordfighting and combat magic, wields a peculiar pitch-black scimitar. Outwardly strong and dashing, but actually quite polite, thoughtful and reserved.
    Focused on melee combat, unsurprisingly. Played Icaea in the previous journal.

    Sheng Háldott: Human Inquisitor, 20 years. A young, adventurous man from the southern realm of Graywind. His fair skin, white hair and blue eyes look even more distinctive given his origin. Has a white-ish color scheme in general. A nimble archer with some divine talent. Talkative, outgoing, arrogant. May not always seem that bright, but surprisingly shrewd when he wants to be.
    Optimized for ranged damage and social skills. Actually uses the Sanctified Slayer archetype, replacing Judgment with some Slayer abilities. An old player, but not from the previous journal.

    Wilhelm Widalis: Gnome Somaturge, 59 years old. Lived a boring life as a laborer in Arcagmen until stumbling across the secrets of somaturgy: the power of animating lifeless matter. Looks a bit dishevelled, and his hair begun graying oddly early. His crude dirt golems do most of the walking and fighting while he hangs back. Snarky, but mostly just quiet and lazy.
    Provides expendable tanks and some debuffs. Played Agernásson IV in the previous journal.

    The party starts at 3rd level.

    Spoiler: Layout of Dewport
    Show
    The fourth-largest city of the Cerarian Empire and its most important harbor, located on the Emperor's Bay coast at the mouth of the Barca River. After starting as nothing but a small fort, it has sprawled across the hilly terrain quickly and uncontrollably. Both Imperial and local rulers have been unable or unwilling to maintain order in the city, and it has gained infamy for its crime and corruption. On the upside, it's also a growing center of magical ingenuity, though that aspect tends to get overshadowed by the practical issues surrounding it.



    Translations from Finnish:
    Kukkakortteli = Flower Quarter
    Linnak. = Castle Quarter
    Satamak. = Port Quarter
    Kaljuunak. = Galleon Quarter
    Savuk. = Smoke Quarter
    Jokik. = River Quarter
    Mutak. = Mud Quarter

    Spoiler: Organizations & NPCs
    Show
    Knights of the Brazen Helm
    Founded a little over a year ago by Igrayn Songblood, who inherited the large estate of Randall's Refuge from her uncle, an Imperial General, and decided to use it as a base. The loosely-organized Knights are built upon ideals of courage and charity, turning down no plead for help (except certain personal business) and only charging whatever their clients can afford to pay. The Knights aren't very selective in their application process, believing strongly in equal opportunities and personal growth, but only have a few dozen members for now, including our ragtag party.
    • Igrayn Songblood: Female half-orc. Founder and leader of the Brasshelms, "first among equals". Reputedly an accomplished adventurer, though little of her past is known. Idealistic and charismatic, though not necessarily that good of a speaker. His father was a human blacksmith and her mother an orcish mercenary.

    Edward "Reddy" Steady: Male human. Owner of the Red Dragonfly Inn in the Flower Quarter. Invited the Brasshelms to use his backroom as an office in hopes of getting more customers, but way more friendly and helpful than that may make him sound.

    Mathias Hunley: Male human. Owns a sheltered estate north of Dewport where he breeds and raises valuable animals for sale. The Knights recovered his escaped manticore on their first day in the city. Associated with the Silk Spiders.
    • Amanda: Female human. Hunley's young servant whom Sheng immediately took a shine to and has been keeping in contact with. A bit on the quiet side.

    Silk Spider Cartel
    A powerful criminal empire with its main base in Dewport. Operates all sorts of business, legal and illegal and in-between, from textiles to smuggling to assassination. Basically the most powerful entity within Dewport, limited only by its willingness to act, and hardly even bothers to conceal most of its activities.
    • The Tailor: Male drow. Leader of the Silk Spiders. Has a distinct blue right eye and unconcerned demeanor. The most powerful man in the city, who manages to maintain an air of mystery despite being outgoing, and looks friendly at first sight despite showing streaks of cruelty.
    • Seth: Male half-orc. Officer in Silk Glove Security, the cartel's mercenary branch. Conveniently talkative when drunk. Friends with Reddy and now apparently with Sheng.

    Lucas & Marcel Blaise: Male human, female gnome. Married couple who run Dewport's only open library in the Castle Quarter. Well-versed in magic and other lore.

    Patricia Yewing: Female human. Elderly and somewhat senile. Mother of Bailey Yewing, steward to Count Stonegard.

    Ancelm Widalis: Male gnome. Wilhelm's cousin. Runs an artificer's workshop in the Smoke Quarter. Skilled but eccentric, prone to missing important details in his inventions.

    Iburin & Samuel: Male elf, male human. A doctor who operates a small clinic in the Mud Quarter, and his monstrously strong assistant.

    Cintia Cross: Female human. A bounty hunter, self-proclaimed "the best in town". Skilled and ruthless sniper. One of her prizes was the arts dealer whose death the Knights had to solve.

    The City Guard
    Ostensibly in charge of Dewport's security. In practice, however, they only patrol the Flower Quarter, lacking the resources and effort to spare for the rest of the city. Even in their home territory they're notoriously lazy and probably corrupt, caring more about themselves than the citizenry. They're more than happy to let others do their job for them, though.
    • Captain Colton: Male human. Leader of the City Guard, and seemingly one its few non-rotten apples. Mostly stuck at his desk but will take any excuse to leave and do some fieldwork.
    • Lieutenant Dryden:[/b] Male human. One of the Guard's only two Lieutenants, Colton's sinister left hand so to speak.


    Reverend Sercos: Male human. Cleric of the Reaper of Years and keeper of the city cemetery. Sometimes uses his magic to help Captain Colton with detective work.

    Spoiler: Races
    Show
    Dwarves
    Stout by stature and nature, dwarves are most famous as dedicated artisans and soldiers. They can be found almost wherever there's a good mountain for them to dig into, or rather, out of: they may have spread underground and emerged on the surface, rather than vice versa. Traditional dwarven mountainhomes are rather insular, stratified, conservative and ruled by theocratic upper classes. Dwarves found aboveground are more likely to get along with others, but still retain some of their race's trademark stubborn discipline.

    Elves
    The longest-lived of the common races, elves are further divided into multiple subraces, though high elves interact with others the most and are often considered the "standard". Their homeland lies in vast and distant Speírcrann, though they have an old (and disputed) foothold in Horidea as well. Due in part to their longevity they tend to abhor monarchy and form oligarchic "republics" instead. Despite eventually dying of old age, their appearance remains youthful to the bitter end, unless they continuously draw from their innate talent in magic, which makes them grow old just like any human.
    • Drow
      Drow, also known as dark elves, are an underground subrace that share a mutual grudge with the high elves for reasons the two sides can't really agree on. Through underground passageways they've established small enclaves on, or rather under every continent and can show up in some rather surprising places. In non-elven lands they face far less prejudice, but those who've delved further from the surface and settled the mysterious Underdark have become warped and driven to madness by its corrupting influence.

    Gnomes
    A strange race, short in stature, that likes to live in tightly-knit communities on and under the earth. They tend to define themselves by their craft first and foremost, whether it be magic, art or what they call "science" – mostly just applying magic in new and exciting ways to see what happens. They are more likely than any other race to pick up a new idea and completely roll with it. What pass as gnomish states are usually loose democratic federations of guilds and village councils. Generally seen as light-hearted and harmless, gnomes are usually at their most dangerous when they go abroad to start up a completely benign but "innovative" enterprise.

    Goblinoids
    A diverse ”barbaric” race inhabiting the harsh continent of Gatagor. The vast majority live in tribes, many of which are nomadic, though some have settled down and even founded towns of sorts. The rest tend to form pirate clans, terrorizing the Goblin's Sea and the Shatterstones in particular. Their culture is highly militaristic and personal honor (or at least their own view of it) serves as law. The different subraces have a hierarchy of sorts: goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears (from lowest to highest). The bugbears' only real asset is their size and strength, though, so the more intelligent hobgoblins are typically the ones with actual power while the weak and numerous goblins serve as fodder.
    • Orcs
      As an apparent offshoot of goblinoids, there are many similarities in appearance, language and culture. However, orcs inhabit sandy Vapa Inkoti instead of Gatagor. They form the majority of the population in human-ruled Graywind and Redwater. Much like goblinoids, they are famous for their tribal lifestyle and warlike culture, but also for their crafts, and they're much more ”civilized” and used to city life. Others recognize this: they suffer from way less prejudice than goblinoids, though it's clearly still there, and are ubiquitous as mercenaries all around the Emperor's Bay. Not to say they can't still be brash and intimidating.

    Humans
    Though other races describe them as "nondescript" physically speaking, humans are very diverse culturally and socially. They worship many different gods and pursue different ways of life, but do have a tendency to organize into myriad organizations - more so than any other race - from vast bureaucracies to guilds to military orders to pirate crews to adventuring groups. Their lust for success is only rivaled by their devotion to these groups, which often conflicts with it, and hard work is greatly appreciated. Still, many end up disillusioned and turn to crime or wandering to make their own luck. The time that their home continent Viramnis was united under the Elderland Imperium is long gone, and after its fall they've spread to unsettled regions across the sea.
    • Falazi
      The Falazi are a subrace of humans, native to Falaz'gat. They are especially notable for their silvery hue of their skin, their magical talent and the draconic heritage causing them. In ancient times, they and their draconic patrons put up a good fight, but were eventually conquered by the Imperials, as they refer to the humans of the Elderland Imperium. Despite becoming a minority in their own land, they still remain in the countryside and often rebel against the kingdom that shares their name.

    Halflings
    The first record of halflings is as slaves brought into the Elderland Imperium, but surviving sources disagree on their place of origin. When the Imperium collapsed, they spread around and out of Viramnis. Most halflings travel the world alone or in small nomadic bands, under the patronage of the Dealer of Chance, God of Luck and Thieves. Those who declined its blessings from the start and decided to settle down properly, known as Stronghearts, usually have little patience for their brethren. It's not uncommon for halflings to become criminals, mercenaries or adventurers for the sheer thrill of it, though many don't mind becoming errand boys or messengers instead.

    Spoiler: Other Creatures
    Show
    Dragons
    Despite Sheng's occasional ramblings, dragons are far from commonplace. Individual "true dragons" in particular seem practically unique and very different from each other; in fact, they asexually lay a single egg that only hatches after their death, though breeding with other species can produce strange hybrids. Though there's no doubt that many true dragons exist, almost all are elusive at best and live underground or in the ocean. Other "dragons", like wyverns, are a bit easier to find.

    Manticores
    A fearsome magical beast, the manticore resembles a massive winged lion with spines covering much of its body and a disturbingly humanoid, yet still monstrous face. Very cunning for a beast, but still just a beast, though its cruelty and laughter-like growl may give the impression of frightening intellect. Often inhabits the mountainous wilderness where it can stalk its prey from above.

    Fey
    Also known as fairies, the fey folk are best described as "elementals of the Material Plane", with a direct connection to the natural environment, especially forests. They live and die with the nature they inhabit. They are varied in form and disposition, ranging from affable to mischievous to outright murderous, but their alien sense (or lack) of morality means that any prolonged contact is likely to end in tragedy. They are very rare near populated areas, but the former Elderland peninsula is an infamous – and expanding – center of activity.


    The World

    Spoiler: World Map
    Show


    Click the map to enlarge. Some names in Finnish, translations below.
    Spoiler: Translations
    Show
    Countries
    Harmaatuuli = Graywind
    Punavesi = Redwater
    Uusi/Vanha Pidus = New/Old Pidus

    Regions & Islands
    Jätindyynit = Giant's Dunes
    Kärmeskoto = Wyrmhome
    Liekkivalli = Flamewall
    Muinainmaa = Elderland
    Murskallio = Shattercliff
    Murskivet = Shatterstones
    Pakkasselkä = Frostback
    Perhosniemi = Butterfly Cape
    Rankakivet = Spinestones
    Traakinhammas = Draketooth
    Tuhkatasanko = The Ash Plains

    Seas & Oceans
    Hampainmeri = Sea of Teeth
    Harmaameri = Gray Sea
    Hiidenmeri = Goblin's Sea
    Keisarinlahti = Emperor's Bay
    Kivenheitto = Stone's Throw
    Kuumeri = Moon Sea
    Suurlaine = Great Wake
    Talvivesi = Winterwater
    Valasmeri = Whale Sea
    Vihermeri = Green Sea


    Spoiler: Countries & Cities
    Show
    The Cerarian Empire
    Ceraris is one of the two empires in Viramnis and one of its main military powers. Like most of Viramnis (everywhere but Arcagmen and Horidea), the population is predominantly human. It styles itself the continuation of the Elderland Imperium that ruled the entire continent centuries ago and its primary rival is Ufurca, the other such claimant. Though its military is weaker than Ufurca's, it has more economical and political power as well as more focus on wizardry. The mostly human population is rather mainstream in its beliefs, perhaps emphasizing the Second Judge, God of Law and Justice. Currently ruled by Emperor Janus II Runewall, who vacillates between sentimental and ruthless.
    • Runewall
      The prestigious capital of Ceraris. Shares its name with the ruling dynasty. A major center of population and industry and a base for several important organizations, including the Justiciar Paladins, the wizards of the Runeguard and now the Knights of the Brazen Helm.
    • Barlang
      A large city in northern Ceraris, near the border of Falaz'gat. The heart of the Empire's metalworking industry. Houses a substantial number of falazi who have reluctantly chosen to escape oppression in their homeland.
    • Dewport
      See "Layout of Dewport" above.

    The Ufurcan Empire
    Ufurca is one of the two empires in Viramnis and one of its main military powers. It styles itself the continuation of the Elderland Imperium that ruled the entire continent centuries ago and its primary rival is Ceraris, the other such claimant. Both its politics and culture are heavily militarized and the nation is divided into provinces governed by influential Lord-Generals (and one Lord-Admiral) who tend to feud against each other and even the crown. The population is mostly human and worships (unusually enough) the Ironfist, God of War and Tyranny, whose evil aspects they downplay in favor of emphasizing loyalty and strength. Currently ruled by Empress Parola I Redlare, whom many see as weak for her peaceful views on politics.

    Spoiler: Continents
    Show
    Viramnis
    As the homeland of the human race, Viramnis was united under the Elderland Imperium for a thousand years before it was shattered by a massive civil war, allowing the modern nations to form over the next several centuries. Actually used to be connected to Gatagor, but the continent was split in two by the Imperium's use of the world-rending artifact known as the Firmament, allowing them to win their massive war against the goblins inhabiting it. Viramnis is diverse, but rather fertile and the most densely populated. Most of its countries are human monarchies, but Repesa is a theocratic city-state and Horidea stands out as a high elven republic. Ceraris, Ufurca and Glacruor are the primary military powers.

    Spoiler: Other regions
    Show
    Shatterstones
    A large archipelago right between Viramnis, Vapa Inkoti and Gatagor. It was created when the artifact known as the Firmament shattered the land bridge between modern-day Viramnis and Gatagor. The islands are extremely fertile and rich in minerals, but constantly have to deal with abnormal weather, other magical phenomena and abundant pirates. They are an area of great interest for many nations, which have long tried to colonize them with varying levels of success.


    The Magic

    Spoiler: Greater Gods
    Show
    Deities are generally considered genderless and physical representations are rare though not forbidden. Most are rather non-interventionist, either preferring or forced to act through servants, and many different interpretations exist of practically all of them.
    Moral and metaphysical alignment aren't considered entirely synonymous, nor is worshipping an Evil deity illegal, even if many are frowned upon. Some have established roles in society.

    Second Judge
    God of Law and Justice. Lawful Good. Obviously a rather popular god, and probably the one with the most paladin orders devoted to it. Priests and devotees are to study and possibly teach law, but normal priests don't actually practice it, trusting the Second Judge's earthly representatives - the justice system - to work under its blessing. Often seen as a strict but just and righteous patron.

    Mother of Nations
    God of Life and Healing. Neutral Good. One of the very few to have a gender solidly associated with it. Understandably popular and present in everyday life, and often the subject of "routine" prayers for health and safety. Its devotees often operate hospitals and smaller clinics, though some see them as unnecessarily reliant on magic for their healing.

    Wavestrider
    God of Water and the Seas. Neutral Good. Understandably respected by seafarers all over the world. The Wavestrider's priests are generally responsible for blessing newly built ships, for instance, and most larger vessels have small shrines on board as well.

    The Reaper of Years
    God of Death and the Afterlife. Neutral Evil. Whether the Reaper actually brings death or simply takes care of the aftermath is a matter of interpretation, but in either case its clerics rarely cause any trouble and have an important role in society. They are generally responsible for tending to the dead and their graves, and abhor undeath as an insult to their god's domain.

    Spoiler: Magical Items
    Show
    Alchemist's fire
    A sticky black liquid typically carried in small, resilient flasks. It has to be carefully procured and bottled by trained professionals, as it ignites immediately and violently upon any contact with oxygen or too much heat. Small amounts simply burn – even in water – but larger batches may result in a dangerous explosion. Despite its obvious risks, the potential applications of this proto-napalm make it cautiously popular among militaries, pirates and many others.

    Wyrmglass
    Depending on the particular item, wyrmglass can resemble glass, marble, steel or anything in between, but it is always very smooth, shiny and pitch black. Genuine wyrmglass is (or rather was) forged with a combination of dragonbreath, rare materials and powerful magic, cooperative dragons being in rather short order for a while now. Even the best modern replications are second-rate knock-offs at best. A wyrmglass blade is extremely sharp, durable, almost universally magical in some way and certainly very, very valuable.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-02-23 at 01:20 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Entry #1: Knights Arrive In City

    In which three strangers are given a business to run and end up looking for missing pets instead.

    Spoiler: Session Log
    Show
    2nd of Oak Moon 1985 – Randall's Refuge, Runewall, Ceraris

    Spoiler: Due for Dewport
    Show
    It's been a pretty cold winter: even the generally warm Empire of Ceraris has a layer of snow on the ground. The three Knights only get a short break to recover from New Year's before each of them is summoned to a special meeting with Igrayn Songblood, the leader of the Knights of the Brazen Helm. They've seen each other around the Brasshelm base, but never actually worked together before. Now they meet at the gates of Randall's Refuge, a massive walled estate near the edge of Runewall, the Cerarian capital. The gates stand wide open and a decorative brazen helm is nailed into the wall above them.

    Sheng hears heavy footsteps and turns around to see a human-shaped blob of dirt and mud, a brazen helm covering what serves as its head. He turns his gaze slightly upward to see Wilhelm the gnome sitting on the golem's shoulders. Eadmund walks up while Sheng's busy gawking at them. The three introduce themselves properly and agree to proceed into the Refuge.

    A large courtyard is flanked by buildings on three sides, each already a mansion in itself; at the far end stands the main hall, where Igrayn is supposedly waiting for them. As they step in, they see her standing at the top of a staircase: a tall and bulky half-orc woman, her grayish-green skin mottled with scars, with a wide smile on her face. There's another Knight in the room, chewing on an apple in the corner, but he leaves sheepishly when he realizes there's some kind of meeting going on.

    Igrayn, in her best saleswoman voice: ”Greetings! I hope the new year has begun pleasantly for you as well. In any case, I have great news for you: the Knights of the Brazen Helm have gotten their first real opportunity to widen their operation! A citizen appreciative of our cause has decided to donate us the premises and aid to found a base in another city.”

    Sheng: ”And let me guess, you want us to run this place?”

    Igrayn: ”Do you know why our iconic helm is one of brass?”

    Everyone: *sigh*

    Igrayn: ”Because despite its humble ingredients, well-polished brass can shine as bright as gold! It is a principle of ours to be as equal as possible and offer everyone the same chance to shine.”

    Eadmund: ”How exactly did you select us three for this?”

    Igrayn: ”We... had a raffle at the New Year's party here in the Refuge.”

    Sheng: ”And who picked out the winners?”

    Igrayn: ”I believe it was... Franklin? I hope you can imagine, we were all rather drunk at the time. But that doesn't matter! If you choose to accept this offer – a great opportunity, really – your transport will depart in three days from the gates of the Refuge.”

    Wilhelm: ”Wait, hold on, what even is this other city? What are we supposed to do when we get there?”

    Igrayn: ”Oh, of course! Your destination is the proud city of Dewport, on the coast. You are supposed to meet an Edward... from the Red Dragonfly, apparently.”

    The three Knights only have a vague idea of where Dewport is even located. They briefly consider whether the ”Red Dragonfly” could be some kind of infernal cult looking for sacrifices, but eventually decide it sounds more like a bar of some sort.

    Sheng: ”And we don't even need to send any money back to Runewall?”

    Igrayn: ”No, you're expected to spend it on your own, for the best of the Knights.”

    Sheng: ”Then this sounds pretty good!”

    Igrayn: ”Well, I'm glad you all accept! We'll send some equipment ahead of time, so you just meet at the gates in the morning three days from now! Prepare well!”


    They do just that, and when they meet again, there's a covered wagon waiting for them. The driver, a human man, waves out to them: ”Are y'all the Knights I was supposed to pick up?”

    Wilhelm: ”You see anyone else around?”

    Driver: ”Hey, it'd be pretty awkward if I drove off with you and the others just happened to be late or something. Either way, climb in back and we'll be off, I suppose. We have a three-day drive ahead of us. Better wrap up warm!”

    Eadmund: ”Before that, mind if I ask your name?”

    The driver seems confused at first, and then almost moved to tears: ”M-my name is Carlos. Geez, it's been a while since anyone asked me that... they all just take me for granted, y'know? 'Hey, drive me to Runewall!' 'Hey, pick up those guys!' I mean, like –”

    Eadmund: ”Yeah, they sure do.”

    Carlos: ”...”

    Eadmund: ”...”

    Eadmund climbs in back, and so do the others... even the golem, which makes the wagon bounce and creak rather worryingly.

    Carlos: ”Oi, what are you doing back there!? Mind leaving the big guy out?”

    The golem ends up just walking next to the wagon the whole way.

    Carlos makes them some simple meals and plays his harmonica when they make camp for the night. Three days later they arrive in Breakpool, a small coastal town where they're transferring to a ship.

    Carlos: ”Well, I'll be off then. Have a nice rest of the trip!”

    Eadmund: ”Hey, one last thing! Take this gold piece as a tip. For the harmonica and everything.”

    Carlos, once again almost moved to tears, drives off towards more adventures and ungrateful customers.

    The Knights board the small trade ship Janina. On the way they ask the sailors if they know about the Red Dragonfly, but despite stopping in Dewport pretty often, the only watering hole they really visit is the Fireside Tavern near the docks. After four days, on a clear morning, the Knights finally catch their first glimpse of Dewport: between a wide river mouth and a harbor on the seashore rise high cliffs and hills, crowned by a walled castle on the tallest summit. Behind and around the castle they see the smoke rising from thousands of chimneys as the city sprawls over the hills and along the river. As the Janina hastily unloads its cargo, the Knights wander off and decide to visit this Fireside place for further clues. Wilhelm conjures a new golem from the roadside mud and starts riding around again.

    Spoiler: Getting Reddy
    Show
    Sheng slams the doors open: ”I have arrived!”

    It's still before noon, so the tavern is pretty much empty albeit still cozy. The eponymous fire pit in the middle of the main room only has small cinders burning in it, and the only people in sight are two old men playing cards at a side table. The Knights walk up to the counter and try calling out to the bartender:

    Eadmund: ”Anyone here?”

    Sheng: ”We're looking for the Red Dragonfly!”

    A man appears from the curtained back room: ”Why, welcome to the Fireside! But, uh, may I ask why you can't just drink here instead?”

    Sheng: ”We're looking for a certain Edward, and we're supposed to meet him there.”

    Bartender: ”Edward? What's he done this time?”

    Sheng: ”What do you mean, 'this time'?”

    Bartender: ”Uh... never mind. But anyway, you know the Flower Quarter?”

    Wilhelm: ”The red light district?”

    Bartender: ”N-no, just the city center. I think the Red Dragonfly is past the temple and to the north of the main boulevard. You should find it just fine.”

    Sheng: ”Alright, thanks! But first, I'll have that drink you were talking about. I've been on a ship for days! Your cheapest stuff, please!”

    Eadmund: ”It's still morning and there was definitely booze on board.”

    Sheng: ”You know, us humans need to ground ourselves after spending time at sea.”

    Wilhelm and Eadmund (who is very much a human himself) roll their eyes and walk outside. The bartender hands Sheng a mug of Dewport Ale, a vaguely booze-like brown-ish liquid, which he decides to down in one chug. He keeps a poker face despite the horrible taste, slams some copper pieces on the counter and leaves quietly.


    The Knights walk up the main boulevard towards the city's hilly center. They pass a large park with a tall temple towering over the trees. Nobody can tell at a glance whose temple it is, but Sheng prattles some ”interesting trivia” about dragons liking to perch on roofs just like that (which Eadmund totally buys for some reason). After some asking around, they find a rather modest-looking tavern. There's a sign with a bright red dragonfly painted on it and a brass helm nailed over the door.

    Sheng slams the doors open: ”I have arrived!”

    In doing so, he knocks over a short man with a thick red beard who was standing behind the door. A little dazed, he laughs: ”So ya have! I've been waiting for ya! The name's Ed Steady, but ya can just call me Reddy!”

    With a wink, he makes finger <s>guns</s> crossbows and stands up. ”Welcome to the Red Dragonfly! I got it all prettied up just for ya!”

    What the Knights see is a pretty simple hall with a counter, fireplace and four tables. There are two doors into the back and a staircase leading up. Mediocre at best. A tiny tumbleweed of dust rolls across the room.

    Reddy: ”And what are yer names, then?”

    ”Sheng Háldott!” ”Wilhelm Widalis.” ”Eadmund. Just... Eadmund. With an 'a'.”

    Sheng: ”So... you're Edward? The guy we were supposed to meet?”

    Reddy: ”Right! As I said in the message, I'm donating a workspace to ya. So the Knights can operate in Dewport, y'know?”

    Sheng: ”Is that seriously everything? What do you gain from this?”

    Reddy: ”Well, ehm... the Dragonfly isn't doing so great, ya know? Don't get that many customers these days, so I was hoping you'd attract 'em... maybe do some good while you're at it.”

    Sheng: ”Is there really nothing less... conspicuous?”

    Reddy: ”The back room of a tavern no one visits ain't inconspicuous enough for ya?”

    Sheng: ”Oh, don't take it like that! Pour me a drink, would you? The second cheapest you've got!”

    Reddy: ”I suppose that'd be Dewport Brew, then.”

    Sheng: ”Uh...”


    Eadmund walks over to the smoldering fireplace and lights it with a magical Spark. ”You really are trying to get plastered by noon, aren't you? So where are we supposed to work?”

    Reddy shows them the storage room, where he has cleared a bit of space to set up a table and some empty containers for the Knights to use. On the table, Reddy spreads open a large map of Dewport: the main city is about three miles across, though the sprawl extends beyond that. It is divided into seven areas, which Reddy describes briefly:
    • Flower Quarter: The main center of the city, where most of the middle class lives. Relatively safe and comfortable compared to the rest of the city, for ”honest businessmen such as himself” as Reddy puts it. Pretty much the only area the City Guard has any real control over, for whatever it's worth.
    • Castle Quarter: Surrounded by stone walls and inhabited by the upper class. Count Stonegard's castle itself has an additional set of walls.
    • Port Quarter: The harbor, obviously. Very busy, though not the biggest port in the region by a long shot.
    • Galleon Quarter: A large walled base for the Cerarian Navy. Rather isolated, for the most part.
    • Smoke Quarter: An artisan's district, basically, where most of the main forges and other workshops are located.
    • River Quarter: Where most of the working class lives. Almost all inland traffic in and out of the city passes through here, including smaller ships coming down the River Barca.
    • Mud Quarter: ”How should I put it...” ”A slum?” ”A slum.”

    Spoiler: The Hunley Incident
    Show
    As Reddy is explaining the map and the city's sorry state, they hear a loud noise from the front door and rush out of the storage room. A young woman with dark braided hair and a servant's dress has rushed inside, looking clearly exhausted: ”I-is this the Red Dragonfly?”

    Reddy gets behind the counter: ”Oh, a real customer! How can I help ya?”

    ”M-my name's Amanda. I'm looking for the Brasshelms. I saw a poster at the market.”

    Reddy: ”Right, I took those there yesterday.”

    Sheng: ”Seriously...?”

    Amanda: ”In any case, my Master has some very important job for them. They can help, right?”

    Sheng: ”Yes, of course, but you must be thirsty! Reddy, bring out your fifth cheapest stuff for our beautiful client!”

    Eadmund: ”Seriously...?”

    Reddy brings out a bottle of gnomish wine and pours some into a glass, which Amanda cups awkwardly with both hands. ”I suppose it's alright, if you don't mind the earthy aftertaste... I don't really drink that much, especially in the mornings... No, wait, we really should get going now! I can explain more on the way, my Master's estate is about six miles north of the city.”

    Reddy enthusiastically promises to get some tea ready for their return. Amanda has a horse, but she walks with the others until her feet start to hurt. Sheng lays it on pretty thick.

    Sheng: ”So, fair lady, who is this Master of yours?”

    Amanda: ”His name is Hunley. He raises valuable animals for sale, like this horse here. I really shouldn't talk too much, I just need to get you there...”

    Wilhelm: ”Not suspicious at all.”

    Sheng: ”My lady, surely you understand, whatever you can tell us is very helpful. If he has a job for us, we should prepare as well as we can. I promise we will protect you from whatever may happen.”

    Eadmund and Wilhelm roll their eyes in unison pretty much whenever Sheng speaks to Amanda. The golem would if it could.

    After a bit more persuasion, Amanda finally caves. She says Hunley has some special projects on the side, raising some more... exotic beasts... and two days ago one of them got away. She doesn't even know what it was, but it bit off another servant's head in the process. Hunley immediately sent her to get help from the city, but she had no idea where to look and was too scared to return empty-handed.

    Sheng: ”So, what kind of monster was it? Dragon, griffin, manticore...?”

    Wilhelm: "Vampire horse?"

    Amanda: ”You really can't tell him, please! Just pretend you don't know anything!”


    The city sprawl thins out and ends after a couple of miles, leaving only some scattered houses here and there. The four take a side road, which takes them to another side road, and eventually they see Hunley's rustic manor peeking from between the trees. Some of them note the conspicuous lack of birds or any other animals in the area. As they reach the porch, Sheng tries to slam open the doors, only to find that they won't budge.

    Amanda pulls out a key with a little smirk on her face. She unlocks the door, and Sheng slams open the doors: ”I have arrived!”

    The racket frightens a nearby servant, who says he'll get Master Hunley, but hardly has time to move before someone comes stomping down the stairs: a graying man, either balding or pulling his hair out. Probably both. ”And-who-are-you-then?” he asks in rapid-fire hysterics, before noticing Amanda behind them. ”So you finally brought someone!? About time! I hope it's not too late already! So who are you supposed to be?”

    Sheng: ”We are the Brasshelms, a knightly order from a far-off continent –”

    Eadmund: ”The capital. Of this very country.”

    Sheng: ”Then why would we take a ship? In either case, we're here to solve whatever problem you have, as soon as you just explain it to us.”

    Hunley: ”I-I suppose I don't have much choice, do I? Follow me then!”

    As he leads them into the back, he gives meaningful glances to Wilhelm's golem and Amanda. The latter sighs and brings out a dustpan, trying to clean up the dirt trailing behind the golem. Hunley just takes them into the back hall for some privacy.

    Hunley: ”So what do you know so far?”

    Sheng: ”Nothing, except that your name is Hunley and Amanda here fetched us to fix a problem of yours.”

    Hunley: ”Right... So, I raise animals and sell them, some for work and some for leisure. Rich, distinguishing folks in particular are ready to pay a lot for exotic beasts. However, one of my most valuable products ran off two days ago.”

    Sheng: ”And what exactly was this 'product'?”

    Hunley: ”A... manticore.”

    Sheng barely resists the urge to gloat about how he ”freaking called it”. He can't really recall what a manticore is, though, unlike Eadmund, who's able to accurately describe one from personal experience.

    Hunley: ”So, I was in the process of refining a tamer breed of manticore with fewer superfluous spikes, easier to ride on.”

    Eadmund: ”Why would anyone want to ride a manticore?”

    Hunley looks at him like he just asked the stupidest thing ever. ”Who wouldn't want to ride a massive winged lionbeast that can fling spikes from its tail?”

    Sheng: ”We're totally on the same page, you and I. But how did it get away in the first place?”

    Hunley: ”I swear, this is the first time this has ever happened. It was supposed to be sedated, but while being moved from one enclosure to another, it suddenly killed its handler and flew off. I've had my servants circling the forests since then, watching the skies, and they swear it hasn't left the area, but I obviously can't send them after it.”

    Eadmund: ”You want him back alive?”

    Hunley: ”Absolutely. That animal is extremely valuable. I'll give you some nets, and these little balls here. They have the sedative we issued before, but it's the best we have, so...”

    Sheng: ”Do they work as bait or anything?”

    Hunley: ”Heavens, no. You'll have to physically feed them to it.”

    With little further instruction, he basically pushes them out of the back door and sends them into the forest, only yelling out a brief warning: ”Its claws have been cut, so that's good, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous!”

    Spoiler: Maneater Manhandlin'
    Show
    The Knights don't need to go far into the snowy woods before finding tracks on the ground. They're clearly not the manticore's, though: there's several human-sized tracks crisscrossing the area but ultimately heading in the same direction. The group considers several scenarios, but there's no signs of a struggle, so it doesn't look like the manticore and these other people have met each other yet. Sheng, a practiced tracker, has little trouble following them, while the others walk behind him.

    With his eyes on the ground, Sheng notices he's about to step into a snow-covered bear trap. Raising his view, he notices a dead deer surrounded by a pool of blood, very conspicuously lying in the middle of a clearing. There's no immediate sign of what killed the deer, so everyone assumes it wasn't the manticore. Looking around, they notice a person skulking in the bushes by the clearing, trying to multitask between watching the sky, the deer and now the Knights. Sheng draws his bow and contemplates shooting first.

    Eadmund stands up straight and gives the figure a friendly wave. It flinches and hides behind a tree, only to slowly walk out a moment later. It's a young man, pointing a loaded crossbow at them with shaking hands.

    Hunter: ”Bugger off, we're hunting here!”

    Sheng: ”What are you hunting for? The manticore?”

    Hunter: ”Yeah, Uncle said there was good money in it!”

    Sheng: ”Well, problem is, we're supposed to bring the animal back alive.”

    Hunter: ”That's obviously not going to happen! You best leave, or I'll shoot!”

    Sheng: ”What's your name?”

    Hunter: ”Nuh-uh, what's yours?”

    An awkward silence.

    Sheng: ”You want to see who's the better marksman?”

    Hunter: ”...Alright Stephen, you come out too.”

    Another young man emerges on top of the 10-foot ledge to the left of the clearing, holding a bow. ”Dammit Amadeus, you didn't need to blow my cover.”

    Sheng: ”Is that deer supposed to be bait?”

    Amadeus: ”Um... duh?”

    Sheng: ”You do know manticores are herbivores, right?”

    Amadeus: ”...Uncle didn't even mention what they look like, did he, Stephen?”

    Sheng: ”This obviously isn't going to work, that thing is very dangerous and you're just going to get yourselves killed. Are you two experienced hunters?”

    Amadeus: ”Obviously, don't I look like it?”

    Sheng: ”We could have use for you. We're founding an organization... a sect of sorts in Dewport, and we'd be happy to have any recruits we can find. We can provide food, equipment, training...”

    Despite the situation, Amadeus actually seems a bit curious. He starts cautiously approaching Sheng. ”A sect? That sounds kinda spooky. The other stuff, though...”

    Stephen isn't nearly as convinced: ”Amadeus, for gods' sake...”

    The Knights see movement behind the treetops. Out of nowhere, two large spines shoot through the air and hit Stephen in the back. He falls to the ground, yelling out in pain and surprise. A snow-white manticore flies up above the trees and heads straight towards the clearing, diving in to attack.


    Sheng's quick Nerveskitter gives Eadmund enough of a boost for him to cast Enlarge Person on himself and quickly hop in front of the other Knights, readying his jet-black scimitar. The manticore decides to change direction, circling around and landing over the prone Stephen. Sheng shouts a quick warning, but it's only enough to let Stephen roll around and get a good look at the manticore before it bites off most of his face and leaves him bleeding on the ground. With a furious scream, Amadeus lets loose a crossbow bolt that misses the manticore by about a mile.

    Wilhelm dismounts his golem and flings a clump of Clinging Earth at the manticore, sticking to its wings and slowing its movements – since there's snow on the ground, he uses the dirt in his Handy Haversack – and orders his golem to move in for the attack. Eadmund takes this opportunity to clamber onto the ledge – not difficult, as he's currently 12 feet tall himself – and bravely latch onto the manticore, but is left holding only a patch of the beast's fur as it sinks its jagged teeth into his arm and flies off. However, its muddied wing-beats are sluggish enough for Sheng to follow it with some help from Expeditious Retreat, clearing the ledge in a single leap, and yell out a magical Command, ordering it to very simply ”Drop!”

    The manticore lands in the woods some distance away, Sheng and Eadmund giving chase. Meanwhile, Wilhelm's golem brings Stephen's limp body down from the ledge (gently, by golem standards). He is indeed still alive, though just barely, and seems to cough up some blood when Wilhelm turns his head to the side. With magical help he might even have his pretty face back. After determining that Stephen should survive, probably, maybe, Wilhelm quite matter-of-factly tells the panicked Amadeus to watch his friend and joins the chase on his golem's shoulders.

    Sheng finds the manticore in another clearing, twitching and growling as the magic compels it to lie still on its stomach. Those precious few seconds allow him to successfully throw a net on the beast, even though he fumbles around with it and has to untangle it from another that he'd shoved in the same bag. An almost comical cloud of swirling netting, snow and mud is born as the Enlarged Eadmund hops into the fray and does his best to grapple with the manticore. He may be big and strong, but this is quite literally his first rodeo, and he can't seem to get a firm grip on the slippery bastard. Sheng and Eadmund cooperate to force-feed it the sedative balls one by one, Eadmund getting a faint glimpse of what it's like to try and give a cat some medicine. The manticore nearly breaks free at one point, escaping from Eadmund and almost the net as well, only to be tackled to the ground by what looks like a golem-shaped cannonball charging in from the side. Having to deal with a magical mudman attempting some kind of improvised leglock and enough sedatives to knock out a dire elephant, the beast's body decides to just give up and falls to the ground unconscious.

    Sheng doesn't waste time bolting off towards the manor to fetch some help with the sleeping manticore, poking Stephen with his Wand of Lesser Vigor as he passes by. He slams the doors open: ”I have arrived!”

    Hunley winces and really wishes people would stop bashing his things around.


    However, while Sheng's gone, three more hunters emerge from the woods near the manticore. One of them, a bearded older man, steps up and aims his crossbow.

    Uncle: ”Thanks an awful lot for taking care of the beastie for us, but we'll be handling it from here.”

    Eadmund: ”Sorry, we got here first.”

    Uncle: ”Whatcha gonna do about it?”

    Eadmund: ”Hah!”

    The man fires a bolt at the still-Enlarged Eadmund, but he knows to expect it and manages to dodge.

    Uncle: "These bolts were meant for the manticore, anyway!"

    Eadmund charges forth, enchanting his sword with sparkling Frostbite and swinging it at the shooter, who hops back and barely avoids it. The man quickly cranks his repeating crossbow and fires a second bolt, only to hit another tree in the chaos. The two other hunters retaliate, swiping at Eadmund with swords and spears, but he doesn't mind such (proportionately) small cuts. With one deft strike, he takes down the spearman and leaves him shivering on the ground as icy magic rushes into his body. The shooter is starting to panic and furiously cranking his crossbow, but misjudges Eadmund's extended reach and takes a freezing slash across the face, going down for the count. That leaves just the third one for the golem to grab and suplex over its head, making an anti-climactic ”fwumph” as the hunter hits the soft snow but is knocked out nonetheless.


    Wilhelm returns to the ledge and shouts out to Amadeus, who's still watching over Stephen: ”How's your friend looking?”

    Amadeus: ”His, uh, blood is flowing. That's... good and bad, right?”

    Wilhelm: ”He looks much better already. His face is mostly back.”

    Amadeus: ”Uh... have you run into my Uncle yet?”

    Wilhelm: ”Yeah, we've got three unconscious guys tied into a nice bundle up here. Tried to attack us and take the manticore. One has a beard, is that him?”

    Amadeus stands up and gives him a long, blank stare. With a quick ”Welp!” he dashes into the nearest thicket and disappears. Wilhelm doesn't bother going after him, instead ordering the golem to bring Stephen so they can tie him up with the others.


    After a nice leisurely chat with Amanda, Sheng returns with an ecstatic Hunley and a large cart pulled by three grunting servants. He sees the tied-up hunters and receives a brief explanation. The servants start trying to hoist the sleeping manticore onto the cart.

    Sheng: ”Any idea who these men might be?”

    Hunley: ”None whatsoever. Probably just some brigands from Sweetstone, that nearby village. I know there's always someone skulking around, waiting for a chance to nab a big prize...”

    Sheng: ”Are these your lands, officially?”

    Hunley: ”Yes, so what they're doing is doubly illegal!”

    Hunley says he'll have the hunters delivered to Sweetstone, where the local authorities can take care of them. He's too happy to worry about one getting away. He offers the Knights a pretty good reward of 3000 silver, which Sheng slowly haggles up to 3900 by referring to unexpected complications, reaffirmed confidentiality and future investments. Hunley gives up, telling the Knights to stop by if there's something he can help with, and promising to put in a good word. The manticore is worth far more anyway.

    Spoiler: First Contact
    Show
    Wilhelm: "Man, I actually had to get off the golem. My legs kinda hurt." (No, they don't.)

    Sheng: "Yeah, I know right! I almost got hit that one time!" (No, he didn't.)

    Sheng says she'll see Amanda later and the group walks back to Dewport. The sun has already set by the time they make it back to Reddy's place, where he's been waiting with anxious excitement.

    Sheng: ”Bring out your... seventh cheapest stuff, we're celebrating!”

    Reddy, counting with his fingers: ”Alright, Ufurcan cider coming up. I really should take a proper inventory...”

    They spend what must be several hours laughing over food and drinks.

    Wilhelm: ”Hey, how about that time Eadmund stumbled face-first into that snowbank?”

    Eadmund: ”Which time?”

    Wilhelm: ”The fourth, I think?”

    Reddy's laughter is interrupted by something and he freezes, staring out the window in silence. Wilhelm and Sheng follow his lead, though Eadmund is too focused on his tea to notice. The high window shows the roof of a fine, black carriage stopping in front of the house. There are footsteps and a massive orc in dark armor... doesn't pull a Sheng, opening the doors gently and allowing a smaller figure to enter, with another orc following after. Eadmund waves a friendly hello, only now noticing the others' grim looks.


    Standing inside the Red Dragonfly is a male drow wrapped in a long cloak of dark purple silk. His long white hair and red left eye, typical for a drow, are outshadowed by his right eye, which seems to shine with a bright blue light; despite his otherwise relaxed demeanor, the Knights feel like that right eye is staring right through them. The man has a tremendous chilling presence, even more so than the 8-foot-tall orcs flanking him. With a smile on his face, the man knocks his ebony cane on the floor twice.

    Drow: ”Ah, Edward! It must have been years! How are the wife and kids?”

    Reddy: ”Ain't got any. Never did.”

    Drow: ”And whose fault is that?”

    He turns towards the Knights: ”But you three are new faces. It has come to my knowledge that today you helped a business associate of mine solve a serious and frankly very dangerous incident caused by his own negligence. You basically did me a favor as well, and I hope to see you Bronzeshields in the future as well.”

    Eadmund: ”We're, uh... we're the Brasshelms...”

    One of the orcs whispers in the drow's ear. ”Of course! The Brasshelms.”

    Sheng: ”Um, excuse me, but who exactly are you?”

    Drow: ”Oh! I'm terribly sorry. You may call me the Tailor. No need to introduce yourselves, I already know.”

    Wilhelm: ”Well that isn't creepy at all.”

    The Tailor: ”Either way, I'm sure this is the beginning of a long and bountiful cooperation. You're newcomers to Dewport, correct? If there's anything you need, just speak to me... though I'm sure my old friend Edward can help you as well.”

    With another two knocks of his cane, the Tailor and his orcs are gone as quickly as they came. Reddy shakes off his chill: ”Is there any more of that tea...?”

    Sheng performed a thorough scan of the Tailor's alignment during the conversation, and seemed to succeed in concealing his glowing eyes as he did so. He got no response, implying True Neutrality, which he finds suspicious and just assumes it's being magically hidden. He doesn't mention it to the others, though.

    Sheng: ”Reddy, just who was that?”

    Reddy, pouring himself a whiskey because Eadmund drank all the tea: ”The Tailor is the highest leader of the Silk Spider cartel, and basically the most influential person in Dewport.”

    Sheng's heard of the Silk Spiders before. They operate all over the Emperor's Bay, but he had no idea they were based in Dewport of all places. In addition to their ”legitimate” business in the spider silk trade, they basically run all sorts of organized crime.

    Wilhelm: ”Like what? Just murders, robberies...?”

    Sheng: ”Oh, you know it! And they make clothes, too!”

    Reddy: ”Damn good ones, if I may add.”

    Eadmund: ”You said he was the most influential person in town?”

    Reddy: ”Pretty much, yeah. I'd say Count Stonegard, but he's basically in the Tailor's back pocket, so... Everyone knows the Silk Spiders are serious criminals, and most probably wouldn't mind if they got what they deserved, but there are some who think the Tailor at least keeps the town running. I don't think they're entirely wrong, but...”

    Sheng: ”How long has the Tailor been here, then?”

    Reddy: ”Oh, I'm 36 and born in Dewport, but I'm pretty sure he's been here the whole time. From what I can hear, it was an even bigger mess before him... He even has a son, y'know? Older than me, but still just a kid... Elves are weird like that...”

    Sheng: ”More importantly, what exactly is your relation to him?”

    Reddy gets really defensive: ”Oh, I-I may have kinda worked for him, b-but it was just a difficult time some 10 years ago! And not anything that bad, either, just basic business stuff, y'see!”

    The Knights don't seem as concerned as he'd clearly expected.

    Wilhelm: "And he just let you go?"

    Reddy: ”Y-yeah, but I have no doubt that he always knew where I was. That's the point, as long as ya don't bother him too much, he shouldn't harm you. Probably.”

    They slowly start heading to bed. Reddy has five inn rooms upstairs, but the best two are reserved for actual customers (no offense), so the Knights can have the ones with little more than a bed and a small table. Reddy himself sleeps in the back of the first floor. Wilhelm agrees to leave his golem outside from now on, since Reddy already has enough cleaning to do. Eadmund casts the Keep Watch spell he had prepared and spends the whole night tiredly leafing through his spellbook.


    As morning comes and the Knights clamber downstairs, they find Reddy wondering how he could conjure breakfast from a plain loaf of bread. When he notices them, though, he excitedly brings out some small flyers.

    Reddy: ”Some halflings were handing them out at the market. Pretty neat, huh?”

    The flyer seems to be titled ”Morning Dew”, issue 11th of Oak Moon 1985 (the current date), apparently a news journal of some sort. The main headline is ”Blue-Blooded Bloodsuckers?”, a conspiracy theory about vampires (including Count Stonegard himself) hiding in the Castle Quarter and feeding on the poor. Two other headlines include rumor-mongering about Guard Captain Colton's infidelity and a short report about the Count's daughter Eliza being crowned Flower Maiden for the third time in a row, having won the pageant on New Years' Eve.

    Reddy: ”Oh, it's always utter trash, and I'm not even sure who reads it, but look there at the bottom!”

    Knights Arrive in City
    The Knightly Order of the Brazen Helm, founded in the capital, has now acquired a base in Dewport as well.
    The Knights' leader Igrayn Songblood has familial connections to the Imperial House.
    The Brasshelms are based in the Red Dragonfly, Flower District.

    Reddy: ”Short and sweet, but it's a good start, right? ...Right?”


    Spoiler: Assorted Lore
    Show
    In rough order of appearance.

    Spoiler: The Campaign
    Show
    Knights of the Brazen Helm
    Founded a little over a year ago by Igrayn Songblood, who inherited the large estate of Randall's Refuge from her uncle, an Imperial General, and decided to use it as a base. The loosely-organized Knights are built upon ideals of courage and charity, turning down no plead for help (except certain personal business) and only charging whatever their clients can afford to pay. The Knights aren't very selective in their application process, believing strongly in equal opportunities and personal growth, but only have a few dozen members for now, including our ragtag party.
    • Igrayn Songblood: Female half-orc. Founder and leader of the Brasshelms, "first among equals". Reputedly an accomplished adventurer, though little of her past is known. Idealistic and charismatic, though not necessarily that good of a speaker. His father was a human blacksmith and her mother an orcish mercenary.

    Dewport
    The fourth-largest city of Ceraris and its most important harbor, located on the Emperor's Bay coast at the mouth of the Barca River. After starting as nothing but a small port and a fort, it has sprawled across the hilly terrain quickly and uncontrollably. Both Imperial and local rulers have been unable or unwilling to maintain order in the city, and it has gained infamy for its crime and corruption. On the upside, it's also a growing center of magical ingenuity, though that aspect tends to get overshadowed by the issues of the people behind it.



    Translations from Finnish:
    Kukkakortteli = Flower Quarter
    Linnak. = Castle Quarter
    Satamak. = Port Quarter
    Kaljuunak. = Galleon Quarter
    Savuk. = Smoke Quarter
    Jokik. = River Quarter
    Mutak. = Mud Quarter

    Spoiler: The Setting
    Show
    The Cerarian Empire
    Ceraris is one of the two empires in Viramnis and one of its main military powers. Like most of Viramnis (everywhere but Arcagmen and Horidea), the population is predominantly human. It styles itself the continuation of the Elderland Imperium that ruled the entire continent centuries ago and its primary rival is Ufurca, the other such claimant. Though its military is weaker than Ufurca's, it has more economical and political power as well as more focus on wizardry. The mostly human population is rather mainstream in its beliefs, perhaps emphasizing the Second Judge, God of Law and Justice. Currently ruled by Emperor Janus II Runewall, who vacillates between sentimental and ruthless.
    • Runewall
      The prestigious capital and largest city of Ceraris. Shares its name with the ruling dynasty. A major center of population and industry and a base for several important organizations, including the Justiciar Paladins, the wizards of the Runeguard and now the Knights of the Brazen Helm.

    Humans
    Though other races describe them as "nondescript" physically speaking, humans are very diverse culturally and socially. They worship many different gods and pursue different ways of life, but do have a tendency to organize into myriad organizations - more so than any other race - from vast bureaucracies to guilds to military orders to pirate crews to adventuring groups. Their lust for success is only rivaled by their devotion to these groups, which often conflicts with it, and hard work is greatly appreciated. Still, many end up disillusioned and turn to crime or wandering to make their own luck. The time that their home continent Viramnis was united under the Elderland Imperium is long gone, and after its fall they've spread to unsettled regions across the sea.

    Gnomes
    A strange race, short in stature, that likes to live in tightly-knit communities on and under the earth. They tend to define themselves by their craft first and foremost, whether it be magic, art or what they call "science" – mostly just applying magic in new and exciting ways to see what happens. They are more likely than any other race to pick up a new idea and completely roll with it. What pass as gnomish states are usually loose democratic federations of guilds and village councils. Generally seen as light-hearted and harmless, gnomes are usually at their most dangerous when they go abroad to start up a completely benign but "innovative" enterprise.

    Manticores
    A fearsome magical beast, the manticore resembles a massive winged lion with spines covering much of its body and a disturbingly humanoid, yet still monstrous face. Very cunning for a beast, but still just a beast, though its cruelty and laughter-like growl may give the impression of frightening intellect. Often inhabits the mountainous wilderness where it can stalk its prey from above.

    Elves
    The longest-lived of the common races, elves are further divided into multiple subraces, though high elves interact with others the most and are often considered the "standard". Their homeland lies in vast and distant Speírcrann, though they have an old (and disputed) foothold in Horidea as well. Due in part to their longevity they tend to abhor monarchy and form oligarchic "republics" instead. Despite eventually dying of old age, their appearance remains youthful to the bitter end, unless they continuously draw from their innate talent in magic, which makes them grow old just like any human.
    • Drow
      Drow, also known as dark elves, are an underground subrace that share a mutual grudge with the high elves for reasons the two sides can't really agree on. Through underground passageways they've established small enclaves on, or rather under every continent and can show up in some rather surprising places. In non-elven lands they face far less prejudice, but those who've delved further from the surface and settled the mysterious Underdark have become warped and driven to madness by its corrupting influence.


    Spoiler: Commentary
    Show
    Red italics indicate parts only some of the players (not just characters) are aware of, just for clarity's sake.

    Note: as a general economic houserule, wealth-by-level and some higher prices (virtually all magical items for instance) have been changed from gp to sp. Basically, a +1 Longsword now costs 2450 sp (16.3 times a normal sword) instead of 2315 gp (154.3 times a normal sword), which I think fits a relatively high-magic world much better. It also means non-magical expenses aren't quite as negligible anymore, though very cheap everyday things are still handwaved as a rounding error. Basically, when the journal talks about "3900 sp", just replace it with gp in your head to gain a general sense of its value in a normal campaign.

    Dialogue has been greatly shortened and adapted, but I've put no words in the players' mouths, apart from translation of course. They really do talk like that. Sheng is by far the most talkative, but nobody seems to mind for now, and everyone has a good time getting into character.

    The manticore hunt was one of those DM'ing scenarios where I actually didn't know how the players would handle it. I had a few solutions in mind, though some of them were admittedly pretty convoluted, and I was willing to just let them fail if it came down to it. Sheng's successful Command really simplified things for them. If they hadn't caught the manticore there and then, it would've tried to rule them into a trap further on (giving them a chance to trap it instead) but that never became necessary.

    I decided to further divide the Lore section into "The Campaign" and "The Setting": more specific local info that you should probably prioritize, and less vital background info for those who want it. I still feel like it looks a bit daunting, but I enjoy writing and end up overdoing it. I use some handouts in the campaign, including maps, but they're all in Finnish, so I'm probably not going to show them all here. There's also an NPC section in the main Lore post with very brief summaries, though it offers little beyond what the journal already tells you and is just a place to catch up if you forgot an important character. Sheng in particular seems to insist on gathering as many contacts as possible and asking for every character's name... If they're not in the NPC section, they probably don't matter.

    This is our first proper game using Roll20, because Eadmund's player lives in a different city for the moment, but it worked far better than anyone expected and people had little trouble roleplaying over voicechat. It makes handouts and customized playlists way easier, too! I have hand-picked specific songs for certain characters, environments, situations, each city quarter and everything.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-01-15 at 07:30 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Entry #1.5: Welcome to Dewport

    In which everyone agrees they should try seeing other people and then has a good long talk. Or several talks, rather.

    Spoiler: Session Log
    Show
    11th of Oak Moon 1985 – Red Dragonfly Inn, Dewport, Ceraris

    After reading the Morning Dew and having a modest breakfast, the Knights decide to split up for a while and conduct their own investigations into the workings of Dewport. Reddy thinks it's a good idea, since it should give them a broader view, and as pretty obviously adventurous types they're unlikely to be targeted by random muggers or anything.

    Spoiler: Sheng
    Show
    Sheng has pretty clear plans for the coming weekend: networking. After the others go their own ways, he spends a while hanging out at the counter. Reddy is idly wiping the table, aware that bartenders should always be doing something but unsure what that should be, and Sheng's drinking his fourth cheapest stuff.

    Reddy: ”Ya sure start drinking early, don't ya?”

    Sheng: ”People have to drink, you know. Whether that's water, booze, juice or whatever is irrelevant.”

    Reddy laughs: ”Well, whatever ya say, as long as ya start paying sometime.”

    Sheng: ”Oh, just put it on my tab. You'll be getting much more customers soon.”

    Reddy: ”Eh, I suppose we're living on borrowed money anyway.”

    Reddy realizes he let something slip again and Sheng immediately digs into it. Apparently Reddy owes the Tailor money for a loan he used to get the tavern, but honestly, half the city is indebted to him in one way or another. Sheng starts asking more about Reddy's past with the Tailor. Reddy gets defensive again, but since the Knights didn't seem to mind before, he assumes it won't hurt to tell. Reddy used to be involved in some of the Tailor's smuggling operations, mostly just hanging back and handling some of the formalities as they transported cargo through the city. The Silk Spiders run most of their business through pletty blatant front companies. Sheng is interested in getting some contacts in there, so Reddy reluctantly promises to introduce him to an old drinking buddy later tonight.

    Apparently Reddy ended up running a tavern simply because he wanted something to do, but it hasn't really been working out, especially after the much larger and better Blue Moment opened nearby on the main boulevard half a year ago. Sheng's snooper senses are tingling and he decides to do some detective work. He wants to visit the Blue Moment later, but right now he seeks out another nearby tavern, the Willow Flute, where he is greeted by Fárwyn the half-elf. The Flute seems to offer lunch, so Sheng orders a baked potato and starts chatting. Fárwyn repeats a familiar story about the Blue Moment opening up and taking a lot of his customers, though he's survived by diversifying his food menu (Reddy, on the other hand, couldn't cook to save his life). Sheng discovers that the Blue Moment is owned by someone named Charles Faser, though unlike all these other bartenders he can actually afford employees to run it for him.


    Sheng continues his tour of the Flower Quarter. There's only a bit of snow on the ground and the temperature is barely below freezing, but these warm-blooded Cerarians on the street still seem to have trouble dressing properly. Sheng ends up at a quiet side road and a weapons shop run by a dwarf, where he decides to buy some arrows and make idle chatter. Meanwhile, however, two guards enter the store behind him. They're wearing the City Guard's simple uniform – a chainshirt with a blue tabard and the Dewport crest – but Sheng immediately notices that they're ill-fitted and put on wrong, and that the guard in back (carrying a bow) is very intently watching the door. Something is up.

    The other guard (with a heavy mace on his belt) walks up to the counter: ”Good day, citizen. Business as usual?”

    From the dwarf's face, Sheng can tell this definitely isn't routine: ”Y-yes, thank you very much. I actually have an order for the Guard coming up, don't I?”

    Guard: ”Do you? That's entirely possible.”

    The man is taking a long look at Sheng, who tries to look as non-threatening as possible. After a moment, the man smirks and thuds his mace on the table: ”Alright, enough with the niceties, this is a robbery –”

    Sheng has already measured up his opponents and planned what he'll do. As the dwarf cowers behind the counter, Sheng quickly draws his bow and fires an arrow squarely into the shoulder of the archer at the door. The maceman yells ”What the hell are you doing!?” and actually bashes him upside the head with a heavy blow (a minor hole in his plan). Sheng tries to swing his combat-reinforced bow at the man, but is too disoriented to do any damage, and takes another heavy blow to the stomach. At least the badly injured archer doesn't manage to hit anything but some products on display.

    As the maceman readies for a decisive blow, Sheng manages to duck and weave into a position where he's able to fire two arrows point-blank into the man's stomach. His swing hits nothing but air and he slumps on the table. The archer decides to make a run for it, but Sheng dashes after him and knocks him out in the street with a bow-whip to the back of the head. The dwarf runs off to fetch some help. After estimating that both robbers should survive for a moment, Sheng casts Lesser Vigor on the one lying outside and squats in front of him, waiting for him to wake up. About half a minute later, the man starts grunting and rubbing the back of his head.

    Sheng: ”So, you better have a good explanation.”

    Robber: ”Uhm... we're guards, and that dwarf is a criminal?”

    Sheng slaps him: ”Try again.”

    The robber, wincing and rolling on his back: ”We're from the City Guard –” Slap! ”Augh, fine, we got these uniforms and decided to use them for something, happy!?”

    Sheng: ”Was a weapons shop really the best place to rob? Something like a tavern would have less soldiers hanging around this time of day.”

    Robber: ”You don't look like any soldier to me...” Slap! ”Ouch!”

    Sheng: ”What do you usually do around here?”

    Robber: ”Why do you care!? Stuff like this!”

    Sheng: ”What would you prefer I do right now?”

    Robber: ”Well, uh, letting me go would be nice, but to be honest I'd choose the Guard over you.”

    Sheng: ”Do you know anything that could be remotely useful to me?”

    Robber: ”That's a damn stupid question, what's that supposed to... oh, don't take it like that, I –”

    Sheng bow-whips him unconscious. At this point he realizes there's actually a beef jerky stand right nearby (the aging owner has learned to mind his own business in this town) and buys something to snack on as he waits for the adrenaline to subside. The guards arrive, lazily walking behind the anxious dwarf.

    Guard 1: ”Yup, like the dwarf said, this ain't one of ours.”

    Guard 2: ”You took care of 'em?”

    Sheng: ”Yes, I did indeed!”

    Guard 2: ”Well, good job I suppose, but in the future be more careful about shooting men in uniform, you hear me?” *laugh*

    Guard 1: ”No need to make a fuss about it, we'll just take these two to the holding cell for now. Carry on with your business.”

    The guards start quite nonchalantly carrying and dragging the unconscious men away. The grateful dwarf, apparently named Bjorn, offers Sheng a modest reward and the arrows for free. Sheng spends some of the reward on even more arrows and walks away with a pretty big haul of them.


    After the belltower in the Smoke Quarter rings five, Sheng visits the Blue Moment, a much larger and frankly nicer tavern where people are listening to a halfling band and enjoying exotic treats like hot chocolate. On the dance floor he manages to meet a real tattletale who excitedly reveals she's seen ”these Silk Spider folks” going in and out of the back room, taking some sort of deliveries both ways. This confirms Sheng's earlier hunch of cartel involvement in this enterprise, though he's not sure what good that does him.

    A bit later he and Reddy head to the Greatclub, a pub on the western bank of the river where they should find Reddy's friend. The place is chock-full of mercenary and soldiery types of all kinds, especially orcs, and filled with the sounds boisterous laughter. Behind the bar is an orcish woman. It seems like a good place to get hammered, in any sense of the word. Reddy is too short to see over the crowd very well, but eventually spots his friend in the back of the room.

    Seth, this friend of his, is a half-orc in a metal breastplate, with his heavy flail very visible on the table. He's already a little drunk, making him even more jovial and talkative than usual. After getting Sheng to have some ”water” as well – dwarven mushroom liquor, very strong – he's happy to ramble on and on about his work, with some applied philosophy thrown in.

    Seth: ”If all you have is a bow and they get close, just shoot 'em in the face. If all you have is a hammer and they hang back, just run up and then clobber 'em. Gotta work with what you have. You look like you get this sorta stuff.” (Sheng wonders if there's still some blood on him.)

    Reddy's friends are Seth's as well, so he and Sheng hit it off pretty well. Seth is an officer in Silk Glove Security, one of the cartel's fronts and a mercenary company that often participates in its business, like escorting cargo and a bit of ”enforcing”. Apparently the Tailor himself shows up every now and then, but usually messengers just deliver orders with little warning. Work is pretty relaxed most of the time, but the Tailor punishes those who mess up badly enough.

    Seth: ”Let's just say, if I'd ever gotten a 'punishment', I definitely wouldn't be an officer. I wouldn't even be in the Silk Glove. I'd probably be rotting in the Emperor's Bay.” *snorty laugh*

    Seth also describes the Tailor's personal escort, composed entirely of foreign orcs. Sheng tries to gently prod him about the general level of loyalty. Seth sees what he's doing, but doesn't mind.

    Seth: ”People in the boat are usually wise not to rock it. Those who fall overboard are a different story.”

    Sheng tries to check whether anyone's been listening in, but doesn't see anyone suspicious. According to Seth, the best way to contact the Tailor is to simply start asking around – he'll contact you if he wants to. Sheng and Reddy start heading out. Seth promises to drop by the Red Dragonfly sometime, as long as Reddy makes sure to have some ”water” for him.


    Sheng spends the next day doing more grassroots work, just talking to people to get a general feel for the city (mostly the Flower Quarter) and spread awareness of the Brasshelms. He gets the distinct impression that the citizens of Dewport don't trust the authorities and the authorities don't trust each other, but there's definitely a niche for independent operators to thrive.

    The day after that, however, he rents a horse and rides to Hunley's estate to ask Amanda to join him for a drink in Sweetstone, her home village nearby. She's flattered and happy to come, especially since Hunley's out at the moment. Sheng's genuinely just spending time with her, but she seems a bit concerned about something. Apparently some human man in black came by recently, and ever since then Hunley has been really anxious again. Amanda's wondering whether the estate is really the place for her. Sheng floats the idea of her working at the Red Dragonfly, which she seems curious about, but not willing to just up and leave, which he understands.

    Sheng takes her back to the estate and actually has a brief talk with Hunley, who denies anything strange happening, though Sheng can see he's clearly hiding something. Hunley claims he's just concerned about trying to prevent another escape and more loss of life. Sheng waves Amanda goodbye and returns to Dewport, where he devotes the rest of his free time to such intellectual pursuits as reading popular science bestiaries (”Did You Know? The three-headed chimera's one brain is located in the nape of its necks! Crazy!”) and trying to catch falling arrows with his bare hands.

    Spoiler: Eadmund
    Show
    Eadmund has different priorities than Sheng: he needs to find a library and a good teahouse, stat. Those are two southern luxuries he's really come to appreciate (simple country living is over-appreciated). There are some book dealers here and there, but the only actual library Reddy can think of is in the Castle Quarter.

    A large road goes up a gentle slope to the Castle Quarter's outer wall and through its only public gate. The firm stone walls stand 30 feet tall, and Eadmund recognizes that the guards around the open gate are different than those in the Flower Quarter: they're wearing proper breastplates instead of chainshirts, and their tabards are green and brown with a crest he deduces as Count Stonegard's. He approaches one of them and, speaking in a very friendly tone, asks for directions to the library. The guard does his best to ignore him, but once it seems clear that Eadmund's not going away, the guard says he doesn't really know about any library but it's probably somewhere near the Square.

    The Count's Square, as it is called, lies right past the gate and is dominated by a massive 60-foot-tall granite statue in the middle. It depicts a man leaning on a massive warhammer while holding a brazier in his right hand – one with an actual fire blazing in it. The pedestal names him as "Deditus Stonegard, First Count of Dewport". Eadmund puts that behind his ear and starts looking around for the library.

    He almost misses it: a smallish building on a side road (at least compared to the ones around it), almost completely hidden by the multitude of trees and bushes in the front yard. Above the door is a sign with a book and a scroll on it. Eadmund looks down and sees the name "Blaise" engraved into the stone in front of the house; now that he looks closer, all the other buildings on the road have their owners' names similarly marked. Eadmund gingerly walks up to the door and peeks in through a window, seeing a dimly lit room full of bookshelves, with a light shining somewhere in the back. He enters and is immediately met by a curious ferret dashing to sniff and brush against his legs. He starts to panic. A gnome woman in comfortable robes who had been reading by the light comes and grabs the ferret.


    Marcel: "Oh, sorry about Don, he's really friendly like that. My name's Marcel Blaise, how may I help?"

    Eadmund: "Excuse me, ahem, my name's Eadmund – just Eadmund – and I'm looking for the library."

    Marcel, glancing at all the books and doing her best not to sound sarcastic: "Well, I think you found it. What kind of books are you after?"

    Eadmund: "I'd really love something about Dewport, its history in particular, if you have any. I kinda have to work here from now and I figure it'd be good to know."

    Marcel: "Oh, my husband would definitely know something about that. History is kind of his thing. Hey, Lucas, get over here already!"

    A similarly-robed human man appears from the back.

    Lucas: "History, you say? That is indeed my specialty! It's nice to meet a fellow scholar for once. The people around here have such skewed priorities. They don't realize you must understand the past to face the future! History is such an underappreciated field."

    Eadmund: "Yeah, it sure is."

    Lucas: "..."

    Eadmund: "..."

    Lucas starts rummaging through some shelves and chests: "But anyway, you wanted to know about the history of Dewport? It's such an interesting subject, that's why I moved here in the first place."

    Eadmund: "Oh, is there something special about it?"

    Lucas: "The Wormway is definitely the biggest thing!"

    Eadmund feels the black scimitar on his hip shudder lightly for whatever reason.

    Lucas: "Oh, excuse me! The Wormway is a massive series of tunnels and caverns in the hills under Dewport. Nobody knows its origins, and there's depressingly little reliable research, but I was hooked as soon as I learned about it. I needed to move anyway... I used to be in the Runeguard, you know... They didn't really appreciate me meeting Marcel here."

    Eadmund recognizes the Runeguard as a powerful and very xenophobic cabal of wizards back in Runewall. He's definitely interested in the Wormway as well, especially after noticing his sword react to it: its mysterious origins might receive some answers as well. While Lucas is searching his seemingly chaotic collection, Eadmund chats with Marcel and pets Don, who is apparently her familiar (making him worry whether he committed some horrible faux pas by just petting him like some animal). In his trademark enthusiastic but stumbling way, he talks about the Brasshelms and his own background in magic.

    Eadmund: "I'm actually a Wanderer's Lantern, y'know, our order is very old, stretching way back to the Winter Wars and –"

    Marcel: "Yes, I've spent some time in the north. Actually went on a trip or two with some of your colleagues. Very interesting. I admire the way you blend two contrasting disciplines of combat."

    Eadmund: "W-well, thanks, I am pretty good at fighting, but I'm just a recent graduate... I mean, not graduate, that's not really a thing we have... I used to have a teacher, but he died, and I set off on my own instead, and –"

    Marcel: "My condolences. At least you seem to be doing well for yourself."

    Lucas finally comes up with a grand total of two books for now: the "Genealogy of the House of Stonegard" and "Dewport – The Rise and ...?". He's also willing to loan a copy of some of his own notes on the Wormway if Eadmund is interested.

    Eadmund: "So, ahem, can I just take these or...?"

    Lucas: "Oh, I wish. You can read the books here all you want, but this is Dewport. You usually have to rent the books if you want to take them home."

    Eadmund: "I totally understand, I actually –"

    Lucas: "At one point they tried to light Dewport with magical torches. The torches got stolen. Then they started making glowing cobblestones. The stones got ripped out. Eventually they just went back to plain old lanterns."

    Marcel: "Well, I actually own this place, and I think we can probably trust Eadmund just fine."

    Lucas: "Geez, you know that's not what I meant."

    Eadmund still insists on leaving at least a small deposit for the books he's borrowing. He agrees to come back later for the notes, but in the meantime Marcel directs him to a teahouse in the Port District whose owner she knows.


    Eadmund passes by the large park on his way to the Port District and decides to check out the towering temple in the middle. The park is quite impressive, even with the trees having lost their leaves for winter, but Eadmund actually spots something interesting: a clearing decorated with beautiful scarlet flowers pushing through the snow. Eadmund recognizes them as agehearts, the symbol of the Mother of Nations, God of Life and Healing. He notices the same five-petal pattern in the glass painting above the main door of the temple. Eadmund takes a quick tour of the interior, admiring the 150-foot-tall dome in particular (the next tallest point in Dewport after some of the castle's towers) and leaving a silver piece in the donation box.

    After a bit of searching, Eadmund discovers the Cat's Cough, a well-lit little place near the docks. Behind the counter is another gnome woman standing on a platform to reach above it.

    Cat: "Hey there, my name's Cat, what would you like?"

    Eadmund: "Well, uh, Marcel told me about your teahouse, so, I guess I'd like some tea?"

    Cat: "Oh, that I can do, but could I perhaps interest you in some... cough?"

    Eadmund gives her the most baffled look.

    Cat: "Cough! It's a new import from exotic Vapa Inkoti! The orcs of the Ash Plains really love it! It'll perk you right up, I guarantee!"

    Eadmund reluctantly accepts, mainly since it's on the house. He watches anxiously as Cat grinds up some strange brown beans and drops them in a cup of hot water. Eadmund takes a careful sip, but can't help but wrinkle his nose at the ridiculously bitter taste. The name is quite accurate. A bearded man in the corner of the room sips at his own drink and looks at Eadmund with disdain, but is just trying to hide that he can't handle it either.

    Cat: "Oh, it's an acquired taste, but I assure you I have a very dedicated customer base for it."

    Eadmund: "I can imagine. Could I have that tea now, please?"

    Cat: "A cup of Slaad Grey coming up!"

    Eadmund drinks his tea in peace and does another sales pitch for the Brasshelms.

    Cat: "Oh, that sounds really nice! Say, how many of you are there?"

    Eadmund: "Well, four if you count the barkeeper – though I guess he's just a fan or something? We're working on it."


    In the street, Eadmund feels someone tug at his coat in the street. Behind him there's an old woman, probably in her 70's: "Excuse me, young sir, but are you one of those knights?"

    Eadmund does wear it on his sleeve; the Brasshelm emblem, that is. "Why yes I am, Madam. How can I help?"

    Madam: "Oooh, it's been so long since I saw a proper knight in the flesh!"

    The woman introduces herself as Patricia Yewing and spends a while fawning over how dashing and brave Eadmund looks. Eadmund feels flattered but understandably awkward, and can't really get a word in edgewise. Finally Mrs Yewing gets to the point:

    Patricia: "Indeed, I was supposed to go to the theater with my daughter, but she says she's too busy with work again! She doesn't want to let me wander around in the evening, though. So, brave knight, won't you be my escort for the night? I really wish to see that play."

    Eadmund: "I-I don't know, I don't think that's really part of our general duties..."

    Patricia: "Oh, make it unofficial then! I just need a cavalier for a few short hours. You will be well compensated, of course!"

    He gives up and agrees to fetch her at her house in the Castle Quarter the day after tomorrow. What he's most worried about is just how much the others would laugh if they knew he was helping old ladies across the street.


    Eadmund drops by the library to pick up Lucas's magically copied notes and heads back to Reddy's, where he spends most of the day leafing through the materials he borrowed. His sword keeps buzzing the whole time as he reads Lucas's notes on the Wormway, fanning his curiosity even further (it actually vibrates itself off the table when he puts it down). They're painfully inconclusive, as Lucas himself is forced to admit, but Eadmund has a feeling they'll come in handy.

    To summarize, the Wormway's very nature makes it a pain to research: the passages seem like a mixture of natural and artificial elements, but even the artificial-looking ones twist and turn erratically. There are unexplained geological and magical phenomena, and based on what little data Lucas could acquire, some of the passages seem to change shape over time. Long-distance magic is disrupted, making it impossible to even Scry on the damn place. Everyone agrees there's something living in the Wormway, too, but not on what it is. The locals are very paranoid and superstitious about the whole subject, too, making it hard to even find any support for a little dungeoneering. As long as the Wormway isn't actively disturbing them, people think it's probably best to return the favor.

    Eadmund wonders how this all could possibly be connected to the pitch-black sword he got from that grateful merchant several years back.


    The next day is a market day, so Eadmund takes a break from his reading to visit the Gold Market – the largest in Dewport, and located conveniently close to the Red Dragonfly. He ends up buying a little case of tea to bring on any future travels. Apart from that, he politely moves aside a Blue Moment poster that was covering a Brasshelm flyer Reddy had put on the bulletin board.

    When theater day comes and Eadmund goes to pick up Patricia (whose house he recognizes from the name engraved in the sidewalk), he sees that it's actually one of the finest manors in the Castle District. She comes out in an expensive fur coat and they board a carriage. Eadmund is barely paying attention to her rambling at this point, but she does mention that her daughter Bailey Yewing is actually the Count's steward, and a very close subordinate. Eadmund realizes it might actually pay off to try and impress this old lady.

    The play at the Dewport Theater is by a touring group of actors consisting almost entirely of halflings. "Presto" is a comedy adventure about the eponymous young halfling who defeats a dark lord and rescues a princess using nothing but cleverly applied cantrips. The only non-halfling is the human man playing the blundering antagonist. The audience loves it, and Eadmund seems to find it fun as well. Not so much the forced socializing with Patricia's friends after the show.

    On their late evening carriage-ride through the Flower Quarter back to Patricia's house, she resumes her rambling (as if she'd ever stopped) but Eadmund glimpses a man entering a darkened alley, carrying a lantern in one hand and a small chest under the other. Three other men quietly follow behind him. Eadmund has seen several scenes before. His bodyguard instincts kick in.

    Eadmund: "Would you stop the cart, please? Just wait here for a moment!"

    As Eadmund heads towards the alley, he hears someone calling for help. He casts his own fire-modified version of Frostbite on his scimitar (Heatstroke? Flamebite? Whatever) and breaks into a run. In a small yard where three alleys meet he sees the three muggers accosting the man with the chest, who is doing his best to protect it. Two of them don't have weapons drawn, but one is patting a large wooden club against his hand.

    Mugger: "Oh, you don't need to get involved in here. Just carry on, we ain't hurting anybody."

    Eadmund: "I-I don't think so. You're the ones who need to carry on!"

    Honestly, looking at the situation, the muggers would be wise to run from an armored mercenary with a flaming sword, but Eadmund's behavior is just so awkward and frankly pathetic that they almost feel like they have the advantage. Besides, running from such a wimp would ruin their reputations. The mugger with the club nods and the other two draw their knives, one of them getting behind the victim and putting the blade to his throat.

    Eadmund casts Enlarge Person. The muggers are now facing an armored mercenary with a flaming sword who is also 12 feet tall. The unoccupied knifeman looks at his weapon, then at Eadmund, then at his weapon again, and tries to run for it, but the clubman stops him and tells him to get himself together.

    With a little gulp, the clubman roars and leaps at Eadmund. It's actually quite the fearsome charge, and he even lands a pretty good hit that will surely go down in local legend, but it does him little good when Eadmund eviscerates him with a single stroke (may he feast in Ysgard). The fact that the flames are non-lethal makes little difference as the burning corpse is tossed against a wall and slumps to the ground. Eadmund may seem gentle, but he's well aware that in combat there's no playing around.

    The other two muggers waste little time shoving their victim to the ground and escaping in utter horror. Eadmund extinguishes the flames with some snow, dismisses Enlarge and helps the man stand up. He's thankful, though a little disturbed by the gory body, and just tries to get on his way as quickly as possibly.

    Eadmund, with his usual cheer: "Have a nice evening!"


    Eadmund returns to the street and sees a guard patrol off in the distance. He waves his flaming sword in the air and whistles to them, to which they react with some confusion and walk up to him. He dismisses the flames and puts away his weapon just to make clear he's not a threat. He tells them the whole rambling tale, starting with how he was escorting Patricia at the theater, going through all the facts...

    Eadmund: "...and then I gutted and lit that man on fire."

    The four guards look at each in slightly confused silence.

    Sergeant: "Uh-huh."

    Guard inspecting the smoldering corpse: "Uh-huh."

    Sergeant, again: "Uh-huh. Well, here's how we'll handle this: your story seems legit, I don't see why you'd wave us over if it wasn't, it was in self-defense, and most importantly, we really don't feel like dealing with it. So we'll just continue our patrol and someone will probably pick up the body. Dismissed."

    Eadmund is a bit disturbed by the guards' attitude, but relieved all the same. He returns to the carriage and tells the fawning Patricia how he saved that man (wisely leaving out the gutting and such). Luckily the alley is unlit so she doesn't have to see the corpse as they drive by it.

    When they reach the house, Patricia thanks him for a great evening and hands him a little pouch of 15 gp. She assures him that her daughter and all her friends will hear about him and the Brasshelms. With a polite bow, Eadmund returns to Reddy's and hopes this will never come up again.

    Spoiler: Wilhelm
    Show
    Wilhelm has some basic things to take care of so he can spend the rest of the weekend lazing around. He reconstructs his golem from the dirt pile in the yard – it falls apart whenever he goes to sleep – climbs on its shoulders and sets off towards the Smoke Quarter, earning many strange looks on the way.

    The transition into the Smoke Quarter is quite noticeable: though almost every building in the city has a chimney, the ones here spew darker, thicker smoke than anywhere else, and soot has stained almost every surface in sight. More houses are made of stone to reduce the risk of fire, too. The strange looks aimed at his golem seem to shift more towards curious or even envious, too. First things first, Wilhelm purchases a simple magical lab kit for 500 sp – hoping to do some experiments and develop his own craft – and puts all the tools in large wooden box for the golem to carry.

    He's pretty much ready to head back now, but something catches his eye: written in iron letters above one door is the name "WIDALIS", with the "S" hanging upside down on only one nail. Wilhelm feels like he should be surprised, but really isn't. Of course he'd have relatives in such a strange place.

    He hops off the golem and they both enter through the low doorway, causing quite a rattle as they push away some of the detritus covering the floor. The room is more of a workshop than a store, having no counter or anything but full of things like bottles, tools and gears lying all over the place. One thing that catches Wilhelm's eye is a mechanical-looking golem hanging from some chains on the wall: on a second look, it's missing its lower half, completely rusted-through and overall inactive. Another gnome enters the room, wiping his hands on a rag. Wilhelm would recognize those glorious sideburns anywhere: it's his cousin Ancelm Widalis, who seems happy to see him. They have a warm reunion.


    Ancelm: "Cousin! Strange seeing you here! It's been a while! Last time I saw you, you were still hauling rocks in a tunnel back home!"

    Wilhelm: "Oh, y'know, hauling was never really my thing. But I came across something else pretty handy."

    Ancelm turns his eyes up at the golem: "Ooooh, handy indeed... What is that thing?"

    Wilhelm: "Well, a golem, obviously."

    Ancelm actually looks pretty jealous: "Looks more like an earth elemental to me."

    Wilhelm: "It's not exactly a normal golem. It operates on positive energy instead, and is made of dirt and gravel for increased malleability."

    Ancelm: "Oh, I see... That actually sounds pretty interesting. You know how normal golems operate on bound earth elementals and such? I've always found that pretty creepy, not to mention troublesome. So instead I've been looking for other ways to animate one. With little success..."

    Wilhelm looks at the metal husk on the wall: "Uh-huh."

    Ancelm: "Normally the earth elemental is needed because, y'know, otherwise the golem is basically a solid statue. I figured that if I could make the basic form more practical – give it moving joints and such – powering it would be much easier. That part of the design seems to work, but when I demonstrated this mechanical worker to a buyer at the docks, it just punched them in the face and ran into the ocean. So now it's back to the drawing board."

    They spend a while longer discussing magical theory and the Brasshelms while Ancelm starts taking some measurements from Wilhelm's golem.

    Wilhelm: "So I, uh, figured I might find something in the southern tip..."

    Ancelm pauses: "The ruins of the Elderland? Oof."

    Wilhelm: "Yeah, I know. Those damn fairies sent me packing right away. Didn't feel like going back home... They wouldn't really appreciate the golem doing my work for me, right? But in the adventuring business, sending someone bigger and stronger to do the dirty work for you is the name of the game. So that's what I did."


    A gray-bearded dwarf in fine clothing enters the workshop, followed closely by a halfling who keeps leafing through his notebook. The dwarf yells in a very tired tone: "Widalis!"

    Ancelm and Wilhelm: "Yes?"

    The dwarf glances at Wilhelm with some confusion and continues: "Ancelm, that meat broker keeps bothering me about those damages you caused. Go repay him already!"

    Ancelm: "Hey, I did exactly what he asked!"

    Wilhelm: "He asked you to freeze his meat for storage, not his entire store!"

    Ancelm: "Well, the meat froze too, didn't it?"

    The dwarf rubs his temples and grumbles, eventually offering Wilhelm his hand: "Excuse me. Magnus Hjarmegin, Chairman of the Guild Alliance."

    Wilhelm shakes his hand and introduces himself, as well as the Brasshelms. However, another person enters the workshop: a human, who clearly enjoys being the tallest man in the room (not counting the golem). It's getting pretty crowded.

    Human: "Excuse me, but the Locksmith's Guild is threatening a strike again."

    Halfling: "Need I remind you, you also have a meeting with the Commodore coming up."

    Counting down from ten, the dwarf pushes through the door and the other guests follow. The clocktower strikes twelve, and Ancelm looks like he's remembered something as well.

    Ancelm: "Oh, right! I have to meet someone in the Mud Quarter. You'll come, won't you? Your golem should be a good deterrent."


    On the way, they drop off Wilhelm's lab at the Red Dragonfly, where Ancelm and Reddy get acquainted. As they descend from the hilly downtown towards the low-lying Mud Quarter, Wilhelm can see how the relatively nice and clean image of the Flower Quarter changes first into tightly-packed apartment buildings and then into outright wooden shacks. The general mood is a bit gloomy and Wilhelm can feel many eyes on them, but nobody jumps out. Suddenly, they hear yelling and other racket from up ahead. Ancelm breaks into an excited run and yells for Wilhelm to follow.

    Just as they round a corner, they see a woman in leather armor run out of an alley, clearly in a panic. She doesn't get far before a similarly armored man is flung out and lands right on her, leaving them both lying in a pile on the ground. A 7-foot-tall blonde man, wearing a white dress shirt and huffing in rage, drags out a third unconscious person whom he adds to the pile. Noticing Ancelm, he seems to calm down almost immediately and waves hello.

    Ancelm: "Hey Samuel."

    Samuel: "Hey Ancelm."

    Wilhelm: "Is... is this who you were supposed to meet?"

    Behind the blonde man follows an elf in a woolen jacket. He kneels by the pile and feeds each person a reddish potion before walking up to the gnomes. He introduces himself as Iburin, a local doctor, and Samuel as his employee. Samuel seems to be having a staring contest of some sort with Wilhelm's golem, which doesn't even have eyes.

    Wilhelm: "What was all that racket about?"

    Iburin: "Oh, those three tried to rob me. Thought I looked like an easy target. Didn't see Samuel in time, I suppose. I'm really sorry, Ancelm, I forgot about our meeting, but we can go back to the clinic now."

    Ancelm: "It's alright, I forgot too."

    Iburin's humble clinic is definitely the cleanest and best-built building in the vicinity. He leads them into the back and pours them some tea.

    Ancelm: "So, did you look at that stuff I gave you?"

    Iburin digs out a vial with some thick black liquid inside: "Well, it's clearly some sort of hydrocarbon solution, but doesn't seem practically useful. Burns pretty well though. Are you sure you weren't just making alchemist's fire?"

    Ancelm grabs the vial: "Nah, it was a total accident."

    Wilhelm: "Anyway, you're a doctor of some sort?"

    Iburin: "Yes, I do my best to help the people of the Mud Quarter, but a lot of them don't seem to trust me. Even though my treatments are free and everything..."

    Wilhelm: "Well, is there something wrong with your treatments then?"

    Iburin: "Of course not! Completely standard prodecure, and I'm even forced to turn to magic a lot of the time. I wish I could figure out some cheaper, easier alternatives, but I don't really have a lot of willing test subjects. Samuel is one, but I think he's really a good representative."

    Wilhelm: "Why, is there something strange about him?"

    Samuel sips his tea in silence and shrugs.


    On their way home, Ancelm strikes up more conversation.

    Ancelm: "Y'know how there are like dire wolves, dire bears and such? I think Samuel might be a dire human or something."

    Wilhelm: "Aren't dire animals supposed to be pretty spiky?"

    Ancelm: "Hm. Good point."

    A few minutes of silence.

    Ancelm: "So, uh, Iburin isn't the only person in this town with money issues. I know I'm onto something, but can't really find the funding for it. It's not my specialty, but if you and your friends ever need any good old enchantin' done, I'll be more than happy to do some commission work for you."

    Wilhelm: "That'll certainly come in helpful."

    While he's up and out anyway, Wilhelm goes take a brief tour of the Castle Quarter. He notices many of the same basic things as Eadmund did, plus the fact that his golem isn't allowed inside. He seems to have totally bought the Morning Dew's story about vampires lurking over here, and through his eyes the locals seem kind of cautious too. After that he feels satisfied with his findings and returns to the Red Dragonfly, where he spends most of the weekend fiddling with his lab in the Brasshelms' workspace or just wasting time.


    Spoiler: Assorted Lore
    Show
    In rough order of appearance.

    Goblinoids
    A diverse ”barbaric” race inhabiting the harsh continent of Gatagor. The vast majority live in tribes, many of which are nomadic, though some have settled down and even founded towns of sorts. The rest tend to form pirate clans, terrorizing the Goblin's Sea and the Shatterstones in particular. Their culture is highly militaristic and personal honor (or at least their own view of it) serves as law. The different subraces have a hierarchy of sorts: goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears (from lowest to highest). The bugbears' only real asset is their size and strength, though, so the more intelligent hobgoblins are typically the ones with actual power while the weak and numerous goblins serve as fodder.
    • Orcs
      As an apparent offshoot of goblinoids, there are many similarities in appearance, language and culture. However, orcs inhabit sandy Vapa Inkoti instead of Gatagor. They form the majority of the population in human-ruled Graywind and Redwater. Much like goblinoids, they are famous for their tribal lifestyle and warlike culture, but also for their crafts, and they're much more ”civilized” and used to city life. Others recognize this: they suffer from way less prejudice than goblinoids, though it's clearly still there, and are ubiquitous as mercenaries all around the Emperor's Bay. Not to say they can't still be brash and intimidating.

    Mother of Nations
    God of Life and Healing. Neutral Good. One of the very few to have a gender solidly associated with it. Understandably popular and present in everyday life, and often the subject of "routine" prayers for health and safety. Its devotees often operate hospitals and smaller clinics, though some see them as unnecessarily reliant on magic for their healing.

    Halflings
    The first record of halflings is as slaves brought into the Elderland Imperium, but surviving sources disagree on their place of origin. When the Imperium collapsed, they spread around and out of Viramnis. Most halflings travel the world alone or in small nomadic bands, under the patronage of the Dealer of Chance, God of Luck and Thieves. Those who declined its blessings from the start and decided to settle down properly, known as Stronghearts, usually have little patience for their brethren. It's not uncommon for halflings to become criminals, mercenaries or adventurers for the sheer thrill of it, though many don't mind becoming errand boys or messengers instead.

    Dwarves
    Stout by stature and nature, dwarves are most famous as dedicated artisans and soldiers. They can be found almost wherever there's a good mountain for them to dig into, or rather, out of: they may have spread underground and emerged on the surface, rather than vice versa. Traditional dwarven mountainhomes are rather insular, stratified, conservative and ruled by theocratic upper classes. Dwarves found aboveground are more likely to get along with others, but still retain some of their race's trademark stubborn discipline.


    Spoiler: Commentary
    Show
    Being a roleplaying-heavy session, I gave the roleplaying a bit more detail in the journal as well. Part of the problem is that I myself don't really know what the PCs may latch on to, so I can't leave too much out.

    This was something of an experiment: I ran each player a shorter solo session where they got to do some idle roleplaying on their own terms, develop their characters and get exposition. Most of these activities were their own ideas, though I did offer suggestions and nudge them in convenient directions. There's a lot going on in Dewport, and I didn't want to just infodump all this setup and NPCs on them, so this approach allowed them (separately) to learn much of it in-character and gain some useful contacts. I'm also consciously trying to avoid too much Conservation of Detail and widen the sandbox by, y'know, allowing them to do non-essential things if they want to. Perhaps they'll become essential later.

    Importantly, unlike the rest of the journal, this entry isn't available to the players themselves. If they want to share information, they'll have to do it in-character, and they also have the option of hiding their actions from the others without requiring everyone else to metagame. I was a bit nervous about the reception these sessions would get, but everyone was totally on board with it, and I can heartily recommend it if your players are remotely into, y'know, stuff like this. Maybe even if you don't think they are. They might surprise you. Do check first though.

    These solo sessions were mostly just a one-time thing, but there might be more if the players request them or they become necessary for the plot.

    Some player quirks:
    • Sheng gets really high rolls, and I get really high rolls on his behalf, but he always gets intensely paranoid when I start laughing all of a sudden (because I rolled another damn 20 for him). He also seems exceedingly confident in whatever plans he may have and assumes everything will always go perfectly.
    • Eadmund on the other hand rolls really badly, whether he's grappling a manticore or intimidating petty thugs, but not with his sword, which has one-shotted all three targets so far. I'll have to keep that in mind when I need more threatening enemies. On the upside, he keeps notes. In a physical notebook. Definitely gonna help in this campaign.
    • Wilhelm starts long-winded explanations about any choice he makes, whether it be debuffing an enemy or just moving into cover. Has the most theoretical knowledge of D&D, about on par with me that is. As an aside, we've all agreed that his golem's helmet kinda makes it look like a luchador.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-01-27 at 10:45 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverLeaf167 View Post
    Dialogue has been greatly shortened and adapted, but I've put no words in the players' mouths, apart from translation of course.
    i'm always embarrassed by how long it takes me to figure out what someone means when they write that. "translation". chalk it up to lack of sleep but this is atleast the 3rd time on this forum.

    i kinda expected, with wilhelm being a golem riding gnome, that he might be a more interactive character. His entry seems rather short and conservative. it almost reads like you were pulling teeth on his segment. Is that fair or was it just a matter of shortening the dialog? It seemed like you dropped a couple of plot hooks he ignored.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Quote Originally Posted by wobner View Post
    i'm always embarrassed by how long it takes me to figure out what someone means when they write that. "translation". chalk it up to lack of sleep but this is atleast the 3rd time on this forum.

    i kinda expected, with wilhelm being a golem riding gnome, that he might be a more interactive character. His entry seems rather short and conservative. it almost reads like you were pulling teeth on his segment. Is that fair or was it just a matter of shortening the dialog? It seemed like you dropped a couple of plot hooks he ignored.
    Just to make 100% sure: the entire group is Finnish, we speak Finnish during the game, and I translate it to English for this journal.

    Well, Wilhelm's player isn't very talkative in general. There was a bit more dialogue in the session, mainly under "They spend a while longer discussing magical theory and the Brasshelms", but he was almost painfully content with just letting the NPCs talk to each other.

    I don't think he so much ignored my plots hooks as "filed them away for later use", or so I hope. It's true though that both of us were kinda tired at the time, and he didn't have as many ideas for Wilhelm as the others did for their characters. Having direct access to an artificer will definitely become relevant in the future, at least.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverLeaf167 View Post
    Just to make 100% sure: the entire group is Finnish, we speak Finnish during the game, and I translate it to English for this journal.

    Well, Wilhelm's player isn't very talkative in general. There was a bit more dialogue in the session, mainly under "They spend a while longer discussing magical theory and the Brasshelms", but he was almost painfully content with just letting the NPCs talk to each other.

    I don't think he so much ignored my plots hooks as "filed them away for later use", or so I hope. It's true though that both of us were kinda tired at the time, and he didn't have as many ideas for Wilhelm as the others did for their characters. Having direct access to an artificer will definitely become relevant in the future, at least.
    I remembered the helsinki, finnland under your avatar after it dawned on me i am, infact, on the WORLD wide web. yeah, i can be a total bone head

    filing them away for later works, and i guess he knows who the source is, it just seems like he should have asked atleast a question or two right then and there to know what it was about if he ever decided to follow up. As long as everyone is having fun though, right.

    looking forward to more.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Entry #2: Ace Adventurer Investigations

    In which the Knights have to do someone else's goshdarn job, and probably not for the last time.

    Spoiler: The Journal
    Show
    15th of Oak Moon, 1985 – Red Dragonfly Inn, Dewport, Ceraris

    Spoiler: The Stagwell Incident
    Show
    One afternoon shortly after their free weekend the Knights are hanging out in the back room of the Red Dragonfly when there's a knock at the front door. It's not even locked, but Reddy walks up and opens it anyway. A very shaken-looking middle-aged woman enters the inn. She introduces herself as Miranda Stagpole.

    Miranda: ”And my... my husband was murdered last night...”

    Eadmund: ”Wow, that really sucks!”

    Miranda: ”...”

    Eadmund: ”...”

    Sheng jumps in to try and stop Eadmund from embarrassing himself further. Miranda explains that her husband Laurent Stagpole was murdered in the middle of his meeting with an old friend of theirs, inside his own office – there was nobody else in the room, but the City Guard came to the conclusion that it wasn't the friend either. After that they practically shrugged and left the crime scene as it was! That pretty much fits the Knights' prior impression of them. The Guard doesn't seem to be doing much and Miranda's just utterly confused, so she decided to turn to outside help before it's too late.

    Laurent was a relatively successful art dealer who ran a shop at the Gold Market. Their home and his office are located above the store, as is common. Behind the counter they see a snoring city guard, whom Miranda gives a hateful glare before leading the others upstairs. Laurent's office is on the third floor; there's a cold draft coming from under the door.

    Miranda: ”You... you just go in. I'll wait here if you need to ask something, but I really don't want to see it all again. Nothing has been changed since yesterday.”

    Wilhelm has the foresight to leave his golem outside as well, to avoid trailing dirt all over the crime scene.

    Spoiler: Crime Scenery Investigation
    Show
    The somewhat cluttered office is lined with bookshelves and artwork from Laurent's own collection. There is a large desk and a chair in front of a wide double window, which has been locked into a slightly ajar position with a metal clasp, explaining the chill. A knocked-over brazier has spilled its coals on the carpet, leaving it visibly charred, but they're clearly cold by now.

    On the wall opposite the window is Laurent Stagpole himself, a middle-aged man, firmly nailed to a landscape painting by an over-sized crossbow bolt through the back of his head. The painting has a good amount of said head's contents splattered all over it. Eadmund can't help but mutter a swear under his breath.

    Before anyone enters, Sheng performs a scan for alignment or magical auras, detecting nothing. Just to fit in, Wilhelm performs a scan for dirt, and predictably detects traces on the floor. They start their investigation by personally confirming that, yes, Laurent Stagpole is indeed dead.

    Wilhelm: ”You don't say.”

    Apart from the body and the brazier, the room seems undisturbed – the Knights specifically look for conspicuous gaps in the bookshelves, the artwork or the items on the desk, but nothing seems to be missing. The only potential weapon around is a perfectly ordinary paper-knife. Just to be perfectly sure, Sheng inspects the body to confirm that there's no doubt about the cause of death being the crossbow bolt sticking through its head, and there are no other injuries. Eadmund somehow gets it into his head that the painting it's leaning against, a countryside landscape, might be some kind of treasure map. Sheng carefully checks that there's no hidden safe behind it or anything.

    Their attention obviously turns towards the window. None of the glass panels are broken, but the gap is just barely wide enough for the bolt to have passed through from a perfect 90° angle. Thing is, outside the window is the perfectly open Gold Market, and Wilhelm confirms that the nearest possible shooting position is a four-story building about 600 feet away, on the opposite side of the square. It seems unlikely for anyone to make such a precise shot at such a range, but nothing is impossible, and they don't really have other theories for now.


    They leave the office to ask Miranda for her version of the events:

    The Stagpoles' old friend Laranor, who owns an antique store nearby, came on a friendly visit a bit before 8 o'clock last evening, as he often does. As usual, he and Laurent headed up into the office to talk. It was peaceful for a moment, but suddenly there was a lot of clatter and Laranor came stomping down the stairs, crying for help. He went to fetch the City Guard while Miranda entered the office and saw Laurent dead, but managed to keep herself together long enough to put out the brazier that Laranor had knocked over in his panic. Some guards arrived a while later, made a brief tour of the scene, interrogated Laranor and – in Miranda's words – pretty much shrugged their shoulders and left. The scene shouldn't have been disturbed since.

    Eadmund: ”One last thing: what's with that painting?”

    Miranda: ”The... the painting? Well, it was one of his favorites, I suppose, but...”

    Eadmund: ”Hmm...”

    The Knights decide to investigate these other leads they have. They're pretty certain the shooter was positioned across the Market, but want to be thorough. They walk up to the guard on the first floor, still sleeping, and Sheng slams his hands on the counter to wake him up.

    Guard: ”L-Lieutenant! Wait, no. Who are you?”

    Eadmund launches into his usual sales pitch, which he doesn't get to finish, as usual.

    Guard: ”Oh, whatever. What are you bothering me for?”

    Sheng: ”Were you here last night?”

    Guard: ”Nuh-uh, Lieutenant Dryden just brought me here this morning and told me to stay put. Apparently there's some sorta crime scene upstairs and he's in charge of it. What's that all about, anyway?”

    Eadmund: ”The gruesome murder of this shop's owner.”

    Guard: ”Oh, okay. Anyway, if you want the Lieutenant, I bet he's at the Fireside or something.”

    They leave the guard to his ”guarding” and decide on the shortest route: first they'll visit Laranor and ask him some questions. Then they'll check out their suspected shooting position. And then, if necessary, they'll go find this Lieutenant.

    Spoiler: Checking In
    Show
    Laranor the elf is sitting in his antique store by the Gold Market, sullenly doing some paperwork at the counter. He looks pretty broken up as well, but is happy to answer the Knights' questions if it will help the investigation:

    Laranor and Laurent were just having a friendly discussion about things like business, the weather, that nice rocking chair he received last week...

    Eadmund: ”Wait, you went to someone's office just to discuss the weather?”

    Laranor, on the verge of crying: ”It was just a friendly visit, for gods' sake!”

    The brazier heating the room was smoking a bit too much, so they opened the window to vent it out. As they talked, Laurent got up from his chair and started walking around the room in deep thought, which wasn't unusual for him. Shortly after he stopped in front of the large painting...

    Eadmund: "Why'd he do that? Something special about the painting?"

    Laranor: "I-I don't know, I suppose he liked it?"

    ...a crossbow bolt flew in through the open window and killed him instantly, or so Laranor assumes. He panicked, accidentally knocked over the brazier and ran out to fetch someone. After finally arriving, the guards basically frisked Laranor for weapons, took his confused testimony and told him to go home. He didn't get the impression they were trying very hard.

    Laurent didn't have any enemies that Laranor knew of, and their field of business wasn't especially competitive or anything. The Knights briefly consider the possibility of someone trying to kill Laranor and mistaking Laurent for him, but they look pretty damn different. Either way, his story adds up and Sheng's famed Motive Sense isn't tingling, so they decide to move on. Laranor wishes them the best of luck.


    The four-story building opposite Laurent's office turns out to be a large and expensive inn called the Lilyvalley Lodge. They step into the lobby and speak to the young receptionist standing behind the counter.

    Sheng: ”Hello, we're investigating a crime and require access to some of your rooms, at least from the third floor up.”

    Receptionist: ”Uh, I'm not sure that's something I can do. Who were you again?”

    Eadmund: ”A knightly order assisting the City Guard.”

    Receptionist: ”Well, the third floor is almost completely reserved, and I obviously can't let you into the customers' rooms. Oh, you're probably looking for the woman on the fourth floor!”

    The Knights share a meaningful glance.

    Eadmund: ”What woman?”

    The receptionist seems to perk up: ”Oh, she was really mysterious and everything! Brown hair, youngish, green eyes... she came here yesterday, reserved a fourth-floor suite for three days and told us not to clean it, but I'm pretty sure she didn't sleep there.”

    Sheng: ”Ooh, how young?”

    Eadmund: ”Seriously?”

    Receptionist: ”About thirty or so.”

    Sheng: ”Bah. Around what time was this?”

    Receptionist: ”She came here around six or so and left a little before nine. Hasn't been back since. Oh, and even better, she actually left a message in case anyone came looking for her! It's like a little poem or something.”

    The receptionist digs out a piece of paper and reads it out loud: ”The midnight full moon blesses an aging heart.”

    The first part is pretty obvious: Eadmund realizes that tonight is the first of the full moon, so she presumably wants to meet somewhere at midnight. The ”aging heart” part is a bit weirder.

    The receptionist, clearly giddy at the thought of being involved in such a mystery, agrees to take them to the suite in question. Despite the lack of cleaning, it's pretty much spotless and nobody seems to have slept there. A large window opens to the Market, facing directly towards Laurent's office. Sheng does a little test aiming with his own bow and decides that the angle of fire wouldn't be physically impossible. The accuracy issue could be fixed with some magical aid, such as True Strike, which even Eadmund can cast.

    Receptionist: ”If I may ask, what's the crime you're investigating?”

    Wilhelm: ”The murder of an arts merchant across the Market.”

    The receptionist's smile disappears: ”Oh, gods... I-I'm sorry for sounding so happy about it, I -”

    Eadmund: ”No, it's okay! I think this is all really exciting too!”


    The puzzle seems to be coming together pretty well, but just to make sure, the Knights decide to seek out this Lieutenant Dryden. They make their way to the Port District and the Fireside Tavern, which they actually briefly visited on their first day in town.

    Eadmund: ”Hey, there's actually a really nice tea place near here. They also have this weird orc drink. It's pretty disgusting.”

    This time it's already evening and the large fire pit in the middle of the room is ablaze, providing light and warmth for the people drinking and gambling all around the hall. The crowd includes laymen, sailors and even a few guards. Among those chainshirt-wearing guards is one with a proper breastplate and blue cape. They assume that curly-haired man to be the Lieutenant.

    Sheng takes a moment to survey the group from a distance. No alignmental auras of note, but Dryden's carrying a magic longsword on his hip, and even if he's quite drunk, Sheng gets the impression that picking a fight wouldn't be the brightest idea. The Knights approach. Dryden and his fellow guards are laughing about some joke of theirs, so Sheng joins in, louder than anyone else. The guards stop to glare at him and a deadly chill descends over the table.

    Sheng: ”Evening! Are you Lieutenant Dryden?”

    Dryden: ”What's it to ya?”

    Sheng: ”We're from the Brazen Helm, and Miranda Stagpole hired us to investigate the murder of her husband. We got the impression you were doing the same.”

    Dryden: ”Oh, that Laurent Stagpole? Yeah, seems like a dead end to me. It wasn't the friend, and we have no idea where the shot could've come from.”

    Sheng: ”There's a suitable window right across the Market.”

    Dryden: ”Bah, nobody could make that shot.”

    Sheng: ”With magic they could.”

    Dryden shrugs: ”Look, rich folks get killed and robbed all the time, just add this one to the list.”

    Sheng: ”He wasn't robbed.”

    Dryden: ”Hey, how about you northern lads stop telling me how to do my job, huh!? Or do you wanna fight, huh!?”

    Sheng decides there's nothing to be gained here and starts walking away.

    Dryden: ”Yeah, I thought so!”

    Sheng grumbles to himself and keeps walking.

    Wilhelm: ”Hey, before we leave... do you have any idea what 'an aging heart' could mean?”

    Dryden: ”Wuh? You mean like.. agehearts, those flowers or whatnot?”

    That's pretty much what Eadmund had thought. He sprints out the door and heads towards the park. Sheng notices him running and decides to do the same. Wilhelm rides his golem at a leisurely pace, wondering why the others are in such a hurry when they still have several hours left. In fact, he takes a brief detour to buy a large cloak that covers and somewhat disguises his golem.

    Spoiler: No-Scope Mugshot
    Show
    Eadmund correctly recalls that ageheart flowers are the symbol of the Mother of Nations and grow in several places around her temple. At the moment, the park is mostly deserted and there aren't too many people inside the temple either, but the Knights have some time to kill. Sheng finds a vantage point in a tall tree, all of which are leafless, and tries to stay hidden. Eadmund and Wilhelm relax inside the temple, and the latter uses Golem's Eyes to project his consciousness into the golem and patrol the perimeter. The Knights fully expect a trap of some sort, but are willing to attend this midnight meeting anyway.

    Just before midnight, Sheng spots a three-man group with a lantern entering the park. They hang around for a bit before heading to a small plaza with bright red flowers planted around it. Sheng alerts the others and they cautiously head to the meeting.

    The other group consists of a dwarf, a wolf on a leash, an armored human and a halfling. They're standing in one corner of the plaza, having set their lantern on the edge of a raised flower bed in the middle, and the latter-most has climbed a small tree. The Knights take up similar positions in the opposite corner and Wilhelm's golem lifts him into a tree as well, as if to complete the symmetry of the scene. Eadmund waves a friendly hello.

    Sheng: ”Well, what are you doing here then?”

    Dwarf: ”We ain't interested in talking! Which one of you ladies is Cintia?”

    Sheng: ”Who's that?”

    Dwarf: ”We're about to show you not to mess with the Bullfrogs!”

    The dwarf draws two axes and prepares to fight, but suddenly the Knights hear a cry of pain from behind them. A man who was trying to sneak up on them is lying on the ground, clutching his leg, which has a large bolt sticking through it.

    Dwarf: ”They ambushed our ambush! Get 'em!”

    The dwarf releases his wolf, but it promptly gets tackled to the ground by Wilhelm's deceptively fast golem. The halfling in the tree casts Enlarge Person on his armored comrade.

    Halfling: ”You're powered up, get in there!”

    Those are his dignified last words before taking two rapid shots from Sheng and falling to the ground head-first.

    While the golem is wrestling with the wolf, Eadmund charges forward and casts Enlarge Person as well. The armored man swings a warhammer in his direction, but seems rather clumsy with it, and the dwarf moves behind him to flank, but has some understandable difficulty landing good hits on a fighting target three times his own height. After even stepping on his little dwarven feet a couple of times, Eadmund lands a single decisive slash with his Flamebite-infused scimitar. The dwarf doesn't go down immediately, but succumbs to the blaze a moment later.

    Meanwhile, Wilhelm lobs some Clinging Earth at the wounded ambusher behind them and even tries to use his crossbow – a momentous occasion – but misses miserably. The man gathers his strength to lumber at Sheng, but is unceremoniously finished off with a single arrow, after which Sheng turns back towards the actual fight.

    The wolf bites the dust (golem), but in vain, and is soon knocked out. The armored man is the last enemy standing and decides to make a run for it, but only makes it about thirty feet away before Sheng shoots him in the back and he falls to the ground. The Knights are gathering up the two corpses and two captives (the armored man and the dwarf, whom Eadmund extinguishes) when they see a female figure approaching from the direction of the temple, stopping a safe distance away. She's wearing a long cloak over a suit of leather armor and carrying a large crossbow.


    Cintia: ”I'm assuming you're not from the Guard.”

    Sheng: ”And I'm assuming you're Cintia.”

    She raises her crossbow to her shoulder and smirks: ”Cintia Cross, best bounty hunter in town, if I say so myself.”

    Wilhelm actually takes a better look at the weapon. It's a rather advanced design: a heavy repeating crossbow with a horizontal magazine, something of a scope and intricate carvings all over. As she lowers it, it folds up and collapses into a travel-sized box she places on her belt.

    Cintia: ”This Bullfrog gang here has been shadowing me – rather poorly – since I took out their boss about a month ago. Figured I'd lure them into a trap.”

    Eadmund: ”And what's with Laurent Stagpole, then?”

    Cintia: ”I believe you mean Laurent Doewell.”

    She digs out a folder flier and hands it to the Knights before backing off again. It's a wanted poster, ”dead or alive”, with a drawing of what could well be a younger Laurent. He is accused of fraud, assault and six counts of murder, with a bounty of 5,000 sp.

    Cintia: ”That poster was handed out by the City Guard of Barlang thirteen years ago. Doewell was never caught, but the bounty is still in effect. I originally came across it by coincidence, but after some digging, it turns out it's actually our old friend Stagwell in that picture. He showed up in Dewport a few years later under a different surname.”

    Eadmund: ”How can you be so sure?”

    Cintia: ”I'm sure enough. Thing is, I'm actually pretty new in town, but halfway through this plan I realized the local guards would either ignore me or try to arrest me if I tried to explain the situation. That's why I left a trail any halfway competent investigator could find, and assumed that someone would listen instead.”

    Sheng: ”So... you just hoped for Miranda to come and hire us, and for us to find you, and for us to present your case?”

    Cintia: ”No, not you specifically, anybody would've been fine. And even if you didn't, it would've lured the Bullfrogs here, and I could've thought of something else afterwards. Who are you, anyway?”

    Eadmund: ”Oh, we're the Brasshelms, a knightly order from Runewall, and we –”

    Eadmund almost starts trying to recruit her, but then realizes they probably don't want to.

    Sheng: ”You could've just taken him alive.”

    Cintia: ”Not how I do things. I don't get close like that. Besides, looking at the situation here, you can hardly call yourself innocent either.”

    Eadmund: ”Hey, I would never kill anyone! Not even on accident!” (Yeah, right.)

    Cintia: ”Anyway, are you going to help or not? I'll let you have the bounty on the Bullfrogs, I think it's about 500 sp a piece – dead or alive.”

    Sheng starts scanning Cintia for magic, and his sudden spellcasting makes her reach for her crossbow.

    Cintia: "It'd prefer if you didn't just start casting something with no warning."

    Sheng: "You must understand, we have to take some precautions."

    Cintia: "So do I, and I have no way to know whether you're about to heal yourself or throw a fireball at me."

    About all he finds out is that Cintia has a lot of magic auras on her. He doesn't actually have the technical know-how to decipher them.

    Sheng has been scanning various people's alignments all day, but Cintia's is the first to stand out: Chaotic.

    The Knights definitely have mixed feelings, but they decide to suck it up and haul their catch to the Flower Quarter Guard Station, though not before digging through the Bullfrogs' pockets for a nice lump of cash. They tie up and heal the unconscious ones, whom Cintia gags as soon as they try to speak.

    Spoiler: Cross-Examination
    Show
    Sheng slams open the doors: ”I have arrived!”

    At the entrance of the Guard Station, a large blocky building, the Knights find a startled guard who sees the four criminals they're dragging and decides to fetch his superior. After a moment, Captain Colton, a bald man in his fifties with a tired look on his face, arrives to speak to them. They explain the situation.

    Sheng: ”So, to summarize, this here assassin –”

    Cintia: ”Bounty hunter.”

    Sheng: ”– claims that she killed Laurent Stagpole because he had an old bounty on his head.”

    Colton: ”Well, we've received Imperial orders to cooperate with the Brazen Helm, and it sure would be nice to actually solve something for once. I presume you've met Lieutenant Dryden?”

    Sheng: ”Oh, yeah, we definitely get what you mean.”

    Colton: ”I can certainly give you the bounty on the Bullfrogs, but we'll have to check about... Doewell.”

    Cintia shrugs and doesn't object. Before they head to the crime scene, though, the Captain wants to fetch someone else. They walk a short distance down the street and come to the city cemetery, surrounded by a tall cast iron fence. On the edge of the cemetery there is a small temple, perhaps more of a shrine. The Knights figure that it's dedicated to the Reaper of Years, God of Death. Colton knocks on the door, and after a moment they hear the sound of several locks and latches being unlocked. Standing in the doorway is a pale man about Colton's age, wearing a dark robe and a somewhat disturbing finger bone necklace. He's introduced as Reverend Sercos, keeper of this graveyard.

    Sercos: ”But Captain, old friend, what brings you here? It's been a while.”

    Colton: ”I need your help solving a case.”

    Sercos: ”Oh, just like old times? Say no more. I'll be out in a moment.”


    Miranda lets the whole crew in and they enter the office while she waits outside again. Wilhelm's golem and Eadmund block the exits, just in case things go awry and Cintia tries to run – in their minds she's still suspected of murder. Without further ado, Sercos mutters a prayer and touches Laurent on the head. He's clearly done this very same thing before. With a disgusting creak, the corpse's mouth starts moving slowly, as if trying to speak or gasp for air. Sercos says they have a total of four questions to spend as they wish. The Knights decide to let Colton handle it, just so they're not responsible for any mistakes. He gets right next to the corpse's face.

    Colton: ”Is your real name Laurent Doewell?”

    Laurent, in a monotone whisper: ”...yes...”

    Well, that was efficient. Case closed, everyone. The Knights suggest another question, though.

    Colton: ”Did you commit those crimes you were accused of thirteen years ago?”

    Laurent: ”...yes...”

    Alright, so the bounty itself was justified as well. Eadmund asks to have a go at it, and after hearing the question, permission is given with some eye-rolling reluctance.

    Eadmund: ”What is the meaning of that painting?”

    Laurent, after a moment of silence: ”...it is a landscape.”

    Eadmund is heartbroken. The others can't help but laugh.

    Well, there's still one question left. They agree that it should probably be given to Miranda. Sheng is the one to open the door and speak to her.

    Miranda: ”W-What's going on? I heard parts of your... conversation... and...”

    Sheng explains the basics as delicately as he can: how Laurent had a bounty put on him for crimes he committed before meeting Miranda. She's in utter disbelief – Laurent was always really sweet, got along with everyone, the usual – but Sheng insists that Laurent confessed to everything (which confuses her even more). Given one last chance to speak to her husband, she awkwardly asks:

    Miranda: ”Is this... true? Did you really do those horrible things?”

    Laurent: ”...yes...”

    The corpse deanimates once more and Miranda bolts out of the room, covering her sobbing face. The Knights can't help but feel a bit annoyed at her utterly wasteful use of the question, as callous as that may be. In retrospect, Wilhelm thinks it might've been better to ask more about those past crimes.


    Sercos says he'll start the funeral arrangements in the morning. As they're leaving the building, they glimpse Miranda peeking at them from another room, but when they turn to look at her she slams the door shut. The Knights realize she might not be very happy about her husband's murderer not only getting away scot-free, but actually being rewarded for the deed. At least they have the minimal decency not to ask for payment. They did get about a total of 2600 sp from the Bullfrogs' pockets and bounty, after all.

    Colton: ”Cintia... I mean, Ms Cross, what you are doing may be legal, but it'd still be appreciated if you could be a bit more... delicate.”

    Cintia just shrugs again: ”The bounty's the same. At least I probably won't need to jump through all these hoops in the future.”

    Sheng: ”So, uh, if we ever needed to contact you, how would we do that?”

    Cintia: ”Hmm... I don't really have much of network over here yet, but I'm probably sticking around. Seems like there's a lot of work for someone like me. Don't worry, I'll contact you sooner or later.”

    The Knights have reached level 4.

    Spoiler: EXTRA: Apology
    Show
    The next day, Eadmund has a beautiful bouquet of purple hyacinths delivered to Miranda Stagpole. He read somewhere that they symbolize "sorrow for a wrong committed".

    Deepest condolences. -E

    He really doesn't like the way this case turned out. And he doesn't much care for that bounty hunter, either.


    Spoiler: Assorted Lore
    Show
    In rough order of appearance.

    Barlang
    A large city in northern Ceraris, near the border of Falaz'gat. The heart of the Empire's metalworking industry. Houses a substantial number of falazi who have reluctantly chosen to escape oppression in their homeland.

    The Reaper of Years
    God of Death and the Afterlife. Neutral Evil. Whether the Reaper actually brings death or simply takes care of the aftermath is a matter of interpretation, but in either case its clerics rarely cause any trouble and have an important role in society. They are generally responsible for tending to the dead and their graves, and abhor undeath as an insult to their god's domain.


    Spoiler: Commentary
    Show
    I originally intended to make the mystery more complicated, but then remembered all those horror stories about how hard such scenarios are to execute in an RPG. I feel like I ended up overcompensating quite a bit, as the players proved rather thorough and competent, but they didn't even realize until I asked about it afterwards and definitely had fun with it. If and when I make another mystery scenario, I don't need to restrain myself as much.

    I and the players definitely agree that combat encounters need to be juiced up a bit. The Knights aren't especially tanky, but they hit so fast and hard that most enemies don't really get a chance, and Wilhelm's wrestler golem basically takes one enemy out of any given fight. They've gotten their chance to shine, allowed a bit of calibration, and basically given me the go-ahead to ramp things up. As if I needed it.

    Dialogue is condensed as usual, but in any given social situation, you can assume the following to be going on:
    • Sheng is the official party face and does most of the talking (as you've probably noticed). Diplomatic to the point of almost seeming a bit slimy at times. As soon as the attention turns away from him, he'll try to subtly try to detect magic and alignment on anyone who seems halfway important.
    • Eadmund somehow manages to be extremely friendly and cluelessly tactless at the same time. Often starts rambling or latches onto something silly, like the completely mundane painting in this case. Technically way better than Sheng at Spellcraft, but not rude enough to scan people without reason.
    • Wilhelm hangs back, maybe takes a look around, and only speaks up to grumble something or maybe point out something everyone else seems to have missed. His player also demanded credit for the chapter titles in this entry. I really wasn't feeling punny and he helped me out a lot.
    • It's good to note, though, that this is the situation in-character. Though it does represent the players' personalities somewhat, a lot of what Sheng ends up asking is actually the result of OOC discussion among the whole group. Though it might look that way, Wilhelm''s player for instance isn't actually left out in any way, and everyone is happy to let Sheng do the talking, with his actual skill points and what not.

    As for the level-up at the end, I'm giving them their first couple levels a bit faster to get them off to a good start before slowing the pace somewhat. They won't be leveling up every two sessions for the whole campaign. It's a relatively mid-level world, after all (most of the elite hovering somewhere around level 10). I'll probably post their builds at some point, but not quite yet.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-01-30 at 07:16 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Eadmund's player messaged me to tell me what Eadmund would do between sessions, and as small as it was, I really had to add it to the end of the entry. That guy really is devoted to roleplaying a legitimately nice person.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-01-30 at 07:18 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Entry #3: Grassroots Movement

    In which things get deep.

    Spoiler: Session Log
    Show
    18th of Oak Moon, 1985 – Red Dragonfly Inn, Dewport, Ceraris

    Spoiler: The Baker Incident
    Show
    In the days following their resolution of the Stagpole/Doewell Incident, all three of the Knights put their practical experience to use and make some good progress in their respective fields of magic. Wilhelm in particular wanders into the woods to have his golem chop down a hearty oak that he uses as materials for a new, improved, wooden golem. Eadmund is saddened, having wanted to plant some flowers in the dirt one. They design a little ”grave” in the backyard and plant the seeds there instead.

    Eadmund also visits Lucas Blaise to return his borrowed books and to ask if there's anything on magical weapons. Lucas asks to see Eadmund's black scimitar and is awestruck to find that it is a genuine wyrmglass weapon, something that almost nobody has been able to make for over a thousand years now. Eadmund is equally hyped. Lucas doesn't know why it keeps vibrating whenever the Wormway is mentioned, though, and will try to look into it.

    One morning their routines at the Red Dragonfly are interrupted by a panicked, middle-aged couple rushing inside. They introduce themselves as Percy and Maria Baker and say that their son has disappeared.

    Eadmund: ”You wouldn't happen to actually be bakers by trade, would you?”

    Percy: ”Yes we would, but how is that important?!”

    Apparently the Bakers heard a crash from their basement this morning and went down to see that a strange tunnel had suddenly appeared in the wall. Even worse, their 11-year-old son Daniel was nowhere to be found, so they believe he's somehow ended up inside the tunnel, perhaps taken by someone or something. They live very close by, so they ran over as quickly as they could.

    This sounds awfully familiar to Eadmund, who quickly fetches a binder of notes from his room. He says the tunnel is probably part of the Wormway, a mysterious and supernatural cavern complex below the city. It's not usually this threatening; the locals even use it as a sewer. He and the Bakers leave right away, but as Wilhelm is about to follow them astride his golem, he notices that Sheng has been oddly quiet.

    Sheng is leaning against a wall and snoozing with his face covered by a newspaper. Wilhelm has the golem press its wooden hand against Sheng's face. He wakes up just in time to avoid being picked up and carried over the shoulder. Wilhelm explains that they have a job to do and they start running as well.

    The Bakers' basement seems like a perfectly normal storage room, but one of the cupboards has been knocked over, revealing a hole in the stone wall, about four feet across, concealed by loose vines. The inside of the tunnel is dark, as expected, but seems to widen somewhat and be covered in even more plant life. A quick Detect Magic reveals that the tunnel has a faint magical aura, like background radiation, with traces of at least abjuration, illusion and transmutation. It's rather typical of, say, the Wormway or the Underdark. Sheng has heard mentions of the tunnels around town, but nothing about them causing trouble like this.

    Percy: ”Should we get the Guard or something?”

    Sheng: ”Yes, in fact, you should ask for Captain Colton and say that the Brasshelms are on the case. Lock up the basement until our return.”

    Eadmund takes a blank piece of paper and scribbles a brief message onto it: ”Gone to investigate the Wormway, will report findings. -Eadmund” and asks the Bakers to deliver it to the Blaise household in the Castle Quarter.

    Sheng: ”'Report'? Who exactly are you working for?”

    Eadmund: ”Not for, with. There's this person who's staying in Dewport specifically to research the Wormway. He's sure to be interested.”

    With that, they crawl into the tunnel.

    Spoiler: Dewport Underground
    Show
    The tunnel expands enough for everyone to walk through while hunched over. Eadmund casts Light on his sword and Sheng on the golem's helmet. The overgrown walls seem smooth and regular enough to be man-made, yet the passage twists and turns in every direction, even up and down, seemingly at random. The only distinct impression the Knights get is that they're headed deeper and deeper into the earth. After several minutes of walking, they come to another vine-covered hole that seems to open up into a larger chamber.

    The others hang back while Sheng casts Invisibility on himself and crouches through the vines. The plants covering every solid surface of the eerily quiet room are speckled with little dots of light that reveal the outline of a tall room that seems to continue behind a nearby corner. Here and there are some strangely bundled vines running from floor to ceiling, looking almost like solid pillars. As Sheng turns his head, he finally lays his eyes on an adult human corpse, pinned against the wall right next to him and covered in vines.

    Sheng whispers to the others in the tunnel: ”There's a corpse over here, but at least it isn't Daniel.”

    Just as he speaks those words, the dead man springs to life and tries to lash out at the source of the sound, only to be held in place by the vines. Sheng lets out a distinctly ”I freaking knew it” sort of sigh and scans the ”zombie”, only to find that it is neither undead nor magical. On a second look, some of those vines are actually growing through and from its body. He realizes that it's actually the spawn of a yellow musk creeper, a rare and dangerous plant that feeds on the brain matter of its helpless victims and implants them with its seed, making them shamble around for a while before falling inert and providing fertilizer for a whole new creeper to grow.

    Sheng, still invisible, relays this information and proceeds further into the room, but doesn't actually have anything to see with. He picks up a pebble and casts Light on it, prompting something in the darkness to fling a thorn-like spear at the seemingly floating glow. Sheng tosses the stone right back, hiding his position once more and illuminating what looks like man-shaped creature covered in bark and moss, with a new spear already growing in its hand. It's standing at the back of a passage between two 20-foot-tall ledges, one of which has a ramp leading up to it. Just as he steps on the ramp, however, Sheng notices that some of the vines on it are moving in response to his approach. After casting Expeditious Retreat, he manages to hop over and between the tendrils grabbing at his legs and reaches a safe vantage point at the top of the ledge.


    Eadmund: ”Sheng? Are you alright? Sheeeeng!?”

    Already on edge ever since entering the Wormway, hearing no response from Sheng after seeing the spear fly by has convinced Eadmund that he must be in great trouble, or worse. He barges into the room, casts Frostbite on his scimitar and charges towards the strange mossman. Wilhelm actually recognizes it as a ”gladeling”, a breed of fey. He's had some... bad experiences with fey in the past, and the realization makes him angry and afraid at the same time – angfraid, in his own words. It also distracts him enough that he almost stumbles right into the touchy tendrils (which he recognizes as an assassin vine) and the golem has to jump in to bail him out.

    The Knights now see all three gladelings in the room: two at the back and one on the second ledge. Eadmund runs up to the former two and blasts them with a spout of Burning Hands, lighting a good chunk of the room on fire. One manages to duck behind a vine-pillar and twirl around it, leaping at Eadmund with its spear right about to meet his face...

    Sheng, who is overlooking the situation from above, shouts out a warning. Eadmund turns around in confusion, just in time for the spear to sail past his head. Sheng can only face-palm as this allows the other gladeling to stab Eadmund in the side instead. Eadmund casts Mirror Image, making a grand total of five illusionary copies jump out and thus conceal his actual position, and puts down the gladelings with a few more slashes as their attacks hit nothing but air.

    The remaining gladeling on the ledge is trying to grab Wilhelm with some sort of vine-whip, but Sheng's still determined to stay hidden. Instead of simply shooting the damn thing, he jumps around and pokes at the gladeling to leave it swiping furiously at empty air, cursing in Sylvan, while he hops down and starts putting out Eadmund's little fire with repeated castings of Create Water.

    After running out of targets for Clinging Earth, Wilhelm starts taking potshots with his crossbow instead. He and his golem finally manage to tear the assassin vine to pieces, clearing the path for Eadmund and the golem to get on the ledge and finish off the gladeling. It actually lands a seemingly fatal headshot on Eadmund, but as the illusion fades, its little grin drops, followed shortly by its head as the real Eadmund cuts it off. Sheng's Invisibility finally ends, making Eadmund rush over and give him a very awkward, almost tearful hug of relief. Wilhelm's golem is in bad enough shape that he's actually forced to reconstruct it, using some of the surrounding flora as spare parts. Sheng digs through the gladelings' corpses and finds some toothpick-sized thorns, which he deduces to be the strange spears they'd used. Apparently they were just carried in miniature form.

    Before carrying on, they heal Eadmund and wonder what to do with the seed-zombie by the entrance. They ultimately settle for the simple but effective approach of cutting off its head before having the golem dig out the acorn-sized seed and crush it in its hands.

    Spoiler: Seedy Business
    Show
    After only a short stretch of tunnel the Knights find themselves in a tall, cylindrical room. Water trickles in through the walls and flows into a filthy pool at the bottom. There are three platforms on opposite sides of the room, each with another tunnel entrance, and they're standing on the tallest one, about 40 feet above the water's surface. Firm but uneven and slippery vine-pillars form sloped walkways between the platforms. Eadmund decides to go first but moves a bit too carelessly and plunges into the water below, resurfacing unharmed and starting to swim towards the lowest platform. Based on the smell, the talk about sewers seems to be true.

    Sheng goes next, handling the bridge just fine and even dodging a spear thrown by a gladeling that emerged from hiding on the lowest platform. It probably would've hit at Eadmund if he hadn't already fallen on his own. Sheng makes his way to the middle platform and shoots two arrows at the gladeling, only to miss with both. The buoyant golem jumps into the water to reach the fight as fast as possible, but the gladeling decides to run while it can and disappears into the tunnel behind it.

    The Knights want to check out the tunnel on the middle platform before heading any deeper, just to be thorough. It turns out quite similar to the one connected to the Bakers' basement, winding around and around for several minutes until Eadmund finally sticks his head out from under a bush in some Dewporter's back yard. After briefly considering the possibility of Daniel's kidnappers hiding in the nearby house, the Knights decide that this is just another exit and hurry back underground.

    They know to expect an ambush in the lowest tunnel, and aren't very eager to walk right into it. Instead, they have the surprisingly bright idea of Sheng casting Invisibility on Wilhelm's golem and him using Golem's Eyes to send it in as an expendable scout. The golem walks into the tunnel and sees another long room with a zombie and two gladelings skulking behind pillars at the back, overlooking a small chasm that cuts the room in half. The golem walks into a small side passage and a zombie shambles right by it, towards the party. The passage takes the golem past another exit tunnel – guarded by a large violet fungus – and up behind the gladelings, bypassing the chasm. Wilhelm briefly returns to his body to report all this to the others.

    Sheng quickly ducks into the room to shoot the zombie before it can reach them. As he lands a fatal shot, however, the zombie's body puffs out a cloud of spores that take a moment to disperse. At least they'll know to avoid that in the future.

    The golem continues on its merry way, walking right past the unwitting gladelings and into the tunnel behind them. At the end of the winding passage it finally finds a circular chamber with a huge tower of vines in the middle of it, covered in bright-yellow flowers. This must be the yellow musk creeper. There's another zombie shambling around... and at the back of the room are five more unconscious people, bound to the wall by vines. Daniel is second from the right, but a hungry-looking tendril is already headed for the brain of the leftmost captive. Wilhelm has the golem charge at the massive creeper, losing its invisibility, and leaves it to fend for itself while moving back into his own body.

    Wilhelm: ”There are people back there about to get seeded, we better hurry!”

    Spoiler: The Root of the Problem
    Show
    Abandoning any further trickery, the Knights opt for a shock-and-awe approach and begin a frantic rush through the ambush room. Sheng blows up the zombie and Eadmund simply leaps across the chasm, evading a spear in midair and engaging in an intense melee with the two gladelings. Wilhelm, meanwhile, fails to do the same and stumbles into the pit. The good news: it's only about 15 feet deep. The bad news: there's a zombie waiting for him down there. He bashes it upside the head with his crossbow and Sheng finishes it off with an arrow, giving Wilhelm a face full of spores. A stuffy stench and prickling sensation assault his sinuses, but he seems to avoid the worst of it, and is helped up by Sheng.

    As if making a glorious last stand, the last gladeling takes several seemingly lethal wounds and fights back with great ferocity until Eadmund finally chops its head off. The Knights made sure to stomp on the zombie-seeds as they passed by, so they press on after just giving Eadmund a quick poke of the ol' medicine stick. His scrapes are starting to add up, but they have no time to wait for the spell to do its magic.

    Eadmund is the first to reach the final room and see the golem tangled up in the creeper, tearing at the vines trying to wrap around it. In the back, another person has been zombified and four captives remain. Eadmund casts Bladed Dash, leaving behind only a faint blur as he charges across the air, buries his sword in the creeper and makes a long slash on his way down. He casts his custom Flamebite and just starts tearing into it, even as the damaged parts try to regenerate but simply can't keep up. If plants could scream, the creeper definitely would, based on the way its vines are whipping around the room.

    Even while taking some blows from the vines himself, Sheng notices that another narrow tendril is headed for the next captive in line. He fires an arrow at the tendril, but it almost seems to dodge the projectile, and buries itself in the victim's skull. Sheng grits his teeth and dashes past the creeper, deftly rolling to evade another vine, and successfully severs the tendril with his dagger. To his relief, the victim seems to still be alive.

    The yellow musk creeper lashes out wildly and uses its flowers to spew more spores at the Knights, but is hopelessly outmatched, and soon goes down in a smoldering pile. After the remaining two zombies are handily destroyed, it seems that the cavern is clear and the four unconscious captives safe. The Knights yank out the tendril from the close call's skull and search through the remains of the creeper to make sure that no fertile seeds remain.

    Sheng does in fact find one such seed, and quietly places it into his pocket for safekeeping.


    Spoiler: Assorted Lore
    Show
    Wyrmglass
    Depending on the particular item, wyrmglass can resemble glass, marble, steel or anything in between, but it is always very smooth, shiny and pitch black. Genuine wyrmglass is (or rather was) forged with a combination of dragonbreath, rare materials and powerful magic, cooperative dragons being in rather short order for a while now. Even the best modern replications are second-rate knock-offs at best. A wyrmglass blade is extremely sharp, durable, almost universally magical in some way and certainly very, very valuable.

    Fey
    Also known as fairies, the fey folk are best described as "elementals of the Material Plane", with a direct connection to the natural environment, especially forests. They live and die with the nature they inhabit. They are varied in form and disposition, ranging from affable to mischievous to outright murderous, but their alien sense (or lack) of morality means that any prolonged contact is likely to end in tragedy. They are very rare near populated areas, but the former Elderland peninsula is an infamous – and expanding – center of activity.


    Spoiler: Commentary
    Show
    When it comes to this journal, combat-heavy dungeon crawls force me to make the choice between "disappointingly short" and "overly-detailed"... or so I fear. I know I say this a lot, but please share your opinion on the amount (and subject) of detail. Lively descriptions are an important part of our group's efforts to make combat more varied, but they might not translate that well into journal format.

    A lot of would-be critical hits in this session! The gladeling critted Eadmund's clone, Sheng failed a confirmation roll, and Eadmund confirmed two crit-Flamebites against the creeper (in the same turn!) before we remembered it was immune. The only actually successful crit was Wilhelm shooting the last zombie in the head, dealing 2 damage instead of 1.

    The players are hiding a whole bunch of information from each other for little good reason, especially Sheng, but it's all mutual and in good fun. I just hope it won't cause issues in the whole run... and I need to think of something more special for Wilhelm. He hasn't really given me any hooks like the others did.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-02-26 at 01:14 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    For my tastes, you seem to have hit a good balance between brevity and detail. You had a couple nice bits, such as "If plants could scream, the creeper definitely would, based on the way its vines are whipping around the room." without getting carried away, and i could easily follow the action without getting bogged down or confused as to how a thing was able to occur. In fact, the only thing i was confused about was the reference to Sheng leaning against the wall asleep, is this some reference to out of character situations and shenanigans. Someone late to arrive or playing with their cell phone?

    one thing i was curious about from your last session, but didn't get a chance to ask. Did Cintia do something to the bazier or its feul, to make it over smoke, or was this just luck/hand waved? was that an avenue you had set up?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Quote Originally Posted by wobner View Post
    For my tastes, you seem to have hit a good balance between brevity and detail. You had a couple nice bits, such as "If plants could scream, the creeper definitely would, based on the way its vines are whipping around the room." without getting carried away, and i could easily follow the action without getting bogged down or confused as to how a thing was able to occur. In fact, the only thing i was confused about was the reference to Sheng leaning against the wall asleep, is this some reference to out of character situations and shenanigans. Someone late to arrive or playing with their cell phone?

    one thing i was curious about from your last session, but didn't get a chance to ask. Did Cintia do something to the bazier or its feul, to make it over smoke, or was this just luck/hand waved? was that an avenue you had set up?
    Sheng's player sent me a message at the start, saying that Sheng was napping, and waited for anyone else to notice that he was being completely silent (as opposed to leading the conversation as usual). They didn't, until I finally let them roll for it. So nah, just a bit of shenanigans.

    IIRC the brazier was just plain luck (and a potential red herring for the party). She didn't necessarily need a gap to shoot through, if Laurent had stood a bit to the side she could've just shot through the glass. Shooting through a gap barely wider than the bolt itself was also (from a meta-perspective) a display of her improbable aiming skills, of course.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-03-09 at 01:25 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Entry #4: Smoke and Mirrors

    In which the Knights get some new headaches.

    Spoiler: Session Log
    Show
    18th of Oak Moon, 1985 – The Wormway, beneath Dewport, Ceraris

    Spoiler: Exfoliating Treatment
    Show
    Having destroyed the yellow musk creeper, the Knights turn to the four unconscious captives hanging on the cavern wall. In addition to the young Daniel Baker, there are two grown men and one woman. The Knights carefully cut the vines binding them and lower them to the ground, where they all start to gradually wake up – except Daniel. Wilhelm's quick diagnostics determine that the boy's just suffering stronger effects from the immobilizing poison due to his youth and should be just fine, even if it takes a moment.

    The Knights keep a close eye on their rescuees, who seem be too groggy to worry about their situation too much, but otherwise in good shape – even the one who got stung by the creeper and barely rescued by Sheng. They make some small-talk, getting everyone's names and such, before huddling up to discuss their next move.

    Eadmund insists that they get everyone out of the Wormway as quickly as possible, before it does ”something weird”.

    Sheng: ”Weird like what?”

    Eadmund: ”That's the thing, I have no idea!”

    As far as he knows, more monsters might appear or the way out might change if they waste too much time, but the behavior of the highly magical Wormway isn't exactly well-documented. However, Sheng rightfully points out that they still have one side passage to investigate, the one Wilhelm's golem walked by. After a lot of deliberation, they decide to escort the civilians out through the nearest exit and then return to wrap up their exploration.

    In order to walk out they have to pass by the purple fungus sitting on the wall. It wriggles its tendrils as they approach, but can't seem to actually move from its spot. Despite its regal purple color, Eadmund can't recognize it as mushroom royalty, and lacking diplomatic immunity, it is quickly shot to death by Sheng.

    While the golem carries Daniel in its arms, everyone else carefully climbs up the viney bridge and crouches into the exit tunnel on the central platform of the water room. After a few minutes of walking they clamber out of a hole in the ground and into the backyard they already saw earlier. Now that everyone is out safely, the Knights take a moment to collect everyone's testimonies: all three people remember walking alone in different parts of the Flower Quarter, late in the evening, when a strange smell appeared and they passed out. There doesn't seem to be any other connection between them, so the Knights decide to let them go their own ways with a suggestion to visit the Red Dragonfly if something happens.

    Sheng, pointing at the stung one: ”Especially you. If any weird symptoms appear, contact a healer or something, alright?”

    Stung one, suspiciously touching his head: ”W-Why, did something happen to me?”

    Sheng: ”No, no, just telling you to be careful.”


    The Knights take a moment to interview the owner of the backyard they're currently in, though they assume it's just a random entrance. They knock on a window, which is opened by an elderly man.

    Man: ”Huh?”

    Eadmund: ”Yes, hello, do you know anything about a strange hole in your yard?”

    Man: ”Huh?”

    Eadmund: ”Well, just to let you know, it's connected to a big cavern which used to have monsters in it, but we took care of them, so...”

    Man: ”Huh?”

    Eadmund: ”Now, if you have any questions, we –”

    The man slams the window shut.


    Still carrying Daniel, they actually decide to pass through the Wormway on their way to the Bakers' house. Nothing seems to have changed, apart from the dead gladelings starting to disintegrate into the ground, as deceased fey are wont to do – the zombies are just lying motionless. The Knights soon reach the basement they originally left about an hour ago, now empty and locked as they asked.

    Sheng: ”We have arrived!”

    The door slams open and Percy and Maria Baker come charging in. The golem carefully lowers Daniel to the floor and they rush to his side.

    Maria: ”Why isn't he moving!?”

    Wilhelm: ”He's just unconscious. The effect's stronger because of his size, but he should wake up soon enough.”

    The Bakers are overjoyed, teary with relief and eternally grateful. They don't have much to give, but guarantee that the Knights will have free fresh bread for life, a reward they humbly accept. There's someone else entering the basement, though: someone in the recognizable uniform of a Guard Lieutenant. Everyone almost expects to see the unhelpful Lieutenant Dryden from the previous incident, but it turns out to be a woman with her reddish hair in a bun and a wide smile on her face.

    Shaking everyone's hands: ”Lieutenant Fencer, Tara Fencer. It's good to meet you.”

    Eadmund: ”Well met! We are the Knights of the Brazen Helm, straight from the –”

    Fencer: ”Yes, the Captain told me about you. You've done very well today, and the City Guard offers its thanks.”

    The Knights explain the situation, including the cavern they found, the monsters they fought and the people they saved, giving Fencer their names so the Guard can seek them out if necessary.

    Fencer: ”Yes, yes, but... What was that you said just now, about a cavern full of magical plants? Think we should purge it properly? There's some confiscated alchemist's fire at the station that we'd like to get rid of...”

    Eadmund: ”Not a bad idea at all, but we can deliver the fire ourselves, and there's still something we need to check down there.”

    Sheng: ”There's a bunch of dead zombies though... I mean, tragically deceased citizens, so it'd be nice to extract their bodies first.”

    Fencer: ”I have four other guards with me. They won't like crawling into the Wormway, but we'll take care of it. It's my first time going down there, too.”

    Spoiler: Time to Reflect
    Show
    Fencer gathers her subordinates and the whole troupe goes underground once more. The nervous guards spread out to pick up the mutilated corpses and the Knights enter the small tunnel formerly guarded by the purple fungus. Narrow and winding, it resembles the tunnels leading out of the Wormway, but seems to be headed deeper instead. After a few minutes it comes to a slightly wider dead end.

    On the back wall they see a flat circular object, held up and partially covered by vines: a darkened glass mirror with a metal frame, about two feet across. It's a mirror in general shape only, though, as the glass is too black to show much of a reflection. Eadmund gets a sneaking suspicion.

    He pulls out his sword, which is visibly vibrating and shaking as he slowly brings it closer to the mirror, eventually shaking violently enough to almost fall from his grasp. Sheng nervously nocks an arrow.

    Sheng: ”Uh, Eadmund? Care to stop and explain what you're doing?”

    Eadmund: ”This thing is wyrmglass, and so's my sword! They're reacting to each other somehow!”

    Sheng: ”The hell is 'wyrmglass'?”

    After a short summary: ”Huh, so you had something that valuable on you all this time?”

    Wilhelm: ”Where'd you get it anyway?”

    Eadmund explains how he'd been working as a Wanderer's Lantern, studying magic and working as a mercenary escort, when on one mission they got attacked and his teacher was slain in battle. Eadmund got the sword as thanks from the merchant they'd been protecting. He can't help but wonder if the man knew how valuable his gift really was. Eadmund did save his life, though, so maybe he deserved it.

    Sheng: ”So what about this mirror thing? Did you know it'd be down here?”

    Eadmund: ”Nope, no idea.”

    Wilhelm: ”I bet it's some fairy trap. We should steer well clear of it.”


    They scan it for magic, but can only detect traces of conjuration magic – seemingly not originating from the mirror itself, but left behind by an outside source. Eventually Eadmund decides to put away his sword and carefully touch the mirror with his hand instead. However, as soon as his fingertips brush the surface, he reels back, holding his head and gritting his teeth in pain. Sheng and Wilhelm can only watch in shock until he recovers several seconds later, gasping for breath.

    Eadmund: ”I heard... a huge racket inside my head, but... really inside my head, not in my ears, if that makes sense. More like a thought than a physical noise. I think there was something resembling speech, too, but I couldn't really make it out.”

    Wilhelm: ”Did it sound the like the fey tongue, by any chance? Like what those monsters were speaking earlier?”

    Eadmund: ”No, it was more like telepathy, I guess? Ideas and concepts instead of actual words.”

    Sheng is certainly intrigued. Despite the process looking quite painful, he touches the mirror as well, and... nothing happens. He is left fondling it in slight confusion. Just to be sure, he and Eadmund cast Detect Magic on each other, but can't find anything out of the ordinary.

    Sheng: ”Huh, why's it only happening for Eadmund...? Maybe it only works once? Hey Wilhelm, you should touch it too.”

    Wilhelm: ”Nuh-uh, no way I'm touching that fey... thing, whatever it is.”

    Sheng: ”It might not actually be from the fey, they could've just found it or something.”

    After some deliberation, Eadmund touches the mirror again, but now nothing happens for him either. He tries rubbing it, hugging it, even licking it (tastes kinda grimy) – nothing. Eventually he prods it with the tip of his sword, and as soon as he does, the mental agony hits him once more.

    Eadmund hears the same racket, except even louder, and a "voice" in his head. However, this time he can make out a single word from among the noise: ”WIELDER”

    As Eadmund sobs in a fetal position on the floor, Sheng picks up the sword and tries the same thing, but there's still no reaction. As Eadmund gathers himself and reaches for his precious weapon, Sheng shoves his hand onto the handle while the blade is still touching the mirror. Eadmund curls up in pain and Sheng grows increasingly frustrated. Why isn't he in excruciating pain too!? Unfair!

    The voice in Eadmund' head continues. It speaks: ”WHERE AM I” but the connection is broken before Eadmund can even try to respond.

    Sheng: ”So you still have no idea what's happening?”

    Eadmund: ”No. Can I have my sword back now?”

    Sheng, looking up and down the blade and turning it in his hands: ”It must be really expensive, though. We should hide it somewhere so that nobody steals it.”

    Eadmund: ”I think it's the safest on my person. ON. MY. PERSON.

    Sheng, keeping it out of Eadmund's reach: ”We could probably just sell it and buy you an even better sword. A steel one, you know?”

    While those two kids are busy fighting, Wilhelm has his golem pick up the mirror and lower it into his Handy Haversack without having to touch it himself. Eadmund eventually gets his sword back and they prepare to leave. As the guards have already gone back up, Eadmund spends most of his remaining magic on several well-placed Burning Hands to light some fires that should spread and scorch basically the whole cavern clean of vines.

    By the time the Knights return to the surface and leave the building, the guards have piled up all the bodies in an alley and covered them with a tarp. Lieutenant Fencer thanks them for their good work today and says they'll surely be contacted if the Wormway causes any more issues. Eadmund, covered in soot, tells the Bakers not to mind the smoke coming out of the hole in their basement.


    While Eadmund gets cleaned up, the Knights discuss what to do with the mysterious mirror. They didn't mention it to anyone, but just hiding it completely wouldn't help much either. Eadmund suggests that they consult his friend Lucas Blaise, who runs a library in the Castle Quarter with his wife Marcel and seems quite knowledgeable about both wyrmglass and the Wormway.

    Eadmund: ”Oh, and Marcel has this ferret named Don! He's really adorable, seriously.”

    Sheng: ”Oh, I knew a guy back home who could make a damn good ferret stew.”

    Wilhelm: ”Same, though gnomes being able to talk to them always made it a little weird.”

    Eadmund: ”Please stop.”


    They walk to the Castle Quarter and enter the library, a modest building almost hidden at the back of an overgrown garden. As soon as they step inside, Don dashes over and Eadmund picks him up for a petting. Lucas, a middle-aged human with a short beard, and Marcel, a gnome woman, follow shortly after and everyone gets acquainted.

    Lucas: ”Oh, I got your message... some man delivered it in a huge hurry and left right away.”

    Eadmund: ”Yes, we were busy saving his son from the Wormway at that time, but that's all settled now.”

    They explain the situation.

    Eadmund: ”To think that the Wormway would start acting up like that... I doubt it'll be the last we hear of it.”

    Sheng: ”We mostly care about this mirror thing we found.”

    Wilhelm's golem takes it out and the Blaises inspect it. Lucas is basically ecstatic to come across another wyrmglass item in such a short amount of time.

    Sheng: ”Anyway, it only reacts to Eadmund for some reason, and after the first time, only when he touches it with his sword.”

    To demonstrate, Eadmund rubs his hands on the mirror to no effect, then hesitantly touches it with the blade, going down in another fit of pain.

    Voice: ”WHY HERE”
    Eadmund, in more confusion than agony: ”H-Hello? Who are you? Why me?”
    Voice: ”SWORD”
    Eadmund: ”Gee, thanks.”
    Voice: ”YOU WIELD ME, THUS YOU ARE THE WIELDER”
    Eadmund: ”O-Okay?


    Marcel: ”Well, you probably figured as much, but given that the mirror's own magic is rather faint, the bigger question seems to be Eadmund's connection with his weapon. I believe the sword to be the source of this strange... reaction, though the mirror obviously has something to do with it too. It'll take more research to figure out any details.”

    Sheng is kind of tempted to just sell the damn thing, given how valuable it must be, but everyone agrees to hold onto it for now. There are too many unanswered questions. They ask the Blaises to stay quiet about it as well.

    Lucas digs out some rather general books on the basics of wyrmglass and magical auras, which Sheng and Eadmund spend several hours leafing through. They both seem determined to get to the bottom of this. Wilhelm, meanwhile, is more curious about a book on golems and other similar constructs. Though his own minion is basically a golem in name only, the book's giving him some new ideas. They all rent out their respective tomes and head back to the Red Dragonfly.

    Reddy tells them that the Bakers came by, including Daniel, who seemed to have recovered as expected. They chatted for a while and made a deal about daily bread deliveries for the inn. The Bakers' shop is pretty popular, too, and they're certain to tell literally all their customers what great heroes the Brasshelms are.

    Sheng "ingeniously" hides the mirror under his bed and a simple piece of cloth. It should do for now, since nobody should know they even have it in the first place.

    Spoiler: Pre-Order Promises
    Show
    When they wake up the next morning, Daniel has already stopped by to bring them a big basket of steaming hot buns. The Knights realize just how badly they've been eating at Reddy's place, but he takes their snarking in stride. Sheng has a bun or two, Eadmund absolutely stuffs his face and Wilhelm is too lazy and/or flamboyant to even feed himself, having his golem do it instead.

    Eadmund is already about to return to his room with a big pile of bread in his arms when Reddy says there was something else too. Ancelm Widalis, Wilhelm's cousin, dropped by and asked them to come to a field outside the city for some kind of... presentation.

    Sheng: ”You have a cousin!?”

    Wilhelm: ”Hey, most of us normal people have relatives.”

    Eadmund: ”I've got relatives...”

    Sheng: ”Don't talk like you know anything about my family.”

    Either way, apparently this Ancelm is a magical inventor, y'know, of the wacky absent-minded sort. The Knights head to the meeting and find him standing in the middle of a rather blown-up looking field covered in craters and scorch-marks of all kinds. He's even brought a straw target dummy with him.

    Ancelm: ”I'm glad you all came, and so will you be! You see, I'm going to demonstrate a few favorite projects of mine. They're all still works in progress, but if you just commission some other items from me, I can invest the profits into further research and development. What you see today may and hopefully will differ from the finished product.”


    Sheng: ”Well, what have you got? Could you make me, say, one of those famous stringless bows?”

    A huge grin spreads on Ancelm's face: ”What a coincidence!”

    He starts pulling something from a Bag of Holding. It's a relatively modest-looking longbow, twice his own size and clearly made for a human, but completely lacking any sort of bowstring. Sheng's eyes light up in excitement: he's heard several stories of stringless bows and always dreamt of actually owning one, but never seen one in person. Then he remembers who he's dealing with and tries to temper his enthusiasm somewhat, but can't suppress it entirely.

    Ancelm invites him to give it a try, gesturing at the target dummy. Sheng knows exactly what to do: he places his hands like he'd use a normal bow, making a glowing string and arrow materialize from magical energy. They crackle and tingle with satisfying power as he pulls them back as far as he can. He lets go, and the arrow leaves his hand with a dramatic flash and tremendous speed, striking the dummy dead-center... only to disintegrate harmlessly into glittering particles that float down to the ground.

    Sheng: ”Man, right to the last second I felt like it could actually work.”


    Next up is a belt with some sort of dial on the buckle. After carefully tying his right foot to the dummy with a length of rope, Ancelm puts the belt on and turns the dial upwards. He starts slowly rising into the air with a smug grin on his face, getting a bit less smug as he begins to rotate and drift out of the control until he's finally dangling at the end of the rope like some kind of balloon.

    Ancelm: ”Right now the only settings are 'Up' and 'Off', but I hope to introduce more precise control capability. It's probably best to stick to indoor testing until then. Now... if someone could pull me down, I'd really appreciate it.”


    Last but not least is Ancelm's personal favorite: a thick disk of dark metal with a pebble-sized cavity on one side. He holds the disk in his hand and inserts a small chunk of coal into the hole. He backs up about fifty yards away from the dummy and asks the Knights to stand way behind him, as he hasn't actually tested this thing in a while. Sheng, feeling show-offy or something, insists on standing right behind him. Ancelm shrugs and points the hole towards the dummy, using his left arm to stabilize the right one. Streaks of burning red appear on the disk's surface, and after several seconds of increasingly bright light, a massive column of fire at least twenty feet wide erupts from it with a deafening roar. The blast wave is strong enough to throw both Ancelm and Sheng a dozen feet backwards (Ancelm is skillfully caught mid-flight by the golem, Sheng lands far less comfortably). The smoke and dust fade, revealing a scorched swathe at least three hundred feet long – of the target dummy, not even ash remains.

    Unfortunately, the specially-prepared embers used for the spell are quite expensive to make and single-use-only. Even then, the Knights are definitely interested in Ancelm's craftsmanship and currently in the process of wondering how to spend their past and future earnings. Some of them even offer their help with testing, an idea they may come to regret.

    Spoiler: EXTRA: Wilhelm
    Show
    Clearly somewhat shaken up by his run-in with the fey, over the next few days Wilhelm decides to get off his lazy butt and offer his new and old acquaintances some sage advice.


    The first victim is the doctor Iburin. Wilhelm goes to his house, where they discuss business over a cup of tea.

    Wilhelm: "So anyway, you said the major issue with your practice was that people don't really trust charity workers around here?"

    Iburin: "Yes, no such thing as a free lunch and all that. Since I don't charge for my medical services, they assume I'm up to no good."

    Wilhelm: "Have you considered charging them, then?"

    Iburin: "Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of working here in the Mud Quarter?"

    Wilhelm: "Just a nominal payment, like a copper or two. It might be enough to rebrand yourself as a honest but affordable doctor."

    Iburin: "That... sounds a bit strange, but I guess I'll try. Can't get much worse after all."

    Wilhelm: "Off to another subject, has there been any anemia or anything going around?"

    Iburin: "Pardon?"

    Wilhelm explains everything he has read and heard about vampires roaming the area.

    Iburin: "That's outrageous. I've seen no sign of any such phenomena. You shouldn't believe everything you read on those papers."

    Wilhelm actually aims a somewhat suspicious look at Samuel, who has just been quietly sipping his tea all this time, but can't see sharp fangs or anything.


    Next up is Ancelm.

    Wilhelm: "If I remember correctly, that non-elemental golem you built earlier moved just fine, but then went berserk and jumped into the sea?"

    Ancelm: "Yup, that's right. I didn't really get the opportunity to investigate why."

    Wilhelm: "In that case, why not keep the magic as an animating force but make the golem fully mindless and remotely controlled, like a puppet? That way you could avoid it running rampant."

    Ancelm: "That would... change its purpose somewhat, but I guess it's an option worth exploring."

    Wilhelm: "I do something similar with my own golems. I think I can help you figure something out."

    Spoiler: EXTRA: Sheng
    Show
    Sheng, on the other hand, takes a break out of his busy schedule of shooting arrows into the sky to discuss his earlier idea with Reddy.

    Sheng: "We're starting to get more customers, right? Isn't about time we got someone who, y'know, knew how to do things like... cook?"

    Reddy, filling his mouth with warm bread: "Hey, I'm not that bad."

    Sheng: "We're also in dire need of a woman's presence over here. I mean, I'm the prettiest thing we have at the moment."

    Reddy: "You sound like you already have someone in mind."

    Sheng explains his plan to hire Amanda, who has expressed interest in moving away from Hunley's estate. Reddy somewhat reluctantly accepts, saying that she can sleep in one of the remaining inn rooms for now, but also suggests that the Brasshelms really need to start considering some sort of expansion.


    Sheng rides to the estate, considering different ways to start the conversation when he gets there. Amanda is cleaning up the front yard when he arrives.

    Sheng: "Hello bread, do you like beautiful? Dammit."

    Amanda: "Uh...?"

    Sheng: "How much do you get paid here?"

    Amanda: "Ahem, that's a little... just room and board and a few silver a week, why?"

    Sheng: "Oh, I bet we can manage that."

    It doesn't take much to convince Amanda to try working at the Red Dragonfly instead. Apparently Hunley has been really strict and obsessed with security as of late, which in itself isn't a bad thing, but pretty maddening to work under. Amanda leaves for a while to discuss the matter with Hunley before coming out again.

    Amanda: "He seemed pretty happy with my decision."

    Sheng: "Happy? Really?"

    Amanda: "To be honest, I'm not sure he even heard what I was saying. Let's just go."

    Sheng gives her a ride back to the city and leaves her with Reddy. Amanda gives Sheng some concerned side-eye during Reddy's bumbling tour of the premises, but Sheng just waves and leaves them to their own devices for now.


    That evening, Sheng gets approached with a suspicious job offer; however, that's a long story I'll save for the next inevitable delay in journal updates.


    Spoiler: Commentary
    Show
    If you want to make your players feel appreciated without any actual loot, just give them a literal gift basket.

    Sooo, this chimera of a journal entry was born from four separate scheduling issues:
    • The previous session was cut short just a bit before the end of the dungeon
    • The next session was unusually short as well
    • The session after that had to be canceled thanks to Eadmund, so instead Wilhelm and Sheng got some solo stuff of their choice. (Sheng's, as usual, was a bit more involved, but I don't mind; I just hope I can eventually do similarly detailed stuff for the others)
    • For no particular reason, we just didn't get to play for several months

    But yeah, next time should come soon and be another proper adventure. I hope.

    As for the sword stuff, I can reveal that Eadmund is actually using the Bladebound archetype, which gives him an intelligent magic weapon that scales with his level. At his request, we decided its powers weren't fully awakened yet and I get to do some neat plot stuff with it instead.

    I'll probably include more detailed information about the Knights' character builds when they next level up.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    I'd all but given up. Glad to see you are still playing and sharing. Thank you for continuing to post the adventure.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Brazen Helm - Campaign Journal [D&D 3.P]

    Entry #5: Niche Protection

    In which the Knights do some moonlighting as bounty hunters.

    Spoiler: Session Log
    Show
    27th of Oak Moon, 1985 – Red Dragonfly, Dewport, Ceraris

    Spoiler: Magnanimous Hint
    Show
    Over the next week, the Red Dragonfly Inn sees a considerable increase in people coming to drink or just sit around. The Bakers continue their daily bread deliveries, but more importantly, they hype up the Brasshelms to all their customers, which includes most of the neighborhood. One late afternoon, Sheng is out running some errands (as he is wont to do) while Eadmund and Wilhelm sit at a table reading their respective books and chowing down on bread. Out of nowhere, the bounty hunter Cintia Cross appears and seats herself.

    Cintia: ”Well hello, how's business?”

    Eadmund: ”That reminds me, Wilhelm, you were saying something about buying lead plates to hide the mirror upstairs?”

    Cintia: ”Ooh, that sounds interesting. Do tell me more.”

    Eadmund: ”Oh, it's nothing important, just this magic item we came across and hid– ”

    The golem kicks Eadmund in the shin and Wilhelm gives him an angry look. There is a moment of awkward silence.

    Cintia: ”...Anyway, you were a big help with the Doewell case, and I did manage to cash in the bounty, thanks to you.”

    She reaches for the bread basket, only for Eadmund to pull it away. The Knights seem a bit cross over what happened back then.

    Cintia: ”I get the impression we didn't part on the best possible terms, but I'd like to try and make it up to you, if you don't mind.”

    Wilhelm: ”What is it this time?”

    Cintia: ”You probably know that the Silk Spiders control basically all the smuggling in Dewport. None of it is allowed to happen without their involvement, under threat of the Tailor. However, I heard a certain drunk orc ramble something about a smuggling operation without his blessing, with a meeting taking place today. Unfortunately, I'm busy with something else, so I figured I'd pass it onto you. The Tailor is going to catch them soon enough, so you could try and nab some bounties while you're at it.”

    Eadmund: ”Busy with what?”

    Cintia: ”Oh, you know. Work.”

    Wilhelm: ”Anything else you can share? What's the catch?”

    Cintia: ”No catch, take it or leave it. I don't know anything except that they're meeting in the River Quarter near the Julian Bridge at 9 o'clock today. Since they've managed to stay hidden until now, they're probably a pretty small group, but that's it. They seem to be cooperating with some goblin pirates based off-shore.”

    Cintia stands up and starts leaving. Despite Eadmund trying to stop her, she quickly swipes a bun from the basket and munches it loudly while waving and walking out the door.


    Eadmund and Wilhelm discuss what they're going to do. Though they have some doubts about Cintia's honesty, they start getting a bit excited. Even if Sheng doesn't show up, they bet they can handle this on their own. Simple bounty hunting can't even be that important anyway. They decide to scout out the location ahead of time. The Julian Bridge is, well, a bridge across the River Barca just a bit downstream of the larger Stonegard Bridge. The Knights try to look for a good vantage point of the area, and since the City Guard doesn't really operate in the River District these days, there's a decommissioned guard tower right near the bridge. They stop by the Red Dragonfly again, but Sheng has yet to show himself, so they leave an incredibly vague note to explain the situation and go sit at the top of the tower as inconspicuously as possible.

    They spend the evening reading books and chewing on beef jerky from a street vendor. Eadmund puts a note at the top of the stairs saying ”No <s>Girls</s> Cintia Allowed”. Eventually two torch-lit figures and a horsecart appear from the darkness near a small loading dock some 150 feet down the river. Right as the Smoke District clock tower strikes 9, a large rowboat pulls up, rowed by four small figures with a bigger one sitting in the back. As the bigger one shakes hands and pats backs with one of the people on land, the small ones start moving large crates from the boat to the horsecart. Most of the crates are relatively small, but two are large, long and rectangular.

    Eadmund: ”I bet they're smuggling corpses!”

    Wilhelm: ”What the... Why would anyone smuggle corpses!?”

    Eadmund gets impatient and romps down the stairs, moving closer for a better view. The two men on shore are orcs, the small ones are goblins and the last is a hobgoblin. As the transaction is seemingly finished, the hobgoblin is handed a sizable coin pouch and the rowboat goes its merry way.

    Spoiler: Sheng Makes a Cameo
    Show
    Eadmund decides to act before it's too late. He breaks out into a run and sprints right by the orcs, who only have time to yell in confusion before Eadmund casts a Bladed Dash to leap onto the boat and slash at two goblins, one of whom falls into the water. Wilhelm, who was following a good distance behind Eadmund, sends in his golem and flings some mud to keep the orcs occupied. The goblins panic while the hobgoblin stands up in the swinging boat, draws his own sword and roars in Eadmund's face.

    The hobgoblin's sword crackles with electricity and aims for Eadmund's head, but he manages to dodge. However, what he doesn't see is the sword coming back for a second swing. Sheng, after taking some wrong turns thanks to the unhelpful instructions on the note, picks the perfect time to appear on the scene. Seeing a glowing blade about to strike Eadmund on the temple, he yells out a quick warning, and the alerted Eadmund manages to raise his arm, taking a deep gash there instead. The blow sends him tumbling into the water, but he manages to pull off a Burning Hands and light the rowboat on fire. Everything went just as he'd planned, actually. What this says about his plans is a different matter. The remaining pirates, ranting furiously in a foreign language, tumble into the river soon after.

    On shore, the mud-covered orcs are having trouble dealing more than surface damage to the wooden golem. In a desperate move, one of them chooses to stab the already-distressed horse in the bum, sending it and the mysterious cargo galloping aimlessly down a side road. Sheng makes a snap judgment to leave the orcs for Wilhelm, cast Expeditious Retreat on himself and run after the cart. He manages to catch up to it a moment later, gracefully leap on top and lie low as to try and conceal himself while the horse keeps speeding forward.

    Back at the river, the smaller goblins seem to have dispersed or drowned, but their hobgoblin leader is swimming towards the opposite riverbank while the flaming rowboat starts to sink. Wilhelm shouts for Eadmund to try and fetch the hobgoblin's apparently magical sword, and he is happy to oblige. After casting Daze on the pirate, he is able to catch up and grab the sword from his belt, snatching the coin pouch while he's at it, and tries to swim away. However, the recovered hobgoblin gives chase and starts wrestling with him in the water. He finally gives up and flees for good when Eadmund pulls a dagger and slashes at his fingers. Meanwhile, the golem gives the orcs a solid beating and Wilhelm comes over to make sure they won't bleed out from it.


    Eadmund reaches the shore and fires a random arrow in the hobgoblin pirate's rough direction, where it plunks harmlessly into the water. He casts Detect Magic on the looted sword, gets no result and angrily throws it in as well.

    Eadmund: "Hey, was Sheng here just now?"

    Wilhelm: "I think? He showed up, yelled something and then went after the cart within like six seconds."

    While Wilhelm rounds up the orcs, Eadmund runs across the bridge towards where the hobgoblin is trying to quietly swim along the edge. He Enlarges himself, fishes up the pirate, punches him unconscious and drags him back. They tie together all three captives and leave them inside the tower they were in earlier.


    Sheng can't see very well while pressed against the top of the cart, but he hears someone start shouting in Orcish as he speeds by. He decides now might be a good time to stop, and gives the horse a Command to ”Halt”. Of course, a horse coming to an abrupt stop while pulling a cart at full speed doesn't end very well, sending the animal and cart tumbling down the street while Sheng himself is painfully thrown onto the cobblestones forearms first. However, he is able to recover quickly and use the fallen cart as cover to slip into an adjacent alley.

    The orc, meanwhile, seems to be urgently shouting towards a nearby building. He opens a gate in a tall stone fence and two other armed men (one orc and one human) come out to investigate the screaming horse and damaged crates while conversing in Orcish. Sheng sees that some fish have spilled out from one of the larger boxes and some cloth from a smaller one. He briefly wonders why anyone would smuggle either of those, but has to quickly cast Invisibility and slip by the three men before they reach his hiding spot.

    After a moment of heated discussion, the orcs leave the human to watch the scene while they return to the house. Sheng stealthily follows them through the gate and the front door of what seems like some sort of old shop. On a second-floor gallery, a hobgoblin that looks like the group's leader is loudly arguing with a high elf who insists on answering in Elven. One of the orcs sits down at a nearby table and starts idly picking under his nails or something while the other enters a back room, with Sheng close in tow. The orc spends a while digging around in a drawer that Sheng can see contains several potions, takes out a couple of red ones (a near-universal sign of healing potions) and heads towards the door again.

    Spoiler: Smuggler Snubbers
    Show
    Eadmund and Wilhelm head down the same street as Sheng and the cart did. When the human watching the area sees them walking towards him, Eadmund still Enlarged, he makes a panicked run for the building. Eadmund intercepts him in the front yard and he's left squirming on the ground, begging for his life. At the same moment, the orc that Sheng was following opens the door, stares at Eadmund for the world's longest second and shuts it again. The shop is filled with hasty shouting and both sides prepare for combat.

    Wilhelm sits down, safe behind the stone fence, and projects into his golem. Eadmund is already standing in the front yard, scimitar in hand, and Sheng is in the back room shoving stolen vials into his bag. The panicked human drops his sword on the ground and is able to limp into the darkness while everyone is more focused on the immediate situation. Meanwhile, Sheng can see the smugglers inside the shop take positions next to the door and a front window, and up on the gallery.

    What follows is a complete mess of people opening and closing the front door, half-blind arrows flying around and Eadmund's massive arm reaching in through the window to slash at nearby enemies. Sheng, meanwhile, "contributes" in his characteristic way by trying not to break his Invisibility and seeking a better position instead. However, by total coincidence, this places him inside a Glitterdust spell cast by the leading hobgoblin. It fails to blind Eadmund, only affecting a hapless orc, but the sparkles stick onto Sheng and reveal his presence.

    Swinging a flaming mace, the hobgoblin leaps from the gallery, roaring a war cry. Sheng roars back, surprising the hobgoblin, who isn't used to that sort of reaction. He misses his swing but almost lands on top of Sheng, who goes stumbling backwards. A second attack is prepared, the mace crackling with both fire and acidic energy. Wilhelm's golem sees this and makes a dramatic save, leaping across a table to intercept a meteoric strike that rips its wooden head clean off and sends it hurtling out the window. Wilhelm wakes up in his own body with a massive headache just in time to see the golem's head land right in front of him.

    Sheng is impressed that something managed to actually destroy Wilhelm's seemingly invulnerable golem, but most importantly happy that he wasn't on the receiving end himself. Taking advantage of this opening, he steps to the side and sends two arrows at the hobgoblin. The first hits its target in the chest and the second in the head, sticking out the other side and nailing him onto a wall. All that remains is the elf on the gallery, who apparently decides to 'bugger this' and dashes into a room behind him. Sheng assumes the elf is making a run for it and quickly heads into the back room he was in earlier, hurtling through a closed window to land in an alley amidst a spray of glass shards. A window on the top floor is open, but the elf is nowhere to be seen. Muttering in frustration, Sheng clambers back inside. Eadmund finds a bed on the upper floor and promptly collapses on it, chugging a healing potion for some of his more serious wounds.


    Wilhelm wobbles into the shop, holding both his head and the golem's, which he reattaches. In the aftermath of the battle, the Knights confirm that they have one unconscious smuggler, two dead ones and two escapees, plus the ones waiting in the tower. From their search of the shop, they can conclude that the smugglers have spent at least a few days living there, but only used it as a dropoff point and not as any sort of storage for their wares. Sheng goes through the potions he found and gulps down a strangely clear one, finding out that it is indeed almost pure alcohol that his superhuman tolerance somehow takes in stride.

    They realize that the orc carrying the healing potions had actually intended them for the injured horse, which elicits some sympathy. They head over to do the same, and look through the broken crates while they're at it. Indeed, the smaller ones have relatively mundane-looking textiles, but also secret compartments under false bottoms. These compartments are shoved full of some ginger-looking roots. Eadmund cuts off a small piece and starts chewing on it.

    Wilhelm: ”Hmm... I think I recognize this. They call it goblinroot. It grows in Gatagor and some folks, orcs in particular, like using it as a drug of sorts. When eaten, it causes a... mindless... berserk... kind of effect...”

    Everyone stares in slightly horrified silence at Eadmund, who has stopped chewing. Eventually the golem just slaps him on the back of the head and he spits out the root. Of course, Sheng isn't that much better for just drinking a suspicious liquid found in an enemy base, but geez, get it together.

    The large rectangular crates hide something even more strange. Each crate has a magical paper seal, which the Knights recognize as something similar to Gentle Repose, sometimes used to stop valuable contents from rotting. However, beneath a layer of fresh fish they find large, hairy corpses – bugbears, one in each crate.

    Eadmund: ”I told you it was corpses! I mean, I didn't believe it myself, but still.”

    As usual, Sheng pockets a couple pieces of the goblinroot. With all this unusual flora he's picking up, it's almost like he's planning a career as some underworld botanist.


    They only have vague guesses as to what the corpses might be for, though. They calm down the horse and load their whole haul onto the wobbling cart, including the crates, all the corpses and their sole live captive. They head to the tower, too, but the captives left there have disappeared without a trace – Eadmund is mostly upset about the loss of his expensive rope, though.

    They're in luck that the people of Dewport, especially the River Quarter, are so good at minding their own business, as they really have a made lot of noise throughout the night. They take their cart to the City Guard barracks where Lieutenant Tara Fencer meets them with a very bemused expression. They give her a succinct summary of the events.

    Fencer: ”Geez, I've never run into corpse smuggling before... You're right that it suggests either some sort of necromancy or something very very strange, but this is the first the Guard has heard of it. We'll keep an eye out, of course, and try to interrogate that smuggler you captured.”

    They get their due payment for all the bounties they brought in, dead or alive. All (non-Silk Spider) smugglers carry a standard reward, but the leader Randor Irontooth has his own larger bounty for various violent and other crimes.

    Fencer: "We also used to have a reward for bringing in contraband like this goblinroot, but it kind of fell apart when it turned into smugglers practically selling us their own wares."

    The Knights return to the Red Dragonfly relatively satisfied, but a bit concerned about the total of five criminals they allowed to get away.

    The Knights have reached level 5.


    Spoiler: Commentary
    Show
    Apparently whenever I say anything halfway optimistic about our schedule, it's best to assume I'm lying. Don't worry, I'll say if the game ever goes on an actual hiatus.

    This time Sheng really was late for the game, but gave us the go-ahead to get started without him, hence the sheng-anigans at the start. As usual, a combat-heavy session ends up being long around the table and short in the journal, but at least the Knights managed to unearth hints of something very suspicious while they were at it. They're not done with these smugglers quite yet.

    The next session's entry, whenever it comes, will include info on their builds as promised.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2017-10-03 at 10:02 AM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •