Monday, February 13, 2017

Rise of the Runelords Session # 4 [RPG]

25 Rova 4707 (continued)

As the adventurers get ready to depart the Sandpoint Garrison in order to dine with Shalelu Andosana at the Hagfish, Bey suggests someone should notify Aldern Foxglove that they may be late to the planned boar-roast.  Oliver volunteers, and after delivering the message to one of the nobleman’s manservants, notices that some new opportunities have been posted to the Rusty Dragon’s Help Wanted board.  Along with requests to find a missing horse and catch a bandit in Shank’s Wood, there’s a mysterious message about a ghost-talker.  Oliver returns to the group just as they reach Sandpoint’s harbor area.

The Hagfish proves to be a raucous and popular seafood restaurant.  The proprietor, Jargie Quinn, tells Felix a ludicrous story about a whale biting off his leg before being shrunk, caught, and thrown into the aquarium behind the bar.  The adventurers quickly learn about the Hagfish’s long-running sport: anyone who can keep down a ladle-full of water from the aquarium of the repellent Varisian hagfish named Norah is entitled to a purse full of silver and their name carved into the rafter above the bar.  Although Felix looks intrigued, he’s beaten to the punch by his allies.  Xeveg quickly drinks a ladleful and, although looking a bit queasy, manages to keep it down and receives general applause and the prize money.  Bey follows suit and succeeds as well, but when Oliver tries, the slimy and foul-tasting water is regurgitated all over the floor to even louder applause and jeers.

At a corner table, Oliver’s old friend Shalelu orders several seafood platters before being asked if she knows of anyone who has a grudge against Sandpoint, as the adventurers suspect that the mysterious “longshanks” who is leading the goblin raids against the town may be a local.  Although Shalelu has been coming into town for years, she rarely stays more than a day or two at a time and isn’t able to help.  She is, however, able to share some general information about the so-called “Late Unpleasantness.”  About five years ago, a series of tragedies struck Sandpoint in quick succession:  a fire destroyed the town’s chapel and led to the death of Father Ezakien Tobyn and his daughter Nualia; the wife of Lonjiku Kaijitsu (Atsuii) fell off a cliff near the family home; and a serial killer nicknamed “The Chopper” preyed on over two-dozen residents before being caught and perishing in a mutual battle to the death with the town’s previous sheriff, Casp Avertin.
Shalelu intentionally turns the conversation from the past to the present, as she expresses her concern over the suspected unification of the nearby goblin tribes under a strong leader.  She provides a brief overview of the five tribes:  the Birdcrunchers of Devil’s Platter (traditionally the least aggressive); the Licktoads of Brinestump Marsh (excellent swimmers); the Seven Tooths of Shank’s Wood (scavengers); the Mosswood tribe (the most numerous); and the Thistletop goblins (who have the best lair, a small island off the coast).  Oliver suggest an expedition to wipe out the strongest goblin tribe to end the threat, but the others remind him that they’ve been asked to stay in Sandpoint and maintain a public profile to reassure the townspeople.  As the food and drinks continue, discussion turns to the items on the Rusty Dragon’s Help Wanted sign. 
Bey pays close attention to the town bells and, after a farewell to Shalelu (who hopes to return with more intelligence soon), gets her companions to the Rusty Dragon in time for supper with Aldern.  Aldern turns in early citing an early departure the next morning for Magnimar, but before going he engages in an unintentionally but incredibly offensive colloquy with Felix about Shoanti living in trees and chasing buffalo.  Oliver circulates around the common room asking about the missing horse (“Shadowmist”) and learns that it apparently bolted after travellers were mugged near Shank’s Wood.  After Ameiko plays a few beautiful songs on her lute, the adventurers stay late drinking and discussing what to do the next day; they remain divided between an expedition to Shank’s Wood to collect the 250 gp bounty on the legendary highwayman Vyron “Shank” Jethezme or staying closer to Sandpoint and perhaps investigating the “ghost-talker” request.

26 Rova 4707

Bethana Corwin
As they come down the stairs for breakfast in the morning, the adventurers are stunned to see a flyer for a new play listing them as participants!  The play, “Local Heroes,” purports to depict the heroic defence of Sandpoint against the goblin raiders and will be held in the evening at 8 bells.  Xeveg is insulted at being linked to a character named “The Diabolist,” whereas Felix (“The Savage”) is excited about being a celebrity and Bey (“The Doomsayer”) is eager to attend as she feels that doom will surely accompany such a production.  Oliver (“The Maverick”) is more interested in collecting on a bounty.  Upon noticing that the usual array of fresh fruit, warm baked breads, and platters of deliciously prepared cured meats and eggs have been replaced by day-old pastries, Bey heads into the kitchens to see what’s going on.  She sees a troubled Bethana Corwin speaking to another staff member, and convinces the halfling maid to explain what’s on her mind:  it seems that Ameiko, who is always up early to prepare the breakfast service, hasn’t yet made an appearance.  Bey senses something may be wrong and persuades the reluctant maid to open the door to Ameiko’s room.  Inside, they find a bed that hasn’t been slept in and a handwritten note from someone named Tsuto to Ameiko.  The note says that “father” may have had something to do with the recent goblin raid and that a way has to be found to make sure he’s punished.  It concludes by asking Ameiko to come to the delivery entrance of the Glassworks at midnight.

Note from Tsuto to Ameiko
Bethana realises that there’s no point in keeping secrets from the adventurers any longer.  She explains that Tsuto is Ameiko’s half-brother.  Both of Ameiko’s parents were human, and when Tsuto was born a half-elf, it was clear that scandalous infidelity was involved.  Tsuto was cast out of the Kaijitsu family and sent to grow up at Turandarok Academy as an orphan, and Ameiko didn’t even learn of her brother’s existence until she was ten years old.  Once she did learn, however, she befriended him. After a year abroad adventuring in her teens, she returned to Sandpoint for their mother’s funeral.  At the funeral, Tsuto accused Lonjiku of murdering his mother and Lonjiku beat the boy with his cane.  Tsuto fled Sandpoint and hasn’t been seen in years.  Bethana explains that the night the adventurers witnessed Lonjiku and Ameiko arguing, Lonjiku had determined to move the family back to Magnimar and was trying to get his daughter to come along.

Bey hurries downstairs to share the news with her adventuring companions.  Xeveg agrees that the Glassworks should be visited for any signs of Ameiko, though he explains that he has an important errand to run first.  He hurries to the Sandpoint Cathedral and talks with Father Zantus, kindly offering to help repair and make presentable for funereal rites any corpses that come in.  Father Zantus is sincerely touched by the offer and promises to keep the young man’s offer in mind.  Xeveg reunites with the others outside the cathedral and, as a thick fog begins to roll into the harbor town, he and the others decide to make a brief inquiry about the “ghost-talker” request and travel, as directed, to the corner of High Street and Festival Street.  There, they see several residences and a sign featuring two massive red mastiffs peering at an anvil: the Red Dog Smithy.  The group surmise that perhaps the local blacksmith has placed the advertisement and, noticing that the smithy is closed, they make their way to a small loft at the rear.
Das Korvut
Despite repeated shouts to go away (and to do quite vulgar things to themselves), the adventurers persevere and eventually see the door opened by a bald, muscular man:  Das Korvut.  Korvut, after finally realizing the adventurers aren’t there to mock him, explains that he wants a ghost-talker because he’s recently seen the ghostly figure of his son, Simon, across the bay on Chopper’s Isle.  Korvut, who has clearly lapsed into an angry depression and alcoholism, says that his wife and son went missing during the Chopper murders.  Although his wife’s body was found when the home of Jervas Stoot (who was really the Chopper) was searched, no sign of his son was ever found.  The Stoot house was burned to the ground, and there’s never been any proof of what happened to Simon.  After promising to help, the adventurers leave and discuss the matter.  Xeveg says that usually, in cases of spectral apparitions, a spirit will voluntarily depart if whatever unfinished business is tethering it to the material plane is completed.  Bey asks Oliver if he can get records of the original investigation into Simon’s disappearance, and the provisional town constable says he’ll try.

The adventurers arrive at the glass factory on the western edge of Sandpoint to find its rooftop chimneys blowing smoke and a handwritten sign on the front door stating “Closed for Special Project.”  After the special knock on the delivery entrance indicated in Tsuto’s letter has no effect, Bey decides to take matters into her own hands: with several swings of her bardiche, she chops the door into pieces!  A small crowd of locals assemble as Sandpoint’s newest crop of heroes are apparently breaking into a building in broad daylight.  Most prominent among them are Ven Vinder, proprietor of the town general store, Alma Avertin of Sandpoint Savories (the local bakery), and Sabyl Sorn of the House of Blue Stones.  Sabyl immediately questions the adventurers’ legal authority to break and enter the Glassworks, and is not persuaded by their cryptic references to a letter and Ameiko not turning up at breakfast.  Oliver almost provokes a fight by trying to intimidate the slim but unshaken monk before Xeveg brokers a truce by promising Sabyl he’ll be personally responsible for any damages caused to the Glassworks should Ameiko’s disappearance have a perfectly normal explanation.

The suspicions of the adventurers are immediately confirmed as they enter through the shattered delivery entrance and find an opened, empty safe on the floor of the delivery room.  Their search of the factory soon leads them to a long, narrow glass-firing room full of ovens, tables of tools, and raw materials.  But most prominent is the ghastly sight of eight goblins cavorting around and mutilating the bodies of the Glasswork’s slain employees.  Even worse, in the center of the room, Lonjiku Kaitjitsu’s corpse can be seen through several melted sheets of glass.  Noise from the furnaces and the goblins’ sick revelry masks the adventurers’ appearance, and they catch their foes off-guard.  Felix strides boldly into the room and ends up fighting four goblins at once, bare-handed!  Bey and Oliver join the fray with polearm and greatsword respectively.  The goblins, armed variously with dogslicers, tongs of molten glass, and other improvised weapons, are outmatched and quickly routed.  Xeveg shouts at the survivors to surrender, and two of them make a run for it.  Felix catches up to one of them and slams his fist through the goblin’s back!  The lone survivor is cowed and starts to grovel and beg as Oliver collects ears for Daviren Hosk’s bounty.  Xeveg interrogates the goblin and learns that their leader and the “girl longshanks” are in the basement.  Sabyl Sorn is summoned to secure the scene and the goblin prisoner, and, witnessing the truth of the adventurers’ claims, tells Xeveg she owes him a debt of honour.
Tsuto Kaijitsu

With her uncanny ability to see in total darkness, Bey leads the adventurers into the basement.  They come across two locked doors and a section of brick wall that has been recently broken through to a subterranean tunnel that branches into three parts.  Backtracking, Felix punches through one of the locked wooden doors to reveal Ameiko, bound and gagged, laying on a pile of sandbags!  But the noise hasn’t gone unnoticed; the other door just down the hall springs open, and Tsuto is ready for a fight!

Director's Commentary (13/02/2017)

I love all the little bits of local colour that James Jacobs included in his overview of Sandpoint, like the contest at the Hagfish to drink a ladleful of water from Norah's tank.  The ironic thing with my PCs is that the two members of the group with lower Fort saves (a wizard an an oracle) made the check, but the group's Fighter failed!

The PCs decide to follow a Chopper's Isle adventure hook in this session.  I stuck pretty closely with the premise of the scenario written by James B. Cline in Wayfinder # 7.  I thought the sheer darkness of the story fit perfectly with the tone of Rise of the Runelords, though, as we'll see in a subsequent session, I made it even a little bit darker.  The one thing I was irritated about my depiction of Das Korvut and the Red Dog Smithy was that I completely forgot about his hounds!  And the place is named after them!

I really liked the little detail of the PCs deciding to break their way into the Glassworks and having to justify their actions to several concerned locals.  PCs are used to being a law unto themselves, and sometimes forget that not every encounter site is a dungeon.

For all the set-up and the great setting, the fight against the goblins in the Glassworks' furnace room was a cakewalk for the PCs.  I don't know if the goblins hit them at all.  But I didn't mind; I knew there was enough tough stuff coming their way little in the adventure path to make up for it.

Next Recap


Juricon said...

A fun time as always it sounds. Next Tuesday I'll finally get my game going once again. I can't wait. It has been a long time ... too long ... and while I'd rather be playing than running things I think I've got a pretty good story lined up for the players.

I'll try to do regular recaps and put them somewhere for you to read about. Maybe I can resurrect the old blog I had for our online game years ago...

Jeremy Patrick said...

Hey, awesome! Yeah, I'd love to hear how it goes.