Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rise of the Runelords Session # 5 [RPG]

26 Rova 4707 (continued)

In the basement of the Sandpoint Glassworks, a team of adventurers has discovered the whereabouts of Ameiko and her kidnapper (and brother), Tsuto.  As the team is distracted by seeing Ameiko’s unconscious, bound, and prone form, Tsuto launches a surprise attack.  His punch, aimed for Bey’s throat, slides harmlessly off her armor and the battle begins!  Tsuto’s quick reflexes and mobility are of limited use in the narrow basement corridor, and soon he’s wounded from multiple strikes while barely landing a glancing blow on Bey’s jaw.  The kidnapper turns and runs for it, but the adventurers give chase!  Xeveg and Felix manage keep up with the spritely half-elf, and corner him in a small cul-de-sac in one of the long tunnels.  Xeveg conjures a freezing ray and Felix punches Tsuto square in the nose, and in moments their target is unconscious.  They drag him back to the scene of the initial attack and Xeveg uses the ropes binding Ameiko to bind Tsuto instead.  The group exit the Glassworks carrying the unconscious siblings and receive general applause from the small crowd of townspeople assembled outside.  Ameiko is taken to the Rusty Dragon to rest while Tsuto is deposited in a jail cell underneath the Sandpoint Garrison.  Bey estimates the villain will awaken naturally in a couple of hours and can then be interrogated.

Jodar Provolost
The adventurers discuss whether they should go to Chopper’s Isle and investigate Das Korvut’s belief that he saw the ghost of his missing son Simon there.  The thick fog, 120’ high cliff face, and realisation that the isle can only be reached on foot at low-tide lead the group to determine they should wait for a better opportunity and gather additional information.  After Bey delivers a note asking for an audience with Madame Mvashti to discuss spirits, Felix suggests that a conversation with the locals about what happened five years ago during the “Late Unpleasantness” could be useful.  They talk to Jodar Provolost, a part-time member of the Town Watch.  Provolost tells them that five years ago, in a span of just a couple of months, three tragedies struck Sandpoint:  Lonjiku Kaitjitsu’s wife, Atsuii, slipped and fell to her death from a cliff near the family home; a fire consumed the town chapel and resulted in the death of Father Ezakien Tobyn and his foster-daughter, an aasimar named Nualia; and a serial-murderer nick-named “The Chopper” terrorized Sandpoint and claimed over two dozen victims.  The Chopper was revealed to be an eccentric but seemingly gentle man named Jervas Stoot, beloved in Sandpoint for the delicate and graceful wood carvings he did of birds.  Stoot built his home on the small tidal island just north of Old Light, nimbly climbing up and down the cliff face in good weather until the townspeople chipped in and had a set of wooden stairs built.  After Stoot’s crimes were discovered and he perished in mortal combat with the town’s previous sheriff, the house and stairs on the isle were burned.

As they wait for Tsuto to awaken, the adventurers go through the half-elf’s possessions which have been piled neatly outside of his cell by the town jailer, Vachedi.  Bey and Xeveg work together to determine that Tsuto carried a magical potion of healing and minor ring of protection, and each are assigned to Felix.  Tsuto’s journal is also found, and when read reveals that the real goal for the raid on Sandpoint on the night of the Swallowtail Festival was the theft of Father Tobyn’s body.  Tsuto writes that his “love” burned the remains at a shrine in Thistletop to “start the transformation” and remove her “celestial taint”.  The journal also mentions the names Ripnugget, Bruthazmus, Malfeshnikor, Lamashtu, and a potential plan to have a mysterious quasit attack Sandpoint from below using the old smuggler’s tunnels under the Glassworks.  Xeveg recognises the name Lamashtu as the demonic goddess of deformity, miscarriage, and madness, while Bey makes a connection between Father Tobyn’s body being stolen and his foster-daughter being a member of the celestial aasimar race.  To test the latter theory, the team ask one of the longest-serving members of the Town Watch, a grey-haired veteran named Bosk Hartigan, about Nualia.  He says that Nualia was presumed to have died in the chapel fire, but that her body was never found.  He describes Nualia as having been a great beauty, so much so that she could be off-putting to regular people.  After Bosk departs, the group speculates whether the fact that next month is Lamashan (named after the demon goddess) could have special significance.  Bey says that if the group can’t figure out when the true invasion will occur, they may need to evacuate the town!

Tsuto awakens with a groan, and realising his situation, he sits with his back to the adventurers and starts meditating.  At first he ignores them entirely, but Bey and Xeveg manage to get a reaction out of him by mentioning his “love” and his deceased father, respectively.  Xeveg suggests that Bey poke him with the blunt end of her bardiche through the bars of his cell, but when she does so, Tsuto suddenly jumps around and pulls the weapon from her hands!  He stabs Xeveg with it and then starts attacking the cell’s lock.  He tells the group he’ll see that they’re treated mercifully if they let him go, but Oliver draws his greatsword and impales Tsuto!  The prisoner slumps to the ground, hovering on death’s door before Bey manages to stabilize him.  The commotion draws Vachedi and other guards from the garrison.  Vachedi takes Felix aside and says that he’s happy to give his fellow Shoanti plenty of lee-way when it comes to interrogation, but he’ll have to be more subtle next time, especially once Sheriff Hemlock returns.

The adventurers decide to discuss Tsuto’s journal and the discussion of further attacks with Mayor Deverin at the town hall across the street from the garrison.  Mayor Deverin grants them an instant audience, and is horrified when shown Tsuto’s journal.  She exclaims that the tunnels below the Glassworks need to be secured and asks the adventurers to scout where they lead.  The potential menace of Thistletop is also discussed, though Mayor Deverin is loathe for the town’s new heroes to be publicly seen leaving during this time of crisis.  She says she’ll trust in the adventurers’ expertise, however, as they’ve always come through for the town.  She agrees to post guards in the Glassworks’ basement and at each entrance to the town.
Tsuto's Journal

Xeveg decides that research in the library at the House of Blue Stones could be useful in gathering more information about some of the names mentioned in Tsuto’s journal.  He is admitted entry by Sabyl Sorn in order to discharge the debt of honour she says she owes the group for doubting their word outside the Glassworks that morning.  Inside, Xeveg sees that the interior of the building consists of a single large chamber, the floor of which is decorated with polished blue stones set within winding pathways of reed mats.  Sabyl lifts a particular reed mat to reveal a trapdoor leading into a library of scrolls below.  She lectures Xeveg about the rules for using the collection, most of which she says was gathered by her now-deceased father.  She also stays and watches Xeveg at all times.  Although he turns up nothing in regards to the name “Malfeshnikor”, he is able to set aside at least one theory:  the cultists of Lamashtu are not known to pay any particular reverence to holy months, days, or the lunar calendar.

After waiting outside for some time and realizing they have no idea how long Xeveg could take, the other adventurers decide to return to the Rusty Dragon for the afternoon.  They learn that Ameiko has been visited by Father Zantus and has been healed of her physical wounds, but has kept to her room.  As Madame Mvashti has not left word for them, the group ask around and learn that the aged seer is often taken on walks throughout Sandpoint or its environs by her niece Gianya.  The trio wander around Sandpoint hoping to run into them, but the fates are not with them and they end up back at the House of Blue Stone to wait for Xeveg.  After the young wizard emerges and shares what he’s found, Bey expresses excitement about attending the play “Local Heroes” at the Sandpoint Theatre that evening.  Xeveg adamantly refuses to attend, but the others decide to go and even show up early.

Cyrdak Drokkus
Bey, Felix, and Oliver find that the theatre’s box office is attended by surly teenager Bimmy Beems, who explains that he quit working for Daviren Hosk “because horses are stupid.”  Beems says that the actor’s entrance is around the side and, intrigued, the trio use the door to enter backstage.  Cyrdak Drokkus, proprietor of the theatre is there, and he enthusiastically welcomes the group.  Although they refuse Drokkus’ attempt to get them “in costume,” Felix is ambushed by a make-up artist before the play “Local Heroes” begins before a packed house.  Local children dressed up like goblins riding broomstick goblin dogs rush on stage to “attack” the heroes (with Bimmy Beems taking on the role of Xeveg).  Bey recites impromptu dialogue that goes over spectacularly well with the audience before whirling her bardiche impressively.  Felix is grabbed by two “goblins” and he spins the youths about, but overdoes it and one of them vomits!  Oliver does equally as well as the group saves “Aldern Foxglove” in the final scene.  The crowd loves the production and claps frenetically.  Cyrdak follows through on a promise to split the take with the performers and then the cast and crew head to the Rusty Dragon for an after-party. 

During the party, Ameiko comes out to the common room and everyone hushes.  She offers her sincere thanks to the adventurers for saving her life and gives the room a strained smile as she says she’ll be back to normal in no time.  Later, Bey speaks with Ameiko about Tsuto; Ameiko says her brother can be extremely stubborn, and will never talk unless forced to do so by magic.

27 Rova 4707

At breakfast that morning, Shayliss Vinder enters the common room and draws Felix aside for a private conversation.  She implies that she is pregnant and asks Felix for 25 gp so she can “take care of it.”  Felix clearly disbelieves her, leading Shayliss to start sobbing uncontrollably, drawing everyone’s attention to her.  When Felix turns to leave, Shayliss’ tears suddenly dry up and she coldly says he better pay because she wants a new necklace; if she doesn’t get the money, she’ll ruin him!  She says he has 24 hours to make up his mind.  Felix returns to his allies and explains the extortion attempt, but says he’s not worried about “women’s gossip.”
The adventurers decide to investigate the tunnels underneath the Glassworks, but their first stop is to dispose of some of the spoils of war they’ve accumulated to date at Savah’s Armoury and a store filled with an eccentric array of items named The Feathered Serpent.  There, Xeveg makes an arrangement with the proprietor to be informed if any rings of sustenance become available for sale.

One of Sandpoint's most popular citizens has been rescued by its newest heroes, but what secrets lurk in the catacombs beneath the town?
Director's Commentary (20/02/2017)

Tsuto, who I guess is the "boss" villain of the Glassworks, was a real pushover for the PCs, even though he had the element of surprise.  My favourite scene with him this session was when he *almost* escaped from the cells under the Garrison by readying an action to disarm Bey's bardiche.  That certainly ramped up the drama of the interrogation.  

I'm glad that the writers of the adventure path put a lot of letters, journals, and other forms of exposition into the game; they help explain the story to PCs in a way that might otherwise be quite fuzzy, and it's always fun to have handouts.

I was glad to see my players do some research into the Late Unpleasantness.  All of that backstory, much of it quite important, shouldn't go to waste!

The bit with the play was my own addition.  I just thought it would be fantastic fun to see how the PCs would "act" if forced on to the stage, and although none of them had any ranks in a Perform skill, the results weren't *too* bad.  I really wanted to play up the PCs being treated like heroes, and having a play produced about their exploits was a good way to show the town's enthusiasm for them.

Really careful readers familiar with Sandpoint might notice a minor mistake on my part: I shouldn't have had the "after party" at the Rusty Dragon, as, for a mysterious reason, Cyrdak Drokkus and Ameiko Kaijitsu don't get along at all.  I just have to assume that, for this session, Cyrdak was swept up in the high spirits of the success and forgot about his grudge for a night.

The session ended on a downward note, as appraising and selling the loot took a long time and wasn't especially exciting.  I try to handle that sort of thing via e-mail between sessions when possible, but sometimes it isn't and it can be quite important for PCs to be properly equipped.  I do a better job in some later sessions of role-playing the shopkeepers to add some better flavour to scenes set in The Feathered Serpent and elsewhere.

Next Recap

1 comment:

Juricon said...

Handouts are definitely nice and great for the players ... as are all the added bits (dialog, history, stories, etc...) that you get from a boxed adventure or modules. Running something completely homemade (not only the story but the world) I'm going to miss having some of those readily available tidbits and handouts but will work to incorporate some of my own in.

Starting things up tonight ... and it is a pretty large group with most of them being pretty new to RPG gaming ... so I've definitely got some nerves going about the game and knowing I don't have books worth of information right at hand and everything is upon me has added to that. Still, very excited. Haven't played in way too long...