Monday, March 13, 2017

Rise of the Runelords Session # 8 [RPG]

27 Rova 4707 (continued)

Standing before the doors to the subterranean cathedral to the Mother of Monsters, the adventurers discuss whether to press ahead or retreat.  Bey expresses a strong preference to return to Sandpoint for healing and Nedrin agrees, citing the need to discover the quasit’s weaknesses before battling it again.  Felix says he would rather continue the fight now and smash the profane cathedral to pieces, but after much discussion and (seeing he is outvoted), he reluctantly agrees to return to Sandpoint with the others.

The group reach the basement of the Glassworks without further incident.  In addition to the expected sentries, they also see Das Korvut measuring the width and height of the point where the tunnel meets the basement; it becomes apparent that he’s been retained by Mayor Deverin to install a thick steel door.  The adventurers are told by members of the Watch that the militia has been fully deployed and that all known entrances to the town are being guarded.

The Sandpoint Cathedral is the first stop for the adventurers.  Father Zantus happens to know a little bit about quasits and shares with the group that they are vulnerable to cold iron weapons.  He provides them with some emergency healing but is loath to expend too many resources given the widespread fear that an invasion is imminent.  Before the adventurers depart, Father Zantus leads them over to a side chamber.  There, in a stone alcove, lies the covered body of their deceased adventuring companion, Xeveg Kishalq.  Father Zantus asks if anyone knows where in Varisia he hailed from, but no one does.  Father Zantus says he’ll ask around town and then arrange a suitable disposition of the body.  The adventurers go through Xeveg’s possessions (to the distaste of Father Zantus) and Bey takes the medallion of Runelord Alaznist.

The adventurers discuss whether to return to fight Erylium immediately or instead spend a few days recovering from the day’s intense fighting while planning a fresh assault.  Oliver is reluctant to wait, but he is persuaded by the others and plans are made to reunite on the morning of 1 Lamashan.

28 Rova 4707 to 30 Rova 4707

Over the next few days, the adventurers try to make the most of their downtime.

Felix trains vigorously with Sabyl Sorn at the House of Blue Stone.  She is impressed by his ferocity in hand-to-hand combat but dismayed at his lack of discipline.  One night, returning to the Rusty Dragon covered in sweat and fresh bruises, Felix runs into Lartie Garridan.  Lartie asks if Felix wouldn’t mind paying a visit to the White Deer.  She explains that there are very few Shoantis in Sandpoint apart from the jailer Vachedi and some of the bouncers at The Pixie’s Kitten, and that her husband would surely appreciate Felix’s company.  She says that Garridan has sacrificed his ties to his tribe in order to be with her and that, although he’d never admit it, he is lonely.  More to the point, she adds, the adventurers’ custom of spending all of their time at the Rusty Dragon has proven to be a draw that the White Deer Inn can’t match.  Felix promises to try to stop in more often.

Oliver also spends time training, though his exercises take place in the courtyard of the Sandpoint Garrison.  After one practice, part-time guardsman Jodar Provolost congratulates Oliver on his new position.  Oliver is confused until Jodar explains that a courier arrived from Magnimar just a few hours ago carrying a commission from the Justice Council appointing him as Deputy Sheriff of Sandpoint!  Along with the letter of commission and a metal insignia of rank came a personal missive from Aldern Foxglove.  This letter begins by thanking Oliver again for saving his life, praises the ranger’s martial prowess, states that Aldern pulled some strings with a friend on the Justice Council for the commission, and promises that after a respectful amount of time for the sake of appearances, Belor Hemlock can be removed from office and Oliver appointed in his place.

Oliver is quite pleased with the news and goes to visit Mayor Deverin.  She is not nearly as pleased, and notes that he must have friends in high places as the commission by-passed her traditional prerogative to appoint law enforcement officials in the town.  She extracts a promise from Oliver to take his new rank seriously and to confer with her before ordering the Town Watch into taking any drastic action.  The discussion turns to the potential threats facing Sandpoint.  Mayor Deverin says that no further dangers have manifested and that perhaps the whole thing was overblown.  She’s stepped down the commitments of the members of the citizen’s militia, citing their need to return to families and businesses.  She reports that their scouts have returned from the other two branches of the tunnels leading off from the Glassworks basement and that one leads to a dead end and the other leads all the way to a cave on the side of a cliff overlooking the Varisian Gulf.  Given the crude collection of goblin beds and remnants of meals, this latter route must have been the surreptitious entrance taken by Tsuto and the goblins occupying the Glassworks.  Finally, she confirms that she’s asked blacksmith Das Korvut to fashion a steel barrier or door to block off access from the tunnels to the Glassworks, since it is obvious that brick walls are not enough of an impediment.

Ilsoari Gandethus
Bey spends the days holed up in her room at the Rusty Dragon attempting to develop a new spell, but her efforts prove fruitless.  One night, after throwing her books down in frustration, she hears a knock at the door.  The visitor is a stern-looking older man named Ilsoari Gandethus, former adventurer and headmaster of the town’s school, the Turandarok Academy.  Ilsoari explains that Father Zantus asked him to come see Bey after learning that Ilsoari knew Xeveg.  Ilsoari explains that in some of his letters, the youth had mentioned growing up in the nearby town of Galduria with his adopted father.  Ilsoari says merchants from Galduria come to the Sunday markets in Sandpoint and that he could arrange for Xeveg’s body to be returned, but that if Bey and her companions would like to escort the body and explain to his father how his son died they would be welcome to.  Bey expresses no interest in the idea and Ilsoari leaves.

The seer instead seeks out her old friend Brodert Quink to ask about the figure on Xeveg’s medallion, Runelord Alaznist.  Brodert explains that much of what he believes can’t be proven to the satisfaction of scholars, but that he thinks ancient Thassilon was a vast empire ruled by powerful wizards, as the massive monuments they left behind testify to the extent of their might.  He says that Alaznist must have been one of these powerful wizards known as “Runelords” and that each ruled a particular region of Thassilon and was linked to one of the seven schools of magic recognized by the ancient empire.  He adds something that Bey already knows: the seven Thassilonian schools of magic were also said to correspond to virtues and their concomitant vices.

Nedrin’s experience in Sandpoint is much different than the others.  Whereas they are known as local heroes and often receive praise and discounts from shopkeepers, Nedrin is forced to wear a mask to conceal his hobgoblin heritage and is increasingly the subject of rumours and hostile gossip.  The warrior spends his time crafting arrows and sells a batch of them to the Town Watch for a small profit.  As he leaves the garrison, Nedrin sees that Daviren Hosk is waiting for him, holding the reins of a beautiful, well-muscled stallion.  Daviren is terse as always, but says that the horse is partial repayment for the debt he owes since Nedrin’s father saved his life.  He adds that he’ll stable the horse for free as long as Nedrin wants, and then departs.

1 Lamashan 4707

After spending a few days apart, the adventurers meet up in the common room of the Rusty Dragon for breakfast.  Felix says that Sabyl was a harsh taskmaster but good at what she does.  The Shoanti man notes that Nedrin’s presence in town has made him seem less threatening in comparison!  Bey expresses her frustration at having failed her spell research but then turns the conversation to the future.  She says the adventurers should investigate the purchase of cold iron weapons and then return to the catacombs for a final confrontation with the quasit.

The adventurers’ first idea of a place to obtain cold iron weapons is the Red Dog Smithy.  Inside, they see Das Korvut working on a massive rectangular sheet of steel propped up by wooden blocks.  All around him are empty liquor bottles, and his large red mastiffs snore lazily near the rear.  Das swears at them when they ask about cold iron weapons, annoyed that they can’t see he’s busy and that they haven’t followed through on their promise to investigate the sighting of his son on Chopper’s Isle.  When Oliver presses, Das grabs a massive forging hammer and advances threateningly.  The adventurers depart to the sound of a door slamming behind them.

Next, they try Savah’s Armory.  The proprietor, Savah Bevaniky, is happy to see them but says she can’t offer quite the discount as before: Sandpoint’s heroes have lost some of their lustre in the locals’ eyes given recent events, and she alludes to Felix’s “ungentlemanly” treatment of Shayliss Vinder, Oliver “going behind Mayor Deverin’s back” in being appointed Deputy Sheriff, and the general presence of Nedrin.  Still, she’s more than willing to do business with them.  Nedrin sells the silver dagger he took off of Koruvus’ body and uses the funds to help Felix buy a cold iron shortsword.  Bey and Oliver pool their resources so that the latter can buy a cold iron greatsword.

Vorvashali Voon
From there the adventurers head to The Feathered Serpent, a cramped and cluttered shop smelling of exotic incense and spice.  Vorvashali Voon greets them enthusiastically and says he has a lead on the ring that Xeveg is looking for; the adventurers decide not to divulge that the young wizard is dead.  They ask Vorvashali about potions or scrolls of see invisibility but he says the former are impossible and that the latter are quite expensive.  They follow his suggestion, however, and buy sacks of flour from the local bakery.

Before heading back to the Glassworks, one final stop is made: at the athedral.  Inside, Bey asks Father Zantus if he would give or loan her a holy symbol of Desna to aid in the coming fight against Erylium.  Father Zantus hesitates and pulls Bey aside.  He explains that he doesn’t want to embarrass her or cause a problem since the adventurers have been so useful, but that he believes her frequent prophecies of an impending apocalypse are heterodoxical to Desna’s teachings of optimism, luck, and joy.  Bey explains that her prophecies are, ultimately, optimistic because they allow for the apocalypse to be prevented with luck and courage.  The two debate the teachings of Desna for some time.  At one point, Father Zantus is about to accede but further argument hardens his position and eventually he refuses while still wishing the group luck in its efforts.

In the middle of the afternoon, the adventurers decide to return to the catacombs before Das Korvut can finish installing the thick steel door.  The group travels single-file in total darkness, trusting Bey’s and Nedrin’s ability to see in the dark to lead them.  The reach the ancient underground complex without incident and make their way straight for the cathedral.  Oliver pulls out an everburning torch to reveal that the cathedral’s stone doors bar their way, but Felix and Nedrin put their shoulders to it and eventually burst through.  The repeated pounding has alerted Erylium, however, and she stands ready for a last, desperate battle.  “I will show you no mercy!” she vows. “Soon my general will arise, and then your precious Sandpoint will be destroyed!” 

The battle begins in earnest as Nedrin, Bey, and Oliver shoot arrows and crossbow bolts at the quasit while Felix closes the doors to bar escape.  The barrage of projectiles rarely strike Erylium, however, and when they do few manage to even pierce her skin.  The ancient demon responds with a succession of summoning spells that manifest goblin dogs and dire rats to fight for her followed by enchantments to try to paralyse her foes.  The adventurers are able to fight off most of her magicks and eventually slay the magically-summoned creatures, but one of Erylium’s spells has a dramatic effect: Nedrin falls prey to a command to approach Erylium, stepping into the strange orange pool to do so!  He instantly becomes enraged and turns on his allies, attacking whomever is nearest with the full force of his longsword.  Oliver is on the receiving end of a vicious slash from the hobgoblin’s sword, leading the ranger to respond in kind using his greatsword!  Oliver decides that he has no choice but to subdue Nedrin, and despite the calls of Felix and Bey, turns his attention away from Erylium, leading to much cackling laughter.  Nedrin succumbs to Oliver’s assault, bleeding and unconscious, but alive.  The ranger quickly binds Nedrin.

Erylium casts a hex on Bey to make her fall asleep again, but Felix moves quickly and wakes her before the demon can slit her throat.  Bey retaliates by uttering a divine curse which succeeds in shattering Erylium’s magical dagger.  The stunned quasit is then on the receiving end of a leaping charge by Felix, who manages to grab her by the throat!  He begins pummelling her and stabbing with his new cold iron shortsword while Oliver joins in with his cold iron greatsword.  Erylium struggles frantically to get free, but this time her luck runs out: with a mighty overhead swing, Oliver cuts the ten-thousand year-old demon in twain!

With victory at last in hand, the adventurers have a difficult decision to make: what to do next?
Director's Commentary (13/03/2017)

This session started with each character taking a few days' worth of Downtime.  I planned one role-playing encounter for each PC to help fill in the gaps while this was taking place and thought it turned out pretty well.

I thought the trick Erylium pulled on Nedrin was pretty clever and wicked, which fits the quasit's profile well.  Things could have gotten pretty bloody if Oliver hadn't subdued Nedrin so quickly.  Speaking of Erylium, I think we were all relieved that the PCs finally managed to take her down.  She took up three sessions of gameplay!

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