Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rise of the Runelords Recap # 20 [RPG]

[2 Neth 4707 continued]

Having obtained scrolls of cure disease from The Feathered Serpent, the group decide to set out for Habe’s Sanatorium immediately.  There is but one problem: they don’t know how to get there!  Artemis asks around and gets directions, but as night falls the consensus is that it would be better to go in the morning.  The hardened warriors go their own way, planning to meet up again in the morning.

Das Korvut, Sandpoint's Blacksmith
Ome makes her way to the Pixie’s Kitten.  She notices a frantic giddiness in the brothel, as if everyone was trying to make the most out of a time that would soon end.  It’s clear both the staff and the clientele are worried about Titus Scarnetti’s public meeting about closing down the establishment.  Ome promises her friend Kaye Tessarani that she’ll help if anything happens, and might even be able to dig up dirt on Scarnetti.  Meanwhile, Artemis requisitions an official Sandpoint Town Watch tabard and discusses the investigation with Bosk Hartigan.  Bosk says that they’ve let Vin Vinder and Ibor Thorn ago, having learned little of value during questioning.  Across town, Arnald books one of the Rusty Dragon’s four “Luxury Suites” so he can sleep in style.  Out in the middle of the street, Bey suddenly emerges from her trance-state and realizes her allies just left her there.  She too makes her way to the Rusty Dragon, and her decision is a fortuitous one: Das Korvut is there, and tells her he’s been meaning to talk to her for a few days’ now.  He thanks her, in his own gruff way, for helping with the Chopper’s Isle matter, and says he’s been working on something over the last few weeks to say thanks.  He leads Bey back to his smithy and shows her a bardiche made with exquisite attention to detail and forged from cold steel.  He says maybe it’ll help her if there are any more demons like the one the adventurers fought in the catacombs under the city.  Bey is grateful for the gift.

[3 Neth 4707]

Overnight, Bey has a dream about turning into a werewolf!  When she comes down to the common room for breakfast, she sees Arnald and the two examine several notices nailed to the Help Wanted signpost by the inn’s entrance.  They decide to go to the Pixie’s Kitten and are stopped on the way by someone handing out leaflets for the upcoming town meeting on making prostitution illegal in Sandpoint.  Meanwhile, at the Pixie’s Kitten, Ome dresses early and notices Sheriff Hemlock slipping out a backdoor to an alleyway behind the building.  Ome grins and makes her way out front and sees that Artemis has made the planned rendezvous on time.  Once everyone is together again, Bey shows the flier and says she plans to speak up at the meeting, stating that too much order ousts any role in society for serendipity and luck.  The others notice Bey’s new bardiche, and ask why she now carries two.  Since it’s too far to backtrack to the Rusty Dragon, she persuades Vorvashali Voon, who is just opening up for the day, to hold on to the old one for her until she returns.

The three adventurers and Artemis set off south along the Lost Coast Road.  They cross a bridge across a stream flowing south, turn west to follow the road around some low foothills, cross Cougar Creek, and then find themselves upon Ashen Moor and the northernmost farms in the Sandpoint hinterlands.  As they’re walking, a projectile is suddenly launched from the direction of a nearby tree!  It strikes Ome right in the chest, but, fortunately, it’s just a rotten apple.  Ome nocks an arrow and runs towards the tree, shouting for her attacker to come down.  A farm kid climbs down, looking abashed and scared, and whistles for her sibling, hidden in another tree, to do the same.  Artemis sternly warns the children against a repeat incident, and the kids run back home.

The group’s journey continues as the Lost Coast Road curves southeast to skirt the edges of Brinestump Marsh to the west.  Seeing the limestone escarpment known as Ashen Rise pass behind them on the left, Artemis realizes they’ve gone too far.  They backtrack and take some farm roads to the northern face of the escarpment.  A couple of hours after having left Sandpoint, they reach their destination.  There, nestled up against the rock, is The Saintly Haven of Respite, more commonly known as Habe’s Sanatorium.

Doctor Erin Habe of the The Saintly Haven of Respite
After climbing up on a creaky wooden veranda and entering a door marked “Reception”, the travellers find themselves in a waiting room.  They tug a bellpull and some moments later, Dr. Erin Habe enters the room.  Habe, a nervous man who seems to be in a hurry, listens as the travellers explain their reason for coming and present Sheriff Hemlock’s letter of introduction.  Habe explains that he’s in the middle of a very delicate procedure at the moment but that he can make time if they come back the next day.  Impatiently, Bey lowers her bardiche to emphasize the importance of their visit, sending Habe shrieking out of the room in a fit of panic!

Bey and Arnald, weapons drawn, chase after Habe as he runs through a disused workroom shouting for orderlies.  Two tieflings armed with stout cudgels emerge from nearby rooms and stand protectively around Habe while the alienist frantically tries to unlock a door.  Meanwhile, Artemis and Ome have stayed behind, annoyed at their allies’ hasty actions.  Without hesitation, Arnald swings his greataxe and lodges the blade deep in the abdomen of one of the orderlies!  Artemis shoots Arnald in the back in an attempt to prevent what seems like clear-cut murder, and Bey casts a spell to save the life of the downed orderly.  While she’s distracted, however, the other orderly advances and lands a hard crack across the back of her head.

Arnald corners Habe and is about to deliver a killing blow, but pleas from his allies convince him to hold up at the last second and strike the man with the flat of the blade instead.  Habe drops to his knees and begs for mercy.  Ome and Artemis remain aghast at this entire turn of events, but Arnald appears uncannily prescient when another door opens into the workshop and four zombies shamble out!  They’re followed closely by an older Varisian man holding a dagger, chanting arcane words of power.  “Caizarlu, they’re going to ruin everything!” Habe shouts.  Habe draws a hidden dagger and tries to stab Bey.

Caizarlu Zerren, Basement Necromancer
Two of the zombies shamble towards Ome and Artemis, still in the reception area, while two more join the tieflings in the fight against Bey and Arnald.  This leaves Caizarlu unmolested, and he takes advantage by casting spell after spell at the intruders.  Arnald shakes off two magical attempts to blind him, but a zombie takes advantage of his distraction and scores a deep wound in the axeman’s back!  Bey weaves and dodges to get to a better position and manages to heal Arnald and then manifests an occult ability to burst into flames that somehow do not harm her but that set the zombies ablaze.  Arnald, enraged by the zombie attacks, takes his anger out on Dr. Habe: despite the man’s renewed begging and shouts that he only furnished Caizarlu with patients who died naturally, Arnald decapitates him with one mighty swing! On the other side of the room, finding her arrows largely ineffective, Ome shifts tactics.  She claws and bites at her attackers, and soon both are defeated.  

With the zombies destroyed and the orderlies and Dr. Habe all dead, Caizarlu stands alone.  But the old necromancer doesn’t give up.  He conjures illusory duplicates of himself to foil attacks and even drains some of the life from Arnald to heal himself!  But Arnald and Bey advance in unison, and soon their attacks are enough to wear Caizarlu down.  Moments before he can put his escape plan into action, he drops to the floor, bleeding and unconscious.

The visit to Habe’s Sanatorium certainly hasn’t gone as expected!  With several corpses and one unconscious necromancer on their hands, what will the group do next?  And without Dr. Habe, will they be able to get any information out of Grayst Seviilla?

Director's Commentary

I hadn’t plan to do anything in particular with the town’s brothel, The Pixie’s Kitten, but since we had an Inquisitor of Calistria as a PC, it seemed natural to tie it in.  I was really happy how the subplot turned out, as it also allowed me to incorporate Sandpoint’s conservative elements (in the persona of Titus Scarnetti) into the plot.  The storyline develops quite nicely in the next few sessions and had a fairly exciting conclusion.

The whole big battle at Habe’s Sanatorium could have gone very, very differently if the PCs had just waited a day and come back.  But Habe’s write-up specifically says that if the PCs make any threatening gestures, he panicks and runs.  My players know that if they try to have their PCs throw their weight around on NPCs, there can be consequences, so half of the group was convinced that it was a mistake to chase after Habe.  The irony, of course, was that Habe really was into some shady stuff.  That still probably didn’t justify him getting beheaded though!

We’ll see a common, though inexplicable pattern with the group: they somehow manage to turn what the AP writers intended as a series of discrete encounters into one massive encounter.  It definitely keeps things exciting and dynamic though, and probably speeds up gameplay in the end.

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