Here is the official thread for our new Play by Post campaign using the Zeitgeist Adventure Path. Please post up your character descriptions in the Recruitment thread this week so that everyone can see who's who.
There are a couple decisions you will need to make prior to the start of the adventure. First, you need to decide whether or not your characters are members of the Royal Homeland Constabulary (RHC). If you haven't had a chance to read [url=http://www.enworld.org/ap/zg00a_players_guide_pf.pdf[/url], please do so. You'll find information about life in the RHC on page 12. If you're not going to be in the RHC, we'll assume that you are mercenaries who have been hired by a Risuri noble to act as bodyguards.
I also need to know if any of you will be taking the Character Theme Feats from the player's guide.
Athame expected to be sent somewhere far off and strange, most likely even dangerous, but an entirely different world? Thanks to clever portal placement by Cavaszu, Athame was spontaneously baptized in Parity Lake.
“F*ck”, was her only response.
Drenched in the putrid water she stumbled ashore, much to the surprise and mischance of a group of thugs disposing of a body. Their burning corpses dried Athame’s clothing and did much to improve her mood.
This is how the Constabulary found her, drying her hair over a flaming malefactor. Everyone was happy... relatively. The dead body turned out to be the kidnapped daughter of a dignitary. He was deeply saddened to hear of her death, but pleased vengeance was so swift. The nameless organization behind the kidnapping/murder was pleased that there were no loose ends, and the Constabulary was satisfied that there were no new mouths to feed in the jail.
After being questioned under a mountain of truth and charm spells, RHC was more confused than ever. How can this woman lie about distant worlds and planes under such powerful spells?
Athame thought she and the inquisitors had grown quite close during their time together, and asked them for a place to stay. Caught off guard, and wanting to keep an eye on this strange woman, they agreed to put her in the RHC barracks.
She settled in quickly, and started to tag along with a squad as magical back up. While not a real Constable, Athame still managed to enjoy herself wreaking havoc on the criminal element in the Parity Lake district.
After nearly a month on the periphery of the RHC, you are summoned to the office of Assistant Chief Inspector Stover Delft. You've seen him walking around the barracks with his ebony cane and noticed his strange habit of poking inanimate objects with it. Rumor has it that a mimic tore a chunk out of his leg years ago and he hasn't trusted anything since.
As you enter his office, you see Delft stuff a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth as he waves you to sit down. It takes you a couple moments to find the nearest seat not covered in papers."Sit your ass down and try not to set the place on fire, alright? Don't think I haven't heard reports of what you're capable of." Delft hobbles over to the single window in his office and shuts it.
”I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the king is coming to Flint tomorrow for the launch of our brand new steam engine, the R.N.S Coaltongue. Marvel of technology, they say. A royal visit means extra security is required and I’ve got my best agents out there scouring the docks for any signs of trouble. I’m going to level with you; I don’t know if you are who you say, or if you’re just some crazy b~$&~ looking for excitement. What I do know is that you have some kind of power coursing in those veins that scares the s!!# out of me, and I’d much rather have you on our side.” Delft pauses for a moment to deposit tobacco juice into a nearby spittoon.
I want you out there at the docks first thing tomorrow morning. If you want, take that mute bastard who’s always hanging around you like a damn puppy dog. Set up at one of the security checkpoints and help make sure no one dangerous gets through. I’m not giving you a damn badge just yet, you’ll have to earn that. But if you’re helpful, we might be able to work something out.
Sigh, guard duty while everyone else throws a party for the king. 10 hours of trying to get Tane to make more noise than a cat, and telling the occasional drunkard to move along.
Athame shifts uncomfortably in her seat, ”No badge? No one’s going to believe we’re official without a badge. The first fool we tell to shove off will start a fight, and I’m not going to be responsible for their welfare.”
Push for the badge - Diplomacy: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12
Delft pauses for a few moments to consider your request. ”Alright, you’ve got a point. Just don’t let your newfound authority go to your head. When you get to the docks, find Sergeant Garradon and let her know I sent you. She’ll brief you on the threat profile we’ve put together.”
Sam, I’d like to know a bit more about how you came to meet Athame. When you’re ready to head down to the docks, either one of you (or both) can give me a little bit of narrative to move things forward.
”The Coaltongue is dearer to the king than his own family. I doubt he will allow it to come to any harm. Besides, he’s got Harkover Lee managing the operation. That old bastard might not look it, but he’s a damned fine mage in his own right. You just keep the rabble off the boat, and don’t embarrass yourselves in front of the nobility, alright? Dismissed.”
Grabbing the badge off the table, Athame hooked it to her belt. Turning at the door, she gave ol’ Delft her winning smile, and then she bounded down the hall. Just outside the barracks door, she slows to a stroll while hooking her thumbs in her belt to maximize the view of the badge.
She enters the barracks with a wide walk, and her head held high. She nods to another Constable as an equal and walks to her and Tane’s bunk. Sitting on the bottom bunk, Tane spots her.
“Look who got a promotion, Tane. That’s right, things are going to run a little different now that I’m in charge.”
“What’s that? How did I get this badge? Well, Chief Delft felt that I was ready for the Constable’s Test, and he was right. I’m not supposed to tell you what’s involved, but let’s just say I kicked some serious ass. So much, that I got assigned to the King’s personal detail for his visit. Wanna come?”
Tane nodded while wearing his usual placid expression, however in truth he didn't want to be there at all. He wanted to leave this filthy city, but it seemed fate would not allow for that.
Tane thought back to his first encounter with Athame. He had just been thinking to himself, fiery hair and spirit? A quarter of these barbarians have red hair, and all of them lack civility. Why couldn't the elders be more specific? That was about the time he nearly had his eyebrows singed off.
As a warm breeze off the sea mingles the scents of elaborate floral decorations with the pervasive coal soot that always hovers over Flint, you arrive at the first of two checkpoints the Flint police have set up to let in a crowd of local citizens who just want to line the streets and cheer their king.
Thousands of visitors have poured into the city, hoping to see the king. They’ve gathered in Royal Square, on the mainland side of a bridge that leads to the Royal Shipyard. Sergeant Garradon, a no-nonsense dwarf with a tightly coiled bun of hair briefs you on the situation:
“Since we can’t question the whole crowd, we’ve compiled a list of the four groups we think are most likely to cause trouble tonight. Keep your eyes peeled for anyone who fits these profiles.
Dockers – Usually burly men with tattoos and workers’ garb. They’re angry at the long hours and low wages they’ve been paid to build this iron marvel.
Primalists – Believers in the old druidic faith. They hate all this new technology, call it an affront to the gods.
Fey terrorists – Loyal to a man we know as “Gale.” Look for elves or half-elves trying a little too hard to blend in.
War veterans – Men in either their late 20s or mid 50s, depending on the war they fought. Rumor has it that the king is planning to give land they fought for back to Danor. Vets won’t stand for that.
Look, I know you’re here to make a name for yourselves, but remember that any fights breaking out will reflect just as badly on us as it does on those involved. So keep your powder dry and think things through out there. Got it?”
Let me know what you’d like to do next everyone and if you feel like a roll is appropriate, by all means do so.
Athame turns a sharp eye on the crowd. They’re all terrorists. I could set them all on fire right now, and I’d be a hero. One blast of purifying fire.
She shakes her head clear, They’re not all terrorists. They’re just a bunch of people out for a parade.
Except her. Athame’s roving eyes stop on a woman. That outfit is a crime, and we’re all the victims.
The woman in a green striped dress, glances up to see Athame staring at her. The disgust on Athame’s face turns the woman pale, and she backs out of the crowd quickly.
Athame turns and smiles to Tane, ”That’s one good deed for the day. And now...”
She then leaps on top of the checkpoint barricade, points three fingers at the crowd and spits out, “Jadard!” Spoken in the language of devils and things that go bump in the night, the Infernal phrase triggers the magical channels in Athame’s mind and grates on the ears of all who hear it. It oozes out from Athame like an oil slick, covering the crowd.
Intimidate the lady in the horrible green dress - Intimidate: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (13) + 9 = 22
Athame learned her magic from a pit fiend, so all her verbal spell casting occurs in the Infernal language. I found this convenient English to Infernal Translator online.
’Jadard’ is ‘Detect’ in Infernal. She has cast Detect Magic on the crowd.
Athame’s glare causes the woman in the green dress to flee the dock, knocking over a woman and child in her path and whimpering about she-devils.
Your spell alerts you to the presence of two magic auras in the crowd, both near the noble carriages. The nobles don’t want to mingle with the common folk, so they’re content to wait until just before the king’s arrival to show themselves. One of the auras is strong, while the other one is faint.
Your bold leap onto the barricade is met with stares of shock from the crowd and irritation/disgust from the other members of the RHC.
For the rest of the day, Athame will have a +2 bonus to Intimidate anyone who saw her stunt. She will, however, suffer a -2 penalty on Diplomacy.
Athame stands 3 feet above the crowd watching everyone. She ignores the looks of regular shock and glances at each person’s facial features. Are any of them fine boned fey? Any mail shirts reflecting the sun at the nape of the neck?
The only auras in the area belong to nobles, who know better than to participate in direct action.
No elves in magical disguise, no actual druids, and no magical items like one might find on a successful war vet. Also, no one ran at the sign of police action, so no strong feelings of guilt or nerves.
There’s no one in this crowd that could stand up to the town watch, let alone the king’s personal guard. Most likely these are just regular folks, and we should move on to the next checkpoint.
Before leaping down, Athame scans the area for young kids working as messengers or loiterers standing around as lookout.
Accustomed to Athame's Demonic tongue himself, Tane does not react. However, he knows the normal reaction to Athame is one of fear. Anyone not reacting is suspicious for not being suspicious, so Tane does his own survey of the crowd looking for anyone trying a bit too hard to fit in.
The fatigue from her casting causes Athame’s vision to blur and her legs to buckle. She wobbles slightly on the barricade before steadying herself on Tane’s shoulder. Colors swim for a few moments as she regains her composure.
Tane, seemingly impervious to the commotion, casts a keen eye on the crowd. He spies a grizzled sailor, in his early 50s, who appears to be searching through the crowd himself. The man sports a wicked scar on the side of his face and a tattoo written in a strange script down his left arm.
Linguistics skill check (DC 20) or Aquan as a known language:
”All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by.”
The man you’ve spotted looks like he is earnestly searching for someone or something in the crowd. He’s a bit shorter than average, so he frequently stands on tiptoe to look over folks. When he sees Athame approach, he tries to play it cool, though he is visibly disturbed by her presence.
”Don’t try your witchcraft on me, woman. I’ve got friends in the Old Church who’ll repay you threefold for any harm you visit on me.”
The man cocks his head and scratches his scar. ”I guess I ain’t got much choice, but I’ll only talk to you on one condition. I need to know that you’re not going to lock up my friends and throw away the key. They’re not bad fellas, they just got a raw deal and didn’t know how to handle it. Let me talk to them, and convince them to leave peacefully. Otherwise, you could have a major ruckus on your hand when the king arrives. Do we have a deal?”
Athame tilts her head back as she muses aloud, “Seems to me, that no one has done anything wrong yet. If you can convince them to pack it up and head home, then I don’t see any reason why we can’t do the same.”
”I’m looking for three guys, by the names of Coulton, Mercliffe, and Iscalio. We all work together down on Dock 9. Like I said, they’re pissed about the working conditions, but they don’t mean any real harm. They just want to get the king’s attention, that’s all. We’ve complained for months about the lack of safety precautions. But that damn tiefling in charge doesn’t give a damn about us. We’re completely disposable to him.” The man curses in a language you can’t make out and then takes a moment to rein himself in.
”My name’s Grimsley, by the way. Thames Grimsley. But we don’t have a lot of time left. The king will be here within the hour, so let’s get to work. I’ll point them out to you, and you use your authority to get us all somewhere private.”
Grimsley sets off back into the crowd. It takes him a few minutes to find the first of his crew, Iscalio. He scowls at the young man and says ”I told you this was a mistake.”
Iscalio blanches at the sight of Grimsley and quietly says, ”Oh, uh, hey Thames. What uh, what are you… wait, who the hell are you with? Whose side are you on, man?”
Grimsley growls back ”I’m on the side of keeping your ass out of the stocks tonight. Now where are Coul and Merc?”
Looking over at the two of you, Iscalio replies ”I’m not saying another word until I know who the f*ck you’re with, and what the f*ck they want.”
I had been following the dock workers for several hours. I'd overheard a casual remark, "The king needs to know how serious we are." and I knew they were up to no good.
When the group split, I decided to stay with the two older workers and ignore the youngest of them. With the rough scars on their knuckles, I could tell these two were the real trouble makers of the group, we can smell our own.
As they were nearing the route the King would take I decided that these two only had a short time to left before I had to do something to eliminate the threat they might pose. Sergeant Garradon wouldn't like me to cause a "Stir" with the King around.
"Oh the hell with this..." he muttered to himself and drew his knife keeping it hidden in his sleeve as he moved to intercept the two.
With knife hidden in sleeve, Gavrilo approaches Coulton and Mercliffe. Sensing his approach, the duo turn and face their dwarven pursuer.
"What have we here, Coul? Must be one of them dwarves who think the end of the world is comin' if he's tryin' to sneak up on us- am I right?" Both men are powerfully built, nearly six feet tall, and they have the appearance of brothers. Each has a sheathed dagger on his belt.
"Perhaps he's here to petition the king for a step stool so he can see the festivities, Merc. Or maybe he wants to sit on your shoulders. What exactly can we do for you... friend?"
This wasn't working out well at all. I was hoping they would be a little stupider than this.
'Poak azrt 'kno, A 'urrha our' turr'k 'rtahthkazrt tzhazhwa." I say. I look around and use my free hand to gesture like I'm eating. I actually survey the area looking for anything I can use to my advantage. With any luck they will think I'm just an idiot tourist. If they are distracted for just a moment, I will make sure they don't bother anyone for there rest of their miserable lives.
"Big and ugly, I hope you don't understand dwarf."
Bluff 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1-2 = 15
Perception 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 -2 = 18
"Ooh, this one's clever, Coul... doesn't want us to know what he's really up to. Look, ya stunted bastard, I'm gonna give you to the count of three to get your ugly ass out of here. Otherwise, we're gonna have a serious problem."
Coulton pops his knuckles and grins; Merc simply glares at you. Neither man reaches for his weapon yet.
This is not my day. No one is around to help and these guys actually made me a little shaky. Hell between the two of them they must weigh 3-4 times what I do. No real distractions available, but I really only need to keep them from getting near the King.
"I'll make it easy for you, One...Two...Can you guess which number coms next?" I ready myself to throw the knife to meet him if he charges.
Before we start rolling for initiative, I'd like to see if any of our other characters are going to participate in this exchange. I need Athame and Tane to make DC 18 Perception checks to see if you notice the confrontation between Gavrilo and the dockers.
I'd also like for everyone to be aware of this caveat regarding your duties as members of the RHC."As officers of the law, you should generally take enemies alive unless the enemy can easily recuperate and escape or threaten others. You can make nonlethal attacks in order to knock out opponents. You have been trained to subdue your enemies, so there is no penalty to attack rolls. When the enemy falls to –1 hit points, s/he falls unconscious but is not dying. Additionally, you might try to make an Intimidate check to convince heavily wounded enemies to surrender."
The crowd, sensing the tension, has backed away from Gavrilo and the two dockers. Tane moves swiftly through the throng, and arrives just in time to see Coulton lunge toward Gavrilo. Athame, Grimsley, and Iscalio are approximately 20 feet behind Tane, struggling to push their way through.
No one gets to act in a surprise round, so it’s time for initiative rolls.
Coulton and Mercliffe: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Gavrilo: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18
Tane: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Initiative order: 1. Coulton and Mercliffe, 2. Gavrilo, 3. Tane
I have uploaded the map for combat to our circle on G+. Here are everyone’s starting coordinates. If you want to move on your turn, please let me know what square you will end up in. The Columns are A through V; Rows are 1 through 19.
Coulton: I4; Mercliffe: J4; Gavrilo: I5; Tane: L7
We will have one round of combat, and then Athame and her crew will be through the crowd and able to act.
Coulton moves in first to try and wrap Gavrilo up in a bear hug, so that his brother can deliver the beating.
Coulton's Grapple attempt vs Gavrilo's CMD 14(no Dex bonus and no Attacks of Opportunity when flat footed): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Gavrilo is fast, but Coulton is even faster. He succeeds in getting a hold on Gavrilo and both now have the Grappled condition.
Looking like they’ve done this many, many times before, Mercliffe synchronizes his attack with Coulton's grab and throws a haymaker punch at Gavrilo.
Mercliffe's Unarmed Strike vs Gavrilo's AC 10 (flat footed and grappled): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 = 17 Damage from Unarmed Strike:1d3 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Mercliffe's punch is expertly timed, and strikes Gavrilo in the temple with an ugly crunch.
Quick house rule regarding Critical Hits. Going forward, we will use the 4th edition rule on crits. No confirmation roll, you just crit. But the damage is not doubled, you simply max out the dice roll and add your damage modifiers after that. Gav's hit stands as written (9 points), but we will use the new rule from now on.
Gavrilo’s dagger slips into Coulton’s arm and blood begins to flow copiously from the wound. With a howl of agony, Coulton releases Gavrilo from the grapple.
Mercliffe’s Fort save vs Stunning Fist DC 12: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5
Tane's knowledge of human anatomy is expertly demonstrated as his fist strikes Mercliffe at a nerve junction, stunning him. His hands drop to his sides, his head lolls a bit, and his face contorts in surprise.
Mercliffe takes a -2 penalty to AC on top of losing his Dex bonus and is unable to take any actions for the next round.
Athame parts the crowd with her commanding presence just as Tane's blow lands. Grimsley is right at her side and sees the melee unfolding. "Stop, stop, all of you!" he bellows. He turns directly to Athame and implores"There's no need for this... please."
Iscalio's disgust is evident as he hisses, "Spineless fool. You're a disgrace to all of us. May the Rusalki ride your wake!"
Athame's initiative roll is good enough to go first in the next combat round (if you wish to continue with combat.) I have updated the G+ map to reflect Tane(J5) and Athame's(N6) new positions.
Without hesitation, Athame stomps up to the combatants yelling the whole time. ”What the hell is wrong with you people!? There’s a whole g*ddamn battalion of cops 200 yards away, and you’re starting a fight!”
Walking right past the ox with the dazed look, she barrels down on Coulton, shaking a finger in his face.
”This was beyond f*cking foolish. What, did you think? That you would beat this guy into a pulp and take his coin? Was your brilliant plan to disappear into the panicked crowd? Look at the size of you. You’re a head taller than everybody else. And now you’re bleeding.”
Athame wipes some of his blood up on her finger. ”Do you have any idea what I can do with this?” The blood starts to bubble and steam slightly. ”How far do you think you would have gotten? Not far enough”
”Now, you, you, and you,” pointing to Coulton, Mercliffe, and Iscalio in turn with her blood soaked finger, ”Sit the f*ck down.”
Turning to Gavrilo, and ignoring whether anyone is following her directions, she barks, ”Talk to your fellows. I want to hear an explanation of today’s activities.”
Making Coulton listen to her - Intimidate: 1d20 + 9 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 9 + 2 = 28 Bluff that the blood means something - Bluff: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (10) + 9 = 19
Athame casts Prestidigitation under her breath, and moves 30 ft to stand at I3. I believe Mercliffe cannot make an attack of opportunity because he’s stunned.
The blood smokes from the heating effect of Prestidigitation, and everything Athame does that is fire related is enhanced.
As I understand it the Constables are not the only police force in town. I thought I read somewhere that there is a normal guard force, and the RHC are more of an FBI style group. Basically, I expect the checkpoint to be manned by a lot more guards than just the 3 of us and Sergeant Garradon.
Also, the curse filter is obnoxious. "G*ddamn" triggers it?
Athame’s brazen gambit pays off. Coulton takes one look at his own sizzling blood and turns white as a sheet. He immediately sheathes his dagger, then seizes Mercliffe by the collar and starts to drag him back away from the assembled constables. He holds his hands up, palms out, as if imploring Athame not to harm him.
Grimsley’s eyes widen in awe – and then in a flash, he grabs Iscalio by the scruff of his neck and says, ”It’s not the Rusalki you should be afraid of sonny boy… Do you still think you’re the most dangerous thing on this dock?”
Iscalio squirms uncomfortably and can’t take his eyes off his own feet. He gives Grimsley a quick shake of his head.
Knowledge (Religion) skill check DC 15:
In Risuri mythology, a rusalka is a female ghost, water nymph, or mermaid-like demon that dwells in a waterway.
Meanwhile, Coulton and Mercliffe have backed up nearly 10 feet and are now only 3 feet from the edge of the dock. Coulton looks over his shoulder at the water.
Their intent to jump into the water is clear to anyone who succeeds on a DC 12 Perception check. Please make that roll, and then narrate your actions regardless of whether or not you intend to stop them. If you try to stop them by physical means, roll a Strength or Dexterity check and then I will make their opposition roll.
I turn at look up at the petite little girl yelling at everyone, she's go spirit, I think I like this one.
"Since you asked so politely, I was stopping these two from doing anything stupider then they have already done. I didn't want them anywhere near the king when he came by and now they won't be. I count this as a total success." I take a couple of steps to the side to clearly see the group standing on the docks.
" And since they are about to jump into the habor I consider my job done here. Another good deed for the day!" I self congratulate myself.
Sergeant Garradon had warned me about the newbies in the RHC, and as I looked over from my post there they were stirring up trouble already. Stepping double-time over to the commotion, I find a crazed girl yelling and drawing attention to the scene, and that sweaty dwarf Gavrillo looking quite proud of himself. I guess he can afford to be smug. It's not like he can be demoted any further. Meanwhile, three men are shifting from one foot to the other, particularly close to the harbor, glancing at each other like they each know what the other is thinking. I'd better take charge before this escalates any further.
"I'm the ranking officer in this quadrant. Gavrillo, monk...detain the prisoners. Preferably somewhere away from the water. The last thing we need is detainees jumping into the harbor. Glancing at the hot-headed girl I bark, "Deputy, report."
Coulton and Mercliffe’s diving technique is nowhere near as refined as their brawling. Realizing that no one intends to physically restrain them (yet), they make good their “escape.” The drop to the water is just a few feet and then they begin swimming away in earnest.
Grimsley approaches Athame with a look of gratitude on his face. He still has hold of Iscalio and drags him over. ”That was a rather impressive display. Forgive me for my earlier insults. Clearly, you are a Constable of the highest order.” He glances over at the water and shakes his head dismissively.
”Don’t worry about those two. It’ll be months before they dare show their faces in this city again. Besides, young Iscalio here can provide your interrogators with any information they need…”
Iscalio mutters an unintelligible curse under his breath that causes Grimsley to chuckle. ”I doubt you’d find my mother in much of a condition for that. She died years ago.”
He then turns back to your group and says, ”If I may be so bold, I have one last request. If you see Governor Stanfield tonight, would you pass along a message? Tell him that a number of my fellow dockers have been arrested in the past few weeks because they refused to work sixteen hour shifts loading and unloading industrial cargo. They’re raring for a riot, and I’m doing what I can to keep them calm. If Stanfield can’t take some of the
pressure off them, I fear there’ll be blood in the streets.”
The first of the noble carriages have begun to approach the royal shipyard, and already the crowd on the bridge is doing its job: cheering, throwing flowers, and performing folk songs and dances to show their support. You also notice that Assistant Chief Inspector Stover Delft has arrived, and he is slowly making his way toward your group.
With a great commotion, the local police finally arrive and cordon off the scene. They cuff Iscalio and then ask if he is a “high priority.” You are all aware that “high priority” suspects are tortured if they refuse to answer questioning.
You have a minute or two to converse among yourselves before Delft arrives. Anyone can answer the local police. This would also be a good time for some quick introductions/chatter among yourselves. Last but not least, a belated “Welcome!” to our new arrivals.