Each member of your fledgling team of newly trained pathfinder recruits receives an invitation to a party being held this evening at the Lantern Lodge, the beautiful and exotic estate of the Tian venture-captain, Amara Li, in Absalom's Petal District. Tonight, the invitations inform you, is the Snapdragon Festival, a traditional Gokan holiday featuring fireworks and rich plum wine.
You are encouraged to dress to impress, and instructed to seek out the hostess and head of the Lantern Lodge, Amara Li, upon your arrival.
Go ahead and describe any preparation you take before the party. We'll officially get underway sunday night.
Jake tracks down a local tailor so that he can dress in Andoren Blue Military dress. Jake thinks with a smile into the mirror as he is fitted,
Every Pathfinder Agent at this party, as well as all others, will quickly know my affilliation with the Andoran faction, but I care not. I am proud of my beginnings. Maybe I can even continue to sway Talhaearn,, or the others to the faction. We need more good souls to trumpet the cry for freedom and democracy, whether it is done silently, behind the scenes, or on the front lines.
Jory wanders through the city unsure how to dress to impress. He finds himself drawn to visit Ollystra Zadrian at the Temple of the Shining Star.
Maybe she will remember me.
Upon seeing the beautiful paladin Jory can barely manage a few squeaks at first and looks at his feet.
Finaly he manages "Petal festival at the Snapdragon district--really important to impress Amara Li -- I don't know what to do."
He looks over his plain monks robes in despair. "These are not good enough and I may have to talk. And it is tonight. I can't go alone---I can't."
Maybe Jory found his +1
Snapdragon Festival? Dress to impress? Sounds like they're expecting something brash to me. I don't do "brash." Still it would probably make the wrong impression to show up in armor with weapons drawn. Better check out a clothier and see what ideas they have in store for me.
After way too much time spent trying on way too many colorful garments, Talhaearn settled on a simple yet elegant dark grey outfit. Unwilling to allow him to go to the festival dressed so somberly, the clothier strongly suggests an outfit more in keeping with the Gokan style and refuses to let him leave until he agrees to wear it.
Karzak grins excitedly at the thought. Dress to impress? Now, that I can do!. He spends much of the day cleaning and oiling his new armor, then donning various pieces and moving the joints to make certain that they don't issue any keening squeaks or squeals. He removes and reinstalls the wicked spikes that adorn the suit, making sure to clean out the threaded parts, where grime and old blood can collect and bring on rust.
He spends longer than usual donning his suit before the party, paying attention to every minute detail. Afterwards, he attaches his hammer through the loops on his back, so that the weapon sits vertically along the mid-line of his back. Finally, he brushes any old crumbs of food from his beard. There, like any proper dwarf should look.
Jory searches for Karzak.
I can't wear what everyone else is wearing--that is too boring. No Gokan style finery for me.
"Karzak, I never thought I would say this to another dwarf, and feel free to give me a shot for it, I probably deserve it, --but here goes. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO WEAR?"
"I went to the paladin we delivered the medicine for and she recommended a tailor we could rent some fancy clothes from."
I picture Jory and Karzak in the tuxedos worn at the charity ball in 'Dumb and Dumber'
Ah, a party, eh? Sounds like fun. At least then I don't have to worry about certain dwarves trying to get themselves killed fighting things from other planes. Oi. And we won't get ambushed in the middle of town. I hope.
Shaking her head, Tiann dons the traditional white robes of the Church of Sarenrae, tying her hair with a golden clasp. The robes feature a golden ankh on the back, in keeping with Church style. A fine inlay of gold is set a few centimeters from the edges of the wrists, but otherwise the robes are simple and elegant. She wears her holy symbol around her neck, attached to a silver-white chain. She affixes tiny white doves to her ears, and sets off to the event, enjoying the cool evening air.
Jory attempts to drag Karzak to the tailor.
"I can't face a human tailor alone, it is scarier than that imp that stung me twice with his tail. Please come with me."
To impress the Silver Temple Jory wants something silver and his idea of impressing is similar to the aforementioned tuxedo. Hopefully the tailor can talk him out of it.
After the tailor Jory heads to the ball with his longbow and quiver.
Karzak looks at Jory with barely disguised disgust. His mouth opens and shuts several times, as if he's uncertain what he should say. After several moments of incredulity combating Jory's calm tone as he explains the needs to impress. In the end, he agrees to go, but claims that he'll drive a spike through the eye of the first one to try and remove his armor. He goes only for Jory's much needed support.
Only the luckiest or most influential Pathfinders receive invitations to Amara Li's annual Snapdragon Festival celebration, and wise recipients take advantage of them. The aroma of blooming orchids and flowing wine mixes with the acrid tang of recently exploded fireworks, and the sound of strangely discordant music comes from a duo of Tian women playing an unusual stringed instrument and a reed flute. The crowd mingles calmly, most guests clearly hoping to be seen more than actually paying attention to those with whom they converse, though the plum wine seems to have affected many who now move about the lodge's grounds waving sparkling wands of fire and shooting whirring, whizzing fireworks into the sky above the koi pond.
Your group receives a very mixed reaction from the crowd. People look with approval at Talhaearn's costume for the evening, and he receives several congratulatory remarks on his getting into the spirit of the occasion. Tiann's finery is also well received; though she does seem a little out of place, her formal robes are at least appropriately fancy.
Jory had let the tailor talk him into a particularly flamboyant outfit that could, marginally, be considered Gokan, and people laughed and clapped him on the shoulder, mistakenly thinking he was part of the comic relief for the night. Eyebrows were raised and a few disappearing sneers were seen when people saw Karzak fully armed and armored, but only the bravest of drunks would deem it a good idea to confront the Barbarian about his outfit.
Jake is a bit awkward at the party, not being a man of refined social graces, but he stays by Talhaearn who seems quite popular.
Well, friend, you appear to be creating quite a buzz.
Jory speaks to Karzak, "See, people like my costume. You should have got one too. I think they are snubbing you. I bet they thing this formal occasion prevents you from hitting them--they don't know us very well do they?"
Jory gets out his papers with quill and draws two detailed pictures of Tal and Tiann.
Jory asks Karzak for his opinion, "This will have to make the Pathfinder Chronicles this year. Tal and Tiann are starting a new trend and they totally disregarded the Gokan advice. I am only 13 gp short of getting my awesome bow. I think selling these sketches will do it. What do you think?"
Karzak harumphs at the comment about the costume, and he gives his armor a confident pat. Pah! There's more'n one way ta' impress. Let Tal do it with flauntin' about his pointy eared man flesh, and we can do it with hammer n' bow, eh?
He looks at the pictures and snorts. I ain't payin' ya' for 'em, if that's what yer aimin' at. May be worth it though...why doncha' get the two ta' sign 'em, then they'll be real gen-you-ine.
The surly barbarian tries for a smile as he scans the room for potential...ahem...targets, but the smile comes across as a grimace.
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
Not particularly capable of dressing to impress (that's more a Shelynite thing, anyway), Tiann nonetheless tries to make some friends at the event with a mixture of tales from her childhood in the deserts of Katapesh (particularly of the markets of Katapesh, which she had the good fortune to witness in the days before her travel to Absalom) and recent experiences in the city. While very probably not the only Katapesh Garundi present, she nevertheless has the perspective of someone who grew up in Solku during the gnoll incursions. Conflict makes the best story, after all.
Perform (Oratory: Storytelling): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
After you spend a while perusing the party, you are invited into Amara Li's private study, where you find her seated on a reed mat before a low table set with an exquisite porcelain tea set. She motions for you to sit with her around the table, and once the door is closed behind you and you have taken your seats, she begins talking in a low, hushed voice without even the hint of a Tian accent.
"Well met, Pathfinders, and welcome to the Lantern Lodge. I hope you find the Snapdragon Festival and my hospitality worth of your time and energy. I have not brought you here for mere pleasantries, however, and wish to ask you to partake in a dangerous mission on my behalf.
"Long ago, one of my most esteemed ancestors, who was rich in power but poor in sense, gave a girt to a foreign prince, a gift that prince did not deserve and my foolish ancestor had no right to give - a ceremonial jade katana. At the time the gift was sent, its recipient was invading this island. He laid siege to Absalom from his fortress in the foothills of the Kortos Mounts. Like those who came before him, the warlord failed to take Absalom and perished in the attempt. On the very day of his defeat, his castle crumbled to dust in a violent earthquake and has been lost to the centuries ever since. My family's heirloom was lost with it.
"A recent report by a group of Pathfinders gives me hope that they have finally found the ruin, and I might finally recover my family's treasure. I'm looking for an intrepid group to retrieve it for me, and I'm hoping that is you. The fame and wealth you will doubtlessly recover will bring you much honor within the Society, and if you deliver the katana to me, you will have my favor as you begin your careers as full agents of the Pathfinder Society."
Karzak seats himself with no small effort, his armor squeaking despite every preparation made to avoid it. At Li's words, his eyes light up. It's...underground?. He waits a second for that to sink in then he slams Jory on the shoulder with a mailed fist. Ho! Hear that ma' boy? We're headed home!
Unable to suppress a grin at Karzak's enthusiasm, Tiann tries to keep her voice serious as she leans forward and asks some questions.
While I'm glad to assist in any way I can, I would nonetheless like to have as much information as possible before heading in. I am sure my dwarves companions will be quite at home in the ruins, but that won't inform us of what we're likely to find down there. Would it be possible for us to obtain a copy of the report you've read? Or any additional information? Are there any time constraints on our mission? Ah, and one final thing: why us, specifically?
While listening quietly, Tiann takes a sip or two of tea after the string of questions. I really must get some of this; it is quite delicious.
Talhaearn is amused by the enthusiasm of the Dwarves and impressed with Tiann's question. She seems to have a knack for probing for information without throwing people off balance.
Tal is also excited by the possibility of a true adventure...as opposed to running errands in the city. Searching for a long lost treasure? This is what he signed up for.
Jake uncomfortably seated on the floor, having to lean his finely crafted new Greatsword on the wall to his side, sips the tea with somewhat less than dainty social grace.
Not bad tea, but I have never been a fan. A delve into the depths. Excellent! I cannot wait to whet my blade with the blood of evil denizens of the depths.
Yes, tell us more about this warlord and his failed attempt at invasion. Did he have a name? Also, what became of the Pathfinders, our predecessors, who discovered the ruin and wrote the report?
Jory nods at Tiann's words. "This does sound like fun."
His next comments he whispers discreetly to his companions.
To the group Jory explains he is less than 15gp from buying a really good bow. "Can we ask her for a real small advance? If we are better equipped we have a better chance."
Sorry Jory, it doesn't work like that. No inter-player commerce, either.
"The report as a whole is too sensitive to share, but it only touches on this newly discovered ruin in one or two sentences; it is largely about other business. The explorers who found the ruins did attempt to enter, but were attacked by a ghoul in the very first room, which tore the first member of their team to enter to shreds, causing the rest of the team to flee, and report back without learning any more. Unfortunately they had to leave their poor companion for dead, as they were not equipped for battle over a corpse.
"As for time constraints, you can take whatever time you need to prepare beforehand, and take the time to handle the mission safely. I don't expect you to return tomorrow, but I do expect you to perform the mission as efficiently as you can.
"The warlord was a certain Qadira General named Asad; I do not have records of the events surrounding his siege of Absalom handy.
"I have chosen you because your team has been recommended to me by others within the Society whose opinions I respect. To make it clear, your mission into the dungeon is as Pathfinders first and last, but your retrieval of the jade katana will be a personal favor for me." She leaves it unsaid that being owed a personal favor by a venture-captain within the society can help an up-and-coming Pathfinder's career greatly.
Hmm. I don't think this Amara is letting us in on the whole story.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
We'll be happy to help if we can. Is there other information you can provide? Maps or the like?
Karzak, now quite excited about their journey, leans forward in his armor, no small feat. Do ya' know how deep underground it goes, or what the grade is?. He looks at Jory, his mind already planning. We'll need picks an' rope, some pitons and some poles for reachin'
Amara Li hands Talhaearn a map with directions to the ruined keep. "Here are directions to the keep. Once you're inside, I'm afraid I have no information as to the layout, you will have to find your way on your own.
"Please, enjoy the rest of the Snapdragon Festival before you get some rest tonight."
Li smiles, and heads back out to her party.
At this point, you are free to enjoy the festivities, partake in the excellent food and drink, and participate in the fireworks displays that light up the Petal District sky well into the morning. You will be encountering a couple of other faction representatives at this party.
|Ice Glen Inlet|
Karzak grunts at the lack of detail, but watches Li leave, unmolested. His jaw works as he seems to chew on the information, then he nods and follows Ice out to the party. He spends the remainder of the party enjoying the drink far too much, but keeping to himself enough so as not to make out to be a fool.
A man many of you recognize as the leader of the Andoran faction of the Pathfinders, Major Colson Maldris, approaches your team, decked out in the military fineries of an Eagle Knight's ceremonial uniform - a bright blue overcoat with polished gold buttons, gold eagle epaulets, and a fine, black felt tricorn hat. The handsome man is a charmer who clearly thinks very highly of himself. He speaks loudly and confidently, as if he wants the entire festival to "overhear" his conversation with your group.
"Greetings, Pathfinders! I hear you’re headed out into the Cairnlands on official Society business. Best of luck outside the city walls, though you look like sturdy enough adventurers. Perhaps not all Eagle Knight material, but qualified for the work of a Pathfinder.
"A word of warning, though, friends—beware the walking dead. The crumbling ruins surrounding the city are rife with them, and you’re likely to run into more than your fair share over the course of your career. Undeath and the undead are more than just a physical peril, however. Undeath is the worst kind of slavery. And it should be eradicated like all servitude, whether to aristocracy or to mental control. Being enslaved to the flesh beyond when Pharasma calls one’s soul to the Boneyard is a fate I wouldn’t wish upon my greatest enemy. So while you plumb the depths of Asad’s Keep, remember your solemn duty to your fellow man—both living and dead. Any undead you encounter along the way should be freed of their earthly shell.
"If you prove your dedication to freedom, the resources of Andoran will be at your disposal in your future endeavors."
By "freed of their earthly shell" you mean we should kill them...correct? Assuming you can kill what is already dead. What if they show some glimmer of their former humanity?
"They may be able to provide you with some help. But remember, ultimately, that an undead creature is but a shadow of its former self. Ultimately, it is a slave to its nature, and you are doing its spirit a disservice keeping it enslaved to its monstrous shell.
"We Andoren believe in the glory of freedom for all, and in spreading democracy throughout the Inner Sea."
Tiann nods at the Major and grips her holy symbol in her left hand. Her right hand reaches down for the scimitar that isn't there.
Major Maldris speaks the right of the undead. The word "abomination" does them too much justice. I can personally guarantee that I will do everything I can to route any restless creatures we find in the ruins. They are perversions of the natural order, and it is my duty as a follower of Sarenrae to restore that order.
A shiver overcomes her, and she excuses herself to partake of some of the stronger drinks available to calm her mind. Let us not speak of such dark things again this eve.
Karzak nods excitedly at Jory, seemingly thrilled at the prospect of having to use such tools, but his mind skips off track when the Major addresses them. He finds himself nodding. Aye, we'll kill 'em, don't ya' doubt! Never saw an undead I wanted not to, so these'll be no different.
Major Maldris, I can confidently say that this group will deal with whatever obstacle we encounter with efficiency and effectiveness. Of course, I too could not agree more with the abolition of all that impose shackles on freedom, whether that be of the dead souls seeking a higher place of existence, or those bound living here on the material plane. After all, what is life without freedom? I say that it is a life not worth living. It was a pleasure to see you General, and please let me know if there is anything that I may personally do to serve our common cause.
"Ah, young Jake Hargrove, it is gratifying to see that you will be participating in this mission. Talented young Andoren Pathfinders are always good to see. Perhaps one day you might even make it into Eagle Knight training? We are always looking for strong new blood. Keep these companions of yours safe, lad!"
Will do, Sir! Always a pleasure, General. I am here to serve the cause.
Jake approaches Talhaearn, and whispers conspiratorily in his ear.
When the conversation has run its course, a member of the serving staff, decked out in a finely crafted silken robe, approaches the major and interrupts, whispering something in his ear. He quickly excuses himself and heads towards the door, saying he has urgent Eagle Knight business to attend to and wishing you good fortune on your quest.
As the party winds down, a well-dressed Keleshite man approaches your group, and asks for a quick word. He introduces himself as Trade Prince Aaqir al'Hakam; he is soft-spoken and subtle, quite the contrast to Major Maldris's ostentatious poposity. He draws you aside, away from any crowds, and addresses you in a slow, level voice with a strong Kelish accent.
"Like a fast-spoken djinn, I’ll get to the quick. I know where you are going. House Damaq of Qadira claim the ruin, but we are willing to allow you access for the price of a small deed easily accomplished during your adventure. You will be well-compensated, I assure you, for profits are most rewarding when shared. I assume treasure-seekers like yourselves are interested in such a proposition?"
Without waiting for an answer, he continues, his eyes intent and his posture rigid.
"The ruin is Qadiran, which is why we claim it, and we are willing to defend it, but there are really only certain things left in Asad’s Keep we are interested in: trade agreements, of which we believe there to be many within the ruins. All we ask that you do is to turn over all trade agreements you find to us as soon as you return to Absalom, as we will be able to hold the signers to them even centuries after their signing.
"The satrap of Qadira—nay, the entire Padishah Empire of Kelesh—has much to offer the Pathfinder Society, and I personally have no qualms about sharing those resources with you, specifically. Shall we shake on this agreement?"
Please give me a Knowledge(local) roll if you have it trained. Anyone who wishes can also do a sense motive.
You recognize that al'Hakam is a deliberate man whose attitude, while brusque, is not hostile towards your group or the Pathfinder Society. Nonetheless, it's clear that he is unaccustomed to hearing the word "no."
I can't guarantee we'll be able to find what you're looking for; but we'd be happy to assist you as long as that assistance isn't contrary to our primary mission or detrimental to the Society. Hopefully that is agreeable to you.
Tal offers his hand.
Karzak listens to the prince with some interest, especially where the trade agreements were concerned. Any good dwarf would know the worth of such items, if still callable, and he had no doubt that the trade prince had the juice to call them in at face value with interest.
Willing to trust in Tal's judgement, and with little else to add, the armored dwarf folds his arms over his chest and watches the exchange with interest.
Al'Hakam takes Talhaearn's hand and shakes it solemnly. "I can ask nothing more than that. Thank you, friends, and bless you on your journey."
The trade prince then makes his exit.
The Snapdragon Festival winds to a close. While it may be very late at night, in a city this size anything your team members could afford would easily be available at any hour of the night. You can return to your respective homes, inns, etc, and go shopping for anything you wish to bring to the Cairnlands before or after you get a good night's sleep. We will assume that everybody has time to prepare whatever they need to before you meet up the following morning, and head out to the keep.