The shady rooms in Sandswept Hall, Sothis' Pathfinder Lodge, provide a welcome break from the oppressive heat of the Osirian capitol. You arrived in Osirion not long ago with orders to meet with Venture-Captain Norden Balentiir, though for what pourpose, you can only guess...
Go ahead and introduce your characters.
Laureglyn finds his way to the Lodge and slips inside, thankful for the respite from the incessant heat of this wretched, treeless land. Directed to Balentiir's office, he enters without knocking, since he was summoned, he figures he's expected. He steps in with a dancer's grace, and opting to stand rather than find a seat, he instead examines the room with some interest in books the VC might have on hand, scanning titles curiously.
He is not overly tall, standing at just 5'9" and bearing a slight frame, but he is, nonetheless a notable figure, his blanched white hair, and overly pale skin almost indicative of albinism, or it might be in a human, but his bright green eyes belie such an accident of birth... perhaps it is more natural in elves to be so lacking in color. Jet black studded leather armor and forest green shirt and leggings just make him look all the paler. The finely crafted rapier at his side and composite bow on his back are indicative of a martial background, though it's hard to tell with elves.
When others arrive he smiles and nods to them... "Greetings, I'm not Balentiir.. but welcome just the same. I hight Laureglyn, and I am pleased to meet you. Were you summoned here as well?"
A chair groans in protest as one of the Pathfinders adjusts his massive girth. The man could kindly be referred to as corpulent or obese, but it would hardly be accurate. The truth is, as his armor strains against the straps that hold it in place, that he could hardly be any larger.
His beady eyes look like those of a rodent, and thin strands of dark wispy hair mat against his scalp, glistening with sweat.
"When our administration indicated that we must travel to this destination, they failed to elaborate on how long this mission would take," the man says to the others. "Or how much we would sweat once we arrived. A place to cool off...would be most welcome."
The man retrieves several parchments and a quill and begins scribbling some notes. A tiny serpent writhes out of his sleeve onto his paper as he writes. "I am Rathh Gnatstrain, a barrister by trade. Let us fulfill the terms of our contract and take a cold bath. I'm sure we could reach an accord on that term."
A tall-ish dark-haired elf strides into the lodge with a huge grin and apparent excitement on her face. The leather armor, longbow, and rapier look out of place over the flashy green outfit slashed with autumn red.
"I made it!" she exclaims to no one in particular. "That boat ride was the far too long with nothing to do. This city makes up for it though! Wow!"
She continues chattering to herself in this way as she looks around the interior, examining statues, poking her head into various rooms, until she happens upon the Venture-Captain's office.
Stepping inside she scans the room, eyes widening as they pass over Rathh. "Hello! I'm Yeshra, and it is very pleasant to meet all of you, and you Venture-Captain." She sticks out a hand to the room for a shake.
Wow, another very dark/sinister-tending party!
A small, puckish man whose tight leather outfit and a fine cloth mask leave no visible flesh plays idly with a collection of marbles...floating in erratic patterns around his head.
"Call me Xanac Candledark," He says distractedly.
Suddenly, the groaning of the fat man's chair begins to sound like a deep, woody, barely audible voice saying "Auuughhh can't...breathe...so much pain...death...is...welcome...you shall...hear...from the Furniture's Guild...auuuuuggghhhhhhh...."
will save: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (1) + 8 = 9
Rathh frowns and stands up, draws his mace, and smashes the chair with it.
"A fine trick," he says. "But one that might have repercussions. Intentional infliction of emotional distress, perhaps? This could have class-action written all over it."
Will save: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 1 = 12
*Gasp* "You murdered that chair in cold blo..err wood? How could you?!" Yeshre adds quietly, embarrassed for not knowing, "Are all chairs in Osirion alive?"
"Yes, well done, you killed a defenseless chair... hope you're as effective against the living... or undead."
will save: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
Gah, sorry I'm late...wrong turn...have I missed anything important? I hope not... a tall wiry man of Taldan descent says as he stumbles in the door. His finely crafted armor is like a second skin on the man, and his wicked blade bears runic etchings of an unfamiliar origin. He wears his hair back in a braid that hags down to the middle of his back. I am Patros of Taldor...delighted to meet you all. My, we are an eclectic bunch, aren't we? he muses as he scans the rest of the assembled adventurers.
A young wayang woman enters quietly, her hood down revealing her dark features. "Hello Pathfinders," she says quietly and eerily. "I am Muna. I am pleased to be working with such a fine crew. Does anyone know what our assignment shall be? Perhaps something outside in the heat?"
With the team assembled, Venture-Captain Norden Balentiir enters the room in a flurry of parchment and flowing robes. He plonks down on the chair behind his desk and dumps the documents on the table.
"Ah! You're all here. Good... I'll cut straight to the chase. Nine years ago, the Osirian Pharaoh Khemet III opened up his nation's many tombs and ruins to foreign explorers in a bid to stimulate the Osirian economy. This was an overwhelming succes, and Osirion has expirienced an economic boom, the likes of which hasn't been seen since the ousting of the Keleshite sultans. More important to us, an unfathomable wealth of knowledge and artifacts were uncovered and shipped around The Inner Sea Region."
He pauses for a moment to shuffle some parchments around before continuing.
"Not everybody was happy about The Ruby Prince's policy, least of all the Church of Pharasma. The Pharasmin opposition was centered in Wati, The Half-Dead City. Wati sports a sizable necropolis, a result of the Plague of Madness that decimated the town over 2000 years ago. It was the Pharasmins who reconquered the town in the name of the living and established the walled necropolis, partly to honor the dead, but also to easily manage the sporadic undead uprisings over the millennia. The Pharasmins in Wati resisted the Ruby Prince's decree with tooth and nail, but after years of bureaucratic maneuvering, they have finally backed down, under the condition that they administer the breaching of the necropolis themselves."
The Venture-Captain cracks an eager smile.
"This is where you come in. I have secured the Society a place among the teams of explorers entering the necropolis, and you are the team I'm sending. I don't know what you'll be allowed explore, I understand there will be held a lottery, but this is too good a chance to pass over. I want you to explore as many sites as possible and recover any and all artifacts you find."
The mission laid out, he leans back in his chair.
"I've booked you passage on a river barge sailing up the river Sphinx that will take you to Wati. Prepare what you must, and head on south. I'll eagerly await your reports."
The Venture-Captain digs through the pile of documents on his table until he finds what he's looking for.
"Here we go... The barge is "The Red Ibis", and it sails at dawn tomorrow. As for supplies, being prepared for anything would be the best course of action, since none of us know what you'll be exploring."
Slides added at the top of the page.
Rathh listens carefully and scribbles some notes.
"Will the Pharasmins be accompanying us? Or just showing us which tombs we may explore? I was told we would not need to sign any waivers of liability, correct?"
Yeshra grins, takes out a sheet of parchment and ink pen, and starts taking notes.
"Could you tell me more about the 'Plague of Madness' or about the Pharasmins opposition to the Prince?"
"well this sounds interesting to say the least, and potentially of great value to the Society... I would like to pick up a few things before leaving though, so a little time to visit the merchant's square would be nice. Anything else you think we should know before we leave?"
My only advice is be prepared to be prepared for certain undead...namely skeletons. Blades are not nearly as good against them. You literally have to smash them to pieces. And bugs.....yech....nasty insects as well.
After the briefing, Xanac will go out and purchase 2 antitoxins, 2 antiplagues, 3 flasks of acid, 3 flasks of alchemist's fire, 4 vials of holy water, 4 scrolls of mage armor, a canteen, and an umbrella (total 494 gold, already deducted from my character sheet).
"The Plague of Madness was concocted by a Lamashtu cult and resulted in more than half of Wati's population dying in their homes. The survivors abandoned the town, and it remained a literal ghost town for nearly 500 years. That all changed when Nefru Shepses, a Pharasmin priest, led an army of the faithful to reclaim the town and wall in what is now known as the Necropolis. The "living half" of Wati has prospered in the centuries since and is fact three times as large as the original town. The church of Pharasma's fundamental connection to Wati, is why they resisted Khemet III's decree for so long. If it's because of religious fervor or a misguided sense of authority, I can only speculate."
Do you have any more preparations before sailing south? Wati is classified as a small city, so there'll be no issues with finding supplies there.
Muna listens to all the information with great interest. "Do you know what type of artifacts we can expect to find? Anything more on the modern city of Wati?" When Balantiir has finished, she collects her few possessions and prepares to depart.
I am good to go. I forgot scrolls of mage armor so i am picking those up.
Laureglyn does a little shopping - buys a light mace, and a few alchemical concoctions - before declaring himself ready to sail.
"Thank you very much Venture-Captain. You've been very helpful. On Patros'es advice I'm going to gather some supplies." Half rhetorically, "I believe I can do that here at the Society? Where and when are we meeting to leave? Soon I hope!"
Yeshre starts for the door.
I'm buying 20 blunt arrows, a canteen, and a journal.
"Unfortunately we don't know what you'll find in the necropolis. The nature of its construction means that you could find anything from household items to scrolls of forgotten knowledge. I trust you to discern what is important."
Leaning back in his chair once more, Venture-Captain Balentiir recites a description of modern day Wati.
"The city of Wati sits on a sandstone shelf at the confluence of the Asp and Crook rivers, which provide it with building materials, rich farmland, and deep harbors sufficient to support a settlement three times its size. But even with its tenacious citizens, abundant fish and game, and thriving marketplaces fueled by the most important rivers in Osirion, Wati is forever a city better known for its dead than for its living. Behind sanctified walls, an entire quarter of the city quietly sits as a massive, urban tomb. Shops, schools, markets, and estates serve as eternal resting places for those lost to madness and disease. To manage such an immense project, the city's entire economy shifted to the industry of interment. Almost 1800 years after the necropolis's inception, many of Wati's residents continue to serve the city's funeral industry, either directly as embalmers, undertakers, and clerics of Pharasma, or indirectly by crafting the myriad grave goods all Osirians hope to carry with them into the afterlife. Death has become the city's lifeblood, and Wati prospers from its morbid specialty."
The following morning:
You board The Red Ibis, and start your journey south. The weather is swelteringly hot, and you can only imagine how much worse it is beyond the fertile strip along the river. The journey is uneventful, with frequent stops at towns and cities along the way. After nearly two weeks of mind-numbingly boring travel, you finally arrive in Wati.
The city is abuzz with activity in anticipation for the opening of the necropolis, and vendors are everywhere, trying to sell their wares to the newly arrived teams of explorers.
What do you want to do? You'll need to report to the Grand Mausoleum at some point to secure your spot in the raffle, but there might be plenty of things for you to do in Wati.
Laureglyn will find his way to the market and peruse the wares, and listen for rumors and news, doing his best to get folks to talk to him.
diplomacy to gather info: 1d20 ⇒ 19
Xanac follows Laureglyn and tries to nudge people's minds in an agreeable direction...
aid Laureglyn's Diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
...but his spooky appearance does as much harm as good on that front.
Kaleless manages to eavesdrop on two old ladies tottering about the market:
"It's absolutely dreadful the way the church is opening our history to so many foreigners. I hear Haty-a Oshep Kahmed is going to increase taxes on travelers from beyond the sister cities to recoup the cultural damage."
Meanwhile, Laureglyn receives an interest tidbit from a local guard:
"Did you know that mumia can protect you against mummy rot? I'd never take the stuff my self - it's made from actual mummies, you know, not to mention illegal - but I'm sure some of those adventuring types in the city these days don't have such scruples."
Yeshre heads to the nearest temple of Pharasma and asks around on the history of the necropolis, the history the Pharasmins here, and how they feel about explorers entering the necropolis/if there's anything I, as one of the explorers could do to respectfully explore their history.
Not sure if I should roll a diplomacy for each of them or just 1 for all 3 inquiries. I'll roll 3 times, and if the other 2 are extra, I guess ignore them.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Muna spends some time checking out the Necropolis, fascinated by the history of the place and its construction. She has great respect for Pharasma and her cult. She chats with other lottery contestants enthusiastically.
diplomacy (gather info): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Just for the heck of it:
knowledge(history): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
I'm switching my prepared level 1 spells to burning hands and identify. Also I think I may switch out my crossbow for a regular bow so I can get some blunt arrows. There are no blunt bolts right?
Also I think I may switch out my crossbow for a regular bow so I can get some blunt arrows. There are no blunt bolts right?
Yes and no - there is this, and that's what you should get because, as a simple weapon, Witches like yourself are proficient with it, which cannot be said for "regular" bows.
Laureglyn considers the existence of mumia and files the information away for now... with the intent of mentioning it to the rest of the party in hopes that someone might have developed some kind of sneaky contacts who can research this more fully.
Patros overhears two merchants discussing business:
"Rather nice to see the Pharasmins on board with this whole deal. At least we'll know things will be conducted in an orderly fashion. You can't trust the veracity of just anything up for sale, no matter how old it looks. A group calling themselves the Silver Chain took me for a fortune on a 'Second Age' chest last year. It looked ancient enough, but it turned out the damned thing had only survived a house fire in An."
At the Grand Mausoleum, Yeshre learns much of the same that the Venture-Captain told them back in Sothis, albiet more skewed towards the Pharasmins of the past. She does however get a sneak preview of the rules the explorers must follow.
Remember How This Came to Pass: The Plague of Madness was unleashed upon the city of Wati while religious authorities were engaged in infighting. This rule is a reminder that the necropolis remains a holy place, and those who engage in needless conflict and banditry are not only criminals, but accursed.
Every Slave's Hut Is a Memorial: Every structure within the necropolis is a testament to the people who lived and died in the city. Explorers must not desecrate or vandalize standing structures and tombs, but preserve them as the memorials they were intended to be. Some structures may be trapped or decrepit, but willful and unnecessary destruction will not be tolerated.
Honor the Departed: The dead should b e treated with dignity and respect. If the interred need to be disturbed to recover an antiquity or relic, they should be returned to their resting places carefully. It is understood that the ancient dead are often brittle, but there is no need for the contents of a sarcophagus to be summarily dumped on the ground. This rule does not apply to the undead or other abominations.
Chatting with some of the other groups of explorers, Muna learns something about the "competition".
Much to Muna's displeasure, she isn't allowed to get a good look at the necropolis before the scheduled opening.
Leaving no stone unturned, Rathh assists in gathering any additional information he can about the complex they plan to explore.
diplo (gather info): 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (2) + 17 = 19
Yes and no - there is this, and that's what you should get because, as a simple weapon, Witches like yourself are proficient with it, which cannot be said for "regular" bows.
Yes I realized that about the proficiency a while after posting. Thanks for the link- I hadn't seen that before. I will look at maybe getting that resource book.
Muna icily makes her displeasure known to the guards who refuse her access. How dare they stand up to her like that!
Returning to the group, she shares what she learned about all the other adventuring parties. "Some of these groups may actually pose a threat to us. We should proceed with caution whenever any of them are around."