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Shadow of the Runelords

Game Master Yucale

Alternate Golarion, where the gods never gave mortals the gift of magic in abundance. When Xin's successors begin to rise from ages of slumber, a band of heroes must defend the Inner Sea from forces it can't even imagine.

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The twenty-sixth of Arodus. The weather outside is still overcast; it had been raining during the viewing in the Henderthane courtyard. It's dimmer inside the cavernous temple. Not the Midnight Temple, Nicolo wasn't that important, but the temple still conveys the grandeur of Hell. The priests chant and ceremony throughout the late evening. It's enough to put nearly anyone to sleep. The only entertainment of any kind is observing the strange people who'd come to the deceased Hellknight's funeral. A small patrol of Hellknights had brought the casket in and would bring it out at the end of the ceremony. Their leader is a small woman with mismatched eyes in signifer's robes.
Afterwards, the guests trail the Hellknights out of the temple and the clerics snuff out the candles. Rain is still drumming faintly on the cobblestones- but it's still Arodus in the Inner Sea, and so it's still balmy. Many of the guests find themselves in a fairly well-to-do tavern named the Green Vine. It's too expensive for most of them, but through an odd twist of fate Nicolo's old company and them are comrades tonight, and so no one objects. The Hellknights clump together at the counter, laughing and talking in hushed tones. The rest of the guests mill about and buy drinks and, once the niceties are out of the way, begin trading their favorite stories of Sir Cosma. Most of them are... hard to credit to say the least. Occasionally, one of the Hellknights will join in the storytelling. By late night everyone seems to be friends with everyone, though the drinking is probably the best explanation of that.

And you all meet in a tavern.

M Tiefling Magus

Sitting quietly at a back table, the green-skinned form of the tiefling named Lyle Rihannsu drunkenly grasps his heavy and nearly-empty tankard; the many fresh stains on the table indicate it isn't his first. Raising it, he toasts the empty chair in front of him. "Proud and noble Hellknight, great warrior of the forces of Law, greater enemy of the forces of Chaos and Deceit... and you still manage to die owing me money" Lyle mutters through a thick tongue. Breaking into a small smile, he toasts the chair again. "Fight well in Hell, Nicolo. I've no doubt it's heaven for you, and after an eternity's fighting with your ghost all the demons will desert and make for the Abyss." Raising his tankard, Lyle shoves the remains of his beer down his throat, and THUDs the tankard back onto the table, shortly followed by his head.

Male Elf Magus (Spelldancer) 1

An elf sits in the room, his dark green hair swaying as he moves. Taniriel listens to the stories, a small smile on his face. When the opening comes, he tells the story of when he met Sir Cosma, laughing at the contrast between the lengthy discussion about the ruins and the violent swordplay with goblins. When he finishes, he raises his glass high, To Sir Cosma, the scholar and the warrior. The rest of his drink slides quickly down Taniriel's throat.

Male Human 1 - Gunslinger (Mysterious Stranger)

A human leans against the near by wall. On his hip is a holster. The leather device is tightly wrapped around, securing a single shot smoothbore pistol. Most of his body is hidden by the large trench coat he wears, most of his face concealed with his wide brim hat. Irizati certainly stood out here, among the men with their swords and their heavy armor. He leaned against the wall quietly nodding to the stories, not sharing his own. He lifted a small glass of something he had been ordering from the tavern owner and took a drink when the others did.

His eyes drifted occasionally to the elf and to the man with green skin. Irizati has seen many strange people but the green skin was certainly a novelty to him. He shrugged and chalked it up to being a long way from home.

He was a long way from home. He tipped his hat in respect when ever a lady walked by or in agreement with the various people as the made a point here or there. Mostly he stayed quiet as they spoke of hell and demons, he was not a believer in such things. He gave the leader of the hellknights a small nod of respect between drinks.

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

In a less occupied section of the tavern, Bubo is sitting alone. The table next to him is full of chatty guests, all of them already having drunk their fair share of alcohol. The ratfolk merely listens, not engaging in conversation despite their attempts. Most have learned to leave him to his thoughts like some of the maudlin guests who've taken to silently reminiscing about Nicolo.

Throughout the night, he has already turned away several servers and offers of drink, preferring to sip from a flask he carries, pulling down the mask around his snout to take sips. He's attracted some attention, not only due to his race, but also due to the heavy coverings he wears. Bubo shifts uncomfortably when he catches another gazing at him, who looks away as quickly as politeness allowed.

I haven't had the chance to pay my respects, the ratfolk thinks, concentrating on the flask between his hands but also hyperaware of the vial sitting in one of his front pockets. Not privately. I don't know if I'll get the chance.

Perhaps later or tomorrow he'll visit, if he's allowed to. It's lucky enough that he was able to attend when he was not the one invited. For now he waits, somewhat anxious but relaxed.

I'm mostly leaving this interval of time for your characters to socialize, until you retire to wherever you're sleeping.

The green-skinned tiefling and the heavily clothed ratfolk are drawing the most attention. A woman, markedly different, probably aasimar or tiefling (not that the different labels convey anything helpful), with blue skin sits quietly chatting with the female signifer. Casual eavesdropping reveals that the signifer is Nicolo's newly knighted squire.
The dim atmosphere is conveying a sense of peace and security, not just cheap lighting as it might normally.
The current 'bard', a portly man from Absalom, is relating the tale of an expedition into the Osiriani desert. It's a bit hard to credit.
The signifer returns Irizati's nod. She turns and resumes talking with the aasimer- the new topic of conversation seems to be guns.
The aasimar excuses herself, having suddenly remembered something, and makes her way over to Lyle. To Taniriel, who is standing close by (either that or she doesn't want to talk to the drunken humans who are closer), "Do you've any idea when he'll wake up?"
She provides a sharp contrast to the human Hellknight she was speaking with earlier. A hair over six feet, with dusty blue skin and eyes as white as pearls. Black hair cut short along her jaw line. She's dressed like some Taldan fop in an overlarge frock coat and linen and is wearing an open expression, as well as an ornate rapier at her hip.

While you're probably going to hone in on anything I describe in detail, as I'm the GM an' all, be warned that I'm apt to write in purple prose given any excuse at all.

Human, Ustalav native Fighter 1

At first you are not sure if the man at the bar is a guest or a guard. He wears the decorated leather of an apprentice hellknight but you notice it is dusty and a little travel stained.

In a lull in the conversation you hear him make a toast. "To Sir Nico, and to debts unpaid." He drains the cup of heavy dark red wine.

Sorry for the delay. All done save gear but that will be done tonightish.

Male Human 1 - Gunslinger (Mysterious Stranger)

Irizati listens casually to the conversations around him. First he listens to the bard and his story of the desert. Irizati has had some experience in deserts and listens carefully to this tale.

He notices the blue skinned woman... she is hard to miss but he avoids staring, keeping his hat tilted low enough his eyes are hardly visible to begin with. His ears perk up at the mention of guns. When the woman leaves he sits down in her seat and nods politely to the signifier, "Escuse my ease-droppin' ma'am but I heard some talk of firearms, always did enjoy conversation that reminds me of home."

He glances again at the exotic blue woman who's seat he now occupies. His eyes linger for a moment on her and her sword before he catches himself and returns to the conversation at hand.

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

Oh, I just confirmed that the Doctor's Mask which Bubo wears really is the birdlike Plague Doctor's mask, complete with goggles and covers the whole face. I wasn't sure. Does tend to make one stand out. In Bubo's case, I'd have the mask stylized ratlike so as to accommodate his snout.

Bubo takes another sip from his flask, noting that it's almost empty. He doesn't listen to the bard, instead flitting his attention to the conversations about Nicolo which he thinks are far more interesting though with variable believability.

He overhears the signifer's identity as Nicolo's newly knighted squire and looks in her direction. He recognizes her from the ceremony and ponders on whether to approach her, to ask if he could pay his respects in private or at least to leave the vial as a token in his memory.

She would know whether I'd be allowed, Bubo thinks. He hesitates to approach her and drains the last of the liquid in his flask. He wets his lips before replacing the mask again then stands and is hit with the sweet ache that comes from moving after having sat for too long.

Later, Bubo decides and approaches the counter to refill his empty flask.

"You're from Alkenstar, then?" The signifer is small-boned and petite, with blonde hair that falls around her shoulders. Despite her delicate features and politely inquiring tone, her mismatched eyes (one vividly green and the other icy blue) show nothing but steel. She's not actually in full uniform. Perhaps she has something of a day off after her mentor's death? It doesn't seem very Chelish, but miracles do happen, or so you've heard. "It's 'sir', by the by. Nicolo would bring back... souvenirs from his travels, not that he was overly forthcoming about what happened. I've tried to figure out how to make gunpowder- still working on that. I still have a few guns in my alchemy lab. They're not regulation weapons but the engineering behind them is fascinating. How did you meet Sir Cosma, anyway?"

A few of these NPCs are current PCs from a different game in the same setting; relevant-ish as I'm trying to play them as their players would. The signifer is my girlfriend's character.

Male Human 1 - Gunslinger (Mysterious Stranger)

" 'scuse the improper salutations. The woman who trained me... a mentor of sorts she preferred 'ma'am'. " He gives her a polite nod to signify he meant no disrespect.

"Gunpowder is a tricky thing... the formula is quite easy but getting it just right."he pauses for a moment and gives a sheepish smile, "That's the tricky part, ain't it always?"

His right hand goes down to his holster, instinctively checking to make sure it is there, "But yes I am from Alkenstar, Alkenstar City to be exact. Sir Cosma was in the region a few years ago looking for some damned thing. I don't even recall what it was now. I was assigned to escort him through the wastes. We had quite an interesting time. He was a sharp man, got us out of quite a few... situations."

As an employee drops off another small glass he puts it to his lips and takes a drink. "How about yourself? Colleagues I assume?"

"I was his squire. I began my training at the Citadel, oh, almost seven years back now." That would place her at about ten years old when she began her apprenticeship. Being so young, she's probably newly knighted. Her polite smile conveys perfectly that she knows Nicolo never mentioned her and that she has no desire of discussing that. "I've acquired a few different formulas for gunpowder from some dwarves that've come up to Cheliax to trade. Nothing has worked perfectly so far. Patience will pay off eventually."
She shakes Irizati's hand. "Sir Moira Alexandre of Cheliax, I never did catch your name?" Her own hands are covered in long red leather gloves. "What were the particulars of those situations, if I may ask? If he stole anything you don't have to tell me."

Male Elf Magus (Spelldancer) 1
Yucale wrote:
The aasimar excuses herself, having suddenly remembered something, and makes her way over to Lyle. To Taniriel, who is standing close by (either that or she doesn't want to talk to the drunken humans who are closer), "Do you've any idea when he'll wake up?"

Taniriel looks up at the woman with the blue skin. When who'll wake up?[b] He says looking over the crowd. [b]I don't see anyone asleep. Then he turns back to the woman, I'm Taniriel by the way. He puts one hand to his chest and makes a small bowing gesture.

M Tiefling Magus

GM, what are the stat adjustments for Tieflings in your game?

Male Human 1 - Gunslinger (Mysterious Stranger)

Irizati smiles politely, a finger pushing up his hat a bit so his eyes more visible. He has the tired look of a man who has spent far to many nights in a camp, or on the road and not enough in a proper bed. He shakes her hand. In a firm voice he adds, "I am Shieldmarshal Irizati Calhoun, of the Grand Duchy of Alkenstar, Though back home they just call me "Eerie" or Shieldmarshal."

"Mind you I am rarely this often so formal, but your organization strikes me as one that prefers formality." He glanced at his drink before picking it up and taking a quick drink.

"Steal something? No... I don't believe so. He was looking for an artifact or some such thing. Anyone who owned it was long dead when we got there."

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

Bubo's ears twitch reflexively from inside his cowl as he eavesdrops on the conversation, trying not to let his attention get redirected to the other conversations in the small lulls of their speaking.

Soon, he's at the counter and waits patiently for someone to serve him, ignoring the curious looks he may receive.

"Could you refill this for me?" Bubo says when he is accommodated, holding out his metal flask in a gloved hand. "Just water, please."

Human, Ustalav native Fighter 1

"Ah, hitting the hard stuff eh doctor?" Malcolm Smiles at the masked figure. "Must be hard to drink through that mask."

character finished, review at your leisure. Some purchases remain to be made but they can wait.

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

"Not a doctor," Bubo immediately corrects. "And no, I am not. I'm not fond of . . . alcohol."

The ratfolk's voice is somewhat muffled and echo-like from the mask he wears. He casually inspects Malcolm as he waits for his flask to be refilled.

"It is hard to drink through this mask but I've gotten used to it. And you? I suppose you've drunk your fair share?"

The aasimar pokes at Lyle's shoulder. "Him." She returns the bow with extravagant courtliness. "Tamara, pleased to meet you."
Simply factor out one bonus; variant tiefling stats, such as found on the srd, are options, but you'll still have to factor out on bonus either way so the modifiers add up to +0.

"It's good to see that justice is being enforced near the Wastes," Moira says brightly. Still a professional sort of brightness, though. "Has the job been good to you?"

Human, Ustalav native Fighter 1

"Well the knights are buying and old Nico was fond of the odd dram. So I think a bit of ale might be fitting for his memory, or water as you prefer."

"Not a doctor? But is that not a plague mask you're wear?..... No it isn't..... Sorry, my mistake."

Yucale. Not 100% sure I created Malcolm correctly. Noticed this in the guidelines: "Once you have a race, simply choose one bonus to discard." Are you saying that humans should not get their +2 to any one stat?

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

Yes, I think that's correct, Malcolm. No +2 bonus (unless there's another racial bonus that evens it out to 0).

Bubo hums in reply, half-listening to the conversation. The server appears with his now-filled flask and Bubo takes it from him, before lowering his mask a moment to sip again.

"No, you are correct," Bubo says, putting away the flask in one of his pockets. "This is a plague's mask, or a doctor's mask as it's more commonly known. I've taken to wearing it due to . . . the nature of my work."

Human, Ustalav native Fighter 1
Bubo Sraga wrote:

Yes, I think that's correct, Malcolm. No +2 bonus (unless there's another racial bonus that evens it out to 0).

Yup I am incorrect. Making changes now.

Alterations made. Malcolm will be avoiding close combat to the extent he can for a few levels.....I see a high body count in this game.

"Oh? What is your work?"

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]


Bubo lets a moment pass before speaking again. "Or more generally, diseases. Not as a doctor would—I don't aim to know how to cure or heal them. I want to understand them, to know how they work and what causes them. There's a difference. I suppose you could say that a doctor learns how to make the sick healthy. I learn how to make the healthy sick."

"So you see why I'm wearing this." He gestures at his mask. "And what about your work . . . hm, I'm sorry, we haven't introduced ourselves, have we? My name is Bubo Sraga."

He offers a hand for Malcolm to shake.

The signifer turns around. "Sraga? Did I hear that right?"

Human, Ustalav native Fighter 1

Malcolm takes the offered hand carefully.


He turns to face the interruption. Coming to 'at rest' attention as he sees who it is. "Sir!"

Male Human 1 - Gunslinger (Mysterious Stranger)

Iri nodded his head, "Like any duty it has both given me a lot... and taken away a lot. But someone has to keep order. Especially outside of the city in the wastes. And I am the man for the job it seems."

He adds in accented common, "oft time, at any rate."

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

Bubo turns when he is addressed and recognizes the signifer, noting Malcolm's response.

"Yes, that is correct," the ratfolk says to Moira, nodding to her politely and offering a hand for her to shake. "I am Bubo Sraga. It is a pleasure to meet you, Sir . . . ?"

Male Elf Magus (Spelldancer) 1

Tamara, pleasure to meet you. Then Taniriel looks over at the tiefling, I see what you mean now. Whenever he does wake, he will likely have a major headache to deal with. Taniriel laughs.

Tamara frowns slightly, and then brightens. "Hangover, o yes. The only problem is I have something that belongs to him."

Moira nods formally to Malcolm. "At ease, knight." Turning to Bubo, she grips his hand firmly. "Sir Alexandre of the Order of the Gate, off duty tonight (as much as we ever are). Sir Cosma mentioned you, and he brought some of your theories back to my lab. Has there been any progress made on what inhabits the Wastes? It was beyond Nicolo, and is still beyond me for the time being. The Shieldmarshal here-" she gestures at Irizati, "is probably as curious as I am."

Male Human 1 - Gunslinger (Mysterious Stranger)

Irizati's ears perked up again as he arched an eyebrow, "The wastes?" he asked curiously.

He glanced down at his drink, picked it up, put it to his lips and finished it off.

This'll be good.... he thought to himself.

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

Bubo shakes her hand firmly even as confusion enters his mind. He turns his head to look at Irizati.

"Pleasure to meet you," Bubo says, releasing Moira's hand. "I think you've mistaken me for my uncle, Bol Sraga. He died the year previous, which is why I am here in his stead. I'm afraid I am not privy to what he has been researching and cannot sate your interest."

"No, I did mean Bubo Sraga. Did you get the samples from the Mwangi outskirts, then?"

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Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

Any connection to Raga Bol is purely coincidental. Also, I get a bit tl;dr here so feel free to skip the lecture.

"Oh." Bubo takes a moment to gather his thoughts. "I did receive some samples from Nicolo—I mean Sir Cosma—but I didn't know where they were from. I … am flattered he mentioned me. I was not expecting. …"

Bubo's Lecture:
He pauses before continuing. "I suppose I should explain my work. It would be right. Most of my research was based on the soil and water samples he sent. Are you familiar with microorganisms? Everything I've done is based on them. You may be familiar with them if Ni—Sir Cosma mentioned my theories, but I will explain them for the benefit of the others." He nods at Irizati and Malcolm.

Bubo wonders how to explain. He doubts they truly cared about cell membrane structure, colony morphology, the intricacies anaerobic versus aerobic respiration. They most likely knew little of them. But they were paying attention and Bubo could not resist the opportunity to speak to minds that were open to his ideas.

"Within you is a multitude," he starts. "You are a colony of at least ten trillion beings called cells. They are the basic units of all living things. They are organisms so astonishingly small that you cannot see them without special equipment."

Bubo feels his posture straighten with pride, his patience extending, feels the sheer joy of talking about science that had been layered with dust. He had an audience.

"Miasma and contagion theories of disease hold that diseases were either of the form of miasma, proliferated through the air, or of a contagion, where diseases propagated through touch. Both are true in a sense. Poor sanitation can cause foul odors which are associated with disease. Some diseases are spread through touch. But both theories do not adequately explain disease."

His work was not unimportant, but it was largely ignored. How could something so tiny be relevant? Why would they be of any concern? It was painstaking to find knowledge gathered by previous scientists and alchemists on the topic, poring through book after book with most of them containing only passing references.

"This is where germ theory fills the gaps. Remember: you are composed of trillions of cells. You are a sum of these parts. You are a whole of many. What if your body was invaded? Your cells against foreign cells, waging war against each other. If your cells won, you remain healthy. If they lose, you suffer from a disease depending on what cells invaded you, on which parts of the body, and so on.

"The miasma and contagion theories are popular so most doctors you meet wouldn't know or even give you the time of day if you mentioned this knowledge."

Medicine was a noble pursuit but most doctors were ill-suited to working endlessly on doing tests, running reactions, setting up experimental designs, and running statistical analyses on data. Science and alchemy were hard and only those who enjoyed it were able to suffer through the overwhelming messes of raw data and failed experiments. He remembers spending endless hours on his work, hours spent selling his wares as he waited for cultures to grow, searching for rare books and alchemic formulae that explained.

“Why do you care about something so small?” Bubo remembers his uncle Bol asking him about his enthusiasm for the subject. He'd gotten confused about why his nephew seemed so excited about them.

"It's not so much about their size," he remembers answering, "it's their strength."

He knew, above all else, size matters. Everything about a being was affected by their size, and that included strength. Here were such small beings that could not exert any perceivable force and yet still capable of bringing people to their knees. It seemed incomprehensible and strange and so very exciting.

Nothing is big or small, Bubo had read later in an obscure text, except by comparison.

"The abundance of organisms in nature varies with their size," Bubo continued. "Organisms are limited by resources and the larger an organism, the less room there is for them. But inversely, the smaller an organism, the more room there is for them. What microorganisms lack in size, they make up in numbers.

"You may think ten trillion is a large number. And it is. It is large, so extremely large that most find such a number hard to imagine. And this is only one body and you fill only so little space in our world. There are innumerable microorganisms and they are everywhere. Inside you, in the water, in the soil, in the air, in the food we eat. Everything that is is touched by them."

Bubo takes a deep breath. "This is a blatant simplification of the foundation of my work. Now that you know that, I can discuss what I found from the samples Sir Cosma sent.

"I identified a large number of bacteria. I did not limit myself, of course, to only bacteria. I also identified viruses, fungi, and parasites.

"I've ignored most of the microorganisms that are commonly found (which were surprisingly few) and further eliminated those which are harmless or helpful, determining their roles through taxonomic categorization, and concentrating only on the pathogenic or otherwise destructive class of organisms."

His voice grows excited the more he speaks, not seeming to notice that he slips into more and more scientific terminology. It seems he doesn't get the chance to talk about his work often.

"From this, I further identified and confirmed their roles with a combination of observation, staining, and selective media culturing. Further study was done by exposing test animals, mostly rats, to a causative microbe so I could study a disease's pathology and pathogenesis. I've done a few studies on epidemiology with some of the more infectious agents as well, exposing sample population of rats to them. Studies on etiology was done, of course, fulfilling Koch's postulates simply to confirm if it was the exposed agent which caused the disease."

Bubo pauses in his explanation. He feels somewhat embarrassed at having gotten carried away.

"In any case, my work is well described but not well understood—I can tell you what happens, but I can't tell you why or how. My findings of the samples Nic—Sir Cosma sent to me are one such case. They are … very strange.

"They are ever-shifting, and most of them are, if not deadly, then at least potentially lethal. Their pattern is frustrating and illogical. There should be no reason why such a large number of them co-exist in a small space. The ecology of such an area would be mad and I can barely fathom what kind of trophic level interactions occur. Even stranger, they have no obvious agent of infection which makes one wonder how they came to be in the first place. And yet, they do.

"One could cause total tissue breakdown, appearing to manifest as caseous necrosis but then switch to liquefactive necrosis after a period of time, maintaining a slow painful death at first but then suddenly turn the insides into nothing more than soup. Another seems to stay benign in the liver, completely contrary to its apparent structure, but then spontaneously turn malignant, attacking the body while metastasizing quickly into surrounding organs until the victim bleeds to death in their own skin.

"One seems to cause a 'Dancing Plague', causing the subjects I've infected to dance themselves to death. Another seems to be just a simple variant of cholera despite most everything else being lethal. And then not even a variant at all, but common tuberculosis in the same sample. And still more: a paralyzing disease that renders one increasingly unable to move until they die from suffocation due to their stiff lungs rendering them unable to breathe; another with such a quick incubation time and yet is extremely fatal which makes one wonder how it's even able to spread itself in the first place when its carriers die so fast; another can attack the skin and hair, slowly turning them liquid until the victim's insides is purely exposed, if they manage to survive that long.

"And these are only a few of the ones I've explored in depth. It is extremely fascinating, extremely illogical, such an onslaught in variety. …"

He trails off, realizing he's gotten carried away again.

"And that's only one reason why it's so strange. Not only are they all so dangerous, but they outnumber the usual microorganisms necessary for life to thrive or even exist. Any ecological cycle or system has bacteria playing an important role. They are essential in the maintenance of the flow of energy and nutrients, but it's hard to imagine what kind of ecosystem would develop from the variety of microorganisms I found. The bacteria responsible for decomposition, for example, is at a number very much less than expected, and there are many predatory bacteria, some of them even cannibalistic.

"But, but yes. That's the basics of what I've found from the samples he sent me, if that made any sense to you."

Remembering the vial in his front pocket, Bubo speaks while he still senses the chance. "I am actually carrying one of the original samples Nicolo sent me. I—I was hoping I could lay it on his grave."

May have gotten carried away myself. I have the urge to roll for Perform (storytelling). May have copied a lot of stuff. Koch's postulates are criteria for establishing a relationship between a microorganism and a disease. Oh, and I'm assuming the 'Wastes' referred to are the Mana Wastes which, I suppose, can do some pretty funky stuff with whatever is living there and does things that are completely inexplicable to those who don't know of magic. Or even to those who do know of it. Just made stuff up about the research.

I have suddenly been limited to four hours a day on any electronics. Not as a punishment, just so I'm not 'plugged in'. During this time, if I expect to learn any programming for my robotics class, write on my someday-novel, or draw anything, I'm expected to squeeze it into this time frame. I have nothing else to do most of the day. Joy. Just an early warning that this arbitrary rule may end up affecting this game, sorry...

Moira blinks. "It's very flattering that Nicolo entrusted you with such a ... wide variety of vicious plagues. My own studies have mostly covered the effects of alchemy on the human body. Aside from diseases. It can't be surprising that we have next to no info on the Wastes- if Sir Cosma was handling something so dangerous just to get a sample.
Shieldmarshal Calhoun, how much of this makes its way from the Wastes to Alkenstar?"
She turns back to Bubo for a second. "However, gaining access to the Ctiadel- I don't see why not, but it would be more risky than keeping all of Pharasma's plagues in my pocket."

Believe me, upon reading that post, I clapped so hard I fell out of my chair.

Male Human 1 - Gunslinger (Mysterious Stranger)

Irizati scratched his head under his hat for a moment, trying to catch up to what the man was saying. "Hmm... Hard to say, I've been stationed in a small settlement outside of Alkenstar city for years, but even so this is a bit... beyond my expertise." He took another drink... now just a sip and thought for a moment.

"Though of all the ghost stories I've heard about the wastes tiny invisible monsters you can't see that kill you with sickness is my new favorite." Irizati eyed bubo suspiciously.

After a few moments of thought he added, "To be fair... these microorganisms of yours sound easier to believe in than the typical tales of curses, demons and angry gods that I usually hear as explanation for sickness. I would be curious to take a look at anything you have published."

Male Elf Magus (Spelldancer) 1

Ah yes, Taniriel nods, Well, we can always try to wake him ourselves if you're anxious to give it back. A friend of yours? Taniriel asks, motioning to Lyle.

M Tiefling Magus

Overhearing, the green-skinned tiefling lifts himself off his table and walks over to Taniriel and the rest. "Afraid I have never met the good fellow, excuse my coming over here but I could hear old Nicolo berating me from beyond the grave for sitting in the dark blathering on with my thoughts. Might I join you?"

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

Sad to hear about the being limited. My ISP has also taken upon itself to suddenly drop out my internet connection out of nowhere so I might be having some difficulty getting on for a few days while I yell at them.

Also have no clue as to how publishing works in this world.

"Thank you," Bubo says gratefully. "I appreciate the chance to pay my respects.

"And alchemy on the body, you say? That's actually one of the main areas of interest for me. You may be interested in one of the successes I am most proud of seeing as they involved me having to modify my own body intensely; they're called plague vials."

He turns to Irizati and chuckles. "I haven't actually published anything. I've been too busy sating my own curiosity to bother though I have sent copies of most of my own work to Sir Cosma." He tilts his head slightly. "I wonder what he did with them?

"And there shouldn't be much danger from the microorganisms themselves. Most microorganisms are actually quite harmless. It's rather a small percentage of them that are actively pathogenic. One of the main curiosities of their abundance in the samples. As I said before, they're quite strange. Most of them you'd have to be intentionally infected with and all of them seem to be conditionally pathogenic even if they shouldn't be. Actually getting them to cause the disease was one of the most tedious parts of my experiments." He shrugs. "That's only in the samples though, which can't seem to make up its mind. I'm sure there's much more variety out there, constantly changing. I'd like to visit where they were from sometime.

"But I don't think Sir Cosma knew exactly what the samples he sent me contained." He nods thoughtfully. "I was quite surprised myself. Pleasantly surprised."

Unless you can bribe somebody and happen to live in a densely populated area where a oft-broken and low-quality printing press can be acquired, most books are hand made.

Male Elf Magus (Spelldancer) 1

Feel free. I'm Taniriel. Pleased to meet you. Taniriel reaches out, offering a hand to Lyle. It appears that this fine woman has something of yours.

Human, Ustalav native Fighter 1
Irizati Calhoun wrote:

"Though of all the ghost stories I've heard about the wastes tiny invisible monsters you can't see that kill you with sickness is my new favorite." ...

"Well said. If a sixth of the stories about the Wastes are true then I am amazed Alkenstar is still standing. It must be a strange place. Still I would like to see it someday."

(Psst Lyle are you sure you are using the correct alias? You have many many hit points.)

M Tiefling Magus

I'm also using Lyle in another campaign that's level 16. Not surprised the stats are a little off.

Human, Ustalav native Fighter 1
Lyle Rihannsu wrote:
I'm also using Lyle in another campaign that's level 16. Not surprised the stats are a little off.

That explains it. Going to do a spoiler for Lyle's stats in this game or create a whole new alias? It is an interesting problem, running two iterations of the same character in different games. I am looking forward to seeing how you solve it.

M Tiefling Magus

I've done it before; I'll just keep the stats in separate spoilers.

Taniriel wrote:
Feel free. I'm Taniriel. Pleased to meet you. Taniriel reaches out, offering a hand to Lyle. It appears that this fine woman has something of yours.

Tamara beams at Lyle, trailing after them over to the group that's formed around Moira and Bubo. She hands him a letter written on some nice stationary, and folded up secretively. "It's the address to the reading of the will. I'm assuming it's secret, and so we have to be careful that we don't let the secret out and cause the Hellknights to track us down. I have my own. And some more." She starts hunting around in her pockets.

M Tiefling Magus

Lyle takes it with a surprised smile. "My lord- the old fellow owed me money when he died, I thought he'd wrangle his way out of paying it now he'd passed into the beyond... I find myself strangely disappointed. Odd."

Turning, Lyle shakes Tanirel's hand and nods. "Lyle Rihannsu, at your service. A fellow acquaintance of Sir Nicolo, I take it?"

Human, Ustalav native Fighter 1

"Why are we worried about the other Hellknights finding out. Surely Sir Nico's last wishes are fully in line with the goals of his own Order?"

Malcolm raises an eyebrow at this whiff of treason.

Male Ratfolk Alchemist (Plague Bringer) 4
Quick Reference:
[ HP 27/27 | AC 17/13/15, CMD 14, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2 | Init +2; Darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +10 ]

Bubo doesn't say anything but listens, interested. He takes in the new arrivals to their little group, looking unabashedly as his eyes are hidden by his goggles.

"I've been at a reading of the will," Moira says drily. "There wasn't anything treasonous. Maybe they just wouldn't be able to stifle their curiosity if they knew what you were getting."
Tamara brings out four more identical envelopes- she hands one each to Bubo, Irizati, Taniriel, and Malcolm. Smiling brightly, she walks away and out the door. No one else notices her departure. The letters are short, and to the point. They contain an address and a time. The address is an office nearby, the time early next morning.

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