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Fredrik: You're right. I have avoidance issues. I didn't try to revive my games. I've learnt my lesson, simple as is. I didn't think reviving games that I abandoned would be at all fruitful. I won't run any new PbPs, now or ever, because I realise I won't be able to pull through with them in the end.
I apologised because I felt the players I disappointed deserved it.
Several months ago, when I first started running online campaigns, I started up several adventure paths, went through the recruitment process, and had wonderful players submit themselves and showing tremendous effort to bring these campaigns to life.
I then promptly vanished without a trace.
Then I posted an apology. I opened new recruitment topics. I tried again.
And then I vanished. Again.
I apologise for this. I told no-one of the reasons why, nor did I publically call off the stories I had begun. It was mostly my shame that kept me at bay, shame for promising so much and not following through, not once, but twice. I should have told you, the players who came to my campaigns with hopes and expectations.
And I didn't.
You can hear a scream from the other side of the corridor, that of a young male; the sound of iron sinking into flesh leaves a hollow echo with the moans of the undead. Illithia manages to push away the zombie as the refuse crumbles from your combined effort, leaving a large, passable gap.
"Hurry!" Janiven heads through the refuse with some difficulty. As you follow, the tunnel goes on ahead for an odd sixty feet, until you arrive at yet another intersection; one passage carries on ahead, the other one goes due right. From behind, shouts can be heard...
Perception DC 12:
The mark indicates that forward is the right way.
Alexei, feel free to roll for Day Four's perception check even if I'm advancing to day Five.
As you outline the mountain, you map out the area just in time for the sun to vanish and night to enter the stage...
Day Five, Month One, Year One...
Fresh dew and the chirping of birds is what greets you in the morning. After a long trek around the great digit of Lake Kobold's Claw, you come upon a large, beach created entirely out of dried-out mud.
Knowledge (Nature) DC 19:
This large area is likely to contain some form of clay deposit underneath the mud.
I try to resolve the round by the order of posts, Roman. Though a rule of thumb, once someone's posted their action, the others should think of what actions to perform in tandem. But when presented with "what ifs", this becomes more difficult. It is also, however, more convenient for me; creating the map, fixing icons and uploading and posting it after every round is something I simply don't have energy to do right now.
Zombie's attack of opportunity: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9 (miss)
Roman, rushing forward in Illithia's defence, sinks his heavy blade into the flesh of the monster - yet it seems utterly unfazed by the attack. Its white eyes stare at Illithia, its hand lashing out at the lady - only for it to scratch weakly against the outmost layer of her armour.
The great wall of refuse is shrinking quickly, yet it isn't quite there...!
The living corpses step forward with a hollow hunger in their throats. Illithia plunges forward, her glaive sinks into the frontmost zombie's shoulder; severing an already rotten arm, the head of the once-female lady is sprayed across the corridor, courtesy of Jerro's bullet. As the body collapses to the floor, another one advances with outstretched arms, only to be halted by the energies of Roman and Dracius; the white eyes of the dead, old man light up for a second and the body, too, falls over.
Yet the third one advances even more ominously, and in the back of the corridor, you can hear more moans... and the rustle and tremble of heavy armour. "That might be them! Cut down the corps-aaaaargh!"
"By the nine hells...!" Janiven mutters angrily, tearing away more refuse, yet there's still a way to go before you can get through...
Round 2; there is one zombie right in front of Illithia, and several zombies at the end of the cramped passage.
You've scarcely begun bringing down the wall of refuse when a loud smashing sound resonates behind you, followed by a very low, quiet, hungry moan. A hundred feet away, at the end of the cramped passage, the silhouettes of several men come into view. Their features are hidden in the darkness. They approach in a very slow manner, one limping, others staggering forward, until they come in view of light - and their cold, rotten flesh reveals the undead. Three hulking, walking corpses are slowly approaching you, their arms visibly stretched...
"Deal with them!" Janiven shouts, tossing Morosino's body down at her feet. "Block them or kill them, when this bloody blockade's done we can outrun them!"
She continues to tear apart the blockade with increased determination.
The cramped passage is 60 ft. long; from the end of the cramped passage to the refuse, it's 40 ft. long. Said pathway is wide enough for two characters. The corpses are in the beginning of the cramped passage. There is also a 5-foot trench in the middle containing sewage.
Do not roll initiative; it is your turn as a group. Do your actions and then declare when you've finished, please.
You will also need to still bring down the refuse.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I believe I have given adequate information for you to act. Don't worry too much about positioning or movement.
"The refuse's too fresh," Janiven says with a frown. She advances ever so slightly and shoves her foot into the base. With a tremble, some of the trash starts to pour into the trench, quite audibly. Janiven turns to look at you, her teeth visibly gritted as the rumble stops. "This is the fastest way. I don't like it but we need to get out of the sewers."
Unsuccessful in your endeavour to track down the foul worg, you resume to map out the area without any great interruptions. A small downpour of rain seems almost refreshing as nightfall arrives. The blink dog seems grateful and (unless anyone objects) stays with you during the night.
You have successfully explored and mapped out this tile.
Day Three, Month One, Year One...
Morning comes. The rain has long since stopped, and only the rumble of thunder can be heard from somewhere far in the south-west on occasion. You traverse the plains to the edge of the forest, and find that, in the wake of yesterday's rain, it is enchanted with a beautiful mist. While thin, it hampers your vision slightly.
Knowledge (Nature) DC 17:
A rather big stretch of this part of the forest consists of Darkwood - magical and rare trees whose wood is exceptionally light yet durable. This could be a valuable resource!
Apologies for my delays. I'll advance to the next day, though feel free to wrap up your campfire event.
After crossing the bridge, the rest of the day remains quiet, only the quiet rumble of the river accompanying you. The day turns to night within mere hours...
You have successfully mapped out and explored this hex, and can benefit from a bridge if you choose to claim it in the future.
Day Four, Month One, Year One...
The morning greets you with heat, the sun dispersing the clouds to reveal the blue sky. You set out to explore for the day, traversing the hills until you reach the border of the lake, and the tip of the mountain.
Perception DC 25:
Some five hundred feet up in the mountains, you see what appears to be a ... mine shaft entrance?
"Then let us linger no longer."
Janiven throws a final glance at the door before she leads you forward. She seems heavy in thought as the passage narrows once more, and after sixty feet of the cramped tunnel it once again mouths out to a wide tunnel... and Janiven bursts out with a small series of expletives.
She raises the sunrod to show that the passage itself is blocked by a refuse and what looks like a disturbing amount of bones. To her right is the mark, plain in sight. At the very top of the blockade, a small crack reveals that the tunnel continues behind the refuse.
Behind the door, you hear a very quiet rumble... a moan of some sorts. A pair of them. The door isn't locked either...
You also see the mark a bit further ahead; the door looks to be a detour.
You see the mark a bit further ahead; the door looks to be a detour.
Janiven frowns at the corpse as she glances at you. "Do you hear anything behind the door? Do any of you see the mark?"
She glances around quickly, raising the sunrod to cast light in all directions.
As Jerro advances to fire a shot, Roman's arrow races through the air, and the goblin lets out an angry squeal as it hilts into his stomach. Jerro's bullet hits the mark, and the squeal turns into a croak - and the goblin tumbles face-first into the trench, sinking into two feet of waste.
"Good thing you got rid of that and all, but that gun of yours must've alerted the entire sewer of our presence," Janiven sighs. "Let's not delay any more."
Without hesitation Janiven strides onwards. The tunnel advances several hundred feet without any interruptions until you eventually reach an even fouler smell. Slipping the sunrod into her sleeve, Janiven slows down slightly. Above, the rumble of feet can be heard, and from a grate in the ceiling, light pours into the room.
A giant cistern is underneath the grate, filled to the brim with waste - and sticking out of the brown-and-green sludge is something that looks like an arm and half a head. To the right is another door...
A close examination reveals a very crude cut in the stonework, as if some great axe or claw was swung in its direction. Janiven glances at it with a pensive expression. "There are rumours of great beasts in the sewers. But we don't have time to meander. The hellknights could be at our heels-"
???: 1d6 ⇒ 6
Her voice is cut short as something flies past you, scarcely missing Jerro's face. A crossbow bolt crumbles to the floor several feet away.
Perception DC 15:
With a panicked expression, you see a goblin - likely the same goblin from before - dart away!
Janiven draws her blade, a beautiful longsword of exquisite quality. She glances around with sharp eyes. "We don't have time for this..."
Janiven nods firmly in Jerro's direction. "I concur. We shouldn't linger."
Feel free to do the perception checks regardless.
You pass the doors without incident, hurrying along. The rough, nauseating tumble of the sewage that trickles down the trench is accompanied by the soft echoes of your huffs. As you squeeze through another tunnel, you come upon a great intersection; from where you stand, four paths branch out. One goes to the left; one to the right, and two proceed further ahead in separate directions.
Perception DC 20:
You find what looks to be the remnant of the mark next to the passage leading left; half of the stone it was engraved on has been torn off.
You slowly make your way out of the room; as you enter another slightly cramped tunnel, Janiven pulls out the sunrod from her sleeve. "I'm reluctant to use this," she whispers, striding forward at a high pace, "Especially with that shrieker."
The trench reappears after a couple of feet. A couple of feet ahead, there is a great wooden door, and further up ahead the tunnel takes a sharp left to reveal another door.
"Doors?" Janiven says with a hint of doubt. A quick examination reveals that both doors are locked.
Perception DC 12:
You see the mark engraved on a small stone further up the tunnel - the doors seem irrelevant to your path. Yet...
Perception DC 22:
From behind the first door, you can hear the buzzing of the city - this seems to be an entrance up to the streets of Westcrown. The second door you can hear the softest rattle of ... bones?
Janiven's expression is that of horror and frustration as she extinguishes the light from the sunrod by shoving it into her sleeve - shortly after, the shrieking ends. "Nine Hells," she whispers angrily. "A shrieker... you saw a goblin?"
"The thing will probably call for reinforcements! Where did it go? We have to find the mark and continue!"
You see the goblin skitter off to the right, having abandoned all intents of stealth.
Perception DC 17 (DC 12 if Darkvision):
You find the mark close to the passageway to the left - luckily, far from the shrieker...
Janiven gestures you forward. She carefully points out the wooden bridge across the trench, and she raises the sunrod to show you the path.
Within seconds of doing so, a horrendous scream drowns out all noise and chatter. Up ahead, a disgusting, grey-coloured man-sized fungal growth, blending into the wall, is shaking violently.
Knowledge (Local or Nature) DC 11:
This is a Shrieker - a fungus that shrieks whenever it detects movement or a source of light within ten feet. Oddly enough, this one responded entirely to the stimuli of light...?
Perception DC 26 (16 with darkvision):
You spot a small creature - a goblin - pressing against the wall with a panicked look on its ugly, hideous face. It blends into the shadows extremely well...
As you all rush over to where the worg and its pack was, Irikar finds the tracks with some difficulty through the grass. Following it proves to be no simple ordeal, though with some help from the blink dog (through nuzzles and pawings) the trailing remains successful.
After several hours of tracking, the problem presents itself. The myriad of tracks scatter in multiple directions, and the heaviest set of paw prints seem to have vanished completely...
As you leave the nest, the shrieking slowly comes to an end - it seems you managed to avoid attracting their ire.
The rest of the day reaches a dull conclusion as, again, a nest of clouds gathers in the great sky above, and the sunset is made final with a great bloody horizon.
You have successfully explored and mapped out this hex and the previous one - forgot to confirm this earlier.
Day Three, Month One, Year One...
The clouds do not weep or cause any commotion other than the occasional rumble of thunder and the strike of lightning to the far south in the mountains. As you spread out to map and explore this area, you eventually come across the great northern river. In the far horizon you can see Fairweather, in all its glory, nestled next to Lake Kobold's Claw.
Eventually, as you traverse the riverbank, you come across an ancient stone bridge - a small construction, long since weathered.
Knowledge (Engineering) DC 10:
The construction is brittle in some places, but you know how to cross it without it collapsing.
It doesn't require much maintenance to restore to proper condition either. Claiming this hex offers a free bridge.
Knowledge (Engineering) DC 18:
You recognise the architectual design of this bridge; it looks like an ordinary bridge at first, yet the masonry and angle actually shows that it is Celtaran. How nobody's found it after all these years remains a mystery, however...
Roman finds a blade, half-way weathered away by the passage of time, on the tunnel leading to the right. Janiven takes the lead without a word, as she brings her finger up to her lips.
It's merely sixty feet forward when you arrive at a large, oddly-shaped space. A large cesspit connects to one part of the channel, and several wooden bridges work as bridges across the trenches.
Perception DC 12, Darkvision only:
You spot something in the shadows up ahead - something that looks like a large... mushroom? It is sixty feet away.
Knowledge (Local or Nature) DC 11 (only if informed from the perception check above):
A man-sized mushroom could mean a Shrieker - a fungus that shrieks whenever it detects movement or a source of light within 10 feet of itself.
The small tunnel is cramped, and it feels longer than it is; as you enter, the stench is what overwhelms all other senses. After Circe and Dracius disappears into the darkness, Janiven throws a quick glance at the rest of you before she gets crawls off herself, draggin Morosino's body with her.
The tunnel widens into ten feet as you reach the end of the small, cramped passage. A three-foot deep trench is rummaging with sewage and waste, carrying it off in some direction. A very fickle light can be seen at the far end to the right.
Janiven huffs behind you as she drags Morosino's body into the sewer. As she gets up on her feet, she pulls out a small sunrod from her pocket. "We need some vision for now..."
As the rest of you you hurriedly barricade the door, you crawl into the tunnel to find the others illuminated. Janiven immediately leaps over the trench as the last one of you get up on your feet and pulls away a loose stone in the masonry. "Good. They're still here..."
She pulls out a couple of potions with a deep red liquid - easily identifiable as restoratives. She then tosses the satchel over to Illithia. "There's fifteen of those. Distribute them amongst yourselves."
Janiven walks to the left and leaps back over the trench. She points her [sunrod forward. "We should hurry. Over here."
Up ahead, the tunnel narrows slightly, to exclude the waste trench; it reaches only five feet up to the ceiling. Janiven calls your attention shortly after as you progress, pointing at a small engraved sword in the stonework. It is pointing forward. "If we get lost, or split up, for whatever reason, these swords will point in direction of the hideout. We engraved them at every intersection. Me and Arael - my mentor... we did this when we explored the sewers a few months ago."
"I also worry... the Hellknights might spend some minutes searching the tavern, but they will find the tunnel, and they will likely grab a lantern and follow us, or try to make torches. They might even try to infiltrate the sewers ahead of us if they can guess our route."
The ceiling rises up again as the trench - and excessive stench - rejoins you, and you arrive at an intersection. "Let's find the mark and carry on..."
Giving an affirmative nod to Roman, Janiven leads you all into the back room. Very little decorates the area, only a few barrels that ooze with the stench of fish and vinegar, a pair of shelves holding stacks of platters and cauldrons, and a couple of oddly-placed cupboards on the floor. She rips off one of the doors and kneels in front of it. "Close the door, and start barricading it with the shelves and barrels!"
Shortly after you hear the back of the cupboard crash over, and she points; inside, you see a small tunnel - and smell the sewers. "Quickly. The tunnel is only thirty feet long, and then we're in the sewers!"
Janiven shakes her head with a sigh. "Again, I apologise... you put words to my fears. I don't want to think that he has met trouble, but-"
Her sentence is cut short by the sound of something crashing into the front door - followed by very weak knocks and a muffled voice. Slightly startled, Janiven hurries over to the shutters and opens them, and with a gasp - and a flash of anger - she closes them shut and opens the door.
Inside, a small boy, no older than ten or eleven, comes crumbling in. He is covered in blood, and his right arm is missing. Blood oozes from the stump. "J... Janiven, they got... they caught Arael...the dottari...hellknights of the Rack... custody..."
"Morosino!" she shouts as she kneels next to the boy. "No, stay awake, you'll... you won't..."
With a quiet sigh the boy closes his eyes. There are no tears under Janiven's eyes but her face is filled with an unspeakable fury. She drags the body inside, and peers outside quickly, only to close it and lock it shut.
"They're here." Her voice trembles. "The hellknights have us surrounded. At least half a dozen. We have to flee."
"We have surrounded the building!" A voice bellows from the outside. "You are under arrest! If you resist, we will put you to the blade on the spot!"
Janiven looks at all of you, her eyes seething with anger. "I know a way out of here. There's a path to the sewers in the basement. It'll likely be our only way to escape the Hellknights."
She lifts Morosino's dead body and flings it over her shoulder, and walks over to the door to the back room. "Hurry!"
"Spare me your empty threats. If you intended to implicate me, you would have done so before you arrived." she says coldly to Roman. "If you think your good deeds are doing well enough at this point in Westcrown," she adds in Illithia, "Then you may also leave. However, if you want your deeds to matter..."
She sighs and turns away from you, muttering angrily to herself under her breath. "I apologise," she sayd. "I am frustrated. My mentor was supposed to arrive earlier, he's the bigger part of this endeavour, and I fear my worry has taken a hold of me."
"There are no 'specific deeds'. It is the gesture of a better future - a Thrune-less future - that matters. When we work to save the people from the terrors - the night-terrors that prevent us from crossing the street at night, we gain loyalty and support. With that support, we can undermine the House of Thrune, and bring it crumbling down to ashes. But it won't happen overnight."
She softens considerably, but still holds a critical eye to Roman.
"Good deeds." She let the words hang in the air for a second before she continues. "It sounds foolish, I know. But the best way to start is to build up a bulwark within the hearts of the people. By doing good deeds - and avoiding as much direct conflict with the government as possible - we will gain power while the House of Thrune will ignore us for our... 'petty squabbling.'"
Heh, none of you said what it was in-character yet...
The strange dog responds with a sigh of relief when Msosth cures him - he still blinks in and out of existence. He responds with nothing but confusion at the myriad of tongues that you throw his way. Still breathing hard, it starts to mutter in a different language, and shortly after, he nudges one of you in the leg as if to continue speaking.
Spellcraft DC 12:
He seems to be casting Comprehend Languages! But while you can communicate with him, he still cannot respond to you... Perhaps it is best to resume speaking Common?
A big smile, as mischievous as her eyes, lightens up her face. She brushes her black hair out of her face and nods to each and every one of you. "The essence of it is simplest, so I'll be blunt. We have to change the city with our own hands, offer help to those who need it. We have to win the support and admiration of the city, and rise as ... heroes."
She throws a swift glance at the door, as if she heard something. She resumes without another beat. "But I did not ask you to come armed for ill means. It is dangerous, yes, but it is not my intent, nor should it be yours, to rise against the House of Thrune as rebels or rioters. Or at least not as such in their eyes."
The pack of wolves stop as the great worg leers in your direction. After a short while, they all turn tail and with great speed whisk away from you - at a surprisingly high speed.
Spellcraft DC 21:
Strangely enough, the pack of wolves and the worg seem to be affected by an expeditious retreat spell. Either that, or haste...
As Kezzin leads you towards the source of the sound, you eventually spot it: far up ahead, the noises exaggerated beyond belief, is a flock of wolves being led by a larger, darker kin. They are all chasing something that seems to be shifting in and out of existence - a tawny canine with a brilliant blue nimbus about it.
All the creatures seem to spot you at the same time - and in a blink of an eye, the chased creature is at your footsteps, panting. Great wounds drape its side as it fades in and out of reality. It looks over its shoulder and with a panicked, pleading voice, begins to speak.
Knowledge (Arcana) DC 17:
The great, dark creature leading the pack of wolves is a creature known as a Worg - evil creatures that revel in malice and enjoy the suffering of others.
The creature at your footsteps is a blink dog - an intelligent, good-natured canine with the innate ability to shift in and out of existence. They naturally speak Sylvan.
"Please," he pants, "I... I cannot outrun the monsters at my rear, they've murdered my pack, and I'm too weak to continue much further..."
Janiven smiles and there's the slightest flush on her cheeks as she rises from her chair. ”Oh, you,” she says to Dracius. ”The stew should be ready, just be seated. Guests at the establishment and all. And watered wine to the lecherous gentleman.”
Shortly after, the table is decorated with bowls, forks and spoons, and the meal commences. It is a tasty experience of potatoes, beef and onion, with an odd mixture of seasoning. As you eat, Janiven is treading about the room, making sure the windows are closed, while shuttering them, and she eventually locks the front door. She treads into the back room momentarily, and returns while draping a pair of black leather gloves on her hands.
“Again, thank you for agreeing to meet with me here. I have chosen each of you for a singular reason—everyone here, myself included, has suffered, whether we realise it or not. I have lived in Westcrown my whole life, and although I love this city, I must admit, as must you, that despite our peace and prosperity, we continue to suffer. Fear should not be an expected part of life, and yet each night brings fear to our doorsteps. Yes, Westcrown has been safe from war and famine for nearly seventy years, and yes, our businesses has prospered—but this safety and prosperity has been bought in the coinage of fear and prayers to Hell.”
“Other lands live free from tyranny. Other cities do not fear the night. Other governments do not cede the streets to monsters of the infernal shadows. Westcrown was once such a place, and she wants to be such a place again. Westcrown is not only her buildings and canals and docks and history—she is also her people. Westcrown is our friends and neighbours, our mothers and fathers, our siblings and cousins, our sons and daughters! With but a small group of supporters and dedicated brothers and sisters, we can earn the trust and admiration of those people. A Westcrown free of these shadowy beasts that stalk our streets is one step closer to a Westcrown free of the devil that is the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune!”
”What say you?” Her brown-and-green eyes flash with inspiration.