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By one o'clock the companions head to Castle Korvosa. They notice a lot of Gray Maiden guards, who escort them to the grand salon, more specifically to the balustrade that looks down on the stage hall where Ileosa's coronation celebration took place. The four young men are now on the balcony where the Gray Maidens presented their large numbers to the queen's guests the day before yesterday. There is a select group of witnesses in the room with them: Field Marshal Cressida Kroft and Commander Marcus Thalassinus Endrin of the Sable Company, Lords Mercival Jeggare, Valdur Bromathan IV, Glorio Arkona and Toff Ornelos. Lady Eliasia Leroung and Archbanker Darb Tuttle of Abadar complete the party. Lady Zenderholm is in the stage hall below, accompanied by two clerks, who have to meticulously record what will be said.
When the clock strikes one Ileosa enters the room below and sits down on a high-backed chair on the stage: "Honorable guests, it pains me to tell you that the rumors concerning my late husband's death ... have proven to be true. We owe the capture of his murderer to our beloved heroes", the queen says, pointing to Balian and his friends. "The girl has already confessed, but law dictates that she repeats her confession. Normally one judge and two witnesses would suffice, but I felt it wise to invite all of you here to bear witness to the horrible truth. Judge Zenderholm will be conducting today's questioning. She will use a zone of truth to ascertain herself and all of us that no lies are spoken."
At Ileosa's command Sabina Merrin leads Trinia Sabor into the room. The young painter is not shackled and willingly walks onto the stage. Judge Zenderholm calls on the power of Abadar to install the zone of truth around Trinia and starts her brief interrogation:
"Trinia Sabor, you stand accused of killing King Eodred II. Do you confess to having murdered the king?"
Trinia answers without showing any emotion: "I do, I killed the king."
The witnesses on the balcony all sigh with indignation. The companions are taken aback by Trinia's icy response, but they cannot sense that she is telling anything but the truth.
Zenobia Zenderholm continues: "Can you tell us how you murdered the king?"
"I poisoned him", Trinia plainly states, "which made him ill. But he wasn't suffering from any illness or disease, since it was poison, so curative magic did not work."
"And where did you get this poison?"
"Korvosa's black market is much bigger than you can ever hope to fight as a judge. Everything is for sale, if you know where to look. Of course, smart sellers know how to remain anonymous, so I bought the poison illegally, but I cannot tell you who I bought it from."
"And where did you buy it, then?"
"In Eel's End, in Old Korvosa."
Judge Zenderholm then asks a very important question: "Trinia Sabor, which motive did you have for murdering the king?"
Trinia remains as unemotional as before: "I wanted to become court painter, permanently, I mean, not just for one job. I had offered myself, my body to Eodred to get my wish granted. Everyone knows that his majesty has always had a weak spot for pretty girls, but he refused me. He said he loved his queen too much and did not want to betray her. So I killed him ... because I don't like being rejected."
Another shock goes through the audience on the balcony, not only for Trinia's words, but also for the detachment with which she speaks them. Meanwhile judge Zenderholm concludes: "That is horrible, Miss Sabor. May the gods have mercy on your soul. The punishment for regicide is death by beheading!"
Sjo notices that Trinia's icy facade breaks for a split second. He reads fear in her eyes and sees her hands tremble ever so slightly. Quint studies Sabina Merrin's reaction, but notices no schmuck smile or contented reaction at the painter's conviction.
Three Gray Maidens lead Trinia Sabor away, while the queen, who is obviously affected by the ordeal, excuses herself and calls an end to the meeting. As they are escorted out, Quint asks a Gray Maiden to see Trinia Sabor or Sabina Merrin, but the guard replies that her only task is to take the guests out of the castle. The bard notices she speaks in a distinct Chelish accent. As he gives air to his discontent, Lord Arkona asks him why he is such a disbeliever. Quint explains that today's performance was not in keeping with Trinia's character and he refuses to believe that such a trite excuse as "anger at being rejected" led to a kingdom in chaos. Lord Arkona agrees that Trinia's motives were quite trivial, but if true, they could have led to all that happened, trivial or not. One thing is clear though, this motive begins and ends with Trinia and hides no darker plot that threatens the monarchy, which is probably good news. Still, Quint is not convinced. He also wonders when the execution will take place. Arkona figures it won't take long, probably as early as tomorrow.
The companions realize they have an enormous problem on their hands, but there is little to nothing they can do. Trinia confessed and will be executed for it, unless they can prove her innocence. They go by the temple of Sarenrae: high priest Ezekiel Sollux examined the king when he was ill, maybe he can shed some light on the case.
The priest of the Dawnflower has already heard about Trinia's confession and even knows that her execution is set for tomorrow, as the companions already feared. He explains that he was only called in when his majesty was getting worse, maybe two weeks before his demise. Until then Archbanker Darb Tuttle had been treating the king. Nothing in the king's symptoms pointed at poison, Ezekiel claims, so the news that Trinia poisoned the late monarch came as a surprise, but it could have explained why healing magic did not help. As far as he knew, the king was suffering from an unknown, but incurable disease. Priests do have spells that enhance the natural process of getting better, he clarifies. Unfortunately there are diseases that no one recovers from, that are simply lethal. Even the strongest magic can do nothing then. He figured that this was the case with Eodred's mysterious illness. He has never heard of a poison that replicates the symptoms of leprosy, but he doesn't rule out the possibility that such a poison exists.
As there is nothing else to be done, the companions return home. Sjo makes good on his own plans and spends a few hours in Larella Semyr's lovely company at the shrine of Shelyn. His relationship with the priestess grows ever closer.
14 Sarenith 4708
At breakfast Mouse tells his masters that there is a guest at the door: Cressida Kroft has decided to pay the heroes a visit for a change, instead of having them summoned to her office in citadel Volshyenek. She is impressed with the villa, calling it a wonderful gift, but Quint and Balian claim that taxes alone on this expensive building have cost them so much that it can hardly be considered a 'gift'.
The Field Marshal has news about Trinia Sabor, the girl who was accused of having murdered the king: she has confessed to her crimes! As prescribed in the Charters of the city, she will have to repeat her confession "under the sky", in front of a judge and two witnesses. This law was installed long ago to prevent people from procuring confessions through torture: when someone admitted during questioning to having committed a crime, he had to repeat this confession outside of the prison where he was interrogated - "under the sky". If he confirmed his guilt, he was indeed found guilty, but if he withdrew his words, it became obvious that his confession had come about under duress. Custom changed this law somewhat: nowadays the suspect still has to repeat his confession to a judge and two witnesses, but it usually takes place in the courthouse as well, and not outside "under the sky", although the law is still known by this name.
Today however, Trinia will not speak to only one judge and two witnesses. Since the crime concerns regicide, more people are invited to bear witness to her confession, including the companions, since they were the ones who captured Trinia Sabor. They have to be in Castle Korvosa at one o'clock.
Quint and his friends are very worried by this news. Trinia's confession does not fit with how passionately she denied having killed the king only three days ago. When they learn that Trinia was not being held in the Longacre Building, but was transported to Castle Korvosa for "safety reasons", their concerns grow even more. They wonder if Sabina Merrin, the commander of the Gray Maidens, is somehow involved and has manipulated or forced the young painter to confess.
To find out more about the legal procedure, they swing by high judge Zenobia Zenderholm's office. Lady Zenderholm will actually be leading today's interrogation and although she carefully listens to the companions' concerns, she tries to put their worries to rest. She will be using her clerical abilities to summon a zone of truth around the suspect, which is not a watertight system since it can be fooled, but it certainly adds another level of assurance. She also claims that compulsion magic to have someone sign his own death warrant would have to be extremely strong, a simple charm person would never suffice. She also tells the heroes to take into consideration that the girl might actually be guilty: they only spoke to her once and she might have fooled them with her claim of innocence. Finally the four friends accept that they will have to trust in Zenderholm's expertise.
Quint and Sjo also look through the books they discovered in Vreeg's lair if they find any reference to the poison that was supposedly administered to the king, but they find nothing. The companions also look up Trinia's friend Nisha to check if she has not been kidnapped to force Trinia into confessing, but the tiefling stripper is still at home. Wrapped in her bed sheet she answers the door. She cannot understand why Trinia would confess to something she didn't do and blames the young men at her door for Trinia's current predicament. They convinced her that justice would triumph if she gave herself up! Nice display of justice this turns out to be!
The companions deliberate what to do with Gaekhen's body. They have found the different parts of the young Shoanti warrior's corpse in the horrible dead warrens, but it is in no shape to present to his family. They decide to carefully wrap the body parts in sheets and transport them to the temple of Pharasma. If any site in Korvosa holds a mortician who specializes in preparing the dead for viewing, it will be the Cathedral of the Lady of the Graves. Bishop d'Bear immediately agrees to help her friends and tells them to return tomorrow.
Next the heroes pay a visit to the small Shoanti encampment to inform Thousand Bones of their findings, but they learn that the old shaman is with the Field Marshal in the Citadel, so they head over there instead. Thousand Bones, his daughter-husband Fergal the Fang and his daughter-sons Arowan and Erogar are in Kroft's office. Since the tidings are so sensitive, Quint asks to speak to Thousand Bones alone, without Gaekhen's father and brothers.
The bard realizes there is no easy way to inform the old Shoanti that his grandson was cut to pieces, but he and his friends manage to weave enough subtlety and bravado into their story to break the horrible news to the grieving elder. In the end Thousand Bones appreciates what the companions have done. This whole episode has badly hurt his people's confidence in Korvosa as a community, but at least Sjo, Quint, Balian and Puk have acted as honorable allies who even showed the spark of true Shoanti warriors. The shaman pulls four small bones from the collection hanging from his clothes. He marks each of them with a small rune and hands them to the heroes. He explains that the symbol stands for nalharest, which translates as "brother of the Shoanti", the highest honor a tshamek or outsider can hope to achieve among the Shoanti. Although the four young men are strictly only brothers in Thousand Bones' tribe, displaying this nalharest trophy to other Shoanti, will be of aid when interacting with them.
When the shaman has left, Cressida Kroft awards the adventurers with a bag of 600 gold sails. Selling the scrolls and spellbook they discovered in Vreeg's chambers finally raises enough money to pay off their debts to the tax collector's office. Sjo also uses some of the gold to have a beautiful bouquet of flowers sent to Larella Semyr, the beautiful priestess of Shelyn, planning to pay her a visit tomorrow ... provided that "adventure does not come knocking at the door".
Purely out of self-interest, I'd love to read your Skull & Shackles version. I already read your teaser mini summary on the Skull & Shackles board and I liked what you did with the story. Since I've started this AP myself and I'm also into changing the story here and there to fit my fancy, I'd surely read your narrative.
You also called this your favorite, so that alone should be a good reason as well to pick this one first ...
Question, did none of the derro use their darkness SLA? When my party encountered Vreeg, they had a horrible time with him due to darkness and him flying around the room. Only the dwarf in the party could see him, but the room was too big to for him to be hit (I decided all the rooms were 15 ft high unless stated otherwise).
To be honest, I failed to look up the darkness and derro darkvision rules before the game, so I glanced quickly in the Core Rulebook at the gaming table and decided against using the spell to avoid the hassle and game slowing tactics altogether.
I had already made the opposition harder by adding more derro and raising their stats (more hp, better AC and to hit bonus). So we didn't miss the darkness to make the fights exciting, certainly not the confrontation with Vreeg, whose opening move (the fireball) was very successful (I rolled 24 damage with 5d6).
This AP could lend itself to one player if you make the right choices. The only thing you'll struggle with is book 5, which is basically a huge dungeon (or rather castle) crawl.
A paladin character might not be a bad idea: good diplomacy, some healing, good AC and decent combat abilities. I would also consider giving the character some sort of animal companion, even if he doesn't have the class ability. An animal companion will be a great help in combat, but won't get in the way of roleplaying and interaction.
I DM PC is definitely a good idea, but you should consider your options. You could go for one DM PC and stick with him/her all the time, or you could have certain NPCs join your main character on different quests, switching them from time to time. This often allows for a more personal approach to the quest(s) and gives you the opportunity to drop in the class that fits the quest best.
Mega Bloks is a toy company that produced a number of lego-like pirate ships, including some vessels from Pirates of the Carribean. Following the example of several other gamers online I have taken Mega Bloks Man-o'-war from its Pyrates line and converted it to the Wormwood. I've posted some pictures on my deviantart page.
Sjo kicks open the door and surprises four derro in what looks like a crude laboratory. One wooden tables is stacked with vials and beakers, while a second leans awkwardly on a hastily repaired leg and hold nothing but shards. Three cauldrons sit against the far wall, filled with rancid fluids. One of the derro slings a sound burst in the hall where the companions stand at the ready, while another moves in to block the entrance. A third runs to a door in the south wall, while the fourth pours a sickly green liquid on his blade. Puk and Balian quickly dispatch of the little critter in the doorway and move over to the one with the poisoned blade. They now have a clear view of the south wall, where the third derro has opened the door to release a horrible monster: a creature consisting of stitched-together body parts, most of which are partially decayed and rotting. Balian notices that its relatively 'fresh' arm is covered in Shoanti tattoos. As the monstrosity emerges, it hammers the derro in its path to kingdom come. Balian and his mates meet the golem head on. The ranger swings his blade wide, striking down the derro with the poisoned blade and hitting the golem in one swooping arc. The last surviving derro slips away in a natural tunnel at the other side of the room as the companions circle the foul-reeking golem and hit the horrid creation from every angle, taking it down before it can hurt anyone.
There is no time to recover, though, as the last derro returns, hounding a hideously deformed creature in front of him. The lumbering brute has a bloated cabbage-like face and a contorted frame, but none of the companions have ever seen such a creature before. It slams its bulging fist on little Puk, sending the rogue reeling. As the 'intruders' surround it, the creature bellows that it will take their heads to Vreeg, pummeling both Puk and Spyder with strong blows. Sjo steps in to heal his halfling friend with a powerful surge of salving energy while Balian moves between the monster and the pale-skinned dwarf. His greatsword cleaves through the deformed enemy's flesh before it embeds itself in the small derro's head, ending his annoying Undercommon rambling once and for all. The brute withstands a much harder beating and manages to slam its fist into Balian's head and break some of Quint's ribs before it goes finally down.
The companions heal up and examine the room and their slain adversaries. They find a couple of flasks with poison and a dirty chain shirt on the deformed brute's frame, which radiates light magic. Quint cleans it up with a prestidigitation and dons it, finding it a bit 'wide' around the chest, making a mental note to visit the dwarven smith Furin Ironsguts to have it fitted properly.
The tunnel ahead splits to the left and right. Weak moaning resounds from the right and when Balian and Puk examine it, they find a foul-smelling cavern, bordered on three sides by ten-foot deep pits. These pits hold decaying bodies and excrement, as well as two frightened, malnourished humans, a woman and a girl. The girl is completely apathetic, rocking to and fro with her hands clamped against her head, but the woman reacts relieved to the presence of the heroes. Tears pour down her face as she realizes her nightmare has come to an end. She says her name is Tiora and explains she was captured by some derro a couple of days ago while snooping around the graveyard. The ugly dwarves threw her in this pit with the hideous ogrekin Cabbagehead as her jailor. The little girl was here already and hasn't uttered one sane word, so Tiora has no idea who she is. She also knows that the derro's current leader is called Vreeg, a cruel little necromancer, who normally answers to a man named Rolth, who is absent at the moment. The information that this lair is Rolth's hiding place is new to the companions, but seems to fit the bill of what they knew about the man.
The heroes look through the corpses and body parts in the pits for Shoanti markings, but find nothing. They do discover a hidden cache with some gold and gems. Then they quickly escort the two women to the safety of the cathedral of Pharasma, running into two more derro on their way out, who came from a bedroom they bypassed on their way in.
The last part of the warrens contains some sort of operation room with another stitched-together body on the operating table. The patchwork creation has not been animated yet, but would stand at least seven feet tall if it rose. The head is strangely small for this massive frame and bears a distinctive scar on its left cheek, identifying it as Gaekhen's head. With one arm, both legs and the head recovered, all that is missing is the Shoanti's torso and right arm.
The companions surprise three derro in the next room, but are taken aback themselves when they see the small necromancer Vreeg in the connecting bedroom. The white-haired wizard weaves some protective magic before throwing a mighty fireball on the heroes as they are finishing off his final minions. The explosion sends Sjo to the brink of death, but luckily the healer has a slight resistance to fire, which saves him, allowing him to patch up with a cure moderate wounds spell. The necromancer lashes out desperately with his foul magic as the heroes try to take him down. He weakens Balian with a well-aimed ray of enfeeblement and next blinds him. His vampiric touch and a final sound burst almost take down Sjo again, whose frantic healing averts defeat. The side-effect of the sound burst stuns all the companions, giving Vreeg the opportunity to flee the scene, but his short legs cannot outrun the 'invaders'. Quint lashes out with his whip, tripping the fleeing derro, after which Puk expertly plunges his short sword in the prone opponent's body.
Taking their time to examine the rooms more carefully, the companions find Gaekhen's last body parts, as well as some interesting loot: a wand of mage armor, some potions and five applications of restorative ointment. There is also some gold, Vreeg's spellbook and a small library with tomes on necromancy, the art of golem crafting and diseases and plagues, which Quint wants to move to the villa. One of the books also has a couple of scrolls wedged between its pages.
Feels like something is wrong with this line in the product description: "When a rival pirate lord calls in a large amount of favors and sets a fearsome raiders of the Storm Wolf against the PCs,led by the vicious Captain Sculberd Craggs, nothing they prize is truly safe." In the book it reads "a fearsome band of raiders".
This is actually is good opportunity to tie in the start of the adventure.
When the mob gets to the docks, soldiers are waiting for them. Although the soldiers are reluctant to fight (you should make this clear) they will resort to violence if they have to. Unless the PCs can calm down the crowd, a huge fight will ensue in which many civilians and some soldiers are killed (this will also become the fight where Grau Soldado lost his men and was forced to kill Korvosans, which turned him to drinking). The PCs will be captured and taken before Field Marshal Cressida Kroft, who will give them the chance to aid her in gaining control over the city again in exchange for their freedom. This will give you a nice link to the Korvosan Guard.
If, on the other hand, the PCs can prevent the fight, one of the officers of the Guard asks them to join him to Citadel Volsheynek, to meet the Field Marshal, who could use the PCs' skills to regain control over the city.
Basically anything goes. I'd stay away from evil aligned characters, a party that is (mostly) good probably works best. Any character class should work, pick things you're comfortable with. A paladin is an excellent choice, certainly for a three person party: decent melee-tanking / great saves / some added healing / good social skills.
It really depends on how you want to run the campaign. The urban aspect allows for more roleplaying, if you take the trouble to look for it. If you want to do that, warn your players to get the right skills (and classes). If you're just going with hack-'n-slash, your players should choose appropriately.
The one thing to look for in a three person party is balance. You definitely need a healer, someone who can survive melee and someone who can deal some damage.
When I started my campaign, it looked like I was going to have three players. Since I'm putting a lot of emphasis on roleplaying and skills, I urged the players to play classes with a decent amount of (social) skills. We started off with:
The bard and oracle are good at social skills, the oracle is the healer, with the bard as support, the oracle is also a bit of a tank (high AC thanks to the heavy armor feat my player chose), the ranger is the damage dealer (two-handed) and has non-social skills that serve the campaign well. He also has a pet dog (I allowed him to take the druid rather than the ranger animal progression), which is a great way to get some extra help in combat.
Then we got a fourth player, who doubted between a paladin or a rogue. Both choices would have been excellent. He went for the rogue, great for damage and extra skills.
We do not have an arcane caster, which - I feel - is not a necessity for this campaign, but would certainly work. With just three players, you will probably be struggling a bit during the first few levels with a wizard or sorcerer, but you'll be fine after that.
Karolina Dean wrote:
Well done! And linkified:Black Magga and Kyra
Black Magga and Rune Giant
The companions quickly make their way to the Gray District, where they meet with Archbishop Keppira d'Bear in the Cathedral of Pharasma. She informs them that no Shoanti body has been brought in and refers them to a man named Elkaris, who usually transports the deceased from East Shore, Thief Camp and Trail's End.
Our friends easily trace the body carter to a pub, where some other patrons are making him pay for their drinks. Sjo buys these drunkards another round, while he leads Elkaris to a corner table for a private conversation. Apparently Elkaris is quite the simple spirit and he quickly confesses to sometimes carting off bodies to a certain corner of the Potter's Ward, "dead 'uns' no one cares about, you know. I leave them at this old statue, a fighter guy with a sword, but he has fallen over and he has no head, over by the old forgotten deadhouses at the end of Potter's Ward. When I do this, there are some gold pieces in my wheelbarrow the next morning." Elkaris is ashamed to find out that the Shoanti he brought over there, was not a loner. He does not know who takes the bodies: he was approached by a thin man years ago who offered to take the corpses of the forgotten off his hands for a nice fee . He doesn't really remember the man, as it was dark, and he has never seen him again, but even after all these years the deal still stands, because he keeps getting paid.
Balian has no problem locating the toppled statue by following Elkaris wheelbarrow trail. There he discovers tracks of small humanoids, although the footprints are much finer than Puk's sturdy halfling feet. They also bear only four toes instead of five. They could be derro, especially since they lead to the dark entrance of a partially collapsed mausoleum.
Quint summons some light and leads his friends down a set of stairs into a large room supported by four stone pillars. The ceiling arches in a dome nearly twenty feet overhead and the walls are lined with skeletons caked into the mud. Two large pits to the left and the right are filled with a large heap of bones, some of which animate and attack the intruders. One of the walking ribcages towers over six others and his beaked skull identifies the creature as a dead owlbear. Although it takes the heroes some time to dispatch of the bone assailants, since only Sjo's mace is effective at rattling these carcasses' cages, it is an easy fight.
A passageway leads off deeper into the darkness, splitting to the left and right. Following the freshest tracks on the left-hand side, Balian suddenly signals his friends to stop when he hears some voices jabbering ahead. As he pricks up his ears, he notices that the conversation has abruptly ended. Maybe the creatures heard his noisy party approaching. Sjo peeks around the corner and as set upon by five red flying insectoids with double bat-like wings. Two of them attach themselves to the Shoanti's chest and pierce his flesh with their needle-like beaks, draining some of his blood and making him feel somewhat weakened. Sjo channels a burst of flames from his hands and burns two stirges to ashes, while badly incinerating a third one. Balian jumps to his friend's aid and expertly cleaves the attached bloodsuckers in two. The last partially burned pest follows soon after.
The room ahead holds three large tables. There is a large open cage on the first, probably the stirges' nest, and a dead body on the second. From the look of the corpse's face and clothes he was a vagrant. Two of his legs and one arm have been cut off, post mortem, Sjo concludes. There are several butcher's tools on tables, both fit for Puk's size and his taller friends, and two exits on the other side of the room. Exploring the one to the right takes Quint to a foul pit of stinking cadavers. Two sniveling derro order their waste disposing otyugh ally to charge the intruders; keeping to the back of the mud island in the middle of the room. Quint retaliates with a sleep on the deformed underdark dwarves, but his magic cannot break through their innate magical resistance. Balian engages the three-legged monster, but the cramped quarters make it hard to swing his large blade efficiently. The otuygh sinks his filthy teeth in the ranger's flesh and the derro fire some poisoned bolts at the heroes. One hits Spyder, who is ordered back to make room for Quint and Sjo. Puk pulls out his staffsling and fires on the monster from the second row, but is quickly frustrated with the puny damage he inflicts and decides to tumble through the corpsefeaster's legs instead, to a flanking position on the far end of the mud island. Now he can truly hurt the creature! Quint backs up Balian's assault with healing, while Sjo vainly burns through all his charges to set his weapon aflame, hitting nothing but air. The otyugh's bite and tentacles draw blood several times before the foul beast is finally slain by Sjo's first true strike of the fight. The two derro are disposed off next without too much effort. As Quint heals his friends, Puk makes a gruesome discovery: the broken legs and hips of Gaekhen are in the pit. Sjo and Balian dig through the rotten body parts some more and are rewarded for their efforts by a few trinkets left over from the otyugh's meals: an amber necklace worth 350 GP and a potion in a metal flask. Using Zellara's deck Sjo identifies it as an elixir of vision, which makes the imbiber more perceptive. As he hates paying taxes on every small find, Balian quickly gulps down the potion and throws the flask aside. He also casts longstrider on himself, complementing the earlier heroism boost he received from his bard ally.
The companions head back to the room with the tables and take the other exit, which leads to a long corridor with hundreds of skulls in the walls. Even with all his buffs active Balian fails to notice the magical trap that has been woven in the bony heads, which spew some acid on him and his friends. Fortunately the biting liquid causes only minor damage. A closed door seems to be the only way out. Balian quietly places his ear against the wood and listens. He perceives at least three derro voices on the other side. This time they have not spotted Sjo's clattery approach, so our friends have the benefit of surprise.
even another ogrekin since a lone sculpt makes them look like inbred clones.
Which they are, of course, especially when you compare them to their trueblood fathers, the ogres, who have so many wonderful sculpts now. Someone at Paizo must be a huge ogre fan and I have to agree with Erik, Malugus Kreeg's art was awesome indeed, resulting in an impressive mini.
Erik Mona wrote:
Speaking of irresistible art, I unfortunately was not able to get a good picture of the infamous Mammy Graul in time for this set, so there's at least one more ogre in the offing before I close the book on them. That will have to await a future set. Something to look forward to!
Just for you, Erik, I've posted a little sneak peak of the Graul homestead sidetrek my PCs will be making in my Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign. Mammy Graul is a fairly easy Big Big Bertha Horrorclix conversion; you can find her here.
13 Sarenith 4708
It is already past noon when the companions get up. Sjo wants to sells a couple of valuable items no one is using: a magical short sword and rapier and a masterwork chain shirt. The dwarven smith Ironguts happily takes the merchandise off their hands and the money is immediately put towards paying off another part of the tax debt. While the companions pass by Citadel Volshyenek, adventure comes looking for them again. A soldier invites them in, saying that Field Marshal Kroft needs to talk to them a.s.a.p.
As they make their way to Kroft's room, the companions come across some of the warriors from the Shoanti delegation that is staying in the Gray District. The men do not look happy and barely acknowledge Sjo and his friends as they walk by. The Field Marshal explains what is going on: Gaekhen, the grandson of the Shoanti shaman Thousand Bones was attacked in the streets by some racist fools. He did not survive the encounter. The murderers were immediately arrested and will be put to trial, but Gaekhen's body disappeared in the commotion.
Kroft asks Thousand Bones to join them. The old shaman speaks with a deep voice, his words carefully chosen, but delivered with a barely restrained anger: "Tshamek, my people have worked hard to understand yours, yet it seems each day we see new examples of how your people work just as hard to foster old hatreds. My daughtersson is dead, beaten to death by cowards in your city street. I do not blame you, yet still Gaekhen is dead, and my son and his kin are not so forgiving as I. They wish to return to the Skoan-Quah in the Cinderlands, to join with the Sklar-Quah and rally to war against Korvosa. This would be disastrous, for both our peoples. Amends must be made.
Our ways are not as yours. If a body does not go to the fires of the gods, the smoke of a warrior’s spirit cannot rise to the Great Sky. If I could send Gaekhen’s body to the Great Sky with honor and dignity, his father and brothers would listen to me and stay their wrath—the talks of peace between my people and yours can continue. But he was not just murdered. His body has disappeared. I have spoken with the spirits, and they have revealed to me that Gaekhen’s body has been taken to a place below your boneyard.
With this knowledge, I could surely lead a group of my finest warriors into your boneyard to retrieve Gaekhen’s body, but this would be seen as an act of aggression by your people and it would violate the hospitality we have been offered by the church of Pharasma. No, it falls to your people to make amends for what has been done. Of all the Korvosans we have met, you come the closest to what we call nalharest or friends, so I ask you to bring me Gaekhen’s body, lest we be forced to recover him ourselves. And although it pains my heart to say it - we will not be gentle if it comes to this."
After his request the old shaman takes his leave. Kroft tells the companions Gaekhen was murdered in the East Shore District and she urges them to contact the church of Pharasma before they start snooping around in their graveyard.
The throne room has been filled to the brim with tables. The companions are seated with the 'children' of the Jeggare and Leroung family. Vencarlo Orisini is at their table as well and Puk and Balian notice the famous sword fighter is missing two fingers from his right hand. He turns out to be a very charming and chatty man. At the start of the banquet the guests offer all kinds of gifts to the new queen, mostly jewelry, gems, perfumes, expensive fabrics and pieces of art. Her majesty seems quite taken when Quint presents their plaque with the pseudodragon token that allows her to summon the bard and his friends when she needs their help.
During the meal one of the Leroung children says that the king's murderer has been caught, but our friends are quick to explain that the person arrested is just a suspect. She's innocent until proven guilty. Vencarlo also remarks that there is no representative from Cheliax at this coronation. The ambassador left town a few weeks ago for health reasons and no replacement has arrived yet. Moreover, Cheliax has never recognized the Korvosan monarchy, although it hasn't condemned it either. Maybe Ileosa will succeed in making Cheliax accept Korvosa as an ally, rather than a forgotten province, he muses.
After the main course Puk and Balian pick up the sound of hooves on stone coming from the hallway. A heavily armored horse strides into the throne room with a female rider on its back, clad in full plate but missing the helmet. It is Sabina Merrin, the head of the Gray Maidens. Her mount stops in the middle of the hall and rears, while Sabina shouts:
"If any person here present, high or low born, denies our new monarch her sovereignty, disputes her right to rule or questions her righteousness, here is her champion, who says that he lies! Let this false traitor rise and cross blades with me, for his words are untrue and I shall disprove them myself!"
Merrin throws her glove on the ground and meets the gaze of everyone in the crowd. No one accepts the challenge and Quint breaks the tension by shouting: "Bravo! Hail to the Queen's Champion!" He explains that this challenge fits in an old Chelish tradition, where the new ruler's champion gives adversaries the opportunity to make their own claims. The fact that no one reacted actually enforces the new queen's legitimacy.
When the fine dining is finally over the party moves to the stage hall, a large room with a theatrical wooden platform. The ceiling of this hall is open to reveal the balustrade of a balcony and the interior of a lantern dome some sixty feet above. A colonnade along the room's perimeter supports the balcony. Aisha Leroung expresses her hope that the Queen will give a performance, as she is rumored to be an accomplished harpist. The young opera star takes to the stage herself, as do other artists like Auralia Lazanne, the Chelish diva, or Xerxes Jeggare, who invites Puk to join him on the drums. Quint also sings a song with a humorous undertone mocking devils, and in the process offends the highpriest of Asmodeus, who is among the guests as well.
Unfortunately Queen Ileosa does not perform, but her champion seeks the spotlight again by climbing the stage. She takes a deep bow and says: "I have never been a woman of many words, but on this special night I have something to tell you. All of you know me as Sabina Merrin, the queen's personal guard. First of all, I wish to congratulate her majesty. I am confident she will rule us well. When she arrived here five years ago and married King Eodred, she was given ten bodyguards. I was one of them. Our numbers have grown since that day, but now that queen Ileosa is no longer the queen-spouse, but the queen-ruler, she needs more than a security detail. So ladies and gentlemen, I give you THE NEW GRAY MAIDENS!"
At that moment the balconies above suddenly fill with row upon row of armored women. They greet their queen by beating their swords on their shields. There must be about 200 of them. Most people in the room seem surprised at their number, even Cressida Kroft. The Field Marshal confirms that about 40 soldiers left the Korvosan Guard to join the Maidens, but that does not account for this military force at all. She wonders if more warriors were recruited from Cheliax, while someone else even suggests that it might just be a bunch of girls who have been dressed up as Gray Maidens to underline the Queen's power.
Quint seizes the opportunity to dance with as many girls as possible, while Sjo concentrates solely on the beautiful Larella Semyr. He is quite the charmer tonight and the priestess of Shelyn is not insensitive to his affection. Puk and Balian have more eyes for the food and wine.
At one point during the evening, the companions see how Marcus Endrin and Cressida Kroft are having a discussion. When Quint asks the Field Marshal about it during a dance, she says that Marcus Endrin insisted on speaking to Trinia Sabor. Being the commander of the Sable Company, Endrin does not believe the girl is guilty of killing the king. After all, the painter was hired by Neolandus Kalepopolis. The seneschal was a wise man, Endrin served with him before he was elected to represent the Sable Company in Castle Korvosa. He would never have hired anyone without doing a thorough background check. Not only that, Kalepopolis was very familiar with the Korvosan art scene, so his choice would have been well considered. Kroft denied Endrin his request, though. She does not wish to raise more doubts about the Guard's integrity. There have already been too many stories of corrupt guards lately. One of her own men is even involved in the whole Trinia affair, so Kroft did not judge it wise to bend the rules again and allow someone in to see the suspect who has nothing to do with the case or the investigation.
The party lasts until late at night. By the time the companions head home, they are quite satisfied, having enjoyed the finest food, excellent wine, top class entertainment and marvelous company. How far they have come, it was only a few years ago that they were suffering under Lamm's harsh rule, scouring the streets for opportunities to rob people or make a dishonest buck. Now they dine and dance with Korvosa's finest and are regular guests at the castle.
12 Sarenith 4708
Today marks the coronation of Ileosa, to which the companions have been invited. They clean up and make for the castle by ten o'clock. The streets are already packed with hundreds of Korvosans who don't want to miss a thing. The invitees include a lot of the people who were present at the opera as well. While everyone gathers on the terraces on top of the mastaba, the companions recognize many of their new acquaintances, Zenobia Zenderholm, Mercival Jeggare and his nephew Xerxes, Eliasia Leroung with her family, including Aisha, and all the other nobles as well. Touran Palastus is present as well, as is Vencarlo Orisini, the fencing master.
By twelve o'clock all the bells in the city start ringing. The crowd begins to cheer and applaud, as the gates of the castle open and Ileosa appears, dressed in a sober white gown. A number of people follow in her wake, including Archbanker Darb Tuttle of Abadar, bishop Keppira d'Bear of Pharasma and Field Marshal Cressida Kroft. The queen strides to the end of the terrace - which looms as a balcony over the streets below - welcomed by the warm ovation from the citizens that have gathered in South Seneschal Street and Ramp Boulevard.
Darb Tuttle mounts the small podium that has been constructed there, taking up position on the right-hand side of the empty crimson throne. As he raises his hand, the crowd falls silent.
"People of Korvosa," he booms with a magically enhanced voice, "the untimely death of King Eodred II was a shock to us all. A deep sense of sorrow took hold of us and threw its shadow over the city. Still, such feelings of bereavement are natural when a beloved father passes. And while some of the events in the last couple of weeks have chilled our hearts, it also warmed my soul to see how much Korvosa loved its king and how hard it struggled to cope with its grief. And so, through the shadow shines a brightening light. Your fire is like the fire of the phoenix who arises from the ashes of mourning.
I was at Eodred's side during his last days. He was deeply troubled by the fact that he hadn't given the city an heir to take over his task. Even on his deathbed he was more worried about his people's future than his own faltering health. He shared this concern with me many times and it does him honor, just like your concern for our future would do him proud. If only Eodred had known how hard his death would affect Korvosa, he would have been elated.
But Korvosa is strong. It has proven numerous times that the will of all Korvosans combined makes us into an impregnable fortress. We, Korvosans, know how to survive. And that is something we do united, not divided. So let us become as one again, let us take the strength of each of you and forge it into a spear of unity.
By Korvosan law the king's power passes to his widow, lacking a naturally-born heir. Lady Ileosa has been found willing to pledge her life in the service of the city and its noble inhabitants. Korvosa places a heavy burden on her shoulders, which she accepts with humility and a sense of duty.
And that is why, people of Korvosa, I ask you to bear witness to what happens here today, under the eyes of the gods. Because it is from your hands that the queen receives her crown. So let us become one hand that anoints, one voice that blesses and one will that crowns. Citizens of Korvosa, become one heart that welcomes your future ruler!"
Tuttle raises his hands to the heavens and the crowd bursts out in joy while Ileosa steps onto the platform. She gives the highpriest of Abadar a warm smile as she kneels in front of him. The Archbanker faces his queen and the people hush once more.
With his palms directed to the sky, he solemnly proclaims: "Ileosa Arvanxi, also known as Ileosa Arabasti, do you swear to govern the whole of Korvosa according to its charters and customs?"
Ileosa solemnly replies: "I do."
"Will you to your power cause law and justice to be executed in all your judgments?"
"Do you promise to maintain and honor the laws of this city to the utmost of your power?"
The highpriest approaches Ileosa, dips his hands in a chalice of oil and anoints the kneeling woman on the forehead, the temples and wrists, while declaring: "The almighty and ever-lasting gods pour their spirit in your soul, judgment and actions. May you govern this city with wisdom, keep the peace and serve its people and lands."
As the young woman rises, Keppira d'Bear steps forward to hang the red robe of state over her shoulders. Then Ileosa takes a seat on the crimson throne, watching how Cressida Kroft walks up to Darb Tuttle, carrying a velvet cushion with the crown of Korvosa. Tuttle gently takes the shining jewel in his hands and displays it to the crowd. Then he turns towards Ileosa and holds the crown above her head: "Ileosa Arvanxi Arabasti, may the gods who have given you this royal honor in their divine providence, grant you the wisdom to banish all wrongs from Korvosa, to lead your people to prosperity, to bring comfort where it is due and to serve the laws of this city." Then he places the crown on the new queen's head, raises his hands to the skies and calls out: 'In the name of the gods and the people, I crown you, Ileosa Arvanxi Arabasti, queen of Korvosa and all her inhabitants, you and no other!" Next he kneels at her feet: "Long live Queen Ileosa! Long live Korvosa!"
Everyone on the terrace drops to his knees as well and repeats the words, as do the citizens in the streets: "Long live Queen Ileosa! Long live Korvosa!" Then a cheer arises that resounds far beyond the city walls.
Finally Ileosa stands up and speaks: "People of Korvosa, witness my first act as your queen. I hereby declare the twelfth of Sarenith an official holiday. Today you will eat and drink for free! Celebrate, my subjects, enjoy this day, for it is truly a glorious one!"
At the same time a patrol of hippogriff riders appears from behind the castle. As they fly over the crowd, they throw down silver pieces. Ileosa waves to the crowd, basking in the joy and enthusiasm of the people, before returning to the castle. A handful of able-bodied servants take the throne and follow her. Then the rest of the people on the terrace can go inside for the banquet.
After he has dragged away Trinia from the edge of the roof, Balian somewhat loosens his grip on the girl. Meanwhile Quint tries to calm her down, for there is fear in her eyes. She picked up the rumor that both the guard and a lynch mob were looking for her because she supposedly poisoned the king, an accusation she blatantly denies. Quint confirms that he and his friends have seen no proof whatsoever that she is guilty and suggests going back to Nisha's flat to talk, as he is worried for her safety out here.
In the apartment of her tiefling friend Trinia tells the companions her story. She was hired three months ago by seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis to paint the king's portrait. On Pharast 24 she met his majesty for the first time, finding him 'sick' in his bed. Still, Trinia felt he wasn't all that ill and opened the shutters wide to allow light and air into the room. The king seemed to be suffering from a lingering cold and - if anything - a case of 'Werltschmerz'. The painter had also offered him some nettle tea, which is said to help against feeling tired and listless, a fact which Sjo confirms.
Trinia's presence, the tea and the fresh air seemed to agree with the king and he kept getting better every day, until he was no longer in his bed when she arrived, but already waiting for her in his seat, with a book in his lap and a fine bottle of wine by his side. Eodred II also turned out to be pleasant and charming company. His wife was less pleased with Trinia's presence. Her handful of visits usually ended in her nagging to the king that he should be more careful with his health and that he should stay beneath the covers until he had made a full recovery. She also felt that 'this painter' should stay away until then! So yes, Trinia was not a fan of Ileosa, although she might have expected such a reaction. The seneschal had freely admitted to her that her spunky personality and her youthful looks were another reason he had hired her, apart from her talent, which he fully acknowledged. He had hoped that she might return some of the king's lust for life.
By the end of Gozran Eodred's health had suddenly deteriorated. He got more feverish by the day, started coughing badly and developed strange skin sores. Trinia's time with him was limited to a couple of hours a day, and when the king got even worse, she was forbidden from seeing him at all. By this time the sores on his skin had turned to festering boils and he had almost gone blind. She even offered to finish the portrait without the king, but Kalepopolis had disagreed. He paid her 100 gold sails already and promised to contact her when Eodred got better. One week later the king was dead and the seneschal had disappeared without a trace.
Quint explains that Trinia's best chance is to prove her innocence. He offers to take her to the Citadel and convinces her that Field Marshal Cressida Kroft and high judge Zenobia Zenderholm are both very trustworthy people who will make sure she gets a fair trial. Trinia agrees and has Quint escort her to the Guard's headquarters. On the way they pass the lynch mob and although the hotheads do not recognize Trinia, who is wearing a disguise, she clings more tightly to the bard's arm until they clear the protesters.
Trinia repeats her version of the facts to Field Marshal Kroft, who feels it will be safest for the girl to remain here. Although no one enjoys the thought of being locked up for their own safety, Trinia realizes Kroft is right and agrees.
When they have concluded their business in the Citadel, the companions head for the old fishery, where Eric Brolan is still locked up after his assassination attempt during the opera. Quint explains that they will not press charges and will set him free, but insists that he contacts them when he comes across that Vudran snake in the grass, Selena, again. Eric is fully aware of how lucky he is and promises to do so.
Another very exciting night of roleplay and one I had been looking forward to for a long time. I prepared some simple homemade rooftops in advance with flat surfaces for the miniatures. I posted pictures of the Shingle chase on deviantart. Since these pictures were taken before the game, they don't show the pursuers in the correct order, but of course our set-up at the gaming table did. Still, you'll get the idea looking at these pics. We made it about halfway, to the end of the big blue roof in the middle, which was a perfect place to end, because the hour was growing late and the table was 'growing short'.
Puk collects his friends and leads them to Nisha's flat. On the way over there Sjo is trashing on the tiefling woman with racist talk, much to Quint's surprise, who thinks a Shoanti in Korvosa should know better than to shut out people based on their race. The Shoanti calls Nisha an 'Asmodean whore' and claims that followers of the Dark Prince perform terrible rituals in his star-shaped temple on the Heights. He admits to having lived and trained there for three months, trying to figure out whether his gift for the divine and his command over fire were related to the Lord of Darkness. They clearly weren't, but the healer witnessed several horrible deeds when he was in training there, deeds he does not wish to recall.
The companions climb the stairs to Nisha's door and hear two hushed voices speaking inside. Puk attempts to pry open the lock, but fails at it, thus alarming the residents. Quint pulls out the Key-Lock killer's bell and rings it, magically unlocking the door, while Puk knocks twice, repeating Nisha's ritual before she entered. The tiefling woman stands in the middle of a small flat, trying to hide her surprise at her unexpected guests. She does not appear dazed, though, as this is probably not the first time she has had to deal with pushy customers, and firmly makes for the door to close it. Quint puts his foot inside and inquires about Trinia again. Nisha denies knowing anyone by that name, but then Sjo moves over to force his way in. The exotic dancer is quick to react and conjures up a shower of sparkly, colored lights that fascinate Quint. Puk slips into the room through the enthralled bard's legs and spots a blond girl through the window, hiding behind a water barrel on a small terrace outside. When she realizes she's been made, the girl leaps to her feet and climbs the roof of the next building, trying to make her escape across the rooftops of the Shingles. Sjo assaults Nisha, but she returns the favor by charming him with her bardic magic and urging him to talk rather than fight.
Puk, Balian and Quint head off in pursuit of the fleeing girl, who leaps across the street to another building. Then she climbs the steep roof to the top and balances over the crest to the other end of the house. Realizing that speed and mobility are of the essence, Balian cast his first spell ever, increasing his own pace with longstrider, while Quint enhances the ranger's ability to move through uneven terrain with a feather step from his wand. Puk has already started the hunt, nimbly dancing over the Shingle's slates and crossing the gap to the next roof. He almost catches up to Trinia, but fails his daring leap to grapple her. In his momentum he slips off the side of the building and barely manages to grab a hold. Balian is not so lucky, missing his jump across the street, plummeting down to the cobbled stones below. He quickly regains his feet, though, and clambers up the gutter to continue pursuit. Quint casts another feather step, on himself this time, and chases after Trinia as well. He also threatens to miss his jump to the second building and has to throw in a gallant inspiration to reach the edge, barely avoiding a deep drop.
Meanwhile Trinia glides off the other side of the building and balances across a small pole to another apartment block. She squirms through a narrow window, surprising the people inside the flat with her presence. Her quick, but gentle words astound the inhabitants enough to let her pass unmolested. Balian leaps across to the window as well, but his broad shoulders and breastplate make it hard for him to fit through. As he notices Trinia slipping out another window at the other side, he decides to make for the roof and run across the edge instead. Puk has no trouble plunging through the window, but finds it more difficult to handle the people in the flat. Lagging behind, Quint realizes that he will never catch up and attempts to take Trinia down with a sleep spell, but the painter is unaffected by his magic. She climbs unto another roof, scales the steep climb to the crest and worms her way around the chimney. Balian risks life and limb blindly charging after her and finally catches up. He grabs her by the wrist before she can glide down a washing line and tightly pins her to the gray slates. "I'm sorry we scared you," he whispers, "but we're not the bad guys, we just want to talk."
After procuring Kroft's permission to interrogate the guard who aided the king's murderer, the companions head to the Longacre prison. The accused is a sergeant by the name of Zack Alderman who freely repeats his testimony. The king's portrait painter, Trinia Sabor, was a pretty and lively young girl. When she first arrived at the castle, he was on duty. They chatted for a while and Zack felt like they connected, so he arranged to be on duty again the next time she came, and the next ... and the next. That is how the Gray Maidens who were investigating the case found him out, because he had traded all his shifts to be on guard when Trinia Sabor was present. When she started her commission the king was already ill, although it wasn't so bad yet. One day Zack caught her concocting a drink for his majesty. When he confronted her about it, she claimed it was some kind of tea, meant to make the king feel better and Eodred happily consumed it. Still, Trinia asked Zack not to tell anyone about it: the king's healers might not approve of this simple, but effective cure, preferring their own complicated and expensive remedies instead. Sometimes a simple answer is all that is required, she had smiled, so Zack had kept his mouth shut.
But Eodred kept getting worse and after a couple of weeks things got so bad that Trinia wasn't allowed to visit with his majesty anymore. About a week later the monarch died. That's when Zack started suspecting that Trinia's drug might have been something different entirely: a poison. Still, he was afraid to come forward, because if he was right, he would be blamed for not having reported this earlier. He might even have prevented the king from dying! So he shrouded himself in silence, until the Gray Maidens confronted him.
So this guard's crime went no further than omitting to report something ... and there still is no proof that the drug Trinia had given to the king was anything other than a natural cure. That is why Field Marshal Kroft was so adamant to take the girl alive and not allow the lynch mob to seek its own justice. It was by no means certain that she was guilty!
By the time the companions return to the stripper's bar where Trinia's 'devil' friend works, the joint is open. The same ginger-haired dwarf is at the entrance, oblivious to the jolly music that comes from within. His shoulders are as wide as the door and his head seems too small for his body. He demands three gold sails admission fee per person before stepping aside.
The Voluptuous Vixen hosts a bar with scantily dressed waitresses and a stage with a pole. When the companions enter a sweet blond girl in the guise of a shepherdess is dancing to a merry tune. Less than a dozen men make up the customers, mostly sailors. When the blond shepherdess is finished, she goes into the room to give lapdances, while a dancer in a white wig and a transparent suit follows her act on stage. The new girl is being announced as Pearl.
Next up is Nisha. She appears in a puff of smoke and light. On the sensual tunes of a Varisian song she shakes her hips, swirling her colorful silk scarves and ringing the little bell that hangs from the tip of her tail. She rhythmically beats a tambourine and shows her nimbleness by doing tricks on the pole. Her lush brown hair sports two horns, which - together with the tail - clearly mark her as the devil woman. When she's done, she also joins the customers in the room.
Quint immediately hails her over, but when he starts quizzing her about her personal life, she refuses to address the matter. She goes silent when Quint says that her friend Trinia is in danger and she finally repeats that her private life is not something she discusses with customers. When Sjo and Quint press the issue, she gets up and walks away to the backroom. Balian and Sjo try to follow her, but a big man blocks their passage. Sjo tries to hit him in the face, but he deftly avoids the Shoanti's fist. Next Balian draws steel and things threaten to get out of hand quickly. Quint cautions his friends to calm down and lashes out with his whip to pull Balian's greatsword from his grasp. While the human security guard at the backroom door engages Sjo, the ginger-haired dwarf charges over from the front door and grapples the disarmed ranger. Like his bard friend, Puk also refrains from fighting, pulling out the pickled head he stole from the curiosity museum at Exemplary Execrables instead in an attempt to daze the onlookers'. His trick only serves to frighten the girls in the room even more. Sjo casts a hold person on the bouncer, who resists the magic and Quint throws a sleep spell into the fray, which only affects Balian, who goes limp in the dwarf's arms. The broad-shouldered guard starts dragging the ranger to the front door and throws him out in the street. The other bouncer is still blocking the door in the back and he firmly insists that the companions leave. He appreciates Quint's interventions, but he cannot allow trouble seekers to stay in the club. Quint's warnings that they are here on official city business do not sway him and the companions decide it's better to go. The bard quickly picks up Balian's greatsword and presses the dwarven muscle another gold sail in his hands, a fee for a job well done! Then he steps into the street as well.
Figuring that this building probably has a back door, Puk charges off to the left to make his way around the block, while Balian and Quint try the other side. Sjo remains at the front door, making sure the tiefling dancer does not leave through there. The halfling is lucky, finding a small alley that provides a shortcut. As he reaches the back of the building, he spots a cloaked shadow disappearing around the corner: a silhouette with a tail! He races off in pursuit, but keeps to the shadows when he catches up to the woman, who is looking over her shoulder anxiously to make sure no one is following her. Then she climbs the outside stairs of an apartment building to the third floor, knocking twice on the door before opening it with her key and stepping inside.
My homebrew clergy of Korvosa does not quite reach Haladir's levels:
Ezekiel Sollux, high priest of Sarenrae is a level 9 cleric;
The Pantheon of Many has some priests of different faiths, but none higher than level 3. So I guess I'm a lot stricter when it comes to handing out levels.
Paizo isn't likely to publish a 'no fighting' AP for PF, it deviates too far from what the system is built for.
S'mon is right, there is plenty of combat in all the APs, but some of them lend themselves more to roleplaying as well. I'm currently running my version of Curse of the Crimson Throne, which is an urban campaign and lends itself nicely to more social interaction. We've only had one combat in our five last sessions for example, although there will definitely be parts that will be more combat-heavy as well.
Anyway, I set out to GM a campaign that includes more roleplaying and I told my players which skills would be useful in the campaign (like diplomacy, bluff, sense motive ...). You can read about our adventures in the campaign journal logs, here, if you want a taste.
As other posters have said, there are several APs that lend themselves to extra roleplaying, but it will be the DM's task to make it happen. If you and your group dig that, it is definitely worth the effort.
Meredith Jones wrote:
If you need a level 12 cleric, only two clerics have the appropriate level in Korvosa: Darb Tuttle of Abadar (clr13) and Keppira d'Bear of Pharasma (clr13). The third highest ranking priest is Ornher Reebs of Asmodeus, who's only level 11.
For me, this was one of the best rpg'ing experiences ever. I truly enjoyed it, and my players complimented me on it, so they loved it as well.
The speech was pre-written, because improvising such a thing never turns out quite as well. So I write this kind of thing in advance. The first time I did this was back in the Shackled City AP: in The Demonskar Legacy Maavu speaks out against the government of Cauldron which leads to riots when a patrol comes by to arrest him. Someone on these boards wrote out the speech and I translated it for my campaign. That is when I learned it's better to write speeches in advance. I mean, you can still improvise at the table if you want to, but there is something to hang onto.
I was also amazed that the PC's sent their money on such a thoughful gift for the queen, instead of keeping it to upgrade their gear. That's unthinkable for most parties!
The gift actually isn't all that expensive, a couple of hundred GP. We're having a lot more 'fun' with taxes. Even the flat 10 % rate proves to be hard to meet. If only we were so lucky in real life!
As before, I enjoyed seeing some NPC names from my campaign serving as inspiration for this one. :) Also, your encounter locations look great for the miniatures... I love how you did the courthouse and the Marbledome. It must add a whole level of immersion during the game.
Yeah, thanks again for the names ... The dungeon terrains do add a lot of flavor to the game, even though the big set-ups that I post on Deviantart don't really make it to the gaming table (I do show the players the pictures), but one-room terrains do. The combat on stage was a very nice scenery piece, for example. Prepare yourself for the shingle chase next, I made some special roof pieces for that (which are focused more on playability than on realism) to make the chase more fun, I hope.
Well, since my players were level 3 for this adventure and they had a wand of cure light wounds, the TPK threat that looms heavily over the original adventure was pushed back. Still, I loved the intrigue in the adventure, so it was definitely a worthwhile experience. So beating father Kelgaard wasn't that hard, even though I put him in a full plate armor +1 to increase his AC to 25 (Sjo, the Shoanti oracle, selected heavy armor proficiency as a feat, so I decided to add the full plate as loot at this time). But the combination of experienced players, level 3 characters, being fully healed and having optimal character builds made the encounter quite easy.
The 'entestine' encounter was quite hard, though. I changed the gut-dragging lurcher from Patrissa to Madge for a number of reasons. First, Madge was a human in my campaign, so she suited the role just as well. Since she was torn to pieces by her father, she was already set up perfectly to become the gut-dragger. I also wanted to give the PCs the opportunity to save some NPCs. One of them is not such a big fan of horror plots and doesn't like it when bad things happen without the PCs being able to change or prevent them. So I reserved Patrissa for a potential save. She made it out alive!
11 Sarenith 4708
It is almost noon when the companions get up. They want to make sure the assassination plot does not go public, so they send out the boys with invitations to all those who know the truth: Field Marshal Kroft, Archbishop Keppira d'Bear, Lord Mercival Jeggare and Aisha Leroung. The message implores those people to come over at four o'clock for tea to 'discuss the opera's final scene'.
At one o'clock the doorbell already rings: it is Leiny Ranstro, Touran Palastus' personal assistant. She is here with the companions' payment for playing in the opera, 380 gold sails in total. Since the friends did not know they were being paid, this is a pleasant surprise.
A little before four o'clock Aisha arrives. She has slept well and explains that she does not feel traumatized, in spite of the dangers she faced last night. She owes that to the companions' timely and competent intervention, which made her feel safe. Lord Mercival Jeggare and archbishop Keppira d'Bear of Pharasma are next to arrive. When Cressida Kroft still hasn't shown up at 16.15 h., the companions decide not to wait any longer. They explain everything that happened during the opera and with Eric and his sister. Now they wonder what to do: do they seek justice against Eric, which requires going public, or do they hush up the assassination attempt? Aisha says she cannot speak from a legal point of view, but personally, she is willing to forgive Eric. He was obviously forced and seeing him imprisoned - or worse - will not punish the real culprits. The best way to oppose their evil schemes is to act as if nothing happened.
By five o'clock a soldier from the Korvosan Guard arrives with a message from Cressida Kroft. Urgent business demanded her attention, keeping her from 'tea party'. She summons the companions to the citadel right away! Pressing the guard for answers, Quint convinces him to spill the beans: the king's killer has been found!
When the companions get to Kroft's office she gets right down to business: "My friends, I presume you've picked up rumors that the king was murdered. I regret to have to tell you that this is more than mere gossip. Eodred was cravenly poisoned. The Gray Maidens managed to find out the name of the killer. A young painter who was commissioned to make Eodred's portrait is responsible for his death. One of my own men who was on palace duty aided her. The man has already been questioned and he confessed to the crime. He even repeated his statement in my presence.
The murderer is one Trinia Sabor who lives on the Slope in Midland, Moonstreet 42 b. The Guard went to her house to arrest her just a few hours ago, but the bird had already flown. My soldiers got little cooperation from the neighbors, who claim the girl is too sweet to be the king's assassin. They don't believe she's guilty.
I don't know how word of her involvement got spread, but right now a large mob is looking for the girl. The streets of Midland are overrun by angry citizens who are demanding justice. If they find the young painter, I'm afraid she won't survive. We can't let this happen, one act of chaos might be enough to rekindle the fires of unrest in the streets. We've worked so hard to get things under control. Let's make sure to keep it this way.
It is of the utmost importance that we find this Trinia Sabor alive. We have to find out how and why she poisoned the king, and if she was working for someone. My soldiers have their hands full controlling the angry mob and they are too conspicuous to conduct a quiet investigation. Moreover, those who know Trinia are reluctant to give them any information. That's why I need your help to track her down."
The companions agree to help and also fill the field marshal in on what they discussed with lord Jeggare, Keppira d'Bear and Aisha Leroung. They suggest hushing up the Brolan case, so as not to fuel those 'fires of unrest' she also mentioned. Kroft agrees to whatever solution the companions find morally acceptable. Then she urges them on their way.
The Slope Ward in Midland is densely populated. Houses crowd each other and are built upward rising up to five stories high. The leaning tenements house flats with tiny windows, narrow walkways and rickety stairs. The streets look more like open gutters and are presently overrun with agitated hotheads. The Guard is doing its best to calm the mob, but only elicits booing and hateful comments. Since some of the protesters demand to know where this cowardly killer lives, the companions conclude that the crowd does not know Trinia's address yet. They quickly make their way to the building. Two guards by the door and two more in the hallway let them pass and send them to the second floor.
As the companions climb the stairs, they meet Trinia's down stair neighbor. A sullen, portly lady with three children at her skirt gives them an angry stare. She refuses to believe Trinia is the king's murderer. The girl is a gem who wouldn't hurt a fly ... and generous too. Whenever she can afford it, she gives the kids some copper pieces and recently she used the money she got for painting the king's portrait to buy food for everyone in the building. Trinia has a heart of gold, she would never kill anyone. The neighbor has no idea where Trinia fled to, and even if she knew, she would never tell.
Trinia's apartment is a mess. Several pallets with paint, empty canvases, hundreds of sketches, a dozen half finished painting and three easels fill the room. A small bed has been squeezed into the corner and a tiny table sits in front of the window. Half a loaf of fresh bread is testament to the fact that the girl was here earlier today.
Searching the room reveals no clues and no traces of poison. Quint does find a letter, dated Pharast the 17th, asking Trinia to paint his majesty's portrait. The letter is signed by Neolandus Kalepopolis, who was still acting seneschal of the Castle three months ago. It mentions a payment of 1 000 gold sails, but none of this gold seems to be in the apartment.
When the companions look out the window, Balian notices an old lady across the street peeking from behind her window. When she sees she's been spotted, she quickly retreats behind her curtain, only to sneak another glance a few breaths later. Sjo and Quint decide to question her and cross the street. She seems suspicious of the two young men, but is nonetheless happy to share her distress with the neighborhood's decline. She claims that the young girl who lives across the street is no good, keeping the company of that devil woman from the nasty strip joint around the corner. That girl sports horns and a tail; she's an affront to the human race and all those who mingle with her can't be trusted.
The Voluptuous Vixen is just around the corner. A grim dwarf guards the front door and refuses to let anyone in until the joint opens in an hour and a half. Since the bullheadedness of dwarven door guards is legendary (a running gag at our table since this is not the first dwarf to refuse PCs entry in our roleplaying history) Quint suggests coming back at eight and using the time in between to question the guard who aided Trinia Sabor first.
Director Touran Palastus looks angry indeed. Having just witnessed a completely different ending to his opera, he directs his anger at the companions, demanding an explanation. Quint and Sjo start weaving a story about how they felt they had to improvise, wanting to add the symbolism of young Korvosans who dared challenge death itself. They also shower Palastus with compliments, since only his excellent leadership and his ability to inspire to greatness allowed them to improve the story as they did. Palastus is flabbergasted, but when lord Mercival Jeggare joins the fray, complimenting Palastus on this brilliant new finale, the director is so overwhelmed and charmed that he drops his protest.
Next Sjo and Quint pull aside Aisha Leroung. She still looks shocked by what just transpired, having been stabbed for the first time in her life. The companions explain what happened: a new oracle of Pharasma warned them during the break that she would be in danger during the final act, so they watched over her and prevented the assassin from killing her. Since the killer's goal was to sow chaos, they took that away from him by integrating their actions into the show. Of course, this requires everyone to act as if what happened on stage, was nothing more than a bit of improvisation. In other words, Aisha cannot tell anyone she was attacked for real, because doing that would still play into the hand of the attacker. The girl understands and agrees.
Meanwhile Balian has pulled Eric Brolan's unconscious body into a small alley behind the Marbledome. He now hails his friends over to question the man. He has already stripped the assassin of his gear, which includes a short sword of frost and a magical cloak and ring. A bit of Sjo's healing suffices to wake Eric up. Quint is very angry with him and presses him for answers. After some initial hesitation Eric Brolan confesses: he was forced into killing Aisha. His sister and her children have been kidnapped and if he did not comply to the assassination, he would never see them again. Eric does not know why he had to kill Aisha, nor does he know the name of the person who ordered the hit, although he can describe her: a beautiful Vudran woman with long black hair. Quint is abhorred: so the rabble-rouser Selena is still at work! He had hoped to have heard the last of her after the riots ended, but apparently she continued to plague the city with her feeble efforts to rekindle the fires of chaos. Well, fortunately he and his friends were around to thwart her foul plans, again!
The companions contemplate what to do. They finally decide to take Brolan to the old fishery and spread the rumor that he escaped custody. Maybe his employers will feel threatened by the fact that Eric is still running free. If they try to eliminate this 'threat', they will find the companions on their way! Balian leads Brolan away, while Puk, Sjo and Quint head to the afterparty. They want to include Field Marshal Cressida Kroft in their plans and they hope to find her at the reception. Kroft is indeed present, but the companions do not get the opportunity to talk to her privately, since everyone loved their brilliant performance and wants to congratulate them. Even the queen offers them praise. Quint also notices that fencing master Vencarlo Orisini is staring dreamily at her majesty's personal guard, Sabina Merrin. The bard remembers having heard that the commander of the queen's Gray Maidens was once a pupil at Orisini's sword fighting academy. Maybe they have some history. It is not until an hour later, when Kroft leaves, that our friends manage to intercept the field marshal. She readily agrees to play along with their plans.
Although it is already the middle of the night, Quint, Sjo and Puk want to check out Eric Brolan's apartment sooner rather than later, so they gear up and head over to Old-Korvosa, where the man lives. His flat looks dark, but when Puk uses his skill to open the door, Quint spots people inside. A lantern lights up and a middle-aged woman with two children at her side shouts: "Surprise!". It's Eric's sister, who denies having been abducted. She says that a Vudran woman approached her six days ago and took her to lovely little house in North Point, claiming this was to be Eric's payment for his 'leading role' in the opera. However, the house did need some TLC, so the woman suggested that Eric's sister used those six days to tidy up the place, so she could surprise her brother when he returned. The sister's story seems to be genuine, so the companions decide not to trouble her more than they already have, and simply explain that Eric is with a friend of theirs and that he probably won't be home tonight. Then they leave for their beds. It is a puzzling thought, this Selena works in mysterious ways: a sword in one hand and a velvet glove on the other. She does not shy away from having people killed, while she is surprisingly considerate of others. How weird ...
A print-out should work just as fine. Just hurry, with the speed you're playing through this, you'll need it soon. Have fun!!
10 Sarenith 4708
The next morning the companions head to the orphanage where the other little saved lambs are staying. They ask them to make drawings of the queen and her new heroes. These simple childish tokens of affection will show her majesty that her people love her.
Then they make arrangements for their own present. They buy a nice jewel of a pseudodragon at the Golden Market and pay a visit to Tepest Geezlebottle, the gnome professor and headmaster of Theumanexus College, Korvosa's smaller school of wizardry. They spend their last cash to have him enchant the jewel as a special version of a bird feather token. The jewel replaces the feather and the token will create a pseudodragon instead of a bird to deliver a message directly to them. They will place this shiny object in the center of a clay table with impressions of their hands around it and a small plaque with the words: Always ready to lend a helping hand.
At four o'clock the complete cast gathers in the Marbledome. Everyone takes a seat as Lord Mercival Jeggare climbs on stage:
"Good friends. I've learned that you did an outstanding job this past week. I'd like to congratulate you for all your efforts. I can rightly say I'm proud of you.
Of course, I don't have to remind you of how important tonight is. We'll be playing to an audience that even this great theater has never seen. All the greats of Korvosa will be present. Even her majesty will be gracing these halls with her presence.
You know that the recent weeks have been hard on our city. After the regrettable loss of our King, Eodred II, we've lived through troubled weeks with heavy riots in the streets. Many have lost a loved one in this meaningless protest. But Korvosa would not be Korvosa if we couldn't find the strength to rise above this misery. Fortunately peace has once again returned to our streets, albeit in a rather fragile form.
Your performance tonight serves to strengthen that peace. Alika was one of our most loyal and cherished citizens, who gave her life to protect Korvosa. An opera honoring her shining example will rekindle our sense of unity and repair the heart for Korvosa in those who have lost faith. In this respect your job here tonight is much bigger than an artistic accomplishment. You are the ointment that will heal our city.
I'm not asking you to give your lives for Korvosa, as Saint Alika did. I am asking you to put on a show as if your lives depend on it. Perform like you've never performed before! Make this show the highlight of our time. Make sure that, for the rest of their lives, our audience will claim that THEY were here to see it. My heart swells when I see all of you in front of me, full of expectation, full of fire. Tonight you make your mark! Make every citizen honored to be a Korvosan, to be part of this wonderful city with its glorious history, her formidable heroes and her first-rate artists. My friends, make Korvosa proud!"
Jeggare's speech is well received and bolsters the cast's resolve to shine. With less than four hours to go, everyone rushes off to the dressing rooms to put on their costumes and make-up. There is a healthy tension in the air that focuses the mind. Singers warm their vocal cords, actors go over their roles one last time or run through the combat moves again. Quint dedicates his time to motivating some of the more nervous cast members to forget about their jitters and enjoy the moment. Eric Brolan, who plays Death in the final scene, has a bad case of stage freight, but Quint can talk him into a calmer state of mind.
Before long the first spectators arrive. Tension starts to rise behind the curtains. The buzz from spectators arriving grows ever louder and adds to the excitement of the actors and musicians. Suddenly a loud applause erupts as people shout: "Long live the queen! Long live Korvosa!" Her majesty has arrived.
A few moments later it is time to start. A new round of applause fills the hall as the orchestra starts playing. Puk is in his element tonight and beats the drum with unseen passion and feeling. Then the curtains open. Varric Bedan, who has been struggling all week, manages to keep his voice clear tonight when bringing Waydon Endrin's speech to the settlers. His past as a soldier has obviously taught him to keep his act together in tense situations. His portrayal of Korvosa's first Field Marshal is well received, especially when Arianna Evenland joins him as his wife captain Keyra Palin, another hero of old. But mostly anticipated is Saint Alika herself. When she is singled out by Waydon Endrin as the first child to have been conceived and born in the settlement, some people in the audience already start whistling with anticipation. Palastus, who's watching closely from the sidelines, smiles happily, which is a rare sight.
As most actors leave the stage, Alika stays behind with her father and the Varisian trader played by Quint. Alika's voice is beautiful and full of emotion as her father presents her to her future husband. The orchestra continues playing while the curtains close and Dargo the Hump quickly changes the scenery by pulling some ropes.
The second he's ready, the curtains swing wide again for act two. Alika wanders into the wilds, crying out her despair and begging the gods for help. At the other side of the stage Dario Darnas appears in the guise of the good-looking Chelish soldier. Despite his oafish demeanor, he is a crowd's favorite and proves that he deserves the part of Kallan. When he meets Alika, there is a tangible chemistry between the two. Aisha shows no sign of the disdain she normally bears for the actor and sparks fly. The audience loves it. People sigh at the forbidden love scene and hold their breaths while Alika receives her first vision of the Shoanti assassin. The companions witness for the first time how incredibly impressive illusions look in the dark. When Marco Ebhart tries to assassinate the two lovers the audience roars in outrage, but when he is killed in the following fight, they cheer.
The set changes back to the fort for the third act. Quint is in his element in the scene where he has to mock Alika and her lover. Being a comedian by training and having a sound dose of dislike for Dario Darnas in real life, making fun of his rival comes naturally to the bard. Another star of this act are the special effects: Dargo and Lumenos summon a livid vision for Alika and their storm rages with a power seldom seen on stage. Again the audience goes wild as the curtains close for the break. The opera is well on its way of becoming a hit!
Behind the curtains Lord Mercival Jeggare can't hide his excitement. He pats Quint on the shoulder while raves about the marvelous show. His face lights up as he speaks. Then Balian notices an unexpected guest behind the scenes. Field Marshal Cressida Kroft approaches fast, with a figure in a grey cloak by her side. The look on her face tells him she is not here to praise the actors. On the contrary, her eyes radiate anxiety. "We have to stop the show immediately," she pants, "Aisha Leroung is about to get murdered!"
"Slow down, Field Marshall Kroft, what is going on?" Mercival Jeggare wonders.
The cloaked figure removes her hood and the companions recognize Keppira d'Bear, high priestess of Pharasma. "I have just received word that Aisha is going to be killed. You must abort the show, now!" she answers. "Allow me to explain, you may remember that a young girl in the village of Sirathu recently started displaying the same talents as Saint Alika, the gift of Pharasma to see the future. I sent my right-hand man Jasan to the town to determine whether the girl really has the power of foresight.
Just now, during the show, Jasan magically sent me this message: New seer of Pharasma predicts doom. Alika will be murdered in the last scene by someone on stage to throw the city back into chaos. If anyone realizes that Pharasma's visions have to be taken seriously, it has to be you. I'm afraid we have to call off the show!"
Mercival Jeggare reacts furiously: "We can't stop the opera! We're a hit! We're finally uniting a divided city. Calling off the show now is as detriment to Korvosa as the predicted murder itself! If we give in to the powers that want to tear us apart, we will never rise from the chaos. The show must go on! We have Korvosa's heroes at our side. These young men will watch over Aisha and protect her if the need arises. How sure can we really be about your newly found oracle? Your right-hand man has not confirmed her gift yet, has he? Suppose he is wrong, then we will be the factor that sows new chaos. No, we're here to bring unity. The show will go on! And not only that, if we want to know who's trying to undermine the city, we have to catch him in the act. If not, we'll never find him. If we call off the opera now, we will never find out who threatens the peace. If you're serious about taking out the enemy, you have to know him first."
Kroft disagrees, but Jeggares stands by his decision and the companions take his side in the discussion. They will keep an eye out for trouble and interfere if something happens. "But", Jeggare insists, " if you have to act, try to do it in such a way that the opera can continue. Incorporate it into the story, just go with the flow. There's too much at stake." The Lord also advises Cressida Kroft to head to the queen's box and stand watch over her. "The heroes will hold the 'fort' down here", he assures her.
The second part of the opera feels totally different to the companions. The audience remains enthusiastic at Waydon Endrin's struggle between despair for losing his wife and hope that she may have survived as Alika has foreseen. Everyone screams with joy when the field marshal is finally reunited with his spouse. Meanwhile Quint and his friends are trying to figure out who the killer might be. The last scene has over thirty people playing dead on stage. Everyone of them could be it. But their prime suspects are Eric Brolan, the man who plays Death, and Aliëna Fochs, the angel who takes Alika to heaven. As Quint and Balian are both appearing in the current scene, they don't have time to look for those two actors, though.
The fourth act in the Shoanti camp also elicits a lot of reactions from the crowd. Some people boo the historic enemies of the city, but most spectators get carried away by the energy of the scene. Sjo makes an excellent debut as the Shoanti leader Garak and shows no signs of being distracted. Although the fourth act is the shortest one, being comprised of only one long song, it gives Quint and Balian a few minutes to look around. Balian spots Eric Brolan by the toilets, talking to some of the extra's. He is already cloaked in his death shroud, making it hard for the ranger to see if he's hiding anything underneath his clothes. There is no immediate sign of Aliëna Fochs.
Then it is time for the final, possibly fatal act. The companions are focused on every diversion from the original script, but with so many weapon-wielding actors about, it is hard to tell who's a real threat. Balian misses his one second of fame completely, blurting out "Flame!" instead of "Fire!". Meanwhile Shoanti warriors and Chelish soldiers clash against the flaming background of a fort on fire. Aisha is constantly in the thick of things, but she remains unharmed until Sjo has to 'kill' her in the show. The Shoanti makes sure to land at Aisha's side when he is defeated himself in combat, actually landing in the spot where Dario is supposed to kneel besides his slain love.
That is when the Grim Reaper arrives on stage. Balian and Sjo are among the many fallen on stage, while Quint, who had to flee the scene, is watching closely from the wings. Suddenly he spots a sword under the Reaper's death shroud. Puk sees it as well and readies himself to interfere. Quint returns to the stage, improvising a song that he has come back to fight off Death, rudely interrupting the Chelish diva Auralia Lazanne, who is singing her beautiful aria in the orchestra box. Fortunately the band members continue playing and to the unknowing spectator's eye, this all looks like part of the show. Quint quickly crosses the few steps to Brolan's side, just in time to intercept the short sword that he draws from under his cloak and knock it from his grasp, although the bard has to use his new spell timely inspiration to succeed. At the same time Puk jumps on his biggest drum, using it as a trampoline to leap on stage and stab the foul assassin in the back. Balian, who made sure to 'die' close to Alika as well, also rises and swipes his greatsword at Eric Brolan while the man draws another short sword. Sjo, who fell behind Alika, whispers the words of a shield of faith to protect the lead singer, but that does not prevent her from being wounded by a foul sword trust. Still, not being surprised by the attack, she avoids a ton of nasty sneak damage, which probably saves her life. Sjo urges the girl to stay calm when he notices fear slipping into her eyes. Quint, Balian and Puk press the attack, trying relatively successfully to blend their fighting into the show. Balian hammers the flat side of his blade against Brolan's head as Puk slips under the man's defenses again and delivers another bloody stab wound. While Sjo heals Aisha, further soothing her fears, the attacker goes down. Puk quickly regains his seat in the orchestra box and Quint nods to Auralia Lazanne, signaling her to pick up her aria again, while he and Balian retreat to allow the descending angel to take over and end the opera as intended. Although she is quite dazed by the experience, Aisha manages to pull herself together enough to play out Alika's part gracefully.
When the show is over the Marbledome booms with applause. While their fellow actors were surprised to see the strange course of action in the end, no one in the audience noticed anything out of the ordinary. Palastus shoots the companions an angry look before he steps on stage and invites his complete cast to bathe in the cheers of the spectators. Quint even keeps his promise to the gnome illusionist, making the director fart with ghost sound as he bows, although the loud crack gets completely lost in the crowd's cheers. When the curtains finally close, Palastus' happy face switches to thunder. "What in all the hells was that?" he shouts.
9 Sarenith 4708
The complete cast gathers early at the Marbledome for dress rehearsals in an atmosphere of nervous excitement. Touran Palastus is all wound up, but Quint and Sjo manage to calm him down. Just a bit though, since the director quickly falls into his role of grousing, with his assistant Leiny as the main focus of his wrath. Varric Bedan has to repeat his opening aria a couple of times before Palastus is satisfied. Fortunately the scene with Aisha Leroung, Diederik Lodann and Quint runs smoother, which finally relaxes the director enough to break the tension.
When act one is over, the actors witness the sleek scene change for the first time. Dargo the Hump pulls a couple of strings and the fort scenery gives way to an outdoor landscape. Act two works out great as well. Dario Darnas might be an ass, he does know how to put on a show. Even sour-faced Marco Ebhart puts down a decent Shoanti assassin and the gnome joker Lumenos summons the correct illusion for a change, heralding the surprise attack.
The third part advances more slowly again, as much more people are on stage and Palastus hands out numerous instructions to all involved. His nerves get the better of him once more, especially when he is not pleased with the visual effects of the storm that is summoned by Lumenos. Palastus calls for an overdue lunch break before exploding in a furious rage against the gnome, who actually did his best to leave his jokes behind and conjure the wanted effects. While everyone is eating, their argument continues in the background. Touran Palastus calls Lumenos a stubborn bastard who never does what he is told and annoys everyone with his childish pranks that no one enjoys. This is the most important production of the year, possibly of the decennium, and an off course stage hand is the last thing they need. Rimando throws his own insults in the mix, reproaching the director for being blind to change and experimentation. In the end the gnome simply states that, if he's not good enough, Palastus will have to do without him! Then he turns around to leave.
Quint hurries after the furious illusionist. Arguments that he actually likes the gnome's art cannot convince the angry little man to come back, at least not until Quint promises to conspire with him: they will ridicule Palastus tomorrow night at the end of the show. When the director will appear on stage to greet the audience, Quint will use ghost sound to make Palastus fart while he bows, at the same time Lumenos will conjure up a green cloud behind the man's behind.
The second part of the third act runs smoothly again. Even though Bedan's song is not entirely perfect, it is good enough to please Palastus, who is obviously worn out by the fight with Rimando Lumenos. The director regains his bearings in the next part, when he complains that the Shoanti dancers are not giving it their best shot. Marco Ebhart suggests giving them some pesh tomorrow to spice up their act. He even offers to bring some for Palastus, although he admits that cabble tea would be better ... to calm him down.
The rehearsals for the final act go well. By now the orchestra is all fired up and the musicians carry along the rest of the cast. When Dario Darnas finishes his love song, he kisses Aisha for real. Although she is not pleased with his underhand tricks, the actress tries not to show it. Balian is the only one who notices a flash of anger in her eyes. The illusions are a success as well, as is the whirling battle and the love triangle scene with Aisha, Dario and Quint. But the finale tops it all, just like two days ago Palastus is overjoyed. Before retiring for the night, the director addresses his cast briefly:
"My dear friends, you've all worked hard this week. It hasn't always been plain sailing, but I think we nailed it. Especially that final scene was bang on target! Let's hope tomorrow will be just as spectacular. Congratulations to you all!
Tomorrow's show starts at eight. That means you all have to be here at four, so we can start hair and make-up. Get a good night sleep and make sure you're well rested and full of energy. Tomorrow will see the most exquisite audience this theater has ever welcomed. All the noble houses will be here, so will be all other dignitaries and of course, the queen herself! Let's give them the show of a life-time. For how often do you get the chance to perform for royalty? Do it for Korvosa and for Saint Alika!"
When the companions get home to the villa, they are exhausted. The three ex-little lambs who are still living with them want a full report of the dress rehearsals. Mouse also mentions that he picked up new rumors about the king today at the baker's. It wasn't the queen who killed him, but the commander of her Gray Maidens, Sabina Merrin. People say she's in love with the queen and she couldn't bear the competition anymore.
Again Quint reprimands the boys for listening to gossip. When little Heldrin wonders how this Sabina Merrin killed the queen, Mouse cannot answer him. "I don't know, she probably stabbed him with her sword, you know, tssschuk and dead", he tries.
"Sure, with her sword, and it has taken so long for them to figure out that the king had a stab wound?" Korwick laughs.
"Whatever, I wasn't there", Mouse defends himself. "Maybe she did what Korwick said yesterday and pushed a pillow in his face."
When the discussion finally quiets down, Heldrin remembers something else. A letter arrived today, with a seal from the castle. He presents it to Balian. It reads:
"Loyal citizen of Korvosa
On Sunday the Twelfth of Sarenith Ileosa Arvanxi, widow of Eodred II, will solemnly swear allegiance to the laws of Korvosa, before being anointed and coronated with her late husband's crown. This ceremony is to take place on the terraces of Castle Korvosa, where all Korvosans may witness her oath.
You are invited to partake in the festivities. Please present yourselves at no later than 10 o'clock on the terraces of the Castle, bringing this letter. Afterwards you will join the banquet in the throne room.
Please dress appropriately."
Quint points out that it is customary to present the monarch with a gift at such an occasion. The companions start thinking about an appropriate present. They come up with an original idea, but they realize they will have to act quickly to get it ready in time. Fortunately they don't have to be at the Marble Dome until 4 o'clock.
I'm sad to hear you decided to stop writing the logs, but I do understand. They take a lot of time. I have always loved your journals, so thanks for the effort you put into those.
Also, I'm happy to see you're still around, I was already getting worried something had happened to you, since you hadn't posted in a while. Time constraints are something I am very familiar with. It isn't always easy to find a balance between the job, family life and the hobby. And since the last factor is the only one that is not 'necessary', it is the one that has to give in when the balance is lost. I can only hope that taking the pressure off by not writing the logs will give you enough breathing space to recharge the emotional battery. I also wish you a lot of (emotional) enjoyment of just being a player for a while.
Don't be a stranger and chime in form time to time. Some wise, kind or motivational words from Moonbeam always make my day :-)
First of all, nice to see another group starting this fantastic AP. Make sure to refer your GM to these boards for tons of inspiration. You should tread carefully here, because 'there be spoilers' in most threads.
Anyway, I like your background story very much. An original link to Lamm if ever I read one. I'm not really familiar with the summoner class, so I can't really comment on that. Also, I'm not a big fan of the motorcycle eidolonmobile. I would not allow that in my campaign, but I can still see the appeal if your GM and fellow players are okay with it.
Your party seems well balanced. Six players is a lot, though, so that will probably give your GM a bit more work. I wish you guys all the best. This AP is great!
Funny to see how there is material in a thread that I even didn't remember existed, called 'Conversions'. I closed it a long time ago and even though I check these boards very often, I never look at the conversion threads. So thanks for letting us know through a message here.
I had a quick glance at your conversions. Can you briefly walk us through your approach? How close do you stay to the original 3.5 NPCs? I did my own conversions for the campaign, but I move further from the 3.5 versions, e.g. I mostly use 20 point buy for NPCs (same as PCs) and I give them more HP as well (75 %, again same as PCs). This is one of the reasons I haven't posted any of these conversions here (the other being that I add a lot to the AP, which also adds a lot of NPCs).
The 'common' language spoken in Korvosa is the language from Cheliax, which actually is Taldan. A second language that many in the city speak is Varisian. Shoanti is a third possibility, not so much in the city, but it is an excellent choice for the adventure path.
So, if you already know common (Taldan) and Shoanti, Varisian is the obvious choice, as Lakeside said. A fourth good choice within the AP would indeed be Infernal, and given Korvosa's ties to Cheliax and its many imps and devil summoning wizards, you could possibly find a reason to have your PC know the language.
Halfling, Draconic, Dwarven could all make sense, as explained by Lakeside, but will not really serve you in the AP as written (I can't speak for your GM of course). The bard in my campaign is even picking up Vudran from one of the girls in the Eel's End brothel.
I did the Academy of Secrets during 7DttG, actually, and adapted it to my own campaign and changed the level so that it'd work with the characters.
I would worry slightly about the characters' level to win the Breaching Festival. Adapting the adventure to suit level 7, for example, would make it very hard to explain why no one has won it in 150 years. The adventure as written is meant for level 13, which suits this idea better.