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Sounds nice. How did your players enjoy the battle? Did the battle rules work well enough to have fun? Did your PCs also take an active role in the fight, as unit leaders or strategic generals or something? Did you use a map to indicate where each separate battle was being fought?
Nice turn of events with Brom Arvanxi, impatient little Chelaxian boy ... serves him right to be banished. And one more competitor out of the way :-)
The deal with Roderic is cool as well. I'm a bit confused as to why he doesn't get a vote himself after withdrawing from the race; he could have voted for the PCs too. By the way, Bloodsworn Vale is a good bargaining price to seal the deal. There is a module on it, which is too low in level for your players, but you could place a powerful dragon in it if you wanted your PCs to clear the valley for Roderic.
The companions decide to continue their search; with some luck they will run into the missing blacksmith on the way. Their next stop is the gallows. When they enter this cold and gloomy room with its large instrument of death, Puk's eyes turn white as a new vision washes over him. He finds himself swinging from the end of a rope again. Most of the onlookers are laughing and cheering as he is desperately trying to draw breath, others seem sad or shocked, but only one man has a satisfied, almost relieved look on his face. He is a handsome fellow with blond locks and piercing blue eyes. His fingers run across a fresh, thin scar on his lower left cheek. The halfling shares his new insight with his friends, wondering who the blond-haired person is. Could it be the cleric of Sarenrae who entered the courthouse one year after Mord's death and who never came out? He was said to be good-looking and cradled a burst of golden manes. Still, if he had anything to do with Mord's murder, why hadn't the curse ended when he perished nine years ago? Zenobia Zenderholm cannot really place the blond man either, so his identity remains a mystery for now.
Zenobia leads her protectors to another room which she identifies as the executioner's preparation room. Mord used to come here to ready himself before delivering justice. The windowless chamber only contains a small table, a stool and a chest. A black hood hangs from a hook on the wall, a length of rope coiled on the floor beneath. The chest holds an unopened bottle of Chelaxian Daemon-Spirit, which is just over 25 years old. The strong whiskey must be worth at least 150 gold sails, Balian says.
The far corner of the courthouse holds the cell block. In the lane between the cells lies a headless skeleton, obviously all that remains of the wizardess Sashrala. This time it is Sjo's turn to go through another flash back. Again he holds Sashrala's severed head in his blood-covered hands. He notices a shadow on the wall and suddenly feels a cold hand grasping his throat. Its iron fingers start crushing his neck. White spots dance before his eyes and then everything goes black before the Shoanti returns to the present. As he tries to shake off the disturbing aftereffects of this unnerving mind trip, Balian and Quint discover Hal in the last prison cell. The burly man is sitting on the floor, gently rocking to and fro with his back to the onlookers. In front of him is the jar that held his toes, its fluid spilled over the floor. Gazing over his shoulder they are horrified to see he has tried to reattach his pickled toes to his foot. The rot from his putrefied digits has already spread over his stomp. When he turns around the real horror becomes clear: the blacksmith has turned into a gangrenous ghoul. He sinks his teeth into Balian's neck, but the ranger fights off the paralyzing effect of this bite and chops his greatsword in the undead's body in return. Puk quickly finishes the job with his flashing short swords
The cell opposite Hal's turns out to the brig where Mord spent his final days. The executioner used a piece of rock to scratch a message in the wall: "I served as an angel of death my entire life. I shall have my own justice, even if it be in death. Sveth, my only friend, you will find this when you clean the cell. You are my avenging angel now. Bring these liars and fools back to me after I swing, so that I may have my peace. Ten years to the day, then they will pay. When the true murderer of my beloved Malene and my boy Gabe swings from the gallows as I did, on the tenth anniversary of my hanging, then at long last I shall be free. J.M."
Zenobia identifies Sveth as the son of the cleaning lady who served in the courthouse. The young man was indeed friends with Mord and his family. Quint connects the dots and says it is probably this Sveth guy who jumped lady Zenderholm in the streets of Korvosa and gave her the message to come here tonight. The judge nods in agreement.
One more room remains in this part of the building, the torture room. Brutal machines to coax confessions from the accused fill this mournful chamber. A flaying rack rests against the far wall, an iron maiden stands in one corner. Next to it sits a restraining chair adorned with all manner of crushing vices and punishing screws. Suddenly the spirit of a small boy rushes out of thin air, trying to push Sjo into the chair, but when his attempt fails the translucent figure disappears again, leaving no proof of his existence. Using a detect magic spell Quint sees a faint outline of magic appearing through the cracks of the iron maiden. As Sjo pulls free the lid he stands eye to eye with the dried corpse of Kelgaard, the blond priest of Sarenrae who was one of the adventurers that invaded the place one year after Mord's death. The undead horror emerges and uses his paralyzing touch to freeze the Shoanti in place while tearing through his flesh. Balian and Puk jump to the rescue and make short work of the former priest of Sarenrae. He drops to the floor with a loud bang as the weight of his full plate hits the stone tiles. The magic Quint saw a few moments earlier seems to emanate from this piece of armor. Sjo wipes it clean of the worst muck and sees the chest is decorated with a radiant image of the sun goddess. Quint cleans the armor properly with a prestidigitation, allowing Sjo to admire the true beauty of this full plate. Although the Shoanti's free spirit was too fierce to be tamed by the lore of just one god, he does feel a close connection to the Dawnflower and her power over fire, so he is proud to don the armor that bears her resemblance.
Quint realizes that no one has ever found a shorter path to revenge. He has only just learned that his mother was murdered by the key-lock killer and already he faces the culprit, albeit in undead form. Determined to end the miserable creature once and for all, the bard spins into the room. His friends join him - with Puk finishing off a first of the four zombies - but are then overcome by a sense of dread emanating from the horrible serial-killer. They immediately flee the morgue, making their way up, leaving the bard alone, surrounded by four undead. Although his raging heart withstands the key-lock killer's aura of fear, Quint sees and feels the precariousness of the situation as his mother's murderer viciously cuts through his flesh with a clawed hand. The dashing comedian strategically retreats, but suffers another grievous wound, leaving him just breaths away from the grave himself. Fortunately the walking dead don't follow the heroes upstairs, so they have a moment to regroup, heal and wait for Puk, who ran all the way to the great hall before coming to his senses.
Sjo informs his friends that the four undead who crawled out of the compartments in the wall are zombies, who can be damaged with slashing weapons like Balian's and Puk's blades, but have a certain amount of resistance to his blunt morning star or Quint's piercing rapier. The key-lock killer is something different though. While the Shoanti can't put a name on it, he understands that the undead's physique is probably vulnerable to bludgeoning weapons and magic. He enchants Balian's greatsword with a magic weapon for this purpose.
The companions make their way down once more. Puk quickly puts down a second zombie in the hallway and this time only Balian falls victim to the key-lock killer's fearful aura. While the ranger flees upstairs again, the halfling continues his zombie slaying spree. Sjo uses his healing magic to burn the key-lock killer, but it is Quint's rapier that runs the poor wretch through, setting him free for his journey to a probably very unpleasant afterlife. As the undead abomination falls down, he whispers: "Forgive me."
The halfling, Shoanti and the bard search the room, but find nothing more than bones and decayed corpses, before they realize that the ranger still hasn't returned from his second retreat upstairs. As they make their way back to the great hall, they find their friend locked in conversation with the former jurors. The sound of running and the cries of fear alarmed them, so they came out to find out what was going on. The dwarf Tablark Hammergrind tells his fellows not to worry, but Patrissa feels safer staying with the heroes.
There is one more room that connects to the great hall that the companions haven't examined yet. Zenobia tells them it is the jury deliberation chamber. It contains a large table and a dozen rickety chairs. Quint's keen eyes spot some words carved in the side of the table: "Who's laughing now, Mord? E.B." How typical, the stupid jester Ebin Bazel thought it was funny to convict someone to the gallows, did he? As the bard grunts with frustration, screams erupt from the hall. Hammergrind's voice loses its steely resolve as the dwarf sighs in total fright: "It ... it's him ... the croaker has come for us ..."
The grizzled old miner drops to his knees as the companions rush to his side and notice a lumbering shadow at the top of the stairs. The thing's head jerks obscenely to one side atop a broken neck. Its face is covered in a rotten death shroud, a milky eye peering through one hole and its black teeth visible through another rent in the fabric. A horrid rasp of air croaks out pain and misery from the thing's crushed throat. The dwarf moans like a tortured animal and Quint is horrified to see that he is clawing at his own eyes. The bard grabs the old miner and tries to restrain him from hurting himself, but the frightened man struggles like a rabid dog and gives Quint a head but square in the nose. As the bard abandons the grapple his friends surround the panicked dwarf and try to knock him out, but he slips under their attacks and turns around to flee. Blinded by the blood Hammergrind can't see where he's going and slams into the huge chandelier lying in the ground. Losing his balance the dwarf trips. Blood spatters as the unfortunate creature impales his head on one of the candle spikes. His brain has been run through ...
Meanwhile Sir Rekkart Cole charges up the stairs and swings at the hulking headman with his own executioner's axe. "May the might of Abadar strike you down!" As he connects with the dark form his weapon hits nothing but air, revealing the shadow to be a mere illusion. Stupefied he returns to the others to calm down lady Patrissa, who is still trembling. Sjo and Balian pull the skewered dwarf from the chandelier and place his body in the deliberation room. When they come out, Madge suddenly notices that Hal Five-Toes is missing. He must have run off during the chaos and panic. But where did he go?
I've ordered two batches of singles from US based sellers on e-bay recently and ended up paying a ridiculous amount to Belgian customs and taxes (about 50 % of what I paid, and yes, they charge you on the total sum, which includes shipping).
There are some EU sellers on e-bay as well, at least one in the UK and one in France, but they usually don't get their stock until later, so if you miss their new batch, you risk missing out on some of the rarer or more popular mini's. By then it is usually harder to find them for a decent price in the US as well and shipping costs make it unwise to order just one or two mini's from over the Atlantic. So you have two choices, wait for the EU sellers to get their products in and risk missing out on some of the figs you want or buy them in the US and pay a huge amount to your government (I feel inclined to use some bad language here, but I won't because of messageboard etiquette, not out of respect for my country in this issue).
I'd certainly be interested in learning where to get single mini's in the EU for a decent price.
Well, this brings back memories ... I played a paladin once in the classic 'Feast of Goblyns' adventure. He swore to protect and help a damsel in distress, but when the party found out she was evil (this being Ravenloft and all) he had to oppose her. The DM 'rewarded' my roleplaying by stripping my character of his paladin powers, so all I had left was a bad and very underpowered fighter.
Don't punish your player for good roleplaying; swearing an oath of obedience to his queen who needs his help is very much in character. If she turns out to be evil, he should feel conflicted about it, but he should not be punished in gaming terms. You could even build in a scene in your story in which the character's deity gives him a sign that he is no longer supposed/allowed to serve Ileosa (maybe you could work it into the third Harrow reading, if you haven't done that yet). On the contrary, he is now instructed by his god to stop the evil queen.
Remember that roleplaying games are about fun. Don't spoil your player's game night by punishing him for being misled, not when you were the one who was willingly and knowingly misleading him in the first place.
Amber Scott wrote:
Your second sentence (“Its dark matriarch…”) is too long. I appreciate a compound sentence as much as the next judge, but when you put too much information into one sentence you risk losing its meaning.
I don't know if I'm speaking for myself, for other non-native speakers as well or even for some native speakers, but I find your language quite hard to read. I don't mind rereading a sentence now and then, but when I have to do it too often, I lose interest. Both the construction of your sentences and your choice of words makes your language difficult. I love it when you use some fancy words here or there, but too much of a good thing is not a good thing anymore.
I'm sorry to say that I didn't completely read your proposal because of this. I wish you the best of luck in this competition, but unfortunately I won't be voting for you. If you do win, I hope you write the adventure in an easier-to-read language.
Jim Groves wrote:
Nope, you're not alone at all. Count me in as being interested.
Akavar Whisperquill wrote:
Lol, funny how two simple words like "It worked" can put a smile on your face. I really feel your journal has become more fun to read again over the last couple of months, as if you've gained more inspiration or pleasure to write.
I also liked seeing Ambrose Kroop again. Ever since I bought his miniature from the Pathfinder Battles line I've had a soft spot for the man.
Since Arkona is known as a bit of a do-gooder in Old Korvosa (he provides cheap lodging for the poor), you might have him receive his guests after all and explain that he only wanted to help the famished citizens by providing free food. Of course he was oblivious to the Hammer Boys scheme and thanks the PCs for taking care of their operation. Still, he wants to continue his aid to the hungry Korvosans and might even enlist the PCs' aid for a new plan (you could have your players come up with suggestions of their own).
An early cooperation with Arkona at this stager of the game will only make "Escape from Old Korvosa" more interesting. Arkona is a very smart man and he is a master at seeming to be something that he's not.
The following contains spoilers for Unfamiliar Grounds by Christopher West and published in Dungeon 121.
Actually it was 119, but who's counting?So, you've got your PCs eating goblin now? I hope he at least had some flesh around his bones. Probably tastes like frog legs ... I don't know if you play with minis, but if you do, I can certainly see the appeal of playing this adventure. DND goblins weren't very attractive, but Pathfinder goblins absolutely ROCK! I'd be thrilled just placing the figs in the table ...
Still, it must have been a hell of a fight: your PCs had not found a chance to rest yet, they were ill-equipped and they were already running away from a near-lethal encounter. Again you have three PCs in their negatives, ouch! Fights on the edge are always very exciting, but I bet your players are craving an easy victory by now.
I admitted that it wasn't the best of motivations. In my campaign I won't use the Rakshasas at all, just because this is too big a secret. The PCs will want to kill the Arkonas for being monsters and the Arkonas will want to get rid of the PCs because they know their secret.
My approach is to have Glorio be a master manipulator, who wants the PCs to work with (or even better 'for') him. If I make him a rakshasa, that will only be in the way of this plan. So I will actually go for Tel's suggestion to have Arkona try to broker a peace with the PCs.
Still, when I get into the logic of the adventure as written, I feel that the Arkonas will probably fight to the death to protect their secret. Of course their secret will be out if they die, but at least they died trying to protect it.
A little bit of research reveals a red dragon in the proximity of Korvosa from the Golariopedia):
"Glarataxus is a red dragon who has periodically plagued the towns and settlements near the Varisian city of Korvosa since 4569 AR. Absent for years, he will suddenly lay waste to a community with no perceivable reason and disappear just as quickly. His most recent attacks were on the communities of Veldraine, Korvosa, and Palin's Cove in 4674 AR. Attempts to negotiate with and appease the dragon have always failed, but this may be explained by a recent revelation: Glarataxus is deaf."
The dragon is also mentioned a handful of times in the timeline at the end the Guide to Korvosa.
Wow, that's a pretty creepy revelation for Quint's origin. It's a good thing he didn't become a serial killer himself... though adventurers do tend to do a lot of killing as part of their daily routine... :)
Well, as a matter of fact, I've never played in a campaign that left so many adversaries alive. It's a nice change of pace.
Erik Mona wrote:
This is a really, really weird Adventure Path filled with cat people and Russian soldiers. While figures of those characters are cool and enhance the Adventure Path, they are WAY off the beaten path, and most gamers no playing Reign of Winter are not going to want tons and tons of them.
This is exactly what I was afraid of when I first learned that Reign of Winter was the next mini set, that it would be too specific with figs that would have little value outside of this AP. So far I couldn't have been more wrong. I absolutely love this minis that have been previewed as most of them seem quite generic. On top of that, they look absolutely great. Keep it coming!
It turns out the old courthouse actually had a small cellar, where the archives were kept. While judge Zenderholm leads the jurors to the courtroom near the front door, the companions head into the basement. The record room is submerged in fetid water. Row upon row of bookshelves hold thousands of old court documents. There is a nasty smell of rot and mold in the air. The archives are filed chronologically. The most recent case discusses the key-lock killer. There are no records on the Jarbin Mord trial, though. Quint starts reading through the files on Korvosa's notorious serial-killer. The key-lock killer was a man called Bornan Ragus, a soldier in the Korvosan Guard. Some of his colleagues testified at his trial, describing him as a loner and a self-mutilating creep with a strange fondness for blood.
He committed his first three murders in 4690, gaining the nickname of the key-lock killer because he murdered his victims behind locked doors, making it seem as if he had come in through the keyhole. His first victim was a prostitute, Leana Castel. The files on her murder state that her killer got into her room and butchered her in a way that would become his trademark, by cutting her to little pieces. Apparently there was a witness to the murder, because a little baby was lying in a cradle next to the bed where his mother was cut up. Quint wonders whether this might have been Madge Blossomheart, but the records say that the child's name was unknown. The baby did have a distinctive feature, though, a birthmark on his shoulder in the shape of a scorpion.
Quint is suddenly lost for breath. Shocked he rereads the words: "a birthmark in the shape of a scorpion"! Quint's hand slides to his shoulder where he sports the mark described in the files, a curled-up scorpion, the spot Gaedran Lamm used to refer to as the devil's touch. 4690, that is 18 years ago, so that checks out. This Leana Castel was his mother? And the key-lock killer murdered her? The bard quickly resumes reading. The child was taken by a soldier from the Korvosan guard, a man named Nimor Seelen, who took it to the orphanage. While Quint takes a moment to process this information, his friends leaf through the rest of the key-lock killer's case. The man continued his crimes, killing more beautiful young women in the confines of their own rooms, getting more productive over the years: three victims in 4690, 4691 and 4691, one more in the two following years, then five, then six, amounting to nine in 4697. He committed his last murder in 4698, when he was caught in the act and arrested.
He used a magic bell to open the doors to his victims' rooms and close them again when he was done. Bornan Ragus appeared before court later that year where he was prosecuted by Lady Zenobia Zenderholm, who wasn't a judge yet in those days. He was condemned to hang by a jury under the supervision of judge Rayndros Felgor, the man who was strangled in his own office ten years ago. Jarbin Mord executed the sentence, his last hanging safe for his own.
While the companions leaf through the rest of the files, Puk, who is a bit too short to reach the higher shelves, examines the lower ledges. He finds the key-lock killer's bell, a small magic device that resembles a chime of opening. Ringing the bell opens a locked door once per day. Ringing it again closes that same door.
Jarbin Mord's name turns up again and again in the records. Each time someone was condemned to death, Mord carried out the sentence, mostly by hanging them, in a few rare cases by beheading them. One more file draws the companions' interest: the case of Daben Blossomheart, who was condemned for robbing a diplomat and stabbing him to death in 4693. He was hanged for his crime by Jarbin Mord. If he was Madge Blossomheart's father, it would explain why the street performer wanted Mord dead. She must have been twelve or thirteen at the time her father was executed, still a child. Five years later she would get a shot at revenge when she was chosen to sit in Jarbin Mord's jury. The record room reveals no more useful information, so the companions turn their attention to the other door in the basement.
It leads to the morgue: a cold room with rows of small steel doors in the walls. One body lies on a stone table. The corpse twists and slowly rises, while four more zombies climb out of the compartments in the walls. When the first corpse glares at Quint, it groans: "Leana's boy, so you have finally found me. Have you come seeking vengeance? Destroy me and put me out of my misery ... I beg you!"
A few breaths later the doors fall open to reveal a large room. Malgar's corpse hangs from the rafters at the end of his spiked chain, a pool of blood on the floor beneath his swinging boots. From the looks of it this space used to be a lounge with comfortable couches and a mahogany table, all covered in a thick layer of dust. Several portraits line the walls, each obscured with a sheet of cobwebs. There is a cabinet in the corner with a few bottles and glasses perched atop it.
Sjo contacts Zellara's spirit through the Harrow deck. The gypsy soothsayer confirms that this place is haunted. There are spirits here that do not sleep. They are out for revenge!
Feeling it is time to confront the other jurors, Sjo summons everyone to the lounge. He wants to know what is going on. The jurors had better tell the truth lest they end up like Malgar Hurkes! Sjo stares down the former members of Mord's jury one by one. Hal Five-Toes starts shifting nervously, his breathing is irregular and fear speaks from his eyes.
"Speak up, man!" Sjo pushes him.
The limping blacksmith raises his hand and points at Malgar's swinging corpse: "He ... he made me! He forced me to find Mord guilty ... cut off my toes, he did, and still I refused to give in."
"So he paid you, did he?" Sjo sighs.
"How dare you say that! I would never ... no. He went after my children, is what he did. Kidnapped them and threatened to kill them if I didn't do what he said. I had no choice. But now ... the croaker will be after me. I wronged him, he'll want revenge, oh no."
"Hmm, does anyone else have anything to confess? Now's the time!" Sjo shouts to the rest. He steps up to Patrissa Vrakes, the voluptuous woman in the red silk gown. "I only did what I believed to be right", she claims while fondling nervously with her necklace. "I genuinely thought he was guilty, all the evidence certainly pointed in that direction. If I was wrong, I didn't know it. I do not deserve to die for that!"
"Were you forced or did anyone pay you?" Sjo pushes on.
"That will suffice!" sir Rekkart Cole interferes. "The man was clearly guilty! If he's out for revenge, it is because he was evil at heart, not because we were wrong! And leave this woman alone, she's been through enough tonight already!"
"So you claim to be honest, do you?" Quint asks.
"Well excuse ME, young man, I'm not sure you know how paladinhood works. We cannot cheat, we must always abide by the truth and the law, if not, we lose our powers! Which I never did, so my conscience is clear!" sir Cole retorts.
"I guess he is right," Zenobia Zenderholm confirms, "I've never known him to have fallen from Abadar's grace."
The next to suffer Sjo's scrutiny is Tablark the dwarf, but the ex-miner denies the accusations, declaring that Jarbin Mord was "nuthing but a filthy child-murderer and wife-killer! Hanging was too good for the likes of him. Should have let me give 'm a taste of dwarven justice, with the same axe he used to butcher his loved ones, you hear!"
Then Quint looks Ebin Bazel straight into the eyes. The failed jester clearly gets uncomfortable as droplets of sweat draw lines in his white make-up. "Well, we all know who is next, don't we?" Quint spooks him. "I wasn't forced or bribed, I wasn't!" Bazel defends himself. "Maybe you weren't," Quint insists, "but there was something, wasn't there?"
"Let's be clear, there was enough evidence, the man was guilty ... but, yeah, I didn't like him. It's true. He embarrassed me once in a pub ... can you imagine. They said that even 'death' was funnier than me. A stupid, ugly moron he was, this Mord guy, and he upstaged me! They laughed and clapped at what he said ... and he wasn't even trying to be funny! They threw me out in the street, knocking out this tooth right here", Ebin lisps, pointing at one of the black holes in his mouth. "But he was guilty and I voted to have him killed! I'm not sorry I did. He deserved it, mister hilarious hangman!"
"Yeah," Quint grunts, "Croaker's gonna get you next!"
Sjo turns his attention to Madge Blossomheart, encouraging her to open her heart. The young acrobat stares back at him with her big green eyes and her innocent face. "I didn't do anything wrong. Mord was a cold-hearted killer. He deserved to die." When she speaks those final words, Quint notices a mean little twitch in her face, if only for a split second.
"And that leaves you, Paltreth", Quint says, facing the mustached man. "What were your motives for convicting the executioner?"
"I don't know ... I was pretty sure Mord did it. But there was some doubt in my mind, I'll admit. Still, the others all were convinced, so I just followed them. It had to be a unanimous vote, you know." The man straightens his worn-down jacket and pulls out a bottle of liquor, taking a sip, before calming down.
"That's easy for you to say now," sir Rekkart Cole snarls, "I didn't hear you protest back then ..."
"You're right, maybe I should have", Paltreth confesses.
"OH, MY GODS! It can't be!" Hal Five-Toes is standing by the cabinet in the corner. His whole body is quaking. When he turns around, he's staring at a glass jar in his hands with a look of utter disbelief in his gaze. Inside the jug some indistinct forms are floating in a semi-transparent liquid. "It's ... it's ... my toes. How did they get here? My toes."
"Looks like pay-back is a b&@%*", Quint coldly establishes. "The croaker wants to punish you all! You'd better fess up if you want him to stop."
"I can't believe you, you are so misguided", is sir Rekkart Cole's response. "There is the man who was responsible for what happened in his courtroom!" The paladin points at a painting on the wall, although the many cobwebs make it impossible to tell who's on it. Quint whispers a prestidigitation to clear away the webbing. When he recognizes judge Silman Trabe's face from his vision, he is suddenly pulled back into his daydream.
The stocky magistrate coughs and stands up, facing the culprit: "Jarbin Mord, for the brutal and savage slaying of your wife and six-year-old boy, it is the verdict of this jury - with which I concur wholeheartedly - that you shall hang by your neck until dead. May the gods take mercy on your blackened soul." Silence falls over the courtroom in the wake of this pronouncement of doom. The faces of the assembled crowd grow solemn as everyone feels the finality of the sentence, but there are a few exceptions. Three jurors show a schmuck grin on their face: Malgar Hurkes, Ebin Bazel and Madge Blossomheart.
The vision takes but a few seconds. Then Quint turns to the jury members again, staring down each of them. "I know who you are", he whispers, allowing both the incompetent jester and the lithe acrobat a slightly longer look. There is a curt hint of fear in Madge Blossomheart's glance, but the experienced street performer quickly regains her bearings.
"Anyway, if you don't want to die, you'd better stick with us", Sjo orders the self-conscious jurors. "On the other hand", Zenobia Zenderholm disagrees," wouldn't it be better to stay together in a safe room, instead of wondering around this place. Who knows what else we might run into?"
"Maybe you're right, lady Zenderholm", Quint concurs. "Take these people to the courtroom where we found them. They'll be safest there. Here, take Spyder with you, while we try to find out more about this place and the mysteries it harbors. But let's be methodical about it. Let us start at the bottom and make our way up. Is there a cellar?"
Since there is no obvious way out, the companions decide to search the old courthouse. The next door in the great hall leads to the luxurious quarters of a former judge, Rayndros Felgor. There is marble on the walls and a mangy polar bear-skin rug on the floor. Behind an ornate darkwood desk with motifs of cherubs and vipers rests a skeleton in judge's regalia. His white beard still clings to his jaw and falls upon a rusted iron spiked chain which has been twisted around his neck. It looks like the judge was strangled. Zenobia Zenderholm confirms that Felgor disappeared around the time that the old courthouse was abandoned. At the dead lawman's feet is another skeleton, a large dog with a few broken ribs and a cracked skull. The animal bones come to life when Sjo steps into the room, but the undead hound is no match for Balian's blade.
Inside the desk are three vials with magical liquid, potions of lesser restoration, bear's endurance and cure moderate wounds. There is also a note on the table. It reads:
Most honorable colleague Zenderholm,
It is with great remorse that I script this. The chaos of our time has eaten many innocent souls, but this one was lost not to catastrophe, but to an evil deed of injustice. Lies have killed a man this morning and I for my part did nothing to stop it. My esteemed colleague Silman Trabe knowingly sent an innocent man to the gallows, as I stood silently. I only hope that Jarbin Mord's soul may find some rest if the truth comes out.
So judge Felgor knew that Jarbin Mord was innocent and he was murdered for it ... while Silman Trabe, the judge who presided over Mord's case, knew the truth as well. According to Zenobia Zenderholm judge Trabe is still alive. His office used to be across the hall, so that is the next room the companions search. Silman's chambers are much simpler than Felgor's. There only is a plain oak desk and some shelves containing voluminous texts on Korvosan and Chelaxian law. When Balian enters the room, the spirit of a small fair-haired boy appears out of thin air and hurls one of the books at the urban ranger. The hefty tome misses its target and falls on the floor while the ghost fades away to nothing. Quint picks up the book, which is entitled Punish the guilty. It fell open to a passage that reads:
We, entrusted with justice, must prove to be above reproach. Those who fail to serve justice blindly shall reap what they sow.
While the companions search the rest of the room, Malgar Hurkes, the thug, claims the spiked chain from around the skeleton's neck in the office across the hall. It looks like he has some skill with the weapon as he swirls both ends through the air to get rid of the rust flakes. The man has no time to waste with silly ghost stories. He already tried bashing through the front door with a heavy stone, but to no avail. Now he makes his way up the grand stairs at the end of the hall to knock out a window, only to find the glass hard as steel. He opens the double doors to the first floor and walks through them. With a loud BANG the doors slam shut behind him. Malgar starts screaming, as Quint and his friends run up the stairs. From behind the doors they hear Malgar's frantic cries: "No! Get away from me! You're dead! I saw you swing! Nooo!" The jangling of a chain and wet gurgling follow. Then all goes silent.
If you get an email address, I'll mail the notes to you.
So, Falco's not a fraud, but he's still douchebag. If he was such a sucker for the law in the past, when his aid was required, he should realize that no charter or law in Korvosa supports his claim now.
The PCs should have a fun time trying to win the throne, especially if the competition tries to bribe, blackmail or enchant the council members. I'll do something similar with Glorio Arkona ...
PS: What did you do with the Shoanti threat? Unless your PCs managed to stop their war plans, the Shoanti should be marching on Korvosa by now.
Nice, I'd favor Rodric or Kassius. Legally Rodric Arabasti probably has the best chances, especially considering the lawful nature of Korvosa and the precedent of Queen Domina. I don't trust this Falco Korva guy, though, he must be a cheat! Are any of the PCs interested in the throne as well?
Again, if you want my kingdom builder drafts, let me know.
I've made a rough draft of what Korvosan economy would look like, using the Kingdom builder spreadsheet from this thread. I also made a rough map of the city state of Korvosa, dividing it in 160 12 mile hexes. I didn't give it a second look since my first attempt, though, so it needs to be checked and finetuned. Still, if you're interested, I'd be happy to mail it to you, just give me an e-mail address.
I already planned an extra adventure after this AP which will center around the election of a new king. I gave an outline of that scenario here, just click on 'long live the king'. Maybe you can find some inspiration there as well.
Let us know what you do to continue the campaign. My group is still in the first installment, but I like to plan ahead. If you're interested, you can read about our adventures in my campaign journal.
The doors behind them are now shut tight and won't budge. Another door to the right stands slightly ajar and suddenly reveals the groans of several people. As Balian pushes the door open, he discovers one of the old courtrooms. Eight people are spread over the jurors' box. They look disoriented as they wake up from unconsciousness. Fear grips them while they realize where they are and who they are with.
Sjo quickly takes in the rest of the room. Two sturdy tables are on a platform on the far side of the room, in front are benches for spectators, an evidence table which still holds a large axe rests against the left wall and the jurors' seats are located to the right. A shadowed mural decorates the ceiling above. It depicts the goddess of justice Iomedae in her shining plate mail of gilded sunlight, locked in mortal combat with Norgorber, Calistria and Asmodeus, the gods of greed, trickery and tyranny.
Quint hails the strangers, who he recognizes as the jury from his vision. These are the people who condemned Jarbin Mord to death a decade ago. Zenobia Zenderholm is familiar with one of these men as well, a paladin of Abadar whose name is sir Rekkart Cole. Being a priestess of the god of civilization herself, judge Zenderholm has known this man for many years. Sir Cole still stands tall in his chainmail armor and blue Abadarean tunic, although the snow in his hair betrays that he must be in his fifties. His narrowed eyes look down an impressive nose that resembles an eagle's beak. Cole is already comforting one of his fellow jurors, a blond-haired woman with vibrant red lipstick and an abundance of rouge to add to her appeal. She wears a figure-hugging gown of red silk that accentuates her considerable curves, as she is a bit overweight, but she carries it well. Her name is Patrissa Vrakes and she looks quite worried.
A burly man with broad shoulders and a leather apron comes over to introduce himself, walking with a slight limp. He says his name is Hal, but Patrissa whispers into Quint's ear that people call him Five-Toes, because he's missing all of his toes on one foot. Hal is followed by an older gentleman dressed in a worn suit and a tattered top hat. He has a white broad handlebar moustache and sports a monocle. His eyes look dull and grim when he informs the companions that his name is Killian Paltreth.
Quint is not pleased when he notices that one of the eight people in the room is Ebin Bazel. This desperate jester, whose ill attempts at jokes only invite beatings and scorn, is a failed colleagues of the bard in the circles of stand-up comedians. His yellow-tinged skin is covered in poor-quality white make-up that cakes unseemly on his brow and cheeks. He wears a scruffy jester costume over his wiry limbs and has several broken or missing teeth in his mouth, proof of close encounters with unamused patron's fists. Quint knows the fool as a most unpleasant type. The woman on the bench behind the jester is another artist, although she specializes in completely different skills than Ebin Bazel. She doesn't look a day older than thirty, so she must have been quite young when the Mord trial took place. She has a pretty face and her athletic build and tight-fitting clothes hint at her profession: a Varisian acrobat performer. Her bright blue eyes shine innocently when she reveals her name: Madge Blossomheart.
Two men remain; the first is a short-framed but muscular macho in leather armor, who fails to introduce himself. He has a glare of distrust and annoyance in his green eyes. Balian has heard of him before, a local thug and small-time gang leader, Malgar Hurkes, who has a reputation for strangling his enemies. The only non-human in the company is a gray-bearded dwarf by the name of Tablark Hammergrind. The grizzled old Janderhoff miner looks undaunted by the situation and offers his partners in misfortune a broad comforting smile.
While everyone is getting to know each other, a large piece of plaster breaks free from the mural in the ceiling with a loud crack. The heavy chunk of debris falls onto the evidence table and sends the double axe which lies on it spinning through the room. The weapon sinks solidly into Balian's shoulder. Sir Rekkart Cole rushes to his side and when he sees that the ranger survived the impact, he pulls the axe out of his shoulder. Quint uses the wand of cure light wounds to heal his friend while Cole hangs on to the axe as his sword seems to be missing from his scabbard. Everyone now moves to the front door to see if they can get out.
The dwarf Tablark joins Quint to examine whether a mechanism is holding the doors shut, but he cannot find anything. Quint also fails to find traces of magic around the entrance. Meanwhile Sjo wanders deeper into the hall and discovers an impressively large grandfather clock against the center of the left wall. The carvings show guilty souls suffering Asmodeus' torments. Zenobia Zenderholm does not remember the clock being so big and containing such elaborate infernal detail. The wooden figures seem almost alive.
Sir Rekkart Cole and his blond friend Patrissa Vrakes venture into the second courtroom, the one opposite the first. While they are in there Patrissa suddenly shrieks in fear. The companions rush to her aid and find her and the paladin beset by an immense swarm of undead carrion birds. The ghoulish birds of prey peck at their flesh to satisfy their morbid hunger. Balian swings his greatsword in great arcs through the murder of undead crows. Feathers, bones and rotten flesh fall on the ground at his feet. Quint tries to skewers as many fluttering pests as possible on his rapier while Puk's tiny swords and Sir Cole's axe make more victims. It doesn't take long for the heroes to disperse the swarm and send the surviving birds into hiding in the nooks and crannies that line the walls. This courtroom looks much worse than the first; its furniture is in shambles, the ceiling looks is full of cracks and holes and the windows are crisscrossed with heavy boards. Where nails breach the plaster around the windows, rust stains seep like bloody wounds from the walls. Quint uses the wand to patch up his allies who sustained some minor wounds from the storm of tiny beaks and claws. Everyone is still alive, but the bard can't help but wonder about how strange it all is: no mechanisms, no magic. This shouldn't be possible. They could be in here for a long night!
The judge and her protectors make their way across the city. Rain is still pouring down and they are completely soaked when they reach their destination. A leaning monument to the landslide, the old courthouse is a crumbling marvel of cracked plaster and chipped marble. What used to be a shining white beacon of justice turned into a crushed dream. Rainwater mixed with mulch oozes from ruptures in the walls like puss seeping from a wound. The bell tower tilts perilously as if it could collapse at any moment. Two massive pillars frame the double doors in the front. The wooden panles in the archway sags like the drooping eyes of a madman.
The salt wind blows up from over the sea, making the whole building groan, its tortured lamentation fading into a rasping hiss as the wind ebbs. Still, the croaking murmur never seems to fade away completely. The sun sets over the water, the last slivers of twilight painting the courthouse blood red as darkness creeps in.
Examining the mud in front of the entrance Balian makes out several tracks leading into the building. The sagging doors open with surprising ease. Puk's lantern and Quint's light spell reveal part of a great hall supported by enormous marble pillars. Years of dust cover the floor. A moan builds up from the darkness ahead as a sudden gust of wind slams shut the doors behind the heroes' back. The hoarse sigh swells to become a deafening scream, forcing the companions to cover their ears. Darkness overtakes them ...
Quint suddenly finds himself in a courtroom, abuzz with nervous anticipation. Dozens of eyes from the crowd behind him and from the jurors' box across the aisle focus on him. Their expressions range from contempt to pity. A magistrate slams down his gavel, snarling for silence. The murmur quiets down as the stocky magistrate draws up to his full height, smoothing his silver moustache with his left hand. He sets down his gavel and focuses on Quint with his shining green eyes: "Jarbin Mord, for the brutal and savage slaying of your wife and six-year-old boy, it is the verdict of this jury - with which I concur wholeheartedly - that you shall hang by your neck until dead. May the gods take mercy on your blackened soul.
Puk hears the clack of wood on wood, followed by a whip crack of rope drawn taut. The crunch of vertebrae echoes off the walls. He sees a man's booted feet twitch freakishly as his last breath rasps from his ruined throat in a choking death rattle. Puk suddenly realizes that he is staring at his own twitching legs. The crowd cheers with delight and laughs as he rasps his last.
Balian finds himself in a small attic. A voluptuous woman with dark hair sits in a rocking chair, swaying as she hums and knits a sweater for a small child. She looks up, alarm on her face, as Balian draws closer. Looking down he notices a heavy axe in his hand. When his shadow falls over the woman, the look in her eyes changes to one of pure horror.
Sjo is on his knees in a dark, dreary corridor. His right hand is working feverishly, sawing away at something with a bloody shortsword as he gibbers: "Show me the way, Sashrala, use your magic to get me out of here. I love you so much, please, just show me the way!" With a final wet snap blood pools appear around his knees as he hefts the gory head of a beautiful woman. "Thank you, Sashrala, I love you ..." Sjo cries as he kisses the blood-covered lips and thrusts her head forward like a lantern.
The visions fade as suddenly as they appeared. Blinking their eyes, the companions take a few moments to gather their bearings. Sharing their weird daydreams, they realize they have just relived some key moments of the horror that ended this courthouse's glory.
30 Desnus 4708
Another rainy day keeps the companions locked in their villa, until they are summoned to the Citadel. Field Marshal Cressida Kroft informs them that supreme judge Zenobia Zenderholm was attacked in the streets yesterday. Fortunately for her a patrol of the Guard was nearby and chased away the assailant. It is unclear who the aggressor was. Was he a chance mugger? Was his attack related to the unrest in the city or was the man a criminal out for revenge? The hanging judge has made a lot of enemies over the years, so the last possibility seems most likely.
Anyway, Kroft insisted that lady Zenderholm be protected, but the judge only agreed to that when the Field Marshal promised her to enlist the help of Korvosa's new heroes, as she seemed to like the young men. They must have made a good impression on her. Sjo jumps to the task and leads his friends to the Longacre Building, where the judge is still hard at work.
Zenobia Zenderholm welcomes the companions and immediately clarifies that she didn't tell Kroft the whole truth:
"An unknown assailant did jump me in the streets yesterday, that's true, and some soldiers of the Guard saw what was happening and came to my aid. They thought the man was trying to kill me, but I'm quite confident that wasn't the case. You see, my attacker was carrying no weapon and only whispered something in my ear before running off. If I wanted to know what had happened to my friend Jarbin Mord I'd have to go to the old courthouse tonight.
I don't know if you've ever heard of Jarbin Mord; he used to be the groundskeeper and executioner at the old courthouse. He was convicted ten years ago to the day for hewing his lovely wife and six-year-old son to pieces in their attic apartment above the courthouse with his executioner's axe. I was a public prosecutor in those days and I was friends with the executioner and his family. Jarbin Mord was not a handsome man by any definition of the word, although his wife Malene was absolutely ravishing. Many wondered what she saw in her droopy-eyed husband, but knowing Mord myself, I see why she chose him, because he had a heart of gold.
I fear that his last execution, the hanging of the Key-Lock Killer, somehow took its toll on him. This serial killer haunted Korvosa from 4692 to 4697, butchering 38 women in the confines of their own room while their doors were locked. Every time it looked like the murderer had come in through the keyhole, but when he was finally caught in 4698, we found out that he owned a magical device to open and close doors. I was the one to prosecute him and of course Mord hanged him. The Key-Lock Killer was completely mad ... maybe he cursed his executioner with his dying breath, because the Mord I knew would never have harmed his wife. Tonight I hope to find out what really transpired a decade ago.
Mord's case was the last one to be tried in the old courthouse. The day after his execution the building, which loomed over the cliffs of the Heights, became instable as the ground underneath started to shift. The entire edifice was declared a safety hazard and abandoned. To prevent innocents from entering, its doors were boarded up and its windows nailed shut. Ever since it became known as a haunted house. People say that the old wood constantly creaks, even on windless nights, or claim to have caught a glimpse of a pale form inside. Others claim they still hear Jarbin Mord rasping through his crushed throat - the sound of breath pushed over bone and rot, a miserable inhuman echo of life."
"They call him the Croaker, don't they?" Quint interjects. Zenderholm nods. "You remember that bastard gnome who worked for Gaedran Lamm," Quint goes on, "Hookshanks Gruller. He loved humming this stupid nursery rhyme:
On Croaker day, on Croaker day
On Croaker day, on Croaker day
This song is about Jarbin Mord, then. The horror story even continued one year later, if I recall correctly", Quint muzes. "Some heroes ventured into the building and were all killed, weren't they?"
"Indeed," Zenobia confirms. "Father Kelgaard, a famed cleric of Sarenrae, led a band of adventurers into the moldering courthouse. Seeking glory and hoping to prove that they were Korvosa's greatest heroes, they tried to banish the restless soul of Jarbin Mord to the Abyss. They were quite famous at the time: young girls used to swoon over Kelgaard's blond locks and crystal blue eyes, captain Grisdom Twin-axe was a favorite among the men of the Guard and nobles lauded one of their favored scions, the highborn wizard Sashrala Ornelos. The best loved of Korvosa marched into the Heights courthouse at sundown on the first anniversary of Mord's hanging.
At dawn the next day only Grisdom Twin-axe emerged. Blind, his eyes hulled from his face, the guard captain cradled Sashrala's decapitated head as a lantern, a lit candle inside her silently screaming mouth. The man had gone completely insane. No one has crossed the building's threshold since.
I don't want to force anyone to join me, but I will be going to the old courthouse tonight. I want to understand what happened to my friend and I'm hoping to find some answers there. I don't believe in ghosts, but I've seen some horrible things in my career, so I'm not quite sure what to expect. I'd appreciate the company, but I'd certainly understand if you don't dare to join me ..."
"You can count on us, lady Zenderholm", Sjo assures the judge. "We'll stand by you."
Zenobia Zenderholm locks up her office and puts on a cloak. "Let's go then, and let's hope we have more luck than Kelgaard and his friends."
29 Desnus 4708
This morning sees bad weather with rain pouring down endlessly. The young friends decide to stay in, enjoying the comforts of their new home. Balian and Puk train with the dog and the children, while Sjo and Quint hit the books in the library, working on their language and knowledge skills.
Late in the afternoon a carriage arrives. A man jumps out and hurries through the rain: Mercival Jeggare, the head of one of the most powerful houses in the city, is at the door. He is actually on his way to the second, smaller council in the castle, but he came up with an idea he wants to run by the companions. Mercival likes the thought of a big coronation party, but agrees with Quint that this celebration should not take place too soon. Citizens have to soften up to the queen first and the city has to resume an atmosphere of peace and quiet before a large celebration can be thrown.
Still, Mercival thinks that there might be a way to introduce something festive on a smaller scale sooner. His family is a patron of the arts and Mercival would love to organize a musical in the Marble Dome opera house: The Passion of Saint Alika. This play celebrates the life of one of Korvosa's most popular heroes, Alika Epakena. It has not been performed for over a generation, but according to the nobleman it is a magnificent play that will certainly ignite the love for Korvosa and make people forget about the recent trouble. Although the common man will not get to see the musical, as the Marble Dome cannot house the entire city, Jeggare expects The Passion of Saint Alika to create a buzz all over Korvosa.
To add to the positive vibe that the play might generate, Jeggare would like the new heroes of Korvosa to join the cast. He already knows that Quint likes entertaining crowds and believes there might be a role for his friends as well. The nobleman is happy to learn that the companions like his idea and is sure that their consent to appear in the play will be enough to sway his peers at the council.
Thanks for the compliments, guys.
We set out to do a very roleplay-heavy campaign and this part of the adventure really lends itself perfectly to that. The fact that the players are so pro-active and not acting because Kroft tells them to, is a very nice bonus. The players seem to be a step ahead of the scenario, so I reward their roleplaying and information gathering efforts with the next part of the scenario, thus creating a very natural flow of events.
The big terrain set-ups have always been done at my own house. I've brought most of my terrain pieces back home and I take what I need every week to the gaming table. The villa pictures were done a couple of weeks ago and I showed them to my players at the table to give them a better idea of what their new villa looks like. The terrain set-ups we do at the table are not as elaborate, usually just the rooms in which a combat takes place.
Having the PCs interact with the 'movers and shakers' is a lot of fun. It really binds them to the city and they have a big influence on what happens. Quint's and Sjo's players are the most active role-players, Balian's player has been absent from time to time, as has Puk's. They both enjoy the game, but take a less active role at the table anyway. Fortunately Quint and Sjo are the best at social interaction on paper as well, being a bard and an oracle, they are charisma-based characters with good social skills.
And yes, Moonbeam, your campaign was an inspiration: names and plots will appear from time to time. Thanks again.
Tels, since the city taxes everyone, it taxes the heroes as well. There is a flat 10 % tax rate on everything you earn (every month), so gaining several magical items worth maybe 20 000 GP in total and a house which will be estimated at 30 000 GP, will leave them with a 5 000 GP tax debt for this month. They don't have that much cash at the moment, so that will be nice ... I guess that playing an urban campaign comes with some disadvantages.
The PCs have their own figurine: Balian, Sjo and Quint were painted specifically for this campaign (as were a lot of NPCs), Puk is playing with an older painted miniature, but he might get a new fig soon. I'm painting a Reaper Bones plastic mini and if I'm happy with that, it will serve as Puk's new mini. Strangely enough it is hard to find a decent two weapon wielding halfling miniature. The Bones fig I'm painting only has one sword, but he's holding his other hand perfectly to attach a second weapon. The only problem is that these plastic Bones versions are slightly less detailed and that shows even better in a small halfling mini. I carry the miniatures in a foam-filled miniature case from Warhammer, which serves its purpose perfectly.
To keep the spoiler content in this thread to a minimum, I'll be answering your other questions in a new thread on the Curse of the Crimson Throne boards.
Moonbeam and Tels asked some questions in my campaign journal. Since they are spoiler-heavy for my campaign, I'd rather answer them here, so my players are not tempted to read the spoilers while reading the journal.
I noticed that there's a lot of interaction with Queen Ileosa, and that so far she seems presented in a very positive light. Is this all just a big scheme on her part, or is she truly a nicer person in your version of the campaign? Or do you want to leave me in the dark until you reveal it later? :)
Because one of the options I considered when preparing the campaign was to actually make Ileosa a victim: that she wasn't a bad person at the core, but just got possessed by the spirit of Kazavon, who was the true responsible for the atrocities that happened. And then in the last adventure, the heroes would've had a chance to save/redeem Ileosa.
Another option I considered was that they would defeat the real Ileosa, but what about her clones... Like the one in the pyramid in the last adventure? What if *they* could be redeemed?
In the end, I remained closer to the campaign as written, mostly because I guessed that my players didn't share the soft spot I have for this villain, and they would probably find it more rewarding to just kill her and anything even remotely resembling her.
As you probably noticed, I integrated the moment Ileosa discovered the fangs into the campaign at the time that the artists in the city lost their inspiration, so she hasn't been under influence for that long. Of course the evil influence is already present and strong at the moment, but it will grow a lot bigger over time. Ileosa has grand ambitions, but the citizens of Korvosa reacted badly to her coming to power, so the first thing on her agenda is to get a firmer hold on the throne. She is smart enough to realize that she needs other parties in the city to achieve that, including the PCs. Once she has a firmer footing, she will launch her evil plans. Being a beautiful, clever and charming bard, she has no trouble appearing as a charismatic person. Still, the way she took care of Amprei or the way she avoided Toff Ornelos' demand for a stronger council, already shows that she is more than just a nice little queen. I'm making sure to portray her as a woman who knows what she wants and who takes control (which is already different from the nice queen the PCs met when they returned her brooch).
So far I have no intentions to have Ileosa be redeemable at the end of the campaign.
I really liked your portrayal of the Queen, I went with a similar one myself. My players are in Scarwall (and the campaign is on hiatus) and even now, they aren't sure whether the Queen is the enemy, or the victim. However, regardless, they know she has to be stopped.
I really liked the whole Council aspect and that the nobles weren't just immediately willing to dish out money. Nobles are nobles after all. The exception being Glorio. Are you trying to play him off as a kind of 'philanthropic noble' so the party doesn't get an 'obviously evil' vibe?
I wonder how you will play off Doctor Davaulus? Will he still be her personal physician, or perhaps someone else? I tried to play him off as the 'family physician' from Cheliax, but one who is strongly opposed to Korvosa being independent from Cheliax and would like to see it fall. He was there before the plague started, and was the instigator from inside.
Also, I notice you had Toff cancel the Breaching Festival. I remember you're planning on skipping Scarwall completely, but about what time frame do you expect this part of the campaign to start? Because if you give it sufficient time, it's possible the students of the Acadamae will be able to 'double up' on protections from the previous year, if you wish to make it a little harder.
As I explained in my answer to Moonbeam, Ileosa is using her charms to get a grip on the throne. I guess the PCs will gradually realize she's evil, starting with Trinia Sabor's trial. I'm also setting up Glorio Arkona as the big manipulator behind the riots. Although he's playing it very cool and convincingly at the council, he is the one opposing the queen behind the scenes. Glorio's ultimate goal is to become king. Selena and Feldon, the agitators, are in his employ (actually the Cerulean Society, but that comes down to the same thing). Ambassador Amprei was just a decoy that the manipulators were told to use when they got caught. Arkona is too smart a man to let on that his plans are failing at the moment, so he plays along at the council. But when the queen's evil becomes clear, he will try to convince the PCs to join him. Anyway, both Ileosa and Glorio Arkona are champions at the game of politics.
Doctor Davaulus will be called Doctor Dave Saulus in my campaign (as Davaulus is too much of a give-away to his evil character, it sounds too much like 'devilish'). I won't tie him too tightly to Ileosa, to give her deniability once his evil is exposed. He'll just be an evil alchemist that Ileosa hired through her Red Mantis contacts. There will be more on his modus operandi as well. I'm planning to use Misgivings from Rise of the Runelords as the place where he concocted the disease for the second adventure. It will be situated on south shore of Korvosa Bay and it will be an old Porphyria villa (another decoy - the Porphyria's were banished from Korvosa, but are still present in Cheliax). The PCs will discover and explore the building after the doctor has abandoned it, to find clues that the plague doctors are actually plague bringers.
The Breaching Festival officially takes place on the 29th of Desnus. Since I chose to start my campaign in Desnus, the festival was on the agenda, so I had to make a choice. It seemed only logical to cancel it. The Acadamae has closed its doors and none of its students are allowed out, so why would they suddenly open their doors for a holiday?
As you said, I'll be skipping Skeletons of Scarwall. Although it is a fantastic adventure, my players are no fans of big dungeon crawls and this one is just too big. I also wanted to bring the PCs back to the city sooner and have them have more adventures there. One of the scenario's will be Academy of Secrets. Once the PCs find out that Ileosa has made a deal with a devil, they will need to infiltrate the Acadamae to find the devil's copy of the contract. They will call on the Cerulean Society to share their experience in the Breaching Festival, so in that respect it is actually very good that they have heard of the festival before, but they will not be competing in the actual festival itself, they'll be breaching the academy all on their own.
The queen leads those present to the next room, where she sits down at the head of a long table. The nobles take up position close to her majesty, leaving the companions and the magistrates the places at the other end of the table.
When everyone has settled, Ileosa speaks again: "Ever since my husband died the city has been sinking away in chaos: riots, destruction, pillaging, battles with the Guard or other representatives of the state, numerous wounded and too many dead ... all in the name of a queen who cannot rule! This has to stop, right NOW! That is the reason why we have all gathered here today.
The Sable Company and the Korvosan Guard have been working night and day to prevent us from slipping away completely into the Abyss. I was even forced to call in the help of the Hellknights to enforce order. But disorder overwhelmed us nonetheless.
We may count ourselves lucky that we have creative citizens like these heroes and sharp minds like Field Marshal Kroft. Their firm actions saved us from even worse. Field Marshal Kroft, would you please fill us in on what has been going on in the city?"
Cressida Kroft rises and addresses the members of the council: "I understand that our citizens were shocked by the King's death. Eodred was a good ruler and the people loved him. But why did they react so vehemently? I had a hard time understanding that. Grief was normal, but all this anger, hatred and rebellion were out of place. That is why I sent out these gentlemen, to find out what was going on. I'll let them fill you in on what they discovered."
Next Quint takes the stage: "When our good king died, it felt like there was a sudden void in power. We have to respect that his widow needed time to bury her spouse and properly grieve him, but some people seemed bent on not allowing her that time. Individuals who had some personal reason to criticize the government, who had their own agenda. They took disadvantage of the moment, swaying the minds of other Korvosan, honest, hard-working citizens who unfortunately don't exactly grasp how politics work. One thing led to another and the situation got out of hand, fast. The city reacted promptly to these challenges, but while actions like closing the gates probably saved innocent lives, it also provided these enemies of the state with more fuel for their fires of rebellion, as food supplies quickly dwindled away and the people grew hungry and malcontent."
"I appreciate your report, good master Quintillian," Glorio Arkona interferes, "but you're not telling us anything we don't know yet. Can you give us something more concrete?"
"I can. We walked in on a manifestation that almost got out of hand. If we hadn't convinced the misled protesters that killing guards would only make matters worse, the day would have ended in blood. This was the first time we felt that most people were just following some agitators who spewed filth on our beloved queen. We found more evidence to this theory when we stopped a business called All the World's Meat. A clever agitator had duped a lovesick guard and some of his unworthy colleagues into handing out free meat to the poor. The leader didn't even realize it, but his men were actually killing people and carving up their flesh to feed the citizens. We also saved a member of the Sable Company from being torn to pieces by agitated dockworkers and witnessed a troop of Hellknights slaughter a dozen people who had been dumb enough to follow a handful of rabble-rousers into manifesting against the queen. We weren't able to save them all, but I don't even want to imagine the bloodbath that would have taken place if we hadn't been there. We came across honest citizens who were so brainwashed that they almost tore captain Jalento's young son to pieces or who were so hungry that they threatened to kill a baker for food.
Finally we were able to track some of the agitators. We shut down their little operation and with the help of the Guard, we were able to prevent another march that was meant to end in violence and blood. Since then we have been using the same weapons as our enemies, a silver tongue, spreading the word on their treasonous, self-serving manipulations and convincing the good people of Korvosa to give queen Ileosa a chance.
After all, when you talk to the average John Doe, you quickly find out that all he wants is to be fed and to feel safe. You have all noticed it, but the last couple of days have been more or less quiet again. We have turned the momentum of the enemies of the state, now we have to press on!"
"And when you talk about enemies of the state, do you know who they are?" Archbanker Darb Tuttle of Abadar wonders.
"I'm afraid not", Sjo replies. "We have been fighting and rooting out the symptoms rather than the cause. But we have been successful nonetheless. Our priority has always been the safety of the people, so that has been our terrain of operation, the common man in the streets. Even an invisible enemy can be beaten if we take away his weapons and prevent his evil schemes."
Eliasia Leroung adds: "What these young men are saying is true indeed. There have been people at work who want to taint the queen's reputation. Just a few days ago our presses were abused by such rabble-rousers to print a fake edition of the Herald with all kinds of filth about her majesty. I learned that these heroes intercepted about half of those papers, but several hundred copies were still distributed. You might have seen them. Even when we don't know who is behind these evil plans, we should act! I will make sure that the next edition of the Herald rectifies the situation and reveals the fact that rabble-rousers have been at work."
The council readily agrees with this proposal, as Leroung continues: "My family also holds a stake in many of the city's docks. Our laborers have to get back to work, there might be a dozen grain ships waiting in the bay to be unloaded. Getting people back to work and bringing food into the city is the best way to get things back to normal. There's no business than business as usual."
Garrick Tann, the tax collector, supports this proposition, as it would allow him to resume his work as well. "People were attacking soldiers in the streets, even without me there. I couldn't risk causing even more of a stir by doing my job. Still, part of these missed taxes will never be recovered. Getting the city back to running will cost money. I propose that those who can afford it, help us out. I think the noble houses should make an extra contribution, lest we go bankrupt."
It is clear why Tann is so unpopular, as about half the people at the table raise their eyebrows in surprise and annoyance at his proposal. Glorio Arkona keeps his bearings and replies: "I'd be willing to contribute a little extra, lord magistrate, but I'd have to be sure that the money goes to the right place, to the people of Korvosa, who are starving as we speak. Make sure they don't go hungry and I'll get you your money."
"I guess the Bank of Abadar could always allow the city an extra loan to bridge this difficult period", Archbanker Tuttle adds. " We could even discuss profitable terms this time, as long as Korvosa continues paying off its other debts."
"There are ways to solve these monetary issues, no doubt", Commander Marcus Endrin steps in. "Let's focus on more pressing matters. The Hellknights are trouble. Their presence seems to backfire. The stringent way in which they handle things is not right for this complicated situation. They see everything in black and white, while things are mostly grey. These young heroes confessed to it, the Hellknights respond to disorder with the blade rather than with common sense and words of peace. That is not the way to restore order. I say they should go!"
"I agree, Lord Commander," the queen says. I will speak to the Order of the Nail about leaving. But your marines and the guards will have their hands full. Even during this last week I've had my own bodyguard, the Gray Maidens, stand guard over my palace. But my Maidens are at the end of their game; there are only a handful of them and there is more work than they can cope with. I would like to expand their ranks so your men in the Sable Company and the soldiers of the Korvosan Guard can concentrate on the city."
"An excellent suggestion, your majesty", Quint jumps in. "We will need every able-bodied soldier in the coming weeks. Which is why I believe we should talk about forgiving the deserters ... A few soldiers refused to come to work since the beginning of the riots because they felt they needed to protect their families. They were wrong and should probably be disciplined in some way, but we would be fools to have them executed, as the law demands, because we need them. A royal pardon would secure their help and send out a message that the queen is both capable of ruling and kind."
"True, sir Quintilian," Commander Endrin agrees. "Still, having the Grey Maidens guard the palace gives me pause. Although the day-to-day security of the Castle is customarily in the hands of the Guard, it legally befalls to the Sable Company. The presence of the seneschal normally ensures our presence in these walls, but with Lord Kalepopolis missing, the company has lost its watchful eye in here. I think we should talk about a replacement."
Sjo and Quint nod in agreement, as Darb Tuttle wonders whether it wouldn't be disrespectful towards the current seneschal to put someone else in his place while he might still be alive." He also adds that the post of the seneschal will not be crucial in solving the problems at hand, like resuming trade, so the matter of the seneschal should probably be saved for a later date.
Valdur Bromathan remarks that resuming trade is indeed high on their agenda, not only through the city's docks, but a lot of food comes from the mainland and is presently stuck at the gates. "We should open the gates again, but the farmers will need military protection if we want to prevent new acts of pillaging."
Mercival Jeggare likes the idea of feeding the people, but he also wants to feed them mentally. "By exposing the agitators and resuming trade, we will show our citizens that Ileosa is capable of ruling, but we can do more. I'm thinking of the ancient concept of bread and games. We should entertain the public as well, with a positive message!"
Quint takes this cue: "Ileosa is our new queen. You and I know and respect that. But the position of monarch is a highly respected one. If we want to entertain the people, why don't we give them a coronation?"
"An excellent idea," Glorio Arkona affirms, "crowning her majesty will serve all kinds of goals, we could feed the people, give them festivities and at the same time confirm the legitimacy of Ileosa's rule."
"The only question is", Quint continues, "how long should we wait? We can't just expect the Korvosans to happily dive into a public coronation so soon after Eodred's death and the riots."
"There is also the matter of how much this would cost", Syl Gar interjects. "Your ideas are wonderful, but costly as well. We'll need funds to pay for them."
"I think all this talk of partying is balderdash", Toff Ornelos throatily remarks. "The Acadamae has just cancelled the Breaching Festival as we didn't want to celebrate during these hard times, and now everyone is talking about fun and games! And not only that, now they also expect us, the noble houses, to pay for all this? We aren't the only ones in this city who have money. If I look at those young upstarts over there", he complains, pointing at the heroes, "they look all fancy in their new attire and shiny armor! Let them pay as well. They have come out of these troubled days as richer men, as have several other money-sharks in the city who used the scarcity of food to spice their own purses. A house like mine, that took a discreet stand in the background by closing the doors to the Acadamae and keeping our students off the streets, should not be punished. Find your money where it actually is and spread the effort evenly over all those shoulders!"
Lord Ornelos raises a sensitive point, but the approving looks in other noblemen's eyes give away that he made an important point. "Moreover, if we are to pay to clean up the mess, we should have more of a say in how it should be cleaned up. Give the council more power and I'll make a bigger contribution, but I refuse to pay for trouble I'm not responsible for and for solutions I have no say in."
"Well, maybe we should make the people who were more involved pay", Quint says. "Bakers and butchers were asking for higher prices when times were bad, maybe they can return the favor when times are good?" His suggestion is met with raised eyebrows, but the bard assures the council that he'd be willing to try and convince these people to contribute.
Sjo offers a refinement to that idea. "Why don't we turn it into a contest? Bakers will contend with each other to make the best bread and the best man will win a price!"
"That is an interesting line of thought, dear Sjo", Ileosa concludes. "Getting money will prove hard, and I still hope that the noble houses will contribute, although I cannot promise the council more power right away. Korvosa's laws and charters will have to be studied carefully before we can rewrite them. The precarious balance between the different stakeholders in the city has been overanalyzed and every little detail has been put into writing. Your ancestors have been so meticulous in constructing the power balance that it will prove a monster job to change it. For now, I can offer you this, though, Lord Ornelos, that I will ask the council for advice more often on a voluntary basis. I do agree with Magistrate Tann that common tax collection should resume as soon as possible. And I wouldn't object to a celebration in my honor, so if you want a coronation, I'd happily go along with it, certainly if all the noble houses would use the opportunity to show the people that they support my rule."
The queen looks around the table: "I think we've heard a lot of interesting ideas tonight. I thank you all for giving me your honest opinions. We'll have to investigate how plausible and affordable some of your suggestions are. My lords magistrate, I want you to study these ideas and give me a report on their feasibility. A few of us will reconvene tomorrow to discuss these plans further. Thank you again for being here. May the gods bless Korvosa!" Then the queen takes her leave and the council is over.
While walking out, Sjo seizes the opportunity to tell Sabina Merrin about Amarice, informing the commander of the Gray Maidens that his friend would make an excellent addition to her ranks. Merrin assures him she will look up this Amarice, a capable and motivated young woman would be most welcome.
28 Desnus 4708
Now that they have a classy home in South Shore the companions realize that their clothes have to match their abode, especially since they'll be meeting with the leaders of the city later that day. So they spend most of the day buying a new attire and having their outfits fitted to perfection.
At eight in the evening they make their way to the palace again and meet the bigwigs of Korvosa, who have all gathered in the throne room. Cressida Kroft waves the heroes over as they enter and introduces them to Commander Marcus Endrin of the Sable Company, Lord Mercival Jeggare, one of the richest men in the city, and Lord Valdur Bromathan IV, who has broken with his family's tradition of military service in favor of a career as a priest of Sarenrae.
Also present is Archbanker Darb Tuttle of the bank of Abadar, the city's most powerful priest, who is locked in conversation with two magistrates, Syl Gar, the Magistrate of Expenditures, and his 'counterpart' Garrick Tann, the Magistrate of Commerce. While Syl Gar is responsible for spending levied taxes on the city's behalf and is thus greatly loved all over, Garrick Tann is the chief tax collector, who is often referred to as the most hated man in Korvosa. The companions met this man before and already dread their next encounter, as they will have to pay a ton of taxes for the various magical items they have recently acquired and for their new home.
Another familiar face is that of Zenobia Zenderholm, the high judge. She is talking to another noblewoman, Eliasia Leroung, the head of the university of Korvosa who responsible for printing the Korvosa Herald. The third person in their company is a handsome man with a clever look in his eyes, Glorio Arkona, the only nobleman who lives in Old Korvosa, where he is considered somewhat of a hero by the poor, for whom he provides cheap housing.
There is one more person in the room, a sour-faced old man with a long white beard and purple robes. He is seated all alone by the hearth. Quint recognizes Lord Toff Ornelos, the headmaster of the Acadamae and possibly Korvosa's most powerful arcanist. The bard greets the loner and kindly inquires about the Breaching Festival, the annual competition in which students and a number of invitees attempt to break into the Acadamae and breach its many magical defenses. Tomorrow is the 29th of Desnus, on which this festival normally takes place, but Quint has picked up rumors that the holiday will be cancelled this year. Lord Ornelos confirms the news, groaning that it wouldn't be proper to celebrate while people are killing each other in the streets.
Next Sabina Merrin, the commander of the Gray Maidens, steps into the room. "Ladies, and gentlemen, I give you ... the queen!" The leaders of the noble families bow, while the two magistrates and the four young heroes get to their knees. Queen Ileosa walks in, as glorious as ever. She is no longer dressed in black, but strides forward in a flowing green silk gown which is once again complimented with her father's brooch. She glides over to the throne and takes a seat, allowing herself a few breaths to let her eyes wander over her guests. When she speaks her voice is calm but strong: "Ladies Zenderholm and Leroung, my lords Jeggare, Bromathan, Arkona and Ornelos, Commander Endrin, Field Marshal Kroft, Archbanker Tuttle, Magistrates Tann and Gar, sirs Quintillian, Sjo, Balian and Puk, I bid you all a warm welcome."
The guests are all ears as Ileosa continues: "I have convened the council to discuss the state of things in Korvosa, and for this occasion I have asked a few advisors to join us. Would you all please follow me to the royal reception room so we can commence healing our wounded city?"
26 Desnus 4708
The next morning the companions finally get their second audience at Castle Korvosa they have been hoping for. Before they leave they wonder what they should talk about with the queen. Opening up the gates so trade can resume and food can get back into the city is definitely a priority. Quint also wants the Hellknights out of the city, as those narrow-minded fools cause more problems than they solve. As far as increasing the popularity of the queen is concerned, 'bread and games' are a sound concept. Maybe there should be some kind of official coronation with festivities.
A knock at the door pulls the young friends out of their brainstorm. A Korvosan guard is waiting outside. The shape of the soldier's armor betrays that she is of the female sex. As she takes off her helmet, the heroes immediately recognize Amarice, the woman who was in Lamm's lambs with them when they were children.
"Good morning," she says, 'I'm here to officially remind you of your appointment with the queen at ten o'clock. Meeting her majesty ... that's a great honor! You've been doing a fabulous job for our city, I've been told. Preventing riots, arresting deserters and what not? You even helped out my dear colleague Grau when he was down. I guess the city and the queen owe your their gratitude. Not bad for three little lambs ... I see Lamm's cruel upbringing didn't spoil your true hearts, it even strengthened them." Amarice looks a bit self-conscious before continuing: "Anyway, enough with the big words, I also sought you out to ask for a personal favor. You remember when we were kids and we witnessed King Eodred showing off his new bride to Korvosa. The Field Marshal presented Ileosa with her own private guard, the Gray Maidens. We were only a few yards away, as you recall. Well, ever since then it has been my dream to serve her majesty as one of her Maidens. I wonder if you'd be willing to put in a good word for me ... please." Amarice holds her head slightly slanted and bats her long eyelashes. "For old times' sake ..." Sjo is open to Amarice's request, but tells her that they have more urgent matters to discuss with her majesty, so he can't make any promises. Still, he'll see what he can do.
At the castle the companions walk in on a familiar scene: in the entrance hall they meet the impatient and nagging man in impeccable clothes again, ambassador Amprei. He looks as haughty as ever and immediately starts ranting as the company comes in: "By all the gods, good and evil, what is wrong with this stupid, boorish dump? You maggots are here again while I'm wearing a hole through the floor, being made to wait like ...uch ... a servant? An outrage!"
At the same moment Sabina Merrin steps in and interferes: "You'll be right up, mister ambassador ... thanks to these heroes no less. Enjoy the peace and quiet, while you can!" Then she welcomes the companions and escorts them to the throne room. Seated on the crimson chair of power is Ileosa, dressed in black. The only ornament she is wearing is her father's brooch. Despite her sober outfit she still looks gorgeous. Field Marshal Cressida Kroft is already in there with the queen.
"Your majesty," she bows, " these are the heroes I've been telling you about." Quint kneels and his friends quickly follow his example. Ileosa lifts her black veil as her sweet voice resounds through the great hall: "Noble heroes of Korvosa, you have my thanks ... again", the queen smiles radiantly. "This time you do not only prove a favor to me, but to the entire city of Korvosa. If I'm to believe the Field Marshal, you singlehandedly prevented a bloody manifestation and took out several agitators who were plotting against me. But worst of all is this low-life Amprei who thinks that he can turn my own people against me! The traitor! Fortunately you've provided me with the prefect weapon to get him out without burning our bridges to Cheliax." Ileosa's hands shake as she holds up the two compromising letters from Verania Tvastiox.
"But first things first. I would like to reward you for your services to the city." Ileosa rises and approaches the companions. Sabina Merrin steps forward as well, presenting a small box to the queen. Ileosa opens the lid and takes something from inside. "Quintilian of Korvosa, Sjo the great, Balian the bold and Puk of the small-folk, for services provided to the city of Korvosa I hereby proclaim you honorary members of the Order of the Pseudodragons." She hangs a medal around each of the four men's necks. The gleaming medallion portrays a tiny dragon in flight.
"And now we must see to more pressing matters, the unfortunate case of ambassador Amprei. I would like you to bear witness to the fruit of your good deeds, although I must ask you not to interrupt. This is between Amprei and me!"
Sabina Merrin leaves the hall and returns a few moments later with the Chelish ambassador. "Your majesty! Finally I get to see you! You won't believe how long I've had to wait. Truly, a disgrace! I've been waiting here from well before your husband passed away ... for which I offer my condolences, by the way. But now to more urgent matters ..."
"Indeed, there are other matters we need to discuss!" the Queen bellows. "Time for each of us to learn their rightful place!"
"And that starts on your knees, KNEEL!" Sabina Merrin hisses as she forces the surprised Chelaxian to the ground.
"Your Highness! Now you can witness firsthand what I have to go through in this hellhole. You come from beautiful Cheliax, just as I do. These primitives don't know the meaning of the word manners", Amprei grunts as he tries to rise, but Sabina Merrin clutches his shoulder and keeps him down.
"Primitives, you say?" I see only one primitive here, even though the term sounds too kind for you. A worm, a conniving lowlife ... that is what you are!" Ileosa spits out.
"But, your majesty, please, I do not understand ..."
"What is it that you don't understand? That I'm on to you and your cowardly plans? Do you take me for a fool? Because I'm a woman, perhaps? Do you deny your ambitions to buy up buildings and lands in this 'hellhole', as you so condescendingly call it?" the queen rages.
"What do you mean? I've never bought anything here, except for my villa ..." Amprei stammers.
"Of course you haven't bought anything yet! Everything is still too expensive. Allow chaos and disorder to run wild in the streets a little while longer ... and then our little ambassador will open his wallet to save the poor citizens by purchasing their properties for next to nothing. Why would you buy today what you can get for half the price tomorrow? Oh, don't get me started on the likes of you!" Ileosa counters.
"Ileosa Arvanxi, I have to warn you, when her Infernal Majestrix learns of how you're treating me ..." the ambassador attempts, while he slips from Merrin's hold and rises to his feet.
"I think her Infernal Majestrix would rather know how you are treating her cousin's wife, Verania Tvastiox," the queen retorts, "who likes to please you with every hole of her body!" Ileosa pulls out the two letters the companions gave her and stares down Amprei, who pales and is left lost for words.
"Oh no, what's this? Don't know what to say anymore? You can count your blessing that you are here as the official ambassador to Cheliax, or I'd have you quartered and beheaded for such an offence! Here's what you are going to do, Darvayne Gios Amprei! You're going to resign your post and get the hell out of this city forthwith! Let's call it health issues, because if you stay for even one more day, your health will most certainly be at risk! Even this far-away hellhole won't protect you from the ire of Agmanar Thrune when he gets a hold of his wife's letters! And that piece of property you already own here in Korvosa, you'll sign it over ... well to Korvosans who truly deserve it, these brave heroes!" Ileosa gestures.
Amprei is shaking in his shoes while the companions are dumbstruck by this sudden turn of events. The Chelaxian throws the heroes a venomous glance and turns around. Then he walks out without speaking another word.
"That takes care of business", the queen smiles as she straightens her dress and reclaims her throne. "As far as you are concerned, my loyal citizens, I could use your help again. The unsettling first week of my rule as queen of Korvosa has not been a success. Time for mourning the king is over, however. It is time I prove to Korvosa once and for all that I'm capable of ruling her and that I can restore order. In two days time I'm calling the great council to the palace. I would like for the four of you to be present as well, so you can report on what you've witnessed in the streets. I don't have to remind you that we cannot discuss the Chelish ambassador, as we do not want to lose our hold over him by exposing his dirty laundry. But you can inform the council of all the other things you've discovered. Furthermore, I'd appreciate any ideas you have to offer to improve the image of the Korvosan government in general and my person in particular. Can I count on you?"
"It will be our pleasure, your majesty", Quint replies.
"Then I will see you in two days. We'll convene at eight in the evening. And you, Field Marshal Kroft, are expected as well"; the queen concludes.
"I'll be there, your majesty", Kroft replies. She bows and signals for the companions to follow her out.
As they step into the open air again, Cressida beams with pride: "Congratulations! You've made quite an impression on the queen, Order of the Pseudodragons, a villa in the finest district of the city and an invitation to the council, alongside the high and mighty of Korvosa. Not bad, not bad at all."
Back in Zellara's parlor the companions examine their medallions. The amulets carry magic that slightly hardens their wearers' skin, making them harder to hit. A precious gift.
In the evening Quint and Sjo spread the word in various inns and alehouses that the great council will gather in two days. Apparently the government is getting ready to take control again. They also find out that the common people of Korvosa are mostly interested in getting fed and feeling safe. Others also add that they would like to get back to work. Quint will make sure to mention this at the council.
27 Desnus 4708
Two Gray Maiden show up at our friends' place to guide them to their new home, Amprei's villa. Sjo tells the three kids, Mouse, Heldrin and Korwick, to remain in Zellara's shop while he and his friends go and check out the new place. The kids are very disappointed, but their sad faces and teary eyes cannot convince the Shoanti to let them come.
While walking to South Shore, Balian suddenly gets a broad smile across his face, but his mates cannot get him to tell them why he's smiling. When they arrive on the villa's doorstep, the urban ranger grins again, as he signals the three kids closer who have been following them secretly. The children are beaming with enthusiasm as the double doors open and the magnificent edifice lays before them. The Gray Maidens hand Quint the deed to the place and take their leave.
The building looks mostly intact, as Amprei only got time to pack his personal items. His clothes and papers are missing, but all the furniture is still in place. The villa also includes a large walled garden and a coach house with stables. There are no horses anymore, but there still is dashing carriage. The companions are overwhelmed by the beauty and luxury of their new home, but decide to get settled in nonetheless. They spend the rest of the day moving in their meager possessions and waiting for a locksmith to replace the lock on the front doors.
Anyway, in your case I say that Sial should pull off whatever favors he needs to and resurrect the wizard, who's player clearly doesn't want to reroll. It puts the party, and that character in particular, in Sial's debt, which will make them more amenable to working with him when it is time to breach Scarwall. And since Sial is kind of a jerk in my opinion, I would probably make sure he mentions the favor all of the time to the point of annoyance. Sial needs these heroes to realize his ultimate goal of acquiring the fangs of Kazavon, so he will give the wizard the gift of life. Sial is also a bad man, so he will use that favor as leverage against the party.
Knick is absolutely right, if one of your PCs owes a debt to an NPC like Sial, it can add all kinds of flavor to the game.
BALIAN, CG Male Human ranger 3 (urban ranger)
Favored Community Korvosa (Ex) You gain a +2 bonus on initiative checks and Knowledge (local), Perception, Stealth, and Survival skill checks. An urban ranger traveling through his favored community leaves no trail and cannot be tracked (although he may leave a trail if he so desires).
Trained actor You trained as a child to be an actor. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perform (act) and Perform (act) is always a class skill for you. You also gain a free skill point in Perform (act).
Spyder, dog companion level 3, N Small animal
PUK, CG Male Halfling rogue 3 (swashbuckler)
Sneak Attack (Ex) If you can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from your attack, you can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Your attack deals 2d6 points of extra damage.
Fast-Talker You had a knack at getting yourself into trouble as a child, and as a result developed a silver tongue at an early age. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Bluff checks, and Bluff is always a class skill for you.
Quintilian, CG Male Human bard 3 (court bard)
Bardic Performance You can use this ability for 11 rounds per day.
Trained actor You trained as a child to be an actor. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perform (act) and Perform (act) is always a class skill for you. You also gain a free skill point in Perform (act).
SHAOBAN, LN Male Human oracle 3
Clouded Vision Your eyes are obscured, making it difficult for you to see.
Trained actor You trained as a child to be an actor. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perform (act) and Perform (act) is always a class skill for you. You also gain a free skill point in Perform (act).