Death and Taxes - GM Budd the C.H.U.D.'s Feast of Ravenmoor

Game Master Budd the C.H.U.D.

In life, only two things are inevitable - death and taxes. An investigation into a missing tax collector from Magnimar led our heroes to the isolated village of Ravenmoor, but what they found there was a community dominated by a cult of Ghlaunder, God of Parasites. They also uncovered the identity of the twisted being responsible for the corruption of the town, and learned that this same being has sinister plans for a small, isolated city in the mires of Ustalav. Carrion Hill beckons...

CURRENT MAP - Beneath the Slipper Market...
Map of Carrion Hill
Campaign Wiki

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@Dalton - So long as it's better than the montage from Resident Evil: Director's Cut... :D

@Bacarov - I'm excited, too. Just a couple of days and we'll know for sure!

@Calwen - Yeah, this is pretty much a horror story, so it's very dark. I think I'll have a separate intro for your character and have you encounter the others on the road to Ravenmoor. Does that work for you?

I've written a little addendum to the story based on your information, and I did indeed set it up that way. I hope this is about what you thought.

The link the adjusted story:

Sebastian Bacarov wrote:
"You hear that, Marsh? I may get stuck with your sorry tail again. Here I thought I'd have a friendly competition with Warshawski, now I might have to play 'restrain the roughneck' on this case." Bacarov chuckles as if to say he doesn't mind at all.

Here's the deal

Criminals are often sloppier about tax evasion than they are about other crimes. Crimes like murder. Get a murder suspect, shake the rotting tree of their life and, chances are, you'll find they haven't paid their fair share to society.

Which explains why Bacarov and I butt heads over cases again and again like two rams fighting over the same doe. He insists murder trumps tax evasion. I point out tax evasion sticks to scum easier than murder.

Now it looks like I'm chained to him again. This time, he's tagging along on my case and dragging some thug along with him. That's okay, though. Thugs and guard detectives can make a good distraction. Let them make the mark nervous. I'll sneak in from the back and find the evidence.

All in a day's work.

@Calwen - :D Yes, this works. By the way, I love how you write elves. Love it. Prepare for a bit of solo time before you bump into the others- got something cooked up to entertain you while the rest of the group catches up. Don't worry, you'll meet up very quickly into the adventure.

@Warshawski, et al. - You guyyyyssss... You're giving me GM goosebumps! I really hope you guys don't mind if I group you according to who I think will be the most entertaining together and not what makes the most balanced group, because that's totally happening.

Oy, this time tomorrow we'll shut down recruitment and... well, I'll probably go ahead and pick out our players the same day, because I'm ready to get crackin' on this thing.

It's gonna be wild!

(And if you're still planning on turning something in coughWivvycough you better hop on it!)

@Calwen: Fantastic work on your character. Makes me wish you were applying for a spot in my homebrew based PrP. The elves there have a strong tradition aspect as well, with Loremasters guiding the elves in much the same way Hebrew Rabbis guide their worshippers, using the words of the past to solve the problems of today (by following TRADITION!)

@Budd: Looking forward to it. A good GM scales the adventure to the group, not the group to the adventure. I'm sure both groups will find their own path through the adventure.

@Warshawski & Budd: Yeah, I'm digging it too. Heh heh, GM Goosebumps. Closely related to GM migraines...and GM vertigo...and GM hives...

@Sebastian - GM hives sounds like what I got when the players in my home game killed the main villain of the campaign during his first appearance, in which he was supposed to spook them and get away. And then they killed his master, who I brought in to do the same. Lesson learned. :D

I shook my head out of the clouds. I must have been sleeping at the table, I'm surprised nobody tried to run off with my spellbook again. A strange feeling rushed over me, it was that always alien knowledge of deja vu.

I heard the lively crowd talking amongst themselves, and a single group of two stood out of the masses; so much so that even a tarrasque in plain sight wouldn't draw attention. A large thug-like man, animated more lively than any bard would be and a city inspector who seemed to be trying to both defend and annoy the man in friendly banter. I only noticed the third one after the meatbag sat down and stopped shaking the floor. She was sitting about with sizing up the thug, it was pretty clear she knew the other man in some capacity and was only trying to judge the merit of his friend.

There was definitely something more about her than she let on and a quick detection confirmed that; though it seemed that unless I got closer or risked painting myself as some sort of stalker (and thus fall to the whims of the inevitable three on one), she would remain a mystery.

I remembered that the tax collector would be coming at some point to discuss something, and with that I convinced myself that there's no time to be chasing mysterious women, a guard and his entourage right now; regardless of the potential mystery and fun behind it. Business first.

Its a good thing I found it easy to lie to myself regarding having time and not liking fun, because to idly pass the boredom I flipped to the tax collector's page in my notes and immediately decided it was for the best when I remembered his name and the people who mentioned him.

Why must I always cause trouble for myself?

Thanks. :) What is a PrP? I am not sure whether I want to play any more elves, right now though. There is also Narunith. She may not be Loremaster in rule terms but a universalist wizard, but she is certainly a woman of the written lore as well. I still have enough ideas for humans and aasimars, though. I don't really see Calwen as much of a historian, but her lifespan gives her a different view, not only because her birth dates further back, but because she is more aware of how all things relate. While it history to her as well, Thassilon and Aztlan are not so very remote to her.

If you're in fact interested: I did write some of my ideas regarding elves down. Unfortunately in German, but since I am already in my christmas holiday and have this week completely at my leisure I might translate it it tomorrow. For now it's primarily about romantic and sexual aspects of elven society the way I use them in my stories and consequently titled "On the Seduction of Elves - A Practical Guide by Feurrabe the half-man traitor", but I intend to extend it regarding family, childhood, crimes and the prosecution of crime, religion. A tricky aspect is the social order of elven society, how important and aware they are of nobility, because I haven't made up my mind about that. If anyone finds that interesting and it meets the agreement of a sufficiently large portion of those who are interested.

The most important aspect of it so far is certainly the ritual of courting which I use in my story.

German version: Über die Verführung von Elfen.pdf
Google translation: About the seduction of elves
(I might remove the Sister of Mercy quotes though :D )

@Calwen: PrP is what happens when I am on my iPad trying to write PbP. :)

@Budd: I'm scared of searching up Ravenmoor for fear of spoilers, but what is the distance and travel time from a major city (I'm assuming Magnimar) to there? Plotting Wizard things and debating when to enact said Wizard things (gotta keep up on those studies!)

Obviously not putting the cart before the horse mind you.

I hope I'm not too late to dot on this. I was thinking maybe a druid or some kind of investigator-ish kind of guy.

@Calwen - I never put it into anything more serious than some notes for my homebrew campaign setting, but... let's just say you're not the only one who has put that much thought into that aspect of elven culture. (It's world-building! For serious!)

@Hubaris - Right, don't look up Ravenmoor! The city's stat block actually has spoilers in it. Anyway, regarding the travel time: about a week's total travel time is the number I'm pulling out of my arse at the moment. Not sure if that's 100% accurate given the exact measurements and rate of travel, but that's what I'm going with at the moment. And yes, you folks will be departing from Magnimar, though the actual starting point of the adventure will be the smaller city of Galduria on the shores of Ember Lake, a little more than halfway to Ravenmoor. Basically (SPOILER ALERT!) we're probably going to gloss over the trip from Magnimar to Galduria, but there will be a bit more detail in the trek from there to Ravenmoor. The second half of the trip, the one which you'll have a little more control over, is probably three-four days depending on the method of travel. I think.

@magnumCPA - That entirely depends on whether or not you can finish your submission before recruitment closes tomorrow. :) I'd recommend you take the druid route, the candidates thus far are short on magic and we already have several investigative types. A druid might have fun with this particular adventure, actually...

Attention, applicants! It's the 18th, the final day of recruitment! As I have another morning shift today, I have decided to officially close recruitment as of 7pm (Eastern standard time) tonight! Best of luck, everyone!

As much as I'd love the chance to play with some of these awesome characters, I'm going to withdraw Marigold from consideration due to the fact that a GM for one of the games I currently play in is planning to insert this module as part of a larger narrative and I'd rather improve the odds for everyone else by not potentially double-dipping. Enjoy the game and good luck to the rest of you! :)

@Ladile - I understand. Thanks for applying, hope the other game goes well!

@Budd: Thanks! Just want to prep scrolls depending on party makeup and what we may need (don't want redundancies in ability) due to who is picked up. Always be prepared!

I'm going with a half-elf druid. Here's the alias, it's not done, I just wanted to show I was working on it.

@Zirul - Okay, cool. If all of the crunch isn't 100% finished by 7, that's all right. If you have to pick between one of the two come that time, I'd rather have a completed backstory/personality than crunch stuff. Glad to hear you're going with the druid, though. That'll give you a stronger shot at getting in (especially since Marigold has dropped out).

Budd the C.H.U.D. wrote:
@Zirul - Okay, cool. If all of the crunch isn't 100% finished by 7, that's all right. If you have to pick between one of the two come that time, I'd rather have a completed backstory/personality than crunch stuff. Glad to hear you're going with the druid, though. That'll give you a stronger shot at getting in (especially since Marigold has dropped out).

Okay, that's a load off my mind.

'I hate this city, it's always so damned busy. The smell of the depraved is sickening and this city sure is full of it. Good for business though.' Silas thought as he pushed his way through swarming folk around the marketplace, his keen eye easily picking up pickpockets, thieves and scoundrels at every turn. But he had no time for them, he had business to attend to and this was just a stop along the way.. A feeling of uneasiness lingered over him, something he had never felt before.

'Not sure how I'm supposed to find him in this mess of people, why does he always insist on meeting in these busy places. Surely he can't be that afraid of..'

The thought died immediately, Silas was a busy man and encounters with unsavory folk were rather common. He certainly couldn't bother to remember every man he'd had to knock some sense into.

'I guess he just doesn't trust his safety around me anymore, but do I ever trust him a lot more with my gold.' The thought made him laugh, loyalty could much more easily be bought with a broken jaw and convincing threat then the entire wealth of the Vaults of Abadar.

Ever watchful, even in this mob he can find his mark. The man he was looking for always tried to give the impression of nobility, but at closer glance anyone can tell that the clothes he wears are filthy and ragged, patched up by an amateur to be made wearable.

"Took' ye long enough, been waiting 'ere for nearly an 'our" the man said as I got close.

Silas pulled out a sack of coin from below his cloak and tossed it over to the man. He seemed to be a little wary of the weight. "That's three months up front, works taking me out of the city and I don't know how long I'll be. Take your share and move the rest, if you take more then that though." A crack of his knuckles was enough to instill fear into him.

"'Eh there, I learned me lesson.. it won' be comin' to that. Do you wan' da misses to kno' the name of her benefactor." I paused for a moment to think about it.. but this is how things need to be.

"Don't mention my name... She must never know.."

"Aight then, 'ave it your way." and he scurried off into the crowds. The feeling has only gotten worse, it was as though he was being watched.. not only that but he was being drawn towards it. He began to walk into the crowd again, unaware where he was going and unable to stop.. or maybe he just didn't want to. Eventually he did stop..

A man with a glimmering wizard's ring, his forehead red as though it was pressed up against something too long greeted him with a yawn..

"Oh? So you showed up finally Silas. I was just about to leave, I hate waiting around you know. I'm usually far too busy to deal with tardiness, thankfully I am a very understanding gentleman."

I hoped he didn't call my bluff, though even if he did I would know the mettle of his skills. It was a win-win in my mind.

"Please take a seat. I have much to discuss with you regarding what you do and you effective tactics."

I knew very well what the man did, but I wanted to know his methods, how he functioned, why he thought the way he did. He was a fantastic study. I figured there was something spurring his actions, and I needed to know what it was.

Dramin drops a sack of gold on the table, transactional. He pulls out his notebook and his eyes glow with intense desire in the pursuit of pure scholarship.

"Well then good Silas, tell me a little about your world and Abadar."

It's that time, everybody! The recruitment phase... IS OVER! hour after I said it would be, but I'm sorry, it was a long work day and I'm tired and sore and I wanted to watch the finale of Masterchef Junior. Forgive me.

So now begins the hard part: selecting our heroes for this adventure! I should have a final decision on who will be making the trek to lonely Ravenmoor by this time tomorrow, but to tell you the truth, I kind of already know who I want... but since I'm almost positive I'm going to run two concurrent parties, that's most of you. The trick now is arranging you into groups that I think will work.

@Zirul - You're in the running, since you got your profile finished on time. Crunch can come later, but try to get it done within the next 24 hours!

Waiting is the hardest part!

Yeah, he has gathered so much talent here I will bookmark it just to read no matter who gets in. In someways I would rather see just one party, even if I was left out of it, because of the quality of the product I think will come out of it.

Bacarov leans back in his chair, eyeing the plethora of occupants in the tavern. After a while he lights a pipe and enjoys the show.

Looking forward to how it shakes out. So many great applications, I'm with Marsh, I'll be following this one even if I'm not in it. Good luck all!

Even's a monk's patience is frayed by the anticipation...

Yeah, sorry, this time of year wreaks havoc on one's sleeping patterns and mental faculties. I'll get something posted tonight after work to let everybody know what's going down.

No rush man. I'm just messin'.

Decision Time!

Recruiting for my first PbP as a GM has taught me a lesson: never leave recruitment open long enough to end up with too many good characters to pick from. First-world problems. :D

That said, I've toiled long enough to make my final choices.

I have decided that I'm not quite ready to run two parallel games. If there's sufficient interest once this thing's gotten going a bit, I'd love to open up a second "table" for everybody else, but dividing my attention between 10-11 characters and making it awesome for everybody is probably just too big a pill for me to swallow at the moment. Pretty much every character submitted was awesome. You guys made it really hard for me- I've toiled over this decision all day. Those of you who didn't make the cut, keep in mind that I'd still love to run a game for you folks in the future, and if someone has to drop out for some reason or re-recruitment opens up later on, you'll have priority to poke in and join in the madness.

The party is going to be slightly larger than I had planned: six characters will be joining us, but you guys already know that this was not an easy decision. I had a tremendously hard time narrowing it down this far! Combats will be adjusted to fit the larger-than-planned party size accordingly. This is going to make an already fairly difficult module just a wee little bit harder. Be ready. :D

Will the following six would-be investigators please report to The Drunken Dog in Magnimar's Ordellia district for debriefing?
Sebastian Bacarov,
Vincent Marsh,
Dramin Jodare,
Dalton "the Thirsty" Thorpe,
and Calwen Snowpaw (though our elf-maiden has a slightly different engagement to start).

Everybody who got picked - congrats, you're awesome, and welcome aboard! I'll have the Discussion thread up shortly, where you can dot in and start chatting. Gameplay will begin sometime in the next day or two.

Everybody who didn't get picked - sorry I couldn't bring you onboard just yet, you're also awesome, and keep your eyes peeled. I might have something for you shortly.

Urrk- - me heartstrings...!

This is the first campaign I've applied for and been chosen on these forums so very awesome! Good people. Good people got left out, too.

Woohoo! Thanks Budd for the selection. This was not an easy task!

No, no, it wasn't. It wasn't easy at all. I really wanted pretty much everybody- you should've seen how many times I tried to arrange and re-arrange things to get as many people as possible in. It's all your fault, people! Stop being so good at making characters and stuff!

Also: Discussion thread is now up. I'll put the Gameplay thread together within the next day or two so we can start this thing up proper!

Hail, adventurers! As can- and often does- happen with even the best Play-by-Post games, the Feast of Ravenmoor game I've been running here on the boards has lost a couple of players. While parting is always such sweet sorrow, I'm enjoying this adventure too much to call it quits, and the remaining players have agreed that what we need now is some new blood. Interested?

Feast of Ravenmoor is a horror/investigation-themed module for 3rd-level characters, taking place in an isolated river town deep in the Varisian wilderness. We are pretty far into the adventure already, but don't assume that any new characters would be coming in just for the finale! As soon as Feast of Ravenmoor concludes, I plan to continue on to the next module I want to run... Carrion Hill! In fact, I've already begun planting seeds to connect the two stories together... and at this point, both modules have been modified pretty heavily! Hehehe...

Thus far, this campaign has been home to some excellent writing and a lot of fiery inter-character dialogue. In spite of the recent difficulties we've run into, I can honestly say that this has been a pretty darn great run so far, and I'm excited at the prospect of new players jumping in. If you happen to be one of the folks who originally applied for this game back when recruitment first opened but didn't make it in, then feel free to re-submit the same character! You might even get special priority. We'll see.

If you're interested in joining the investigation, please read the character creation requirements on the first page of this thread before building and submitting a character. Feel free to peruse the gameplay thread to bring yourself up to speed on what's happened thus far and get an idea of the tone I'm going for. I'm more than willing to work with any applicants on determining exactly what their character knows, as well as how to connect them to the ongoing events. I've also whipped up a few potential plot hooks to get your character involved- feel free to use one of these or come up with your own!

Potential plot hooks for new applicants:
-Concerned Local: You are a resident of Ravenmoor, either born there or having resided there for some time. The various eccentricities of this isolated community have become commonplace to you, but in recent months you have noticed a dark turn. Following the suicide of Mayor Kriegler's young wife Miranda, there are concerns that the Mayor's health and sanity may be slipping. Visitors from out of town, always rare in Ravenmoor, have suddenly become much more frequent- with these visitors often disappearing as suddenly as they arrive. Other locals- and perhaps even you- have seen strange things, from figures lurking in the wheat fields behind the local spook house (the long-abandoned Chenowitz farm) to strange shapes forming in the clouds in the hours after midnight on Festival Days. When a group of investigators from Magnimar arrived on this month's Festival Day, you knew something was amiss. Now Robb Bartley, local troublemaker, is dead, and the investigators claimed that he had a torture room in his basement. Even as the Festival began, the investigators and the trouble they've stirred up were the talk of the town. You've worked hard to keep the true extent of your skills hidden from your fellow citizens of Ravenmoor, but if ever there was a time to make yourself known, this is it- because you've just heard that they're headed for the Chenowitz farm, and goodness knows something horrid must be waiting for them there...
-Reinforcements from Wolf's Ear: A few days ago, a group of investigators from Magnimar came to the garrison at Wolf's Ear, transporting the dangerous criminal known as Nettleby Brackenweld, a gnomish spellcaster also known as "the Professor." Brackenweld, formerly an instructor at Galduria's Twilight Academy, had hired a group of local bandits from the nearby Churlwood and was working with them toward some sinister goal. Brackenweld and his bandits attacked a Twilight Academy field outpost dedicated to a River Drake domestication project, slaughtering instructors and students alike- removing their hearts and ears. Shortly after being placed in his cell, Brackenweld committed suicide, but not before terrifying his fellow prisoners by muttering the phrase, "I hear the whispers... I know the way!" In the days since, Garrison Captain Malfoight has learned that Brackenweld had traveled to the isolated village of Ravenmoor several times in the months before committing his disturbing crimes, and suspicion of occult activity in the area has arisen. Knowing that the team from Magnimar was headed to Ravenmoor for reasons of their own, you- as either an agent of the Wolf's Ear Garrison or a trusted associate of Captain Malfoight- have been dispatched to Ravenmoor to investigate this possible occult activity and rendezvous with Inspector Bacarov and the rest of his team...
-Reinforcements from Magnimar: As an alternative to the above hook... After dropping the criminal Nettleby Brackenweld in Wolf's Ear and said criminal's subsequent ritual suicide, Inspector Bacarov sent a message to Commander Olfrey of the City Watch of Magnimar. In this letter, he revealed his findings on Brackenweld's crimes, the murders at the Twilight Academy outpost, and a suggestion that his associate Marcum Aldridge in Absalom consult on the situation. Following that consultation, you, as an ally of the City Watch or a trusted associate of either Commander Olfrey or the studious Aldridge, have been asked to travel to Ravenmoor to rendezvous with Bacarov's party. Functionally, this would be the same as the previous hook, but you'd have set out from Magnimar instead of Wolf's Ear; if you wish your character to have ties to Magnimar, this might be the way to go.
-Avenging the slaughtered: Word has reached the Twilight Academy in Galduria that a field outpost, known as "The Estuary," has been attacked by bandits- and many Academy instructors and students were brutally murdered. The Estuary was the site of the Academy's River Drake Domestication Project, and the cruel and unusual slaughter of these innocents has turned the Twilight Academy into a hornet's nest. Now the rumor coming out of Wolf's Ear is that Nettleby Brackenweld, the mastermind behind the attack, may have been associated with a cult operating out of the isolated backwater community called Ravenmoor, just a ways up the Lampblack River. Whether a personal relation or friend of one of the slain or a freelancer hired to seek vengeance on the ones behind this senseless crime, you have set out for Ravenmoor with a keen eye turned to any occult activity. Arriving in Ravenmoor, you have learned that a group of investigators from Magnimar are poking around, and may have uncovered the identity of the cultists in question...
-That's not how Desna works! You are a follower of Desna, goddess of stars, dreams, and travel. While you understand that all Desnans must tread their own paths, and thus the worship of the Starsong takes many forms, there are some aspects of the faith that hold true no matter where her clerics find themselves. This is what has brought the isolated backwater village of Ravenmoor to your attention; word has reached your ears, or those of your superiors, that there is something amiss in the little town by the Lampblack River. There are rumors of a Desnan church that lies in disrepair, of rituals bizarre even by Desnan standards, and of a goddess completely misunderstood by her own faithful. Worse, there is a dreadful possibility that someone has been purposely twisting and perverting the worship of Desna into something that serves another force entirely. What's really going on in Ravenmoor? With the Tender of Dreams as your guide, you travel to Ravenmoor, hoping to find allies there that might help you in uncovering this corruption...

Got all that? Well, get crackin'! There's a dangerous cult out there and a mystery to be solved!

By the by, the current party makeup includes a multiclass barbarian/rogue/ranger, a wizard/fighter, and a detective bard (?). That means that we don't have any particular roles we're looking to have filled; you can apply with any sort of build that tickles your fancy.

This is also an unapologetic bump!

We want good roleplayers that like to have character interaction. We are not power gamers, rules lawyers, and often times we do combat in the theater of the mind rather than tactical grid map Warhammer 40K style. If you have character backstory let it shine out.

I'm gonna give this one last bump, just to make sure anybody out there browsing gets a chance to see it. One of our players just returned, but we're still missing two- so that's how many I'd be willing to consider bringing in.

Liberty's Edge

You sound like a good group to join, and I see you don't have a cleric / divine caster.
What do you think of HER.
Or would a cleric would be a better choice?

Hooray! Thanks for the interest.

First of all, I like the character. A Desnan fits Feast of Ravenmoor perfectly. I can work with you in tying your character into the adventure in a meaningful way.

I don't see any reason not to be an inquisitor. Our lack of divine casters has a... somewhat unique solution that has not been fully revealed to the rest of the party yet.

What are your plans for bringing her up to Level 3?

Dark Archive

Hey Budd! Would you take a Druid or Hunter in the group? :)

Liberty's Edge

Nothing weird... Rapid Shot as a feat, and keep the love coming...
Let me do a draft.

Druids and hunters are both welcome, provided their animal companions don't shed on my furniture.


@Corsario - I am definitely liking what I'm seeing with Voyla. If you can spec her to level 3 and work her out to a 15-point buy, she has a very strong chance of joining this adventure. Check out the character build stuff in the first post of this thread. I know it's a lower point-buy than the norm, but since this is a horror-themed campaign, I think it works better than the higher point-buy ratios. Keeps the danger up. ;)

Liberty's Edge

I am glad you like her. Working on that.

Liberty's Edge

Ok, how does she looks?
Character Sheet

Ah, 3rd level Inquisitors. That's when they really get interesting...

Yeah, level 3 is when Inquisitors officially become baller.

I should probably mention that Inquisitors are my favorite class after Monks. Never seen either of these Archetypes in action, but this build seems very cool. Looking at it, Preacher seems like a pretty swole archetype. I'm not dissing Teamwork feats, but the stuff it swaps them out for is really nice.

Character's looking great! Corsario, have you read any of the gameplay thread? We can probably start looking into getting you into the story. Luckily, since Voyla is a worshiper of Desna, there are plenty of reasons why someone wary of enemies of the faith might come to a place like Ravenmoor...

Liberty's Edge

I will read the game thread tomorrow.
Glad you liked her.

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