The Grand Convocation!
While technically not a party, the yearly Grand Convocation in Absalom is an eagerly awaited annual opportunity for the Decemvirate and Absalom’s Venture-Captains to show their appreciation to all Pathfinder Agents stationed abroad. Hosted both in and by the Grand Lodge of Absalom, it is also serves to encourage networking among Pathfinder agents from different Lodges. After all, one can never know who you might find yourself traveling with on the Open Road. To this accomplish this goal, a traditional highlight of the Grand Convocation is what has been informally dubbed “the Grand Competition,” wherein teams of Pathfinders take part in a variety of friendly pursuits ranging from Animal Taming to Weight Lifting for a prize more coveted than gold: Bragging Rights. Table assignments for the Grand Convocation Banquet (and by extension, teams for the Competition) are supposedly random, but the number of familiar faces gathered for your Table stretches the plausibility of that. You have a short moment to greet each other as you Muster by the painted “224” (your Table number… presumably it’s not consecutive numbering?) on the South Lawn that leads to the main Lodge.
Excited attempts to catch up or plan strategy are cut short, however, as Master of Swords Marcos Farabellus strides up to the large crowd gathering and claps his hands together for attention, announcing in a booming voice “Welcome Pathfinders, one and all! And welcome to our traveling Venture-Captains stationed abroad as well our honored guests! I am Marcos Farabellus, and on behalf of the Decemvirate, I welcome you to the Pathfinder Society’s annual Grand Convocation! I shall address all of the attendees later this afternoon to announce some of the Society’s greatest accomplishments over the past year and our plans for the future. In the meantime, I invite you to stroll about the campus, meet with your peers, and enjoy all the sites of the Grand Lodge. And of course, there's the Competition! Show off your skills or sharpen them if need be! I’ll send around ushers when it’s time to assemble for the speeches on the north lawn. Enjoy!"
At this time-honored signal for the Competition to commence, members of different Tables spring into action and race off towards a variety of different destinations. Yet one more familiar face pauses as he notices the group. A halfling whom several of you have traveled with exclaims out excitedly, “Heya, Jillia! Markus! And… Nella, right? We fought that animated blasted dummy together!” Almost out of breath and bursting with enthusiasm as he rushes towards you, the halfling runs his fingers through his curly brown hair before offering his hand to Smiley and Kharg. “Greetings! My name is Brobdingnagian, and these are some good friends of mine. Who might you be?” he beams.
Introduction time! Please introduce yourselves to the group and Exposition NPC. The Competition can wait a bit… literally, as it takes drastically less time to roll dice for multiple skill-checks online than in person.
You can also respond to either of the <post>s with the format of <post 1> “Text” or <post 2> “Text” corresponding to whether it's before or after Marcos Farbellus' speech. I wanted to give people an opportunity to better interact with what otherwise felt like a big Wall of Intro Text.
The Grand Lodge is beginning to feel like home for Markus. Having only recently completed his Confirmation, Markus has spent the majority of the past three years in Absalom. The recent arrival of so many famous, and infamous, Pathfinders makes Markus proud to carry the Glyph of the Open Road on his wayfinder.
He heads towards table 224, looking around for familiar faces. As he arrives, the booming voice of Master Farabellus sounds across the lawn.
The speech concludes, and Markus turns back to his table-mates, and is pleased to see a number of friendly faces. "Jillia! Nella! Great to see you again!" Markus exclaims, shaking the ladies' hands enthusiastically. "And some new faces too. Hello, I'm Markus, great to meet you."
A familiar voice causes Markus to spin around. "Brob! How have you been? Good to see you."
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
As Nella made her way out of her room at the Grand Lodge and outside towards the South Lawn, she found that she could barely contain her excitement at the sight of so many Pathfinders gathered together in one place - some of them familiar faces, but many more that were not.
What luck to have the Grand Convocation start so soon after my Confirmation! I thought I was going to have wait a whole year before it would come around again.
She pauses for a moment, glancing back down at the small slip of paper in her hand. "224, huh? Okay, looks like...ah! There it is!" Hurrying over to her assigned table, she very nearly trips over a gnome heading in the opposite direction. "Whoops! Sorry, sorry!" she calls over her shoulder apologetically before turning her attention back to the others gathered at the table. "Markus? Jillia? Hi!" she waves, but any further attempts at conversation are halted as Master Farabellus begins to address the assembled crowd.
As the speech ends, Nella turns her attention back to her fellow teammates. "It's good to see you two again," she smiles, shaking hands with both of the halflings. "And it's good to meet you two," she adds, turning to the dwarf and half-orc and offering her hand to each in turn. "Nella, Nella Tabor. It may sound cliche, but I'm looking forward to working with you!"
When yet another familiar voice rings out, the redheaded woman turns and waves, a grin on her face. "Brob! Yeah, we all fought that crazy dummy together while you serenaded us. How did it go? Oh yes, 'My, my monsters hit you so hard, makes you say 'Oh my lord!'" she sings, snapping her fingers in time to the words. "Good to see you again!"
With a burst of speed and a cloud of dust, Jillia gets to Table 224 mere seconds before Farabellus starts speaking. Her chainshirt looks recently polished and even more recently smudged, and her three-day old wayfinder already sports multiple dents and dings. She spits out a mouthful of hair and finishes approximately half of the word "hey" before being interrupted.
Still counts. Made it!
"Hey! Markus, Nella! Brob! Looks like I wasn't the only new recruit to get the memo," she announces with pride, grinning like a madwoman, offering four-foot high-fives. "All we're missing is Janira and we'll have all of Team Halfling! And it looks like a few new friends- -excellent!" She continues, glancing at the dwarf and the half-orc with whom she shares a table. Jumping to her feet, knocking her chair backward, she introduces herself with a hand extended to shake, "Jillia Tennille, Student of Swords! Pleased to meetya!"
Smiley is having a grand time meeting his new teammates, swapping stories, and generally gladhanding while inadvertently drinking other people's beer. When a highly annoyed tiefling arrives with no place to sit, Smiley discovers (that is, is *told*) that he is currently at Table 242. Bowing low to his newfound friends, he hustles over to the correct table just as a young pretty halfling lass arrives.
Unable to catch anyone's eye once the speech has started, he instead grins broadly at everyone at the table while mostly ignoring the contents of the speech.
Smiley Stonegirdle is mighty glad to meet you all!, he bellows, and it seems as if he really means it.
Marsuk and Nelba and Bob and Gelly! So nice to meet new friends! So lucky! So lucky! Very nice. He almost pulls your hand off in his enthusiasm, should you be so bold as to shake hands with him.
He glances a bit sidelong at the muscular half-orc, centuries-long hatred simmering to the surface. But shortly, he decides that with all those tattoos he must have some good stories to tell, and stories are fun!
Kharg strolls around the south lawn. He was told to muster by a painted number 224. As he looks for the number, he soaks in the scene: the well manicured grounds, the excited Pathfinders, the busy ushers and officials. Everyone is so happy, and clean, and well fed. Even in competition, the Pathfinders, are polite and good-natured. Inwardly, Kharg smiles. He is happy to be here. I made the right choice he says to himself.
After listening to Master of Swords Marcos Farabellus' speech, Kharg finds his group by the painted 224. He pauses. "This is where it falls apart", he thinks to himself. The warmth and enthusiasm of the welcome, however,takes him off guard. He shakes Nella and Jillia's hand in turn and nods to Markus. He smiles at Brobdingnagian and shakes his hand, too. I am called Kharg and I am very happy to meet you
He catches the dwarf's sidelong glance and meets it. After considering the situation for a moment, he flashes a toothy grin and proclaims Our Lord in Iron favors me this day! Smiley Stonegirdle, you seem a worthy opponent! He extends his hand and says I am Kharg
Smiley's grin at being greeted so warmly almost splits his face.
I should have to be quite lucky to best you in any contest, Kharg my new friend. As it happens, however, I am the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, so I might just have a chance!
Yup, Smiley even got the silent "h" in Kharg's name. Sometimes he gets it right.
He moves to slap Kharg on the back jovially.
The dwarf and the half-orc seem big on one-upmanship. This will be fun!
"Kharg. Smiley. Smiley. Kharg," Jillia repeats to herself in an attempt to remember names later. "I would ask you to tell me about yourself but it'd be rude to expect you to go first. I'm Jillia Tennille, Student of Swords!" She tacks on the title with significantly more gusto than is warranted. "Farabellus heard about how the seven of us on my last mission single-handedly killed a minotaur and has taken me under his wing- -I've learned a lot in the last couple days," she continues, grinning widely as she points to the numerous places where her armor shows signs of damage. "Remind me sometime to tell how myself and thirteen other Pathfinder initiates once dismantled a training dummy single-handedly! Got any stories to tell?"
How did it go? Oh yes, 'My, my monsters hit you so hard, makes you say 'Oh my lord!'" she sings, snapping her fingers in time to the words. "Good to see you again!"
Brob seems delighted. "And then you cast Bless right as I sang 'Thank you for Blessing me...' that was literally magical timing." He grins at Jillia and Markus, "Glad that we get to see each other under less Minotaur situations. I tell you, it was incredibly disheartening to find that they don't actually say, 'Moo.'"
Finally turning to Smiley and Kharg, he chuckles. "It's lucky that we meet such worthy friends!" His smile wavers only a fraction as he signs. "Sadly, though, it looks like I'm going to be competing against you guys... I got Table 226. Well guess I won’t be competing against *all* of you, I’m skipping the Weight Lifting, myself” he amends, glancing at his relatively tiny arms, ”but I have a perfect song for the occasion planned for the Storytelling! So, maybe after all the Competition, no one will notice if I sneak over to your Table during the Banquet? Definitely not so that I can grab an extra dessert." He grins. "Although I suppose the point of the Grand Convocation is to meet new people..."
He pauses a moment, probably the first time he really took a breath after his nearly non-stop series of greetings. "Though, uh, have you guys noticed anything funny around here? Funny in the 'odd' sense, not in the Ulfen dancing sort of way." Clearly thinking better of it, he shakes his head. "Ah, never mind. I suppose it's nothing..."
Clearly something is on Brob’s mind, anyone can make a DC 20 Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check to try and get him to say more. Each success opens the following:
Additionally please continue with any greetings or discussion you might have amongst the group, we'll move to the Competitions tomorrow
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"Well, glad to see that everyone seems to be getting along so well," Nella chuckles as Smiley and Kharg size each other up and promptly begin talking of friendly competitions and one-upmanship. "And you two will definitely want to hear Jillia's story at some point; it's a riot."
"Storytelling eh? I'm not sure that I'll compete, but if I don't I'll certainly try to listen in." She stands on tip-toe, looking for the signs that indicate which competition is being held where. "I think I'll visit the Lore Symposium first and then head on over to the Sleuthing contest, myself. Though I'd love another go at tackling an obstacle course I'd probably best stick to my strengths," she continues with a rueful smile.
As the assembled group chatters away, something in Brob's demeanor and tone of voice seems to shift, catching Nella's attention. "Funny? What do you mean?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
Smiley looks quizzically at
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
Oooh, so close.
Oooh, look, Smiley's beer is definitely empty. Smiley must get a new one.
Initially intimidated by the appearance of the tall half-orc and the burly dwarf, Markus quickly relaxes as they greet everyone. Everyone is so friendly, I probably shouldn't have judged them by their appearance.
"If the story of the Attack of the Killer Training Dummy doesn't win the story-telling contest I'll be very disappointed!" Markus laughs. "It has everything - laughter, tension, dismemberment! I'll have to leave the telling to someone more competent that's myself though. I'm going to have a go at the obstacle course, after such success at Janira's little set-up, then maybe I'll join you in the sleuthing competition Nella."
"I typically leave the jokes to you, Brob, so if something's funny, it's probably something you're thinking of. So what is it? It's not like spilling the beans is going to disqualify your table or something," Jillia says warmly. "C'mon, were friends!"
Bluff: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9 Wording bluffs is hard.
"I think you should give the wieghtlifting a try anyway- -show the tallfolk how its done. I plan on it! Right after I make the second obstacle course go better than the first, hah!"Jillia punctuates her boast with a fist pump. I still don't know where Janira found hoops to literally jump through...
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"Okay, so lots of new Pathfinders here lately - like us. But that makes sense given all the publicity they've gotten in the past couple of years. Success is appealing; people want to be part of something successful, whether for personal gain or some loftier goal, right? That's not unusual," Nella shrugs.
"And here I thought you had some sort of insider information about one of the upcoming events or had noticed something juicy like two of the Venture Captains sneaking off to the broom closet," she continues, giving Brob a wink. "But I suppose not..."
Bluff (Untrained): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 2 = 17
Wasn't sure if we could make another attempt with the same skill or if it had to be a different one, so thought I'd try a different approach. Close but no cigar, hehe.
Kharg, his curiosity aroused by the conversation says, Come on, Brob-ding-nag-I-an, what are you on about? So what there's lots of new pathfinders? That's a good thing, right?
Although Kharg's question is in earnest, he sometimes forgets that his size, Orcish looks and giant double ax can be a little "Intimidating" to people.
Intimidate: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
DC20 is a pretty high bar for 1st level PC's to hit three times. How hard do you want us to keep trying?
Smiley looks confused by Brob's explanation.
Green pathfinders would mean half-orcs (or trolls? Do Pathfinders have trolls? Smiley thinks not), but Smiley only sees Kharg and a few others. Huh. Bob must be confused.
What you mean, Bob?
Diplomacy (Aid Another): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 1 = 11
DC 20 is high, it's also just one path to get the same info you can get later. Moving on, though I suppose if Markus wants to Intimidate Brob we can retcon that.
Brob looks a bit downcast, seeming to weigh things for a moment, the responds "I... like I said. It's nothing, I'm sure. Anyway, you guys all go have fun at the obstacle course. I'll escort Nella to the Symposium," he pauses and turns to Nella "If you'd care for company?" he says with a wink.
Pushing to the Obstacle Course here in a few minutes.
Near the Training Ground several obstacle courses have been set up, from the mundane trek of wagon wheels, barrels, boards and moats to the almost implausible course that seems set up to test Seekers or Venture Captains that features an almost sheer drop, posts spaced 15 feet apart, and an almost lethal looking contraption of goblin construction that has several goblin ears stuck to it.
Of all things, a red Fox completes one of the Medium treks to the applause of the crowd. “Best time!”, someone shouts out and rushes over to add the name "F. Fox" to the Track on the large chalkboard that is serving as the leaderboard and list of participants.
The “Red” track (which you’ve heard is designated for newer recruits) consists of several feet of winding posts to navigate, a set of wagonwheels to test footwork between the spokes, a dive through a bottomless ale keg, a jump over a small pool, then finally a leap to reach a dangling red rope that is tied to a post.
To compete, make a DC 15 Acrobatics check or a DC 12 Dexterity check
Not actually a "literal" competition, the Symposium is where a number of Pathfinders of scholarly bent meet to discuss a variety of topics, from the expansion of the Worldwound (and what Political, Geographical, or Planar implications it might have), to the Applied Applications of Geomantic Force (attended almost entirely by gnomes.)
There is one heated theological discussion ongoing regarding the nature of the goddess Lissala and her portfolio. Specifically on whether or not she was always an Evil goddess, or if shifts in the beliefs of her Thassilonian worshipers under the rule of the Runelords caused her to change. One wizened human in robes with a golden holy symbol of Abadar shouts out (more forcefully than one would expect from someone his age) "Are you suggesting that if the mutant-spawn of Lamashtu begin to civilize, that would make the demon-goddess a lawful diety? What hubris, to imagine that actions of man can change a god!" There are some murmurings amongst the crowd, most of them nodding, and you can hear the phrase "Point" used more than once.
To participate in the discussion (or propose a different topic!), make a DC 15 Knowledge (any) or Linguistics check.
Smiley go first! Today is Smiley's lucky day!
The muscled dwarf steps up to the Obstacle course confidently, girds his loins, and sets off.
Acrobatics: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Ha, ha! Seventh Son of a Seventh Son! Every day is my lucky day! Beat that, my friends!
Here, Smiley, hold my Ax!
Kharg stretches his arms, hops up and down a couple of times, and takes off...
Acrobatics: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
Ha! Two out of three, Smiley?
Wow! that was close!
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"It's a date! Lead the way," Nella grins in reply as she follows Brob to where the Lore Symposium is taking place.
Once arrived, she meanders around for a little bit, listening in on the various debates with interest though she too is eventually caught up in observing the ongoing discussion concerning Lissala. Furrowing her brow in thought, she raises her hand after the priest of Abadar finishes speaking. "I'm not sure about Lissala or your example with Lamashtu, but the actions of mortals can have an affect on the the gods and their servants. What about when Naderi the Lost Maiden ascended? That was a direct result of the actions of two mortal lovers. If that can happen and if mortals themselves can ascend like Lady Iomedae, then shouldn't an open mind be kept about this too? That doesn't seem like hubris, it seems like common sense."
Kn. Religion: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Smiley really glad he not in that Lore discussion. The semantics of theological rhetoric entail a complex oratory dance which frequently fails to achieve consensus, notwithstanding the passionate embrace of scriptural wisdom. Also, thinking that hard makes Smiley's head hurt.
Har, har! Smiley's bellowed laugh is pure genuine joy at having a worthy opponent. You're on, my friend. Here, hold my...
Smiley realizes that he typically carries no large weapon, pats his pockets, finds something he likes and presents it to Kharg.
Acrobatics: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Not as good this time. I must be saving my luck for the next one.
Jillia gazes on as Smiley and Kharg dash through the obstacle course.
"Not bad for tallfolk! Well done," she earnestly congratulates.
Trust in the path, she mutters under her breath as she waits for a signal to go. As soon as she receives it, she's off and running like a halfling possessed.
Acrobatics: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
She effortlessly burns through the slalom, hopscotches the wagonwheel footwork section losing a fraction of time where the obstacles are clearly intended to test a larger creature's rhythm. She regains her speed, does a neat diving roll through the bottomless keg, not even grazing the sides and long jumps the pool, takes a half step and launchers herself to the rope, gets a good hold on it, and swings in a wide tetherball-like arc, a big grin on her face, waiting to see just how high up the board her name would be.
"Much better than the last time I tried one of these!" If only Janira could see this.
There is a roar of applause as Smiley completes his run, and his name is momentarily at the top of the leaderboard before Kharg takes the top spot! Jilia makes a strong showing as well, tying Smiley's time! It's pretty clear that your small group has far exceeded the demands of the mundane course and even gives even some of the veteran pathfinders pause as your names top the leaderboard for the course.
As you congradulate yourselves, the fox you saw complete the 'Blue' course earlier ambles up to you before transforming into a red-furred kitsune dressed in immaculate clothing, clapping his hands for you. "Impressively done. I didn't know that Table 224 was hiring ringers this year. As your names are currently adorning the top of the board, allow me introduce myself! You may have heard of me as... 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox!'" At the blank looks that presumable follow, he sighs. "I really need to work on my branding strategy. But regardless, well done."
You chat for a bit, and he shares the following rumors:
The principal discovery of the sky citadel of Jormurdun has been moved to a strange chamber with no corners along the exterior walls, floor, and ceiling. This is to help shield it from strange otherworldly entities. This year’s keynote address is allegedly about the artifact discovered in Jormurdun, the Sky Key.
Master of Spells, Aram Zey was slated to deliver the keynote address but begged out of the privilege, citing his general dislike and disdain for the Grand Convocation as a colossal waste of time and expense. Marcos Farabellus, Master of Swords, volunteered to take his place.
After that he exclaims, "I'm off to the Meagerie to see what manner of beasts they've brought in specifically to try and impress us all at the Grand Convocation. Sounds like they had to add a '0' to the budget for the month to maintain it all. They'd best be treating them well... we aren't all wild animals here." With that he shifts back into fox form and dashes off.
Markus, you can still compete. The next round of options are the Weight Lifting or Sleuthing, I think that covers everyone, though there's some overlap. People can drift between the two and hit both.
Anyone that made the DC for the check gains a +2 competence bonus on one Dexterity-based skill check attempted during the adventure.
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At the Symposium, there is a wide acknowledgement of "Point" from the crowd at Nella's words. The cleric attempts to recover with a statement of "But those are examples of gods *while* they were mortal, not after they ascended!" but the conversation has moved on. All around you a variety of different views and theories are expressed, and you even catch a bit of Brob singing a decidedly dark yet catchy and upbeat rendition of "All Lamashtu's Creatures Have a Place in the Fire."
"All Lamashtu's creatures have a place in the fire
Some burn low and some burn higher
Some scream out loud on the funeral pyre
And others just flail their Hands or Paws
Or Wings or Claws
Or anything they got now."
You're unsure what topic brought this up, but there's nods of agreement from the crowd around him
You could probably spend all day here, but more of the Competition awaits! Brob catches up with you and grins. "To the Sleuthing?" He offers his hand.
Nella, you gain a +2 competence bonus on one Linguistics or Knowledge check attempted during the adventure.
Great, now I'm going to have "All Lamashtu's Creatures" running through my head all day.
Back on the obstacle course
Markus steps up to the start line, looking down the course at the variety of obstacles. Feeling slightly intimidated by Smiley, Kharg and Jillia's times, Markus launches himself forward at top speed.
Dexterity check DC 12: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
The leap across the pool and the jump for the rope let Markus' time down, having moved with grace and fluidity through the prior obstacles. Finishing in an adequate time raises Markus' spirits. The arrival of a strange tall fox startles Markus, but he listens intently at the information the fox has to deliver. The tall fox turns back into a normal fox, and scampers off. "What was that? The variety of odd-looking tallfolk never ceases to amaze me."
Not far from the Obstacle course, an area is cleared with a variety of weights arrayed, from the 20-50 pound weights marked as "red" to massive boulders and various other weights one that looks like it might weigh more than party combined.
From observation, it appears that small participants can opt for a handicap, though the "house rules" imply that only natural strength can be used, not magical devices or aids. There is one heated argument ongoing about what exactly defines "magical" aids between a dragon-blood blood rager (currently in draconic form) and a massive half-orc wearing little more than a loin-cloth and a greatsword.
There's an ongoing bet on whether or not a Calm Emotions spell will need to be cast to settle that argument.
To participate make a DC 12 Strength Check.
Jillia will put her 3cp on "Calm Emotions will be necessary" before proving she needs no handicap.
Strength: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17
To show off, she takes the red weight and tries to press it a second time.
Strength: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
"Hah! The Turn would be proud!"
Nice rolls, Jillia. :-)
Smiley rushes over to the Weight Lifting competition, eager to be away from overhearing so many words with lots of sylblabbles...syllalubs...sybbaluls...so many big words.
He flexes his muscles at Kharg, winks at Jillia, and steps up to the first set of weights...
Strength: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
...and finds his loincloth dropping to his knees as he lifts.
Ooops! Well, I guess that was lucky for the ladies in the audience!, he laughs.
So far this is not good for Smiley's self-confidence. Maybe I should have engaged the storytelling challenge.
Kharg nods at Jillia approvingly. Good job! You have much power in that small frame
To Smiley, he says Lucky for the ladies, unlucky for me. I will never be able to un-see that. Here, let me try
Kharg swings his arms around and rotates his shoulders.
strength: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11
He turns to Smiley Gorum's rusty codpiece! he blurts out in frustration.
Kharg glances at the dragon-blood blood rager yelling about what constitutes magic enhancement.
Clearly this contest has been compromised by sorcery of some sort, Smiley. Let us go dazzle the others at the sleuthing booth!
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"Bravo!" Nella claps as she catches up with Brob in time to hear the last bit of his song. "Not sure what brought that up, but I'm probably better off not knowing! And yes, we'd better hurry on," she nods as she takes the offered hand. "I wonder how the others are faring?"
Brob chuckles. "Probably getting all hot and sweaty I suppose... He snaps his fingers. "That reminds me, you know how you mentioned venture-captains getting caught in a closet? Well, have you heard of Arliss Hall? It’s the building that Venture Captains stay in while in the Lodge here in Absalom. I’ve heard it literally always has room for any Venture Captain that would stay there. Like, the House rearranges itself.
Well, word from some of my new friends is that there are so many Venture Captains all here at once and the House has changed so much that some have gotten lost wandering the hallways! Imagine that, Venture Captains getting lost in the Lodge?!?”
Sensing that perhaps Nella had lost the relevance to the conversation, he adds, "There actually *was* an attractive young female venture captain that got caught in a pretty compromising situation with a Pathfinder Agent... the Venture-Captain claimed that the Hall just folded around them and got them both trapped together. I'm not sure how much stock I put in that explanation, though I really can't elaborate further myself. A gentleman never tells." He gives a big wink as they both reach the Sleuthing Competition.
Hosted in a lecture hall in one of the eastern outbuildings, a few different rooms have been set up with fake crime scenes. Watching one of them prior to competing, you see a well-dressed, blindfolded man with a sword-cane being lead into the room of what would be a gristly murder. A large sand-dial filled with two minutes worth of sand is flipped over and the blind-fold is removed to let the would-be sleuth observe as many clues and forensic evidence as they can, before they’re once more blindfolded and must present their take on the scene with supporting evidence from memory to a panel of judges.
You watch as the man quickly examines the evidence, his eyes seeming to dart to clues mundane or magical. After an incredibly fast two minutes, he then presents his case, recalling with perfect clarity details you can’t see even after he pointed them out. There is a subdued applause, much less boisterous than the less “intellectual” competitions would have.
In the room for the “red” competition, competitors are shown a scene of a robbery murder. A middle-aged man lies face down in what is set-up to be an alley. What you observe and can recall varies upon your skill.
To compete: Make a DC 15+ Heal, Perception, or Survival. You can spoil your observations and analysis ;)
While waiting for the start of the sleuthing round, Markus finds a ring-side place to watch the weightlifting. A significant number of the weights for the contenders to lift are bigger than him, and he watches in awe as competitor after competitor lift the huge weights.
He see Jillia, Smiley and Kharg step into the ring, and calls out in support.
"Let's go 224! Woo!"
Jillia's success is somewhat overshadowed by Smiley's untimely 'display', but all three earn a huge round of applause. "Great work Jillia! Markus shouts, "You showed those tallfolk how halflings get it done!"
Making his way over to the lecture hall, and finds the small seminar room with the 'red' level competition. After queueing for a few minutes, he is led inside the room, and the timer is started.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Markus makes his report to the supervising Venture-Captain, a gruff-looking dwarf who seems unimpressed with the quality of the competitors so far.
Smiley heads over to the sleuthing competition and waits in line.
Hooray for Marsuk! he shouts, more out of general team camaraderie than any real understanding of the outcome.
When it comes his time to sleuth, Smiley gazes at the crime scene, counting on his extraordinary luck to see him through.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18
Success! As usual. Smiley makes his report to the dour venture-captain.
The dour dwarven investigator nods at the two Sleuths. Marcus' provides an exemplary analysis, Smiley... Smiley's is much more colorful.
While milling about, you do overhear a couple of Pathfinder agents whispering about an increased district guard presence around the Lodge:
You gain a +2 competence bonus on one Heal, Perception, or Survival check attempted during the adventure.
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"Wow, seriously? I've not heard of Arliss Hall until now, but that's doesn't surprise me since I'm sure there's loads of stuff that we aren't privy to yet as new Pathfinders," Nella exclaims with a low whistle. "But if that's true, then it wouldn't surprise me a bit to hear of people getting lost in the Lodge. Magic is a strange animal, even at the best of times. And if they're getting lost, then who knows where they'll end up when the Lodge decides to spit them out. I just hope I don't have to worry about finding a Venture Captain squashed into my wardrobe when I go to bed tonight!"
Once they arrive at the Sleuthing competition, Nella gives Markus and Smiley an eager wave. "There you are! Looks like great minds think alike, eh? Good luck with the competition!"
When her turn at the competition comes up, Nella carefully studies the fabricated crime scene, paying especially close attention to the 'victim'.
Heal: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
The presence of the cut and the nature of the blade indicates an assassination made to look like a robbery. It could be a true assassination by the Red Mantis Assassins or it could be an even deeper plot framing the Red Mantis for the whole thing. The presence of the wayfinder means that the victim could have been a Pathfinder, but more information is needed to know for sure. Perhaps the Chronicle contained some sort of information that someone did not want published?
Table 224 continues to make their mark on the Competition with an incredibly strong showing in the Sleuthing. As potential Sleuths filter in and out, Markus continues to have the highest marks for that crime scene.
Brob has one final bit of conspiratorial advice, tying together his previous observations:
"The Decemvirate has really spared no expense on this year’s Grand Convocation and tried to bring in as many Pathfinders as possible to be here. They’ve even paid for Teleport costs for some of the more far-reaching Lodges to attend. They say it’s 'an effort to demonstrate their appreciation to field agents, repair any frayed relationships, and celebrate a successful year.' I say there has to be something big about to happen that they need so many Pathfinders all in one place. Something they're keeping from the rank and file. So keep your eyes and ears open!"
Glancing around, the seriousness of his voice fades. "So, anyone going to Boasting?"
With a swagger in their step, the participants of the Boasting Competition is a rioutous explosion of performance. Pathfinders of all stripes swap tales of their deads (real or imagined) in one of the events that bragging is not only allowed, it's encouraged. In addition to the "traditional" story swapping, there are a variety of performances and art exhibits, even including physical painting on exuberantly put on display.
The only common element for the Competition is the pride that is put into it.
To compete make a DC 15 Bluff or Performance check
Last but not least, for Markus
As you've heard rumor, the Menagerie has been expanded to include all manner of exotic beasts: from giant frogs and fire beetles to a massive Rukh (a giant, two headed vulture.) In order to show their empathy for wildlife (or just outright feral force of personality), those Pathfinders that weren't literally raised by wolves Compete at trying to convince one such beast from one part of their enclosure to another.
As you arrive, you see one half-orc attempting to get an ape to go to the designated area.
The half-orc stares at the ape.
The ape stares right back at him.
The ape shows his teeth.
The half-orc shows his teeth right back at him.
The half-orc roars!
The ape roars right back at him!
The ape throws poo at the half-orc!
The half-orc... mercifully, time is called on that round.
To compete make a DC 15 Handle Animal, Intimidate, or wild empathy check.
Smiley steps up to the Boasting competition.
Kharg, my friend, I am guessing you do not need to embeshell...enshellbesh...make up stories. As for Smiley, ...
Bluff: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (15) - 1 = 14 Aaah, so close.
Smiley Stonegirdle does not need to lie. Smiley is the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, so Smiley is lucky times forty-eight.
Smiley acknowledges the polite, but confused applause.
Har! Let Smiley Stonegirdle handle that ape!
Smiley stares into the ape's eyes. Smiley flexes his muscles, pounds his chest, raises his hands to appear larger, stamps the ground, and ...
Uses Martial Flexibility to gain the benefits of Intimidating Prowess temporarily.
Intimidate: 1d20 - 1 + 3 ⇒ (5) - 1 + 3 = 7 Well, I guess this is to be expected when playing a character who thinks he's extraordinarily lucky.
...fails to impress the ape enough to move him at all.
Ha! The ape is not smart enough to see Smiley's prowess. Poor, poor ape.
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
For fun, Nella will try the boasting/performance competition. Rather than 'boasting' though, she's going for a more standard sort of funny story.
"Something special planned? Huh...I guess that would make sense given what you've told us so far, but I wonder what it could be?" Nella sighs. "I guess we'll just have to wait and see, but this will be like waiting for Crystalhue every year!"
"At least we've got the competitions and other things to keep us occupied," she adds with a smile. "Oh, I think Smiley's off to the boasting competition too! Let's hurry and catch up."
Settling in, Nella eagerly listens to the tales that her fellow table-mates have to share. When her turn comes around, she blinks. "Well...I'm pretty new to the Society so I don't really have many epic stories under my belt yet. But if you like jokes, I've got a funny story for you."
Settling into a cross-legged position on a nearby chair, she clears her throat. "I wanted a horse when I was a child - but what young girl doesn't? My family's always lived in Magnimar though, so it wasn't feasible. My siblings and I had to settle for a cat, instead." She grins, obviously recalling an old memory. "Uncle Eamon brought him home one day, as a surprise. A young ginger tom; Uncle called him Rumboozle. Funny thing, he conveniently forgot to tell our mother about the surprise. And being a tom, of course Rum took off almost as soon as Uncle brought him home. Needless to say, she was less than pleased with him when our neighbors came by asking why her children were out in the streets looking for 'Rumboozle'!"
She laughs. "To this day I don't know if Uncle named him that as part of a grand joke on my mother or not."
Perform: Oratory (Untrained): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22 Only Nella would achieve critical success with telling a story about a cat...oh and rumboozle is an alcoholic beverage listed in Ultimate Equipment/Adventurer's Armory :3
Upon hearing that the Lore competition is open to other topics besides boring gods-talk, rushes over to try his voice.
Smiley Stonegirdle proposes new topic! It is known that the taverns of Absalom are home to many interesting and exotic travelers. But know you, gathered beings, that one local tavern has been home for one night to an actual Succubus! It was the fourth day of Desnus in the reign of...
Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (11) + 3 = 14 C'mon, dice! Seriously???
Smiley's tale, while true, suffers from the stilted delivery of someone reciting by rote rather with a true understanding of the topic. The audience is polite, but the topic is quickly dropped.
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Jillia eventually manages to get to the boasting competition just as Nella is finishing a riveting story about some alcoholic children or something. Whatever it was, it had the crowd rolling.
"Varisia sounds like a crazy place. In Almas, the kids don't get to drink until their fourteenth birthday, so you got us beat, there."
When she finally gets a chance to speak, she lowers her voice, and tries to quiet the crowd for atmosphere.
"It was not long ago, she begins, unable to hold her quiet tone for more than five words before her exuberant nature shows through. "the setting, here in Absolam. At the weightlifting competition over there, about 20 minutes ago or so," she continues, a finger pointed across the quad. "Pathfinders of all shapes and sizes and experience levels were challenged to prove their strength. And so, a young, beautiful, halfling lady who will remain nameless stepped to the podium. The officials offered her a handicap- -said she was short. Said 'there was a subclass for people like you.' And what did that person do?" Jillia looks out on the crowd for a second or two before continuing. "She took the bar- -the one meant for the tallfolk boys- -and lifted it over her head. Twice! Twice! It surprised one dwarf right out of his pants! And then, after the next few contestants couldn't match her feat, grumblings of magic assistance went through the crowd. Halflings can be strong! Ladies can be strong!"
Bluff: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25 Halflings are naturally lucky!
Jilllia raises a fist skyward, to punctuate her boasting, a wide smile on her face. She offers a four-foot-three-inch high high-five to the next person to talk, exiting the center of the circle.
Regarding the boasting competition:
Smiley, my friend, I let my actions speak for themselves, but I will try this boasting competition
bluff: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (9) - 1 = 8
Bah! Clever words never cleaved a skull! Looking around, Kharg notices the glances he received at his remark and awkwardly adds you know what I mean.