A courier delivers a message addressed to you:
Nearly a year ago, Absalom fought off an invasion of demonflesh constructs and undead marines remembered as the Fiendflesh Siege, during which the city’s siege lord offered every slave freedom in exchange for their assistance in defending Absalom. Practically overnight, one of the city’s cruelest industries came to an end, and many hundreds of the liberated have since become Absalom’s newest citizens.
Although most have welcomed their manumitted neighbors with open arms, an unidentified serial murderer known only as the Rose Street Killer has systematically slain at least a dozen of these freed people. So far, the city’s guards have questioned scores of witnesses and suspects with no luck. The Rose Street Killer remains at large, and one of their most recent targets was Nelfurhin Zor, a former scriptorium slave who had joined the Pathfinder Society shortly after the siege. The Society doesn’t normally investigate crimes in Absalom, but Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin is furious that a Pathfinder’s gone missing thanks to this criminal. He’s assembled a team of agents to help solve the case, and you’re one of them. Don’t let him down—lives are on the line.
Report to Venture-Captain Valsin at Noon tomorrow.
For some of you, these cryptic notes may be commonplace, for other new to the Pathfinder Society it may be a new experience. Regardless, you arrive at the gates at the appointed time along with several others bearing similar letters.
Please introduce yourselves!
A lovely young gnomish woman wearing scarlet robes strolls up. On her shoulder is a small lizard-like creature whose eyes shine with surprising intelligence.
"Hello my friends, I am Nalshene, a Pathfinder agent and practitioner of the natural arts." She bows deeply to the group. "Valsin has decided to summon several of us for this task, it would seem. Another Pathfinder to save, par for the course, as it were."
A stout young man walks in who wouldn't look out place in any of the academies of Absalom, if not for the brace of hatchets tucked in to his belt. Jean re-examines the letter from Valsin, which he's been using to mark his page in a thick book on Taldane court etiquette during the time of the Second Army of Exploration.
These murders are a bad business. Sooner we get to the bottom of this, the safer it will be on the streets.
Looking like he was pulled unwilling from some deep laboratory workshop Ord blinks at his surroundings and his fellow pathfinder agents. He wears a stained lab coat over some type of protective leather apron and smells of sulfur and other less natural scents. All sorts of vials and apparati are stuffed into pockets or hang from hooks on his oversized apron. What looks to be a sharpened piece of building material with a crude handle lashed to it is strapped firmly to his stomach. In a surprisingly pleasing voice he states Yes, I was one of the slaves freed a year back so I quickly agreed to join this quest. Something must be done to to this murderer down. I am Ord, Alchemist of the society. I am pleased to meet you.
A wiry -- almost gaunt, painfully so -- Vudrani man approaches, looking around.
He wears simple linen clothes, a tunic and pants, dyed black. A simple wooden medallion hangs from his neck, a spiral carved onto both of its surfaces. He wears a laden backpack, but has no visible weaponry, not even a belt knife.
"He may not need saving at all," the man -- barely more than a boy, to be honest -- notes. "If Our Lady of Graves has claimed him, he is now in a better place, and is at peace. Still, if it wasn't his time, perhaps it would be good to find who is responsible.
"Oh," he adds, blinking. "I'm Anivash."
|Robert Spany Junior|
A tall dark skinned man slowly walks up to the group standing at the gate. “Howdy all, we be waiting for Valsin, yeah?“ he asks in a slight accent. “I am being the Fighter.“ a smile can clearly been seen on his face and some are drawn to his deep blue eyes. “I is being Bob Junior. You be is call me BJ.“
A rather youthful (for a dwarf) figure approaches, holding a copy of the same letter as the rest of you. His hair is jet black, and braided into high cornrows that end with jeweled bangles on each braid. His black beard is oiled and brushed, and trimmed exquisitely, each fork held fast by a shining golden ring.
The dwarf wears a rich cloak, that is a bit travel-stained now. A silver chain around his neck holds a holy symbol in the shape of a hammer. A bigger, but similar hammer is at the belt of the cleric.
He looks you over once, noting the goblin with obvious distaste and gnome with mild annoyance. "I am Grim Highsmith, acolyte of Torag and initiate with the Society. I assume you are here for the same reason I am," he shakes the letter to emphasize the point. "It is a shame about murders of those unfortunates who were recently enslaved. Now a missing Pathfinder agent as well! It is time to put an end to this, in the name of the Smith himself!"
Your small party assembles just inside the gates of the Pathfinder Society’s Grand Lodge to meet Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin, who is in charge of daily operations there. The Venture-Captain flicks an invisible speck of dust from his impeccably pressed cuff before speaking.
“Thank you for arriving together; I don’t like to repeat myself. I trust you received my note, and I hope you have your wits about you. It’s all well and good for everyone in the city to concoct their own thrilling hypotheses about some serial murderer, but Pathfinders need to be a bit more…” Ambrus thinks for a moment before continuing, “… evidence based. To that end, I’d like you to find some low-ranking members of the Bloody Barbers and press them for information. I suspect their straight razors are ultimately to blame for the disappearances.”
Almost as an afterthought, Ambrus adds, “I shouldn’t need to tell you to be careful in dealing with Absalom’s largest thieves’ guild, but do try to avoid the old crimson shave.” He draws his thumb slowly across his neck for emphasis.
Are there any questions? I'll probably move things along on Monday if it seems like everyone is back.
"Ah, the old Sevillian murder group, eh? Classic, no doubt. We will be careful, and I assure you, we will get the information. I'm quite persuasive, you know." Nalshene winks at Ambrus.
With a slight sigh, Jean says:
"I thought I'd dealt with the Barbers for the last time. Believe me, I know well enough to be careful around them.
Do we have any concrete leads? Anything separate Zor from the other victims?"
Yes, a dozen done for. And all of the recently freed. Are there any other things linking the victims? Might we get a list of them with their descriptions and how each was killed? The goblin asks. I would actually like to see the bodies if that is possible. And how do we know the name of the killer? Also, where is this Rose Street? We might should investigate it.
Arcana: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
Lore-PFS: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
Occultism: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
|Robert Spany Junior|
Listening to the other people in the room speak so quickly, BJ’s head starts to hurt. ”So, we need be going to... how is it being said... rescue these Barbers and capture these people?” thinking about good his common has become, BJ smiles.
Ambrus snorts. "If I had leads, I wouldn't be sending for you all to investigate. However, I have no doubt that this group is more than capable for the task of piecing together the likely location for one of their meeting places."
He turns to the goblin. "Their former slavery is the only common link that I know of. The bodies, however, are unavailable." He doesn't seem to deem the rest of the questions from all sides worth answering, until the question of money comes up. "What are you, Aspis? If you ended up murdered, how would you feel if the Pathinders I tasked for finding your killer seemed only interested in gold?"
He looks over at another group that seems to be mustering in the courtyard. "If there's nothing else, I have other matters to attend to."
Moving on, there are several potential skills you might go about attempting to locate the hideout of the Barbers. Some suggested skills are:
-Diplomacy (Gather Information), Society (Recall Knowledge), or Underworld Lore (Recall Knowledge)
-Merchant Lore (Recall Knowledge)
-Religion (Recall Knowledge)
There's a little bit more behind the scenes than straight DCs, but suffice to say there needs to be at least three different types of checks.
Anivash believes that not even the Bloody Barbers dare to operate in large groups in Absalom’s central district, known as the Ascendant Court, full as it is of churches and good-aligned priests. They’re unlikely to meet nearby, eliminating that district from your search.
You also recall that the handful of families that control the Bloody
Barbers are of Chelish descent, and many have taken up their homeland’s worship of devils. You are likely to find signs of devil worship near one of the Bloody Barbers’ meeting place.
"Well then, he was a chipper lad, wasn't he?" Nalshene rolls her eyes at the departed Ambrus.
"I'm quite good at convincing people to give up useful tidbits, so I'll go to the local pub and try to find some suckers... I mean informants."
Diplomacy (Gather Info): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
"Well, here we go again!
Jean carefully takes off his glasses and tucks them in his shirt pocket. He twists his facial expression into a sneer, drops one shoulder to give himself an odd, slumpimg posture, and squints menacingly at the group.
"Coo, where we meetin' this week, my lads? Got a few marks whot need a bit of a shave." He draws his finger across his throat. "Sniiiick."
Deception (Impersonate): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
|Robert Spany Junior|
Seeing the bard try to intimidate the group, BJ moves up behind him and glares at the group menacingly ”You be say words, yes?
Intimidation: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (1) - 2 = -1
Nalshene is able to provide a significant amount of information relevant to your search:
True to their appellation, Bloody Barbers often work as barbers, using barbershops as bases of operation and meeting places.
The Band of the Palm, the cover organization for the Bloody Barbers, meets regularly in the Coins. Searching in or near that district is likely a good starting point.
Blood Barbers are notorious loan sharks and often run illegal narcotic dens, so a neighborhood with a high concentration of such activity is likely to house at least a few chapters of the Barbers.
Though the Bloody Barbers are the larger guild, the Smoke Knights thieves’ guild is much more secretive—so much so that it’s never been proven to exist. However, the Barbers at least attempt to maintain a veneer of secrecy and are unlikely to gather anywhere that a high-profile crime has recently taken place, lest they draw attention. This eliminates a number of neighborhoods from your search.
The little-known head of the Bloody Barbers, Anken the Cutter, is notoriously paranoid, and he is likely to forbid meetings of lesser members anywhere near his favored parts of the Coins.
With the information you've gathered, you deduce that the likely location is the Smiling Cut, a run-down barbershop in the Docks district, just south of the Coins.
Feel free to respond to this, but in the interest of moving things along
The small barbershop has four worn barber chairs and a wooden waiting bench. The astringent odors of various hair tonics combine with that of talcum powder to produce a potent aroma. A large, tarnished mirror runs the full length of one wall, with a low shelf below it that holds an assortment of combs, razors, scissors, and jars holding murky liquids.
The shop is almost empty, and it’s quiet enough to hear the snip of its lone barber’s scissors as she works on a large man’s wild mane, while a freckled shop sweep stoops over hair clippings that he’s meticulously swept into a neat pile. Both appear to notice your entrance to the shop (especially your weaponry) but appear overall indifferent to you.
As Grimkell listens to the nefarious activities of the Barbers, he gets ever more agitated. "By the Holy Forge, these scoundrels need to be taught a lesson. Who is protecting innocent families from them and their depredations on society? Are they allowed to operate with impunity? Even if the Society had not called us to it, I would want these dregs dealt with."
When the Pathfinders arrive at the Smiling Cut, he watches to see if this will be subterfuge or strong-arm, his own personal feeling definitely in favor of the latter.
Jean walks over and nonchalantly examines the hair tonics and pomades while he attempts to case the rest of the barber shop for hidden doors, traps, or unseen enemies.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
"Good hair-cutter friends, we are looking to appropriate some... goods, shall we say. These goods might be the kind to make one feel very happy, very quickly, for example. You all speak to many people who come through your doors, perhaps you could help us with this quest?"
Deception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
Anivash can't help but feel as if he must stick out more than anyone, despite his lack of weapons. After all, he thinks, rubbing his bald pate, it makes little sense for him to be in any sort of barbershop.
He starts to open his mouth to ask a question of his own, but closes it quickly as Nalshene takes the lead. He stands ready, wondering if today will be the day Pharasma blesses them and takes them all into her arms. He looks around casually to see if there's anything of note.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 - 1 ⇒ (17) + 3 - 1 = 19
The woman in the midst of cutting hair looks askance, snipping a few locks from the man in the chair while the younger boy fixates on sweeping, eyes on the floor. ”Oi! I don’t know anything about entertainment, other than entertaining doos. I just rent a chair here.”
You get the impression that she tries to keep to her own business to avoid becoming a target of more unsavory types. She simply wants to finish with her customer and leave for the night before getting caught in whatever trouble you might be starting. Clearly there is something that has her somewhat spooked, though she covers it well with vitriol to the sweeping boy and the man in the chair..
"Is there no one else here who might be able to help us?" Anivash asks politely.
His watches her, trying to see if her eyes might betray any answer she gives with a glance -- perhaps at the boy sweeping...
Diplomacy (untrained): 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (10) - 1 = 9
Sense Motive (untrained): 1d20 + 3 - 1 ⇒ (3) + 3 - 1 = 5
"My dear lady," starts Grimkell putting on his most stentorian speaking voice. "We seak the Bloody Barbers. I am told we may find them here. What, pray tell, can you tell us about them? If you rent a chair here, you must know something about those fellows."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
Yeah, that goes about as well as predicted...
"Nothing to be alarmed about, of course, we just have a little job that we need to discuss with our friendly neighborhood Barber."
Deception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 = 17
|Robert Spany Junior|
BJ watches the people who are fluent in the common language try to be naive and ask politely. Knowing he couldn’t do much worse, he speaks up. ”Tell us were be the Barbers, yes?”
diplomacy: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (16) - 2 = 14
At the subject of the Barbers, the floor sweeper appears like he is about to say something, but the Barber (who you assume is named Valette due to a placard by her chair) belts out ”None of that, either. I don’t want any trouble here.”
Winking at her customer in the mirror, Valette snips off a lock of hair and drops it on the floor near her feet. She turns to the shop sweep and shouts, “Oi, Snips, you missed a spot,” gesturing to the hair with her scissors. He starts and mumbles an apology as he rushes over with his broom, but as he bends to sweep, the barber gives him a swift kick, sending him tumbling into his carefully swept pile. The barber laughs uproariously and claps her customer on the back, ripping off his barber cloth and telling him to pay her in ale and a pie at the shop across the street. As she strong-arms the reluctant man out the door, she yells over her shoulder at Snips to clean up and close up the shop. “And don’t forget the mirror—I want to see myself in it!” she cackles, doubling over at her own “joke” and slapping the increasingly uncomfortable customer again.
The boy, Snips, approaches you timidly after Valette and the customer have left. ”I might be able to help you locate the Barbers…” He looks up meekly, curious to see how you might react to that.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22
Jean drops his voice and affects a bit of a dockside drawl:
"That's a good lad. Now, ya wouldn't steer a bunch of straight shooters such as ourselves wrong now, would ya my fine fellow? We're only here ta help, and me companions aren't lookin' for a quick ear-to-ear shave, if ya catch my drift."
Anivash's face darkens at the humiliation of the poor boy.
She is worse than the Barbers we hunt. They at least send people to Pharasma's embrace. She just makes their lives more miserable.
His eyes turn to the pie shop across the street, all too close to be comfortable to a barber shop where people may be getting killed. He's heard stories of such things...
He waits to see the boy's reaction to Jean's comments.
Nalshene also waits to see the young man's reaction. If he still seems timid, she will try to persuade him that we mean him no harm.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
Snips glances back and forth, before nodding to himself, then gesturing to the back door. "Follow me and let's talk in private, out of view of passersbys" he beckons as he leads the way to the the barbershop’s back door, attempting to whistle (despite not seeming to know how.)
|Robert Spany Junior|
perception: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (7) - 2 = 5 BJ sees nothing.
perception: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (20) - 2 = 18
Seeing a young boy skulking around, BJ speaks up to him. ”you be stop, yes boy”
intermediation: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (12) - 2 = 10
Seeing the lad try to motion to someone outside, Grimkell tries to stop him. "For the love of the Smith, lad! Don't sell us out before you've even met us! Have a care, and tell us what you know."
It's obvious that Grim's interpersonal skills are not all they should be.
Perception (above): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
Perception (now): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 1 = 10
Perception: 1d20 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 3 + 2 = 6
"Now, let's come to a mutual agreement. Help us and we'll leave ya a nice tip, an' not darken ya doorway again."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12
Your words stop Snips in his tracks. He tearfully admits, "I'm... I'm sorry. You're right, the Butchers meet here. I was going to lead you to them... maybe they would take me seriously so I wasn't just a kicking boy in a barber shop." He points to the door. "You're looking for the Barbers, right? I know some of them tend to meet right outside, in the alley."
Giving you time to prepare if you'd like. Will move forward tomorrow.
"Sell us out? Now, this lovely young man would never do that. He understands just how dangerous it can be to upset the Pathfinders, right?"
Intimidate: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20
I don't think there's anything more to Intimidate...
"We expect a fight, yes?" Anivash asks.
The young Vudran reaches into a pouch, pulling out a small jar of paint. Quickly he blackens under his eyes, and rubs a small amount of white down the center of his face, transforming his already gaunt visage to look almost skull-like.
"When you are all ready," he says. "Remember, we should not grant them Pharasma's embrace, as we need to find out what they know. But if it is our turn to die, maybe the goddess embrace us all."
Though the words seem somewhat ominous, they're offered in a cheery voice, as if he thinks we should be lucky enough to die.
Ha I got ninja'd by your post. You posted at 10:50 PM and I was in the middle of my post at 10:51. :-P
Nalshene turns to the others. "Sounds like we can plan to catch them in the act of their meeting. We should find a good way to disguise or otherwise hide ourselves nearby until their meeting begins."
"Strictly speaking, we need spare at least one of them from the Grey Lady's kiss. I've always believed that villains find evidence of fatal violence very motivation."
Jean slips his hatchets from his belt and approaches the back door.
"Shall we listen for an appropriate moment to join the conversation?
You gather from Snips that the Barbers should be gathering outside in the alley behind the shop. The door he was about to go through leads you right to them. After conferring a moment, you go outside to confront them!
Anivash Initiative: 1d20 + 3 - 1 ⇒ (13) + 3 - 1 = 15
Jean Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16
Nalshene Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Ord Initiative: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (7) + 0 = 7
Robert Initiative: 1d20 + 3 - 1 ⇒ (5) + 3 - 1 = 7
Grimkell Initiative: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
Red Blue: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Green Yellow: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Once outside you see a quartet of likely criminals huddling together in the alley. Two are unaware of your presence, but two others react more quickly than you, drawing slings and shooting stones! A couple of the stones take Robert and Avinash, hitting hard.
Attack@Robert: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
Attack@Robert: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Attack@Avinash: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (7) + 0 = 7
Attack@Avinash: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (15) + 0 = 15
damage@Robert: 1d6 + 1d4 ⇒ (2) + (4) = 6
damage@Robert: 1d6 + 1d4 ⇒ (4) + (4) = 8
damage@Avinash: 1d6 + 1d4 ⇒ (4) + (2) = 6
Rose Street Revenge Map
Next up: Everyone!
Which a shout of encouragement, Jean steps in front of front of his companions and weaves protective magic around himself.
"Into the breach, friends!"
1) Cast inspire courage. (+1 conditional bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saves against fear.)
2) Casts shield. (I will use shield block reaction if something is going to damage me.)
3) Move to front of group.