|GM of the Wicked Path|
In the kingdom of Talingarde, many crimes may send you to Branderscar Prison, but the sentence has but one meaning. You are wicked and irredeemable. Each of you received the same greeting when you arrived. You were held down by rough hands and branded upon the arm with a runic F. The mark signifies ‘forsaken’ and the painful scar is indelible proof that each of you has betrayed the great and eternal love of Mitra and his chosen mortal vassals.
Condemned, you face at best a life of shackles and servitude in the nearby salt mines. Others might await the “gentle” ministrations of the inquisitors so that co-conspirators may be revealed and confessions extracted. Perhaps, some of you will be spared this ordeal. Perhaps instead you have come to Branderscar to face the final judgment. In three days, the executioner arrives and the axe falls or the pyre will be lit. Through fire or steel, your crimes will be answered.
You have all been chained together in the same communal cell dressed in nothing but filthy, tattered rags. Manhandled and mistreated, any finery you once possessed is either ruined or long lost. No special treatment has been given any prisoner – male or female, commoner or noble – all of the forsaken are bound and imprisoned together. Your feet are secured by iron cuffs tethered by one long chain. Your arms are secured to the wall above by manacles. A guard is posted right outside the cell day and night. Little thought is given to long term accommodations. At Branderscar, justice comes swift and sure.
Escape seems hopeless. You have all been well searched and every attempt to conceal anything on your person has failed. And if you could somehow slip your bonds and fly out of this prison, where would you go? Who from your former life would want anything to do with the forsaken?
Despised, alone and shackled – all that you can do now is await your doom. For each of you, your old life is over. For each of you, hope is a fading memory. For each of you, justice will be fairly meted. And who can blame fair Talingarde after what each of you has done?
The gaunt husk of a man shambled along to the prison, head down, eyes staring dead at his feet. Depressing, but at least a good prisoner. He responded when told to do something, but otherwise was a shell. However when he was held down like an animal and branded, he screamed and thrashed, trying in vain to escape the burning metal.
Now he sits in chains alongside other figures. The burn mark throbbing in pain, pale flesh twisted and angry-looking. He has an athletic but unhealthily skinny build. He looks like a starved dog, gaunt and hollow-eyed and hungry. He has lanky black hair and intelligent brown eyes. On his chin is a rough stubble covering a goatee.
Looking surprisingly calm and uninterested in his fate, a muscular red-skinned man with bright yellow eyes sits chained with his fellow prisoners. Through his tattered rags, one can see the oddly unnatural brownish-red tattoo that stretches over most of the left side of his shoulder, arm and torso. A smattering of bruises and lacerations cover his face, chest and arms, proof of the beating he'd received when the Mitrans had caught him.
Though he seems passive, there is a sort of fire in his eyes. He seems very much not intent to lay down and die, but with his limbs bound and his options limited, the tiefling man simply remains silent.
In the corner, the steely-eyed woman brought in several days ago continues to stare straight ahead, to the guard posted outside the cell. While her features are less noticeable than the other tiefling in the cell, the tail that stretches out beneath her clearly marks her as another infernal bastard. She acknowledges no one, her mouth moving in the same patterns over and over again, clearly reciting a prayer. While quiet, those seated next to her who strain their ears can hear the mantra.
"Glory be to the Lord of Hell, the patron of the true Faith. Prayers be to the God-Fiend, the Prince of Darkness, the Master of Witches. May you break these chains that bind me, bring ruin to this prison that hopes to hold your faithful, so that your Hand may once again dispense your justice on this land that has forsaken you."
Other than this, the tiefling woman seems passive, barely moving as she continues her prayers. On occasion her fingers twitch and writhe, bending at unnatural angles in an attempt to free herself from her bonds. Her face and chest appear to be covered in a myriad of bruises, and a makeshift bandage is wrapped around her left arm, covered in dried and clotted blood.
The comely witch with long black hair eyes her shackles while she continues to speak to the guard. Every guard, every day, she taunts with stories, mocking attempts at seduction, or promises that He Who Hungers knows their names. She shifts her stance to limit the strain of the chains. She leans against the wall and clasps her hands together so they don't rub here wrists.
"I remember when they came for me," she says aloud. "They didn't even know what they were looking for when they found two men starved and drowned, and planted in my grove to feed the trees."
Intimidate 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19
The guards eyes flutter...he gets that look like he's trying not to listen and wills himself not to notice. But the sides of his eyes betray him. The white corners become dark and then white again. Shalewigg smiles.
"Five men each from two towns. When the Master told me they had come, I slinked outside, setting traps and waiting to curse them all."
Shalewigg is used to pain. The branding will leave a scar if not healed soon. The cuffs will chafe. She cares little for comfort, but if Trelmarixian comes to free her she'll need her strength. She adjust the shackles to prevent them pinching her wrists.
"They didn't expect one another. They hid in the house or barn and shouted for each other to surrender. I had my pick of them at first. I speared one with a hay fork. He shouted so I left him there twitching. When two came to save him I hexed them to sleep and slit their throats. I covered the first with his friends so he'd bleed knowing no one would find him.
"One of the men from the other town charged where he heard the screams. I screamed too, and begged his help from the men who attacked me. He didn't know them..they could have been anyone. I pierced his head with the till and stood him up against the corner with a bow. When they dragged me out there were four arrows in him from his own friends.
Caught two men trying to rescue my lovers from the barn. Just the sight of me walking up to them cause one captive to jump and the other cowered. I had rope and rafter so I wrapped them both together before they moved. One caught rope burn around his neck and strangled, but the other one flailed and kept the rope swinging. He hit the barn four times, but he lived to see my trial."
The young witch throws her head back, her hair spilling against the wall and splaying out on its own like the branches of a bare tree.
"I killed six men that day. Would have been eight but for the fool hanging by the barn and the man I was holding under the water when they found me."
"Imagine how many of you will die when he gets here."
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Every so often, a guard will rise from the table, coming over to inspect you, mostly just on the vague hope that one of you may have succumbed already to your conditions and given up hope and life. Each time he does, he lets his leather club run along each bar, a rubbing sound followed by a noise clang each time it snaps forward to strike against the next one. He does it now, and when he reaches the end, where Shalewigg continues to tell stories, he points his club through the bars at the manacled woman. "Oy, do ya want me to go down t' the kennel and put a muzzle on ya? Because if ya don't stop I have no problems treatin' a beast like you like a dog. Yer all but telin' me ya're one anyway."
Before he can make good on his threat, the door opens, something you've come to expect on a strict schedule of every three hours, but this is far too early inthe guard rotation. Six guards emerge and enter the space in front of your cell, heavily armed and led by the fat and well-dressed sargeant of the watch, Blackerly. Everything about him screams of toadiness and greed, and seeing his face again brings back memories of the brands whose marks still sting on your arms. He was laughing at your cries, mocking and insulting you as your skin burned, although the fiery hiss of the brand and the searing pain that followed dulled your senses too much to make out the exact words.
But now, he seems different. Dazed, his eyes a little too blank, jaw slack for reasons other than the general lack of intelligence that earns someone with connections a post this owly. He coes in and points directly toward Soren. "You there! That's the scum! Get 'er unshackled. If any of you makes trouble, you'll earn a thrashing! Today's your lucky day, scum, you've got a visitor. How you ever warranted such a fine lady is beyond me. Seems she wants to say good-bye. Now step lively. We wouldn't want to keep her waiting."
"Oh dearest, I'm so relieved you're still alive!" She quickly turns toward the sargeant, "Could we please have a moment alone, good sir? For pity's sake!"
The blank-eyed man stares for a moment, before nodding. "Of course, my lady. For you, 'tis no problem." He and his guards swiftly leave you be.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (18) + 9 = 27
You place the general sense that something is off about the well-fed man, and watching him respond to her request gives you some context. Somehow, she holds some sort of power over the guard. Magical, perhaps.
As soon as the guards leave, her demeanour imediately changes. With a wry smirk and the complete lifting of any sense of grief upon her face, she asks"Have you forgotten me already, dearest? Call me Tiadora. We possess a mutual friend who would like to meet you and your fellow cell-mates. Unfortunately, our friend is unwilling to visit you in your present, rather shabby accommodations, so it seems you must escape first. But don't be so dour. Just because it's never been done before is no reason you can't be the first.
"If you can manage that, cross the moars on the outskirts of town. On the old Moor Road you'll see a manor house with a single lantern burning in the second story. There, our mutual friend awaits. That is all I know. And from him, as a show of good faith, is this, to remember me by." She pulls off her silk veil and hands it to you, her amused smile rather at odds with the face of someone who had just been sobbing.
Damien slowly gazes up. Our death party? Ah no, something else... He lets his gaze slide back down to rest at his feet. Wait, a visitor? He looks up, a little sharper, staring at the man who had so casually burned his skin. The man was different, acting strangely. A little bit of the old spark jumps alive in his brown eyes as he narrows his eyes at Blackerly.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
Xoruk looks over the individual guards with disinterest, clearly not threatened by them. Glancing to his fellow prisoners, his expression doesn't change, but he shifts his arms a tad, just enough to ease the discomfort of the manacles on his wrists. 'Something ain't right here,' the tiefling thinks to himself as he notices the fetchling at his side seems to have come to the same conclusion.
The light leaves her eyes as she sees the woman, clearly not the one she was hoping for. She sits deadpan through the woman's spiel, with only a wry smile showing on her lips when handed the veil. "You control that man, somehow. Political influence? Favors? Magic?" While her voice turns upward at the end of her sentence, it almost seems like a statement, not a question. "And what is this veil to do for me? Hide me from the guards?"
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Soren's questions only seem to amuse the woman, who laughs softly. "The less you know, the better. As for the veil, look a little closer perhaps, and you'll see that my manner of dress is as functional as it is stylish."
Upon closer inspection of the white silk veil, you can make out what initially seemed like patterns, but are in fact distinct shapes that can be torn off of the veil. Patches. What you're holding is in fact a magical item, and upon pulling each patch off of the veil, the object they represent will be drawn from the magical cloth. Two daggers, a Bullseye lantern, a coil of rope, a bag of spell components and clothes, thieves' tools, a window, a potion of some manner, gold, and an unholy symbol of Asmodeus.
"Our mutual friend has given you the necessary tools required to escape this forsaken prison. To be the first in history, in fact. If you prove as useful as he hopes you will, then you and your cellmates can use these tools to show your worth. Now swiftly, tuck it into your sleeve and begin to think of a plan. You have three days to find us." With her message delivered, Tiadora rises almost as if on cue, Blackerly returns to the room to check on you. Immediately, her demeanour shifts once more and she is again the pefect picture of grief. "No, I cannot bear to leave you!" She gives you a kiss to the cheek, ice cold and feeling somehow alien. Inhuman.
"I'm afraid it's time, miss," the sergeant says, shaking his head.
Looking deep into his eyes, she says, "Thank for you for letting me say goodbye . There's no need to search my beloved. You are such a good friend for letting me see her one more time."
"Such a good friend," he repeats, his voice almost mechanical. Then the watch sergeant seems to snap out of his gaze and bows politely. "A pleasure, madam."
Tiadora leaves unveiled, eyes meeting yours one fine time as she flashes a wicked smile before disappearing. "Three days," echoes telepathically in your mind. "Don't disappoint me, dearest."
With the visitation concluded, Soren carried back to her cell by the cadre of guards and shackled once more. With snarls, the other guards back off, closing the cell door behind them and leaving only the two initial guardsmen, who retire to their table for cards, backs turned from the cell. They know you're not going anywhere.
After being locked up again, she takes a look over to Damien, her grin now revealing her wicked looking teeth. "I'm afraid we'll be taking a rain check on our execution, friend." As she whispers, her hands, having fiddled with the manacles for days, bend backwards sickeningly as she moves to slide the locks from her wrist.
Sleight of Hand: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Stealth: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24
Xoruk also watches as Soren is returned to her place in the cell. For the first time, there is some clear interest in his pupil-less eyes, which linger on the fellow tiefling once the guards have wandered back to their card game.
|GM of the Wicked Path|
With a little wriggling, Soren manages to slip free of her manacles, and does so without so much rattling that the guards pay her any mind. In fact, they're only speaking louder now, the matter of threatening Shalewigg now a distant memory as they start to play cards. There isn't much else to do aside from playing cards, but the clattering of coins on the table says there's certainly a little benefit to it. Without any supervision, Soren's hands are now free.
"Perfect... now for the legs." With a quick movement, she pulls the veil from her rags, finding the patch with a set of thieves' tools. She plucks the cloth, collecting her new tools as she leans over to detach the cuffs around her ankles. "Just a flick of the wrist..." she mutters, working the tools about in the lock.
As the others look at her in disbelief, she mutters under her breath. "Gift from... a benefactor. Seems we're to live another day after all, hmm?"
Disable Device: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Xoruk smirks, but keeps his mouth shut. 'Well, this is a happy turn of events.' He turns his attention to the guards, trying to maintain his mask of disinterest.
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Didn't mention it since you wouldn't know from the patch, but they're masterwork thieves' tools.
Soren's shackles come undone, granting the tiefling freedom of motion again. Her escape is still not drawing the attention of the guards, who couldn't care less about what you're doing as long as you're quiet, confident that you've no chance of getting loose, let alone escaping.. The patch on the veil that denoted a lockpick set is now gone, leaving only the plain silk beneath it.
Damien looks on for a moment as the woman moves her arms back in ways that even he would find uncomfortable. He licks his lips and glances back at the guards, then back at the people next to him. Just like that, we break out? He looks back at the distracted guards as a grin slowly comes to his mouth. Well, if I get to choose how to die, it's going to be on my feet.
|Shalewigg RPG Superstar 2013|
|GM of the Wicked Path|
About twenty feet away from your cell door, playing cards at a table. They are the only guards in the room with you. You haven't seen much of the prison and don't know who is where, so everything outside the door is sort of beyond you, but you do know that you were led up a lot of stairs on your way up. You've been blindfolded through most of your trip here.
Even better. Makes that a 21 then.
"Now for the rest of you..." Soren mutters, the grin on her face replaced with the hard visage you're more familiar with. She slides her feet out of the open locks silently, barely making a sound as they clink onto the stone floor. Tail swishing behind her, she approaches Damien first. "You... you once mentioned you followed the Lord of Hell, did you not?" Soren bends down, still whispering as she works on the cuffs connecting the man's feet. "You... he has given us a great gift. We must honor that."
I'll be taking 10 on the other Disable Device checks for the lock, which with masterwork tools give me a flat 20. I figure since my own unlocked on a 21, rolling is probably more potentially detrimental.
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Soren swiftly undoes everyone else's bindings, leaving them now free to move and plan. The cell bars offer some cover and there's nobody looking in your direction, but overt movements and anything too noisy certainly seem counter-intuitive as with each passing moment, the chance of one of the guards looking over their shoulder toward you becomes more and more likely. At some point, they will make a token effort to actually guard you, and at that point you're going to be in trouble.
But for the moment, you're all free, and have the remaining patches at your disposal. You're on a fairly limited amount of time in which to formulate a plan and execute it while you still have the chance, but can safely huddle in now and hatch it quietly.
The raven-haired witch watches over Soren's shoulders as she works at the shackles over her head. She whispers with murderous excitement.
"I can hear their stomachs. They're starving. Malnourished. Their energy is low. It would take very little for them to fall asleep at their posts while we undress them and chain them here.
She looks Soren in the eyes, raising an eyebrow. "Your Lord of Hell has a purpose? A fight to bring? My own Lord will repay yours with as many deaths as He requires."
Xoruk raises an eyebrow at Shalewigg's offer, but shrugs. Though likely not as devout as the other tiefling, he was raised a dyed-in-the-wool Asmodean, and to hear he was in good company was a welcome bit of news. "Sounds like a plan to me," he replies to the human woman's suggestion. "It's less likely to end with us getting killed, at any rate."
What about other inmates in the cell?
Curling up her lip in a half smile, the woman turns her attentions to the three guards. Not yet looking back to discover their escape, they drone on in their dreariness. She targets the one most likely to see them out of the corner of his eye.
"No magic," she whispers, "works every time. But I am well-practiced. Should one remain awake, one of you will need to keep him silent."
She rubs her stomach in a slow circle, obviously hungry. She sucks in breath and bites her lip, her eyes rolling back into her head for a second before she looks at her cellmates.
Shalewigg whispers in a deeper tone.
"We'll need one of them to tell us where our things are. Are we ready?"
"No magic, you say? Then how do you... no, this is not the time nor place." Soren looks to the guards, her fingers twitching again as she thinks of a plan. "If one remains awake, my own magic may be able to keep him still, if only for a few seconds. We would need to strike quickly."
Soren works the tools back into their places in the set, then places the pouch into her shirt, at the same time pulling out the veil. "We have weapons... two daggers. I'll take one for myself, but the other... take you pick." She plucks the two knives from the veil, smuggling away her own. She then pulls the symbol of Asmodeus from the cloth, draping the pendant about her neck. As it settles, a noise escapes her lips, almost like a cat's purr.
"It has been too long... I feel His power in my veins again." Soren turns to Shalewigg, her fingers still turning the pendant over. "My Lord once held dominion over this land, until they cast him away to follow Mitra." She almost spits as she mentions the Sun God. "There is a war brewing. We must be ready."
Whoops! I deleted my post to change it, so it would make sense with Shalewigg. Sorry about that.
|GM of the Wicked Path|
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Xoruk rubs at his chin, not sure. "A good question, but I don't know. In theory, I can summon my companion outside of the cell, but they will easily notice and try to stop me," the tiefling man whispers. He crosses his arms, clearly pondering how to contribute.
Shalewiggs looks at her cell mates and raises an eyebrow.
"We don't need to go there so long as one of you can pick the locks or grab their key."
She wavers a little bit, as if from exhaustion and begins a yawn.
Simultaneously, the guard she chose yawns as well, then quietly lets his head droop without a word.
Slumber hex. DC 15 Will negates.
Damien stands up as the life slowly returns to him. He walks over, ever so slowly, to stand in front of Soren. "May I?" He asks, holding his hands out for the thieves' tools.
If she complies, he sneaks over to the cell door with quiet feet, and starts working on the lock there.
Disable Device: 1d20 + 9 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 9 + 2 = 24
Stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
Soren retrieves the thieves' tools, handing them to Damien. "Yes... of course." Instead, she takes hold of the dagger by the blade, flexing her wrist to prepare for a throw. After a moment, she seems satisfied, flipping the dagger back around. "Once these few are... dealt with, it should be some time before the change in shift." Soren's tail flicks about impatiently, ready to leave this accursed cell. "The arms and armor of the guards are promising, if a bit basic."
Xoruk returns to his shackles, feigning innocence and waiting for the others' plan to take effect. 'To summon Zenid now would only result in attracting attention,' he rationalizes to himself, but it doesn't prevent the confident grin on his lips or the excited glint in his eyes.
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Please leave describing the actions of NPCs to me, Shalewigg.
Will save: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (3) - 1 = 2
One of the guards lets out a fairly noisy yawn mid-word, closing his eyes and slumping forward a little, the cards in his hand dropping down to the table.
"Oh come on, not again," the other groans. "Our shift ain't even that hard, they ain't goin' anywhere, wake up." He continues to mutter under his breath, reaching forward and nudging the other guard into waking up.
As he focuses on that task, Damien works at the cell door, managing to pick the lock, which due to its cheap make is a little noisier than one would like.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (11) + 6 = 17
As the cell door opens, it makes a clicking noise loud enough to draw the frustrated guard's attention, and he looks curiously with a, "Huh?" toward the source of the noise, to find a slowly opening cell door. "S+$@!" he gasps.
Damien's Initiative: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19
Shalewigg's Initiative: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Soren's Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Xoruk's Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Guard's Initiative: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
Since the whole party rolled higher than the guard, you can all post in order of 'whoever gets there first'. I'll explain how I handle initiative a little more clearly in the discussion thread.
Xoruk shrugs as the guard is alerted to their presence. He stands and begins chanting while making arcane gestures. As the words pour from his lips in a voice that practically smells of blood, the tattoo covering most of the left side of his body begins to pulse in time with his heartbeat, glowing softly in the dim light of the cell.
Xoruk begins summoning his Eidolon (1 minute ritual). 10/10 rounds remaining.
I figure this is as good a way to start as any, especially since I'm unarmed and without a spell component pouch. Dibs on one of the longswords? ;)
Soren moves forward, dagger in hand. She comes in fast, flicking the dagger around into an ice-pick grip as the guard starts to shout. Her free hand moves to lock the guard's sword arm, and she closes in for a strike. "Do not stand in my way. My purpose is greater than your life."
With that, she plunges the knife towards the man's neck, hoping to end the combat as swiftly as possible.
Attack Roll; Confirmation: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
Damage Roll; Critical (?): 2d4 + 4 ⇒ (1, 2) + 4 = 7
Soren takes a swift action to activate her Destruction judgment, giving me a +1 on damage rolls.
Well, that went well until I decided to roll damage. Still not bad, but would have preferred a little higher.
S$$+. Damien bursts out the door quickly, leaving it open for his allies, and charges swiftly at the conscious guard and swings a fist at him!
Attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Damage: 1d3 + 1d6 ⇒ (1) + (3) = 4
Unarmed strike. Since the guard hasn't acted yet he shouldn't get an AoO unless he has combat reflexes, and I also get sneak attack damage on him. BTW nice rolls Soren.
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Soren strikes the guard where it counts, piercing him with the dagger right through his armor and leaving him gasping and choking, primed for Damien's strike to do him in and leaving him unconscious as he slumps to the ground, barely even clinging to life in that state anyway.
The second guard begins to awaken, not from the mad clamour of the attack, but from the very short sleep hex beginning to wear of. His head lifts off the table, the man very confused and uncertain about what's happening around him.
He's considered surprised for the purposes of this combat and will not be taking any action this turn.
Soren wipes the blood from the dagger on her own rags, letting the man fall to the floor to bleed to death. As the other begins to awaken, she walks over, the dagger still prominently held in front of her. "Pleasure for you to join us. This friend of yours, here? He got a little too excited, and made a move that sword of his. But you don't want to do that, do you?" The hard voice from earlier is gone, with a pleasant tone and almost-genuine smile entirely replacing the woman's earlier personality.
"I'm being honest when I say that I hope this little knife here never has to touch you. Killing is... an unfortunate necessity at times, but we're reasonable people, are we not? I just want you to answer a few questions for me. Could you do that?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Free action to produce thorns..
Shalewigg follows the other captives out of the cell and stands behind the waking guard, flexing a fist until sharp wooden thorns protrude from her knuckles. She marks the place on his neck she will strike if he inhales to scream.
"You can sleep through the rest of our escape, or you can die swallowing your own blood. Where is the armory and storage?"
|GM of the Wicked Path|
Diplomacy is also not a free action.
Shalewigg's threat does little to draw cooperation from the guard, nor does Soren's more 'diplomatic' approach to the situation, leaving him a little terrified in addition to his general disorientation in your escape and the slaughter of his partner, but he doesn't seem to want to cooperate very much with you. "Go to hell."
While he performs the eidolon ritual, Xoruk finds a moment to roll his eyes. 'More swagger than common sense, huh? Can't see that going well for him,' he thinks, as the stream of devilish pledges continue to pour from his lips.
Still summoning my eidolon. 9/10 rounds.