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You each receive a message from a runner.
Most Favorite Associate,
Part of good business is protecting your interests. I have recently heard that one of my interests has recently had some problems come up. Being the kindly sort that I am, I volunteered to send some help.
Please join me at the Frog’s Tongue this afternoon so that we might discuss this opportunity. Tell 'em cousin Guaril sent you.
The Frog’s Tongue is in the Puddles District. The sign announcing the tavern is a mummified frog glued to a slab of wood.
Where others might curse the waters in the district, this establishment has embraced them. Rather than fight to try and keep the first floor dry, they have instead hollowed out much of it and built a permanent pond, stocking it with frogs for novelty.
The tavern patrons primarily use the second floor, although the kitchen is on the first floor.
Please feel free to introduce yourselves to each other. If you ask a waitress, they direct you to a table on the second floor in the corner, set off a little bit from the main area.
The sound of water dripping into the pond is momentarily drowned out by the creaking of the stairs as a large half-orc lumbers up to the second floor. He turns his shoulders and sidles into the room to avoid catching the spikes covering his armor on the door frame. He scans the room, then asks a passing member of the wait-staff who, after a start, points toward a back table. The half-orc plods heavily across the room, rattling glasses on nearby tables as he passes, before sitting down heavily on the sturdiest looking chair. He leans his shield against the wall, takes off his helm, and waits for someone else to arrive.
Following closely behind the dodo is a respectable looking Taldan man with a shaved head wearing grey robes with a holy symbol of Pharasma prominently hanging from his chest.
Seeing the half orc he greats him enthusiastically "Mongo! I hope your recent travels have been nice than our last trip together."
A stout dwarf Warpac wanders in a few minutes later and gets a large drink from the bar. As he waits his axe is out and about, whacking and tapping thinks in a sort of nervous tic. Looking around he spouts the group bristling with weapons, potions, and wands, but, unexpectedly, without the usual cloud of ioun stones and nods in their direction. As is his habit he casts a detect poison on his drink before he takes a sip and moves to join the others.
The dwarf is quintessential, with the full plate (though the helmet is off and secured to his belt), shield, and a dwarven double war axe typical to many. Like the others he has sundry magical expendables located in easily accessible locations.
"Squawk! Haha, hi Mango! Good to see you, too." Mongo scratches the dodo at the top of the neck and turns to the humanoids. "Hiya Theodric, good to see you, as well. Things have actually been pretty quiet since our last trip. I took a stay-cation while my armor was in the shop getting all spiked-up. How about you?"
When the dwarf arrives, Mongo waves in greeting. "Hullo Warpac. I'm Mongo. This is Mango," he says patting the bird again. "I'm the one without the feathers. That's Theodric; he's a good egg."
Mongo watches the dwarf cast a spell over his drink with a look of curiosity. "What's all that, then? Does it add a flavor or something?"
You hear the jangling of a tambourine before you see the tiny halfling. Dressed in a traditional Varisian style, she has long black curls that fall almost to the ground, but at the moment, she has her hair piled on her head to keep it from getting wet as she sloshes through the flooded floor.
"Mongo! Theodric! It's so nice to see you again!"
She greets the dwarf warmly. "Oh hello! I don't think we've met yet! I'm Melody Mersenne. And yes," she adds, "I am from the Mersenne Family Traveling Band!"
The Mersenne Family Traveling Band is really only popular among halflings in Varisia, but Melody assumes everyone knows them!
"Melody! Are you going on this mission, too? Well, that's great!"
Warpac is about to answer when the halfling enters the room and uses it as an excuse to not respond.
|The One Known as Tycho|
Crinkling the missive nervously, Tycho walks through the Puddles and considers the situation.
Wonder what that… Guaril… wants…
An old woman at a noodle cart is about to hawk her wares to the gnome when the small figure suddenly grows in size, changing into a Sczarni man with dark hair and a slick mustache. She puts her head down and furiously stirs the broth with a dirty old ladle, trying to lose herself in the work and forget whatever she just saw. The strange creature, lost in thought, continues on by without missing a beat.
Minutes later, Guaril walks into the Frog’s Tongue Tongue.
Disguise: 1d20 + 32 - 6 ⇒ (14) + 32 - 6 = 40
This isn't Guaril.
Patrons clear a path and a bootlicker leaps up to offer the Sczarni mastermind the best seat at the bar, bowing all the while. Guaril stops and feels his face. He holds his hands there for several seconds. Squeaking in high-pitched voice, he cries: By the boogers wiped on the Seventh Veil… DRAT!
He stomps his foot transforms into a female halfling wearing a raincoat; her hair is fuschia. She takes a step forward and transforms into an old monocle'd gnome wearing a ragged courtier's outfit. The gnome stumbles forward, and shifts into a tall and sandy-haired human wearing a mithral chain shirt under a loose cotton tunic. He flops into an empty seat at the table.
Pathinders? Brain's a little, a little, uhh, scrambled today… Guaril? Here? For Guaril? Note?
He rubs his hands through his hair. Guaril. Tycho? Yes. I'm Tycho. Hello!
You will probably notice this soon, but Tycho is deaf and reads lips.
"You alright there, pal? Yeah, we're Pathfinders alright, and we're here to meet Guaril. That's Melody, and Theodric, and Warpac. The one with the feathers is Mango, and I'm Mongo. Don't worry if you get us mixed up; happened last time we were on a mission together, too."
The clack of stone on stone becomes audible below, accompanying a heavy tread of footsteps across the floor. Rock is layered across rock as plate armor, with the humanoid form shod in pebbles across its skin. Bright eyes peer out of the stone bowl of a helm, glancing up the stairs after taking in the lower floor.
The steps groan again under impressive weight before the tower of rock reaches the upper landing. With a steady gait, the newest arrival approaches the gathering of Pathfinders. "Ah, ahm seein' tha it's me what is odd man out today." The brogue is a strange lilt in the gravelly voice, incongruous and even a bit comical. "Would tha ye meet me a year ago, 'n it would be a mite different sign then, true." Stowing a heavy shield of darkened wood on the floor, the man removes his helm and gingerly lowers into a chair. "Timtenzekil Tengentrail, they call me, tho' I been thinkin' o' modifying it since transformin'. Uncle Guaril calls me, 'n so do I appear."
|The One Known as Tycho|
Tycho directs a charmingly inane smile at the Pathfinders and laughs. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Everything, fine. Exceptionally. A scintillating Mango! Mixed up, Mongo? No, not me! Last of all me…
Forefinger and thumb on chin, Tycho focuses on the brougish shape of the oread's words. Transforming Timtenzekil Tengentrail? That splendidly-sculpted name? A fine story, it must be, yes! Metamorphoses! A favorite topic of mine. Someday, perhaps, we will be told.
A profound frown. Yes, when family such as Guaril calls, it behooves us to appear fast as we can.
Just after Tycho says that, the more attentive of you hear someone coming up the stairs.
Guaril smiles and waves to one of the wait staff as he makes his way over to you.
“Ah, so glad to see part of my family here. It has been so long, I hope you are all well.” Turning his attention to Timtenzekil, he says “Good work you did on that job, glad the heat didn’t get to you.”
The waitress comes over with a tankard of wine and a plate with some fried sticks and some sort of dipping sauce on it. Guaril thanks them and places the plate at the center of the table for all to take from, the mug of wine he takes for himself.
“I recently received word that one of the extended family thinks he has troublesome house guests.” He lays out a map of Isger, pointing to where Dustpawn is on the map. “I would like your group to go there and find out more about his guests.” He then brings out a smaller map showing the location more accurately.
Maps on Slide 1 and 4.
As you are looking at the maps, he grabs one of the fried sticks and dips it into the sauce before munching on it.
“I am not sure how many of you have traveled in Isger, wonderful country with plenty of merchants dealing in a variety of wares if you only know where to look.” With a dismissive wave of his hand, he says “Officially, they are all just miners and goat herders.”
“Got to know where to look though. Although not part of my family, you might try the leather shop when you need some specialty items. Make friendly with the people there, they may even be willing to trade some of the tricks of their trade.”
Knowledge: Local Isger
“My distant cousin Dalviss Crenn loves to watch the stars. He recently informed me about something coming through the sky, landing near Dustpawn. It has him worried.”
“You will have to talk to Dalviss at his inn, the Mineshaft Tavern, for more details about that.”
Smiling broadly, he asks “So, is this something you can do for our family?”
Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
"Trust Uncle Guaril ta see the gnome underneat' tha rubble. Tha elemental planes weren't na trouble." Timtenzekil smiles at the praise. "Can't say ahm familiar wit' Dus'pawn. Isger weren't in tha cards fer me. Still, ah can handle tha reques'."
Warpac is confused by, well, just about everything but mostly the incomprehensible Tycho.
"Wait, are we going to the elemental planes? And what do the gnomes have to do with it? And what is all this talk about becoming part of a family and going shopping? Am I in the right place?"
Warpac starts to doubt his conclusion that these must be pathfinders until he remembers that Mango mentioned that they were pathfinders. Unless he was confused too?
Kn Local, untrained: 1d20 ⇒ 11
"Ach, beg yer pardon. Jus' history 'twixt me an Guaril here. Pay it noo mind." Rubbing his jaw, he continues. "Born ah gnome ah were, 'til ah crossed tha planes and spent too long in a cave, an come out like this."
Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (3) + 11 = 14
”I’ve never been to Isger myself. I’ve had some run-ins with Chelaxians, though.”
"Isger, Isger...isn't that where we went around lookin' for stuff about that dead family? With the caravan, and the goblins, and the the house with the talking painting?" Mongo scratches his head, and asks "Were any of you on that mission? I can't remember."
No knowledge (local) for Mongo, just one mission's experience in Isger.
Taking the final bite of his second fried stick, Guaril wipes his mouth and says “Unlikely to be much of a Chelish presence once you get past the Skunk River.” He points to the crossing on the smaller map. “Patrols seldom bother with anything not on the main trade route.” He runs his finger along the Conerica River.
Looking to Warpac, he says “It always pays to think ahead. I picked an experienced group for this partially because information is so scarce. Figured it was a good idea to also tell you where to look for specialty supplies.”
To the whole group he adds “Being a Varisian, I like to keep things in the family. For me, the Society is part of my adopted extended family.” He gestures casually towards Timtenzekil and explains “Some are just much closer family than others.”
|The One Known as Tycho|
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Tycho has no knowledge local. He gets nervous that he's in the wrong place too, but the idea of talking paintings derails his train of thought.
What? Chelaxians? Chelaxians? I was a Chelaxian last month, in Magnimar.
Tycho transforms a stern-looking Chelaxian man with short-cropped grey hair. Tycho's voice becomes deeper, taking on a perfect Chelish accent. I put on a one-person streetshow outside the Rose and Rake, about how we should all trust Varisians as equally as we do others, and how sad it is to personally be such a worthless and loathsome specimen of humankind.
The Chelaxian figure sighs. Some of the local Varisians really thought the show was funny. Especially the part where my hair caught fire and my pants fell down at the same time. But some other people… well, one person in particular… didn't. Everyone's a critic. They still want to kill poor Tycho… Will the church of Abadar be in Isger? Say no.
More pertinent questions:
Tycho looks at Guaril and frowns: Who are these house guests? Any guess? I suppose Dalviss will tell us once we're in the Mineshaft.
Guaril enjoys Tycho’s story, especially the part about the hair catching on fire.
Smiling, Guaril says “Officially, as a thrall state only worship of Asmodeus is allowed. Unofficially, there is a church of the Dawnflower right in Dustpawn.”
With a wink, he adds “Much of Isger is like that, lax to enforce the rules imposed by House Thrune.”
Pausing, he adds “Sorry, but as I said you are being sent because I don’t know all the details. One of the things I want you to find out is if the guests Dalviss suspects of mischief are really a problem or not.”
Mongo shrugs. "Sounds simple enough. When do we leave?"
knowledge local: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20
Theodric takes a few minutes to explain the history. "Ahh fellow Pathfinders, let me explain. Isger is one of Cheliax's colonies that never quite managed to break away. Of course it doesn't just play thrall, it's managed to get out of most of its old taxes and tributes, merely providing a safe traderoute from Cheliax to Druma. Smuggling goods the Chelish don't want coming in may even be considered their national past time."
He follows up "We should be wary of blatantly breaking the rules, but we also shouldn't appear to be boot licking lackies either."
Tycho's shape shifting antics only serve to confuse Warpac further. But as a seasoned traveller, serving in may caravan prior to joining the Pathfinders, he absorbs the warnings from Theo.
"Well, I guess we should arrange transportation then. Shall I go looking for a ship headed that way, or do you have transportation already arranged?"
“I think a ship would take too long.”
Looking around the table, he adds “I take it none of you has any magical means of quickly transporting the group?”
He waits a short time then says “Alright, fortunately I know someone who does this sort of work. I will make the arrangements, be ready in about five hours. I will send a messenger to get you.”
“Where should they meet you?”
|The One Known as Tycho|
Uncle Guaril, I don't know how I ever get where I got. Tycho trails off. Just seems… I wind up in cities, or on continents, wherever Captains give missions.
This Frog’s Tongue is good. Here? Meet again here? Tycho looks to the party to see if anyone agrees.
"I don't think I need anything, but I can always entertain the crowd until then!"
Melody pulls out her tambourine and looks around for a stage.
You can declare any purchases you make in your next post. Time to roll us forward.
With most people, when they arrange transport it is a straightforward affair. It seems such is not the case when Guaril handles the travel arrangements.
At the appointed time, a boy comes into the Frog’s Tongue and collects the group of you. He brings you through multiple alleyways to a tent. In the tent are several people with heavy bags and an elderly Varisian woman. The woman tells you to pick up as much as you can carry, and arranges you into two groups. It takes her two trips to teleport you. You arrive in a basement warehouse where she tells you to leave the bags.
From there you get escorted by a man up some stairs, through several more narrow streets and alleys, until you are told “This is the night market, over there is the Druma Road Gate. Welcome to Elidir.”
They leave you there without another word.
From there, you make your way swiftly overland to the hinterlands surrounding Dustpawn. The region surrounding Dustpawn consists of lightly forested hills to the west and the ragged foothills of the Five Kings Mountains to the east. You follow the Conerica River and its tributaries, and pass numerous roads that wind through the hills with weathered signs. One of the roads, literally called ‘Old Mine Road’ takes you most of the way to Dustpawn.
The region is wild, and you spot a number of wild animals and giant vermin on your route, but they scatter at the sight of such a large group. You make it to the hills outside of Dustpawn after four days travel. Looking down upon the town, you see what looks to be a fairly prosperous agricultural community. The town sprawls over several ridgelines that border the open fields to the north. South of the town, the landscape rises in ragged hills sporadically topped by copses of trees or thick patches of chaparral. And yes, there are goats everywhere.
There is a town map on Slide 5. Do you want to just go to the Inn or try talking to some of the people in town first? If you want to talk to people, do a Diplomacy check to Gather Information.
"Never get used to the way these guys like to pop you all over the place using magic. What's wrong with using a pair of good legs?"
After the short trip, Warpac is ready to just go to the inn. He's not much on talking, though he has taken some diplomacy lessons (for when he has to talk) and his training as a warpriest helps. He looks wistfully in the direction of the Five Mountains, the land he grew up in.
|The One Known as Tycho|
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Tycho requisitions a potion of fly from an old Scarab Sage contact in Absalom. 2PP; updated the profile.
Walk? My legs are shorter than they look, and not as good as yours, Warmac. Ha, ha, ha, ha.
On the outskirts of Dustpawn, Tycho grabs a three-foot stalk of grass and transforms into a day laborer named "Gomer Ray Cyrus." Gomer gnashes the plant matter with a vengeance and enters town, poking about for news.
Diplomacy to Gather Information: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (4) + 14 = 18
Unfortunately Gomer Ray Cyrus often mixes up beans and barley, fork and flail. When locals ask the laborer how things are today, Gomer looks them in the eye and exclaims "Great!" instead of looking at the ground and muttering "Could be worse". This cheery attitude fills several hard-working citizens with deep-seated revulsion for the stranger named Gomer Ray Cyrus, who is not only happy but also not very good at his job.
After confusing several townsfolk, Gomer saunters into a barn and is never heard from again. Dustpawn does not miss him. Tycho, in a sour mood, hops onto a stool in the inn's bar. The gnome asks for a lemonade.
I hope my new friends found something interesting…
Timtenzekil pops out in the markets of Absalom to haggle, paying for a finer cloak of protection, as well as calling in a favor from another cousin to procure a potion of remove blindness/deafness.
"Truth, ye've not traveled until ye find yerself amid fields o' fire far as tha eye ken see." he observes, producing a small stone figurine. "Mayhap ah wait to rouse ol' Penny from 'er slumber."
I will also pick up a potion of fly for 2 PP.
Melody definitely wants to talk to people!
Diplomacy to Gather Information: 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (12) + 24 = 36
1d4 ⇒ 3
Although Melody also finds the people don’t like to talk, she has a way of finding people who will open up a little. It takes her a while, but she finally finds a dwarven woman resting on a bench in the shade. The woman tells her about all her aches and pains. She claims to have headaches that are so bad, she can’t go out prospecting! The noise from her hammer makes it feel like the hammer is splitting her skull rather than the rock!
After listening to the woman complain for a while, Melody finally gets her to talk a little bit about current events. “Most of the mines are closed up these days, but the Neshers seem to have had a bit of success scraping a bit more iron ore out of theirs. Not sure how they do it. The thing that fell from the sky crashed near their mine, though, and I suspect they might be stuck in a cave-in or some such. They’ve not been seen in days!”
Melody also notices something strange about the woman as she talks with her. She seems a bit nervous, jerking her head to look in the direction of every little noise. It is a little distracting.
Melody spends a total of three hours canvassing the town and only found the one prospector who was willing to talk. She wonders if they might respond more to a different approach.
Not much for talking, Mongo tries to keep the more lightly-armored members of the party within sight as they ask around, just in case trouble breaks out.
After hearing about Melody's success and finding out there are dwarves about, Warpac gives it a shot.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7
Maybe he should have braided his eyebrows. That works sometimes. But no luck this time around. Perhaps it was because he was more interested in the ale at the inn than talking? Hmmm.
"Let's go to the inn."
|The One Known as Tycho|
Although not part of my family, you might try the leather shop when you need some specialty items. Make friendly with the people there, they may even be willing to trade some of the tricks of their trade.
Tycho drinks the rest of the cold lemonade and shivers pleasantly. Making friendly at the leather shop, friends? Will anyone come along?
On the way, Tycho transfigures into a female prospector named Pearl Heart. She wears a loose-fitting cotton shirt, vest, and a floppy hat. She hooks her thumb into her suspenders as she walks to the leatherworkers.
Crossposted; we can put the leatherworkers on hold if we want to go to the inn, but I definitely want to check it out too!
Since Melody got done an hour before Tycho, we will start with them coming in and then add Tycho. I’m going to compress the delay a little just so it doesn’t become a pain.
Map of the Tavern is on Slide 6, you come into A1.
This large room features a narrow stage for performers, several well-used tables, and a brick fireplace. There is a halberd on display above the bar. It looks to be good quality and has seen some use but is in excellent condition. You do not think it is only a display piece.
Behind the bar is an old human male. He looks up as you enter, but then returns to cleaning the counter top on the bar. He looks bored.
Sitting at one of the small tables is a man matching the description that Guaril gave you of Dalviss Crenn. He stands when he sees you and calls out “Welcome to the Mineshaft Inn! I am the proprietor, Dalviss Crenn.”
Holding out a hand in greeting, he asks “How can I be of service today?”
They are the only two people you see in here other than your group.
Mongo regards the halberd with a professional eye, sizing up the bartender, just in case. When Dalviss calls to them, Mongo glances at Melody, then replies, tentatively. "I'm Mongo. Um...Mr. Karela sent us." He then looks again at his more talkative friends.
The halberd is masterwork quality.
The bartender looks like he wouldn’t embarrass himself with a weapon, but of the two men here you suspect Dalviss is probably the more capable one. Dalviss might be a challenge if he were armed and armored.
At mention of Karela’s name, Dalviss smiles widely and says “Excellent! I am pleasantly surprised he sent someone so quickly! It has only been about a week since I requested his help.”
Gesturing towards the long table in the corner, he says “Have a seat, get comfortable.”
Looking towards the man behind the bar, he requests “Nalan, could you get them drinks and some stew?”
Looking back at your group, he claps his hands together and says “I’m glad you’ve come, things seem to be getting worse!”
"Well, tha's tha thing 'bout it, Guaril couldna say much wha' is goin' on." Leaning back, he spreads his hands wide. "We're 'ere, so wha' do ye need? Ah put tha leg-breakin' behind, but Penny can do inna pinch."