Alie tries on the vest that seemed to shrink in size to fit er perfectly. Pretty nifty, she thought as she allowed the magic to take over her.
Once the boat neared shire, she focused on the type of image she wanted to create, that of generic human pirates with cutlasses at the side, hoping to blend right in. She refreshed her extended spells as well.
The Eel Prince slides through the early morning mist into the docks of Ilizmagorti. You gather your gear and head down into the city. Disguised as pirates you attract little immediate attention although the presence of two large animal companions does provoke some gawking.
As you head into the city you feel eyes on you. Anyone here could be an agent of the Red Mantis. However, the streets seem to be realtively orderly, merchants ply their wares and artisans hawk for business. As you pass through the markets locals approach trying to sell you everything from dried fish to sugar candies to fine Thuvian carpets.
Oddly, there seems to be a distinct lack of cutpurses, beggars or thieves. Even the pirates who make the city their home treat the locals with respect, perhaps fearing Red Mantis retaliation if there is any disruption.
Heading into the Dandy District the shops fade away replaced by large residences. Cold eyes guards watch you warily from behind heavy gates. Strakes compound sits just above the beach. Four sleek pirate ships have been run aground near the harbor. The ships are laid out in a square and fashioned together with carpentry to form a walled enclosure. An open gate carved through the hull of the foremost ship leads into a pleasant garden, where a party is taking place. A stone villa rests near the back of the compound, protected by the ships’ walls.
The doors are open and inside you can hear the sound of music, the clinking of glasses and occasional bursts of song.
What do you do?
GM, By the reading of the Veil Spell, is it possible to disguise the animals as well? If so, Alie will do that. If not, then...
”Do you have any way to deal with those massive critters? That makes us stand out more than anything,” she hissed at the others.
Once the group makes it to Strake’s compound, she whispers, ”Act like you belong. Tortuga, be ready to throw in some of that pirate jargon we might need to blend in.”
|Valrar Altimari II|
We could start using the scroll, it's never too early.
"I was a privateer way back when. I think. Don't quite remember, but I didn't stay long." Valrar pulls out a magic eye patch and puts it on, despite his disguise already having one.
He mostly follows Tortuga around, trying to make some friends through drinks on the house, altered stories, or contests of skill. He avoids the temptation of using what little lingo he remembers or filling the blanks with something made up.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (6) + 22 = 28
The group heads into the converted ship, coming onto a strange party. The room is somewhat subdued. Brightly dressed servants move between tables, delivering plates of food and tankards of rum or clearing up from those who have finished.
At one end of the room sits a large man with a bushy red beard. He matches what you have been told about Stanton Strake. Incongruously he is busy polishing a shoe. An older, bald man with an eye patch paces nervously about the room (Doanne) while a couple sit at a central table, heads bowed close to each other, whispering and giggling (Origent and Jaxira). At the far end of the room sits a striking blond haired woman, feet propped on the feasting table taking deep swigs of a tankard full of rum (Luna).
Ok, this is a bit of a free flowing investigation section. Feel free to talk to anyone you want, one person per post please. Allow everyone to get involved if they want to. Valrar, I will keep your roll as the one for the first person you interact with. There are pictures of the various NPC's on the roll20 table in the handouts tab.
Food and drink are freely available here, Strake hosts a party 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Let me know if you are choosing not to eat or drink. That may make you stand out.
|Valrar Altimari II|
Valrar gladly accepts food and drink. He looks vaguely interested in all those around the room, so he sidles over to Strake. "Now this is a nice place! I hadn't been able to get in before, not in the short time I've been around," he says over the light noise. "Tell me, what possesses a man to show such insane generosity? Did you strike it big at some point?"
Strake looks up at Valrar, a look of incomprehension on his face. I'm sorry, were you talking to me? I am really not sure what you mean. I must say you are wearing a pair of quite fabulous boots, do you mind if I see them? he asks, putting down the shoe he was polishing and eagerly holding out his hands.
|Valrar Altimari II|
"...Okay?" Valrar is a bit taken aback. He pulls off his Daredevil Boots (which are quite well-made, thank you very much), feeling self-conscious and hoping he isn't being scrutinized. "Be careful with them, they cost me a fair bit. Is cobbling your trade, a hobby, perhaps?"
Strake takes the proferred boot and examines it carefully. He runs his fingers along the insole, examines the stictching closely and mutters appreciatively. My my, yes, this is fine craftmanship, very fine. It can only be from Absalom yes, the finest bootmakers in the world and I should know as I was one of them. Oh, I'm sorry, where are my manners. My name is Kirhed and I am a maker of fine footwear, although nothing as fine as this of course. The people here think I am someone called Strake but that doesnt make any sense. Things have been a bit fuzzy lately. The last I really remember was being in my shop in Absalom, then I was here in this strange body. It's a bit concerning really.
|Valrar Altimari II|
"Rather concerning. Still, it's good to meet you, Kirhed. I'll admit this isn't in my purview, but I have some more magically-inclined friends. Maybe we can help." He beckons over Alie and Gaius, and any other allies who aren't busy. "Could you explain your predicament to them?"
I swear, if we have to return to Absalom and rescue Strake from some shoemaker's wife...well, he'd better not have any more hoops for us to jump.
Ah, in that case maybe I can do something.
At Valrar's call, the Ambassador floats over, already searching through its vast stores of collective memory for relevant information.
Arcana: 1d20 + 26 ⇒ (19) + 26 = 45
Since Alie heard the words, Red Mantis, she hasn’t trusted anything else. She takes a drink and holds it, hoping to blend in, but not taking even a sip. She chooses to avoid the food for the time being.
When she was beckoned, she followed Valrar and got the update. She tried to see what was going on with the strange man. ”Now what is going on with you, friend Kirhad?”
Know. Arcana 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (18) + 16 = 34
Seeing a more normal and friendly face Kirhed calms down. He smiles at the little gnome. Oh, hello, I was just telling your friend there, err, is he your friend? I sort of assumed so since you came in together, is that right? Oh, everything is so confusing but I was telling himm how I was at home in Absalom in my shop and the next thing I knew I was here in the body of this...I dont know what, Pirate maybe? It is all very confusing and more than a little worrying and seems to have made the bald man over there quite angry he says pointing over to the man nervously pacing the room.
Looking him over Alie quickly concludes that this is not Stanton Strake, former pirate captain turned scholar having a nervous breakdown and that he may actually be Kirhed the Shoemaker, or at least his memories. It seems likely that some form of magic has removed Strakes mind from his body and put Kirheds into it. It may be possible to remove Kirhed from Strakes body with a Break Enchantment spell but that would simply leave you with an empty husk. What you need to do is find where Strakes mind is now, as it is certainly not at home.
Maybe some of the people here saw something or have some idea of what the hell is ging on.
What do you do?
Alie marches up to the bald man. ”Doanne, is it? Hey, I’m Felisha. I need to talk with Strake over there, but he seems a bit under the weather. Any chance I could get your opinion on what’s happened and why he’s ‘feeling poorly?’l
Diplomacy 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (15) + 20 = 35
Is there anything being served that isn't alcohol. Tortuga doesn't touch the stuff.
|Gaius Plinius Secundus|
I will have used a Scroll of Carry Companion prior to approaching this place.
Satisfied with how his allies are handling things, Gaius is content to maintain a (relatively) low profile.
Shump talks to Origent. "Hello...What's the news of the area? Anything interesting going on in town?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
The two sat in the centre of the room stop giggling when Shump approaches them. Both look him over with a piercing gaze, Shump definately feels they are somehow evaluating him although for wwhat who could say.
As he reaches their table both turn to face him, the woman smiles and says Why darling, this is Ilizmagorti, there is always something going on in town. The man kicks out a chair, Please, join us and have a drink, we are celebating our marvellous notices. Did you happen to catchh our production of The Fall of the House of Davian? Of couse I played the leading role as Asmodeus, it was a fascinating script written by one of the finest authors of our age. I do hear he is writing a sequel to celebrate the rebellion in Kintargo. He places a hand on Shumps arm, I think you would make the perfect Hetamon Haace, you have the jawline for the role. Tell me, have you ever walked the boards? and the two both begin giggling again. Shump gets the definate impression that both are rather drunk.
If you want to gather any information from these two then I am going to need a knowledge or perform check from you.
|Valrar Altimari II|
Glad he didn't need to smooth over the Ambassador's appearance here, Valrar bids the aeon to search its memory again. It then shares its findings with him in images and their own personal language, barely sounding like speech.
Ambassador History: 1d20 + 27 ⇒ (16) + 27 = 43
He makes his way to Shump's table. "This man? Hetamon Haace? The jawline I'll concede, but Hetamon is a compassionate soul, not some rough-and-tumble warrior. And who would mistake him for a Milanite?" Valrar laughs, though the pair likely isn't in on the bonds between Iomedae and Milani, or why they're relevant here. "I think he'd make a better Hetawell. Decent-ish, but wronged, and needing to be saved by his son Hetamon.
"Forgive the interruption, I just had to give my opinion there. I've never been in a play, though I was told the potential was there. You certainly deserve to rest on your laurels for a bit. But perhaps you have an opening?"
Oh, you are an officianado of the arts sir! exclaims the man, both of them seem overjpyed at meeting someone who knows something about culture. Please, let me introduce us, I am Origent Gamaron, director of Nyphaleum theatre. This is my friend, confidante and backer, Jaxira, she manages the botanical gardens here in the city. It is such a relief to meet a cultured individual in this den of thieves.]
The two chat happily with Valrar for several minutes. They explain that they had come to Strakes Villa both to celebrate their recent success and in the hope that Strake might back their next production. He may be a retired pirate lord but he has shown more interest in culture, art and scholarship over the last few years.
Last night things were going along merrily as usual, new people come and go all the time, much like yourselves. However, there was something odd happen. A great big palanquin, carried by a dozen servants and nearly fifteen feet wide, stopped in front of the gates for a while. Two servants wearing red robes came into the party for bit, but they didn’t mingle much. Sometime after midnight, Strake disappeared. When he came back, he was as you see him now. It has made our whole pitch really very awkward. I don't suppose you know what has happened to him do you?
Alie felt quite put out that the mean man had resisted her natural charm. She scanned the room for someone who wasn’t deep in conversation. Her gaze rests on the blonde drinking by herself. Alie shrugs her shoulders and tries to get her Favor, at least.
”Hey there! Drinking alone? Fancy a conversation? I get so tired talking to just the crew. That bald guy was very rude when I tried to strike up a conversation with him. I hope you are better conversation.”
Diplomacy 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (7) + 20 = 27
Tortuga decides to wait for another opportunity to have a cup of tea or something more suitable. He listens to the conversation but says very little.
The blond woman slams down her tankard, Why, aren't you a bold one or maybe my reputation is not as fearsome as I thought, she gives a short barking laugh. Retirement, what a gods awful word. Once I was feared across the Shackles and now some little gnome has the temerity to walk right up to me, me, Luna the Wild, once the most feared Pirate of the Sargavan coast. Hah, how times have changed.
She slumps back into her chair and curls her arm around her takard, taking a long gulp. Sure, why not little one. Who are you then and what ae you doing in this dive?
The woman seems eager to talk and slightly tipsy. The two chat about recent events, Luna is interested in just who Alie is, where you came from and what you are doing here but she is also happy to regale her with stories of Strake. It seems the two were rivals back in their pirating days.
Strake, you want to know about Strake? Well, seems he has gone and lost his mind the stupid old fool. Happened last night when them Priests from the Pagoda came a calling. Fanatics they are, the lot of them she adds in a hushed whisper. Call themselves the Claws of Akacheck they do, very bad news. Always travel in pairs. They use them damned sawtooth sabres and think they are the arms of the Blood God. I hear they can't speak or hear and they use some sort of secret sign language. Anyway, a pair of them visited last night, hung around for half an hour or so, delivered a note to Strake and left. Strake followed em out and looked pale as a ghost. Something had spooked him. When he came back in he was claiming to be this Kirhed fella. You got any idea what's going on? The old git was a thorn in my flesh when we sailed against each other but that's the past and he throws a good party. Would be a shame if this place closed.
1d20 ⇒ 9
As a group you can easily learn that the Pagoda probably refers to the Pagoda of the Mantis, a large public Temple to Akachek which sits in the centre of the city.
”Oh no, you are still quite fearsome, trust me. If I wasn’t half drunk, I’d never had the guts to bother you. Don’t worry, you are still plenty scary. Your legend is impressive!”.
Alie excuses herself and moves back to her ‘pirates.’ ”We need to excuse ourselves. I’m pretty sure that I’ve got our next move now.”
Once the group seems to be alone, Alie fills them in on what she has discovered. ”From whatI remember those saw toothed Sabres can only mean one thing. The Red Mantis have done something to Strake’s mind. Kind of scary, since that might mean they know we, or someone, were on the way to talk to him. So this might just be one large ambush. But, it also might be a chance to sneak in and find out who exactly did this, and why. Heck, we might get lucky and they switched his personality for a coincidental purpose. I hope,” she gulped as she realized what all of this probably meant.
|Valrar Altimari II|
"I heard tell of some similar people, but not that they were Mantis. Those fops-" Valrar indicates Origent and Jaxira, "-also mentioned a massive palanquin outside when they appeared. We'll see what that has to do with it. Now that it's time to break some people - or sneak in subtly, on the off chance we can."
OK, I generally go with the rule of two, once two of you agree to a course of action I will push things forward.
The group head out of Strake's compound. The morning sun has burnt off the early mist and the city has grown much busier. Crowds of people push past one another in the markets and merchants are now out in force. The streets are filled with passers by and almost anyone could be a Red Mantis assassin. Each of you feels eyes crawling all over you as you travel, trying to keep to quieter paths and less travelled routes.
You catch occasional glimpses of the red armoured Blood Watch, the feared local city guard, well known for their violence, corruption and brutality.
In order to keep a low profile I need a Survival or Stealth check from each PC. Each of you must make your own check. If using spells to assist they will need to last for a fairly significant period of time to count, at least 30 minutes or so.
|Gaius Plinius Secundus|
This is not going to end well...
Survival: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (11) + 0 = 11.
Gaius does his best, and is probably not drawing much attention from the peasants, but he can't shake the feeling that he is drawing attention from other, far more maleficent eyes...
Survival: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
Not trained in either.
stealth: 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (18) + 24 = 42
Wynn, who was quiet at the party, weaves in and out of ally ways. Trying to remain unseen, while keep eyes on his allies.
|Valrar Altimari II|
Stealth: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33
Valrar keeps low to the ground, changing between a wide variety of shorter humanoids at random intervals.
Survival: 1d20 ⇒ 10
The group head into the city, sticking to side streets and avoiding large crowds as best they can. Several times you nearly bump right into patrols of the Blood Watch but the quick reactions of Valrar and Wynreyell let you slip out of sight just in time. Even Tortuga manages to help out, neatly leading the group away from a potential lurking ambush site. You definately get the impression that the Guard is out in force and they are looking for you lot.
You reach the Pagoda without incdent. The hulking stone building sits in spacious grounds surrounded by a high wall. A single enormous gate breaches the wall, flanked by a pair of massive statues of Red Mantis assassins. A crimson and white banner hangs from the Pagoda depicting crossed mantis arms.
The Pagoda is busy with worshippers coming and going freely. There are no guards at the gate or on the walls or in the courtyard surrounding the Pagoda as far as you can see.
I am going to pause here to see if there is anyhting you want to do before entering the Pagoda. I will move you on tomorrow night if I hear nothing. Shump, do you have the rhino with you and if so what are you going to do with it? I know Sir Ambrose is currently in statue form.
Alie casts Heroism on herself as the group approaches the pagoda.
Spell will last 140 minutes.
Assuming the previous spells had expired, she again casts Mage Armor and False Life with her lesser rod of Extend that will last for 28 hours.
Temporary HP 1d10+10
Wynn will cast see invisibility before entering the Pagoda, knowing that they are dealing with assassins, they may try to sneak up on them.
Using my extend rod as well, making it last for two hours. Will add it to my buff tracker in d20
Anyone else want a Heroism boost?
Alie follows Wynn’s lead and uses one of her See Invisibility scrolls, which should last for 30 minutes.
Preparations made the group head into the complex. Passing through the menacing gates the eyes of the statues of the Red Mantis assassins seem to bore into the tops of your skulls. The courtyard stretches out ahead of you, a few dozen yards before you can reach the relative safety of the cool interior of the Pagoda.
However, as you set foot into the courtyard each of you begins to feel a burning sensation on your forehead. Looking at each other you see a brand form on your foreheads, the profane symbol of Akacheck. It seems that these unholy grounds mark anyone who is not a believer. Such a mark is likely to make reaching the Pagoda without drawing attention to yourselves difficult.
OK, at this point you need to do something to avoid drawing attention from the many worshippers milling about the Pagoda. There are various ways you can do this. The brand is clearly magical and might therefore be removed with dispel magic or possibly remove curse. Alternatively you could try and navigate the courtyard with a Disguise check (you each need to make your own, Veil will give you +10), distract people you meet with Sleight of Hand or avoid attention with Stealth. Spells can help with this but they are generally going to need to last minutes per level. You may have other ways of circumventing the problem at this level so feel free to suggest alternate solutions.
|Gaius Plinius Secundus|
Well, if they are being offered, I won't say no to a Heroism :-)
Gaius frowns, concentrates, and then tries to remove the brand.
Doing an area burst Greater Dispel Magic, targeting the brand; I should be able to cover the entire party.
Greater Dispel Magic #1: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (4) + 16 = 20.
Greater Dispel Magic #2: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (7) + 16 = 23.
Greater Dispel Magic #3: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (13) + 16 = 29.
|Gaius Plinius Secundus|
Waiting to see if Gaius is successful