GM Doug's The Fall of Plaguestone

Game Master Doug Hahn

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The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

Caravan Masater Bort Bargith leans over his table at the Giant's Head inn, mug of ale in one hand and a leg of chicken in the other. Sounds drift in from a nearby window: axles being repaired, braying mules, and crates being loaded; the sounds of Elidir's caravan staging grounds never cease.

You're here to try and book passage on this dwarf's caravan. He has a good reputation: just prices, a gregarious nature, and fair treatment of his workers — and he's living up to that reputation so far. There are five other potential passengers here as well, gathered around the dwarf's table.

He waves the meat around. You wants to travel with Old Bort, eh? He treats his people right, he does. Never a word of complaint, in his many years o'adventures, takin' goods to th' people most in need. Why, Old Bort's conversed with deities, bested fire giants, and traveled old places that'd make any seasoned adventurer quiver in their boots — you'll be in good hands!

Stroking his prodigious and immaculately-groomed beard, he looks at each of you in turn. But this journey, now, is just to Almas. Easy-peasy. No ruins, deities, or fire giants. 'Course, we're takin' the longer way South, so as to avoid Cheliax — Cheliax taxes, to be precise. Since we'll be in the backcountry, I could use a hand takin' care of things, and help if we get into a little scuffle. Happy to take you on as full-price passengers, but if you have any qualifications, it might be that we could work out a fair discount on the journey. What skills do you have?

Art on Slide 1!

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F iruxi | HP: 15/15 | AC: 15 | F: +4, R: +5, W: +9; +1 vs. disease | Speed 25ft | P: +5 | Spells: 1st fear, h. push, pest form | claws +5 (1d4+1 S) | produce flame +7 (30 ft., 1d4+4 fire)

Shashkenak's tongue flickers out at Bort's mention of deities, though she doesn't interrupt. Her mottled green and brown scales gleam dully in what little sunlight can force its way past the Giant's Head's windows.

She turns her head to the side, dipping it downwards, to consider Bort with one steel gray eye. "Wound tender, thing knower. My friend and I," Shashkenak gestures to the leshy sitting next to her, "are members of the Magaambya. Stars know you've heard of them. Teachings from the world over! A boon to any endeavor!"

The iruxi shows a row of gleaming teeth, but something about the set of her jaw softens what might otherwise be a predatory grin; she's clearly practiced the expression. "And as a thing knower, I would know about these deities you've met!" She reaches for the bandolier across her chest, then taps three claws against the leather book fastened there.

F spider | HP: 5/5 | AC: 15 | F +4, R +5, W +9 | P +5 | Speed 25 ft., fly 25 ft. | familiar focus 1/1

A black and gray tarantula skitters over Shashkenak's shoulder, down her arm, and onto the bowl of eggs sitting in front of the iruxi. It gingerly crawls from egg to egg, stopping each time to raise its abdomen and display perfectly symmetrical crescent patterns. It then taps the shell with its two front legs.

It repeats this several times before finding what is apparently the right egg. Gentle krks emit from the bowl as the spider circumnavigates the shell, tapping all the while. It then scuttles back in seeming satisfaction, extends its forelegs, and lifts a cap of shell from the egg. Inside, a golden yolk wobbles to and fro.

F iruxi | HP: 15/15 | AC: 15 | F: +4, R: +5, W: +9; +1 vs. disease | Speed 25ft | P: +5 | Spells: 1st fear, h. push, pest form | claws +5 (1d4+1 S) | produce flame +7 (30 ft., 1d4+4 fire)

Shashkenak gently takes the bit of shell between two claws and places it to the side. She then lifts the egg to her mouth, tips it back, and rolls the contents around like a Taldan tasing wine.

F Human Champion/2

Kyrie shuffles uncomfortably in her spot. She’s not particularly tall—5’ 2”, at the most—but has this quiet, calming presence that fills up any room she’s in. Her hair is dyed a pale pink and falls so it covers one of her eyes. ”I am Kyrie. The Knights called me Breakspear. I am a paladin of Iomedae. I protect people. I heal people.” Her face falls. She’s clearly disappointed in herself. ”I probably do not heal as well as someone from the Magaambya. I am good at fighting. I am not good at much else.” She pauses as she thinks on something, trying to decide whether or not she should speak. ”I am good at reading. I would like to read any books you will let me.”

She reaches out a hand towards the spider, then meets its master’s gaze with her calm dark blue eyes. ”What is the spider’s name? May I pet the spider? Does the spider like to be pet?”

F iruxi | HP: 15/15 | AC: 15 | F: +4, R: +5, W: +9; +1 vs. disease | Speed 25ft | P: +5 | Spells: 1st fear, h. push, pest form | claws +5 (1d4+1 S) | produce flame +7 (30 ft., 1d4+4 fire)

"Oh no, everyone makes their own kind of contribution. Breakspear? You likely know more of battlefield wounds than I ever will. You bring a different experience to bear!"

Surprised at Kyrie's request, Shashkenak's nictitating membranes flutter back and forth. "Pet? Yes, of course! She's named Handshake for a reason!"

F spider | HP: 5/5 | AC: 15 | F +4, R +5, W +9 | P +5 | Speed 25 ft., fly 25 ft. | familiar focus 1/1

Handshake scuttles off the bowl and across the table toward Kyrie. She taps her legs one after the other, and if the paladin caresses her, she rubs her pedipalps together in satisfaction.

F iruxi | HP: 15/15 | AC: 15 | F: +4, R: +5, W: +9; +1 vs. disease | Speed 25ft | P: +5 | Spells: 1st fear, h. push, pest form | claws +5 (1d4+1 S) | produce flame +7 (30 ft., 1d4+4 fire)

"In my experience most Avistani ignore the name and fail to greet my little friend." Shashkenak placidly twists her thick neck back and forth in a kind of amused shrug.

F Human Champion/2

Kyrie removes her gauntlet and pets the spider gently and with precise care. ”A pleasure to meet you, Handshake.” Kyrie frowns deeply at Shashkrnak’s addendum. ”I am not like most Avistani. I am not like anyone except Beirivelle.” There is only pride in Beirivelle’s name.

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NG Hobgoblin Alchemist Detective G'nak details | HP 26/26 | AC 19 | Class DC 17 | F: +7, R: +10, W: +4 | Perc: +4 | Speed 25ft | Ranged: Crossbow +4 1d8, Melee: Morningstar +4 1d6 Active conditions: None

Thinking it had been a while since he last ate a spider, let alone a tarantula, G'nak leans forward, letting the hood fall from his bald gray head.

"Magaambya? Never heard of it. You always play with your food?" he asks with a chuckle, his orange eyes shining.

"I'm on my way out of Isger, the sooner the better, before any elves arrive. Not that I don't like elves. I mean, I've never known any. But I've killed quite a few. Hundred." He looks into the distance. "Maybe thousands, but I don't mean to brag. It's easy when you're blowing them up." He shrugs as though there were nothing to it.

"It's more their magic I don't like. Can't trust it, all that arcane mumbo jumbo." He spits on the ground. "Put your faith in science, I say." He slaps the bandoleer of vials and tinctures strapped across his chest. "You need any alchmical tools or elixirs, you come to me. G'nak is the name. Agent of Oprak. We're the peaceful hobgoblins, in case you don't know."

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Polygamodioecious | Notes | Druid 1 | Stats | HP 23/23 | AC 16 | F: +5, R: +5, W: +10| Perc: +8

The leshy shakes the hair-like canopy of red leaves above the smooth, pale bark of their face. They were waiting for Shashkenak when the iruxi arrived. Now they embrace their old friend in branch-like arms.

"it's springtime back home.
yet here my roots taste autumn.
i'm glad to see you."

A colorful ball resembling nothing so much as a ball of spines floats out from beneath the leshy's canopy and lands on Kyrie's shoulder. It flutters, emitting a pleasant aroma like passionfruit and cinnamon.

The leshy gives a soft, arid laugh and speaks.

"hello travel mates.
marula is what i'm called.
spliced from miombo.

i have come to learn
how you avistani build. live.
how you gather wood.

how you use the sun—
or not—to keep you fed, warm.
brr, this autumn's cold."

They turn to Bort.

"i don't need your food,
but i offer my own bounty.
my seeds are tasty.

animals listen
when they hear me. catch my scent.
i am your servant."

They end their colloquy with a bow and leave the eggs untouched.

F Human Champion/2

Kyrie bows for G’nak. ”A pleasure to meet you, G’nak. I have not met a bad hobgoblin. I met Dame Volza in Vigil. It was still Vigil then. She was a hobgoblin knight writing a book. She said it was historical commentary on the Glorious Reclamation through the lens of Jubbanichian theory. She was much smarter than me. She asked me questions about what happened at Citadel Dinyar. I have not read her book yet. I need to read four more books before I will be able to get much out of it. She gave me a list.”

Kyrie also bows for Marula, breathing-in the pleasant aroma.

”Greetings, Marula
The way you talk interests me
I will try it too.”

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NG Hobgoblin Alchemist Detective G'nak details | HP 26/26 | AC 19 | Class DC 17 | F: +7, R: +10, W: +4 | Perc: +4 | Speed 25ft | Ranged: Crossbow +4 1d8, Melee: Morningstar +4 1d6 Active conditions: None

"Well met, Marula.
I ain't no vegetarian
But I'll try a seed!"

G'nak then turns to Kyrie.

"Bad hobgoblins are out there, believe me." He gives a low whistle at the thought. "Volza you say? Never met her. Or any dames for that matter. She’s no doubt more important than I am. I got a low rank. Not any dames in the secret police though, which was where I worked, in the office of the high quartermaster, which was nothing more than another smokehouse, to be honest. We called it a dezzbok'l*, which is what it was. Still, I'd take working there over running powder kegs to the front lines any day."

highfalutin smokehouse.

G'nak leans forward conspiratorially.

"I’m writing a book too." He pats the formula book on his belt. "And it’s not all about bombs and blowing stuff up either! Maybe someday I'll let you read it. But for now it’s a secret." He flashes a sharp-toothed grin.

F Human Champion/2

”Dezz—bokk—‘l. Dezzbokk’l.” She chews on the word for a moment. She loves trying out new words and seeing how they feel in her mouth. ”Kalabrynne says that people with high ranks are no more important than people with low ranks; they just have a different role to play. Everyone is an important part of the whole. You are important, too.” She considers the dangers involved in running around with large barrels of explosive material while wizards are shooting fireballs, alchemists are tossing bombs, and paladins are firing blades of sunlight from their swords. ”I also do not think I would enjoy running powder kegs on the front lines. I would like to read your secret book when it is done. I would still like to read it if it is all about bombs and blowing stuff up.”

The doors to the inn burst open and a dark-haired figure runs in, quickly looks around, and rolls under the nearest table. Angry shouting can be heard outside, followed by a muffled I think he went that way! The commotion fades into the distance and the figure you saw crawls out from under the table, oblivious to the pointed looks of the patrons, and dusts itself off.

On closer inspection, this individual is a well-built man of Tien heritage whose embroidered silk tunic and wide white trousers suggest foreign roots. His piercing blue eyes scan the room until they fall on the caravan master.

With a quick run up, he attempts to leap onto the table and enter the Pose of the Resplendent Dragon at Half-past Teatime, extending an arm holding a letter toward Bort.
Acrobatics: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
Let’s see if I take a prat fall here…

Honor to you and your family, Bushy Bearded Bargith Bort. The locals were just informing me of a caravan master in need of guards. I urge you to be looking no further, for Radiant Cai Fen of the house of the Plummeting Eagle is here! I am having many years of caravan guard experience and have come highly recommended by my colleagues in the illustrious Tien Xia.

Belatedly he looks around at the group gathered around the table and an embarrassed expression creeps onto his face. My apologies. Clearly, I am not the first applicant, and it was quite rude of me to speak out of turn. Please, let me test my mettle against these people and prove to you that I am the guard that you want.

He shuffles off the table and comes to stand next to G’Nak. Interviews are so nerve wracking, right? he mumbles.

F Human Champion/2

Kyrie already has her shield out and at the ready to strike at any incoming threats from the moment she hears a commotion. By the time he is on the table, she has already interceded between him and Bort, anticipating that the caravan master would be the most likely target of an assault. As he speaks his name and intentions, she begins to warily relax, not fully untensing until he goes to stand near G’nax. ”I do not wish to fight you, Radiant Cai Fen of the House of the Plummeting Eagle. I do not think we are in competition. I will protect anyone else who wishes to avoid combat with my life.”

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Indeed, Metal Maiden? I was having you figured as my stiffest competition. Honestly, I am a bit disappointed that I cannot test my mettle against yours. He looks a little despondent as he says this.

Oh, but there is being no need to be so formal. Please call me Plummeting Eagle Cai Fen. I am embarrassed to say I did not catch your name?

P.S. - If the caravan master chooses to read the letter it is
1 - Entirely in Tien
2 - The wrong letter. This one is from Worried Mother Cai Lyn to Hopeless Son, urging him to abandon his "idiot pursuits" and return home to be a proper scribe.

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F Human Champion/2

”My name is Kyrie. I am called Breakspear. You are not missing anything. I am no longer anything but mettle. Though a lump of rock may be ground into a diamond, it does so at the cost of all of its texture and color. You cannot break me no matter how hard you tried. But you can see through me as if I was air.” She read those lines in a book. She read that book once but those lines dozens, perhaps hundreds. That was the first book she read at the hospital: The Diamond Heart by Druk Stonefingers, a dwarven former soldier who began a career in literary fiction later in life after a close call with a basilisk left him with the eponymous digits. He was a popular writer in Lastwall because of his intense devotion to stories of moral complexity about knights and similar warriors, a devotion that left him often shunned by artistic communities preferring more rambunctious prose and stylish subjects, though he was popular enough in Lastwall to have produced a prodigious bibliography. She read all 33 volumes of it in a month. She finds he does indeed have a predictable form, and the prose and characterization are not always strong enough to make up for it. She was carried through by her love of those first lines, though. She has yet to find any she likes as much.

I’ve been trying for years to find whatever information I can about the literary canon of Golarion, and there’s not a lot, so I usually end up making s$+% up. Avelina has a whole favorite series of lesbian lady knight romance novels she adores and occasionally references (based off of real ones I actually own....) and I’ve come up with some plays, too. I know it’s a tangent, but I enjoy it, and I figure the various MFAs here might, too :)

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The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

Bort grins as he listens to the back-and-forth. A knight of The Inheritor, an Agent of Oprak, an animal-speaker, and a caravan guard. And friendly types capable of entertainin’ conversation — no one will ever say Old Bort don’t like a good tale, or a good talk to bide the time on the trail!

He pushes Cai Fen's letter aside. Pah! Can't read that. You look capable enough as-is, for a passenger. I like that stance.

Tell you what. You lot can travel for a few coppers a day, if you promise to help out if we run into trouble. Capable lot, you seem, an' Ulf an' Olf might could use a hand along the way.

Shashkenak wrote:
And as a thing knower, I would know about these deities you've met!

Well now, Shashkenak… which to choose from… Bort rubs a beard-braid between two callused fingers. Hmmmm…

He leans in close and whispers: I know. This is a story of how a considerate gift brought me an’ my crew back from the dead. It's known among my old crew as "The Tale of the Gray Lady's Comb." Bort takes a dramatic pull of ale before beginning his tale.

The Tale of the Gray Lady's Comb:
Years ago, my caravan an' I had to cross the waters o' Lake Encarthan. Taking supplies to the Lastwall — may those good people rest in peace. He makes a sign of mourning. I'm no sailor, but the work had to be done. So me an' my crew, we set to doin' it. That's our way.

It was smooth sailing ‘till we got about halfway across, where you can't see the shore in any direction. Then, the blue skies suddenly turned black! A wind began to howl — a gale strong enough to rip the gristle right off your bones! We battened the hatches and reefed the sails just in time, as my little skiff was set upon by the mightiest storm you ever did see — blowin' straight from The Isle of Terror.

Likely 'twas sent by the Three Furies or ol' Tar-Baphon hisself, raging at us crossin’ near his shore in service to the Paladins. Storm 'o the age, so I heard later — and we was stuck in the thick of it, with black waves taller'n mountains fallin' down on out boat. Tumblin' like a twig on th'vast, was my little skiff, with the wind screamin' something fierce — even worse'n the coven o'banshees I once fought off in Geb. The three of them could holler, let me tell you… but this was worse. Much worse.

We was acquittin' ourselves well nevertheless, keepin' the keel from turnin’ to face the waves. It takes more'n a mountain o' water to drown old Bort and his merry crew, let me tell you.

But the Whisperin' Tyrant was throwin' a right fit that we wouldn’ go down so easy, and would have none o' it. Finally he sent one last desperate wave, taller than the tallest peak of the Kodar Mountains, straight down upon us. I swear on my life that I saw th'rotten sails of that ghost ship, Nixie's Pride, floating atop that terrible wave, 'luminated in a flash of blue lightnin! For none other could sink Old Bort's ship or turn him from his ways.

There was a terrible crash. We all went under, ship busted to flotsam in one mighty blow. I slid under th' ice-cold waves, an’ there in the brown-black waters, I saw floatin’ my most treasured lockbox. I grabbed hold, intendin' to take it down with me. Bort shivers and takes a deep drink of his ale.

Drowning's like going to sleep. At first, your lungs seem like to choke you, but then the cold makes you numb, and then it's easier to breathe the water. To give up. Just drift away.

And so it was. That’s how Old Bort died for the first time. Me an' my whole crew.

And then I seemed to wake inside a dark tunnel. A long tunnel with a cold storm wind a-blowin' at my back — hard enough to push me forward. It was that same hateful wind from the storm, so cold it was, that it turned my hair to ice, and my boots were frozen cold as Kellish tombs!

Then I sees a light at the end of that tunnel. Only it weren't no light, but rather a kind of not-dark. And when I comes out of the tunnel, who do I see sittin' in front o' me? Pharasma herself, on her high throne! Galaxies spun out around her face like a veil, an' even though she was sittin close, it seemed she was bigger than all them galaxies put together. Like I was seein' her from an impossible distance up close. It hurt me to think about it, an' it still does to this day.

And that wind, it kept blowin' me forward! Step by step, step by step.

The Lady of Graves, she looks down at me, ready to give me my Final Reward. But that damn storm hated me so, it kept houndin' me, even there! Yammering like a dog, that cold wind blew and blew even in the Boneyard. All them weird creatures gathered around, they who wear the masks — who the learned call psy-ko-pumps — the wind ruffled them's shadowy feathers an' even blew one's bird-beak mask off. And mark me if I wasn't too afraid to see what kinda face — or lack thereof — was watching me underneath.

No. As I shivered in that wind, I looked up at the Mother of Souls on her throne. And I see something worse. The Lady's of Death's hair, woven of the galaxies themselves, was being tousled in that selfsame storm-wind that had pushed me there!

She seemed put right out, spittin' the hair outta her mouth and pushin' it outta her eyes. An' because of the hair in her eyes, she couldn't rightly see me, to judge my fate. The strands of her hair must've been in the way of the weaves of my fate, confusin'-like. I quaked in my boots then, afeard she'd judge me wrong an' send me to the back end of Abbadon or somesuch.

But all those who know me say Old Bort's the most considerate of all dwarvenkind, and I brook no exception for deities discomfited. I looked in my hand, an' saw that I still held my most precious lockbox, with all my treasures, brought safe from the waves and into the afterlife. I think on what's inside, and I gets out my platinum key out of my left pocket, and unlock the box… bowing and scraping all the while, one does in the Boneyard.

Inside, I had a comb of purest silver, that shines like the moon on the solstice. I had found it in a lost city, deep in Shattered Isles. Worth a king's ransom, that comb belonged to a forgotten prince. But what good could it do me, dead? My beard would need no brushin.'

Well, I crawls up to the Lady’s feet, and proffers the comb so she can fix her hairdo. I says, Mighty sorry for bringin' that wind from the storm what killed me. I'm truly sorry that none but such a storm could do the job. I wish now that I were a weaker soul, so that naught but a spring breeze could knock me down dead, and thereby leave your hair unruffled. But such is the ways of caravan masters. We don’ die easy. But we come prepared, as you see: Take this comb, with my apologies.

All the psy-ko-pumps went silent. I think I must've ruffled a few feathers, so to speak — ha-ha! He slaps his knee. I never looked up, an' after a long few moments — longest of my life — I felt the comb slowly lifted from my hand.

Then, I looked up. An' saw the sun. I blinked an' realized that me an' my entire crew were standin' on the shores of the lake, alive and well on a sunshiny day. The birds were singing, and we were one and all bone-dry and toasty warm. We fell to kissin' the earth an' weepin' for joy.

So impressed was Pharasma by my gift, y'see, that she must've brushed her hair and returned us one and all to the safest shore of Lake Encarthan. To this day, I know she has Old Bort's beard comb there in the Boneyard, and treasures it still.

An' this is why it's good to be generous with your treasures, as ya never know just who might need a considerate gift or two. And always pack a spare comb.

He tugs proudly on his beard and wipes a tear from his eye.

perform: 1d20 + 2 + 9 ⇒ (18) + 2 + 9 = 29

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

A hush falls over the room as Bort finishes his tale. Yes. None can say Old Bort don’t like a good tale, or a good adventure to bide his time on the trail! So, will you sign on with my caravan? We meet at dawn tomorrow, out on the staging grounds.

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F Human Champion/2

Kyrie sits in rapt attention to Bort's story. She does not actually consider whether it is factual, which it almost certainly is not. It is enough to be true, which it almost certainly is. The distinction is an important one to her, as it's a subject touched-on in The Drowned Girl during the passage in which the narrator describes how she lives her life when her mental illness makes it difficult to know what is factual and what isn't.

Kyrie claps at the end of the story. "You are a very good storyteller. I thank you for sharing. I would like to sign on with your caravan. I would like to hear more stories."

Polygamodioecious | Notes | Druid 1 | Stats | HP 23/23 | AC 16 | F: +5, R: +5, W: +10| Perc: +8

Marula sidles up to G'Nak. They reach up into their dense canopy and produce a fleshy little fruit.

Goodberry: Offers 1d8+5 hp healing and sustains the eater. Duration 1 day.

They wander around the common room of the inn as the dwarf orates. Twig fingers glide over wooden beams. Leaves quiver in sorrow and Marula embraces the beam. They murmur.

"the tree, felled, still gives
but casts no shade nor bears fruit.
the root family mourns.

"pruning leaves roots whole.
fallen branches gathered bend,
stand firm together."

They glance up at the birch ceiling. At the large quarried stone walls. Their foliage shakes from side to side.

Bort finishes and Marula returns their attention to travel planning.

"like mahogany
the breeze sings sweet through you.
at sunsfeast i'll come."

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Plummeting Eagle Cai Fen weeps openly as the story concludes. So enraptured is he that he completely misses the fact that he won't be getting paid for this job. Masterful! Such a masterful tale, oh Bushy Bearded Borgith Bort. Your talents are being comparable to the masters of my homeland. It would be my honor to travel with your company

He begins rummaging in his pack for something to wipe away his tears.

NG Hobgoblin Alchemist Detective G'nak details | HP 26/26 | AC 19 | Class DC 17 | F: +7, R: +10, W: +4 | Perc: +4 | Speed 25ft | Ranged: Crossbow +4 1d8, Melee: Morningstar +4 1d6 Active conditions: None

”An interesting tale indeed. Of course science tells us that a lack of air, from something like drowning, can cause all sorts of visions and hallucinations.” He tosses down the goodberry and chuckles.

”I’d be happy to sign on. I assume you’re in charge Bort? What exactly is the order of command? Not that I’m looking to rise up in rank already, but it doesn’t hurt to know.”

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

Ha! Now that's a wild story! Old Bort, hallucintin! Y'see, my friend, Old Bort's immune to all that — much to th' dismay o' his enemies.

Why, once I was dinin' with an arclord o' Nex after I took back his best friend's pickled eye, which had been stolen by his most hated Vudrani enemy, the Maurya-Rahm of Jalmerlay hisself! Now, I was returned triumphant, a guest o' honor at his manse, for doin' my job as was told — at no small danger to me an' my crew.

An' this Arclord, he tried to trick me, slippin' some crazy mushroom dust into my tea, likely meanin' to "disappear" me whilst I was seein' things an' confused. Well, us Bargith clan dwarves, we have a special power, y'see, where we see all things true, at all times. Them wizards have some kinda spell that gives ‘em that power, but I have it in my blood, and it’s served me well in my trade over the years, gettin’ me outta many a scrape. Well now, that Arclord didn’ know that, an’ he learned a hard lesson, he did. An’ now me an' my crew's no longer welcome in that ol' island country, or by them Arclords — who're a bad lot anyhow — and now there’s now one fewer, if you get my meanin’. He winks.

So, you think a cold bath could do what them Arclords couldn't? VISIONS! HALLUCINATIN'! HA! He slaps his knee again.

Now then. To business. Tamli's my second-in-command. Just look for the half-orc with a big smile keepin' everyone in line. You'll know you come to the right place, an' if she stops smilin' at you, you'll know you was in the wrong place. You listen to her, and you listen good.

Them no-good ulfens, Ulf an' Olf — or Olf and Ulf, I can never get it aright — are two o' my teamsters — you can find them by the sounds o'them bein’ yelled at or the clatter o'dice, most like. Quiet Glunda's the other'n, an' you won' see her lest she decide it be so.

An' Cooky's the cook, with his bucket o' coals attached to the back o'his wagon. Follow the smell o' simmerin' meats if y'ever lose your way. Your nose will lead you true. He licks his lips.

What else you got for old Bort? No more questions? 'Tis a simple enough job, for mostly passengers, all the way.

Cai Fen produces a handkerchief from his pack and loudly blows his nose into it.

Sulfur Smelling <Yao Jing>* has correctness. A proper hierarchy helps the camp run smoothly and ensures that every individual knows what is to be done in an emergency.

Once the discussion in the tavern has concluded, he will proceed toward the door.

As your new Guard Captain, I go to survey the caravan to make certain of the defensible-ness.

Yao Jing:
Tien for hobgoblin. Literally translated as "somehow even uglier goblin."

True to his word, Cai Fen will use his warfare lore to identify tactical vulnerabilities when we travel and make camp.

Warfare Lore: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15

On a critical failure he will pester Tamli and the rest of the party with inane suggestions.

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NG Hobgoblin Alchemist Detective G'nak details | HP 26/26 | AC 19 | Class DC 17 | F: +7, R: +10, W: +4 | Perc: +4 | Speed 25ft | Ranged: Crossbow +4 1d8, Melee: Morningstar +4 1d6 Active conditions: None

G'nak nods along as Old Bort speaks.

"What'd I say about wizards and their elf magics? You can't trust 'em. This ability to see all things true sounds useful though. We could use someone like that on the secret police. Too bad you ain't a hobgoblin!"

When Cai Fen is gone, G'nak says, "This Yao Jing sounds intelligent. I couldn't agree with them more."

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F Human Champion/2

”I believe he was calling you ‘Yao Jing,’ G’nak.”

Kyrie has a number of questions for Bort at this point: why would an Arclord hire him to get back a pickled eye? Why would someone pickle an eye and keep it as a keepsake? Why would the Arclord attempt to kill Bort when he just did a good job? How does this supposed true sight work? Who gave it to his family? How can that be passed down in blood? She does not ask any of these questions, though, as she gets the feeling from his reaction to G’nak that any incredulity in regards to his stories will be met with further stories to answer, which will then spawn more questions, and then more stories, and then more questions, and then more stories. She does not have nearly enough time for that, especially since she still has people to meet and probable work to do. Nevertheless, she realizes that she should probably say something. Not wanting to either be impolite and make the kind man feel bad, but also not wanting to say something that invites another tangent, she is not entirely sure what to say. She ends up turning to a phrase she saw in a book once.

”I thank you for another story. I would like to hold my questions for a later date.” It was in a play she read called “Damn the Courts!” It was an Andoren farce by popular satirist Leona Robert (the “t” is silent) lampooning the Chelaxian legal system. There is an entire scene spent in which the court argues over which definition of “date” is recognized by the court and whether “holding questions” counts as an illegal breach of the court’s “no personification or anthropomorphification of abstract concepts” rule and punishable by contempt of court. They then argued about the difference between personification and anthropomorphification. She doesn’t remember.

As Cai Fen explores the camp, he softly sings a song from his homeland.

<Kekao zhi he kekao caifu
Kekao zhilang zai Kekao de Wu>

Reliable prices and reliable fortune,
Reliable quality at Reliable Wu's.
Best prices in Tien Xia guaranteed or your money back*
*Customer must present receipts personally countersigned by the Dragon Empress herself. In triplicate.

Verdant Wheel

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Male NG Elf Sorcerer Champion of Erastil | HP 18/18 | AC 19 | Class DC 18 | F: +4, R: +6, W: +6 | Perc: +4 | Speed 30ft | Ranged: Pebble Potshot +8 1d4+4, Melee: Longsword +6 1d8+2 Active conditions: None

At this point an elderly elf in worn scale armor walks into the camps.

Greetings, I am Guyzer....

He asks politely if this the caravan meeting point. Proceeding to hand over his payment to join with a warm and some what weary smile, he settles in camp.

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

It's dawn. Horses whinny and teamsters shout in the caravan staging area, where several groups make ready to travel. Savvy street vendors sell steaming mugs of coffee and warm cakes to hungover teamsters and fellow travelers.

Shashkenak didn't show today, but an old elf named Guyzer has. Together, you make your way to your travel accommodations.

Bort's caravan just is up ahead; it's comprised of eight plain but well-maintained wagons. Each sturdy vehicle features polished wood, newly-waxed canvas beaded with morning dew, and well-oiled tack. While you don't see the storyteller himself, there's a half-orc woman with a clipboard in her hand, taking inventory of the cargo. She wears a green headscarf over her ponytail, and unlike many of the other teamsters here, she looks sharp-eyed and wide awake at this hour. This must be Tamli, the caravan overseer. art on slide 1.

Someone sprints up from behind you. A young, clean-shaven Ulfen man pushes through the middle of your group — Excuse — excuse me! — and before you can say anything, he's well past — and he isn't looking back. His bright red cloak billows behind as he darts straight for Bort's caravan. Without any hesitation he dives headfirst into the last covered wagon — feathers fly into the air as the chickens inside squawk furiously at the intruder. The man curses. In a moment, all is quiet. art on slide 1.

Tamli continues taking inventory, seemingly oblivious to the stowaway.

1d20 ⇒ 1
Cai, Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
G'nak, Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
Guyzer, Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Kyrie, Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
Marula, Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16 I suspect your perception mod is greater than 2.

G'nak, Guyzer, and Marula:
You notice that Tamli sighed and rolled her eyes when the man jumped into the wagon. It might look like she's simply frustrated with her work, but she is frustrated with the "stowaway," and pretending not to notice.

Four skeevy-looking men come jogging around the corner, openly wielding old blades and butcher knifes. At this late stage of decay, their weapons look more like shoddy bludgeoning instruments than cutlery. They come to a halt at the caravan yard, and looking around with ill intent. Their leader, an unshaven man with crooked mustaches, slouches up to your group. He grins; you can smell the grog on his breath. Hey You! Yeah, you! Ya seen a skinny blonde lad run by? Been cheatin' at dice, he has, an' must be punished!

One of his compatriots shouts. 'Tis right! Ye don' cheat with the Ivory Knives gang! He waves his rusty butcher knife in the morning air, almost knocking its blunt end against his nearest friend's skull.

Tamli looks up from her clipboard, and begins sauntering over this way. Her hand rests on a sap, holstered to her belt.

The leader looks around. Right right. So, ya seen 'im or not?

Horizon Hunters

Male Human Swashbuckler 1 (Gymnast) Character Page

When he first walked into town, a group of pleasant looking men offered Cai Fen their services as the “Ivory Knives Local Guides and Monument Tours Company.” Being a fresh face in town and generally unfamiliar with the area, Cai Fen gladly accepted but was somewhat dismayed when the first monument visited was the “Shankin’ Alley” and the price for the “tour” suddenly rose astronomically. A chase ensued, and Cai Fen managed to lose them near the inn.

Seeing the same men approach now, and deciding not to stir up any trouble, Cai Fen heroically ducks into the last covered wagon, not realizing that it is already occupied. If my nat 1 on perception is anything to go by, anyways.

Sneaky evasion:
Stealth: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

Bemused, the rest of you look on as Cai slinks into the wagon. Cai is Observed by all parties except the thugs as he sneaks in.

Cai Fen:
An angry rooster crows, and pecks at you! It's very cramped in here. The other man, inches from your face, looks angry and makes a shooshing gesture over his lips.

You hear squawking in the wagon; more feathers burst out.

perception: 1d20 ⇒ 4
perception: 1d20 ⇒ 3
perception: 1d20 ⇒ 20
perception: 1d20 ⇒ 8

One of the ruffians, seemingly more sober than the rest, watches a single white feather falling through the air near the wagon.

Boss… somethin' in that there wagon. He points at the place where Cai and the other man are hiding.

F Human Champion/2

Kyrie turns defensive the moment she sees the knife. That this is a gang also does not particularly endear her to their position either. She jumps up and stands between the group and Cai. "I believe that cheating is unfair. I believe a whole group attacking someone with weapons for cheating is also unfair. I do not want to help you attack someone. I would like you to leave."

NG Hobgoblin Alchemist Detective G'nak details | HP 26/26 | AC 19 | Class DC 17 | F: +7, R: +10, W: +4 | Perc: +4 | Speed 25ft | Ranged: Crossbow +4 1d8, Melee: Morningstar +4 1d6 Active conditions: None

G’nak, coming from a place where strongman tactics are sometimes kept in check through bureaucracy and red tape, asks:

”Surely you have proof to back up your claims. If not, then perhaps we need an official investigation. I would be willing to interview witnesses. Who would like to go on the record?”

Horizon Hunters

Male Human Swashbuckler 1 (Gymnast) Character Page

Confronted with a vicious, squawking beast, Cai Fen gathers his inner strength and attempts to execute the grappling maneuver known as Choke the Chicken.

Athletics, Grapple: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10

If successful, he will try to keep one hand around its beak to stop it from making noise.

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates


The lead thug strokes his crooked mustaches as he considers the hobgoblin and the knight.

We — what!? Yeah, cheatin's unfair! Thas'… thas' the MOTTO of the Ivory Knives! He sheathes his knife and slouches taller, and so do the others. Mos' honest' in'th' low places, we is. An' we's just… upset is all… how'd you feel if you was cheated with loaded dice? Proof's in the wagon there —

A shop door opens up behind the thugs. A man, carrying a sack of chicken feed over one shoulder, whistles tunelessly. He looks exactly like the man in the wagon, and obliviously walks toward your group.

Tamli frowns at him, and sighs loudly. Over here, Ulf. The man pauses, shifts the sack over his other blue-cloaked shoulder, and approaches.

The lead thug spins around That's HIM! He sounds a little bewildered. That's Olf! The DIRTY CHEATIN' OLF! She even said his name! The men move closer.

Tamli steps forward, between the groups. She spreads her muscular arms out wide. Now, boys, I don't want to be involved with this. I have a caravan to get moving. So I tell you true, on the honor of Bort Bargith's caravan: Ulf's been here loading feed for the trip for a few hours now, and for once he's not the one in trouble. Just ask me, th'other teamsters, or the shopkeep herself, if y'like. She tilts her head at the shop.

The ruffians look around, confused. An old teamster walks up. Yeah, I seen 'im. Workin' all mornin' he was. Another walks up behind. Yep! He's been helpin' Tamli, like a good lad! You leave him alone! Teamsters begin circling around, crowbars and tools in hand, ready to protect their own.

Tamli looks around and smiles at her fellow workers. She says, rather loudly: I tell you what: if I ever see this thief in my caravan,


Cai Fen:
The man in the wagon winces at Tamli's words — he looks very afraid.

Now, get outta here. The thugs eye the teamsters, and the man with the chicken feed sack as they slink away. One shoulder-checks him and whispers: We won' forget this, Olf. Ulf smirks.

NPC slide updated

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates


Crisis averted, Tamli turns to you. You the passengers Bort told me about? Whose the goofball in the wagon, with Olf? If there's a single chicken feather displaced, it'll come out of his pay. Anyways, the both of them best stay inside while we finish up. Don't want no more trouble. She says the last sentences loud enough for those in the wagon to hear.

She offers a callused hand, and a smile. I'm Tamli, Overseer. Old Bort might see the best in young troublemakers — his heart's too big for his own good, and he was once a troublemaker himself… but I tell you this: I brook no trouble. Now, I could use a hand loading up, since I'm now short a teamster — she shoots a vile look at the last wagon — you the kind of passengers who care to help?

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Polygamodioecious | Notes | Druid 1 | Stats | HP 23/23 | AC 16 | F: +5, R: +5, W: +10| Perc: +8

From above, in the canopy of the trees, Marula's reedy voice calls.

"Auspicious: White Knives
A wind blowing us away
Flight means a journey."

The leshy floats down from the canopy of a great oak, landing lightly next to the wagon of misfits. Their hand caresses the wood of a wheel, fingers wrapping around it like vines.

Marula muses aloud, words now less songlike. Descriptive and firm as the wheel itself. "Finely crafted from oak felled by lightning's strike. The root system survived, I think. Well wrought."

Their little pet, the colorful puff of spines, flies down from among the tree's branches, alighting on Tamli's callused hand. "Forgive Tila. They mean to say, we'll gladly help. And me — the forester called me Marula. Miombo nurtured me in his roots." They offer their hand, small, fragrant buds sprouting from the wrist as if in greeting.

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NG Hobgoblin Alchemist Detective G'nak details | HP 26/26 | AC 19 | Class DC 17 | F: +7, R: +10, W: +4 | Perc: +4 | Speed 25ft | Ranged: Crossbow +4 1d8, Melee: Morningstar +4 1d6 Active conditions: None

After Marula, G’nak greets Tamli in Hobgoblin.

”It’s always a comfort I know who’s in charge. I’m certainly glad to be of help and I’m pretty good at figuring things out. Or blowing them up if need be.”

He gives a knock on the side of the chicken wagon.

”Kokoriko!” The sound a rooster makes in Hobgoblin! ”The coast is clear!

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

Tamli grins at Tila. HA-HA! What a pet! Takes after their master, I suppose? She strokes the leshy's leaves gently.

And look at you lot: knowin' the ways o'wagons, and knowin' the ways o'command. Music to my ears, it is! She points at a stack of crates. Load up them crates into the fifth wagon. Lotsa iron tools in there, so it'll be a good workout. And some of Cooky's pots and pans. Find me when you're done, and we'll be off. She carefully places the little leshy on one of the crates.

She then savagely grabs Ulf by the ear and begins to lead him away. Don't give me that "I'm innocent" look, Ulf. We gotta talk about you and your brother's antics, away from our honored guests, you and I…


Over by Marula, a gnome with holly in her hair pokes her head out from below the carriage, where she was hiding. She looks at the leshy with wonderment, and whispers: 'Tis true, Glunda only take what forest freely give. Glad, you know the story of this lovely wheel. —

She ducks back under the carriage when a crate clatters to the ground on the other side of the yard. Slide updated again.

Horizon Hunters

Male Human Swashbuckler 1 (Gymnast) Character Page

In the wagon, Cai Fen mutters to Olf:

Honored mother always warned me - play dice with men with knives, and you will have luck to lose only your money and not your fingers.

Upon hearing that the coast is clear, Cai Fen makes his way out of the wagon, and gives G'Nak a grateful look. Realizing he is still holding the rooster, he gently sets it down and tries to smooth out its feathers, likely earning himself a painful peck in the process.

Exercise has value for the spirit and the team! Let us repay Grent Tamli's hospitality... and discretion.

Cai Fen begins loading crates with gusto.

Loading crates, Athletics: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7

... and throws out his back immediately.

F Human Champion/2

Kyrie is not entirely certain what the word "teamster" means, though she gathers from context that it must be someone who carries things, though from its construction, she'd assume "teamster" was more of a diminuative appellation for fans of athletic teams. Why not "loader" or "carrier" or even "hefter?" "I am pleased to meet you, Tamli. I am Kyrie. I care to help. I am very strong."

Max load is 14 bulk, so she can definitely heft more than her share

Athletics: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20

Verdant Wheel

Male NG Elf Sorcerer Champion of Erastil | HP 18/18 | AC 19 | Class DC 18 | F: +4, R: +6, W: +6 | Perc: +4 | Speed 30ft | Ranged: Pebble Potshot +8 1d4+4, Melee: Longsword +6 1d8+2 Active conditions: None

Guyzer lightly laughes to himself. He mumbles about "his younger days" before helping out.

Athletics: : 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

Kyrie and Guyzer make excellent progress on stowing the crates. Tamli looks on, and nods approvingly.

Cai drops the crate when he throws out his back. A dutch oven and three cast iron skillets tumble out.

A cantankerous voice shrieks from the side of the staging area: WHIPPER—SNAPPER!

A very old elf, head cocked to one side, shuffles over. He smells like garlic and his voice quavers with fury. He points his cane at the spilt cookware. Them's my dutch oven an' best cast eye-rens!

He stamps the cane in the dirt, then waves it threateningly at Cai. What!? Those eye-rens ain't been washed since afore you were born — seasonin' a hunn-red years or more! You canna buy such eye-rens, not for love nor money, no sir! Donkey years o' seasonin'! So you keep the dirt and dust off 'em, treats them with the respect they deserve, and you puts them in my wagon, careful-like!

He points his cane at the second-to-last wagon, which features a huge barrel full of coals strapped to the back. It's fully the width of the wagon and a good three feet wide and deep. Yes, take 'em to the SOUP WAGON! The COOKY wagon! Stop lollygaggin, an' get to it! Cooky does a little dance of frustration before shuffling off to his soup wagon. It's hard to see under his long gray hair, but you notice that one his ears was cut off long ago.

art on slide 1

You have now met all members of the caravan!

Polygamodioecious | Notes | Druid 1 | Stats | HP 23/23 | AC 16 | F: +5, R: +5, W: +10| Perc: +8

If a red-leafed sapling can be excited, Marula is that tree as Glunda disappears under the wagon.

"This workmanship shines.
Who taught their craft to you?
Care gives craft beauty."

They reach out a spindly hand now fully abloom with frilly cuff petals. "Marula, of the lands your scholars call Mwangi. I travel to share my craft."

Meanwhile, Tila settles into Tamli's hair, shaping themselves into a rustling, cooing laurel.

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

Marula hears a whisper from under the wagon: Glunda… nice to meet you.

Bort saunters over. I see you met the rest of my crew! Finest bunch o' caravaners in Avistan, hand-picked!

When he hears about people hiding with the chickens, he's not even angry — instead he guffaws and then shakes the chicken-wagon, disturbing the passengers inside and eliciting squeals from Olf. He chuckles to himself.

In fact, the whole ordeal reminds him of another adventure… specifically, that time he went to the abyss to steal a golden egg from Cluckticula, the demon-lord of poultry. "You think them's a lot of feathers in your hair, Cai? You shoulda seen me when I got back! Infinite chickens there was, forever and on — and none too happy 'bout broilin' in th'Abyss…"

Before you can get to the resolution of the story (Gold-badged Aspis agents had just stolen the egg from his lead-lined treasure-wagon), Tamli coughs loudly several times. Then she coughs a few dozen more times. And she keeps coughing until Bort trails off.

And then, I point my rod of wonder at that Aspis's head… and… then… He blushes and looks up at the sun.  …Well now! Would you look at that! Time's a-wastin'! I'll finish this True Story later — time to go! He runs off to the lead wagon.

Tamli rolls her eyes at the idea of continuing the story, and points at the rear carriage. I hope you're ready! Last cart, that's for you. You can ride atop and throw your gear in back. Let Olf know he can come out when we're well away from town, and then he's to come see me.

Let me know if you have any last-minute preparations, then you're off!

NG Hobgoblin Alchemist Detective G'nak details | HP 26/26 | AC 19 | Class DC 17 | F: +7, R: +10, W: +4 | Perc: +4 | Speed 25ft | Ranged: Crossbow +4 1d8, Melee: Morningstar +4 1d6 Active conditions: None

Lore: Underworld: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (11) + 6 = 17

G’nak tries to recall any knowledge of the Ivory Knives, particularly if they’re likely to follow the caravan or cause any trouble on the road.

Then he pulls up his hood, and climbs atop the wagon.

The Fall of the Plaguestone & Casefiles of G'nak | Spell Templates

When not gambling, the knives prefer to sit under the bridge and drink. They are not likely to leave town unless there are cows to tip — and certainly not to attack a caravan.

NG Hobgoblin Alchemist Detective G'nak details | HP 26/26 | AC 19 | Class DC 17 | F: +7, R: +10, W: +4 | Perc: +4 | Speed 25ft | Ranged: Crossbow +4 1d8, Melee: Morningstar +4 1d6 Active conditions: None

”From what I know of them, we don’t need to worry about the Ivory Knives causing any trouble for us once we’re out of town. G’nak chuckles. ”Olf though might be another story.”

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