Get a little intro and roleplay going.
During your downtime, relaxing at home you have been having the same reoccuring dreaming sensation at night. That of a small lonely Inn on the outskirts Absalom near the port of the Isle of Kortos. Each of you at one time or another has served some time or assisted the Dark Archive in aqcuiring and securing dangerous artifacts or investigating the unexplained.
These dreams begin happening more and more frequently until each of you feel the need and desire to grab your equipment and head out to find out what this dream could mean. Upon arriving you find others have already arrived at the Inn's entrance as you each stare at the other in confusion.
|Aegis of House of Atreus|
Aegis awakens the morning after a particularly vivid dream-call. He washes his face and hands before sitting down in the lotus position to meditate. He focuses his mind to a level of sharpness beyond the ken of most.
He begins the trek from Oparra to Abaslom. Despite the cut and fabric of his fantastically fine clothing, he travels via steerage with nary a complaint.
He sees others who have had A Vision. He speaks confidently as if the shared bond makes the next steps preoardained. "Greetings. I am Aegis of Avistan." The vague location name seems self explanatory to him.
Aegis is a severe looking man in comportment. His physique is that of an aesthetic. His hair shocked grey. His words carry less severity and more a simply indicative delivery, though no one would ever mistake them for friendly.
Tenpot Chans leans from the crow's nest of the Wild Abandon, one leg wrapped around the mast to steady himself against the storm tossed seas as he peers through a spyglass through the driving rain. Though the ship heaves violently, but the experienced deckhand keeps his vision steady. There! A glimmer, but it's something. He blinks, and suddenly the vision is clear: land! A great city, in the distance, its banners flapping in the storm! Nearer: the harbor, the docks, a street winding up a hill to a door. A lantern above a dark oak door sways in the wind. A blinding, blinding flash of light, followed by burning pain. The crack of a shattered mask and the sensation of falling. The roar of thunder filling his ears, unbearably loud...
The tengu bolts upright in bed, breathing heavy, the sound of thunder still echoing in his ears as the morning light streams in the window. He shakes his head, muttering "I can't take this no more" as he rises and dons his clothing. Holstering his pistol and hanging his beaten silver bell from his belt, he steps outside, locking the door of his dockside apartment behind him.
Slinging his pack over his shoulder, Tenpot walks down to the beach, following a path toward the edge of town until he comes to a low hill. His breath catches in his chest as he sees it: ahead of him, not a block away, is the door from his dream, the lantern unlit and hanging still on this calm, sunny day. He opens the door, finding the table where the others sit. Somehow, he new he would find them here...
Tenpot Chans is a slight and weatherworn tengu sailor in salt-stained clothing with an abundance of pockets. He wears a pistol on one hip, and a bell hangs on the other.
Vesperscale's dark eyes dart back and forth, wary of where these other people came from.
"Vesperscale" growls the Hobgoblin as various religion accoutrements jangle from small chains around their body.
As you are standing outside the door to the inn opens as the Innkeeper is taking the trash out. He nearly walks past your group as he turns quickly, doing a bit of a double take. "I don't believe it. The Sod was right." He drops the garbage onto the ground and takes a couple steps forward. "He said you would be coming here, but I didn't believe him. Locked up in that room all day and night, with all those books." He rubs his eyes. "He described you perfectly and said you'd be coming."
he holds a hand up asking you to wait. "Give me a few moments and I'll have your room key ready."
Toadclobber Pust crawls out of his sack, squishes a flea between his fingers, eats the flea, and then eats half of a blue crayon. Blue is one of the best flavors.
Before he can forget the strange dream he writes it down in the waterlogged old coloring book he carries around on a chain — today, Toad fills the pages with scary dark squiggles and yellow orbs like fish eyes in the sky. Sometimes the crayon runs off the page and onto the floor but that's ok. It is how smart writing works. Words cannot always stay on paper.
Toad scrutinizes the page, holding it upside-down, wondering what it means. Then he dons his scrap-metal armor and dogslicer, and clambers up to the first floor of the old Playhouse where King Zusgut sits idly upon his throne, swatting at mosquitoes with courtly grace.
"Boss. Book tell Toad a thing about scary dreams." Toad proffers the book to his king.
Zusgut sighs theatrically and leans down. He tilts his head this way this way and that, and speaks in an archaic dialect (he's been reading an old play about chivalrous knights and lords). His declamation rings throughout his court so all can hear. "And thus, Toadclobber, thou hath once again presented Us with scribbles!"
Toadclobber grunts. "Boss… only one of you. How come you still can't read?" Toad spins the tome. "Magic book say: 'go to big alone house with longshank beds by water.' So, Toad go."
The king waves his scepter. "Thou 'writest' in no language known to Goblinkind, Toadclobber. Thou drawest. Nay! Thou doodlest! Nonsense? Prophecy? Who canst say? Goest forth upon yon quest, my goodly knight. Goest to the lonely inn. The hordes of maurading amphibians that hath tormented Our kingdom hath recently been vanquished, thanks to thy thy skill and valor. And Our people hath eaten well as a result. Thou hath well-earned the title 'Toadkiller." Goeth forth, with Our blessing."
Toad looks around; it's clear he hasn't been paying attention. "Huh?"
"Yeah That's what book say too!" Toad scrambles out into the puddles district, wondering why his boss is grumpy all the time.
A beefy goblin wearing scrap metal stands in the doorway, turning pages in a waterlogged old book and muttering to himself. Fancy longshank… salty bird-man… mean baldy…
This is the place. He hops into the seat. Though can barely see above the table, it doesn't seem to diminish his presence.
He drops his coloring tome onto the table. Toadkiller Pust. Friends call me Toad.
Book say you friends, so you friends. You have scary dreams too?
the dreams were accurate.... there was no way this motley assortment would all congregate in this one place... I am unsure what to think about this... yet... they are all here.... I must see this through to the end
From a small table in the corner, a smart dressed woman approaches everyone. Her clothes neat and tidy. She stops a respectful distance from everyone.
"Greetings. My name is Victoria Tilly. I am a member of the Sleepless Detective Agency based in Ustalav. It is very nice to make your acquaintances." She appears a bit embarrassed over her heavily accented Taldane. "As such, I have trained to bring in the objects of our investigations rather than kill them; unless that is called for. Then I can and will. Sorry." Victoria fidgets a bit while talking about herself; one can tell she does not enjoy this aspect of social interaction.
As you are all getting to know the other the INnkeeper returnes in, wiping the remnants of the liquid from the garbage bag on his apron. "Yes, the key. He does some digging through papers and opens a sall lockbox filled with keys. He comes over and hands you a roomkey stamped 201. "This was his roomkey. I have never seen him leave his room, we usually leave his tray of food at the door since he didn't want to be disturbed. Last couple of days thoughthe food has been untouched. Crazy thing is, never saw the Sod leave the room."
"As such, I have trained to bring in the objects of our investigations rather than kill them; unless that is called for. Then I can and will. Sorry." Victoria fidgets a bit while talking about herself; one can tell she does not enjoy this aspect of social interaction.
Toad stops scratching under his armpit long enough to nod. Why sorry? Clobbering stuff with other smooth-brains is fun. He smells his finger.
Toad stares at the inkeep. Must be some big-shot wizard guy.
|Aegis of House of Atreus|
Aegis sniffs the air a bit, "Often the parsimonious answer is the most likely." The implications of the sniff are left unsaid.
Toad's eyes glaze over while Aegis speaks.
Then he gets his own smooth-brain idea! "Ya. Or maybe big-shot wizard guy is cheap."
The bartender shrugs. "Not sure. He paid extra to not disturb him and to give you this key when you arrived."
Taking the key you head up to investigate the room. You hear the familiar click as the lock releases and the door creaks open to reveal numerous books, files, folders and varios maps all tacked to the walls and desks. The room looks like it is in a sort of disheveled yet organized state.
There are nine different case files all labeled 1-9 scattered about the floor and bed. On the desk is a larger tome labeled Dark Archive Folio. The tome is split on the edges and opened about a quarter of the way through its contents with a folded note taped within. Unfolding the note it reads:
My future and fellow Archivists,
The Dark Archive is no more, except for me. When the Pathfinder Society announced that our faction was to be dissolved, absorbed into its other departments, I grabbed the files I could and left before they could stop me. These pages are all that remain of our faction’s records, and I am all that remains of our membership.
This world of ours is strange, isn’t it? I muse on this idea more often than I care to admit, vital though it may be to our work. The most common description of the Dark Archive is that we “investigate the paranormal” and that’s... true, but it’s a description by negation. If we are to turn our gaze to the “paranormal”, first we must ask: what is normal?
We know a staggering number of things about our world. We know of its general size and diversity of terrain, as well as a vast majority of the peoples and creatures that inhabit it. We know of the void that hangs above it, and that other worlds, some with peoples and creatures of their own, lie across that void, or even on other planes of existence. Beyond even this, consider all the endeavors that have expanded the normal even further. Consider the fields of alchemy and the burgeoning craft of clockwork engineering. Consider the magic that we have split into schools, the meticulous cataloging of its sources that we have uncovered and explored. This is all within the boundaries of the normal.
I apologize for being long-winded; I wanted to provide enough description to, hopefully, plant in you the same question that drives each of us, that defines our work, that first brought me, far too many years ago, to the Dark Archive’s doorstep: what could there possibly be left to find?
This is what we mean by “paranormal.” Though some might recoil in fear from such unknowns, my hope is that they excite you. In these casefiles, I’ve done my best to compile every lead we collected in the course of our efforts to part the strands of the unknown that keep us from uncovering the truth as we gaze into the darkness.
The Pathfinder Society’s mandate of our faction’s dissolution saddens me not on principle, but timing. The Dark Archive exists to explain the unexplained; my fellow archivists and I scoured Golarion for testimony, evidence, and rumors of anything that defied reason, adding it to our records until solved, at which point it would join the rest of the knowledge in the Grand Archive. There’s a world that truly no longer needs a Dark Archive, a world that has untangled all the threads—but that’s not yet our world. Our work must continue. We can’t fight what we don’t understand, can’t protect others from it.
After so much discovery, some seem to think that surely, there can’t be much left to find. I disagree. With everything we already know, I counter that anything we’ve yet to understand could be more subtle and dangerous, more bizarre and wondrous, than anything encountered thus far. Each new impossible addition to the normal expands the potential for the paranormal that remains. When it comes to the unknown, I rule nothing out—and neither should you. In darkness lies enlightenment, as we used to say. Let’s get you up to speed.
First, you’ll find a small bound notebook—this is the Archivist’s Training Manual, containing the learnings and wisdom of countless archivists. This is my personal copy, so I would appreciate it if you treat it with care. Inside are our findings as to the best tools for uncovering the paranormal. Those of you with innate abilities may find our investigations into psychic talents particularly useful. However, for the otherwise mundane (much like myself), these pages will teach you how to turn our discoveries to your thaumaturgic advantage. With the right tools and insight, anything is possible.
Beyond the manual lie the remnants of our casefiles, the only ones I could abscond with before my access to the Pathfinder Society’s records was revoked altogether. You might notice that eight of them have more exhaustive notes than the rest; these subjects are what remain of my personal caseload. Some, I had been investigating for years, but I have reason to believe that the group itself, as a whole, is more important than the sum of its parts. The files have to be connected, in some way. I know it.
I don’t expect these connections to be clear; I myself have yet to link any of them definitively. Though it’s been a while since I explained such paths of thought to other archivists, even at my best, I’m not sure I could describe it. I can feel the web that weaves between them, even if I know not how. As I prod at one thread, another tremors with the impact. Like with all mysteries, every piece unveiled reveals new questions at its edges.
I know too well how overwhelming this tide can feel. All archivists know it. All I can tell you is that it passes, as all things do. Hold fast to your investigations, and to each other. This work shouldn’t be done alone; I know this better than most. I’ve done as much as I can on my own, but an isolated perspective can reveal only so much. I miss the days of collaborative investigation, the nights of fruitless brainstorm, the theories shouted out of desperate whimsy that turned inexplicably true. This, to me, is the Dark Archive. We need no motto, logo, or funding, so long as we have archivists. If there are people, somewhere, anywhere, who believe that every question has an answer worth finding, then our faction persists.
I may be the Lone Archivist, but I have no intention of being the last. To that end: may the darkness bring you enlightenment, as it always does.
Until we meet,
Toad holds at the letter upside-down. "Wow so many weird squiggles. This one will be tough to solve."
The goblin puts the pages down and looks under the bed. "Where is he? I thought he was some big shot wizard but maybe Aegis is right and he was just a parsley guy."
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
Looking around the room there are no physical signs of K.H.W. As Vesperscale pokes about the book she comes across a page written: Case File #1 The Beast of Birchfrost.
Strange creatures seem to come up most often at the fringes of society, where they can easily fade into the background. The town of Birchfrost, off the Lake of Mists and Veils, has a legend of a local creature, once responsible for protecting the town. If there is anything more to this so-called “Beast of Birchfrost,” I am sure that the slightest change in circumstance might herald a dangerous change in the Beast, one the Archive would do well to mind. — K.H.W.
Though the book doesn't turn into some strange beast it does begin to rise from the table as each of you feel the strangest sensation. One by one you immediately doze off and slump to the floor desk, or bed where you stand in front of the Dark Archive Folio.
A strange drifting sensation fills your bodies as you fall asleep, and time stretches and contorts as darkness swallows you. Then, like waking from a dream, you come to your senses as the bracing cold air of Birchfrost touches their cheeks—you have arrived at your destination, the Dark Archive folio slamming shut with a clap and dropping to the ground before you.
We still dream? Toad stands up and looks for his breakfast flea. Finding none, he eats a part of a red crayon. New day, new problem. He opens his tome and draws a pile of garbage, a fluffy bunny, and a brick.
"Well ain't this a fine situation. First this wizard causes us all manner of strange dreams, and now we been pressganged!"
As you gaze upon your surroundings you find you have awoken near a supply store as a commotion catches your attention. A local trapper limps from the trailhead. As she drags herself into a rocking chair set outside her home, she begins to unwind the makeshift sling securing her arm. You hear bits and pieces of gossip beginning to spread from the crowd past the howling wind.
"Tola went out to set snares..."
"...Two other trappers?"
|Aegis of House of Atreus|
Atreus looks about, "Indeed. Disconcerting to say the least. Toad is it? You pose the same question my mind asks." Any way to tell?
As the trapper sits Atreus adds, "Perhaps a moot point, for now it seems our 'pressganged' status means we've got a mystery to solve."
Atreus goes over to the trapper and silently motions a request to join her.
You can certainly tell with an Occultism check.
Aegis catches the trappers attention. “Come around here,” the scarred half-elf Tola says as she gingerly presses on her wounded arm. “You seem sturdy enough folks with time on your hands. I don’t want to leave my people out there with that beast and no backup. If you’re of sound body and adventurous spirit, I’d appreciate it if you could try and find them.”
|Aegis of House of Atreus|
If it is recalling knowledge for that occultism Toad will roll using his special tome.
Esoteric Lore using Diverse Lore to RK on any topic, Coloring Book Tome (E): 1d20 + 11 - 2 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 11 - 2 + 1 = 12 Dubious Knowledge
reminder I have the “That’s odd” feat
Most of you don't understand or have a clue on how you got here, but Tenpot believes that soehow the Dark Arcives Folio teleported you all to this location for some reason.
Tola explains what happened. She takes a swig from her canteen to wet her throat before launching into the tale. "It was a typical day setting up traps to try and get a few pelts to sell. Normally two twins join me, a pair of adolescent girls named Ira and Shei." She grunts in pain clenching her arm. "While we were setting snares, some furred beast busted through the ground. Looked like some sorta badger, but Ira was hollering on about a devil attacking her." Tola shakes her head in confusion. "I made the call to take the traps and get out of there. When I leaned down to grab them it attacked me from behind. I fell, landing on my arm and felt my wrist snap."
"By the time the nausea left and I got back to my feet the others had already fled. I tried to keep up with them, but they were too far ahead and every step running hurt my arm more and more slowing me down. I lost track of the girls... I didn't believe the stories of the beast before today. They were real after all."
This is a good job for us. Also it is a dream so we can't die.
Toad shivers and tries to dream it's warmer. For some reason it's not working. You have any fluffy furs to sell us before we go?
|Aegis of House of Atreus|
Aegis's left eyebrow rises at Toad's terrible conclusion on death. He shakes his head a bit to knock the incredulity out before asking, "First, do you not have a healer to mend that? Second, did you get a look at it? Third, can you give us directions to the scene of the attack?"
"I have a few pelts left over that you could use to help keep warm." Tola rises to go and gather a few items. "If you all are insistent on going after it. Then please take these with you." She hands over a dagger and a couple of potions. +1 dagger and lesser healing potion x2, and studded leather armor.
She explained on the post above what the creature looked like.
Sitting back down Tola scratches in the snow. "These are where the game trails are at. The girls hopefully stuck near those. I am afraid I don't know much more about the beast. The Birchfrost Beast’s tale is best told by a local net-maker named Ligh, since I stopped listening to it once she was taller than her dads’ apron strings."
Wow. Only in dreams do people give me so much stuff.
Unlike the weird squiggles the parsley guy wrote, Toad understands Tola's pictures. This is better. Toad is good at drawing maps too, see. He opens his magical Tome and proudly shows Tola the map he drew on his last mission. If we find its lair, I will make you a real good map Tola.
Now the smooth-brain move is to run off to find missing girls. Would be stupid to go listen to stories while people are getting hurt.
Tenpot stares in a mixture of amusement and incredulity at Toadclobber. "Aye, suppose we'd better, if folks might be in trouble."
I can read my book and get good at following tracks. He opens his Tome and points out the chapter titled SERV EYE VAAL. It's written in burnt sienna.
Still… takes a day get new brain skills. So maybe after we wake up from this bad dream. Toad can get trained in 2 skills, expert in 1 swapping them out daily. Should probably coordinate with the group on next mission to figure out which
Tenpot looks at the twisting trailhead and shrugs. "I'm a sailor. I don't know forests."
|Aegis of House of Atreus|
Sorry, I wrote the "get a look at it question" on muscle memory!
"Indeed, forests are not my normal training facility. I shall do my best though. Toad, if need be, I might suggest trailcraft on the morrow."
I'll be of no help in tracking.
Before leaving Victoria spends a minute examining the information surrounding the twins. Satisfied, she is prepared to follow her lead.
and this is where I facepalm myself for not making survival a class skill… But! Whoever does make the roll gets a +1 to the roll from Clue In!
After 4 hours of thouroughly wandering the forest and trails you eventually locate the site of the attack. A quick examination of the area the snares reveal they were broken by a creature with large claws. Searching the site reveals two sets of tracks: Tola’s and then the paired humanoid footsteps of the other trappers.
Following the humanoid tracks doesn’t require much as their boots made clear impressions. after about another hour you find Iri and Shei sitting at the top of a poplar tree, clinging to it tightly. The girls seem scared.
Perception (E), Darkvision: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Toadclobber draws his dogslicer. Look at ground. Something is swimmming underneath.
|Aegis of House of Atreus|
Survival: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3 Wow, I meant it when I said no help.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27 Famine and Feast
"I see it too! Be ware my friends!" When the inevitable happens, Aegis has Incredible Initiative.
Perception!: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
Victoria draws her rapier confused by everyone’s reactions.
The twins are relieved to see help arriving. "I don't know who you are, but sure glad you came. We been stuck up 'er for hours now. That beast keeps stalking us. It burst out of the ground with furious snapping teeth" Ira says.
"Nah it didn't" Shei comes back. "It had a tail that felled a sapling with its force." They both seem quite certain of what they saw.
"It comes back every few hours, but can't get up this tree. It went off that way, towards the beach a short while ago." They point off towards the area of a small cliff face. As Ira reaches her hand out you notice it is shivering fiercly.
The twins appear to be suffering from exhaustion and hypothermia. They are going to require help getting back to Birchfrost safely without being caught by the Beast.
Toad looks in his book and turns to the page that says DOKTER. It features reddish-brown kidneys, red blood scribbles, puking stick figures, and pale skulls with smiley faces.
Medicine (T): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
He points to a picture of a brain. Or maybe it's a rain cloud. Hard to tell.
See right here. Toad knows. Wintertime makes your noodles sleepy and shaky. This is a dream so you are probably ok. But also, it is a dream so Toad is not really cold. He tosses them some of the pelts Tola gave him.
Now where is this stupid monster? Toad starts jumping up and down on the ground.
Tenpot nervously looks around, drawing his pistol in one hand and unclasping his bell from his hip in the other.
|Aegis of House of Atreus|
Aegis continues to regard Toad agog. "Do they need help? If... if this was real would you think they need help?" Aegis is more concerned with the beast than the twins, but he's not completely callous.