I'll add a recap of sorts here since I know facts get lost over extended play. Jim's the best note taker so hopefully he can get caught up, but until then:
Crew is captured after an incursion into the Golden Goblin casino. A duplicated manager, Lixy, has the crew sign a contract (excepting Kaul) to steal a glowing potion from a rival crimeboss, Clegg Zincher, in exchange for their two captive crew mates and Kaul and Jim's weapons and armor.
Potion is due to arrive in three days.
Dingus and Corliss- Join a work crew that is preparing a trapped altar that is installed on a ship called the Orchid. Dingus can't make out the final destination on the charts, but it will be stopping in Korvosa for additional work. Note states that Clegg is particularly interested in making sure the departure attracts a lot of attention and takes place exactly at sunset tomorrow so as to distract attention from something occurring at Clegg's tenement and the "Bones". This would be on the third day of the mission.
Kaul and Jim try to get hired on as mercenary guards, but Kaul promptly goes rogue. His muckraking leads to a brief exchange with Boss Croat and a lead. He interrogates a worker from the casino and discovers that his beloved ax is likely kept in the casino's vault and that one of the Lixies could be a shapeshifter in Madam Pamodae's employ.
Scrag fills Kaul in on the bad blood between Zincher and Pamodae. Zincher's brother, Falk, was in a love triangle with another gent over a high-end prostitute named Lavender Lil. Falk ended up dead and his rival, brother to the owner of the Golden Goblin, slipped out of town. Zincher teamed up with Boss Croat to run the Golden Goblin into the ground and the owner ended up dead, but not from their hands. Deprived of their prey, they went after Lavender Lil, but she took shelter as one of Madam Pamodae's girls. Croat and Zincher lost interest in the Golden Goblin after the prior owner was killed and don't seem to consider Lixy worth their attention.
Kaul braces against the cold winter night and shuffles back to the ship only to find his mates already asleep in their berths. A bit buzzed on cheap booze, he turns in and sleeps through Jim's attempt to rouse him for the arena in the morning. By the time Kaul finally wakes, only the watch remains aboard so Kaul grumbles as he waits for lunch and his mates' return.
Dingus and Corliss return for lunch. Just need Jim to throw down some showy acrobatics and wrap up at the arena.
Back on the Orchid
The door to the galley is ajar so Dingus can listen surreptitiously as he slips past the door on the stairs. He overhears Temeera reporting to the captain. "We'll need to stop in Korvosa to get some proper wizards from the Acadamae to set up the traps. Mr. Zincher only seems to care about the departure time, once we're at sea he doesn't seem as interested. The local Cyphermages have been utterly unreliable. That weird southern sorcerer just disappeared after saying he had to use the bathroom. He seemed pretty reliable up to that point. Now I'm wondering what he was up to."
Lyshna jumps in. "Oooh, definitely need to question him. I just love an inquisition!"
Scrag's big head wobbles in a nod and he finishes his drink in a gulp. "Do appreciate the information, Kaul. I'll recommend Boss Croat keep a closer eye on Pamodae at the Silken Veil. Can't take any direct action without the Overlord's leave but pass word if you find out more. Boss Croat might see to it that you're rewarded for anything useful."
Scrag chomps his heavy jaws trying to follow Kaul's line of thought. "So if I'm following, you think someone or something looks just like Lixy and is working for or with her? Like a decoy or something? Not an unusual tactic if you know someone with the right magic. But like the Boss says, Lixy ain't that big a player. Hmmmm, unless it's Lixy that's the decoy."
Scrag squints at Kaul. "I have no idea what a Dapper Goner is. More than likely there are devils in the Golden Goblin though, they used to have an imp flying around the place named Old Scratch."
"Madam Pamodae, huh? Now that is interesting. Nothing but bad blood between her and Clegg. See Clegg had a brother named Falk. Falk was involved with a high class prostitute named Lavender Lil. Then another gent got involved named Orik, he was the brother of the former owner of the Golden Goblin named Saul. Something went down between Falk and Orik and Falk ended up dead. Orik fled town fast and Clegg turned his wrath on Saul and Lavender Lil. That's how Boss Croat and Clegg joined up to try and take down the Golden Goblin. Ended up some of Saul's hired muscle turned on him and he was out of the picture before we had a chance to finish him. Lavender Lil saw the writing on the wall and went to work for Madam Pamodae who offered her protection. Clegg doesn't like that one bit."
"Not sure how Lixy got in the middle of this."
Hold up, Dingus. There was a lot of assumptions in that last post. Also, to be clear, you did take the gold snake bracelet? You skipped that part in the previous post.
By the time Dingus remembers to ask for his salary and returns to the Orchid, he finds nobody remaining in the hold. He does hear voices in the galley though.
Scrag seems to honestly consider Kaul's intel. "Lixy may have a trick or two, but as far as I've ever heard, she's human. What makes him think that she's a shifter? Like a wererat or something? I guess that could be but they are more likely to be low-level bottom-feeders. I wouldn't expect one to take such a prominent position. Possible I guess."
Kaul- I don't think you explicitly mentioned that you've seen a pair of them. It sounds like Croat's group is only talking about a singular Lixy. Also, it's been mentioned a couple times elsewhere that Lixy might have another Crimeboss' backing and you've not mentioned that. Not sure if you're keeping that bit to yourself for some reason.
On and Off the Orchid
Dingus finds that the other sailors must have gone to eat below with the captain and only one sailor stands watch.
Although Dingus grunts as he nearly trips on a rope, the sailor can't see anything amiss as Dingus invisibly slips off the ship and wanders off into town not remembering where everyone else went.
Meanwhile, Corliss putters around below decks until Temeera tells him that it is time for the lunch break but the job is finished so he won't be needed any further. She gives him three silver shields for his efforts and a receipt to take back to the labor hall.
Dingus slithers out from under the bed as soon as he hears the door close and finds a spittoon attached to the desk that will serve for a chamber pot. Now able to focus, he looks over the desk and sees a variety of charts.
Pro (Sailor) DC 16:
A route is marked over a series of charts that leads from Riddleport all the way south and through the Arch of Aroden into the Inner Sea to the shores of Thuvia.
He also spies a letter half buried in the pile of charts.
The letter is addressed to Captain Kitsek. It discusses the departure of the ship tomorrow emphasizing that the timing needs to be exactly at sunset and in as grand a manner as possible so that all attention is focused on the western Wharf and away from the Tenement and the Bones. The letter is signed "Clegg."
There is also a gold serpent bracelet lying on a nearby shelf.
Scrag ambles into the dive and gives Kaul an alarming grin considering the dense thicket of jagged tusks protruding from his lower jaw. He sits and takes a swig of the drink waiting for him. "Looks like we're celebrating a successful mission. Learned something, did you?"
Dingus waits impatiently under the bed listening to the scratching of the quill as the captain writes something. Alarmingly, he also realizes that he needs to pee. Just before things get desperate, there's a knock at the door and a sailor tells the captain that chow is ready. Dingus hears the captain finish up whatever she is doing and then he hears the door open and close as she finally leaves the room.
Dingus finds that the bed is bolted down, but raised enough to slither under. He hides beneath it and Richard takes the opportunity to sniff around while Dingus waits.
Kaul needs some brain lubricant and finds a dive nearby with cheap rotgut. He orders a couple rounds and sits drinking with a strained look on his face as he tries to decide what to do next.
Kaul DC 16 (booze-inhibited) Perception:
You spot Scrag peering in before he spots you.
Dingus is inside the room. He is behind the captain who is trying to figure out how the door mysteriously opened.
Dingus looks around the room. The new ship is still sparsely outfitted. The walls are bare. Besides the large desk cluttered with papers, there is a dining table and built in cupboards and cabinets in this part of the room. The room is partitioned off by a screen that obscures the other part of the room, but Dingus sees part of a large bed and wardrobe there. Dingus reckons that he is about halfway through the invisibility spell's duration.
Dingus Mack wrote:
Could Dingus have cast "Disguise Self" on himself before casting invisibility, and if he is revealed for some reason would this disguise still be in place?
Pathfinder is all about stacking spells so that's fine
Double-dipped with illusions, Dingus quietly creeps on slippered feet topside and around a pair of sailors on watch over to the captain's door. He carefully opens the door to find the captain at her desk inside. The weathered woman looks up at the breeze that lifts the corners of the charts and notes on her desk. Frowning, she passes Dingus to the door and looks out. Not seeing anyone, she shuts the door and checks the latch.
Dingus Mack wrote:
Is there somewhere else on the ship Dingus can explore looking for clues? He can keep casting invisibility when necessary.
Losing interest in the officers' quarters, Dingus thinks that surely the Captain's quarters might have something of interest. He heads up to the weather deck to try and sneak past the sailors on watch and into the Captain's room.
Dingus- stealth check +20 invisibility bonus
Otuk gives a startled shriek when he feels the claw drop on him in the darkness. "No, not a word, not sound," he promises cackling nervously as Kaul frees him. Afterward, he lies there on his back, massaging the blood back into his hands, and staring silently into the darkness that hides the ceiling.
Aboard the Orchid
Dingus finds that there isn't much activity outside of the hold and quickly casts his spell to become invisible. Spotting the hatch to the officers' quarters, he is inevitably distracted by the thought that he'd like to see how they compare to his own berth and makes his way through the hatch to have a look. He finds no crew below decks at the moment so he checks a couple cabins. He is unimpressed by the lack of flair: just bunks and locked sea chests, not even a wardrobe or splash of a brightly colored silk tapestry.
Corliss doesn't get more than cold stares from his fellow workers, but Lyshna seems eager to engage if only to distract him into another painful accident. After Temeera moves off to another part of the hold, the halfling rolls her eyes. "Temeera is such a bore. 'Focus on your task, work more efficiently, Mr. Zincher isn't paying us to play pranks... blah-blah-blah.' I'm glad she's sailing with the Orchid rather than me tomorrow. I'll be catching some good matches in the Arena while she's sitting on a boat for who knows how long. Oooh, what if we help make the send-off a memorable one? Clegg wants to make sure the Orchid setting out gets plenty of attention. I think I could help with that. hmmm."
"Keelhaul" Kaul wrote:
"So, font o' youth... Right. An' you reckon she's a Shapechanger eh? What makes ye say that?"
"Because I saw it. I heard Lixy talking to someone in her office. I peeked in to see who was there and Lixy was talking to a beautiful woman. Looked like the courtesan-type. Maybe one of Pamodae's ladies. I went back to the box and saw Lixy leave the office, but when I checked to see if the woman was still in there, it was Lixy sitting at the desk. I know what I saw so one of them must have been the stranger, but looking like Lixy."
Dingus Mack wrote:
Dingus looks at Teemera... "Okay. So now what"?
Temeera makes no reply, but walks up the gangway with the floating platform in tow, then comes the wizard, the guards and the others. Once aboard the ship, Temeera continues down the stairs into the hold which has been divided into several rooms. They haven't been outfitted yet, but the procession is led to a small central chamber and then the floating disks are dispelled and Lyshna directs Corliss and the guards to reassemble the altar while Temeera directs Dingus and the cyphermage to prepare the wards.
This will take a couple hours so investigate, ask questions, etc. if you like
"Keelhaul" Kaul wrote:
"So tell me what ye know... o' the job they been tasked with an why... Jus' info lad. That's all I be needin'."
"Job? I overheard something about robbing Clegg Zincher and I'd guess it's that really expensive shipment of powerful magic he's supposed to be receiving soon. Rumors say it could even be sun orchid nectar. It's supposed to be a font of youth and I don't doubt it based on the stories going around town about Clegg's near death experience on the Devil's Elbow. I don't know what Lixy would even do with that if she even is Lixy. Half the time I think she's been replaced by a shape changer. Don't tell anyone I said that. The whole plan is only to hurt Clegg. Whoever is pulling Lixy's strings really hates him. Will you let me go now?"
Temeera gives Dingus the side eye and sighs, "OK, we won't need all of that. Can you conjure a conveyance? Like this." Without waiting for Dingus' response. She completes a spell and a translucent disk of force floats above the ground. The gladiators load a heavy crate on it and then the remaining wizard repeats the process for the other crate.
The group then moves out of Zincher's tenement and down the street in a somewhat conspicuous parade of the wizards followed by their floating disks, flanked by gladiators, and the others following behind. More than a few townsfolk stop and stare at the curious procession until it reaches the inner harbor and stops at a ship named the Orchid moored at a prominent dock.
Nidal is an ancient theocracy pledged to the Midnight Lord, Zon Kuthon, since the time of the Earthfall millennia ago. It was ruled by Imperial Cheliax for a while, but regained its independence during the Chelish Civil War at the start of the Age of Lost Omens. It is now allied with Cheliax under the infernal crown. It is now ruled by the Black Triune, three shadow-touched immortals, and run by an aristocratic class known as the Umbral Court. The country is always immersed in shadow provided by their deity. The place is bleak, but stable and believes in suffering and perseverance. The people of Nidal are also known for their ancient culture and masterful craftsmanship.
Zon Kuthon is brother to the Love Goddess, Shelyn, but he was twisted by jealously and maybe other forces and now revels in causing pain as do his worshippers.
Temeera frowns, but is convinced of Dingus' good intentions. "They should have known better than to touch another wizard's books. Corliss, are they still alive? Mend them if you can and then tell them they are fired."
Corliss finds the blownup wizards alive, but barely.
Temeera pockets her notebook and makes sure the altar is safely boxed and readied for transit. "Corliss and Dingus, you are hired. We'll be moving this all down to the ship now. Gather whatever tools that you will need."
Dingus barely has a chance to glance at the latest entry- something about a diversion for the shipment arriving at- but the words shift and he feels a compulsion to return the book directly to Temeera. He closes the book and takes several steps toward the door when something explodes behind him.
He turns to see the two wizards lying unconscious on the ground, robes torn and bleeding from their noses. Lyshna explodes in laughter pointing at the blasted mages. "Explosive Runes! Classic!"
A moment later Temeera runs into the room and stomps over to the book on the ground and picks it up, frowning at the two fallen mages. Dingus turns holding the notebook forth as he moves to return it to Temeera.
Dingus follows the pair over to the library area.
At Dingus' offer, Atraphes pulls the book he's perusing close to his chest. "Mine." He says and walks a short distance away. His partner follows trying to look over his shoulder. Dingus notices a notebook on the desk and looks more closely at what is written within. Dingus- Will save DC 16
Cap'n Voodoo wrote:
The wizarding trio exchange looks and Dingus isn't certain what their take on his uncharacteristically sound advice will be, finally one shrugs and says, "If you will share your knowledge, then we will consider what you say."
Dingus ponders the best use of his new respected position when one of the wizards, Atraphes, seems quite interested in the fact that Temeera has stepped out of the room after Corliss and Lyshna is trying to get to gladiators that just entered set off the trapped altar.
Dingus isn't sure how seriously his advice has been taken when Atraphes whispers to one of his companions and points to Temeera's unguarded library. They head over quickly to snoop through the books.
Corliss Blackboots wrote:
Corliss gives Lyshna a nod before going to do her bidding.
My bad, Corliss. I swear I responded to this, but I'm not seeing it. You were getting a step ahead, but I'll catch it up.
Stepping out of the room, Corliss spots a a pair of gladiators in the lobby and is met with cool, somewhat intimidating looks when he tries to recruit them for stevedore duty. Before they can begin to pound his bumpy head though, Temeera shows up to restate the request with the proper authority and they shrug and head into the workshop.
Temeera scowls at Corliss. "You're going to have to be a bit more wary around Lyshna, she's very good at her job, but she's got a sick sense of humor. She may have escaped Nidal, but her tastes haven't changed."
Corliss Blackboots wrote:
"So that altar's goin' on a ship, eh? Might be touch dangerous fer the crew but not so dangerous to sink the whole ship, I'm hopin'. Is a Besmaran the cap'n?"
"I"m certainly not putting you in charge or Lyshna for that matter so no Besmarans or Kuthites. Just focus on saving yourself around Lyshna and I'll take care of the high level stuff, OK?"
Kaul has a good many skills, but nursing the wounded is definitely not enumerated among them. He smacks the unconscious man around a bit to wake him up and adds a good number of additional bruises and contusions the man's already battered head. Kaul reckons that the sapped sap is going to be out for quite a while. He rips up a sheet to bind the naked and knackered cashier and wonders if he ought to dress the man.
The door is locked, but Kaul is able to force the cheap lock with nary a sound and slip inside. In the dim light, he can clearly see a naked man standing in the center of the room with his eyes closed. We wiggles his body and waves his arms in some sort of dance to the music in his head which is emitted in an out-of-tune phrase hummed intermittently. The slight odor of flayleaf mixed with aromatic herbs comes from a pot of tea cooling on a small stove.
The man continues his dancing without opening his eyes to notice Kaul.
The wizards blink at Dingus. One answers at last. "I think that was three questions actually. We come upon Cyphers likely the same way that you have. Through dangerous adventures investigating ruins and poring over the arcane lores of the ancients. If we are skilled enough to uncover a Cypher then we are certainly powerful enough to use them."
Spell Swap at Zincher's Workshop
Yeah, skill consolidation wouldn't be a bad thing. Spellcraft is specifically related to spells. Know arcane is more generally magic-related things. That's why I'd take either.
It becomes apparent to Dingus, even with his short attention span and rather random thought process, that the mages he now appears to be supervising are using a magic system based on the same ancient sigils and runes that he has been studying. He realizes that these mages are members of Riddleport's Order of Cyphers. He notes this by their repeated use of the word 'cypher' which is used interchangeably with glyph, sigil, or rune. They also have tattooed various 'cyphers' to their arms, faces, and less obvious body parts.
Beyond marking their skin rather than wearing the lovely robes that the Runeguards favor, the Order seems to have quite a different approach to ancient magic than the Runeguards that Dingus met in Magnimar. Where the Runeguards were humble and cautious in their study to ancient magics, these Cyphermages are anxious to prove their knowledge and recklessly attempt to work magic obviously beyond their ability.
Dingus figures out that they are working on a trap that is based off spells that are not typically arcane in nature, but the glyphs release magic in a raw and a direct way that transcends the more typical rules of magic. Dingus reckons that the glyph they are trying to set would be triggered by a sentient being approaching, but will be held in check by a being walking in a circle around the glyph. Apparently, this allows the removal and replacement of an object within the secret cabinet guarded by the glyph. Dingus is uncertain what the effect of the triggered glyph would be though.
Kaul- That is correct.
Boss Croat gives a slight nod and his attention moves on to a plate of honeyed ribs. Scrag angles his head toward the door motioning Kaul to follow. Outside of the Croat Compound, Scrag ambles southward down Silk Street past the House of the Silken Veil to the opposite corner of town at the edge of the Wharf District. Lantern light begins to shine from homes and businesses as the short winter sun sets. Scrag points out a lit window on the second floor of a four story tenement accessed by a series of exterior stairs. "That's it. Otuk's place." Scrag briefs Kaul briefly.
Corliss can clearly see that Lyshna has a sadistic streak and that he'd better be wary of her practical jokes. Temeera is very no-nonsense, but often gets so caught up in her work that she loses track of what is going on around her. Temeera is most impressed by competency and hard work and you sense that she is very unhappy with the trap-makers frivolous and dangerous sense of humor, but defers to Lyshna's expertise. At this point, Corliss doesn't think he's impressed Temeera enough to make any headway, but he might get into Lyshna's good graces with his natural clumsiness, if he survives.
Lyshna smiles at Corliss. "Well, we've got a ship to outfit. See if you can get a couple of big gladiators out in the lobby to give us a hand disassembling the altar and getting it boxed to move out."