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23/02/28 - Session 10 - Astrea’s Journal: Scavenger’s Rights
Thirday, 31st Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
In my last log, our group had just managed to enter the laboratory of the Stellar Flare. Based on our search up until that point, it stood to reason that this is where we would locate the drift engine. As it so happens, we did. However, it was not the only thing we found.
Emerging from nearby was a creature I had not seen before. In fact, despite my newly augmented chemical composition scanner, I could not immediately identify the creature. This being had the unmistakable characteristics of an undead, including an exposed skeletal structure and a deeply unsettling presence. However it also possessed clear technological components. My first guess would have been that this is some sort necrograft-technological hybrid, but nothing in my database, including among the Eox-based records, could identify this particular entity. My next guess would be that the experimentation with the drift engine led to a breach that resulted in some sort of spacial anomaly…
Under normal circumstances, the discovery of a new entity like this would be cause for excitement and thorough investigation. That being said, the goblin viscera strewn about the room and the fact that the entity was wearing their flayed skins like a crude cloak suggested that this would not be a friendly encounter. Well, to be more accurate, there might have been some other circumstances, such as it being especially hostile to goblins, but the fact that it acted hostile towards us almost immediately made any further specification largely moot. Thankfully, our group was a little more prepared for such an encounter.
Only moments after seeing it take action, I understood why the goblins didn’t stand a chance. The entity’s scariest feature, even more so than its intensely menacing claws, was its regenerative powers. This, along with its toughened exoskeleton, made it very difficult to subdue. I tried to do what I could to mess with its combat protocols, though its particularly unique blend of necrotic technology made it difficult to affect. My allies had better luck with brute force and electricity, despite the tough armoured casing. Meved managed to land a powerful strike that launched a fragment of it near where I was standing. I tried analysing the metal chunk and determined that the nature of its regeneration had a weakness. The metal alloy that the entity was composed of, while naturally capable of regeneration, would become inert if exposed to certain acidic compounds. Additionally, the regeneration could not reassemble components that were wholly separated from one another. This meant that it could be countered through the use of strong acid or a sufficiently strong explosive blast.
Perhaps I was a bit hasty in sharing this information, as Meved responded almost immediately by lodging a fragmentation grenade inside of the entity and holding it close, presumably to prevent escape and to minimise collateral damage. In retrospect, I appreciate the consideration, given that I otherwise would have been directly within the blast radius. Thanks to that particular move, I only suffered minor injuries while trying to take cover under a nearby desk. It was a risky tactic, to be certain, but ultimately I find it hard to argue with Meved’s combat effectiveness. That remains one field in which I am all too happy to defer to the expertise of my companions, so long as they don’t blow me up in the process.
Almost immediately after we detonated the mystery creature, its components began to decay at an alarming rate. My attempts to collect any samples was for naught, so now the only remaining data is what little I managed to record during the fight. I sincerely doubt it will be enough to make any breakthroughs, though perhaps I will be able to cross-reference what we experienced with some more esoteric records once we return to Absalom.
Once the clear and present danger was no more, we were a little more at liberty to examine the prize we had actually come here for. The drift engine is indeed a marvel to behold. It would take a great deal more investigation on my part to fully determine just how this literal miracle of technology functions, but one truth remains indisputable: it does function. The engine, despite lingering in this junkyard for centuries, has managed to produce a steady output of considerable energy. Quite simply put, it defies our current understandings of laws of conservation of energy in a way that, if harnessed correctly, could revolutionalise science and society as we know it!
The engine alone would have been a significant discovery, though the true treasure was the android-compatible computer we also managed to find in the room once we started looking around. The device had some security measures, but nothing so secure that I couldn’t crack it. My hypothesis that this belonged to Vari-8 was correct, and within was enough data to make an entire engineering faculty salivate. The engine proved that the technology was possible, but with the data stored within this computer (and now also my own), we had the means to recreate it!
That being said, there is a caveat. It’s clear from the crash, phantoms, and whatever that skin-wearing creature was that the technology used here still needed some tests before it could be applied. While looking through Vari-8’s notes, I determined that their safety protocols, while not entirely nonexistent, were not up to modern standards. Given that we don’t have the ship’s blackbox, and the records are mostly limited to the engine itself, it’s not exactly clear why the Stellar Flare crashed, particularly whether it was the product of their experimentation or some other factor. While the technology may indeed be safe, there’s no guarantee that it wasn’t the cause of this accident. It would be unconscionable to move directly into mass application without first confirming that. I will have to make that point abundantly clear to Vari-13, lest they make the same mistake that pervades most science-fiction accounts of supposed “infinite energy sources”.
(For those who are less prolific consumers of such media, the insinuation is that these energy sources often involve drawing from unknown or poorly understood sources, only to awaken some sort of malevolent creatures in the process. These stories typically follow a rescue crew investigating the disappearance of the initial research or excavation crew only for it to turn into a survival horror scenario as they must escape the fearsome entity that was awoken by their greed and hubris.)
Unfortunately for us, the ethical applications of a potentially groundbreaking technological discovery would not be our next most urgent issue. As soon as I had gotten in touch with Riddle and Vari-13 to give them the news, they in turn gave me the considerably more worrisome news that Do’trulu, the leader of the True Warriors, had somehow found out about our location and was on his way to hunt us down and take whatever was in the Stellar Flare for himself. I’m having a hard time imagining how he managed to find out about our endeavour, but investigating the encryption of our comms would have to wait. Our best bet for surviving a focused onslaught from an entire gang would be to utilise the ship’s defences to our advantage…
Our first step was to inform Murkk and Qesh about the situation. Naturally, it would be unreasonable to request their assistance when they only just concluded their previous feud, so really this was just to ensure they would steer clear of the area to avoid any possible collateral damage. I also made sure to keep my promise and gifted Murkk a size 24 harmonic coil I found among the ship’s scrap. She seemed pleased enough with the gift. For their part, Qesh and Murkk wished us luck, but also provided us with some healing serums and the remnants of the EMP key, which could now function as a rudimentary explosive charge. Once this is all over, I’ll be sure to find them again and thank them properly for all their help.
Our defensive strategy was quite sound, if I do say so myself. Between all of us, we scavenged more than enough scrap to build some respectable barricades and traps. While Meved and Yaro focused on blocking off several paths to funnel our guests into firing lanes, I set to work using my engineering knowledge to arrange some less than pleasant surprises. My first project was restoring the security turret at the entrance to the ship. That ought to slow them down a bit. Next was fixing the security bot we previously destroyed. It’s not quite as sturdy as it once was, but “Roomba” should be more than able to do some damage.
While working on the repairs, I had something of a breakthrough. With a bit of rewiring, I rigged the security charging station and the remaining storage computer to produce a detonation similar to the one that nearly killed me earlier. There would be a certain poetic justice in weaponising my prior mistake against these thugs. Beyond that, we set up a couple explosive traps (using Meved’s remaining grenades and Murkk’s explosive key) at chokepoints, and broke some glass along one of the routes.
The plan for our defence was simple. Yaro and I would remain near the entrance to the laboratory while Vinu and Meved held either end of the corridor, with a full line of sight down each lane where they could unleash hell with their long-range weapons. Once the enemies pushed in enough, we would retreat into the laboratory and funnel any remaining enemies there, where I could use my remaining spell gem to fortify our position. All the while, Twitch was strategically hidden near the entrance of the ship, so that I could monitor the True Warriors as they entered and warn our vanguards of the routes they were taking.
It wasn’t long after we had finished resting and setting up our defences that Do’trulu and the True Warriors arrived. Do’trulu sent us a demand of surrender and did what I assume was his best to scare us. I’m uncertain if he is unaware of what happened to his goons the last time they came after us, or if he is simply underestimating us. I did what I could to educate him of his very poor probability of success, but if being a teaching assistant has taught me anything, it’s that a student that is unwilling to listen will never learn.
Time will only tell how the True Warriors will do on the practical exam, but when I consider all the factors at play, I’m expecting a failing grade.
Player's Notes: Anyone who played the Junker adventure may have noticed that Astrea's creature description for what was in the lab wasn't quite the same as what's in the book. That's because our GM replaced it with a homebrewed Flayed One from Warhammer 40K. For those of us in the party that were familiar with 40K lore, this was more than a little concerning. Given that I know some of the other creatures our GM has been statting up, I fear that our continuation past this adventure may end up being necron themed. I honestly can't say I know what to make of that, truth be told, though I'm sure it will be as fun as it is traumatising.
Oh, and I feel as though I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the fact that I got two nat20s in a row that night. The first was to rig the EMP Key to the entrance to the lab as a bomb, and the second was for Twitch to hide near the entrance as an observation drone. It was a good night for my rolls, I must say.
23/02/28 - Session 9a - Astrea’s Journal Addendum: Introduction To Biohacking
Seconday, 30th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
As I rested up from my near death experience, I found myself thinking a lot on some of the courses I took earlier in my studies. Specifically, I considered the interconnectedness of various scientific fields. Up until now, I’ve been focusing quite a bit on the relationship between technology and magic, and how each might be used to augment the other. Perhaps that is simply due to what was most expedient to my progression in the echelons of academia, or maybe I was simply being affected by tunnel vision. It’s amusing to think that in all of this, I neglected my actual majors of biology and neuroscience, when the entire reason I started studying technomancy was to learn of its potential applications to living creatures.
Somewhere along the way, I rested too much on my scholarly laurels and forgot that science is most valuable when it is applied for the betterment of people’s lives. It is an immutable fact that as a mere scholar, I never could have survived this ordeal on my own. Even with the help of my companions, I’ve been incredibly lucky. The fact that I made it this far without incurring even a single physical injury is a statistical anomaly. From a standpoint of probabilities, that luck was bound to run out sooner or later.
Given the evidence, it’s about time I adjust my approach. If I want to not suffer a gruesome and tragic end in this wasteland, then I should take advantage of my broader knowledge alongside my broadened experience. At this moment, I am not a teaching assistant at a prestigious university. Lectures and essays will not keep me alive when a Khefak attempts to digest me, or a thug tries to threaten me, or when I am between two warring factions of scrappers, or even when I am trying to investigate a haunted vessel for lost technology. These situations are diverse, and therefore require a nuanced, multidisciplinary approach.
In a similar vein, it is obvious to me that this also goes for my philosophical approach to situations. Maybe it’s the residual effects of the electrical discharge, or the repeated exposure to traumatic stimuli getting to me, but I have come to the conclusion that I’ve been rather naive throughout this mission. Naturally, I still find violence deeply unpalatable, but on numerous occasions throughout this trip, I’ve come into circumstances where it was not only expedient, but almost necessary. Of course, there may have been other solutions available, but in the heat of the moment, finding such alternatives is not always feasible. Regrettable as it might be, sometimes you simply have to shoot the space ghosts so that they don’t tear you apart atom by atom. Ideals are valuable, but cannot always override what is practical. Of course, I’m not about to abandon my values because I got injured, but it has become clearer to me that I cannot afford to be inflexible, and my hesitation if left unchecked may get me killed.
As I’m writing, I’ve procured a few lingering pieces of technology to reconfigure my scanner for more practical applications. It is fortunate that the Stellar Flare was a research vessel; there is no shortage of salvageable equipment to be found, even if it is a little dated…
Player's Notes: The little bonus entry to commemorate Astrea's dip into Biohacking, as well as a recognition of the fact that she is finally coming to terms with the fact that panic attacks may not be the healthiest way to process all of these life or death scenarios she's been running into lately.
To be perfectly honest, the hiatus kinda messed up my pacing for the transition, so I'm not sure if it feels as organic now as it ought to have. Perhaps now that we're back in the swing of things with some regularity, I'll be able to strike a balance. Even if we're nearing the end of the Junker adventure, I know that our GM has plans for a continuation, so we'll see...
Player's Notes: Been a while, hasn't it? Apologies to anyone who was reading these and hoping for an update sooner. The long and short of it is that we had an impressive string of unavailability among our group for various reasons, including no less than two moves and one home flooding. Things seem to be back in order now though, so it is my sincere hope that we'll be resuming this Starfinder campaign with some regularity. Same goes for the Hell's Vengeance game for that matter, but there's still one other factor at play for that one so it may take a bit longer.
Anyway, on with the journal!
23/02/28 - Session 9 - Astrea’s Journal: Egregious Errors in Engineering
Seconday, 30th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
I am beginning to suspect that this sensation of time dilation may be a product of some form of either atmospheric radiation or electrical interference scrambling my neural implants. I may need to investigate this phenomenon, as these sudden feelings of prolonged sensory deprivation are deeply unsettling, to say the least. A part of me worries that it may have something to do with the Stellar Flare, though for some inexplicable reason I feel compelled to believe that it is rather the product of some metaphysical phenomenon well beyond anything that could be properly interpreted within the scope of my scientific implements.
Either way, it has not changed the fact that we have a mission to complete; one that is significantly more tangible and actionable. Having reappropriated the harmonic coil and eliminated the evidence of our intrusion into Unbrood turf, we now had in our possession everything Murkk requested for her device. All that was left was for her to build it. We called Riddle and Vari-13 to let them know we hadn’t died horribly in the vast fields of scrap as we made our way back to the goblin-ikeshti duo.
I won’t deny that the sheer absurdity of this experiment still concerned me. Murkk’s engineering methods go against every basic principle I have learned in my studies. At best, these items could possibly create a minor static interference, or more likely a small explosive reaction from the chemical components. In fact, our goblin ally did produce both of these effects during the crafting process, on multiple occasions. Even while keeping what ought to have been a safe distance, my companions and I did suffer some minor feedback in our electrical equipment. It really did a number on my neural graft, which was more than a little disorienting. Fortunately the effect was brief, but I’ve taken note to invest in some protective countermeasures, just in case someone brain fizzle boom key myself head integer++.
It took the better part of a day, but somehow Murkk did succeed at creating the device she referred to as an EMP Key. In true goblin fashion, its appearance seemed akin to a child’s rendition of what a taser might look like, complete with a single large red activation button. Nevertheless, aesthetics aren’t the important factor here. By my analysis, the device could be a passable EMP generator, absurd as that might seem. At this stage, I think I’ve learned better than to doubt the uncanny effectiveness of goblin ingenuity. Just as much as I don’t doubt the penchant for instability and volatility that goblin-made devices so often have. As such, I opted to leave the safekeeping of the device to Twitch. I would rather keep the contraption well away from my other technological devices, just in case.
As an aside, I feel it necessary to remark that the relationship between Murkk and Qesh is remarkably endearing. The excitement Qesh displayed to the possibility of uniting their feuding clans through this endeavour, and Murkk’s amused response to Qesh’s praise, gives me hope that they may well be the ideal candidates to resolve the conflict, with a little help from us, of course. Yaro expressed a similar thought, which reassured me that the thought was not simply a product of my own idealism. Also, from a purely subjective standpoint, the pair are adorable, and I want them to have a happy resolution to all of this.
Our next step was to bring the key to the Midzone and use it to deactivate the force field sealing the Stellar Flare. Of course, the problem with entering a no-man’s land during an ongoing territorial conflict is that all participating parties are sure to be alerted by it. This was no exception. Almost immediately after our arrival, the leaders of both the Trashunters and the Unbrood arrived with ample forces to potentially instigate a full-on battle. Bomguzzle and Blastube were unsurprisingly equipped with armour and weapons that seemed as dangerous for the user as they would be for the target. Asashla meanwhile perfectly fit the previously asserted description of an ikeshti well on her way to transforming into a rivener.
[Editor’s Addendum] I also noticed the goblins who previously traded with us in attendance. They were apparently punished for interacting with us by being forced to bathe. As much as I prefer them in this cleaned state, I must acknowledge that for a goblin this would be a rather cruel fate. I have taken a note to find these goblins after the situation is resolved and offer my magic to re-soil them, as this punishment was clearly unfairly given. The thought does make me wonder just how often people have thought to use Token Spell to make someone less clean. Not that I ever doubted it was ever used this way, but this is the first time I’ve truly contemplated the notion. [Editor’s Addendum End]
I did make an attempt to initiate diplomatic conversation with the clan leaders, but I cannot deny that the effort was likely wasted on these particular individuals. They made it quite clear before I could even begin to make the semblance of a cogent argument that they had no intention of making any sort of concessions, and almost immediately resorted to violence. Asashla in particular was all too eager to instigate aggressions. Once she did, there wasn’t much hope of resolving the situation peacefully. I was barely holding Meved back as it was.
Fortunately for us, despite Asashla’s admittedly impressive strength, her defences left much to be desired. Between Meved’s frontal assault and Vinu’s stealthy ambush, she didn’t remain standing for too long [Editing Note: Given the nature of Asashla’s condition, this could be taken as an innuendo. Consider rewording in case of crassness or cultural insensitivity]. Yaro for his part did a good job reminding the two other leaders why goblins have a long standing history of fearing canids. I meanwhile did what I could to restrict our foes’ combat capabilities, to moderate effect.
I confess to getting a little heated in the moment near the end of the fight. When only Bomguzzle was left standing, I ridiculed his armaments as being poorly constructed. He took it poorly enough to throw his gun at me, which promptly exploded (proving my point in the process, I might add). Fortunately the explosion was as ineffective as he was, and my allies took him down moments later. Still, he did hold the distinction of being the first foe to actually inflict some harm on me. This would be the first time I was injured by faulty wiring, but regrettably, not the last…
In any case, we did manage to defeat the leaders of both clans. Given the circumstances, I feared what the remaining members of both sides might do in response, but it was our good fortune that this was the moment that Murkk’s EMP Key was finally ready to activate.
In case it was not made abundantly clear from my earlier statements, I will reiterate. According to all known laws of electrical engineering, there is no way a combination of an electrolytic capacitor, size-23 harmonic coil, and plasma charger circuit should be able to generate an electromagnetic pulse. Those components are too incongruous to produce the necessary electric fields. This key, however, created the pulse anyway, because goblins don't care what other sapient species think is impossible.
Successfully opening the gate to the Stellar Flare was a grand enough accomplishment for our friendly duo to make an appeal for peace. It seems that without the prior stubborn leadership keeping them at odds with one another, the goblins and the ikeshti didn’t have much of a reason to maintain their feud. Of course, I strongly suspect that Murkk and Qesh having the backing of the group that managed to take down their respective leaders at the same time helped to reinforce their arguments. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to see that both of these species are not only capable of peaceful coexistence, but willingly accept it with minimal intervention. I for one am all too happy to see this debunking of leading rhetoric about these species.
In recognition of our efforts, Murkk and Qesh acknowledged our scavenger rights to the Stellar Flare. We would be allowed to enter first and claim whatever we desired. Not that I doubted the earnest pair to hold up our agreement, but it was a welcome change for things to go so smoothly. I did promise that I would find Murkk something within that would suit her tastes. I will be keeping a lookout for something “pointy, shiny, and sparky”, or at least something that is close to those criteria. Assuming the ship remains largely intact within, I have no doubt we’ll find a suitable gift. It’s only fair that Murkk be rewarded after all, considering we wouldn’t have gotten this far without her assistance.
From my prior research into the junkfields and the wrecks found therein, I expected the remains of the Stellar Flare to be in a far worse state than they were. On a whole, the hull’s structural integrity was impressive, to the point that my fear of the whole ship collapsing at the slightest sternutation was happily assuaged. That being said, it was also intact enough that some of the ship’s security measures were also still in place. Were it not for my noticing this, we may well have tripped a scanner that by my assessment would have triggered a defence turret. It would have been very unfortunate if all of our efforts to get here were foiled because of something so mundane as a security checkpoint! Fortunately, my skills were enough to disable the system, at least for a while.
Pushing further into the ship wa a bit more difficult. Meved and Vinu are biologically accustomed to low-light environments, and Yaro doesn’t rely on vision, but I lacked either of these solutions, and so had to resort to generating my own light. My spells were enough to account for this, but I could not help but find that it impeded my observation skills. Though I attempted to inspect the ship, I was no doubt missing various key details that would have certainly been of great help had I caught them earlier.
The first of these was the terminal for the security robot which we found. The machine immediately saw us as threats and attempted to exterminate us, so naturally my companions retaliated. I meanwhile did what I could to find a terminal to override those protocols, though I only found it just in time for the bot to be disabled. I was hoping I might be able to make use of the still functioning machine, but as it stands (or rather, doesn’t stand in this case), I’ll have to take a crack at repairing it later, which will be a fair bit harder now that it has acquired several new spear-shaped holes.
My next blunder was with a terminal we had found within one of the rooms. Perhaps I was too eager to harvest data from the terminal, because in my haste I failed to notice the immensely hazardous wiring situation below. As soon as I came into contact with the device, the discharge blasted me through a nearby window. By my estimations, were it not for my having taken a rest moments earlier to restore my armour’s defensive protocols, that blast may well have killed me! Dear reader, I cannot stress enough the importance of electrical safety! Having now experienced the consequences of faulty wiring myself, I can legitimately say that it was the single most painful experience I have ever encountered. Thanks to Yaro and the lingering adrenaline from my excitement over our discovery, I was able to recover fairly quickly, but I’ve taken note to add electrical burn care and severe injury-induced trauma therapy to my increasing list of post-mission treatments. As for the terminal, it had little of actual value within, save for informing me that the most crucial data likely lies within Vari-8’s terminal, wherever it might be. It’s something, but not nearly what I had hoped for…
My misfortunes did not stop there, unfortunately. I learned my lesson from the terminal and scouted the next room with Twitch. Within, I located two creatures I was able to identify as driftdead. These are individuals who were reanimated by drift energies post-death, taking on incorporeal forms. As much as I would have loved to delve into the scientific implications of such a phenomenon, not to mention the fact that this could very well be a hint as to what might have happened with the Stellar Flare’s experiment, I was slightly more preoccupied with the fact that these beings seemed very eager to use their drift manipulation abilities to tear me apart at the molecular level. Just as I cannot in good conscience recommend being subjected to an electrical explosion, I can also say with absolute certainty that being torn apart is a thoroughly unpleasant experience. I was fortunate that Meved still had Zethelred’s flame doshko to fend the creatures off. Not as fortunate as I might have been if we had located the ghost killer hammer in the storage closet before encountering the ghosts, rather than after, but I’ve opted to consider it a learning experience on the value of using Detect Magic while investigating piles of junk. A very painful learning experience.
The physical pain of being blown up and then ripped apart was indeed immensely unpleasant, but tolerable compared to the state of the reading room in which we found the driftdead. Centuries-old pieces of literature and records that would have been priceless artefacts lay about, far too damaged or decomposed to be salvageable. The sight of a forgotten bastion of knowledge, even a small one, decayed to this state is enough to make any scholar feel a pang of regret. The thought of losing knowledge is a terrible thing. I only hope that the Stellar Flare’s research did not suffer the same fate...
Still, lingering in the misery of what was lost wouldn’t do us any good, nor would allowing my adrenaline to wear off and remind me of just how bad of a beating I’ve taken so far. We doubled back and inspected the rooms, finding a couple items (namely the aforementioned ghost killing hammer), but nothing too noteworthy. Our investigations left us with one last door to investigate, that being the one to the laboratory. We had retrieved a key from the reading room, and once we entered we found… Well, I’ll save that for my next log. There is something to be said for narrative suspense, after all!
Player's Notes: I figured it was only a matter of time before Astrea got injured, but I'll be damned if I didn't have just awful luck this session. I could not for the life of me roll above an 8 on the majority of my checks, passing a couple things only because I had such high Engineering and Computers modifiers. Fortunately Astrea still had enough resources to recover, though I fear that she's depleted quite a lot of her Resolve just before we entered a boss room...
Fortunately, we also just levelled up, and I decided to give Astrea a little dip into Biohacking. It won't help with her spell list, but it will certainly amplify her various other capacities in a pretty big way. I plan on writing a journal addendum on the subject (as well as Astrea's gradual loss of innocence), but I wanted to make sure to get this entry done before our next session at least.
Wish me luck!
Rufus Buchanan wrote:
Rufus Buchanan wrote:
it's a pity that I asked but got no response, so I did a search myself and found best free online games pretty good and I hope the people who will read it later will be able to come directly. Wish one good day
can you teach me how to do
Campaign number 2! Admittedly, I never thought I'd ever want to play Hell's Vengeance, but I can honestly say it's been a blast so far!
As with my Curse of the Crimson Throne Journal, I've collected enough entries into this journal that writing each post would be a bit much to do now. So instead, I'll share the file I've been keeping the journal in (fancy formatting included):
As the campaign continues, I'll be adding the new entries to the doc as well as in this thread.
I hope you enjoy these ravings of a religious madman and the crew of villains deranged enough to join him!
Apologies, I didn't see your messages until now because I hadn't been looking at this journal. The game was on hiatus and I had other major life events keeping me busy.
That being said, I'm not sure what you were asking to be taught how to do, or what free online games have to do with it. If you have a more specific question, feel free to send me a message directly.
In any case, I'll be getting back to adding to Dominus' journal in the near future.
22/09/27 & 22/11/12 - Sessions 57 & 58 - Water Is Purest When Boiled
Moonday, 14th Kuthona, St. Ilnea's Fountain, Menador
I am pleased to have found that St. Ilnea’s Fountain was very much worth the pilgrimage. Following the passing of our trial against the Astral Deva, I took the opportunity to give Paraduke Temoni a sermon on the nature of the Divine Order. The Gods saw fit to punctuate my proselytising with a demonstration of its power, converting the Deva’s halo to a fiery tool worthy of our purpose. The Paraduke took well to my explanation, and I granted the halo to Father Dexsius as a show of trust in his devotion, despite his reservations towards the Truest Faith.
Our next trial would take place at the very chasm created by the battle between Saint Ilnea and the demon Karash’e’tor. There, we were accosted by a swarming mass of belligerent lantern archons and multiple flying serpents. They attempted to obscure our vision and utilise trickery to take us by surprise, but their techniques were wanting. Many times now we have come across creatures that would use tactics of obfuscation against us, and we are not so easily diverted. Sir Quintus seemed especially motivated. Perhaps something about these trials has awoken something within him, or it is a sign of the Divine Order rewarding him for his efforts. Either way, my companions and I had little trouble disposing of these obstacles, though their tactics left the battle feeling far more time consuming than it had any right to be.
During our wait for the couatls to reemerge during the trial, Father Dexsius and I took the liberty of searching for the famed demon’s blade, Karash’e’tor’s Razor. We did ultimately uncover it, and brought it with us following our victory over the flying guardians. I was all too happy to leave the wretched thing in Father Dexsius’ care, as the stench of chaotic energy emanating from the blade was rather sickening. Perhaps in time, Father Dexsius will be able to rectify that particular blemish on an otherwise fine weapon…
At long last, the doors ahead of us would be the final ones. The marvel of St. Ilnea’s fountain was a true joy and honour to finally witness. Such a splendid site to commemorate such a valiant hero of Justice and Order! I would have renewed my pledge to uphold the Divine Order’s will then and there, but there remained still a trial for us to overcome. Once myself, Father Dexsius, and Mister Kezax had entered, the doors began to close upon us. Sir Quintus rapidly acted to enter the chamber as well before the doors would seal us from our other compatriots. Once sealed in, the fountain’s water quickly began to submerge the room, and the sting of holy water would burn any who did not give proper homage to the Inheritor. As such, I was naturally spared from the need for any cleansing.
Father Dexsius was clever enough to grant us all the means to avoid drowning within the submerged chamber, which gave us enough time to consider the trial. I recalled the details of Saint Ilnea’s legend, how she stood her ground against Karash’e’tor, and how her body subsequently transformed into the source of this sacred spring. From this, I could conclude that her very body would be what produces these waters. Inferring from this knowledge and Mister Kezax’s swift investigation of one of the room’s many decanters, we were able to determine that fragments of the saint’s corpse lay in each of these receptacles, and their seizure would be necessary to conclude the trial. I wasted no time in shattering the decanters on either side of us, then moved to open the others. My companions used their own talents to liberate several of the other fragments, thus swiftly completing the trial and bringing the room back to a calmed state.
I was in no way surprised by our success, for just as Saint Ilnea holds the honour of being Iomedae’s first saint, I walk the path to become the first saint of the Divine Order as a whole. I am not so arrogant as to ignore those who came before me as I humbly stand upon their shoulders. It is for this same reason that our next task of enhancing these waters would be so essential. St. Ilnea’s waters, sacred though they may be, remain limited in their divine influence. Iomedae’s gift alone is great, but does not encompass the Splendour of the entire Divine Order.
Once we reunited with Paraduke Temoni and Miss Zylstra, we initiated the ritual to empower the waters. Through the guardian’s body and the deva’s heart, imbued with Miss Zylstra’s magic, Father Dexsius spoke the incantations needed to merge the blessings of Hell with the water, not once, but twice. These hallowed grounds that serve as the resting place for this fountain will forever be cleansed through Infernal heat, just as water is boiled to remove its impurities. So as to ensure that this place would also not be lacking for a protector, Father Dexsius also rased the guardian as a fiery spirit. The woman had power, but ultimately was mortal, so she would surely be overjoyed with such a gift, to be able to oversee her mistress’ resting place for eternity!
The waters, once enhanced, were quick to imbue the dragon’s skull with their blessing. With that, our tasks in this holy place were done, and we might continue our mission. I am truly thankful that the Queen, in all of her wisdom, gave us this task. Never in my pilgrimage had I been given the privilege to undergo such a marvellous trial. I move on now with a fresh new reassurance of my Ultimate Purpose. May our next quest be so fulfilling!
Player's Notes: Another long hiatus at long last ended! We actually had a scare with this one that the GM might have to drop the game, but we ultimately convinced him to find a new time slot to accommodate his new schedule. It does mean we'll only be playing every other week, but I'd much prefer that than ending the game just as we're so close to the end!
Anyway, it would seem that in our time away, the dice luck accumulated, because in both of the sessions included in this journal, Quintus' luck on his rolls was absolutely bonkers. Roughly 1 in every 3 of his attacks was a crit, and more than half of his saves were crits as well. For my part, I got exactly one crit right where I needed it: to recall the legend of St. Ilnea just as the water started rising in the final chamber. It felt very fitting for Dom's piousness to come in clutch at just that moment.
To my knowledge, this leaves us with just one more dungeon to clear in this book. The end is so close I can almost taste it!
Player's Notes: Well, that turned out to be quite a hiatus, but we're back! Our GM is once again able to run games, and so the adventure of Astrea and her furry menagerie can resume. So, without further ado:
22/11/08 - Session 8 - Astrea’s Journal: Barters and Beatdowns
Seconday, 30th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
I’m not entirely certain if it’s the adrenaline wearing off from our fight with the golem or some form of stress induced time perception dilation, but I feel as though half a year passed in the span of a few minutes. Normally, such a drastic sense of temporal displacement would be cause for abundant concern, but given the intensely
traumatic stimulating nature of the last couple days and our current predicament, dwelling on the matter right now seems counterproductive. Instead, I will attempt to refocus myself on our ongoing objectives.
Our current status is that we have been contracted by a researcher by the name of Vari-13 to locate the wreckage of the Stellar Flare, a vessel that had been conducting research of immense scientific importance. We located the ship in the Outer Junkfields, but it is currently protected by a powerful energy barrier.
During our exploration, we also encountered Murkk and Qesh, a goblin and ikeshti, who proposed a solution in the form of an "EMP Key" that could potentially deactivate the field. While dubiously plausible, Murkk's uncanny technical expertise suggests that this may be our best plan. In light of that, we set out to retrieve three components: an electrolytic capacitor, a size-23 harmonic coil, and a plasma charger circuit.
We've just retrieved the charger circuit from a rampaging junk golem. That leaves us with the two other items, which by Murkk and Qesh's accounts should reside in the territories claimed by their respective groups, the goblin "Trashunters" and the ikeshti "Unbrood". There is an ongoing conflict between these groups, which complicates matters somewhat.
Our logic for dealing with the goblins was quite simple. The Trashunters are technology collectors, interested in valuable electronics, and we just disabled a giant walking pile of valuable electronics. Meved was kind enough to transport the golem's body as we made our way into their territory to find someone with whom to trade. Fortunately, that didn’t take very long. We ran into a goblin and managed to convince him to take us to his companions who had recently scavenged an electrolytic capacitor. After some challenging and somewhat roundabout negotiations, we struck a deal to give them the golem’s torso in exchange for the next component of our
macguffin EMP device.
With two pieces secured and our personal resources dwindling, we decided to return to Murkk and Qesh to report our progress and possibly get some rest. Murkk eagerly took (and tasted) the components, confirming their usefulness. She also helped recharge our weapons (though her methodology was more than a little bit unsafe) and made some improvements to Twitch while I was sleeping (which I did not consent to, but at that particular time was too tired to give much mind, and in retrospect her work was actually quite impressive).
I confess that prior to this voyage, I had not taken a great deal of interest in goblins as a species. Common literature portrays them as volatile pests of incidental intelligence, and I readily bought into these stereotypes. Having now interacted with some of them first-hand, I’m beginning to think that these beliefs are founded on preconceptions about intelligence that do not adequately acknowledge the validity of neuro-divergent thought processes. Yes, goblins are certainly difficult to understand and seem as nonsensical as they are dangerous at first, but upon closer observation, there is an internal consistency to their method of thinking that is undeniably effective, if a little non-linear (and definitely still more than a little dangerous). I am doing my best to disabuse myself of my preconceptions, and look forward to studying their fascinating form of technological literacy at some point in the future (behind a layer of reinforced glass; I am open-minded, not suicidal). For now, I will take my first step by being a little more open to Murkk’s seemingly insane solutions and make a personal note to download some goblin language software at the next opportunity.
We spent the night resting in a hideout made by our two junkfield allies. I am nearly 100% certain that besides Murkk “improving” Twitch without my knowledge, absolutely nothing happened except some much-needed rest. My companions, being all members of thick-coated species, helped immensely in keeping me warm in the absence of a temperature controlled environment, and therefore the “cuddle-pile” I found myself encased in was of a purely practical nature. Any allegations otherwise or suggestions that I somehow enjoyed the physical intimacy with my fluffy friends for reasons other than warmth are completely unfounded and should be dismissed as such.
[Note: Section redacted from journal entry and moved to addendums]
The next day, we prepared to tackle the last component, a size-23 harmonic coil. Qesh suggested that there might be one in Unbrood territory. Our plan was to take advantage of their interest in claiming territory to offer a trade much like we did with the Trashunters: we would give them the land previously inaccessible due to the junk golem in exchange for the coil. Qesh seemed to believe that this plan would likely not succeed, as the Unbrood by his account are not particularly inclined towards diplomacy. We did mull over some other ideas (including attempting to honour-duel the Unbrood leader Asashla for leadership of the tribe), but ultimately settled on attempting to scout the area quietly. If we run into any Unbrood, we will attempt to negotiate, but expect a fight. Ultimately, our goal is to get the coil and leave their territory as quickly as possible.
Murkk’s modifications did nothing to impede Twitch’s stealth capabilities (if anything, they were enhanced), so we managed to make good use of our little scout. Thanks to that, we were able to locate a coil among a stash of trash. This would have been ideal, were it not for that pile of trash being in the middle of a group of four ikeshti. We had come across these ikeshti violently mutilating a khefak for what seemed to be recreational purposes. If I am being perfectly honest, this sight did not sit well with me in the slightest, and even knowing in retrospect that at least some of these ikeshti were followers of Zon-Kuthon (the god of pain, among other things), I cannot bring myself to condone their actions. While I have participated in more than my fair share of violence in the last couple days, the non-consensual infliction of pain for any reason beyond self-defence seems to me a rather indefensible proposition. Perhaps it’s for that reason that when these Unbroods finally noticed us and declared their aggression, I made no effort to defuse the situation.
As per usual, my companions were more than capable of absolutely devastating these foes, though I did assist by using grease to prevent one of them from fleeing the scene. I suppose that my reasoning was that having any survivors reporting our actions could endanger the mission, though if I am honest with myself there is at least some part of me that was acting out of righteous indignation. After the fight, we retrieved the coil, looted their bodies (and found a small regenerating shield nearby), and then melted our victims to completely erase the evidence.
I am not exactly comfortable with how rapidly I was able to reconcile the death of other sapient creatures. Even if their actions were viscerally unpleasant and they did express intent to harm us, we did nothing to avoid this conclusion, and if anything actively pursued it. It’s a bit difficult for me personally to morally justify that, though I realise this is something most mercenaries likely encounter on a regular basis. I do find myself wondering if Yaraesa, in all of her wisdom, ever confronted this dilemma. Ethics is a form of knowledge after all, though it seems to me too subjective to offer conclusive solutions…
For the time being, I will try not to dwell on it, and simply focus on doing the best that I can in the circumstances presented to me. If I’m lucky, I won’t find myself faced with too many more ethical dilemmas before I have some time to sit down and process all of this…
22/11/08 - Session 8a - Astrea’s Journal Addendum: Encrypted Note
Seconday, 30th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
[Exclude following entry from any official publications]
Given the fact that this is my private encrypted log of my unedited journal, I will dismiss the highly unlikely (albeit gut-wrenchingly mortifying) prospect of this ever being read by another sapient creature and permit myself to speak with complete candour.
After spending the night embraced by them, I find myself deeply uncertain regarding my emotional inclinations towards my crewmates.
To be clear, it isn't a matter of doubt or mistrust. Over the relatively brief time I've spent with them, we've grown close and developed strong bonds. I have complete confidence in their skills and intentions and deeply value their contributions to the team, and can only hope that my own contributions in turn are valued by them.
What vexes me is more personal. I find myself speculating on the nature of our relationships outside of a professional environment. I do think of all of them as my friends, but I wonder if perhaps there is something else at play. I am admittedly a novice in romantic matters. While I have studied the psychology, biology, and culture of mating practices extensively (for purely professional reasons), I've never had the time to consider exploring these topics in any capacity beyond academically. But now that I've begun my pursuit of practical knowledge, this might be the ideal time for such explorations. Having to spend a night sleeping in such close proximity to several others for the first time in my adult life has made me acutely aware of my inexperience in this domain.
Then again, this sort of investigation might also prove damaging to our current group dynamic, which has proven rather effective. Would such a pursuit be distracting, or be seen as inappropriate given our working relationship? Even if it was acceptable, there is the matter of whom to approach with such a proposition. Certainly both Yaro and Vinu are physically and emotionally attractive candidates. Additionally their fur does make for a pleasurable tactile experience that I very much enjoy, though that may not necessarily be romantic in nature… Also, I do seem to recall there being a stigma associated with engaging in relations with animal-adjacent species, which may require further investigation (after all, one could argue that all species are animal-adjacent). Meved, while a valuable friend and trusted ally, is perhaps too biologically divergent for such a candidacy. That, and the prospect honestly feels just a little bit too terrifying to consider. Vari-13 could also be a viable option, given our mutual interests. Then again, I'm unfamiliar with Android mating habits. Or perhaps that's all the more reason to try it… For that matter does such a pursuit necessarily need to be monogamous? Paired couplings are common but by no means universal, and a larger sample size might be more advantageous for research purposes. Then there’s the matter of their own individual views on this subject, as well as logistics, and determining what would actually be included in such a relationship…
[Record auto-saved due to prolonged inactivity]
After taking a moment to collect my thoughts, I have come to the conclusion that my nervousness over my lack of practical experience and the overwhelming nature of this current voyage is overriding my rationality and I am compensating by overthinking the matter. I'll shelve the subject of romantic pursuits for the time being and focus on the mission at hand. Hopefully doing so will help me get some much needed clarity with which to move forward. Either that or a moment of extreme stress will cause my repression to backfire and lead to me taking some sort of impulsive action. I’m hoping it will be the former.
[End of excluded section]
Player's Notes: I really missed playing Astrea. Game mechanics aside, it's just so fun to roleplay a woefully naive and innocent scientist as she is thrust ever deeper into the absolute nonsense that is being an adventurer. This time around, we had a brief moment after the party slept huddled up together where Astrea woke up incredibly flustered at the implications of that (though nothing did happen). Considering how "liberally-minded" she was in her original incarnation, it makes for an amusing juxtaposition. She'll get there one day, I'm sure, but not before being a thorough source of amusement for her more seasoned companions.
As an aside, while rereading Starfinder's classes while prepping to return to this game, I came to the realisation that Astrea should realistically be a Biohacker rather than a Technomancer. I don't really remember why I didn't make her one, besides just not having a very good grasp of the Starfinder classes at the time. Maybe it's something I'll revisit at some point...
(TRIGGER WARNING: Torture)
22/08/23 - Sessions 56 - Astral Devastation
Starday, 12th Kuthona, St. Ilnea's Fountain, Menador
After what seemed a brief eternity, the astral deva Ambrihama felt a sudden shock as the unholy knight’s blade plunged into her. All at once, the little strength she had left vanished, and the once proud servant of Iomedae fell to her knees.
She prepared herself for death, but was surprised when the knight did not immediately finish her. Instead, he leaned in, and with a softness that sent chills through her broken spine, whispered, “Now, stay there if you please. I have need of you for a demonstration.”
Confused and terrified by the words, yet too frail to act, the angel remained in place, her blood slowly staining the polished floors. The knight stepped away for a moment, then returned, this time with the Asmodaean cleric, elven mage, and human soldier that had been accompanying him. She thought she had noticed a pair of kobolds as well, but she did not see them now.
Once more, the knight approached her. He seemed to be explaining something to his companions. “You wished for an explanation of the Divine Order, Paraduke. Well, this is a perfect opportunity to explain.” Now that she had a chance to observe him properly, she noticed that the man bore several religious symbols upon his chest, including one of Iomedae. “You see, mortal races, angels, devils, and even gods, are all part of one grand interconnected design. This system is what brings order and structure to the universe. It is through this system that all things are given their place in the grander whole. In many ways, it is much like the noble hierarchies you are already well acquainted with.” The angel wondered if the blood loss was making her hallucinate. Was this man truly so audacious as to give a blasphemous sermon within Iomedae’s own temple?
Ambrihama barely had time to register the folly of the situation, as the knight grasped her by the neck with his clawed gauntlet and lifted her into the air. Being able to do little else, she looked at him in defiance, only to find his eyes unnaturally devoid of life, and his mouth twisted into a bastardised depiction of jubilance. The man was clearly more than simply unhinged.
“Within this structure, every lawfully ordained being has its place, a purpose within this scheme to serve the greater whole, much like every limb and organ serves a role in the body,” he continued, “for example, some exist to support the foundations of our world, and maintain stability.” As the man spoke, the angel felt the stinging sensation of metal cutting flesh, as her legs were sliced from her body. The limbs fell to the floor, producing a wet thud that echoed through the chamber. He deva attempted to scream, but found that the knight’s gloved hand was firmly restricting her windpipe, permitting little more than a pained wheeze to escape.
“Then, there are those that serve by being the means of action. They exert influence, guide the flocks, and wield arms against chaos and corruption. Iomedae is one such entity, just as she was as a mortal, and it is for this reason that I hold her in such esteem.” The heresies uttered by her torturer outraged Ambrihama to the point that she nearly did not notice that as he spoke, the man had removed both of her arms.
“Of course, there are many other components to the Divine Order, each vital to the whole in their own way. To reject any one component creates an imperfect whole. This is why each must be respected in its own right. But of course, it remains a hierarchy, and some elements are more fundamental then others.” By this point, the angel teetered on the edge of death, her divine nature being the only thing keeping her alive. She no longer had the energy to even consider the ravings of the lunatic that was slowly tearing her apart.
“Simple mortals lie near the bottom of this hierarchy, save for those ordained by a higher power to enact the Divine Order’s will, such as us. Heaven serves as a mirror and foil to Hell, a balance to ensure that Order is represented in all capacities, though it is naturally subservient to that which is Infernal.” The deva was too far gone to notice that her wings had joined the pile of limbs beneath her. With what small fragment of consciousness she had left, she begged the Inheritor for forgiveness.
“Then, above all else, lies Lord Asmodeus, the brilliant mind that guides the consciousness of the Divine Order. He is, in essence, the embodiment of the Divine Order’s will. It is for this reason that he is recognised as supreme above all other beings, and why even though Father Dexsius does not share my appreciation for the greater schema, I do not disagree with his philosophies.”
At some point during his final explanation, the knight had decapitated Ambrihama, though she had long since lost any semblance of consciousness. What remained of her divine spark however, erupted in an unnatural dark flame. The absolute heresy of the deva’s death, accompanied by the knight’s deranged proclamations, was enough to corrupt what was left of the angel’s spiritual energy. In a flash of unholy light, the angel’s halo was wreathed in flame and fell from her head, only to be caught by the knight before it could hit the ground.
Gently, the man observes the halo, and smiled as he showed it to his allies. “There is your proof, Paraduke. It is the fundamental nature of Heaven to serve Hell, for it too is a part of the Divine Order. Once our conviction was tested and proven, it could not help but submit. As was here, so too shall it be with St. Ilnea’s waters.”
Ambrihama’s lifeless skull was placed delicately beneath the statue of St. Ilnea. Had she still been conscious, she might have seen that her dismembered limbs, seemingly littered upon the temple floor, had found themselves positioned in a pentagram, depicting the Dark Prince’s Archstar. Perhaps it was the unholy energy produced by the knight’s actions, or the blood coating the floor that now stretched across the room, but the shimmering blue radiance that once illuminated the chamber had taken on a darker, more crimson hue...
Player's Notes: Our session yesterday was a little short, and ended up only consisting of a single fight with one particularly stubborn astral deva. I decided to shake things up with this one and do a victim's perspective as Dom explains his unique philosophy to his new friend.
22/08/16 - Sessions 55 - Water Falls
Starday, 12th Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
With our first component secured, it was time for us to move on to the second. Though we had our choice, I insisted that we make the journey to St. Ilnea’s Fountain next. It has been over four months since my holy pilgrimage through Cheliax was interrupted by the vile Reclamation, and it has remained one of my great fears that more sacred sites might become defiled by their hands before I would have the opportunity to bear witness to them. Besides, I wished to return to Kantaria and spread the good news of our final definitive eradication of the ugothols, and by extension the proper fulfilment of Iomedae’s tenth act.
The stop through Kantaria was brief, but nevertheless satisfying. Mother did well in maintaining order since our departure, and the citizenry have largely moved on from the follies that Nevilindor and his band of heretics infected them with. The reconsecration of Valor’s Fastness seems to have held as well. The sight of that majestic fortification brought into the modern age of the Divine Order fills me with satisfaction.
Father Dexsius continues to insist that it is now an Asmodaean temple. At this point, I have come to accept that his ardent refusal to fully embrace the Divine Order is merely a facet of his deeply focused nature. As a pure devotee of Lord Asmodeus, he is much like a scalpel, precise and perfectly suited to one specific function, to the exclusion of others. His narrow-mindedness favours sharpness over versatility. It is in many ways similar to Mister Kezax’s devotion to his mistress. Each is a tool made with a singular vision and purpose. I need not enlighten them, merely direct them.
This does however leave me with the question of our new companion. I have not yet had the pleasure to properly converse with Paraduke Kennari on matters of faith and loyalty. His devotion to Thrune is evident, but I do wonder if there is room in his heart to embrace the grander picture, or if he too, like Father Dexsius or Mister Kezax, is an instrument of precision. He has at least expressed an interest in learning more about the Divine Order, and I look forward to expressing its beauty to him.
From Kantaria, the journey to the site of the sacred fountain was an easy one. I was relieved to find that the fabled spring remained unsullied and well-kept, despite the turmoil currently surrounding the Iomedaean faith. I took some time to contemplate the waters and offer a prayer to St. Ilnea before we proceeded. Mister Kezax needed to attend to some matters, so Paraduke Kennari and Ser Quintus took on the task of investigating the site. The legends I recall tell of a passageway hidden near the spring, leading to the true fountain which we seek. Interestingly, we confirmed that the nature of the water was most unusual. I for one, detected great spiritual strength from the waters, enough to recognise that they held the spark not just of the divine, but of the sentient. It would not take long for us to realise the implications of this discovery…
Ser Quintus’ vigilance was rewarded, as he observed an opening among the rocks that led to the tunnel we sought. However, as Tayapket approached the entrance, he found himself bound up by webs, and soon after, the living waters themselves were upon us. It was clear in that moment that Iomedae would not permit her first saint’s resting place to be visited by any who lacked the vigour of Ilnea herself. Much like that legendary hero once bravely fought a fearsome creature of the Abyss, we would be tested against a blessed elemental.
Naturally, a Herald of the Divine Order would not be halted by such a challenge, and so it was that I demonstrated my resolve and proved myself to Iomedae’s chosen guardian. With its swift defeat, we proceeded into the cavern. The wards did pose some light inconvenience, but nothing of consequence. It was evident that such protections were meant to keep all but the most worthy from approaching the sacred waters, so a light injury to test our faith was an easy compromise to accept.
As we entered the cavern, I sensed that we would likely be tested once more, so I took the time to engage myself properly for what would come. This proved a wise choice, as we would find ourselves challenged by a woman riding atop a lion, and several shield-bearing archons. It was clear that they would require yet another demonstration of worthiness. We were, of course, more than willing to accept.
While Father Dexsius ensured that Paraduke Kennari and Ser Quintus were adequately protected, I faced the woman who had seen fit to challenge me directly. At first, I thought her methods deceitful. She absorbed my strikes arrogantly, proclaiming the Inheritor’s Divine Protection, and declaring me a heretic. I might have dismissed her as yet another lost lamb, had I not come to understand the nature of her tactics. Her shielding was a product of a bond with the archons, a magic I recognised from Father Dexsius. To overcome it, I needed only to strike with enough persistence and conviction that the archons would fall. As for her taunts, it was obvious that they were the mere bluster of psychological warfare, meant to test my spirit. Needless to say, I would not succumb to something as ridiculous as doubt. Ultimately, the test was easily passed, and the woman retreated for the next trial.
Upon initial inspection, the next test seemed like one of endurance. The guardian who presided over the tunnel made liberal use of teleportation magic to reposition herself, evading direct strikes. While this did preoccupy my companions for a time, I came to understand the true nature of this test rather quickly. It is at moments like this where the difference in our roles is made evident. A specialist might obsess over her challenge and pursue her endlessly. It takes a grander vision to realise that her actions were meant as a diversion, to distract us from our true objective of reaching the fountain. Once this truth became evident to me, the answer was clear: I disregarded her and proceeded forward. My Convictions lie in achieving the ultimate goal of my Mission, and no mere taunts will distract me from my Purpose. I located the next stage, an illusion meant once more to dissuade those that lack faith. It did not halt me for even a moment.
As for the others, they eventually fell into line and joined me. Sure enough, as they did so, our evaluator exposed herself, just long enough for Ser Quintus to conclusively end the test. I had him bring me the body, as the guardian of such a sacred site deserves to be present for what is to come…
Player's Notes: "Ah, so you're using Shield Other to protect yourself? Well that's fine, it only means I have to keep hitting you until they fall!" That was a fun moment, especially as it was a rare instance where I got to go ham on someone while fully buffed.
Less fun was the guardian making liberal use of teleportation to repeatedly get out of reach. The idea was to try and make us repeatedly pass through a Forbiddance threshold to get some guaranteed damage on us. I just came to the conclusion that I'll keep going to the fountain, and if she's really serious about stopping us, she'll have to give up on her silly tactic. I wanted to use her as a gruesome teaching instrument for Dom to instruct the Paraduke on the Divine Order, but I'm sure I'll find another suitable candidate.
The party sticking around to try and incapacitate her did waste a fair amount of session time, but it did do a good job of illustrating the difference in attitude our characters have towards certain things, which made for good roleplay. The fact that I followed up my disregard with a nat20 and nat19 to disbelieve the fake fountain illusion and get past the spell trap protecting it just felt like icing on the cake at that point.
22/08/02 - Sessions 54 - Burning Barleybridges
Fireday, 11th Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
Having successfully removed the festering wound from Citadel Dinyar, we found ourselves with both good tidings and a surplus of spoils, so we opted to return to Egorian to deliver both and receive our due recognition and compensation. Though Iomedae’s lost sheep are of little value, their steel still fetches a high price. I have taken the liberty of repurposing that value for enhancements to my own equipment, so as to better present the might of a True Devotee.
As for Paraduke Kennari, his business was sufficiently concluded, leaving him free to join us in the continuation of our creation of the Tathlum. Seeing as Miss Archie will not be returning to us in the foreseeable future, his arcane expertise will no doubt be of great value. As a long-term confidant to House Thrune, I have confidence in both his pedigree and his devotion to the principles of Order. Our time together will no doubt grant me opportunities to further advance my political standing, so that it might better reflect my divinely ordained role. I look forward to it immensely!
While we had been completing our task, Father Dexsius’ loyal servitors had been dutifully investigating the potential site for one of the requirements of the Tathlum’s creation: a place where we might harvest the “blood of the innocent”. The exact nature of this requirement is somewhat misleading however, though I would attribute this to a limitation in the translation. What is truly required is the blood of the meek. That is to say those who, while potentially corrupt in soul, have not manifested this corruption in a direct offence against the Divine Order. It is a technical distinction of innocence that must be adequately recognised for the process to be successful. Fortunately for us, the village of Barleybridge suits our needs perfectly.
On the surface, Barleybridge appears to be an unassuming and law-abiding settlement. However, Father Dexsius’ investigators determined that the village has of late developed a leaning for the drunken “god” Cayden Cailean. Such a chaotic fool of an accidental deity is an outright mockery of the values of the Divine Order, and his followers are a blight upon existence that is best eradicated. The fact that the town’s annual celebration of “Barleyfest” coincides with the Caydenite holiday of Ascension Day strikes me as far too suspicious to be a coincidence. Much like mould upon a surface might indicate a deeper putrification, the telltale signs that mark Barleybridge tell me clearly that the Divine Order requires it be cleansed. It is fortunate that these lost lambs will not be wasted, but rather repurposed. After all, what is rot, if not another word for fermentation? A fitting analogy, given the village’s namesake.
The specific requirements of the ritual necessitated that we be somewhat particular in our approach. The required blood needed to be extracted from at least 100 “innocents” within a day’s timeframe, and the blood must be extracted close to the time of their death. As such, a methodical approach was required so as to avoid panicking the livestock. This would also be complicated by the presence of a small band of so-called adventurers that styled themselves as the “Fearless Crows”, led by a professed Caydenite. I cannot help but compare their arrogance to that of the disgusting Silver Ravens that wreak havoc in the Archduchy of Ravounel. Given that the carrion birds of Kintargo lay outside the scope of our mission, I shall have to content myself with showing their Crow cousins that fear is very much in Order.
Fortunately, we had excellent tools to serve us in this endeavour. First, Paraduke Kennari arranged to acquire us a Circle of Teleportation, so that we may transport ourselves as well as Father Dexsius’ congregation and Mister Kezax’s kobold aides for this mission. He was also kind enough to use his magic to construct a comfortable lodging for the night, giving us the means to make our move from the crack of dawn, maximising our time. Such luxurious and efficient solutions are very befitting of a proper Paraduke, so in this respect the good Temoni most certainly does not disappoint.
Come the start of the day, Mister Kezax made his way into the village, his agents at the ready further out. We have learned over our months together not to underestimate just how lethal and discreet Mister Kezax can be. His talents allowed him to silently disable any boats or wagons that might serve as an escape. Then, he methodically eliminated and harvested over half of the required souls before noon had struck! Would that all servants were so diligent in their labours!
At some point during his mission, our kobold associate did come across a rather interesting find. Mister Kezax would inform us by animal messenger that the village, much like Kantaria before, had a population of faceless stalkers. Seeing as their blood would not meet the criteria for harvesting, Mister Kezax suggested that they flee, which they did. What these deceivers did not realise was that the rest of our group, including Father Dexsius’ clergymen, had already blockaded the only remaining village exit. They came directly to us.
Given Mister Kezax’s message, I was not surprised to find that the stalkers were none other than those who had fled from Kantaria when we cleansed it nearly three months back. The fact that the cowardly Linton Demeer would flee from our Righteous Judgement never sat right with me, so it was with great satisfaction that I, with the aid of Father Dexsius, Ser Quintus, and Paraduke Kennari, finally eradicated the ugothols once and for all. Iomedae may take solace in knowing that her Tenth Act has now truly been fulfilled!
Come noon, we deemed it a suitable time to expedite the conclusion of our mission. Myself and my companions crossed into Barleybridge and awaited the arrival of the Fearless Crows in front of the Inn of the Friendly Traveller, where they were said to be lodged. Given that the inn was also the site of a shrine to the false god Cayden, Mister Kezax started a fire upon its back exit. It is an all too normal occurrence for Caydenite places of worship to go up in flames, so it is a situation his followers ought to be well-acquainted with. As for the devotees within the inn, they would have a simple choice: exit and confront our judgement, or burn along with their putrid mockery of Faith.
When the Fearless Crows did finally arrive, they did so with an audience. This was exactly what we desired. On our authority, a warrant for the arrest of one Nedowyn, leader of the Crows and alleged cleric of Cayden Cailean, was proclaimed on the grounds of heresy. No doubt, such an announcement would draw the attention of the citizens, much like the misguided flocks in Longacre once amassed to protest the rule of Law. Once enough of them had amassed in a comfortable proximity, we could proceed.
All things considered, the confrontation was anticlimactic. The Crows did as we expected and sought to resist us. Before they would even begin to take action, Mister Kezax had pierced their mage’s skull with a bolt, killing him instantly. Father Dexsius and Ser Quintus unleashed powerful magical volleys at their priest and rogue, severely weakening the first and killing the latter. Paraduke Kennari denied the priest his attempt to resurrect the rogue, while I used the Godclaw Gauntlets to weaken the remaining belligerents further through the force of Order before moving in to confront the bard. Neither the bard nor the cleric survived more than a few seconds after that, and could muster no resistance worthy of mention. In a sense, the Fearless Crows were aptly named; they did not live long enough to dread their demise.
As for the remainder of the harvest, the lingering crowds were easily tended to. I set up a perimeter of flame blockading much of the centre of the village, while Paraduke Kennari set about exhausting the panicked lambs. With neither energy nor an escape route, they submitted easily to the harvest.
While our task required only a hundred souls, roughly half of the village’s population, we razed what little was left of Barleybridge as a precautionary measure. If even a single seed of the corruption remains, there is a chance of reinfection. Better that this serve as an example to others of the importance of maintaining proper spiritual hygiene, lest they too require the inquisition’s treatment.
Personally, I think the final Barleyfest bonfire was truly the greatest one the village ever had the privilege of creating. It made for a soothing sight as we concluded yet another successful day in service to the Divine Order, an excellent cause for celebration.
Player's Notes: It was pure coincidence that the timeline resulted in us capturing Citadel Dinyar just before Cayden Cailean's Ascension Day, but it was a coincidence far too perfect to pass up narratively. We were going to do the fountain mission first, but with that sort of setup we couldn't not make Barleyfest and Ascension Day coincide. I love how fortunate we've been with Pathfinder's holiday calendar with this campaign. It adds that lovely little zest to Dom's religious rants.
Also, Kezax being as absurdly good at stealth as he is, he might very well have been able to solo this entire mission. It was kind of hilarious how effective he was.
22/06/28 & 22/07/29 - Sessions 52 & 53 - Clawing Back the Citadel
Oathday, 10th Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
By cutting the head of the heretic snake that holds the Citadel in its clutches and using their leader against them, we had all but secured our glorious triumph. What enemy forces remained were scattered and broken, giving us an easy route to secure the last of our requirements.
Reclaiming the armoury was a simple affair. Within the base of the central spire of Abadar, that which connects Bastions Fanaticus and Devotio, we found a golem made in the image of the recently slain dragon Parnoneryx. The imitation was even paler than the real thing, further proof of the corruption this once noble creature had suffered at the hands of these heretics. We dispatched the wretched impression with haste, then descended further to the Godclaw storeroom. There, we found yet another misled emissary of heaven, a fiery archon. This creature was somewhat more fierce than the golem, and sought to use the treacherous tactic of luring us into the room, now imbued with blasphemous sorceries against us. What these lost souls fail to realise is that such efforts will never be sufficient to weight down the supremely ordained servitors of the Divine Order. The defiled excinder’s fiery form was cornered and purged in a truly blessed Hellflame.
Regrettably, the Reclamation heretics committed the grave sin of destroying the Godclaw’s most precious arms and armour. This alone would be unforgivable, but so too had they seen fit to repurpose the place for their own disgraceful equipment. At the very least, it would serve to give the Hellknight soldiers a modicum of protection, though the notion that the Reclamation would defile sacred tools belonging to those who serve the Divine Order is yet another sickening reason for the necessity of their eradication.
My disgust was mitigated, however, by the presence of one most valuable find. There remained a single artefact in the armoury still unblemished by the heretics: a pair of gauntlets bearing the masterful design of the Godclaw Order and a fearsome amount of magical power. I recognised that these were not tools to be taken lightly, and so I bore them with all the care and attention due to holy weapons of the Godclaw.
With the force of the rearmed Hellknights and our infernal minions at the vanguard, we made short work clearing the remainder of the Citadel’s unlawful occupants. To honour our bargain with the handmaiden devil, Miss Archie transported her to the Inferno Gate personally once our victory was made inevitable. We would later learn that the dragon heiress had further business in the Whisperwood which would keep her occupied for the foreseeable future, but she was kind enough to leave Mister Kezax and Miss Zylstra with us to see the remainder of our mission to its conclusion. It is regrettable that she will not bear direct witness to our final glory, but she will no doubt come to learn of it in due time.
By the day’s end, only a small contingent of heretics remained. This consisted of an angel, a giant monk, a pair of dragon horses, and a small squadron of footsoldiers. They consolidated themselves into the Ardant Fist, the citadel’s chapel-keep. A fitting name for their last stand, as we would soon be prying this fortress from their cold, dead hands.
Curiously, it is also here that we would come across another figure: that of the elven Paraduke Temoni Kennari. This was none other than one of Her Infernal Majestrix’ most trusted advisors in matters of magic, and the one who so conveniently transported us to Citadel Dinyar from Egorian. His own business in the Citadel was completed, and he now waited for us to complete its recapture. In order to expedite the process, the Paraduke graciously joined us in the final battle.
The initial strike came in the form of the two dragon horses jointly using their frozen breath against us as we made our entrance. For the most part we endured this, though Zylstra was unfortunate in her placement and so suffered a lethal injury. By the Grace of the Divine Order, we possess the means to deny even death in the name of our objective, so this was but a temporary affliction, but it was nonetheless enough motivation for Mister Kezax to retaliate by striking the powerful monadic deva that commanded the troops. The strike hit true, and fueled by the kobold’s vengeance, tore into the angel’s very celestial nature, stripping it of its ill-deserved protections. This made it easy prey for the Paraduke and Ser Quintus, who bore down upon it with enough force to end its command permanently. Father Dexsius meanwhile restored Zylstra, then advanced to serve as the bulwark against the bestial frontline.
Lacking a more fitting adversary, I attended to the giant who proclaimed herself as the “Fist of Iomedae”. For a vile traitor to use such a title was enough of an insult to necessitate her demise, though her repeated attempts to hamper my mobility made her a most frustrating opponent. Ultimately, I decided that it would be better to break her spirit before her body, and with a swift demonstration of the Divine Order’s fury, I crushed her will to fight. She made an almost impressive effort to flee, and in that moment of disgrace unbefitting of one that would use the Inheritor’s name, Father Dexsius reduced her form to cinders.
The humiliating loss of their final leader destroyed any lingering sense of rebellion among the remaining forces. The beasts fled with magic, leaving the exhausted knights to surrender, still in the clutches of Paraduke Kennari’s magical tendrils. To satiate my righteous indignation over the pathetic display, I personally saw to the execution of these cowards. Their frail souls devoid of conviction would serve to refuel the Paraduke’s energy as we debriefed him on our mission.
It was my utmost pleasure to make the formal declaration of our victory to Lictor Ountor. The damage done to the Citadel by the heretics was great, but far from unsalvageable. With time and resources, they will find themselves able to restore the Godclaw to its full glory, of that I am certain. As a representative of the Queen of Cheliax, a patriarch of a Chelish noble house, and most importantly as a loyal servant of the Divine Order, that same force which the Godclaw revere in their own form, I offered our full support to the Lictor. Our remaining minions would be given over to the Hellknights to aid in the restoration efforts. Furthermore, should they ever find themselves in my lands, I have promised them my house’s hospitality. The Lictor was humble in accepting my offer of friendship and the temporary support of our servants, though declined any more formal offers of aid. It would of course be unbecoming for the Order to be any further beholden to non-affiliated entities, after all.
The Lictor did however offer in turn to repay our kindness. First, we were offered lodgings for the evening. This, we declined, as we would be returning with Paraduke Kennari to Egorian shortly to report our success to the Queen and make use of the city’s mercantile facilities. His second gift however, was to loan me the Godclaw Gauntlets. It was with great joy that I accepted this boon. These precious gloves are not only a powerful weapon against the forces of chaos, but also proof of my faithful service to those who walk the Sacred Path of the Divine Order. I shall wear them with pride, and use them dutifully to extermine the Order’s enemies!
Player's Notes: At long last my favourite psychopath zealot returns! Our GM had to go on hiatus for family reasons and regrettably Archie's player decided to drop, though the latter was replaced by the player of Meved from the Starfinder game (see the other journal I've been posting here for that). He's playing the elf Arcanist (Twilight Sage) Paraduke Temoni Kennari, who is a long-standing magic tutor for House Thrune.
It was nice to come back and finally conclude the dungeon that is Citadel Dinyar. Seeing as we had already killed nearly all the bosses, we put all the remaining encounters into one final boss room. Kezax definitely started things off strong with his sever alignment shot, which felt appropriate considering his wife(?) just got killed on account of receiving two breath attacks while having a full caster's hp pool. My own performance was a bit disappointing thanks to the dreaded combo of low initiative and a terrible case of bad dice roll disease. Meanwhile our GM's absurd crit luck returned in full force. At least now Temoni's player knows that our claims about his legendary crit ratio are not exaggerations...
Still, very much looking forward to continuing on with this adventure!
22/06/29 - Session 7 - Astrea’s Journal: The Goal is in the Golem
Firstday, 29th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
As mentioned in my previous log, the ongoing Outer Junkfields conflict is a product of two factions: the goblin “Trashunters” and the ikeshti “Unbrood”. Each of these factions is likely in possession of parts needed to create the EMP key that we require to open what we’re assuming to be the wreck of the Stellar Flare. Furthermore, peace between these factions will help us greatly in terms of not getting shot, clawed, detonated, or otherwise attacked while we explore the aforementioned wreck. Given all of that, it seemed cautious to learn more about them.
From what we could gather speaking to the rambunctious goblin Murkk, the Trashunters are not immediately hostile to outsiders unless they’re ikeshti or obvious thieves. Thankfully, we are neither of these things. Seeing as their interests lie in junk and technology, we might be able to trade with them for what we require. I for one am sincerely hoping we can go with this solution. I can’t imagine fighting the goblins would end well for anyone. Even if we could beat them, the risk of collateral damage is far too high…
As for the Unbrood, Qesh’s account suggests that they aren’t nearly as open to diplomacy. Their leader Asashla is also apparently well on her way to becoming a rivener. For those that are not aware, a rivener is what happens when an ikeshti doesn’t mate for a prolonged period. This causes them to become more ferocious bestial versions of themselves. This is in stark contrast to the phenomenon that occurs with other species, where prolonged periods without mating instead manifest in the form of magical powers or a strong compulsion to argue incessantly with people on infosphere social platforms. Either way, Asashla does not sound like someone we will want to mess with, mated or not. Perhaps we can bargain with a gift of territory somehow, so as to literally “give her space”?
(Note to self: the comment regarding magical powers manifesting in beings that have not undergone a successful mating cycle is in reference to common human records of the process for becoming a "wizard". However, I am realising as I transcribe these notes that accounts of this phenomenon may actually be satirical in nature. Please verify this assertion as part of the proofreading process before publication.)
While considering the ways we might appeal to these factions, we made an observation of how we could assassinate a multitude of avians with a single mineral cluster. The interests of both of the Outer Junkfield groups as well as our own converge at an interesting (and quite frankly terrifying) point, that being the site of the rampaging junk golem. A golem like that would surely have some technological components that would interest the goblins, and its removal will open the way for additional Unbrood territory. Not to mention it has the last piece we need for the EMP Key. We reasoned that if we could defeat that thing, we should have enough leverage to deal with the two factions without conflict. By my calculations, that would make for a total of three birds with one stone! Now if only that bird wasn’t giant, metal, and highly resistant to magic… Come to think of it, I also sincerely hope that the bird part of that metaphor remains metaphorical. A junk golem is scary enough, but a FLYING junk golem? That is something I would be perfectly happy to relegate to my nightmares.
In the interest of rational self-preservation, we did not immediately go after the golem, and instead sought some assistance. This involved a detour to the wreck of a Veskarium cruiser from the Silent War called the Thundering Angel. Had we more time, I would have loved to study such a vessel. It no doubt would have held all sorts of interesting insights into pre-Pact vesk technology. Granted, we would be far from the first people to have come here with a similar objective, so the likelihood of finding anything of value would be infinitesimal.
Actually, I would have preferred infinitesimal discoveries over what we did find, because what we found was a minefield. To be clear, I do mean this very literally. The pathway was rigged with pressure-sensitive explosive ordnance. If it weren’t for Vinu spotting a few of them, our next steps may well have been into oblivion! Thankfully, she did spot them before they had a chance to cause us any serious harm…
Well, that is what I’d like to say. Technically, Vinu did spot them -before- any harm was caused. However, she then accidentally detonated one of them while trying to defuse it. Then Meved took the brunt of one himself on account of his ursine gait covering a larger surface area. I tried to use Twitch to scout a path ahead, though this process resulted in yet another accidental trigger, which unfortunately also caught both Vinu and Meved in yet another blast. At the very least, the explosions didn’t do any irreparable damage, and there were no further traps triggered before we reached our destination: Zethelred’s camp.
Qesh had told us that this vesk warrior may be our best hope for some serious aid against the junk golem. He was apparently a soldier in the Silent War and had taken some issue with how it was concluded (which, being from a species on the other side of that conflict, I can’t exactly say is reassuring, but beggars can’t be choosers I suppose). However, his camp appeared to have been abandoned for months, and not in a way that would suggest a planned departure. All signs point to Zethelred being dead, either at the hands of the golem or one of the plethora of other hazards that come with living in this wasteland. At this point, I’m hoping it was some dumb unrelated accident like a junk avalance or something, because if a creature out there killed him, then chances are we’re going to have to fight it, and I’d rather not go up against something that can take down a seasoned vesk warrior…
With Zethelred being conspicuously absent, we opted to search through his belongings in the hopes of finding more information, or at least something useful for our imminent fight with the golem. We ended up finding some rather powerful weapons, as well as some heavy armour, spell gems, and a journal. We appropriated all of these. Vinu took the particularly powerful-looking pistol, Meved laid claim to the armour, and I snagged the gems and the journal. Much as I am loath to commit theft or breach of personal privacy, considering the dismal likelihood of Zethelred still being alive and our own survival needs, this felt like an acceptable exception to my moral compass. I only hope that this isn’t indicative of a deeper skew in my ethics…
Seeing as the camp wasn’t actively trying to kill us (and we had put some distance between us and the minefield that was passively trying to kill us), we opted to take a pause to recuperate. As the only two in the group that hadn’t had the dubious pleasure of receiving a very violent surprise concussive foot massage, Yaro and I took some time to tend to the others. My canid companion assisted our injured organic allies while I tended to my much less fleshy but nevertheless mangled robotic friend. After all was said and done, it took me roughly an hour to get Twitch back into working order. During that time, I played back Zethelred’s journal in audio format so that I could listen to his accounts while I worked. Efficiency aside, there is something rather soothing about listening to an audio log while working on menial tasks… In fact, it helped me speed through the repairs, leaving me some time to make alterations to Zethelred’s golemforged plating armour to accommodate Meved’s frame.
Apparently our would-be ally had indeed taken an interest in the golem. Unfortunately however, the journal didn’t provide any information I wasn’t already aware of. The golem is big, it’s strong, it can heal by absorbing tech into itself, and it’s mostly immune to magic. I did get a sense for Zethelred as a person, which was anecdotally interesting, but not especially practical for us at this moment (not to mention, it felt a little strange, reading someone else’s journal). Considering he left his weapons home, including his doshko (a weapon that holds great cultural significance to the vesk), and didn’t make a mention in his journal regarding his departure to fight, I’m holding a bit more hope for the “tragic accident” scenario. Not that that is exactly good either… At this point, whatever “got” Zethelred, I just hope it doesn’t get us as well.
I think listening to a (probably) dead guy’s journal ended up making me even more acutely aware of the potential lethality of this wasteland of wreckage… The strangest thing about it is that I’m a lot less perturbed about that than I rationally ought to be. I guess yesterday’s events have dulled the impact of life-endangering scenarios to me. I’m making a note to give myself a thorough psych-eval after this mission is concluded.
By the time I had finished refitting Zethel-I mean Meved’s new armour, Yaro had sniffed out the remaining mines (it turns out bomb-sniffing is a thing he can do; I wish he remembered that handy little fact earlier), and we were all as ready as we could be for the fight with the junk golem. We may not have found a warrior ally, but we did at least get some useful equipment.
We found the golem in a clearing devoid of most things save for a small ship command bridge. Sure enough, it was just as big, strong, and angry as we had been informed, though it didn’t immediately take notice of us. That allowed us to prepare a surprise attack. Vinu used her stealth to get to a decent vantage point, while Meved readied for a charge and Yaro took out his weapon. The intention was that I hit the golem with an opening acid blast to slow it down (fun fact: the nature of junk golem physiology means that the application of acid will limit their motor functions for a time), giving the others a chance to harass it with hit and run tactics.
The plan was theoretically sound, and going quite well right up until I hit the monster and my spell fizzled out on what was apparently a purple force field. The damn thing absorbed my hit, and with it, the potential slowing effect. I tried again a few more times whenever my allies would break the regenerating force field, but I couldn’t get a good hit on the damn goliath. Since that didn’t work, I tried a few other things. I’ve wired my mind-affecting magic to work on robotics, so I was able to try disabling it’s weapon familiarity subroutines. The damn beast stubbornly refused to comply, and ate up most of my magic in repeated attempts. I greased him up at one point, hoping that we might cause him to slip and fall, but he didn’t actually move his position for the vast majority of the fight (more on that in a moment), so that didn’t do much. I did get frustrated at one point and ran in to hit him with a spell gem of junk armour, which caused him to get more fixated on attacking Meved (which he was already doing, but at least it stopped him from chasing after me or anyone else). By the end I just resorted to providing supporting fire, which ended up being more effective than anything else I tried. Go figure. The big takeaway from this particular paragraph is that for all my strategy and planning, I was not particularly useful in this fight (except for the final blow; I did help at least a bit with that).
Fortunately, my allies more than made up for my slack. Vinu managed to use her stealth to pretty consistently drop the golem’s constantly regenerating force field, leaving it open to other attacks. Yaro used his arc pistol to provide harrying fire pretty much from the beginning, which helped with landing hits. Then there was Meved, who charged the damn thing at the start and pretty much held his ground for the entire fight. The battle played out more or less like a war of attrition between a golem and a bear (with a few helpers), and the bear ultimately had more endurance. Having seen how well Meved was able to ignore attacks from angry thugs and hungry bugs, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that he’d be able to hold his own against the golem. With every passing moment, I find myself wondering in absolute terror if all ursine are this strong. If so, perhaps we should be more thankful it was the vesk and not them that fought us in the Silent War…
It wasn’t too hard to retrieve the plasma charger circuit after the golem collapsed. I was hoping I might find something else useful among its component pieces, or even be able to restore that force field for our own use, but no such luck. The best I managed was to accumulate a respectable assortment of mostly useless junk parts. That said, Vinu and Yaro did manage to find some grenades. I’m hoping we won’t need to use them (or at least, not for combat), but considering where we are it seems wise to keep them on hand, just in case.
So with that, we’ve got one of the three pieces we need for the EMP key. I’m sincerely hoping the other two aren’t nearly as difficult, because I am downright exhausted, mentally, physically, and magically…
Player's Notes: It took me quite a while to actually get around to finishing this one up. I chalk it up to July being a very busy month for me. That said, both this game and Hell's Vengeance are on a bit of a hiatus due to life issues on our GM's side. I honestly don't know how long it will be before we can play again. Hopefully the situation will be resolved and Astrea's descent into madness shall continue soon...
22/06/21 - Session 6 - Astrea’s Journal: Make EMPs, Not War
Firstday, 29th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
Khefak Depot continues to be full of all sorts of fascinating features. Given that it is a tourism city first and foremost, it’s not too surprising that it is host to a variety of recreational activities. Even so, I never would have conceived of a “junk”-themed amusement park. There’s something to be said for the adaptability of sapient minds, to take what others would deem to be wasted material, and to repurpose it in such a manner. Truly, the Rust District stands well alongside the rest of the city as a testament to people’s ability to make the most of what resources are available!
I only wish that it was our actual destination. Unfortunately, our mission did not bring us -to- the park but rather, -through- it. Our actual objective, the Outer Junkfields, is significantly less peaceful and recreational. There are still plenty of opportunities for anthropological study, at least. I’m just hoping that those studies can be done not at the end of a barrel, edge of a knife, or any other precipice of lethal weaponry. Actually, let’s exclude non-lethal weaponry as well. I would be significantly happier if weaponry wasn’t part of this equation at all. Of course, that’s a big ask, considering that we’re walking into is a warzone…
In the interest of limiting my exposure to things like surprise bug attacks or concealed explosive ordinances, I decided to put the drone Vari gave us to use. It was in remarkably good condition for an amalgamation of repurposed electronics, only needing a little bit of maintenance before it was travelling right alongside us. I’ve decided to call the little guy Twitch, due to its habit of doing little jerky motions. It’s admittedly a bit of anthropomorphism on my part, but I can’t help but find my new companion rather adorable. I just hope the fact that I’ve become endeared to this robot doesn’t come back to bite me in the rear later.
As it turned out, biting was not the first concern we needed to confront on our journey to the Outer Junkfields. Instead, we would encounter a different sort of oratory peril. We came across a hole in the ground and some puddles of stagnant water that were conspicuously lacking in any insect presence. I recognised the location immediately as likely being the lair of some thastertoads, a kind of lizard (and not actually related to toads from a taxonomy standpoint; this is what happens when you let goblins name things) native to the region that have mutated a tough shell as a result of tasteron exposure. To my surprise, both Yaroslav and Meved also demonstrated impressive knowledge about these creatures! I suppose the khefak encounters yesterday prompted them to really listen to my improvised lecture on Akitonian wildlife. Whatever the case may be, I confess to being more than a little bit proud.
While my companions’ academic knowledge of the creatures was unimpeachable, what really mattered was their practical application in subduing them, since it would seem we had once again come across a group of beings with the regrettable yet unusually common characteristic of being aggressively territorial. As expected, Meved was as effective as he was unrelentingly brutal in dispatching the creatures. Meanwhile, Yaro had the misfortune of experiencing firsthand what a thastertoad tongue grapple is like, as well as the effects of static electricity on a coat of long hair (courtesy of his contact with the thastertoad as it was subjected to an arc pistol shot). Honestly, I didn’t realise just how fluffy Yaro is until I saw his hair stand on end. Considering how perilous this whole trip has been turning out, the levity and cuteness of that particular discovery was rather welcome. I just also wish it didn’t remind me of the fact that while I recognise that all of my companions are fully sapient adult beings that I must treat with proper respect and dignity, there is a part of me that can’t help but sometimes think of them as unbearably (pun somewhat intended) cute animals that I really want to snuggle and give ear scritches and belly rubs. It has been very hard not to give into that particular reflex…
[Note to self, double up the encryption on that last paragraph, just in case my companions decide to snoop through my log. They must never know.]
Before heading forward, we made a point to check the thastertoad nest hole in case we might find anything interesting. Vinu’s keen feline eyes were a great help here, as she immediately noticed a canister containing a sizeable amount of UPBs as well as a circlet. We rappelled Twitch down to collect the items, and I identified the circlet as a tool that allowed for limited telepathy. I then promptly placed it on Vinu, so that she can join Meved and I in the nonverbal communication club. I’m eager for Yaro to join that particular club as well, so that we might conduct more of our business telepathically. As much as I don’t mind using my voice, it’s just so much faster to communicate complex ideas this way. Once Vinu gets the hang of her new accessory, I’m certain she’ll come to appreciate its usefulness in that respect. Until then, we’ll need to figure out how to stop her from constantly broadcasting whatever song is currently playing in her head to the rest of us…
As Vinu and Twitch scouted ahead, they came across a curious sight: a goblin and an ikeshti engaged in what appeared to be amicable conversation. Their behaviour didn’t line up with the conflict that was mentioned to us, and what’s more, they made mention of trying to find a way into a starship. This initial information was not much to go off of, but it might just be enough for us to find some common ground.
We introduced ourselves to the two, and were met with rather surprising friendliness. The goblin, Murkk, was absolutely fascinated by the array of technological devices on my person, while the ikeshti, Qesh, was the more reserved of the pair (which admittedly isn’t saying much). I’ve met my fair share of eccentrics with difficulty focusing in academia, so I did what I could to help keep Murkk on topic (and away from Twitch, who I suspect Murkk might have dissected if she was given the opportunity).
What we learned was that the goblin “Trashunters” and the ikeshti “Unbrood” were not initially at war, and their interests in the region are mutually exclusive (the goblins want the scrap, while the ikeshti want the territory). Given that, there is actually a precedence for peace, meaning that reinstating that peace may well be possible! All we have to do is resolve whatever caused this disagreement, and then do a little diplomacy. When I write it like that, it sounds much less improbable than it probably is, but I’ll be damned if I won’t cling to my optimism for all it’s worth in this very literal garbage heap.
In any case, the current conflict originated over the death of some Trashunters near a certain starship wreck. The goblins blamed on the Unbrood, and the ongoing stubbornness of their respective leaders is preventing either side from going forward. The aforementioned wreck is known colloquially as the “Midzone”, and it has been agreed that control of the Outer Junkfields will go to whomever manages to successfully enter the vessel. The complication with that task is that the vessel in question is surrounded by a powerful force field.
As for Murkk and Qesh, they became friends after an encounter with a junk golem prompted them to work together to survive. Now, their goal is to claim the Midzone themselves and leverage that achievement to bring the feud between their clans to an end.
While it’s hard to say conclusively, there is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that this “Midzone wreck” could be the Stellar Flare. That would certainly be convenient, as it would mean that our goal of investigating the wreck is in direct alignment with the goals of this unusual duo. Furthermore, if it is the case, then that would mean we’d need to deal with the force field around the ship, something that Murkk apparently might just have a solution for.
I use the word “might” strongly here. While the concept of generating an electromagnetic pulse (commonly referred to as an EMP) to disable the field is fundamentally sound, the methods Murkk proposed to create it are… Questionable, at best. Then again, goblins are known for their uncanny ability to make implausible technological devices function, so perhaps it is within the realm of possibility. If so, this would not only give us the key we would need to proceed with our mission and the means to bring peace to the Outer Junkfields, but it would also be an opportunity to see a goblin’s uncanny technological prowess at work!
Now that we’ve agreed to work with the strange pair, we find ourselves with some new objectives. In order to build the EMP, Murkk will require three pieces of technology: an electrolytic capacitor, a size-23 harmonic coil, and a plasma charger circuit. As luck would have it, all three of these items can be found relatively closeby. Unfortunately, all three of them will likely be problematic to retrieve. Two of them are in Trashunter and Unbrood territory respectively. As for the third… Remember that junk golem that Murkk and Qesh ran away from? Well it would seem that in the hustle they left the plasma charger circuit with it.
Given how junk golems work (they are essentially an amalgamation of electronics, scrap metal, and other assorted junk bound together with magic to create a powerful constructed creature), there’s a decent likelihood that it absorbed the part, which means we’ll have to destroy it to get that circuit back. I’ve only done some cursory research on golems, but I know enough to know that they are usually extremely tough and also nearly impervious to magic. The only way I might be able to help is by taking advantage of it’s vulnerability to acid to slow it down a bit…
Our new friends did mention a vesk by the name of Zethelred that might be able to help us in that particular fight though, so that might be worth looking into. Having more allies in a hostile place like this would surely not be a bad thing.
Before we go though, I’m hoping we might learn a bit more about the Trashuntrers and Unbrood. Seeing as we’ll definitely run into them sooner or later, it would be wise for us to understand who we’re dealing with…
Player's Notes: I won't lie, Twitch's name maaay be a blatant reference to a certain game that I work on. After giving me a drone, it was just too tempting for me not to slip in a Siege reference. For the look though, I opted to forgo the book's rendition of a junk drone. My little buddy immediately got slapped with a Wall-E profile picture.
It felt like we had more nat20s, so I did a little rundown of the d20 rolls this session, just to see what our distributions look like. Yeah, we definitely has a lot of nat20s. It's also pretty representative of our usual rolls. I almost never roll average and Meved has unusually high luck in combat. Funny to actually see it statted. I think I might try doing this again for other sessions. Perhaps I might be able to illustrate the horrendous luck that Archie has in the Hell's Vengeance game.
22/06/15 - Session 5 - Astrea’s Journal: Better Triangulate Than Never
Firstday, 29th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
It was a big relief to finally get out of the caryards. That constant fear of suddenly being ambushed by a bunch of hungry territorial insects got old pretty quickly. Not to say that the constant fear of suddenly being ambushed by a bunch of angry territorial gangsters is all that much better, mind you. Really, this entire trip on the whole has included more bunches of aggressively territorial things than I care for. But then again, part of that is why we’re here in the first place, I suppose.
On our way back, Yaro seemed pretty eager to get some more street meat. I guess all that fighting did burn a lot of calories, though I would have thought the sight of the decomposing khefak sludge in the shells we recovered would discourage one’s appetite. Perhaps for a seasoned survivalist vlaka, that sort of stimuli isn’t as off-putting as it was for myself... Well in any case, the vendor was sadly nowhere to be found. Now that I think about it, I suppose it was rather strange that he was there in the first place, considering the closure of the caryards. For some reason, there’s a little part of me that worries that this might be an important detail, but for now I can’t exactly figure out why. Perhaps it’s to do with what Vari said about the walls having ears. I sincerely hope this isn’t the start of some sort of horrible conspiracy…
Vari’s concern for privacy seems to have infected Riddle as well, as she had us sneak into Adventures in Junk through a hidden backdoor route. Considering she was nearly beaten to death at her doorfront just a few hours prior, I can certainly understand the apprehension. I’m just glad we finally got somewhere reasonably safe to finally rest and hear about this world-changing mystery. Oh, and receiving our payment too, I suppose. In all of the chaos I almost forgot that we were also doing this for money. I’m definitely not complaining. As much as I value the privilege of endangering my life in the pursuit of scientific discovery and helping others, a bit of remuneration for our deeds is certainly welcome.
THat being said, our “finder’s fee” was nothing compared to the potential treasure Vari dropped on us. To keep things relatively simple and concise, the story can be summarised thusly: Vari somehow managed to recollect memories from their progenitor, Vari-8 (if this statement seems odd, I would recommend reading one of the many treatises on the subject of android corporeal inheritance, commonly referred to as “renewal”). This former Vari had been an engineer aboard a ship called the Stellar Flare, all the way back in the first years after the Gap (which in and of itself is a fascinating fact that I would most assuredly like to delve further into at another time, but I digress). The Stellar Flare was a research vessel working on a technology that harnesses energy in a manner similar to how Drift engines function. Unfortunately, the ship crashed on Akiton before it could complete the research.
This alone would not be especially remarkable, but the fact that Vari was able to confirm that the Stellar Flare’s transponder is still operational after over three centuries does give some credence to the idea that these researchers were on to something. If their hypothesis was indeed correct, and that research were to be completed… It would suggest the creation of a near-limitless energy source! The implications of such a discovery would definitely be as galaxy-changing as Vari stated! Harnessing that sort of power could lead the galaxy into a post-scarcity state! So many problems could be solved…
Well, hypothetically of course. I would have to look into the research more properly. After all, Meved raised a fair point: if such technology were possible, why has it not been conceived elsewhere? For that matter, how has this ship not been located in over three hundred years? There are an abundance of questions, and as it stands, we have very few answers. What we do know is that Vari-13 is quite convinced of their mission, and they have the ample funding of AbadarCorp to back their ambition. Personally, it seems rather unlikely that this will be the revolutionary discovery Vari hopes it to be, but in the spirit of scientific method, the hypothesis must at least be tested before it can be discounted. Besides, if Vari’s right, then I get to be on the ground floor of something absolutely incredible! Meanwhile the worst case is that we discover an ancient early-Gap vessel, and that could still make for an interesting subject of study…
Alright so technically the actual worst case is that we all die horribly or encounter some other sort of fate worse than death, but for my own psychological wellbeing I’m making a point not to put too much consideration into those particular possibilities.
Excitement aside, there is still the pressing matter of the True Warriors. I may not have been in the contract business for long, but taking on a new job without finishing the prior one seems like poor mercenary etiquette. On the other hand, we don’t really have much in the way of leads to find their leader or do much else to stop them. It might actually be to our advantage to refocus ourselves temporarily to Vari’s contract. Having some extra credits in our pocket could be helpful in dealing with the gang. Not to mention, now that we’ve been seen with Vari, they’re potentially in danger from any members of the gang that might still want to get after us. So, as much for our protection as for theirs, we took Vari up on the offer of getting some lodgings at Ixomander’s Throne at AbadarCorp’s expense. Riddle was kind enough to offer her own lodgings for that matter, but I get the impression that the four of us, one of whom is Meved, would make things fairly cramped.
I took a bit of time that evening to talk with Vari and learn a bit more about the Stellar Flare and whatever other pieces of information they may have about their progenitor. Sadly, their memories on the matter are fragmented, but it was enough to further bolster my interest in the project. I could write some of the notes in this log, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they will be best saved for the inevitable research paper I will write on this subject. I only have so much storage space on this datapad, after all.
All of the day’s excitement did leave me a little overstimulated though, so I took advantage of the hotel’s research wing for a bit of recreational case study work. It was nice to get back into a lab after so long, and I think my contributions were appreciated by the staff. It didn’t hurt that I’m rather proficient when it comes to this kind of work; I didn’t get to become a research assistant at the Arcanamirium by chance, after all! Meanwhile, I believe Vinu chose to sample the local nightlife while Meved and Yaro unwound with some holovids and room service. All in all, it was a very productive and educational day, for better or worse.
After a comfortable sleep in a resort bed and some much needed personal grooming, I descended to the lobby to find… Hm, how should I put this. Vari-13 was missing, Yaroslav was aggressively sniffing the floor, Meved was single handedly consuming about two thirds of the hotel’s breakfast buffet, and Vinu was somehow still partying as intensely as she was when I left last night. As much as I feel like using the word “zoo” would be unfairly pejorative here, I’m having a hard time conceiving of a more apt term in these circumstances.
I consulted with the millinerily adept hotel clerk regarding the whereabouts of our new patron (to little avail, unfortunately), then I gathered up Yaro and the others. This time, I had a hunch, so we made our way to Adventures in Junk. Sure enough, there was Vari. They had spent the entire night trying to locate the Stellar Flare. It is difficult to settle an inquisitive mind on the verge of a breakthrough, after all. That said, as much as I can understand that drive, we did make a point to remind Vari that an unannounced departure in an unsafe town is very much ill-advised.
Nevertheless, we were hardly about to let their good work go to waste. I caught Vinu trying her hand at calibrating the computer’s triangulation matrix. Now, credit where it’s due, she wasn’t doing a bad job. However, we’re on the hunt for a vessel carrying what has the potential to be the greatest scientific discovery of the century. Such a task requires a specialist’s touch. Now, not to toot my own horn, but as a research assistant I take great pride in my ability to calibrate scientific equipment. So, with a crack of my knuckles and a few quick helper conjurations, I got to work.
Needless to say, the Stellar Flare was promptly pinpointed. It’s located somewhere in the Outer Junkfields. Unfortunately, according to Riddle that area is now a war zone between some space goblins and ikeshtis that both claim the territory. Neither of those species are known for having especially reasonable or tempered dispositions at the best of times, so entering such a conflict would be more than a little dangerous. “Suicidal” seems to be the appropriate word for that particular course of action. Considering that’s coming from Riddle, someone with far more expertise on the subject of Junkfield dangers, that’s quite worrisome.
But, scientific pursuits are rarely completely devoid of risk. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and all that. Vari-13 was more than eager to entice us with funds and a stake in future profits. That was enough to sate our financially-motivated team members. Yaroslav for his part understandably wants to have usage rights for the technology to save his homeworld. As for me, my interest is first and foremost to be involved in the actual research into this supposedly revolutionary technology, including full credit on the eventual papers that will come of it. With all of those pledges made and a generous advance sum, we agreed to walk into a warzone in a scrapyard wasteland. This is unequivocally one of the best and most rational decisions any of us has ever made.
Who knows, perhaps this conflict between the goblins and ikeshtis is something we can help to resolve, in some way or another. I’m hoping this time around, it might be a more peaceful resolution than the ones we’ve come to so far. I’m not getting my hopes up of that, though. That’s why as soon as we agreed to go ahead with this dangerous mission, I used nearly all of my funds, as well as the advance on Vari’s payment, to invest in some better armour. Here’s hoping I don’t end up needing to use it. Yaraesa, I know you aren’t really one for divine intervention, but if you could arrange the quantum probabilities of the universe to make it less likely that we get blown up by goblin blasters, that would be very much appreciated.
Player's Notes: No lie, after Vinu rolled a 16 on the engineering check to triangulate the Stellar Flare's position, I quite literally pulled a "step back, I got this" and rolled a nat 20 for a total of 31 on the check. One of the most perfectly timed nat 20s I've had in a long time (and finally not for shooting something). As for that link I slipped in there... Well, I often like to put reaction gifs and video clips at appropriate moments. Vari in the morning reminded me a bit of Oobleck from RWBY, so I tried to look up a clip of him. I found this. The special guest appearance from Meved in there was completely serendipitous. I am so happy I found a video that so perfectly encapsulates this adventure.
Now this is some hilarious, excellently written journal. Highly entertaining. Somhehow I imagine Astrea to look like Amy Farrah Fowler with Lashunta antennae ;-). Also one of very few Starfinder journals I've come across so far. Keep it up. Already looking forward to the next entry.
I'm absolutely flattered, thank you!
All things considered, you're not all that far off for what she looks like. This is her character image.
Having now played a few sessions of it, I quite enjoy Starfinder! It feels just close enough to Pathfinder to have not thrown me completely out of my comfort zone, while still bringing something fresh to the table. Plus the party is a fun group. For sure, if our GM offers to continue running something beyond Junker's Delight, I'll be happy to accept, in which case I'll definitely be making more accompanying journals.
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22/06/01 - Session 4 - Astrea’s Journal: Fun Facts About Khefaks
Seventhday, 28th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
It is a somewhat obscure fact that if a khefak consumes a sufficient amount of radioactive material, there is a possibility of it mutating into a much larger and more dangerous form. This is commonly called a thasteron khefak, after the type of fuel that is most commonly responsible for such a transformation. I mention this for reasons that will become evident as I continue this log entry.
Following the appearance of the khefaks on the other side of the acid pool, Meved made his move to cross the bridge and fend off the bugs. While doing so, his weight was enough to knock over a tower of precariously stacked chairs. While unfortunately this did injure him slightly, it also had the benefit of increasing the traversable space over the acid, so at least that was reassuring. To be honest, I was not especially keen to make that precarious walk. I'm an academic after all, not an acrobat. Yaroslav went across soon after, though I waited until the way was clear before making the journey myself, opting to instead provide support fire from the other side. Guns are made to be used at range, so it seemed sensible to take advantage of that to avoid getting hit.
That was apparently a good choice for my own safety in the end, as the beasts were quite ferocious this time. Meved and the rest of us put up a good fight, but one of the khefaks was remarkably resilient. It actually managed to take Meved out of the fight, albeit only briefly. In case it wasn't obvious, we killed all of the insects in the end. Still, that was the closest we'd come to having a major casualty. I shudder to think what might have happened if things had been a little bit worse… Best I not dwell on the idea.
While we took a moment to rest, I investigated the khefaks and noticed a larger than normal level of mutation. I'm willing to bet that the particularly tough one was on the verge of transforming into a thasteron khefak (the thing I mentioned at the beginning of this log entry, as you’ll recall). Given that discovery, I came to the worrisome conclusion that there may be other khefaks here that have undergone the full transformation…
Past the pit of poorly disposed chemical waste, we found a collapsed pile of scrap that blocked our path. By my estimations, the avalanche had settled to a mostly stable position, so it was scalable. The real problem was the large number of sharp jutting pieces that could easily cause cuts (and infection, if one is particularly unlucky). There was a bright side to this: I was able to find enough useful materials to create a set of armour spikes. I took the liberty of conjuring up my tools and doing just that. Now Meved's armour is spiky enough that it should deter anyone from giving him a bear hug. Though frankly if someone ever tried to give Meved a bear hug in the first place, armour spikes would likely be the least of their problems.
As for the junk hill, having observed it carefully, I was able to climb over without injury (I was rather astonished at that; as previously mentioned, I am not an acrobat). Vinu and Yaro managed to get to the other side as well, though they suffered a few small cuts along the way. Considering that Yaro is technically blind, I'm honestly surprised he managed to get up without incurring more injuries than he did… I have no excuse for Vinu except for maybe bad luck. Oh, and Meved simply bolted up the thing like it was nothing, because he was and remains a large bear. Aside from that one khefak just before, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that Meved is nigh-invulnerable. It's a notion I hope not to find myself disabused of for the duration of our work partnership, despite its logical improbability.
Beyond the avalanche, we found a chasm with a large transport truck. Surrounding it were a few khefaks, one of which was noticeably larger than the rest. I award no bonus marks for guessing what this was. Sure enough, it was a thasteron khefak. Because of course it was. Ah, and to further cement the narrative perfection of this encounter, within the abandoned truck was none other than an android with green hair and gold circuitry (Vari-13, in case it wasn't obvious). If I were not living the experience myself, I would think a scenario like this too perfectly contrived to be realistic, and yet there we were.
Lucky for us, my earlier recollection about these khefaks was sufficient to encourage all of us to keep up our environmental filters active, so the radiation it was emitting didn't cause us any issues. The creature itself though certainly did put up quite a fight. From it’s first strike it was obvious that getting hit by something like that could quite possibly mean death in a single blow. It took a few explosives as well as a lot of heavy hits from Meved and shots from Yaro and Vinu (I tried helping, but it would seem that my skills with firearms had been depleted for the day at that point..), but eventually we (by which I mean they) killed the oversized creature. I observed that while the shell was still radioactive, it still has value as an especially durable material if forged correctly, so we brought it back with us.
More importantly though, we retrieved Vari-13 from their hiding spot on the truck. I introduced myself and my furry companions to the android, including the fact that we were recently employed by Riddle to be their junk tourism detail. Credit where it's due, Vari recovered quite quickly from their ordeal, eagerly recommending that we return to Adventures in Junk so that we might discuss their discovery. I have to wonder what sort of eavesdropping they fear that they refuse to discuss the matter here, but I was not about to object to leaving the caryards and their overabundance of khefaks at that point. 15 of the things was a more than sufficient sample size for the time being… So, back to Riddle’s we go.
Ah, there was one other thing. For our assistance with the rescue, Vari-13 gifted us a junk drone. It's a fairly simple technological device, but one that I have every intention of studying thoroughly. Who knows, it might even come in handy!
Player's Notes: Funny enough, there was nothing particularly special about that one khefak at the acid pit. It just had unreasonably high luck when it came to its attacks. It managed to avoid the bulk of our attacks and landed multiple hits on Meved (enough to deplete his hp from almost full), without much help from its buddies. He was ultimately a bigger threat than the thasteron. Well, at least we managed to keep Meved alive. Considering the player who normally plays him took the session off (Meved was played by Yaro's player seeing as "he only has two buttons"), that would have been especially rough...
Now Astrea's going to get to nerd out with a fellow scholar! This ought to be fun!
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22/05/25 - Session 3 - Astrea’s Journal: Arcs, Cars, and Khefaks
Seventhday, 28th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
Ixomander's Throne, conceptually, is an interesting place. It's a hotel made in the style of the Azlanti Star Empire. While that empire is indeed impressive in many facets, I've always found their beliefs regarding racial supremacy and slavery to be personally distasteful. I know that I shouldn't disparage other cultures, but it's rather hard when the culture in question is itself built upon disparaging other cultures…
I feared that this might bode poorly for our investigation, but fortunately the theme of this resort seems to be largely cosmetic. Except for maybe that one security guard that I mistook for the local police. He certainly did a good enough job embodying the merciless spirit of the Azlanti… Well, fortunately the clerk attending the help desk did not share that particular penchant. Instead, he simply had a very fashionable hat.
In the end, I don’t think my appeal to the scientific spirit resonated all that much with the clerk (though it probably doesn’t help that I am a terrible liar and despite the technical veracity of my earlier statement, it didn’t exactly feel legitimate). Fortunately though, he and the hotel security were still willing to look into the matter. They determined that the last time Vari-13 had been seen, they were making their way to a local weapons dealer, presumably to acquire some personal protection. This gave us our next stop in our search: Oh’tuul’s.
I’ve never actually set foot in a weapon store before, despite now owning two small arms and a knife. The knife and skipshot pistol I both received from the Stewards when I first started doing contract work with them. It seemed appropriate that I carry at least some sort of personal protection with me, given the nature of bounty hunting work. The arc pistol, which marks my third armament, I only acquired as we made our way to Oh’tuul’s. It was taken from the assortment of weapons we relieved the True Warriors of earlier. It’s quite a bit more reassuring to have a weapon with a stun setting now, though Yaroslav did recount a rather disconcerting story about how a companion of his once used one of these to detonate a goblin’s cranium. I am still not entirely certain why he told me about that… In any case, given the voltage these things can produce, along with their chemical composition, converting one into a makeshift explosive seems unlikely, but potentially plausible… I’ve taken a note to investigate the potential repurposing of such devices for other inventive applications. That is to say, ones that do not involve severe cranial trauma, of course. Its current configuration can do that well enough, even without exploding.
Oh, but I’m losing track of the story. Oh’tuul was fairly forthcoming with information, if a little eccentric. According to him, Vari-13 had purchased some personal defence weaponry and proceeded to make their way into a nearby junkyard referred to as the caryards. Oh'tuul was also kind enough to warn us that the aforementioned caryards are currently closed due to a khefak infestation.
From my prior reading, I already knew that that the creatures can get quite aggressively territorial, and they are known to eat quite literally anything. Walking into an area like that alone, especially with an android physiology, is perhaps not the wisest choice. That said, it is one that we’re more or less going to repeat in order to rescue them. Granted, I suspect that our numbers and combat prowess will make it a far less risky pursuit. However, it isn’t completely without risk, so given that we were already at an arms vendor, we opted to stock up on ammunition, as well as offload the assortment of secondhand firearms and armour we recently came into (you know, courtesy of all the dead guys we killed). We then used the funds to improve Meved’s spear, because quite frankly investing in Meved’s lethality seems like a reliable and quite possibly necessary choice at this point.
We also fuelled up our stomachs, thanks to Yaro generously purchasing us some street meat from a local vendor. It was admittedly not the most appetising thing I’ve ever consumed, but between the tiring journey, the unfamiliar environment, and the sight of multiple men getting slaughtered, it was actually quite soothing to have something occupying my stomach again. It’s amazing how food can restore a person not only in the physical sense, but also psychologically. It’s a phenomenon I ought to make a note to look into one of these days. When we’re not trying to save an android from themselves becoming food for a bunch of scrap-eating wasteland bugs, that is.
As one might expect, given the name, the caryards has an abundance of cars. I can’t help but feel it was a little ironic that we had to make our way there on foot. There is something to be said for the eerie grandeur of the stacks of abandoned technology. It’s almost evocative of the jungles of my homeworld, in a strange way. As though the ruined machines were emulating the nature they once sought to overcome, but in vain. I even found a piece of clockwork technology among the piles of junked machines! It felt rather symbolic, as though there’s a powerful message about entropy there…
Though, whatever that message might have been was promptly interrupted by us getting swarmed by khefaks. Clearly they took our approach as a threat upon their territory and food supply. I had not expected my first encounter with these creatures to be so… Close. They’re not particularly large, but more than big enough to be disconcerting when they suddenly emerge at your feet. Compared to Meved though, I was lucky. He had practically an entire swarm surrounding him! Nevertheless, we held our ground and fought them off. Actually, Vinu, Yaro, and I all found our arc pistols to be remarkably effective at subduing the creatures. Perhaps their diet of metals had rendered them more conductive… Nevertheless, we eventually put the creatures down. I had my gun set to stun, so a couple of them were merely rendered unconscious. The rest were… Decidedly more permanently unconscious. This was considerably less morally distressing than our previous fight, given the creatures involved not being sapient, though the scent of the rapid onset of decay khefaks are known for still didn’t complement the recently consumed street meat. I am pleased to report though that with some effort, I was able to avoid regurgitation this time. It did not leave me in the best of states to help with tracking, though. That said, I’m also a terrible tracker to begin with, so perhaps that’s for the best. Vinu and Yaro were more than capable of covering that part of the mission.
We fought a few more khefaks, and also came across a pile of tires that concealed an automatic rifle. I’m not quite sure what such a firearm was doing here, especially considering it was in working order, but I suppose by scavenger’s rights it is our gain now. Not that any of us are really trained to use the weapon. Well, Meved might be, but he didn’t seem immediately interested. I suppose he is simply more accustomed to direct physical confrontations…
We followed some tracks that we assumed to be Vari-13’s all the way to a pathway that was blocked by a pool of acid, traversable only by a narrow walkway of junk. I was able to observe the composition of the acid as being a variety of different fuels and chemicals, but the exact mixture doesn’t seem immediately relevant so I shall surmise by saying it definitely counted as extremely hazardous. Definitely not something one would want to swim in. The walkway across this hazard was only a narrow improvement (see what I did there), given its questionable structural integrity. Ultimately, Vinu opted to test it out first, being the most dextrous out of us.
She managed to get across successfully. However, as soon as she did so, it awakened yet another swarm of khefaks. Fortunately Vinu immediately cloaked herself to evade detection, though it left us in a difficult predicament: we now needed to cross the bridge to join not only her, but also a big collection of aggressively territorial canid-sized insects…
If I’m being perfectly honest, my hopes for finding Vari-13 intact grow smaller with every perilous encounter we come across. My fear for what might have befallen them is matched only by my bewilderment at why they would choose to come here alone. What discovery could possibly be worth such a risky endeavour?
Player's Notes: I had most of this one done not long after the session, but then work got a bit crazy which resulted in me being too tired to properly finish it up in time, but I've finally gotten around to it. For the record, while fighting with the khefaks, our arc pistols got nat rolls of 20, 20, 18, and 16 respectively. Four shots, four hits, and all of them with higher than average damage. Not sure what was going on, but they really made an impression!
Now then, this week's post coming up shortly!
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22/05/18 - Session 2 - Astrea’s Journal: Guns Don’t Kill People, Bears Kill People
Seventhday, 28th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
You know, I probably should have guessed after that last incident that it wasn’t going to be my first unsolicited lesson in unmitigated violence and human internal anatomy…
After the remaining True Warriors made the very reasonable choice to flee from us as fast as possible, we helped Ms. Riddle back to her business, Adventures in Scrap. For someone who was just moments earlier nearly beaten to death, she was remarkably well-humoured about the situation. I suppose someone in her line of work would have to be good at keeping a level head in dangerous situations. I doubt that I would do so well under the same circumstances. After all, watching a man die was enough to shake me up pretty bad. I can only conclude that my lack of practical experience has left me unprepared psychologically for violence. (Edit: in hindsight, I probably should have realised how much foreshadowing I was doing with this statement…)
After paying a compliment to Ms. Riddle’s excellent metalworking skills, which for the record I did genuinely appreciate and not solely compliment because of the advice from the bus driver, she told us some interesting information. It wasn’t exactly relevant to the True Warriors, but instead involved a client of hers. An android historian from Absalom Station by the name of Vari-13 had apparently come in search of some piece of technology among the junk fields that according to them would have serious ramifications if discovered. However, Vari-13 recently went missing, and Riddle is unable to get in touch, which has put that particular treasure hunt on hiatus. Ah, that and the fact that the True Warriors have caused her to lose all of her guide employees. So, Riddle proposed that we seek out Vari-13 and take on the job for her.
Needless to say, as a fellow academic, the promise of a major technological discovery was incredibly enticing to me. I cannot say that I am familiar with Vari-13’s scholarly credentials, but if they are legitimate then it would be my duty as a scientist to assist them with this hypothesis. Yaroslav seemed curious as well, likely to find out if this technology might be of value to his own personal quest. Meved and Vinu meanwhile were happy to go along with the promise of a lucrative payout.
Ah, and as thanks for rescuing her, Ms. Riddle also provided us with an interesting device she called a “breakaway aegis”. By my estimation, it appears to function as a single-use shield to reduce the impact of oncoming blows. It’s a fairly rudimentary design, but effective, and just a little bit stylish. Given the fight we just had, it seems like something that would be worth keeping on hand. I do mean that literally, by the way; the aegis is wrist-mounted.
Given what we heard and the fact that our one captive Warrior didn’t seem like he would be waking up anytime soon, we decided to leave him for the local police and headed out to search for Vari-13. Using the rationale of starting with the most commonly frequented locations, the first place we investigated was one of the local gambling halls, called "Ka-Sino". I’m fairly certain from my study of linguistic heritage that the name is derivative of an ancient human word for a gambling hall, so I suppose the place is aptly titled.
I cannot say that I’ve ever been to a gambling hall before, but I did read that they are typically filled with sensory stimuli of all kinds to elicit excitement and by extension a lack of financial restraint. After entering the place, I could indeed confirm this account. Ka-Sino was so loud, bright, and filled with an array of smells that were at the same time intriguing and disconcerting, that I was barely able to make it to one of the servers to ask about Vari-13, and even then I could barely formulate a coherent sentence. Fortunately Yaroslav was able to handle the talking part on my behalf. We were informed by an android employee that Vari-13 may have been staying at a hotel named Ixomander's Throne. With that information, I collected Meved (and his newly purchased bottle of pure grain alcohol, which I am fairly certain is classified as a hazardous material unfit for direct consumption by most pact world creatures, but this is Meved we’re talking about) while Yaro fetched Vinu from the performance stage (where I guess she was planning a guerilla concert? I’m not entirely certain what she was going for, if I’m honest). We then made our way to the Throne.
Apparently the time we had spent with Ms. Riddle and then in Ka-Sino was enough for the True Warriors to regroup and come after us in retaliation for our earlier scrap (which I now realise is a very appropriate term to use in this city. Note to self: keep that in mind in case I need to relieve some tension with a humorous quip at some point).
The T-shaped alley could effectively be divided into two distinct fights. The first was composed of half a dozen or so True Warriors surrounding Meved in a very ill-conceived attempt to overwhelm him, while two other guys came after Yaroslav and Vinu respectively. I was somewhere in the middle of all this, which oddly enough ended up being the safest place to be.
Meved’s fight could more or less be summarised as a massacre. The True Warriors, despite their numbers, were woefully underprepared for hand to claw combat against a highly aggressive apex predator that weighs over 600 kg. One of the Warriors did try to use a pistol, but apparently either lacked the training or wherewithal to accurately shoot a literal bear-sized target at near point blank range. A few of them tried using a knife and batons, but I managed to persuade a couple of them with a little magical influence that these would not be very effective weapons. Surprisingly, the loss of understanding how to use a baton only made the one guy more effective with it, but maybe that’s just because he shifted his attention to Vinu by that point. As for the Warriors that decided to use their fists, one of them actually did surprisingly well, whereas the other one was… Well let’s just say he broke both of his knuckles while punching Meved’s armour twice in a row, and then was eviscerated with a car door. At least, I think he was the one that got eviscerated with the car door. There was a lot of death going on around Meved, so after a point it became a little hard to tell…
While that was going on, Yaro had a bit of a hard time with one particularly relentless True Warrior. Seeing as Meved had not even taken a scratch from the Warriors at this point, I tried to assist. My first shot earlier in the fight was a complete bungle, most likely because I got nervous and forgot to look where I was firing. This time though, I managed to hit my target so well that I nicked an artery. After that, Yaro shuffled the guy’s brain a bit with magic and he was out. Somehow, against all logic, I then managed to land two more consecutive shots after that. Really though, Meved, Yaro, and Vinu did the real work of taking down whoever was left. The one ysoki and the human with the gun fled and rescinded their gang, while a third one managed to make it a few blocks before Meved chased him down and amputated his foot.
My first reaction after the ordeal was to stanch the bleeding on the one guy whose artery I hit. Setting aside the fact that I did somewhat participate in the deaths of several of the people whose corpses were now littering the alley, he was the only one I really seriously wounded. I didn’t exactly want the weight of being directly responsible for the death of a sapient being on my conscience. I succeeded at least, which helped me keep calm enough to explain the situation to the police before I went to the corner to have a mental breakdown.
I feel that I should reiterate at this moment that I am, or was, an academic. My primary job is being a teaching assistant. I usually spend my days reviewing research papers and collecting sample data in a sterile lab. While I do specialise in biology, neuroscience doesn’t typically involve witnessing death, and when it does it’s in a very controlled environment. In contrast to my normal conditions, I was at that moment sitting in a dirty alleyway adjacent to a pile of multiple humans I had just witnessed being mauled, speared, and otherwise brutally killed in a street fight that I participated in. I did not take “street fighting” classes. I’m fairly certain there were no such classes in the universities I attended, and if they were, they almost certainly were not accredited. I know that I accepted this job with the understanding that it may involve violence, but this is a level of brutality I simply was not mentally prepared for. Also, the fact that the police officer that came by proceeded to execute two of the remaining unconscious gang members we had assembled right in front of me didn’t help.
So yes, my response to the situation was not exactly one of composure. Still, I would think that given the circumstances my taking a moment to hyperventilate, cry, throw up a little, and recite a few calming mantras was very much justified. In any case, I’ve come to terms with it now. The real world can be terrifying. Lesson very much learned. I’ll keep it in my memory along with all the other trauma I’ll probably go to therapy for later after we’ve finished our mission here. For now at least, I’ll be fine.
After collecting what equipment we could from the dead Warriors, we had a conversation with the last remaining one, who happened to be the same one I stabilised earlier. Our earlier estimation of him being comparatively smarter than his comrades (by virtue of the fact that he’s the only one that didn’t try to fight Meved at any point) proved true, since he understood the situation quite quickly and was fairly collaborative. Unfortunately he didn’t have much information to share. The True Warriors mainly communicate by way of datapads and their organisational structure does not do much to inform its lowest ranking members beyond their assigned tasks. We did at least confirm that they are led by a shobhad named Do’trulu and that he is supported by the powerful solarian human Tezz Tronnin, the same woman Vinu saw in the car earlier. He also confessed to knowing nothing about Vari-13, which means that either the True Warriors aren’t responsible for their disappearance, or they are and the organisation didn’t share this information with its subordinates.
After getting the information we needed, we sent the man with the other guy that Meved… de-footed (that sure is a word I just used). They’ll make their way to the Sarenite temple and then leave the city, and hopefully their bandit ways as well. Oddly enough, I wish them well. For a guy that tried to kill us, and very nearly did in Yaro’s case, he wasn’t all that bad.
Our adventure wasn’t done though. We had made it most of the way to Ixomander's Throne, but we still hadn’t gotten to our next lead. Ultimately, the alley fight was little more than a detour that didn’t really teach us much besides the fleetingness of life.
Well, I suppose I also learned that I can be a decent shot when I need to be. I’m really hoping that’s a skill I’m not going to need to use very often, but I get the distinct impression that it’s going to come up quite a few more times before this is all over. There is no way that the True Warriors aren’t going to double down on killing us after that incident.
P.S. I should also mention that the one Ysoki with the knife retrieved it from his cheek. While I had heard that ysoki do sometimes use pockets in their mouth for storage, I feel like I must point out how terrible an idea it is to leave sharp bladed objects in such a place. The unnecessary risk of dental damage is immense, and what would happen if he went to engage in a passionate kissing session and he cut himself or his partner? Not to mention if he ever actually cut anyone with that thing, could you imagine all the mouth bacteria that knife would be covered in? Shanking someone is one thing, but I am fairly certain that such an attack could be considered viral warfare under the Interstellar War Crime Accords. I sincerely hope that when he abandoned the True Warriors, he also abandoned his proclivity for orally-sheathed bladed weapons.
Player's Notes: Yes, Meved did single almost single handedly fight off about 6 people. In fairness, they mostly rolled pretty bad. The one guy who fought Yaroslav must have sapped all their luck, because for a guy only using his fists, he was dangerously effective with them. I guess that luck ended when the second bullet I ever fired with my Skipshot Pistol ended up being a crit. Considering I have a +2 to hit with that thing, it's kind of a wonder that I managed to land three solid shots in a row.
Anyway, that was Astrea's first real taste of serious combat. So far she hasn't been attacked once, and I'm hoping for her sake it stays that way (she is not nearly as sturdy as the others). I'm already having a fun time pondering how she'll overcome these first tastes and become the seasoned leader she's meant to become...
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22/05/04 - Session 1 - Astrea’s Journal: To Bear Down With Force
Seventhday, 28th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
[This log is continued from the previous entry]
When Soryn proposed that we work together once again, I was under the initial impression that it would be another task for the Sentinels. Interestingly, it was not, but rather a personal request at the behest of one of his associates, a fellow veteran of the Swarm Wars. This “Sully” operated a business in the Akitonian settlement of Khefak Depot, and had requested assistance in dealing with an upstart crime lord that had begun operating in the area. We were asked to be that assistance.
Admittedly, taking down crime bosses isn’t something I have any technical expertise in, but Akiton is an extremely interesting planet to study, and the Depot in question is home to one of the larger starship junk fields in the Pact Worlds, making it a very attractive site to investigate from a technological standpoint. Research merits aside, a would-be bully using their power to impose upon innocent civilians is something I cannot consciously abide either, so if I can help to curb that sort of abuse, then I am happy to participate.
The voyage to Khefak Depot gave me ample time to study up on the location. The settlement was once a ranch where the eponymous khefaks would roam, feeding on scrap to generate thasteron fuel, but when the thasteron market collapsed, the creatures were abandoned and the site eventually shifted its economy to be tourism-based. The detailed history is an interesting read, though it is not immediately relevant to our goals, so I’ll omit any further comment here, but I have taken a mental note to observe a khefak in action if I have the opportunity.
On a more pertinent note, I was able to learn from a friendly bus driver that the gang that had been moving into the area were called the True Warriors. If I’m being perfectly honest, the choice in name seems a bit odd, which would lead me to suspect that there is a deeper meaning behind it. Perhaps it alludes to a rival group of “false” warriors, or it denotes an affiliation with a strong philosophy? Surely there’s something there beyond “it sounds cool”, because, and admittedly this is entirely my own subjective opinion, it doesn’t. Not for a petty crime gang, anyway. Without something backing it up, it just lacks any sort of originality or creative imagery… I mean, “warrior” is such a generic term…
In any case, once we got to Akiton we decided to immediately head to Sully’s place of business, a restaurant called “The Admiral’s Snackbar”. I suppose it’s a reference to his past military record, though I can’t help but feel that there is a deeper meaning that I am unable to grasp here as well…
But again, not important to the story. What is important is that when we got there, the place had been vandalised, presumably by the True Warriors due to Sully refusing to pay them protection money. Oh, and let it be known for the record that when we were informed of the gang, I predicted that the ambiguous “trouble” they were causing was most likely a protection racket. So, I totally called it.
We helped Sully re-store his business (see what I did there?) and got a confirmation that the True Warriors were “shaking down” anyone that didn’t comply with their demands. For reference, “shaking down” means they use violence, vandalism, or other forms of aggressive behaviour to coerce the victim into compliance. This can include literal shaking, but that is not a prerequisite for the term to apply.
Sully informed us that the next most likely target would be Riddle, an ysoki tour guide and the proprietor of Adventures in Junk, which my brochure and the bus driver both informed me is one of the foremost junk excursion services in the city. Given the nature of the situation, we made our way there immediately.
What we found was a pair of aggressive-looking fellows blocking the entrance, apparently while their associates were brutalising poor Riddle inside. We gave them a warning, which was promptly ignored, at which point my companions jumped in to attack. As much as I might have hoped for a diplomatic solution to get the True Warriors to back down, I gathered from the others that such a solution was not likely to work here, and might jeopardise Ms. Riddle’s safety. So, regrettably, violence became the most effective outcome.
The fight didn’t take too long. After taking mental assaults and rifle fire from Yar and Vinu, Meved practically bulldozed the first guard into unconsciousness, which made the other one and their ysoki leader flee almost immediately. A couple more thugs came out and attempted to attack us, though I made sure their ability to do so was severely limited. Turns out that actually gave Meved the perfect opening and… Well, that’s where the decapitation I mentioned in the previous entry came in. As it turns out, a bear’s claw strength is absolutely sufficient to completely tear through human neck tissue. I already knew this of course, but the traumatic experience really made that fact hit home in a way that textbooks really can’t.
By the time I overcame the shock of such an abrupt dissection, the remaining Warriors escaped in a nearby vehicle. Vinu apparently recognised someone in the vehicle with them as being Tezz Tronnin, an enforcer with ties to the criminal underworld. It may well be useful to investigate that person further if we get the chance. After all, ancient military philosophy tells us that knowing one’s enemy is a key component of being able to defeat them.
For now though, we have two matters to attend to. The first is helping Ms. Riddle get back on her feet, and the second is to interrogate the one remaining gang member that still has most of his blood inside of his body.
Player's Notes: There we go. Just took one session for Meved to brutally kill someone in front of Astrea. She took it well, all things considered, but the day isn't over yet.
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22/05/04 - Session 0.5 - Astrea’s Journal: Four Heroes on a Maiden Voyage
Seventhday, 28th Desnus, 322 AG, Khefak Depot, Akiton
Of the myriad of hypothetical events I contemplated encountering as part of my ongoing educational experience, watching a live human decapitation really wasn't one of them. Perhaps that was naive on my part; after all, the vast expanse of the pact worlds can oftentimes be quite brutal… Nevertheless, decapitation by ursine still seems fairly abnormal.
I suppose I should offer some context. Almost a month back, an experimental research device was stolen from the Arcanamirium. Given the sensitive nature of the research, the theft wasn't publicised, as the school wanted it retrieved quietly before any third parties got any ideas. Apparently that's why they contacted me, as a sort of liaison between the school and the Stewards. I was in charge of identifying the device and making sure it got back to the Arcanamirium in one piece.
I wasn't alone, of course. I was sent with a crew of three other "contract workers", each of whom had their own speciality.
Yaroslav was the first one I met. He's a vlaka, which is a canid-esque species from a planet with a dying star. He had taken a personal interest in the mission, since the device we were retrieving was a solar reactor of sorts. Perhaps he thought it might be a step towards the salvation of his homeworld. I certainly hope so, as I can think of no worthier cause than saving a planet from extinction.
As for the fellow himself, I get along quite well with Yar. He's a pleasant fellow with a good sense of humour, a kind heart, and a very intriguing accent. He follows the goddess Sarenrae, who as far as deities goes is definitely one of my personal favourites. In terms of practical skills, he is a healer, which I've come to understand is a very valuable asset to have in this line of work. He's also blind, but can utilise his combined senses to perceive just as well if not better than someone with sight. Given my field of study, this is an absolutely fascinating biological variation that I am trying very hard not to get too obsessive about, lest I come off as insensitive with my inquiries.
Vinu joined us as our bounty hunting expert. Her practical knowledge was invaluable in actually tracking down and catching the thief. At first I was concerned that her profession might indicate a certain aversion to someone more academic like myself, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she's actually very approachable.
Her primary profession is as a musician, and she was kind enough to supply me with some of her work over our journey. It's a little too lively for reading accompaniment, but I've found it works well as a motivational track during workouts. Apparently music is a significant element of pahtra culture, so I like to think that enjoying these melodies doubles as an exercise in cultural exchange.
Oh, and I'm sure that there's a joke to be made about my first two travelling companions being a cat and a dog, but I would like to think that I'm above such reductive humour. That, or perhaps I'm less attentive to it given the last member of our group…
I had studied uplifted bears before when writing a dissertation on artificially-induced neurological evolution. The notion of inducing sapience onto a species is not only scientifically wondrous, but it also raises a plethora of interesting ethical and sociopolitical questions. Bears in particular are a compelling case to study, as they are historically recognised as being rather ferocious wilderness apex predators. Being from a planet where ferocious apex predators are common, I naturally consider myself well-positioned to engage with the subject… Perhaps “subject” is a bit too clinical here. These are personal notes, after all. He goes by the name Meved.
Meved is… About as close to the stereotype commonly associated with bears as one might imagine. He's certainly imposing, and seems to have channelled his natural endowments towards a life of aggression as a mercenary. Having now had the chance to see him work first-hand, I can confirm that he is nothing if not effective in that regard. Despite my rational mind insisting that I not give in to base fears, my instincts make it hard not to be just a little bit intimidated in his presence.
That said, our time together on the voyage to near space did give me an opportunity to overcome my initial reservations. Meved is terrifying, yes, but he is not needlessly violent nor otherwise cruel. He simply applies his skills where they are most effective, and cares little for outward perceptions. In a way, it is almost admirable to be so straightforward. The complexities of politics and etiquette seem banal compared to simply identifying an objective and pursuing it directly. I suppose this is what is meant by the common malapropism "bear necessities of life"...
Okay, even I felt bad for writing that.
So, that was our group. A lashunta scientist and a trio of fur-adorned companions, travelling through space to hunt down a tech thief. The actual events of the mission were relatively simple. Perhaps I shall commit them to record at some other juncture, but the relevant information for now is that we succeeded pretty spectacularly, and got the device back well before it could get into the hands of anyone nefarious. I would say it was a resounding success for a first outing.
Apparently it was such a success that we found ourselves called upon once again by Soryn. He was so impressed by our work that he suggested we take on another task as a group. After our long trip together I like to think we bonded reasonably well, so I agreed, as did the others. Call me optimistic, but my conclusion was that this may well be a promising alliance…
Player's Notes: A quick breakdown of the party so far, two sessions in.
- Astrea: The moral compas of the party. She's been doing a lot of the talking, despite not being quite as good at it as Yaroslav. She also holds the distinction of being the least hairy member of the party.
- Yaroslav: A bow-wielding sarenite mystic wolf-guy with a Russian accent. He's about as good natured as Astrea, though slightly less naive. He's probably the most sane member of the party.
- Vinu: A sniper-wielding operative cat-woman. She's a mercenary who's in it for the money, who also happens to be a rock musician. She hasn't done too much yet but I suspect that's because we haven't given her too much of an opportunity to get into trouble just yet.
- Meved: An awakened bear soldier. Meved is basically as close to a barbarian as you can get in starfinder, with the added bonus of being a large bear. He's here to kill things, get money, eat food, drink strong liquor. Much of the first couple sessions so far have consisted of him being an absolute menace to anything that would dare get in our way.
22/05/01 - Session 0 - Astrea’s Journal: A New Mission
Firstday, 1st of Desnus, 322 AG, Absalom Station
Greetings, hypothetical reader! If you are currently reading, hearing, or otherwise receiving this sequence of words, then it would be reasonable to conclude one the following scenarios have occured.
The first is that you have somehow stolen or otherwise acquired this from my datapad, in which case unless I, Astrea Maerifa, have explicitly given you permission to read this (and quite frankly I sincerely doubt I did), I recommend you return it to my person post-haste, lest you incur my full and unrelenting wrath for such a flagrant invasion of my privacy.
The second is that I have made some sort of grand accomplishment worthy of archiving even my most mundane of records for future generations to analyse and pick apart. If that is the case, as flattered as I am, I would ask that you leave this particular entry out. Believe me, I know better than anyone the joy of reading every little snippet of text to gleam even the slightest bit of knowledge, but let’s be honest, this is grossly self-indulgent at this point, and there is no way I would be writing any of this if I ever thought that someone would actually read it. Better for everyone if this segment is redacted in such a case.
The third and least desirable reason is that I have somehow perished. Considering my frankly baffling habit of getting into situations that are significantly more dangerous than I have any business being involved with as a humble researcher, this is probably a more likely outcome than I care to admit. If that’s the case, then maybe there will be something useful in this datapad to serve as a warning for future researchers. I would ask that once you’ve taken note of anything useful here, you return this datapad to the Arcanamirium on Absalom Station.
Good, now that all of that preamble is out of the way, on to the actual journal!
Absalom Station is genuinely just as incredible as I imagined it. As much as I love my homeworld of Castrovel, it’s comparatively quite homogenous. In my first couple days after travelling here, I had seen members of every major pact race, and a good number of ones from races I was not previously aware of! Some of them were kind enough to answer a few quick survey questions. Others were a little less inclined to be cooperative and demonstrated a fascinating breadth of terms that were as colourful as they were disparaging. I’ve come to appreciate that my species has something of a reputation in the pact worlds, for both good and ill. Fortunately, it’s opened more doors than closed. My connections at home made it fairly easy for me to secure a position at the Arcanamirium as a part-time research assistant, which is helping me cover my expenses to some degree while giving me plenty of exposure to a large breath of technology and magic. That alone was more than reason enough to justify this journey!
Of course, I wouldn’t have moved here if my interests were solely academic. The essence of being a successful researcher is to have a good injection of practical experience. That goes doubly so for someone with an interest in applied science such as myself. To that end, I made an arrangement with a fellow by the name of Soryn. He’s a member of the Stewards, who act as something of an interplanetary peacekeeping organisation. Every once in a while, he will get in touch to have me provide my scientific and technical expertise on a mission. They even pay me for the privilege! Needless to say, it’s been an excellent deal!
Soryn recently contacted me with a new job. This one appears to be to hunt down a criminal that has fled into near-space. I’m not entirely sure why he would contact a scientist like me for a mission like this. Perhaps they simply need someone to maintain the systems on the ship for the journey. Or maybe there’s more to it… Much as I would like to spend all night speculating on all the possible reasons, I lack enough context to make any reasonable conclusions, so I will reserve my judgement for the time being.
What I do know is that I’m very excited! Since leaving Castrovel, my space travels have actually been rather minimal. There are so many things I stand to learn about the effects of prolonged interstellar travel on the psyche. I’ve acquired as many notes on the subject as possible to prepare myself. I’m still not entirely sure what I will need for such a journey, but I imagine the briefing will cover it. Not to mention the team I’ll be travelling with! No doubt they will have skills that are very different from my own, so the potential for knowledge sharing ought to be immense! I’m really looking forward to meeting these new collaborators and picking their brains!
Figuratively, I mean. At least I really hope. I may specialise in neurosciences but I prefer to study them in their natural environment, well tucked inside the cranium. Assuming that’s how their physiologies work, which may not actually be a certainty, now that I think about it…
I’m glad I’m getting this all out in this log, and not thinking it out loud. That would make for a very awkward trip, I imagine. I’ll just go ahead and take a note not to talk about exposed brain matter to the people I’ll be sharing a confined space vessel with for the next however long this mission will take…
I think the excitement is getting to my thought process, so best if I stop this entry here before I say anything really questionable. I’ll follow up after I’ve heard from Soryn.
Player's Notes: The fact that we actually started this adventure on May the 1st was a fun little bit of serendipity. Star Wars references were indeed made.
If you're wondering about Astrea, she's a NG damaya lashunta Technomancer and follower of Yaraesa. I've usually characterised her as being comparable to Twilight Sparkle or Professor X. She's a massive nerd who was socialised more by books than by people. Her greatest interest is the nature of power and how to use it responsibly. In her original setting, she was a powerful telepath who was initially terrified of her own powers, which motivated her to study psychic abilities and eventually form an organisation to help others with such powers. When I played her in a Wrath of the Righteous game, she was a sheltered Arcanist that sought to understand the nature of aligned magic and how to shield the world from corruption and manipulation. This time around, I'm playing a younger, more naive version of the character, not yet accustomed to the harsh realities of adventuring life. She's going to get a crash course on the subject, and I'm looking forward to seeing how she handles it.
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Now that I finished up with Curse of the Crimson Throne, some space opened up for a new adventure. So the timing was perfect when the player for Dexsius from the Hell's Vengeance game I'm in invited me to a Wednesday Starfinder game. I only played Starfinder once back around when it was first published, so I'm really looking forward to this!
The Journal Document (Google Docs)
I'm not entirely sure where we'll be going with this game, but for now we're starting with Junker's Delight. After that, who knows.
Astrea is a character I've been playing for about a decade in some form or another. It's been a couple years since the story she was originally a part of ended, so I'm really happy to pick her back up again. She's a very different type of character compared to Cassius or Dominus, so it'll be interesting seeing how she comes through in journal form. Fair warning, expect it to be wordy.
22/05/03 - Session 51 - Breakdowns and Reinforcements
Wealday, 9th Kuthona, Citadel Dinyar, Aspodell Mountains, Isger
For a supposed Knight Commander, Graxus Phand put up little resistance to his punishment. In the hopes of finding a better use for the man, I did not kill him, but rather broke him down into a far more manageable and portable form. If this is the state of the opposition’s leadership, then I have supreme confidence that we will soon be making quick work of the remaining Reclamation heretics.
While glancing around the chapel for any further heresies of interest, I did observe a satchel containing what appeared to be the missing pieces of the contraption that blocked our path to the conjuration chambers. I promptly provided these to Miss Archie, who wasted no time in reconstructing the device and opening to us the path to the missing Paravicar.
The chambers were a marvel to behold! The well-furnished and organised rooms demonstrated clearly the magnificence of the Order prior to its defacing. Naturally, impressive as it was, our goal was to find someone capable of conducting the necessary rituals, so we did not linger overlong with the empty rooms.
It was in the library that we found the Paravicar, though not in the state that we had initially anticipated. Though the lone woman in the room had presented herself as the Paravicar initially, Miss Archie and Father Dexsius saw through the deception. It would seem that in her effort to secure a horned devil to aid the Hellknights, the Paravicar committed a blunder, and in doing so perished while trapping a handmaiden devil upon this plane. So as not to let the Paravicar’s death be in vain, we made an agreement with the trapped devil, Lilanna: she would assist us in retaking the Citadel, and in return we provided her with the location of the Inferno Gate, to assist in her return to Hell once her contract with us was done. A simple yet elegant solution that will see both parties benefit.
Of course, a single new ally was an ill-fitting accomplishment given our pedigree, especially when we had access to an entirely furbished summoning chamber. Father Dexsius made use of some scrolls to further bolster our forces, first with a barbed devil, and then with a horned devil, as the late Paravicar once intended. These soldiers of the inferno easily recognised the Righteousness of the task we presented to them. Far be it from such creatures to deny the compulsions of the Divine Order, after all.
We were still not done, however. While Phand was made to bear witness to the assembly of our forces against his lost flock, he was also being prepared to be a participant in the correction himself. With my and Father Dexsius’ assistance, the “Knight Commander” was prepared for Miss Archie, who skillfully demonstrated Order’s Authority upon his corrupted mind. It was thus that I found myself pleased to reequip the born-again loyalist of the Inheritor to join the trio of devils. Miss Archie has assured us that he shall be committing his life to undoing the grave errors the Reclamation has made here, though I took the liberty of keeping his pitiful rotted holy symbol until such a time that he has earned the right to be absolved of his crimes.
Such a poetic outcome one could hardly hope for! Once more, the Divine Order shines upon us!
Player's Notes: This little blurb fails to fully acknowledge the fact that I got a critical hit on Phand for such a high amount of damage that we did need to momentarily stop to consider if I had done too much nonlethal damage and killed him, but ultimately it worked out (which is to say we handwaved it because the calculation was taking too long).
We may have gone a little overboard with our calling in the reinforcements, but our logic was that we're not likely to get another opportunity to use all of these scrolls of Planar Binding before they go to waste, so why not. No kill like overkill, after all!
Oh, and on another note, as of last session I started a new Starfinder campaign, run by the player of Father Dexsius. I haven't gotten the clear from the group to put that journal up, but I've already got two entries done and a third in the works. It features Astrea, one of my favourite characters that I've had sitting around for ages. I look forward to sharing it!
22/04/19 - Session 50 - Chapel to Charnel
Wealday, 9th Kuthona, Citadel Dinyar, Aspodell Mountains, Isger
While Miss Archie tended to the corpse of our soon-to-be divine weapon, the rest of us continued to clear Bastion Fanaticus. Given the layout of the Citadel, it seemed a sound strategy that we secure everything up to the Spire of Abadar, which sits between the bastions. This would give us enough of a foothold to rest before dealing with the other Bastion Devotio.
At least, that was our initial plan. The most recent developments left us with some interesting alternative courses of action.
To provide some context, the next location to cleanse was the audience chamber. The heretics redecorated the site to instead make it serve as an Iomedaean chapel. In and of itself, I do not dislike the aesthetic, though the clear favouritism for one deity is clearly not in keeping with the spirit of the Godclaw. Within, we found more of the heretic soldiers, as well as a belligerent dwarf. He was a formidable foe, but thankfully Iomedae’s blessings were mine to claim. My allies also provided me with excellent support. Though I have not known her for long, Miss Zylstra proved herself most useful with her benevolent casting. Her fortuitously-timed addition to our group is yet more proof of our Divine Favour.
While I concluded the purge of the chapel, Father Dexsius and Mister Kezax found themselves accosted by a new wave of heretic soldiers. Of all people, Knight Commander Graxus Phand saw fit to confront us himself! That the leader of these unlawful occupants would deliver himself to us is truly a gift from the Divine Order! Either the man saw the error of his ways and sacrificed himself to atone, or he truly lacks a basic understanding of battle tactics, which proves him to be a false follower of the Inheritor.
Nevertheless, the man and some of his soldiers attempted to funnel their way into the chapel, where they were met with myself and Ser Quintus. The fools attempted what they could against me, but only the commander had any hope of posing a challenge. In response, I demonstrated how one must conduct themselves as an Iomedaean. As my blade shone with the Inheritor’s light, I cowed them into submission. Phand did nothing but cower and watch as I put down his feral underlings.
Father Dexsius secured the exit with his flaming form, which means that the man responsible for holding this holy site from its true masters is entirely at my mercy…
Player's Notes: Oof, took me a while to get around to writing this one. Figured I'd hold off while our GM is busy with finals. Part of the advantage of writing these journals is that they give me a refresher for where I was when we last played, so I kinda prefer doing them just before the next session. Anyway, considering that Phand is now cowering in a corder thanks to a combo of Dazzling Display + Hurtful + Soulless Gaze + Cornugon Smash, I am set to have a fun time...
Player's Notes, Final
That's it. That's the final final conclusion to this journal. It's bittersweet to bid farewell to this wonderful campaign, but I shall always remember it fondly. I will most certainly be taking heavy inspiration from it as I continue to write my own adventure...
Once more, I hope anyone that found themselves reading this journal enjoyed it. If you did (or even if you didn't), I welcome any feedback you might have! Either way, I wish you all the best. May your dice roll high!
(Also, if you do find yourself wanting to read more for some reason, I have another journal for Hell's Vengeance that I'll still be posting to for some time yet.)
22/03/20 - Session 61 - Epilogue - Five Years Later (Trinia’s Retrospective)
12 Sarenith, 4713 AR, Garrison Hill, Old Korvosa, Korvosa
Hello again, dear reader! I hope that as I write this, you’re enjoying the joyous wonder of the Crimson Festival! If, by some chance you’ve stumbled upon this text while having no idea what all the burning effigies and people in crazy costumes are about, then allow me to give you some context. Five years ago, on this very day, a group of brave adventurers slayed the villainous Queen Ileosa, a greedy woman with no appreciation for art that was even further corrupted by the evil spirit of a Kuthite dragon warlord. She had been plotting to sacrifice the city of Korvosa for eternal life, but the heroes managed to defeat her minions and finally slayed her in one last epic battle. And I can promise you that it was most definitely very epic. I was there, after all!
Through her quest for power and control over the city, Ileosa tyrannised Korvosa with brainwashed soldiers, a plague, assassins, and all sorts of other pretty nasty stuff. In case you hadn’t guessed by the giant burning statues, we Korvosans didn’t take too kindly to that. But these days Korvosa isn’t a city that broods over stuff. The Crimson Festival is a festival for a reason! We remember the bad stuff, sure, but what we’re really celebrating is how we all came together to deal with it, over and over, until we came out on top. It’s a testament to the Korvosan spirit!
So, you may be wondering about the heroes of this little tale. The last time I wrote about this story, it didn’t quite have an ending yet. Well, these days everyone knows the ending. The heroes returned triumphant from Scarwall, defeated all of the bad guys Ileosa left behind in the city, then chased her down to a magic blood pool, killed her, and finally destroyed the Crown of Fangs before Kazavon could be resurrected. Blah blah blah, all very cool hero stuff. But you already know all of that! It’s baked right into the festival. Literally, in some cases! I didn’t know you could make pies with faces, but honestly now that I’ve seen them I kinda wish you couldn’t. Cas’ scars look way freakier when there’s rhubarb jelly oozing out of them…
So where was I? Right! The good stuff! Forget the climactic final battle! I know what you’re all really wondering! What happened to our heroes afterwards? Did they get their happily ever afters? Well, dear reader, take a seat and listen well as I tell you all about the saviours of Korvosa! (Yes, I know some people still call them “the Lennys”, but honestly it just really doesn’t sell how cool they are. It was a joke name, people! You weren’t supposed to actually run with it…)
Kellogg Endrin and Waydon the Hippogriff
Kel, or “Commandant Kellogg Endrin” as people know him today, eventually took over the leadership of the Sable Company from his relative Marcus. This came as a surprise to literally no one, since even though Kellogg Endrin had been disgraced, disowned, and dishonourably discharged because of a shiver addiction, he somehow managed to pull himself together enough to save the city several times over, rescue a whole bunch of Sable Marines, including their commander, from being indoctrinated by the Gray Maidens, and spearhead the most successful alliance with the various Shoanti tribes that Korvosa has ever seen. So yeah, it made sense that one of the city’s greatest heroes of the century would get the job.
Since becoming the Commandant, Kellogg’s been keeping up his work as the city’s strongest (in every sense of the word) diplomat to the Shoanti peoples. Thanks to policies that he’s pushed, many Shoanti have been repatriated in Korvosan lands. It’s still kinda bumpy sometimes, but the fact that a much more ethnically diverse Sable Company is overseeing things does help to keep the peace.
As for Kellogg himself, he’s considered to be one of, if not Korvosa’s most eligible bachelors. Some people (yours truly included) suspect that even Queen Kroft might be eyeing that particular cut of prime beefcake. And why wouldn’t she? He’s got good looks, giant muscles, command of a whole military, a fancy noble name, and the heart of a golden retriever! Well, I guess there is the matter of him also having a whole bunch of half-Shoanti bastards that he legitimised. That was a whole big controversy when House Endrin found out. But that’s kind of a normal thing for the Shoanti, so people have mostly gotten over it by now. For the record, they’re all super adorable little scamps.
The only partner Kel has that everyone is sure about is his trusty hippogriff Waydon. He’s the goodest birb, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! So that’s why you should keep your eyes to the skies, and keep some jerky on hand. You never know when he might do a flyover to say hello to the good people of this city!
Ah Len… She’s always been a mysterious lady, even during our travels together. She’s upgraded to being the mysterious headmistress of the Acadamae now. There’s a whole story about how she ended up in the position. It involved the Breaching Festival, some devils, and a whole lot of surprise reveals no one could have possibly expected! However, that’s a story best left for another time. Point is, the school operates pretty differently now than it used to. A lot less devil stuff, and a lot more shadow stuff. It’s made the school pretty popular with people who are curious about Nidalese magic, but aren’t into the spiky chains and whips enough to enrol at Dusk Hall in Pangolais. I highly recommend visiting the campus if you get the chance! They do the best shadow puppets!
As for the the lovely Lady Lascariu, she still keeps her private life pretty secret. Not even I know if she’s seeing anyone, and I’m basically one of her besties! But fear not, dear reader! I do still have some delicious gossip for you! But listen closely, and be careful not to share these too loudly, because if you do, she might just hear you… That’s not a fake warning either, by the way. I’m 99% sure Lenore scries on all of us on the regular. Sure, she denies it when I ask her, but she isn’t fooling me, I can tell you that much!
Anyway, here’s the first secret. Lady Lenore may look like she’s just in charge of the Acadamae, but she’s got a whole lot more political sway than you might think. I happen to know for a fact that she secretly acts as at least four different power-players in Cheliax. Sometimes she even does it simultaneously! I don’t know how she does it though… Both literally and figuratively. It’s kinda crazy. And as for whom… Well that, my dear reader, I shall never tell!
As for the second secret, you might wonder where our fair Lady goes when she wants to unwind. Well, just between us, she’s quite fond of making trips to the Shadow Plane. I’ve made a couple trips there with her myself, but to be perfectly honest with you, it’s a bit spooky, even for my tastes. Actually, she often goes with Miss Laori Vaus, the former Kuthite. You see, the two of them share certain religious interests, among other things, so they often go on trips together. What do they do there? Who can say? Curious as you might be though, I wouldn’t recommend trying to spy on them. Even in the incredibly small chance that you do succeed, you’ll have to deal with two very lovely but dangerous madams. Okay, now that I just read that back to myself that’s probably going to encourage more of you than it dissuades. Well, it’s your funeral.
Jules Thurist and Lenny
Master “Three-Eyed” Thurist put his immense magical acumen to use at the Acadamae. He is now a professor of artificing, and also heads the Quintus Xasper Department of Thassilonian Research. In case you were wondering, it’s named after his deceased friend that he originally travelled with to Korvosa, and whose death led him to join our heroes.
Despite not making many public appearances beyond the Acadamae, Jules is quite well known in Korvosa. Between his establishment of a student exchange program with Nex and his own innovations with magic items and golem crafting, he’s been instrumental in establishing Korvosa once more as a major site for magical research. It’s a point of pride among the nobility to be in possession of a Thurist craftwork. I myself have and still use a pair of outfit-swapping sleeves he once gave to Cas for a mission. You never know when a speedy wardrobe change will come in handy!
Anyway, Jules pretty much spends his days making sure that the school keeps running smoothly, so you’re not likely to find him wandering the city grounds all that often. If you explore the campus though, you might be fortunate enough to spot his monkey companion Lenny (yes, THAT Lenny). He’s something of a mascot for the Acadamae now, along with his buddy/rival Majenko the house drake. They say that feeding them is a good way to ensure a good grade in your next test, and I wouldn’t baulk at that superstition. Lenny’s a lot smarter than you might think… In fact, he might just be smarter than all of us!
Oh, and one last thing. Should you have any information about the recent news out of Magnimar about that Thassilonian artifact they discovered, you should get in touch with Master Thurist directly. As Korvosa’s expert on the subject, he would no doubt want to hear it!
Licia is another staple figure of the Acadamae these days. She teaches alchemy, and often helps out Jules with his magical research. They work quite closely together actually. In fact, you could even say they’ve got some… Chemistry! Well, I don’t know if they actually have anything going on, but it’s fun to speculate, isn’t it, dear reader?
Of course, that isn’t to say she isn’t famous in her own right. Licia’s concoctions are some of the most prized potions you can find in Korvosa. They come with a warning label as long as your forearm, but if you manage not to blow yourself up, they can do all sorts of wonderful things! Lately, I think she’s even been improving the stability of her formulas too. It’s been about two weeks now that she hasn’t blown up anything important! Then again, judging by the smoke I see on the horizon right now, there is a distinct chance that that count may need to be reset…
Ah Cas… Dear reader, if you’ve been reading my stories, hearing my songs, or seeing my paintings, then I’m sure you already know about my beloved husband. Not too long after Ileosa was defeated, Cassius made a super romantic (and adorably awkward) proposal, and it wasn’t long before we were married. As a wedding gift, our old buddy Ven actually adopted Cassius, giving him (and me, by extension), the noble Orisini name. He still gets a bit prickly when people call him Lord, so you’d better believe I still tease him about it all the time.
Anyway, he took over Ven’s dueling school after the old fox retired a couple years back. It’s more like a training academy for aspiring Cerulean Society agents these days. The Cerulean Society, as you might know dear reader, was once the city’s thieves’ guild. Since Cas took over though, it’s more like Old Korvosa’s dedicated city guard, focusing more on internal threats like corruption and organised crime, but also on community outreach programs. The organisation’s affiliation with the goddess Milani is basically an open secret. It’s all in the name of helping those less fortunate climb out of poverty, and helping each other do the same. It’s not quite Elysium yet, but I’d say that in the last five years it’s done wonders for improving the state of living not only in Old Korvosa, but also the rest of the city. Korvosa is a much kinder, safer place than it once was, and a lot of that is thanks to Cassius. Well, him and Blackjack.
As you might have noticed, Blackjack is still very much a popular figure in Korvosa. After his surprise reappearance when Queen Ileosa first tried to execute me (well, a fake me; we’ve covered this already), his legend once again swept through the streets. Nowadays, my precious hubby’s secret identity is anything but secret. I mean, he goes around with a pair of super recognisable holy swords he calls Rose and Thorn. Plus he’s got a beautiful bard who assists him on his missions, helping the citizens while he fights the bad guys and spreading the good word of Milani in his wake. It’s great fun and it does a lot of good for the people of Korvosa, but let’s face it, pretty much everyone knows what’s up. The disguise is more symbolic than it is practical, these days.
But Blackjack’s legend doesn’t stop there, dear reader! No, this is where it gets extra interesting! For you see, there is more than just one Blackjack and lovely assistant! In reality, there are many Blackjacks, each with their own unique flavour, but all of them skilled swordspeople ready to appear from the shadows and dramatically save the good people of Korvosa from evil, wherever it may lurk! Actually, some people have started identifying each Blackjack by their particular weapons of choice, and some people have favourite Blackjacks! So, in a weird way, the secret of Blackjack is still a secret, just a more complicated one than it used to be. Personally, dear reader, I find it hilarious.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, my favourite Blackjack is the goofy one that names his blades after a flower. It takes a true romantic to do something silly like that, wouldn’t you agree?
That leads us, dear reader, to the final hero of this little group, me! As you’ve no doubt noticed, the lovely name “Lady Trinia Orisini” can be found all over our fine city. That’s because after Queen Cressida Kroft took over, I was given the title of Korvosa’s Minister of Culture! If you haven’t guessed from all the public works and festivals, I take my job very seriously. These days I even go all over the Inner Sea as Korvosa’s representative on diplomatic missions! It’s a funny thing, dear reader… I had always figured I’d travel the world, but as an adventurer, doing jobs for important people. Now I’m one of those important people giving jobs to adventurers! Such are the little ironies of this world!
That said, I probably won’t be making too many long trips in the near future. You see, on my last voyage to Kintargo, I found myself getting seasick something awful. That was pretty strange, considering I never get seasick. Well, I had myself checked and let’s just say that after I finish writing this, I’m going to have to pay a visit to Old Ven’...
After all, he should know that he’s gonna become a grandpa!
22/03/22 - Session 48 - Lictor Unlocked
Wealday, 9th Kuthona, Citadel Dinyar, Aspodell Mountains, Isger
Within the prison chambers, we discovered the Hellknights of the Order of the Godclaw. It is evident that their time imprisoned has left them weakened to the point of being unable to properly fight off the corruption that now taints this sacred establishment. It is fortunate then, that we have come to deliver their salvation. I announced as much to the soldiers as we liberated them and proceeded deeper into the dungeons. They were apprehensive, but ultimately appreciative. In time, I am certain, I shall restore their morale by demonstrating to them that the Divine Order still looks kindly upon its faithful.
Below, we found a closed chamber. Though Mister Kezax was prudent in his approach, we were ambushed by a belligerent azata. The foul agent of chaos struck at us with a blinding force. Given the circumstances preventing me from seeing my foe, I lent my power to Miss Archie, who was uniquely blessed with the ability to sense the creature. She made use of the power of the Divine Order to seize the wretch. I do not know the exact details of what transpired afterwards, as I instead called upon the Godclaw's teachings as I waited for my sight to be restored. However, once it had returned, Miss Archie had opened the passage from the cell, liberating its captive.
I found myself shocked and disgusted that these vile creatures would not only imprison the honourable Lictor Resarc Ountor, but also deprive the man of his hands! For such a heinous act to have befallen him is truly a sign of the depths of depravity the Reclamation heretics have fallen to. Father Dexsius was gracious enough to undo the damage, and soon after banish the still lingering azata for its misdeeds. However, though the damage here is repaired, the ringing of alarm bells is indication enough that there is work yet to be done to fully treat the festering wound that rots this Citadel.
Lictor Ountor was most helpful in providing us with guidance for the continuation of our mission. As Mister Kezax and the others saw to it that the unprepared heretics resting in the barracks were swiftly dispatched before they could ready themselves, he provided us with a map of Citadel Dinyar, as well as several key tasks that would aid us further.
The first was the suggestion of locating Paravicar Dominita Clara, who had gone on a mission to summon additional aid. Given her lack of appearances, it is reasonable to assume that the summoning did not function as intended, or she is otherwise biding her time.
The next name of interest was Knight Banneret Jelena Asteren, an officer within the Reclamation. By the Lictor’s account, the woman had lost a son to an Infernal ritual, and though she wished for his return, the Reclamation refused her. Lictor Ountor has since been persuading her that the boy’s salvation is indeed possible, should she be willing to take a final plunge. I would expect no less than for the Lictor of the Godclaw to understand the true nature of one’s faith, and how easily it can be shaken. Certainly, under such circumstances, it is natural for a woman of conscience to acknowledge the flaws in the Reclamation’s supposed doctrine. Iomedae is a goddess of Order, Justice, and Virtue. What Order is there in making unprovoked attacks against fellow followers of one’s faith and instigating civil unrest? What Justice is there in seizing that which is not theirs? What Virtue is there in offering no solace to a woman that grieves a precious loss brought on by such acts? I know all too well the pain of losing family, but to cause suffering in such a heinous manner would not be the Inheritor’s Will.
The final counsel offered to us by the Lictor was the location of the citadel’s armoury. There, we would certainly find sufficient supplies to restore the remaining Hellknights to a proper fighting state. This, we would find in the tower between Bastion Devotio and Bastion Fanaticus.
By the time the Lictor had presented us with this information, the dungeons of Citadel Dinyar had been cleared of their lingering rot. All that remained to address below was the passageway to the summoning chapel, which lay behind a large mechanical circle depicting astral and arcane patterns of immaculate detail. Miss Archie, being a foremost expert on matters of astronomy and magical incantations, recognised the device as being a representation of Infernal summoning. However, it lacked several key components necessary to use the device in order to gain passage into the secret rooms beyond. We will have to locate these missing elements ourselves before we can proceed with that particular route.
With the Hellknights armed (albeit suboptimally) and the dungeon secured, we were free to proceed to the upper floor. Expecting a battle soon to come, we took the necessary preparations…
Player's Notes: So fun fact about the Lictor missing his hands, Archie's to blame for that. Apparently she didn't like how arrogant he was being while waiting for us to free him (literally all of us were blinded for a while thanks to Holy Word), and decided that eating his hands was the fastest way to remove his handcuffs. I was still blind at the time, and with my negative Perception and Sense Motive modifiers determined that Dominus did not actually notice what removed his hands, and assumed that the Glorious Reclamation were to blame.
22/03/29 - Session 49 - Good as Gold and a Silver Tongue
Wealday, 9th Kuthona, Citadel Dinyar, Aspodell Mountains, Isger
We were wise to prepare for a battle before we entered the courtyard. There, we would find ourselves facing a host of heretic knights. Father Dexsius used Asmodeus’ blessings to emerge as a large being of flame, and took control of the battlefield handily with his enlarged form. Meanwhile Miss Archie and myself took the flanks, while our other companions supported us from the rear. The soldiers themselves were of little consequence, though our skirmish prompted the appearance of a more significant foe…
The gold dragon Parnoneryx was at one time an ally of the Inheritor, prior to her ascension. Though he had not been seen for many years, he emerged in service to the heretics of the Reclamation. Thus, I can only come to the conclusion that as they have sullied so many other elements of Iomedae’s legacy, so too have they corrupted him. It is regrettable that we find ourselves faced with such a task as ending the life of such an important creature, but there is at the same time great honour in knowing that we do so for the purpose of rendering him into an even greater tool of Divine Justice. It is with these thoughts that I called upon the might of the Divine Order to bestow its blessing upon myself and my allies.
The strength of our faith was glorious to behold! While Parnoneryx resisted, we made short work of his defences. Once Sir Quintus launched a pair of divinely inspired shots, crippling him, he could do nothing against Miss Arcatraz’s final death blows. It is only recently that I have seen Miss Archie demonstrate the sheer destructive force of her draconic form, but I find myself in awe. A dragon is powerful yes, but one that has the benedictions of the Order is a Wonder of its own. I find myself appreciative that the Gods have graced me with such a compatriot.
Though the alarms still ring, we did not find ourselves facing much more resistance. While my companions saw to the corpses, I paid a visit to the castellan’s chambers. Just as Lictor Ountor had informed us, I found Jelena Asteren, the woman of shaken faith. I offered her my sincere words of comfort and consolation for the wrongs done to her by those she thought to be her allies. Though she had strayed from the True Path, the punishment she suffered opened her eyes to the Truth. Her supposed friends had used and abused her, and did not deserve her loyalty. We offered her a chance at Redemption, and she accepted it, offering us ample information regarding the Citadel’s occupants and traps. It will take time for her to fully comprehend her mistakes, and to truly heal from her corruption, but I have sworn upon my name that I will help her along this Path…
We find ourselves now in control of a large portion of Bastion Fanaticus, though there remain still some rooms to secure before we can rest…
Player's Notes: We weren't really expecting Parnoneryx to come down and fight us this early. We figured he might do a couple fly-bys or something and then go off somewhere for a better opportunity. But nope, he dropped right in on us. I immediately wasted my setup of shooting him with the arrow of dragon slaying I've been holding onto since book 1 because I missed that he had mirror image up, but I did still manage to grant everyone Smite, which more than made up for the fact that I didn't get a chance to hit him myself. Quintus made especially good use of it by hitting the poor guy with two attacks that were both nat 20s, while using a gun. Fun times...
EDIT: If you're wondering where Session 47 went, I actually noticed an error in my session count earlier, all the way back in session 36. This is me correcting the count.
22/03/20 - Session 61 - Epilogue - One Year Later
12 Sarenith, 4709 AR, Garrison Hill, Old Korvosa, Korvosa
One year ago today, we liberated Korvosa from Ileosa an' Kazavon’s clutches. It hasn’t been an easy year. Hell, if anythin' it’s been a harder time than the three an' a half months we spent after Zellara brought our lot together against Lamm. Crime lords an’ tyrants are easy enough to deal with, but you can’t stab institutional inequality with a sword, no matter how fine the blade. Doesn’t mean we haven’t been tryin’, mind you. So, I figured now as we prepare for the anniversary of Korvosa’s renewed lease on life, that I’d take stock of how far we’ve come.
Seein' as King Eodred an' Ileosa didn’t have any children, the Crimson Throne was without an heir. The choice was left to seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis, with our advice, but honestly the choice for a new ruler was easy. Cressida Kroft, once the Captain of the Korvosan Guard an' our most steadfast ally throughout this entire ordeal, had consistently worked for the good of the people of Korvosa. Though I may not have seen eye to eye with the law in the past, I can trust that a woman like her will always do what is best for this city. Besides, if she or Kalepopolis get too big for their britches, I’ll have no qualms about remindin' 'em who they really answer to. Hasn’t happened yet though, thank Milani.
Old Korvosa was my first target after gettin’ back to the city. Kel an’ the others were quick to help me rid the place of whatever would-be tyrants still thought they could fancy themselves king of the island, startin' with Bahor, otherwise known as Glorio Arkona. After we cleaned his house he last time, he didn’t have nearly enough allies to truly hold us back. Now, all of that wealth is bein' repurposed for actual charities to help the impoverished of the district. No strings attached or fronts this time. It’ll be a long time before Old Korvosa is brought completely out of poverty, an' there will be plenty of scum ready to become the next Gaedren Lamm or the King of Spiders, but we’re more than able to deal with their kind.
Same goes for the Cerulean Society. Didn’t take long after we took down the Arkonas for 'em to know that they’d be next. Boule was a smart enough man to know not to swim against the current. Cerulean’s mostly a legitimate tradin' guild now, though they still do some business in the shadows from time to time. The difference is that they work for me, an' instead of committin' theft an' bribery, they prevent it, as Old Korvosa’s district security. Turns out a bunch of thieves an' criminals really do know better than anyone how to catch their own kind. There’s got to be some irony in the fact that Glorio once promised Old Korvosa to the Society, an' here I am givin' the Society to Old Korvosa.
After we took care of Old Korvosa, Len, Jules, an’ Licia had another target in sight. Given the chaos at the time, the Breaching Festival was delayed by a month, which meant it started just a couple weeks after Queen Kroft’s coronation. The idea was to make it a celebration of “returnin' to form”. It ended up bein' somethin' entirely different, but the long an' short of it is that the Acadamae is under new an' considerably less infernal management. Last I heard, Togomor remained in the city an' works for 'em as part of his penance. Majenko meanwhile has become somethin' of a school mascot, replacin' the overabundance of imps that once infested the area. It’s made the district far more tolerable, that’s for bloody sure.
Eries Yelloweyes still leads the wererats. These days, a lot of their kind work as informants an' messengers for myself an' the Korvosan Guard. There’s still a long way to go before they’re trusted in the city, but we’re workin' at it.
The memory of the devastation brought on by Blood Veil still lingers, though the disease itself has been all but eradicated. These days, anyone showin' symptoms can receive a cure from any local church, free of charge. That includes the temple of Abadar. Accordin' to their doctrine, the fee provided comes in the form of the continued productivity of the city’s citizens. Chief Enumerator Ishani Dhatri gets most of the credit for that little adjustment.
For that matter, Ish can also be credited for his ongoin' efforts to undo the psychological damage created by the Gray Maiden indoctrination, along with some help from myself an' Sabina. It can’t exactly be easy for the man, dealin' with his deranged sister’s lingerin' influence. The way I hear it told, he hasn’t missed a single week visitin' her in the dungeons, either. Abadar must be proud to have a follower that’s so persistently punctual. Maybe someday Vavana will come to appreciate it too…
I paid a brief visit to Harse not that long ago for a short vacation with Trin. It’s still as quiet an' peaceful as ever. Jasan was kind enough to give us lodgin' at Blackbird Ranch. The man shared all sorts of stories about his time as an adventurer with Ven. Trin’s eyes were nearly bulgin' out her eyes the whole time. Caught a glimpse of the Cinderlander while we were there too, tendin' crops. He’s still a surly bastard, but it seems like the new life of plantin' seeds instead of burnin' 'em has done him some good.
Kel still makes regular visits to the Shoanti. I’ve heard that since he was reinstated in the Sable Company as a Lieutenant, over a third of his contingent are Sklar-Quah. Imagine that, Shoanti Sable Marines, never mind that they’re servin' under an Endrin. Of course, Shoanti-Korvosan relations aren’t fully smoothed over, but with men like Kel, Thousand Bones, an’ even Krojun pushin' for reconciliation, they’re gettin' further than anyone has in centuries. After all, no one would have believed that we’d ever find ourselves with a Shoanti bearin' the last name Endrin, let along a dozen of ‘em!
Sometime after we cleared the curse, we revisited Castle Scarwall, this time with a contingent of powerful priests. We wiped the place clean of any lingerin' dark magic an' instead set up an assortment of wards, along with a memorial for Mandraivus an' the fallen heroes that defeated Kazavon the first time around. Nowadays the place is used on rare occasions by members of the Acadamae for study, though the star tower remains firmly off limits an' permanently sealed. Orcs dare not approach the place, in part because the rumours about the cursed place still linger, but also because the region is occasionally said to be patrolled by a certain shadowy dragon… Turns out Belshallam had some gratitude after all.
We never did hear from the Brotherhood of Bones or any other Kuthites. After Laori renounced the faith an' Sial took up his post in Scarwall, I think they got the message that they wouldn’t be gettin' their hands on Kazavon’s Fangs. They’ll just have to settle with enjoyin' Salvator Scream’s art, for whatever that’s worth. Likewise, we never saw Ramoska Arkminos, the vampire that worked with the Urgathoans. Personally, I’d be perfectly happy to never meet him again.
Gaedren an' Rolth Lamm are both enshrined in the history of the city now, thanks to their involvement with us, not to mention Rolth’s preexistin' infamy as the Key-Lock Killer. It’s more credit than they likely ever had in life, an' more than they deserve, but at least their legacies now are as cautionary tales to the would-be villains of the world about the cost of cruelty. The same goes for many of our enemies, though some of the stories I’ve heard about 'em sound more extreme than I remember. I suspect Trin’s to blame for that.
Zellara Esmeranda is somethin' of a household name too. Her legacy as the one that brought our little group together an' then helped guide us all through our journey has reinvigorated the popularity of harrow in Korvosa. As for the woman herself, a small shrine sits in the Gray, alongside one for her son Eran an' another for the Venster Arabasti. We’ve not seen their spirits since the final harrowin', so I can only hope that they’ve been granted peace in the afterlife.
The Soldado family returned to Korvosa not long after things settled down. Tayce an' the children sometimes come to visit Grau at the fencin' academy. Trin’s even taken to teachin' Brienna how to sing an' dance. Somethin' about it bein' a crime to let such a pretty face go to waste, or some such.
As for me, I took on the Orisini name an’ became Ven’s heir, now in both public an' secret identities. I wasn’t keen on the noble title, but Ven was quick to point out the good use I could put it to. If nothin' else, he’s given me easy access to his swordplay students as candidates to join the new Cerulean Guard.
Speakin' of, I’ve had no small measure of help in that capacity. Amin Jalento takes care of most of the matters of noble administration, while Grau has taken on the role of Cerulean Guard Captain with more ease than I could have hoped. Without them, I fear runnin' this operation would have consumed me more than the Cindermaw did.
Of course, they’re not the only assistants I have. I couldn’t live with myself if I allowed Blackjack to fall into obscurity once again, nor could I spend my days at a desk or in council meetings. I make it a point to go out an' do real work often enough to keep my skills sharp an' the public safe, but I’m also only one man. It’s fortunate then that I have others like Tiora, Cinnabar, Laori, an' Sabina on my side. All skilled combattants in their own rights, any of 'em would make a good successor, should it be necessary. For now however, I’m all too happy that criminals live in fear that any of the five Blackjacks might come for 'em. The heroic legend is alive an' well, if a little more confusin' now.
Of course, while some of my closer friends (which is to say Lenore, because of course it would be) might tease me for havin' four women sharin' my identity, there is only one who has claim to my heart. Trin never did lose that adventurer’s spirit, though she ended up channellin' it into turnin' our life together into the adventure. Blackjack often finds himself accompanied by a beautiful minstrel who spreads the word of justice an' righteousness. She’s capitalised on our heroic deeds to create artwork an' music. She’s even been arrangin' for this anniversary of Ileosa’s defeat to become a week-long festival. Even I’m not as busy as she’s gone an’ made herself.
Yet, we still find time to take on other adventures. I’ll never be able to forget our honeymoon in Elysium of all places (an unexpected weddin' gift courtesy of Len), or our “diplomatic” missions to Whitethrone an' Kintargo. Even so, it’s always a relief to come back to the familiar stones of the Korvosan streets.
What matters most though is that through it all, we’ve been together, an’ I don’t see that changin' anytime soon…
Player's Notes: Going through the characters of the campaign and coming up with their epilogues was genuinely quite fun, and gave me a chance to really reflect on the journey as a whole. Curse of the Crimson Throne is an excellent adventure, and I had the good fortune of playing it with a great group of players. Prior to playing in this game, I had kinda been burnt out. War for the Crown, which I had poured so much time and effort into running, fell apart due to a dumb mistake, and soon after a personal falling out basically destroyed that group. I came into this game as a complete stranger, yet somehow lucked out. There was great roleplay, challenging and interesting battles, and more than a few epic moments. It wasn't always perfect, but it was always a fun game, and it came at just the right time for me.
I've got one last epilogue to write, though it may be a bit before I get to it, since I want to make sure I properly consult with the other players to make sure I get their endings right.
I genuinely don't know if anyone actually reads these besides my GM and a few of my friends, but if you do, I hope you enjoyed my self-indulgent writing exercise! Please feel free to let me know what you thought! I'd love to hear it! Either way, I wish you all the best in your future games.
22/03/20 - Session 61 - Cassius’ Final Journal
12 Sarenith, 4708 AR, Castle Korvosa, The Heights, Korvosa
When we got back to Korvosa with the Queen’s lifeless corpse an' the declaration that her reign of tyranny is finally ended, the city damn near erupted into a frenzy of cheers. I understand the feelin', probably better than most, but I can’t bring myself to celebrate her death. Not to say that I regret it. The woman was mad an' needed to die for the good of everyone in this city an' beyond. At the end of the day though, she was another victim caught up in circumstances beyond her control. Another lost soul led down a dark path. In some ways, that path she took wasn’t so different from mine. A younger me would have thought I was spewin' solly slop, but it’s been a long few months. Fact is, if I’d found Kazavon instead of Milani… Well, I couldn’t say. We all like to think that if it were us, we wouldn’t give in to the temptation. We would be better. Most of us never find out what we’d really do if we were tested. That’s probably for the better…
Then again, it’s not all bad either. This whole ordeal showed me more than I thought I’d ever see in my lifetime. I saw people succumbin' to their basest urgest an' turnin' into the ugliest creatures imaginable. I also saw people findin' their hidden strength to face hardship in the bravest of ways. I’ve seen what happens when hope is lost, but also when it’s found. I’ve seen hate, vengeance, an' destruction, but also love, forgiveness, an' rebirth. Never would I have thought to see a Chel an' a Shoanti embrace as brothers, nor a Kuthite workin' to protect the world from zealous cruelty. I definitely never expected that I’d find myself respectin' a guard captain.
I also never expected I’d find love, or any sort of companionship for that matter, an' yet now I find myself with both.
I’ve known for a long time now that I never would have gotten this far without my allies. Kel, Len, Jules, not to mention Licia, Lenny, an' even James. At some point or another, each of 'em has been directly responsible for savin' my life, most of 'em multiple times over, an' I’d like to think I’ve done the same for them. It goes deeper than that though. I trust them on the battlefield, but I also know them all to be stalwart friends an' people of the highest calibre. They’ve made me a better person, an' each of 'em will go on make the world a better place, in their own ways.
I know they’ve all got aspirations to do it, too. Kellogg, big oaf that he is, is probably the best hope for reconcilin’ the centuries of bad blood with the Shoanti. Lenore has the terrifyin’ power, immense compassion, an’ wisdom of experience to save so many people, be it from death, or their own poor decisions. Jules has a mind more brilliant than any I’ve ever seen, an’ I can scarcely imagine what he could do with it now that he isn’t busy makin’ all my equipment. I don’t rightly know what Licia might do, but I know that I probably don’t want to be within ten blocks when she does it.
When we first met, none of us were in a particularly good place. We’d all been scarred, damaged in one way or another by Gaedren Lamm, but also by ourselves. Each of us has since confronted our demons. In a strange way, all the adversity brought out the best in us, I think. Would that it didn’t take a bloody tyrant queen with evil dragon powers to do it. Still, there’s some pride in havin' gone through all of that with them. I couldn’t have asked for better adventurin' companions. For better friends.
They weren’t the only people I’ve grown close to. There are so many others that helped us along our journey, an' that we helped as well. I met bloody f!!*in' Blackjack, for Milani’s sake! Some of our friends were a little rough at first. Hell, we nearly killed a few of 'em before they came to our side. Still, time an' time again we found those brave enough to do the right thing when it counted. Before all of this, I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in people. Now, I can look back on folks like Cres or Ish, people that respect the law, but will do what’s right when push comes to shove. Or people like Cin, Laori, or Sabina, who are workin' day an' night to find a new path after spendin' so long down a darker one. Some people really can be good, if you let 'em try, and give ‘em a helpin’ hand.
I suppose that’s why I’m not too bent up over all the talk about who’ll take the Crimson Throne. Were it my choice, we would be done with that bloody thing, an' find a more egalitarian system. But for all its wounds, Korvosa’s roots still run deep. Maybe some day we’ll move on past the monarchy, but for now, I can stomach it, so long as the monarch isn’t a tyrant an' actually cares about the people they lead. Last I heard, Cres is bein' fielded for the position. She’s just about the best candidate I could think for the job, at least. Queen Cressida Kroft of Korvosa has a decent ring to it. Though that might just be Trin’s love of alliteration rubbin' off on me.
Speakin' of… Of all the things that have happened to me throughout this whole adventure, Trin might just be the one I’m most personally thankful for. I’ll admit, when I first saved her, my thoughts were as far away from romance as they could be. In my mind, she was the embodiment of every mistreated citizen, abused by the corrupt system she was born in. It took me longer than I care to admit to stop seein' her as a victim. Never mind that, it took me longer than I care to admit to stop seein' myself as a victim. Trin reminded me that we’re all people, composed of more than just our scars. Lenore an' Milani might have saved my body back in that dark alley years ago, but Trin’s the one who healed my soul.
There’s still work to be done. The fires may be out, but there’s plenty of ash an' rubble to clean up before Korvosa can heal. But I’ll be there, pickin' up stones with the rest of the people, an' I know now that Trin will be right there beside me the whole time.
I’m goin' to find Jules. I’d like to ask him to craft me a ring. Then I might ask Lenore if she can do somethin’ about these scars. I don’t think I need them anymore…
Player's Notes: There we go, that's an end to the campaign that was Curse of the Crimson Throne! That said, I'm still not quite done yet. I've got two epilogues coming up!
22/03/06 & 22/03/20 - Session 60 & 61 - Cassius’ Journal 60: The Crimson Conclusion
12 Sarenith, 4708 AR, The Sunken Queen, The Mushfens
Queen Ileosa is dead. At long bloody last, this nightmare is over.
As soon as we got into the Sunken Queen, we encountered a few more frogfolk guardians. We avoided most of them, but instead ran into a massive devilfish on our way up the structure. Lucky for us Len’s animal mind trick worked an' the creature wound up thinkin' it was a pufferfish.
The next floor’s guardian was considerably more of a threat. Jules called it a scarlet walker. Whatever it was, it knew how to cast spells an' struck at us with all manner of nonsense before Kel an’ I hit it with everythin’ we’d got an’ Len finished the job by turnin’ it into a pile of fine ash. We also came across some trident-wieldin' erinyes, though they didn’t stick around too long after we took out the giant spider thing.
We did a quick perimeter check an' I came across a large gemstone with my name engraved on it. Jules figured out that it was probably made to capture my soul. We tried to get close enough to destroy it, but it was guarded by a large ooze of some sort. Len sent it off this plane, which allowed us to destroy the trap without consequence. That just left us with one more floor to ascend. We prepared, an' went up.
Obviously after the erinyes fled, they warned Ileosa. We found ourselves in a room filled not only with devils, but multiple copies of the b!&+$ herself, all surroundin' a magical pool of blood. Stickin' out of that pool was a creature that looked like the mostly rotted corpse of a dragon, though the way it attacked proved that it was anythin' but dead. Even with all of us at full strength, we would have a fight on our hands.
From the onset, Len set about stackin' the playin' field. She erected a ring of blades around us to keep the fightin' area contained, then put silence on James to prevent our enemy from castin' at us. For all the downsides of Len’s disability, she’s done remarkable work of turnin' it into a formidable strength. As a thief, I’d always known the value of silence, but I could never have fathomed just how potent it can be in magical form.
That said, it didn’t solve the problem entirely, as the sheer volume of erinyes comin' at us knocked Liscia out early. Fortunately Trin pulled off a trick to reposition some of our more vulnerable teammates out of the line of fire. That gave Kel an' I enough time to take out the rotted dragon an' most of the devils. As for Ileosa’s simulacrums, a few rounds of lightnin' an' a garden of Milani’s thorns was enough to take them out of the equation. That only left us with an ice devil, a couple furies, an' Ileosa herself. Or it did, until another bloody disease dragon emerged from the pool.
We had figured out some ways into the fight that the woman we had been seein' up close to us durin' the fight wasn’t the real Ileosa. Fortunately, Jules’ third eye granted him the vision to see just where she was hidin', above us in a corner of the room. Len an' Trin managed to strip away her magical defences while I repositioned myself. Kel an' James made short work of the dragon an' moved on to help Waydon fend off the remainin' devils. Trapped by Trin, Len, myself, holy thorns, whirlin' blades, an' a zone of silence, Ileosa was quickly runnin' out of options…
That didn’t mean she went down without a fight. Before we could manage to put her down, Ileosa unleashed a furious series of attacks against Trin. The strikes would have been lethal, were it not for the quick work of Len an' Jules to bring her back. My partner held her own just long enough to give me a good set of strikes against the mad queen, nearly bringin' her down before some magic contingency restored her. That gave Ileosa one last chance, which she used to try an' kill the two most important women in my life, all the while ignorin' me. There might have been some strategy in that, but a part of me can’t help but feel that she was tryin' to spite me in her final moments. The last wrathful actions of a petulant greedy woman corrupted by an even more petulant and depraved dragon.
Of course, that just gave Kel enough time to join up with me, which was all I needed to unleash my own frustrations.
Turns out mine were stronger.
With Rose and Thorn in each hand, I signed the former Queen Ileosa Arabasti’s abdication.
Would that it ended there, but one last issue remained. The pool wasn’t quite done, an' had begun pullin' the Crown of Fangs into itself. For the briefest of moments, we could see the form of Kazavon bein' reconstructed in full this time. I, let alone any of us, wanted to find ourselves up against that horrendous creature. Thankfully Rose, or rather Serithial, shared the sentiment, an' in that moment granted me the clarity needed to stop the catastrophe. I grabbed the crown, set it into Milani’s vines, an' shattered it with the holy blade.
All at once, the ritual subsided, an' the room was little more than an unsettlin' yet dormant Thassilonian relic currently carpeted with infernal corpses.
Turns out Len feigned bein' killed to avoid any true harm, which meant that as soon as Ileosa was out of the picture, she was able to bring Trin back. It ought to shake me a bit more than it did that the woman I love was killed twice, but without that sacrifice, I never would have been able to land the decisive blows we needed to end this. Yet again, I find myself owin' Lenore more than I could ever repay…
After Trin was brought back, we set about gettin' everyone else back into shape. Thanks to Len’s healin' powers an' our absurd array of magical resources, that wasn’t too difficult. Somehow despite everythin', I didn’t get a single scratch. Kel took a bloody beatin', but bein' the indomitable force that he is, he pulled through just fine. Len, Liscia, an' Jules had all suffered pretty bad injuries, but nothin' that couldn’t be solved with some wands. Though many had been lost in this long war against Queen Ileosa, by Milani’s grace none of us were among them.
Now, we can finally begin to rebuild…
Player's Notes: It was a hard fought battle, and Trinia literally died twice (turns out getting hit 5 times with a +4 glamered human-bane icy burst speed rapier, including 2 crits, isn't particularly good for one's health), but we finally emerged victorious!
Admittedly, our in session conclusion felt just a little bit rushed (I believe our GM had some personal matters to attend to), but I'm looking to make up for that with a pair of epilogue entries providing some details on what happened after the AP, mostly for my own fun, but also to give one last thing to my fellow players, and to whoever else has been reading these journal entries (I know some of my friends do, though I have no idea if anyone does here. If you do, hi, and thanks for reading! Please feel free to tell me what you think!) Expect to see those epilogues some time this week (the first one's written, but just needs a revision pass).
22/03/08 - Session 46 - Into Citadel Dinyar
Wealday, 9th Kuthona, Citadel Dinyar, Aspodell Mountains, Isger
As predicted, the aftermath of our renewal of the Infernal Contract brought with it all the wondrous recognition that befitted our Accomplishment. Our names were hailed throughout the streets of Egorian as the Queen’s scourges. Her Infernal Majestrix herself took the time to personally reward us with contracts that would grant us additional Infernal power for our continued service! Naturally, so long as she remains the mortal emissary of the Divine Will, I will serve dutifully. The contract was therefore an easy one to sign. At this very moment, I can feel the energies of Hell bolstering my Divinely Bestowed Might as a result!
Our achievements manifested in more ways than this, however. Miss Archie quickly took to her newly inherited child, Timaeus, as though a maternal instinct had suddenly awakened within her. I believe that with this new Blessing, she is finding herself more and more attuned to her ultimate purpose for the Divine Order. I am truly privileged to witness such a Grand Apotheosis in the making!
Mister Kezax brought into our service the aid of his own troupe of allies, including a very affable kobold woman by the name of Zylstra. As I came to understand, Madam Zylstra is a former servant of the same observatory from which Miss Archie and Mister Kezax hail, but had to depart until such a time that she would be called for. Mister Kezax considers the arrival of young Timaeus a sign that such a time has come. Considering the Immaculate circumstances in which this wondrous creature was produced, I concur wholeheartedly with his assessment. If Mister Kezax is any indication of the pedigree of service on might expect from Miss Archie’s retinue, then I have high hopes for Madam Zylstra indeed!
Father Dexsius took pains to ensure that Father Malix’ heresies were brought to the attention of both the Queen and Grand High Priestess Rugatonn. My loyal friend has come to the conclusion that both parties are in need of stronger, more reliable ties, and that he is well poised to take on such a responsibility. In the tumultuous realities of politics, I can think of no better anchor to serve in such a capacity. Just as he has aided me in my pursuit of my righteous inheritance, so too I have pledged to do all that I can to secure his future as the bridge between church and state!
Then, there was the matter of my own Blessing. On the night following our mission, I was granted a Vision, one far more vivid and clear than any I had received before! In it, I was graced by Vipostix, a messenger of the Divine Order! From the power exuded and the state of the domain we shared, his Status was unquestionable! In my Vision, he declared himself my patron and guide in service to the Order, both in past and future. Until now, the whispers of the Divine were obscure and at times vague. Fortunately I was capable enough to interpret them correctly thus far. Clearly, that deep understanding had proven me worthy of even greater trust and responsibility! No news could have excited me more than the promise of the Grand Destiny of restoring Iomedae’s faith to proper Purity! In celebration and to honour Great Vipostix’ counsel, I enlisted Father Dexsius and Miss Archie’s aid in converting Ironwing Kazi into a form more suitable to my continued missions. May the beast’s mythical energy serve me well in the challenges to come!
Upon receiving our boons from the Queen, we received some upsetting news. The ancient city of Westcrown, once a beacon of progress and nobility, had fallen to the Reclamation heretics. Much as it pained me to hear of such a loss, in truth it may yet be a Blessing in disguise. Westcrown had long been a shadow of its former glory, but lacked the motivation for a more thorough rebirth. Its fall to heresy is proof of the chaos that had weakened it. In exposing this corruption, we find ourselves with an opportunity to purge the city not only of its illegal occupants, but also of its more ancient illnesses… I pray that I shall be permitted to take part in such a Glorious Restoration!
Such a task would have to wait, however. As the Messenger had warned me, in addition to the boon would come a mission, though it would be one that would take us in another direction. Though Westcrown was the latest victim of heretical conquest, Citadel Dinyar was its first. By consolidating its forces in the west, the Reclamation has weakened its hold on the east, giving us an opportunity to recapture it and restore the honourable Order of the Godclaw in the process! No doubt, such a victory would devastate the twisted convictions of the misguided sheep that roam our fair country.
Not to be satisfied with such a simple goal, there was another facet to the Her Infernal Majstrix’s plan. Citadel Dinyar remains guarded by a golden dragon named Parnoneryx. By the Queen’s decree, the corrupted creature is to be executed and repurposed as a tool of righteousness, a weapon called the Tathlum. Miss Archie recognised this device as being a mechanism of immense power, but that it would require a complex ritual to create. Such a device requires sacred waters, a sacrifice of blood, and the ashes of history. Fortunately, the Honourable Vipostix reminded me of a place where we might find at least one of these elements. My companions had ideas of their own to aid with the remaining components, though these ideas could wait for the first step in our mission: retaking the Citadel.
We were fortunate enough that a Godclaw armiger had been sent by the Order with the information needed to begin Citadel Dinyar’s recapture. He told us of a secret passageway that led into the fortress’ dungeons. With this, we had no trouble moving forward, met only by a malebolgian cerberi loyal to its true masters. I had no trouble in convincing the beast of our righteous nature, and thus secured our passage.
Our first true opponents would come in the form of an elven woman and some Reclamation soldiers. They could offer little resistance as we exterminated them. In doing so, we acquired not only their keys to the Citadel, but also the appreciation of an invisible stalker that had been indentured by the mage. So grateful was he for his liberation, that he has promised to serve us for one week. As such, we have tasked him with locating the key figures holding the Citadel, so that we might properly recompense their trespass.
For the time being however, we have some captives to liberate…
Player's Notes: So begins the next exciting chapter in our Hell's Vengeance adventure! Playing as a character who's basically a Godclaw taken to the extreme, I'm certain Dominus is going to be able to chew up a lot of the scenery in this first mission while we chew up the good guys.
As a side note, it was a few hours back that our Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign concluded in our grand victory! I'll be looking forward to writing the last entry and epilogue for that one. It was a great campaign, so I hope to send it off properly!
22/03/01 - Session 45 - The Voice of the Order
Sunday, 6th Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
Dominus often had visions in his sleep, though they were often vague, cryptic visions of things, as though seen out of the corner of one’s eye. This time however, the scene was clear and vibrant. He stood within a chamber segmented into five wings, converging upon an immense dais, with an altar in the centre. Each wing contained towering bookshelves and display cases, all neatly aligned, and bearing the colours and symbols of a different deity. From the central dais a glowing series of patterns carved into the floor were visible. From the mirrored ceiling above, Dominus could recognise at once the holy symbol of Asmodeus as well as the symbol of the Hellknight Order of the Godclaw, both merged in a way that at once twisted the mind and made perfect rational sense. The entire room at once felt unfathomably hot and unbearably cold. The scent of soot and ash melded with sweet perfumes. Soothing music blended with thousands of unending bloody screams. Everything seemed a contradiction, and yet, perfectly consistent, as though decreed as such through an omniscient force.
There was no mistaking a place at once filled with such turmoil and beauty beyond mortal comprehension. It was Hell.
Under any other circumstances, Dominus would be overjoyed. However, something was amiss. For all of his life, Dominus followed the signs laid out to him by the divine voices that compelled his, though here they were utterly silent. It was a silence that Dominus had never experienced before. The feeling was so unnatural that it was almost maddening. It was all Dominus could do not to fall to his knees and scream his lungs out.
Then, a voice. A single, magnificent voice. No softer than a whisper, yet somehow unimaginably loud. It did not carry in the room, but echoed in Dominus’ mind.
“Welcome, Dominus Fex. I have been ever so eager to finally meet with you.”
The words enveloped him like a soft velvet. All at once comfort returned to Dominus, and he knew that the voice he heard could only be of the most divine of sources. As though on instinct, he fell to one knee and bowed in reverence.
“Excellent etiquette, Dominus, but you needn’t kneel here. We are both tools of the Divine Order. So let us converse without formality.”
Dominus arose, finding himself looking up at a figure at the top of the dais. The entity was familiar to him, though he had never seen it before. It bore long shimmering violet robes that shifted in appearance with every movement. At its belt hung a wide assortment of keys. From its shoulders sprouted several jagged crystalline spikes. It did not have a neck. Instead, a jewel-encrusted skull floated above, while more crystals floated around it as though a crown. Dominus knew enough through his Infernal studies to recognise the entity as a very powerful devil. Though it had no mouth to speak of, Dominus had the distinct sense that it was smiling at him.
“You may call me Vipostix, Speaker for the Divine Order. It is I that has been imparting their Divine Will to you, my dear Dominus. It is through my words that your blade and hammer have been directed to serve their purpose. Time and again, you have done splendid work, and have been recognised for your service. You have proven yourself more than worthy of the task you have been given.”
The words of praise pierced deep into Dominus’ soul. The man had never doubted his faith, but to have it so directly acknowledged filled him with a sense of conviction unlike any he had felt before. It was as though the gods themselves were in attendance and applauding him. He did not forget himself however, and quickly resumed his composure.
“I am truly honoured by your words, Great Vipostix. If I might be so bold as to ask then, what is my role to be in the service of the Divine Order?”
“A wise question indeed. Your service has been exemplary, but it is far from done. Now that Cheliax has reaffirmed its ties with Hell, it must cleanse itself of the chaos that embroils it. You know this chaos well.”
“Yes, the heretics that call themselves the Glorious Reclamation.”
“Correct. These servants of the Inheritor do not understand the strife they have created within the Order. Soon it shall grow even worse. Cheliax belongs in service to Hell, and you shall be instrumental in returning it to that service. The root of this corruption is simple: the theft of Heart’s Edge. For a relic of such importance to be the subject of mere brigandry is a sign that chaos resides within their souls. Correct that chaos, then return Heart’s Edge to me. I shall see to it that the Inheritor’s sacred treasure is handled appropriately. Divine relics are a specialty of mine…” The devil pauses, as though silently laughing at his own joke, before resuming, “From there, balance shall be restored.”
“If this is what is required, then of course, I will do it.”
The devil raises a hand, “I know you will, in due time. You shall have other steps to complete first, however. Two days from now, you will be given a boon and a mission. You must accept both. The Divine Order shall speak through the highest authority in your mortal plane, and you should continue to treat her as such. She will speak of a powerful weapon, and the means to construct it. You already know of one component. Do you remember St. Ilnea’s Fountain? I spoke of it to you once before.”
“Yes, the site where Iomedae’s first saint was transformed into a sacred pool.”
“Now is the time for that knowledge to bear fruit. The Inheritor shall herself provide her most sacred assets to you in your quest to restore Order. Any who stand in your way are either testing your resolve, or have themselves succumbed to corruption. Do not forget this.”
“Of course. I would never doubt the workings of the Divine Order!”
“No… No you would not. You have remained steadfast in your faith, even when your flesh would fail, your spirit never wavers. You truly are a man of unshakeable conviction, and it is for that reason that you were chosen.”
Once more, Dominus is filled with pride. Another thought emerges however, “What of my companions? What plans does the Divine Order have for them?”
“These allies that walk the path alongside you have been chosen in their own rights to serve the Order. They do not have the same clarity of conviction, but their service is still of value. Each is being prepared for their destiny, as you are. In time, they will be sure of their purpose, as you are. So long as they serve you and follow the will of the Order, you should consider them valuable assets in your quest. Use them accordingly.”
“Our time together grows short, but know that henceforth, I will take a more proactive role in assisting you. As your power grows, so too shall my ability to offer aid. Ultimately however, it shall be your hands that execute the Divine Order’s will. Carry that burden as you have, and all shall be set to its rightful place.”
“I thank you for all the guidance you have given me thus far, Great Vipostix. I look forward to our continued service to the Divine Order.”
“As do I, dear Dominus. I have one final guidance for you before you awaken. The griffon you have acquired, Ironwing Kazi. I have received its soul pledge from Father Dexsius, and shall be pleased to receive it. Sacrifice the beast to the Order, and I shall ensure that its loyal spirit is rightfully honoured. In return, you shall be granted a reward suitable for the deed.”
“Well met, dear Dominus. May the Divine Order watch over you.”
Dominus opened his eyes. The morning light had just begun to peek through the shutters of his room in Lawgiver’s Rest.
The man smiled and greeted the day with vigour.
Never before had he rested so comfortably.
Player's Notes: Another book concluded, and another special journal entry. Vipostix is actually from page 60 of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Hell Unleashed. I had latched on to the idea that Dominus was at the whims of an apostate devil near the start of the campaign, but our GM ended up finding this one that happened to fit particularly well into the thematics of the campaign, especially with the whole angle of corrupting Iomedaean relics. At this point both Arcatraz and Dexsius' players have contemplated what would happen if they were to interact with this fellow. I'm certain it could make for some amusing conversations...
22/02/22 & 22/03/01 - Session 44 & 45 - The Pilgrimage
Sunday, 6th Kuthona, Winter Grove, The Heartlands
The pilgrimage to the Winter Grove is perhaps one of the most sacred duties to exist. It is through this act that Cheliax retains its Divine Arrangement with Hell, maintaining the Hierarchy that is the basis for the Divine Order’s manifestation on the material plane. As such, it is only natural that there be heathens that wish to see it stopped, just as it is only natural that we be given the task of seeing it through at all costs.
The task itself was simple enough: we were to travel by foot to a series of stones, and offer a blood sacrifice upon each one. As atonement for his prior infractions, we slew Paraduke Sethic at each instance, then Father Dexsius restored him once the altar was satisfactorily infused. With each death, our sacrifice would come to better understand the nature of his role.
This alone would have been an easy mission, but as I well know, no true pilgrimage is without its trials. Our first would come in the form of the Duke Raaven Melesiva. The man invited us to surrender the sacrifice to him, and aid him in usurping the throne from Her Infernal Majestrix. Initially, we identified him to have been under the influence of an aquatic temptress known as a rusalka. We eradicated the vile creature, though it did cause us no small amount of trouble with its antics. Regrettably, releasing the veil of manipulation from the Duke did not rid him of his misguided ambitions. The message of the Divine Order was clear: a man that could so easily be manipulated by malevolent seductive forces must not in turn be permitted to manipulate us. I took this lesson to heart, as we took his. Never again would the Duke fall prey to greed.
Our next trial was one of great personal importance. In the time when the Inheritor walked among mortals, she slew the false King of the Barrowood with the aid of a mighty griffon, a feat which came to be known as her Third Act. That same griffon was still said to protect the Barrowood, under Iomedae’s guidance. Upon reaching the eighth stone, the Inheritor’s legendary steed appeared to test us. The beast known as Ironwing Kazi did indeed pose a formidable challenge, but my Faith helped me stand true. Once Mister Kezax had dispatched the irrelevant rider, Miss Archie subdued the beast long enough for Father Dexsius to conduct the appropriate rituals to bestow upon the griffon its new purpose. I walk the Divine Path, just as Iomedae once did. Thus, it is all too fitting that I call upon her steed to join my service!
As the trials of loyalty and divine right were passed, then would come the trial of true faith. We were accosted by heretical knights of the Reclamation. Their leader would espouse some proclamations of righteousness, clearly unaware of her audience. They brought along with them a pair of angels that knew not their place and disturbed the magic around them with their blasphemy. We humoured their pitiful attempts for a time, but none could stand against my invocations to our supposedly shared goddess. As my blade cut down the apostates, the Inheritor made clear who she favoured. The “Knight Banneret” would see in full the weight of her sins as one last revelation before the weight of Miss Archie’s jaws pressed against her neck. No false followers would impede this most sacred of rituals.
That statement would be true regardless of what faith the heretic belonged to. As we approached the Winter Grove, we would find one final trial before us. Just as the previous trial had been against false Iomedaeans, our last trial would be against a false Asmodaean. Initially, it seemed strange that Father Malix would come before us with a small army of Ice Devils. His true nature was made clear to me the moment Father Dexsius referred to him as “demon-tongued” and Miss Archie immediately set upon him. I would later come to learn that his intent was to rewrite the Infernal Contract as one between Asmodeus and his church, bypassing House Thrune entirely. On the surface, this may seem sound, but this is of course only true to the basest of small-minded Asmodaeans. It is the height of Pride to assume that one would know the intentions of the Dark Prince, and all the more so to believe that these assumptions would take precedence over his preexisting machinations! Whatever delusions Luthon Malix held in his mind, they were dashed away in an instant by Miss Archie’s ferocity. After that, the matter of removing his misguided devil minions was a simple matter.
Miss Arcatraz was not quite done, however. Before we could proceed further, she took hold of the disgraced priest and obliterated him upon the grand altar. This was not the ritual we had been sent to complete. However, once I saw the fiery purpose in my dear companion’s eyes, I understood completely. Her actions were unquestionably those of one following the guidance of the Divine Order! It was thus with great joy that I witnessed her take yet another step towards achieving her truest purpose…
Thus ended both the trials and the tangents. All that remained was the final ritual itself. Over the course of our journey, Paraduke Sethic came to better understand the nature of his Destiny and its importance. In our pilgrimage together, he grew more appreciative of the Gift the Divine Order had granted him with this significant Purpose, and I could finally converse with him openly as a fellow member of the True Faith. By the time we had come to this final step, the Sacrifice welcomed his death with open arms and an open heart. I took the utmost care in conducting the ritual, and Paraduke Sethic closed his eyes to the mortal realm and opened them to the Grandest Miracle of all.
For the briefest of moments following the ritual, we were all Blessed with a glimpse of that same Miracle. A voice of Divine Providence echoed to us to affirm our success. The sensation was nearly overwhelming in its beauty! In that moment, I knew that we had received the rarest of gifts!
As students of the clergy, Father Dexsius and I understood the impact of such a moment immediately. However, Miss Archie is of a more secular nature, and as such the reward for her piety would come in a more material form. From the altar, she would discover a most amazing bequeathal in the form of an infant blue dragon. I am by no means an expert in the draconic, but I know that historically blue dragons have often been tied to the domains of those that follow Law and Order. It seems apparent then that Miss Archie’s new child, Timaeus, was a symbol of that same pact. I look forward to witnessing the evolution of this Apotheosis, just as I anticipate all of our Gloriously Shining futures!
Player's Notes: There were some tough fights on our pilgrimage, usually due to frustratingly debilitating abilities (Antimagic Field isn't a very fun spell to deal with in combat), but now that we've reached the end, the fruits of our labours are lovely! Come next session, I'll get to finally bring in the first real hints at the apostate devil that has been guiding Dominus, Archie gets to experience the joys of parenting a literal dragon, and Kezax is going to be bringing in an entire menagerie of servants to help us out (i.e. Leadership is happening). Things are gonna start getting crazy (well, crazier), methinks.
22/02/15 - Session 43 - Dexsius’ Journal
Wealday, 2nd Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
To say that my new promotion has kept me busy would be an understatement. I find myself more and more embroiled in the minutia and squabbles of lesser priests all vying for power. Perhaps I should simply send them to hell so they may know what it means to serve the Lord of Hell more directly. It brings me no small amount of joy to know that there are those amongst the court and within the church who would scoff at my rise to power merely for the nature of my birth. It was a gift given me by the Lord of Hell and I have used it as a boon to reach where I am today. If any of them are foolish enough to move against me I will show them the power I wield and why I have risen to where I am today. That being said, my rise to power is far from complete.
The ordeal with the Bellflower was trying. Vile thieves who would attempt to subvert the rule of law and grant ‘freedom’ to those undeserving of it. The position of slave is a noble thing as they are the backbone upon which the most holy law of Cheliax is built. Kintargo is a living example of what comes from the freeing of slaves and the breakdown of order. Word has reached the church that the “Silver Ravens” are now operating openly there once again. Would that the church sends me there that I might quash this rebellion and put order to the city once more. Though it would seem the God-Fiend has other plans for me.
Her Royal Magestrix Queen Abrogail II has summoned Dominus and I, as well as Arcatraz and for some reason her servant Kezax, to appear before her and the High Court of Egorian. WE were called upon to recount our deeds and of course Dominus was more than happy to do so. I will admit I was happy to learn that Dominus will inherit the title of Arch-Baron from his late father. Though he is a fool, he is a good friend and moreover, easily manipulated. Having him as an ally will surely help further my rise to power. I simply need to name someone as an enemy of his “Divine Order” and then let him loose upon them. I am sure I can use him to remove anyone who would stand in my way with little difficulty.
As for why we were called, it would seem we have been chosen to serve as the Queen’s most trusted agents and fulfil the contract between The Prince of Law and House Thrune. The church does not speak much on the nature of the contract, and it wasn’t until my ascension to the rank of Infernal Bishop that I even learned of its existence. I am not surprised though as any deal with the God-Fiend could only be signed by blood into a contract. Still, I am excited to have the chance to stand in the presence of my Lord and, even without looking upon him, to bathe his divine and terrible glory.
In order to fulfil the contract, we must travel on foot between several obelisks and spill the blood of a sacrifice upon them. The one chosen to play the role of sacrifice was our good friend Sethic. He did not seem to approve of his new role though and tried in vain to resist. I’m impressed however that he managed to get the drop on Kezax. It is the first time I have seen anyone get the better of the kobold. I showed him the true power of hell and … convinced… him to co-operate and accept his fate. The exact amount of blood to be spilled was not specified so I will simply let the entirety of his lifeblood drain out and then force him back to life that we may continue our mission.
Through Tyapket’s ability to commune directly with the powers of hell, we have learned that there are those who would stand against us and oppose the Queen’s mission. We will be on guard and they will not set us off our track, nor we will allow them to alter the delicate balance that has been established between the Prince of Darkness and Her Royal Magestrix. We know one threat comes from the Iomedaeans. They continue to be a thorn in our side, though perhaps I think for not much longer. Eventually even the dumbest of animals learn to avoid sticking its nose where it is likely to get beat. It is the others who concern me more. We know it is someone of significance to the queen but not much else. It matters not. None will stand between me and my meeting with Lord Asmodeus. Afterall, one cannot keep his god waiting.
Player's Notes: It's been quite some time since another player made a journal entry, but our dear cleric Father Dexsius decided to pop one in! Always fun to see his cut and dry perspective on the situation.
22/02/15 - Session 43 - The Soured Wine Incident
Toilday, 1st Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
Though horrible misfortunes befalling individuals of dubious character are a common occurrence in Egorian, talk of the events that have come to be known as “The Soured Wine Incident” have grown since Her Infernal Majestrix officially acknowledged the agents supposedly responsible for it.
The incident, as it has been recorded by numerous eyewitnesses, transpired thusly: on the late afternoon of the 1st of Kuthona, five individuals, three humans (later reports would amend this, as one of these individuals was in fact a green dragon), one tiefling, and one kobold, bearing clear markings of official Chelish agents, appeared at the Clerk’s Cloister tavern. The tavern proprietor, a man by the name of Belnost, appeared to recognise one of the humans and the tiefling, and was visibly shaken by the group’s arrival. He did however serve them promptly. The agents declared that they were celebrating, and requested that a cask of wine be served to the entire tavern. While this initially elicited some joy among the patrons, it was snuffed once the wine was poured. From the rancid aroma and disturbingly thick texture, the wine was clearly not fit for consumption. At once, the agents demanded that the tavern owner retrieve the wine casks from his stock and open them.
The scent that permeated the tavern was described as being unimaginably horrid, and the sight of the contents equally so, to the point that several of the guests were reported as having expelled the contents of their recent meals. Within each of the casks lay a mutilated corpse, floating in a mixture of wine, blood, and assorted filth. In the majority of the cases these were the corpses of halflings, though one cask in particular bore the corpse of a human. While the body was near unrecognisable, having been burned to a crisp and with both hands removed and the face skinned off, there remained enough physical detail to identify the individual as one Maisil Juluth, an Abadaran barrister that had once been detained by the Order of the Scourge due to suspicions regarding her uncle, a known Bellflower Network sympathiser. Documents revealed at a later date would identify all of the bodies to have been members of the Bellflower Network. No one was able to confirm how the casks came to be found in the Clerk’s Cloister, though it is commonly believed that this was the work of the agents.
Following the grisly revelation, Belnost was detained, and subsequently tried and publicly executed for the crimes of sedition, conspiracy, and a violation of the Food Quality Act. The Clerk’s Cloister would soon after come into the possession of Archcountess Levisvia Vasvion, and be renamed the Bubbling Barrister. Since its rechristening, the tavern has seen great popularity with Thrune loyalists, and it is noted for its thematic decor of gibbeted slaves and the popular novelty drink of “Bellflower Wine”, which is thickened and garnished with a bellflower and a polished bone to emulate the considerably less savory liquid that was once poured there.
Player's Notes: After all our time plotting the demise of the Bellflower, it felt necessary to do something special to tie the knot with them. After finding out that the tavern owner had a thing for the Barrister, I wanted to do something special to send a message to any sympathisers. The corpse in a wine barrel idea actually comes from an old episode of Bones that I still remember. Felt like a wonderfully gruesome end to that particular mission.
22/02/15 - Session 43 - A First Audience With Her Infernal Majestrix
Wealday, 2nd Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
After our glorious triumph over the Bellflower vermin infestation, we celebrated at the Clerk’s Cloister. It was a true joy to see the proprietor become enlightened to the error of his ways in assisting such scum. We had engineered the lesson to be thorough and impactful, and I truly feel that it is a reminder that shall resonate in Egorian for years to come! Archcountess Vasvion was kind enough to take on the task of cementing the achievement by rechristening the establishment. As our patron, it seemed only natural to secure the property for her use, but it is wonderful to see that she has used the gift for not only our benefit, but that of the citizens as well. Proper education is the first step to a Righteous society, after all.
Our dear patron’s service did not stop there. At long last, we would be granted our audience with Her Infernal Majestrix! As the highest representative of the Divine Order’s Will on this plane, it truly is an honour to receive her recognition for all of our dutiful service! We made haste to prepare ourselves appropriately for the encounter.
As one might expect, meeting the Queen required a certain measure of delicacy. Fortunately, I am sufficiently well versed in matters of nobility that this did not prove a trial for me. Our dear Majestrix requested that I proclaim our deeds, which I did so earnestly and completely. I did not neglect to present the gift of the Inferno Gate. Though it remains within my lands, those lands are themselves within the Queen’s territories, and therefore by rule of hierarchy it is hers to control. After all, my dear father made it abundantly clear that attempting to claim such a treasure for one’s self would be considered a great betrayal. Saddened as I am that I must see his name tarnished for the lesson, respecting that teaching is the least I can do to honour his sacrifice.
On the subject of family, those in service to the Queen saw fit to question my lineage and birthright. While it is true the nature of my birth might seem scandalous to those with only a surface understanding, these are the misunderstandings of those who do not appreciate the manner in which the Divine Order operates. If I am to be judged, the only acceptable metric is by my adherence to the Divine Order’s dictums, something in which I know myself to be absolutely unwavering. I can dismiss such tests of my honour as the necessary diligence of clerks. I took great care to make my role as Herald clear before the highest court of the land. As I gazed into the eyes of the dear Majestrix, I sensed that she understood me perfectly. Henceforth, none should dare question it further.
In turn, my companions were questioned as well. Each affirmed my testimony, and answered the questions of their own birth and loyalty splendidly. I have been thoroughly satisfied with their service to the Order, and I do believe that the Queen shared in that satisfaction. This much was proven when we were subsequently given a task of the highest priority.
At Her Infernal Majestrix Queen Abrogail of the Twice-Damned House of Thrune’s behest, we had been given the task of performing a pilgrimage to the Winter Grove in order to perform a sacrifice and renew the Infernal Contract that binds the forces of Cheliax to the Supreme Might of Hell. Such an important task cannot be completed by just anyone, so it is a show of the highest faith that we would be given the privilege! Naturally, I am overjoyed with this opportunity to take part in such an important ritual, as any who understands its significance would be.
On the subject of sacrifice, the one to be given over to Hell must be an individual that is of personal value to the Queen. As it happens, Paraduke Sethic holds such an honour, and has been chosen to be the Blessed Sacrifice. After his fall from grace at our hands, it seems only natural that he be permitted vindication in such a manner. I would think a withered husk such as him would be pleased to learn that he still has worth. Unfortunately, his mind was too frail to appreciate this. He put up just enough resistance when we came to collect him that it caused Mister Kezax some trouble, but fortunately we had the means to undo the old man’s mistake. After that incident, he was subdued and made more than sufficiently pliable for our journey.
By our estimation, the pilgrimage will take roughly two days to complete, as it demands that we travel on foot (much to Miss Archie’s dismay, given her recent acquisition of even more draconic power). While I have faith that we shall complete the task without trouble, Miss Archie was blessed with a divine message to be wary of an attempted betrayal against us. Armed with the knowledge that there are some who intend to interfere with this pilgrimage, my conviction is steeled that much more. NONE shall come in the way of our Divine Duty!
Player's Notes: At last we got to meet the Queen! As the party face and the only member that's been there since the very beginning, I got the privilege of doing the achievements monologue to her, which was pretty fun. Nothing quite like talking up our badassery to one of the great rulers of Golarion. I just wish the next bit didn't force us to walk. I feel bad for Archie, who JUST unlocked her draconic form and flight along with it, only to be forced to stay grounded for the next mission. Welp.
Also, for whatever reason I can't log into Paizo on Chrome, which is why my posts are late. I had to use Edge just to post these. I wonder what's up with that...
22/02/14 - Session 59 - Cassius’ Journal 59: Cleanin' the Castle Attic
12 Sarenith, 4708 AR, The Sunken Queen, The Mushfens
After takin' out the false Ileosa, the only known defenders of the castle were the Red Mantis. I still remember our first run-in with 'em back in Vencarlo’s flat. Just two of the bastards were enough to give us the fight of our lives… But that was then. We’re much stronger than we used to be, an' their tricks are nothin' compared to ours. That much was obvious when I took out the assassin perched on the balcony waitin' to ambush us. He couldn’t tell I was behind him before my blades had already gone through his throat.
Felt more than a little cathartic, if I’m honest.
That isn’t to say the mercenaries didn’t try to put up a fight. Once we got into what looked to be a party room, the remainin' lot of 'em tried to leap down at us. Of course, I had already made my way up to give 'em a few passin' stabs, an' once the rest of our group had their chances they could hardly even swing their blades before they were brought down. The only one that posed any sort of threat was their leader, Kayltanya. Cinnabar told me some about her. Enough to make me feel more than justified runnin' her through. Didn’t really have the chance to, mind you. Len hit her with enough destructive magic to turn her an’ everythin’ on her into a fine dust. Now, it might be wishful thinkin' on my part, but I get the impression that that may well be the last we see of the Mantis for a good while. If those shites never dare try to darken the docks of Korvosa again, it’ll be too bloody soon in my book.
We didn’t encounter any more resistance after the assassins. Made it easy to scour the place for any hints as to what Ileosa was up to. Our explorations brought us to a room with some harrow cards lyin' about. As soon as we looked at ‘em, the bloody things went flyin' every which way, then directed us up to the floor above. With that hint, it didn’t take us long to find the room belongin' to the King’s secret brother. It wasn’t unoccupied, either. Venster’s ghost showed up an' asked for his body, which we obliged.
Venster had a lot to say for a dead man. He told us that Ileosa tricked him into poisonin' the King, then she killed him to hide the evidence. He also filled in the missin' pieces of her plan: she’s goin’ to conduct a mass sacrifice ritual to achieve immortality, an' is currently preparin' it in a place called the Sunken Queen.The site apparently has some connections to the old Runelord Shorsen, an' that ancient power’s what Ileosa’s usin'. Whatever the details are, the important thing is that we can’t let her go through with it. Venster added that for his soul to be freed, Ileosa must die, but given everythin' else at this point, I’m thinkin' that’s been a foregone conclusion for a bloody long time.
The last thing Venster did was perform a little card trick, bringin' Zellara along for the ride. The two of 'em enchanted the old woman’s deck I’ve been carryin' around since we first formed this team. After drawin' from it, the others all got some sort of potent magical power from it. The thing had just as many if not more chances of triggerin' somethin' terrible, mind you. I opted not to meddle with the shit, despite Trin’s proddin’. Seemed a good way to curse yourself into oblivion. I did pull one out after the magic faded, just to prove a point. The card would have turned me into a f#!%in’ noble. Dodged a bloody poisoned arrow with that one. Well, good to know the spirits have a sense of humour, I suppose.
The rest of the castle didn’t have much beyond the usual extravagances of a royal hold. There was one exception though, an' that was the secret royal study. There we not only found an abundance of powerful magic scrolls, but also the contracts provin' that Ileosa had made deals with the Red Mantis an' the fat worm devil, as well as the poison she used to kill the King. There was also a book mentionin' more details of the ritual she was preparin', with several people listed as her soon to be sacrifices (us included, of course). In that one room there was more than enough evidence to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ileosa never should have been within reach of the Crimson Throne, let alone sittin' on it. Let that put to rest any lingerin' doubts about the justice of our cause, though in my opinion you’d have to be pretty f+~#in’ blind not to recognise it at this point.
We dragged our captives back to the Grey an' delivered the good news to Kroft an' the others. We didn’t stick around to celebrate though, as we still have one loose end to take care of. We immediately teleported to the Sunken Queen an' cleared the frogmen that guarded the exterior, leavin' us only to enter the structure an' end this once an' for all.
By Milani’s grace, the day would not end without the true Ileosa’s blood on my blades, an' Korvosa free of her tyranny…
Player's Notes: Aw yeah, the final stretch!!!
Drawing The Empty Throne from the Harrow Deck of Many Things after the magic wore off definitely gave me a chuckle. I opted not to draw mostly because I don't think Cassius would be the kind to take unnecessary chances. It didn't help that Trinia already had to use up 2 of my rerolls after drawing The Fiend and The Crows, before finally picking The Big Sky. My luck with cards is historically not great...
22/01/30 - Session 57 - Cassius’ Journal 57: Sloth-Like Devils and Rabbit Dragons
11 Sarenith, 4708 AR, Slope, Midland, Korvosa
It didn’t take long for us to run into our next batch of forces. Just as you’d expect from a castle, it’s teemin' with bloody guards. We came across the next lot of ‘em in the gatehouse, still watchin' the front steps. Guess they must have missed the fact that we had already made it inside. Groupin' eight Gray Maidens together didn’t make them any less useless against us. I dropped a couple from the shadows of the castle an’ Len dropped the rest into a movin' pit. The real problem came in the form of the barbed devils an' their horned leader flankin' us from the main stairs. James, Kel, an' I took care of the barbed while Len whipped out another surprise to deal with the big f+~@er. Next thing we knew he was loafin' about without a care in the world. Accordin' to Len, he was made to think he’s a sloth. After that, Kel had an easy time tamin' the thing, not that I know why we’d want a tamed sloth devil. We figured after that, it was as good a time as any to return to base an' recoup before we ventured in again to finish the job.
We weren’t exactly finished yet though. As we were on our way out, Sabina Merrin of all bloody people drops in on us ridin' a giant f!#~in’ black dragon. It was much bigger an' meaner lookin' than Belshallam back in Scarwall. Honestly, if it weren’t for Merrin pullin' it’s reigns to keep it an easy target, we might have had a real problem on our hands. With her help though, we kept the beast busy enough for Len to turn it into a bloody rabbit. I can only imagine what anyone nearby must have thought, seein' us transform a dragon into a f*@%in’ rodent right in the middle of a city square. Given the atmosphere in the streets afterwards though, I think that may well have been the signal they needed to know that Ileosa’s tyranny was at an end. Her allies are dwindlin' rapidly, an' by this time tomorrow, I plan to see to it that she won’t have a single one left in Korvosa.
Our time in the castle may have been at an end for the day, but we still had plenty to take care of. First was the matter of Sabina Merrin. We took her to Lamm’s old fishery, figurin' it would make for a decent place to hide her while we finish retakin' the city. Funny to think the last an' only time we met Merrin was just after cleanin' that place up. Feels like decades ago…
By Merrin’s own account, she was a loyal agent of Ileosa’s (an' far more than that from what I gather) until the woman’s cruelty became too much to bear. Since then she’s been lookin' to defect, an' thought that helpin' us remove one of Ileosa’s strongest weapons would grant her some lenience. Can’t say I understand why she would have fallen for the Queen, but I can at least sympathise with the notion of seein' someone you love fall down a dark road. It’s not like I haven’t seen my fair share of good people losin' their way, though in my case it’s usually drugs an' coin that are to blame, not some evil dragon crown. In any case, Merrin came to her senses enough to join the right side of this fight. Even if it’s a little late, she can be of use. If nothin' else, we’ll spare her for Ven an' Grau’s sakes… Oh, an' with her testimony we don’t have any need for the devil, so Kel took it out back an' disposed of it. Thank Milani for that, because I had no idea what we’d do with a bloody horned devil in the first place.
Merrin did tell us some useful information. For one, the woman responsible for Ishani’s demise was none other than his sister, Vavana. She also mentioned a Red Mantis leader, no doubt Cinnabar’s former commander, an' some other bein' that lay at the top of the tower who was responsible for sendin' Ileosa down her current path. I promised we’d see to it that whatever fiend was responsible for her downfall would be put to justice, though I could make no promises for savin' Ileosa. For the sake of her soul, I hope the hell she’s put Korvosa through was not truly of her own doin', but I doubt she was ever truly innocent…
Once we got back to the rebel hideout, one of our first orders of business was bringin' Ishani back to the world of the livin'. It might have been our own personal bias, bringin' him back when so many have perished, but we know the good he’s done for the city an' what he can still do, not to mention what we now know. He confirmed it easily enough: his sister has gone mad an' works in service to Ileosa. Apparently she used trickery to get him to go to the castle, then had him tortured an' killed. She obviously didn’t expect us to rescue him though, as she had told him somethin' pretty damn interestin'. Seems the Ileosa currently stayin' in the castle is a fake. The real Ileosa left Korvosa for some purpose. Knowin' what we know now, it can’t be for anythin' good. We’ll have to find an' stop whatever it is she’s doin', but first we have to finish the job of liberatin' the city. Ishani requested that we spare his sister. After everythin' she did to him, it’s amazin' that he still believes she can be saved. Still, if he was willin' to walk into the devil’s den just to save her, we might as well try for his sake… With all the people we’re supposed to be attemptin' to save or redeem, I’m startin' to think it’s no coincidence that today is a Sarenite holiday…
We filled in Neolandus on everythin' we’ve learned, an' while we’re at it I asked him about the tiefling corpse we found. He admitted that it was the king’s brother, an unfortunate man by the name of Venster. He lived in the upper floors of the castle in hidin', on account of the obvious stain in the bloodline he represented. That alone would have been little more than a curious fact, were it not for the sudden echo of a spirit in my head requestin' that I return his body to him. Not entirely sure what to make of that, but at this point we may as well give the poor sod a proper rest. One more thing to do once we return to the castle.
With that, we’ve all got our jobs set. The rebellion will work towards retakin' the city an' figurin' out where Ileosa could be headed, while we deal with whatever forces are still left in the castle. For tonight at least, Trin wanted to see her home after bein' away from it for so long, and insisted I escort her…
Suppose I don’t need all that much sleep.
22/02/06 - Session 58 - Cassius’ Journal 58: Devils Destroyed, Double Dethroned
12 Sarenith, 4708 AR, Castle Korvosa, The Heights, Korvosa
Whoever’s left in the castle didn’t learn their lesson after yesterday’s infiltration, because gettin' in was just as simple a matter this time around. We skipped the lower floors an' made our way directly to the royal chambers. If Ileosa wasn’t there, then we figured we might as well find out who is, an’ maybe learn Ileosa’s plans in the process. We took advantage of a secret passage through Merrin’s chambers to get into the royal bedroom before anyone could detect us. There, we found Togomor, along with a few more barbed devils. Knowin’ that he isn’t in control of his own mind, I took care only to knock him out, while the others made short work of the remainin' devils.
Once the room was cleared, we bound the bloatmage an' gave him a more thorough investigation. Len was able to impede the possession long enough for the man to blather uselessly for a bit. Not to give the devil a chance to make him a problem for us again, Jules fully dispelled the effect, pushin' the devil out to greet us. Len’s descriptions an' Togomor’s sketches didn’t do this horrid worm justice. It had to be the ugliest bloody thing I’d ever seen. Somethin’ told me that lettin’ it live even a second longer would be a mistake, so I went to work at it with everythin’ I had. It managed to get one nasty spell out that sapped the energy out of most of our group. Sadly for him, that didn’t include me. I introduced him to Rose an' Thorn many times over an' pumped all of Milani’s wrath into the strikes. By the time I was done, the belier devil looked more like an overused pincushion.
Togomor was much more chatty after that. He told us that Ileosa had taken a particularly keen interest in some immortality rituals he had been investigatin’. I remember seein' as much in some of the books from his study. Not exactly surprisin' that Ileosa would want to achieve eternal life, though I’m more concerned about the cost of it. Somehow, I doubt she’d be sacrificin' her own blood for that sort of project…
Still, we aren’t quite done with the castle, so she’ll have to wait a while longer. We secured Togomor (not that he could have gone much of anywhere without his spellbooks, magic equipment, an' most of his strength sapped away) an' moved on to the throne room.
The Ileosa simulacrum wasted no time in greetin' us an' declarin' that our work together had ended, as if we were ever on the same side. Then she so graciously offered to let us leave with our lives if we abandoned Korvosa. I answered her request by disablin' Vavana, who stood beside her, before anyone could react. Kel an' the others handled the soldiers, assassins, Nessian hellhounds, an' imps, while Len made sure the false Ileosa couldn’t escape the flurry of blades I had ready for her.
By the time we were done, the Crimson Throne was empty again, with a pool of blood at its base the only thing remainin’ of its former occupant.
We still have the Red Mantis an' whatever other mysteries lie in the upper floors to deal with, but the next time we return to this throne, it truly will be rid of Ileosa’s influence once an' for all…
Player's Notes: Fell a bit behind on things last week, so it's a double duty this time. Frankly, there isn't much to say about the previous session beyond "Baleful Shadow Transmutation is a terrifying spell". Two big scary encounters, ended just like that...
I've got to say, there are few things quite as satisfying as a greater invisible Rogue launching a hasted full attack with two holy weapons and a bunch of other anti LE buffs active. After all was said and done, I dumped almost 400 damage into him in a single round. The multiple crits helped as well.
Vavana and Ileosa's double weren't much different. I had gone through the trouble of stealing Vavana's spell component pouch in the surprise round in case I didn't down her right after, but that turned out not to be all that necessary. My skill rolls may have been poor, but my attack rolls more than made up for it that session.
22/01/31 & 22/02/07 - Session 41 & Session 42 - Bellflower Plucked
Toilday, 1st Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
Miss Archie joined us just in time for our continuation into the depths of the Bellflower vermins’ nest. With Mister Kezax’s guidance, it was an easy thing to trace our way to the hidden passage. Some of the pests did attempt to hinder us, but rats are easily stomped underfoot when they become too fat and complacent. Even their attempt to flood their nest was swiftly denied thanks to Father Dexsius’ resourceful application of stone shaping magic. The water and last remaining trap did admittedly slow our pursuit, but at this point, it was nothing more than delaying the inevitable.
The Bellflower cesspool consisted of a dock for a single boat, but even a small wound can become viciously infected if not tended to properly. I pushed forward to cleanse the offending bacteria, while my companions offered support from the rear. The scum dared to strike out at us with spells of fire and lightning, clearly unaware of the nature of the medicine that came for them. Father Dexsius’ protection magic rendered the attacks against me impotent, giving me ample time to remove the source.
The Bellflower remained ever insidious however. Through the use of invisibility, they sought to ambush my dear allies. Sir Quintus even found himself momentarily overwhelmed by their harassment. It was fortunate that Father Dexsius was there to ensure that no true damage could be done. While an infection may fight ferociously for its continued existence, Cheliax is a healthy body, and our cure would win the day. Mister Kezax swiftly eliminated the prime offender with a well-placed shot. I flattened the magical snake that slithered among the wound, revealed thanks to Miss Archie’s magical talents. Finally, Sir Quintus and Father Dexsius disposed of the final vestiges of the infection by showing them the power of lightning and fire when harnessed by the Righteous.
The blast of flame ignited the boat upon which the merchandise had been stowed. Mister Kezax’s placement of alchemist’s fire upon the vessel ensured that it would never again be used to harm our nation. As for the slaves it contained, they were given a simple choice: return to their stations, or seek their supposed freedom in the flames. Those that still could chose wisely.
Among the remaining merchandise was one slave that I happened to recognise from an ownership bill I’ve kept since my first return to Longacre. As such, I have appropriated the slave Magnus into my service. Father Dexsius was kind enough to implement a suitably thorough compulsion to ensure that this beast would never again be led astray. I had always found the paper strangely compelling, as this slave bore the same name as the affable but ultimately doomed companion that accompanied me in the earliest stages of this quest. Naturally, I can only conclude that it is a Sign that we walk the Divine Path. The additional fact that these events have occurred on the day of The Shadowchaining reaffirms this. Just as the Kuthites are thankful for the Midnight Lord’s gift of shadow beasts, I too shall be thankful for the beast I have been blessed with. Magnus will serve me well, I am certain.
With the Bellflower infection treated, we had time to investigate and locate written evidence of their corruption, including other places where the wound may yet fester. The Empire will do well to heed this knowledge and rid itself of the pestilence these vermin bring before it grows any further. Much as I would wish to attend to such a task personally, I must answer to a Higher Calling. Disruption of Lawful trade is a grave sin, but the heresies of the Reclamation present a far greater existential threat.
Fortunately, I am confident that Her Infernal Majestrix, wise as she is, will see from our deeds that I am the perfect answer to such a threat. Such is my Divine Purpose, after all.
Player's Notes: A combination of increased work at the office and a wonky game schedule resulted in me being a bit late this time around, though today's session ended up only being a 30 minute affair to finish off the last remaining Bellflower enemies. We are now all very eager to finally meet Queen Abrogail II, which if all goes according to plan shall occur tomorrow. How very exciting!
22/01/24 - Session 40 - The Bell Tolls for the Bellflower
Toilday, 1st Kuthona, Egorian, The Heartlands
For most of my life, I had dismissed the Bellflower Network as being an annoying yet ultimately insignificant band of brigands. It is only once I saw the woman claiming to be an Abadaran while willfully aiding their efforts that I’ve come to appreciate just how vile their influence has become. It sickens me that such filth has been allowed to fester in this beautiful city for so long.
The “Barrister” already lacked a hand, which I could only assume was due to a prior incident of theft. She all but confirmed as much when she spoke ill of the righteous agents of the Order of the Scourge. That said, much as I respect the work of the Hellknights and their adherence to classic punishments, I could not help but feel that this particular one was insufficient. Amputation is usually a quick and clean thing, far too much so to get the point across. The woman’s repeat offence and continued defiance suggested that the lesson of the consequences of theft was not adequately learned.
Some would say that theft is a petty crime. However, it is far a more heinous act than most realise! It goes well beyond the simple removal of property from a lawful owner. It also erodes society by damaging trust. To steal is to make the world less trustworthy, and thus more discordant. It is through such erosions of institutions such as lawful ownership that a nation succumbs to deeper corruptions. One could say that such institutions are the skin which protect us from infection. Therefore, to break the law is much like flaying the skin, exposing it to the vile influences of Chaos. A follower of the Master of the First Vault ought to appreciate this better than anyone!
With that in mind, I conducted my lesson thoroughly, ensuring that our captive thief fully understood the severity of her crime. She was recalcitrant, but with Father Dexsius’ support and my own meticulous application of a sharpened coin, she was persuaded to atone by confirming the location and identities of her co-conspirators. Of course, a crime still requires punishment, and she committed multiple. For the crime of theft, the payment would be her hand, as is customary. For sidestepping the laws of Cheliax, her feet would suffice. Finally, for the most terrible crime of heresy and false devotion to a God of Justice, I extracted payment in the form of her false face. Once the tributes were made, Father Dexsius ensured that her soul would be properly cleansed in Hellfire.
We had confirmed twice over the location of the Bellflower blight, or at least, the nearest of their operations. The manor belonging to a half-elf named Helthondous was simple enough to locate with the information we had collected. From there, Mister Kezax was kind enough to take the vanguard and ensure that the vermin would not find themselves able to flee or destroy the evidence of their crimes. Once he had installed himself comfortably, the rest of our group were informed and made our way in with suitable force.
Helthondous himself greeted us in his courtyard. While he did attempt to impede our approach, Sir Quintus was kind enough to provide me with the means to proceed. I made short work of the frail rat, then removed the golem he had activated in vain for further protection. The outsider that aided him abandoned its post immediately, unsurprisingly.
That being said, Mister Kezax and the remainder of our prey lay somewhere deeper still…
Player's Notes: Perhaps it was the fact that I hadn't played the villain in quite some time, but I felt particularly inspired going through the torture sequence with the Barrister. It was rather gruesome, I must say. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't have fun. Much as I worried about playing an evil game in the past, there's something cathartic about playing an absolutely over the top brutal villain...
Though considering how Kezax has set himself up with his absurd stealth, he may well outdo me in that department next session. Let's just say the escape raft full of slaves also has a considerable stockpile of flammable goods on it thanks to him...
22/01/24 - Session 56 - Cassius’ Journal 56: Bloody Mage Battered & Bruised
10 Sarenith, 4708 AR, Castle Korvosa, The Heights, Korvosa
With the castle on alert, we found ourselves dealin' with foes on three fronts. On one side Len, Kel, Trin, Jules an' his golem were tendin' to the barbed devils. Meanwhile, guards had started funnellin' from the other room an' floors. Lucky for us, the castle uses a piss poor corridor structure. Made it real easy for me to block off both routes with a spread of Milani’s vines, an' pick them off one by one as they tried in vain to cut through it. For all their tyrannisin' of the city’s people, the Gray Maidens aren’t much of a threat when faced against someone that flights back.
The others had gotten whatever Hellish bedlam was goin' on in the other room well in hand when another new resident of the castle made their appearance. I couldn’t forget the new seneschal Togomor if I wanted to. First time I saw him was when the Queen finally showed her true colours against Commander Endrin. I remember thinkin' at the time that it hardly seemed possible for a man hold himself up carryin’ around that much flesh. I’d never heard of bloatmages, but it seems they collect an excess of blood to enhance their magical abilities. Maybe it’s because I’m not of an arcane disposition, but I can’t for the life of me think why anyone would choose to live like that. Then again, maybe it just takes a comfort with decadence that I couldn’t grasp, not that I’d ever want to.
Well, the why wasn’t important. What was important was that he an' his obese imp were after us. Shame for him Len knows more than enough tricks to disable casters. A simple cast of silence an' all Kel had to do was rush in an' feed him a feast of fists. He made quick work of the imp, but the seneschal managed to teleport away before I could join in to assist. By Kel’s estimation, the fellow wasn’t actin' of his own accord. That combined with the sketches we found in his room afterwards suggests that we’ll next find him with the belier devil Len an' Jules ran into before. Given that, may as well cut the middle man an' take out the devil first. If all goes well, that’ll kill two birds with one stone.
After the initial forces were wiped, gettin' rid of the remainin' guards on the second floor was child’s play. I took the opportunity to check for anythin' worthwhile. Didn’t find much besides some of the wizard’s books, maps of the region, an' a secret escape route from the castle. We also discovered that the temple of Aroden could use a serious dustin', but that’s not much of a surprise. Who’d bother carin' for a dead god, anyway?
We decided to push our luck an' made our way to the third floor. Didn’t take long for us to come across the gallery, featurin' Trin’s portrait of the former King slashed to ribbons. Naturally, she took it poorly. Trin takes a lot of pride in her work. Wouldn't matter if it was the King of Korvosa or some Bridgefront empty. I can get the sentiment. A lot of time an' effort goes into a person’s craft. To disrespect a piece is to disrespect the artist.
Well, that just makes one more crime Ileosa will have to answer for.
Player's Notes: Yep, I still love Wall of Roses. Such a great way to remove a few enemies from an encounter. You could consider that entire fight a game of invalidating spells. Between confusion, silence, fog, and the wall of roses, none of our enemies could do much against us. It's a far cry from the fights we've had in the past. I can't help but wonder if the bosses in this place will throw us a curve ball.
22/01/11 - Session 39 - Disbarring the Barrister
Sunday, 29th Neth, Egorian, The Heartlands
If I’ve learned one thing from my tenure as the Sheriff of Longacre, it is that while the truly corrupt will do their best to hide their crimes, their inherently chaotic nature prevents them from being thorough enough to conduct such clandestine operations properly. Sooner or later, a provocation of their baser desires will overcome their weak will, or their lack of discipline will cause them to overlook a crucial rigour. With that in mind, the Bellflower Network would invariably expose themselves to us. Such was the Truth given to me by the Divine Path.
Our approach was three-pronged. While Father Dexsius and I maintained our cover as would-be rebels in the hopes that the Bellflower might seek us out, Father Dexsius sent the good Sir Quintus along with another of his clergymen to prod the local barrister market in the guise of a particularly audacious servant of Asmodeus seeking some sacrificial bodies. As I heard it told, he did a remarkable job of making the weak-stomached clerk he hired uncomfortable with his treatment of his legally purchased property. All the while as we made our provocations, Mister Kezax continued to monitor the warehouse he had previously located.
Ultimately, it was Mister Kezax’s disciplined observation that found our quarry. The one-handed woman we have been seeking brazenly appeared at the site to inspect it, not even taking care to inspect the barrel which contained the ill-gotten goods we had already seized. Mister Kezax followed her, and took care to intercept the message she was to deliver regarding what would have been their next smuggling operation. Ever the exceptional agent, he even went as far as to track the “Barrister” to her home and identified from the scent upon her clothes the likely site of her contact, a manor outside of the city belonging to a man known to cavort openly with halfling servants.
Needless to say, with such information, we are adequately equipped to proceed with proper disciplinary actions. I for one am all too eager to see this vulgar insult to good Chelish trade practice snuffed out. However, unlike our foes, we have the presence of mind to be diligent in our pursuits. The Barrister presents both a weakness and an opportunity that we must not neglect!
Of course, Mister Kezax was thorough enough to ensure that we would not be met with any undue surprises when we sought out the Barrister once more at her home. She resisted, of course, but she was unprepared, and as such a few well placed strikes were enough to put her back to sleep. In a delicious twist of irony, the warehouse Mister Kezax located and secured will function well as a place to acquire the thief’s testimony. I have every intention to see to it that she is made to answer for her heresies to the god of commerce she purports to follow…
Player's Notes: Another game heavily delayed by holidays and schedule conflicts, but it seems we will be returning to a regular schedule quite soon! And I could not be happier. Gotta admit, the sadist in me has been looking forward to bringing forth new creative ways to torture and horrify our enemies, and I have something very specific in mind for the Barrister. It's going to be graphic and viscerally unpleasant, that much is certain...
21/12/12 & 22/01/10 - Session 54 & 55 - Cassius’ Journal 54 & 55: Into Castle Korvosa
10 Sarenith, 4708 AR, Pillar Hill, Midland, Korvosa
Breakin' into Castle Korvosa... For any Korvosan dancer, it's the sort of job you dream about, but no one in their right mind would ever go about actually tryin' it. Not unless you wanted your head decoratin' the castle walls…
Then again, bein' in my right mind isn’t somethin' I could get accused of much these days.
Fortunately for our little plan, we had somethin' any would-be heister could only dream of: two people who have spent more than enough time in the inner parts of the castle to give us a full summary of the layout. Seneschal Kalepopolis an' Trin made quick work givin' us a broad map of the castle. Of course, there’s no tellin' what surprises Ileosa’s added, but after our experience with Scarwall, we’re more than equipped to handle those as they come.
Gettin' into the castle, funny enough, was the easy part. You’d think the seat of power in the city would have some magical protections against teleportation, but I suppose the army of guards would be enough to handle any normal intruders. We weren’t normal intruders though, so that oversight would cost them dearly.
Though, perhaps not in coin. We teleported into the basement of the castle, where the castle vaults are supposed to be, but the place was damn near barren. The only things left were a few errant jewels an' a very interestin' corpse. Oh, there was also a trapped tomb for someone that Jules identified as bein' Kusasfa, Shorshen’s first consort, but Runelord lore didn’t seem immediately relevant to our current mission. At least, I hope not. Then again, hopin' against things like that never seems to go my bloody way…
In any case, the basement was as empty as it was unsecured. Best I can guess, Ileosa’s been drainin' the royal treasury dry to keep her empire of tyranny afloat. I can’t imagine engineerin' a plague or creatin' a brainwashed army of psychotic warrior women comes cheap. Not that I’m one to weep for royals with light pockets, but it does make me wonder how we’ll be fundin' the reconstruction effort after this is all done.
Settin' thoughts of the future aside, we still had a mission to complete, an' some mysteries to solve. The tiefling corpse in royal robes raised a lot of questions for me, but without a way to speak to the dead it wouldn’t do us much good, so we opted to take it along with us. Perhaps some of our friends at the base will know more. As it was, we were better equipped to deal with the livin'.
The one staircase up led to a secret door in a closet. On the other side, the unmistakable smell of brimstone an' hellish laughter of the infernal. We worked quickly an' precisely to cut them down, though at least one fled immediately, I assumed it was to tell Ileosa that her favourite nuisances have arrived. It’s a bit annoyin' to lose the element of surprise so early, but we can still do some damage before we have to cut our losses an' try again tomorrow.
The erinyes an' palace guards that came after us weren’t slouches by any means, but compared to what we faced in Scarwall, dealin' with them was child’s play. This left Trin a chance to pilfer some brandy (payment with interest for the portrait she’d been commissioned for, she claimed), an' the rest of us to check out the holdin' cells.
A part of me did hope against hope that we’d find Ishani beaten, but alive. For bein' an Abadaran, he had enough of a conscience to take action to help the people when it mattered. He certainly didn’t deserve whatever sick an' twisted torture they subjected him to. Jules called the monstrous statue his corpse was chained to an Akaruzug. I call it a damned abomination an' yet another atrocity on Ileosa’s long list of crimes.
Initially, we tried to have Kel pull Ishani free of the contraption. Apparently that’s one way to turn them off, like takin' the fire out of a hearth. He was well lodged in there though, so instead we resorted to the old fashioned method. Trin got me in close, an' between Kel, myself, an' Jules’ golem, the unholy statue was cleansed. Sadly, Ishani was already dead, but not so dead that we couldn’t solve that problem. The things he saw in here, not to mention why he came in the first place, they might just be invaluable in helpin' us against Ileosa an' her goons. But there’s a time an' place for that. We still had a bit more time before the castle can fully muster itself against our surprise attack.
Our next stop was the castle forge. There wasn’t anythin' particularly noteworthy, but I opted to snatch a few tools for Markith. I figured if he’s goin' to help arm the citizens, against their oppressors, he might as well have the right tools to do it. My old mates in Bridgefront would have never let me hear the end of it; I make it all the way into the second floor of Castle Bloody Korvosa to steal a hammer an' some tongs. Funny, that.
As we moved into the second floor, we started seein' more of the Castle’s branchin' paths. Multiple stairs an' towers, each potentially containin' a clue to findin' an' stoppin' Ileosa before she can complete her twisted ritual. Each potentially containin' devils, or soldiers, or whatever other horrors Ileosa’ brought into her fold. Still, after Scarwall, I couldnt help but feel as though it was all so… Tiny. Korvosa is a city, but it is just a city, at the end of the day. Cities have human guards, human guards need sleep, an' a rogue like me can slit those sleepin' throats with ease. The anticlimax makes me feel like this is all a little too easy. Ileosa had to know that we’d attack sooner or later, so why was the reaction so weak? Did she underestimate us, or maybe she’d moved on past us to somethin' else? Perhaps she really wasn’t as strong as we feared an' I was overthinkin' it.
The last one at least was true in some respect, because I flubbed the last gray maiden assassination. Couldn’t quite shut her up before her cries called forth more guards. Meanwhile, Len an' the others started makin' their way over to a room of barbed devils.
That would be enough contemplation for the time being. Somethin' told me these next opponents would be a little more ready than the last ones…
Player's Notes: Not gonna lie, the drought of games over the holiday really made me miss this campaign. All the more so now that we're in the last stretch! Unlike with Scarwall I feel very well equipped for this one. Perhaps too well equipped. That said, there's a bit of a counterbalance in the fact that Jules' player dropped out of the game. It's a real shame to lose him, especially when we're so close to finishing the campaign, but it happens. I can only wish him all the best. For now his character is still technically there, acting like a pseudo NPC we can call upon when we need the extra help.
The accidental slip up with the last assassination was actually a problem of my own making. I was given the opportunity to kill four sleeping guards and told I wouldn't need to roll for it, since my stealth was so absurdly high. I opted to anyways for funsies, and rolled a nat 1 on the last of the 4 attacks (because of course I did). Honestly, I'm kind of happy that it turned out that way. It shook up the dynamic of the fight (and let's be real, we're kinda overpowered against devils and humans, so they need some sort of edge). Part of me worries that we might have bitten off more than we can chew, but the other part of me is too busy laughing at the fact that something called "Pudgyknuckles" is in the initiative tracker.
21/12/05 - Session 53 - Cassius’ Journal 53: Wishing for a Saviour
9 Sarenith, 4708 AR, Pillar Hill, Midland, Korvosa
Back before this whole ordeal started, I had always preferred workin' solo. Even as a thief, you could never be too sure when one of your mates might sell you out for a few coppers. By comparison now, I’ve got myself an entire network of trusted allies an' informants. Korvosa may be in the worst state it’s ever been, but I’ve never felt so well equipped to deal with it.
Our first order of business was findin' the Shoanti. Thousand Bones brought a small group with him to support our efforts an' remember our tale. Trinia’s face lit up like a damn beacon as she shoved a manuscript in their hands. I guess she’s taken a likin' to storytellin' now. Well, no harm in sharin' the story when all is said an' done, so long as the secret of Blackjack is kept hushed. After Kel got done squeezin' the life out of his blood brother Krojun, we sent them on their way to the other rebels. Kroft will know how to make use of ‘em.
The list of issues we’ve got to deal with are largely focused on the castle, so Jules an' Len took to investigatin' the structure. Their magic is better suited for scoutin' out the nastier surprises that place might have in store for us. In the meantime, Trin an' I got to talkin' with the network we’ve built around the city for news about this supposed vigilante Trifaccia. What we heard definitely lined up with Kroft’s suspicions. The guy operates mainly in big public spaces, at sunset when the sunlight reflects perfectly off of his immaculate golden costume of foreign design. Guards are conspicuously missin' at the moment that the “rebels” attack, an' Trifaccia never denounces the abuses performed by Ileosa’s other authorities. Even if he didn’t make his allegiance obvious, everythin' about his methods is too clean. Too orchestrated. Real vigilante work is messy, an' it only rarely happens where there’s an audience. Trifaccia is a fraud, no doubt about it.
There was one other strange thing about his little performances. Apparently durin' one of them, someone said somethin' to the effect of wishin' someone would go to Hell, an' sure enough they vanished. Now, that could mean any number of things, but based on the accounts we got, it sounded like someone was usin' powerful magic to grant the wishes of those in the audience. Gives us some idea of what we might be dealin' with, at least, though I sure as shite don’t like the sound of a power like that...
Markith, the old man that gave us most of our intel, used to be a skilled smith that made equipment for the guard. Since then, he fell on hard times an' now is off makin' horseshoes for a pittance. His story isn’t exactly uncommon of late. Even beyond the oppression of her soldiers, Ileosa’s once again found ways to hurt the people of this city. I handed him a sack of gold that would have made my former self salivate at the mouth an' gave him the information he needed to get in touch with the real rebels. No doubt Kroft will appreciate havin' a skilled blacksmith among her forces.
While Trin an' I had our friends in the city set up a watch around the areas most likely to see their next “heroic rescue”, Len managed to spot somethin' bizarre at the castle. While sendin' out her shadows to probe the floors, she got stopped prematurely by the sight of some unpleasant creature. She an' Jules called the thing a belier devil. I remember seein' a picture of one of those things before. Somehow those bastards are uglier than even your regular devils. Looked like a bloody three headed slug. The thing chased Len out of the castle an' forced us to give up the base she had been scoutin' from. Well, if nothin' else, it’s at least confirmation that the Queen’s got some Hellpower on her side. Honestly, I’m just thankful that it’s not more bloody ghosts.
Trifaccia’s was too quiet for my likin', so I took the initiative to get to work patrollin' as Blackjack, doin' real work against actual enemies in the city. Trin followed to spread the word of the true vigilante’s return an' callin' out the fake for what he was. Figured that’d get the charlatan to come out of his hole. If he wants to make badmouthin' Blackjack’s good name a public affair, I’ll make sure his trial matches suit.
Lucky for me, it didn’t take much provocation to stir our rival to action. While makin' the rounds at the Gold Market, I caught word of a few false rebels plannin' to stage an assault against one of their buddies. I stalked them while they waited for their designated hour, then interrupted them before they could pull their stunt. While we took them down, they uttered a few “wishes” at us that could have turned things really ugly had they worked, but our contingencies an' tenacity held through against the tricks. After that, it didn’t take much to knock a couple of them out of commission. I was hopin' we might get them to slip their real intentions, though they didn’t make it quite that easy for me. Instead, Trifaccia himself finally made his appearance.
As expected, the fellow was full of hot air an' false swagger. He spouted some nonsense about bein' a real hero an' then challenged Blackjack to a duel. Shame for him I’ve been trained by the best, so I accepted an' left the goons to my friends. Jules hung back to make sure this bastard wouldn’t pull any tricks.
Sure enough, the ruses started before the fight even began. My first thrust made it clear that my allegation of hot air was more literal than it ought to be. Sadly for him, my eyes are as sharp as my blade, so all it took was a careful look to spot my real foe on the rooftops. From there, he tried to cage me in a ring of fire an' get at me with some cheap tricks. An easy enough fight, until he hid behind his fire an' hit me with an unnatural level of force. Made me glad I invested in my new belt. A few more strikes like that an' he may well have dropped me. But it wasn’t enough, an' instead, he gave me the perfect openin'.
Jules took down the walls of fire, revealin' Trifaccia for what he truly was: an efreeti genie. With the ruse lifted, Trinia boosted my stealth an' I went to town on the bastard. With Rose (the name I’ve given to Serithial for the time bein' as a precaution) in one hand an' Thorn (the dagger I commissioned durin' our weeks out) in the other, I unleashed all the fury of Blackjack on this deceiver. Needless to say, he won’t be utterin' any more falsehoods for the Queen.
With Trifaccia dealt with, the Queen’s lost one arm of her propaganda machine, but that isn’t going to stop her minions from sowing terror an' violence on the people of Korvosa. I’ve asked my allies around the city to do what they can to aid the rebellion, but we aren’t going to get anywhere until we make some deeper cuts into Ileosa’s support network. In order to do that, we’re going to have to stab at the heart of her operation: Castle Korvosa.
Player's Notes: It was kind of amusing that almost immediately after having a 1 on 1 duel with a similarly built character in Hell's Vengeance, I would find myself in yet another duel in Crimson Throne. Funny how things work out that way...
I'm really glad we had time to sell off everything from Scarwall and make some purchases before this book. We had a massive gold reserve, so I ended up using my share to invest in a +2 Holy Keen Adamantine Dagger, a +6 Belt of Dex and Con, a +4 Belt of Int and Wis, and a Luckstone. All four of these items saved me in one way or another during that fight. And had I invested in getting one extra point to my AC somehow, I would have managed to dodge at least two really nasty hits. Btw, our GM's track record for unreasonable crit luck persists. Got 3 of them in 7 attacks total. I don't know what dice god has blessed this man, but I need to find out because damn...
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Player's Notes: I'll put the notes up top for this one, since it's kind of huge. At the end of every book, I like to write a special entry, summarising Cassius' thoughts about the situation and the characters he's encountered thus far. This time, I thought I'd do something a little bit different, and write the whole campaign up to now from Trinia's perspective. Seeing as we're about to dive into the final book, it seemed like a good time for a recap!
21/11/11 - Session 52 - Trinia’s Journal: The Tale So Far
31 Desnus, 4708 AR, Kaer Maga
It’s been one week now since we lifted the curse in Scarwall, and with our current itinerary, we’ll be heading back to Korvosa in one week too. Seeing as we’re right smack in the middle of this prep time, and I’m already bored, I figured why not take a page out of Cas’ book (literally) and write a little something myself. What better time to tell the tale of how this group of brave adventurers went from being a ragtag group of disgruntled citizens looking for revenge against some crappy old fart to the heroes that will save Korvosa from a Queen gone mad and an ancient evil dragon!? It’s not every day you come across a story as crazy as that, and even more rare to be a part of it! So if you’re reading this, get yourself a warm mug of something spicy, plop your rear down on your comfiest seat, and prepare to be amazed!
So, like I said, this group of would-be heroes came from pretty unexpected backgrounds. Kellogg Endrin was once a bright eyed noble with a promising future as part of the legendary Sable Company, but an unfortunate shiver addiction sent him spiralling into debt and disgrace (he also has a really cute hippogriff mount called Waydon, by the way). Jules Thurist was a travelling scholar from the far off land of Nex that came along with a dear friend of his (and his adorable pet monkey Lenny, who I’m pretty sure is smarter than he lets on) to check out Korvosa’s famed Acadamae, but an incident left his friend dead and the wizard hungry for justice. The lovely and mystical Miss Lenore Lascariu was once a veritable Chelaxian lady, but a mysterious bad romance left her deaf and alone in the merciless streets of our city. Finally, Cassius Redima was once as common a thief as you could find, but a near death encounter and a divine intervention saw him change his ways and become a vigilante for the lowborn folk.
Through some strange circumstances, all four of these lost souls found themselves summoned to an old shack. Greetings were exchanged and some old faces reunited. Remember that near death experience Cassius had? Well believe it or not, Lenore was the one that rescued and healed him! Small world, hunh? Or maybe it was a sign of fate! Anyway, the lot of them were all spoken to by a lady named Zellara Esmeranda. As it turns out, everyone present had been screwed over at some point or another by this bottom feeding crime lord called Gaedren Lamm. Zellara gave the crew some ideas about where he was and how they could get after him, and asked if they’d get her justice for her dead son. Our heroes may not have been a team just yet, but one thing they all had in common was a thirst for justice! So they went to the old fishery he used as a base and fought Lamm’s cruel gangsters, rescued the orphans working there, and eventually turned the old Gaedren into croc chow! It was a tough first mission for the gang, but they got justice for themselves and for Zellara’s spirit (plot twist! She was a ghost all along! And she’s been following us around as an enchanted deck of Harrow Cards giving us cryptic but helpful advice ever since.)
Now, these four might have thought that this would be the end of their little collaboration, but they found something of note among Gaedren’s things, a bauble bearing royal inscriptions! Being the good samaritans that they were, our heroes went to the guard to return the item. But as it happens, their timing coincided with a rather dramatic event: King Eodred II had died! One thing led to another, and the four of them ended up getting an audience with the widowed Queen Ileosa Arabasti. Turns out the Queen wanted some adventurers to take care of some trouble in the city, and so our intrepid heroes were sent to the leader of the Korvosan Guard, Cressida Kroft (yes, THAT Cressida Kroft). For the next couple weeks, they worked with the guard as troubleshooters, fighting cannibalistic meat makers, crime bosses, and a very nasty necromancer that had done some gross stuff to a poor Shoanti fellow down in the Dead Warrens. Pretty soon, they made themselves invaluable allies to the city. But something more nefarious was afoot...
All the while that they were trying to keep the city under control, others were trying to find the cause of the King’s death. This is where yours truly comes into the story. You see, I had been given a job to paint the King’s portrait, and had been doing so until just before his death. Just for that, I got pinned for regicide! Just my luck, hunh? One day you’re painting a rich old guy’s picture and next thing you know he’s kicked the bucket and the best gig you’ve ever got turns into an execution order. But it turns out I was lucky after all, because the people they sent to get me were none other than our heroes! Of course, I didn’t know them back then, so I took to the rooftops and gave em a good chase. Cassius, being the sneaky bandit he was, managed to keep pace and caught me, but somehow he could tell that I was innocent, and instead of bringing me in, he and the others brought me to a friend of theirs, a nobleman named Vencarlo Orisini.
You wouldn’t guess from his gruff scar-covered exterior and pissy attitude, but Cassius is actually a huge softie, and came to visit me every day while I was in hiding. He even got me some paint supplies from my house! Honestly, I’m pretty sure he had already fallen for me by then (and who could blame him; I’m adorable), but obviously we had bigger things to worry about. Even though I was safe, the Queen had picked some patsy and pretended she was me to perform a public execution! Obviously, our heroes couldn’t have some innocent person take the blade, so they went to rescue her, but imagine their surprise when none other than the legendary hero Blackjack suddenly showed up and rescued that fake me (Cas is a huge Blackjack fanboy, so he was going crazy)! I gotta admit, it’s kind of flattering knowing that a famous hero no one had seen for years by that point would come out of retirement just for me, but again, who could blame him? (Oh and that double, we met later, and still keep in touch. She’s a sweet girl!)
Obviously, the Queen was none too happy about getting called out by Blackjack, and the city was still kinda tense, but a couple weeks later when things seemed a bit safer, Vencarlo asked our heroes to escort me out of the city to someplace safe. That place ended up being Harse. A fun little town, that Harse. I ended up staying there for a whole month, got bored, went on an adventure, messed with some local bandits, teamed up with a Shoanti ghost to take them on… They were some fun times! But that’s nothing compared to what our heroes were up to back in Korvosa…
Right around the time I was being escorted out of the city, a boat called the Direption had sailed in. A boat… Full of something really nasty and insidious. Not long after, the city started getting affected by a plague called Blood Veil. Blood Veil is as unpleasant as you can probably guess from the name. It’ll make you spew your guts and cough your lungs out until everything that ought to be inside of you is outside. Obviously, this thing was a problem, but it was harder to deal with than crime bosses. You can’t stab a disease, after all (well, most of them anyway; if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Cas, it’s that you can stab anything if you try hard enough).
Still, our heroes helped out where they could, allying with a friendly Abadaran priest called Ishani Dhatri to take down fake cure sellers, overly aggressive wererats (though most of them were pretty friendly actually), and one particularly crazy clown assassin lady who murdered and zombified an entire manor full of people. At some point in all the kerfuffle, Old Korvosa even got cut off from the rest of the city. Cas lived up in Bridgefront, so as you can imagine, he was none too happy about that particular turn of events (though he’d be even less happy with how it turned out later; keep reading to find out).
Now dear reader, you might be wondering “but where did Blood Veil come from? Was it the boat?” Well yes, but not quite. You see, the Direption was a misdirect. A misDireption, if you will. During their investigations, the heroes found out a few pretty interesting things. The first was that the boat had ties to a pretty famous Urgathoan priestess called Andaisin (Urgathoa is the goddess of undeath, sickness and other nasty stuff like that, so you can probably see where that’s going). Another was that the disease was apparently being spread through smaller denominations of coins (which of course we common folk touch pretty much daily, explaining how it spread so fast). And the last was that the masked doctors that the Queen brought in to help with the plague were not entirely honest about what they were up to.
Have you pieced it together yet? If not, don’t worry. Not even the heroes were entirely sure of what was going on until they decided to investigate the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden, where the Queen’s royal physician Reiner Davaulus was working. That’s where everything became clear. You see, Reiner and the Queen’s Physicians weren’t tasked with curing the plague, they were the ones causing it! Reiner and his goons, including some members of the newly formed Gray Maidens tried to kill the heroes, but our champions weren’t so easily beat, and instead used the opportunity to pull off a little trick of their own. They disguised themselves as Reiner and his goons and went down into the basement to see what was really going on.
Turns out the place was a front for some pretty gruesome experiments. The physicians were in league with the Urgathoans, not only crafting the current plague, but developing even more potent versions. The heroes tore down the operation from the inside while the city guard and the Gray Maidens had a tense standoff over the investigation upstairs. It’s around this time that the heroes were also joined by an old friend of Lenore’s, an enthusiastic half-elven alchemist named Licia L’Étranger. (And I gotta tell you, she’s a real blast to be around! I mean, she’s got great chemistry with just about anybody, you know?)
Our heroes masterfully snuck in and fought their way through the cultists, working as a team to cunningly take down their evil army. They even ended up fighting Rolth Lamm! Who’s that, you ask? Well, he was the son of Gaedren Lamm, that old gang lord from the start of the story, but he was also involved in so much more. Remember that necromancer situation in the Dead Warrens and that manor massacre with the crazy clown lady? Both of those were because of this guy! What’s more, he wasn’t just an ally to the Urgathoans, but also the infamous Key Lock Killer, a murderer who had been known to go around stabbing people with daggers that looked like keys (There was some pun there on unlocking their deaths, but as a pun connoisseur, I find it to be in pretty bad taste). Truly, this guy was the worst of the worst in all of Korvosa, maybe all of Varisia! But thanks to the heroes, that nasty mess of a guy won’t be cutting anyone else up ever again. Anyway, there was some more fighting, and eventually the heroes fought and defeated the cult leader Andaisin… And then fought and defeated her AGAIN when Urgathoa decided to bring her back as some flying scythe monster. Some bad guys just really don’t want to stay dead, you know? (You can’t read it in my words, but I’m winking right now. That’s because I just did what’s called “foreshadowing” with that last comment. You’ll see what I mean later. Keep reading!)
The news that the Queen’s Physicians were Urgathoans working to poison the city really didn’t paint the Queen in a good light (nor should it, because she’s the one that hired them; in case you haven’t guessed yet, the Queen is the villain of this story), but it wasn’t enough to take her off the throne. Actually, something very different happened instead. During a big ceremony, the Queen blamed all the other organisations in the city for their incompetence and declared that she’d be giving a whole bunch of authority to her new guards, the Gray Maidens. Marcus Endrin, the leader of the Sable Company and a relative of Kellogg’s, decided this was the right time to call the Queen out and tried to kill her, but even though he shot her right through the head with an arrow, she just yanked the thing out and stabbed Marcus with it! Now, dear reader, I’m not sure how it is wherever you come from, but I can promise you that in Korvosa normally if you get shot in the head point blank with an arrow, it kills you, so something was obviously very wrong here.
Sadly, the heroes wouldn’t really get a chance to figure out just what that was yet. Cressida Kroft needed them to take care of something else. Not too long ago, she had gotten a message from Vencarlo (that nice noble who hid me for a while). He had apparently found out something big in Old Korvosa, and was going to investigate. However, Cressida had lost contact with him. She needed the heroes to go into Old Korvosa and figure out just what was going on.
The heroes didn’t waste any time and snuck into Cas’ old stomping grounds. The first place they checked out was Vencarlo’s home, but instead of Vencarlo, they encountered a pair of assassins from the Red Mantis, crazy strong agents that specialise in contract killings and that worship a big scary red mantis god (hence the name). Our heroes barely made it out of the burning house alive, but in the end, they eeked out a victory at the last minute.
Next, they went to find a fellow called Salvator Scream, a pretty famous painter known for his creepy aesthetic (I’m still jealous that I didn’t get a chance to meet him; I’m a big fan of his work! It’s so spooky!) This time, instead of finding the person they were looking for, they ran into a surprisingly cheerful elven woman named Laori Vaus who also happened to be a priestess of Zon-Kuthon (god of torture and pain; you know, the one with all the spiky chains and very kinky looking piercings). Obviously, the heroes were pretty wary, since ZonZon’s an evil god, but she apparently wanted to help them find Salvator. So they made a tentative alliance and followed the trail to the realm of Pilts Swastel, the self proclaimed Emperor of Old Korvosa.
So for a bit of context, after getting separated from the rest of the city, the island of Old Korvosa kind of became a lawless wasteland of murder and anarchy. There were only really two groups that had some authority, and that was Pilts and House Arkona, the one noble family based up in that area. Pilts was a madman and turned a chunk of the district into his personal playground for his crazy imperial fantasies. The heroes tried to play along, even participating in a game he invented where you would try to get piglets across a field and into a pit with a hungry wolverine (the poor piglets!) Well, it din’t take long for things to get out of hand, and the whole thing turned into a big fight. Fortunately, our heroes weren’t about to get beaten by some crazy guy with a fake crown, so they managed to get rid of the emperor and rescue the imprisoned Salvator (and a few innocent pigs) from his grimy clutches.
Before Salvator joined Laori and parted ways with our heroes, he revealed some pretty amazing secrets to them. When the King died, the castle seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis went missing. People assumed he went into hiding because he had a part to play in the King’s death, but in reality, he had gone into hiding to escape the Queen! As the seneschal, Neolandus had the power and knowledge to officially get the Queen off the throne, so it was only natural that Ileosa would want him dead. Salvator explained that he helped Neolandus hide, and then later Vencarlo came looking for him, and followed the same trail. Where did that trail lead, you might wonder? Well dear reader, it led right into the home of the Arkonas.
The Arkonas have always been a bit of an oddball family in Korvosa. On the one hand, they’re a noble house with quite a lot of influence that is known to do a lot of charity. On the other hand, they’re also known to have their finger in just about every major criminal enterprise in the city too. They’ve got ties to the far East, and are all around pretty secretive. So, not exactly the most trustworthy bunch. Still, the heroes decided to go with the direct approach and sought an audience with the head of the house, Glorio Arkona. The man used a bunch of doublespeak, but basically confirmed that Neolandus and Vencarlo were his prisoners, and that the heroes could find them in the basement. This was already kind of weird, but apparently Glorio suspected that other members of his family were plotting against him, so he decided to use the heroes to eliminate the competition. Either that, or he fully intended to trick the heroes into getting themselves killed or captured down there. Apparently, the basement was a real headache of a trapped maze to get through, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Glorio expected it to kill them. Still, our heroes made it through with skill and tenacity, managing to defeat Glorio’s sister Meliya Arkona and rescue the two men they were looking for. In the process, they even discovered yet another pretty crazy secret: the Arkonas aren’t people at all, but rather a family of Rakshasa! You can think of them like devils, but more hedonistic and with animal heads and also really good at shapeshifting. The heads of the family were actually the same two people shifting shapes every few years to deceive the entire city!
After rescuing Neolandus and Vencarlo, the heroes made haste out of the city and to the one place they knew would be outside of the Queen’s eye… Harse! Yes indeed, dear reader, this is where I finally reunite with our intrepid heroes! In fact, right around this time, I joined them! I mean, laying low in Harse might be a good plan to keep Neolandus safe, but it had been exactly a month since I got there and I was feeling pretty antsy for more adventure. So I used my irresistible charms and convinced Cas to let me tag along as his protégé. I guess hardcore adventuring really builds you up quick, because he and the rest of our heroes sure seemed a heck of a lot tougher than when I last saw them. It really motivated me to catch up!
As for our next destination, well that is where the seneschal’s knowledge really came into play. Neolandus knew that the Queen had been spending a lot of time wandering into Castle Korvosa’s treasury “borrowing” treasures. Given that and the Queen’s sudden superhuman powers, Neolandus suspected that it might have something to do with a legend about a blue dragon servant of Zon-Kuthon named Kazavon. In fact, he believed that the Queen’s new crown was made with the dragon’s teeth, and were imbued with the evil dragon’s essence! Sadly, the Korvosan accounts of this old relic were pretty sparse, but there was a group that might still know about this ancient legend: the Shoanti!
Given the Shoanti’s history of being driven out of their homeland and into the barren Cinderlands by Chelaxian colonists, they aren’t exactly friendly with Korvosans. However, the heroes had an ace up their sleeve in the form of their favour to them back when they recovered one of their fallen warriors from the Dead Warrens. So, with that and what could possibly be the fate of Korvosa in their hands, the heroes (plus yours truly) went into the Cinderlands to seek an audience with some Shoanti shamans.
The journey was a little more complicated than you might expect. The Sklar-Quah (Clan of the Sun) were the ones that had the knowledge we sought, and they weren’t about to share it with just anyone, let alone Korvosans. Instead, we went to the Skoan-Quah (Clan of the Skull) to speak with Thousand Bones, the Shoanti leader our heroes had previously befriended. Thousand Bones (or T-Bones, as I call him) suggested that we go about the Cinderlands doing a bunch of feats to prove ourselves worthy of speaking with the Sun Shaman. That little quest took us all over the wastelands. Kellogg honour-wrestled a guy so hard they eventually became blood brothers. We explored an ancient Thassilonian temple to retrieve a sacred mark (and fought a giant tentacle monster in the process). Then we joined up with the Lyrune-Quah (Clan of the Moon) to fight a giant red gorilla that was occupying their sacred Desnan temple (we also joined forces with a lovely Truthspeaker fellow named Akram for a while). Then we lured a giant sand worm (seeing a pattern here? It’s giant creatures all the way down) that Cas dived right into and then cut his way out of (that didn’t even kill the worm; that’s how big it was).
After all of that, we went to speak with the Sklar-Quah. They accepted our accomplishments as proof of our worthiness and let us in, but before we could go too deep into details, the camp was attacked by a whole bunch of Red Mantis assassins and one very angry ranger. Sadly for them, they weren’t prepared for Lenore’s crazy magical powers, or the rest of our tricks for that matter. The assassins were slain and the ranger, a poor old man fueled by revenge over a long-running blood-feud, was permitted to be exiled from the Cinderlands after we made a plea to stop the cycle of violence between the Shoanti and Korvosans. That night, we had a great party with the tribe as honorary Shoanti. Kel even shaved his head and spent a lot of time with a lot of Sklar-Quah ladies, which is a pretty big deal considering the Endrin’s involvement with the clan being driven from their lands. Maybe some day, there’ll be a bunch of half-Shoanti Endrins running around, proving that old wounds between people really can be healed with enough time and good faith.
Before the Sun Shamans could reveal their knowledge about Kazavon, we got called back to Korvosa to deal with yet another problem. By now, the Queen had gone completely mad with power, and those allies of the city, even Cressida, were driven into hiding in the Dead Warrens as rebels. However, thanks to the dubious help of Boule, the guildmaster of the Cerulean Society (Korvosa’s thieves’ guild), we learned about a secret entrance into a place called the Deathhead Vault, a notorious prison that was now being used as a base of operations for creating the fanatical soldiers known as the Gray Maidens. This was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up, so our group made our way to the Vault to wipe out this scourge of villains!
Dear reader, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a maximum security prison (I sure hope not!), but I can promise you they don’t typically look like this. For starters, they probably don’t have a whole army of Red Mantis assassins hanging out in a cave turned temple by the backdoor. Even with all of our precautions, they were a fierce bunch, and we had some pretty close calls. Still, by working together, we took those vicious assassins down and even captured their leader, a woman named Cinnabar that had apparently been controlled through enchantments to do their bidding. After that, we went into the actual prison. There, we not only defeated the Gray Maidens there and dismantled their indoctrination site, but we also rescued a whole bunch of prisoners that were on their way to being turned into Gray Maidens as well! We even found Marcus Endrin among the prisoners (I know, I thought he was dead too)!
With that little day trip dealt with, we returned to the Shoanti and learned the legend of Kazavon, the brutal warlord dragon that terrorised Belkzen and Ustalav. He committed all sorts of terrible atrocities from his castle, Scarwall, before he was defeated by a paladin of Iomedae, but those soldiers were then ambushed by orcs, triggering a curse that plunged Castle Scarwall into darkness. Our key to stopping Queen Ileosa, and by extension Kazavon, was to retrieve the paladin’s sword that slew him in life, the holy blade Serithial. It lay dormant somewhere deep in the castle, so we would have to brave its curse and retrieve it.
Lucky for us, we had some help. On our way to the remote castle, we happened upon Laori and one of her Kuthite allies, Shadowcount Sial, all the way from Nidal. They apparently belonged to a group called the Brotherhood of Bones, and they wanted Kazavon sealed away just as much as we did! So, spooky as they were, we let these weird allies join us in our quest to claim Serithial.
Reader, I won’t lie, the two days we spent in Castle Scarwall were easily some of the most terrifying and horrible days in my entire life. It was full to the brim with haunted rooms, grisly undead, and all manner of gruesome and ghastly things. Skeletons, ghouls, zombies, a mummy, a demilich, a vampire, a shadow dragon, a taxidermied wyvern, a carnivorous flower, a hag, a devil, a cursed ballroom, a giant worm man… You name it! I personally very nearly died no less than four times, and certainly would have were it not for a mix of good fortune and the skill of our heroes! We actually did lose the Shadowcount when he was taken to become some sort of special servant for Zon-Kuthon. THe whole thing was so traumatising that Laori gave up her religion! Point is, it was not a mission for the faint of heart or the frail of body. But still, never before have I been so excited! The suspense, the peril, the history… Oh, dear reader, if only I could explain in words the experience of such a place! It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life, I can promise you that! Of course, it also helps that somewhere within all of that, My dear Cas finally mustered up the courage to confess his feelings for me, and we shared a lovely night together, but that’s beside the point.
It was a long and grueling mission, but ultimately, we lifted the curse of Castle Scarwall, and reclaimed the sword Serithial. In fact, it’s sitting right here next to me as I write this from the hotel bed. It’s a very pretty sword. Versatile too! Normally it’s this big chunky thing, but whenever Cassius picks it up, it turns into a slender rapier. When I take it, it becomes a tiny shimmering dagger. Magical artifacts really are incredible, aren’t they?
Anyway, that’s the story so far. Korvosa is still under the Queen’s tyranny right now, but by this time next week, we’ll be returning to take back the city. Everyone’s been gearing up, and Jules even got himself a big metal golem he repurposed from the castle! I’m pretty sure today would be Angel Day in Magnimar, which seems like a fitting holiday, considering it’s about celebrating angels defeating devils and the city’s founders’ escape from Korvosa. Except this time, we’re going into Korvosa to liberate it! I’ll be sure to say a prayer to whatever empyreal lords I can think of for good fortune in this fight we’re about to undertake, and for the safety of all those people in Korvosa that are waiting for us.
To you fine folks of Korvosa, future readers of this epic tale, I bid you to hold fast. The heroic conclusion is sure to be at hand very soon, and when it is, you’d better believe I’ll be sharing this story far and wide for all to hear! And then, I’m gonna paint a hundred really awesome murals of the whole thing all over the place! But probably after taking a very long nap. Being a hero takes a lot out of you, you know?
21/11/07 - Session 52 - Cassius’ Journal 52: Serithial Claimed, Scarwall Tamed, Korvosa Aflame
7 Sarenith, 4708 AR, Gray, Southern Korvosa, Korvosa
Kleestad was the last obstacle between us an' Serithial, so Kel an' I wasted no time in gettin' to the rock in the middle of the lake where it was sheathed. To be on the safe side, I checked the thing for any final curses or tricks that might have been left. Lucky for us, that really was the end of it. When I yanked the blade out, I could feel the holy energy from the thing. It was like a warm light on a summer’s mornin'. Not all that different from when I woke up that same mornin' in Kaer Maga, come to think of it. Len, I know you’re readin' this. Don’t you say a f##%in' word.
In any case, Serithial seems to attune itself to whoever is wieldin' it. In my hands, it could become either a rapier or a dagger. For Kel, it returned to bein' the bastard sword it initially appeared to be. Doesn’t seem to change its properties none, so it was just a question of who ought to wield the sword between us.
In the end, Kel graciously left it in my hands. He’s always been more of a hand to hand combatant anyways. There’s somethin' rather awkward about some ex-thug turned vigilante wieldin' the blade an' armour of an ancient holy paladin, but if these are the tools we need to put down Kazavon an' save Korvosa from the Queen’s tyranny, then by the Everbloom’s grace, I’ll see them used fully.
Of course, we weren’t goin' to rush back to the city at full tilt, much as I might have been tempted to. We dealt a serious blow the last time we were in the city, so no doubt the Queen has been plottin' for our return. We took some time to ready our equipment, our bodies, an' our minds so that when we would return, we’d be ready to put our all into finally takin' Ileosa down.
Part of that was also preparin' mentally for the state Korvosa would be in. Even with the Gray Maidens an' Red Mantis gutted, the Queen of Korvosa has dangerous allies, enough to keep the city squirming under her thumb. Though our friends in the rebellion are puttin' up some fight, they don’t have the means to truly contest her, so she’s been puttin' the citizens through hell. After reunitin' with our old friends an' allies, Kroft gave us a rundown of the various issues that need to be dealt with before we can officially bring the Queen to justice.
One of the very first points immediately set me off. Someone by the name of Trifaccia has been goin' around supposedly actin' as the people’s hero. Normally, I’d be all for another ally against tyranny, but this one is supposedly fightin' false rebels. It reeks of deception to me, an' it seems like it did for Kroft an' Ven too. There’s no bloody way in hell that I’m goin' to let some charlatan smear Blackjack’s name on his own turf. I’ll be payin' the bastard a visit sooner rather than later...
The other items were largely similar. We had heard rumours of a black dragon months ago, an' now they seem more credible than ever. I had already seen the morbid tub of bloody flesh callin' himself the seneschal. Cinnabar had spoken to us about her leader, who apparently has come to take the assassins over since we stole away they second in command. We’re all but certain that the Queen has been usin' devils, an' we would just have to prove it, an' then there’s capturin' Queen Ileosa herself.
That said, some other points warranted some surprise. Our old ally from the Church of Abadar, Ishani Dhatri, apparently went missin' not long after makin' his way to Castle Korvosa. Given the state of things, I don’t expect he’s havin' a good time of it. I only hope we can get to him before somethin' truly awful happens, though if I’m honest, I’m expectin’ the worst.
Then there’s the matter of Sabina Merrin an' the chief indoctrinator of the Gray Maidens. Before takin' on her unsavoury career path, Merrin was Ven’s student an' part of a love triangle between him an' Grau. Neither of the men believe her to be the kind of person that would have agreed with the Queen’s atrocities, so there may be some manipulation at work. If that’s the case, then it may well be that the indoctrinator has somethin' to do with it. Either way, I trust Ven’s judgement, so I’ve given my word that I’ll try to save her if I can. I just hope she isn’t beyond savin'.
That left us with the last little twist of our visit. It would seem the Queen is understandably eager to hunt us down, more so than any of the other rebels. Seein' as we need Seneschal Kalepopolis an' the rest of the rebels alive to keep things in order after all of this is ended, we collectively concluded that it would be best if we didn’t linger in the Dead Warrens with ‘em.
Fortunately, findin’ a hidden base of operations shouldn’t be a problem. Korvosa is my city, an' I have friends besides the rebels that have been keepin' an eye on things for me. My allies lie in the shadows, an' Korvosa’s buildings cast a bloody lot of them...
Player's Notes: At long last, book 6. I'm really eager to see how this one plays out! Especially that fake vigilante. Coming off of an in character duel in Hell's Vengeance, I'm looking forward to putting this guy in his place. This is Blackjack's city, after all!
21/10/31 - Session 51 - Cassius’ Journal 51: Deepest Depths Below Darkest Star
24 Desnus, 4708 AR, Castle Scarwall, Hold of Belkzen
Before makin' our way to the final depths of the formerly cursed castle, we took a bit of time to investigate the surroundin' area, on the off chance that we might encounter somethin' of use. Some of the phantasmal visions still lingered for a while, leavin' me with the occasional unpleasant surprise, but with every passin' moment the curse’s bloody taint is liftin'. I managed to collect a few useful pieces of equipment here an' there, though maybe the most impressive was a giant iron golem. The thing was apparently runnin' off of the curse, so by the time we found it, it was inactive. Thank f&&*. I’ve had my fill of things that can’t be backstabbed. Jules took a likin' to the contraption, sayin' he could make somethin' useful of it. I just hope he gives it a new face. I’m sick of seein' Kazavon’s ugly mug at every bloody turn.
With the main castle all but cleared out, we returned our attentions to the Kuthite tower. This time, when we reached the room with the well at the base, we were met with an eerie voice demandin' that we present a suitable candidate for somethin' called a “Curate”. I vaguely remembered somethin' about this place needin' one before, though I couldn’t recall what it does. Apparently it’s some position of honour for Kuthites in which they stay in the tower an' guard it until they get offed. Sounds like a shite deal to me. Even Laori didn’t seem too keen on the idea. Best we can tell, this whole ordeal has really shaken the poor lass. Devout or not, we’re not about to give her up if she isn’t willin' to take on the role, so we opted to instead seek out the Shadowcount. We figured if anyone would either want the job or know an alternative solution, it would be him. Now that the curse is gone, it shouldn’t be too hard to locate him either.
Sure enough, we found Sial at the top of the tower. Or at least, what was left of him. Somethin' about this place must have f&~#ed with his mind, because the formerly composed an' stoic fellow was scratchin' desperately at the stone tryin' to answer some call. By then we had a pretty good idea what that call would be, so we brought the apparently directionally challenged bloke down to the well. As soon as the offer was made, he accepted an' went about his way to what I can only assume is absolute bliss by Kuthite standards, or an absolute nightmare by any sane person’s. Can’t say I’ll miss him, but a part of me does feel bad about lettin' him go to his god so easily. Then again, Kuthites make no sense to me in the first place, so what do I know. What I do understand is Laori’s loss of faith. The events that transpired in this castle would shake anyone to the core. All in all, I’d say it’s for the best that she move on from that shitty religion an' find somethin' better. Maybe even Lenore’s Black Butterfly might serve as a suitably shadowy alternative for her devotions. An’ if that doesn’t work out, I can always try talkin’ to her about Milani.
The well turned out to be our ticket down; one that was apparently much harder for Kel to deal with than the rest of us. Chalk it up to one last nasty magical surprise in this hellhole. Below the castle we found a network of caverns. Some parts even seemed to connect all the way to the darklands. Thankfully we didn’t need to go that far to find what we were lookin' for. Not too far in we came across some big ugly f@+#s with mouths for heads that I recognised as gugs, nasty things with a habit of ritual sacrifices. The voice from the well room warned us of servants belongin' to Rovagug, so the dots were easy to connect. Unfortunately for the creatures, they’ve got solid flesh on their bones. I will admit, there’s a part of me that really missed bein' able to sink my blades into somethin' tangible after two agonizingly long days. They never stood a bloody chance.
There was one other problem to deal with in this cavern. In a lake at the far end of the tunnel, we came across the horrible tortured monster once known as Kleestad. The vision I saw of his transformation into a worm didn’t quite do justice to the disgustin' pile of flesh an' sores he had become. It put up a hell of a fight, but ultimately, we managed to put the wretched thing out of its misery.
Player's Notes: Whoops, forgot to post this one before, so I guess it's double post time. Words cannot express how pleased I am to finally be done with all these undead. The gugs by comparison are such a welcome reprieve. Kleestad did give us a scare with an insane critical, but that same attack made us realise that our GM had been miscalculating power attack for who knows how long, basically making it add 4 times as much damage (and that's before crits). This has apparently been a long running misconception. Suddenly, a lot of very powerful hits that we've taken in both this game and Hell's Vengeance make a lot more sense...
21/10/29 & 21/11/05 - Session 37 & 38 - Great Balls of Hellfire
Sunday, 29th Neth, Egorian, The Heartlands
Of all the events that would transpire in Egorian during our time there, the Hellfire Ball was quite possibly the one I most anticipated. After all, while others were comparatively middling affairs for those of lesser status, this would be an event worthy of my station! Naturally, we all took proper precautions to attire ourselves appropriately. The event called for us not to come clad in armour, even if it was glamered, so I satisfied myself with some bracers that would ensure I could call upon the Panoply should I require it. After the last event, it seems best to be prepared for perils.
All the more so with the rumour shared to me by Demibaron Kavalderic. I was rather perplexed when he first told me of my blood's oath against me. But my father was thorough in his deception to see my inheritance properly managed. Perhaps this deception extended to family as well…
I did not allow these thoughts to burden me as we went about the Ball, speaking with old acquaintances and allies. However once more the Demibaron warned me, this time that my father's cousin would seek me out at midnight. Baroness Gellintha corroborated the tale with an allusion that a great surprise was set to transpire this evening. Thus, a matter I thought would be but a mere distraction became increasingly prevalent.
Midnight came and went without incident, though some minutes later the crowds parted, leaving myself and my companions center stage. Sure enough, my familial relation emerged and attempted to ambush me with the aid of a barbed devil. The attack might have been more impressive had I not been prepared, though even so the circumstances seemed too misaligned to not be indicative of something. The man is a Hellknight, a staunch representative of Order. And yet, he was not punctual, and he utilised tactics of deception and cowardice. As Miss Archie rid us of the barbed interloper, the man spoke of Hell’s Justice, and though Father Dexsius took exception to his remark, it helped me come to an understanding of exactly what this was.
This was a Test!
Once the Divine Revelation came upon me, everything seemed so evident! His actions clearly mirror those of my father, who acted uncharacteristically foolish so that the stage might be set for my ascension. However, since that time, my rightfully inherited authority was subjected to doubt by my peers. It is for this reason that he must have taken this action. By confronting me here, he is setting a stage for me to prove my title, just as a Hellknight might duel a devil before a suitable witness for their initiation!
With my newfound understanding, I bade that Father Dexsius stand down, so that I might treat with my examiner properly. It would not do for my title to be questioned due to an improper test, after all! Once we were both healed and Miss Archie ensured that no interlopers might interrupt us, the duel began.
Maralictor Vokadus Fex fought honourably, but of course, the outcome of this battle was never in question. My hammer struck with all the Might of my Convictions, the Strength with which I will lead the name of House Fex to Glory! The Maralictor fell and with our host the Duke Raaven Melesiva’s blessing, I completed the sacrifice of blood to affirm my birthright, before an audience of those distinguished members of the realm’s most powerful houses. Afterwards, I spoke briefly with the esteemed Duke. As a fellow son of a supposed traitor, I am certain he could understand my circumstances well. No doubt, it is why he agreed to this arrangement. It is for that same reason that I trusted his words as he offered the confirmation I sought: that my title would be questioned no more.
My only regret of the evening is that despite the rumours, the Queen was not in attendance. Once again, we find ourselves unable to meet. However, Archcountess Vasvion offered a most convenient suggestion. The Bellflower Network remains a thorn lodged in Egorian’s underbelly, and should we remove it, we would certainly earn the direct attention of Her Infernal Majestrix.
In truth, I had never ceased to keep my ear to the ground for further information regarding this particular pest, and had every intention of uprooting them at the earliest opportunity. However, their elusive nature makes their complete eradication a rather involved affair, and I had matters of my authority to see finished. But with that accomplished, I would be all too pleased to cure this infestation of miscreants and bandits once and for all.
We already possessed a name and a place. A one-handed woman by the name of “the Barrister” is said to be involved in these dealings, and she can be reached through some covert method at the Clerk’s Cloister, a tavern located in the Sorrowside district. We sent in Mister Kezax first to investigate the location. It seemed a popular place for discreet meetings of legal matters.
No doubt, these agents of Chaos would take great pains to be subtle, as prey would when within a den of wolves. As such, Father Dexsius and I set foot in the establishment not as our true selves, but instead under the guise of wandering adventurers. I suspected the barkeep may have a better understanding of the secrets transpiring within his establishment, so I simply played the part of a righteous Hero of Justice, as I very well am. A few easy words, and the flighty barkeep confirmed my suspicions. The Bellflower operated here, and though he would not take us to them, they may well seek us out. All that is left is to wait for that moment to come...
As we conducted our operation, Mister Kezax continued his own investigation. It would seem that throughout the day, the establishment was crossed by some curious halfling individuals. Our trusty sleuth tracked the vermin to a storage facility, where he acquired another halfling hidden within a barrel. This one he brought to Miss Archie. As I would come to learn later, Miss Archie interrogated the runaway and learned some information about the organisation’s methods. With that addressed, she disposed of the rotten goods.
Our first steps are now taken. Next, we must find this woman who seeks to undermine the Order of my fair city while obnoxiously using such a Lawful title. If she is missing a hand, I would suspect it is from prior misdeeds. If that is the case, then perhaps once more it is an incomplete punishment we are now set to bring to a suitable conclusion. If the loss of one hand was insufficient to instill the lesson, then she will have no need for the other.
Player's Notes: The first of these two sessions ended up being a very short prep session, so I merged them. Anyway, dueling the Maralictor proved to be a really fun and flavourful scene, if a little anticlimactic. His build was similar, but his damage output was simply no match for mine. I guess dismissing his barbed devil really did mess things up...
As fun as it's been mingling with the nobility, I am very much ready to go deep into the brutality with the Bellflower Network. It's been a while since I've gotten to really demonstrate Dominus' sadistic side...
21/09/25 - Session 36 - A Mindnumbing Party
Toilday, 24th Neth, Egorian, The Heartlands
The days leading to our next soiree of note were relatively calm. I took the time to further refine my etiquette and knowledge of my new responsibilities as an Archbaron. It would seem that Father Dexsius had also taken to his priestly duties in that time. I have yet to formally offer him the role of archpriest to the Fex holdings, though I am certain he will accept it. We are both blessed servants of the Divine Order, after all.
As though sensing my intentions of furthering our alliance, the good Father presented me with an intriguing arrangement. In exchange for signing a contract and agreeing to recognise Asmodeus as first and foremost among the gods in Order’s pantheon, he will provide me with a modicum of his divine powers. The arrangement is mutually beneficial, and only requires that I recognise that which is already true. Still, I find myself amused by the clauses of this contract. Father Dexsius still clings to Lord Asmodeus’ supremacy, but the fact that he acknowledged that the Dark Prince holds a place within the hierarchy of the Divine Order is already a suitable step in the right direction. That is to say nothing of his underlings, that I have on occasion conferred my wisdom to. The spread of Truth need not be an exclusively top-down affair, after all.
It seemed but a moment before Demibaron Graithus Kavalderic’s party was upon us. I had heard that the event would be a place of heretical revelry and unbridled debauchery. While I cannot say that such chaotic behaviour is especially palatable, there is something to be said for the malleability of those who would attend such events. Not all who submit to Chaos are lost; some may yet be molded and brought into the Light, sometimes with even more ease than those who follow a misguided form of Order.
I spent the majority of the evening collecting lost souls, gently herding them to the Revelations of the Divine Order. As a Herald, shepherding these misguided sheep was a simple matter, and it did not take long for me to develop an entourage. Ser Quintus did an admirable job of attesting to my sermons. Perhaps in hearing them, he is coming to understand and accept the Truths I speak of more readily than even my other companions. If so, then he will be a most useful ally in my Divine Mission.
Speaking of my companions, they too took advantage of the event. While Miss Archie and Mister Kezax enjoyed the luxury coffees and tobaccos offered at this gathering, Father Dexsius spent much of the evening observing and conversing with other partygoers, demonstrating his great talents in both capacities. He learned of insidious rumours that painted our necessary sacrifice of my dear father at the Inferno Gate as an act of treachery, a piece of misinformation he was swift to correct. As I would come to understand, others present at the event were keeping their ears open for scandals and secrets that might be released from the loosened lips of these attendees, so it was wise not to allow such falsehoods to spread.
On the subject of those in attendance, the Queen made no appearance at the party, and so Father Dexsius and Miss Archie instead sought out our host, the Demibaron. They located him inspecting a most fascinating statue depicting angels and devils at once in bitter conflict and carnal embraces. Some of these figures also bore the visages of members of the court. Miss Archie offered some interesting critiques, namely on the lack of draconic influences, and the inaccuracies of depicting Paracount Sethic without his various mutilations. It was as she was offering these corrections that I came upon the piece myself. It truly was a most wondrous thing to behold! While some might consider the implications of such a piece heretical, there is Great Truth in the depiction of Heaven and Hell at once at odds and in service to each other, with humanity functioning as the soldiers of this great duality. In fact, such a depiction is nothing less than a glimpse into the nature of the Divine Order itself!
The Demibaron seemed pleased with my analysis, and recognised our group as the agents that have gained renown of late. He warned us of the rumour Father Dexsius had heard prior, and that there was someone who sought us out. It would seem that a cousin of my father’s was ignorant of his plan, and seeks vengeance for his murder. As a Hellknight, it is only natural that my cousin once removed seek Justice, so I shall have to correct his misunderstanding. As this relative was not present at this event, I satisfied myself with a simple message to the general public:
“Some of you may have heard some rumours regarding my late father. Allow me to clear the air. Yes! I did indeed kill Archbaron Darrellus Fex, but it was a necessary action! The Archbaron sought control of an Inferno Gate, but he did so for his own benefit! It was the will of the laws of Cheliax and of the gods themselves that he be struck down! Doing so was my responsibility, and I did not falter.
The blessings of Hell belong to the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune, and it is my pledge that that is where they shall remain! This mark upon my eye is proof of my devotion. It is the reason I am here! If anyone wishes to question test my loyalty, my resolve in this matter, then I invite them to approach and do so. I will be more than happy to provide the proof you might crave!”
It pains me to denounce my dear father in such a manner, but this deception was his will, and therefore it is also my duty to uphold it to the public. In any case, though the message was delivered, any potential response was interrupted by a rather worrisome event. It would seem that someone in attendance bore with them a stone of insidious nature, and it chose this moment to emerge. We later recognised the creature as a derghodaemon, though in that moment I found myself overcome with a wrathful fervor that took away any sense. So too were Mister Kezax and Ser Quintus affected, and so all three of us set to kill this foul creature as it massacred the guests of the party.
Though our faculties were impeded, Miss Archie and Father Dexsius remained sound of mind, and took measures to dispose of the swarms surrounding us and to cure our affliction of the mind while healing our wounds. It was fortunate that they did so, as this creature was by no means feeble. Nevertheless, we prevailed, and the daemon found itself blinded, smashed, terrified, struck at with harming magic, and finally shot through its weakened body. For our success in dispatching the unwelcome guest, the Demibaron rewarded us handsomely, and spread word of our accomplishment. Once more, our Might and Righteousness shone through.
Let any who still question us do so at the Hellfire Ball, so that all might see the Truth!
Player's Notes: I sure did make a lot of very bad rolls in this session (Dexsius must have eaten up all the good luck when he got two nat 20s in a row for his information gathering checks). It ended up eating all of my Hero Points, so that by the time we got hit with the Feeblemind aura from the daemon and I once again rolled poorly, I had none left. Fortunately for us the casters both made it and Dexsius had two scrolls of Heal on hand, because otherwise that could have been really bad...
21/10/03 - Session 49 - Cassius’ Journal 49: A Dance With Death’s Finale
24 Desnus, 4708 AR, Castle Scarwall, Hold of Belkzen
Lucky for us all it took was Len usin’ her magic to toss Kel straight at that bloody danse an’ him goin’ wild on it for the job to be done. Good thing to, because we’ve still got a Curse to end…
Player's Notes: It ended up being a very short session. One good application of Telekinetic Charge and a full attack from a Brawler/Cavalier was all we really needed to finish the job.
21/10/17 - Session 50 - Cassius’ Journal 50: Scarwall Unchained
24 Desnus, 4708 AR, Castle Scarwall, Hold of Belkzen
The way to the throne room was clear. Somehow, that made it feel more eerie than when we were comin' across some undead obscenity every other room. Not that I’m complainin', of course. It gave us ample time to prepare for the fight that was to come.
The so-called chained spirit Mithrodar at the heart of this castle’s curse was every bit the grim bloody horror one would expect. Big, ghostly, an' full of nasty tricks. Came with its own crew of spectres, includin' the hag from before. I guess she got too big for her britches an' it bit her in the arse. Serves her right, I suppose.
Mithrodar kept our casters on their toes with its chains reachin' all through the hall, but fortunately by this point we’re all used to workin' under duress. Trin got Kel an’ Liscia up close to the bastard to let them do what they needed to, while I spent most of the fight keepin' the lesser ghosts out of the way. Kel took one hell of a beatin' from the thing, but Len had more than enough magic saved up to keep him fightin’. Didn’t help much with whatever the side effects of that thing’s touch were, mind you. By the tail end of the fight, Kel looked more like a mad Bridgefront beggar than a noble son of Endrin. Still, he held fast enough for us to take care of the stragglin' minions an' join him. As expected of our steadfast soldier.
The strangest thing about this monster was that it seemed like it was stuck in place, even more so than the spirit anchors. Suited us just fine, because it meant Laori could drop a wall of magical blades runnin' right through him. Poor sod just stood there an' took it. In the end, we all dumped what we had on the spirit an' that was that. Mithrodar was no more, an’ along with him went the curse that’s made these two days a livin’ bloody nightmare.
Naturally, it wouldn’t be a fittin' curse if it didn’t leave us with some partin' words. We were greeted by some ancient noble bloke named Andachi. He gave us the gist of the legend we mostly pieced together by now. He’s the one that brought Kazavon in to deal with Belkzen, then got himself grimly offed by the dragon bastard when he objected to his methods. Mandraivus the paladin came here in the armour I’m now wearin' an' a legendary sword we still haven’t found, killed Kazy, then got blindsided by some orcs. With no one there to hold back the darkness, it took over, an' that left us with this mess. A tragic tale, to be sure, punctuated by the fact that the storyteller’s ghost was bein' skinned while he told it to us. Even with everythin' we’ve been through, that isn’t a pleasant thing to watch…
In any case, it’s all in the past now. The curse is lifted an' with it we’ve been reinvigorated. That means all we have left to deal with is retrievin' Serithial an' rippin' Kazavon’s spirit off this mortal coil once an' for all. Though somethin' tells me Zon-Kuthon’s remainin' lackeys aren’t goin' to make that an easy job. If that worm-man vision I had in the tower was any indication, whatever we’ll be fightin' next may well give this fight a run for its money…
Not to mention we’ll still have to find out what happened to our old pal the Shadowcount… Truth be told, I don’t have high hopes for what state we’ll find him in.
Player's Notes: Comparatively speaking, that fight actually turned out not to be nearly as bad as we were expecting. It was by no means easy, and Kellogg definitely had several close calls, especially with the Charisma drain (though he also took enough damage to need two castings of Heal). I'm just so glad the curse is finally lifted!
It also really helps that we're now level 15, so the end of the curse also coincides with me getting my 10th level of Rose Warden. I sincerely hope whatever comes next in the depths of the Kuthite tower is vulnerable to sneak attacks, because I am so ready to start delivering some Smite Tyranny...
21/09/26 - Session 48 - Cassius’ Journal 48: A Dance With Death
24 Desnus, 4708 AR, Castle Scarwall, Hold of Belkzen
Havin' dealt with our first set of apparitions an' one very angry undead orc, it was about time we finally got around to the damned dancin' ghosts runnin' rampant. Fortunately, there was very little blockin' our way to our destination. I guess the wraiths saved us some trouble by mobbin’ us earlier, because best I could tell, there was nothin' of note left in any of the guest rooms besides some very rusty torture devices. I can’t help but think that these sick Kuthite f@&*s would have preferred them that way… We’ve been in this damn castle too long.
Besides the mostly empty rooms, there was a statue at the end of the hall with a bag over the head, an' a ladder behind leadin' up to another tower. Fortunately we know better than to mess with a covered face in a place like this, so instead we prepared ourselves to enter the grand ballroom. Given the layout, it wasn’t hard to figure out which doors we needed to go through. Now if only the spirits were as straightforward as the corridor was…
It took a moment for the danse macabre to manifest once we got in. In typical haunted castle fashion, the door locked itself behind us as the reaper-lookin’ bastard went straight for me first. Too much to hope for any of these damn ghosts to not see right through my hidin' skills. Nevertheless, I dealt what damage I could, while Kel did the real work with his ghost-punchin' bandages. Startin' to really wish I had kept enough gold sails to give myself somethin' similar. Stabbin' ghosts really just doesn’t bring the same satisfaction…
There was somethin' about the danse when we first came in that really made us want to follow its tune. Lucky for us Trin’s bardic abilities were perfectly suited to puttin' a stop to that. Little by little, we’ve been chippin' away at this ghost, though it really isn’t givin' up without a hell of a fight. We need to get rid of it quickly, because I’m not sure how many more hits from that f+$%in' scythe we can take!
Player's Notes: Have I mentioned how much I hate incorporeals with Con drain? I hate them so much... I'm currently at 6 Con after just two hits from this thing... Here's hoping the others can land something good because I'm rapidly running out of hp.
21/09/25 - Session 36 - When Pigs Die
Starday, 21st Neth, Egorian, The Heartlands
The longer we spend in Egorian, the more I find myself acclimating to the comforts of the civilised world. Truly, there was a part of me that missed the luxuries of such a grand and orderly society! While we are still dealing with oh so many blind sheep, unaware of the Divine Truths, there are still some who appreciate these realities and their significance. I say this having enjoyed once more the hospitality of the good Baroness Gellintha, who was kind enough to commission a portrait for me. It is only appropriate that a newly ascended Archbaron have such a depiction, after all.
That is not to say that I have been neglecting my work, of course. As I’ve been growing my influence, I have also been collecting knowledge about the workings of the city. Through these networks, I’ve learned several things. Interestingly, many of these rumours are of pertinence to Miss Archie, which I assume is an indication that the Divine Path is setting the stage for her apotheosis. All the more reason to support her endeavour, I am certain.
For one, it would appear that Miss Archie has garnered the attention of an individual named Skanrak, who has taken it upon themselves to hunt down those who use magic. That this supposed assassin believes it to be an affront to the Gods tells me that they are sorely deluded by a skewed worldview. I would love nothing more than to seek out and reeducate this person, though if they have the audacity to come after a chosen elite of the Divine Path such as Miss Archie, then they will surely come to learn their lesson one way or another…
Yet another fascinating rumour is that a woman of the cloth known for her expertise in ritual magic named Nalia Melcoth has been spending more and more time with someone bearing the Alazario name, and insinuations suggest more than simple magical training. If the person in question is Nicolo, the Archcountess’ groom-to-be, then this may be a point of friction we will have to resolve. Whatever the case may be, this woman may well be of use to Miss Archie’s investigations, so perhaps a more delicate approach will be necessary…
This latter tale proved relevant almost immediately, as we were summoned by Archcountess Vasvion in the evening after she had failed to attend her usual supper. The woman informed us that the Paraduke was now seeking to retaliate against her by sending assassins after Mister Nicolo, and so requested that we go and persuade her fiancé to leave the city for a time, until this feud is properly resolved.
As a precaution, Mister Kezax and Miss Archie took to the backdoor while I remained at the front with Father Dexsius and Ser Quintus, ready should something happen. As it were, something did happen. A trap was triggered as Mister Kezax entered, and simultaneously Miss Archie was assaulted by none other than the assassin named Skanrak. Father Dexsius and Ser Quintus returned to assist her while I made my way through the front entrance, finding Mister Nicolo in the company of Miss Nalia Melcoth. The rumours that came to me clearly assembled themselves with this evening in mind. Fortunately, though Mister Nicolo complained, he did not resist my protection, which was useful, as moments later yet another assassin made an attempt against him. I cowed the second assailant, while Mister Nicolo himself delivered the final blow. It is a shame that he was not more aware of his environment, or our protection might not have been necessary.
While Mister Kezax saw to Mister Nicolo and his mistress, our other companions dealt with Skanrak. The fool got one lucky strike against Miss Archie, but unfortunately for him a strike like that would not kill one as fierce as her, and so he was repaid in fire, bullets, and acid. As expected, he came to learn his errors far too late.
Once the incident was over, Mister Nicolo was wise enough to accept our escort. Miss Nalia, now also a recipient of our protection, was given a different offer. Fortunately for her, the Archcountess was both aware and accepting of her fiancé’s dalliance, so no punishment was necessary. Rather, we extracted from her the promise that she would provide what wisdom she could to Miss Archie regarding her research. A simple transaction that shall bring a dear companion closer to the Divine Truth. Everything comes into place, as expected in such a Grand Design!
The incident with the Mayor’s son did leave us now with another issue to resolve: that of our own retribution. Needless to say, Paraduke Sethic could not be permitted to send such enemies against our patron with impunity. Fortunately, the Archcountess had a plan ready for a response. We would go to the Paraduke’s farm and dispose of his prized Avernus razorback boars, the lynchpins of his business ventures. A simple mission, though still not without challenge. Avernus razorbacks are daunting creatures imbued with the might of Hell, a more primal form of the Divine Order’s blessing. This makes them fearsome opponents, but also prime sacrifices for the Divine Order’s will! It is with this conviction that we entered the pens.
The creatures were indeed formidable opponents, but no match for our might. Mister Kezax slew one with a single well-placed bolt, while Miss Archie promptly dismissed their devilish guardian before he could take action against us. The remaining two razorbacks made a good effort, but blade, ice, and acid silenced them permanently. Mister Kezax retrieved what he could from the creatures, ensuring that we would eat well in the days to come…
The Archcountess was naturally delighted with our service, as well she should be. There can be no greater proof of our worth as agents of the Divine Order than the brilliance and efficiency with which we have accomplished our goals. In recognition of these contributions to her vendetta, she has pledged to sing our praises to the Queen, and furthermore has secured our invitations to a party hosted by Demibaron Graithus Kavalderic. This is no small gift, as it is rumoured that the Queen herself might make an appearance at this event. Should that be the case, then it shall be the perfect opportunity for my second grand Egorian debut as the new Archbaron Fex!
Player's Notes: A pretty straightforward session. Some fun encounters that played out well. This session really reminded me of how there's really been a pattern in this AP: encounters go pretty smoothly right up until we reach the final dungeon, at which point everything gets real rough. I wonder what the big challenge of this book will end up being...