A run-in with the law

26 May, 2015

There was a lot going on in game last night. End of the previous session a few people rolled for the Prince of Shadows, so there was stuff going down.

Main thing was that our GM was throwing out adventure hooks left and right, and people were dropping the ball. Most of us had gone into town because people didn’t want to sleep over at the Griffinshart estate. Leonard had kinda-sorta stolen what turned out to be the Mayor’s horse, and got arrested.

At the pub, there were some shifty guys in the corner: “Naww, screw it – lets eat”
The proprietor, Wilvur, left with a disgraced mage Edmund The Marked, who had previously been Edmund the Wise of the Circle of Four. “Not our problem, man”.
Ok, Sir Leonard is arrested! “Meh – we’ll deal with it in the morning.”
Some activity outside the pub: “whatever, peeps, time for some shut-eye”.

Eventually, we sent Tarry to scope out the watchhouse, and he got in a fight – fortuitously right outside the window. Even then, James Mallard had to kick Shieldglider awake and tell him “you are missing a fight, dude”.

Come on, guys – we can’t make Andy do all the work!

The main reason for this IMO was that being 4th ed players, we are not accustomed to keeping our powder dry for more than a session and blew a lot of dailies on the early encounters. In 4th ed, there’s usually a long rest between each session. 13th age suggests four encounters between long rests, and we are getting used to the tempo of this new system. Everyone wanted their dailies back, and wanted a nice long sleep at the inn. Maybe “renting a cart” counts as an encounter for the purpose of. I dunno – it’s tricky when you get a system from the book and no-one has played it with an experienced group before.

I’m also not confident the money system is going to work out properly. One night at the inn was 10 sp = one gold. We started with 25 gold (over and above standard starting gear), some of us with less.

But, it’s early days. On the happy side, this fight was big enough to last for three rounds, and I got to use my big gun when the escalation dice hit 2. It was effective, and that made me happy. 🙂

Action in Chancer’s Hope, 10pm-2am.

  1. Sunnymoon Tavern, 8PM-2AM
    1. We arrived at Chancer’s hope well after nightfall.
    2. We determined that we had rented our cart from one Wilvur, innkeep of Sunnymoon tavern. We decided to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and stay overnight there. C.F. Lashley had a connection, having been working there as a performer, and was able to conduct us there without incident.
    3. At the tavern, we learned that Wilvur had been seen to depart earlier that evening with Edmund the Marked, previously of the Circle of Four.
    4. We currently have no more information on Edmund, or what his business in town may be.
    5. At around midnight, Misthanar arrived at the tavern with news that Sir Leonard had been arrested by Mayor Westcott.
      Mayor Westcott is obese and possibly a little corrupt. I am convinced that nameless street urchins are prone to taunt him with such clever gags as “Oi! Wetcock! Get a shake on!” and then run away. Can I just point out that I had not been drinking on game night – I just tend to hear funnier versions of the things people say.
    6. We wished to confirm that, at the very least, Sir Leonard was safe and unharmed in the town lock-up. Tarry went to investigate.
    7. Tarry was attacked immediately outside. Our group mobilised and joined combat.
  2. Street fight, Changer’s Hope, 2AM (approx).
    1. Immediately outside the door were some upturned barrels out of which very large rates were emerging, about three groups of, and two common street thugs
    2. Misthanar had already advanced some 15m down the street and was engaging two more thugs and two more rats alone.
    3. Tarry was not visible on the street.
    4. Olivia and Shieldglider engaged the nearer group, with C.F. Lashley providing support.
    5. I advanced further to assist Mistthanar.
    6. On advancing further, I was able to see that Tarry was engaged with what appeared to be a wererat. This explained how it came to be that criminals were fighting alongside rats.
    7. In my estimation at the time:

      1. These persons were a gang led by a wererat.
      2. Combat was with deadly force.
      3. Misthanar, who is part of the unit I have been assigned to, was outnumbered by hostiles.
    8. Therefore, I deployed standard offensive spell Color Spray with full force.
    9. This action killed both rats and one of the civilians immediately. The other civilian is probably permanently blinded.
      Well, young James is just going to have to get used to the carnage, but for me: W00T! I critted one of the bad guys for 24 and also took out the others. Mind you, Jez had already been doing sterling work. But it’s good to see my character be effective. Andy’s description of the effect of the spell was most graphic.
    10. Tarry disengaged from the wererat with (I belive) magical assistance from CF Lashley. Meanwhile, Shieldglider and Olivia had disposed of the other combatants sans one prisoner. The wererat withdrew.
    11. Olivia and Sheildglider commenced to interrogate the prisoner.
    12. Mistthanar caught sight of the wererat and pursued. Seeing that Mistthanar was unsupported, I followed. We caught up with and killed the wererat.
      Apparently we captured rather than killed the wererat. Cool.
    13. Mistthanar sustained a bite from the wererat, which is a cause for considerable concern.
    14. Tarry reports that Sir Leonard is alive and well (all things considered). He further reported that Sir Leonard does not wish to be forcibly broken out of the town lockup, which was thorough of him to ask.
  3. Summary and evaluation
    1. There is no unit cohesion in this group whatsoever. I hope that we develop some before people get killed.
    2. Tarry showed commendable focus in continuing his reconnaissance mission after an open fight had broken out on the street, but a deplorable lack of sense. Generally speaking, once stealth has been lost a stealthy reconnaissance action should be abandoned. It is impressive that he nevertheless managed to achieve the goal, but it remains the case that he is lucky to be alive after not rejoining the body of the unit after he was detected and being engaged individually by the wererat.
    3. Mistthanar is likely to be killed, or to get someone else killed, if he continues to hare off on his own. If this wererat bite turns bad, he may already have done so. In mitigation,
      1. the reason that he was separated from the group and facing four combatants on his own was that he was attempting to assist Tarry, who was off on his own.
      2. the reason that he pursued the wererat was that wererats must be killed, and he believed that he was the only one fast enough to catch it.

      However, pursuing a wererat is pointless if you are probably not going to be able to kill it because you are already badly wounded and on your own. He might have been able to deal with it had I not been there. But he might equally likely have not been able to.

      If James had not been there to drop a little healing into Mistthanar, Jez might be rolling up a new character about now. Although in this system you are supposed to “fail forward”, so we’d be on the spot to make something up. 🙂
    4. Appropriate tactics would have been for Tarry and Mistthanar to fall back to Olivia and Shieldglider. In narrow streets, Misthanar, Shieldglider and Olivia could certainly have held a line, although a flanking attack via an alleyway or rooftop would have been a probable response.
    5. It would normally be Sir Leonard’s responsibility to explain correct tactics to our group. However, he is currently in the town lockup. I myself might be able to temporarily browbeat Tarry, but certainly not Mistthanar who I gather is several centuries old.
  4. Action
    1. We need to resolve Sir Leonard’s current legal difficulties, whatever they may be, as soon as possible. Perhaps our disposing of a wererat stalking the town may give us some leverage.
    2. We need to deal with Mistthanar’s wererat bite. It would be a pity to have to put him down.
    3. We should possibly investigate the matter of innkeep Wilvur and Edmund the Marked.

Voices in the dark

23 May, 2015

There is little to tell about the actual heist. The main exhibit hall was trapped and fitted with alarms, of course. Antimagic effects that lasted for about three rounds, and then the guards arrived. Walls dropped into place, but the party had had the foresight to bring their escape route right up close to the exhibits. Dimfuzz and Picklick went on a lock-picking and trap finding spree, except for the one trap that William managed to trip.

It’s a bit of a shame that on the night Picklick’s real-world alter ego was not present owing to a bit of an emergency, as this scenario was kinda meant for his character to be the main actor. Lots of traps, lots of interesting effects. The antimagic meant that people who don’t rely so much on magic got a chance to step forward.

Sorry, man – we played it out without you there.

During the brief interval of antimagic, John’s companion was revealed – a tiny dragon, no doubt some sort of servitor of Azathoth.

John is in thrall to a usually-invisible fairy dragon, whose hallucinogenic breath weapon … explains a great deal.

There were guards, there were Stinking Clouds (Brus was out of action for a whole 18 seconds, which is a long time in D&D), they lifted the anchor, the tiebreaker, and a thing or two else besides. Dimfuzz turned out to be as treacherous as you would expect a gnome thief to be, but in the end all was forgiven – although not forgotten.

The group killed most of the guards before escaping though the door, leaving a lone museum employee to explain the mess to his superiors.

And the whispers in Brus’ mind began to resolve themselves into words.

F̜̤̰͚̼t̶͍̰̟̠̫͈̱;͖̜̫̪̬nͅ’́ ͚̭͎̬n̪̯̳̮͙͍y̙͡a̖͉̲̣̫r͈̩ĺ̺̳͈ ̼̦͟h͈̳e͖p͏̖̘͎͚̦-̢̳̜̯̠̖͓i̛̺͖ͅm̘h̪o͘t͓̞̙̫̣͓̣h̬̯̘̻̻͟e̥̼̩̳̳p̶,̳̫̮̩͟ n̟̪͈͈̯̮̲g̶̭͔̭ͅl͙͕̺̤̀u͇̘̼̖i͓̭̖ ͞R̰̘̭a̪̹͖̖̼͇y͟l̛̘͔n̠̲̙̬̼͍ģ͍̣̻̗͔͎̼ ̞̘͈̰̠̪͇p̴̮̝̲̻̬͎t̺̭͈̟’̢͍̞̤t̲̬̟h͇̟̥̲a̘͖͢r̶̹̖͓̳͚̘̥ḻ̶͕̣͉̗̦̲t̖̝͡op̟̪̞̺h̶̯̗t̞̝̻͎̙g̰̮̬̲̘̟̳eṇ̠͍̭!̝͇̞͢

Oh, he could call. And the powers beyond the veil of illusionary safety would answer. There was always a price, of course, but Brus had faith.

Ping! I took “Dark Tapestry” as a language. It’s not on the list, but I image Brett will OK it. And “Divine Intervention” as a feat – immediate action to sacrifice a spell and make an opponent re-roll an attack. Brus doesn’t use a lot of spells – he’s usually too busy hitting things – so I look for anything that’s doable as a swift or immediate action. One-round-per-level buffs are just not his bag.

I’ll be using it mainly on enemy crit confirmation rolls (which are attack rolls), or if anyone gets through the line and goes for our squishies.

For 4th level spells, Freedom of Movement would be thematic and useful, but meh – I’d rather try out some new spells I have never used before. So I grabbed “Judgement Light”, which has a variety of handy effects including a burst Farie Fire which, I’ll tell you now, is totally worth a 4th-level slot. I have selected restoration as my other one but … meh – not really Brus’ thing. I think I’ll change it before game.

Curse of Magic Negation
Will save. Too risky.
fun, but not worth it for a spontaneous caster. More John’s thing.
Leashed shackles
Reflex save.
Litany of Sight
WTF? Fourth level? When I pack See Invis anyway?
Find Quarry
Hmm. A possibility, seeing as we often need to chase specific people. It has no game effect, because lets face it in the metagame we are certainly going to find who we are chasing.
Divine Power
One round per level. Feh.
Hold Monster
Will save, but very handy for big & dumb. We need something that will bring down a dragon, but they have a good will so this spell will probs fail.
Unfortunately, it is usually we who are the outsiders.
Greater Invis
Very handy, but I have used it before, and I only get 1 4th level spell a day.
Shadow Barbs
Not as good as it seems if you can’t apply Inquisitor Bane (etc) to spell effects.
probably his best pick, mechanically. But again: I want something new and different.

I’ll think about it. I’ll probably sacrifice the best cheese and go with Find Quarry, which is thematic.

The Tiebreaker, first and greatest

16 May, 2015

(As always, I use other people’s characters and scenarios and make stuff up without permission, and my character gets more air time than is fair. Soz, but I can’t help that 🙂 )
(Oh, had to modify things a bit when I found out more about the MacGuffin. So there are bits that are a trifle contrived. Meh. )

Morality can be a tricky, difficult, elusive thing to pin down, sometimes. Shades of grey, different points of view. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Depends on who you ask, and often on who is doing the asking.

But sometimes, it isn’t so difficult. Sometimes there are people who are simply objectively evil. Not just tryannical; not just selfish and careless of what harm they do; but mad, destructive, a gibbering insanity type of evil.

Oh, but it was worth it. For Tiebreaker it was worth it. Anything was worth it. Dimfuzz kept telling himself so, anyway.

They had left a trail of destruction across the planes. Pointless killing. Mad and unpredictatable. Mere slaughter. But they were the pivot, the pin, the axis. And somehow, Coin owned them. Coin wanted to be free. Coin needed something. And Dimfuzz knew where it was – right next to the device, the Tiebreaker, the Puzzlesolver. And oh, oh, oh it was worth it, worth it, worth kingdoms, worth worlds, but the device was in the museum of Vinculum where the Elohim keep all their stolen treasures, the spoil of civilisations, and so he needed them, the mad ones, no-one else would possibly agree to loot the museum, no-one else was half as mad as they.

So careful, so cautious, he left clues for them, a trail of breadcrumbs. They ignored them, and came straight for him. He negotiated with them at the chasm. They wanted his keys. He would have given then anything, but he must negotiate, must dicker, must make a seeming of strength, of having options. But he had none, and the festival of Vinculum was tomorrow eve. All he had was a little knowledge – the anchor of the Planes was at the Museum of Vinculum, and Coin needed it. Tomorrow the Elohim would sleep, they would dream their dreams, and tomorrow eve – it did not bear thinking of. The things the Elohim would do. But for this one day, they would mostly be asleep, the museum as unguarded as it was ever going to be.

They came to an agreement. Agreements meant nothing to people like this. He joined them, he was among them. No illusions, few defenses, just himself alone and the mad ones, making camp for all the world as though it were just a thing. His heart quailed in terror. They made plans for the morrow. Nothing like a gnome conclave – just the barest outlines of a plan. “No point making a plan”, they said, “because it never works out and you just have to start killing people until you run out anyway”. Until you run out. In the heart of Vinculum – not one or two, not five or seven, but a city full of the Elohim. Dimfuzz noticed his vision growing dim at the edges, and realised that he had stopped breathing.

Yet he was still a gnome, and still had his curiosity.

Will was the odd man out, he and his donkey. He seemed a normal, rather likeable human. Surely – surely he must know, but the knowledge did not seem to bother him. Could anyone really be fool enough to suppose that they could travel with these and simply be collecting verses of a song?

Picklick was what he appeared to be. A nasty, surly, hobgoblin killer, whose main motivation seemed to be simply to have the opportunity to stab someone, preferably several someones, in the kidneys and then wiggle the knife about while they died. Comforting, in a way, that at least one of them was not pretending to be something they were not.

But this hobgoblin killer was not the worst of them.

They has a deep gnome with them. Dour, dark, and twisted. His motivation seemed to be like Picklick’s, but subtler. Not to kill, but to be better able to kill. That is: he cared for his craft. Of course, the only way to perfect that craft was to practise it. He claimed to have wrestled a dragon into submission, and the others simply nodded and shrugged. Yes, he did; and meh – no biggie.

But this deep gnome was not the worst of them.

The huge half orc, Brus, openly bore the sign of Yog-Sothoth. An outer god! The eater of souls! The lurker at the threshold! And this man worshipped him without a qualm. He got to talking. “So this Limen, we went to Tien and it turns out his name means portal! Don’t you get it?” His face grew angry, his eyes flat with fanaticism, “This jumped-up little demigod is calling himself The Door! It’s blasphemy, Dimfuzz, blasphemy is what it is! And I promise you, when I catch up with him I am personally going to kill him to death several times with this.”, he said, indicating his weapon: a massive sword on the end of an equally massive staff. “Unless I find something bigger in the meantime.” Dimfuzz quailed. “Aww, don’t you worry Dimfuzz. You’re all right, aren’t you! You’re trying to help us. Well, I’ll tell you this: no matter how bad things are, eventually all the earth will be destroyed and Yog-Sothoth will consume our souls. An then The First will reawaken and it will all be over. All we can hope for is to be eaten first, so that we don’t have to live through too much of the horror. Have you ever thought about making yourself more the kind of soul that The Key and The Gate would want to pick out of the line-up first?”

Gods! Was this half orc, was he trying to convert him? Trying to proselytise him? He was! He was spruiking the worship of his God with the simple earnestness of a devotee of Moroni. Dimfuzz grinned and nodded, his eyes wide with terror.

But this inquisitor of Yog-Sothoth was not the worst of them.

John. Such a simple, human name. But he was not human. His eyes moved … wrongly, his wrists and elbows just a tiny bit too flexible. He wore the unholy vestments of the blind idiot god Azahtoth. A mad cult, hounded to oblivion in any civilisation worthy of the name, and this – thing – wore a robe emblazoned with the symbol. He spoke to his God all the time, whispering, sometimes giggling. Out of the corner of his eye, Dimfuzz seemed to see John’s eyesockets replaced with fanged mouths gibbering and giggling, screeching obscenities, drooling promises, secrets and lies, but whenever he turned to look, John was always the same – seemingly a slightly distracted smiling human.

After their meal John stood and addressed himself to the group, pleasantly nodding to each, for all the world like a village priest delivering a homily.

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?
I can see it in your eyes.
I can see it in your smile.
You’re all I ever wanted, my arms are open wide.
Tell me how to eat your heart, for I haven’t got a clue,
But let me start by saying

And the others bowed their heads and murmured “Cthulhu fhtagn”, he replying “Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” and making some sort of sign. His lips smiled benevolently, but his eyes were vacant with madness.

Then he rested against a tree, his head cocked to the side, listening, his face lit with pure bliss, murmuring

I’ve been alone with you inside my mind

over and over and over for what seemed like an hour, until Dimfuzz wanted to run blindly into the forest, screaming.

The portal in Vinculum opened into someone’s home, a mere 200m away from the museum. The group had decided that, since portals were keyed to a doorway and not to a location, and since they would probably need to escape after lifting the items from the museum, the simplest thing would be to take the entire doorway with them into the museum. Buildings in Vinculum were made of stone, and so a Stone Shape would be the easiest way. Not the way a gnome would normally do things, but the mad ones were doing things their own way. Dimfuzz had built a small wheeled cradle to hold a corner of the one-tonne chunk of stone they would be taking with them.

And it worked perfectly. John used his spell to gouge the entire door frame out of the wall, while the elohim slept in their coffins, the whole effort muffled by a Silence spell. The Deep Gnome, the Half-Orc (equipped with the most serious Belt of Giant Strength Dimfuzz had ever seen) and the Donkey managed to wrestle the entire thing out into the deserted street without breaking it. They checked that their portal key still operated correctly, and it did.

As they walked briskly to the museum, the doorway wheeling along with them, they discussed how they might break in. They agreed that in the first instance John would claim that the door was itself an artifact to be housed in the museum, and if that failed they would start killing people. Dimfuzz giggled, some little corner of his mind horrified at himself for doing so: they had a Plan A, and a Plan B.

Vinculum was a closed pocket plane (a 3-d toroidal manifold with at least one half-twist) and the museum stretched all the way across it, forming a barrier that had to be tunnelled under. The entrance, although open, was heavily guarded and not an option. Instead they reasoned that there would be a goods dock in the tunnel beneath the museum. They came to a huge stone double door. Closed. The hobgoblin reported that it was barred from the inside. And so the mad ones decided that they would simply break it open under cover of a Silence spell. Here, in the heart of Vinculum, in complete silence they made a game of it, the deep gnome, the half orc and the donkey – punding at the door until with a silent snap and a visible shudder the bar gave way and they could swing the door open.

The interior of the Museum of Vinculum awaited.

Of course, there were stairs. And they were dragging about a ton of door. Brus suggested that they should leave it there, because even if it was at the bottom of the stairs it was still closer than it would otherwise have been when it came time to make their escape. The others pointed out that this was actually a very bad idea, and that he should get that doorframe up the stairs and stop complaining. While the same three again got the thing up the steps, Dimfuzz and Picklick scouted ahead, and John hummed quietly to himself. What he was humming, Dimfuzz didn’t want to know.

They eventually got the doorframe up to the main museum corridor. Dimfuzz said to go left, although in this space any direction is as good as any other. They walked and walked. There were doors all along the length of the corridor, but today they were all closed and locked. They encountered one of the guardians – a floating blob, a cross between a rabbit, a sperm, and a unicorn (Brett can’t draw for shit) – but Will enchanted it and sent it on its way. “This blag is going like clockwork”, said Brus, channelling a distant relative on the plane of Eberron. It couldn’t last.

They were accosted by two guards. Attacked – no need for bluffing or fast talking. Three of them attacked charged of them (Faugh scored three crits out of five attacks with his incredibly cheesy Brawler build), and Will put the other into a deep slumber, and thence the others put him into a deeper, more permanent one. The guards each had some sort of device on them, Picklick explaining that it was an odd type of key. Apparently used by “swiping” it through a corresponding lock.

They noticed that the ‘ceiling’ above them was the same as the floor they were on. Piclick climbed the wall, and at the halfway point dropped down onto the ceiling above them. They continued on like this, reasoning that they were covering twice the territory in the same amount of time. After a while further, they passed, on the ceiling above, the site of their previous battle.

Further along still, they came to a large archway. The main hall of treasures was just up ahead. The planar anchor and the puzzlesolver were just beyond.


Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something
I think you’ll understand
When I’ll say that something
I wanna bite your hand
I wanna bite your hand
I wanna bite your hand

Oh please, say to me
You’ll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You’ll let me bite your hand
Oh let me bite your hand
I wanna bite your hand