Friday, January 25, 2013

Averlorn Campaign - A Murder Most Foul and an Evil Tome bound in human flesh...

Recap from 1/20/2013 Averlorn Online Session using Map Tools

I don't usually blog recaps about our online game using MapTools, but I took a lot of notes during the 1/23/2013 session which was mostly a story based adventure within the City of Caursetti in the Archipelago.  I thought it would be worthwhile endeavor to post a recap here since it has all of the elements of a good murder mystery.  The background was that as our campaign started, we were hired to escort one Gundar Thoricson, a Wealthy Thugee merchant, on a ship bound for Caursetti.  The ship hit rough waters and possibly shoals, and sank off of the Devil's Cape, also know as point Chuddoc on the southern tip of the Island of Rhaghaera.  The cape was known to be prowled by Sahugin (Sea Devils) and sure enough, we were attacked by them while floundering in the water and trying to swim for the shore.  During the fight, our benefactor Gundar was slain and the Sea Devils tried to make off with his possessions, including a curious puzzle box which we found out later contained some kind of Arcane Tome, not unlike the Necronomicon, which just so happened to be bound in human skin.  Amazingly, the group of 1st level characters managed to fend off two Sahugin while in the water who were slain during the fight, and we later dove into the shallows to retrieve both the puzzle box and his enchanted short sword.

What follows is a recap of the session in Caursetti where we were trying to extricate ourselves from a tricky legal and political situation within the Gleaming City of Arches.  We had employed an Elven Sage by the name of Lady Erslantz, a Sea Elf wizard, to identify the foul tome bound in human skin for us.  The next day when no one answered the door, our wizard cast Reduce on the door to gain entry suspecting foul play.  Sure enough, they found the body of Lady Erslantz and her handmaiden and a strange substance on both the blade and the floor.  It appeared that the lady had been strangled in her sleep and that her handmaiden and servant had first been hit by some sort of magical attack (like magic missile) and then gored by some fell creature, where-after she bled out and died.  The group left the premises and the door returned to normal size, and they notified the city watch that they were supposed to meet them at a certain time, and when they didn't answer that they went straight to the watch to ask them to investigate since they suspected foul play.  Of course, the city guard immediately assumed they were guilty of the crime and what follows is the narrative that occurred afterwards when we tried to extricate ourselves from a legal and potentially political situation within a country with strict laws, that just so happened to be at war with their enemy in Mallithorn which is led by Ravishar the Undying:

Sorrin, our Gnomish Cleric/Illusionist met with Frunsharn the learned, the gnome illusionist in order to discuss the enchantment on the door to one of the hideouts of Arham of the Cult of the Red Snake that we found in the Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom (Arham was apparently Grakhirt’s former master).  He said that the magic on the door was likely triggered by touching it and that if you could avoid touching it while trying to open it somehow, that you might avoid the enchantments.  He also said that the knock or dispel illusion could work to defeat the illusionary defenses along with a few other enchantments.  One of our companions was laid low by a powerful illusion spell in a previous session that had been placed on the door and was in a comatose like state.  Frunshar's efforts to revive the unwitting halfling met with failure and he remained in a deep magical slumber.

There are two armed camps in the Falconbridge neighborhood of Caursetti.  One of these is the Iron Keep which is a huge fortress where the Brotherhood of the Black Crowes are stationed and quartered.  The Crowes are an order of fanatical warrior monks in the service of the God King.  It is almost a city unto itself and occupies an area almost equal in size to a borough of the city.  The other one is the Embassy of the Sea Elves in Caursetti.  The Sea elf kingdom of Alatheon, which lies is to the Northwest of the island, has a smaller fortress and embassy located in Falconbridge to represent its interests in the kingdom.  It contains a small Elven contingent, and when within the embassy compound, one is considered to be upon Elven ground and subject to Elven laws.

Beyond the entrance to the Elven Embassy we were greeted by one Finoleth Oldemain – a star elf who told the group that he would talk to them about our problem.  During this time the characters there noticed a strange occurrence and commotion outside – a flight of Sea Elf dragons were approaching the city in a long slow formation in order to indicate that they held no hostile intent towards the city.  He went on to say that he spoke with his dead cousin the Elven sage a few hours ago (presumably using the Speak with Dead Spell) and that she was confused about what transpired the night that she died (she was murdered by some fell creature shortly after starting the task of investigating the Evil book’s magical properties).  She told the ambassador that she was tasked to identify an item, but that she died violently under uncertain conditions shortly after beginning the process of identification.

After he looked at the sword of the servant that we produced, and the oily substance on it, he indicated that it was a foe from Malithorn that attacked and had slain his cousins.  He said the sword belonged to the Sage’s handmaiden Kaselris and that the family of the slain handmaiden would want it back so the characters gave it to him.

They also told him about the book that the group had obtained from Gundar Thoricson that had presumably caused the enchantment.  They produced it from the puzzle box for him to see and he said that he believed that a considerable enchantment was on it to protect it from prying eyes.  He also said that Sea Elf Nobles and sages were often able to provide identification of such arcane items as this.  When the group told him that we were attacked by the Sahugin off of the Devil’s cape when Gundar Thoricson was killed (he was carrying the book at the time), he explained that the Sahugin can sense magic.  When our ship went down off of the Devil’s cape, the book was what likely drew them to us, for the book clearly has powerful magical properties.  He indicated that we might want to rid ourselves of such a foul and evil thing (it is bound in human skin after all), and if we were to toss it into the sea in the area around Caursetti or the Elven holdings, that it was unlikely to be found by the Sahugin or others at the bottom of the ocean.  The Sahugin in the area mostly live in the seas around Devils point (point Chuddoc) but are not known to prowl in the areas around Caursetti or where the Sea Elves reside.

He also told the group that Rallemon of Ilimus is a potent wizard and Archmage who is well connected within the city of Carusetti.  He said it was wise to deal with him cautiously with regard to such powerful and evil magical artifacts.  He went on to say that he is known to interact with the enemy (Ravishar’s minions) and that he frequently travelled freely amongst them.  He also said that he has powerful allies amongst the wizards in iron keep, Home of the Brotherhood of the Black Crowes who are the faithful servants of the God King.  He went on to explain that it was quite likely that the enemy would get the book if we sold it to Rallemon according to the ambassador.

Afterwards, he said that the group is currently in a compromised situation with regards to the slain elves that we employed to investigate the book.  He explained that the constabulary in the borough that we were residing in (God’s walk) is a man of ambitious political desires, and wields his power and influence in order to prove that he has full control over his borough in order to further his future political aspirations.  He then said that he will not stop until this matter is resolved.  The legal system in the great city is not what one would normally expect based on those found in other realms, but that the neighborhood, and others like it, are ruled with an iron fist especially the more affluent and secure neighborhoods in the city.

One option he presented, which he said would not be cheap, would be to have a close associate of the Sea Elf ambassador carry the item to Tol Alatheon where a wizard of the court could ascertain its properties and potential dangers.  He then said that we could secure passage on a human vessel and leave an advocate here from the Sea Elf embassy to answer to the charges, upon our honor that we would return at a later date if required by the powers that be in Caursetti.  He then said that the relatives of the slain cousins were unlikely to press charges in the matter of the deaths of their kinsmen, since other elves (including star elves) were involved in the alleged crime.  The only possible criminal charges to be brought were breaking and entering using sorcery which can carry the penalty of death in Caursetti, especially in the more affluent and strictly controlled boroughs such as Gods Walk and Falconbridge.

He indicated that he would send a representative (a barrister or lawyer) to meet with us to aid us in this matter.  He also said he would send an associate to the Kingdom of Alatheon in order to negotiate for us to have the elves there identify the book and its properties safely, though it would likely be a costly endeavor.  “There are spells that predate our world that are exceedingly dangerous which may be contained in the book.  We don’t want those spells to fall into the hands of the mortals” according to the Ambassador.  On the other hand, he said it may just be a spell book with protective magics bound into it that had caused the deaths of the elves.

The star elves in the group trust the Elven ambassador implicitly.  If a good deal can be made, he and his associates will do right by us and we will be justly rewarded as a result of the transaction.  During the meeting at the Elven embassy, an entire wing of Elven Blue Dragons were seen flying from the windows, and later landed in the courtyard below making a great commotion.  It was a very formal affair during which the bodies of the slain elves were taken away to the Elven court in Tol Alatheon to the northwest some 200-300 miles away.

Meanwhile, Thorvald the Thugee Barbarian, the Volkyr Monk Scetis, Gash the human fighter, the dwarven fighter Niric Dragonbane, and Sorrin the Gnome Illusionist/Cleric went to the dock district in Grimward to try and negotiate passage to the Devil’s cape aboard a ship so that we could investigate the hideouts of Arham of the Cult of the Red Snake that we had found notated on the map from Grakhirt’s lair.  Thorvald learned on good authority from a relatively sober Thugee sailor about the Broken Wife Inn which was to be found within the city (we had a document that Gundar was to meet him about the book before his demise).  It is located in the Coinbridge neighborhood across the river. There are two neighborhoods south of city and across the river in Caursetti that are rough neighborhoods to say the least.  Coinbridge is only marginally safer than the nearby South Hill neighborhood, both of which are considered to be rough parts of town. 

A local inn owner then told the Scetis the Monk of one Captain Jettit Obergin who is the master and captain of the Fickle Shark which makes the run from Caursetti to the Devil’s Cape regularly.  When we arrived at the ship at the docks, it was apparent that the crew was busily making preparations to depart.  The Fickle Shark is a simple merchant vessel that appeared to be well kept and run from our observations.  He said that they were not going in that direction but we negotiated a price for passage to the Devil’s Cape aboard ship, and embarked at the end of the session two hours after the evening meal.

Later that evening before we departed, we were approached in the Inn of the Scorned Weasel in Gods Walk by a sea elf named Aefelearth Bale Bitterbriar.  He had been appointed by the Elven Ambassador as our barrister and we told him everything that transpired concerning the book and the death of the Elven sage and her servant.  His Sun Elf bodyguards showed up at the Inn as a show of force to keep the local constable from trying any monkey business.  He said from the information that we gave him that he could stall the proceedings for five to seven years.  In our defense he said the Elves in our group were honor bound to protect their cousins out of fear for their safety which justified their illegal entry onto the premises.

Afterwards, when we met with Rallemon he said he was a trader of magical items, some of which were ancient and some of which were of a more recent manufacture, and that he had clients in the west that would pay top dollar for the more rare magical items, particularly those considered to be forgotten lore.  When questioned about the lands of Ravishar to the east he said that the border between the Kingdom of Raegeleth (the god king’s realm) and the lands of Ravishar is known to be defended by demons and the like, but that the coastal villages were not unlike normal Volkyr towns found elsewhere on the island.  Their denizens typically live in fear and are in a perpetual state of servitude to Ravishar the Undying.  He inquired about the rumors of some demon unleashed from an evil book and inferred that he thought that we were somehow involved, but we declined to comment on the matter.

There was a glisten of water on the floor behind him that we noticed as he was walking out the door of the Inn.  I mentioned to the DM that maybe he was a Deep One (Shades of Shadows Over Innsmouth) and he said he wasn’t – at least not yet anyway… LOL

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