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|Chapter Two →|
Recording of game session (YouTube)
Vodni Brana, late afternoon...
Ogilvy and Avanti are having a drink at the Legend, a tavern on Havlin Street, when Jakob drops by to grab an ale before heading back upriver to Leirplass. They (Avanti, actually) are approached by a havlin rogue named Grigori. Grigori has run afoul of the Spyglass Society, a semi-legal group of enforcers which answers to the Lord Mayor and the Town Council. Grigori needs to lay low for a while, but he asks that Avanti find Grigori's girlfriend, a human named Ilyana. He's worried that she will be picked up by the Spyglass Society.
Grigori suggests asking for Ilyana at the Sow's Ear (a bar, a casino, brothel, and death trap, all in one convenient location). Ilyana has friends who work there. He says to tell them that "Grigori brought them their earrings", so they will know that Avanti was sent by Grigori. He'll meet them here at the Legend tomorrow, at sundown, to see if they have managed to find her.
After Grigori leaves, a group of thugs enters the tavern (ducking their heads due to the low ceiling). They aren't wearing any uniforms or insignia, but they carry shockstaves -- short black staves that glow blue at one end. These are known to be weapons of the Spyglass Society.
The leader of the group, Holic, does most of the talking. They demand that if the PCs find the girl, they turn her over to the Spyglass Society. If they do it promptly, they'll even get a reward. But if they don't, they may end up guests at the Glass House themselves (the Glass House is the headquarters for the Spyglass Society).
Avanti is a bit confused that the thugs are not interested in Grigori, but Holic is emphatic: they want the girl.
Meanwhile, Zhuur-Al and Eldon enter the tavern, and hear most of this exchange. Zhuur-Al goes to the bar and gets an ale, while Eldon starts casting paralyzation spells on the thugs. Astonishingly, they are so focused on trying to explain what they want to Avanti that they don't immediately notice that four of their number have been magically immobilized.
[GM Note: this was my mistake -- they really should have noticed this immediately. This made the Spyglass thugs come across as buffoons rather than the dangerous thugs they are. Ah, well.]
Holic wraps up the conversation with Avanti, and notices that most of his cronies are paralyzed. He starts shaking them out of it, but the crew departs the tavern before the Spyglass thugs can put two and two together. (They will, though, and they won't be quite so friendly next time.)
Recording of game session (YouTube)
The characters head to the Sow's Ear, which is a tavern, brothel, and gambling den. Grigori said that Ilyana has friends working there, Frantiska and Izabela, and that they might know where she is. Zhuur-Al has been here before.
A few hours pass, while the characters scope out the place, dropping Grigori's name a few times. Zhuur-Al sees a well-dressed man she knows named Ondrej. After gambling for a bit to make it look like she's just an ordinary patron, she takes him to a private room and asks him about Ilyana, Frantiska, Izabela. He doesn't know Ilyana well, but he leaves and returns with Frantiska. Frantiska says that she doesn't know where Ilyana is, because Ilyana didn't want her to know. Ilyana is in hiding, and it's safer for her friends if they don't know where she is.
Meanwhile, a few Copper Blades show up, and tell them in no uncertain terms that they should stop looking for Ilyana. Because if they got Ilyana killed, Lord Konstantin za Brabec (a wealthy and politically connected man) would be unhappy with them.
Having concluded that this was a dead end, and contemplating leaving Ilyana to stay hidden until the Spyglass Society finds her on their own, the group leaves the Sow's Ear.
A few blocks away, they are confronted by a small group of the town watch, who order them to step into an alley. While a watch member keeps lookout, the leader of the group, Sergeant Pavel, says that he knows they are in a pickle, but he can help them, if they do what he says. He gives them a crudely drawn map to the Flooded Market, a black marketplace in the sewers beneath Vodni Brana. He says to meet with someone named Radu, and that everything will be fine.
The group heads into the sewers, and manages to find the Flooded Market and Radu. Radu is a large lizardfolk, with red and yellow markings. He appears to be some kind of information broker. He will give them a lead to finding Ilyana, if they set up a meeting to arrange the return of the black book she stole from Lady Miroslava. All that Radu wants in return is a chance to speak with Lady Miroslava, the head of the Spyglass Society: if she knows that Radu will be there, she won't be, which is why he can't arrange it himself.
The group agrees to these terms, and Radu tells them that Ilyana is hiding in plain sight: at the Lázně Na Zámku bath house.
Recording of game session (YouTube)
The crew finds Ilyana at the Lázně Na Zámku bath house (affectionately known as "the Castle"), and convinces her that they want to help her. She tells them where she has hidden the black book: in one of the cushions at the Sow's Ear. Zhuur-Al retrieves it, and the crew sends invitations to the Copper Blades and the Spyglass Society, telling them the book will be at the rooftop garden of the Botanical Tea Room at midnight. In accordance with the deal they made with Radu, the note to the Spyglass Society specifies that Lady Miroslava must be there in person to get the book.
Midnight approaches, as do forces of the Spyglass Society. Suddenly, cloaked figures attack them and drag away Lady Miroslava. The crew does not intervene, and just watches this happen from the rooftop.
Someone lights a lantern: it is a dwarf with intricately braided hair and beard. He offers the crew tea and scones, and asks if they have the book. They do, and they hand it over to him. He casts a few spells on it to verify its authenticity: it is authentic. Eldon takes advantage of the opportunity to cast a spell of his own, to try and divine a magical summary of the book's contents. It is an ancient prophecy of the coming of the Writhing Dark, an apocalypse of corruption, evil, and decay. Creepy stuff.
The dwarf thanks them for their time, and assures them that the Copper Blades have no further interest in them or Ilyana. He can't speak for the Spyglass Society, but he suspects that they have more important matters to attend to.
When they return to Zhuur-Al's safe house, Ilyana is gone. She left a note, thanking them for their help.
Recording of game session (YouTube)
The party is contacted by Lord Mayor Fulko of Vodni Brana, and asked to guard some baking supplies that need to be delivered to Crystal Lake. Crystal Lake is a mining town which doubles as something of a low-security penal colony, where criminals are sent to give them one last chance at being beneficial members of society.
The party accepts the job, and then has the bright idea of also contacting the Merchant Guild. The party heard that a troll had taken up residence under a bridge on the North Road, which leads to Crystal Lake. Olaf, the president of the Vodni Brana Merchant Guild agrees, which could lead to quite the payday if the party can pull it off.
The party reaches the bridge a day or so after leaving Vodni Brana. They discover that the troll is a much larger problem that they realized: about four storeys tall (a very old troll). However, it seem to have no desire to fight them. All it wants is to have a nice peaceful life, living under the bridge (which it has repaired), and collecting a fee from the people who cross it. It has found that most people would prefer to fight, or flee, than pay to use the bridge, which has been disappointing.
The party hunts some game, and trades that for passage across the bridge. Avanti paints a couple of signs indicating that the fee for using the bridge is ten kilos of meat, and says that they will talk to the merchants in Crystal Lake and Vodni Brana, and explain the troll's proposal.
Arriving at Crystal Lake well after dark, they deliver the baking supplies to the bakery, as instructed (it is the shop with the sign of a bucket topped with a cloud). They meet the gnome who owns the bakery (note: he is about half the height of a havlin, which are about half the height of a human), who is thrilled to have the long-overdue delivery. He summons his helpers (all humans), and they get started.
The party learns the reason for such urgency: the town made a deal with some fairies, who have crafted a breathing engine which pumps air into the mines. According to the contract, the town must pay in freshly baked pastries. If the payment is not made by the appointed time, the fairies will shut off the breathing engine, and the miners will suffocate.
Having made their delivery, the party checks into the nicest inn in town, has dinner, and rests for the night.
Recording of game session (YouTube)
At breakfast, the band meets a friendly sea dwarf named Ertrank. The server, a man named Kamil, tells them that the nearby cairns (located in the appropriately-named Cairn Hills) have long since been looted of anything valuable or interesting, so their treasure hunting expedition is going to be a waste of time. However, there is one cairn that might not be entirely looted...
Sheriff Ctibor, a handsome drunk, approaches them and says that Bedrich, one of the town's mine managers, wants to meet with them. They go to meet Bedrich; he wants them to find out how the fairies operate the breathing engine which sends air to the deepest mines, then kill the fairies, then bring the secret of the breathing engine back to him. They will be handsomely rewarded for this.
The band says they will think about it.
They then go to visit Governor-Mayor Nikola, to tell him about the arrangement they have made with the troll. He seems satisfied with the arrangement. Just then, the mayor's assistant rushes in to tell him that there is an emergency at the bakery.
The baking powder which the band had just delivered has been replaced with chalk! A magical investigation reveals that the baking powder has been magically transformed by none other than the fairies.
When confronted, the fairies admit that they want to leave Crystal Lake because a terrible thing is coming, but they can't break their contract with the town. For this reason, they have sabotaged the bakery, so the the town will break the contract. The band arranges a deal with the fairies: they will refrain from sabotaging the bakery for one month, so that the town will have plenty of time to get the miners out of the mines. After that, the town default on their pastry delivery, and the fairies will be free to leave.
As part of the deal, Jakob loans the fairies one of his senses for 24 hours: his sense of humour.
Some Mortal Senses According To Fairies
- Sense Of Direction
- Sense Of Doom
- Sense Of Duty
- Sense Of Fair Play
- Sense Of Humour
- Sense Of Style
- Sense Of Wonder
Who's Who In Crystal Lake
- Bedrich - Bedrich has wrestled four mines into his possession in the last 10 years, and has designs upon the rest. A coven of sycophants and hired goons surrounds him at all times. Rumors suggest that he has powerfully connected friends in Vodni Brana.
- Sheriff Ctibor - A boisterous alcoholic who, with six thugs, comprises the constabulary who see to the general safety of the town and ensure that Nikola's schemes go off without a hitch.
- Governor-Mayor Nikola - A sensible man doing his best to do a competent job while lining his pockets as much as possible.
The band reaches the village of Voscau, investigating reports that the village has been attacked by lizardfolk. On reaching Voscau, everything seems peaceful.
The gang secures lodgings, and starts asking about recent events. They learn that lizardfolk have been raiding the outlying areas of the town, stealing weapons and supplies. No one has been injured yet -- the lizardfolk have been avoiding direct confrontations. But the townsfolk are certain that an attack is coming.
The band agrees to head toward the Mistmarsh, where the lizardfolk live, and see if they can find out what's going on. It takes about eight hours on foot.
They reach the keep at the edge of the Mistmarsh, and see that it is besieged by dozens of lizardfolk. Using an illusion, they make the lizardfolk retreat long enough for the band to gain entrance to the keep.
They learn that the keep is commanded by Lt. Yanko: the previous commander was killed in the first attack of the lizardfolk. The lizardfolk appear intent on killing everyone in the keep, and the soldiers in the keep seem to think that's inevitable: the lizardfolk outnumber them at least two to one, Marzena the keep's war-mage was kidnapped in the first attack, there are only 14 soldiers left alive, and one or two more are injured each time the lizardfolk attack. The front door of the keep has been smashed in, and the soldiers have managed to stay alive this long only because the entrance is narrow and the lizardfolk can't bring their full forces to bear.
The bands heads into the Mistmarsh and finds the lizardfolk lair. They kill two harpies, an assassin vine, and a couple of dozen lizard people. They sustain severe injuries in the process, particularly Eldon. But the greatest danger is yet to come....
The bands confronts Redeye, the chief of the Broken Branch tribe, and to their surprise the shaman of the lizardfolk helps the band attack the chief. It turns out that the tribe's brood all died before hatching a year ago. Shortly after that, Redeye appeared and killed the tribe's previous chief. Redeye claimed that humans were responsible for the death of the brood. Under his leadership, the tribe began raiding nearby human settlements, eventually going as far as Voscau to the south. After nearly a year of preparation, Redeye commanded the Broken Branch tribe to attack Blackwall Keep, a nearby human stronghold.
The shaman thought that Redeye's leadership was bad for the tribe, but she was not powerful enough to oppose him alone. She took advantage of the band's attack to help them in getting rid of Redeye. She just had one more task for them: to deal with Redeye's ally, the human servant of the dragon...