[In-game November 23rd (yet again) and 24th – The Delvers investigate the deeper area a little more and then head back to Aegea City where unexpected things have happened.]
[This game uses the Fifth Revised Edition of the Hero System rules along with the Fantasy Hero supplement. This session happened December 14, 2020.]
Jala – human female – a person of discretion, studying aspects of the Law [to avoid them] at the Dusk Academy
Ricky the Astrologer – human male – has a thirst for knowledge but doesn’t know what he’s searching for, currently studying Astrology at Monarch University
Zarek the Red – fox male – a cerebrally-unfettered spell researcher [read: Mad Scientist] turned into a talking fox, studying Natural Philosophy at Monarch University to find a way to become human again
Vorgand – human female – professional porter and Adventurer’s Aide, irregularly attends classes at The Tested military academy, practitioner of Steel Serpent martial arts, and Guildmaster of the Delvers Guild
Nick Stalwart – human male – part of the Stalwart family of merchants, studying Mathematics at The Interesting Institute of Profitable People, a college at Monarch University
Clarence – human male – studies Religion in Temples district, coincidentally the group healer
Torsten, Fish, Harek – ex-bandits, now The Torchbearers for the Delvers Guild
Konrad Moonclub – Stalwart family factor in Little Wytheford
Orm Oxdriver – driver of the guild’s over-sized, double-decker vardo
Lars – Chamberlain of the Delvers Guild
[We started out with some adjustments to the characters. When I started this campaign, I expected it to be relatively short, almost a one-shot, so I allowed several things to slide, following the Rule of Fun. As we seem to be switching over to a longer term campaign, I’ve needed to reign in a few things. Zarek wants to make golems and I’ve established he needs to do research and spend time in-game learning the skills. I also realized I was not doing that for the other players developing new spells, so I’ve enforced a requirement that PCs need either a teacher or to have the skill Spell Research before adding new spells to their repertoire. Nick’s player doesn’t see Nick as a “research type” but wanted a spell for recharging wands. We retconned his wand recharge spell as having been on one of the scrolls recovered from the elven tombs. This fit in story as well as mechanically.]
Yggsday, November 23rd, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
Evening (around 7:00 PM)
Having plundered the small tomb hidden down the left-hand passage [see Session 32], the Delvers decided to investigate the right-hand passage. As they went to leave the small tomb, most of them noticed that the previously still air in the main corridor now had a breeze flowing through it.
Ricky stuck his head out of the tomb’s narrow entry passage to look and determined that the breeze seemed to emanate from the statue at the end of the main corridor, to his right. He also noticed that the breeze was slowly getting stronger and colder. Zarek flew past Ricky and over to the statue to determine the source. He first cast Detect Magic to locate the source but found nothing magical. He next searched the alcove the statue was in and discovered several concealed air vents hidden behind decorative molding. Zarek reported this to the rest of the Delvers.
With nothing to be done about the strengthening breeze, the Delvers backtracked down the main corridor to the fork at the bottom of the slanted corridor. Here they discovered the right-hand path also had air flowing from it and both streams of air went up the slanted corridor. Their torch was starting to flag from the rush of air at this point.
The Delvers headed down the right-hand corridor, into the noticeably-cooling breeze. The corridor on this side mirrored the left-hand corridor, turning left after thirty feet, and then ending in another sixty feet at an alcove with an identical statue in it. Suspicious, Zarek quickly flew back to the other corridor to see if the first statue was still there. It was.
The Delvers paused at the corner. Ricky cast his Night Vision spell upon himself and then cautiously advanced down the corridor. At the point where the small tomb was down the left-hand corridor, Ricky looked for a potentially hidden door, possibly behind a door painted in the frescos on the wall. There was a painted door in that spot and Ricky could tell that the plaster covering it was thinner than the rest as there was a shallow depression in the plaster over the door area. When he reported this, Vorgand suddenly realized that there might be more tombs hidden behind painted doorways. She examined the frescos, looking for doors or doorways in the painted scenery. She quickly saw there were many doors, evenly spaced down the corridor, suggesting there were six or seven tombs hidden along this corridor.
The rest of the Delvers walked down the corridor to join Ricky. After searching for an easy way to open the plaster covered tomb door, Ricky and Vorgand broke out their sledgehammers and started smashing the tomb entrance while the wind moving through the corridor got colder and faster. Twenty minutes later, they broke the stone slab protecting the tomb. Just as Ricky announced this, the torches lost their fight with the wind and blew out. [At this point, the air flow was up to “strong wind” and had dropped the air temperature at least 20 degrees (Fahrenheit).]
Ricky could still see due to his Night Vision spell, but none of the others could. Zarek pulled out a charged power crystal from his backpack. This provided a little light for everyone else but plenty of light for the vision granted by the magic eyepatch he wore to function fully. [Zarek’s eyepatch grants UV Vision and needs a source to work. The Delvers previously discovered that the power gems emit the correct light for Zarek to see through the eyepatch.] Jala decided this was the last straw for her and announced that she was heading back to the portal and did anyone want to go back with her? No one took her up on the offer and so she went back alone, her left hand on the left wall so she would not get lost. When she reached the bottom of the slanted corridor, the portal at the top produced enough like that she could find the rope and climb up the slanted corridor.
Back at the newly opened tomb, Ricky announced he could see into it. What he could see was a broken funerary urn and a wooden sarcophagus that looked damaged. Zarek handed the power gem to Vorgand in case he needed to cast spells. Ricky took one of the torches into the small tomb and attempted to light it, out of the wind. There was a breeze in the tomb from the wind in the corridor, so it took him two tries to get the torch to light, but he did.
With a lit torch, Vorgand, Ricky, and Zarek started investigating the sarcophagus. Nick took position in the entrance, getting out of the cold wind and blocking the wind off so the torch would stay lit. Vorgand drew her sword to help lever the sarcophagus open and remembered that it glowed, adding to the light in the small tomb. She handed the power gem back to Zarek.
The sarcophagus showed signs of having been previously looted and the Delvers found nothing of value in it. Tired and somewhat chilled, the Delvers took a rest in the small tomb, enjoying the torch-warmth of the enclosed space out of the wind. The Delvers discussed this tomb while resting. They were confused about several things. The tomb had been looted in the past, but they had to break the stone slab to get in. The plaster over the stone slab had appeared poorly and insufficiently applied, leaving a shallow area that Ricky was able to see. It was very perplexing. [The GM knows why it was as it was, but he’s not sharing at this point. There are clues, but they are not obvious yet.]
Wondering if there is another way to easily open the doors, Zarek and Ricky attempted several magical phrases and words, including calling out the names of the elves in the frescos and the statue’s name. None of it worked. Discouraged and cold, the Delvers decided that it was time to head back to the Moon Manor. They walked back to the slanted corridor, using the power gem as a light source as the wind immediately blew out their torch once they left the small tomb.
On the way up the slanted corridor, Zarek did some experiments and discovered that the power gem did not glow while inside the anti-magic zone between the third and fourth brackets. The Delvers also noticed that the airflow partially diverted into the chimney behind the second bracket and they could hear a whistling sound up there, possibly from the breach they made. They did not investigate, wanting to avoid the Blue Fire Skeletons up there.
Jala and the Torchbearers had already gone back through the portal and were sitting on the couch in the Moon Manor portal room. On the way back up to the surface, Zarek diverted the group into the flooded warehouse to look at the secure area in the back corner. He asked Jala to try picking the lock again, now that she was more familiar with elven lock techniques. She was willing to do so and started a slow, methodical attack on the lock with her tools. [She took an extra hour of time before making the roll.]
While she did that, Zarek, Ricky, and Clarence re-investigated the physical properties of the anti-magic bars the caged area was made of. They verified that they could not reach very far through the bars due to the narrow gaps between them and that spell effects extended between the bars were suppressed. He also used his attack spell to blast out some of the stone walls adjacent to the secure area, only to discover the bars extended into the stone walls.
An hour later, Jala's attempt to pick the lock failed. It did give her some ideas for another attempt, but she needed to eat first as her hunger was starting to be a distraction. The group returned to the surface and found Orm sitting in the chapel with a stew beside the fire keeping warm. The sun had set several hours previously, so he made the stew and then kept it warm, waiting for the group to return.
After the late dinner, Jala, Zarek and Ricky went back down to the flooded warehouse. Jala made two more extended attempts on the lock, breaking her lockpicks in the process but with the plans for a new tool specifically for ancient elven locks in her mind. Zarek and Ricky spent the time working out a design for a tool to fit in between the bars near the door to pop the hinge pins out. Zarek would need to spend the next week at a forge in Aegea City to make it. The trio returned to the camp near midnight.
Sunday, November 24th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
The Delvers loaded themselves, one of the trunks from the moon ship, and the remaining elven objects d’art into the vardo. Ricky waved at the group as Orm drove it away as Ricky was staying at the Moon Manor to inscribe and pour the receiving circle of the teleportation gate he wished to establish between the Moon Manor and the Delvers Guild Guildhall. It snowed the entire day.
The vardo made good time back to Little Wytheford, not being as heavily laden as the trip out. While discussing what supplies Nick wanted Konrad to acquire to take to the ruins the following week, Konrad told Nick he had a letter from Aegea City. Konrad retrieved the letter from his office in the Stalwart family warehouse and gave it to Nick. Nick opened it. It was in the family cypher and warned Nick that the family had heard inquiries were being made “by a foreign power” about elven items sold in Aegea City, items the family knew Nick had sold. Nick shared with the Delvers that “a foreign power” was making inquiries about the stuff the guild had sold off. To play it safe, Zarek decides to act more like a normal fox and stop flying all the time.
The Delvers Guild boarded the ferry back to Aegea City. Most dozed during the trip, having stayed up late the previous night.
Most of the way through the ferry trip back to Aegea City, Vorgand started hearing snippets of whispered conversation in a language she did not know. At first she thought it was some of the other passengers, but then she realized it was coming from her magic earrings. She asked the other Delvers if they too were hearing the whispers, but they were not. They talked about what might be happening and realized Vorgand was hearing elven voices on a different network of earrings! Additionally, the voices got louder the closer the ferry got to Aegea City, suggesting there were elves operating in the city.
Nick, Zarek, and Ricky took off their magic earrings and hid what elven items they had visible, which requires Zarek to remove the very identifiable magical eye patch he was wearing. Vorgand decided she would not be removing any of her elven gear, but she would wear her winter coat in such a way that the gear would not be as obvious.
As the ferry approached Aegea City, the Delvers could see a large elven ship at the Guild Docks [the better set of docks, restricted to ships operated by guilds in the city]. The ship was covered in plant life, clearly growing in beds that lined the railings all over the ship. Zarek asked Nick if he knew anything about that kind of ship. Nick confirmed it was an elven merchant ship, able to hold a crew of 100 elves and possibly elven troops. Nick suggested that the elves might know about the Moon Manor ruins and they should warn Ricky and the Torchbearers. Zarek cast his flight and water breathing spells on himself, put his earrings back on, took possession of the magic net Nick had that grants ease of movement in water, and flew off under the water like a fur-bearing torpedo.
Once the ferry docked, the Delvers got off it with the other regular passengers. There were some elves loitering in the area, so Nick led most of the group through some side alleys out of the City Docks district where the elves would not see them. Nick, Vorgand, and Clarence split up at this point, agreeing to meet at the guildhall later, if it was safe to do so.
Jala loaded up a cart the guild regularly used with the crates of elven objects d’art and the elven sea chest [covered by a tarp] and calmly drove the cart to the guildhall, hiding in plain sight. Along the way, she noticed the elves loitering in many street intersections and on some of the rooftops. They appeared to be watching the streets. When she arrived at the guildhall, she turned over the crates and chest to Lars, the guild chamberlain, to be securely stored. She then went straight to her room and checked all the locks to verify they had not been tampered with.
Nick made his way over to the Craftsmen district and to a tavern where employees of his family congregated. There he swapped pieces of clothing with several employees, so he was no longer wearing his normal clothes and none of his people were wearing a full set of his. He then bought drinks and asked what was the story with the elves. He learned that the elven ship arrived two days previous and unloaded a little cargo. They took over a building in Old Town, kicking out everyone living there while claiming the elves were the original owners. Quite the commotion. There were also rumors the elves were in the king’s court, claiming to have title to other parcels of land and wanting to re-establish their rights. Several hours later, Nick made his way to his family’s home using back alleys and side streets. Along the way he noticed that there were city guards unobtrusively monitoring places where there elves were loitering.
Vorgand walked across the city to the campus of The Blooded [the military academy she attends – think Westpoint]. Along the way she also noticed many elves loitering at major intersections. They were not interfering with anything, just watching and possibly looking for someone. Vorgand did her best to keep crowds between herself and the elves, but otherwise walked like she belonged there. At The Blooded, she noticed security was significantly tighter and she actually had to show identification papers to get in, even though the guards knew who she was.
Inside the academy, Vorgand found some of her friends [and her rival] and asked what was going on. She learned that the elven ship arrived two days ago, just before Noon and took over an entire pier, claiming it as their right by way of a 500-year old treaty. The elves then evicted people from some buildings in Old Town, presenting deeds that declared the elves as the owners of the land and everything on it. Things were tense in the city, but the courts would be open tomorrow and things would start getting resolved. Maybe. Vorgand went to her quarters and changed clothes before going back out into the city, heading to the Delvers Guild guildhall.
Clarence made his way from the Craftsmen district to the Temples district. There he gossiped with the other acolytes and learned that the elves were generally avoiding the temples. A delegation from some of the major temples had spoken with the elves and learned that the elves had shrines to their gods on the ship and would not need the services of the local temples.
Vorgand arrived at the guildhall and found Lars, the guild chamberlain. Lars reported that cleaning of the first floor of the guildhall, including the “party room,” was complete. Further, he had bids for restoration work on the exterior of the guildhall. Lars gave Vorgand a quick tour of the interior areas still needing repairs. He also informed her that he had taken the liberty of hiring some bonded mercenaries to act as guards for the guildhall, considering the unrest the elves were causing. Vorgand thanked him for his foresight and authorized another 150 gold coins for further repairs, the exterior restoration, and, most importantly, securing the entrances to the guildhall. Until further notice, elves were not allowed inside the guildhall.
Jala found Vorgand during this time and they compared notes. Jala left the guildhall and found some local street urchins that she hired to watch the elves in the University district [the Delvers Guild guildhall was deep in that district, in the student housing area].
Zarek arrived at the Moon Manor, having flown the whole way. Zarek saw Fish on watch and startled the man when he greeted him. Zarek called together the Torchbearers and Ricky, explaining the situation in Aegea City. Ricky was very upset to be missing a chance to meet actual elves, until Zarek explains the elves were there tracking down the elven stuff the guild had sold off. Zarek asked what the group would need to defend the ruins if the elves decided to show up. Torsten, Harek, and Fish immediately started walking around the ruins and calling out defense options to each other. The three quickly put together a list of fortification supplies they needed, including a large supply of arrows, spare bow strings, and, if possible, some extra bows.
Zarek took their list and flew over to Little Wytheford, landing at the Stalwart family warehouse. Konrad was gone for the day, so Zarek talked with Penrith, the night clerk. Zarek provided the list of supplies to Penrith to give to Konrad in the morning. Penrith looked over the list and asked if Zarek would need any workers or a delivery driver. Zarek was not certain and flew back to the Moon Manor to consult with Ricky and Torsten. They decided that extra workers would be extra people talking about the ruins and make it more likely that the elves would learn about the ruins before defenses were ready. They decided to decline the workers and have Orm deliver the supplies in two days, on Hernesday.
Zarek flew back to Little Wytheford and updated Penrith. Penrith took notes and promised to deliver the information to Konrad in the morning. Satisfied with the situation, Zarek turned and flew back to Aegea City.
Zarek returned to Aegea City, doing his best to avoid elven lookouts on their ship. He flew low over the city and discovered two camouflaged staging areas the elves had set up on some abandoned roof tops. He proceeded to the guildhall and met Jala there. They exchanged information. Jala updated Zarek on the guild’s security and that Lars had hidden the elven objects d’art in one of the basement vaults for the time being.
End of Session
[This is where we pause the Delvers Guild Campaign until we can all physically be in the same place again. The elves showing up in Aegea City was a planned event based on player character actions and I’ve been slowly counting down the time until they arrived. It gave the players quite a jolt and will kick off some political intrigues in the campaign.]
[The switch back to the Shattered Star Adventure Path campaign paused due to a Covid exposure over the Christmas weekend, as I wrote about in an earlier post. Long story short, my wife and I were exposed to Covid by a friend who convinced himself he knew more than doctors about his health, despite repeated proof he was wrong. I tested positive a week later, my wife negative. I became ill, but luckily not majorly ill, and I’m feeling much better as of this writing. We took a second set of tests on January 8 and should have the results January 10th or 11th (after I finish writing this but before it actually posts). My concern at this point is being pretty much over it but remaining contagious, keeping me in isolation for an extended period. I’d like to get a negative result back, but until I do, no one gets to see me and I get to see no one.]