Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Tail and Talon: The Whole Sorry Affair (Part 3)

Finally. An ending. AND A BEGINNING! (I object to the excessive use of exclamaion marks however)

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Chapter 5

“Germ warfare isn't something familiar to the realms. Outside the dabbling of alchemists and mages spells, the use of chemical or biological warfare wasn't very widespread. However the concept behind it was the inspiration behind the Yuan-ti's greatest plots during the Wandering War. Part one was simple, hire some morally dubious traders to smuggle away some of the Rog eggs, then have a different network of conspirators smuggle the eggs back, albiet with some significant alterations.
The eggs were carefully implanted in turn with scorpion eggs. To the naked eye the eggs would appear to be untampered with, until the time came when the scorpions would hatch, eat they're way out of the eggs, and fatally poison the Roc descendants right under they're noses”
- Roma Drangasti – Tail and Talon: Non Territorial Conflict and Mercenary Warfare during the Wandering War

So in this session we finally finished off those zombies, and the characters traversed further into the cave complex. Upon reaching the egg nest, the protective ward is set, to which we're greeted with the eggs opening up to reveal scorpions. Great. I theorized that the whole affair with the stealing of the eggs, and the ice prostitutes, and that, were all part of a grand conspiracy to smuggle the scorpions into enemy territory. To which our DM shrugged his shoulders.
After a bit of trouble with the scorpions a giant Roc flies down to our rescue. Previously our characters were rewarded with a golden leaf that would allow them to summon a grand Roc at a time of need. After this little incident it turned out that this was its one use only, which the DM gave us when we didn't even ask for it. I felt cheated, as I was going to save it for the end of the campaign when we'd likely need it.
Upon returning to the ice palace we collect our usual reward and are tasked with traveling to the Yuan-ti citadel and putting a stop to the war once and for all. Along the way our characters meet a traveling trader who looks suspiciously like every barman they've met so far. The trader offers us a stone golem called Chunga for fairly generous price, to which Trust buys the control rod and orders the golem to knock out the trader so she can steal all his stuff. The DM and indeed the trader are not amused, and deny Trust the ability to make any future commands of the golem. We laugh. Then off they trot.

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Chapter 6
If Axes could Melt

“So anyway, I was In these caves this one time. Home to a spider queen or some such nonsense. Anyway, I'd had a few ales at this point so I wasn't really paying attention. I get kidnapped, and turned into a giant diamond. I have no idea how it happened but there I was, A giant diamond, chained up in some temple room or something. So these adventurers come along, I try to talk to them but without a tongue its not that easy. Somehow though, I can communicate with them, I can project feelings or something like that.
So they cut me down, and just as I think the worst is over, I'm turned into a giant scorpion or something and have to fight them. Fortunately for me, killing the scorpion released the spell and I got to go home. Thank god for happy endings eh? And the moral of the story is: governing bodies should put more thought into where they build they're tunnel complexes”
- Thora Muttonbone – during a conversation in a tavern about bad experiences

“Get out! Get out! Get ouuuuuuuuttttt”
- Inscription on cave wall

Trotting steadily along, our characters pass through a network of caves en route to the Yuan-ti fortress. Despite the fact that our DM's theatrical premiere was fast approaching, this session had the least attachment to progressing the story or any real semblance of plot. In order to retain my own sanity, and yours, dear reader, I'm going to go through this... what can only be described as a bad acid trip... one step at a time.
Upon entering the caves the characters are forced to give up the usefulness of Chunga, who becomes magnetized to the walls. Further along a lone dwarf tells us how his family have been lost in the caves and that he will reward us if we find them. Further along we find a giant diamond chained up in a room, which we eventually deduce is the dwarfs daughter after some kind of transformation. The DM fails entirely in giving us any clue how to set her free. Instead we cut the chains, and the diamond transforms into a giant scorpion, with the daughter somehow fused to its stomach. One combat encounter later and we've freed the daughter and she runs back to her dad.
Moving swiftly along we go through the same rigmarole to free the son and the mother and in all honesty can't remember what reward we got. Carrying on into the complex the party runs into a benevolent phantom, who tells them that if they defeat the spider queen it will set him free, and we can have all the unbreakable spidersilk we want. He then proceeds to talk and talk. And Talk. When we get to the middle of the complex, it turns out it was all a trap and that the phantom was working for the spider queen all along. Were it not for Chunga's timely intervention it would have been one combat encounter we weren't walking out on. Shortly after, the party leaves the cave complex and is back on the road.
All in all I was a little confused after this session. Were we in the middle of a longer, more concise and regular campaign, it may have had a place, but as mentioned before, we were scraping for time as it was, and It just felt like the DM was stalling us until he could come up with an idea of how to end the campaign.

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Chapter 7
Can we just end it now Please?

“Thus the intrepid assassins gained the confidence of the Yuan-ti garrison, giving them free reign of the fortress. What method was it they were to use to dispatch the high command? There was a readily available supply of scorpions, waiting to tamper Roc eggs? Sabotage then? Poison? Perhaps taming the Chiefs pet drake to turn on its master? All these options lay open to them, but disaster would strike at every turn! The kitchens locked tight! The drake, unresponsive! And of the vast conspiracy involving the scorpions, there was nothing to be seen! (might want to re-write this part Roma, its a little dramatic – ed)”
- Roma Drangasti – Tail and Talon: Non Territorial Conflict and Mercenary Warfare during the Wandering War – First Draft

So finally our characters have an objective in sight, arriving at the keep, Trust manages to slip into the usual routine of bluffing her way into the enemies confidence. All that remained was to take care of the high command and make our escape. However, the DM didn't seem to want to help us much in this regard.

Or indeed at all.

While at the keep, there were plentiful method to aid our heroes in carrying out the assassination. The characters were offered to meet the high command, but never in the same room at the same time, so no chance of Azreal just bludgeoning them to death. Access to the kitchens was never allowed, guarded by day and locked and alarmed at night, so no chance of Trust picking the lock and poisoning the food. Then there was the pet drake that was always with the commander, Jocasta attempted to charm it, but when the chance came the DM revealed the commander had a special jewel in its forehead that kept it under total control. Oh, and no Chunga allowed, apparently.
Finally, we discovered a pit under a large statue that contained the notorious scorpions. At this point we planned on cutting our losses and at least manage to take out the main commander by shoving him down the hole. However at this point the DM decided to retcon any existence of said hole being there in the first place, leaving us with a grand total of zero options.
In the end we were so frustrated that we started a fight with a bunch of kobolts and it ended there.

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“What occurred next is lost to the history books, and eye witnesses are few. Despite the fact that the mercenary band were completely compromised, they managed to not only escape with they're lives, but also follow out they're contract to the letter, ending the war, and stabilizing the political climate of the realm. We can only speculate on how this was achieved, but evidence seems to suggest that the Yuan-ti high command were actually suffering from a very slow acting form of heart failure. They're resulting deaths being ultimately an act of the gods.
Whether this is true or not there is still not enough solid proof, and many other theories have just as much backing. When pressed on the subject, the three involved had only the following to say:

“Assassination? Me? Surely you mean Arse-assination! Hahahaha! Oh I'm awful. Seriously though, speaking of arses, how is Trust these days? I 'trust' she's well. Hahahahahaha, oh thank you, thank you, I'm on all night.”
- Jocasta Lacroix

“Well, what happened was, we were surrounded by kobolts, and then Azreal shouts, “For great justice!” and then... what?... No I wasn't trying to reach for you're purse strings, how dare you! This is the kind of prejudice Tiefling like myslef have to... No... No I still wasn't trying to reach for you're purse strings you must have been ima- Oh bugger!”
- Trust

“...” “erm...”
- Azreal of the Order of Bahamut

And so our final session never came. Our DM had a date with destiny on stage in front of a thousand screaming middle aged women. What would have happened can only be speculated upon. Once we started to get some free time back, attempts were made to fit in a final session, but we never managed to get it together, and I was edging to jump into the DM's seat myself, to get my own grand campaign in order.
Hopefully such a sour end note won't reflect the future of what Dnd and indeed any tabletop games have in store for us, and all in all I don't regret the time we spent on it. We had some good laughs and insane stories to take home with us, and a bunch of character to build on if we so wished. So I suppose I can end this review with the corny line that the campaigns fate was ultimately dedicated by a roll of the dice. I'll get my coat.

But its not over yet... Not by a long chalk.



How goes it my golden haired guardswoman? If Trust lives up to her name (Thats the deceptive Tiefling you're either pointing a crossbow at or have a sword to the neck of) she'll have got this note to you and Sakari safe and sound. I'm already regretting that I'm not there in person, I'd like nothing more than to re-live the old days with you and the little bookworm with eyes of deep azure. But enough with sentimentality.

I may have been out of touch with the politics of the realm for quite some time, but even I know the departure of the snakes and the big birds is going to cause a bit of an upheaval. I have loyalties elsewhere, and alas cannot continue on the road with my friends. With regards to all this, somebody is going to have to keep these two out of trouble. No doubt there'll be plenty of jobs going for adventurer types, or otherwise you could always conscript them into the city guard or have Sakari hire them as cleaners for the library.
I've already mentioned Trust, she's okay as long as you keep an eye on your gold at all times and don't give her the opportunity to torture people. The Paladin is Azreal, he's fun to be around in a dopey shy kind of way, if you can get him out of his shell, no pun intended.
You know I trust you're judgment, and I know you've always been more of an idealist than me. If they're going to throw they're lives away, at least let it be for a good cause.

Thats how I'd want to be remembered, but you know that already, don't you?

Till the eternal sleep takes us Kara and Sakari
Yours always, and never
Jocasta Lacroix

P.S On the off chance you run into a bunch of Yuan-ti traders, get some of they're advocaat, its to die for!

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