Monday, 22 November 2010

Peace During Wartime: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards - Part 4

Chapter Nine
All Dressed up and Nowhere to Go

“With the loss of the Romanov estates, the conspirators were now on the back peddle. They needed something to turn their plans around. The troublesome band of adventurers had already eliminated a few of their brothers, and Lord Shiabow knew that it would not be long til they would come for the rest of them. Upon that, he and Chapter Master Wallace devised their next move.
The adventurer's investment in stopping the conspiracy was purely mercenary, and the conspirators had already a tried and tested method for turning people over to their side. In the noble district of Wardovia, that very night there was already a planned party to sway the interests of the rich and influential. Lord Shiabow planned to use Chapter Master Wallace as a lure, and then invite the group, via planer portal, to the party, and offer them a share of the wealth upon victory.
- Silvio de Blum - The Ragnar Conspiritors: The Wardovia Coup

In this session the group arrives at Tarp, to see it dominated by the large cathedral like chapter house. As expected, Kara, Azreal and Damon play the parts of travelling pilgrims, while Trust climbs the rafters above. Unfortunately after a quick scan of the area, the group needs to contact Trust, so Damon blinds everyone in the room with cascade of light as a message via arrow gets to Trust. Further infiltration gets them to the Chapter Master's private quarters, but upon entering, the Chapter Master and the mercenary recruiter were already expecting them.
They make the group an offer, a night sampling the delights of what they could have by siding with the conspirators, and in the morning automatically returned to the town. Of course, less of an offer, they don't really have a choice. Arriving there, dressed to the nines, Kara runs into Sakari, who updates them on goings on in the city. Also in attendance is Sofia, who provided the alcohol for the party.
After a bit of perusing and making small talk, Trust sneaks into the back rooms, and eliminates the two conspirators, mainly down to the fact that they could not provide the money up front. With the bodies concealed but brains removed, The group head to the confines of their rooms, except for Azreal, who instead accepts an invitation from Sofia to spend the night at hers. He has now took a level in being a ladies man. The card!
True to the conspirators words, our heroes are returned to Tarp in the morning, with a bonus bag of holding, and on the way back to Skull cove, run foul of a band of demons, evidence suggesting that there is yet another player in the struggle for Wardovia.

Chapter Ten
The Terror of the Gelatinous Cube

“The Aasimar? Yes I remember him. Kept me as his possession for three years, I wouldn't likely forget that in a hurry. Yes, he had this big plan to run a mercenary company of deamons and creatures he'd summoned, of which I was one of them. Started making a good name for himself too, hiring them out to idealists and revolutionaries.
Of course, hell hath no fury like a Succubus scorned. Well actually thats not true. Hell hath no fury like a Succubus full stop. So when this bunch of adventurer types turn up, I bedazzle the big one and use my wiles to force my captor into fighting against them. Even with his summoning powers he was no match for them in the conditions I'd set up. Clever man, but I was cleverer”
- Unnamed succubus from Stories on the Road

With Clodhopper now dedicating his forces to the resistance, all that is required is a seige weapon to breach the walls. At Evergreen, a map suggests that there is a Black Hand seige works near the docks. On the way, our heroes encounter bigger problems. A massed army of demons ready to mobilise. Sneaking past, they face a few foes by a recently sacked caravan. The trader tries to give them some useful information, but Trust decides to “put him out of his misery” before he can reveal anything. They store his corpse in the bag of holding and continue on their merry way.
Trust notices an unusual amount of Teiflings at the docks, and upon questioning a drunk one, finds out they are summoning a demonic army in a secret base under the boardwalk. Investigating, they meet the summoner in charge, who agrees to have the demonic army work for the resistance, in return for Azreal as a mesmerized bodyguard. His succubus concubine has other ideas however, and as the undead servant Mr Bones heads off to take over the Black Hand's siege works, the summoner turns against them.
A botched summoning results in the creation of a gelatinous cube, that attacks everyone indiscriminately. After the ensuing battle, Mr Bones returns, but now has no master. With this taxing the groups attention, the succubus steps into the summoning circle and escapes without punishment. All is not lost however, Mr Bones agrees to turn over the siege weapons to the resistance, and Damon receives a fancy new summoning tome.

Chapter Eleven
Absolutely Everything

“Making up the bulk of the attacking force was a motley selection of brigands and outcasts. The pirates of the saw coast, united under the banner of the Illithid Captain Clodhopper served as hit and run raiders. The force of elves under the command of King Tim would serve as archers and healers, with some mounted cavalry protecting the flanks. The dwarfs would man the siege weapons and serve as hard hitting formation of troops. Finally the backbone of the army was the free city guard of Wardovia, who had to most to gain from the attack. The liberation of the city.
The attack was to go as follows: the walls were to be brought down by trebuchets. Any battlements that could be valuable for counterattack were taken by men in siege towers. A small force was sent through a tunnel excavated by the dwarfs, to within the city where they could raise the gate to the inner wall. Then nothing could prevent the attacking force from entering the palace and put King Calidan back in place.”
- Christoper Iax – The Siege of Wardovia

And so everything was prepared. Kara and the resistance would attack the city, giving the group enough of a distraction to sneak in and snatch the Black Hand mage. Then, they'd make good their escape. Sneaking into the city via the dwarfs tunnels, they come across a secret dragon holding area, and come face to face with what had now come to be known as 'the fail dragon'. Being non too bright, the dragon agrees to ride the group to the surface, but gets his head stuck in the exit. Azreal does him a favor by kicking him in the face to get him out. The heroes then get cornered by a snake and a hound, Trust and Damon pass their agility checks to run past them, leaving Azreal to waddle along in his heavy armour.
Exiting in the mages district, this commotion draws the attention of the city guard. Despite Azreal throwing the corpse of the dead trader at them, they manage to get away thanks to Carnack turning up as a disguised commander. Resurecting the trader witht the skull lords magical helm, he revives to tell them about the secret base under the boardwalk. This info being useless to them, they bung him back into the bag of holding, only to take him back out again to thow at a unit of orcs working for the conspirators.
After dispatching the orcs, and sticking the trader back in the bag, the group gets to the gatehouse of the palace, being hassled by Clodhopper and his men, and open the gate to reunite with Kara and Sakari. Now for the final part of the plan. Taking the back door into the palace, they fight past members of the Black Hand. Then they all jump into the bag of holding bar Trust, who sneaks past the guards. Faced with an officer of the Black Hand, the group puts on rings with their insignia they looted from the members they've slain over the course of the campaign. The officer belives them, but goes to check with the chief mage. Bypassing a dense ogre, the group head on to stop the officer before he gives the game away.

“The Holy Shield of Bernard was a highly sought after relic for the Knights of Bahamut. For years it resided in the Imperial Tower of Wardovia, out of reach. At odds with his original mission, Azreal had been tasked to retrieve the shield in the confusion, unfortunately, he wasn't the only one after it”
- Tomas of the order of Bahamut – Oh Shining Day!: The Exalted of Bahamut

While the rest of the team head on to silence the officer. Azreal spies the shield he had been ordered to recover. Slipping away from the team, he bypasses any traps and alarms, and the shield is his. Turning around, he comes face to face with Carnack. The two spar, but Carnack hands Azreal a severe beating. When it looks as though Azreal is done for, a stray round from a trebuchet crashes through the wall. When the dust settles, Carnack is gone, and so is the shield.

“Lady Illiarna was one of the finest minds of the Black Hand. It was her own idea to pose as the Kings closest advisor to secretly influence the path Wardovia took. Despite her cunning however, the Coup took her completely by surprise. All she could do was put the King under a state of magical sleep, and keep the palace under lockdown, until aid came from her superiors. None were to come however, and during the battle for the capital, Illiarna prepared for her last stand”
- Simon Deangelo – Peace During Wartime: The Wardovia Job

Trust successfully silences the officer, and is shortly rejoined by a beaten looking Azreal. Entering the Kings chambers, it was time do do the job they came here to do. Facing off against the mage, she summons a scaled down beholder, this proves useless however as her own fireball manages to destroy the creature before it can act. Damon makes use of the summoning book, but fails a will check to see if he can maintain control of the elemental he summoned. Regardless, the team manages to knock the mage out, and tie her up. Time to escape.
Moments later, Lord Khan of the conspirators enters the room from the stairs above, thanking the group for taking care of the mage, now he can make short work of the King. A sword then thrusts out of Khan's chest, and he drops to the floor. Its Jocasta, arriving to help the group get the hell out of there, and she beckons them to follow her to the roof of the tower.


“After the signing of the alliance Katie (no confirmed second name, though believed to be ûnus nulla ûnus or some derivative therov) could be found side by side with Jocasta, sometimes closer than lovers, sometimes fiercely independent. Upon arrival in Andavia she quickly got the attention of the military with her fantastic talent for mechanics and engineering. Jocasta, being a former guard of the city had been invited to take part in the final phase of the operation in Wardovia, and she requested work for Katie in this also. As it would turn out, Katie's talents would prove crucial, and with a bit of research and a little magic from a down on his luck water genasi, Katie had revolutionized the escape plan.
Five months after the signing of the alliance, the airborne ship Shandra, took to the skies.”
- Alysoun Mifflinburg – No Dykes to Watch Out For: Mercenaries on the Road Less Traveled

Up on the roof of the tower, the group watches as a great ship, suspended by a large air balloon, descends to take them away. Jumping on board, they all pass their agility checks and the ship picks up speed. However, the conspirators have released the dragons seen earlier, and the heroes run to the ballisters mounted on the side of the ship to defend themselves. Damon summons a powerful deva, which makes short work of the dragons, and Sofia also turns up in the iron maiden to provide support, much to the annoyance of Katie, who'd spent months working on a flying ship only to be faced with a far superior one.
Job well done. The group once again are granted an audience with King Richard, paying them their reward and additional bonus for what they had to deal with. King Callidan they are told, is back on his feet, and about to clean house with his government. Leaving the castle, Azreal once again faces Carnack, this time however, Carnack hands over the shield. He reveals he went after it for its arcane power, but this has long been stripped from the relic, and is useless to him. With this, Azreal returns the relic to his order, and is rewarded with the title of Knight Commander, and significant lands and estates. By the docks, the group concludes their business, and Sofia offers to keep Azreal company when he goes to look after his lands. With that, Jocasta insists that the celebrate, and that the first rounds on her.


Playing dungeon master in this campaign I enjoyed immensely, and really felt the storyteller come out in me. There was still pleanty I would have liked to have included: A bigger dwarvern city, a longer finale, a murder mystery, and the magical seeds that Trust looted were never revealed to be poisonous as originally planned. But what I do know is the players really enjoyed the campaign, and thats the important thing. Now its time for some other poor sod to take over.

“And so, the Wardovia-Andavian alliance was now secure. King Richard had clear evidence of the Black Hands involvement, and over the coming years he and Callidan cleared both their kingdoms of corruption with ruthless efficiency. By the end of the century, the two kingdoms were as close as one, and Richard's and Callidan's families eventually married into each other, officially forming one nation.

Azreal took control of a significant portion of the country, and made a large amount of money out of it. Sofia stayed with him for a short while, but it wasn't long until her wandering spirit drew her back to traveling the plains, though she would still visit from time to time. Azreal got used to the quiet life however, and was content enough as he still had Lady Alriaanna of Helm to call on if needs be. Quite the rogue, young Azreal had turned out to be.

Kara and Sakari stayed in Andavia, going back to their positions they formally held, guardswoman and librarian respectfully. They reminisced with Jocasta for a bit, and were held in high respect amongst the military leaders of the city, but they never forgot their comrades, and vowed that they would drop everything and help their old friends if ever the need arose.

Jocasta and Katie continued with the mercenary life, leaving Andavia shortly after and traveling south to the Florentine lands. Katie continued to garner fame as an inventive prodigal, to rival even the most ancient of dwarven smiths. Jocasta continued to be a skilled and valuable ranger. Both continued to be the talk of the town wherever they went.

Trust, unsurprisingly, would return to a life of petty crime, despite the big payout. She would continue to drift from city to city, picking pockets and raiding homes, biding her time as she waited for the next big score to come along.

As for Carnack and Damon, they would soon find their fates unexpectedly entwined. Both having heard legends of the arcane history of the island nation of Farrel. Making their separate ways there, they soon found that there was more to their arrival than a simple treasure hunt.

But as always, that is another story...
- Simon Deangelo – Peace During Wartime: The Wardovia Job

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