Monday, November 9, 2020

Session 1: Oh the creatures you'll meet!


My new commanding officer, Sergeant Rollo gathered us up for our morning briefing. The Radiant Festival is finally starting and we're the ones to keep the peace.

Our inaugural diurnal patrol was to be along one of the thoroughfares featuring a panoply of mobile foodstuff conveyors. Due to an apparent oversight in zoning, we came upon a disturbance of the peace in progress in the form of two vendors in a disagreement over their implied rights with regard to exclusivity brought about by their proximity. When we first arrived, a projectile had just started a conflagration in a precarious proximity to combustibles in the form of some oil barrels. Rather than risk injury and costly delay, I immediately conjured an enormous jet of water into the air above the barrels, dousing the fire as well as any interposing property. 

This calamity averted, Both places of business appeared to be either structural works in progress, partially demolished, or in the prime condition desired by the proprietors, who were possessed of that goblin ingenuity that somehow transcends the principles of sound engineering. 

When we enjoined the parties to come to an accord, the threats of violence and property damage subsided.

We were able to establish a privity between the parties in question in the form of a joint venture proffering "goblin fried pickles." As a show of good faith, my esteemed colleague, an adherent of Abadar, ingested said comestible.

Rarely am I the one to notice such subtleties but I observed his reaction as a matter of prurient interest. His outward mien and disposition appeared to belie his innermost turmoil (as I suspect is true of us all in an existential manner), but he held down his morning snack and we moved on, having unleashed this new culinary novelty on an unsuspecting public. I withhold judgement until such time as we are made aware of any bodily harm suffered as a result.

Not much further along the patrol we heard real sounds of calamity in the form of the cries of a distraught iron-monger whose wares were being despoiled and consumed by a rust monster. Those of us without armor attempted to non-lethally subdue the creature, with the monk seemingly readymade for the occasion. Unfortunately, it did not seem his repeated blows were having quite the soporific effect intended. A new plan was formulated to lure the mindless creature away with such foodstuffs as would entice it back to the menagerie from whence we deduced it had escaped. We commandeered yet more of the poor man's merchandise to assist in the endeavor. 

On the way we encountered a far more lethal problem, a loose cockatrice that had petrified one man and had many others cowering in a wagon. 

We also spotted an escaped owlbears in a grocer's. It seemed contented with the lettuces, so we bolted him inside and moved on.

In a stupendous display of foolhardiness or bravery, our gnomish ally lured the cockatrice into an open caravan and evaded it's touch to slam the doors shut behind it, neutralizing that threat.

I spotted two hyenas loose in a popcorn booth, but we similarly secured them in place.

At the present moment, two concerns fight for paramount importance: how did these animals get loosed from their restraints, and is this public calamity providing an inescapable diversion to cover some even worse skullduggery? Following shortly thereafter are the whereabouts of the menagerie's proprietors who have either fallen victim to foul play, or are about to face some crippling fines for negligence, public endangerment, neglect, affirmative acts of abuse, and whatever else I can come up with once my ticket-writing quill is wet. We're going to hope someone can afford to unpetrify the cockatrice's victim(s) as well.

We whistled for backup a minute ago... I'll have them set up a perimeter and protect the statue, erstwhile bazaar shopper.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Session 0: Four cops walk into a bar

My first night with the Edgewatch was pretty quiet compared to my usual patrols in the Puddles. I don’t know these gents well but they seem like good men. The mage has a pretty exhaustive understanding of Absalom legal codes and statutes but he might be a little idealistic. The Puddles have a way of beating that idealism out of you but maybe the Edgewatch is a better forum for that kind of progressivism. The cleric seems a stalwart companion. He and the mage appear to know each other from way back. I think they went the academy together or something. He’s a pretty good negotiator, a skill that came in handy during the evening.

We were walking our beat when we heard a commotion from a rowdy adventurer’s bar, the Tipsy Tengu. Entering, we saw a decent crowd, with the bartender up to his elbows in patrons. The particular commotion we came upon was of some human yelling about his stolen purse and pointing fingers at a slippery looking halfling behind him. The human claimed the halfling had pickpocketed 80 gold from his purse. Things were getting heated and we wanted to try to keep the peace- no mean feat since adventurers aren’t well known for their patience and diplomacy. I didn’t recognize the halfling as a criminal associate of any of the perps I know in the Puddles but that didn’t mean he wasn’t a no-good thief.

As we started questioning the halfling about his personal effects, a drunken cleric farther down the table leapt to his feet and started bellowing his defense of his halfling friend. The cleric was adamant that he and his halfling companion had just come back in town from some adventure that had yielded the gold that the human accuser swore was his. The halfling, of course, claimed himself a sovereign citizen and refused to consent to an investigation. Things were getting tense but between the cleric and the mage, they were able to talk down the human and halfling from escalating into an all-out brawl (I’d like to think my handy shovel had a bit to do with that too). As things de-escalated, the halfling shrugged, apologized, and handed the human 100 gold. Not sure where the extra 20 came from but the human didn’t question it. Come to think of it, if you were trying to launder some cash, that sounds like a good way to do it. Will have to remember that for our report…

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Session 18: Foiled


The Cranes start this weeks session by handing the bound Kaevia to Rasool, who picks her up and follows the party as they head south. After they cross a corridor, they find the pantry. At the east end of the corridor, they dimly view a larger chamber, in which two halflings seem to be boxing. The pantry contains nothing of interest, so the party starts heading back to the entryway to continue their exploration of the Sanctum. To their surprise, Manshoon awaits them in the corridor. He appears gracious, and invites them to follow him on a tour of the sanctum. In the foyer, he walks across the mosaic depicting a flying snake biting a coin. Once he stands on the coin, an alarm sounds, and battle is joined.

The fight initially doesn't go too badly for the Night Cranes. Parsain is able to grapple Manshoon, while Me turns into a giant toad and grabs the wizard with their tongue, preparing to swallow him. Xarca uses magic to turn Manshoon's weird iron hand red hot. However, after hearing the alarm, reinforcements arrive for the head of the Zhentarim. Two martial artists from the east, and a fencer and a songster from the west. The Cranes flee to the teleportation circle on the outer landing, some of them barely hanging on to life. Parsain attempts to bar the door, but the bard's shatter spell leaves it in ruins. Marty managed to teleport them out as Manshoon readied a lightning bolt. Thinking about how the search for the Stone has gone so far, the Cranes decide to sell Trollskull tavern and seek their fortune elsewhere.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Session 17: To Infinity, and Beyond! (Hopefully not beyond)


Tarsahk 3 continues in Kolat Towers. The Night Cranes pause to attune to their shiny new wand of binding and plot their next move. They decide to investigate the room guarded by the spectator. Shan and Mr. Me turn invisible, and carry a sheet into the room. They drape the sheet over the spectator, rendering it blind! The party rushes in to take pot shots at it, and it almost manages to eat the sheet off of itself, but only manages part of it before Jeramiah Stel Eo blasts the orb away with a lucky hit. Just then, flying snakes swoop down from the rafters, and almost make a meal out of Shan. Marty is able to take one out with an arrow, while Parsain grabs the end of the sheet and turns the beholder-kin into a morning star, knocking another snake out of the fight. Shan turns one into a flaming lantern, while Mr. Me kills the last one after finally getting a hit in with his shillelagh. 


Jeweled Shilleleagh
Eat it, USC

After the fight, Parsain tries to pick the locks but, despite thinking he was doing really well, isn't able to get them open. However, a mage hand reveals them to be illusory, and they loot the boxes. Marty investigates a magic circle in the center of the room, and determines it to be a teleportation circle. After some experimentation, nothing they have seems to be the key. Meanwhile, Shan goes downstairs to investigate Dulakh's library, and is rewarded for his efforts with an attack by a swarm of books. Marty has his back though, and they are able to quell the book uprising. The Cranes head back down to the room with a mimic to check out the outbuildings and discuss strategy.

Morn

The door from the mimic room leads into a shabbily decorated reading room, where a half-orc is reading Volo's Guide to Monsters. He seems friendly, so the party engages him in conversation. His name is Yorn, and he's been working for the Zhentarim for quite some time. He doesn't mind the change in leadership, as long as he gets paid, and Manshoon has been keeping him quite busy. He's annoyed, too, because he has to climb the tower to get to the teleportation circle every time Manshoon wants to see him, and he finds the empty tower creepy. Parsain says that the party has a meeting with Manshoon, but got lost. Yorn says that the lieutenants have a ring that lets them access Manshoon's extra-dimensional fortress. One is upstairs sleeping, and the other two are downstairs.

Believing that stealing from a sleeping man is the easiest course of action, the party heads into the next room. The apprentices look like the same ones as were summoning the demon. Marty notices that they are wearing rings that look like the teleportation rings Yorn described. Parsain ethers one and takes the ring. They leave the empty bottle of ether next to another apprentice. After taking a short rest to rearrange magical items, they teleport to Manshoon's Extradimensional Sanctum. 

The Cranes appear on a balcony surrounded by swirling purple mists. There is a figure watching them from a window through the mists, and once she sees they have noticed her, announces that they should wait for their host before vanishing. The party decides not to wait for whatever Manshoon has planned, and Parsain picks the lock to the door. They enter a large room with masks on the walls, a Zhent sigil dominating the floor. Jeremiah, Shan, and Groot try on the masks and are rewarded with shocks, but undeterred, they proceed into the room where they saw the woman. Parsain grapples her and Marty ties her up, and the rest of the party enters the room, hoping to avoid what they fear is a chilly reception.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Session 16: The Two Towers


Later on Tarsahk 2, Parsain hooks up with House Jhansczil, the horse breeders, pretending to have a letter of introduction. He uses their library to research the demon they saw. It's a Barlgura, a lesser ape-like demon that can turn invisible. Barlguars tend to not be very good for horse breeding, as they aren't very bright, and the invisibility can cause problems at the finish line.

On Tarsahk 3 the Cranes go to the guild of masons and try to convince the agent that they are visiting architects looking for Kolat Tower plans. They don't buy it and ask for a bribe. Marty offers 5 and the clerk looks insulted, so Marty offers 6, then 7. The clerk says they should leave before she calls the cops.

Groot goes to investigate the Towers from outside. There are two towers: the main tower is six stories, second tower is four. There are also some attached buildings that are 3 stories. People walking casually in and out, do not appear to be challenged. The Cranes go in, acting like they belong and consider their approach. The first room appears to be storage. They hear voices in the next room, so they decide to leave and go to Yellowspire to use the teleportation circle there. They continue their exploration of the empty towers. Marty wonders why, for someone's house, it seems to be so abandoned. The demon summoning room is empty. The next room up is blocked by a closed door, but the door is not locked. The room appears to have a detachable floor. Shan tried to explore the room, and the scraps of iron form themselves into a suit of animated armor. Then Shan, Marty, and Rasool move in, careful to stay to the edges for when the floor collapses. Parsain pulls the levers, and the floor flies upwards, crushing half the party against the ceiling. Mr. Me entangles the construct, almost catching Marty. A moonbeam from Xarca finally connects. Eventually, a crossbow bolt from Marty and a glaive strike from Rasool do it in.

On the next floor the party finds a flesh golem. They test it with an illusion, and it swipes at it and growls "not dulahk". Parsain uses the hat of disguise to make himself look like Dulahk Kolat and get them through. The next corridor has a rune at the end. Marty finds a secret door. Parsain figures out the mechanism for the secret door, but no one can figure out what the rune does. The door leads to a bedroom. Flameskull! Rasool charges, Marty restrains it, it shoots fire rays out of its eyes at Parsain. Rasool bonks it, and Parsain gets it in the eye. Parsain finds a secret compartment with a wand of binding. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Session 15: Flumph Mating Rituals

The Cranes continued their exploration of Kolat Towers. Past the bridge, they entered the second tower to find a room that was largely lacking a floor. Parsain jumped across, but the gap was too large for most of the party, so after some discussion, they decide to climb down into the room below. This turns out to be a library, and once the party starts examining the shelves, they find out that the library has guardians -- two gargoyles. Their stony hide is largely impervious to conventional weapons, and they get some good hits on Rasool. Eventually, mainly due to Groot's thorn whips, they are whelmed into submission. While Rasool bandages his wounds, Parsain completes the exploration of the tower and finds a spellbook concealed inside a book of Flumph dating rituals. Why Parsain wanted to look at a book on Flumph mating rituals is a mystery we are content not to explore. Contained in the spellbook are arcane lock, burning hands, comprehend languages, counterspell, darkvision, dimension door, find familiar, levitate, sending, and unseen servant. The party dumps the gargoyle corpses in the bottom of the first tower. Parsain buries the bodies under trash. 


Back on the story with the open floor, Parsain notices an opening in the ceiling. Groot goes to investigate and manages to find an invisible staircase. The staircase leads to ransacked laboratory -- the floor is covered in broken glass and there is an overturned table. Groot, in gecko form, finds more invisible stairs up and sees wizards summoning a Barlgura. Back down, the party searches a third platform in the room with an open floor plan, a platform with treasure chests. Parsain tickles one of the chests with his mage hand, revealing it to be a mimic. He then jumps, and tries rummaging in the other chest. In this one are various arcane foci, and he grabs a crystal for Shan. Eschewing the chance to disrupt the demon summoning, they decide discretion is the better part of valor, and leave the towers to return to Trollskull manor.

On the way back home, they see members of the Fishmonger's Guild brawling with Guild of Trusted Pewerers and Casters. Riff from the Fishmongers Guild is dating the sister of Tony from the Pewterers, and Tony thought he wasn't good enough, so a fight broke out. Rasool buys some hand rolls. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Session 15: Oh, the Towers You'll Climb!


It is Tarsahk 2. Given the new membership, the party decides to rename themselves the Cranes, and the tavern the Night Crane. Sailors have been carousing in the Night Crane all week, and that plus the excitement of a robot has led to a small but respectable profit. The Cranes recognize that someone is going to be coming after the eye, so have a lengthy discussion about how best to hide it. Some suggestions include baking into a loaf of bread, hiding it in the basement, or parachuting it. They decide to buy a lead statue, and hide it inside. Marty is able to find one at a nearby antique shop. While Marty is shopping, Azazel uses his knowledge of the mystic arts to investigate the eye. It appears to have no special properties while it is apart from the Stone of Golorr, but it definitely has an abolethic feel to it.

Having hidden the eye in the statue, the party decides to fully investigate the tower of Yellowspire. Mr. Me turns into a cat to scout it out, and it appears to have been abandoned, though whoever abandoned it left the body of a middle-aged Shou behind. Azazel looks into the cellar, and finds a locked door which Parsain unlocks. Behind it is a teleportation circle. Shan notes that the circle needs a 'key' to be useful. Marty examines the body, and finds out it's been dead most of a tenday. There is ink on his fingers, from which he deduces that he must have been a newspaper man. The body is covered in stab wounds, the probable cause of death. In the fireplace, Shan finds a charred wand of magic missiles and singed note that reads:
Seccent—I have nothing but contempt for what you have done. I don’t know what foul rites you hope to perform, but the more traditional rites of Brindul Alley would have surely wrung any information this broadsheet publisher might have had. Nonetheless, Manshoon’s word is my command, and so I present to you Shan Chien. May you choke on him. – Avareen
From this, the Cranes conclude they might be able to use Avareen's antagonism to their advantage -- at the very least, they should check out the house in Brindul Alley.

The Cranes venture back out into the rain and head to the Tradesward. There, in an unmarked building down a dark alley, they find the Zhentarim safehouse, and break in. They con their way in by asking for help finding their friend "Shan". As the discussion proceeds, they claim that Seccent is trying to frame Avareen for Shan's death. This doesn't get them anywhere, so Mr. Me leaves against the advice of the rest of the party, who want to murder. They then try to decide how to get back inside. Azazel tries to ask to use the bathroom, but Avareen tells him to go in the alley, so he does. Eventually, the Cranes figure out the the door is still unlocked, so they walk in and attack. Avareen suddenly finds everything very funny, and her bodyguard Zorbog is Held. The party demands to know how to get to Manshoon, and Avareen hands them a small crystal she had carried around her neck that would allow them to use the teleportation circles. Parsain then cuts her throat.

Exploring the two-room house, the party finds a torture chamber in the back, undoubtedly home to the "traditional rites" the earlier note referenced. There is also an arcane circle and a note. The note is signed by Manshoon, and exhorts Zorbog to "gather the usual gang" and kidnap a man named "Fenerus Stormcastle" who lives in Quill Alley, and is "a known associate of these new meddlers in the Grand Game." Zorbog is to squeeze Fenerus until he reveals everything he knows. The Cranes set up a fake torture scene, remove the lower jaws of Avareen and Zorbog, and leave a note implicating Zardoz Zord. Then they teleport to the Kolat towers.

Upon arriving at the towers, a magic mouth intones a warning. Mr. Me turns into a cat again to explore the tower. It is largely empty, with the exception of a Spectator beholder kin guarding a teleportation circle and several treasure chests on the top floor. The Cranes decide to leave them alone, and instead cross the bridge on the floor they arrived to the second tower.