Nieda-Harsas Bureau of Tourism

Session 26 - Operation Negotiation
The party finds a holy cow and talks to some bandits.

Party:

NPCs:

Lindwell and Galen emerge from the lawyers’ guildhall. Galen seems bemused by Lindwell’s participatory approach to the seminar. Lindwell notes that one must experience the law in order to appreciate it, and uses a nearby minotaur in an example. He asks Galen if the senior lawyer believes that minotaur has never committed any crimes. Galen jokes that every minotaur is guilty of something, even if it’s just deliciousness. The minotaur in question, Bartholomoo, gently objects, characterizing himself as a simple, honest, hardworking minotaur from the farms near Bythovia. Galen asks to see his clerical ring, and Bartholomoo insists on explaining his philosophy. Galen suddenly remembers a court appointment, and runs off, though not before offering the use of the guild library to Lindwell if and when he should be in Teremial.

Lindwell recruits Bartholomoo for his party. Bartholomoo is delighted to be headed to the bustling metropolis of Port Chalmers before Lindwell explains that Port Chalmers had disappeared, replaced by a lake and the new town of New Port Chalmers. Lindwell’s promise of a maze seals the deal.

Lindwell’s first stop is the Dio Training Hall, which is new home to drafting tables and a dispute between du Barry and Rocky. Lindwell greets them and explains that he has made some promises that may be difficult to keep if they can’t use the training hall for sleeping space. Rocky indicates that the workers are actually gone. To Lindwell’s mild surprise, they are neither building nor exploded underwater, but harvesting crops and building a granary. Rocky and du Barry disagree on the best way to expand the current work platform in Lake New Port Chalmers, so they entrust Lindwell to break the deadlock.

The party finds Thor in his office, poring over an unusual note. The bandits on Nissus Point, it seems, are interested in negotiation. They are aware of the approaching winter, and may be induced to join forces with the town in order to survive a bit more easily. Failing that, they ask amnesty to join their brothers in Strindisjahr [replace this]. Lindwell and Thor both agree that bringing them in is the best course forward, as they would add needed manpower to help with the harvest and the defense of the town. The mayor hands them a cash reward for bringing so many new people into town, and off they go.

Torclaw leads the way, identifying the path to the bandit camp. The party announces themselves to the guards there and are conducted to Ole Vergsson. They note that the camp is larger than its current complement of men would require and conclude that the bandits here are severely understrength. Despite that, Lindwell and Bartholomoo are unable to convince Vergsson to hitch his wagon to New Port Chalmers’ star; he refuses to accept any offer less than his own. Vergsson peremptorily ends the negotiations and orders the party out of the camp. He claims Nissus Point for his men and promises trouble if that claim is not respected. The party is conducted out of camp and instructed to leave at once.

Rewards:

  • 0 XP each (10,636 total)
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Session 25 - Operation Oddjob
Jorma gets rewarded, Gron follows his destiny, and Blizzacane finds a friend.
Party: NPCs:

The party stands in the aftermath of the battle in the entry hall. Wizmo remarks that they have not yet found the riches implied to be left behind by the guards’ gaming elsewhere in the manor. After questioning their captive, a retiarius formerly employed by Del Skorzeny, the party moves toward the kitchen storage room. Wizmo attempts to kick in both of the doors between them and the money but only bounces himself across the room. Gron smashes in a door which later proves to be unlocked, much to the amusement of the retiarius. The party finds quite a trove in the wagers of the guards and are well pleased with it.

The party filters back toward the entry hall. Wizmo notices the library again and searches its shelves for new additions to his collection. He finds a pop-up book detailing the anatomy of the common fairy as well as a strange whistling on one end of the room. The party investigates, and Lindwell identifies a teleportation circle near a wall. He manages to activate it and sends Gron through to find the other teleportation circle. Gron finds himself in the conference room where Skorzeny and his bosses were. He makes his way back to the library, whereupon Wizmo uses the teleportation circle. Wizmo’s attempt to teleport back fails, however, and he ends up in a chest in the mansion’s attic.

Once Gron finds the false wall, Jorma locates and triggers the mechanism to open it. The party finds an escape tunnel there; presumably, Jaqueline Debussey used the teleportation circle to escape the conference room and fled through this very tunnel. Following it to its end, the adventurers find a secluded copse on a hillside facing away from the mansion. Hoofprints indicate that whoever came through the tunnel before has gotten clean away. The party decides to head back to town and report success.

Bad news travels fast, and word of the deaths of Skorzeny, Grathak, and Yuliov has arrived early in Ariaphas. Jorma leads his companions to Captain Angosh’s office to find the policeman, formerly so frustrated with his position as a glorified traffic cop, directing a frenzied response to something. Angosh explains that the criminal element that Skorzeny had kept in check for so long has erupted in violence as various of his former underlings contend for the vacancies left by the deaths of their higher-ups. Some of the police are using the chaos to smash Skorzeny’s organization for good. The situation is so bad that some of the criminals have left town; Lelz, in particular, was seen on the road to Teremial. Ariaphas will be a dangerous place for Jorma for the next few months, Angosh explains, and he had better get out of town fast or hide out for several weeks. Jorma proffers the documents the adventurers retrieved from the conference room, delighting Angosh with the evidence he needs to track down key players in Skorzeny’s organization and their enablers and fellow travelers. Angosh provides the party with a cash reward and promises to send word to Jorma when the coast is clear, as well as a copy of the incriminating documents. Jorma retrieves his priestess disguise from the evidence room and leads his party along a circuitous route through the back alleys of Ariaphas to their ship at the docks.

At last the adventurers arrive at their final port of call, Teremial. Lindwell visits the courthouse right off to file paperwork to disguise Jorma’s status as that of a prisoner being transported, a consequence of his extradition during their previous visit to Teremial. While there Lindwell is invited by Judge Galen Runyon to speak at the Teremial bar association’s annual meeting. Runyon has heard of Lindwell’s legal exploits further south and feels that his observations on the task of defending a supernaturally possessed Jorma would be an excellent topic for the meeting. Lindwell promises to do so, and Runyon mentions that he has access to the association’s legal library, should he wish to use it to prepare.

Jorma and Lindwell track down the last two clergy they have letters of introduction for. Ilkhanovich seems shocked that New Port Chalmers has no priest of Pelor to bless the crops and pray for the rains; he announces his intention to depart for the place immediately. Sister Gramalkin states plainly that she will go to New Port Chalmers to administer rites to the dead as though she were accepting a fate that had long awaited her.

Gron, of course, focuses on Lelz. He searches for his former partner on his own but turns up nothing, not even a sign that the elf passed through the city. Enlisting the aid of his more charismatic partners, Gron finds that Lelz was in Teremial. The elf bought fresh horses and departed with a genasi woman and a shifter, heading for the plains. Gron asks if the party will come with him to take on Lelz, but they are bound by other considerations. Goodbyes are brief. Gron departs, intent on the hunt.

Lindwell immerses himself in statute, precedent, and case law, and he takes Jorma with him, as the merry scoundrel is nominally in his custody. Left to his own devices, Blizzacane drowns his sorrows in drink, his only companion a disapproving kitten. As he forlornly punctures bystanders in a game of shifter tail darts, he is noticed by another shifter. An adventurer by trade, Torclaw is currently at loose ends, and the prospect of a companion – one of his own species, no less – is an attractive one. After playing darts for a bit, Torclaw manages to extract information on Blizzacane’s partners, “the worst lawyer in the world and the best murderer.” After some questions concerning remuneration, Torclaw finagles an introduction from the inebriated young shifter. The two find Lindwell and Jorma in the library, and a brief exchange sees Torclaw dub Jorma “Bad Guy Stabber.” He is soon recruited.

Rewards:
  • 0 XP each (10,636 total)
  • Alexandrite x2
  • amber x4
  • 950 gp
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Session 24 - Operation Hostel Takeover
The adventurers take down the boss of Ariaphas, but can they get out?
Party: NPCs:

Blizzacane, Jorma, and Wizmo descend from the garret to open the two rooms on the second floor that had been trapped. Jorma attempts to disarm the traps, but he cannot do so after several tries. The arrival of several of the mansion’s guards tasked with ensuring that the second floor is clear of intruders interrupts the effort.

The party hides in the hallway as the guards walk up the stairs. A dragonborn leads the way and attacks as soon as he sees Jorma. He is swiftly backed by a weaselly-looking little magician and a genasi fire mage. Wizmo catches the dragonborn and the magician in a terrible illusion of fairies as Blizzacane and Jorma make short work of them. The magician’s attempt to escape is cut short as Wizmo drags him back to the fray. The genasi bolts for the stairs, but her attempt to escape is cut short as she is pushed off the landing to the floor below. The party gives chase, arriving in the marble-floored entry hall just as she regains her footing.

The genasi is unenthusiastic about continuing the fight, however, and becomes surprisingly talkative. She directs the party to Skorzeny’s current location and a stash of money that had been wagered on a card game before the party came crashing in. Jorma’s reputation seems to impress her, and she openly flirts with him, earning her a dropped chandelier courtesy of Wizmo. Lindwell attempts to recruit her to New Port Chalmers with some degree of success. After satisfying her former adversaries’ curiosity, she leaves the entry hall by way of what is later revealed to be the library.

Setting the money aside for the moment, the adventurers press on toward their ultimate target: Del Skorzeny. Although the door of his conference room admits no sound, Skorzeny and two of his lieutenants are in a deep discussion of year-on-year profit growth. Skorzeny verbally spars with Jorma for a while before he grows bored and orders their deaths.

Jorma and Lindwell easily evade their nearer enemies and capture the center of the room. Blizzacane plants himself in the door, locks down Skorzeny and his half-orc henchwoman, and fills the room with a burst of concealing vines. Wizmo rushes about in the hall outside, constantly angling for line of sight to cast his mind-rending magic. A noblewoman, another of Skorzeny’s lieutenants, stands apart and exhorts her comrades to greater success. The half-orc and Skorzeny flank Blizzacane, but Jorma and Blizzacane flank the half-orc, and with added attacks from Lindwell and Wizmo, she falls. Skorzeny is kept weakened and blinded while the heroes wear him down. After Skorzeny is near beaten, Lindwell attempts to entice the noblewoman to New Port Chalmers, but she teleports away. Skorzeny falls, and Jorma’s task is done.

The adventurers search the room, finding some valuable items and, more importantly, papers detailing Skorzeny’s operations in Ariaphas. Jorma collects the papers as Blizzacane opens the room’s curtains wide, exposing the party to a squad of their enemies outside. The squad runs off to a door into the mansion, and the adventurers leave to explore the rest of the mansion, possibly finding the spoils that the genasi promised them. They open several bedrooms, out of which Blizzacane acquires clothes, and a linen closet. After returning to the entry hall and opening the library, Jorma is jumped by enemies at the door to the dining room.

A fierce battle ensues at the door. A cacklefiend hyena assaults Jorma’s mind, making his attacks less potent. Jorma backs off, but is pursued by a retiarius. Blizzacane rushes to the door to hold off the rest of the enemies, but an armored eladrin teleports past him and restrains Jorma. Yuri Yuliov, the last of Skorzeny’s lieutenants, degrades Blizzacane’s attacks and then starts targeting the rest of the party. Lindwell forces the retiarius to surrender, taking him out of the fight. Blizzacane freezes part of the dining room, damaging anything in it, and Wizmo summons illusory fairies to invade the minds of the enemy. Blizzacane and the eladrin duel each other until Wizmo finally brings the heavily armored opponent down. Yuri tries to escape, but the party pursues and kills him. The hyena savages Lindwell, but the timely intervention of Blizzacane saves him from a worse mauling. Soon, it too is downed.

The adventurers take stock. They still haven’t found the money the genasi promised them. They don’t know where the noblewoman went. Several rooms of the mansion are completely unexplored. They do, however, have a captive.

Rewards:
  • 725 XP each (10,636 total)
  • Black Pearl x1 (500 gp)
  • Ornamental Silver Gladius x1 (250 gp)
  • Atlan (Gold Elf) Jaguar Bracelet (gold) (250 gp)
  • 900 gp
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Session 23 - Operation Toys in the Attic
Our putative heroes set a trap in the mansion's garret.
Party: NPCs:

Blizzacane’s shell illuminates a small part of a garret filled with crates and barrels. The party determines that the area is unoccupied and cautiously expands their illumination to find that the garret also holds beds and trunks for the mansion’s staff. A short reconaissance down a staircase reveals an unoccupied hallway and voices coming from a landing just off to the side. Wizmo suggests a trap: he will create the sound of noisy birds in the attic, which the people on the lower floor will naturally come and investigate. The adventurers create some barricades and position themselves, then Wizmo puts his plan into action.

The first antagonists up the stairs are surprised to find armed men instead of trespassing fowl, and battle is joined. Blizzacane defines the front line, keeping his enemies near him as much as possible. Wizmo and Lindwell deny freedom of movement to most of the enemy, keeping them near Blizzacane. Jorma, characteristically, bows out of the fight to focus on opening the chests and boxes scattered throughout the room. Gron awakes from a brief nap to find that his old companion, Lelz, has fetched up in the employ of Del Skorzeny. Lelz and Gron duel each other with bow, hammer, and advanced light security drone as Lelz attempts to negotiate with the companion he once betrayed. A razorclaw stalker breaks away from the pack and harasses Wizmo behind his barricade, forcing him to retreat and stop supporting some of his zones. She’s badly wounded, though, and yells to Lelz that they need to retreat. The enemy backs off in good order, leaving only the security drone to be destroyed by an irritated Blizzacane.

Taking advantage of this breathing space, the party rests and then explores the second floor of the mansion. The second floor is a hallway of marble lined with three bedrooms and two rooms of unknown purpose. Gron advises the party not to attempt to enter these, as the locks are trapped. The party must wait for Jorma to advance.

Rewards:
  • 250 XP each (9,911 total)
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Session 22 - Operation Touchdown
Wherein sneaking around almost works.
Party: NPCs:
  • none

After arranging the grisly distraction, the party makes for the safety of the old stables. Blizzacane makes sure that the sunrod is stowed in his turtle shell, dimming its glow to minimize the risk of detection. The group waits until a squad of guards disappears from view around the corner of the mansion and go for it.

Along the way, however, they find that their intelligence was incomplete; a massive hedge rears against the sky above them. The party creeps along the hedge, scouting for an opening. Soon they hear the voices of some of Skorzeny’s men on the far side of the hedge discussing the strange ship that fell from the sky. Shortly afterward, Skorzeny’s men hear them. A brief attempt at misdirection is fumbled, and the antagonists rush around the end of the hedge to catch the interlopers.

Gron hides near the edge of the hedge maze and waits for an enemy to come round the end of the hedge. Blizzacane and Jorma move toward him. When the first enemy in sees Jorma, the rogue tells Blizzacane to climb over the hedge to hide the fight from enemies nearer the mansion. Gron deploys his bear against a retiarius, maintaining concealment as he attacks. Blizzacane and Jorma go over the hedge, bringing the fight to the remaining enemies in a training ground, and Lindwell follows after.

The fight rapidly degenerates into a scrum hidden from the mansion. Lindwell and an enemy archer stay back from the pack, firing into the melee and dueling with each other. A swarm of songbirds whips round the battlefield, blinding the adventurers in turn. For their part, the adventurers bring down an enemy mage, then focus on the retiarius and a wereserpent. A few rounds of focused destruction bring them down. A bit more effort thins the swarm, and the archer is finally brought to heel.

The party hides the bodies in a nearby equipment shed and continues to the old stables. They find the building unoccupied and apparently untouched in quite some time. Jorma retrieves a rope of climbing which must have been accidentally left by a stall. The adventurers hide themselves in a hayloft, concealed by Wizmo’s magical curtain, and rest until the next day.

Night falls once again, and the party, refreshed, makes its way to the mansion. Jorma leads the advance, cautiously traversing the open space of the training ground between the old stables and the woods. The adventurers use the woods for cover as they approach the main house and time the guards’ rounds. As the patrols pass out of sight, the party rushes to the back corner of the house. Someone inside hears them but assumes that they are his colleagues trying to end a shift early and castigates them appropriately. Jorma uses his new rope of climbing to get the rest of the party into the upper floors of the mansion, and the infiltration approaches an endgame.

Rewards:
  • 250 XP each (9,661 total)
  • Rope of Climbing (Jorma)
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Session 21 - Operation Roaming Gnome
Wherein gravity asserts its dominion over a sailing ship.
Party: NPCs:
  • none

Our heroes have retrieved all of the orbs in the hedge maze, so they are finally ready to place the orbs in the receptacles and open the gate. Lindwell’s attempts to set each orb in its socket at the same time are foiled by misunderstandings from Gron and Blizzacane, but eventually the orbs are seated. The hedge maze gate opens as expected, but a horrible creature from the planes beyond comes through!

Specifically a gnome, nude, rockets through the portal on a flat trajectory at high speed. His forward progress is arrested by impacting the statue at the center of the hedge maze, whereupon he drops into the fountain below. A moment later his wand follows suit. Soon, the gnome reawakens and reveals himself to be Wizmo Wonderfunder, a powerful wizard from a far land. He asks as to the location of Frankles, his companion, and is answered by a clap of thunder and the dark bulk of a sailing vessel passing overhead before coming to rest in the forest to the south. Wizmo implores the party to accompany him to find what’s left of the S.S. Frankles. After Lindwell convinces him to wear a fairly well made (but still reasonably priced) rug as a cloak, they set forth to locate the ruined ship in the nearby woods.

Gron and Blizzacane punt Wizmo into trees along their path. Eventually a punt lands Wizmo in a tree in a well lit glade occupied by a half-elf (presumably the leader of these men), a helmed magician, and an attack dog. The rest of the party sneaks into the clearing, and Gron announces their presence by tossing Blizzacane’s shell at the enemy. He misses, and the fight begins in earnest.

The half-elf exhorts him companions to action and rushes toward Gron. His attack dog follows suit as the magician assaults the minds of the party. Gron, Blizzacane, and Lindwell hit back hard as Wizmo rushes to reacquire his clothes and gear. The battle becomes more fierce as a shadow hound and an elf reveal themselves and join in against the adventurers. Blizzacane draws his enemies to himself, but is soon left dazed by their onslaught. As they escape, Gron is brought nearly to death, but Blizzacane applies timely first aid and keeps him on his feet. The elf makes the most of the night by slipping into darkness and turning invisible, the better to stalk the magic users as the shadow hound assaults their minds and makes the susceptible to attack.

The black-clad magus is the first to fall, succumbing to a combination of Wizmo’s illusions and Lindwell’s raw fey magic. The shadow hound and the attack dog take heavy damage and quit the field. The allies surround the half-elf as the dark-clad elf reappears and dazes Wizmo. Blizzacane strides across the field and freezes the elf in place before returning to help finish off the captain of the group. Lindwell’s magic deals violently with the remaining elf, the cause of so much trouble. Blizzacane kicks the frozen remains into a nearby gazebo, He and Gron pile the other two bodies on his turtle shell and push them back to the patio of the hedge maze, where the two are cleaned and positioned as though they are having a tea party.

Rewards:
  • 313 XP each (9,411 total)
  • Amulet of Vigor +2 (Blizzacane)
  • Ornamental Bone Dagger (250 gp)
  • 50 gp
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Session 20 - Operation Amazement
The party ends up in a hedge maze with some surprises.
Party: NPCs:

Jorma prepares for the infiltration of the Skorzeny mansion in his usual way, crazily plotting and tracking down shovels, a horse costume, cream pies, rope, and inexpensive yet nice rug, and other sundries. Stetz supplies them with a crude map of the walled compound in which the mansion is located, pointing out features of interest. The adventurers complete their preparations near dark, hoping to sneak in undetected and hide until the Skorzeny’s meeting the following night.

The party tunnels under a section of wall where the soil has subsided and find themselves in a hedge maze. Jorma takes the lantern from Blizzacane and explores, carefully edging toward loud snoring in a corner of the maze. Gron takes over and finds a sleeping minotaur. He sneaks back to the rest of the group and informs them of the situation. Lindwell counsels caution, stating that where there is one minotaur more are bound to be nearby. The party deliberates, but in that time the minotaur awakens! He thinks they’re new guards, though, so the adventurers bluff hard. After he gives them his name, Abraxas Rigopoulis, and mentions his desire to create mazes, Lindwell informs him of a spot in New Port Chalmers where a pan-dimensional maze might be constructed. Eager to be right off in the morning, Abraxas returns to bed, although not before instructing the group to find the elemental orbs scattered throughout the maze and fix them in the receptacles at the center to unlock the front gate.

Jorma takes the lead in exploring, leaving the rest of the party in the dark near Abraxas’s bed. He finds one of the orbs in short order. Halfway through the maze, however, he’s jumped by magically compelled animals. They damage him, but Jorma manages to retreat to the safety of his friends and brings them along for the second round. The animals are gone, but a strange hobgoblin, poorly formed, questions their presence. The heroes attempt to bluff their way past him, but he leads them forward until the group is strung out, then attacks! The animals Jorma had seen reappear from their hiding places, and the fight commences!

Jorma is swarmed and knocked out early, but Blizzacane manages to grab the attention of most of the animals long enough for Gron to bring Jorma back up. Gron and Jorma engage the hobgoblin, revealing himself to be a barghest with a plethora of debilitating powers at his disposal. Lindwell keeps out of melee and rips away at the mental stability of their enemies. Eventually the barghest is brought down, followed closely by a tiger. The remaining animals retreat, and the party is victorious.

Jorma then hands the lantern to Blizzacane, who affixes it to his turtle shells. They kick the shells into various passageways as a crude sort of scouting and find two more orbs. The party finally enters a part of the maze with a fountain and statue wherein the last orb lies. Most of the party lingers near the entrance while Jorma scurries off to retrieve the orb from its treasure chest.

No sooner has he done so than the party is attacked once more. More magically compelled animals assault the party. A bog toad attempts to drag people around the area while a tiger savages Lindwell. Jorma steps in to defend his ally, but all his cunning cannot stop the ferocious beast from laying into the warlock. Gron and Blizzacane contain the rest of their foes, a dire wolf backed by a swarming pack of hounds, as best they can. The bog toad leaps into the darkness, trying to control the heroes positions from there. While Blizzacane holds the balance of the enemies, Gron breaks off to help Jorma and Lindwell kill the tiger. The party then lays into the wolf and the hounds, slaying them both. The toad retreats over the wall, and the group pauses to tend their wounds.

Rewards:
  • 500 XP each (9,108 total)
  • Repulsion Leather Armor +2 (Lindwell)
  • Onyx Dog (Lindwell)
  • Pearl x2 (100 gp ea.)
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Session 19 - Operation Above the Law
Wherein the adventurers are drawn into a fight against the criminal underworld in Jorma's hometown.
Party: NPCs: Locations:

Gron is well and truly sauced when he casts Cure Disease on Lindwell and Blizzacane. The ritual goes smoothly, with no deaths, and the two heroes are free of filth fever. Lindwell, Blizzacane, and Jorma then head back into Ariaphas to handle new business in the city. Jorma, as befits a possessed criminal, is bundled in a straitjacket, muzzle, and dolly.

The adventurers pay a call to Dailuron Hecatontos, a wizard who has developed a printing golem which he uses to create his newspaper. Hecatontos seems surprised to see his visitors and spends much of the conversation spinning headlines for his newspaper. He is unhappy, however, that the citizens of Ariaphas do not seem as enamored of daily news as he. Lindwell and Jorma convince him to decamp to New Port Chalmers, a suggestion he regards with great interest. As the party leaves, Hecatontos is busily engaged in packing his business.

The travelers then decide to explore a bit of the town and perhaps peruse the items offered by the von Items clan. They find Paulus von Items running the shop. Lindwell drops hints that they are willing to perform certain favors in exchange for money or trade concessions. His manner convinces von Items to request their assistance in resisting the depredations of a criminal syndicate led by Del Skorzeny. Von Items is particularly angered by what he believes is action by the syndicate against one of his cousins, Robert Rhine von Items, who was all but run out of town by the local Chamber of Commerce after mounting a spirited resistance to Skorzeny’s protection racket. Von Items asks that they tail a bagman for Skorzeny, a former thief named Lelz, to determine the mob leader’s contact in the city. After checking around and verifying his story, the party decides to help out.

Jorma hatches a plan to use his new armor to turn himself into a rat and jump into the gold that von Items will hand over to Lelz; Lindwell and Blizzacane will serve as a distraction. When the time comes, Lindwell accosts Blizz with a haughty attitude and kicks his shell away. Blizz chases after it, leaping aboard as the shell bounces all over the building. Von Items rushes off to intercept him as Jorma, now in rat form, scurries into the loot. Lelz finds some entertainment in the antics of the shopkeeper and his customers, but is drawn away to his business.

Jorma rides in the ill-gotten money with Lelz until eventually he arrives at an accounting firm. Lelz deposits the money with Borland Stetz and leaves. Stetz begins his check of the funds and finds Jorma, still a rat, and reacts badly. Jorma manages to escape into the street, where he lies in wait to determine what’s going to happen to the money. After observing the handoff to a team transporting the funds elsewhere, Jorma returns to his party and reports.

Von Items is disappointed by the news. Stetz is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and had been a friend to the family during the period when Robert Rhine von Items was under investigation. Knowing that Skorzeny had kept a man in one of the few groups powerful enough to oppose him took a good deal of wind out of Von Items’s sails. With Skorzeny’s influence over the legal and police establishment of Ariaphas, there was only one place to turn, one man not under the thumb of the criminal commander: Breyer Angosh.

Jorma accepts this news with equanimity. He prepares assiduously for his meeting with his old nemesis, grooming himself as well as he can. Jorma leads the team to Angosh’s office in the courthouse where the two meet for the first time since the trial. Angosh is at first dismissive of Jorma, but the rogue’s information brings him around somewhat. Jorma presses Angosh for legal cover (warrants and such) for the investigation of Skorzeny’s operations. Angosh realizes that for once he has an actual ally. As he serves drinks to the party, Angosh makes the astounding claim that there may actually be no legal way to remove Del Skorzeny from his position, and even if one did, he would be succeeded by one of his three underbosses. Jorma, for so long the target of Angosh’s zeal, is shocked by this admission. Angosh engages the party in the elimination of Skorzeny and his underbosses by any means necessary, claiming that he can take care of the rest of the syndicate after they are removed. He requests that they investigate Stetz for more information.

The group hides in a hay cart and stakes out the offices of Stetz, Jankin, and Associates. They note that most of the customers are simply normal businessmen and professionals. There are, however, some unusual clients, such as the city prosecutor, Sidney Parhelios, and a woman who appears to be a fallen noble. The place is watched by somebody’s muscle, too. Jorma leads the party away as night falls, and they agree to return early in the morning to infiltrate the office.

Before dawn, Jorma leads them down back alleys that he knows to the rear door of the Stetz, Jankin, and Associates building. Lindwell confirms that the door is free from magical entanglements, but Jorma finds a poison needle trap in the lock. He disables it and picks the lock, allowing the party entry. They find no one in the building, but Blizzacane identifies a ledger containing entries that appear to be related to Skorzeny’s activities. Stetz himself arrives then, and Jorma sets a trap in the accountant’s office. He seats himself in the man’s chair, hides Lindwell, and stands Blizzacane near the door to block off the exit. Stetz arrives, is cornered, and swiftly breaks under interrogation. Realizing that Skorzeny will have him killed now, Stetz accompanies the party to Angosh’s office. Angosh leads them to a personal safehouse he keeps, and Stetz’s interrogation continues with surprising results. The syndicate’s accountant reveals that Skorzeny and his underbosses are meeting the next night! Del Skorzeny himself is to meet with Jacqueline Debussey, Yarla “Facebreaker” Grathak, and Yuri “Borscht” Yuliov at his mansion outside of town. Angosh dispatches the adventurers to remove Skorzeny and his bosses by any means necessary.

Rewards:
  • 417 XP each (8,608 total)
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Session 18 - Operation Matlock
Crime and punishment in Ariaphas. Well, crime, anyway.
Party: NPCs: Locations:

Blizzacane and Lindwell continue to worsen as the filth fever takes its toll. Jorma concludes their business in Bythovia with a visit to Abbot Varicles. Varicles congratulates them on their success in the tunnels and promises to send the monks picked to supplement Brother Tarkanian’s vineyard.

With that, the party embarks for Ariaphas, Jorma’s home. Jorma has a warrant on his head for a previous crime, so he disguises himself as a priestess of Erathis to avoid capture. Blizzacane and Lindwell provide critiques, assistance, and shed fur to get the costume just right. Jorma successfully manages to avoid revealing his identity to the city guard at the docks, Rod Gilliam, and disappears into the alleyways when Blizzacane distracts the man.

The party makes for the Temple of Erathis, seat of the bishop of the Order of Minacius, Orrin Rasha. They encounter Rasha leaving a heated meeting and present him with a missive from Sister Zamada explaining the situation of New Port Chalmers and requesting more personnel. Bishop Rasha sees through Jorma’s disguise immediately, but conveys them to an inner garden to explain the situation to Sister Zamada through them.

Bishop Rasha explains that the Order is riven with factionalism regarding their mission to expand the limits of civilization on this continent. Since the disappearance of Port Chalmers, opinion has been divided on how to expand the current settlements along the Nieda River. One faction argues for the re-establishment of a community in roughly the same place as Port Chalmers, although the site is no longer as optimal as it was. Another agitates for a site along the Harsas River. Yet another (somewhat politically motivated) faction prefers settlement along the caravan routes leading out from Teremial. Still another faction plans to extend the eastward settlement of the Southern Coast out past Strïndïsjahr. As Bishop, Rasha must treat all of these factions with the impartiality expected of Erathis’s representative in the world. He does, however, promise to send an inquisitor to assess the viability of New Port Chalmers.

Jorma is unable to control himself anymore. After passing through the doors of the temple, he rips off his disguise and hightails it through an alley. Lindwell is shocked into nonresponsiveness, but Blizzacane and his kitten follow after. Jorma finds a park and rushes through it, stealing a lollipop from a baby. He then finds Captain Angosh’s house, breaks in (critical success!), and steals all eleven pairs of long underwear that he finds there. He ties them together as though hanging from a clothesline and attempts to string them across the facade of the courthouse. Failing, he hurls the underwear into the door of the place – directly into the face of the city prosecutor, Sidney Parhelios. The kitten mews for nourishment as Jorma searches for a tavern. When he finds one, Jorma strides in (followed by Blizzacane), grabs a pork chop off one table and tosses it to Blizz for the kitten, steals a pint of beer from the table and drains it dry, then flips the table over and rushes away. Blizz takes the chop gratefully, chewing it for the kitten as he follows Jorma to a bank. Jorma instructs Blizz to find a cart as it’s time for a heist. The thief runs into the bank and jumps on a table, moaning and coughing and complaining about filth fever. When he transforms into a dire rat thanks to his armor, the place empties. Rat-Jorma squeezes his way behind the teller consoles, transforms back, and starts grabbing everything he can – pens, coins, random papers, everything. He then dashes into the vault and grabs as many bags of gold as he can (one).

Outside, the crime spree rolls on to its inevitable conclusion. Blizzacane has requisitioned a red wagon from a child, now crying. Jorma dumps his loot in it and sets Blizz to pull as he pushes. Guards appear from around a corner and yell for the criminals to halt! Blizzacane stops dead, but Jorma leaps into the cart and rides it until it slowly approaches Sergeant Bart Ramus. Jorma makes small talk with Ramus, whom he knows, before exonerating Blizz and submitting to his arrest.

Blizzacane returns to Lindwell, still frozen in shock. He manages to rouse the tiefling lawyer and inform him of the latest circumstances. Lindwell grumbles but heads to the courthouse to handle the situation. After filling out the requisite paperwork and signing an autograph for a fan of The Worst Lawyer in Teremial, Lindwell finally faces his client. Plans are plotted, and Lindwell does the best he can to prepare for the trial. With Blizzacane’s help, he stays stable for the night, but Blizz takes a turn for the worse.

The next day, Lindwell and Blizzacane go to the courthouse, picking up a paper from a funny wizard with a printing golem along the way. Once in the courtroom, they find that Parhelios has recused himself from prosecuting Jorma and has been replaced by his deputy, Todd Marlowe. Judge Randolf Schott presides over the trial. Marlowe’s opening statements lay heavily on Jorma’s guilt, now and in the past. Lindwell’s opening statement suggests that Jorma is a victim of a psychological disorder which causes him to have multiple active personas. Judge Schott agrees that this is an valid use of legal principle, and the trial proceeds. Lindwell calls Gilliam to the stand, leaning hard on Jorma’s perfect costume as evidence of a female persona. Marlowe responds with a line of questioning about male actors playing women, and suggests that Jorma’s costume is a result of training, not insanity. Lindwell counters with Breyer Angosh himself and questions about where and how exactly Jorma was trained in his skills. Jorma and Lindwell then managed to inspire an outburst from Angosh by suggesting that his antipathy toward Jorma proceeded from one of his sisters’ dalliances with the rogue. Marlowe can’t counter, and when Blizzacane takes the stand, the stage is set for the final act. Lindwell questions Blizzacane on Jorma’s behavior, and the shifter gives accounts of all the crazy stuff Jorma has done since they met on the dock at New Port Chalmers. Blizz mentions that in his tribe, they say people like that have someone in their head. Lindwell asks Mint to possess Jorma, and after a brief consultation to iron out the details, Mint enters Jorma’s mind, threatens the prosecutor, and summons a swarm of tiny fairies disguised as imps into the courtroom. (Blizzacane eats one; it tastes like white pepper.) Marlowe drops all charges agains the clearly possessed Jorma. Lindwell argues briefly that Jorma needs help, but the magistrates are firm: the legal system is not where he will find assistance. Clapping Jorma in irons, they direct the adventurers to the Temple of Erathis, where exorcists can be found.

With the end of the trial, Lindwell realizes how tired he really is. He and Jorma field questions from the old newswizard for a while. Lindwell is exhausted, and Blizzacane is losing big chunks of fur. Lindwell buckles and pays for the Cure Disease ritual to be scribed into Gron’s ritual book, albeit at a discount. Unfortunately, the scribing occurs while Gron is drunk, so ever after Gron can only perform Cure Disease while intoxicated.

Rewards:
  • 500 XP each (8,191 total)
  • 2 gold and ivory figurines (250 gp ea)
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Session 17 - Operation Turtle Soup
Our adventurers make a daring rescue and clear out the rest of the waterworks.
Party: NPCs: Locations:

After recovering from the difficult battle with the myconids, the adventurers decide to reconnoiter. Jorma carefully cracks open the door to the next room and the party peeks through. A group of bandits occupies an enormous chamber filled with giant gears. The bandits are preoccupied with playing on the gears and so do not notice the party as they enter the vast chamber of major underground pumping station.

Jorma and Gron storm in, eager to get to grips with the enemy as fast as possible. As two bandits close to engage them, Lindwell and an opposing mage trade fire, and a cloaked bandit induces the great cogs to movement. Suddenly the party must fight their enemies and avoid being crushed in the machinery! The enemy discards his cloak, revealing himself to be a wererat, and marches toward the battle. A kobold wild mage brings his chaotic magic to bear on the adventurers, closing the range as he does. Jorma and Gron dance around their enemies, hopping over spokes, leaping between gears, and shoving one through a hole between two spokes. Blizzacane arrives on the cog and joins the fight. Lindwell concentrates his fire on the mage, as yet uninjured. Gron disengages and leaps to another gear to harry the mage, and they work their way around that gear and back onto the far platform as the hunter and the prey fluidly changes between them.

Lindwell changes targets, and he, Blizzacane, and Jorma concentrate their efforts. A brute of a bandit falls dead as the team engages the wererat. The wererat bits viciously, exposing Blizzacane and Jorma to filth fever. A bandit that had fallen to the bottom of the chamber manages to mount the far platform and engage Gron, who breaks off his pursuit of the wild mage to deal with the new threat. The mage moves back into range of Lindwell, and the two divide their attention between killing each other and supporting their respective allies. The enemies go down in short order, and the team rescues none other than Marius, one of the men they had been dispatched to find! Jorma manages to shake off the effects of the disease, but Blizzacane is infected.

Gron heals the man’s broken wrist as Marius told them his story, little difference from that of Ludovicus as it was. Marius warns them of dire turtles to one side and bandits to the other. The party decides to tackle the dire turtles first and save the bandits for later. Marius escorts them to the potable water filtration chamber where the turtles have laired and wished them luck.

The party practically kicks in the door and rushes toward the nearest of the turtles. Two tool-using turtles and two heavily armored (if poorly secured) turtles occupy a roomful of pipes and steam valves. The tool-users engage the interlopers from afar as the team divests the nearest turtles of their shells. Jorma kicks one into its former owner but miscalculates and nearly knocks himself prone. Blizzacane and Gron lock down and whittle away at another dire turtle while Gron and Lindwell demolish one of the tool-users. Jorma then dances his way through the pipes, opening a steam valve onto a tool-user. With the disposal of the tool-user, he angles a shell into the last of the turtles, knocking it prone so Gron and Blizzacane can finish it off.

After a brief rest to catch their breath, the team then prepares themselves for another dynamic entry. Lindwell enters first, blasting the dispersed enemy with terrible fey energies of the Lady of Spices. Gron follows, placing his spirit bear to menace a kobold wild mage. Blizzacane rages through the door with a wintry flurry, locking the chief of the bandits and numerous henchmen into place for Jorma to kill or blind them. And look! The chief is another wererat! One of the more distant bandits, trapped between the inrushing water and the spirit bear, decides to take his chances with the waterworks and dove in; soon he is carried away from the battle and out of sight. The bandit chief manages to slip around Blizzacane and Jorma and bit Lindwell, exposing him to filth fever. Gron steps in to shove him back into the current. The wererat chief manages to hang on and climb out of the torrent, but the combined force of his enemies blasts him back into the flow as the breath leaves his body. The mage falls soon after. The adventurers have liberated the waterworks!

There is a cost, however. Lindwell cannot shake the effects of filth fever, and he, like Blizzacane, contracts the disease. Gron does not have the Cure Disease ritual and so cannot cure them himself, and Lindwell does not feel the cash outlay is necessary. The party carries itself back to the boat, where the afflicted remain as Jorma handles the business of compensation from the authorities.

Rewards:
  • 813 XP each (7,691 total)
  • Rat Form Armor +2 (Jorma)
  • lantern (Lindwell)
  • Naughty Halfling Statuette (Porcelain) (250 gp)
  • 490 gp
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