Sunday, July 21, 2019

In which everything goes pear-shaped

We picked up this session at the Stonygaze Tavern, at the celebration that townsfolk are throwing in our honor. A bard named Nanki is playing music (I think we're supposed to remember him from somewhere, at least OOC, but none of us does). A trio of halflings that our characters met before (and another set of our characters met even earlier) are there; they have a Darkskull, which has utterly fascinated our mage, but it's still waaaay too expensive for us. The dwarven al'cul merchant Skorvil is here, and serving.

(Al'cul, for the record, provides -2 Dex, -2 Int, and +2 Str for a couple of hours. Also, have really bad judgement and end up doing crazy things.)

Shuma the Blacksmith (the dwarf from whom we bought the silvered weapons) is here also, along with her nephew Horkin, and of course Alein the paladin and Torea her apprentice. Then the Baron's sister comes in. Now, bear in mind that the Baron's keep is still locked down - at least as far as we know. So everybody's immediately worried about what she'd doing here, especially since she's accompanied by a small group of guards. But she starts talking to Martini, and gifts her with a lovely (and very expensive) necklace. She then expresses gratitude on behalf of herself and her brother the Baron. Finally, she invites us to attend the Baron's speech, and departs.

Mercy, our cleric, asks Alein about resurrection; but Alein is a paladin, and doesn't know all that much about it. She mentions that there's a druid named Imris wandering around somewhere outside of town, but she has no idea how to find him. The party eventually winds down to an end, and our group discovers that someone has gotten us a pair of rooms here at the Stonygaze Tavern. The elves trance; Reverend Mercy sleeps.

...And naturally we have nightmares again. Azrael, our goth elf wizard has this horrible nightmare of wandering through a fairyland of cheerful talking flowers and beautiful rainbows and cute fluffy bunnies; Ruin dreams of the humans overruning everything, plundering and killing; Martini dreams of having far too many boyfriends and not being able to kill any of them; and Reverend Mercy... I don't remember. Possibly more dead snakes.

By the time morning rolls around, the three elves have exchanged notes on their nightmares and Ruin has slipped out, located another poisonous green snake, slipped it into Mercy's bag of snakes, and disposed of the corpse of his former snake. Mercy thinks it's a miracle from Artem-hiss, and explains to everyone who gets in range about the glories of the goddess.

We have an hour until the speech, so everybody gets ready: breakfast, nice clothes, head for the keep, stand in the courtyard with the rest of the crowd. The Baron steps out on the balcony overlooking the crowd and starts talking about the chaos, lawlessness, and disorder that has overtaken the town. This will not continue. As of now, he decrees, the festival is over and all carts, wagons, and tents must be removed from the main thoroughfare. At nightfall the gates of the city will be closed, and they will remain closed until he's satisfied that order is restored; nobody may enter or leave. The wearing of weapons is prohibited, and anyone caught with them will be arrested and their weapons confiscated. All temples of Helios are closed, and all priests of Helios outlawed. All members of the militia are summoned to the barracks immediately.

There's a vague outline of a figure in the doorway behind the Baron; Martini and Ruin see it, but nobody else appears to.

The Baron continues by ordering the arrest of those horrible outlaws and paladins of Helios, Alein and Torea... and the guards are putting up posters with crude pictures of us. It's... definitely time to go. We head back to the temple of Helios, because Torea and Alein need to be warned...

...Actually, no they don't; several of their near neighbors have dropped by to alert them before the guards can get there. We take them with us, and are discussing where best to hide when the nephew shows up and tells us that we can take shelter in Shuma the Blacksmith's basement. We make our way there and hide.

Before long, the town is locked down completely. Half the citizens have been recruited or called up to serve in the militia, and the other half are huddling in their homes or slipping out to try to do essential business without attracting the attention of the guards. Horkin goes out to see if he can put us in touch with some sort of underground elements: anybody who can help us escape the town, or anybody setting up an insurrection.

Mercy has some scrying spells prepared. There's some discussion of whom we should scry on -- we really need to know what the Baron is doing, but the necklace that the Baron's sister gave to Martini makes it far easier for us to scry on her. Mercy decides to scry on the sister, and sees her alone in a clean, austere room. She's sitting on a mattress on the floor, knees tucked up against her chest, head folded down onto her knees.

Azrael the goth elf wizard decides it's worth burning a bit of invisibilty and flight, and makes a quick run over the keep and then back. There's a bone-white monster on the roof of the Baron's keep; Azrael recognizes it as a Bone Devil (probably because he's got a Bone Devil Action Figure hidden in his room at home). The place is locked down tighter than a Bone Devil's butthole.

Horkin (the smith's nephew) finally comes back and tells us that he's found a guy who can tell us a way into the Baron's keep, but he wants 500 gold in advance for the information. It turns out this is Bingo, from the trio of halflings we keep running into; his brother's nephew's cousin's half-brother's college roommate knows a way in. (To be fair, halfling communities are kind of like that...) Anyway, this halfling Ringo can tell us how to get in through the sewers, and Bingo can put us in touch with him.

There's a bit of arguing amongst our group, and then a bit of negotiating, and finally we send Horkin back with a counter-offer: Martini, who is training as a courtesan as well as an assassin, will pay him in carnal favors for the information instead.

Bingo thinks this is a grand idea, and shows up with his brother's nephew's cousin's half-brother's college roommate in tow. He spends some time with Martini while the rest of all just look around uncomfortably and say things like, "Nice weather, isn't it? Sure do wish I'd brought a deck of cards and some earplugs." Eventually the, um, encounter is over, and Bingo comes out of the bedroom that Martini has borrowed. He hands 10 gp to his brother's nephew's cousin's half-brother's college roommate, and saunters out the door.

Martini emerges from the room as Ringo launches into his explanation: there's a gate in the outer wall that leads into the sewers, only don't alert the guards on the wall above. Inside, there's a secret door leading into the Baron's keep...

He keeps going, reciting what he knows about the route faster than I can process, let alone remember. We'll come up in the kitchen, only don't disturb the cook or servants because they're just trying to work, and don't go out the door because that's the dining room and all the nobles and guards will be there, instead go up the stairs to the next room only don't disturb somebody, the butler I think, because he'll probably be up there, and then go down the long hall to the stair at the end, take the stair directly up to the Baron's chambers.

Or something.

We manage to get out of the city by basically hopping the wall just after nightfall, and make our way around to the gate that leads into the sewers. It helps that Martini, our Gray Elf assassin/courtesan, has kept the slippers of spider climbing that we took from the Blessed One. In fact, that helps with almost everything that happens for the entire rest of this session. Also, at this point it's just the five of us: apparently we've left both the paladin Alein and her apprentice back in Shuma's basement.

That's probably for the better.

The gate's going to be a problem. There are two guards patrolling the wall above it, and the water coming out of it drops straight into what appears to be a fairly pool that eventually leads off into a creek. There seems to be something in the water, too: a couple of submerged statues, maybe. We find that somewhat ominous. There's essentially no cover anywhere near the wall; the best cover available is the angle of the all itself. So Martini slips up to it, walks up, and tracks one guard until she can assassinate him. He dies instantly, neatly, and quietly, and she pulls on him so his corpse falls off the wall and lands on the grass outside. She then tracks the second guard, studying his movements, waiting for her moment...

She fails to kill him instantly, but it doesn't matter. The extra damage from her sneak attack takes him out. This one falls on the wrong side of the wall, inside the city, but nobody notices immediately -- at least, we don't hear anything in the way of alarums and excursions. The one body we can check over doesn't have much of value on it, but we do get a guard house key at least. That doesn't really help us here, but it might later. So it's time to get inside. Martini walks down the face of the wall and opens the gate.

The two gargoyles in the water move, and combat begins.

Meanwhile, other things are coming out of the darkness inside the sewers. Azrael tries to make a jump over the water to the gate, but fails miserably and lands in the water. One of the gargoyles moves towards him, but Ruin manages to distract it by throwing the body of the dead guard in front of it. Martini, standing on the ceiling inside the sewers, throws her brother a rope and manages to haul him to where he can clamber out of the water. He spots a ripple in the sewer water that seems to be something moving, and hits it with Glitterdust. In addition to its disorienting effects, Glitterdusts makes the two invisible plant creatures visible enough to attack. Martini, still on the ceiling, moves to deal with them.

Marshall Mercy, meanwhile, has gone to engage with the second gargoyle, only he's had to step a little ways into the water to do it, so he's attacking at a penalty. so Ruin moves to help him. That leaves Azrael caught between a trio of sewer rats and the remaining gargoyle, but he casts Mirror Image and so escapes immediate damage. Martini continues carving on one of the plant monsters.

Ruin takes a step back to shallower water, and pulls Mercy back after him. The gargoyle moves to follow, but here in the shallower water we can actually hit the curse-worthy thing, and after a bit we kill it. By then, Martini has managed to kill one of the plant creatures as well. Azrael, however, is in trouble: several of his images have been dispersed, and the gargoyle has managed to land a lucky hit on him. Desperate, he drops a Stinking Cloud right on top of himself.

This is enough to immobilize the gargoyle and two of the rats; Azrael begins disposing of them as Ruin and Mercy make their way back to where they can try the jump to the gate. The remaining gargoyle gives up in disgust and retreats back to the deeper water. They make the jump while Martini is still carving up the second plant-creature, but find themselves in the middle of Azrael's spell, and too nauseated to do anything but try to make their way slowly out of it. The remaining rat chooses the better part of valor, and goes to hide in a pile of old bones, half-hidden beneath an overturned coffin.

Proceeding into the sewer, we arbitrarily take a left and discover a wererat standing guard -- well, sitting guard -- behind a partially-broken door. We assure him that we're just looking for a way into the Baron's keep, offer him alcohol. (Martini doesn't drink, and has just been keeping any alcohol that anybody tries to hand her, so by now she's accumulated quite a stash.) Before too long, we're good friends with the wererat (I don't remember his name, so I'm calling him Scuzz) and his six buddies and his pet dire rat Bobby. They tell us to be careful not to disturb the boss, who lives with his friend across the hall: Draz and Agnorax. I'm not sure which is which, but the boss is apparently a weretiger. We ask a bit more, and find out that there's a graverobber on the far side of the room where we entered, and a druid a bit further down this passage, pass the Boss's door. We decide to go visit the graverobber, mostly because our mage excelled in necromancy in high school.

So we start talking to the graverobber through the door, and it turns out he's not just a graverobber; he's a necromancer: a goblin named Gorsack the Magnificent.

And yeah, apparently we're talking our way through the sewers. I have no idea what's come over this party.

Gorsack has a flesh golem named Benny. It's dressed as a zombie, but it definitely isn't one. He tells us he'd be glad to tell us how to get into the Baron's keep, there's just this one thing he wants first...

The druid, it seems, has a chest in his hut. His hut is here in the sewer, just past the wererats, on a little sort of island surrounded by a moat of sewage. The chest must contain the druid's greatest treasure, and Gorsack wants it. Specifically, he wants us to help him get it.

So, all right: we do a little reconnaissance. (Good Lord, is that actually how that word is spelled? No wonder everybody just uses recon...) The druid's hut is just as inaccessible as described, except that Martini walks right up the wall and across the ceiling until she can drop down onto it.

"Hello?" calls a voice from inside the hut. So... the druid is home. There goes any chance of just stealing the chest, along with any element of surprise. So Martini tries to bluff her way into a conversation, but the druid has no interest in talking to her or anyone else, nor does he want any ale. Martini take a ladder from the ground and tries to lay it across the Moat Of Poop, but the druid hears her and throws open the door.

Azrael promptly throws a web spell into his house, pinning the druid and his pet sewer meth alligator bear in place. At this point, Ruin suddenly has a qualm: the druid is human, but while Ruin is all about killing humans, well... apparently he's really only all about killing humans who at least nominally deserve it. He doesn't want to act like one of them. So he says, "Sorry, we're really just looking for a way into the Baron's keep. If you'll tell us how to get there we'll go away immediately."

"I'll tell you," says the Druid, "if you'll kill that goblin necromancer who keeps trying to break into my house. He lives right across the entry hall, and--"

So clearly we've walked into a Hatfields and Capulets situation, here. Ruin gives up on both of them, and takes a swing at the bear while it's still trapped in the webs.

The druid promptly turns Ruin into a toad, and the bear shrugs its way out of the web and emerges to attack Martini. Fortunately, Reverend Mercy manages to reverse the effect -- otherwise we were going to have to get the weretiger to infect Ruin, so he could use lycanthropic shapeshifting to get back to his original form. The druid and the necromancer start exchanging spells, while Ruin and Martini take on the bear. (I believe this was the point in the evening where Martini, who fights with a two-weapon style, managed to score simultaneous critical hits, one with each weapon.) Garlock the Magnificent goes down, but Martini takes down the bear. Ruin and Martini get into the hut and manage to mangle the druid, who's basically just standing there in his bathrobe. Near death, he curses us and then calls forth a pillar of fire inside the house. Fortunately, both of us avoid the worst of the damage; Martini avoids any damage at all.

Mercy brings the goblin back to consciousness and starts to lay a snake on him, but Gorsack the Modestly Impressive begs for his life and promises Reverend Mercy that he can make him a special pet if the cleric will just spare his life. Marshall Mercy agrees.

So after all that, we smash open the chest. Inside, we find... a stuffed beaver. We check the beaver over, but there's nothing inside of it. The 877 silver pieces in the drawer are the only thing of value. But, true to our word, we hand the slightly-damaged beaver over to Gorsack The Almost Back To Magnificent: we have retrieved the contents of the chest for him.

The silver pieces, we keep.

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