Dark Dangerous Secrets

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Summary

  • GM: Jeff Leddra
  • Time: Spring 810 WK
  • Day: Wednesdays
  • Level: Medium
The Party
  1. Villa – collector of fine art, wine and magic; known to cast the odd E&E spell, some of which are very odd (leader)
  2. Dwork - bodyguard, male prostitute and wielder of a massive flaming glaive. Over-powered, over-sexed and over-here (scribe)
  3. Zanak - former pirate, now a warror priest of Ahura Mazda
  4. Garrick – dwarf illusionist, thief and alchemist
  5. Theodonna - a not quite human namer
  6. Neroc – a old timer human with much knowledge of the undead (once fingered as a member of the Dark Circle)

First of Thaw: The Apartment, The Park and The River (the eyes have it)

Half a year of hard training with only one week of brothel time. Joined with a bunch of really tough looking old guys (they hide their insanity pretty well) and here we are, on some other plane (surprise surprise) and still no sign of feasting, fighting or fornication. Just TOO MUCH TALKING.

Even my old party mate Zanak is strangely changed - wearing white robes and a big beard. I hardly recognised him. No sign of the famous red dress. Must be the therapy. I’m sure he will come right though.

The Odec of Lowwa

At the guild we meet this animal shape-changing creature (Theo says GTN: Odec, POO: Lowwa) whose wicca boss (Jane) has sent here (it can plane travel!) to get some crime investigators. Her friend, some blonde bimbo (Rochelle) has a husband (Craig) who encountered the wrong end of a sharp pointy thing a day and a half ago. He was a bank manager - go figure! Our crew seems pretty experienced at solving crimes (well crimes anyway) so, that seems all good.

The ever-changing wombat/toad (that was Vila)/flying squirrel/jaguar thing tells us about the strange city (Ildonia) where it happened - a huge and tall, magic and steam powered city (don’t ask me how that works). High mana in the city, none outside. Something called forensic mages work the city.

The country (Unanorn) uses undead/revives (mainly) to fight the An-Abel (demons, orcs and other lesser goblinoids) and the Carmun (sea faring merchants). That 10 year war has ground to a halt in the Slig Marsh battlefield (a wasteland 200 miles away).

We get a 10,000 sp advance to buy a variety of potions (heals, restoratives, strength) and the Guild gives us free lessers - ‘cos they were fully aware that they have NO IDEA about how dangerous this mission might be. Oh well - free is good.

‘Apartment’ Boredom

We buff up a bit, Garrik magics me to look like a human and off we go, flickering through strange places following the Odec-thing, eventually arriving in an ‘apartment’ (that's what they called it) an INSANE height above the ground. Whoa! Rochelle is a bit of all right - would make this orc very happy. Back in the tribe she’d be a trophy wife - kept for one use only. Distracting. Didn’t help me that her day yesterday started with the bank manager, well, polishing his trophy, before she headed out of a solid day’s shopping. The bint returned much later to a stiff on her shag pile (stone dead husband). Only his address book is missing. Strange robbery.

The place is weird - moving pictures on the wall (some guy is saying that Craig is one of 23 murders in the last two weeks), small boxy things that let you talk to places along way away (telephones), really tall buildings, high mana.

Garrick spots a hidden compartment in the library - piece of paper with two names with symbols alongside: Nico Burn (apparently an FBI agent) and Ken Shalla (Jane thinks he is on trial for black market revivals)

OK, the rest of the guys ask lots of question of a parade of people coming through. I concentrate on being strong the silent type - fingering my estoc. Garrik and Neroc ask everybody about contacting the local thieves guild.

Interogations
  • Rochelle (the bint): married for two years, claims to love polishing the banker’s trophy. Met Jane at school. Craig has a friend Brian (not talking on this ‘phone’ thing), Husband only goes into the office when he wants to and does most of his business on the ‘phone’ (seen the type - probably a crime lord). He seemed a bit detracted for the last two weeks - he knew some of the other 23 murdered ‘Tier 1’s (sounds like gang warfare). The two cops that came yesterday were Pru Farley and Dallan Shanks.
  • Jane: lives out of town, tells us about the three tiered system and the five towers that control this town/country. No government - used to be a demonocracy (or something). She gave Vila a twig to break - will summon her familiar to us. When she flies off home, Garrik gives her a two way talky coin (‘cos we’ll need her to get back). Doesn’t tell her he can use it just to listen.
  • Gerard: (building supervisor). The apartment’s magical locking defenses has been disabled and the door unlocked. The building records showed a person did arrive and was there for a short length of time - and the building had let him in and out without question (sounds like an inside job). He also said that the neighbours’ had reported loud arguments and lady visitors to this apartment, so Rochelle was not the only trophies Craig polished. Gerard departed - went down in the lift (strange)
  • Kalopi Flax (former cop, a private detective Rochelle had hired - and then fired because there were no results in 24 hours). We hired her as a local informant. Her opinion? Looks like a professional hit - single long thin blade strike from behind. She’s waiting for the forensic sorcerer’s report. Confirmed that Craig did almost nothing - excepted at least one mistress (and had eclectic tastes). Rochelle gave us a whole wad of ‘bucks’ (some sort of paper silver pieces) which we gave to Flax to get some identification papers for us.
The Five Towers

Seemed to take control of this town about 20 years ago

  • Heinlein Corporation - some sort of necromancers (implant people with gems that makes them revive as undead when they die). There are even revival brothels - that will be interesting (Dead boring me thinks)
  • SteamLine Corporation - control all the hot air in this town (apparently you can use it to power things - kinda like magic
  • Mana Inc - the people that move the mana around to make telephone and stuff work
  • Upgrade Corp - use gems (them again) to ‘upgrade’ your personal power
  • Shine Towers - cover the ground of spending money to make money and providing security (sounds like a good old fashion protection racket - like my granny used to run)
The Three Tiered System
  • Tier 1 (like Rochelle and Craig) - the obscenely rich, not fitted out for revival
  • Tier 2 (like Gerard) - agree to be fitted out with a revival gem (and get paid and doctors and the best seats at the theatre), but when they die head off to the Stig Marshes or the brothels (or where-ever High Line Corp tells them to go)
  • Tier 3 (like Jane) - people who don’t get gemmed
Villa’s Investigations

As the evening wore on Villa used his practiced Charm (so to speak) to get a little more information out of Rochelle – and to confirm her story. It all checked out - and Villa spent some time in the closet with the tart ‘trying on clothes’ (he says). Off she went in a ‘taxi’ to stay with a friend – Villa even made the ‘phone’ call!

Then he pulled out a ‘Crystal of Past Visions’ (don’t ask me!) and peering into it we saw a replay of Craig’s death.

  • It is morning and Craig sitting at a desk when a cloaked figure appears behind him - and is seen
  • The banker turns - unfazed and steps toward ‘it’. His calm suddenly turns to horror and he turns to flee
  • A thin blade ‘grows’ from the figure’s hand which expertly punches through the fat cat’s back
  • After a swift search the assassin vanishes – apparently with the missing address book

Theodonna figures it was a military reviver with a blade enhancement.

Neroc’s Investigations

Detected something like 55 undead within about 300ft. No surprise there. Did I say revivers are used for menial labour?

Then he tried to talk to the dead – specifically Craig. No answer (wtf?) A dead end.

Down by the River

Narcs in a Dark Park – A Fight at Last

It’s late, but we head to a river side park and talk to a bum and a preacher. A dark glassed uniformed pair wanders along and we exit down river – stealthy and invisible. They seem to detect us anyway and soon four big birds land, dropping off more serious enforcers – with a snake. We move more briskly.

Ahead Garrick runs into a cop. What, you have no papers sunshine? In the scuffle the dwarf grabs the narc’s truncheon and hits him with it. We all get busy then. Zanak kills an attacking snake-thing (it dies shockingly) and uses TK to fire the truncheon at a bird (misses). Neroc throws repeated fears on the fliers above while Villa slows’em down and quickens us. I throw smoke around us and send up fireballs – feels GOOD. Theo wakes up a sleeping Garrick - who gives us breathing space with a flash of light. Sound like fun?

Well no actually – the bird guys above are directing pain on us - sleeps and exploding grenados (thank you fire armour) as well as some blue and green sticky stuff. We can deal with that. The real hassle is the flares that are going up - and the wailing sirens closing in from the distance. We exit to the river.

Do you know I hate ice?

In the grey water, Garrick makes a huge hollow ice donut – with us inside. Villa peeks outside (wizard eye) as piles of cops arrive – including some heavily armed guys with a big snake. Not good. Theo tells us the sticky stuff will increase our detectability. Not good. The donut will last ten minutes - and there are swimmers heading into the water. Not good.

The dwarf suggests that the priest’s lizard opens a portal back to Seagate. Sorta good idea (Jane had said that there were protective measures against terrorists porting in). So while Garrick talks to Jane (via coin), the lizard struggles to open that portal – through which five ray spitting eyes come. Oh dear. Garrick multi-hexes all five eyes, Zanak goes limp and I grab him as we slide around the donut away from more emerging eyes.

Emergency stations. I start fire bolting a hole through this cursed ice while Theo hastily casts necro counters on five of us. You guessed it – I punch the hole and we prepare to swim away while Neroc casts a huge agony on the waiting masses. We resist. They don't (mostly). Works well.

. . . then Zanak chaos kicks in

As he said later When I went to the portal the big eyeball creatures wanted to eat me. I told them there were lots of souls to eat on the other side of the portal (not you by the way). I asked them what they wanted. They said they were being forced to exist here by an unknown enemy but they couldn't escape through the portals that opened because they always closed too quickly. Apparently he has an item that lets him put his mind through a portal – dangerous. Now he gets the lizard to push open the portal really wide.

As we swim away, masses of ray spitting eyes erupt from the water, eating souls as they go. We make it to the other bank and watch the chaos from afar. Satisfying that.

We catch a Restaurant Meal - and watch the moving picture box thing.
News Flash: Martial Law declared down by the river
Revivers mobilized by the 1000s to deal with an outbreak
Steam engines heard exploding
News Flash: Ken Shalla (that well known bootleg reviver) was killed by an accidental fire

We get back across the river disguised as a small reviver patrol (thanks Garrick) and check corpses - ‘acquiring’ 20 id cards – as well as 600 ‘bucks’ (that paper money stuff) and 20 rings. Theo keeps a special eye out on other patrols. There are two types. Reviver patrols of about 10 are trained warrior/assassins that move quickly and have natural armour – they don’t stun and stay on their feet even when seriously damaged. The Elite patrols are worse – bigger, better, faster with a death curse. Nasty.

Second of Thaw - Revivers and more Reviers

We find a smoking apartment building (‘boiler’ exploded) so Neroc can to take a closer look a corpse (with my fire armour and protection nothing can get to us easily). Upstairs, Neroc warps the skull and an orange gem pops out (some sort of shaped item). It is about to do something when two things happen – Theo disjunctions it, and a patrol captain pops his head through the door and demands ‘What are you doing?’ Revivers back up his demands – as well as hellfire spat out of a rod. (Wasn’t one of us watching the corridor?).

Reviver Patrol

These guys are tough. I get a fireball in as they move rapidly into the room and Neroc & Theo funnel them with bone and forbidding walls while Villa sleeps the captain, but one-on-one these guys mince Zanak and me – some sort of automatic grievous ability – as well as a wrist blade thing that sticks in and keeps on doing damage. The front line stabilises as Garrick kills his one - and Villa slows lots and Neroc binds more. We take them down, but outside one gets away and another jumps through the window with his captain. Neroc has 6 under his control - he tells them to close their glowing eyes and we leave (gathering 8 hellfire rods)

We find another building to hole up in and lick our wounds (particularly a grievous to my testicles). Theo doesn’t lick my wounds but has a scarf that does the job. We spend more time resting and divinating.

  • Zombies: regenerated by the gem, receive mind speech commands from local captain but can receive commands from further up the ‘network’, tough skin, extra critical abilities (assassin), fight till ½ endurance, see in the dark, others can faresense through their eyes
  • Hellfire rods: the patrol has single shot, single target hellfire, the captain's has 5 charges (single target)
  • Captain: army knife command item, lesser enchantment, gem used for revival & communication (mind speech)

The reviver forces are searching all the buildings in our vicinity. Villa wants to fly away but some of us can’t. Garrick wants to go down a laundry shoot to the basement and then into the sewers. Most of us don’t want to. We settle on going up a few floors till we become trapped and hide behind an illusionary wall in a utility room, which also happens to have a laundry shoot as the backup plan.

Zoe and Christine are with us.

They approached us as the reviver search of our building started and asked for our help in locating Nico (the fed). Zoe has had a vision of people trapped underground and being horribly misused (they have bits of their skull opened and electrodes forced into their brains). In her Vision Nico comes to their rescue. Zoe is drunk but Christine vouches for her. They seem somewhat useless in helping us escape the building though.

The illusionary wall plan works and we escape the building once the curfew is lifted at daybreak. We walk to Zoe's place. It takes a few hours. We are questioned several times but nobody sees through Garricks illusions. Even Theodonna gives the right name on her ID when questioned. The party got a little apprehensive at that point as she has a history of folding under pressure.

Getting through to Nico

We decide to use a public phone (what a weird place this is) to contact Pru (the cop) instead of Nico. Nico is the head of the task force looking for the terrorist (us) and it seems prudent to get to him through someone else. Unfortunately Pru is not available when Garrick rings the police station so he hangs up when the officer on the other end of the call tries to question him.

We move to a different public phone and Garrick calls Nico and tells the story of Zoe and her vision. Nico then speaks to Zoe is convinced enough by the names she quotes to agree to meet us alone in a park. He mentions to Garrick that 500+ Tier 1s were killed during the chaos of the previous evening.

As we go to the meeting place a squad of Revivors questions us a bit more closely and Garrick is forced to tell them we are going to see Nico. The squad “accompanies us” for our own protection. They suspect we are lying and just want to prove it before bashing our skulls in.

We make it to the park and Nico appears. The squad reluctantly departs.

Nico talks to Zoe and gets the full vision story. He agrees to help us investigate the issue, even though he strongly suspects we are the terrorists he is tasked with finding. He tells us Pru was killed last night while investigating the murders. It appeared that she was either targeted or stumbled over an assassin on the job.

He also says someone took advantage of the police being distracted to activate an elite squad of Rogue Revivors and to target people in a mass attack.

Christine leaves us despite Garrick and Villa attempting to convince her it is safer with us. Nico sends some “bodyguards” with her which he conveniently had nearby. So much for coming alone.

Zoe's Vision - Basement Assault

The cop calls for a vehicle to transport us to the site in Zoe's vision. Neroc has some reservations about getting into “horseless carriage” but decides not to walk. Nico “radios in” (through his communication gem) and asks for backup. He is advised a Special Operation Squad is already going to the same place. We race ahead and get there moments for the special ops force.

It is an ex-industrial area and is largely decayed and abandoned. Villa puts his wizard eye in to the building and he sees Revivor guards in all three levels (Ground, Basement and Sub Basement). We decide to go invisible and enter through the ground level and then take the stairwells directly down to the sub basement where the wretches Zoe saw in her vision are. That was a good plan as the special ops arrive and assault the basement entry. There are massive explosions from special grenados the special ops troops us and from some suicide revivors. We slip in the building unnoticed.

As we go down the stairwell to the basement both Dwork and Neroc are a bit noisy and a revivor hurls a grenade at us. Villa catches it and hurls it back. The revivor explodes as his grenade hits him. Other revivors see this and race to attack us. We manage to get down the next stairwell but Villa has taken the full force of the reviver attacks and is hurting badly. Zoe didn’t make it.

In the sub basement we see a glass room with lots of control panels and 2 revivors. Outside the glass room are about a dozen chairs and tables. Each chair has a person strapped in and their head is strapped to the table in front. The back of each skull is open and little metal spikes, attached to wires leading into the glass room, show signs of electrical current passing through it. There are four Elite Revivors in the room (others had gone up another set of stairs to join the battle upstairs) and as Nico kills the first one he sees Pru as the next closest Revivor. She calls out to him. Garrick was about to strike her but scoots around and attacks the one Zanak is fighting.

The Orc Blows Them All Away

Dwork casts a huge fireball into the glass room which ignites all the grenados sitting on tables and on the 2 revivors. The resulting explosion is massive and the glass walls shatter into thousands of pieces. Unfortunately for Pru a sliver pierces the back of her skull and she falls into Nicos arms, barely alive (if a reviver can be called that). Dwork then turns and fireballs the stairwell. Villa ducks and avoids most of the damage.

We rescue a couple of emaciated people (we rip the wires out of their heads and drag their sorry carcasses with us) and escape up a tunnel Pru has whispered to Nico about. Dwork grabs some sunglasses and a grenade.

A circle of concrete drops into the basement and spouts of fire flood into the room, destroying any evidence of the experiments. Dworks sends a last fireball up through the hole and we hear the sound of Special Ops troops sizzling.

Nico gets us to a safe house a few miles away and we try to stabilise Pru so Nico can talk to her. He gets something about the “Zowey Effect” before she dies and her body dissolves. Theodonna had time to divinate her but we only learned she was magically revived.

Zanak heals the body he brought out but Neroc's one dies. Villa remained a few seconds longer than the rest of us in the basement and managed to grab some papers. He gives them to Nico.

We talk to Nico before he heads back to the Federal building to report in. We learn that Portal mages redirect portals to the other plane where the Eyes are trapped (Jane's little Odec companion didn’t get effected by this as it “slips between the planes”)

Honour Amongst Thieves?!!

We are given the name of a contact in the thieves' guild (Tony Wilson) and told the Heinlein Corporation run their own town about an hour away by train (very fast moving horseless carriage). We are tossing up which way to go, thieves guild or zombie creation town when Nico departs, leaving us with two code phrases when contacting him.

  • Safe : Meet at usual place
  • Duress: Meet at the fountain
To the Thieves Guild

Late morning we head out into the patrol filled streets but Garrick’s illusions and the IDs hold – and we make it to the guild stronghold. They are not very friendly, so we are going to have to kill some time. I vote for a visit to the local brothel

The Two Holed Virgin – and The Greasy Spoon
Neroc: ‘The trouble with brothels is they move around too much’

I investigate the delights of a reviver prostitute in room 13 (lucky for some!), while the others go next door – and steer away from the dubious delights of ‘Mystery Meat’. They opt for some knock-out dosed Noodle soup. Nobody eats.

Garrick is baling up the cook (and gathering some knock-out juice) when Theo notices her mind link with me has gone dead (she has kinda been trying to ignore it). They race back to room 13 – no orc. Villa locates me heading for the roof. He does his flying thing to quickly get up the side of the building, and spots the revivers carrying me and webs them. In return a reviver gets a wrist-blade firmly embedded. The leader drops – but luckily falls onto a balcony. Garrick climbs up the side while Neroc has his ups and downs – finds a secret staircase door, opens the lock and gets hit by a paralyzing needle. The rest (mostly) step over his stiffening body and pursue my kidnappers up the stairs. On the way up Zanak successfully takes potions of haste and agility – while Garrick dances with another reviver. A bird lands and I’m bundled onboard while Garrick kills his foe.

Things look bad as the bird takes off and Theo gets to the top – to be hit by a hidden assassin. Garrick unleashes the pain – flame envelops the bird and I’m drop on an adjacent roof. Zanak effectively dances with the assassin while Garrick dances with the last reviver. Villa gets himself together to quicken himself and the dwarf – and eventually sleeps the assassin and makes me and the dwarf and himself invisible.

The roof is calm

We head back to Neroc’s position – and his body is gone. Teach him to split the party. Villa locates the dark one and sends his wizard eye pursuing. This time we head down - through a trapped tunnel (ouch Dwork, ouch Zanak) into a warehouse. The streets outside are filled with questing reviver patrols. Even illusions of warehouse crates do not stop their search and Villa is forced to change us all to rats (three out of five invisible!). Villa can tell that Neroc is now airborne. We are forced to scuttle into the alley way – to be met by Rufus.

Neroc is not calm

Neroc awakes to three sets of cold steel bindings – hand, leg and collar. Forced to use other skills, he manages to pick his handcuffs with the sharp end of a dart. Yay! The other two defeat him. Bother.

Rufus' Story

The scene of my first success. The alley where I was born in the rotting debris - and where I killed and dominated my litter mates. I fed, they didn’t. I grew strong, they died. A man came and took me - and matched me against other dogs. I killed - hot blood in my mouth. I fed and bred. Good days.

I grew older and slower and unhealed wounds dripped - and I was back on the street - back to my alley, my patch.

Rats were my food - and here’s two! I grab one, kill it with a shake and go after the other. It jumps and bites me on the nose! I feel a nip on my butt - didn’t see a rat there. I go for the jumper when I feel an huge blow to my side - and a stab to my groin.

Bugger this. I grab the dead rat and head for the entrance. I get hit again and again by something I can’t see. I fall to the ground, repeatedly trampled. Hot blood in my mouth - and vomit uncontrollably on the hot cobbles.

A uniformed figure looms ‘Dead dog, obviously ate a poisonous rat’

  • Theo’s story: I know Garrik said keep safe and don’t attack, but I had to do something! I got a good bite in but couldn’t hang on. I couldn’t keep up with the escaping dog, so I climbed up the wall to a safe perch
  • Garrick’s story: silly human. Doesn’t she realise she is the only one who can get us out of rat form? Damn I guess I have to go save her.
  • Zanak’s story: OMG a dog (crack), .... thank goodness for trollskin (snap) ... thank goodness for trollskin (squash) ... thank goodness for trollskin .... crawl crawl crawl
  • Villa’s story: who are these people? where did they come from? why am I adventuring with them?
  • Dwork’s story: humm, I can change into a goat or a rhino. We’ll try the goat - butt, butt, stampede, trample trample. Yup - that worked. I better get out of here now.

The alley floods with revivers and their officers

  • Neroc’s story: Damn bird, see if it likes having holes repeatedly stabbed in it. Ah! shakily flight - I thought not. Oops, I know what that falling feeling means. I wonder if I can trigger this shadow wings device before I hit the ground
  • Zanak’s lizard story; Where’s Zanak? Scuttle, scuttle, scuttle. Why is that man in a black uniform putting me in a sack? Ooh dear. Where’s Zanak?

Villa uses his niftly locate and wizard eye combo to bring the party together again. We find shelter in some deserted offices while Zanak probes his mental link to his lizard - first gets pain (bad) and then it winks out (worse). We head to the lizard's last known location and find a big black mirrored wall building labeled 'Department of Homeland Security' bristling with devices and high level revivers.

We walk past - and find an abandoned apartment building to shelter in for the night. Zanak is not happy.

Third of Thaw

Newsflash: Homeland Security has captured an out-of-planar creature and foiled further terrorist attacks
Hurray the Homeland Securty

We call Nico. He's got transit passes to Heinlein Industries - and IDs for us as FBI consultants - and an appointment with some desk-jocky called William Ves. Villa memorises the badges (so he can find us) and all except Theo accepts an FBI communication crystal (embedded in our skulls!). We travel for two hours along 'tracks' passing rural villages in the distance and 'reviver' depots close in.

Heinlein Industries

A small walled city, with steep jagged roofs, rich marble floors - and revivers with really big weapons. I want one.

Before we can see William, we have to swallow a tablet each - various magics (trigger explosion from a distance, locate) Villa palms his and puts up with the pain as he passes through the inner door with us. Of course we can't take any weapons. Sigh.

I have to say this Ves character is really un-helpful. Tells us some ancient history

  • Orignal reviver crystals were provided by the EPID (The Extraplanar Information Divistion)
  • Julian Snut was a researcher into the Zowie effect - when you create a reviver it loses its memories/independint will.
  • He tried to work out how to suppress the Zowie effect - but his research was never successful
  • Fay Andrews carried on his research

After 30 mins of this sort of meaningless twattle, we settle back and wait for the required 3 hours to pass before we can return.

Villa sweats.

It turns out the tablet protects us from a local life draining effects. Villa's not gonna make it. Theo has a great idea - she has a cowl vs life draining. Villa still sweats, but his life force stays where it is.

Fay Andrew arrives for more meaningless twattle. Garrick gives Fay a 'Statue of Life' (whatever that does - a secure, untraceable 'phone' number.

We wait. Will returns.

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

News flash - Bullet Train Crashes

We get on the Bullet train and Villa rapidly scouts out the 5 carriages (wizard eye): standard reviver patrol in the back, engineer and 2 revivers at the front. Ooops, one reviver kills the engineer and gets into a fight with the other reviver. Somehow I don't think that is right. WE WANT TO GET OFF THIS TRAIN RIGHT NOW.

As the we hear a high pitched sound from ahead (the engine!) Garrick and Vila manage to disconnect our carriage - we slow rapidly. Five seconds later a huge explosion rocks us - but no other damage. The reviver patrol captain believes us - but wants to detain us so off we run again - into the mana-free countryside. The patrol follows in hot (yes HOT) pursuit.

Naked and Trapped

Dwork: Unless there is a good reason (like shagging) we should never split the party

We just make it to a quiet village when Garrick checks in with Jane - it turns out she is naked and trapped in a cave of revivers, tied helpless to a couch (oh, still my beating heart). All the revivers left her was Garrik's communication coin. Apparently her odek is trying to make its way to us.

TRAP TRAP TRAP

We visit a witch/healer (Merida) who puts Garrik's arm back on (it got cut off at some point) and cast flying spells on us all. The odek arrives - but Zanak scares it off with a mention of Homeland Security. Silly pirate.

News flash - plague breaks out at Heilein Industries
A side trip

Beside the flickering campfire Zanak prays, and his prayers are answered by a man in a long robe (Arnold)- who sells the pirate a line of twattle. Zanak lets this guy into his mind - who proceeds to take over Zanak's body. Zanak disappers. Silly pirate.

Nico flys back to the city while we fly out after the pirate (Villa can locate him) When the flying spells run out we are in the middle of a plain (with no mana) - a couple of days of walking from where Zanak has gone. Sigh.

Forth of Thaw - Two Rescues and a Feast

We Rescue Zanak (yes ... really)

The odek returns - must have known Zanak was gone. After some convincing takes us to Zanak - of course his body is still controlled by Arnold, so we take action

  • Garrick leaps through the warded pentagram and kills the Arnold/Zanak thing, cutting off his head
  • Theo has a needle that will let her sew the head on, but the body is too big, so Garrick cuts off a leg. The head is attached
  • The Odec 'extrudes' Zanak's Ank of Resurrection (not sure how it got that!) and Zanak's spirit reoccupies his body before Arnold can.
  • Arnold ask to let me into your mind and Zanak sais NO. I guess the pirate priest can learn.
  • The Odec eats Zanak's leg and Villa takes the thighbone.
  • Zanak regrows his leg - some one-off effect he picked up somer

We Rescue Jane (well ... not really)

GM: This is the best plan I’ve ever seen fail
OK - the situation
  • Jane bound unconscious naked to a couch crowned with a filigree of cold iron, a neurotoxin poison her system along with an exploding gem (Theo divinated that as an invisible rat)
  • I say exploding, because it actually has been triggered; only stopped by a reviver holding a dead-man switch. The poison will also kill her if she is removed from the crown. On the other side of the couch is another reviver with a BIG gun
  • By the only apparent entrance to the cave is another reviver on another dead-man switch attached to a steam engine - which is also exploding.
  • In a side cavern another two revivers wait with explosive grenadoes at the ready
  • The cave contains a shallow pool (fed by a small stream), lots of those pillar things holding up the ceiling (which looks shaky)
OK - the plan
  • All buffed with invisibility, counters and quickened
  • Garrick will cut off the steam-engine reviver's arm and I'll grab it as it falls. Garrick will finish off the reviver. We'll then head off and ambush the remaining two revivers.
  • Villa will use a special dagger to dig out the gem, neutralise the poison and change Jane into a rodent and both escape (somehow)
  • Neroc and Zanak will charge in and destroy Jane's two revivers
OK - the events
  • Garrick cut off the arm, I dropped it. Neither Garrick or I could grab it before the boiler blew. We nibbly dodged out of the way of the falling ceiling, but Neroc got encased (but undamaged). The entrance is completely blocked, as is the stream exit - as surprising the flow has increased greatly. It is going to get very wet in here.
  • Villa failed to dig out the gem until too late, and despite Theo's valiant attempts to grab the dead-man switch it exploded (where Villa had hastely tossed it). The reviver with be big gun disintintegrated Jane - and died because of the wicka's death curse
  • Zanak is charging in
  • Garrick and me head off after the remaining revivers
Events continue
  • Zanak picks up the big gun and instinctively pulls the trigger as he tries (and fails) to shove it down the second reviver’s throat. The explosion destroys the beast – but sends spinning sharp shards in all directions. One cuts a huge hole in Zanak’s arm. Clinging on to his consciousness, the priest works feverishly to staunch his own wounds. Theo, having avoided Zanak’s inspired charge, charges in to help.
  • Me and Garrack don’t have too much problem taking out the last two revivers (I do my dancing meat-shield thing while Garrak cuts them apart from behind). The real challenge is the dropping grenados. Garrack snatches one from inches off the ground, while Villa calmly TKs one from yards away (well, he failed the first attempt)
Dying Rubble reviver: You are being used,
  • Neroc has some sort of short range teleport which gets him out from under the rocks and back out to the village above
We walk onto the sunset (if it was that time of the day)

While we eat breakfast, Nico tells us that Zanak's lizard may be alive - detained in a pocket universe. Zanak is a little happier. Also, Fay (of Heinlein Industries is dead) and Rochelle's apartment has been bombed. It looks like someone is tidying up loose ends.

Theo spends some time divinating Zanak. He has a curse that means any attempt to leave this plane for another will result in a dead priest and a permanent portal between the two planes. That's a bit of a problem (for Zanak). I mean, would you want to be changed into a doorway?

Now, Garrack has something that lets him as 5 yes/no questions of beings that he has killed.

  • Were you scentient? Yes
  • Are we being used? Yes
  • Is it Heinlein Industries behind this? No
  • Is it an offplance power beind this? No answer
  • Is Homeland security behind this? No

Garrick's other victim is forced to answer his questions

  • Are the witches the ones that are using us? No
  • Are we being used by a faction of the witches? No
  • Is Zowie still alive? No
  • Are we being used by one of the ‘Five towers? No

All a bit negative really.

The Witches Reveal Themselves

… now don’t get too excited

Celeste and her Unicorn arrive

Soooo cute. 14 years old and riding bareback ‘Where is Jane’s body?’ (luckily Vila had the foresight to collect all the Jane dust he could find)

She has been sent to bring Jane and us back to the witches. Off we run, following the unicorn closely - who goes faster and faster and eventually takes off. Strangely, we keep pace and take off too.

The Witches Grove

We discover that the witches work tirelessly against the Demonic powers to the north. They are kinda touchy - Neroc and Zanak said some things that perhaps they shouldn’t have - and felt some witch anger. Not deadly, but painful.

Eight witches place Jane’s dust in the ground - followed by a small green sapling. They dance around naked for a long time (well that’s how I remember it) and eventually Jane’s spirit returns and is able to talk to us (but no extra information there really).

A memorial feast is held. I ask Neroc ‘Amongst the orcs a memorial feast is always accompanied by an orgy - what are the chances?’ He sushes me. Never any harm in asking is there? Well, maybe here...

Fifth of Thaw

In the morning we decide to head back the city and at least track down our employer (Rochelle). The witches must have figured we’re alright, ‘cos they give us some amulets, 6 mind cloack potions and a stick. The stick is great, because if we break it we will get an immediate trip back to the witches’ grove.

So once again we chase Celeste and her unicorn - back to the city boundaries. We agree to meet there again in 24 hours. The warty ones have told us of an inn-keeper (Patrick) who they think is trust-worthy. We gather in one of his rooms and open communications with Nico and tell him of the events of yesterday.

Theo single handily saves the rest of the party from certain irresurectable death

Well, that got things moving! All except Theo fall to the floor paralysed and unconscious (yes, I know - a bit of overkill there really). Theo grabs some of our packs and changes into her rat form and goes and hides in Neroc’s pants - rat eyes peaking out of trouser bottoms. Black clad special forces body-bag us and transport us by steam car to - well - a really big incinerator. Flame on :(.

The Star Of Alusia

My fire magics protect our bodies from the first flames while the rat chews a hole in Neroc’s skull. A last ratty snack? No, she chews out out the communication gem. Neroc awakes to the flames - yes, Theo has worked out that gems had other purposes (of course, Theo did not get a gem implanted, because she and me could talk via symbioant)

Before we fry, Neroc uses his short range teleport to get us out to an abandoned house. The city anti-teleport barrier must be on the blink. Communication gems are hurriedly removed and crushed.

For her efforts Theo was eventually to receive the coveted Star of Alusia
(awarded to a member of the Seagate Guild of Adventurers who single handily 
 saves the rest of their party from certain irresurectable death)

Seagate Strikes Back

We take the potions to cloak our minds and meet Nico in a bar (Villa located him). We pass on the information that the flames interrupted and he gives us some bracelets which his co-conspirator Sean says will conceal us if we choose to rescue the lizard from Homeland Security (apparently it's on the 6th floor of the Homeland Security Building). We ignore that possibility and decide to track down Rochelle.

Villa Takes Control

He tracks her down to a 5th floor apartment, spies on her through his wizard eye - followed by enchantments of sleep, invisibility, change form (to rat), TK and charm. Back safely in a hotel room, Theo divinates and discovers the bint is reeking with layers of magics - implanted memories, compulsions to follow instructions (old and new) and some sort of talent magic. She is clearly somebody's puppet. We decide that to awaken this boss would be very dangerous. Villa tucks the sumbering rat back into his pack.

Nico’s Divination

All of this mind control makes us re-consider the place of mind mages in this society. They don’t exist. Yeah right. They will be here and if they are invisible, then they are using others as their puppets. We decide we better divinate Nico - he agrees and Theo starts her magics again. Just about finished when Nico’s skull explodes and a rapidly expanding bubble engulfs us all. When it pops we are in a totally different place - a deadly desert place where the light rapidly ages you and hunting dragons patrol the sky. More bubbles float above and a spinning teleport seems to offer some sort of escape - at least to another place.

Zanak’s Turn

As we work on getting through the spinning teleport it occurs to us that Zanak should have exploded. Remember he is cursed: any attempt to leave this plane for another will result in a dead priest. Could this all be evil mind-mage manipulation? Zanak disappears (the air pops as it fills in the place where he was). Turns out Zanak reached out for his old mate Arnold - who agreed to distract the evil mind-mage which held our minds. Some deal was struck between those two. Soon after, we all disappear - arriving back at our safe house (which we never really left). Nico awakes with the rest of us.

Commando Attack

Of course, the doors and windows are being assaulted by black clad Homeland Security forces - armed with grenados and stunning electrics. Garrick spins and kills while most of the party go down under the well co-ordinated attack. Villa breaks the witches' stick - the only way to get out of this particular trap!

Yes, if Zanak hadn't contacted Arnold we would still have been in the mind-mage phantasy when the commandos arrived, so yes he did save the party. One for the priest I guess.

Back at The Witches Grove

We have a busy time removing gems and divinations - all within the witches’ protective magics. Villa gives Nico a potion that ‘Causes all falsehood to fall away’. A flood of information at last!

Evil Mind Mages Revealed

Nico is also riddled with layers of implanted memories - now all available for him to remember. The events of a meeting are over-layed with memories of other meeting - with different outcomes. Not for one meeting, but for many many meetings. Nico struggles to deal with these double-ups as he tries to make sense of his past life. Through it all, the villain is clear - his best friend (of course) Sean. A first evil mind mage revealed.

It also becomes clear that Rochelle’s husband (Craig) and his friend Brian were also members of this cabal of crime. Many of the memory messes revolved around rewriting financial transactions. It becomes clear why Craig lived such a high life - and why Rochelle was riddled with such magics.

So, who is our employer? In some ways Sean was - he wanted to find out who killed Craig - along with another 500 evil mind mages in the days that followed. Who killed them? Well, a group of revivers we came to call the Thinking Dead. Once we came too close Sean used his connections into Homeland Security to try to kill us. Of course, the Thinking Dead tried to kill us too.

We come to the conclusion that our job is done - hired under false pretenses and beset from all sides by deadly forces we have the answers that Rochelle paid us for. She will be grateful - once she is in her right mind. The witches take her under their protection and will slowly but surely bring her to her right mind. There is no more that we can do here.

The Small Problem of Zanak

The deal that Zanak struck with Arnold is also becoming clear - he is changing into another species. His soul is being eaten by another soul within. He is changing into an ‘Arnold’. His memory lapses - forgetting about his own life - and his personality seems to change randomly (but that is not unusual).

Zanak: I’m beginning not to like Arnold

Also, there is the crushing blow that all along his lizard was dead - bait for a trap that we refused to step into.

The priest has a decision - transform or not. Leave this painful existence behind and try another.

Zanak gathers his belief in Ahura Mazda and calls up his spiritual powers within - to combat this taint within. The ex-pirate eventually emerges victorious from this silent internal battle of cleaning, his soul returning to normal (ha!). Next the witches carry out an eight hour ritual to remove the demonic curse (involved a lot of dancing around naked as I recall). Finally, to complete Zanak’s healing, a witch gives him a ‘ghost’ of his lizard - powers and personality to be revealed.

Sixth of Thaw - Burn Baby Burn

Anything important to do before we return to Seagate? Well, there is one half-orc thief by the name of Cain that needs a lesson in courtesy. I just want to burn his establishment to the ground. Neroc likes the idea, but his taste runs more to lessons in personal pain. We eventually decide to scope out the establishment and if possible do a snatch.

Cain seems to occupy a big square block of buildings, containing his quarters, two warehouse and a candy factory. Plenty of room around it - in case it happens to catch fire. Villa checks it out with wizard eye and roughly maps much of the interior, but also spots the inevitable escape tunnel to an adjoining building.

OK, we decide we need to split the party

Neroc will provide a diversion (when the time is right) and the rest of us will penetrate via this ‘secret’ tunnel. The plan works like a charm. Neroc gets into the candy factory (invisible) and progressively takes control over all the revivers there. We make our way in through the tunnel - disarming all manner of clever traps and wards, eventually getting to what appears to be Cain’s ground floor apartment.

Neroc springs his diversion

Noxious gases spread through the candy factory, driving out anything that breathes. We grab Cain (well Villa sleeps, rats and TKs him out) avoiding various things in the room that would eat you (we take those too). The safe contains a few interesting bits and pieces. Neroc retreats when a kid with sun glasses (ie see invisible) comes though the gases at him - avoiding the explosion as the sticky suicide reviver kid takes his own un-life.

Tricked ...

Of course, it wasn’t really Cain we grabbed - it was an actor with some sort of transformation gem in his skull, At that point we all agree my plan was best. Burn baby burn.

...or Treated

Neroc gives me wings and off I go. Two low level runs. Two massive (rank twenty-one) fireballs straight through the doors of the candy factory. Two VERY satisfying explosions - as the centre of Cain’s little empire burns to the ground. Sometimes the direct approach is best.

Many Happy Returns

Neroc, Zanak and Garrick stay a little longer for some witchy training of some sort, but the rest of us head back to Seagate. Older, wiser and richer.

Administration

  • ZANAK OWES VILLA 15,000 SP for Greater Enchantment
  • Marching order: Bum guards - Garrick & Neroc; Cowards - Theo & Vila; Brave meat shields - Zanak & Dwork
  • Party buffs: 32 point fire armour (Dwork), Fire protection (normal fires and fumes) (Dwork), Zanak has some sort of protection vs fear
  • Moneys advanced and spent: 10,000 sp (Zanak: 5x10Pt healing @500; Garrik: 2xRk12 Strength @500, 6x10pt healing@ 500; Theo: 2xRestorative @800, 2x10Pt Healing @500)
Loot
  • 600 bucks (eye victim bodies)
  • 20 rings (eye victim bodies)
  • 7 x single shot hellfire rods (reviver patrol)
  • 1 x 5 shot, single target hellfire rod (reviver patrol captain)
  • Sunglasses - invested charges of witchsight(basement)
  • Grenado (basement)
  • Two vials of knock-out drops (Greasy Spoon cook)
  • Assassin weapons, armour and vials of some sort (roof-top assassin)
  • One thighbone (Zanak's spare)
  • 2 x grenadoes - explosive? (Jane's cave)
  • 4 x reviver blades (cave)
  • Carbonium amulet - accumulates and transfers (witches)
  • Amulet of Dreams - prophetic (witches)
  • Amulet of the Trees - wisdom of the trees (witches)
  • Demon Protection amulet - protection vs magic of the Demon Ogres (witches)
  • Tarot Card of Miracle - ? (witches)
  • 6 x bracelets - obsfication, concealment from sensors, no locate (from Sean via Nico at a bar)
  • Grenado and gun - Cain’s door guard
  • Cash, ring and diary - ‘Cain’s’ safe (ring: insubstantial 3 pulses for the cost of a finger)
  • ‘Living’ rug, ‘Living’ wardrobe - ‘Cain’s’ room (Ogre demon swallowers)
Treasure Rolls

Dwork 24, Garrick 29, Theo 37, Zanak 38, Neroc 46, Vila 70