Ephemeral Elephants

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Summary

Adventure: Ephemeral Elephants (a Merchant [of] Ivory Production)

GM: Michael Parkinson
Season: Spring 808 wk
Night: Tuesday starting 16/09/08
Location: Faulder Ave, Westmere
Level: Upper-Medium to High (must have a high "weird" quotient)
Middle Kingdom Loot, 808

Party

A party of Heroes & Scholars, plus support staff (Friends & Beauties) to be vetted beforehand by "the brother of the God of Wyrm-slayers, a.k.a. God of Serpent-Slayers": the emphasis is on a variety of colleges & species. A Rank-8 healer is probably essential.

Confirmed or Interested Party members

  1. Axis Dragonmage (& attendant Exaltation of Larks) - Party Leader
  2. 'Chesca - (Hardy Incense) Beauty
  3. Impetuous Hawk - Hero
  4. Braegon (Living STONE) - Hero, Healer, and Tactician
  5. Mortimer - Scholar
  6. Motley - Hero and Bro. GoSS
  7. Naden - Elf Friend

Most important: Middle Kingdom Statistics, and Name and Persona

Useful: I get bonuses?, and MK Colleges


Personae

Ax Is, Dragonmage
Hidden Dragon?
HARDY Incense
Her cloak changes according to whim
Her whim changes according to circumstance
Impetuous HAWK
He wears a hat woven from the first skin shed by new bamboo shoots.
His clothes are of yam from the wild cotton-tree.
His belt is silk from an old silkworm, and from it hangs a broken set of shears.
The straw sandals under his feet have straps torn from rotten sago trees.
His face is round and innocent, with a gleam of youthful mischief in his eye.
Living STONE
Rough featured, plain speaking, man of the soil.
His hands carry the gifts of life and death.
Recognisable by his drab brown cloak, strange shield, and unusual mace
White-Tiger GRAVES
Possessed of unnatural beauty and grace,
He fashions the elements into cunning devices.
His white raiment reflects his mastery of metal.
Motte LEA
Of Uncertain height
Reserved dress, colourful silks
Just this guy, you know?
Just BAGGAGE
Ineptious, inextricable and inebriated servant of Master Dragonmage
Lazy
Surly
Delinquent

Guild Spiel (at Spring meeting 808):

Employer:   Party is hired by a being called Puppet who has come "to the Lower Planes"
Payment:     One heart, plus whatever you seize from "the wilderness beyond the known world".
Location:     off-plane, "The Middle Kingdom" & places beyond.

Thus speaks Puppet:

"O mighty Demons & Denizens of the Underworld, your humble supplicant travelled far for many years and has finally attained this lower plane where dwells the brother of the God of Wyrm-slayers, long since vanished.

"In the Southwestern Wilderness beyond the civilised world, the natural food source of the Serpents is fast disappearing, so they are predating on the talking animals (I think this bizzare tongue you speak calls them go-blins, or gobblings, or something). That means trouble for the Empire since the goblins are very ugly and, though poor mages & fighters, they employ painful, fatal poisons & other forbidden war-tricks.

"The wise strategist Sleeping Dragon advised I should seek a variety of species of demons, especially of different colleges, to solve the mystery and preferably stop it. In payment whereof I offer the heart of this humble vessel and whatever you wish & can carry away from the Wilderness.

"In summary: the missing food source is called E-le-phant, which is like the mythical mammoth, but somewhat larger and less hairy. Serpents swallow elephants; fewer elephants causes serpents to devour other animals instead; other animals flee into the Empire and cause trouble."

See guide on how to be Middle Kingdom Heroes

Scribe Notes

Chapter 1: Hu, Wat, Wy?

In a guild meeting room, a party meets with a confusion of names.

Axis and Motley have been to this plane 3 years ago which equates to a couple of centuries of local time. In the Middle Kingdoms the Dragons are equivalent to gods (venerated, powerful, and seldom seen), this makes Axis virtually a demi-god - a step or two above heroes and scholars. Motley once carried a dragon bone which was later resurrected, the dragon was adopted mother of the 'God of Wyrm Slayers' in the MK, hence Motley being the Brother of the God of Serpent Slayers. Last time they were there they had support from others of Motley's extended family, passing items, money, food, etc. through to the party on request.

Motley and Axis attempt to explain how MK works, guild philosophers fill in some of the blanks and aid the general confusion.

Axis is appointed Party Leader, Kit and Braegon are the closest we have to qualified Military Leaders, as for scribing, we are not sure whether any of us will be literate in MK so we agree to all remember as much as possible and consolidate and compare notes.

Puppet, our employer is escorted in. He is a golem infused with the spirit of Level-State LOFTY a scholar of the hidden mountains and follower of Sleeping Dragon. He offers us the golem body which has a 5lb heart of gold which he offers to us for our services, once he has no further need for the golem body.

Puppet attempts to explain the local political situation as well as the official issue which is the impending invasion of 'Talking Animals', he is not asking us to resolve the political issues but that probably would resolve the other issues if we happened to approach it that way. To add to the confusion, Motley tries to get a history lesson on what has happened since he was last there, discovering that several of his clear memories are in fact of other worlds.

Puppet retires and his servant (a wood golem) tries to sort out our confusion.

The emperor rules the empire and is revered and loved by all. The only person who gets to see the emperor is the Chancellor/Prime Minister/Grand Vizier who also handles the menial task of actually governing the empire in the Emperor's name.

Some 200 years ago the previous Chancellor Table DIRECT, burned the imperial capital and moved the imperial capital back to its old location further up the river. The new imperial palace (Long-peaceful) was rapidly expanded and is now the size of an average city. That Chancellor had Motley's Monastery razed and outlawed all of its residents/followers. Unusually, he provided an excuse for this action -- a great threat to the empire would arise from this Monastery. Our employer acquired what he needed for the ritual to bring us to MK from the ruins of that Monastery.

The current Chancellor, Grasp KIN (who, to give him his due, did attempt to assassinate Chancellor DIRECT long before it became fashionable) is considered to be corrupt and a traitor to the emperor by many provincial governors but none of them were willing to openly stand against him on their own. An agreement was signed to stand together against the Chancellor; naturally this fell into the hands of the Chancellor who has now mobilised the army to crush each of the rebels named on the agreement. Most of the provinces are withholding taxes as they need them to defend themselves from their rebellious neighbours.

Imperial Uncle Prepared-to SLAY was reportedly named the official representative of the Emperor; those that oppose the Chancellor choose to believe I.U. SLAY and support him in overthrowing the Chancellor. Of course, I.U. SLAY is now branded a rebel, dismissed from his Provincial Governorship and is now being hunted by several imperial armies (controlled by the chancellor) in the central province.

MK is not connected to our planes in the normal ways we are used to. Previous groups have discovered they could not summon Elementals or Demons to MK.

Having dimensional pockets of any sort when going there would be bad, at the least they would break.

Any magics on us when we transition will last for about 60 times longer once we are there.

We will each need appropriate heroic names and personas so that we are recognised and respected as heroes and scholars in the MK.

To get to MK, our employer will perform a 3-day ritual, we will spend this time inside a large bronze bell. At the end of the ritual our spirits will leave our bodies and travel to the MK where we will manifest as Drow avatars of ourselves. To get back we need to go through a similar ritual which will subjectively seem like 3-6 months for us.

Puppet has bought us some speed (TMR) potions to drink before we go through.

Motley suggests visiting his 'Auntie' to see if she can provide some crutches for transition and maybe some other support. Kit is unkeen on doing the ritual there as that would leave his spirit-less body in the hands of Forasites.

Braegon suggests drinking water from a village in the Siren Woods that is renowned for its (slow and clumsy) great thinkers before we transition. The effects only last one day so we would need to get there and drink during the last day of the ritual. Performing the ritual there may be unwise as the local fae would almost certainly investigate and experiment with our spirit-less bodies.

Chapter 2: Eight in a Bell

2nd Thaw - 4th Thaw

The following morning we all gather inside the giant bronze bell and LOFTY starts his ritual. Even with regular cantrips, illusions, and Braegons' fresh breath by the end of three days the inside of the bell feels very ripe.

During LOFTY's last rest-break we all sneak out to the village in Siren Woods, drink up large then stagger back before he awakes.

MK Day 1

We come out in a cave, not where LOFTY expected us to arrive but he quickly realises that his allies must have moved the arrival point to somewhere that would be safe during the bright. It is early dark, looking out from the cave we can see a walled city in the valley below us.

Performing our assorted transformations we take to the air and fly up river from the city, heading for a farm that is home to one LOFTY's allies "Master Water Mirror" [a nickname, such as would be granted to a powerful wayist mage, indicating that the Mind, like water, can only reflect when it is calm], whose formal name is Pennant MARSHALL, ITN Grasp-Virtue. He behaves as if you already know he is a mindmage.

On the way we see armies encamped outside two towns, one appears to be besieging, the other mobilising to defend.

Master Water Mirror welcomes us, and escorts us through to a lake side palace that was not visible on approach (presumably a portal, dimensional pocket, illusionary terrain or similar).

He tells us about the progress of the imperial army, and of the new architecture that is getting installed whenever the Chancellor (now officially Prime Minister) replaces a Regional Governor with one of his own.

They are using some form of stone that prevents magic being cast, suppresses magic in effect and rapidly reduces the remaining duration of the suppressed magic (affecting everything up to and including permanent spells and rituals). How they are manufacturing this stone or where it is coming from are closely guarded secrets held by a new guild that is directly controlled by the Prime Minister. Spies sent to find out more have not reported back.

We experiment and find we can stay awake during the bright, Ax Is is quickened, the rest of us are slowed.

Chapter 3: Flight to the Provinces

MK Day 2

Performing our various transformations we board Ax IS and fly up river. After about 8 hours (280 miles), Ax IS is hungry and needs to stop for a snack - a couple of Oxen should do. BAGGAGE purchases the Oxen from a farmer, STONE sets up a fire pit and dining area then roasts the Oxen over a pool of magma.

After lunch we fly on and reach the town of Orange County, in the Province of Benefit-State, just before twilight. We find an Inn near teh famous temple, dine, and then retire for the night. The locals tell us we have just missed Luscious DREAMS & her vignettes, a riské travelling dance troop, probably spies, and warn us that we should make the most of meat for dinner as it will be much more expensive further west. Enquiring further we find out that animals in the plateau to the west [the rest of Benefit-State] are poisonous to eat and animals that travel into the area become poisonous within a few days. We ignore a disturbance outside during the bright, in the morning we find out it was a fire which the town guard dealt with.

MK Day 3

Flying further upriver, we land for lunch and catch a local animal (a four-footed fowl) to experiment with. It is tainted with something that is poisonous to us when we eat it, we find we can use items and abilities to become immune to the poison or cure it but the meat still tastes off. Fortunately it is not poisonous nor foul tasting to Ax IS, so he is able to eat his fill while we stick to a vegetarian diet.

We reach Thorny-Paths a few hours before toolight; this is the most Southwestern city in the Empire. We land outside town and walk in like regular heroes.

Wandering through town we encounter a fight between two heroes; it takes a while and seems to follow some rules which we don't entirely understand. One of the heroes is a senior member of Lord Stabilised's guard and he eventually wins with a trip-throw. Once he wanders off we introduce ourselves and heal the injury of the fallen hero, Full REST the unlucky.

Lord Stabilised's proper name is the Marquis of Stable, which lies in North, beyond the Imperial Capital. Stable is considered nouveau riche and is a friend/supporter/lackey of the Chancellor.

REST is a master ranger, he often travels through the highlands and escorts groups (Human and Drow). His vocal antipathy towards Stabilised and his men is what lead to the fight outside but his continued comments over drinks in the inn do not draw any new challenges. The elephants are scarce recently (within the past few decades). The wyrms travel through the ground, he has seen one once and survived by remaining high in a tree. They would each eat about 50 elephants a year. Armour-Dillos are another significant danger, like giant armoured ant eaters, their hide is virtually invulnerable and they attack with their whip-like tongue. He often deals with the talking animals (Humans) and is on good terms with one House based about 150 miles upriver that deals in tea.

Once REST has retired for the bright (slumped at the table in a drunken stupor), we retire to our rooms and then prepare to visit the human camp across the river.

In town we spy that Stables' guard are very active during the bright, investigation reveals that most of them are Human disguised as Drow.

Sneaking over the walls, we then tunnel to and under the river to a new cave under the encampment. Adjusting their robes so they appear human like the ones above they emerge, enter the camp and chat with some of the locals. They learn that these humans do not have anything to do with Stables' human guard, but they have observed them killing elephants in the mountains, removing the tusks and bones, and leaving the flesh to rot.

We leave a hidden entrance to our cave in a back room in the camp and head back towards town the same way we came.

Chapter 4: Splintered Incense and Baggage

MK Day 4

Privately discussing plans we decide to go elephant hunter hunting in order to have some privacy to capture and question some of the Human-Drow Guards.

We then indiscreetly discuss elephant hunting and purchase supplies for an extended hunting trip in the mountains to ensure that the guards would find out what we're up to and hopefully set out after us.

Trying to blend in as 'normal' heroes the party purchases passage across the river in small boats, STONE and Ax IS travel under the river rather than risk sinking the small boats or being seen flying.

A short walk away from the river HAWK pulls horses out from behind Motte LEA, releases a couple that are too small and eventually has the group mounted to his satisfaction.

Laid Low by a Splinter

After around three hours of riding south at a brisk pace, there was a momentary darkening of the stars, and then a veritable shower of bamboo splinters rained down upon the party. A single bamboo hair touched Incense’s fair and sensitive skin, and she fell off her horse - not bespelled, not poisoned, but deeply naturally asleep. The party immediately circled wagons (or Walls of Stone), but as Motte LEA scouted from halfway up a tree, another burst of bamboo splinters was inbound. BAGGAGE threw himself over STONE, who was crouched over the fallen Incense, but STONE’s mighty breath weapon knocked BAGGAGE several feet into the air as it scattered the bamboo shards, one of which BAGGAGE breathed in. For all his legendary hardiness, BAGGAGE was also instantly comatose.

Motte LEA reported that the artillery attacks were coming from 300 yards up a wooded hill to our right, so we picked up our fallen comrades (well, Beauty & Friend -– Heroes seem to be immune to such trifling inconveniences as artillery), and marched up the hill towards the siege weapon. Of course, we did it while tunnelling, which reduced our speed to around 10’/second. The enemy sent two scouts down the hill towards our last known location. We managed to tunnel under one, and he dropped at our feet, whereupon he was killed faster than the party leader and mil sci could say ‘sleep him’. Fortunately STONE found his fatal injuries were not that bad and Ax IS helped him sleep. The other scout was highly invisible and off to one side, so we pushed on to the summit.

Ax IS scryed the enemy as we ambled along, and his report of a mage, several weird and Heroic fighters plus a half-dozen archers made us forcefully wake Baggage despite the risk of permanent brain damage.

To soften up the enemy, GRAVE let loose with an Earth Tremor under the bamboo siege weapon, which left the enemy all shook up. Then, on Stone's signal, the ground opened up beneath the enemy. The twin Heroes (later identified as Double-Happy & Twin-Joy of the CENTIPED clan), the archers, and one Beauty disguised as an archer fell into our underground fighting pit, and were hit by a Flash of Light, a 12-target blindness curse and multiple force bolts.

STONE winced in pain as most of the archers died. The Beauty let loose a couple of arrows while up-side-down and tumbling, and one of the twin Heroes got off a pre-emptive strike as we closed, but then Motte LEA and HAWK hit & killed two of them, and the remaining Hero on the surface (‘Mr Toad’) failed to keep his balance near the lip, and fell down the hole, accidentally mixing two immiscibly explosive liquids. The rest of the enemy died in the explosion, and then BAGGAGE finished preparing his spell – I don’t know why we risked brain damage to wake him, it being all over in 3 seconds flat.

Ax IS reports that of those he saw, there are three remaining archers above and the invisible scout is missing.

Chapter 5: Talking Animals

The fires are extinguished, an odd stone cube is recovered from Toad's ashes, STONE provides some ramps to the surface, and while Incense rouses from her slumber, HAWK and BAGGAGE head up to seek the surrender of the archers.

One of the archers informs us in no uncertain terms that they will fight the unholy soul-eaters to the death. HAWK and BAGGAGE oblige, subduing them as the rest of the group arrives.

STONE and REST track the invisible scout to the edge of the river, assorted animals and rocks dive into the water to bring him out.

Questions to the conscious are met with stubborn silence or invective. BAGGAGE compels the more seriously wounded to talk.

They are a mixed strike-force the Five Venoms Clan. Their agent in the human trading town was suspicious of us as we passed and alerted his masters via something like wind-speech. Led by the Master of the Toad sub-clan the strike unit wood-portalled from their Mountain fortress 600-ish miles SSE to intercept us. As we got closer, Master Toad informed the unit that we were soul-eaters, this inspired them in the same way that a nest of demonics inspires Michaelines. Master Toad's cube is a holy relic that detects soul-eaters, each of the 5 masters of Five Venoms has a similar relic, it is part of their clans purpose to root out incursions of soul-eaters (the last one was about 350 years ago). They expect other strike units to be coming after us as soon as they can be organised.

After a quick discussion and decisive leadership we decide to travel rapidly to visit the Tea clan. Following a quick ride and flight, Hero REST introduces us and vouches for us which gets us invited in as welcome guests. BAGGAGE is quickly dismissed and we take tea with the leaders of the clan -- especially their senior healer, Camellia.

Interpretting the evidence & discussion, we learn that a void cruiser came through a 'hole in the sky' about 350 years ago, plummeted and smashed into the ground. The survivors took refuge in a couple of mining settlements in the mountains and ate the souls of any they could get hold of. It was several decades before they were finally destroyed.

The Tea Clan are on the edge of the human settled areas, they have been here for about 45 centuries maintaining a low profile and trading high quality tea to the drow empire.

From the Tea Clan's records, Camellia advises that the first sign of the hunters was a suspicious military unit sighted 36 years ago: intentions unknown. Lord Stabe, as such (?), has only has a residence in Thorny-Paths for the past 23 years. Stable's guards are not seen out this way very often, 8 years ago they were in a valley a few miles away during the bright and slaughtered a lot of elephants, taking most of the bones, teeth, and tusks. During the last 35 years quite a few human settlements have disappeared or been destroyed. Reports from further afield are imprecise but there was a copper mining village in the mountains only 40 miles away that was destroyed by Wyrms.

There are some human settlements on the coast and nearby islands, there are also some who live on floating towns - 1000' rafts with 20+ masts.

MK Day 5

We fly up to the valley where the elephants were slaughtered. It is clear that magic was used to summon and then slaughter them all. The few small bones we can find have no intrinsic magical value that we can detect.

At the copper miners' village we find signs of giant Wyrms moving over the surface and several discontinuous 30' diameter tunnels of stone that look like they were eaten. Following a hunch, White-Tiger rigs a water wheel to a trip hammer to set up a regular thumping on the ground. Observing from a distance we wait, about six hours later a 200 yard long 50' diameter worm phases out of the ground and consumes the area of ground where the water wheel was. Swooping in to DA before it phases back into the ground we learn that it is a millennia-old non-sentient animal. After some speculation we decide we can't make any practical use of it and return to the tea clan.

Chapter 6: New Plane, Same Enemies

MK Day 6

Further research and discussion.

MK Day 7

Leading the way, STONE finds a short cut back to the mountains just across the river from Thorny-Paths. There we dig in and created a shielded bunker.

A couple of hours later we wander back into the city and settle into our inn to drink away our disappointment in our failed hunt.

Wandering town in small discrete groups we learn that Stable's troops are on high alert as Stable (or maybe the Duchess) is in town. The guards only leave the compound in units of 100, everything going in or out is thoroughly searched. DAing the guards again we learn they are from Alusia, most of them have been here for 30+ years but some have travelled here more recently. The ones that have been here longer have lower ranked illusions making them seem Drow, however the most recent ones have no illusions, just disguised with the armour and face plate of helmet.

Motte LEA-fish swims up the drains into the ornamental lake within Stable's compound, there he finds a bound structure beneath the water, presumably where their most secret or most important goings-on are based.

MK Day 8

Setting up an ambush of light, dark, and Calimar illusions we lurk beneath the street waiting for a unit to come by. As the Calimar ambush goes off at street level, we invite three of the guards to join us below where REST delights in rendering them unconscious. A short run later we are over the wall, back underground, and off to our bunker.

HAWK and GRAVES report that the ambushed unit reacted like crack troops and fired on the Calimar as soon as they saw it.

Once at the bunker, Incense gauges the style of armour of the guards as being from Alsine, one of the duchies of Raniterre. She had spent some time doing mitary training in the area a few years back so is able to direct the adjustment of our environment and costumes, then assume the role of a commander to debrief the guards.

This expedition is here to garner riches for Alsine at the command of the Duke of Alsine (aka Lord Stable) and the Duchess of Alsine (who is currently in the compound in Thorny-Paths). They got here by following a void cruiser in their flying ship. They have two ships that can make the journey, one a "dreadnaught" the other called a transporter. The existence of the ships is a closely guarded state secret. We hypothesise they were created on another plane, and since the law of the dragons precludes any magical flying, these Aeir ships must use cavorite. Initially they harvested ivory to sell back on Alusia, now they are also trading some Alusian goods and knowledge to the local Drow. Including Magnifying glass, and Bane-Rock from the Mountains of Madness which happens to be a lot more effective here (reducing the effect of all magic by 20 ranks). The Duke and Duchess are spending quite a lot of time here themselves as they are more powerful here - college abilities above their normal limits and an additional elemental college. Duchess is rank 40 in E&E and rank 30 in Rune. The Duke gave up his illusion college and is now Bardic & Earth. This implies they are considered draconic in some way by the Middle Kingdom.

They use a tower named "Tower of Fortitude" to fly around catching the elephants. This tower Incense recalls from the walls of Alsine Citadel, as being of ancient Drow origin, probably consecrated to one of the ancient Drow dieties, with anti-undead flavour (to irk Nevar). The walls are 10' thick bound stone, overall dimensions 50'x50'x700' high, pagoda shaped. Some floors are bound wood, some stone. The floor levels & room heights are inconsistent & irratic (door max 7' height). One mage is in control of it to move. There will be many troops and bound air inside th tower. The tower has returned to Alsine once since it has been harvesting the ivory here, and came back with more troops since it was empty. The tower is now having to go further afield to reach the elephants.

Alsine troops grouped in 100 per Unit. There may be 5-10 mages (many colleges) per unit usually, but may not have as many in Middle Kingdom. Most wear chain, some lower ranks only improved leather, most officers in Plate. Chain unusual in MK, so is hidden under cloth/normal armour. Alsine is known as the military training ground for most of the Duchies in Raniterre, however there seem to be only those from Alsine in MK. Due to the time conversion rates, they have acheived rank 8 warrior, and many have higher ranks.

We speculate that the portal their ships are using is probably the 'hole in the sky' that the Tea Clan told us the void cruiser fell out of.

MK Day 8

Before taking any further actions, we decide to report back to our employers now that we know what is going on. STONE finds another short cut and after an 8 hour hike we are back at the farm of Master Water Mirror where we tell him almost everything we have learned.

Options from here:

  • Steal / 'Sink' their flying ships
  • Close the portal
  • Capture/kill the Duke/Duchess
  • See what we can do about the Bane Rock
  • Investigate /capture tower
  • Repopulate inner lands with elephants

Chapter 7: Bane Rock and Portals

MK Day 9

To check out the bane rock we fly north-east to a city that has been recently pacified where we hope to find them importing bane rock for the governors palace. One day by cart out of town we find the staging camp where the stone is being delivered to before being conventionally hauled into the city. They have 2-500 guards at the camp depending on where they're at in the delivery cycle. We watch through the bright and see the rock being bought in by flying barge. The barge is not locatable while loaded with rock but we can track it when it leaves and it seems to be heading towards Lord Stables' lands.

MK Day 10

We find a bridge over a river on the cart road into town and prepare an ambush, as one of the last carts crosses, the bridge gives way spilling a cart and its load into the river. Once things have settled down and the other carts have continued to the city we move in, avoid the guards, and quietly make off with three of the 400lb blocks.

Finding a short-cut back to a glade near Master Water Mirror's farm we start experimenting with the rock.

STONE is not able to convert it into something more useful (anti-bane or boon rock). It affects anyone in direct contact or passing over it and any magic targeted at it, in greater quantity its range of effect increases. It reduces the effective rank of all magic by 20 ranks, even affecting shaped items and racial talents. It is very hard to damage, but with experimentation we discover that if it is reduced to less than about 200lb then the bane effect stops. Recombine the broken bits into one piece of 200lb or more and the effect resumes. Cold Iron does not nullify or reduce its affect.

MK Day 11

Having no immediate use for it we leave the three blocks in the care of Master Water Mirror and take a short-cut back to the Tea Clan where we get directions to the 'hole in the sky' that the void cruiser fell from.

MK Day 12

A long flight later we reach the area. The portal is about a mile across and very high, well above where it is possible to breathe safely. Ax IS flies STONE and GRAVES up to the portal and hovers while GRAVES divines the portal. It is a portal to the void, it may be possible to shift it to another location in the Middle Kingdom from this side but closing it or moving it to another plane would need to be done from the void.

MK Day 13

By short-cut and by wing we travel towards Lord Stable's lands to track down his three flying ships (barge, dreadnought, and tower) and assess which of them we could take or sink.

MK Day 14

We decide to divert to visit the Jade Lady (sorry - can't remember her full title), a being of some power who occupied this world before the dragons arrived and is here keeping an eye on them.

We fly up to her home at the top of her mountain but find it empty. Ax IS locates her back in the village we passed at the base of the mountain, so back down we go to see her there.

Chapter 8: A Dragon so hungry ...

The lady is taking tea with an old friend of Motte LEA's at the finest Tea House in town, we politely intrude and share info about what is going on. The biggest surprise for us was the news about the Giant Pelican (6-700' wingspan) that Stable has bought through the portal.

After tea and a chat, old-friend-of-LEA (a wood mage) offers to portal us up to close to Stable's capital. He portals us into a gully a couple of miles from the city, from there we spy the city for a while. Our interest is immediately caught by the 700' tower sticking out of the middle of the city. Deciding to see if we can get a closer look we make our discrete way down to the gates.

The gate guards inform us that the city is under martial lock-down and we may not enter without a pass. We play the rules-don't-apply-to-heroes card to no great effect. Ax IS' implication that he is a dragon, a cousin to Stable, and unimpressed at being denied causes a few guards to pale and find elsewhere to be but most hold firm and their Captain comes over to offer apologies. The guard captain asks if we would wait at the shelter 8 miles back down the road while we wait for a message to be delivered to his lord, he then offers his horse to Ax IS to ease our trip. Ax IS accepts the gift and promptly eats the horse in front of them.

With the gate now clear we wander into town, step through a recently vacated building and then merge with the other guards who are finding urgent business elsewhere.

At the gate and around the tower we find wards set to trigger on Non-Alusians who are not carrying a magical pass. While we are fine, we need to suppress them so that Full REST may pass without setting them off.

The Tower is near the centre of the city, the area around it is clear for over 100' and well guarded (~1,000 Rk8+ warriors). DA'ing and spying from range we learnt that the tower is a near-indestructible Elven artefact from pre-War of Tears, the cavorite is near the base of it which is currently below ground level.

We withdraw from proximity to the tower before the patrols of elite troops and mind mages arrive, take a quick look around the city, then discretely leave over a side wall.

Once out of sight of the city we emerge and fly towards Stable's northern camp. Setting up camp in a convenient cave where we can observe, we rest and watch the activity for the rest of the day and through the bright.

The Pelican is being fed cows and being trained (by a Black Dragon - presumably Stable) to eat them on dry land. It is from a plane called Aquatica.

There is no sign of the Dreadnought, nor of the skiff/barge. Locating the skiff we find it is back in the city we just left.

Chapter 9: Tea with a Black Dragon

MK Day 15

Further delaying suicidal attacks on Stable we find a short cut back to the farm of Master Water Mirror to talk to him about consulting with Imperial Uncle.

MK Day 16

We track down the 'rebel' army but get stuck dealing with (and trying not to kill) bureaucrats.

MK Day 17

The letter from Master Water Mirror reaches Sleeping Dragon who organises for us to meet with him and Imperial Uncle.

We tell them what's really going on with Stable in the hopes that they will then be able to focus their military efforts on the issue. They had been quite happy with Stable because he was a moderating force amongst the Chancellor's supporters, only providing token military support to the Chancellor. Now that they know Stable has two Dragons on his side they are even more keen for him to keep out of the civil war.

Mortimer discusses several Mechanician and Philosophical advances with their philosophers to balance out (and devalue) those that Stable is providing to the Chancellor.

Imperial uncle's best suggestion is that they appoint us their official representatives to Stable so that we can spy, talk and trade under 'diplomatic protection'. Which means the rebels would be officially annoyed if we were all killed.

He also suggests that we track down Motte LEA's brother, the God of Serpent Slaying so that he can deal with the problem. We believe this to mean that G.O.S.S. would be expected to slay Stable and his Aunty. We later work out that I.U. expects G.O.S.S. to slay the giant-phasing-ground-snakes so that the empire is not troubled by them or displaced talking animals.

MK Day 18

Underwhelmed, we decide to consult with the local dragon-gods. Heading to a god-mountain, Ax IS proceeds to meet with the local (black) dragon without us to convince them that Cavorite should be included in the flying ban. The brief meeting (several hours) over fine tea can be summarised as "they don't care". Cavorite does not breach the letter of the law which is more important than the spirit of the ban. Also some interesting asides about how the failure of kites and balloons to fly people is more about poor design than any enforcement of bans.

Privately we conclude that the migration of dragons to the Middle Kingdom was not about seeking a higher path or refuge from the wars on Alusia, it was the dragons of Alusia banishing all of their litigators.

We finish the day in conversation with the Jade Lady, she is unable to tell us exactly where G.O.S.S. is which implies he is somewhere she cannot magically scry which implies one of the Banerock screened locations.

Chapter 10: Travelling Minstrels

High rank divination of the banerock reveals that it affects the Drow because we are semi-corporeal and it does not affect Stable's humans at all. This makes any form of raid against Stable's banerock protected sites near-impossible as his troops magic will be rank 20-40 and ours will be rank 0 at best.

We decide to start scouting the banerock protected buildings for GOSS. The capitol seems most likely but we decide to test our troupe of troubadours playing 'new wave' (Carzalan) music on a couple of smaller cities before trying the capital.

MK Day 19

Travelling quickly between cities we do three on the first day. Our disguise works as we hoped, we are listened to and then promptly paid to move on. Pub classics like "Seagate bridge is falling down" and "If my father owned an Inn" prove particularly unpopular. Everyone assumes we are slightly inept spies, we are tested occasionally with odd pass phrases, passed information and probably disinformation which we randomly pass on at the next city.

At the third city we spot a couple of merchants who are Humans from Alusia, we mess with them for a while, implying there is competition to their trade from Alusia, then abduct them for some serious questioning.

They give us their routine answers revealing they are spies for Stable, giving up secrets about local troop movements and trade. Then we start asking them about the stuff we're interested in. They don't know any more about Stable's plans apart from gaining wealth from the inter-planar trade. The giant Pelican is for harvesting Elephants, Stable is focussed on getting it trained, then using it as much as he can while he can. Their elephant raids are often disrupted by the arrival of Wyrms. They know nothing about the abduction of GOSS.

We leave our prisoners hidden and seemingly dead (Petit Mort) which will keep them from reporting back for a month.

MK Day 20

Moving on to the capital we can find no sign of GOSS from outside the imperial palace. Getting inside is impossible, the entire place is bound earth, above is screened by a web of Rk 30+ death spells, intrusion above or below is promptly detected and promptly responded to with powerful non-standard magic. In the course of investigating and testing the palace we learn that it was bound with socially undesirable Drow under the cover of a plague sweeping the city. We estimate that they sacrificed thousands of their own people to bind the palace.

Talking to the local spies we learn that while this is the last place that GOSS was seen, they think it unlikely that he would be held here, most likely he would be outside the empire somewhere. Piecing together astrology and other clues indicating he is north of the empire, we decide to see if he is held by the Five Venoms south-east of the empire.

MK Day 21

We travel to where we were ambushed and question the spirit of the head of Toad Clan. He does not acknowledge their prisoner as the god of anything but he does confirm they are holding him on behalf of the Chancellor. While he was originally in a banerock coffin, they have since found a better use for the banerock so he should be locatable once we are in the right area. We get the location and head that way.

MK Day 22

They are holding him in a monastery like building overlooking a training camp. We observe their movements for a while and Ax IS locates exactly which tower and floor he is on.

After approaching underground, we tunnel out the tower he is held in, getting a pool of acid as a bonus. Quickly fishing the hibernated GoSS out of the acid and brushing him off, we take our leave.

Chapter 11: Now what I heard is...

MK Day 23

Party begins counter-intelligence activities: publicising the implicit threat in Stable's talking-animal army; wards illustrating the worm menace; etc.

By Day 30, Stable's forces have withdrawn from Thorny-Paths & his factors are negotiating to find a purchaser of the estate. Party enters the Compound, just ahead of the looting mobs, & finds Alusian materials (remnants of Packing crates etc) to convert into music boxes, etc. ...

After a fortnight, almost all Governors have pulled up their banerock and redeployed it in less dangerous ways

Chapter 12: Stable Bait for Venoms

The Five Venoms strike us as a a group of mercenary thugs and extortionists who would be good if only they had some demons to crusade against. We decide to help out by illuminating to them the 'demonic' nature of Stable and his troops.

Donning appropriate disguises (including Ax IS and Prudence as black dragons) we brief the troops we captured from Thorny-Paths on the pre-emptive strike we must make on the Five Venoms before they discover we are really from another world. The dragons fly us in, the troops from Thorny-Paths are dropped at the training camp (along with some Agony and Flash of Light) to disrupt the camp and ensure they are not able to effective aid the monastery we are about to assault. We then fly up to the monastery, make a couple of passes dropping some earthquakes, flashes of light, agony, and assorted other party tricks. Their reaction and defence is obviously stronger than we expected so we are forced to withdraw leaving 'our men' behind.

Having stirred up all we can, we decide it's time to head home. The local end of the summoning is moved to master Water-Mirror's farm and we settle in for the next 6 months as the ritual is performed to return us home.

9th Thaw 808wk, W'ansday

We emerge from beneath the bell to find that about a week has passed since we first went in.

What happened to GoSS

Soon after Lord STABLE (Duke Xeno of Alsine) was elevated for his contributions to the Empire & Chancellor KIN’s regime, he received the Imperial Monopoly on non-poisonous vermin by-products, considered an insignificant gesture at the time. But shortly before the elephant hunting began, the God of Serpent-Slayers (Prudence of Antecarzala) disappeared. In his own words:

“I was investigating the new Imperial Precinct at Long-Peaceful, especially the Banerock … kingdom of the one-eyed & all that. I noticed that General Graceful PLUM, a trusted follower of the Chancellor, had a secretary that was both human & a skilled mind-mage assassin from the Centipede Clan. I followed him overconfidently, but lost him when he entered a temple. He must have double back, because the last thing I remember before you woke me up 30 years later was being hit by Lightning.”

Lord CLOSE, Imperial Uncle SLAY’s oath-brother confirmed that, about that time, General PLUM sent a secret message that he wanted to defect from the Chancellor’s misguided faction & join the True Imperial cause but almost immediately PLUM’s brother (his only remaining close relative) lost his head in a freak accident and Plum understandably lost his nerve. Spies have been re-questioned & apparently Plum’s secretary-cum-counterassassin disappeared just beforehand.

After you have finished the adventure, you are informed that the human assassin from 5-venoms killed & is now masquerading as General Plum, who is still being sent on special missions on behalf of the Chancellor ... but no-one has ever witnessed Chancellor & General meet. Once again, a halo of plausible deniability encircles the Chancellor!

Nominations and SGT Snippets

Nominations

Quotes

Ax IS: I once had an axe that always returned, but I lent it to a friend & it never came back.

So the leaders in this Drow civil war are KIN & SLAY. Are we sure some dragon somewhere isn't sniggering over that?

Mortimer (in shock): ... this means Stable is a Demonic entity.
Motley (reassuringly): That's OK, you don't have to worship him.

Mortimer (to Sir Kit. in surprise): Actually you may be right.
Chesca (Kit's wife): Don't tell him that!

Sir Kit: How are you going to increase the Drow Population?
Motley: What? Personally?

Hot and Not

Reference Information

People

Places

Some relevant links on the background of the Marquis Stable:

Expenses

Standard Buffs

"A" = always on, "Y" = Yes please, "-" not required, blank = as required

Magic By Rk Effects Ax Br Ka Ki MG Mot Na
Armour of Earth Br 21 +44% Def -2 Dam 21 Hrs Y Y Y Y Y -
Enchant Armour Ax 20 +42% Def +1 AP 20.5 Hrs
Strength of Stone Br 20 +21 EN 41 Hrs Y A Y Y Y Y Y
Fire Armour Br 10 21 Hrs 44 Protection Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Disguise Ki 21 42 Hrs A A
Choker * * Counterspells 4 Hrs Fire Mind Nec
Faith Ki 13 MR 93%+ A A A A A - A
Quickness Ax ? 6 Targets, ?x[d-5] pulses
Spectral Weapon Na 20 +21 SC, +7 Dmg, 25 min Y - A
Trollskin Br 13 Regen 1 EN/Pulse 95 Sec
Invisibility Ki 21 3.5 Hrs
Multiple Images Ki 10 3 images 11mins
Restoratives MG -?EN +?FT best before ? Sec
Enhance Enchantment Ax 20 +20 Ranks
Siren Woods Water +5 / 10 for 50MK Days
TMR 'potion' +3 TMR - duration 6 potions.
  • * Chokers allow extended duration counterspells cast on self
  • Most durations are assumed to be enhanced.
Braegon's Anti-Scrying (while on ground)
3 Hex Radius, blocks magical scrying, blocks Locate, ESP, Telepathy < Rk 21
Raphael's Faith (within 50' of Kit)
A proportion of Kit's MR is shared with all PoL, non-pacted allies and innocents within 50'. 93% is a typical value - the exact MR will vary, mainly upwards.
Multiple Image Wards
Within 30 minutes of pitching camp, individual 2' diameter Multiple Image wards will be available for each party member (excluding Motley). Do not step in them until Quickened. They add 3 images.
Duration Extensions at Transition
1 Alusian day = 60 MK days
1 Alusian hour = 2.5 actual MK days
1 Alusian minute = 1h 30m MK
(36 MK hours in a MK day, but counted as less; 1 Alusian year = 90 MK years @ 240 MK days per year)


Forbidden Magic
  • Glove Magic.

Agility

If you aren't used to high Agility, consider re-reading the Combat Rules, or this guide.

Calendar

Spring 808wk: Thaw (10)
Moonday Duesday W'ansday Th'rsday Frysday Reapsday Sunday
Moon3.jpg Candlemansa 1 Guild Meeting 2 3 4 5 The Carzalan Generals Ball 6
Moon0.jpg 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Moon1.jpg 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Moon2.jpg 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Moon3.jpg 28 29 30 1 2 3 4
Spring 808wk: Seedtime (11)
Moonday Duesday W'ansday Th'rsday Frysday Reapsday Sunday
Moon0.jpg 5 6 7 8 Rites of Thunor 9 10 11
Moon1.jpg 12 13 14 15 Equinox 16 17 Eostre 18 The Seagate Spring Ball
Moon2.jpg 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Moon3.jpg 26 27 28 29 30 1 2