Thursday, February 28, 2019

Terrinoth #26 - Gangs of Freeport II

Entana conjures up a fog to cover the party's attack

Campaign Diary

Our heroes found themselves under fire by five crossbowmen, shooting from the deck of the beached ship.

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They charged towards their attackers, but found the going slow as they were hampered by the water and sand. Entana conjured up a fog cloud to cover their approach, while Percy called upon the power of Kellos to conjure a flaming sphere, which she then hurled onto the deck, causing confusion among their attackers.

Now hidden from the crossbowmen, the party continued to wade towards the ship. Gio, the nimblest, was the first to gain the deck. He lowered a rope to the others, and then found himself under attack and outnumbered, and had to find cover. Once the others have climbed up, the battle turned against the crossbowmen, and once two of them were down, the other three abandoned ship and leapt off into a boat moored on the far side of the deck. Gio jumped after them, as did Percy... and when Strigoi too followed, his mass caused the boat to capsize, throwing everyone into chest-high water; Entana had meanwhile elected to stay on the deck.

When the dust has settled, four of the attackers were down, and they had captured the last. The party tied the thug's hands, and while Strigoi and Percy attempted to interrogate him, Gio and Entana descended to the lower deck to explore the hold... and were immediately ambushed by three more thugs! Hearing the ruckus, Strigoi and Percy joined their fellow party members below deck, and quickly took down the opposition, capturing another prisoner.

Under the light of the lantern gifted to them by Steward Gleason, the party first explored the cabin at the stern, which they found was the living quarters of these thugs. Wary of finding more attackers, they next explored the cabin at the fore of the ship. As Gio opened the door to the cabin, a loud thump was heard - Entana, standing at the rear of the party, had slumped to the ground, and was fast asleep! As Percy checked on Entana, Strigoi and Gio entered the cabin - it contained an alchemical laboratory, and standing behind a table was a gnome.

The gnome held his hands up, even as Strigoi demanded to know who he was, and slowly turned his hands such that the back of his hands was facing him; on one of his fingers he wore a ring with an opalescent stone. Suddenly, multi-coloured light streamed from the stone, and blinded Strigoi. The gnome made a dash for the door, but Gio was quicker, and tackled him.

Returning with their now two prisoners to the deck, they found that the first prisoner had cut himself loose of his bonds, and was frantically rowing away from the ship in the boat. A few well-placed spells took the escapee down, and the party regained the boat.

Percy, infuriated by the unprovoked attacks, started interrogating the prisoners with such ferocity that the other party members held back for fear of collateral damage.

The gnome introduced himself as Til Terraghast of Gafford, gnome wizard and alchemist. He proudly admitted to having produced White Smoke, which he called his magnum opus. Til denied responsibility for the "security arrangement" for his laboratory though, and claimed to have been employed by one Hurst to produce White Smoke for him. White Smoke, he explained, made the user more relaxed and more suggestible - how Hurst used it, however, was not something he asked or questioned too much about.

When the party threatened to turn over Til and the thug to the local watch, Til revealed that many in the watch were also on Hurst's payroll. He then offered his ring, which held a Mind Rune shard, and information to Hurst's whereabouts for his freedom. The party obtained a pledge from Til to never set foot in Orris again, and set him free. The gnome then revealed that Hurst was in fact the lighthouse keeper Garras - the party had been bamboozled!

The party bade the exhausted Tobb to once more row them to the lighthouse, but when they had arrived they found the sailboat missing from the pier. Hurst had gone; climbing to the top of the lighthouse the party could see the sailboat sailing towards Torrue Albes in the north, but it was too far to chase down now.

The last prisoner proved to have tight lips, and for a while our heroes debated on what to do to him. Unable to bring themselves to killing a disarmed man, they likewise obtained a pledge from him to quit Orris, and then released him. Percy decided to take over Til's laboratory equipment, and the party gifted the thugs' rowboat to Tobb, and paid him an extra Gros for his troubles (and silence).

The next morning the party went back to The Broken Mug, and was met by Sergal. Once they had given their story, Sergal explained that Hurst was the former Captain of the Watch, who was removed from his position some eight years ago after being found guilty of corruption. It seemed that he had returned to the city that had thrown him out, and that he had used his connections with both the criminal underworld and the city watch to launch his plot, perhaps with the aid of White Smoke.

Thanking the party once again, Sergal took his leave, saying he would now wait for the situation to revert to the way it was.

A few days later, the party bade farewell to Entana's family, and boarded an Al-Kalim ship to the port of Trader's Fort. The journey took them to Redwater on Lorimor's west coast, before cross the open ocean to Thieve's Coast.

Once they arrived at Trader's Fort, Al-Kalim's gateway to the north, they were led to the Terrinoth merchant's compound, while their onward passage was arranged. A few days later, the party joined a camel caravan on the next leg of their journey to Al-Madena, the capital of Al-Kalim, and where Entana's father awaited them.

For two days the party traveled slowly westwards across the sandy desert. At this time of the year the days were still cold, and by night it was colder. Each day would begin with the caravaneers greeting the rising sun and chanting the Hymn to A'tar, and each night would end with a meal of roasted sheep around the camp fire, when Gio would sing to his captive audience.

Late in the afternoon on the third day, the caravan spotted vultures circling a couple of miles to their right.The dour caravaneers refused to deviate from their course, but Percy felt confident that she could find their planned campsite if they went to investigate, and so they did.

Driving their camels towards the vultures' direction, the party crossed several dunes, before arriving at a scene of carnage: half a dozen human and camel skeletons littered the ground at the base of a dune, their flesh having been scoured off their bones. As they went closer, they found that one unfortunate soul was still clinging on to life - half his face and the flesh on one side of his body had been sheared off. With his dying breath, the man whispered: ghibli, before dying.

As they surveyed the macabre scene before them, our heroes wondered what could have caused the injuries seen on the men and camels. It was as if, Strigoi mused aloud, that their flesh had been sandpapered off...

Just then they detected movement at the edge of their vision: two man-sized whirlwinds had formed, and was closing in on them...

Prepping and Running the Game

The first part of the session was a continuation of the Gangs of Freeport module which we started the previous session.

The fight on the beached ship took a whole hour, and was quite fun, with a flaming sphere moving randomly across the deck, people jumping off the ship, and a surprise attack on the party when they thought the fight was over and had not healed up.

Percy's player seemed genuinely pissed by the unprovoked attack on the party, and was yelling at Til and berating him for his lack of moral. We were all taken by surprised at the player's intensity during the role-playing.

I had based Til on the character Gale Boetticher from the show Breaking Bad. I imagined him to be a genius alchemist who was so invested in his craft that he did not question the moral consequences of his work. I had chosen to give him only non-offensive spells, as I gave him only a Mind Rune shard and thus only enchantment school spells, and as I thought it suited the character (Gale did proclaim himself as a libertarian), and as it gave the players less reason to kill him. I am glad the party did not kill him (they tend to spare those who grovel), and look forward to bringing him back again in the future.

The module was supposed to end with a confrontation between the PCs and Hurst, but in this case I ruled that the commotion they caused at the ship would have been visible from the lighthouse (and Hurst would have been watching), and when he saw them returning he would have known the game was up and it was time to cut his losses and plan another comeback another time. I am less certain of what I want to do with this character again; I imagine Hurst is too focused on his final goal of revenge on the city to want to go after the PCs, but his need to put together a cadre of... associates may see him meet the party again.

The last hour of the session covered the journey to and in Al-Kalim.

Al-Kalim is of course based on Arabia, but I find its religion more akin to that of Aten worship than Islam. Accordingly I lifted the Hymn to Aten and used it as the basis for A'tar worship in my world.

For the description of Trader's Fort I made use of the description of Alexandria in the book City of Fortune, and for the camel caravan I used information from wikipedia to add flavour. I had taken a short camel safari in India several years back, and would recommend the experience if you had the chance to go on one.

This session gave the PCs some interesting loot. Percy gained a whole lab set-up, which costs some 50 gps. She lacks the space to set a lab up now, but once they are back in Terrinoth, she could start brewing potions again. Entana gained a Mind Rune shard, which opened up the enchantment spells to him. I should plan some loot for Strigoi and Gio in the upcoming sessions, and I believe I might have an idea.

I have yet to settle on what modules to run for the main arc of this campaign. I will probably run a short urban-based scenario in Al-Madena, before embarking on the main quest.

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