2016-05-05

Grand Duchy 80

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 80
February 2, 2016


Fighting the Mutts

Lunadain 25 Yarthmont

The Grey Company is charged with assaulting the "mutts" position from the north while the lizard riders will converge on them from the south and east over the lip of the ravine. The battle is joined quickly as the Grey Company moves carefully from tree to tree, trying to get close enough to engage. The "mutts" spot the approaching outsiders and quickly attack, loosing arrows in their direction. The Grey Company charges and all sembalance of a plan turns into loosely controlled chaos.
Griffin goes down after a lucky shot to the head

Griffin takes a blow to the head and goes down early in the fight while Draven and Marcel lead the charge. Iris moves up slowly providing cover fire with her crossbow then deciding that she would be more useful engaging the enemy directly. Remar provides ranged destruction in the form of magical bolts and occasional spells. 
Marcel rushes to Griffins aid as Draven holds off multiple foes

The "mutts" fight back with intensity, quickly dismounting the two lizard riders that attacked from over the top of the ridgeline and form up quickly to deal with the threat from the Grey Company. It is quickly determined that the clothing of the "mutts" determines their role in the group. The red garbed ones appear to be soldiers and bear spears and shields while those dressed in purple are divine casters of some type and bear long maces. 
The Grey Company forms up around their fallen companion

Things do not initially look good for the Grey Company and the lizard riders, but after a few lucky turns of the tide of battle, the "mutts" decide to turn tail and run. The use of some magic prevents some from following while others are run down and slaughtered mercilessly by the lizard riders. In the end, only a few of the "mutts" end up escaping and the lizard riders declare it a victory and hail the Grey Company as heroes. 
The western end of the valley

After the bodies of the slain "mutts" are looted for their superior metal gear, the lizard riders hurry off to the west, past a small forest to a fortified campsite. They light many fires around the edge of the camp and several in the middle as well. They all huddle in the middle of the camp and speak of the encroaching darkness as a thing of malevolence and evil. They explain that they have been locked in battle with the "mutts" for "a long time" and have recently evicted them from their village. In retribution for this, the "mutts" have unleashed a terrible thing upon the valley, the "Killer in the Dark." No one has seen it, but it stalks the valley under the cover of darkness, taking and killing at will, sometimes abducting people from their own beds amidst their own families. Just then, as if to accentuate the story, a distant scream is heard echoing throughout the valley, similar but closer, to the screams heard during the Grey Company's first night in the valley. All the gathered lizard riding warriors cringe and appear genuinely terrified at this sound. 


The lizard riders prefer large campfires
The leader of the lizard riders, Kastok, and the other, Voell, explain that they are just over a day's travel from their current home, the village of Ronkan, and that they rarely travel this far away, but they have desperately been seeking to find the location of the "mutts" new home, for they mean to destroy them in hopes of lifting the curse they have laid across the valley. 

Voell and Kastok invite the Grey Company to Ronkan to meet their leader, Guri Benkall, and show them off to their clansmen. Already low on supplies and finding the quiet valley a bit more dangerous that they initially thought, the Grey Company heartily accepts this offer.


Lunadain 25 Yarthmont

Ronkan Village
The next day consists of just travel north and west across the valley to the village of Ronkan. Along the way, the lizard riders and the Grey Company start go come to a better understanding of each other as the similarities between their language and Traladaran become more and more obvious. The lizard riders are quite enamored with the Grey Company's mounts, and they keep calling them "big goats." Finally, just before nightfall, the group arrives at Ronkan, not much more than a collection of crumbling stone and weathered wood structures with sloppy thatch roofs. 

They are ushered in and shown to a building near the defensive wall that has a good sized courtyard in front for the horses. Happy to be under a solid(ish) roof for a change, the Company drops their gear and sleeps deeply, getting a decent nights sleep for the first time in a week.


Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 


and +Jason Woollard as The DM








2016-04-21

Sundered Lands 5

The Sundered Lands of Palladium

Session 5
March 13, 2016


Meeting Ms. Vanderboren

Thursday October 26

Enter Lavinia

As the Guardians of Bletherad gather in the Fox and Hound on their first evening in Essanos, they are approached by the very person they had been seeking, Lavinia Vanderboren. Lavinia is accompanied by an older Gnomish woman named Kora, her servant.

Lavinia and the Guardians talk for a while, establishing exactly who everyone is and why they have sought each other out, though no clear connection between Lavinia and the bigger happenings in the world can be made. Lavinia explains that she has experienced some financial difficulties since returning to Essanos and is trying to rebuild and reclaim her family's former status and wealth in hopes of pledging it to helping the Library in any way she can.

She tells the Guardians that her most immediate concern happens to be a ship that is owned by her family but currently impounded by the Harbormaster for failure to pay taxes and maintenance. She explains that she has in fact paid the fees but believes that the unsavory agent of the Harbormaster may have taken the payment and kept it for himself. She also believes that her father's family signet ring may be aboard the ship, the Blue Nixie, and with the ring, she would be able to access her family's vault located under Castle Teraknian, which hopefully still contains the wealth she believes it holds.

The group vows to help her with regaining the ship and her family fortune and quickly sets to making a plan, coming up with several avenues of action from using the law, stealing the ship back or a combination of both. They settle their unnecessary gear in their rooms and head off toward the docks. Valinya states that she will remain at the Fox and Hound as she is not feeling well.
The Guardians head to the docks for some answers.

To the Docks

Once at the docks, the group finds one of the harbor scribes and begin questioning him about the ship and the man Lavinia named as Soller Vark. After some time, they garner a bit of information from him, but not enough to act upon immediately. He continually refers them to the Harbormaster's Office the following day. He eventually tells them where they can find the ship and then hurries on about his business.

As the Guardians are heading away, the scribes partner, a Harbor guard, comes back around and pulls the party aside. He tells them quietly that he believes that this Vark fellow is a bad sort and giving Harbormaster Islaran a bad name. He says the Blue Nixie isn't tied up where it is supposed to be, but is in fact out in the harbor and he has heard rumor on the waterfront that it is going to be pulling anchor sometime later that night.

He points out into the harbor to a ship sized fogbank with several masts sticking up out of it. He bids them good evening and then hurries off to catch up with the scribe. The party quickly assess the situation and begins planning for getting everyone out to the ship to check it out.
Lavinia's ship is not moored where it is supposed to be and is surrounded by a magical fog!

Cast of Characters: 

+Arne Jamtgaard plays Seeker, a teenage Wolfen Warlord
+Ben Zittere plays Fortis, an Ellyl trickster and Mage
+Stephen Kolmetz plays Valinya, an Elven Wildsong Mage
+Mike Biancone plays Arn, a surly Dwarven Warrior
+Amergin O'Kai plays Moonscar, the esoteric Kankoran Druid
+Daniel White plays Silver, a young and curious Dragon
and +Jason GURPS as the GM



2016-04-15

Grand Duchy 79

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session79
February 1-10, 2016


The Lizard Riders

Lunadain 25 Yarthmont

Welcome to the Neighborhood

The lizard riders start fanning out, the tips of their stone spears pointing at the members of the Grey Company. The stocky, muscular men sneering and making barely comprehensible threats and accusations of murder, pointing to the three dead bodies that lay nearby. Marcel tries to talk to them and struggles even though the language feels very familiar to him. Clearly it is some form of Traladaran with an accent that Marcel has not heard before.

Griffin and Draven both glance over their shoulders back toward the rest of the Company, who can also see the approaching lizard riders. A horse whinnies and several of the lizards and riders scamper off in it’s direction. The horses start to get a little nervous when the giant lizards move up toward them.
“He just keeps saying that we killed them and that we must return the favor,” Marcel says, looking quite confused. “What favor does he want returned?”

Griffin pitches his voice low, while not taking his eyes off the strange lizard riders. “I think they’re going to kill us back, Marcel. Is there any way you can convince them that we didn’t do this? We just got here, our weapons don’t have blood on them, something?” He tries smiling at the riders. “We’re the good guys - see if they can let us show them.”

Sensing that the riders are not getting on well with Marcel’s attempts, Draven steps forward, slowly, and places his mace on the ground in front of him. Straightening up, he addresses the de facto leader, who has been speaking most. “We did not kill. We found your friends like this. Swear on Halav, Petra and Zirchev. Friends, not foes,” he says, choosing the simplest, broadest Traladaran words he can, and recalling his own attempts to learn the benighted language of these hinterlands as a boy. He raises his left hand palm out, and the bandaged right, in what he hopes is a universal gesture of peace.

The lead-most rider leans forward and stares at the Company for a moment then jabs his spear toward them. “Not like them, you,” he shouts. “You no mutts. Where you come?” He waves the tip of his spear around his head, looking around the valley. Marcel and Draven gather up most of his intent while Griffin struggles with only understanding a smattering of the words, seemingly out of context, but some quiet whispers from Marcel keep him in the conversation.

The leader then points back toward the rest of the Company, “Them you be close lived? Bring to them this place now,” while he waves his spear in a motion that indicates he wants the rest of the Company to approach. “No you be no of the mutts. You like us. Have with too much hair on the top but you to help us following and be end of mutts. Close this place they to be! You here you kill and us kill!” He thrusts his spear skyward and shouts a guttural warcry that is taken up by his companions who also pump their spears into the sky!

He then turns and speaks to some of his riders and two of them move off away from the group, heading in opposite directions, leaning low across the backs of their lizard mounts. He then dismounts, as does another rider in the party. The two burly men approach, the leader keeps his spear at the ready while the other man approaches with his hands clasped behind his back. The leader is wearing what looks to be poorly cured leather armor and carrying a stone tipped spear and at his belt he wears a long, curved knife of some sort.

The other man is wearing a long, rough-spun robe that covers him from his neck to his feet and the only weapon visible on him is one of the curved knives tucked into his belt. This man is bald as can be and just on the chubby side. He smiles and nods at the three companions as he approaches but does not say anything.

Gesturing to the others to approach the parlay, Draven calls back “It would appear we may have a common enemy, or so this fellow seems to think.” Turning back to the leader, he pauses before speaking, trying to find the right words. “We come many days from south,” he says, gesturing, “mutts attack us along the way, many mutts we send to hell.” He stoops to pick up his mace and places it, slowly, on his belt. “We are called The Grey Company.”

The leader of this group smiles at the mention of killing “mutts” and smiles wide at Draven. “Me Kastok,” he says, thumping himself in the chest. “This Voell. Him vocal,” he says, jerking his thumb at the other man.

Voell smiles and says hello. His voice is deep and resonant and he reaches out to clasp Draven’s arm. “Good see Grey Company,” he says, struggling over the word “company” as if he was unfamiliar with it. “Who is to be this Petra? And Zirchev? Halav is to be who you swear on?” A look of confusion hangs on his pudgy face as we watches the rest of the Company approach. The other men on the lizards stay where they are for the most part, watching both the Company and the surrounding area. The many trees, bushes and elevation changes make this area somewhat dangerous, holding many places for enemies to hide.

“Oh, my brother,” says Draven as he clasps hands, awkwardly, with Voell, “we do swear on Halav and others of his kin. We talk later, yes, we talk later.” He proceeds to introduce the rest of the company, speaking for them where they lack the Traladaran to converse directly.

Once everyone has come together, he asks Kastok, “this best place to wait for mutts? This safest place to take them by surprise?”

He shakes his head, “No, no wait here. Go get. They be to here by. You come. You kill mutts too. You like us!” One of the scout riders who had gone off on his lizard to the south comes back and the rider shouts to Kastok, “Find me did mutts. Close to by this way. In hole. Lets us come kill mutts!” He indicates with his spear to the south.

Kastok looks at Draven and the rest of the Grey Company and smiles, “You fight mutts with us? You kill like us?”

“Well, gentlemen, ladies,” Draven addresses the Company in rather florid Thyatian, perhaps as antidote to the rough pidjin Traladaran. “Perchance this be our entree into validating our bona fides with yon tribesmen.”

Griffin frowns. “While I appreciate them not killing us and all, how do we know they’re not just using us as cannon fodder? We don’t know what the situation is here at all.” He sighs. “But if you have reason to believe that this is necessary to clear the way forward, then let’s get to it.” He motions to the others to form up and gives a nod to the young cleric.

“I’m less worried about needing this to get clear than I am about really liking the elimination of at least one party with intent to kill us being on our heels. If we play this right, we leave the remains of the gnolls as a warning against those that follow.” He looks around at their erstwhile allies. “And, if we play our cards right, maybe we can get you a new mount from their stable…”

Joining the Attack

The Grey Company follows the lizard riders a short distance away when one of the lead riders calls for a halt. He makes some quiet sounds like blowing air out of his mouth a few times then points to the edge of a nearby ravine and makes some hand gestures to the others. Voell, seeing the slight confusion on the faces of the Company, explains. “There are be mutts crawling under that rock. Dogs hide scared. They be number not three hands,” and he holds his hand up and opens and closes it three times, possibly meaning the number 15. “They no can run away. Open ground we to see them. We come from both sides. Some go over side, climb down rock. You help. Greys come from this side. Us come from here.” He points out toward the kill zone.

Nodding, Draven turns to his companions once more. “I’m no tactical genius, but an attack from the front and both sides sounds murderous to those we’re enclosing in our deadly grasp. What say you, Marcel?”

Marcel shakes his head as he tightens his shield straps, “Yep, that’s pretty much the point right?”

Griffin mimics the warrior, readying his shield and surveying the scene. “Okay, you lead us in, Brother. Stephan, you and Iris hang back, cover Ree and Remar while they lay down some suppressing fire. Keep an eye out for bowmen or spellcasters, you two.” He shrugs. “Let’s get this over with.”

Draven follows the lead of the others, girding himself for the fight. He pauses briefly to offer a benediction, with a heavy focus on Halav - who knows if he actually held any sway in these heathen lands, but he wasn’t wholly forgotten at any rate.

Kastok explains that the “mutts” are good at spotting approaching enemies and implies that they probably already know that they are about to be attacked so the best bet is to use cover to get close then spring the attack. He thinks they will probably keep to the ravine until they know they can escape or just dig in and fight a defensive fight.

He tells the Company to move up behind bushes, rocks and trees until they hear the fighting start then just rush in. He looks at the horses and asks if they will be bringing their large goats to the battle? “Good ride on? Fierce in battle? Big goats brave?” After some last minute instructions to his men, Kastok and Voell take most of the riders with them around to the south while two are tasked with sneaking up to the top of the ravine to make their attack from above. The Company believes that the riders at the top of the ravine will signal the attack by climbing down over the edge, hoping to gain a small bit of surprise.

Griffin creeps forward slowly, hoping to get a good edge on the foes. He hides behind a bush and waits for the signal from the lizard riders.
As Griffin gets into position, he sees a handful of slim, dog-headed beings huddled against the base of the ravine wall. He can see about 8 or so beings. Surprisingly, they look nothing like the Gnolls he was expecting, instead, they have long ears and snouts and short hair, not the mangy, tangled mess of the Gnolls. These “mutts” look more like the living statues and carvings that the Company has been seeing recently, though in the living flesh and not stone or metal. There are about 6 of them. Some of them dressed in red tabards over leather bearing shields and spears and some wearing purple shirts over leather armor armed with maces.

As Griffin observes them, he hears Draven and Marcel advancing up behind him quite noisily. The nearest of the “mutts” speaks quietly to his companions and jabs his spear in the direction of the Company. The entire group of “mutts” tense and adopt battle crouches. Griffin can see the top of the rise above them, 12 to 15 feet up, but cannot see over its top. Just then, he sees the first of two lizard riders crest the rocky ridge and scramble down, wading right into the middle of the enemies. With a loud warcry, both warriors fling one of their spears at the closest “mutts.” Another cry, this one louder, deeper and much more clear, can be heard from further south, where the rest of the lizard riders are lying in wait.

Iris creeps up slightly and puts her back against some rocks. With a brush as cover, she looks over to wait on Griffin’s actions with her crossbow ready.

When the attack starts, Griffin springs into action, charging parallel with the base of the ravine, hoping to prevent the mutts from escaping that way. Marcel and Draven follow closely behind, covering Griffin’s flank the best that they can. Ree and Remar slowly make their way along the line of bushes, hoping to get into better position for cover fire.

One of the mutts in purple takes a spear to the chest and staggers backward, crying out. Griffin spots several more of the mutts who had been hidden to him before due to the angle he had been observing from as well. He cannot yet see the other lizard riders approaching from the south but he can hear their cries and see many of the mutts turning to brace for an attack.

One of the mutts in purple lashes out at the closest lizard that had clambered down the side of the ravine and smashes with its mace. The blow sends the lizard reeling then it slumps over on its side, unconscious. The rider tries to dismount safely but ends up landing face first on the ground next to his downed lizard.
79a.png

Griffin slows his approach, eyeing the two spearmen in red closely, and waits for his comrades to catch up.

Everyone moves up as Griffin pauses to wait for his companions, not wanting to get too far separated from them. A previously unseen mutt equipped with a spear, shield and leather covered by a red tunic leaps out and rushes up behind Draven, trying to skewer him in the back. Marcel and Remar both shout words of warning too late. Draven has no time to dodge, but the hasty attack does not find it’s mark.
79b.png
The two waiting mutts change their tactics. The one on Griffin’s right steps up and then lunges forward, stabbing at Griffin with his spear while the other one goes after the downed lizard rider nearby, trying to pin him to the ground but the rider manages to roll away at the very last second. The other mutts continue getting into attack position while a few of them attack the other lizard that came over the edge, causing it to throw its rider to the ground. Some of the purple wearing mutts appear to be spell-casting.

Griffin steps in, thinking It might be hard to wield that spear with a crippled arm. He slashes at the ‘mutt’s’ right arm with a fierce blow.

The dog faced combatant leaps back away from Griffin’s strike and brings his shield up to block the attack, successfully sending the blow wide. Almost simultaneously with Griffin’s attack, another mutt leaps out of the nearby bushes and thrusts a spear toward Griffin’s belly, snarling something at him in a language he does not understand.

Griffin takes a step back to give himself some breathing room. Okay, maybe we have to outsmart them. He waits for the nearer mutt to close again, and then makes a feint at his face, hoping to make him flinch as he charges forward.

Iris lets a bolt fly at the mutt closest to Draven after taking a step to her left. Come on, Griffin - let’s hope your little bit of training helps!

Iris sighs as she watches her bolt fly right past the mutt she was aiming for and then lets out a brief cry as she sees it bury itself in Draven’s leg!

In mid-turn to face his attacker, Draven cries out in pain. His head spinning from the pain, he brings up his shield and mace into a defensive stance.

After a yelp in panic, Iris yells out to Draven, “I missed!” She drops the crossbow and reaches for her saber. Sometimes, you have to stick with what you’re good at. I’m sorry, Draven...

The two mutts nearest to Griffin adopt defensive stances and begin to circle him slowly, their shields and weapons held at the ready. The mutt battling Draven takes a step in front of him and lashes out with his shield and spear both, a la Marcel. The shield connects while the spear misses its mark. Another nearby mutt leaps forward and jabs forward with his spear, skewering the lizard rider who was trying to get back to his feet after his mount went down while another nearby mutt stabs his spear at a lizard mount but fails to connect.

The purple garbed mutts, apparently spell casters of some type, all cast spells. One steps up behind the two Griffin is fighting as he completes a spell and readies his mace while the one behind him is wrapped in a blurry cloud, much like the one the Gnoll’s in the Death’s Head Valley utilized. The blurry mutt strikes the lizard crouched in front of it. Further down the ravine, other mutts and lizard riders can be seen moving around and clashing.
79c.jpg

Griffin backs up, trying to keep a tactical distance from his two attackers, and to rejoin the rest of his team. Where’s Marcel? Gotta even these odds somehow! He shouts, “Remar! Ree! Where’s my covering fire?!”

Anger at having been caught off-guard fueling him, Draven takes a swing at the mutt he’s facing off against.



Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 


and +Jason Woollard as The DM








2016-04-11

Sundered Lands 4.3

The Sundered Lands of Palladium

Session 4.3
March 1-17, 2016


Checking out the Shadowshore

Thursday October 26

Seedy Shores


The late afternoon streets of Essanos are beginning to clear out a little as many merchants and consumers head home for the evening meal. The cloud-covered sky is beginning to darken considerably though the temperature is still pleasant, the sea is thick in the air. Seeker and Moonscar step off the gondola and onto a sturdy wooden dock. There are several small boats tied up in various states of loading and unloading. Nearly every hand working or standing on the dock looks up and gives the two Canines the once over. Several look as if they are about to speak, but no one does. About halfway down the dock toward the shore, a broad shouldered, shirtless Dwarf stops what he is doing and watches the Wolfen, the Kankoran and his large timber wolf approach. Past the Dwarf, a large, ramshackle building can be seen jutting up from the base of the dock. It is a three story affair, though it looks as if the top two floors are bound to fall down into the harbor at any moment. Loud shouts, the sound of raucous music and all manner of good times can be heard coming from the building’s many open doors and windows. A battered and weathered sign hangs crookedly above the pier. The sign portrays a featherless parrot or other type of bird smoking a cigar and bearing a black eye.
Vessok.jpg

Seeker sniffs the air as he strides down the dock. He gives a nod to the Dwarf as he passes. “So, brother, fancy a drink? This looks like as good a place as any.”


The Kankoran nods, “Seems good. Probably watered down enough to keep our wits sharp as well.”

Seeker shrugs. “I figure we may be here for a while. Might be worth getting some sort of work. Gives a better alibi than ‘traveller’. We’re just gonna see what’s what.”


“Sounds like a good plan - we can try tavern first and see if we can get a better sense of which streets are best to ask around on. If we're just look for the Vanderb's then this part of town will likely give us, if anything, whatever poor people didn't like about the rich family - especially in the tavern. Might still produce some interesting leads from a different side of the picture though because of that. . . First round’s on, and in honor of, Uncle Colwyn” the druid replied.

The tavern, the Plucked Parrot, is a loud and riotous place. Sings to Moon passes on approaching the building and instead slips off the pier and disappears underneath it. Quite a bit of debauchery and depravity can be seen before even fully entering the establishment. Before Seeker and Moonscar make it to the bar, they have both been splashed with, hopefully, drinks and been jostled and bumped into several times.


“On Colwyn, eh? I can get behind that.” He shrugs. “I don’t expect to find our prospective agent anywhere near here.


“Do you have any other trails in mind to sniff out?” The Kankoran asks, then tries to suppress a giggle, mostly successfully. “That’ll be a real challenge here” wrinkling his nose slightly.


“Well, general tone for the place. Happy? Seething with unrest? Beaten down? Optimistic?” He pushes open the door into the cool, dark interior. “After you.”


“Perhaps losing sleep at the prospect of a coming mad-mage apocalypse? Nah. Do you think you got a good enough morale picture when you were here before to notice changes?” the Kankoran asks. “So, who do we have to bite to get a drink here?”


Seeker grins at the diminutive Canine’s brass. “Well, I think so. Plus if we get established here, we’ll want to find some folk who know how to keep their ears to the ground. Might as well start that search as soon as possible.

“Agreed. If we spot any good prospects we should probably have Uncle Ironfist meet them as well - or at least give us overwatch on our next contact. If I understand his former trade correctly then his insight could help us a lot, and perhaps spot trouble signs we might miss.” Pointing his nose across the room, “Want to start at the bar or get a table?” As a glances around he adds, “Assuming we can find one that isn’t left empty for the foolish and unaware.” The crafty canine stops a moment mid-stride and tilts his head to once such empty table, “Then again, we *could* see about making that work for us. We’ll have to make sure we can reach the door readily through it the trail gets too rocky. . .”


The Plucked Parrot


As the two sit at the empty table, both of them scan the surrounding area, looking for the nearest several exit paths. They are not far from the front door, which leads out to the pier near where it hits the shoreline. There are several windows along the front of the building as well, each of them large enough to leap through, and none of them containing any glass, just partially opened shutters. Another narrow door can be seen on the opposite side of the room, which would be facing out over the water of the bay. Assumedly there is a walkway or ladder or something on the other side. At the end of the bar lies yet another point of egress from the bustling tavern. A large square hole, about 4 feet across, has been opened in the floor, below which is the water of the bay. A couple of drunken sailors sit at this hole with their feet dangling into the hole, both holding what appear to be fishing poles, though only one of them bears a fishing line. The drunk without the line does not seem to realize that his line is missing, yet he appears to be enjoying the sport just the same. Several large fish sizzle on spits thrust into a nearby fireplace must be the rewards of the fishermen’s hard work.


There is an open doorway behind the bar leading into what must be a storage room, though it couldn’t be very big based on the outside architecture of the building. The only remaining exit from the room is a rickety, narrow staircase leading up into the next level of the tavern.


Both Seeker and Moonscar feel the weight of many eyes upon them as they sit down. All of the stares are hard and penetrating, though no one does or says anything aggressive. No servers are visible in the room and the bartender is paying no mind to the newly arrived pair. At the near end of the bar, a long-haired Half-Orc musician strums some form of wide guitar while a strange being stands next to him, singing a jaunty sailor song in a deep baritone voice. This being is tall, easily taller than all the Humans in the room and possibly taller than most Wolfen, though probably not taller than Seeker. His skin is dusty violet and his hair appears to be thick, dark braids or tendrils. This singer looks something like one of the monks the group met at the Library, though Aki was blue-skinned. His race was known as a Quorian, though that was all anyone ever found out about him. Several patrons are singing along with him, though not paying much attention to the words, melody or rhythm of the song at all.

Keeping his eyes open, Moonscar quickly spots the shirtless Dwarf from the Docks enter the establishment. He squints as his eyes adapt to the darkened room and looks right at the two Canines before sliding along the wall toward a table of rough looking characters.


With a nudge of his companion Moonscar cocks his head slightly recognizing the newcomer. He waits til the song ends then calls to the musicians in Gobbley, “Ass-kicking! Hey, do you guys know ‘The Wreck of the Gerald Edmundson’?”


Seeker shares his approval also in Gobbley, while trying to surreptitiously keep an eye on the Dwarf.


“So, what sorts of things do YOU think we need to be looking for? Colwyn said that a ‘certain something’ would be passing through here. Should we try to learn more about who runs the smuggling ops around here?”


“Well,” Moonscar replied thoughtfully, “It can’t hurt but I get the feeling Uncle Ironfist would have the best chances of reading trail sign there. Unfortunately we really have zero information regarding what it really looks like. We can’t safely assume just because of it's name that it's something a jeweler would have interest in or even that it's as small as that.


Track this and tell me if I’ve overlooked any spoor: It’s value to our adversaries, being it’s function, is far too high and sensitive to entrust to outsiders. There are simply too many things that can happen to risk not being able to spot and respond to problems. In the other paw, their last group of couriers probably failed because our associates were tracking them as much as their package. They may have means to watch and act from afar - they recently stole one such means of looking. We don’t know if the agents used to do that were put in place from a distance or close proximity, possibly even a handler in the same room. If they’re using others to carry it then they’re still close by in some fashion and the greatest advantage which doing that would provide them is in baiting a trap for us.


If it's small, it takes little to no skill to move it into this city - consider everything we might have brought in with us when disembarking. They have no reason to employ smugglers to get past the harbor “security” unless it’s very conspicuous and suspicious looking. I think that again, we need to look for the transport team, not the package. Checking the smuggling market is a matter of thoroughness but not likely to turn up any leads. If it does, then we need to spot and counter their overwatch before moving on the couriers. I would expect only one or two of them to avoid notice. A second would likely only be as backup - mainly to try and complete the delivery if the first is taken out - so they might not even travel explicitly together. At least that’s my SOP for documents.


What to look for? I think for today, just the lay of the land. Too many docks spread out all over this city to really try asking around about something we can’t begin to describe. Odds of getting anything are miniscule while the odds of attracting unwanted notice, at least you and I, are already near certainty. We should be very careful about what we ask or say to anyone. By morning half the people in this room will have repeated it to someone else. Of course, that’s something else we might play to our advantage.


Tonight, Sis, Cousin Magpie and I should employ our particular skills. Let’s let them focus on our friend while I pursue this trail. When it comes to mixing false appearance with reality, Moon is the expert.”


As Moonscar and Seeker confer, the Quorian singer calls out in the affirmative and the two musicians break off into a moving piece about an ill-fated timber ship that sunk in the Inland Sea.


The legend lives on from the Wolfen on down
Of the water they called th’ Inland Sea
Algor, it’s said, never gives up his dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of timber many hundred tons more
Than the Ger Edmunson weighed when empty
That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed
When the killer winter’s teeth ‘rived unexpectedly early


While speaking to his companion, Moonscar keeps an eye on the shirtless Dwarf nearby. He watches him speaking in quite, but forced words. The Dwarf then grabs a glass from the table, down its contents in one gulp, let out a bit of a yell and slam the glass, upside down, back on the table. The others at the table all cheer and slap each other on the back before getting up and all heading for the door. Several of them stealing glances over at Moonscar and Seeker while they leave. None of them seem to notice the sideways glances of Moonscar watching them over his shoulder.


The ship was the pride of the Llorian side
Coming back from some port up near Ladden
As the big ships a go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some turns with a couple a soothsayers
When they left fully loaded for Lopan
And later that night when the ship's bell rang
Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?


After a moment, Seeker throws up a nod as one of the recently departed associates of the Dwarf re-enters the Plucked Parrot and heads toward the bar, moving directly past the Canine’s table before pulling up a tall stool and ordering another drink.


Meanwhile Moonscar passes a small tube and a hefty little bag under the table to his friend. Head tilted he appears to be cleaning his ear with the tip of his tail while commenting casually, “Found a great big Daisy recently. It had thorns too!” followed by a second, seeming identical pair he describes as “Let’s out a huge cloud of pollen and then those damn thorns. . .” then shrugs as if dismissing his comments with, “Flowers bug me out.” He sucks on his tail absentmindedly as they watch the traffic and then asks, “Anything else catch your attention? If not, perhaps when the song is done we should tip the entertainment and be on our way.”


Seeker looks puzzled as he surreptitiously handles the strange objects under the table, but after a moment gives a quick nod to his diminutive friend. “I think we may be here too early in the day. Too quiet. We should come back, see if there’s a party going on later.” He stands to leave, then turns to Moonscar. “Give me a second, I wanted to see about some work.” Seeker goes up to the bartender. “Any ideas where a guy could go around here for some action? Pick up a little scratch? I’ve done bodyguarding before, even a little arena combat.”


The grizzled Human bartender looks up at Seeker, grinds his teeth and says, “You’re looking for money? I sure as Set hope ya gots enough to cover your tab here, stranger. Ya look a might big, an I bet that frightens off the chattel, but you don’ scare me with yer “I’m a body-guard, I want to arena fight” words, Wolfie.” He narrows his eyes and studies Seeker, noticing how his words gain no reaction from the tall Wolfen.


Seeker looks startled. “Of course I have money. Although you would have had to serve me a drink before you can ask for payment. Since you didn’t, I’ll take my money elsewhere. Although if you’re nice, I might bring it back here later tonight.” He grins back at the surly fellow.

The bartender’s face reddens a bit and looks around the place, “Dammit, where the Hells is that girl! Better be making me money somehow!” He turns back to Seeker, “Sorry friend, didn’t mean anything by that, it’s been a long day, my apologies. Let me get you and your little friend there a drink. Whatcha havin?”


“I’d ask for something to put hair on my chest, but, well…” He grins. “An ale for me and I think an ale for my friend. And a glass of water, too.” He leans against the bar as the bartender sets to work. “And I really am looking for work. Just got into town. Been awhile since I was last here. Oh, and if someone is looking for someone to do salvage work, I’m your guy, too.”


The bartender puts three mugs up on the bartop. Seeker peers into them and can’t quite tell the difference between the ale and the water. “Well, there’s lots of opportunity for work around Essanos. Ye say yer inta salvage and such? The Dredgers Guild are the ones that keep the canals and harbor clean. I suppose they’re the ones that be doing most of the salvage around here to, though from what I know, the coastline anywhere bouts near here is pretty rough and seabed aint no better. Deep sea salvage aint one that gets a lot of talk around here. Oh, but yea, there’s the Pearldivers Guild over in Azure. That might be something fer ya. Didn’t know that Wolfen were too overly fond of the water in that way though. Ehh, ya learn somethin new every day.” He steps away for a second to serve a round of drinks to some other patrons then turns back to Seeker. “Now, if yer lookin’ fer a little muscle work, there are a few options. The Notched Axe and Black Shield Company are both mercenary groups here on the Shore. Then of course there’s them Horns of Zelkarune up in Champion’s. Them’s the ones that run tha Arena up there. Fights goin’ on in there pretty common, though most of us from down on the Shore don’ make it up there all too often.” He snarls a bit and spits on the bartop, wiping it up with a dirty rag. “That’s the best way to get yerself some “sword-for-hire” work in Essanos, I’d wager, unless of course yer looking to do it off the books, well, then, hmm, I just might know a few folk.” He taps his fingers in a rhythmic pattern on the counter.


While the the Wolfen orders drinks his companion pulls a small mirror out of his webbing and, holding it up close to his nose, proceeds to examine his left eye intently. Blinking and pulling the lids back he appears to look for some irritant while checking on those at the table behind him and the area around and through the door he's so “carelessly” put his back to.


The table behind Moonscar consists of a group of sailors from the southern lands, possibly Timro or the Land of the South Winds, and a ragged looking Orc. They are speaking in a language Moonscar is not familiar with and do not seem to be paying any attention to the two Canines or anyone else in the bar.


Seeker thanks the bartender, tipping even though the drinks were on the house. He carefully carries them back to the table, setting them in front of Moonscar. He lifts one and sniffs it, and takes a pull, hoping it is one of the ales. “Bartender gave us a round on the house. I wasn’t sure if you wanted ale or water, so I got both. I’ll drink whichever one you don’t choose.”  


He leans forward, lowering his voice to a quiet rumble. “So, I think I could find work if we need some income. Hopefully we can kill bad guys and sell their stuff, too. This seems like the part of town where there would not be too many questions asked.”


He leans back. “So, should we look for another place to stay? A bolt hole or backup rendezvous? In case things go pear-shaped, we should have a plan B. Let’s wander this area, see if we can turn something up. If not, maybe we can wander over to Azure.” He stands and stretches, “Ready for a bit of a walk?”


His companion sniffs the mugs and replies, “I think you get both whether you ask for it or not.” Then downs both and notes, “The water has more flavor. Trouble is, I can’t work out whether that’s a good or a bad thing. . .” He stands up, quickly checking his gear and replies, “Fall back position makes sense but do you want to have to take a boat to reach it? If we can work up the coins though that makes an excellent second point. If it weren’t for our last encounter I’d think it excessive. Now, I’m not sure if too many contingencies are enough.” He fishes a few coins from his purse and glances at the entertainers saying, “I’ll meet you at the door. Nod when you get there if I should use the window. . .” and then circles around to tip the house band with a smile and a nod before exiting.

After exiting the Plucked Parrot, the two Canines change their minds about skulking around the Shadowshore this close to dark and hitch a ride back to the Merchant District to catch up with their friends and get some dinner.



Session Notes

This session was an online, Continuing Story, taking place between two live sessions on Roll20. At the end of the previous live session, the party decided to split up into 3 different groups to take care of random things around town. Normally, as a sane GM, I am against "splitting the party" but the format in which we play between sessions is perfect for this sort of thing. I set up 3 separate docs on Google Drive and shared each one only with the characters that were involved. They all played out their separate parts over the course of 2 weeks, then we brought the party back together and they "shared' their individual experiences with each other via me sharing the documents with everyone. It was quite fun, if not a bit hectic, for me dealing with the three different stories. The only thing I needed to do was to make sure that none of them went over (or fell very short) of the time I had chosen to bring them back together.


Cast of Characters: 

+Arne Jamtgaard plays Seeker, a teenage Wolfen Warlord
+Amergin O'Kai plays Moonscar, the esoteric Kankoran Druid
and +Jason GURPS as the GM