Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Beneath Two Suns - Right Back Where We Started From

There are many, many, many words in the English language.  However, none of them may be appropriate, descriptive, or succinct enough to describe the complete insanity of tonight's gaming session.

This lowly scribe will attempt to make order out of the chaos.  Remember:

- Kriskain, a human cleric (Heather)
- Lileth Whisperwind, a half-elf hexblade (Emily)
- Shinta, a human sorcerer (Daniel)
- Dante, an elven ranger (Elliot)
- Abuther, a half-elf barbarian (Spencer)

So.  The last session, nearly two months ago, ended on the edge of an amazing, touching reunion.  A father and daughter...separated by time, space, and a Fireball-flinging sorcerer.  But, reunited at last, many questions were asked and answered.  The cleric's father, Quillan, confesses he is a member of an organization known as the Laughing Knives, to which Kriskain replies, amazed, that she belongs as well. However, the older man shows signs of uneasiness as Kriskain discloses she is on a job for the House of Campbell. Quillan is quick to state that Campbell is despicable, he claims, in fact, he was the one to initially kidnap the princess and was planning to "rescue" her and return her to Estercari, only for the glory in Sidones' eyes.

There is much back and forth and wondering who's right, who's wrong, and what the hell is going on, when the doors to the room burst open and several armed guards enter.  It would appear the party is in some serious trouble after dispatching several of Quillan's guards earlier.  However, Kriskain's father rushes towards the guards and impels them to stop.  Then, he asks Kriskain and her colleagues to leave the Princess in his possession instead of taking her back to the nefarious Campbell.  This request prompts some skepticism in the group.  Lileth and Shinta want to know why they should not fulfill their commitment to Campbell, not to mention why Kriskain trusts this Quillan guy all of a sudden.  Quillan expresses that, as a member of the Laughing Knives, he believes in freedom from tyranny.  He opposes slavery and works to upset those who support it.  And there is only one man he trusts to take over rulership of Zenicce.  A man maned Wanek.  Quillan then implores Kriskain to seek out Wanek, on his behalf, and receive information from him.  Lileth has the all-important question: Can he remove our brands?  Quillan indicates he can.  Done!

From here, there is A LOT of back and forth conversation.  Heated discussion, at some points.  The CG cleric appears to know her course of action, and is ready to act.  However, there is some rumination by the hexblade, who speculates that things get more complicated if the party splits now (either we stand together, or fall apart?).   Lileth finally thinks to Gather More Information from Quillan...in particular about those underwater assassins.  He divulges that those guys had Rings of Swimming, which sound really nifty to the cleric and hexblade.  Lileth suggests a period of R & R to meditate about a practical course of action.  Because, the dilemma has become glaring: Throw over Campbell and the obligation to him and cast lots with this new, unknown entity: Quillan's Thieves.  And then...

Quillan seems to have a bunch of these super-aquapower rings around, because he's willing to part with some of them.  And so, the pendulum begins to sway in favor of abandoning Campbell, despite that meaning near-certain death for the group.  At this point, some "fun talk" begins regarding how to handle their traitor status with Campbell.  Plots and plans grow wildly incredulous...and then all of a sudden, the party decides to execute one.

Let Operation: How Fun - We All Can Cast Disguise Self! begin.

What was supposed to happen:

1. Lileth casts Disguise Self on herself to look like the Princess Nadima (the real princess stays with Quillan).
2. Kriskain casts Invisibility on herself to follow behind the Fake Nadima.
3. Shinta is the prisoner's escort back to Campbell's men.
4. The three players travel back to the House of Campbell.
5. Fake Nadima will befriend Campbell (Charm Person) and discern his true intentions.
6. Fake Nadima will then assassinate Campbell, and leave Shinta to fill the inevitable power vacuum.

A foolproof, watertight plan, yes?  Yesssssssss.

What really happened:

1. The real princess was forced to strip and hand over fine garments over to Lileth.  Nadima is now wearing a soiled potato sack.
2 - 4. Happens JUST like above.
5. And then...gods, oh gods...things just really explode into blurry chaos.

On the boat ride over, Fake Nadima announces in that imperious way, "Love me, dammit!" to the entire group of guards.  The notes do not indicate if any love was shown or not. The Head Guard questions Shinta on the happenings on the island, and the sorcerer does well spinning a web of blood-soaked lies.  Charisma...wheeeee!

Fake Nadima/Lileth is playing up her role almost too well. See below.

FN (to Head Guard): Incline to me.
HG: No. 
FN (screeching): Do you know who I am? I am the beautiful Nadima! 
HG/DM (who's trying to hide his laughter): I believe you.

Meanwhile, Kriskain's Invisibility has worn off and she does not recast it, as she's currently hanging on to the back of the boat, catching a free ride, á la Marty McFly.  Who's going to think to glance to see if anything's dragging out in the wake behind them? Morons, that's who.  Once the boat arrives safely, Kriskain casts Invisibility once again, and the party parades through the kitchen of Campbell, if only for the hilarious reason to see people there eating soup.

In Campbell's main chamber, he has nothing but praise for the sorcerer and rewards him the entire amount of 5,000 gold pieces.  Lileth and Kriskain's players exchange a wide-eyed Oh hell, he's got all the damn money now look.

Acting in perhaps the role of her life, Fake Nadima is not going to waste a single minute getting the plan underway.  See below:

FN (To Campbell): What do you want with me? Remove these chains! Incline to me!
Campbell: Stuff it. I will not.
Shinta interjects here: She is not your property yet. I want my money.

It's a bit of a panicky moment...Campbell is not taking Nadima's bait.  Instead, he instructs another guard to retrieve Shinta's money.  He also sends Fake Nadima off to another room for safekeeping.  Kriskain moves to follow and rolls miserably on a Move Silently check, ensuring the guard escorting Fake Nadima is now very, very wary.

Shinta, though, is continuing on with his meaningful conversation with Campbell, having just collected a nice pile of coin.

S: So, what are you planning to do to Estercari?
C: I hope to one day move up in power.
S: Might you have any more use for me?  Any more services I might provide?
C: Tell me about the events on Thieves' Isle.
S: Insert Fantastic Battle Details Here.
DM has Shinta roll a Bluff check.  Campbell seems to be either unconvinced or unimpressed by Shinta's story, but at any rate, he has the princess (...or does he???).

Meanwhile, Kriskain the cleric experiences a great epiphany in the spare room she's been hiding out in.  With Fake Nadima stashed away in a locked and well-guarded room, there's not much for her to do there.  Therefore, she casts Invisibility on herself again and sneaks back to the real action  And it is about to get real...and very gruesome.

1. Campbell informs Shinta that he plans to have Nadima taken to the Temple Gardens.  Not by himself, of course, because as he puts it, "I have a big island to run."
2. Shinta asks for a bit to eat, being peckish and all, and Campbell sends a guard away for some vittles (probably soup).
3. Kriskain sneaks up behind Campbell and casts Hold Person on him.
4. Shinta sees Campbell all of a sudden go rigid just before keeling over onto the floor.  He takes the opportunity to Summon Monster: Three Medium Vipers.  To occupy the remaining guard in the room, supposedly.
5. Chaotic Good Kriskain steps back to let Shinta now do what Shinta does best.  Although, she's now harboring a bad feeling about this.
6. The guard steps over the vipers (I guess? Notes are unclear) and begins hand-to-hand with Shinta.
7. Shinta steps to the side and casts Fireball (at Campbell - prone on the ground, by the way), rolls a natural 20, and does 66 points of fire damage.  

The party never really actually got to discern whether Campbell was a good guy or not (or somewhere in between)...and they never will now, as he's not only paralyzed, but suffering a terrible, painful, burning death.  Kriskain is aghast.  Yes, she's chaotic, but she's also good...although that may be subject to change after this escapade.  She attempts to put Campbell out of his misery with her rapier, and does just enough damage to make sure he's bleeding profusely, but still alive.  It's obviously time to take some ranks in Mercy Killing skills.


1. The guard's sword misses Shinta, before later connecting for some damage.
2. Shinta Magic Missiles Campbell.  For the love of all the gods, would he just die already?
3. The vipers attack the guard.
4. Kriskain casts Create Water to put out Campbell, trying not to heave her brains out from the stench.
5. A Scorching Ray from the sorcerer finishes the guard.
6. The cleric's Heal check provides some pretty obvious information: Campbell is near dead.
7. And now, he really is after another Scorching Ray from Shinta.

The room is just a complete wreck.  Dead guard, dead Campbell, alive vipers.  The cleric's brain has completely shut down from all the carnage, and that explains why she tells Shinta in her best Forrest Gump voice, "I may not be a smart cleric, Shinta, but I know where Lileth is."  Recovering her wits shortly after, she reminds herself that a Create Bleach spell might be useful in future for cleanups such as this one.  Shinta offers to summon little brown orcs that could do the scrub work as well.  Campbell's burnt corpse is then rolled into a carpet or curtain or capelet or some other fabric thing starting with the letter C. 

Kriskain casts Disguise Self and takes on the semblance of Campbell (pre-burn, of course).  At the turn of the key in the lock outside, Lileth becomes Fake Nadima once again.  And what happened to the guard on watch outside her room?  Who knows?  The notes sure don't either.  Let's assume he's visiting the little boy's room and has vacated his post.

Fake Nadima is pretty inquisitive once she's let out of the room.  She demands to know what has happened as they make their way back to the main chamber...there's no point in explaining, really, as she'll probably see for herself in moments.  Shinta, though, finds it hard to resist spinning another fabulous yarn about the "big fight that broke out and here's what happened..." and before Fake Nadima or Kriskain can say boo, Shinta casts another Fireball and splatters Truly Random Guard #435 guard against the newly-waterwashed wall.  

Fake Nadima is specchless at all the carnage (what's not washed away, that is).  The plan has gone dreadfully wrong, and there's only one thing left to do, really:

1. Search the rooms for any kind of apparatus for forging an official-looking document.  From Campbell.  In which he states that he is abandoning the people of Campbell Island for the love of Princess Nadima.  He states they will be happy and he implores the people to govern themselves in the way they see fit.

Well, okay...there's not just one thing to do, there's a few more...

2. Fake Nadima musses up the bedroom where she was being held captive, places the letter on a pillow along with the necklace she'd filched earlier from Nadima's chambers.
3. As the happy couple (and Shinta) troop down the hall, they bump into Food Guy...the steward that had been sent out a long time ago for sustenance.
4.  Fake Nadima just can't resist:

FN: Incline to me (to the food guy)
Food Guy glances at Campbell/Kriskain.
C: Yes (in deepest voice possible).
Food Guy: Okay.

The three fugitives continue to flee and make it to the boat docks.  Boatman waves and says, "L'Hal, Campbell!  What can we do for you?"  Fake Nadima interjects and exclaims that she and Campbell are in love and that they're running away.  She also instructs him to "ready the boat".  Campbell has gone no communicado, because once "he" speaks, the game is up.  It'll be Kriskain's voice they hear.

It is dusk by the time the trio makes it back to Quillan and Thieves' Isle.  There'll be no need for Shinta's wild story fabrications now.  In this case, the truth is far worse and contains a lot more burning.

Q: So, what happened?
K: Errr...erm.  Uh, well, Campbell is dead.
L: We've left a forged letter stating that he and the Princess have run off together, but...
S: It's possible they'll figure out it's a forgery.  Not to mention the dead bodies, and the charred skeleton that might resemble Campbell...
Q: Hmm.  Maybe this is our time to strike, then. 

Famous last words.  That, and...no place to go but up, right?

End of Session.

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