The Overthrow

12 - Finding Infernalists
  • After a discussion, there was little enthusiasm to do the whole plan as discussed before
  • Greenscale called in help from Goldtooth‘s lackeys, so you collected a list of about 75 names of demon worshippers – Kerwin wasn’t on the list, but someone called Kahendrin Meridius was…
  • You went to visit Kahendrin in the Saddle; he has a nice house above his business as a cartwright
  • Koldar rapidly deduced Kahendrin was an active infernalist, and immediately started the fight. Shortly before he died, he summoned forth three demons – two Imps and a Despoiler. This fight was noteworthy for both Koldar and Lital becoming confused and attacking fellow party members. Daechir called on the Weaver of Tendons while casting a spell.
  • Before you had the chance to recover, a large group of guards burst in, no doubt attracted by the sight of Koldar attacking Kahendrin in the street. This fight went on for a long time, with Daechir also calling on “Sethanus the Drinker of Breath”, until all the guards were dead. Jacek found over 600 gold in the house, while Greenscale found a robe that could have been linked to the cult you encountered in the docks. You set the house ablaze and fled.
  • You went to the Golden Order’s monastery and gave the list over to the Abbess there
  • You discussed whether/how to kill Kerwin now he’s no longer a demon worshipper but this discussion was soon interrupted.
  • Agrak offered you a way through to the palace using tunnels that were probably full of dire rats
  • Akrazael sent a kobold bearing a Girdle of the Grave as a gift for Jacek
  • In the tunnels, you found lots of dire rats cocooned in spider webs, and fought four giant spiders. Daechir called on Duke Vermont, the Prince of Black Fire and Lady Barrowmore, the Magistrate of Tombs to fuel his spellcasting before you succeeded.
  • You settled down for a rest in the relative safety of the tunnels before carrying on…
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11 - After the Eulogy
  • Greenscale spent a few days in the library, reading her book about demons and also learnign more about magic use and filling in her notes about the city. Looking for more leads in Drakkenhall.
  • After her defeat in the gladiatorial battle, overcome with all the emotions from seeing someone from House Jeshe, went to find Daramar, who helped her with some sort of spider-silk-smoke
  • Koldar meditated and prayed to any and all gods that will listen to try to find a way forward
  • Jacek focuses on a “thief’s pilgrimage” around the city, stealing loads of stuff and redistributing it to the poor
  • Daechir also spent time reading, this time his Litany of the Undying Pilgrimage
  • While planning at the Many-Pointed Star, there was a raid and a group of fifteen city guards attacked. Unfortunately the party wasn’t able to escape in time so a fight ensued (mostly blamed on Koldar resisting arrest)
    • Daechir called on Barghessa, Black Mistress of Vengeful Wraiths; The Nameless Prince of Final Dark; and Hespirax, General of Skeleton Archers in the course of the fight
    • Irena intervened in the fight, tackling the guard sergeant and beating the hell out of her
    • Eventually, all fourteen guards and their sergeant were almost killed until a cleric of the Golden Order arrived unexpectedly and saved their lives; Koldar hung around and discovered that they were here on a routine raid
  • There was a discussion in the sewers after you fled the scene about whether or not and eventually decided to meet up with Goldtooth. jacek made the arrangements.
    • Goldtooth agreed to loan you a walking capacious chest that would deliver all of the money in the treasury back to him; he required a 250GP deposit
  • Agrak sent some toughs over to meet up with you all and offer you help leaving the city (through a monster-filled tunnel); you made arrangements for one of her gang to be at your new place of residence
  • You went into the sewers to meet Akrazael; en route you noticed that Daechir’s shadow appeared to be female, and not following his movements at all. A discussion followed about Shadow
  • Akrazael referred to Jacek as the “Destined One” or “Instrument of Destiny” several times, and agreed to put you in touch with her mother (whom she referred to as “She Who Birthed Me”) in Drakkenhall.
    • Akrazael was very keen to get Jacek’s oath that he would think fondly of her, remember that she had been the first to show him due respect, and also to get agreement that your goals aligned with hers
  • Jacek revealed that his destiny was probably to kill an icon, but he didn’t know which one…

Tasks remaining in New Port:

  • Do more research to compile the list of demon worshippers’ names
  • Give a list of names of all the demon worshippers in the city to the Golden Order
  • Kidnap and kill Kerwin
  • Shave Koldar and use him to open the treasury
  • Steal the treasury and give it to Goldtooth
  • Leave New Port/Escape to Drakkenhall
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Responsible Citizens
Writing for The New Epoch until I get a better offer.

It is actually impressive, when you think about it. The amount of crap that five people can manage to get themselves into when all they really wanted to do was get a boat ticket out of here. I’ve seen plays in the market place at Glitterhagen with more streamlined action.

Real life never did run easy eh? I used to think that having a bucket list was cool. Interesting and exciting things to do before you kick it. What I’ve realised I have instead is an anti-bucket list. A whole bunch of stuff that I never, ever thought I would end up having to do in order not to die. On the list of “things I never expected to need to do” was get initiated into a lesser cult of a reasonably classy death God (as death Gods go) in order to get into the city catacombs to weed out a necromancer slash grave robber – emphasis on slash, zombie claws can hurt. Second was get “rescued” by paladins of the great gold buttness who wanted us to do “one little thing” which turned out to be about the same demon cultists we thought we’d already dealt with. Third was going to a party in my best Axis-style fashion, losing bets on gladiator fights because of cheaty half-elves and getting nowhere on the social scene because you made a tiny comment about how everyone looked like a bumpkin from three seasons ago and end up being the weird one downing champagne to fight the ennui of it all.

OK, so the last one might not have killed me but I’m a bard and social death is pretty much the worst thing ever.

With me so far? Great. Cos I am still reading my own notes in disbelief. This is a real thing, that really happened. At the last count, the unlucky fivesome (that’s me, the Best Barbarian, some thief with a Secret, definitely a necromancer but actually maybe a good necromancer IDK and the Bloody Stubborn Paladin) were in hock to a white dragon, a half orc gang of brutes and some goldtoothed smugface with many fingers in many pies who is probably not the Queen of Shadows but it never hurts to assume otherwise. If you are wrong then you were just being polite. If you were right then at least you don’t end up dead in a ditch for that specific reason

We’re not bad people. I keep telling myself this. I keep telling myself this as visions of the One Eyed Queen loom over us in a great inky cloud and shatter mirrors in the temple of a God of Light.

I keep telling myself this as we have yet another altercation with the city guards who have us on some kind of BOLO. We’re good people. We’re just in a lot of trouble.

I keep telling myself this as I list of the people who we owe favours for favours and they all look like dodgy bastards at best or actual murderous monsters if you took off those rosy tinted glasses.

But what can be done about it? There’s work do be done.

Our intentions are good. Our intentions are the best, but this is the real world, baby and the options open to us in order to get shit done keep getting murkier and murkier. And eventually it’s so cloudy that you start to worry. Like, let’s just say you are trying to kill a whole bunch of animated corpses and death-bolt flinging necromancers (the bad necromancers, not our good necromancer. I can’t believe I just wrote that) and the Bloody Stubborn Paladin calls upon the Dark Gods and some sort of iron fist encases his hand? Stuck right on. With nails. Just like Hers Truly. Blood coming out and everything.

Probably not good. But there’s work to be done.

What do you do when some stranger slips a magic ring into your pocket and when you put it on you can wrap one person round your little finger, get all the juicy goods out of them and not a drop spilt? Sure it’s got a Diabolist symbol on it. Sure, all your new colleagues, and even old friends, get a little huffy over your new found charming mien, but that’s all jealousy and more to the point there is STILL work to be done.

And you can’t stop. Not just because you are out of cash in an unfamiliar town and being chased by all the authorities. But because the cause is just. There’s a conspiracy in this town. And it goes right to the top. There are noble families who worship demons, dopplegangers in charge of the Imperial Mint and deep rooted racial prejudice in the ranks of the supposed Gods of Light.

We keep going. Because we are responsible citizens. And we know what’s best for this town. And it’s us.

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10 - Seeking the Seekers
  • Following last session there was a sudden influx of undead; you found yourselves facing sixteen or so of various types, while the Sol Invictus allies you brought with you finished dealing with the Seekers’ acolytes and the rest of the undead
  • You were very hard-pressed during the fight, with many of you being seriously injured on several occasions
  • You were helped significantly by Koldar calling on the Dark Gods to heal you all, and the Great Gold Wyrm to bless his weapon. Though one side-effect was that his other gauntlet turned black and was seemingly bolted to/through his hand.
  • Lital also drew on her experiences with She Who Is War to give her the boost she needed to get stuck into the last portion of the fight with a devastating charge, disregarding the hail of arrows that kept hitting her
  • Once the undead were defeated, Daechir rushed to pick up the Apothecary’s book, which turned out to be a Litany of the Undying Peerage, opened to the page of Duchess Blackblood of the Crimson Slaughter
  • In a chest out the back were 1,000GP and a Cloak of Anonymity, the latter of which went to Jacek
  • Randall thanked you but asked you to leave town – Koldar calling on the Dark Gods had excommunicated you all from the service of Thanatos
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09 - Party Doppelganger
  • The conversation with Kerwin continued after Koldar arrived; it seemed like they had the same personal history up until the massacre in Sulaco where Kerwin moved to New Port and became Imperial Treasurer but Koldar became a Crusader-follower. Kerwin clearly knew the other four by name and deed but didn’t know about Koldar.
  • Daechir bottled shadow and used it to identify the location of the Seekers of the Lost so you went to Randal’s shrine to confirm arrangements – he was still clearing up the damage that had been done on your last visit but was still, in principle, up for bringing along his fellow clerics and paladins, on the understanding that you would be leading the charge after some false alarms in the past.
  • You went to meet Kerwin and Greenscale used her ring to convince him to give you all the tour, which was how you learnt where the vault is, and that Kerwin has the only key. It was also clear that Kerwin didn’t even remember meeting Koldar the preceding day, but had a huge amount of information about the rest of you.
  • You then met up with Randal Nasnis and the rest of the Sol Invictus followers, and started the assault
  • Bursting into the warehouse, the religious types engaged the various acolytes and one of the Daughters, while you took on the other two Daughters and the “Apothecary” who, it turned out, was the cult’s leader in New Port. She had a ridiculously evil-looking tome, but after a fair bit of back-and-forth you were able to defeat them.
  • Unfortunately, just at that moment, the salt wards surrounding various of the undead broke and you were thrown back into combat with barely a chance for a quick rest…
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08 - Captured by Paladins!
  • Came to in a cell, albeit without Koldar
  • Jacek picked the lock and you explored a mostly-empty complex of cells
  • Came to a locked door at the top of a flight of stairs up, bearing the symbol of the Great Gold Wyrm
  • Met by a paladin called Astrid who led them to an elderly woman dressed as a monk
  • This monk, who didn’t give her name but seemed aware of your deeds to date, agreed to let you back out into New Port, and tell the city guards that you had been apprehended, in exchange for you providing her with a list of all the demon worshippers in the city (as the ones in the docks weren’t the whole cult…)
    • Jacek used Smooth Talk to gain a two-point positive relationship with the Great Gold Wyrm for the rest of the day
  • Learnt about a Masquerade ball at the Governor’s Palace – TONIGHT – Jacek snagged tickets out of a rich gentleman’s pocket
    • Gladiatorial entertainment
    • Coming-out party for the noble youths
    • Wizards looking for new apprentices
    • Acrobats and ice sculptures
    • Fireworks
    • Canapés and cocktails
    • Nobles from other Cities
    • Trays of ferrero roché
    • Giant chandeliers
    • Large grounds with a topiary maze
  • You got announced as:
    • Lady Aristole Darling of Horizon (Greenscale)
    • Sophia, her gladiatrix (Lital)
    • Professor Black of Blackbood College of Physiology (Daechir)
    • Mr Tobias Kemp, of the Kemp Trading Company (Jacek)
  • Four noble families not present due to their children being killed in “gang violence” near the docks recently
    • Beaudoin
    • Inoue
    • MacLeish
    • Montcourt
  • In a conversation about his magic lights, Daechir was suddenly sucking all the light out of the room, in a roiling cloud of darkness, that obscured one of his eyes and one of his hands…
  • At which point, Daechir met Viscount Arianna Jeshe, who was very pleased to see him and gave him her card and encouraged him to meet her cousin
  • Lital was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the tournament by a half-elf called Reyes, who went on eventually to win the final against Mad Dog, who belongs to Arianna Jeshe. Arianna lost 500 GP betting on Lital and presumably more betting on Mad Dog, and resolved to investigate how she recognised Lital
  • You found Kerwin, the Imperial Treasurer, who looks almost identical to Koldar. He introduced himself to the party as though he already knew them, and made clear he already knew them by name
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07 - Impersonating a Priest

Having been separated, you reunited with Koldar at the Many-Pointed Star. You then split up in order to travel to the Temple District, en route to which, Jacek was almost spotted by the city guard who had arrested him, but managed to run away without being detected.

You reconvened at the Temple of Thanatos, one of the Gods of Light, and underwent your initiation. This involved ritual baptism, and consuming a potion that gave you visions of your own deaths – and everyone else’s. The exception was Daechir, who saw nothing.

After taking your oaths, you donned the robes of initiates of Thanatos (over your normal adventuring gear) and then went into the Catacombs under the city and made your way to the part run by the clerics of Sol Invictus. You encountered some obnoxious Paladins of the Golden Order who were very derisory about your concerns for the integrity of some of the seals. After they wandered off, you encountered a group of cultists in the process of summoning some demons, whom you were able to defeat.

After that you met a nervous-seeming priest of Sol Invictus, whom you suspected of being in league with the Seekers of the Lost. It turned out that you were right, as he then called forth a bunch of undead (including skeletal mages!) from nearby unsealed tombs and attacked you. He died in the process, coming back as another skeleton mage, but you were eventually overwhelmed, with only Greenscale conscious as the Paladins saved the day, killing the undead and arresting you all…

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06 - The Catacombs

The session opened with Koldar standing guard as the others met with Akrazael, Whose Crown Branches Out in her cave-like mauseoleum deep under the city. She was particularly interested in Jacek, saying that because of his destiny she had wanted to cultivate his friendship long before other parties started to. She was also very wary of Daechir, whom she said was more dangerous than he realised.

Akrazael offered to help get you all to [[Drakkenhall] where she has some contacts, but first she needed you to destroy the Seekers of the Lost. She was alarmed to hear about the Seekers having infiltrated the priests of Sol Invictus who are primarily responsible for the Catacombs.

Jacek refused to answer Greenscale’s follow-up questions about what his destiny was.

Akrazael’s kobold servant took you all into the higher levels of the Catacombs at your request. You noticed that some of the grave-seals had been disturbed and then replaced. You approached two patrolling acolytes, saying that you were here thanks to Randal letting you in. However, the one who came with you to inspect the seals got spooked by Daechir’s pallor, and ran to get help.

After some unsuccessful navigation, and leaving Koldar behind to deal with an encroaching force of Sol Invictus-worshipping guards, Greenscale spotted some Thieves’ Cant markings on the wall that pointed to a secret door back into the sewers, so she, Daechir, Jacek and Lital were able to escape, making their way to the surface.

Unfortunately, they were still wiping the effluent off themselves when they encountered a patrol of city guards, who had a copy of the descriptions given by the one survivor of the massacre. Not taking kindly to cop-killers, the guards attacked, but were soon dealt with, their bodies stuffed down the sewer grate to keep them hidden.

While you were recovering, a strange hooded figure walked past you all, bumped into Greenscale, and walked off. Checking her pockets, she discovered a fairly seriously-sized signet ring bearing the symbol of The Diabolist – a magical Ring of Honeyed Words!

Using Daechir’s dubious connections, you were able to arrange a meeting with an apothecary in the Commons who had links to the Seeker of the Lost. She was guarded by her three “daughters” (heavies) and negotiations were going well. She was clear that she didn’t want the city overrun with undead yet and was thus charging extra to provide warding and suchlike. A weekly price of 500gp (in “Axis Imperials”) was agreed on, for a delivery of three fresh corpses per week. Daechir asked to inspect the merchandise and so you were all blindfolded, stuffed into a carriage, and taken to somewhere that was around the border of the Commons and the Temple District. In there were about 25 cultists performing various tasks, and a corned (surrounded by rock salt) with 40-50 zombies lumbering around, all in a big granite-walled space the size of a warehouse or cathedral. Lital was careful to be able to identify the carriage, which was privately hired. Having inspected some relatively fresh bodies, you (falsely) agreed to find some appropriate accommodation to store Daechir’s workshop and corpses, and were taken back to the apothecary shop the same way you left there.

You then paid Randal Nasnis a visit. His shrine to Sol Invictus was in the Saddle district of the city. It was basically just a townhouse with a big circular skylight in the roof, and numerous mirrors all around, and various bits of gold sun-themed accessories. Greenscale used her new ring’s powers on Randal, and he was very enthusiastic to agree to get a strike force of Sol Invictus clerics and paladins together to attack the Seekers of the Lost with you. The rest of you were disgusted by Greenscale’s behaviour.

As you were leaving, a deep black shadow passed overhead while Daechir was in the exact centre of the shrine. All of the mirrors shattered, and (just briefly) his reflection had one glowing red eye and one gloved hand (and a normal one of each) before returning to his usual appearance. Randal was deeply freaked out by this and sent you away, still promising to help.

Jacek made arrangements for you to meet Goldtooth. He agreed to gain you temporary ordination into the Order of Thanatos, in exchange for you robbing the Imperial Treasury and providing him with the proceeds. As acolytes of Thanatos, you would have legitimate access to the Catacombs and Vaults of the Dead, and would thus be able to investigate for the infiltrator much more easily.

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Paladin Blues
Writing for The New Epoch until I get a better offer.

What’s worse than one paladin? Two paladins.

Old joke. Still not funny. At least, I’m not laughing. Literally nothing is made better by the addition of paladins. Stealth? Forget about it. Thoughtful dialogue? Fuck off. Snappy one liners? Not a chance. I don’t need more muscle, I’ve got Lital. And I definitely don’t need muscle that argues with me or thinks that plans are for other people.

I especially don’t need muscle that listens to the plan and then goes off and does the exact fucking opposite leaving me and the rest of the party with a boatload of unpaid work, a number of entirely uncalled for death-threats and the need to hold a 2am See Spot Run truth and reconciliation session where we all explain using the smallest words possible why when someone says “I worth with cultists” in a nudge nudge wink wink fashion might mean the complete opposite of “I have a screaming mad-on for filling the world with demons”

I’m sat here, with a migraine and there isn’t enough whisky in the whole of the Empire. I’ve got it bad. I’ve got paladin blues.

Here’s how it can happen to you. First, add a paladin to your adventuring party. Why the fuck are you even in an adventuring party? Go home. Get a real job. But you can’t, so here you are. Now, whatever you decide to do as a group will, at any moment, be overridden by the demands of the paladin’s God. Doesn’t matter which God. They are all the same. Overpowered narcissistic fuckwads who throw toys out of the pram when they don’t get their way. Like editors only with lightning powers. Paladins are the unquestioning, bully boys of those Sky High Idiots. Yup. Because Gods didn’t get enough action with having The Hierophant and the Crusader duking it out for your very immortal soul (and not giving much of a crap about your very mortal body) – they had to have enforcers.

I can’t work with people who don’t have a fine respect for the grey areas of life. Grey areas are where it’s at. The gap between the have and the have-nots. The loophole. The memoranda that was conveniently “forgotten”. The secret treatise between Elves and Dwarves. Where the real stuff is. It’s all delicate, balanced on favours for favours and an understanding that some days you are up and some days you are down. That sometimes you get the worm and some days the Wrym gets… Well, you know what I mean.

Paladins don’t have that sense. They have a blind spot for all things that are neither Yes or No. Like a crappy bar that only serves “Red” or “White”. No fizz either.

Working around it is tough. Like, I have respect for their combat skills. You have to appreciate what it takes to stand there whilst you take a beating from a Frenzy Demon, or to jump in the way of a blow from a fucking demon cultist that threatened to kill one of the other adventurers (seriously, do something else).

And you know what the worst part of it is? You can’t argue with the whole “we need to get rid of demons” thing. Yeah. We know we need to get rid of them. No-one except for batshit crazy weren’t hugged enough as a child demon worshippers want that. And fuck those guys. Really, fuck them and their cursed knives and booby trapped gore ridden fucked up temples. I don’t even think the Diabolist wants demons to take over the world – not least cos that would render him a bit redundant.

Everyone wants rid of demons.

That’s not the point. The point is what are we prepared to tolerate in order to have a world without demons? Are we happy to constantly have to watch our backs in case some twitchy hopped up on God-ness mace wielding paladin drops a bag over our heads and bundles us of to Room 101 to torture a confession out of us? And believe you me, torture always gets confessions. I’ve got the scars on my back to prove it. It also ALWAYS get you the confessions that you want because (surprise!) people will say exactly what they think you want to hear to make you stop tearing out their fingernails.

Torture gets you confessions. It doesn’t get you intell. Here’s what gets you intell – listening to people, talking to them, getting in with a bad crowd and keeping your ear to the ground. Accept a bit of give and take. Being the kind of person that people want to talk to.

You know, like me.

What I’m not prepared to tolerate is the eternal sunshine of the spotless jackboot. I want to be free to mix with whoever I like, make whatever deals I want to make. I want to know that my sources aren’t going to be plucked from the streets and turned into mush in some kind of no-brain pogrom to eradicate a threat that could be dealt with quicker, easier and much, much less painfully using a bit more brains and a bit less brawn.

And that’s the problem I’ve got at the moment. On the one hand, a city clogged up with the kind of clichéd cultists that even hack writers for your cheap paperbacks would balk at describing. You know, not only are they murdering bastards but they also have no class or originality. And on the other, I’ve got the paladin. He’s keen, he wants to make the world a better place, but he only sees one version of “better” and one version of “make”.

Which is, when you think about it, the core of the problem. There are way too many people out there trying to “make” the world do things. And not nearly enough trying to give folk the freedom to just get on with their lives.

Give me a world without demons or paladins and I’m on board. Right now I’m still trying to work out which is the lesser of two evils. Admittedly, in the past two days several demons have tried to kill me, but on the other hand two paladins have tried to kill my source, and through that, my story.

It’s lucky for you that I’m so much of a committed professional that I’m still not sure which is worse.

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05 - In The Belly Of The Beast

The action started where it left off in 04 – The Intervention. You took a quick breather before Jacek checked the door for traps, cutting his finger in the process and feeding blood to the altar in the next room. Two cult elders and the cult leader were there, performing a ritual over a chained-up guy with sailor’s tattoos.

You burst into the room and attacked the cultists, but weren’t able to stop their leader from completing the sacrifice and summoning up a (lesser) Frenzy Demon called Fargtu. In the ensuing melee, both Koldar and Lital were rendered unconscious but the rest of the party were just about able to kill the demon (the cultists having already been dispatched).

Searching the room gave you some loot (pocketed by Jacek), a few songbooks and the cult leader’s journal (which Greenscale took), and numerous books and prophecies about demonology, infernalism and suchlike which Koldar claimed along with the cult leader’s evil-looking sword.

You then decamped to the Many-Pointed Star where you various ate lots of food, slept and recovered. Koldar was interrupted by Irena who demanded a report. She seemed satisfied with what he told her, and gave him a couple of healing potions before leaving with the cult leader’s sword. Jacek took the opportunity to go shopping, returning with a large stack of healing potions. And Daechir used the time to write up a new ritual, which Jacek claimed would allow him to turn a white dragon into an undead servitor. This caused a bit of a row within the group, given the party’s imminent meeting with Akrazael, Whose Crown Branches Out, but this was eventually semi-resolved by Jacek stealing Daechir’s Dark Tome Of Darkness and hiding it.

On the way to the meeting, Jacek delivered the cult leader’s journal to the New Port Tribune, a state-allied newspaper. Greenscale had learnt that the cult had been planning to betray Agrak, as Kerwin, the Imperial Treasurer of the city, was actually a cult member. Thanks to Jacek’s plausible mien as an Imperial Messenger, the journal went to the editor of the Tribune. The journal also revealed that the cult had been buying corpses off the Seekers of the Lost to use in their rituals, taken from the Catacombs beneath the city.

The party met with one of the white-scaled kobolds who serve Akrazael, Whose Crown Branches Out and refer to Jacek as “Master”, who led you underground, firstly into the sewers and then through a secret door into the Catacombs. It was apparent that the servants of the Hierophant in the Temple District had done their jobs well, properly guarding and warding the resting places of so many bodies to prevent the Mother of Liches from controlling them.

The kobold instructed everyone to anoint themselves with water from a font, and wash their hands, faces and feet, before meeting his Mistress. Everyone did so, even though Daechir found the water steaming off his sorta-dead flesh. Once everyone had done so, the kobold ushered them into the large cavern housing Akrazael, Whose Crown Branches Out

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