Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 14

This was an odd session.  I went in with almost literally no notes, no real plan of how the session would go, and trusted to my own skill and my players' creativity to make things happen.  And happen they did.

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 4
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 4
Jager, Human Fighter 4
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 4 (out for this session)
Flora, Half-Elf Cleric 4
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 4
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 4
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 4

Picking up where we left off, the party split in two; Kholark, Flora and Dormammu went to the Drunkatorium to see if the Red Witch they are seeking ever comes and drinks there, while Jager, Cor, Lasair and Sylvus paid a visit to the Fang and Flagon.

The Drunkatorium proved to be almost a "light" version of the nightmare dive bar known as the Whore's Arse, where much of the party has been spending their evening since their return to Craghold, and also largely a demihuman bar - most of the clientele were half-orcs, half-elves and dwarves.  Speaking with the bartender, Kholark learned that the Red Witch would be at the Drunkatorium tomorrow, the 15th of Rainmont, as per her usual schedule.  The bartender also encouraged Kholark to meet "Bawss Hawg" - an enormous, four-tusked pig in a sty out back.  Put a gold coin in the bucket, the bartender explained, and take your chance trying to pin the well-greased (and drunk) Hawg.  Pin the pig for a five-count and win all the gold in the bucket.  No one in the three years Bawss Hawg has been wrestling has managed to pin the monstrous boar.  Tomorrow night was wrestling night, the bartender said, and Kholark enthusiastically agreed to be there to face down the Hawg.

At the Fang and Flagon, they learned that the Red Witch would likely be there tonight, and that at last count, Roz, the half-orc prostitute from the Whore's Arse, had left 11 corpses in her wake from disease and broken pelvises alone.

Exiting the Drunkatorium, Lasair headed to the castle.  Jager, meanwhile, decided he wanted more information on the wolf attacks that the town had been suffering, and made his way to the north-west gate to ask the guards there for more information.  Zeroing in on an ordinary guardsmen (not one of the mercenaries of the Red Brotherhood), Jager began barking orders, berating the man for the supposed state of his equipment, and leading the man to believe he'd been sent on a surprise inspection from the Sheriff.

Unfortunately, Jager decided to mention that if the guard wanted a better review, he better cough up some coin.  Recognizing the ruse, the guard swung his halberd at Jager; in response, Jager tried to do a flashy move while drawing his flintlock, but fumbled the roll and shot himself in the leg.

Panicking, Cor cast Hold Person on Jager while Sylvus wildshaped into a mastiff and, grabbing Cor by the collar, ran off carrying him (as the townsfolk began screaming about werewolves and a mad dog snatching a child).  Paralyzed by magic, Jager was easily taken into custody by the guards, stripped of his armor and weapons and thrown into a cell in the watchtower.

Meanwhile, Lasair gave some basic self-defense lessons to Lord Vesper's daughters, Wanda and Julia.  Satisfied with their progress, Lasair took her leave and, raising the hood on her Cloak of Elvenkind, began to explore the castle, following her nose in search of the same whiff of infernality she'd smelled before.  Her keen elven senses led her straight to the private quarters of Lord Vesper and Lady Erzebeta.  Listening at the door, Lasair heard a pair of chamber maids arguing over whose turn it was to empty the chamber pots, and she slunk into the shadows to await their exit.

Once the maids were gone, Lasair let herself into the chambers and began her search, turning over the room carefully for evidence of foul doings - she still suspected Lady Erzebeta of being the demon summoner.  She found nothing until she chanced to look inside the fireplace - and discovered a series of runes and sigils inscribed on the bricks inside the flue.  Unsure what they said or were for, she quickly made her exit.

Kholark, Dormammu and Flora soon made contact with Cor (now riding Sylvus, still in dog-form, through the town), and learned of Jager's imprisonment.  Debating what to do about that, they settled on going to see about having him freed, and offering to pay for Jager's bail (a simple matter of 55 gold) out of Jager's own pocket.

Reconvening and sharing what they'd learned, the party decided to return to the Fang and Flagon to await the Red Witch.  Instead, they were met by a magically-delivered letter, addressed to the individuals who had been so indelicately asking after her at every bar in town.

The Red Witch - Ariska being her given name - explains that, given the current situation in Craghold, with her being technically banished but remaining nonetheless, she must assume that the individuals seeking her are looking to arrest her or worse.  If that is not the case, she would be willing to deal with them, but will require them to meet her at the Drunkatorium, unarmored and unarmed, tomorrow night to do so.

Lasair quickly penned a response, advising Ariska that they wanted to hear her side of the story of how Vesper's first wife died.

With nothing else to do for the evening, Dormammu sent his imp, Francis P. Mordo, to investigate the inscription inside Lord Vesper's chimney.  Looking through the imp's eyes, Dormammu was able to identify the inscription as being the main part of a teleportation circle, permanently keyed to a single location.  Anyone standing inside the fireplace and saying a trigger phrase would be instantly teleported to this other specified location.  The party debated whether the existence of this teleportation circle was a sign of nefariousness on Lord Vesper or Lady Erzebeta's part, or simply an arcane bolthole created by a paranoid warlord who'd come to power via coup in the first place.

Later, at the Golden Boar, Jager paced his room, angry.  He'd heard the way the rest of the group had spoken about him, how they didn't consider him a member of the team.  Hadn't Mivahl vouched for him? Hadn't he fought that strange, steel-feathered bird by their side? Hadn't he given Cor his freedom on the way to Craghold, and carried Dormammu out of the Whore's Arse when he was dead-drunk? They had accepted Flora into the party without question or hesitation, but if after all this, he was still an outsider? Perhaps he'd never be welcomed.  He took of his badge, the sign of rank and service he'd shared with Mivahl.  Looking at it for a moment, he tossed it angrily on the bed.

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