Zeitgeist - Deus Ex Machina

Diaspora, the adventure so far

Quick recap of what’s happened in Adventure 8, Diaspora:

After having learned that the Ob plan to recapture Kasvarina in an attempt to gain control of Borne (who apparently views her as his “mother”), the party ventured to Elfavair and connected with her and Asrabey Varal at Sentosa, an Eladrin Enclave that exists in between the regular world and the Dreaming.

Kasvarina has no memories of what has happened over the past 500 years, thanks to Alexander Grappa stripping them away in an effort to ruin the Ob’s plans. Disturbed by what others have told her of her past, she wants to help the party undo the harm she’s caused, and stop the Ob from altering the fabric of reality with their twisted plan. She knows of an artifact called the Lost Arc of Reida, a fragment of the plane of Time that can bring memories to life. If she has this artifact, she could journey to locations where significant life events occured, and rebuild her fractured mind.

Two obstacles face the party, however. One, the matriarch of Sentosa refuses to let Kasvarina leave, citing the need to keep her safe from the Ob. And secondly, the Lost Arc of Reida is in an old Eladrin refuge to the north that is overrun with were-tiger Eladrin, faithful to their banished god turned Rakshasha. The party decided to deal with obtaining the Arc first.

Traveling to Ingatan’s Refuge, the party discovered that a garrison of Clery soldiers and the were-tigers were on the brink of mass bloodshed, and both sides tried to recruit the party as mercenaries. Taking the diplomatic route, Xel and Marian acted as intermediaries and amazingly got the two sides to come to a peaceful arrangement. In exchange, the leader of the were-tigers allowed the party to enter the sacred halls of Ingatan’s Refuge, where the Arc, according to legend, was last seen.

Inside, the party found four trials to overcome before they could obtain the Arc. These trials represented four distint points in time: The Distant Past, The Near Past, The Near Future, and The Distant Future.

In The Distant Past, the party found themselves back on the RNS Coaltongue, where they defeated Huge Fire elementals that were fused with negative energy.

In The Near Past, the party found themselves back in Gradiax’s (Benedict Pemberton’s) volcanic island lair, where lava and an out of control turbine threatened to cook them alive.

In The Near Future, the party found themselves on an impossibly tall tower in the town of Methia, former capital of the Chrysillyrian Empire and center of what became the dead magic zone of Danor. Malevolent spirts of the dead tried to kill them, and they found the corpse of Andrei Von Recklinghausen (who was last seen being inhabited by the spirit of Nicodemus, at the Grand Convocation).

In The Distant Future, the party found themselves on a strange planet being bombarded with falling asteroids, where they ran for their lives alongside their old friend, Rock Rackus. They spotted a downed ship that looked outfitted for air travel, but were beset by devils of The Golden Legion of Egal the Shimmering as they tried to reach it. (On a side note, Xel’s countenance was constantly shifting, from his normal appearance, to a darker version, and one that radiated righteousness).

Having completed each of these trials, the party obtained the Lost Arc of Reida, and are prepared to head back to Sentosa to continue the quest.

Arc.png

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Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman
And Intro to Schism

This is wayyy too much to write up, so I’m going to give it to you in bullet points.

  • The Derps won the railroad challenge and were summoned back to the Summer Court to meet with Tinker Oddcog.
  • Tinker Oddcog turns out to be the guy who saved Xell’s life during the collapse of Cauldron Hill in adventure 5 in the bleak gate.
  • Tinker Oddcog turns out to be a mechanical doppleganger (called a duplicant) that tries to assassinate Bruse Shantus with a comically large bomb he pulls out of his own chest.
  • Marian detonates the bomb in a bag of holding, but some of the Bruse’s advisors and guards are also duplicants, and attack. Also, “someone” begins shelling the palace with long range, poison gas artillery.
  • The derps flee the court via teleportation with the Bruse in tow, leaving behind Lya Jierre and Rush to fend off a bunch of terminators.
  • The derps regroup at Citado Cavallo, where they learn that the attack originated from the Isla de Focas, the home of the Cult of the Steel Lord. An island to the south full of gnolls. Also, the people that were duplicants are actually being held captive on this island.
  • Some powerful force is blocking teleportation and divination on to the island, much like the Rites of Rulership common among the rulers of the great nations. Meaning, “Someone” has sufficiently united the gnolls to gain such powers.
  • Reporting in to Harkover Lee, the derps learn that the former dragon tyrant that ruled over the Cult was an ancient red dragon named Gradiax. Also, SURPRISE, not ALL dragons are extinct, but have blended into the human populace.
  • DOUBLE SURPRISE, Gradiax is one of the still living dragons.
  • TRIPLE SURPRISE, Gradiax has been living under the name of . . . BENEDICT PEMBERTON!
  • The derps present COAs to King Aodhan, and decide to side with Pemberton instead of the government of Ber, in order to assure they get Tinker alive.
  • The derps tell the Bruse that they will help assault the island and take out the duplicant factory. They are on a team with Lya and Rush as well!
  • Pemberton agrees to the plan, but only if the party will help sabotage part of the Beran fleet. They do, which ends up killing about 40 Beran sailors.
  • The derps secretly plan with Pemberton and the gnolls to ambush Lya and Rush, and KILL THEM BOTH in the factory!
  • Tinker is retrieved without incident. Also, they meet Pemberton’s daughter, a young red dragon with steam augmented prosthetic limbs (a leg, and a wing). She detects as evil, but hey, it’s a little late to worry about that now, right?
  • Risur now knows the weak points and vulnerabilities of Borne. Also, Tinker is working on technological innovations for the derps, and for the country. Risur now has electric lights, and other goodies like lightning prods, lightning guns, and big Tinker (Tesla) coils that can be used for security.

BREAK BREAK; BREAK BREAK

The derps don’t understand how, but they see through the eyes of a group of Obscurati Officers, arriving on a mysterious island and meeting up with the founders of the Conspiracy at a spooky mansion.

  • Han Jierre (sovereign of Danor) is one of the leading Ob members. He greets them on the shore. He then uses amulets to pull the whole group over into the Bleak Gate, which has a manor on this side of existence as well.
  • Security is extremely tight. One guy is caught disguising himself to infiltrate the meetup, and he is killed by some terrifying creature known as a “shadowlisk.”
  • SURPRISE! Reed McBannin shows up in ghost form along with a few other ghosts, one of which looks like the damn Crypt Keeper. Reed uses the dark arts to bring the spy that just got killed back to life, and he gets carted off for questioning.
  • Inside the manor, the “derps” (the ob officers) see several people that they either recognize or that recognize them. It seems to be some kind of grand convention for Obscurati membership.
  • After exchanging pleasantries with some of the other guests, Han Jierre takes the derps to meet the leader of the Ob.
  • Here’s the text to the last part of this:

In the vast room at the end of the hallway, a central fireplace roars warmly, but out the glass windows on the north, south, and west walls the whole landscape is nearly black. Together it creates the effect of light disappearing, and darkness encroaching.

A set of luxurious leather chairs are arrayed near the west windows, and one man sits smoking. His hands are gloved, and a necklace is visible around his neck, but tucked into his shirt. At first he seems alone, but as he stands to greet the group, it becomes clear that a dozen or more ghosts are floating outside the windows, watching.

He says, “Call me Nicodemus. I’m glad you came. Together we’re going to change the world. Come on. Let’s have a drink and talk.”

  • SURPRISE! The person talking to you is Andrei von Recklinghausen, the creation of Dr. Wolfgang von Recklinghausen.
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The Catabrilla Railroad

So here’s what happened at the game on Saturday:

At Citado Cavallo (Marian, Aemon, and Kat) – They escorted Wolfgang von Recklinghausen and Willigu the goblin shaman back to the city. Aemon and Wolfgang worked together to cure Cavallo’s grandson of the Dragon Worm disease, and correctly identified the drained caldera, Lago Fuego, as the source of the contaminated water plaguing the city. Willigu swore fealty for his clan to Cavallo de Guerra, and in exchange Cavallo allowed the goblins to return to their ancestral home at the caldera (after it had been purified of the disease). Wolfgang was placed under guard on the RHC ship for his own safety (and also because he’s useful).

Later that same night, the three RHC agents abducted the purple skinned woman seen in Aemon’s vision. Looking through her journal, they uncovered a plot the woman (who is an Ob agent) had with Lya Jierre to incite one of Cavallo’s sea chieftians to attack Risur. When they brought this information to Cavallo, it resulted in Lya being tried by Glaucia (the gnoll judge, member of Executores), found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, etc., and ended in her savage beating at the hands of the gnoll and subsequent banishment from the city. Marian gloated a little and kept a lock of Lya Jierre’s hair.

Ultimately, Cavallo agreed to pay his share the railroad construction, and swear fealty to Bruse Shantus. The exposed plot convinced him that Ber needs to stand united, or it will fall prey to the machinations of foreign agents.

At the Liss Railway (Xell, Thal; Marian, Aemon, and Kat later joined) – Construction continued toward the central mile marker, both sides racing to reach the midway point first. It was a combination of efforts to keep morale up (providing good escort/protection from bandits, spending top dollar on “good, clean whores”), careful management of resources (money, materials, people), and sabotaging the other sides efforts (blowing up tunnels, using fey to lure away key personnel, hiring bandits to attack, etc).

A couple of noteworthy events. Damata Griento was suspected to be slow-rolling his own operation, and when Rush tried to use Damata’s family as leverage against him, he discovered that they had been taken out of harm’s way a few days prior. After that, Damata was severely beaten on a daily basis and kept under constant guard, where he served as a rubber stamp for Rush’s orders. This prompted Marian and Xell to undertake a rescue mission – and they were able to remove Damata from the camp.

On the way to the Griento railhead for this mission, Marian and Thal discovered that, near the midway point of the proposed track, there was the abandoned lair of one of Ber’s former Dragon Tyrants – Cheshimox, an Ancient White Dragon that originally hailed from the northern reaches of Drakr, and had transported a portion of an eternal glacier to central Ber to make himself feel more at home. Needless to say this freaked Thal out, because Cheshimox is prominently featured in some of Drakr’s most dire doomsday lore. Marian and Thal opted not to explore at the time to see what had become of the lair in current times, since they had more pressing matters at the time.

The evening culminated in an attack on the Liss Railhead by a horde of undead Lizardfolk, led by zombielord priests of Cheshimox, and two dread ghoul lizardfolk assassins that wore masks made of patched together faces of their victims. The priests drove a sled pulled by a ghostly wolf, and atop it lay the ancient skull of Cheshimox, which they were able to use to unleash a blast of icy energy. Aemon and Kat had opted to spend the evening at a bridge the rail crew had previously built, so Xell, Marian, and Thal faced off against the horde. Ultimately, they undead were no match against the raw, holy energy of Xell, the rocket blasts and pinpoint targeting of Marian and Thal, or the tactical advantages the party used (flying and attacking ground targets at range). In the end, as they examined the skull of Cheshimox, they discovered it was covered in Abyssal carvings, all saying the same sentence:

“Cry out / for at the end of time / I rise.”

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Sea Monsters, Return to Flint

So this is pretty much for DJ since he missed a LOT of stuff.

The RNS Impossible was attacked by a Hydra and a bunch of Slime Walkers (elementals made up of earth and water). The party was able to kill the Hydra (Xell nearly dying in the process), but at the end of the combat they noticed that the Dagger (Xambria’s small ship) was on fire. Some of the party members went over and put out the fire (infinite create water cantrips), but discovered that Dagger’s entire crew was dead, their jaws dislocated and their brains extracted through their palates. Xambria was nowhere to be found, and her stuff was gone. The area had a faint aura of teleportation magic still lingering. The Ber vessel, La Inspiracion, was not attacked.

The trip back to Flint was uneventful. Upon returning, a messenger told the party to meet Stover Delft at the Museum of Natural History at Pardwright University right away. After giving Stover a brief update on the trip out to sea, he told the party that the Museum had received an ominous warning letter from Xambria that morning, warning that the museum would likely be attacked in an effort to retrieve the Ancient Artifacts. The gala is scheduled to happen in 5 days. The RHC is taking the threat seriously, and has coordinated with Central District Police to have officers guarding the museum leading up to the gala, and Stover tasked the party with providing security for the actual event. Until the gala occurs, the artifacts are stored in a highly secure magical vault, so the point of highest vulnerability will be during the actual gala itself.

Against the strenuous objections of the party, Arcanis had to hand over the staff of the Ancients, and it is now stored in the same magical vault as the other artifacts. (Sorry to do this while you were not at the game. . . it had to happen though). The party took a brief tour of the museum to get the layout, and formulated a plan for security during the gala. During the tour, the party noticed some new paintings that had been delivered, depicting in great detail the Ziggurat of Apet. One painting had a horde of undead assaulting the ziggurat, while the party members and Rock Rackus stood atop it. The party learned that Rock Rackus was going to be involved in the gala presentation.

Stover then informed you all that Lady Saxby wanted to see you at her office.
Saxby had the results of the Audit on the party’s activities, which she went over in detail while awaiting the arrival of the Viscount Inspector General Nigel Price-Hill. The Audit report was incredibly detailed, and Saxby raked the party over the coals regarding things like interrogation techniques, release of known criminals (the Waryeye gnomes), as well as over questionable associations with figures like Morgan Cippiano, Lorcan Kell, and Gale. Saxby flat out stated she didn’t believe the party’s report that you had encountered a Fey Titan.

When Nigel Price-Hill arrived, he had a woman with him, Lauryn Cyneburg, who is an RHC infiltration specialist. It was revealed that she had tailed party members for some time using both stealth and divination magic. Her take on the Voice of Rot: “In case it comes up again, the preferred form of address for fey titans is ‘Your Titanicness.’ Personally I think you could have taken him.”

In contrast to Margaret Saxby, Nigel Price-Hill was mostly positive on the outcome of the Audit, commending you all for the work you’ve done. He cautioned against entanglements with criminal elements, even if it seems like it’s needed for the greater good – or at least to be aware that those elements are using you as much as you think you’re using them. By Xell’s request, the IG released him to be a permanent member of your party, stating that Xell, although an excellent auditor, was more suited to RHC Agency fieldwork, and would make a good addition to the team. Price-Hill ended the Audit review by stating that he has high hopes for your team, and that Risur is stronger and safer thanks to your work.

The current date is 26 Autumn, 501 A.O.V. The Gala is scheduled for the 31st of Autumn, so you have 5 days of downtime before the next game. Feel free to use the Myth Weavers PBP to engage with any NPCs, look for equipment, or engage in any other tasks prior to the Gala.

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Ziggurat
Oh Noes Vertigos

After breaking camp the Derps head toward the ziggurat and come to find that staring at it for too long gives them a sense of vertigo. There is a small camp near an entrance to what one could only assume leads to the ziggurat of vertigo.

They approach the camp to investigate the three bodies that are strewn about. Two men and one woman, humans, appeared to have died while sitting around a campfire. It is odd that the wildlife had not taken their bodies yet for food, even though they had been sitting around for about a week.

Weird things start to happen. Marian Stillwater believes she sees spiders crawling out of Aemon Huntinghawk’s ears and he in turn starts to feel something in his head, almost like “worms.”

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Swamp Camp
The time of great awkwardness

Content Not Found: Arcanis makes an impromptu speech as the camp is made, something out of the ordinary. This leads to some inquiry into Xelari Danyan Devontes‘s history and his motivations. Marian Stillwater of course asks the difficult questions, how big, does it work, how old are you really. A lot of giggling ensues, blushing occurs, and the Derps learn a little about Xelari’s pre-Malice history and the symbols on his armor.

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To The Swamp
This is gross

Following the artifacts, the Derps find themselves in the dirty swamps around Agate. Filled with spiders, crocodiles, and possibly Fae Titans, they attempt to procure travel through the water. Ned the swamp guy says he can take them through the swamps to the dig site (ziggaraut), but he recommends they bring some dead cattle to appease the Titan called The Voice of Rot.

They notice as they travel that the creatures of the swamp show curiosity, but do not get too close. Perhaps the dead carcasses have a use after all.

It is slow going and the Derps start to get the feeling that not all is right within the swamp. They feel strange, as though perhaps this was a trap, and start to find golden cloth markers (as described by Xambria) leading the way. They lead to a hitching post for their boat and decide to make land. By now it was dark and they decide to make camp for the night.

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Notes on our Current Investigation

Report brief by Marian, written mostly in academic shorthand and with the margins filled with the names of texts she intends to pull from the University library for various reasons.

Kaja’s revelations – fingers burned by witch oil, retrieved contraband items from Mayor’s house. Described a tiefling visitor, Caius. Claims to have sold nothing other than the staff, and was unaware of its ability to summon creatures. Construct unaccounted for – seems to have reactivated when Kaja regained consciousness. Provided additional names of other researchers who worked with her on the production of witch oil.

[[Creatures summoned from the Ancient’s staff – still unknown. Previously uncatalogued? Work with artist to obtain sketches. Rock Rackus?? ]]

Carlisle and team shows us crime scene – as yet unknown man bound with bent steel bars, ingested witch oil, skull crushed. Golem in pieces, fascinating technology. Rusted steel ring, a place where witch oil was smuggled through the Bleak Gate. Want to be present for the autopsy – witch oil lacking soul motes. Shipping manifests found on his person suggesting travel to Elfavair. Man had been dead for some time, too long for spirit mediums to speak with the soul.

Hans Weber at the University, Professor of Antiquities. He recognized the Ancient’s artifacts we confiscated from Kaja. The University museum had contracted with Caius and the archeologist Xambria to obtain and display the artifacts found at a ziggurat in the High Bayou. He showed us how to bind them with gold wire to inhibit any summoning capabilities.

Xambria – young archeologist, mentally disturbed by what she witnessed in the Bayou. Claims to not remember just exactly what it was she saw when her team was killed. Seemed distant, distracted and seemed to hear voices and talk with herself. Strangely, seemed able to sense the artifacts we carried on us. Otherwise lucid however – spoke of her arrangement with Caius, he sent three tieflings to work with her to retrieve an item he believed to be in the ziggurat – the Golden Seal. Claims to have found it.

[[No official report found. No official investigation? Though we find that someone did trek out to the site to retrieve something - The Seal? Carried away in a wagon.]]

Traveled to Bol by train, then Agate. Locals remember the archeological team, and also some “city folk” that arrived a few weeks ago. Giant spiders and alligators. Fey intrude on daily life, may be worth it to appease the creatures while we travel the area.

[[Further research – any accounts of the Bleak Gate, the planets and the elements, the Ancient Ones, pre-Malice Elfavair heraldry.]]

The rest of the page is given over to bits of arcano-scientific formulas and doodles of flowers.

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An Invitation and Welcome

Delivered to each member of the team is an invitation, written by hand in neat, precisely perfect calligraphy on thick ecru paper in an iridescent ink that shimmers between shades of black, green, and blue.

The honor of your presence is requested
At the Stillwater residence
112 Cross-Candle St. #18
Central District
For Dinner and Cocktails at 8pm
Autumn 7

An additional sheet lists the menu for a 7 course meal, a wine list, and requests semi-formal dress and no weapons allowed at the table. No RSVP card is included; Marian obviously expects you all to attend and will badger you relentlessly if you do not.

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Gun Alley
The Most Racist Place on Earth

Xelari Danyan Devontes, of course, approaches the workers on stage and is promptly shut down by some burly/rude individuals. They inform him that there was “some shit going down” and that he should be there.

Fortunately the lameness is interrupted by a ruckus involving flying creatures and the worlds worst magic missile mage. Every time a creature was killed by the mage’s magic missile it would come back, appearing right next to the man. After several turns, Marian Stillwater and Chance Ledoux, both yelled at the idiot to stop, hoping to save his life.

Gerard Pentecost on the other hand was having some issues, worrying about his pretty face. Xel somehow manages to “rub oil” on his “mace” in order to better combat the creatures.

Luckily everything dies and all but the dwarf died to the annoying creatures of “phasing.”

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