Saturday, May 30, 2015

05/27/15 Virtues Session 4: Docks 23 - 28

On the deck of the Sneeg yacht, what they hoped was the Landskipper, the heroes were once again together, but this meager ship paled in comparison to the Overwrought Companion. The acrid smell of tar burned their senses and caused many eyes to water.

This smell is never going to come out of these clothes.” Dramen lamented to his companions.

Below the companions on the dock Papa Sneeg appeared to be hand choosing his crew for tomorrow’s trip to Tingis.

Ahoy mates,” Rydin wryly greeted Kyras and Syrendross who just returned from the Silo. “I was able find a magically concealed hold below.” Rydin said in a quite tone. “It's unclear if it is large enough to hold barrels of cannon powder, but it is a good sign we have found the Landskipper.”

It is very well then,” Kyras said agreeably. “Captain Zilinias is pulling together half dozen sailors to help us abscond with the ‘ipper.”


Appears as if Papa Sneeg is doing the same thing,” Dolgrin observed. “And what in the nine hells….?

Torphine
Everyone stopped and looked in the direction the dwarf was indicating and saw the earthy and girthy Rynocia the Ex. She stood a little tall for a human female, “No way she’s only human,” someone intoned; her thighs were like earth-works, she bore two stone white slabs for breasts that tottered below a dumb moon-like face that excited the men of the Sneeg clan.

Rynocia my fair lady!” it was Torphine who’s squeal could be heard all the way to dock number twenty-nine. “Have I got an opportunity for you!”




Our session begins on the way to the church of Zeus and instead discover a cathedral reminiscent of ancient architecture using carved and colored stone from the mines to accent its beauty. Zeus was portrayed as a natural force, an overgod of sky and earth and order. We have with us four survivors that were in need of healing and are soon taken in by Aldem, who did not come across as greedy at all but overly helpful when he identified us as a means to an end- adventurers to attain more valued stone.

As we were given the public tour we see a multi-functional hospice areas in the church as well as private administrative area in what was originally a Dwarven structure in ancient times. But as we walk each of us come to terms about what divine entity calls to our hearts in one way or another: Dramen, at peace with his unique philosophies; Kyras, the green mother; Rydin, calls to mind the elven pantheon but was not overly religious, Dolgrin, the Dwarven overgod Clangeddin; and Syrendross, an deity of air, and winds.

We explain to Aldem our desire to discover some of our past and after a time the Zeus priest had a solution and to accompany him to his personal apartment (away from the red-tape of the cathedral). But before all that, we retell of our battles in the mines which interests him greatly. Aldem asserts that his price for his skills is in fact rare stone from the mine, but we tell him it is unlikely that we contract out to the mines again. He laments the churches regulations that monitor how much rare stone one receives, he hoped we could deliver more to him off the books.

Nevertheless we come to a consensus to find out the name of the world Rydin, Syrendross, Dolgrin, and Dramen are from, assuming we are from another world. Aldem’s solution was to contact a planar ally.
Cherike

After ceremonial candles are arranged, scrolls are read, and symbols drawn the Aaismar Cherike answers Aldem’s call, a supernaturally beautiful celestial to whom Aldem seemed quiet smitten with. Upon posing our question, Cherike asks for an item personal from us: Syrendross his journal, Rydin his scabbard, Kyras his flute, Dolgrin his original studded leather armor, and Dramen his spell component pouch. Successful observations reveal Cherike had a sincere interest in our plight and shall return as soon as worldly possible.

We thank Aldem and return to our accommodations at the Silo after a long day. The next morning we are aroused by a gathering of miners, men and woman dwarves who came to thank us with their life savings in rare stone. This offering was immediately refused by Dolrgin in a generous act of Virtue.

Today we focus on information gathering on the Sneeg clan of giant-blooded humanoids, particularly a woman named Rynocia as well as attending the reading at the Palerium.

Discussing our plans the Silo innkeeper, Nyswor freely offered some helpful information. The slope that dominates Gibraltar also determines the city’s districts based on the strength of the earth. He reports the Sneeg clan controls tar pits (beware tar-worms) near Tingis and happens to control docks 23-28 on the weak side of the slope.

As we prepare to head out for the day Aldem of Zeus arrives to report Cherike’s findings. It is her belief that we are collectively from this world, from an old chain of islands three miles off the east coast of the Evening Isles called Grebaria. But mystery surrounds what happen to the duchy after the Isles broke away. Furthermore Cherike says she was not alone in researching us, but offered no other details.

At the Palerium we are treated to a positive environment for creativity and exploration; areas for private study or instruction as well as areas for wider audiences as was the case for Archmage Endroth Rynmund’s lecture. Torphine was in attendance as well as the book we wanted translated/dictated.

Endroth Rynmund’s lecture was based around texts and rituals centered on sin magic and that there must be the same for virtuous magic but physical proof has yet to be discovered. During the closing of the seminar a gnome proceeds to argue with the Archmage but eventually storms off, he was then followed by Dolgrin.

Introducing ourselves to the Archmage Endroth, he seems to recognize Dramen and eventually identifies Syrendross as a drow. We humbly ask for access to some of the city’s libraries; he offered to assign us student aids to help us in our research. He eventually unlocks the Book of Harms for Torphine, who can how assess its value on the market. Dramen inquires about memory recovery or restoration magic to which the Archmage mentions some ‘great magic’ but practicality forbids such practice. Before we part ways Syrendross leaves a comment card thanking the Archmage for his aid and discretion.
 
Awiss
Elsewhere Dolgrin tracked down the gnome and asked about the reason behind his obvious distress. The gnome, Awiss explains there is a process in these rituals Archmage Endroth spoke about. Awis wants that information shared so that the ‘missing component’ can be identified. Awiss however, grudgingly abides the Archmage’s choice on the matter.

After rejoining we investigate the Sneeg clan along the docks where we encounter a smelly lagoon. In places barrels of tar were stored, some slowly burning; working the bays were three large-tall tar covered humanoids. The repertoire did not produce positive results so we retreated to a dive called the Bottom of the Damn. Here we find fish to eat and find out that Rynocia is on a yacht called Sterom Caller and should be in later this evening; furthermore we are pointed to docks 23-28.

These auspicious bays were occupied with uncomely Sneeg workers retrofitting ships, some purposely covered with tar. As we proceed we are called upon by ‘Papa Sneeg’ who begins a spiel in an attempt to sell us one of the boats. The curious sales-Sneeg explained it takes twelve Sneegs to operate this vessel in question across the straight and back in about two days. The brief tour allowed most of the group to get the layout of what we believe is the Land Skipper. No secret holds are discovered at first glance but as the group is getting the tour Syrendross levitates over the side of the ship to recover a broken wooden plank with the characters “ipper” on it.

We leave to find a Grand Eye Affairs representative to deliver a message to Ranoughy about his Landskipper along with the piece of driftwood and wait. A response came reminding us it was our job for full recovery.

Rynocia
We formulated a plan and returned to Papa Sneeg to schedule the trip Papa Sneeg advertised: the Sneeg Ghaurni agreed to waive his captain’s fees in exchange for a share in any recoveries along the way. Unknown to him we aim to steal the ship tonight. As Dolgrin, Dramen, and Rydin wait for the arrival of Rynocia and the Sterom Caller Rydin does find a magically concealed hold in the 'Ipper. Syrendross and Kyras travel to the Silo to arrange a meeting with the Captain Zilinias.

The Captain puts out a call for six volunteers to help us, as long as they are guaranteed to not see combat, to assemble for our mission after dusk. Reunited again just as Sterom Caller, a yacht littered with duergar arrives to port. Rynocia was ugly and wide; while she disembarks Rynocia verbally rebuffs cat-calls from the many Sneegs as, traveling unseen with the wake of her filth, was a wispy duergar.


Just as we were about to act we hear the familiar voice of Torphini who tries to act cute for the lady, but like the cat-callers he was not given heed as she excuses herself into a Grand Eye Affairs building. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Mages Four and one More

“Well met Balder” Smendric smiled as he took the dwarf’s hand. More than twice the size of his it was dry and calloused, a warrior’s hand still possessing great strength despite the dwarfs advanced age. “It’s always a pleasure to meet a native of Toril. I would be interested in hearing your opinions on the state of the realms I don’t have the opportunity to make it back as often as I would like. I am glad you agreed to attend. I think you may be able to share a unique perspective on this evening’s discussion.”

Balder shook the hand of his overly excited host with regard. Shar had only briefed him on the wizards he was to palaver with this evening. However he had purposely forgone specific details as to avoid coloring any first impressions. He now stood eye to eye with what could only be described as a human child. Standing only a few inches taller than Balder he couldn’t have seen twenty winters. He briefly wondered if this was an attempt at humor from the drow, but quickly dismissed the idea as the wizard continued speaking.

“This is a just a dinner party and a light hearted discussion among friends”. Smendric smiled as he nodded to the large dwarven war axe strapped to Balders back. “You won’t need that and you certainly don’t need to stay fully armored”.

“I am not fully armored” Balder said without hesitation. “I wore half plate, it allows for greater mobility and comfort”.

The smile slowly faded from Smendrics lips as he realized the dwarf was not joking. “Well as long as you are comfortable master dwarf. Shar will introduce you to the other guest”. As Smendric moved past the drow he whispered “get him a drink quick”.

“Excuse me gentlemen sorry to interrupt my name is Sera”.

“I didn’t expect you until tomorrow Smendric grinned as he moved to Sera’s side. Everyone meet my wife Sera and soon to be first born.

Jerit McCaugh chuckled at the thought of the Traveler putting down roots.

Shar and Myrddin Og exchanged glances, while neither of their facial expressions seemed to change they both knew what each other was thinking.

“No this is for real guys, in fact that’s one reason I called you all here. I am officially retiring from the road. I plan on spending the rest of my days compiling all my memoirs and building a strong family base.

Sera interjected, “Now Smen they did not come all this way to listen to you preach your new found family values. Unfortunately I can’t stay, but I won’t make you guys suffer through my husband’s cooking. Uttering a phrase the large oaken table was covered with a heroic feast. The unseen servants will take care of all you menial dinning needs, as well as all the clean up.

Myrddin failed to hear the remainder of Sera’s farewell. Her incantation had triggered a forgotten memory deep within the ancient elf. Though he couldn’t recall the specifics he was certain it was important. As he focused on Sera he was unable to glean any information beyond what she was willing to give. Her body language, speech inflection, nor facial expressions hinted at anything other than a gracious host. He was unsure if she was a master of deception or if his centuries spent removed from society had caused him to lose his edge. Either way her incantation was beyond that of a normal hero’s feast. He set down the wine, no reason to handicap himself should there be need for action.

Shar bowed deeply to the lady Sera as she exited the small cottage. Turning to the large round table he glossed over the magnificent feast to focus on the tables new center piece. A magnificent hour glass, held in place by a trio of dragon heads on each end. While the drow did not sense the presence of evil in the artifact it radiated extremely powerful Transmutation magic. He stood unblinking, fixated on the piece for what felt like hours trying to identify some clue as to the crafter or realm of origin but could find none. “Interesting piece” Jerit said breaking Shar’s focus. “Seems out of place considering Smendric’s history with dragons”.

“Agreed” Shar said as his fingers traced the detail on one of the dragon heads. “Though he always had a penchant for style.

                                                      *********************

After dinner Smendric stood to address the group. “Friends as you all know I have traveled vast distances in search of knowledge. I can tell you that in all my travels I haven’t come across a more accomplished group than those gathered here this evening. I would like to purpose making this meeting an annual event. Once a year we gather to pool our resources and perhaps solve problems that cannot be solved by others. I believe our group could have a lot to offer all our worlds if we decided to offer it. You have all put extreme efforts into your own research and objectives. And while everyone has secrets and differing agendas the thought of spending centuries in isolation seems wasteful. I thought tonight we would start with a simple discussion centered on the concept of destiny.  The question: which had the greater impact on the man you are today your heritage or experience? Balder since you are the guest of honor you can go first”.

Balder stood and met the gaze of every wizard in attendance. “I was born to be a champion of The Father of Battle. Clangeddin chose me; while my experiences certainly played their part my heritage was the basis for who I am today”.

The half-elf nobleman stood next. “The McCaughs have been pact mages for generations. That alone has greatly impacted my studies from youth. My family has always strived to become the ultimate source of magical knowledge in all the isles. A mantel I have worn over the last few hundred years. I would say my heritage has had the greater impact on who I have become”.

Shar arose after taking a moment to contemplate his answer. “Do I believe I was destined to become what I am today? No, my friend I believe each one of us has the potential to be great but to admit I was fated to become the mythic spellcaster I am, then I would be no better than a puppet on a string or an actor on a stage. We each change with experience trying to become the best of who we are using the skills we were all given. I do not believe I was destined to become the Monitor of Magic, but rose to the title in the wake of my own defeats and victories. Every man, drow, or dwarf is the sum of their experiences.”

Myrddin looked to the drow “Well I am in favor of walking in the light. I also believe the choices we make are what define us. Had I been faced with different choices, I most certainly would not be here today.

“Wait what”? Smendric interrupted. “If you were faced with different choices, what do you mean”?

“Yes” Myrddin nodded in agreement. “Different choices would lead to different temptations. That could radically alter the chances of survival. There is the very real possibility that if we had made other choices not only would we not become who we are we may not have survived at all.

Smendric smiled “so based on what your saying if I were to go back in time and remove baby Og, Shar, or any of us from his home and delivered him to a village on a remote island”.

Myrddin immediately tried to calculate the havoc such action would cause. “That would have a catastrophic affect on multiple worlds”!

“Relax” Smendric said with a chuckle” this is all hypothetical you know academic”.

Jerit leaned in and whispered to Shar “the hourglass”. The Monitor of Magic gazed upon the glass its sand frozen mid air as if time itself was holding its breath.

Smendric began to circle the table as he continued. “I have to say with the greatest respect I disagree with your opinion on choices. I believe in destiny, I believe we were predetermined for greatness. While our choices may affect minor details of our existence, from birth we were destined to become what we are today.

“And what is that “the Og asked.

“Legend” Smendric said with a smile.      

Sunday, May 24, 2015

(Murder In Amphail) The Old Historian

Balder
“I am getting really tired of visiting murder scenes.” Balder said over his lunch of beef stew in the Stag-Horned Flagon, it was his fifth serving of the meal. Rugar had agreed to put up Balder, Hilmar, and Shar while they were helping with the investigation; Balder was able to negotiate free meals as well. Hilmar, on the other hand did not display an appetite and as for Shar, he was too engrossed in drawing out a map.

Earlier this afternoon Lieutenant Callam had led the companions to another gruesome murder performed last night in accordance with the previous killings. Once again Balder could sense the evil permeating from the blood that soaked the ground. However this victim rang familiar to the brothers Loab and Garl Eagleshield, it was a cousin named Marika who had left behind a small child.

“We haven’t made any progress at all; we need to anticipate where the killer will strike next.” Balder said presently wiping his bowl with a biscuit. The pall of evil was clearly agitating the warpriest who desired action; empathy was not his expertise.

While at the murder scene Marika’s son Lyn was seen fleeing when he was noticed because despite Shar’s attempt at disguise the boy seemed to have seen through it. The boy had blood across his chest that caused Balder to react by giving chase to the boy. Retreating under rafters his home, it was Balder of course who was small enough to coax Lyn out but when Balder examined the child for injuries there was none. Instead painted in his mother’s blood across the child’s bare chest was the words ‘help me’.

Back in the Stag-Horned Flagon, Balder noticed how Shar had drawn a seven pointed star over a rubbing of the Amphail map on the Shalarn monument. It was at that moment Lieutenant Callam decided to walk in to the Flagon and up to join the trio. The guard leaned over and oddly enough seemed to become interested in Shar’s drawing.

“Do you know what this is?" Callam asks the table, to which Balder shakes his head slowly. "Neither do I, but I know someone who might."


  
Amphail was teeming with life during the day, however the unspoken grief shared by everyone in the community was apparent in the way people took care to ease everyone’s distress. This was odd to each of the companions, but in different ways. Hilmar was used to the instincts of grief shared in the animal kingdom, a trait seldom shared in civilized populaces; Balder was comforted and was reminded of Dwarven shared love of hearth and home, but with Shar it was a phenomena  shared by all surface communities.

Through all this Callam leads the three to the door of an ancient home of Loremaster Syle in the heart of the town. A sign hung over the doorway, depicting an open book. Just as Callam was about to raise the knocker an elf with eyes that seem older than the sea stands at the threshold looking at each in tum but stops when he notices Shar. "Yes," he says quietly, unmoved by the appearance of a drow, "how can I help you?"



Syle was dressed in long brown robes and moved slowly but deliberately. It is said he is proud of his
Syle Loremaster and Historian 
legacy as the keeper of Amphail’s history, and seemed eager to show off some of his greatest works and finds.

“I’m sure you have heard about the curfew,” Callam began but stopped when he saw the elf shake his head which caused Balder to shake is own in frustration.

“Loremaster Syle,” Shar began wanting to bring this investigation to a halt before anyone else was hurt. “there have been seven murders in Amphail as of late.”

Taking out his rubbing of the town’s features Shar showed the elven loremaster the locations of the murders and how linking these sites seemed to create a symbol. Taking the parchment Syle retreated to a room where its walls were filled from ceiling to floor with shelves of books.                                                                                                                                  
The loremaster's research quickly proves enlightening. Pulling an ancient tome from a high shelf, the elf begins shooting out facts about the symbol from its pages. “Apparently,” Syle began in a tone of victory, “the seven-pointed star is a symbol of Umeil, the demon of waste and bile. It appears that a few hundred years ago, Umeil was summoned by an ambitious necromancer who sought to bind the demon to do his bidding. The demon fought the binding, absorbed the flesh of the necromancer, and made the usurper's body his own.”

Each of the individuals regarded each other in disbelief, but it was Balder Ironshield who knew was beginning to understand the evil at work here.  

“At the time,” Loremaster Syle continued enthusiastically, “the city was under the protection of six elven knights who had been cast out by their kin. The knights, in exchange for a place to live, had offered to protect Amphail from harm so when the demon arose, a band of citizens and farmers led by the knights sought to slay the abomination.”

“The common folk would not have magical weapons, how did they defeat Umeil?” Hilmar asked the ancient elf.

“Those armed with only common weapons were dispatched quickly by the demon, but the knights who carried what’s referred to in the text as Luminous Blades were able to battle and eventually defeat the demon.” Syle answered as he continued to read between three volumes of historical text.

“During the battle, four of the six knights were killed. The fifth, who was also the eldest, was mortally wounded. The sixth, as well as the youngest, was able to score the killing blow, banishing it from the Realms.” Syle quickly grabbing another book continued his monologue.  “That remaining knight it says here in the texts, sealed the beast away with the creature's own symbol, the seven-pointed star.”
Luminous Blade

“Has the lineage died away?” asked Balder with a tone of bitterness.

“Is there any mention on how the necromancer was able to summon Umeil in the first place?” Shar asked hopefully.

“The youngest lived on, protecting the city until his death. He took a human bride who gave birth to a half-elf child.” The loremaster said between pages of books, “the descendant of that child, yes Highmore, it appears to these records he still resides in Amphail.” Syle said pointing out his source.

“And to answer your question Shar, eight living sacrifices had to be made to raise the demon, each performed in order as the moon sailed overhead. The eighth had to occur where the first took place to complete the cycle of summoning. After that, the text then gives an explanation of how to banish the demon. Once the demon is stricken down, the seven-pointed star must to be carved into the demon's flesh with a blessed silver blade. Once that is completed, the demon needs to be set ablaze, banishing it for at least another five centuries.” Syle said with the tone of finality.

“I know where Highmore's tower is,” Callam said.


“Great,” said the dwarven warpriest as he hefted his axe, “let us see what he knows.” 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

05/20/15 Virtues Session 3: Dungeoneering 101

The five companions walked deeper into the dwarven stone mines. Along the walls at irregular intervals lanterns hung that illuminated the worked tunnel. The mines had a strange odor that reminded Dolgrin of oil, metal and a strange taste of decay. Coming upon a three way intersection the five friends considered their course while continuing their conversation from earlier.

I don’t understand how are you going to cauterize a wound if you do not possess a torch?” Kyras asked the Syrendross. “with your crowbar?” The druid’s tone was one of incredulity but his eyes betrayed his  playfulness.

But Syrendross did not immediately respond, the drow was thinking back to his sense of Deja -vu when he first stepped into the mines. He felt a strange comfort here feeling the walls, the firm stone under his feet, and the sardonic words of his friends.

If I need a torch Kyras I’ll use one of Dramon’s.” Syrendross said with a grin as if the answer was obvious.



Torwar Darild 
Our session begins on the way to the mines, where we pass a wagon with two injured survivors of the dangers now lurking in the dwarven stone mines. Working our way down the bowl of the mines we see exotic mining equipment as well as a dozens of dwarves and humanoids toiling the marble from the rich stone.

Just as the shadow of dusk fell upon the mine we come to the foreman’s hut, where we encounter another injured individual bandaged and in better shape than the two who were carted away.

Inside the foreman’s small hut we find maps and notes and other papers necessary for Torwor Darild to oversee the mines. After inquiring about the help wanted in exchange for indulgences at the church of Zeus, Torwor explains that these giant ants are making the mines unstable causing cave-ins that have cut off individuals and have made working hazardous. He suspects they have a nest nearby and have been encountered in groups of one to two. Two groups have gone in ahead of us: one group have brought proof (antenna) while the other group had met with disaster.

After formalities we descend further into the mines fighting giant ants as well as soldier ants of unusual size. Along the way Syrendross had a sharp memory- standing in a chamber with other drow loading up giant ants as beasts of burden because the house was under attack, drow were fleeing and in the vision Syrendross was referred to as Shar.

During our brief adventure below we were able to rescue the trapped individuals and retrieved several drow items that were secured to the giant ants with light-proof silk webbing. We divided the spoils except two things that were retrieved from what was likely a dire rat- Ratatouille got away however. Secured on the rat-mount were fine items a rider would have as well as papers from a drow house stating their intent to occupy one of the abandoned mines.  The second was a ring that could prove to be most helpful in uncovering our past.

Seeing now that Torwor Darild has more to worry about than a nest of giant ants we travel back to the foreman’s hut to report our findings about the coming drow. He rewards us five hundred gold for the bad news, the injured survivors and honors his debt for our petition to the church of Zeus. We also receive our second character level. 


We begin next session taking the injured survivors with us to the church of Zeus. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ritual Spellbooks


Torphine Athraky will ask Rydin Meirdarel to look at a unique book when the five of you arrive at the Palerium.  It will take two days of at least eight hours study each day to fully decipher the tome which will reveal this is a ritual book of the ancients, written under the old ways of magic.  Rydin’s magical helm will allow a fully functional translation of its contents. 

Arch Mage Endroth Rynmund

Coincidentally, Endroth Rynmund is speaking on specific ancient tomes that he believes were lost in the destruction of the Arch, The Seven Rituals of Sin. His current class teaches graduate level students on several types of magic the ancients practiced and theories regarding their loss.

The leather wrapping of this book is of an indeterminate type, and gives off a faint and unpleasant scent, as of charred meat. The writing inside is in a jagged hand, and many notes on the ash-smudged pages indicate its previous owner sought ever more damaging magic. A glittering rune in the cover’s center is shaped vaguely like a lightning bolt.
Protection Average lock (DC 25)
Oppositional schools Divination, transmutation  Value 900 gp with preparation ritual
Spells A “S” indicates a spell from the caster’s specialty school, whereas a “OP” ndicates a spell from the spellbook creator’s opposition school.
3rd—fireball S, lightning bolt S
2nd—acid arrow, darkness S, ghoul touch, gust of wind S
1st—burning hands S, color spray, corrosive touch S [APG], hydraulic push S [APG], hypnotism, magic missile S, ray of enfeeblement, shocking grasp S

Preparation Ritual
Harmful Surge (Su) You can maximize a spell, but doing so damages you. Spend this boon effect as a free action when you cast a wizard evocation spell. When you do, you can treat that spell as if it were cast with the Maximize Spell metamagic feat, but you take 1d4 points of damage × the level of the spell that you are maximizing. The damage you take cannot be reduced in any way.

Each ritual spellbook is a unique reflection of the personality and capabilities of its creator. Many of these tomes contain more than just spells, such as notes on the caster’s other research, personal diaries, naturalist sketches, or even political treatises. Most contain preparation rituals, each of which grants a boon—or sometimes a hindrance—to spellcasters who use the book to prepare their spells.

Ritual spellbooks and ritual formula books list a description of the book, information on the caster’s specialty school and opposition schools (if any), the book’s spells, and a preparation ritual. Some books also contain precautions against prying eyes.

A standard spellbook includes all cantrips from the Core Rulebook except those in the wizard’s oppositional schools. Books containing cantrips from additional sources are noted in the content description.

Using Preparation Rituals

When a spellcaster who prepares spells uses a ritual spellbook, as long as he prepares at least three spells (not including cantrips) from the spellbooks, he gains a temporary boon granted by the ritual. The boon lasts until its effect is spent (as specified by the boon description) or the spellcaster prepares spells again (at which time it can be reapplied by preparing at least three spells from the book). A spellcaster can only take the effect of one preparation ritual when she prepares spells, no matter how many ritual spellbooks she uses to prepare spells. (Source Ultimate Magic)

Monday, May 18, 2015

The City of Tingis

“People don’t visit Tingis but they do escape sometimes”  Unofficial City Slogan

Tingis is actually the fourth iteration of the city since the arch fell, with each of the three previous versions now sitting in ruins, further and further east from Tingis’ current location.  The ruins are now inhabited by outlaw kings and monsters, some even claim dragons.


Corruption +3; Crime +8; Economy +8; Law –6; Lore +6; Society +1 Danger +15
Qualities: notorious, racially intolerant (halflings, elves & humans), Slavers, Bountiful food

Tingis Government secret syndicate

Population 20,000 (6,000 humans; 1,500 halflings; 1,000 half-orcs; 750 dwarves; 750 gnome, 10,000 Other)    Notable NPCs
King Andreus 

Andreus 1/2 Giant King of Tingis                              
Belsipin Arkoth Barakas














Belsipin Arkoth Barakas male half-orc fighter /rogue: Occasionally known to show mercy to the mentally handicapped.
Headmistress Zalamandra Kalais female drow wizard Tower of Necromancy and Shadows
Zalamandra Kalais

The Drunken Demon: Duegar Bard

The Purple Sails, group of pirates that trace their heritage to the original Purple Pirate

Verrtia  Tiefling Female Priestess of Angazhan Demon lord of Apes, Jungles, and Brutal Tyrants

Chaurn Echym












Chaurn Echym Human Male Egyptian Slaver Priest unknown deity                               

Sulishia Female DragonKin Slaver Sorcerer Thief
Sulishia

Vercidra Hobgoblin Male Ranger, known to have a magical dancing blade

Saturday, May 16, 2015

An Investigation of Youth

Rhios Ranoughy
The adventurers left the gazebo, their earnestness, youth and nativity the exact traits that Rhios was looking for.   The five adventurers consisted of a strange racial brew, a drow travelling with an elf, a dwarf, a half-elf, and human.  They carried themselves without shame offering no explanation of their makeup or their trust of the deep earth humanoid.  Could there be such a thing as a dark elf that didn’t worship extra planar evil?  None of them appeared to be very experienced but there was something about them that piqued Rhios’ interest.  The Ranoughy nobleman decided that the strange group deserved investigation and called for his gnome manservant Rioldey.

Rioldey

(Murder In Amphail) Escaped Thieves

Where is everyone? Scratch thought to himself looking out at Amphail’s night streets; his tall gangly figure was like a fold of shadow against a backdrop of darkness. He was standing just inside the doorframe of the stables belonging to the Stag-Horned Flagon waiting for a mark to materialize. Scratch could hear the big man Jallone breathing heavily somewhere in the stables calmly sharpening Icebreaker. Scratch did not know what was more unsettling, Jallone’s penchant for rage or his silent introspection.

Then, like a sudden unexpected waft of manure Magilla returned to the dark and quiet stables, he was stout and broad but moved with a fluidity unmatched by many other rogues half his weight. While scratch was considered an expert with knives, the rotund Magilla could disarm foes and then would alter his tactics to fisticuffs. Jallone thought it was a thing of beauty to watch.

“Well, there seems to be a curfew on Amphail, I cannot find anyone on the streets,” Magilla said evenly. “It seems there is someone out there with a taste for blood, murders I hear. I did by the way see that the city guard have stepped up patrols by two more groups of three.” Magilla finished looking at Jallone for their next move.

Jallone was not a killer, his philosophy was that you can rob and burglarize the living over and over, but the dead only once. Jallone and company came to Amphail yesterday to escape Waterdeep and to help fund his further travels have been looking for just the right mark.

“You don’t make a run of it in a small city,” Jallone was telling his compatriots, “you find one mark and make it count then you get the hell out of town.”

Jallone stopped sharpening his sword, slammed in into its sheath and stood up from the shadows; his face was a mask of frustration. The three Shadow Theives came to Amphail because some Waterdeep nobles were known to reside in Amphail, but word of his escape may not have reached the local Lord. They had maybe tomorrow before Jallone had to worry about being exposed, dawn was a few hours away, and they had to do something quickly. 

Just as the weight of the silence was too much to bear for Scratch, a man strode out from near the Old Dead Rowan; the man appeared deep in his cups the way he was casting about singing to himself. Jallone identified his destination as Mother Gothel’s, they had to move quickly.


As the companions approached an intersection both Shar and Hilmar stopped causing Balder to stub his foot; Shar because of his acute hearing and Hillmar because of his urban survival instincts. Balder however, “By the gods, warn a dwarf?!...”

But with a lithe ebony hand over his bearded gob Balder was shown four men in the street up ahead. The one in the center was highborn and obviously intoxicated. The others, to Balder’s fierce eyes, appear to be three young toughs preying upon the inebriated noble. One of the thugs was tall and frail appearing, the second was short and fat, and the third was a balance between the two but built like an ox. Balder knew that one and Icebreaker on sight.



Jallone ordered Scratch and Magilla to dawn their masks and to find positions along this man’s path before coming in sight of Mother Gothel’s Inn while Jallone would stalk the mark close behind. As a cloud moved in front of the moon, Scratch and Magilla tumbled from behind a nearby well flanking the noble cutting off his escape. Having the element of surprise the two thugs easily subdued the man despite his struggles. But those struggles were short lived as the masked Jallone brought Icebreaker’s tip to the noble’s throat, replacing his slurred words of protest with panicked tears.

“All we want is your gold and jewels, and know that your life is in your hands.” Cryptic words from Jallone, but he knew his victims would understand the implication that if they gave up their gold they would live another day.

But as the noble was reaching for his belt pouches seven whirling stars of force appeared around the group and suddenly attack the tall and gangly Scratch; the sudden swarm of shuirkens distracted the thug causing him to lose hold on the noble.


Likewise a second weapon appeared, this time over Magilla, an axe of force indistinguishable from the Axe of the Champion. It was enough for the noble, to fully escape unharmed because as Icebreaker came down on the noble a long gleaming sword suddenly appeared to block Jallone’s attack. Jallone looked to see a man wielding a double-sword, spinning it about challenging the large masked rogue.

Scratch recovering quickly, produced knives in each hand to defend against the spiritual shuirkens; however the last thing Scratch remembers was a dark figure with silver hair had entered his fading vision. Magilla dodge the axe right into a brutal shoulder block from Balder Ironshield dropping the fat thief hard onto the ground knocking him out cold.

Jallone could not contain his rage as he looked around and saw he was surrounded, and with other guards on the way. He dropped his sword in a gesture of surrender.

As Hilmar kicked the sword out of reach, the ranger was overcome with nausea and a painful voice in his head: "You and your friends must stop. Let the cycle complete itself!"

It was just the distraction Jallone hoped for. He reached for his sword only to find a dwarven boot securely holding the blade down. “Going somewhere are ye?”



The next day Shar, Balder, and Hilmar were having what was their first meal of the day, onion and mushrooms, scrambled eggs with flatbread, and grape juice. The Stag-Horned Flagon was busy today so Shar was disguised as a priest of Mystra, a human as to not attract unwanted attention.

“So what do you want to do with the bounty on Jallone?” Balder asked his companions.

“We give it to charity.”

“It will be even more if we deliver the thugs back to Waterdeep…” Balder was just finishing when the word charity rang in his mind.

“We give it to the people who have suffered losses here in Amphail, the Ilzimmer children for one.” Shar said resolutely. And in Balder’s heart the dwarf knew it was the right call as he remembered the evil he sensed the night before.


“Last night I was mentally attacked.” Hilmar said without preamble. “Contacted would be more accurate, but it was so unsettling…”

“What? Why did you not say something?” Shar asked unbelieving while Balder glared intently at the ranger trying to make sense of this revelation.

“I could not make sense of it until now; we need to stop these ritualistic murders before…”

“Before what?” Balder asked.

“Before the cycle completes itself.” Hilmar said in a perfect imitation of the voice he heard in his mind.


But before any further questions could be asked Lieutenant Callam pushes his way into the crowded Stag-Horned Flagon not seemingly in the mood to argue about manners. “It has happened again my friends, last night on the other side of Amphail, come with me."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

05/13/15 Virtues Session 2: Shore Leave

Rydin Meirdarel
In the Captain’s war room Zilinias and his wife Teneel hosted a small meal with the five companions after routing the pirates; the food and beverages tasted as good as ever.

How long ago did the Evening Isles begin their drift?” Rydin asked the captain curiously, the elf was at last feeling better and more like himself.

It was seven hundred years ago when all the earth seemed to erupt and the Evening Isles began their drift.” Teneel Marks, the captain’s wife and navigator said firmly. The look in her face left no question.

Rydin Meirdarel was an elf, a race known for their longevity, and thought there must be elves who are still alive when this all occurred.

Is there anyone known to still be alive from that time?” Rydin inquired hopefully.

It was Captain Zilinias who answered, “Oh I’m sure there are some elves out there, as are those who embrace the dragons.”

Are there any other kind?” Rydin asked in jest.

Yes, my elf-friend, there are virtuous dragons as well.” Teneel answered cryptically.



We begin our session catching up with Rydin Meirdarel while the rest of us flew off to deal with the sky-pirate’s secret weapon. Essaugh, the tall elf, explaining what Rydin's role would be in the coming battle; he would be sent to see Marinote Lapencia for a fitting into a snuggie-like outfit for his responsibilities. The human male investigator of balloon lander two, Scheton gives Rydin alchemy to ease his sickness just as the Overwrought Companion abruptly turns toward the trailing pirates on their raised shipwreck.  Rydin would use the outfit to sneak aboard the enemy craft and return with whatever information he could gather.  Rydin was successful in getting aboard the enemy craft, killing an enemy spell-caster after making a Mounted Crossbow magical. 
 
Island Remnants 
After the battle was finished and the pirates in retreat we unite to recount our adventures and share in the recovered items, some of us got some upgrades with the rest being sold off later. The bolts, Kyras points out that the bolts are blessed+1. We discussed our purpose here and theorized since we all represented different races: drow, human, dwarf, half-elf and elf; that we are likely emissaries. Syrendross, Dramen, Dolgrin, and Rydin are from another realm, theorized because of our shared knowledge of gods not native to this world, while Kyras is from this world. We further theorize that the four ‘realms’ individuals have somehow traveled here, met up with Kyras, and from there are supposed to travel to the Evening Isles. Hopefully the details of why will reveal themselves along the way. We assumed that volcanic gasses from the island from which we were rescued were the cause of our amnesia.

Two weeks go by as the Overwrought Companion descends in long intervals; In the evenings Essaugh or Oldacia trained arcane spell-casters who gained two spells from their tutelage; we receive balloon landing training; and Teneel Marks gives Rydin an old map of Africa and where the Evening Islands once was located. The Captain and several crew members reveal their mission is to chart the topographical changes in the sea left behind when the Evening Isles went adrift. In its wake ocean currents were being shifted; the islands movements leaving in its wake a great swell; small islands, where they found us; as well as other dangers. The Captain and Teneel firmly believe this started 700 years ago, and that there may be elves and dragons that are still alive from that time. Their ultimate destination is Mailise Tar however, on the Evening Isles.

Gibraltar is a large city of industry with a huge crescent shaped bay on the north side of the straight, its sister city across the narrow straight on the south side is the slaver city of Tingis. When the Evening Isles moved it caused the great destruction of a two mile long stone bridge connecting the two cities that stood for centuries.

Dramen Geist
We land a half day out and approach through the shipping lanes leaving behind our balloon landers to catch up to us in a week. The city was noisy and polluted with thousands of citizens, but most of the smoke came from the mountain that once was the base of the colossal bridge which seems to be a focal point of Gibraltar culture. They revere Poseidon in their daily lives and have a complex trade economic system in place. Tingis on the other hand was a dark specter; a slaver city on the northern tip of Africa, a city of thieves and underdark races where they revere cults and other nefarious sects. 

Our first priority was for Zilinias to make good on his reward, then liquidate our excess equipment, and resupply ourselves. Arriving first at the Grand Eye Affairs Zilinias pays us, but then a GEA (pronounced 'gay') representative talks Dramen and Rydin into membership by which they gain all kinds of incentives, access to other GEA branches, closed job boards, as well as tokens to track their business practices. They also inquire about endorsed local providers and are ultimately referred to the Longhouse.

Before he leaves Zilinias invites us to a special dinner at the Silo Inn where he has also set us up for the week. Looking at the job boards we gravitate to a Noble by the name of Ranoughy who wants an item retrieved from Tingis. We are then greeted by Torphine Athraky, a third tier GEA merchant member and puzzle master, who informs us of the Palerium and that Endroth Rynmund will teach there in two days and that is where we could find him. Torphine asks Rydin to translate a book found in the ruins of the arch at that time because he will meet with us there. Torphine is later asked to join us to the Ranoughy estate and on our quest to Tingis.

The Longhouse
At the Longhouse we find a stock-exchange type of business ran by dwarves where they take a 2% fee and require a minimum of 10 gp in trade value. Here we were able to trade with Essilia a human priest of Gaea, a motherly primordial goddess. Other things were purchased as well; dwarven made armor, a couple bottles of wine, and healing potions.

Later we arrive at the Silo Inn where Zilinias and his wife sit with us to express their honest concern about our situation and offer us jobs on the Overwrought Companion until Mailise Tar. We freely tell him of our logical conclusions and are confident we will start to remember things once we get to the Evening Isles but agree to his offer to leave with him in a week. Dramen gives the captain the wine and smokes before we adjourn to the meal with the ship captain and crew.

Essaugh joins the party and finds us. He gives the arcane spellcasters a sample of scraphite (to extend a spell in emergencies), two spells (skinbook and dizzying bolt) and sells us each a blank spell book. Meanwhile Kyras, who does not drink to excess, discovers and runs off a thief of some kind only to find out the next day that Belpaw Undick was robbed at the party.

Essaugh was asked about any ways to restore memories and he explained that the Church of Zeus will provide divine favors for a fee.  Seeing our concern due to a lack of funds he refers us to the mines who need help with some giant ants . The dwarves there have agreed to pay for divine spells at the church of Zeus as recompense. The tall elf also says he too will join us in two days at the Palerium.
Torphine Athraky

We eat bacon, rest, and meet Torphine for breakfast where Rydin asks Torphine for local knowledge on the Ranoughy family. They are an old family who deal with shady elements but are real estate investors; as for Tingis, it is known for having several racial faiths including evil dragons.

Rhios Ranoughy
The captain asks us, while in Tingis to recover a necklace that was wrongfully claimed as a tariff. We are to meet with his contact who will give us a Letter of Marque to avoid any future tariffs in Tingis.

Later that morning we meet with Rhios Ranoughy, a venerable human with great resources: we are to try to find any information on his stolen ship the Landskipper that carried a cargo of cannon powder. If the information is viable Rhios hopes that we act. He offers 10% of the recovered value plus 1,000 gp for proof of the cults activity against Ranoughy; should the recovery exceed 5,000 he will pay for our group to have an increased merchant status at the Grand Eye Affairs. He believes the piracy to be the work of duergar who worship a 'dirty earth god'. These duergar also associate with goblins, kobolds and half-ogres from the Sneeg clan. We also learn that an ex-girlfriend from the Sneeg clan, Rynocia, a human, lives in Gibraltar now and may be of help.

We begin next session with a visit to the Hollow Mountain Mines. 

Hollow Mountain Mines

                                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Z’hind-del Syrendross: First Entry, Day Fifteen

While I have carried this journal with me for an untold amount of days; I begin my chronicles not on the island but in medias res, after the rescue. With the passing of my nausea it is now with hope that I put ink to parchment. I did ponder writing down the various thoughts I had on the island, but the struggle for basic needs, water, food, and shelter became paramount over my disconnected musings and introspection.

I would have chronicled my time before the island, if I could recall that time or that place. That oddity was the one thing that united us all, the mystery of our past; it was the only thing at first, until we set aside our racial differences and placed our trust in each other for survival. Now weeks later aboard the Overwrought Companion, we must maintain this high level of trust for survival not for just basic needs but for the unknown events and challenges ahead.

So as I sit on the wind swept deck of Captain Zilinias’ sky ship I watch how the Captain’s teams prepare for an attack and marvel at the trust they have in each other’s capabilities; then I think of my friends and the trust they place in me for our survival and how we too will soon assemble as a team.

In the drow language abbil means comrade or trusted associate; but for me it the word means friend. The friendship is treasure to be coveted and protected above all else because without friends to share in adventure with then one risks devolution into loneliness, selfishness, and greed. There is no room in my life for such evils.

Today marks an event as I embark on one of my life-goals, and that is to fly against the azure backdrop the people of my kind shun and hide from. While they fear the sky’s infinity and its promise, I would fly on the thermals, and gaze down upon the land that evil hides beneath. And to do so with my friends, sharing the experience that hopefully will build an unbreakable bond that only the finality of death could break.



Monday, May 11, 2015

The City-State of Gibraltar


The Day the Great Arch fell is the first day that anyone in the great old city of Tingibaltar had considered such an event possible.  The Arch was so massive and had been there so long that for it to fall was unthinkable. That day was just the beginning of events that the people of the Tingibaltar had not considered for who could have imagined the earth moving, the very land itself pushing its way through the Great Arch and forever dividing one city into two.
Today Gibraltar sits seven miles north across the sea forever separated from Tingis, the northern most city on the great Dark Continent.  The two cities separation had lead to great changes in each community, their cities personalities greatly affected. The narrow straight left behind by volcanic violence that had tore the arch had also lead to great wealth for both cities, their locations being of strategic value both in war and trade.

City-State of Gibraltar (Far East Side of Straight)
LN Metropolis Corruption +5; Crime +5; Economy +2; Law +3; Lore +5; Society +3


Danger +12; Marketplace Base Value 27,200 gp; Purchase Limit 200,000 gp

Government: Previous titles carried over from Tingibaltar history, all offices lead with the term Arch

Government ruled by the council of Three:  A Military Ruler, The Arch-Lord, a magical expert, The 

Arch-Mage, and finally a religious leader, The Arch Bishop.  Each title is usually followed by a family declaration, such as Arch Lord Mon Calpe.

Population 60,000 (31,000 humans; 10,000 halflings; 8,000 elves; 5000 dwarves; 2,000 half-elves; 1,000 gnomes; 3,000 other)

People of Note:
Arch Lord Mon Calpe Human Male
Arch Lord Mon Calpe 
Arch Mage Endroth Rynmund Elf Male
Arch Mage Endroth Rynmund 

Arch Bishop Elcalanté Mortrant Human Male
Arch Bishop Elcalanté Mortrant 

Enasia Niden Half Elven Female Operates Wind Mill
Kimycia Niden Half Elven Female Operates Niden Lighthouse
Mosorm Queche Gnome Male Owner of the Great Grainery Horsemill
Verald Mosid Dwarf Male Pawnbroker and owner of The Longhouse
Mine Master Itoc Earthstone Dwarf Male operator of Greatstone Mine

Saturday, May 9, 2015

(Murder In Amphail) The Investigation Begins

The young lieutenant Callam looked to each of the companions gathered in the Stag-Horned Flagon in turn, assessing their valor and honesty. That obviously included the drow, he seemed the most enthusiastic of the group while the dwarf inquired incessantly about the details of the Lord Alougarr’s investigations into the murders, but it was the ranger who balanced the two view points and agreed they would assist in any fight against evil.

“I assure you this it is all hands on deck good dwarf, but if I can persuade you to help patrol the streets or help with the investigations the Lord of the Garrison and I would be in your debt.” Callam said. “I must attend to the curfew announcements, if you would please meet me in an hour.”



Sixty minutes later Balder, Shar, and Hilmar were gathered under a clear night sky with Callam standing near the statue of the Great Shalarn in the middle of town, upon its base was a rough map of Amphail engraved into a bronze plate.

Balder noted that the map was simple, obviously not to scale, and weathered. Another trio of volunteers was in attendance as well, local brothers Loab and Garl Eagleshield, and much to the ire of dwarf War-priest was the half-orc Denaz who paid Balder no heed.

“Gentlemen these are the locations of the murders,” Callam said sullenly as he marked each site with dark wax. “in order, here, here…” With a slight bit of confusion in his speech, Callam transposes the third and fourth murder locations. “Here, here, and here.” The young lieutenant stood after marking the sites looking pained.

“Who are the victims?” Balder asked inquisitively, “Is there any connection among them?”

Callam took a deep breath and composed himself, the three companions could see the weight of these murders under Callam’s watch was taking a toll; the young officer was losing against an unknown foe.

“The first victim was Trauning Tarm, the daughter of one of the most prominent families in Amphail.” Callam began revisiting each point on the bronze map. “She was soon to be wedded off to a merchant family in Waterdeep. The second victim Baloca Ilzimmer, who my sources tell me, was an overweight sloth of a man, known for being a slave master to his children, who work the family stables.”

“Good riddance.” Shar said dryly uncaring of who heard.

                                                                         
“The third victim Jusnile Ammakyl,” Callam continued. “A young girl recently married. She was murdered near her family's farm, which is adjacent to Highmore Tower.”

“It was the husband obviously.” One of the Eagleshield brothers interrupted, Loab or was it Garl?

Balder grunted; murder was never that easy.

“Not so I’m afraid as I will explain,” addressing Garl Eagleshield. “The fourth victim on the map is Kerrlie,” Callam continued in order of incident. “She was an older elven woman held over from the Retreat. She was known for her generosity and kindness around town. Her sons cared for her after the death of her husband, a local merchant who specialized in exotic herbs. The fifth victim was actually the third victim Jusnile Ammakyl’s husband Hannil Ammakyl. He was murdered not far from the spot where his wife was killed leaving behind a family...” Callam finished trailing off, obviously emotionally drained.

“I’m so sorry Callam,” Shar said still trying to abide to human grieving customs. “Mystra guide them to the light. How were they killed?”

Callam looked solemnly at the drow elf, “Now I think would be a good time to take you to last night’s crime scenes.”


Leading them to Horse Pond, a place of miracles during the Time of Troubles Callam continued the investigation with the six volunteers noting how well the dwarf and drow interacted, it was like they were close friends.

"It was right here that the last body was found," Callam stated flatly, not yet hardened to the cold realities of death. He pointed down at a spot in the middle of the street where a still-sticky pool of dark blood remains. Hilmar was quick to point out that the body had been moved, noting a bloody trail that terminated among the day’s foot traffic.

“By the gods you are right.” Callam stated, “That makes two.”


“Two?” Balder asked not missing a beat.

Callam looked to the dwarf, “Two critical differences. In every other murder save for this one the person was killed where they were found.” The young Callam regarded Shar, “and you asked how they were killed?”

To which Shar nodded.

“This victim was stabbed repeatedly in the back and evidence seems now to indicate they had been dragged here. The others victims were flayed ritualistically from palm to palm and up across the neck. All were found face down with their life blood staining the ground, left to bleed.” Callam said clearly agitated.

“And this one what, was left in a heap,” Hilmar confirmed for himself.

“My brother and I will follow the trail of blood and see where it leads.” Garl Eagleshield said volunteering his group to follow up on the outstanding murderer.

Before Balder could protest Shar put a hand on his shoulder and said in dwarven, “If there are cultists at work here, do you not see that as the greater evil?”

“Aye.”



An hour later Callam took Balder, Hilmar, and Shar to the scene of the only other murder that took place last night; here stakes and ropes have been placed into the road around a patch of blood-soaked ground.

“The blood stains the ground in a clear line.” Hilmar observed while Shar scanned the area for magic.


Balder however could sense a strong presence of evil from the center of the roped-off area. Ignoring the stakes marking off the area Balder approached to see a faint red glow of seven points arranged in a circle, with one of the points almost seeming to be two points that overlap each other. Then it was gone.

“The victim’s name was Winnian, about 80 years of age. He was well liked in the community; he commonly told stories to the younger children at the market, while his daughters sold their crops and livestock. His farm actually does not lie far from here. He had two daughters, who are out of town, visiting family.” Callam explained to the trio, but no one was listening because each of the three had discovered separate clues vital to the investigation.

“I sense evil at work,” Balder said cryptically to Callam, his dark eyes reflecting torch light. “These murders are fulfilling a sequence that if allowed to continue will bring about something I don’t think your Lord Alougarr would want.”