Kingmaker: The Varnhold Vanishing Sessions One and Two

We’ve made it!  Our last two sessions, I have officially counted among the beginnings of book three!  The PC’s are starting this book at level 8, and quickly moving towards level 9.  We’ve got a lot to cover here, so buckle up!

 

Picking up where our last session left off, the party was slowly making their way back towards the capital of Elbat Dnuor.  Realizing that their lilies were slowly degrading, Gavriil the Arcanist decided to split the party briefly– while the majority of the group continued back to the capital, he split off and went north to visit Tiressia, the Dryad who had been under threat from the Scythe Tree months ago.  With Tiressia, he left the three lilies which had been potted so as to allow them to grow with her, while Noruas the Gunslinger ferried the remaining dried lily back to be sold.  When they were but a day out from the capital (go figure), as they were resting for the night, Eneko the Bard/Cavalier received another Sending from the kingdom’s Magister, Arkanus Taklo!

Arkanus had an urgent message to give to the party, requesting that they return at once in order to speak with Lord Mayor Ioseph Sellemius, the ruler of the free city of Restov.  The mayor had come to see them with an urgent issue, and Arkanus bid them return at once.  None too happily of course– he had needed to burn a second scroll of Sending before he was able to transcribe it into his spellbook.  The party arrived around mid-day back at their home, and went to visit Arkanus in his tower, where the party found a slightly disguised mayor was also playing houseguest.

Ioseph Sellemius was quick to discuss the issue at hand– he needed someone to help him investigate what was going on in Varnhold.  Several trade caravans for the past two months had not made it back to them in Restov, and all attempts at contacting Maegar Varn to figure out what was going on had gone unanswered, messengers never heard from again.  Restov’s economy was beginning to take a hit, and they couldn’t afford being seen to send armed convoys to the south– the political situation as tense as it was in Brevoy, it would be construed as an attempt to grab more land and power for themselves, and bring about severe repercussions.  Hence the mayor’s attempt at disguise, which almost completely fooled Elysia the Ranger– she hadn’t even realized who he was until he reminded her!

Questions were fired back and forth, and in the end the party agreed to give some help– they would make the journey into Varnhold to find out what was causing the issues, for a reasonable sum payment.  Ioseph gave them his suspicions– he believed that the Nomen Centaurs could be the ones at fault here, as they were no strangers to conflict and dislike towards humanoids.  5,000 gold pieces to each of Tolemac’s rulers, as well as ten BP worth of supplies and workers were promised in aid, and Noruas “heavily suggested” that the two parties began working in an economical exchange of goods, to be formalized by Gavriil when he returned.

Speaking of whom, Gavriil caught up with the party that night, where he was filled in on the goings-on, and then set out for Eleo Massim’s hut, the kingdom’s Druid Councilor.  Eleo, thankfully, had access to the Remove Disease spell– something which was needed in conjunction with Gavriil’s Remove Curse spell in order to help cure Elysia and Taz of their Mummy Rot.  A good deal of time was spent convincing Eleo not to freak out over the possibility of spreading the disease when she learned that neither of the affected were confined, but by the next morning everyone made it back to the stables (where both Taz and the Ranger had quartered for the night) to cast the two spells and cure their friends.

Fortunately enough, the horse Taz was cured quickly and without any real issue, though Gavriil did need to cast his Remove Curse spell twice in order to succeed.  However, Elysia wasn’t as lucky…Eleo seemed to have problems with removing her disease, and the group resolved to try again the next day.  When success was not achieved then, the party took a few days of downtime while they attempted to cure Elysia, who was getting more and more stir-crazy every day.  Noruas would spend some nights keeping her company, while the two of them read over the bounty-board notices that the Gunslinger brought them to plan out how they would take care of these tasks.  After three days of one person’s spells or the other’s failing, the gods finally smiled upon them and were able to cure Elysia of her affliction, allowing her to finally recover from the skin lesions and weak constitution she had been suffering from.

With the month of Gozran about to break, the party made the decision to hang around the capital for a few more days before holding their monthly council meetings and paperwork-filings.  The kingdom turn was profitable for them, for the most part– all of their empty magic item slots got filled, and they were able to build an Academy in the town of Ruhtra!  However, near disaster struck as a terrible storm blew through the area, wrecking many of the freshly planted fields and even destroying some of the kingdom’s food stockpiles, resulting in a Food Shortage!  Thankfully, Eneko was able to quickly organize relief efforts and ration out what food was left, and though the problem was large, he was able to mitigate it significantly– the kingdom’s consumption only rose by a quarter for the next month, instead of by half due to a natural twenty.

All of this misfortune was practically forgotten however, when Gavriil and Noruas announced to the kingdom’s council that once the paperwork for the week had finished, they would be holding a small wedding ceremony!  This shocked Elysia greatly, and she spent much time believing that the announcement was merely a joke– she still had a hard time grasping this during the small ceremony which Eneko presided over!  Nonetheless, the two did get married, and Gavriil moved in to live with Noruas’s mother, her Hill Giant friend Munduk, and Kynch the incredibly stupid reformed bandit!

As the party prepared to set out on the road to head to Varnhold, Noruas made sure to make a quick stop in Elbat Dnuor’s markets, searching for several rarer crafting materials among the stalls.  She had a bit of success, and did manage to find a fish-vendor who had a large shark to sell its skin to her!  After a bit of negotiation, fifty pounds of shark-skin was obtained as a crafting material, for more of the blacksmith Gunslinger’s creative purposes.  With this settled, the party set out on the road, heading north towards the border between Tolemac and Varnhold, traveling quickly along their constructed road.  After a bit of discussion on which way to go, they decided to split off at the Shrike Cascade, a series of waterfalls along the river the road wound about, and made their way towards the city of Varnhold through the mountain pass.

Several days of travel later they spilled out of the mountains and onto some low flowing hills, making the choice to spend some time exploring the area before making their way into the city itself.  By the time the majority of the day had expired however, it occurred to Noruas that while the town of Varnhold had been in sight for most of the day, they had observed no signs of life from it– no people moving around, no smoke emanating from chimneys, no sounds of hammers or horses or people at all.  Noruas took a look up at the sky, finding two hawks and a raven flying above, postulating that perhaps there were dead in the village.  Elysia perked up– she suspected that evil centaurs had raided the village, and was on direct alert!  Cautiously, the party abandoned their mapping of the territory to walk into Varnhold…

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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red Sessions Twenty-Nine and Thirty

Sorry guys– once again it’s been quite a month, and we’ve only gotten two sessions out in the last four weeks.  So…here’s our recap!

 

After the resolution of the murder situation back in Elbat Dnuor, the party headed out west yet again towards the Hooktongue Slough– there was still the unresolved map location that Noruas the Gunslinger found on her father’s map of the Stolen Lands!  A few days of travel brought them to the aforementioned area south of Lake Hooktongue, where a bit of exploration brought them to their destination!  The party moved closer to the cave, taking a look at the area– several broken-down wagons, some overturned, were littered around the entrance of this area.  Noises were issuing from the cave mouth in a language that only Gavriil the Arcanist and Eneko the Cavalier/Bard could understand– they were speaking Giant!  While the first three party members began to approach the cave, Elysia the Ranger decided to hang back with her wolf Tyr, keeping her distance and remaining suspicious.

A shouted greeting from Noruas drew attention from inside; a moment later, a large Hill Giant, similar in size and stature to the Gunslinger’s friend Munduk, emerged from the darkness.  Noruas attempted to make nice to it– with Gavriil translating– and offered the Hill Giant some of her mead.  The giant, for his part, took the mead– and then decided that playing nice was no longer any fun, and took a swipe at her!  A fight was on, and many more hill giants emerged from the cave in short order!  One of them was almost two feet taller than the others, with a wicked-looking spiked club that he swung about wildly, charging into the fray with a wild roaring shout of glee!  While the party began dismantling their foes, this Hill Giant Chieftan rushed up to the three party members clumped together and grabbed Duke Eneko– then proceeded to use the Bard as a bludgeon to smash into the rest of the party!

After a few rounds of ‘smash the Bard,’ the chieftan was shot down, though not before Eneko was smashed into a bloody unconscious pulp.  Not long after that, the Hill Giants were defeated, with one running away after deciding that the fight wasn’t worth the gain.  The group managed to salvage several interesting items off of the chieftan, including a magical black dragonhide armor, and the insides of their cave was littered with goods and supplies that could be taken back to the kingdom and sold for three BP!

With that fight settled, and no clue as to why its location was marked on the map, the party set off to the south once again, in order to map more of the Slough.  A few days later, and they came across a patch of interesting lilies– which were identified as being the rare and valuable Azure Lily!  Five of them grew in a patch, and Gavriil, being the upstart gardener that he is, made it his mission to carefully uproot and prepare these plants for transport back to the capital, where he would attempt to replant them to grow more!  Noruas also prepared some special ingredients from what she could find around her in order to preserve some of the lilies for alchemical purposes, in order to sell them for gold.

Unfortunately, Gavriil wasn’t fully brushed up on his knowledge of the plants– as he quickly learned, even the slightest disturbance of their petals would send a cloud of dangerous pollen into the air!  Though the first lily’s pollen was mostly avoided, and the second sent him into coughing fits for a few minutes before he recovered, the third lily he attempted to carefully uproot sent a spray of pollen directly into his face!  An instinctive inhalation quickly caused issues, as he felt his body begin to stiffen up– fortunately for the Arcanist, Eneko was able to save the day by focusing Gavriil’s attention upon the Bard’s words, giving him an inner strength and allowing a re-roll of the saving throw.  After that however, it was determined that perhaps Noruas would do better at excavating the flowers, to give Gavriil a break.  As it turned out, Noruas didn’t fare much better; the next flower spat pollen into her face which she shrugged off, while she lost her balance taking care of the final lily and fell face-first into the plant, crushing it!  (let’s hear it for natural ones!)  Fortunately, even though she got a face-full of pollen, she refrained from breathing it in, sticking her head in a nearby pool of stagnant water to wash it away.

With that fiasco over with, the party set out once again, slowly making their way back towards the capital in order to plant the three transplanted plants they had remaining.  The course they set took them through much uncharted territory, with the plan being that they could explore new ground while also moving back home!  A few days later the group had a new encounter, this time with none other than….BOG MUMMIES!

The Bog Mummies turned out to be much more of a challenge for our party than I thought they would be, and came close to giving us a TPK– the closest that they’ve been since fighting the army of trolls all by themselves a few months back.  Three of the four party members were paralyzed upon the reveal of the bog mummies, who rose from the swamp water to ambush the group!  Only Eneko managed to make his save, and thus spent two rounds attempting to not die while his friends were constantly slammed into by the mummies.  Gavriil was the first to fall, going into the negatives on the last round of his paralyzation; Eneko followed quickly after, and the remaining two characters snapped out of their fear in time to grab their companions and ride them out of the mass of undead!  Noruas swooped down to take Gavriil’s body up with her, but Elysia found herself struggling to lift Eneko, and had to receive help from her companion Tyr in order to get him into the saddle.  This caused Tyr to be stuck back with the mummies for a time, with naught but Eneko’s horse Taz for support!

The PC’s rallied then, with the mummies slowly shambling after the horses and attempting to slay the two animal companions.  Potions and magic were used to get everyone back up on their feet, and Noruas was hit with Greater Invisibility– Gavriil’s latest spell that allowed the Gunslinger to fire with near impunity at their enemies!  This turned the tide, and soon the party was victorious; even the wolf Tyr and the horse Taz managed to come out alive, though Taz did go into the negatives for a time.  The party gave a collective sigh of relief at defeating these foes, and made sure to travel a good distance away from that location before making camp for the night.  During their rest however, all were beset by a sickness caused from prolonged contact with the mummies earlier; fortunately enough, all but Elysia and Taz the horse managed to shrug off the fever, causing the two of them to take Constitution and Charisma damage.  It was time to move on…back towards the capital!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Players, do not read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for hanging around with me guys– I know it’s been awhile.  New job and conflicting schedules has led to a lack of games and a lack of time for writing, but things should settle down here soon.  That being said– I made some mistakes!

The two caves that I had told the party they found on Noruas’ map were supposed to be one filled with Hill Giants and one filled with Chuul, based upon two encounter locations on the map.  But then…I mixed the two of them up, and when the PC’s arrived south of the lake I brought out the hill giant encounter!  Alas, but hey, I can just swap their locations and no one will know.  And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a ton of fun swinging a PC around as a bludgeon– that was an impressive set of feats that the Hill Giant Chieftan comes with!

If you’ve run the two combat encounters that the group encountered in these two sessions, you might realize that I bumped it up a bit– or at least, you should realize I did so with the Hill Giants.  I ended up slightly increasing the number of hill giants (but kept them at range throwing rocks, so really they didn’t do too much) and placed the Hill Giant Chieftan in the fight to make it more interesting, and that seemed to go pretty well.  With the Bog Mummies (neat variants that are resistant to fire), I upped the number to seven mummies, and then buffed their paralyzing aura by ruling that the DC to resist the aura increased by one with each mummy that would affect the player.  Turns out these mummies were really good at hiding, and the party rolled pretty bad on their Perception checks, and so when they were surprised almost all of the mummies were within range.  So…three paralyzed party members, who became laughably easy to hit with the mummies that then swarmed.  It was nice to see the group rally the way they did though– a bad start but eventually overcoming the dangers.

One final note– I had an enormous laugh at the end of the session.  The Mummy Rot disease took just the ranger and the horse, but on the horse I rolled a six for Charisma damage.  Eneko helpfully informed me that the poor horse was down to zero Charisma, which places it unconscious!  Elysia the ranger piped up at that point, “Help!  I’m ugly and I can’t get up!”  Noting the ridiculous nature of having become so uncharismatic that you just fall asleep 😛

Thanks for reading guys, and hopefully we’ll be back soon with another session, in which I fully expect to get into book three finally!

Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red Session Twenty-Eight

Having taken their time to get the Medyved side of the story last session, our valiant heroes devoted their investigations in the direction of the house Lodovka.  Taking the short trip down the street, the party’s first look at the front gate of the Lodovkan villa was one filled with about a dozen angry citizens, shouting insults and jeers towards the villa walls.  The commotion was apparently constant enough that six city guards had been posted at the gate to keep the rabble back.  Gavriil the Arcanist engaged one in a discussion, trying to use logic and reason to convince the man that he was doing more to harm than good to the investigation by ‘demanding’ lord Tawno Lodovka be arrested merely on the unproven suspicions of lady Kerri Medyved.  Duke Eneko the Bard/Cavalier attempted to explain to the man that he was breaking the law by causing a disturbance, and he could have the man arrested.  Finally Noruas the Gunslinger got everyone’s attention, and told them that if they didn’t clear out she would start shooting, which seemed to get their attention enough to disperse the crowd.

Once inside, the PC’s were greeted by a seated lord Tawno Lodovka, who beckoned them over to speak.  “I’m glad that you’re here, perhaps you will be able to finally clear my name and allow me out of this blasted confinement I’ve been party to for the past three days!”  Tawno began.  Lord Tawno turned out to be rather cooperative with the party, eager to turn his house over to the party for a search, anything to ‘help clear my name, since after all I am completely innocent!’  Gavriil and Eneko questioned the lord, while Noruas and Elysia the Ranger took it upon themselves to search the villa for any evidence.

Lord Tawno had much to tell the party– yes, he and Lord Davud were staunch opponents of each other in the political realm; yes, he was quite displeased with Davud over his insistence that the Lodovkan trade deal to utilize the lakes near the Gronzi forest for fishing be denied; no, he wasn’t certain who would want to frame him for the murder; yes, he did have an alibi for the night, he was playing cards with his three close friends at their place.  More and more questions came in, and more and more answers were had.  Eventually, topics ranged into more political matters, which the PC’s were very interested to hear about.  Lord Tawno spoke about his political rivals in houses Medyved, Garess, and Orlovsky, as well as how alliances were shifting quickly between his house and his allies, the Lebedas and Surtovas.  After a careless comment, Gavriil quickly followed up to learn more information– and was rewarded by Tawno informing the Grand Diplomat of his suspicion that the reason Davud was blocking the trade deal was because he was afraid of having outsider eyes too close to his family lands.  To add to this, he brought up a rumor that he’d come across– that the Medyveds were moving men and materiel north, towards the lands of House Orlovsky!

In the meantime, Noruas and Elysia were getting along fine.  Indeed, the pair had, while searching the second floor, found a hidden safe behind a painting.  Inside were several business ledgers and accounting papers, as well as a letter from Lord Kozek Lodovka, the head of House Lodovka!  Noruas took a quick look at the letter, which seemed to be urging Tawno to change Davud’s mind about the trading rights deal– “It must go through.  Change Davud’s mind at *any* cost, lest we fall into ruin.”  Elysia’s examination of the stack of papers revealed that House Lodovka as a whole was failing financially, many of the individual families practically penniless, quite the tragedy for a people who are used to extravagance.

This information was secondary however compared to the next discovery that was made; while searching through Lord Tawno’s quarters nothing special was found, yet a search of his wife, Lady Odette’s, bedchambers revealed a hidden knife underneath her mattress, dried blood still upon the blade!  Noruas and Elysia took a look around the room with fresh eyes, noticing a large window with vines growing under it.  It was determined that the vines underneath had indeed been disturbed– as though someone had been climbing up and down the wall.  With this new evidence, Lady Odette was questioned– discreetly, and without mentioning that they found the blade in her room.  Her alibi for the night was that she was feeling unwell, and turned in early for the night, sleeping soundly until the morning.

Deciding to confront Lord Tawno about this, they once again questioned him about who would have anything to gain by framing his wife– for they didn’t believe that she was the culprit after speaking with her, claiming no knowledge of her husband’s business and seeming in general to be more of a delicate woman, not so inclined to murderous fantasies.  Lord Tawno of course was outraged that someone would attempt to frame his wife; he shouted some harsh words regarding any who would wish her harm before being calmed down.

The investigation continued– the group decided to go this time to the villa courtyard, to see if they could gather any more evidence from the area near Lady Odette’s window.  The ground near the window didn’t offer many clues– after a bit of poking around, all they were able to discover was a single partial footprint.  However, while they were searching, they did take note of the gardener nearby, who was nervously trimming a topiary crab.  Calling him over to ask him questions, he became increasingly nervous, and even managed to muddle up their sole remaining footprint ‘by accident.’  Wondering if something was up, Noruas stared at the man hard– he had heavily tanned skin, dark brown hair tied up in a ponytail, and was about middle-aged– then asked him straight up, “did you kill Davud Medyved?”  His stammered protestations didn’t fool her or anyone else present, and a moment later, he tried to run for it!

He made it to the villa wall, up and over, before Gavriil Dimensional-Stepped next to him and brought him to the ground, where he cowered for a time before spilling his story.  Yes, he had killed Lord Davud, but the man deserved it!  He didn’t appreciate fine art, and the gardener had been paid to do the deed anyways!  The PC’s harked upon this note– who had paid him?  How much?  Where was the money now?  A brief description of the man– of medium height, a haughty look, red hair– followed, along with a name:  Lucas.  Lucas had met Rangrim Ungart the gardener in his home a week and a half ago, giving him a sack of two thousand gold coins in order to commit the act of murder, seeming to already know of Ungart’s distaste for the lord.  Ungart knew of the secret way into the Medyved villa, as he’d once worked for Lord Davud until being fired for his ‘ugly topiaries.’  With this knowledge, he was to sneak into the villa and murder the lord, before escaping and being told to hide the weapon in Lady Odette’s quarters.  The gold he’d been paid was still hidden in his tool shack out back, which Gavriil quickly recovered.

The mystery, for now, seemed to be solved– though not in the long-term.  The party took some time to discuss what they found, but also made sure to inform Lord Tawno of their discovery of the murderer.  Some discussion was made wondering if this ‘Lucas’ was also involved somehow in the assassination attempt on Eneko’s life two years ago, but no conclusions were able to be formed.  With that handled, Chief Sootscale was contacted in order to prepare an execution for the morning, for the penalty for murder in Tolemac is death.  With much fanfare and at the first light of dawn, Chief Sootscale led a grand spectacle at the gallows, listing off the crimes of the accused before a hooded Munduk the Hill Giant (now befriended and working with Noruas’ mother as a smith at her shop) was instructed to bring the axe down, ending Gardener Ungart’s life.  Gavriil made sure to arrange transportation for the body back to the undead hillside, so that he could later raise the man into undeath to serve the army.

The session ended out with a kingdom turn, finishing with Tolemac having endured for two years and eleven months!  The new settlement of Ruhtra was expanded upon, gaining housing and an inn for its inhabitants along with a monument to Brigh!

 

 

 

 

Players, do not read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My, how I do love a good murder mystery investigation!  I was extremely pleased how this turned out, and only a few things went a bit sideways.  I was a little disappointed that Elysia’s player wasn’t able to make the session, but we did continue on– it’s our policy to run if at least three of the four players are present.  Through the entire investigation, the only thing that really and truly threw me off was when Noruas’ player inquired about the wealth of the Medyveds, and then why they could not simply resurrect Lord Davud.  To be honest, this had not even occurred to me while I was crafting the scenario, and it took me a few moments to figure out a decent answer.  Thankfully Gavriil’s player spoke up and offered a suggestion– ‘perhaps he had a DNR?’  which I kind of latched on to.  Thus Kerri Medyved informed the party that it was Davud’s wish when he died to remain in paradise with Erastil, and not to be dragged back into the world by powerful magics.

So before I go any further, I am going to go ahead and post below all of the notes that I crafted up about this encounter, which came together about two hours before last session:

 

Lord Davud Medvyed & Lady Kerri Medyved; Sir Eldon Medyved

Lord Tawno Lodovka & Lady Odette Lodovka; Rangrim Ungart, gardner

Urgent:  Lord Davud Medyved has been murdered.  Wife suspects Lord Tawno Lodovka. Possible diplomatic situation.  Needed back in the capital immediately. Elysia currently in charge.  

Sir Davud Medyved has been found murdered in his home!  Lady Kerri Medyved is understandably distraught, and absolutely convinced that Tawno Lodovka is responsible for the crime!  

Tawno and Davud had both been pushing heavily in political affairs back home; Davud Medyved had been busily blocking all advances from house Lodovka to gain fishing rights to the lakes along the Gronzi Forest.  Medyved claims that these lakes would be spoiled by the fisheries that Lodovka would build, while Lodovka asserted that this new land held the salvation of their dwindling economy, and were willing to pay handsomely for the rights.  

Tawno Lodovka suspects that Davud was unwilling to relinquish the land due to the close eyes which would be upon their territory.

Tawno believes that he is being set up by someone, though for what purpose he does not know.  Tawno’s alibi for the night of the murder is a late night game of cards with three of his closest friends.  Tawno’s hair is short and dark-brown.  

Lady Odette Lodovka suggests that the party look into Kerri’s activities of late with Lord Davud’s younger brother Sir Eldon Medyved.

Odette claims little knowledge of the disputes between her husband and Davud, as she makes it a point to stay out of his family’s politics.  

Odette’s alibi for the night of the murder is that she went to bed early that night feeling unwell, and slept soundly through to the morning.  

Odette’s hair is a dull red color.  

Lady Kerri Medyved denies any claims of extracurricular relationships outside of her marriage.

Kerri blames Tawno for her husband’s death, claiming that while she knew he was a cutthroat negotiator, she hadn’t thought it would become literal.  

Kerri’s alibi for the night of the murder was visiting the Desnan observatory, which can be confirmed by several of the priests of Desna.  The constellations were quite beautiful that night.

Lady Kerri’s hair is long and dark brown.   

Sir Eldon Medyved denies any claims of extracurricular relationships with Kerri, but when put under pressure will relent, and say that they had been meeting for months now, their love blossoming like the late spring rose.

Eldon seems to hold no great sense of loss of his brother’s life, claiming that Davud was always looking down on him for his lesser status.  

Eldon’s alibi for the night of the murder was that he was out drinking the entire night in the Silver Knight Inn.  

Eldon’s hair is short and light blonde, similar to his brother Davud.  

Eldon’s alibi, several drinking buddies at the Silver Knight, will say that he was with them all night.  Then one will correct him, saying that no, wait, he ducked out for about half an hour at one point to use the privy.  When he came back he was sweating and looked pale, like he’d just thrown up.

The privy out back has its door turned away from the doors and windows of the inn.  It would be easy enough for someone to sneak out unnoticed.

Medyved servants will share gossip both of Kerri’s loyalty and disloyalty to her husband; one will say that she thinks Kerri has some innate magical sorcery powers that she never lets anyone else see.  

Lodovka servants will share gossip that there’s been talks of house Medyved assembling troops back home in Stoneclimb to march north towards Skywatch to claim more territory.  

CLUES:

Jamandi has cordoned off the Medyved villa since the night of the murder, in order to preserve any evidence.  Arkanus has done some preliminary investigations, and come up with little. A long strand of dark brown hair was found at the scene of the crime.

Medyved villa has a secret chamber found by twisting the sword on a set of armor in an upstairs hallway.  Can be found with a Knowledge(Architecture) check DC22, or a Perception check DC32. Inside this chamber can be found several business papers in Davud Medyved’s handwriting detailing shady dealings in the fish smuggling ring which Jamandi had put down several months before, and a passage down through the walls which exits through a portion of the villa wall.  

Medyved villa a secret desk drawer can be found in Lady Kerri’s bedroom with a Perception check DC20; this drawer is full of love letters to and from Eldon dating back a year and a half.  Yes, they are steamy.

Searching the Lodovka villa will reveal a bloodied knife with a DC15 Perception check in Lady Odette’s bedroom, hidden underneath the mattress.  

Odette’s room has a wide bay window, underneath of which a thick layer of vines cling to the stonework, winding down into the gardens.  

Checking the ground underneath, a single bootprint can be found in the mud.  This print cannot be traced back to anyone, nor can any tracks be made out from there due to time and use.  The gardener is a bit past middle age, dark brown hair tied up in a ponytail in the back, and says that he doesn’t spend much attention on the vines on that side of the villa.  

In the Lodovka villa, the PC’s can also find with a Perception check DC19 a secret safe behind a portrait of Lord Kozek Lodovka.  The safe can be opened with a Disable Device check DC25. Inside can be found papers detailing just how dire house Lodovka’s finances are in; they are almost penniless due to a decreased demand in exports and a poor farming season in the north, and a letter sent from Lord Kozek himself states that the house needs to turn Davud’s mind at *any* cost, lest they fall into complete ruin.  

Rangrim Ungart was hired by a red-haired individual who went by ‘Lucas’ to murder Davud; he was only so happy to after Medyved fired him from his old job at the house due to ‘what can only be described as an ugly assortment of topiaries.’  Rangrim was paid a sum of two thousand gold coins, which he has hidden away in his gardener’s shack out back.

House Lodovka’s crest is a green-shelled crab climbing from the blue waters toward the gray band of shore surmounted  by a gray tower-keep in the center, against a backdrop of  black.  Their house  motto is “The Waters, Our Fields.”

House Medvyed’s crest is a black bear, rampant against a red field, with a spread of black antlers above the bear’s head. Its motto is “Endurance Overcomes All.”

 

 

 

 

So yes, I kept to many of the notes I had made, but I also altered some.  I decided to have Lady Kerri not allow Jamandi inside to make even a preliminary investigation, and as such I sent an e-mail to Elysia’s player before the previous session to give her the background on what she found so that she could relay information to the party.  Lady Odette never cast aspersions towards Lady Kerri’s married life, but I hardly needed to have her do so after the party had so nicely latched onto that idea.  So on and so forth, but the basics were all there.  I found myself delighted every time the party thought to look at something else that I’d prepared for as part of their investigation, and it felt so completely rewarding as a GM to see my work pay off.

When I crafted the scenario, it started off a bit weird.  As I mentioned in a previous comment, I needed something to get the PC’s back into the capital to meet up with Elysia.  Looking through my upcoming pre-rolled kingdom events I noticed the Feud event, with feuding nobles, and decided to take it a step further, and incorporate into this story one of my player’s backgrounds.  Gavriil’s backstory, to be precise:  Very little had come of his own story since fundraising for the kingdom.  Now, two years in-game after that event, was the perfect time to do something!

For those who are not familiar with someone else’s character’s background, Gavriil is the bastard child of Lord Poul Orlovsky, lead of Brevoy’s House Orlovsky.  Though he grew up with his mother working in a magic shop in Skywatch, Gavriil bore a striking resemblance to his father and others of his house, enough so that he was visual reminder of embarrassment for his father, who wanted nothing to do with him.  During fundraising efforts in Restov, Gavriil’s uncle had come to offer financial support to various groups, and upon finding the Arcanist there, he made it perfectly clear that their house had no interest in aiding the group.

Fast forward– political situation in Rostland is deteriorating.  The houses are backstabbing each other, everyone wants more power, and the Surtovas are trying to cement their rule.  Houses are roughly politically aligned in these ways:  Houses Garess, Orlovsky, and Medyved; opposed by houses Surtova, Lebeda, and Lodovka.  The battle lines are roughly drawn as such, but as Lord Tawno informed everyone, “political alliances are shifting; those who were your allies today may be your enemies tomorrow.”  So a story started to emerge for me– House Orlovsky wanted to do *something* to destabilize the PC’s kingdom, even if it was only a minor scandal that would bring them embarrassment.  Even better if it could further their own ambitions; rumors were that House Medyved were preparing to occupy some of Orlovsky’s land ‘to keep it safe from brigands and bandits.’

And so a complex story got woven– House Lodovka, known for their fishing exports, were low on money and needed to make a proper deal with Medyved to get some better fishing grounds.  Medyved is resisting, and so we have a tension between the two houses whose villas are in the party’s kingdom.  This gives individuals some interesting motives for murder.  Medyved doesn’t want Lodovkans nearby or else the jig is up on their troop movements; Lodovka needs this deal to work or else they go bankrupt.  Orlovsky is on the fringe, already wise to some of Medyved’s treachery, and looking to politically maneuver events in their favor.  A dead martyr on the Medyved’s side throws the two houses into conflict, possibly eating up a significant portion of time and resources that Medyved would otherwise be putting towards their land grab at Orlovsky.  All of that to say, it’s a right fine mess that the PC’s have just been placed into, and they don’t know the half of what is going on!

On the micro-side of the mystery, I began by figuring out the key players– Lord Davud, Lady Kerri, and her husband’s brother Sir Eldon for the Medyveds; Lord Tawno and Lady Odette for the Lodovkans.  Once I had established that, I knew already that none of them were the perpetrators of the crime, but I wanted each to have something that would make them look at least partially guilty.  I gave everyone alibis, either weak or strong; many got motives such as opposition in politics, or a hidden love affair; means was also provided in the form of secret passages and planted weapons.  It wasn’t until I had established most of this that I tried to figure out who was actually paid off to do the deed.  I settled on the gardener about the time I decided upon the clue of the bootprint in the mud underneath Odette’s door.  I gave him a secret and non-apparent motive for wanting to do it, and the means were easy enough when combined with that motive.  I decided that if confronted, he would essentially give everything up, not being the type for intrigue.

With all of the bits and pieces and clues set out for the PC’s to discover and put together however they wished, I was ready– and had a ton of fun with it all!  I really enjoyed hearing the party spitball theories back and forth.  One of the first was when Noruas’s player had the idea to ask about a happy marriage for Lady Odette and latching on to the idea, exactly what I hoped would happen, as it was a red herring– true but irrelevant to the murder.  I realized eventually I’d made a mistake by giving Lady Kerri long dark brown hair like the one found in Davud’s bedroom….there’s no reason for Lady Kerri’s hair not to be there being his wife, it didn’t really put any more or less suspicion on her.  I should have had her hair be a different color/length.

After everything had settled down and they’d found the gardener, there were talks about this Lucas fellow, and I was absolutely delighted when Eneko’s player asked, “Hey, the Lucas guy has red hair– is he related to Gavriil?”  A subtle little clue that I’d left for the party, because yes, Lucas is part of the Orlovskys and thus related to Gavriil, and the Orlovskys have red hair in this game– well spotted!  During the talks with Lord Tawno, Gavriil made several concerned notes saying that he believed it was possible that they were all dancing to someone else’s strings on the political board of another country, which tickled me pink– I think this mystery really got them involved and invested in the politics of their kingdom and nearby Rostland!  It’s a good way to set the stage for Rostland’s eventual descent into chaos, and I figure it might lend itself well to a plot point for Eneko and Gavriil’s backstories in the future.

Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red Session Twenty-Seven

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back!  Sorry for the long delay guys, life took me away from the gaming table for a few weeks, but we’re back now and ready to go!  So, where we left off last time….

 

The Spirit Naga, having failed to properly charm Eneko the Bard/Cavalier, hissed in frustration and barely managed to bring about a Mirror Image spell before Noruas the Gunslinger let go with a full volley from her double-barreled musket!  The magical images took most of the shots, but a few bullets found their way into the snake-creature’s hide, drawing blood and sounds of pain!  The Naga’s response was a blast of intense cold which managed to catch the entire party, though Taz, Eneko’s horse, was able to avoid all of the damage while his rider took a facefull of icicles.

A few spells and bullets were thrown back and forth, before the Spirit Naga, heavily wounded and with all mirror images having been dispelled, pressed by Eneko in melee combat….uttered some syllables, made a weird head gesture, and disappeared!  Gavriil the Arcanist threw a spell into the area which seemed to find no target, and the group decided that perhaps the creature had run away.  It didn’t take long however for its presence to be seen, as Gavriil, who was taking a few moments to prepare Glitterdust just in case, almost lost concentration to a bout of horrendous laughter!  His companions, realizing what was happening, began to take measures against an invisible foe– attempting to find tracks, dragging a rope in an area around their friend, and other such things.

As Gavriil was finishing his preparations, he felt a sickly touch upon his shoulder– whirling with his quarterstaff outreached, he attempted to find by chance the invisible Spirit Naga, but his staff met with naught but air.  In the meantime, he felt rather queasy…as if a poison had seeped into his veins!  A weakness overcame him as he took a point of Constitution damage, staggering for a moment before continuing on.  The Poison spell that had afflicted the Arcanist continued its way through the man’s body, with Gavriil managing to fight off the effects on occasion, and in the end left him with five Con damage.  With that immediate threat taken care of, Gavriil set about trying to find the location of this creature, using Detect Magic to see if he couldn’t find where this invisible Naga was standing.  He detected three magical auras within the branches and detritus of the Scar around the end of the river, but then struck gold to the south– an illusion spell was present!

Gavriil immediately cast out Glitterdust, which poofed out in the air and descended to outline the serpentine form of their foe, who hissed in frustration at them, thrashing its head to shake the particles away from its eyes!  Noruas opened up again, noting that the naga now had a slight blue glow around it, and missing her first shot before her gun jammed!  Eneko spurred Taz forward to distract her, while the Naga sent out a blue ray of energy out to Noruas, which drained away the magical buffs Gavriil had built upon her.  Gavriil was not deterred, and graced the Gunslinger with a cat’s natural ability once more, allowing Noruas to put an end to the Spirit Naga’s hissing words the next time she opened her mouth to taunt the party…the battle was over!

Loot was found and identified, then distributed, before the group found a place for camp that night.  During the night, Gavriil had some restless sleep; towards the end of his rest, his mind provided him with a dream of a shadowy figure backlit in a bright green light, only the vague outline visible, and a feminine voice which floated out to him:  “Find it…find it for me….”  A moment later the dream flashed a picture of an ornate sword, thorns wrapping the green hilt with a slightly jagged red blade extending from it.  Gavriil woke then, the morning air quiet around him.  He took some time to sketch down the sword that he saw in his dream, and as the group was preparing to head out for that day’s exploration, Eneko was surprised as the image of Arkanus Taklo (the kingdom Magister)’s head appeared in the air beside him!

Urgent:  Lord Davud Medyved has been murdered.  Wife suspects Lord Tawno Lodovka. Possible diplomatic situation.  Needed back in the capital immediately. Elysia currently in charge.

The Sending was over quickly, but the message was clear:  something had gone wrong, and it would be best if they returned.  Lord Davud Medyved was a Rostlandic noble who represented House Medyved in the group’s kingdom, and lived in a villa constructed within their capital; Lord Tawno Lodovka similarly was the representative from House Lodovka, his own villa not far from the Medyved’s.  After a bit of discussion, it was decided to head directly back to the capital, and they were able to enter through the city gates three days later, having encountered no further resistance.

Making their way straight to the Silver Knight Inn where the leadership was known to conduct their business, the party was able to find Arkanus along with Elysia the Ranger, who had remained back in the capital for the last few weeks in order to help train back up a new group of White Wolves monster-hunters.  Arkanus, happy for others to be there to handle “the half-crazed Medyved widow,” retreated back to his tower and allowed Elysia to fill the group in on the details.

The long and short of it comes down to this:  Lord Davud Medyved was last seen alive on the night of the first of Pharast.  He was busy with some work for some time, until having a servant prepare his bedchambers for him around 11.  The next morning, a second servant accessed his unlocked room to bring him breakfast, and found him dead, face-down in the bed with a wound in his back, blood pooling upon the silken sheets.  She immediately ran downstairs to inform the wife, Lady Kerri Medyved, who confiscated the three copies of the key to his room, locked the door, and refused to let anyone enter.  Elysia was allowed to enter the room only briefly to look at the scene a day later, but wasn’t able to gather much more than that before she ushered her out.  Lady Kerri was completely insistent that her husband’s murder deserved the best resources the kingdom could muster, so that “that vile Lord Tawno Lodovka can be arrested for his crime!”

Lady Kerri continued to be convinced of Lord Tawno’s guilt, causing quite a stir among the houses and the populace.  Jamandi Aldori, the kingdom’s Warden and in charge of city security, had been running ragged to ensure no riots would break out, and was quite happy to see the party return to settle this issue.  Thusly informed, the PC’s made their way to the Medyved villa to talk with Lady Kerri and gather information.

Lady Kerri, properly distraught at the death of her husband three days prior, brought them in and proceeded upstairs, to unlock the door to Davud’s bedchambers.  The party entered and began taking a look around.  Noruas and Elysia examined the body, noting that the wound appeared to be made by a short-blade weapon such as a knife or dagger, and that no defensive wounds could be found.  Eneko and Gavriil questioned Lady Kerri about her suspicions of Lord Tawno’s guilt, to which she replied “Of course he’s guilty!  Davud and Tawno have been arguing constantly for the last few months over some silly business of their families!  The Lodovkans wanted fishing rights to the Medyved lakes, but Davud is strictly against such measures, and has been using his influence to stop the deal from going through.  Tawno hated him for that!”

Elysia in the meantime was able to find a single strand of long, dark-brown hair upon the bed.  The rest of the group asked to speak with the servants who last saw and who found Lord Davud, and Lucy the morning maid was brought forth.  She gave her story, mentioned that she didn’t see the murder weapon but wasn’t really looking for it before she rushed to get Lady Kerri.  Noruas asked Lucy if Kerri and Davud’s marriage was a happy one…Lucy’s eyes darted over to Lady Kerri and back to Noruas before answering that of course it was.  Noting this look, Gavriil maneuvered Lady Kerri to take him to Davud’s study to see if they could find anything of interest there, while the rest got more information of out Lucy, who was more willing to talk without her employer around.  As it turns out, it was suspected among the servants that Lady Kerri was having a love affair with Lord Davud’s younger brother, Sir Eldon Medyved!

Gavriil in the meantime was looking around Davud’s study, and noticed something a bit off about the room.  Succeeding at a Knowledge(Engineering) check, he noted that the far right wall seemed to be a bit shorter than the dimensions of the next room would lead you to believe.  Moving up to the wall, he knocked on the wooden paneling and heard a hollow sound– something was back there!  Try as he might, Gavriil was unable to discover how to access this space without brute force, and called for his friends to come investigate.  Noruas made short work of the area, quickly finding a hidden catch on a suit of armor nearby which slid back the wood paneling to reveal a small room behind the wall!  The Gunslinger, this task completed, then decided to engage Lady Kerri in an ‘experiment’ to see if the sounds of screaming could be heard from her husband’s room in hers just down the hall– sending Lady Kerri to Davud’s room to shout for a bit, and taking her opportunity to search Kerri’s own room.

Her searching was fruitful, as she was able to find in Lady Kerri’s room a false bottom to a drawer, in which were a bundle of letters.  Quickly stashing them, she cleaned up and managed to make it to the door just as Lady Kerri walked in, asking if everything was alright.  That experiment concluded, the two made their way back to the study and the mysterious room.

Elysia and Gavriil had spent their time checking out this new room.  A bookshelf held several copies of business ledgers, while the desk on the near wall was scattered with papers.  Gavriil took a look over them, and Jamandi, who was still nearby, took the papers and scanned them over.  “Well, isn’t that interesting!”  Jamandi was able to identify several transactions as being a part of the black market fish smuggling ring which she and her guardsmen had managed to shut down a number of months previous– Lord Davud had a bit of shady business dealings going on, it seemed.

Additionally, the hidden room had a hatch next to the desk which, when opened, revealed a tiny crawl space with a descending ladder.  The Arcanist and Gunslinger decided to investigate down the ladder, finding it descended below the villa and through a tunnel before eventually leading to a second ladder, this one heading up.  At the top, a latch was present to open up a new, hidden hatch.  Clambering up and examining this new opening from the other side, the duo found themselves to be out on the street next to the villa, the passage having led to an exit in the villa’s stone wall!  On their way back, Noruas showed Gavriil the bundle of letters and the two of them examined them quickly, to find that they were steamy correspondence between Lady Kerri and Sir Eldon, confirming the romance between the two.

This investigation done, the group had a few more people they wished to interrogate.  Lady Kerri’s alibi for the night of the murder was discussed, wherein she claimed to be out of the house visiting the observatory with the priests of Desna, something that the servants confirmed she would occasionally do.  Sir Eldon was spoken with next, who seemed little concerned about his brother’s demise, and not all *that* happy about being the one to take over his brother’s business endeavors.  He claimed that he spent the night of the murder at the Silver Knight with some drinking friends, and woke up there in the morning.  The villa’s head of security was spoken to next, who gave a breakdown of the minimal security which they provided the Medyveds, and gave the party the name of a shadowy man with a goatee who had been around the villa some months ago, whose name was never mentioned but who he once overheard as being referred to as “The Howler.”  Finally, a long questioning of the house servants found one particular maid, Mara Dyneria, who had actually observed Kerri and Eldon engaging in a scandalous romantic tryst and was paid off to keep it quiet.

While the majority of the party conducted some of these interrogations, Elysia took the opportunity to go out and check alibis.  The priests of Desna were able to confirm Lady Kerri’s location for the night, and a bartender at the Silver Knight remembered Eldon being present and pointed out one of his drinking friends who was there at the time.  Elysia found from this man that Eldon was with them all night, except for the half hour or so when he stepped out to use the privy.  When he came back, he was a little pale-faced and out of breath, like he’d been violently sick for a time.  The Ranger deduced that it was possible for Eldon to have made it from the inn to the villa and back within that time frame.  Meeting back up, the group compared notes, formed theories (the reigning one that Kerri and Eldon conspired together to kill Davud), and then resolved to move on to speaking with the Lodovkans next!

 

 

Where Good Intentions Dissolve into a Puddle of Panic

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Here. With Star Vampires. That took days to get . . . sort of mostly kind of okay. From this point, I stopped keeping track of colors, stopped shooting in progress work, and just tried to get done.

This project took . . . so . . . long.

And here’s the done deal.

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Just the monsters:

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Just the heroes:

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Lloigor . . . my nemesis:

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And another shot of the star vampires:

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