Death is a Cruel Mistress

Session 1: Introduction

Introduction

Note: This is a more detailed version of exactly what happened during the first session. I wrote up a brief summary for some players who were absent. If you don’t want to read all of this but are curious, here is the summary:

"…Our group was greeted by The Eight who apparently were upset about some disruption of the balance or some bullsh**, so they told us we were all banished. They opened a portal, Chaam Balaam flipped double birds and threatened to kill them all, Sonny showed them his assets, and they magically forced us through the portal. Floating floating floating, zip zip zap, the party winds up in another dimension and three of its members – Chambalam, Sonny, and Achaodani, gather in a meadow. They are quickly met by a messenger on a horse with a letter from Cori’s character Shaniqua (or however you spell it), which says “I need to talk to you guys, blah blah blah, come get me, blah blah blah,” the end.

After hiring an Elven guide named Ereanil (sp?), they buy some horses, someone raped some oxen and gave them an STD, and they went to the next town. Upon finding that they were now Evil for [deleted as a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t played through ‘Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad’], the party decides the next logical step is to rob a bank. Which they do. Just before they rob the bank, they hire some guy Ereanil knows as a bodyguard to help them through the mountains over to the lake they’re heading for, and he pretty much gets paid to hold the horses while most of the group makes off with about $3k gold. The party is almost caught, but they aren’t, so everything is cool and they are now headed into the mountains towards the city of Caliphas, their destination."

And now, the full version:

Our band of adventurers step through a magic portal, not knowing the destination but knowing they need to exit the magical labyrinth they’ve been wandering for some time. When they pass through, they find themselves in a meadow clearing, surrounded by eight, stern-looking figures in robes. One of the figures speaks, telling the group that for their actions, they have upset the balance of Neutrality, and for that, they are to be banished from this realm. The heroes look around in confusion, attempting to get more information from even one of the figures, but to no avail. Another magic portal opens behind them, gaping. As it does, the Sorcerer Chaam Balaam raises both of his hands toward the mysterious figures, turning the backs of his hands in their direction while extending his middle fingers. Taking the queue from his comrade, the flighty Monk known as Sony turns toward the portal. Lifting his flowing robes and exposing his leather leggings with a hole cut out for the posterior, Sony vigorously slaps his ruddy cheeks at the figures. With that, a magical gust of wind slams into the party, forcing them through the magical doorway.

The group finds themselves floating in space, a darkness that is punctuated by glowing, swirling clouds that are far out of reach. There is no sound, no sensation of movement, and yet the cannot help but feel they are moving. Without warning, the Druid Shaelwyn flashes with a bright light and then vanishes, leaving no trace behind. The rest of the party glances around in bewilderment just as the Dwarven Ranger Barbeard disappears in a similar fashion. Then Sony, Chaam Balaam, and finally the Cleric of Neral (with his zombified Barbed Devil in tow) known as Achaodani all flash with brilliance before vanishing.

Achaodani awakens on a hillside, next to a tree. Glancing around, he spots the monk down in a field and begins walking toward him, calling out. They are soon joined by the sorcerer, but the rest of the party cannot be found. As they look around, getting their bearings, the cleric notices that his devotions to Neral have been cut off. Chaam Balaam tests the fields of magic and concludes that they have traveled into the dimension of Golorian.

As they are making this observation, they spot a lone rider approaching in the distance. As the man makes his way nearer, the unseen Mephit belonging to the sorcerer swoops near the man, conveying his face as a mental image back to its master. Detecting no malice or deceit, the heroes warily watch as the rider draws near. The man stands in his saddle as he approaches, calling out to them and telling them that he is looking for three men by the names Sony, Chaam Balaam, and Achaodani in that meadow at that time. Bewildered, the heroes turn to each other and then back to the man, confirming their identities. The man removes a letter from a satchel on his horse, sealed with wax. Wishing them a good day, the man turns without another word and rides back in the direction he came, to the north.

Opening the letter, Sony reads aloud. Not recognizing the handwriting at first, he is surprised by the signature. The letter reads:
"My fellow travelers-
There is much that I would tell you, but I do not have time. The balance of neutrality is shifting in this world as well. I need to speak with all of you. There isn’t much time. Travel north east over land, crossing the Menador Mountains until you reach the Nosam River. Head downstream to the southern edge of Lake Encarthan. From there, you will need to secure passage on a ship to the city of Caliphas. I will meet you there in the Quarterfaux Archives.

Sincerely,
Shaelwyn"

Wasting no time, with the help of the Mephit, the trio ascertains that the closest village is in the direction the rider has gone to the north. Within an hour, they find themselves in a small village with a population of less than 500 common folk. They purchase a map. The friendly cartographer (who incidentally has never been outside the county, but has some lovely renditions of the surrounding area) suggests that if they are headed in the direction of Menador, they should hire a guide. There happens to be an Elf staying at the local inn that knows the area and can take them through.

The group heads to the tavern at the inn. They wait for an hour before a tall Elf walks in the door. He is greeted immediately by the locals and orders two drinks. Swapping local gossip, he informs the group that the local oxen seem to be plagued by a disease, which is being blamed on a half orc monk sneaking around the pens at night and “having his way” with the beasts. Hearing this, Sony mutters something inaudible and buries his face in his mug. After some banter, Chaam Balaam asks the Elven Archer if he would be willing to take the group through the mountains. They discuss pricing, and it is decided that Eärendl will join the party. If they reach Caliphas and he has not gained more than 100 gold in wealth, they would pay him that amount from their own stocks and he would be free to leave.

Finishing their drinks, the group leave the anteroom of the inn with their new comrade and purchase the three most travel-worthy horses that the village stable master has to offer. Riding hard to the north-east, the group arrives in a larger trading town on the river known as Famoath*. They find lodging in a local inn, more expensive than the last village, but with better accomodations. Eärendl tells the group that they should hire at least one more bodyguard as they enter the mountains, and that he knows a good candidate in that town.

Sitting around drinks that night, Chaam Balaam and Sony begin discussing how their actions in the labyrinth had affected them, making them feel decidedly more evil. Both had struggled to maintain the balance throughout their lives, but they felt like their recent actions had tainted their souls. And it felt great. They made up their minds to take advantage of their newly found freedom from morals and make themselves considerably more rich by knocking off the local bank. Chaam Balaam is in it for the challenge, and Sony wants enough money to pick up a Smoking Bottle the next time they find one at a merchant’s shop. Eärendl, being hired by the group and not resisting the desire for wealth, agrees to help pick any locks and disable any traps they come in contact with.

Buying some drinks for locals loosens the tongues of merchants in there, pointing to the Lending House of Famoath as being the safest place to store your valuables. The next day, while Eärendl seeks out his mercenary friend, Chaam Balaam sends his mephit to scout out the bank and figure out what types of physical and magical barriers stand in their way. From the outside, it is obvious that there are some Divination enchantments around the building. The lending house is a simple building with only a few rooms and a series of windows for the clerks. One room houses what is presumed to be the manager’s office. Upon entering the bank through the large double doors, the mephit feels the tingle of magic. Moments later, an older man with a white beard walks out the door from this room and looks around the lobby area, peering cautiously at the people in the bank. After a few moments, the man does not look satisfied but gives up his search and walks back through the door.

Opposite the manager’s office, a large door of steel bars leads into another room, behind the clerk’s counters, but this door is the only visible egress. Through the bars, the mephit can see various locked boxes, and detects abjuration enhancements around the door and walls. It is obvious that the most valuable items are kept in this room.

After another night of drinks and finding out that the old man in the lending house is a retired sorcerer who settled down in Famoath, the party decides to rob the bank the next day and sets out to make a plan. They are joined by Eärendl’s friend Cleveland (or “Cleave” for short), a Cavalier of the Order of the Cockatrice. Cleveland agrees to join the group with the same stipulations as Eärendl, but he can offer nothing more than to watch the horses while Chaam Balaam, Sony, and Eärendl break into the bank.

The next day after dusk, the plan is set in motion. Achaodani, his Hamatula, and Cleveland stay with the horses approximately 1,000 yards up the road from the lending house. Chaam Balaam, Sony, and Eärendl make one last check over their equipment—in which Chaam’s mephit finds a Smoking Bottle among the various items sequestered away in it’s masters Robe of Holding—and then execute their plan.

The sorcerer uses Teleport to put himself and his companions inside the bank, just outside the vault. They are cautious about magical enhancements that would dispel teleportation once they get inside. Meanwhile, the mephit flitters around the building, keeping an eye out for the other sorcerer or other guards. Eärendl quickly goes to work, discovering immediately a trap door beneath the floor directly in front of the vault door. Sony uncorks the Smoking Bottle and keeps a lookout on the front doors, hiding himself behind the clerks’ counter.

As the archer attempts to disable the trap, he feels a sickening “twack,” almost springing the trap under him, but he manages to keep the mechanism from dropping him. Within a few more seconds, he has the trap disarmed and begins to work on the door. Warmed up, his deft fingers make short work of the lock as smoke fills the lobby.

Cautiously the sorcerer enters the vault, spotting a warning notice on the wall. He pulls a mirror from his Robe of Holding and places it in front of the text, averting his eyes as much as possible. With the mirror in place, the other two enter the room. Dozens of locks face them, in everything from neatly-ordered lockboxes that appear to be the personal possessions of locals or merchants, to larger safes with more complex locks, to some older, worn-looking wooden boxes. As Eärendl begins picking one of the more complex locks, the monk smashes through the top of one of the wooden boxes. He excitedly pulls his fist back and clears some wood away, only to realize that the box contains nothing more than ledges of transactions. Frustrated, the monk crumbles some up and toys with the idea of stealing them just for the sake of it, but decides it is not worth it. At the same time, Chaam Balaam casts Unseen Servant just to help even the numbers should they run into trouble.

The elf manages to pop the lock off the first larger safe within a few more moments, revealing gold. At the urging of the other two, he begins picking the lock of the other. He gets it open and they manage to collect the gold when through the smoke, two shadowy creatures jump out, followed by the white-bearded old sorcerer, coming from the direction of the manager’s office. He cries out “Thieves!” but has little time for much else before Chaam Balaam mentally commands his invisible minion to charge the other man and “kick him in the chotch.” The older sorcerer’s words are cut short as the unseen foot connects solidly with his wrinkled coinpurse, but as he doubles over, he swipes with the dagger in his hand and dispels the Unseen Servant.

Realizing they don’t have much time, Chaam Balaam grabs the other two and casts Teleport again, then again, and a final time, landing them only a few yards from the horses. They quickly jump on their mounts with their approximately 3500 gold in stolen treasure, hollering that the Lending House and Famoath can pucker up to their posterior regions, and ride off into the night.

To be continued…

*Note: “Famoath” doesn’t actually exist on any Golorian map, it is the name of a minor NPC, but it sounded good at the time. ;)

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ChrisCoray

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