Chiaroscuro: Chronicles of the High Kingdom

Session 9 Notes
In which only the dead rest well.

The party spent a stressful six hours resting the old barracks structure on the west shelf of the first large cavern in the Crethblaine mines, trying to sleep over the sounds of construction from the opposite shelf; their pursuers were preparing for a long wait. When Orlov poked his head through the door, it was nearly shot off by archers behind protective barricades on the opposite shelf. What’s more, a mine cart had mysteriously positioned itself near the barracks door, right by the edge of the cliff. Orlov considered jumping in the shelf, but it’s well he didn’t; when he and Brandr used a broken table as mobile cover to approach the cart, a tiny fat man with wings popped his head out, psychically blasted Brandr, and pushed the cart over the edge of the cliff. Had Orlov been inside, he would have surely been killed by the fall.

As it happened, Brandr was wounded and dazed by the attack, and the pair struggled to retreat to the safety of a deeper tunnel. After an exchange of psychic fire with the man-thing, in which Orlov’s mental defenses proved too strong to overcome, the pair managed to retreat with only minor injuries from arrow fire across the way. They could hear the half-elf apprentice’s frustrated command to cease fire from the darkness within the tunnel.

Xanros, who had invisibly moved to safety during the shooting, lit a sunstick, and the party found themselves in another mined out set of tunnels. Continuing deeper into the mine, they discovered a dead dwarf and a riding lizard. After dealling with the scavengers feasting on the unexpected meal, they discovered that the dwarf bore an unfamiliar seal, but was almost certainly an assimilated dwarf from Cymria. The riding lizard was mostly eaten by rats, but its tackle was mysteriously absent, even though the dwarf’s equipment was untouched. Orlov took the dwarf’s cloak of distortion, but packed it away for safekeeping until they could learn more about the item’s owner. Brandr and Xanros took the dwarf’s adventuring kit, waraxe and shield (both of which bore the unfamiliar seal), then helped Orlov create a rough stone cairn for the dwarf; a gesture of respect in the absence of the ability to provide a proper cremation.

Moving on, the party came to another large vault, split by a cliff face running through the middle. Here, human construction gave way to dwarven, as evidence by a well built mine cart, crane, and split stairway. Orlov lit another sunstick and threw it to the cavern floor below, trying to get a better look. He did. A colony of stirges swarmed in reaction to the light, and began a diving attack on the party below, who must now defend themselves against this new threat.

XP: 342 each

Treasure:
  • An adventurer’s kit
  • A dwarven waraxe
  • A heavy steel shield
  • 20 crossbow bolts
  • A cloak of distortion +1
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Session 8 Notes: Speak Friend, and Enter
In which the hills have eyes, and the dark mines beckon

Although Orlov determines that the hound likely fled east over the hills, Brandr is troubled by the knowledge that the hills are patrolled by a near legendary force of rangers. Given the circumstances, it seems likely that those rangers would hunt them. With that in mind, the party turns to the mines, thinking to find their way out of one of the other mines by means of the many tunnels said to run beneath the surface of Cymria.

Heading into the mines, the party immediately encounters a pack of feral dogs. In their battered and bloodied state, the fight is a near thing; what’s worse, the sounds of the militia behind them are getting closer. The party flees deeper, past the mined out tunnels near the surface, and into an underground vault split by a chasm. The former mine operation must have used the site as a depot, because there were half a dozen abandoned mine carts, an abandoned shack, and a rickety bridge with cart tracks running its length spanning the 40’ chasm. Xanros tested the safety of the bridge by crossing it. It barely held together. After Orlov made it to the other side, Brandr crossed and brought the whole thing down behind them. Just then, Bragen Fairwylde and her militia arrived. Apart from firing a few arrows at the party, there wasn’t much they could do. She cursed them from across the chasm as the party settled in behind the safety of an old wooden wall, in what was once a barracks of some sort, to rest before heading the only way they had left: deeper into the mines.

XP: 266 each

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Session 7 notes: Never Give Up, Never Surrender
In which the party, forced to choose between submission and battle, chooses battle.

The stand off between the wizard’s guards and the party erupts into violence when Bragen Fairwylde, Squire Martin’s former apprentice, asks why Orlov has the wizard’s staff, if he’s not responsible for the wizard’s death. Orlov, unwilling to give up the staff, refuses to answer, and Brandr attacks. In the ensuing brawl, Bragen escapes into the tower, and the surviving guards surrender. Unable to penetrate the tower’s defensive wards, and realizing that Bragen will soon call for reinforcements, the group is faced with an additional dilemma: how to escape Crethblaine altogether. Beseth chooses to ride directly through town, hoping to blow past the guards and make his way back to the baron, where he can both explain the nature of the misunderstanding and give warning about the rune’s capture. The others, however, choose to flee towards the hills.

After parting ways, Orlov immediately begins an attempt to frame Beseth, but Bragen and the guards still demand their surrender. Unwilling to do that, Brandr, Orlov, and Xanros head into the hills, riding past Crethblaine Mine and up to the ancient dolmen stand at the top of the road. Their, a group of hounds are standing guard; it seems that this was where the thief made camp. After destroying the hounds, the party found a trail leading east towards Crethblaine, marked with fresh hoofprints. Perhaps the assassin fled this way.

XP: 336 each

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Session 6 Notes: the Rune of Worlds
In Which the Rune is Sought, Found, and Lost.

The party discovered that an artifact known as the Rune of Worlds was in the possession of Squire Lucian Martin of Crethblaine, and the Hounds of Tir were interested. Acting swiftly, the party went to Crethblaine to secure the rune. Unfortunately, the hounds were somehow there first. Kerpatrick Wulf, the squire’s chamberlain, turned out to be an agent of the hounds, and used a magic device to call in a powerful ally – a user of shadow magic who, wrapped in shadow, eluded the party’s attacks, seized the rune, and stepped back through the shadow portal through which he came. Kerpatrick lay dead, but so did Squire Martin, and the rune was in the hands of the enemy. To make matters worse, when the party left, they were confronted by the squire’s guards, who were shocked to learn of his death. Now, the party finds themselves in a standoff with those same men.

XP: 195 each

Treasure:
  • Scale Armor of Sacrifice +1
  • Staff of Ruin +1
  • A rock carved with runes – any power this item might have had appears to have been expended defeating the wards around the rune of worlds.
  • A 4” tall obsidian carving of a portal, also with magical runes inscribed around them. Although the power is expended, the carving itself appears to have an intrinsic value of about 90 gp.
  • Squire Martin’s Ritual Book
  • A ceramic hand suitable for the Unseen Servant ritual.
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Session 5 Notes: The Swift End of the Stick
In which Orlov learned that though thoughts are swift, cudgels are hard.

The party raided Big Baelly’s Tannery, finding Big Baelly and his bigger cudgel inside with a pair of thugs and a trained war dog. The fight got ugly when Orlov got a little too close to the working end of Baelly’s cudgel, but some swift thinking and heroism from Brandr and Xanros got the psion and Beseth back on their feet before the attack came to an unfortunate end. After recovering a badge of the berserker and a pair of potions from Baelly’s stash, the party followed a trap door to the basement, where they found an underground cavern system.

Just a few feet down the path, they discovered a major Tir hideout. Narrowly avoiding a pit trap – which Beseth later barely avoided hiimself – Xanros silently executed the guard dog. This lead to a standoff across a pair of double doors, before a full-on brawl erupted across well-defined battle lines. The two defenders kept Tir’s best hitters busy while Xanros and Orlov systematically took them apart. At the end, Finn, a ritual master and wielder of shadow magic, fell dead, and the remaining Hound surrendered.

Inspecting the bodies reveals that among the dead are the two assassins the party pursued through the streets just two days ago. They’ve paid the ultimate price for their actions; the baron will be pleased.

Searching the hideout revealed a number of rare treasures and strange finds:

  • A Fullblade Luckblade +1, off the large warrior in the front lines.
  • A set of Boots of Spider Climbing, worn by Finn.
  • Leather Bold Victory Armor +1, also worn by Finn
  • Two more potions of healing (making a total of four taken from the two fights.)
  • 165 gp
  • Two aquamarines worth 50 gp each
  • 50 gp worth of residuum
  • Finn’s Ritual Book
  • An Ominous Note
  • A cage filled with pigeons
  • And a number of mundane weapons, armor, and supplies.
Experience:
  • Fighting and such: 200 for Menosmas / 400 for everyone else
  • Major Quest Completed – Hunting Down the Assassins: 100 xp each

Advancement:

Everyone but Menosmas has leveled! Level your character using the standard rules. Remember: in order to play your leveled character, you must supply me with a soft copy. That means either correctly uploading your character to iplay4e and joining the campaign there, or sending me your character builder file. Your correct character builder file. If you make changes later, send me the changed file.Once in play, the changes are fixed, and the copy you supplied me with will be the official character.

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Session 4 Notes: Catching the Scent
Wherin the party discovers its foes hiding in a tannery.

After much interviewing, trailing, capturing, losing, and additional capturing of the minions of your shadowy enemy, you’ve managed to locate a tannery used as some sort of base of operations. After securing a squad of men to surround the place and capture anyone trying to flee, you approached the place in the dead of night. Now it only remains to kick in the door and see what can be seen.

Oh, and Orlav almost murdered someone. I’ll take that as an opportunity to remind you all of the Villain Rule: act like a villain, become a villain. Just remember that means becoming an NPC as well.

XP 20 each.

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Session 3 Notes: Prisoner Exchange
In which one prisoner is regrettably killed, but another apprehended.

The interrogation of the prisoners proved fruitful: Orlov learned that they were new members of the hounds of Tir, recently arrived from Duchy Cuill. By convincing them that he was also an oppressed Cymrian and revolutionary – a witch who had insinuated himself into the castle – he was able to get the men to reveal three key pieces of information about the organization behind the attacks: the location of the safe house they were staying at, which would soon be abandoned, if it hadn’t been already; the name of the men’s contact within the hounds (Finn); and the likelihood that the man worked at or lived around a tannery, based on the distinct smell of tannic acid on his body.

While the interrogation was underway, Xanthos roamed the streets to get a sense of the mood on the street, and filed his reports. Meanwhile, Brandr researched the meaning of “tir” in The baron’s library, and learned that it’s an old prefix meaning “ancestry,” or “homeland.” He also established that whatever the wolf thing was, it wasn’t a lycanthrope.

After some discussion of what to do with the information, the group elected to fake a prisoner escape, escort the prisoner, Aern, to the safehouse, and watch to see which contacted him.

With the baron’s assistance, Orlov arranged a fake escape, and lead the man into the city. From there, Xanros followed to keep an eye on him, while he rest of the party stationed themselves outside the safehouse to watch. After some time, another man came and escorted Aern down the street, where they met with a larger group. Menosmas realized that the thugs were planning to kill Aern, but before the group could intervene, a brawl ensued. When the dust settled, Aern and the other men were dead, save two who escaped, and one who was made prisoner.

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Session 2 Notes: After Them!

After the attack on the baron’s family, the party split up: one group went after the assassins, and the other went after Reid, the baron’s brother. Orlov and the haberdasher caught up with the assassins, but the interference of their underlings allowed them to escape, after a brief but vicious fight. They returned to the castle with prisoners for interrogation.

Beseth, Brandr and Menosmas caught up to the enraged Reid, who was manhandling a group of halflings and demanding information about the assassination attempt. Concerned that the man was doing more harm than good, they convinced him to return to the castle. After some discussion about rousting the Legion cohort stationed up the road, the group returned to the castle as well.

Experience The group earned 205 xp each for their efforts after the assassination attempt.

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Session 1 Notes: The Feast
In which the party uncovers uninvited guests.

Session Summary

The party gathered at Castle Eirnain for the Feast of the High Solstice, under instructions to seek out potential threats against the baron and his family. Baron Coenred had grounds to be suspicious; just six months ago, assassins came for him and nearly killed his son. At the feast, his fears would prove to be well-founded.

Meanwhile Orlov and Brandr both met some of the guests in an attempt to uncover any suspicious people. They found none, but Orlov made the acquaintance of Squire of Crethblaine, as well as a group of halflings eager to repair strained relationships with the baron. Brandr had a brief run-in with Enger’s Berserkers, who lived up to their anti-social reputation.

Brandr came across a sick guard on the castle walls, but found no signs he was involved in anything nefarious. At the same time, Beseth found a small cache of kitchen knives in the latrines. He filed down the tang on one of the weapons, and waited unobtrusively outside to see who might retrieve it. Meanwhile, Menosmas, as was his custom, circulated among the castle’s servant women. In this case, his amorous inclinations paid off, as he discovered that a new servant may have stolen the knives. After speaking with a pair of serving women, the cook, and the castellian, he determined that there was likely a pair of assassins in the crowd.

While the shaman made his inquiries, Beseth confronted a main who left the latrines with the knives. After the man refused to be searched, Beseth escorted him to the castle gates, then had the guards officially detain him. The man responded by lodging a knife in a guardsman’s throat and sprinting for town. Beseth chose to save the injured man’s life rather than run down his attacker, and the man disappeared into town. The commotion caused Orlov to investigate, then follow Beseth back to the feast to warn the baron. As they arrived, the second attacker showed himself, rearing up on the roof with a longbow aimed at the baron and his family. The party rallied around them, sheiling him with their bodies, and Beseth took the arrow instead. With that, the assassin fled. Orlov and the mysterious Haberdasher gave chase, and were shocked to see the man transform himself into a wolf to flee the guards. Injured, and trailing blood, the wolf ran into town.

Gameplay Notes

The party has reached a milestone.

Experience

  • Skill challenge: 60 xp each
  • Encounters: 30 xp each
  • Role play xp: 50 each – great role play all around!

Total XP 140 each

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Session 0: Pre-Game Meet
Character creation discussion, collaborative world building, and scheduling

What: Chiaroscuro Session 0: The Pre-Game Meet When: Thursday, February 25, 7:00 pm Where: Roane’s House What to bring: Just your ideas. Maybe a notepad. No gaming materials required.

For the first session, we’re just going to talk about character creation and backstory. We won’t be playing the game; thus, session 0. We’ll be setting it up, by talking about who your characters are and why they’re living in Cill Eirnain. The one core assumption will be that they’re serving Baron Coenred; why, for how long, and with who will be up for discussion. We’ll also set up a permanent meeting time, and just give those of you who don’t know each other a chance to meet.

Email me if you don’t have my address, need directions to the house, or have other questions.

-Roane

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