Council of Thieves - Collins 2013

A new start - Spring 2012
Fresh characters

Cheliax, spring 2012. Time for a new party! The previous one was a bit unbalanced; and of course we never quite got a full complement of players. With this new Monday evening session time, and a solid group of four players we can achieve great things I am sure.

Stan made his new character using ‘Hero Builder’ software; it works very well but sadly is not free. But the online generator is fine too. This time around, for balance issues, we’ll use the point buy system and make it “Low Fantasy” – I always liked Cugel better than Elric if you know what I mean. Make your characters civilized! Urbane, witty and congenial would be fine.

OK, see you around the table,

— BC

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White Chin The Goblin - Among Others
Session Three

Starday, 15 Lamashan 2711 (15 October 2011)
Westcrown, Cheliax
Journal Of Lostara Rufano

Present: Lostara, Nix, Urta and now Stuggs the gardener

The dramatic events of a few weeks’ past, including the rescue of the priest Arael from the clutches of the Asmodean Hell Knights, are being discussed at length here in the City, It seems as if the people are beginning to realize that the Order of the Rack is not invincible! Some of us in the Society, myself and Nix, along with Yakopulio, are helping to spread this story.#

But we are not all idle during this time. In looking for ways to increase our organisation’s fame and fortune, we# have discovered a nest of Goblins in the city’s far northern ruined sector. This band is led by a notorious chieftain called ‘Whitechin’ – we believe that his destruction will be of benefit to our Society as well as the city as a whole.

Also, the gardener Stuggs has quite a few ideas about the shadow beasts said to patrol and curse our city after dark. He subscribes to the theory that they were brought here by the house of Thrune, or its agents, to subdue our city and insure the ascendancy of their new Cheliax capital. He encourages us to patrol the nighttime streets in the hope of capturing one, or at least killing one and taking a prize of some sort. There is a noble woman, he says, called “Blue Hood”, who will pay good crowns for evidence of these creatures. Well, we shall see.

As for the goblin chieftain, we set out on a drizzly morning for the north walls. To allay suspicions, we are disguised as laborers (a simple costume, that’s for sure) and the gardener Stuggs as our foreman. Our arms and armour are concealed in bundles, ostensibly our laborer’s tools. We cross several districts and pass under the eye of a number of patrols, but attract no unwelcome attention. In future it might be wise to travel in two groups, so as to minimise the risk of the whole party being compromised or captured.

At the northernmost gate, we inspect the heavy barred gate. This gate has been chained shut so long the chains have rusted into immobility. Before we can inspect too long, however, the guards take interest and we make our way out of the gate square and off along the wall to the west. We are looking for an unobtrusive way over – and find not one, but two such, in a short while. The first, is a building set against the wall, and whose roof is right at the level of the wall, making for an easy climb up. The second, looks to be a smuggler’s tunnel between two buildings that appear to be sagging into each other. This tunnel, though narrow, has seen extensive use judging by the tracks and we choose this route into the ‘Dead Sector’.

We set forth at first light, and we quickly discover a collapsed building which the priest Urta identifies at once as a nest of the undead#. These could be more of the animated skeletons, that we saw in the sewer tunnels… We make our way from this cursed spot, not without some argument from Urta who wants to destroy these horrors immediately. The location is carefully noted, as we do plan to return soon.

Later, in what we think was a tavern of some sort, and while eating our lunches, we found some unbroken pottery jars. In examining them, one is dropped and in dropping, breaks the rotten shelf they were sitting on… All are smashed at once, and in one of them there was hiding a small, red, winged devil or imp of unfamiliar aspect. We shoot at it but to no avail, it flies away at great speed through a hole in the roof. Let us hope we do not see its like again#.

And so it is near dusk, when we are wearily returning to the northern wall and our smuggler’s tunnel, that we are ambushed among the ruins. We are ambushed by creatures, huge spiders, each the size of a large dog, with eight red eyes and dripping, poisonous fangs. Before these monstrosities are beaten down, we are sorely beset and even poisoned with a debilitating venom. All acquit themselves well in this fight, though it is noticed that at one point Urta is fighting a spider by himself when all the rest of us are fighting the other one… The outcome of this can not be in doubt, but Urta was able to be healed from his venomous wounds.

Before dispatching the horrid arachnids we were observed by a patrol of five sewer-Goblins. I threw incendiaries at them and induced them to retreat# – and we followed closely. We followed them right up to Whitechin’s little fortress, where we settled in for a night and a day of observation. Also this time was useful for recovering from the spider venom.

The actual attack on the goblin camp went fairly well, none of us were killed in the assault# which is more than can be said of the goblins. They were slaughtered each and every little green one. Even Whitechin ended up with his head on a pike, the better to show the citizens that there is a new power in town.

Close inspection of the goblin camp revealed nothing useful among the rubbish – but we did rescue a young Human woman otherwise destined for the stew-pot. The daughter of an itinerant Asmodean preacher, Miss Charity was returned to her family in good order, none the worse for her ordeal.

Buoyed with success, our group took to the midnight streets a few days later, to follow Stuggs’ plan of attracting a night creature. Indeed, his plan was a success as within a few hours, an amorphous creature loosely resembling a cross between a large snake and an insect made to attack us from ambush!

It had black oily skin, three claws, and parts of its very flesh blended seamlessly into the shadows. Its constantly moving, writhing form made it difficult to identify from a distance. But it charged right at us, and was met by the dwarf bard Nixtlix holding his “Ur-Grosh” a weapon peculiar to his race, who then smote the beast so heavily#, that it passed out of existence right there on the spot.

The dead thing measured over an arm-span and a half long and weighed approximately 90 pounds, it being strangely light, composed of a spongy dark matter and seemingly wisps of shadow itself. We took enough of it to make identification possible to “Blue Hood”, thus making certain of our payment. Stuggs was quite correct and the crowns were paid over. The “Night Gardener” saw to it that we each got our share – 25 crowns each.

Upon our return to the “Safe House” we find Janiven, Larko and the taciturn Mathalen there as well. Having carefully scouted the area around the Bastards of Erebus’ bandit lair, they returned and began construction of a clever model, showing the various buildings and especially including a steeple in the main structure. It seems that the Bastards have appropriated an old church for their use as well… Theirs was once sacred to Erastil, an ancient deity of the hunt and of the farm, whose clergy worked through example and good deeds rather than flowery rhetoric. We see how such a gentle religion can not prevail in modern Cheliax, and their very church now occupied by a band of tiefling brigands.

It shall be up to us to put and end to this, as we can see the Hell Knights have no interest in stopping banditry and brigandage, and the city Dottari haven’t the means…

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Out Along The Rivad Road
Session Two

24 Rova, 4711 (24 September, 2011)
Westcrown, Cheliax
Journal of Yostara Rufano

Present: Urta, Nix, Lostara and Simon-Louie

After our lengthy trek through the storm drains and sewers of Westcrown#, we took refuge in a dilapidated, unused temple. This proved to have been dedicated to the Lord Aroden in the past, and now is the property of the church of Iomedae. But no member of that clergy has visited the place – until now, with the arrival of Brother Urta.

Here we are reunited with Janiven and Morosino, and are here introduced to all of her band of followers. Here also the Westcrown Reformation Society is proclaimed and its initial membership is recorded. Follower Amaya volunteers to sew a banner; and several ideas for insignia, such as armbands, or distinctive hats, are discussed.

Such discussion can not keep us from setting out our plans for the rescue of the captured Arael. Follower Schiavo, a scribe in the court’s offices, has informed us (rather breathlessly) of the current conditions: the half-elf’s custody is even now being transferred from the dottari# to that of the Order of the Rack – Hell Knights of Asmodeus – and that they will soon take the prisoner to their impregnable fortress, Citadel Rivad.

Schiavo also discovered the identity of the Rack officer in charge – a Signifer# named Shanwen – whose teams were the very ones we eluded at Vizio’s Tavern yesterday! We can expect this foe to be on his guard and smarting from his recent failure.

Shanwen’s squad consists of ten armigers#, four of which have horses and will function as a sort of cavalry. Their prisoner-wagon is familiar to us, having been seen around Westcrown quite often. It’s a sturdy wooden affair with a roof-mounted weapon of some sort, like a giant crossbow.

It appears that Janiven is somewhat familiar with the road out to Citadel Rivad. She outlines two possible places for our ambush, one being a stone bridge over a creek and the other a sparse wood with some places to hide. We have no time to look over these sites ourselves but must quickly make our decisions and plans. It is eventually agreed, that Janiven, with our squad of untrained followers, will serve as a distraction to Shanwen’s guards; whilst we, the active ones, will strike the wagon when the opportunity is there.

In order to make our attack with speed, follower Gorvio arranges with his uncle (and employer) Jacovo, of Jacovo’s Stables and Livery, to borrow four horses. There will be one for me, Nix, Urta and the summoner Simon-Louie.#

The wooded region is selected as the ambush spot; our force divides according to plan and we settle in to await the arrival of the prisoner transport. This is indeed not long in coming; directly Janiven’s group make themselves known far in the front and the four mounted armigers speed away to investigate. At that, we launch ourselves into the fray.

Setting the horses aside, Simon-Louie conjures a deadly war-eagle and sends it straight at Corporal Shanwen. The rest of us charge in – the priest Urta lands a solid blow on Shanwen, distracted as he must have been by Simon-Louie’s eagle. After quite a scrap, during which I found myself knocked unconscious#, we were victorious! We rescued Arael, and managed to leave no armigers dead behind us – one was discovered bleeding out and was healed up by Nix.

Some argued the necessity of this, leaving enemies alive in our wake. It was agreed that we want to make certain that we hold the moral high ground in any argument – that we are better than they are and that if we are to cause any desertions over to our side we must demonstrate this at all times. It all sounds better when Urta or Schiavo says it, I would have just cut their throats and been done with it.#

Before heading back to the city we took from Shanwen and his foot armigers, anything of value they were carrying, including their armor and equipment. All this amounted to a tidy sale at Lucania’s pawn shop# – 160 crowns divided four ways, forty each to Simon-Louie, Urta, Nix and myself.

Also on Shanwen’s person was a curious letter – from the lord mayor of Westcrown himself, to the chief Hellknight at Citadel Rivad. This letter seems to ask for help in dealing with a group of bandits – and also seems to be repeating an earlier request! This, from Aberian Arvanxi himself… These ‘Bastards of Erebus’ must be of some interest, if the mayor’s own forces are unable to meet the threat.

Back to Westcrown we go, first to get Arael safe indoors – the Order of the Rack certainly tried to live up to their name even without using an actual rack – the half-elf priest is in terrible shape and will need some time to recuperate, even with magical healing applied.

Our second errand is to return the horses to Gorvie’s uncle. This was not without incident – uncle Jacovo was being berated sharply by a strange customer when we arrived. This offensive fellow was treating Jacovo to a tirade of invective, all about four missing horses. These turned out to be the same four animals that had carried us out the Rivad road and back! Only quick thinking on the part of Simon-Louie, along with quite a bit of flattery from us all, calmed the man down. He is a local celebrity, a singer in the largest productions# in the biggest houses named Thesing#. It is with some difficulty that I manage to pry him loose from me, once his attention was diverted away from the horses… His remarks upon being soundly rebuffed were most unkind and I hope to never hear the like again. Anyway we made our way from the stables and returned to the Arodenite temple.

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In to And Out Of The Sewers
Game 1

11 Rova, 4711 (11 September, 2011)
Westcrown, Cheliax
Journal of Lostara Rufano

Today, after a pouring rain rendered our busking attempts quite pointless, we (Nix and I) went to Vizio’s tavern in the rego Scripa, to attend a most curious meeting.

Our friend Janiven Key (she’s worked for several guilds and mercantile interests, sometimes as a caravan guard but more often as a city guide and bodyguard for visiting merchants and business partners that the guilds want to keep out of trouble with local thugs or the shadow beasts that patrol the streets at night. Janiven has a reputation of being a bit rash (for example, she recently dragged her charge half-dressed out of a whorehouse when he refused to head back to a safer part of town before sundown) but quite trustworthy) invited us, and was very mysterious about the whole affair, promising that all would be made clear directly.

Nix was very cautious; using his Scripa contacts to find out about this Vizio.

It turned out, that Vizio’s was a place where merchant guards went to relax, gripe about their employers, and look for more work. Several months ago, however, the Vizio patriarch passed away, and the surviving family moved out of Westcrown to go live with kin in distant Corentyn. The place has new owners reputed to be a half-elf man and a human woman—although they seem to be taking their time getting the tavern off the ground and open for business.

So when we showed up, in time for supper, we asked Jan about this and she told us, that she and her partner were indeed the new owners.

Supper was satisfactory but not exceptional; roasted fowl and ground tubers with greens and a boiled sun-cake to finish up. At the table we met:

a garderner from the rego Pena, Stuggs by name;
a studious, clerical man called Urta;
a massive, seemingly slow-witted Tiefling named Karsa who is a tavern bouncer;
an arcane practicioner, Simon-Louie;
a shop-girl Halfling called Tiddley, whom I suspect of having a larcenous streak;
and her friend, a cleric named Drella.

Janiven joined us; she seemed preoccupied and even a bit worried. I asked her about this and she admitted that she was concerned about her partner, who should have been at Vizio’s by suppertime. But, overcoming her worry she called our meeting to order after the cloth was pulled and the nuts were brought out. She assured us that we’ll be done in less than an hour, with plenty of time left over for everyone to get home before sunset. Her speech was short, but delivered with great passion. I’ve tried to copy it here:

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me here. I have chosen each of you for a singular reason —everyone here, myself included, has suffered, whether we realize it or not. I have lived in Westcrown my whole life, and although I love this city, I must admit, as must you, that despite our peace and prosperity, we continue to suffer. Fear should not be an expected part of life, and yet each night brings fear to our doorsteps.

Yes, Westcrown has been safe from war and famine for nearly seventy years, and yes, our businesses has prospered—but this safety and prosperity has been bought in the coinage of fear and prayers to Hell. Other lands live free from tyranny. Other cities do not fear the night. Other governments do not cede the streets to monsters of the infernal shadows.

Westcrown was once such a place, and she wants to be such a place again.

Westcrown is not only her buildings and canals and docks and history—she is also her people. Westcrown is our friends and neighbors, our mothers and fathers, our siblings and cousins, our sons and daughters! With but a small group of supporters and dedicated brothers and sisters, we can earn the trust and admiration of those people. A Westcrown free of these shadowy beasts that stalk our streets is one step closer to a Westcrown free of the devil that is the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune!”

Jan truly believes that she and a small group of like-minded friends can improve the lives of the people of Westcrown, but that they must take care not to appear as rebels or rioters. We must form their own band of protectors, and must work to win the admiration and support of the citizens by doing good works and providing what aid they can. Key to this tactic is the fact that Westcrown is largely ignored by the rulers of Cheliax as a home-in-exile for the old nobility. As long as we work to win the hearts of Westcrown’s citizens by good deeds and avoid as many direct entanglements with the government as we can, the House of Thrune will continue to ignore what they’ll interpret as “petty squabbling” in the old capital.

After this we were all quite moved and each expressed our willingness to support and take part in this righteous endeavor, starting with the pious Urta – it turns out he is a priest of the Bodyguard, Iomedae herself. Even the dull witted Karsa showed some enthusiasm.

But our camaraderie was short-lived! A teenaged urchin, winded from running, burst into Vizio’s – “They’ve got Arael!” he called out, then immediately doubled over in a fit of coughing brought on by his long run. Janiven’s face grew grim as she comforted the lad and asks him to explain himself; in a moment the lad recovered enough to spurt out, “The dottari nabbed Arael, and the Hellknights of the Rack are trying to get custody of him! There’s a bunch of Hellknights on their way here now! I only just made it in here; they’ve already surrounded us!”

Janiven explains hurriedly that Arael is her half-elf partner, who had been expected at Vizio’s some time previously. At that point, the sound of clanking armor advancing on the tavern became apparent. The urchin was indeed correct! I went to a shutter and counted twelve armigers and at least three full fledged Hellknights – Knights of the Rack if I saw the insignia right and I think I did. There was no hope for it but to flee.

Jan had prepared for this; a sturdy hatch is pulled up and a passage revealed leading below the cellar – down, indeed, into the sewers of Westcrown!

She then tries to delay the Hellknights by closing the kitchen door, pulling down shelves to create obstacles, and using a tanglefoot bag to further complicate things, before following me
through the hatch. The urchin, Morosino by name, has gone to the front with Karsa to show him the way. He is showing us curious sword-shaped marks, cut into the walls down here.

Janiven explained, “Arael and I made these marks a few months ago when we explored the sewers. We marked all the intersections so our people could find their way.”

As we travel, the noise of the Hellknights tearing apart Vizio’s Tavern diminishes, but Janiven is sure they’ll follow: “They might take a few minutes to search in the tavern, but some are going to follow us down here after they grab a lantern or make torches. They might even try to infiltrate the sewers ahead of us if they can guess our route. We need to keep moving.”

And keep moving we do. We split up – Janiven with Stuggs, Tiddly, Simon, Drella and Morosino, and me with Nix, the priest Urta, and Karsa. In this way we will confuse pursuit and hopefully get clear.

Our malodorous, underground trek carried us into the path of Hellknight Armiger trios not once, not twice but three times – and the third time, they were already engaged with skeletal undead when we smashed them. None escaped to tell any tales, each one found a new home at the base of the sewer pits. Also many more of the strange skeletons were uncovered but the priest Urta knows how to burn them with holy fire! Praise be to Iomedae!

After a night of flight and filth in the sewers we found the way out – just as we were ready to
collapse from weariness. Only the indefatigable Urta was still chipper on this morning.

(805 XP)

Janiven and her charges met us at this former temple of Aroden, our safe house. All of her group escaped the trap unscathed – the gods smile upon us indeed. Over breakfast Jan tells us, when Arael first came to Westcrown several years ago, he was distraught at the condition of the city’s abandoned shrines to Aroden. Nowhere else, he thought, had the corruption and fall of the once proud empire of Cheliax more blatantly exposed its shame than in this… The ascendancy of Asmodeus-worship has discouraged many people from public worship of other gods, leading to some temples closing as their followers stopped attending, prayed at home, or changed to other churches.

This shrine to Aroden, like many others throughout Westcrown, isn’t technically abandoned—it belongs to the church of Iomedae now, but no one has tended it for years. Arael decided to use this old shrine as a safe house for his latest project for precisely these reasons. The combination of it being a sacred place to his religion and being a building the city government ignores makes it a perfect place to serve as our headquarters.

Furthermore, long-standing laws that forbid secular groups from looting, rebuilding, or
otherwise harming houses of worship work well to prevent too much Hellknight interest in the building. Yet just to be safe, Arael is careful to hide all indications that the shrine is now inhabited. Its facade is as old and filthy as it ever was, and he’s covered all interior doors and windows with dark curtains to block light sources from within. Very few of Westcrown’s citizens know that Arael has cleaned up the interior of the shrine—and most of those are now among us, his growing group of followers.

These followers include (besides those already mentioned) :

Amaya (CG female Tian human expert 1): Amaya is a well-mannered glassblower and an incredibly beautiful woman who’s somewhat self-conscious about the effect her appearance has on others—she dresses plainly as a result. She hopes someday to visit her distant kin who still live in Magnimar and Sandpoint. (Potential: bard.)

Ermolos (NG male Chelish human expert 1): Ermolos is incredibly muscular, a physique the result of a long apprenticeship as a blacksmith. He walks with a slight limp—a lingering effect of a childhood illness. His father, Ermolos the Elder, was a relatively well-known adventurer who vanished on an ill-fated journey to Thuvia several years ago—Ermolos still clings to the hope to some day travel across the Inner Sea to find his missing parent. (Potential: fighter.)

Fiosa (LG female halfling expert 1): Fiosa is a house servant who is friends with many halfling slaves; she takes advantage of her freedom to help her kin as best she can. She has a very real respect for Janiven and Arael after they helped her smuggle several halfing slaves out of Westcrown (and out of a particularly heinous merchant’s home), and her newfound faith in Iomedae is quite strong. (Potential: cleric.)

Gorvio (N male Chelish human expert 1): Gorvio works for his uncle Jacovo, a horse trader, but has increasingly grown curious about his ancestry—his vibrant amber eyes (among hints he’s overheard from his uncle during the man’s frequent drunken bouts) make him suspect that somewhere in his past lurks the blood of a tiefling or two. (Potential: sorcerer.)

Larko (N male Garundi human commoner 1): Larko lives a simple life as a dock worker, but daydreams of his childhood in the hills east of Westcrown and hopes some day to be able to afford to move out of the city and live a hunter’s life. He’s the strong, silent type, rarely speaking unless he has to. (Potential: ranger.)

Mathalen (LN female Chelish human commoner 1): Mathalen is a thin and wiry woman who worked as a porter but found the job dreadfully dull. She got through her days by making sure to take frequent breaks to meditate and purge her mind of “the poisons of menial labor.” This attitude struck her employer as lazy, and she was recently fired from her job and thinks of the Society as her new calling. (Potential: monk.)

Rizzardo (CN male Varisian human commoner 1): After stowing away on a Chelish ship, Rizzardo found himself more or less stuck in Westcrown years ago. He earns his keep working at odd jobs as an unskilled laborer, but has to switch jobs frequently as a result of his temper and impatience at following orders from one person for too long. He only joined the Society because of a powerful attraction to Janiven, but has since grown to enjoy the company of the others, particularly Ermolos, who he insists sounds like his little brother. (Potential: barbarian.)

Sclavo (LG male Garundi human expert 1): A soft-spoken yet intractable (if secret) worshiper of Iomedae, Sclavo has long worked as a scribe for one of Westcrown’s courts. He longs for a day when the laws of Cheliax can be reformed, and sees this group as a tool that, eventually, can be used to do just that. (Potential: paladin.).

Tarvi (CG female Chelish human commoner 1): Tarvi’s parents own a prosperous jewelry store in Westcrown—the “Glitter Palace.” She’s worked there for years, but is far too witty and intelligent to do the job well. In those years she has engineered the failure of no less than a dozen attempts by her parents to get her married into nobility. Her true passion is studying magic—she has little time for romance, and hopes some day to be able to create and sell magical jewelry. (Potential: wizard.)

Vitti (N male Chelish human expert 1): Vitti is a strange, eccentric man who dyes his hair green and refuses to eat any food he doesn’t grow or catch himself. A talented woodcarver whose works earn him a modest income, he prides himself on the fact that he only carves wood that’s been harvested from deadfalls and other trees that died of natural causes. (Potential: druid.)

Yakopulio (CN female gnome expert 1): Of all the Society, noisy and irreverent Yakopulio is the least religious—she wears her atheism proudly, and her eagerness to contradict often sparks arguments among the others in the group. She works as a bartender (and moonlights as a pimp) at a tavern called the Bruised Eel, and many of the others in the Society don’t understand what Arael sees in the offensive gnome. (Potential: rogue.)

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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