Sunday, 16 April 2017

Session Summary: Battle of the Lonely Tower

Dramatis Personae:
Vaina "Full Disclosure" Moynen, blood-soaked barbarian and chosen of Voidwalker.  (Dave).
Landar Farshield, cloak-and-dagger agent of the Emperor. (Phil).
Kavarus, bardic seeker and part-time T-Rex. (Gaz)
Pheobus Arouk, Warlock of the Radiant Light and Astral Wanderer. (Tom).
Barbara, Barbarian ‘on the bench’.  (Chris).

The session opened at The Lonely Tower, where our party had once crossed swords with the indefatigable Black Annis.  Sejuren had raised his camp there, and planned to use the defensible point to hold off the Dameshti army – to hold like a rock before the wave. The Company of the Noose were given command of a flank, holding the dry ground that emerged from the swamp from a horde of Zunian mercenaries. The Company, preparing for battle, schemed at how best to break Sejuren from within.

To that end, Kavarus, Landar and Vaina inspired the green troops under the command into a reckless, doomed charge into the massed Zunian troops. Struggling through swamp water, the recruits clashed with in an agonised moment, being outmatched and slaughtered.  Surveying the bloodshed for a moment, the Company of the Noose then surged backwards in a bid to end Sejuren on the battlefield. Kavarus used his Hypnotic Pattern to easily bypass the last line of defense, and Sejuren himself, seeing his flank collapse and the Company enter his fortress, leapt to battle. Even Arouk, once vanished, was able to materialise in the light of a place so close to his worshippers, and joined the battle.

Even confounded by the Crown of Ruin, Sejuren and his Cambion bodyguard proved a tremendous challenge, shattering the Company of the Noose in the tower. Barbara,and Kavarus soon fell, leaving Vaina fighting alone. As Domorit rained destructive magic from above, the Company nearly found themselves matched. Sejuren even exploited the weakness of Voidwalker to challenge Vaina to a duel – in the realm of shadow within the cursed sword, the two traded blows whilst the fractured remnants of the Company of the Noose gathered their strength, praying for a horde of Zunian barbarians to overwhelm the keep and save them.

Domorit, seeing the Company’s treachery as dealt with, went outside and used her magics to buoy the Loquistan soldiers. The Cambion bodyguard assailed Pheobus Arouk, who once more stood alone, trusting in his armour and the Radiant Light that suffused all things. As scorching rays of fire burnt his flesh and spears bloodied him, he fell dead. Suffused with the light of the positive plane, he exploded – crushing and scattering his Cambion foes.meanwhile, Landar, cursed with the Slow spell by Domorit, struggled with glacial slowness to rouse his comrades. As their blood poured out with disturbing alacrity, Landar willed his sluggish limbs. After agonising moments which felt like hours, he stabilised and revived his embattled comrades.  As Arouk rallied, Landar and his comrades set upon the blinded, scattered Cambions and put them to the sword.

In Voidwalker, steel met steel as Vaina and Sejuren fought like ghouls over flesh. Blows were exchanged, flesh hewn, bones broken – with all the elegance of a rabid bear the two ‘duelled’. At the end, Sejuren outmatched Vaina, and cut him down. Gloating, he kicked Voidwalker aside and pushed his thumbs deep into Vaina’s eyes, crushing them like grapes. Vaina, still raging, flailed for his dagger and stabbed Sejuren in the throat, tumbling. Pawing at his eyes, he realised it was not just the darkness of the void that robbed him of sight – he was truly, permanently blind. Scrabbling for his sword in an eternal darkness, Vaina wept as his fate. Unaware that above, the shadow watched him with an appraising eye.

In the Prime Material, the Dameshti army assaulted the broken defenders of the tower, and Prince Aurelian heaped praise on Captain Landar and his company of the Noose. As the victory was celebrated, Landar and Kavarus were met by Varro – ‘the Kennelmaster’ – who was master of spies for the Emperor himself. Varro, a Warlock whose left arm has been replaced by some mechanical surrogate, posed to Landar a simple truth: all men are slaves, Landar was simply unfortunate enough to see them. Varro offered to call off The Hound provided Landar completed yet another final mission: to take the Company of the Noose to Zunia and recover the Crown and Sword of the ancient Emperors of Damesht, long stolen. He was also told to advise Aurelian on how to consolidate control of Loquista – which elements of Loquistan society would be preserved, and which purged.

As they return to a city now flying the feathered sword of Damesht rather than the shark of Loquista, the players have a huge set of decisions to make….

Villains Vanquished: 11
Assets Acquired:
Pheobus Arouk, Warlock of the Radiant Light and Astral Wanderer. (Benched player-character.)
Valour-In-Every-Heartbeat-Dwells, a Cambion Paladin of the Order of the Resident Star.
Barbara, a Dwarven barbarian of dubious loyalty.
Agnes, former proprietor of The Mucky Duck Brothel.
Nations Overthrown:

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Session Summary: The Crown of Ruin.

Dramatis Personae:
Vaina "Full Disclosure" Moynen, blood-soaked barbarian and chosen of Voidwalker.  (Dave).
Landar Farshield, cloak-and-dagger agent of the Emperor. (Phil).
Bodhi, Assassin-Priest of Beshaba, Lady of Misfortune. (Chris).
Bartholomew, Hunter for the Raven Queen. (Steve).

Our players cease their questioning of the corpses of Teshei and Four Times Jack, and plot the destruction of Sejuren. To this end, Bodhi has crept into the secret sanctum of the Cult of Beshaba with the Crown of Loquista. With the aid of an assortment of fellow worshippers of the Lady of Misfortune (beggars, pickpockets, swaggering sailors, gamblers and prostitutes who fear misfortune) he cursed the Crown in an elaborate ritual, creating The Crown of Ruin. Holding it delicately in cloth, Bodhi felt the tumult implicit in this gilt-and-gold, and was beset by visions of banners fluttering in the wind and falling into mud; of castles crumbling into the sea, or empires hazarded on the throw of a dice.

That night, The Company of the Noose met with Sejuren, and told him the deed was done. Sejuren was soon acclaimed by his troops as Most Sublime Despot of Loquista, Sejuren I, and began bringing his rule to the city with fire and sword. Granted the Crown of Ruin by the party, Sejuren then stormed the Grand Marshal's Keep and slew Tyruk in cold blood, suffering pyrrhic losses as the curse pulsed along the threads of possibility.  

The next day,  Landar snuck out of the city to meet with Prince Aurelian, commander of the Dameshti army: who furnished him with information: that the twin brother of Sejuren, Valour-In-Every-Hearbeat-Dwells, was a knight of the Order of the Resplendent Star and rode with them. Aurelian bade Landar lure Sejuren out of the city, and passed him a letter from the Swan-Emperor of Damesht himself. Landar proposes to open the West Gate for the Dameshti horse, commanded by Valour, that they might claim the city behind Sejuren's back.

On the swamp-wracked road, Landar read his letter, and saw that it was parchment containing only the footprint of The Hound. Feeling the press of fate like an insect crushed by a thumb against a window, Landar fled to the city.

Whilst Landar treated with emperors and princes, Vaina, Bartholomew and Bodhi hunted a merchant - a partisan of Tyruk's, who they slew in cold blood. Even Vaina Moynen quailed to see the way their new comrade Bartholomew put even the merchant's children to the sword.

The next morning the Company of the Noose awake to a city beset by a myriad misfortunes: milk spoiled, beasts sickened, wine soured, lovers parted, children tripped, vases shattered, eggs rotted; and they knew they sat in the lap of the Crown of Ruin; a terrible artefact of the Queen of Witches, Beshaba.

Landar approached The Despot Sejuren, cradling the dread coronet in his hands,  and appealed to his vainglory and his purpose - he goaded the man king with the possibility of cowardice. Shocked by such an affront, Sejuren demanded Landar supplicate himself in the dirt, and threw at him the head of the last man who had named him coward. Eye to glassy eye with the former Grand Marshal Tyruk, Landar begged mercy. But Sejuren heeded his counsel, and decided to march to face off against the Dameshti army in the field - with the Company of the Noose in his honour-guard.

In his absence, Bodhi schemes to open the gate in the dead-of-night, as battle-horns roar in the distance. With his Black Finger allies: Esmeralda, Esteban and Elspeta. Beset by all sides by Cambions and guards, the Black Fingers are soon vanquished with only Bodhi reaching the gate house alive.. Using his magic, he controls the mind of one guard to hold the door whilst he pulls the portcullis and the West Gate, hearing the screams of his dying friends above even the trumpets of the Dameshti charge. Picking over the carnage left at the gatehouse as battle rages all around, Bodhi saves Elspeta and Esteban.

As night falls at the tower of Black Annis, the assembled armies of the Dameshti Emperor Audenfeyr and the fiendish legions of the Despot Sejuren watch each other over the gloom, like two wolves about a scrap of meat. A nation hanging in the balance, the session draws to a close...

"I am aware of the frailty of man, I think about the power of fortune, and I know that all our actions are at the mercy of a thousand vicissitudes..... prepare for war, for you have found peace intolerable." Scipio Africanus

Assets Acquired:
"The Black Fingers": Esteban and Elspeta.
Villains Vanquished: 7.
The Fallen: Esmerelda of the Black Fingers.
Treasure: 200gp (bounty).
Magic Items: The Crown of Ruin.
New Moral Depths Plumbed: 1

The Crown of Ruin.

Artefact. The once-proud coronet of Loquista now thrums with dread purpose. A band of gold with spires of white platinum.
The wearer of the crown takes disadvantage on all saves, actions, attacks and checks and suffers any misfortune a capricious DM can conjure. The effects of the crown are also felt by any organisation or state which the wearer controls directly.
The Crown can only be willingly removed by the wearer following a Wisdom Check of 22.