Monday, August 15, 2016

Star Wars Episode 50 - The Battle of Kashyyyk

(August 13, 2016) Episode 50: "The Battle of Kashyyyk" (part 1)

On Ryloth, Neri, Luke Skywalker, and Taanar followed Kanan Jarrus back to the abandoned Twi’lek village where he had been hiding. Taanar found his ability to face toward whoever he spoke to unnerving as his eyes were covered by a completely opaque mask.
After the small group reached the village, Kanan asked more details about them, and Neri introduced Taanar and Luke to him. When he heard Luke’s surname, he remarked that he had known Anakin Skywalker. Luke told him that Anakin was his father, and Neri explained that Anakin Skywalker was now better known as Darth Vader. Kanan shuddered when he heard this information.
Kanan expressed some doubt when he learned that Taanar was Neri’s padawan. He told them the story of how his own padawan, Ezra Bridger, had been tempted to the Dark Side of the Force by contact with former Sith Darth Maul and a Sith holocron. He asked Neri if she had a holocron to help with training, and she told him she possessed Master Yoda’s holocron. They reminisced for a short time about Yoda’s training methods, which helped to establish a friendlier relationship.
Kanan of course realized the reason that Neri and Luke had come seeking him. He wasn’t sure that reforming the Jedi Order was a wise plan. After discussing this with Neri and Luke, he then asked Taanar what she thought. In response she told him how her father had been among the colonists on Kiros who had been sold into slavery, and how the slaves had been rescued by Jedi. She believed that the Universe needed the Jedi Order. Neri told him that she believed the Force needed balance and the Jedi could provide that. And Luke stated that he believed Darth Vader still had good in him and could be redeemed. If Darth Vader could be redeemed, so could Ezra Bridger. At the conclusion of this discussion, Kanan Jarrus agreed to return with Neri, Taanar, and Luke, and join the New Jedi Order.
While the Jedi were on Ryloth, Echo Base had to be evacuated when the Imperial ship movement intelligence the team had acquired from Melly Lemgoo indicated that Imperial forces were converging on Dagobah. The Rebel forces got away just in time.
Once the Jedi reunited with their friends in the Antarian Rangers and their Alliance allies, they began to plan their next move: to liberate Kashyyyk, homeworld of the Wookiees. They had previously be able to free a number of Wookiee prisoners from the Empire, but the planet was still under an Imperial blockade and many Wookiees had been enslaved and were being forced to participate in the deforestation of their world. But as ADX reviewed the forces the Rangers had available to them, he predicted that an attack using only the Rangers and Jedi had a 50% chance of success, which was not as favorable a prediction as he desired. Princess Leia came to the rescue by offering the aide of the Rebel Alliance’s Phoenix Squadron, led by Captain Hera Syndulla and Admiral Sato.
Planning for the assault progressed swiftly from that point. The Jedi and Rangers would escort freed captives to the transport ships, while Phoenix Squadron carried out the attack on the Imperial forces at the orbital Avatar Base and on the surface of Kashyyyk. Dash would be providing air support aboard the Venture. Lowarra’s friend Chewbacca was eager to join the ground assault, as he didn’t know what had become of his family left behind on the planet. His comrade Han Solo was determined to accompany him. Han even agreed to allow Princess Leia to pilot his beloved Millenium Falcon so he could be at Chewie’s side. The verbal sparring that occurred between Han and Leia while he talked her (unnecessarily) through the ship’s controls worried Neri, who had been told by Master Yoda that it was imperative the two of them become a couple. But she didn’t intervene. She did, however, accidentally stumble upon Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus in an embrace.
During the final preparations for the assault, Neri and Dash, who had grown up together, had a moment to step back and look at what was happening in amazement. “When did we become the grown-ups?” Dash asked Neri, to which Neri replied, “I’ve got a kid now!”
As Phoenix Squadron prepared to head out to lead the assault, the Jedi and Rangers were introduced to the rest of her team aboard her personal ship, the Ghost, including her Mandalorian comrade Sabine Wren and Lasat Garazeb “Zeb” Orellios. Neri expressed admiration for the personal decoration Sabine had added to her armor, and for Zeb’s reputation as a warrior. Following the introductions, Hera asked Kanan Jarrus to join her on the Ghost and he agreed. In a quiet moment before they left, Neri apologized for interrupting their private interlude, and Kanan explained that he had finally taken the opportunity to talk with Hera about something he’d needed to say for a long time. Neri also asked him why he hadn’t sought prosthetic replacements for his damaged eyes, and he indicated he would give it some thought.
The assault force set out with Ghost leading Phoenix Squadron, and Luke Skywalker’s ship the Wamp Rat leading the Z-95 Headhunter squad of fighters. Lowarra and ADX were with a drop team aboard the Venture, accompanied by Neri and Taanar. The assault force also included the Lowarra’s Honor, manned by Wookiee resistance fighters, and four droid landing ships taken from the Banking Clan units that the Rangers had acquired from San Hill’s private stash. Picking up the droids had led to the first time Luke Skywalker was shown the secret hiding place and its supplies, but to maintain secrecy, he wasn’t given the entry codes.
During the journey to Kashyyyk, Neri and Taanar meditated. Taanar was anxious about firing the Venture’s cannons, as that type of weapon wasn’t part of her training, and even Neri was concerned that her artillery skills were inadequate. It was Kanan Jarrus who offered them some advice on how best to use the guns. As the assault force closed in on their destination, Neri gave the Rangers a pep talk, telling them, “Kashyyyk is a planet of proud warriors that has long been oppressed by the Empire. Today they will have their freedom!” The Rangers responded with resounding cheers.
Aboard the Venture, Dash used navigation codes given to her by the Wookiee navigators’ guild to make a close hyperspace entry to the planet. She was anxious about coming in so close, and was a bit surprised when Luke Skywalker advised her to “Use the Force,” as she was not Force sensitive. But Luke told her that the Force surrounded everything, and that she should trust in it and herself. The Venture and the Wraith squadron of Ranger fighters emerged from hyperspace so near to the Avatar Base that the base didn’t have time to react. Princess Leia expressed some anxiety about Han Solo’s safety on the planet, and Dash, who had long been friends with Solo, reassured her that he could take care of himself.
While Phoenix Squadron and the New Hope put the the Avatar Base out of commission, the Sky River Venture carried Lowarra, ADX, Chewbacca, and Han Solo to the drop zone near the main Imperial installation on the planet’s surface. The plan was for them to land in the branches of the huge trees that covered the planet’s surface, but ADX missed his aim and fell to the ground. He was immediately attacked by a huge spider-like creature, which grappled him and began to wrap him in sticky, tough webbing. As the team were trying to maintain a low profile, he couldn’t use his blaster against the beast, and his vibroblade proved minimally effective. Lowarra and Chewbacca quickly came to his aid with their bowcasters, slaying the creature, which they both considered a tasty delicacy. Even Han agreed that it didn’t taste too bad. Lowarra was exhilarated to be back on her homeworld.
As the ground assault team approached the Imperial installation, they could see explosions overhead as Avatar Base was disabled. Han and Chewie slipped up to the shield generators and planted explosives to take out the generators. Lowarra fired a missile at the base’s heavy turret gun. ADX began taking out the Stormtroopers who were outside the base structures. With the destruction of Avatar Base, alarms began to sound, but the forces those alarms mustered weren’t enough to withstand the guerilla team. Lowarra took control of a tank, and with ADX riding dramatically on top, rammed it into the base’s largest building to breach the wall.
As ADX and Lowarra abandoned the tank and entered the building, Ranger forces already inside reported that some of the Imperial troops had barricaded themselves in the control center. Lowarra and the others immediately headed for the control room. By this time Neri and Taanar had joined them, and some of the Rangers were busy moving freed Wookiee prisoners to the transports. As the command group approached the control room, they heard a voice shouting, “You rebel scum will never get away with this!” They arrived to find that an Imperial officer had taken a juvenile Wookiee hostage and was holding a blaster to his head. Chewbacca was shocked to see that the hostage was his own son, Lumpawaroo. Even more distressing was the realization that his father Attichitcuk, who was already wounded, was also behind the barricade.
At the sight of his family members in danger, Chewbacca flew into a rage and rushed the barricade. Lowarra raced after him. The Imperial office responded by shooting Chewbacca’s son, who slumped to the ground. Taanar, horrified that anyone would shoot a child, used the Force to shove the officer into a control console. Neri scrambled past the barrier and ran to Chewbacca’s son, using her ability to channel her own life force to heal him. Chewbacca meanwhile sliced off the officer’s head. Neri was able to save his son’s life, but sadly she was too late to save his father. Attichitcuk was dead.

As the Rangers mopped up the troops inside the base, those outside heard an ominous sound of pistons and heavy bipedal footsteps approaching. At the same time Dash, who had been flying reconnaissance over the area, sent a “We’ve got company!” warning to her friends as she watched a massive AT-AT lumber toward them.

Wrath of the Righteous, episode 7: Among the Ruins of Kenabres


August 14, 2016

Character level: 3rd

The following morning after their arrival at Horgus Gwerm’s house, Aegron’s friend Darla decided to stay there for the time being, until Aegron could find out what had become of their friend Abel. Horgus didn’t seem entirely pleased with having another mouth to feed, but Darla didn’t brook any argument from him.

Jiro climbed up to the top of the house to look out over the city, but there was still too much smoky haze to see anything of the district where the group had been when the initial attack occurred.

After saying farewell to Horgus and Darla, the group set out to escort Anevia to her home. Although her wife Irabeth was a respected paladin and they lived in one of the better sections of Kenabres, their home was a modest one. But on the journey to the house the party saw numerous shops offering higher quality and more expensive goods. They paused several times while Jiro made sure the people they saw had food and water and were not ill or injured.

Suddenly they heard cries for help coming from an area ahead. Aegron, Zosta, and Runa ran forward to see what the trouble was. The spotted a stranger being trying to smash the door of a shop. The calls for help came from within the shop. Aegron, who had learned his way around the city quite well, dove into a sewer tunnel. The others ran into a courtyard with a low wall that faced the shop. As they did so the creature turned to face them, revealing that it was oddly hunchbacked, which at first made Zosta think that it was holding its own head in its hands as she mistook its hump for its shoulders. The creature began to chant words in the tongue of demon-kind.

Runa recognized the creature as an abrikandilu, but she could recall little else about such demons. She did recognize that what it was doing was summoning something else and she called out a warning to her comrades. Asami left Jiro to look after Anevia and ran into the little courtyard to join Runa and Zosta. Zosta then leaped over the wall and bounded across the street to kick the demon in an attempt to disrupt its spellcasting, but though her kick connected the creature continued to chant. Then a second abrikandilu appeared next to Runa.

For an instant Zosta felt a wave of fear, similar to what the quasit had subjected her to the previous day, but she overcame the sensation. The second demon attacked Runa but failed to harm her. Jiro appeared just outside the courtyard and used a wand to summon a spiritual weapon to attack the demon that had been trying to break into the shop. Though his previous attempt had created a tetsubo, this time the weapon appeared as a shillelagh.

Asami shot a ray of frost at the demon attacking Runa but it flew past without hitting her target. At the same time Aegron sprang out of the sewer by the demon across the street. The demon facing Runa clawed at Radiance and seemed to be trying to break the sword, simultaneously biting at Runa. The first demon fled from Zosta and Jiro’s spiritual weapon pursued it. It ran toward Jiro, perhaps wanting to get rid of the caster of the spell.

The demon trying to harm Radiance suddenly let out a scream. Runa could tell by its reaction that it had recognized the famed blade. Asami directed another ray of frost at the demon but it appeared to have no effect, though Asami was unable to observe this from her position. The second demon began trying to damage Jiro’s morningstar and bit him. The wounds the demons left on Jiro and Runa were especially gruesome, and left their victims feeling somewhat demoralized.

The demon facing Runa turned its attention to her heavy wooden shield, which it managed to crack. At the same time she heard a voice say in a commanding tone, “Put some effort into it!” and both demons seemed to gain a burst of speed. Jiro was so badly bitten by his foe that he collapsed. Runa used her fervor to heal herself, though that didn’t get rid of her feeling of inadequacy. Zosta had pursued the demon that fled from her, and when she attacked it again it disappeared. Runa then called out for her friends to find out who had been giving the demons orders. Anevia had come to join the fight and hobbled to Jiro’s side, reporting that he was seriously hurt. Runa went to share Iomedae’s healing power with him.

Zosta meanwhile saw two people peeking cautiously out of the shop, a man and a woman, both well dressed. The shopkeepers emerged and introduced themselves as Belthis and Neera Loomis. They expressed profound gratitude to the group for saving them from the abrikandilu, which Asami now recalled were especially fond of destroying things of beauty. As a token of their appreciation the Loomises told the party members to each take an outfit from their clothing shop. Asami was able to find garments in the style of Minkai among their stock, but they had no such apparel for Jiro. The couple also provided information that the city leadership and defenders might be gathered at the stronghold known as Defender’s Heart.

While inside the shop, Asami also remembered that abrikandilu did not like mirrors. She told the shopkeepers this so they could be prepared if more such demons appeared. She also reassured Jiro and Runa that they would recover from the curse the demon-inflicted wounds had caused in a few days.

Since her shield was too damaged to be useful and she had no way to repair it, Runa decided to use one of the light steel shields they had taken from some of the Baphomet cultists they had defeated. She found some material in the Loomis’s shop that she could use to cover the symbol of Baphomet on the shield’s face.

It was early evening by the time the group reached Anevia and Irabeth’s home. The house was quiet and dark. Anevia called out for her wife as soon as she entered. Abruptly a giant fire beetle appeared in front of her. Anevia was so startled by its sudden appearance that when she fired an arrow at it she missed and shot into the floor. Aegron stepped up and slew the beetle with his spear, whereupon its remains vanished. Runa cautiously checked in the bedroom. A moment later a dark shape appeared, threatening, “Your wife will find your corpse!” as it attacked Anevia.

The shadowy figure proved to be a half-orc man wearing an elaborate outfit and wielding a ranseur. The area he had appeared in was occupied by a large table and chairs, making it cramped for combat. Zosta bounded on top of the table. Runa pushed Anevia behind her to protect her, but the woman refused to remain out of the fight and moved forward to face the half-orc man, who she seemed to recognize. Aegron stepped up to attack him, and Asami cast magic missile at him, but the projectile bounced off an invisible shield around his body. The half-orc focused his attacks on Anevia. Anevia demanded to know what he had done with Irabeth, to which he responded, “She’s not dead yet but she soon will be!” He struck Anevia again and she collapsed.

Runa reached out to pull Anevia to safety and the half-orc used his ranseur to jerk Radiance out of her grasp. He sneered insultingly at Runa, assuming that her coincidental resemblance to Irabeth had been meant to trick him. Jiro summoned a spiritual testsubo from his wand, but its blow did no harm to the half-orc. Asami tried attacking him with her Splintered Spear but it flew past him. The half-orc drew a wand and a magic missile issued from it to strike the unconscious Anevia. Runa picked up her sword and slashed at him, while Jiro used a wand to heal Anevia’s injuries. Aegron rolled gracefully across the table to reach the half-orc but landed badly and wasn’t able to strike. Asami’s spear failed to connect a second time. The half-orc then attacked Zosta. She attempted to wrest the ranseur away from him, but somehow he was able to retain his grip on it despite her skillful attack.

Anevia had by this time recovered enough under Jiro’s ministrations to get up and get her bow, although she was still wounded. Jiro then turned his attention to healing Zosta. Anevia fired at the half-orc, while Runa chopped him with her sword and Aegron stabbed with his spear. Their combined attacks left the half-orc lying unconscious on the floor, but Jiro pleaded with them not to kill him as he might know valuable information.

Anevia then explained to her companions that many years ago, when Irabeth was living in the River Kingdoms, a half-orc cult of Xoveron had formed. Irabeth had captured this person and sent him to prison. He had somehow managed to escape and sought revenge. Zosta searched him and found that he had on his person a spell component pouch containing some components for spells that required more expensive materials, the wand that contained magic missile, a potion which Asami identified as invisibility, and his ranseur, which was magically enhanced. Asami was unable to determine its capabilities, but Runa discovered that it was a ranseur of the gargoyles, which was enchanted to be especially difficult for anyone to take away from the bearer in combat, as well as being able to grant the bearer increased armor protection several times a day.

Since it was already evening, the group decided to stay overnight at Anevia’s house before going on to the Defender’s Heart to seek Irabeth. They bound, gagged, and blindfolded the half-orc. Aegron also produced a group of small bells that they tied to the half-orc so any movement by him would alert them. They stood watches during the night, and while Runa and Asami were on watch the half-orc stirred. Runa assumed this to be an escape attempt and hit him in the head with her sword pommel until he passed out again.

The next day Anevia found a note from Irabeth, telling her to go to Defender’s Heart and giving her the password to gain entry: “Silverstrong.” When the party set out, Runa carried their prisoner. It wasn’t long before they came upon a group of armored men surrounding a woman, who was clutching a baby. They were surprised when they heard these men say, “Your sacrifice aids the cause of good.” The woman appeared to be terrified and looked at the new arrivals as though pleading for help.

Aegron approached and pretended to be friendly to the men, though his companions were a little confused by his behavior. He asked the men what was going on, and they revealed that they believed bathing their swords in the blood of a virgin would help them to fight demons. When someone pointed out that the woman had an infant with her, the men proclaimed that she was probably lying and the child wasn’t hers. Aegron then attacked the man nearest him, immediately dropping the fellow to the ground.

Runa had moved forward to position herself between the woman and the men, trying to convince them that the old wives’ tale they had heard was untrue. The area they had chosen for their sacrifice was a shrine to Sarenrae, and Runa told them that blood sacrifice was not the way of Sarenrae but they appeared unwilling to listen. When Aegron attacked, Runa also attacked one of the men near her. Jiro ran forward to stabilize one of the fallen men, not wanting them to die for merely being misguided. Zosta moved up and disarmed a third man. The woman fled and hid behind a hedge. Runa continued trying to persuade the men, but they seemed irrational. Suddenly they all fled.

The woman, who told them her name was Kayla, explained that she had gone out to find food and had been obliged to take her baby because her parents were both injured. The men had found her and dragged her to the shrine. The man Jiro had stabilized was awakened and was gently talked back into a more rational frame of mind. It appeared that the group of men had all been panicked and confused by the demonic attacks, and when one of them suggested bathing their swords in virgin blood to give them an advantage against the demons, the rest went along with the idea.

The party escorted Kayla back to her family home, where Jiro gave them a few goodberries and created some water for them. Runa also used her divine magic to heal their injuries. Kayla told the group that she had heard that there were several groups of defenders at Defender’s Heart, that the wardstone had been destroyed, and that an army from Mendev was on its way to bring aid to the city.

Loot acquired:
Spell component pouch worth 25 gp
wand of magic missile, 3rd level, 10 charges
Ranseur of the gargoyles – obsidian head, hard as steel; +1 ranseur, +4 bonus on disarm checks; 5/day as swift action, wielder can cause skin to harden for 1 round, gaining +2 enhancement bonus to natural armor.


Next session scheduled for August 28.

Next: Episode 8, Defender's Heart

Monday, August 8, 2016

Wrath of the Righteous, episode 6: A Reunion Among the Rubble

August 7, 2016

Character level: 3rd

Runa justified her execution of the arsonist ringleader to her companions by the fact that he had been prepared to burn the librarians alive. Afterward, librarian Fenna told the group that the rest of Blackwing Ruin had been destroyed by a tall man-like being who appeared to be composed entirely of maggots. This being had also taken some treasures from the library, though she did not know what specifically had been removed. She also told them that head librarian Quedneys Orlun had been at the cathedral at the time of the attack, and she did not know if he had survived.

In appreciation for the rescue, the librarians gave the group a spellbook that was left among the undamaged tomes. They were also given a password that would allow them admission back into the library in the future. Aravashniel expressed regret that he would not be going along with them when they departed, but he felt it would be best to remain at Blackwing Ruin and do what he could to restore the library’s collection of materials on demonology. He asked the companions to bring him any books they found that had been taken from Blackwing, or anything that would be useful to the collection.

The spellbook was given into Asami’s care. On examination she found that it contained alarm, dismissal, dispel magic, magic circle vs chaos, resist energy, and versatile weapon. She also discovered a scroll containing the spell dimensional lock tucked between the pages.

Before the small company left to escort Horgus Gwerm to his home, they found several dead, desiccated maggots on the floor that proved not to have originated on the Material Plane. Johan decided to hand over to the group a wand of cure light wounds he had been carrying, as well as a pair of bracers of armor. In return, Jiro gave him the heavy mace they had taken from the man Runa killed. Jiro took charge of the wand, while the group members decided that Asami would be the best person to wear the bracers as the rest of the companions all had armor of their own. To the surprise of everyone, Johan snapped the haft off the mace and affixed the head on top of his hammer, which glowed briefly. When the glow faded the mace head had melded with the hammer.

After saying their farewells, the group set off for the Gwerm estate, their number reduced by the absence of Aravashniel and Johan. It wasn’t long before they stumbled upon a group of tieflings engaged in looting. The encounter quickly became a rout as they slew all but one of the looters and the last fled. They took what little gold the looters had carried, labeled their bodies “Looters”, and went on their way.

Not long after they disposed of the looters, some members of the group heard shouting and jeering ahead. They came upon a fountain, and nearby a group of six or seven armored men surrounding a lone woman. Aegron suddenly recognized the woman as his friend Darla. Jiro called out to the men, “Do you need help?” in a friendly tone. But the encounter didn’t remain friendly when he realized all of the men wore symbols of Baphomet.

Aegron shouted furiously, “Leave her alone!” and raced forward. The cultists moved to surround him, all of them striking him and leaving him stunned. Jiro cast a curative spell and passed it to Uncle to deliver it to Aegron. As Uncle moved toward Aegron, he conjured an image of a large ape to divert attention from himself. Runa moved toward the cultists, giving herself a war blessing as she went. One of the men in the group was bigger and more elaborately dressed than the others. He roughly pushed Darla behind him.

Asami sent a magic missile hurtling at the larger man who held Darla. Bohgong delivered the spell to Aegron, while Runa dealt a massive blow to one of the cultists and slew him. Asami directed an acid arrow at the leader, but he deflected it. While Jiro moved in to heal Aegron’s injuries and Runa was struck in the head by one of the cultists, the leader held his sword menacingly to Darla’s throat. Anevia grew concerned when Asami moved closer to the cultists to get better range for her spells, and she wondered why they didn’t concentrate their attacks on the leader, but Asami feared that if their attacks didn’t immediately slay him he would kill Darla. Asami instead sent a ray of frost at one of Runa’s opponents. Zosta tripped one of her foes, but was knocked unconscious by the number of wounds she had suffered.

At that moment, the leader casually sliced his sword blade across Darla’s throat and strolled away. No one was close enough to pursue him, or direct any ranged attacks at him before he disappeared from view among the buildings. Runa rushed to Darla’s side to cast a healing spell on her. Jiro moved to heal Zosta. Asami and Anevia continued to attack the cultists from a distance. Once Zosta had recovered enough to be able to move, she tripped her foe again, knocking him to the ground beside her, and then punched him into oblivion. Aegron ran to Darla’s side. Runa stood up and struck down another cultist, and Anevia and Zosta combined attacks to bring down a third man.

When all of the cultists had fallen except for their leader, the group found themselves in possession of six glaives, six shortswords, four potions of cure light wounds, six masterwork chain shirts, and six silver holy symbols of Baphomet. The cultists had also carried a total of 20 gold pieces.

Once Darla had been healed enough that she could move and talk, she explained to them that this area of the New Kenabres district had many Baphomet cultists, while Old Kenabres contained more cultists of the demon lord Deskari. She also told them that most of the more powerful demons had departed from the city and taken the dragon Terendelev’s body with them to the Worldwound. She had also heard from eavesdropping on the cultists that the witch Areelu Vorlesh planned to come to claim the city; and she had seen huge insects with humanoid faces flying about the city eating people. The cultist leader who had taken her captive was called Garb, but she had never seen his face and felt that his voice sounded otherworldly. Darla offered to guide the group through the city, as she had come to know her way around New Kenabres quite well.

A short time later, they heard shouting and screeching from up ahead, as a high-pitched voice seemed to be ordering someone else to do something. Aegron went forward to see what it was and observed a group of people wearing scraps of armor and carrying broken weapons and sticks, who appeared to be engaged in constructing a performance stage. He also spotted two tiny red creatures with wings that seemed to be commanding the group of townsfolk. Zosta also stepped forward to see better and realized that the tiny winged creatures were quasits. One of the quasits exclaimed, “What’s that?” then commanded the people, “Protect us! Protect us!” The people moved forward to attack as commanded, but they appeared reluctant and fearful.

Aegron rushed up to where one of the quasits perched and it let out a shriek. Runa raised her holy symbol of Iomedae and spoke to the people, telling them that they did not need to comply with the orders of evil creatures. They seemed to be affected by her words and hesitated. Zosta moved beside Aegron and punched one of the quasits with her cold iron knuckles, which caused it to screech and then vanish. Runa moved toward the makeshift stage, and Aegron shifted position so that he could see four corpses lying toward the rear of the platform. Suddenly the second quasit screeched, and Aegron burst into a mad run away from the area, shouting in terror. Zosta also ran, though she remained silent in her headlong flight.

Uncle bounded onto the rooftops and pursued the two fleeing companions. He caught up with Zosta, leaped onto her shoulders, and put his hands over her eyes, forcing her to stop since she couldn’t see where she was going. He turned her around and then took his hands away, causing her to run back toward her friends. Meanwhile, the effect on Aegron faded and he stopped running, then turned and ran back toward the others.

One of the quasits reappeared and attacked Runa. Asami, who had been unable to see the two tiny demons at first, finally caught a glimpse of one and tried to hit it with a ray of frost but missed her target and hit one of the people, who died instantly. The second quasit also appeared and began clawing and biting at Runa. Runa struck it with Radiance and it dropped to the ground. Asami stabbed at the second quasit with her Splintered Spear. Then one of the townsfolk under the demons’ control slashed her arm. The quasit again disappeared from view. Runa called out that it was invisible and began sweeping her blade through the area where it had last been seen, but she swung too hard and Radiance became wedged in the wood of a nearby crate.

Runa had earlier told her companions not to harm the people as they were being compelled by the demons, so Jiro knocked two of them down with his staff. A second man moved up to Asami and stabbed her with his broken sword. Aegron returned just in time to knock the man out. After the fighting stopped, Runa cast stabilize on all of the injured and was able to save everyone but the man who had been hit by Asami’s spell. She realized that the quasits had just been amusing themselves by forcing the people to put on a play for them, and had slain the four people found dead in order to terrify the rest into obeying them.

Most of the people who had been victimized by the quasits lived nearby and returned to their homes, but one accompanied the group as they made their way to Horgus Gwerm’s house. The house turned out to be intact, because his guards and servants had all fled and the attacking demons had been more interested in destroying occupied buildings. To Horgus’ irritation, the guards had also stolen some valuable items, but his vault was still secured. To show his appreciation for the group’s protection, instead of giving them the 1,000 gold pieces they had agreed upon he presented them with 2,000 gold. The local man who had been freed from the quasits agreed to remain as a servant. Garvin, the retired crusader who had been kidnapped by the Baphomet cultists, also decided to stay there as a guard. The rest of the party rested at the house overnight to recuperate from their wounds.

Loot acquired:
Spellbook: alarm, dismissal, dispel magic, magic circle vs chaos, resist energy, versatile weapon
Scroll of dimensional lock
6 glaives
6 shortswords
4 potions: cure light wounds
6 masterwork chain shirts
2,020 gold pieces
Wand, cure light wounds – 38 charges
Bracers of armor +1

Next: Episode 7, Among the Ruins of Kenabres

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Wrath of the Righteous, episode 5: Harsh Justice

July 31, 2016

Character level: 3rd

As the group hiding in the shop looked on, both Jiro and Zosta realized that they were completely unable to gauge the strength or skill of anyone in the party with Jiro’s brother. While the procession in the street was passing by the shop, the kami allowed Jiro to clearly see the fiery fox demon within his brother. Suddenly the demon turned to look toward the shop and grinned, and Jiro was sure that it was looking at him. At that same instant the kami abruptly withdrew and his vision returned to normal. He recognized that while the demon had been looking in his direction, his brother was still facing forward.

Once the demonic group had passed by, Jiro told his companions what he had seen. Asami and Runa had both spent much time learning about the denizens of the Abyss and the infernal realms, and they both recognized that the demon Jiro had seen was one of the nine demon lords of Tian Xia.

Despite all the strange events that had occurred that evening, and against the wishes of his wife, the shopkeeper offered the group lodging for the night. He introduced himself as Joual, and his wife as Maebel. Their two children were young son Syd and slightly older daughter Neena. After thanking Joual for his offer of hospitality, Jiro sat down on the floor and explained to everyone how and why he and Asami had come to the Worldwound.

When Jiro had finished his tale, Maebel began having Neena do some chores around the basement area where the family had been hiding since the catastrophe that befell Kenabres. Asami noticed that the woman didn’t have the girl do any chores that would involve using wooden objects. She also observed that Neena seemed unusually interested in the fire.

At the same time, Kirara was being exceptionally friendly with little Syd. Syd began to plead for the newcomers to tell him a story. As he grew more strident, there was suddenly a pulse of soothing energy that filled the room, and everyone who still had any injury realized they had been healed. Jiro recognized that the positive energy had come from Syd, and thanked the boy. It was apparent to the group of adventurers that both Neena and Syd had magical power and Syd had been blessed by one of the gods. Runa approached Maebel to suggest that once the city’s troubles were over she should consider taking her son to a temple for training. A little later, as Syd continued to beg for stories from the visitors, it seemed that he was about to release his divine power again. But that proved too much for his small body and instead he fell asleep.

The party members used what healing capability they had left to make sure that everyone would be fully healed the next morning. Jiro also used his magic to create water for the family. In appreciation for the group’s kindness to his family, Joual told them that they could take whatever they needed from the supplies in the shop. They took the time to distribute among themselves some of the items they had acquired underground; Jiro took charge of a scroll of magic fang, Zosta was given a potion of cure moderate wounds, and Asami received scrolls of comprehend languages and identify.

That night Joual and Maebel took turns standing watch while their children slept. The party members offered to watch over the pair so they could rest, but the couple were determined to watch over their children themselves.

The following morning, Jiro and Uncle had a conversation about something else Jiro had seen in addition to his brother's state of possession, something which he hadn’t described to anyone else. While his brother and the rest of his group were passing by, Jiro had caught a glimpse of a red-furred monkey with black wings lurking in the shadows. Uncle immediately knew that this monkey was an aspect of a mischief-making demon called Belphegor, but he warned that Belphegor’s definition of “mischief” would be described by mortals as “torture.”

After Jiro shared this information with the rest of his companions, he went out to check Joual and Maebel’s garden, where he found some berries to use as goodberries.

When Jiro returned to the shop, Uncle told him that one of the kami from the previous evening’s events had offered to remain and watch over the house. Jiro told Joual and Maebel about the benevolent kami and how to provide it with recompense, and the kami was so pleased by what he described that it left an imprint of its smiling face in dust on the counter.

The party then took their leave of the couple. Jiro suggested that if they found any crusaders about in the city they could ask that they keep an eye on Joual’s shop, but Joual requested that they not tell anyone about him. He preferred to reserve what supplies he had left for the benefit of his friends and neighbors. The group members agreed to abide by his wishes.

As the party made their way toward Aravashniel’s desired destination, Blackwing Ruin, they saw more people in the streets than on the previous evening, though nowhere near as many as they would have seen prior to the demonic attack. They overheard a variety of rumors from passersby: that the demon lord Deskari himself had led the attack, that a witch was coming to claim the city, that there were multiple cults of demon-worshippers abroad in the city, and that the water supply had been poisoned. This last rumor was quickly proved to be false.

They also came upon a large man who was surrounded by smears of blood and crushed bones that they could just manage to identify as the remains of some small demons. Since the man’s hammer was covered in blood as well, they took this to mean that he had slain the demons himself. Once he realized they were not enemies, he introduced himself to the group as Johan, a laborer who had come to Kenabres to join the Crusade but had arrived just in time for the attack. He agreed when they invited him to accompany them.
As they neared the location of Blackwing Ruin, a trail of devastation could be seen ahead. It did not lead to Blackwing Ruin, but when they approached that structure they saw that it too had suffered massive destruction. Only the part of the building that was likely the entrance hall still stood. The rest was rubble. Curiously, none of the surrounding buildings had been damaged. The members of the group began to suspect that Blackwing Ruin had been deliberately targeted for destruction. When told of the state of the building, Aravashniel fell to his knees and wept.

Then Aegron heard the sound of a voice coming from within the remaining structure, a man ordering someone to hurry and stack some books. He moved closer and peered inside through a window opening. Within the building, he saw an armed and armored man commanding a woman to stack the books. In the center of the chamber were four people, bound hand and foot. The books the woman was stacking were encircling the four bound people, and it was apparent to Aegron that the fellow ordering the woman about meant to set the books – and the people – on fire. He immediately drew his bow and fired on the man while calling out to his companions what he had seen.

Runa charged forward, drawing Radiance on the run, and used her shield to bash open the double doors. Aegron dropped his bow and ran inside to attack the armored man who had been giving commands. The man dropped a torch on the floor and some nearby tomes caught fire. The man then ran toward the doors where Runa stood, shouting, “Death to Iomedae!” He struck Runa a serious blow with the heavy mace he carried. Two other people appeared from the shadows to attack Aegron.

The woman who had been stacking the books ran to untie the four prisoners. Johan and Garvin, the man the group had rescued from the Baphomet cultists, both moved into the chamber. Jiro went to heal Runa, while Garvin helped Aegron against his opponents. Zosta tumbled through the crowd in the doorway and went to put out the fire and finish untying the prisoners. Johan swung his massive hammer at the man who was attacking Runa, and the fellow stopped fighting and began to beg for mercy.

Asami had remained outside with Aravashniel, Aneva and Horgus. On hearing what Aegron described, Aravashniel began to summon something. An otyugh appeared inside the chamber between the stacked books and the fighting going on near the doorway. When Zosta tried to move past, it lashed at her. Asami gave Aravashniel some advice about how to keep the creature from attacking his friends and the otyugh moved to protect the former prisoners from their attackers.

Runa ordered the man with the mace to drop his weapon and shield, and he complied. In the meantime Aegron badly wounded one of his opponents and slew the other. Runa then angrily demanded to know what her prisoner was doing there. He replied that he had come to join the Crusade. When she asked why he had cried out, “Death to Iomedae,” he told her he disliked priests, especially those devoted to Iomedae and Sarenrae. Determined to make him regret his choices, Runa slashed his cheek with the point of Radiance, which was just enough hurt to cause him to faint.

After the fire was smothered and the prisoners all freed, Asami escorted Aravashniel inside to see what was left. The woman who had been stacking books, Fenna, recognized Aravashniel although he didn’t know her. She was very impressed and excited to see him. She and the four other people had all been librarians for Blackwing Ruin’s huge collection of material on demons and demonology. When Fenna told her rescuers that everyone else in the building had been slain, it brought Aravashniel to tears again. Once he had recovered his composure, he was determined to remain at the ruined structure. He asked Johan if he would be willing to stay there as guard, and the big man agreed.

Runa meanwhile used her divine magic to heal the would-be arsonist just enough to bring him back to consciousness. Then she took him outside, condemned him to death in the name of Iomedae, and ran him through with Radiance.

Loot acquired:
+1 heavy mace
2 potions of cure light wounds
Suit of banded mail
Light steel shield
65 gold pieces
2 shortswords
2 sets of leather armor

Next: Episode 6, A Reunion Among the Rubble