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Orphans & Organizations: session 9

A funny thing happened at the theater

16 Eleint - 5 days from Brightswords.

As we wake up in the morning, Zephyr finds a goodbye note from Gwen. I checked her room, which was emptied of all her belongings. It seems that Gwen is gone for at least some time. Over the last few days, Gwen had been sullen and withdrawn. She was transparently changing the subject every time Octavia's name came up.

During breakfast, a tinking sound on a nearby window drew my attention and it was a paper bird! I opened the window and as I said hello, it flew past me toward Vivi. It was a request for Vivi to meet someone named Mirt at intermission of the opera at the Lightsinger Theater tonight in Sea Ward. The note was referred by Renaer and sealed with a Harper symbol.

Our work and adventuring clothes were clearly not going to suffice - we went and had clothes custom tailored for us.

I went to scout the theater, accompanied by Zephyr. The opera is The Beast's Struggle, which starts at sundown.

At sundown, I was able stroll into the theater with nothing but confidence. Zephyr and Vivi got stopped by the ticket-takers though. I used Mask of Many Faces to disguise myself as an usher and pretended that I had their tickets and box ready for them. The lie easily got them inside as well.

As much as I want to trust Renaer, I'm not fully convinced that this note came from him or that this meeting will be safe. We agreed to stay together for the meeting at intermission if nothing else.

Vivi recognizes Victorio and Alanter Caselanter looking out of sorts.

We make our way to the balcony and find Box C, which has eight seats: two rows of four. The box is spacious and seems relatively private. There's already a guest in the box, enveloping the entire rear left seat and wearing hat with an enormous feather. I silently take the back right seat, Vivi and Zeph take the two seats in front of me. The first act of the opera is enthralling for Vivi and I but Zeph is left a weepy mess, she's so moved by it.

At the intermission, the person - we assume, Mirt - addressed Vivi from right next to her. We all tried to cover our surprise that he was able to move there without us noticing.

I pulled out a copper piece and circle its edges to cast Detect Thoughts: his surface thoughts are curiosity, unassuredness and pure delight - like a parent watching their child take their first steps.

He says that he can teach Vivi to move past her assumptions by joining his organization but didn't want to say what it was. "Words are our weapons and knowledge our whetstone." His test for Vivi is to find someone they've been seeking for some time. He offers 100 gold for Vivi and 75 gold for any others to complete the job. The man places his hand on Vivi's and she palms something metal and irregularly-shaped that he places there.

The job is find and talk to a specific horse - one that can speak the common tongue should it choose - Maxine the Mare. It will only choose to speak with one of Mirt's ilk. She pulls a dray around the city. He needs us to ask about the Zhentarim.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 17

Let's Forge a Deal

With a job to do in exchange for Duke Zalto's conch, the party talked through some ways to give Duke Zalto what he wants without betraying the trust of the various dwarf clans by permanently stealing Maegera from the forges of Gauntlgrym.

The group went back to Citadel Felbarr and spoke with the king and queen there and with their counsel, devised a plan to set a trap in the Iron Flask. The Felbarran engineers said they could make something that would last at least for a few hours, which they thought would fool Duke Zalto long enough to get information from him about King Hekaton's Court. Unfortunately, the engineers need to take some part of Maegera to make it work, and so they need to make a trip to Gauntlgrym.

While Corvyn, Bryn and Sashura flew the castle to the Gauntlgrym, Ghore and Alun went back to the Yakfolk village to foment a slave rebellion. Unfortunately, when they got there and started sneaking around the village, they realized the Yakfolk aren't slaves to the fire giants - the Yakfolk are keeping slaves of their own. Ghore marched into the chief's hut and challenged him to a fight, which a group of other Yakfolk stepped up to join.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 16

Negotiations

The stairs along the cliffside of Ironslag already had another party ascending them. Our heroes split into two groups: one to climb the stairs from the bottom and another that started at the top of the stairs and descended. By the time the groups met, they were in a cave halfway up the stairs. Inside, they found the other adventurers recovering from what looked like a surprise encounter with a chimera which killed two of them.

The rising sun revealed the other party as drow, setting everyone on edge. Sashura provided some minor healing as a gesture of goodwill and the drow told him that they were on their way to meet with Duke Zalto about a job. The two groups parted ways carefully.

Upon reaching the mountaintop, the party found a village of Yakfolk, who welcomed them into the cheif's hut for a modest feast. After a time, word came that Duke Zalto would meet with them.

On the way through the giant's forge, Bryn and Corvyn noticed several collosal pieces of armor, too large even for a giant.

The party was introduced to Duke Zalto and they asked for his help to get to King Hekaton's court. He said that he would help them if they did a job for him first: acquiring a flame primordial named Maegera. If they capture it in the Iron Flask he gave them and bring it back to Ironslag then he would allow them the use of his conch to get to Maelstrom and prepare them for court.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 15

Mutual Enemies

A blue dragon snuck into the temple of the Eye of the All Father! Harshnag charged at it and told the party to flee and they eagerly did.

They flew the cloud castle to Citael Felbarr, where the party was welcomed with open arms once they explained that they had slain giants. They had an audience with King Morinn and Queen Tithmel and got their blessing to approach Ironslag - the forge-mountain controlled by Duke Zalto, the fire giant representative in King Hekaton's court - along with advice and supplies.

After arriving at Ironslag, the party was stopped by two enormous adamantine doors, which they couldn't find any way to open. Fortunately, there was a staircase climbing along the cliff side...

The Storm King's Thunder: session 14

The Eye of the All Father

Before interacting with the arch, the party decided to investigate to the north of the temple chamber. There were two floors of what appeared to be guest housing for visiting giants. After getting part of the way through the hall of guest chambers, Alun set off a trap that sent a boulder rolling through the hall! The party all managed to hide in the guest rooms while the boulder passed and a statue of a hill giant pushed it back into place. After that, the party searched the rest of the rooms and found a Shard of the Ise Rune.

After some extended trial-and-error back in the temple chamber, the party managed to activate the archway and went through it to another chamber, which Harshnag called the Eye of Annam. They asked the oracle six questions:

Questions to the oracle

1: How do we restore the ordning? Use a conch to go to King Hekaton's court, root out the evil there.
2: How do we get a conch? They are held by the leaders of King Hekaton's court.
3: Where is King Hekaton? Unknown?! Talk to Serissa, at her father's court. She needs their help too.
4: Where are the giant chiefs?
5: How can we befriend who's necessary in court so we can survive negotiation? Court is in chaos, they can do whatever they would like, basically.
6: Any of the giants help us willingly? Duke zalto, maybe?

Orphans & Organizations: session 8

Job's done

Last day of the job for the dungsweepers - a tenday from a holiday.

Az and Gwen go to send some letters. Zephyr gives a letter to Az to drop at the post as well.

At the day's job, there are a new set of dungsweepers - a pair of twin(?) half-orcs who are very intense about their work named Siku and Tan.

The guard work is boring and after some time, Vivi notices an apparent robbery in progress: a couple humans and a dwarf pushing a halfling around. The halfling gets pushed down and one of the humans runs into the building behind him and runs back out carrying something.

Zephyr, Gwen and Farah go see what's going on - Farah stopping to check on the halfling - while Vivi and Azthoran stay put watching over the dungsweepers. Gwen threatens to beat the shit out of the thieves, who give their stolen loot up without a struggle.

Personal tasks

The halfling's name is Cloret and is so grateful that he offers them a 20% discount on anything* in the store: Balthor's Rare and Wondrous Treasures.

Azthoran talks to Yagra at the Yawning Portal about Zhentarim faction stuff. The three-headed serpent faction is still using the Zhentarim name but is acting more like Xanathar's thugs, damaging the good public name of the guild. Urstil is a name Yagra has heard attached to all this.

Yagra hasn't been able to talk to Davil Starsong (head of the Zhentarim in Waterdeep, and a relatively public face) recently, either.

Zephyr starts setting up to brew craft beers in Trollskull Manor. If it goes well, she can probably get away with selling it for a couple tendays before the Brewmaster's Guild comes calling. Then she'll need to pass a quick test and pay dues from then.

Gwen paints Trollskull Manor a fresh coat of cyan, saving us 75 gold from the total: 1100 gold.

Vivi talks to her family about how to run a tavern. This saves ?? gold initially: 1070 gold remaining.

Azthoran tries to go to nearby taverns and tries to push the public to want a new tavern. Several attempts get him thrown out (a natural 1 and 2) but a couple go rather well. One at a bar for offduty Guard members and one at The Silent Shield - a sanctuary bar. People can stash things and people here. Neutral ground, not under the wing of any of the guilds or anything. We seed demand for another tavern that's neutral ground.

Pay me!

On 12 Eleint we go back to Blackstaff Tower to get paid. The Blackstaff can't meet with us and we're met by Garlan instead. They claimed not to expect five of us and Azthoran explains that the Blackstaff didn't limit it to just those present. For the unexpected difficulty of the task, we're given a total of 600 gold to split.

Vivi tells him that Stooge - Renard Maneim - has a fortune-stealing amulet. Gwen says she doesn't believe that we were hired just to watch some random Dungsweepers and there has to be more to it. Garlan acknowledges that there is more to it and that they suspect there's faction interference at play.

Azthoran asks if the Grey Hand have access to extra resources - libraries, etc. Garlan replies that the trial for the Grey Hand was only for Gwen but could include Azthoran if he was interested. He said not to worry and Garlan suggested he look to the library run by the Watchful Order.

As the information Gwen was promised, she hands him a piece of paper with a name of a person to find. The person was part of the Lord's Alliance team that was pulled from this task. Isn't life funny that way?! Garlan offers to let Gwen know as soon as the team is back in the city.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 13

Barbarians at the Gate

The session starts with a fiery red pebble flying past the party's heads, toward the barbarians ahead. When it arrives, it explodes, covering the warriors in flames. Once they realized they were under attack, they turned and rushed the party.

After a short melee, the Great Worm barbarians were all killed leaving the party winded but all right overall. Ghore skinned the barbarians' pet white dragon wyrmling, and is planning on making armor from it.

The next chamber - beyond the gates which the defeated barbarians were pounding on - housed seven enourmous statues. One, in the center, even larger than the others, surrounding it.

Harshnag told the adventurers that the statues are:

Annam: the all-father
Grolantor: god of hill giants, holding a bone club
Skoraeus Stonebones: god of stone giants, holding a boulder
Thrym: god of frost giants, holding... nothing?
Surtur: god of fire giants, holding an iron greatsword
Memnor: god of cloud giants, holding a mithral spear
Stronmaus: god of storm giants, holding an adamantine trident

Inside the chamber is an archway, lined with runes representing the kings of giants, and filled with a magical mist, radiating conjuration magic. The party decided to continue exploring the complex and come back to the archway after, since they believe it to be a teleportation device.

South of the statue chamber is a feast hall, where Corvyn stumbled into a Remorhaz! The fight was dangerous and frightening but the party made it through - needing a long rest in the aftermath.

Orphans & Organizations: session 7

Fighting in the streets

Rewind!

Zephyr is trying to regroup with the rest of the party after getting separated and heard about one heavily-armed and three other hangabouts watching over some dungsweepers on Warrior's Way. As she goes along, she's met by a giant, wormlike tentacled creature popping out of nowhere. Guards whistle and pull their swords as the create slithers down the street.

Fight!

I (Azthoran), creates an illusion of a large crate in front of the dungsweepers, blocking them from the carrion crawler's sight. Farah invokes duplicity to create a masked clone of herself. Vivi attempts to cover it in Faerie Fire but it evades the spell's effect and climbs along a wall, swiping unsuccessfully at a cityperson on the way. The guards take a shot with their crossbows: one shot lands and the other hits the wall, shattering. Gwen closes in and casts Compel Duel on the creature, locking its sights onto her. She then hurls a javelin at the creature, landing a glancing blow. Zephyr tries to find some cause for the crawler's appearance but doesn't see any caster or summoner. She does finally catch sight of Gwen, though! Two of the dungsweepers take cover, but Stooge runs away - and Farah notices him smirking as he goes.

Azthoran sends a sliding window of starry space - an Edlritch Blast - toward the creature. Super Farah casts a guiding bolt, slamming into the crawler's side, causing two smaller things to detach from its sides: smaller but still tentacled. Farah's physical self chases after Stooge. After failing to highlight the monsters with Faerie Fire again, Vivi inspires Gwen with some encouraging words. One of the smaller beasts attacks Super Farah (the illusion), doing nothing and the other ignores it, moving past Gwen towards Azthoran. Doing so provokes an opportunity attack on the way. Nevertheless, it manages to bite Azthoran and drag his legs out from under him, knocking him prone. The big crawler bites Gwen, paralyzing her and breaking her concentration. Regardless of the compelled duel, though, it attacks her again only hitting her armor. The guards reload and fire without much luck. Gwen tries to make her body react but isn't able to. Zephyr moves between the two guards and throws a pair of daggers at the larger crawler. Her first dagger whiffs and so does the second. Morton and Error continue taking cover while Stooge tries to run - Farah manages to hit him with her mace while he flees, stumbling.

Azthoran stands and sends Dissonant Whispers at the smaller crawler. It resists the worst of the celestial music but the psychic damage still finishes the creature off. He moves down the street toward where Stooge is fleeing and Farah is following. Farah attempts to command Stooge to grovel but it resists the magic. Vivi launches a crossbow bolt at the large crawler and moves down the street also. The remaining young crawler chases down Azthoran, dealing him yet more poison damage and dragging him prone again. The mama crawler follows suit - one bite is stopped by his armor but the second lands home. The guards close in and pull their swords, striking the large crawler. Gwen shakes off the paralysis and rushes back into the fray, ready to attack at the next opportunity. Zephyr runs behind the crawler, between the guards (again!), thrusting with her rapier for a sneak attack! With her other hand, Zephyr stabs with a dagger. She tries to back away but is grabbed by a tentacle first and is paralyzed for her trouble. Morton Till screws his courage to the sticking place and strikes the larger monster with his broom, dirtying it but not much else. Errol flees down an alley and Stooge evades Farah's attack.

Another burst of celestial music wracks the large Carrion Crawler's mind, causing it to thrash into Gwen's glaive and collapse, dead. Farah attempts to command Stooge to grovel again but he resists the magic and smirks back at her; Farah gives chase and moves her illusion to keep within its range. Vivi gives chase after Stooge and tries to wing him with a crossbow. The remaining carrion crawler tries to bite Azthoran but I manage to juke its attack. One guard attacks the monster but fails badly, hitting the ground. The other guard checks on the bystander as Gwen cleaves the crawler in half.

Cleanup

After the fight, the guard questions us but there are witnesses confirming we weren't involved in the creature's presence.

Morton Till told us that to find Stooge's residence, we should talk to the main guild operation is in Trade Ward, on Salibar Street (off of River Street).

A grizzled guard vet thanks Azthoran for his service and asks his name and guildmaster to commend him to his leadership. Az tells the guard that he works for the Zhentarim and that he may find Yagra at the Yawning Portal Inn. The gaurd seemed unsettled and got out of the conversation as fast as he could. This will probably be fine.

Vivi suggests that we try to find Stooge and Gwen knows has some familiarity with trying to track people down. Gwen's experience and contacts tell her that either the Watchful Order or Xanathar's Guild would be the best way to find someone with strange abilities.

Azthoran and Zephyr are going to try asking about Stooge with the guild. They have work history but not his address. They think he was staying in the same neighborhood as The Curious Past.

Krentz might be able to get us a contact at Xanathar's Guild. We also recalled someone vaguely connected to Xanathar's Guild - Xoblob, the owner of the purple shop - who might be able to point us in the right direction to inquire at Xanathar's Guild.

Farah's family are done at Trollskull Manor - they confirmed that the orphans were there though they aren't now.

We collectively try to harass Lif into working as a bartender since he clearly enjoys doing so, via a thoroughly incorrect series of cocktails and pours. After irritating Lif to a breaking point, he reveals himself to Azthoran and gestures for him to drink what he just poured. Azthoran acknowledged how completely wrong it was and invited Lif to take over behind the bar. We need supplies and alcohols.

Zephyr takes an inventory of the drinks and supplies we have for the bar and tries to get a list to fill in gaps. She heads to the Castle Ward and starts trying to acquire supplies at a five-finger discount. The first place she tries, Felzoun's Folly, though, she spills a mug of ale while reaching for supplies behind the bar and is spotted by the bartender.

The bottle takes 15 gold off of the renovation cost, leaving 1160 gold.

A New Mastermind

After thinking through the battle, Zephyr realizes that the rest of us were being really inefficient with our movements and actions. She takes a visit to Siltress, a female elf, in one of her hideouts. Siltress is going over notes and with both hands is automatic writing. After a brief introduction and explaination from Zephyr, Siltress launches into a lecture about tactics, language, body language, etc, and becomes a Mastermind rogue.

Zephyr asks when the guild is going to make its move, and Siltress responds that there's a faction war brewing and that it's not the right time yet.

Taking an Oath

Gwen sleeps, but without rest. That the Blackstaff has information and will owe Gwen a favor, she dreams about her past:

Gwen standing, bloody. A coin flips in the air.

A body laying on the ground, Gwen's blood on the ground too. A coin flips in the air.

Two faces on one side of the coin.

Gwen lashing out.

Coin flip.

Same perspective, but halved.

Coin flip.

Her standing over Gwen, a look of defiance as she walks off.

The coin lands but only one face is on the coin: anger, rage and vengeance. Gwen picks up the coin and her face takes on the same visage: that someone is out there and now Gwen has another tool that she needs and deserves in order to give that person what she deserves.

Gwen wakes up in a cold sweat, screaming but feels like she has the capability to strike not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well.

A Light in the Dark

While studying three separate books of arcane lore, Azthoran notices the walls of the study have expanded to be a great void.

A light shines in the dark and Azthoran sends his consciousness toward it. When he gets closer, a hooded figure is revealed, holding the light.

Azthoran projected closer to the figure and heard more and more voices laughing. The final voice being deep and roaring. The cacophany grew overwhelming and started him back to waking consciousness.

After recovering, Azthoran realized that the three tomes on his desk were replaced by a single one that he hadn't ever seen before, with a gilded icon on the cover: a lantern with a gemstone eye inside.

The book of shadows contains arcane lore, and spells, all written in different hands. Azthoran attached a chain to the spine and began studying it, staying up all night.

Whispers in the Night

Vivi meets up with Professor Niverra Wildrun at an inn. As she sits down, the Professor asks "What have you learned?"

Vivi asks about the Grand Game and if it could be guided toward a beneficial outcome for the city.

She just listened while Vivi talked at length. Afteword, the Professor says "Do you see what I did there?"

"Just listened..."

"Exactly. Sometimes it's easier to just let people tell you what they know rather than asking." She goes on to explain that there are social pressure points just like there are biological ones.

They agree to share information about the Grand Game and tells Vivi to learn when, who and why to trust someone.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 12

To Find an Oracle

Harshnag suggests the party consult The Eye of the All-Father, hidden away in the Spine of the World. (A trail in the Valley of Khedrun leads to the temple.)

Before they leave Westbridge, the party tried to secure Fulminore's castle to use as a base - Corvyn used Flight on himself and Harshnag. Corvyn wasn't quite familiar with how to use the castle's navigation orb, however, and while he managed to lower the castle's cloud spiral staircase, he accidentally started the castle sinking toward Westbridge! A pair of panicked werewolves fled from the Barovian staircase and attacked the pair.

After defeating the werewolves and familiarizing themselves with the navigation orb, Harshnag suggested again that they visit an oracle he's aware of - the Eye of the All-Father.

They flew the castle north, to the Spine of the World, and left the castle at the Valley of Khedrun to go the rest of the way on foot (Harshnag couldn't guide them the rest of the way from the castle).

The party found fresh tracks along the way, which Sashura and Ghore believed were from an Uthgardt tribe.

A few days later, they arrived at the temple of the Eye of the All-Father. They crossed the bridge into the temple but the barbarians whose tracks they found were already inside. Sashura wasted no time sending off a fiery pebble...

Orphans & Organizations: session 6

Unlucky Work

Vajra is the Blackstaff and invites Gwen to Blackstaff Tower, who agrees. We all debate about what to do and what it could mean for us to have caught the attention of such an important and powerful person.

It's nearing dusk and Vivi explores the attic and turret of Trollskull Manor.

We gather up and prepare to go to Blackstaff Tower and Farah wants to stop to check on her adpoted orphans first. Lif pantomimes walking out while floating in place.

Some roughs are lingering around Trollskull Alley as we depart, messing with one of the doors. They see us and run off but Gwen puts a note under the door advising them to get a new lock. We argue about the ethics of putting your nose in other peoples' business as we walk.

We find the children, who hadn't done a very good job looking for Gwen. Farah assures them that it's ok and Gwen gives each of them a dagger. They have various levels of interest in them and Gwen offers to train them. Squidly carves his "name" in a wall, but it's just a squiggle. Farah and Azthoran suggest they also need to learn their letters then Farah tells them to go back to her house for the night.

Azthoran uses illusions to make the stuffed beholder that Farah gave them spookier. Squidly looks impressed and asks if he could learn how to do magic. Az tells him to start by learning letters and languages - libraries around the city would be a good place to start.

Azthoran disguises himself as a scribe using Mask of Many Faces and Farah does the same, but as an unarmed adventurer aide.

The guards in front of Blackstaff Tower let us in when Gwen provides her name. As we enter the tower, we notice that Zephyr is missing - we don't remember her being with us since shortly after we left the manor (her player was absent this session). We really have to do better about making sure each of us know where we're going. An elf with brown/black sclera sitting at a desk, surrounded by bustling clerks, directs us further into the tower after Azthoran announces Gwen the Red.

We meet a gnome, who leads us up a set of stairs, speaking a set of phrases when the stairs run out, causing a new set of stairs to appear. This repeats many times before the stairs end at a single door, this time the gnome causes the door's handle to appear.

Beyond the door is a nature-themed lobby. Azthoran cautions the group about what information we offer up of our own accord. The room beyond the lobby is richly-decorated without being luxurious. A somewhat dimminutive human woman with olive skin stands up from behind a desk: Blackstaff Vajra Safar.

Vajra says she was eager to meet Gwen and is impressed that she accepted the invitation. Vajra said she might owe us a bit of a favor? Renaer and Vajra go back a ways, he suggested she take an interest in us, with how we can "help this city."

Vajra asks if we've heard of the Grey Hands - a sort of publicly-known special forces of the Guard. It sounds like she's offering Gwen a "part-time position" in the Grey Hands, paid with gold, information, etc. It would also allow her to work outside the Code Legal (assuming otherwise moral behavior). After some consideration, Gwen agrees and Vajra says there needs to be a test.

Some of the Dungsweepers have requested protection. A group from the Lords' Alliance has been protecting them but has to be away for a while. We're to fill in for 4-6 hours for 4 days. The Dungsweepers are concerned with being caught in gang activity. Morton Till is the lead of the group and would want to meet with us in 2 days. The pay is 20 gold per day for each, and for everyone who makes the whole time, 125 gold to split.

The oddities involved may be magical in nature.

Who's paying Safar to set this up? The Lords' Alliance.

This is just for protection? Not solving mysteries? Correct.

This is for 08 - 11 Eleint, it is currently 06 Eleint. We stay with them each day until dismissed by Morton Till.

We head to the Shallow's End to discuss further. We are all onboard with the job: the pay is suspiciously good and getting information is appealing as well. Farah is in favor of helping out the Dungsweepers too.

Paying outright to get the Manor started in a tenday is 1200 gold. Oof.

TODO:

  • clean rooms
  • Gwen to sell silver bars
  • fix kitchen
  • put locks on the doors
  • make sure privy works

Skipping forward a bit (after the job)

Vivi likes the attic bedroom. Azthoran to take bedroom on third floor (not the master bedroom). Farah takes the master bedroom and Gwen will stay in the spare room, since she doesn't plan to stay in Waterdeep.

Farah asks her family to help clean the Manor tomorrow. That saves us 5 gold from the total (1195 gold).

We get locks made for the front door with 6 keys and locks on all the bedchambers. This is 20 gold from the total (1175 gold).

Back to the job

Day 1

We meet Morton, who is a little surprised by our appearance but is reassured by the presence of Gwen.

The dungsweepers:

  • Morton (foreman)
  • Errol (a little shady, tries to nick things but is usually stopped by Morton)
  • Stooge (a young doof, talks about everything in sight non-stop)

Stooge finds a mostly-empty bottle with a small amount of thick yellow liquid in it. Azthoran swirls it around to get an idea of what it is and it starts to fill the bottle with foam. When the foam hits the cork, it bursts out and spreads a noxious cloud, making Farah nauseated and exhausted (level 1).

The cloud disperses and people recover. The bottle is now fully empty.

The weird occurrances have been happening for a month.

Farah asked if they've done anything to piss off a sorcerer, run over an old lady with a cart, read any creepy books, etc? Azthoran asked what happened a month ago. Farah looked at Stooge's aura and found something magical on his hip: a pink gem (with a necromancy aura). The Curious Past on the Street of Silks is the shop where he got it. He paid 70 gold for it.

Apparently random good fortune has been befalling Stooge as the ill fortune has affected others nearby him.

Gradil the Blue was the proprietor but died when the shop burned down 25 years ago. There's nothing obvious at the ruins of The Curious Past, but they are emenating a faint aura of illusion magic.

Day 2

Farah asks Stooge when he went to the Curious Past; it was last month on Agairon's Day (a holiday at the first day of Aleisis, named after a super powerful wizard) an hour or so after sunset. He says the proprietor's name is Gradil the Blue - probably a halfling.

Azthoran tells Stooge about the fate of The Curious Past and he looks very upset about it. After the shift, Stooge gets upset at us but as he starts to yell, we're interrupted by guard whistles and a carrion crawler barrelling down the street!

Azthoran Chryssel's magic

Spell components

Azthoran has learns his magic by finding and exploiting anomalies and abberations in the laws of reality. These secrets have been pulled from the mind, such as it is, of his patron: Dumathroth.

Using these quirks of nature to produce an effect usually require him to recite a phrase or make a series of gestures. Occasionally it also requires some physical component, which he keeps in a special set of pouches.

Spells

Eldritch Blast

Verbal Components

oeul, a word from the dead language of Fost, which is the word for a shooting star

Somatic Components

Pressing fingers into one's palm in a specific pattern and rhythm

Description

Azthoran's palm emits something that appears as a section of the night sky: a dark void dotted with frosty white and distant amber stars with occasional violet clouds. As the blast moves, the stars and cloud fields remain stationary to the viewer(s) while the borders move. It looks as if a window to deep space were moving.

The entire effect - projection, traversal and collision - is silent, save for the verbal component and any sound uttered by the target.

Minor Illusion

Somatic Components

Crossing the pinky and ring fingers while making a ring with the middle finger and thumb and also crooking the index finger

Material Components

A bit of fleece

Description

For visual illusions, the light briefly bends and refracts while forming the image. If needed, shadows congeal into a fluid almost-substance which is sculpted into the illusion as well. These elements remain (or appear) when someone understands the illusory nature of the vision.

For auditory effects, the sound simply occurs.

Guidance

Verbal Components

om'l nuorath straen - translates to "remember what will have happened" in Common

Somatic Components

Open the Book of Shadows, scan the page inscribed with the Guidance cantrip

Description

Shimmering gemstone reflections surround Azthoran's hand and fade when he touches them for the spell.

Spare the Dying

Verbal Components

termiamt - translates to "stop" in common

Somatic Components

Open the Book of Shadows to the page inscribed with the Spare the Dying cantrip and several anatomical diagrams then place pressure on the image where the target has their most serious injury.

Description

A starry cloud briefly passes over the target while they stabilise

Vicious Mockery

Verbal Components

ivenoach glouph - meaning unknown

Description

According to the Book of Shadows, these words translate themselves inside the targets mind into a thought that temporarily erodes their self-confidence. The psychic dissonance is apparently quite painful.

Prestidigitation

Verbal Components

skusg - a Loross word meaning "a trick"

Somatic Components

Snap your fingers while speaking the verbal components.

Suggestion

Verbal Components

har'ch no gravthrist. Azthoran has not been able to identify the language these words are from.

Material Components

A snake's tongue with a drop of sweet oil absorbed into it.

Description

Azthoran gains temporary insight into the kinds of body language, speech patterns and mannerisms that make him feel authoritative to the target. This works to subtly guide Azthoran's behavior to impress the importance of his suggestion onto the target.

Dissonant Whispers

Verbal Components

There are no magic words or phrases for this spell but the sound must be able to be heard by the target to take effect.

Description

The discordant sounds Azthoran makes are the sounds celestial bodies emit, when translated into sounds mortals can perceive.

Hideous Laughter

Verbal Components

ver'dona miskearmn - a phrase that roughly translates to "divine comedy" in Primordial.

Somatic Components

A hand held palm to the sky and then inverted and thrust downward

Material Components

Tiny tarts and a feather waved in the air

Description

For the duration of the spell, the target's thoughts are flooded with the utter futility of existence (from a cosmological scale) and buckles under the realization, laughing helplessly at the misery of their own part in the sad joke of reality.

Detect Thoughts

Verbal Components

A few words in a forgotten language from the Underdark, which sound like slithers and clicks.

Somatic Components

Shaking fingers on both hands, from little to index, and then clapping them together.

Material Components

a copper piece

Description

The target's thoughts sound in Azthoran's mind as if they were being echoing inside a cave or tunnel.

Misty Step

Verbal Components

hranel - translates to "a rift" in a precursor language to Undercommon

Description

A crack in reality opens (as if in a stone) and engulfs Azthoran. Another rift appears where he reappears. In between is something like a cave tunnel filled with stars.

Eldritch Invocations

Agonizing Blast

Azthoran's Edritch Blast gains ominous garnet-colored stars and cloud fields.

Mask of Many Faces (Disguise Self)

Verbal Components

houranst. This is the term the Grey Elves used for a lie that someone has committed themselves to.

Somatic Components

Quickly adjusting how one's clothes are worn is all the spell requires.

Description

Azthoran briefly takes on a multifaceted, gemstone-like aspect while light bends and refracts to form his new visage.

Orphans & Organizations: session 5

Welcome to Waterdeep

I took the deed to Trollskull Manor and Volo talked at me the whole way back to the Yawning Portal. Zephyr went back to her room above the cart shop.

Rewinding!

Farah was escorted to a City Watch outpost, to be questioned as to the events at the Zhentarim warehouse. Farah pretends to be sick, coughing on the guards. It's also Featherlung season, which is apparently very contagious. The guards give her plenty of space on the crowded High Road.

Farah fakes a coughing fit and ducks down an alley while Invoking Duplicity to create a duplicate "Floon" to distract the guards. Something unidentified makes the hair on the back of her neck stand up.

After escaping the "escort", Farah wants to check in at home, work an evening shift at the family alchemy shop and start looking for Gwen.

On the way home, Farah encounters a group of children playing a game, that sort of stare at her. The boldest of the children is a girl with a wooden sword named Nat, who communicates with hand signs. There's also a tiefling boy with an eyepatch named Squidly. The squat boy holding a stuffed owlbear is named Jenx.

Farah convinces the kids to come home with her for a meal and a bed for the night.

Back to the present!

On the way to Shallow's End, Gwen and Vivi talk about how Gwen is a little suspicious of Azthoran and Zephyr's backgrounds. They also get to know each other a little better - Vivi is trying to gather information to help defend the underclasses from being caught up in the churn. They stop at Vivi's place across from Shallow's End to drop off equipment and clean up.

Vivi has a pet squirrel - George.

Shallow's End is lively and active and also around 3'5" - most of the room is almost literally half the height of Gwen. Vivi introduces Gwen to several of her family and afterwords Vivi goes to perform on stage. After finishing her performance, Vivi goes to her room and reviews the papers she took from the (Zhentarim) warehouse. One of the papers is an unused Paper Bird, which will carry a message to a recipient.

Also in the pile of papers is an intricate locket of jade with inlaid gold vines. The locket has a portrait of a fair-haired, redheaded woman on one side. The other side of the locket contains a hexagonal, oval-shaped hole.

The next day

It is 06 Eleint (roughly september). 15 days until Brightswords - equal parts harvest festival and combat tournament.

I wake up early and hire a messenger to carry a message to Marsaili at the Beer Golem, who runs another Zhentarim safehouse, to see if Krentz got there safely. She can reach me either at the Yawning Portal or Trollskull Manor.

Zephyr's room is above Grafer Axl and Wheel repair; she wakes up early also and heads to the Yawning Portal.

Vivi is used to later nights but tries to get up a little earlier since she has a guest. Gwen has horrible nightmares most nights and has been up for a few hours already.

Farah is not an early riser but is a very deep sleeper and sleeps until her sister or one of the orphan kids wakes her up. She asks the kids to look for Gwen. Squidly's eye patch is on the other this morning. She goes to the Trickster statue near her house and takes a moment to meditate on how her actions connect to the Trickster - she doesn't have a personal relationship with the deity, she just coincidentally aligns with it.

Durnan is not behind the bar at the Yawning Portal. It's a young woman named Fithier, a young-ish freckled blonde. I ask Bonnie to send anyone looking for me on to Trollskull Manor should I not be here.

Volo has slept in and is very hungover. He barely makes it 10 steps out of the Yawning Portal before booting. Zephyr gets a mixture of coffee and ale from the bar and Volo drinks/bathes in it. We go to a clerk's office and get the deed signed over to myself from Volo. We tell Volo that we'll be in touch and head to Trollskull Manor.

Farah makes her way to the Yawning Portal - Zephyr and I find her on the way and tell her some of what happened last night. She joins us as we go to Trollskull Manor in hopes of finding Vivi and Gwen.

Gwen and Vivi head to Trollskull Manor in hopes of finding the rest of the group and look inside. The windows are grimy and the tavern is caked in dust. The space is open but too dark to see. Gwen closes her good eye and uses Divine Sense to search for spirits. They decide not to investigate further without the rest of us and as they turn to leave, Gwen notices something writing in the grime on the mirror closing time as the door slams in front of them.

Vivi tries to convince whatever's happening that they're here in peace and Gwen's divine sense gives her the impression that whatever's happening is half-hearted.

While Gwen is waiting for us to arrive, she asks the spirit if it wants to play dice. A pair of spectral dice, followed by a spectral, young-looking half-elf man. They play a game while Vivi plays a tune for them. The ghost appears to be very good at dice! Vivi notices that the ghost is rolling just a split-second after Gwen and is always rolling better than her.

Vivi asks the ghost its name, and he writes in the dust: Lif.

As we (Azthoran, Zephyr and Farah) approach, we notice that Trollskull Manor is huge! It's a three-story building on a bustling street. It's very impressive looking. Why is it named Trollskull? After the alley? Why is the alley named that?

Lif is kind of a lazy goof of a ghost who cheats at dice. He eventually reveals himself to everyone but me, mocking me invisibly (to me) when I address him.

Farah casts guidance on herself and wagers three gold against Lif's dice that she can beat him. Farah rolled a natural 1 on her Sleight-of-Hand check but the ghost still failed to notice the cheat!

Lif seems fine with turning the manor into a working tavern so long as he doesn't have to leave. It will take ongoing downtime to maintain and a fair amount of money to get up and running again.

Using Detect Magic, Farah finds two keys radiating transmutation magic in the cellar. Lif doesn't know what they're for and Farah hangs onto them.

North side of the second floor is two open common areas. One common area on the south with a broken crappy bedframe.

Third floor: two more bedrooms, one with a bath. Two privvies on this floor. The other bedroom room with a bath.

In the master bedroom, Gwen finds a seam in the woodwork that opens up, revealing a doorhandle and a keyhole. Zephyr broke her thieves' tools but manages to open the door. There are some clothes and on a dressform is a set of a pristine studded leather which is magical (armor is transmutation, cloak is illusion), along with a cloak hanging next to them.

  • Cloak of Many Fashions
  • Armor of Gleaming

While Zephyr is holding the cloak and thinking of how to keep it from the rest of us, part of it disappears.

In her mind, Gwen hears "Gwen, this is Vajra Safar. I would like to speak with you."

The Storm King's Thunder: session 11

Dinner with a Vampire

After killing Fulminore, Baron Strahd von Zarovich offered the party a boon each and a night of safe respite as his guests in Castle Ravenloft.

Bryn shapeshifted to appear as one of Yan-C-Bin's cultists and flew a giant vulture up to Fulminore's castle, rejoining the party. Harshnag remained in Westbridge (the Village of Barovia?).

Not seeing any other choice, the party accepted the Baron's invitation. When they arrived in Castle Ravenloft, a servant lead the party to the dining room where Strahd reintroduced himself and emphasized their status as his guests. The party asked if they could clean up before dinner and Strahd acquiesced. After a short rest (during which Bryn and Corvyn changed into a gown and vest/shirt/slacks they found in the armoirs in their chambers), the party joined Strahd to have dinner.

The food was delicious and decadent, the beverages strong and flowing.

During the meal, Strahd reiterated his thanks along with his intent to grant them each a boon in repayment for their defeat of the wizard Fulminore. Those ended up being:

  • Bryn and Corvyn requested access to the library of Castle Ravenloft, gaining advantage four times on:
    • History and Arcana checks for Corvyn
    • History and Investigation checks for Bryn
  • Alun simply requested gold, and was granted 250 gp
  • Sashura asked for a yearly festival for the Village of Barovia and Strahd agreed to pay for three years, after which the village could continue it themselves if they want
  • Maalora requested a piece of magical armor and was granted an Animated Shield
  • Ghore asked for an honest conversation

During Ghore's conversation, Strahd told him that he believed Fulminore was attempting to merge the surface of Faerün with that of Barovia in order to curry favor with Fulminore's gods and that the ritual was an attempt to remove giantkin competition and establish his kind's dominance over the others. Strahd also said Fulmore believed it would allow them to reestablish an Ordning with cloud giants on top.

Also, Strahd said that the dawn would separates Barovia and Faerün and that to return to their home, the party must be outside of any Barovian structure come the sunrise.

After the dawn, Harshang suggested the party visit "the Oracle".

Orphans & Organizations: session 4

Hate the Flayer

Vivi helped the two goons hold the door shut but got pushed back. Gwen holds the door while Zephyr locks the it. "It was big and grey and frightening. It took out Raj." This sounds familiar to Vivi and I - it sounds like a big, amorphous cubic blob - a grey ooze. We brace the door and prepare for the ooze to slime its way through the door. The ooze breaks through the door and we fire a volley of prepared attacks with underwhelming damage.

After a short battle, Zephyr lands a killing sneak attack on the ooze, which loses its shape and dissolves. After the ooze is gone, the dwarf - who had embiggened himself to giant size - turns and attacked Gwen. The bald human - Krentz - makes a run for it but Vivi stops him. The duergar has 7 gold 5 silver and a war pick. Krentz goes to burn his palm tattoo off but we burn it off with a heated war pick instead. I also gave Krentz a note instructing a Zhent safehouse to get him out of the city.

Krentz tells us that Floon is through the door and down the hall, guarded by a wizard, "the boss' boss' boss" and a walking brain. It was the wizard's idea to get Floon, thinking that he was Renaer but discovering that he wasn't Renaer was the second strike against him. Krentz told us that they use the phrase all eyes are watching as a passphrase. We all dress in black and purple robes as a basic disguise.

Zephyr wasn't able to pick the door's lock but was able to take the hinges off the door.

We follow the hallway into a room with a raised dais containing three figures. One on a rack, one with green-grey skin and moving stuff on his face.

The plan is to make it look like we're Xanathar's Guild members bringing Renaer in as a prisoner so that we can get close enough to the wizard to launch an attack. Renaer has loose ropes around his wrists making it look like he's bound.

The wizard is an orc - Grum'shar - and the mind flayer is Lord Nighilor. The figure on the table is a redhead. The brain creature is four-legged, with a probing probiscus. We "present" Renaer to the mind flayer for inspection. I managed to turn the wizard against the mind flayer by using Awakened Mind to suggest that the mind flayer was going to kill the wizard now. During the fight, Grum'shar threatened Floon and Renaer looses his "bonds" to engage the wizard. Zephyr chases after him and "grabs ahold of him".

Grum'shar uses Flaming Hands to down Gwen and hits both Renaer and Vivi as well. Renaer lands a killing blow on Grum'shar.

Lord Nighilor offers us employment in exchange for taking care of one of their "lesser problems" or that he can take us over.

We violently declined the offer and Lord Nighilor steps through a dimension door after telling the brain creature that it can choose one of us and calling forth another Gazer. The brain downs Gwen again and tries to break into Zephyr's mind. I remind Renaer to actually join the fray, and he finishes off the brain. I blast the main eye of the Gazer, killing it.

Vivi searches Grum'shar's body and finds a book, 10 gold and 10 copper.

  • Burning Hands
  • Disguise Self
  • False Life
  • Shield
  • Unseen Servant
  • Witch Bolt

There is a chest with 18 gold, 82 silver, 182 copper and a silver dagger with For Rosco and Friends inscribed on its hilt.

The room next to the chamber we fought in has a small hole in a pillar in the center of the room. I take a rubbing of the runic inscription around the hole.

We make it out of the sewer via a different entrance than the one we entered: across the street from The Fallen Stars Fish in the North Ward and it's sometime in the night. Renaer suggests taking Floon to The Hospice of St. Laupsin when we wanted to avoid going back to the Yawning Portal or Vivi's family's place. We enter and bring him to a room. Renaer sends a note - in the form of a paper bird - out the nearest window.

Volo doesn't have the liquid funds to pay us right now but is offering the deed to a tavern in the North Ward. He got it as part of research for an upcoming guidebook on spirits. The tavern may or may not be haunted. The tavern is named Trollskull Manor.

We took the deed and will take the gold as Volo can pay it.

Slate theme

Slate theme for Standard Notes

After a lot of trial-and-error, I've made a theme for Standard Notes using comfortable, shady slate greys and mossy greens. I used the Material Design guidelines to ensure legibility and usability. Obviously I'm biased, but I like it a lot!

screenshot

The URL to import Slate is here: https://blog.yuggoth.space/p/QElhOTJ7gH

The source code for Slate is on Github