In between this session and the last one, there was a large degree of roleplaying that I ran via email as the party interrogated the captives and tried to learn more about what was going on here. They also realized, after awhile, that Jayna was missing. This session began with a few of the party disappearing in a cloud of amber smoke. It looked and felt somewhat different from how it had previously, but the party was glad to see that at least that seemed to work all right. Long Tom took it as proof that this place was merely a ‘room’ in the house, that they’d never left the house at all and the wizards were still messing with them.
I’m not sure how many people share that theory.
In the distance there was a disturbance in town so, after leaving some people guarding the roads out of town, they head in that direction. They found a large ampitheatre-like construction rising above the stone dome houses of the villagers. Several men were dead on the sand. Jayna approached them, flecks of dried blood in her hair and some dried blood mingling with her black leathers. Behind her was this incredibly tall Amazonian woman wearing ‘show armor’ and wrist wraps (which were dripping gore). Jayna was smiling. Something they hadn’t seen her do since arriving.
They immediately suspected charm or domination.
“Hey guys,” Jayna said. “Could someone hand me a bracelet so I can figure out what she’s saying?” Jayna asked, pointing at the woman behind her.
“What is going on Jayna,” Long Tom asked.
“Oh, I took Kaenen-Tal’s advice,” she said.
“What advice was that?” the lawful priest asked suspiciously.
“What you said earlier about living our lives as though our gods were here even if we can’t feel them. I did what she would have wanted me to do. I feel much better now.”
“You have blood on you,” Long Tom pointed out. “You killed some people?”
“Only a couple of guards that tried to stop me from freeing and arming these slave gladiators. They’ve done most of the killing since.”
The party entered the coliseum and saw the riot’s handiwork. Overseers and gladiators both lay sprawled and dead on the sands. But it was clear who won, the fifteen or so gladiators were busy watching two chained up overseers being strangled to death by the tentacles of a strange creature covered in chitin.
“What is that thing?” one of the party asked.
With her bracelet, Jayna asked the amazon woman. The woman explained that the creature was one of the former slaves, a gladiator named Xynon.
“Is it a beast or a…thinking thing?” Lilith asked.
“He can most certainly think, and speak,” the amazon said.
“Can you please ask him to stop for a moment,” Long Tom said. She looked at him with a surly gaze, but Jayna nodded so she turned to Xynon and asked him to stop. Reluctantly, he uncoiled his tentacles and one of the guards took a deep breath.
The party took the lull to explain a bit about who they were (travelers from a distant land who want to go home) and how the gladiators were now free and welcome to accompany the party if they so desired. After some discussion, about half agreed to come while the others said they would go part way until they could find their way home.
The amazon’s name was Ne-Ansha, and Jayna felt that she’d been pulled by the card towards where Ne-Ansha was (she’d drawn the ally card and I decided to use one of the new classes, the Jotun Juggernaut, and put it into play to see how well it works). I also only vaguely described the remaining gladiators in case players wanted to recruit some hirelings.
After the failure of the mayor to treat with them, and with the angry Long Tom back in the conversation pushing for more vindictiveness, the party choose to simply take the forty or so camels and kanks the village had, rummage through their houses for food and take as much water from their wells as they could.
Of course the villagers lamented this theft, but Long Tom reminded them that they got to keep their lives, so that was something. At this point the game turned into a giant resource management effort as they outfitted the camels and figured out how much PCs and their gear weighed. This was a fairly unfun exercise for the player who ended up having to record it on the camel sheet I made, but I offered to give him some bonus xp for the hard work.
Finally, the party was ready to leave after talking to the gladiators and meeting Konros, a wily man from the City of Whispers who had crossed the wrong people and been sold into slavery and traded amongst various masters. He was a bit of a traveler and could help give them a picture of the world they were stuck in. It seemed more like an island, but instead of being bound on any side by water, it was bound by deep space. It was ruled by the four Unrelenting Kings, and there were no Gods. God’s Falls existed, apparently the mountainous corpses of the dead gods, and people lived in and around them, and ate their flesh for power. Ne-Ansha’s Jotun people lived near a God’s fall far across the land.
The party debated where to go. They had no hard leads on the four objects, other than the scribbled notes on the bottom of the page of hints. So, in absence of any clear leads, Long Tom picked four and rolled a die, coming up with the nearby Temple of the Deep, a place that served the Ebon King.
They decided to journey there and get the lay of the land, possibly infiltrate them or through some means discern more information about the Kings and, hopefully, the whereabouts of the relics they need.
Using their flying familiars, the party had some aerial reconnaissance to help keep them from getting lost. Along the way they discovered a village of Yoran (ogre-like creatures with horns and more animalistic features). They avoided the 30-40 members of the tribe and kept journeying. When they were almost in sight of the temple, their keen eyed companions spotted a nest on a spur of rock with 4 Wyverns. Luckily the Wyverns were ‘surprised’ so the party chose to sweep aside and avoid them. I rolled two wandering encounters and both turned out to be ‘in lair’. The PCs are not interested in getting into fights if they can avoid it.
They camped about three miles away from the black pyramid. It stood on the edge of a vast lake, and the base was surrounded by hovels. They decided to camp and wait until morning to approach. But they’d been seen, so a few hours later, a group of warriors rode up, with one man bearing the tattoos of an iterator. They shouted at the party trying to figure out who and what they were. The party entreated them to come and join them in conversation and sharing water. The warriors approached and introductions were made. Sixteen warriors in total had come to investigate the characters. While the conversation was going on, Hannah cast ESP and began to scan their thoughts. Much to her surprise, she couldn’t read the thoughts of the tattooed man, but the other’s thoughts were clear.
Invite these strangers back to the temple where they could be enslaved and parceled out as gifts or sacrifices…unless the iterators found a use for them.
So she passed notes around the group and then they launched an attack from the tents, catching the soldiers by surprise. A sleep spell took out most of them, including the tattooed man, and then arrows, Raakaa and Rage Claw took down the two leaders (though they managed to just knock one to the ground, hurt but not dead).
Long Tom, who had been doing the talking, turned around and said, “I’m guessing there was a reason for all of that?” He’d not been in the loop and therefore unable to know the attack was coming.
They explained, and he nodded grimly. Glancing at the temple in the distance, he said, “Find out what you can from them, we have a raid to plan.”
And we called it there. I don’t think we’ll get to play again until after the holidays, so that seems like a decent cliffhanger. Again…the players have gone totally off script (at least as I imagined they would act). I kind of love that. 😉