Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tal' Dorei Night One Notes From Planescape Tuesdays

Our Tal' Dorei campaign began last night, and none of us knew what to expect as we sat down at the table. I think it's safe to say none of us was expecting a gritty, noir-style murder mystery. Which is what we got.

Taking place some time after the Vox Machina had dispatched the dreaded Chroma Conclave and the bane arch lich Vecna, our campaign begins in an Emon rebuilt partially by the crime syndicate The Clasp, and restored to a thriving city of some 280,000 creatures, mostly human, but with a substantial population of humanoid creatures of all races. A cosmopolitan city with a robust shopping district, government, military, and noble classes, as well as busy docks and slums. The Vox Machina is still with us, but has largely moved on to other pursuits away from Emon, maintaining Greyskull Keep just outside the slums on the Southern side of the city. It is a time ripe for new heroes.  

How we all got to the capital city of Emon is still a little hazy, but the seven of us found ourselves settling in various sections of the city, not knowing each other at all.

My name is Large Silent Friend, at least that's what the creatures of the forest call me, and since I am a Firbolg I have no name but the one I am given by those around me. I was exiled from my tribe as an adolescent when I inadvertently caused the death of a magical creature I wanted to show to my elders. I grew up in the forest guided by the Wild Mother. But recently Ravagers have been encroaching into these sacred lands. And where there is evil, Blood Hunters seem to follow, and that's how I met Banlys the Aarackocra and Trog the Goliath, both Blood Hunters I moved to Emon with last week.

We arrived in Emon on the 11th day of Undular, at the height of the festival, which meant nothing to any of us. We crashed at the meager apartment of  Banlys' and Trog's mentor, Thelius, who was happy to see us, but having two giants and a bird in his small space soon started to try his nerves. We needed to move, but first we needed jobs. Fortunately for us our first opportunity in Emon soon knocked on the door. Literally.


The City of Emon, capital of Tal' Dorei

A former City Guard turned private detective named Spork Fastwhiler knocked on the door and demanded to speak with Thelius. He seemed as if he had just ended up on the losing end of a tussle, and we soon were to learn this was exactly the case. While investigating the strange, ritual murder of a street walker he had been swept up into a mystery that was soon to involve us all. The mystery was soon to entail ritualistic murders, missing hearts,  raven feathers, cults,  necromancers, The Matron of Ravens, the two local crime syndicates The Clasp and the Myriad, and who knows who or what else, but it became clear a chain of events had been set in place that would eventually effect all of Emon, and the entire world itself.

But what part did we play in this Universal imbroglio?

What did Spork already know that he wasn't telling us? What the three of us did know, and we had to take Spork's observations at face value, was that he was contracted by a street walker named Torie to investigate the murder of her friend, named Daisy, in an alley in the dock district near Thelius' apartment. Pouring over the scene, which had already been combed over in a cursory way by a clearly unconcerned City Guard, Spork deduced the grisly murder was actually a much more coordinated and surgical attempt to remove the young girl's heart. And what part did the raven feathers play in the scenario?

His investigation soon led him to the Frozen Sicle tavern where he quickly realized a Clasp member was using a corner table to sell alura root. He learned the Clasp member's name was Dagger, and he was soon to find out why. Following him out of the Frozen Sicle he saw Torie on an adjacent corner, and decided to cross the street and join her to spy on Dagger. Against her admonitions, he followed Dagger to a shabby tenement where the small-time alura dealer was apparently waiting to confront him, drawing both his daggers. But before the two could scuffle a Tiefling named Chastity entered the scene and attacked Spork psychically, causing him to fall to the floor clutching his suddenly aching head. Dagger seized this opportunity to redraw his daggers and "suggest" it might be a good time for the private dick to retreat from the dock district. The bull-headed Spork dug in and was resolute to not accept the recommendation, but Torie convinced him otherwise.

And soon after Spork knocked on Thelius' door. Which is where me, Trog, and Banlys' story begins. However, the story does not start without some bruised feelings, as Spork insulted Trog by referring to him as dumb muscle. I saw my new friend bristle and restrain his rage, being the disciplined creature he is, but I knew the slight would not soon be forgotten.

Spork had questions for Thelius. Questions about necromancers. Questions about the Matron of Ravens. Questions about missing hearts and the Myriad and the Clasp. Being a seasoned Blood Hunter, Thelius knew quite a lot about each topic, but there were aspects of this crime that mystified even him. Further investigation was needed, and Thelius was all too happy to suggest the three of us move into Spork's office for the night pursuant to meeting with a monk of the Cobalt Soul who might know more about the mysterious events that were unfolding. We rested and headed to the Temple District first thing in the morning.

That's where we met Pliz'skin the monk of the Cobalt Soul.


Pliz'skin, Monk of the Cobalt Soul


Was he happy to see us?

Probably not.

Was he hiding something?

Probably.

Steely, cold, and matter of fact, Pliz'skin listened to our story, then was instructed by his master to join us to help solve this mystery. He didn't seem to like us, but he was skilled, confident, and clearly more than capable of handling himself. Our group now included five.


The Druid Large Silent Friend

We were a group set in motion to discover who it was that was seeking dark knowledge.

Dark names and societies dedicated to evil were bandied about. Was it a cult of the Matron of Ravens? Was it the Chain of Oblivion? Adherents of the Scaled Tyrant? Maybe just one solitary madman, albeit a very powerful madman adept in necromancy and ritual. One piece of evidence that could not be overlooked is that the raven feathers had been magically treated so as to not be traced. That was a powerful magic and limited the search to powerful necromancers and certain cults. But it did not limit it to one, and so the search was afoot.

The master of the Cobalt Soul set us on a path to the Alabaster Lyceum. The Alabaster Lyceum is the arcane college and research facility for magical and divine artifacts in the city of Emon.

"The building appears to be built out of white marble, with very high ceilings, stretching up in some areas as high as 80 feet. Much of the building appears to be lit by magical orbs that are either set into the walls or into chandeliers. Some of the rooms have carved pillars depicting battles between devas and demons that spiral up the pillars. The building has guards near the entrances adorned with silver and gold armor wearing elven-like helmets." -from criticalrolewikia 

 So we were off to the Alabaster Lyceum, where adolescent guards refused us entry. We had no written appointment. It was at this time that Trog's anger, still seething from Spork's initial insult. boiled over. He angrily pounded on the force field of the Lyceum and demanded that he be allowed to enter the college of knowledge despite their refusal. The force field held, and we were sent on our unmerry way to seek written permission to enter the arcane college.


Trog Gunga Galunga (Googie) the Goliath Blood Hunter 


Our adventure next took us to the Cloudtop District and the office of the Master Arcanist, Allura Vysoren. A headstrong bureaucrat of the highest order, she also was less than overjoyed to see us. In fact, she was already expecting to meet with the august senator from Syngorn, Tyronius. The only snag is that Tyronius was back in Syngorn with a five day migraine, and had sent his seneschal Bromm to stand in for him. Vysoren was not amused. As the lackey hemmed and hawed, trying to stave off the bureaucrat's rising anger, the conflagration was further complicated by an unannounced investigator's knock on the door. "If this isn't about a murder I have no time for you Vysoren roared," but just as she said those words her sending stone began to glow, and as her eyes rolled back in her head she received the message that the nobleman Kormallis had been murdered in the most grisly and macabre way.

Although Spork's story about the murdered street walker fell on deaf ears, the new revelation that a nobleman had been murdered in a similar manner sparked the overly officious officials' interest, and Bromm was charged with the task of escorting us to the crime scene to investigate and report back the new details of what had now become an official case. We were to meet the detective Marcolas and stay out of her hair while simultaneously doing our own inspection of the crime scene.

This time it wasn't the opulent gentleman's heart that was missing, it was his liver. However, the modus operandi was exactly the same: an expert break-in and entry followed by a grisly mauling and disfiguring of the body, excepting the part of the body that was to be surgically removed, which miraculously remained pristine. Raven feathers had been pressed into the carefully scattered parts and were found under the fingernails. It was a scene that seemed carefully orchestrated to make it appear as if the Matron of ravens was involved. 

Was she? Did someone just want us to think so to throw us off the track?

Spork and Bromm and Pliz'skin culled over the scene of the crime while the rest of us waited outside. They questioned Kormallis' servants, an aged husband and wife, gleaning whatever clues they could from them. On a whim Large Silent Friend decided to talk to the hedge maze and see if the shrubbery had noticed anything unusual the previous night. To his surprise, they did, and told him of two creatures with skin the color of nightfall who had entered through the east door and exited through the west. They asked if they would ever see their beloved master again and were told by LSF that he had passed into the next realm. The Bloodhunter Trog recognized their description of the infernal looking creatures as Tieflings, and the session concluded with us wondering if all of this was related to the Tiefling Chastity who had sent Spork to the floor clutching his head the previous evening.

The session ended with all six of us wondering where this mystery would take us. And what exactly had the Bloodhunter Banlys observed? I am sure there are now six different versions of reality that we must piece together in an effort to work together as a cohesive team to solve this mystery and defend our new home against whatever sinister and dark forces are at work here. 


Dramatis Personae

1) Large Silent Friend: Firbolg Druid
2) Banlys: Aarakocra Blood Hunter
3) Trog Gunga Galunga (Googie): Goliath Blood Hunter
4) Bromm: Human Fighter
5) Spork Fastwhiler: Human Ranger
6) Pliz'skin: Monk 
7) Tyronius: Half-Elf Warlock
8) Travis Legge. Dungeon Master 

















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