Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Flashpoint: Time Warp

We've been playing on the slow experience point track and it's gotten a little, well, slow.  They're level five and it takes an increasingly long time for them to level.  Rather than simply put them on the medium experience point track, I decided to throw in something more wacky that also allows all of the boring and very basic reputation grinding to happen in the background.  You'll see what happens if you read through it.

Lhye went to the Apiary where a number of the tieflings in Augustana live together in a sanctuary / commune run by a woman with a mark in the middle of her forehead like a purple stone and purple eyes who claims she's a tiefling but who some people wonder might be an aasimar.  He brought his mother with him, hoping to find a nice place where they can be safe, settled, and accepted.  Unfortunately, he also went there looking for trouble, rejection, and stupidity.

So when he arrived, his tone was tight, hostile, and superior, and his words were snarky and occasionally threatening.  It didn't help that he couldn't see how his own demeanor was affecting things as he was too alert to the NPCs' mannerisms.  This led to a pretty tense scene that only became worse.  All the while his mother, Lavender Lil, remained silent.

It began with Lhye meeting the first tiefling.  When he spoke to her, she startled and stared at him like an animal.  She didn't respond even when he tried the whole speak-slowly-and-louder routine people tend to use with deaf people and those who are slow-witted.  After a few more moments more of staring at him, she turned into a bird and flew off to a nearby tree.

Then he met the next tiefling who had observed all of this.  A man with gold scales scattered across his forehead and golden horns.  He met sarcasm with sarcasm and had a very thuggish demeanor about him that lured Lhye into some rough comments.  I can't remember what led to this (the tiefling said something about showing him 'stuff and shit' or something similar) but Lhye said something that was misinterpreted to mean that he thought the Apiary floors were covered in shit.

At that point, the tiefling told him to "F*** off!"  In his eyes, Lhye was one of those uppity tieflings who got a taste for glory amongst the ordinary humanoids, got himself wealth and a fancy job, and wanted to prove how fantastic he was by taking a look at the "zoo" where the lesser tieflings spent time.  This couldn't be further from the truth but tieflings are a suspicious lot and Lhye didn't present himself very well, figuring that the Apiary would be used to tieflings like him.

In truth, more tieflings were like him ... except for the facts he was rich, powerful and had a growing heroic reputation.

So the second tiefling went and got the boss tiefling and exhausted leader of the Apiary, called Alyra, who was already trying to help five new tiefling rogues whom Lhye had freed from the slave ship.  At her wits end already, knowing the havoc a powerful and bitter caster can cause, and concerned that he might really just be there to peer around the zoo, she tried to gently but firmly tell him that, basically, there was no room for him there.  He didn't need them, after all.  He had his ship, his fame, and his crew-mates.  She wasn't exactly gentle, though she was trying to be, as she erred on the side of firmness.  The gentle option was to give him a tour rather than walking him to a table by the gates but she went with the latter.

Outraged that he would be rejected from the one place that could provide him sanctuary, insulted at the suspicious and dismissive way he seemed to be being treated, and disappointed that the one thing he'd been searching for years to find, he threatened to bring Calistrian vengeance upon them and left.  Alyra simply thanked him for the pre-warning.  He rushed off with his mother, thinking about how he had even spent ten years in Cheliax looking for a tiefling community only to find one in Andoren whose doors were closed to him.

So he went to the Apiary's sponsors and approached the government agencies with complaints of discrimination against adventurers, as the Apiary received funding / sponsorship to provide assistance and social support to other tieflings.  They didn't need to provide him with a place to live, as naturally their beds were limited, but he wasn't asking for a place to live.  When Proteus heard this rumor, he rolled a natural 20 on a Profession Oratory roll to spread the tale (and invent much of it) of Lhye's sad journey to find a safe community only to be rejected time and again.

The following morning they left with the tide.

They arrived at Absalom to sell the plinth to the Pathfinder Lodge there and are met by two curators, a gnome and an alchemist, who take them into a transdimensional space to test the artefact by striking it with tuning forks to various gods.  Each turning fork caused a different reaction, including:
  • Gozreh.  They felt like they were encased by water yet still could breathe.
  • Calistria.  The voice of the person they last hurt whispered in their ear (Proteus and Lhye both heard a roaring voice, like a devils, which they figured to be Alyra's - perhaps she was a devil in disguise?)
  • Nethys.  All of the magical items they wore grew warm.  This was most pleasant for Lunjun - the full caster - and least pleasant for Archer - a non-caster.
  • Sarenrae.  A profound sense of ambivalence filled them.
  • Cayden Caillean.  A sense of drunken loss, like a drunk feels when they go for a sad walk on their own.
  • Shelyn.  Everything changed.
They found themselves on the white marble dock that led into the Siren's Academy - an impressive cathedral-like structure situated on white stone in the middle of the Inner Seas that is part temple to Shelyn and part bardic college.  They wore formalwear, as did the others on that white stone dock.  Their two ships were docked there as well and they could hear Haylei doing her midshipman duties on one of them.

By 'they', I mean the three familiars (eagle, cat, monkey), Lhye and his mother Lil (who had Disguise Self going to make them appear human), Archer and his Lieutenant Wellard, Lunjun and Proteus.  Basically everyone who had been in the Shelyn temple.  They conferred a bit before realising that they were real, they were actually here, they had tickets to a big concert, and the date was a year and two weeks ahead of what it should have been.  They also had fake ID that made it seem like they were important businessmen.  They also had rosehip-scented water in their hipflasks, though a couple of them wouldn't have carried that, and Lhye figured out it must have been holy water.  They had also gone up a level though weren't too sure of their spells.  Lunjun had an easy time figuring it out by simply peering through his spellbook.

Kitrina came rushing down the gangplank towards them, wearing a fancy Chelish dress, eager to see the performance.  Apparently she has been with them for just over a year as they built up their reputation on the Inner Seas.  They have yet to go to the Shackles, which has frustrated her.  She has no idea of the time skip.  They also found out that they were here to assassinate someone, but they couldn't remember who.  It took them a bit of time (after a fruitless discussion with Midshipman Haylei where Proteus explained the time jump) before they thought to ask Kitrina who they were here to kill.  The girlfriend of the Admiral of the Gemcrown Bay.

On the plus side, they have experienced crewmen now and a bit of a reputation, though no one seems to be attacking the pirates with the forged ID.  Of course, people aren't supposed to fight each other at the Academy - a fact that no one realised but didn't turn out to be a problem because of the method they used to assassinate the devil.

They located the Admiral by his uniform and Proteus double checked the woman with him was the target.  He did this by putting holy water on his hand and shaking the alleged devil's hand, causing her to grit her teeth in pain and dismiss him from the conversation.  It wasn't so obviously on purpose because this was a Shelyn temple and so there were plenty of holy water fonts about that he could have moistened his hands in by accident.

Proteus / Lhye then used Disguise Self to look like waiters and went down a corridor where the drinks were laid out on trays by other servants.  They quickly scoffed most of the cocktails, pouring holy water in its place. 

Lhye had noticed Alyra in the room so he went to provide her with one such a drink, hoping to Beguiling Gift her into accepting one to test if she were a true devil or demon.  She passed her save but still took the drink with a little body language pressure from Lhye (and the fact she was talking to a rather chauvinistic and bombastic Taldan man).  She looked a bit confused at the water she had drunk, then annoyed as the rose hip registered.  Probably not the first time someone had tricked her into drinking holy water.  Still, she didn't comment or cause a scene.

Proteus used Beguiling Gift on the Devil, who passed her save, but the Devil needed no encouragement to drink and took a glass.  I ruled that consuming holy water would hit it with the full 6 hit points worth of damage.  As she startled, hissing, Proteus reacted like a shocked waiter and pulled back suddenly, spilling the tray of holy water onto her.  I ruled that it was equivalent to four glasses of holy water and decided to be kind and let him roll damage on all four.  He dealt a solid whack to her and the skin on her face and hands disintegrated to reveal red scales.  Lhye followed it up with anxiously coming over and feigning a trip, knocking more holy water onto her.

She died, disintegrating into nothing but a pile of clothing and goods, and the Admiral made a comment about interesting magic tricks and stepping away from the scene in case any might connect him to the figure.  Who knows what he's planning to do in retaliation in future, however?

Proteus scooped up all of her clothing and objects like a confused waiter, mentioning a need to return it to lost property.  Of course, they kept it instead as much of it was magical.

Be interesting to see what they do during the next session.  I promised Proteus and Lhye that I'd give them half an hour's grace before the alcohol hits them all at once (instantly drunkeness) and they all may choose to watch the concert rather than leave, which may be a better or worse idea.  Hard to say, really.

I imagine they'll stay.  Lhye and Proteus' players need an excuse to join the Siren Academy faction anyhow for the juicy factional bonuses.

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