Thursday, July 5, 2012

SESSION X - The Searchers

In which the adventurers, having learned to respect magic missile, find a sinister patron and seek devious entry to the Brewery's upper floors for the purpose of foul assassination.  Then things get freaky grimdark.


Grimgrim – Fighting priest of the fierce God of Dooms, Monstcrom! (M) C2

Lemon Jackson – A pistol brandishing wizard with strange yellow eyes and who tattooed with his spellbook. (M) MU2

Huxley McTeeth (Hux) – A gaucho with a past, heavily armored, possessed with in strength disproportionate to his years and small frame. (M) F2 with henchman Graymol the Moktar Shaman and Gurgur the Moktar.

“Eyestabs” Nell – A scary woman armed with many poison hat pins and a dead dwarf's crossbow(F) A2

Drusilla – Eleven lass of surpassing beauty(for a creepy eyed, fanged, and slit-nosed monster), disturbingly unpleasant affect and taste for human babies - Pole arm and scimitar (F) Elf 1

After the foray into the Old Brewery and a narrow escape from the elven drug cartel within, led by what appears to be the world's largest elf, so far know only as "Capo", the party needs time to recover.  The adventurer's injuries range from sprained ankles, serious magic burns (1 hp left in Lemon's case) to  exhaustion and minor abrasions.  Recovery is complicated  by the fact that the party did manage to "rescue" Ms. Piddles (Exalted brother Joohanssanville's 7th mistress), who is currently going through terrible drug withdrawals tied to a chair in the party's apartment. 

Huxley is sent with Greymol (both having been relatively uninjured in the fracas & leap to safety) to leave a note for Monty (A servant of Joohanssanville) at a haberdasher on the street of worthy servitude (A haberdasher who looks suspiciously like an older Monty) and in only a few hours Monty and three other young rakes arrive in a a pair of carriages.

The rakes are quick and reasonably polite (though one does attempt to pinch Drusilla inappropriately and is slapped - getting slapped by a 17 STR has to hurt), Ms. Piddles respectfully bundled into a sack and carted to the carriages, her drugged ravings blocked by a scented handkerchief.

The adventurers follow in the second carriage, and soon are pulling into a back entrance of Joohanssanville's sprawling riverfront residence.  The rakes hand Ms. Piddles into the care of a pair of doctors, who administer a quick injection while the party (including the very nervous moktars) are led into a private walled garden.  The Exalted Brother sits reading a large book under a thick sunshade.  He turns his slit pupils towards Lemon and says "Welcome, it seems you have suffered some setbacks - nasty burn that ... Still you also have returned my friend - very civic minded of you."  The party sits as Joohanssanville continues.  "Unfortunately it's not quite as we agreed, I understand no child was recovered."  Huxley prepares to get angry as it sounds like the Exalted brother is about to deny him a reward, but Joohanssanvile waves his hand and states "I am a man of my word, you will be paid - 1,000 gold pieces, 1/2 the reward for 1/2 the job."

A clerk brings out a large satchel of gold and places it on the table, asking the party to sign a receipt.  Joohansanville suggests that they return to the Brewery quickly and find the baby to earn the rest of the reward.  When he indicates the interview is over he notes "I have a friend who would like your assistance in a related matter, given your keen interest in wealth, I thought it no imposition to introduce him."

A side door, almost invisible in the garden's brick wall, opens and a heavily armored fist officer, flanked by two huge sergeants, walks through.  He introduces himself as Detective Lieutenant Tsu.  His proposal is that the party will again enter the Old Brewery and search out a deed for the property rumored to be hidden within and hand it over to him.  If they cannot find the deed, they'll set fire to the place so that the Fist may scatter the fleeing residents and the spot can be redeveloped. He'll pay 1,000 GP for the deed and 500 GP for a through arson job on top of Joohanssanville's reward.  The party readily agree and let Tsu know that it will be a day at least before they're prepared to go back into the Brewery.  

After returning to the apartment, Nell sets out to find a bit more about both the Peacock Syndicate and the Lieutenant.  Greymol is sent to ask Rum-Tum the same things.  Greymol returns and reports that Tsu is head of the "Unlawful Detainer, Squatter Rehabilitation & Blight Redevelopment Implementation Team" a semi-autonomous force of Fist guards who appear to answer to the Vizier rather than Captain Tyro.  They mostly evict residents from buildings that the Vizier wants torn down, but have also been known to extort money and assassinate - apparently on their own whim.

Nell learns that a force of Tsu's Fist went into the brewery several months ago, and suffered serious casualties before retreating, supposedly trying to evict the denizens of the Den of Thieves. A supernatural force or monster may have driven them back, as many of the guardsmen had terrible claw marks and the detective thaumaturge leading the attack suffered from a terrible wasting disease afterwards.

The Peacock syndicate is not well known.  They're newcomers to Denethix's underworld and deal in strange purple drugs with varying effects.  Many members are elves and they showed up with capital, muscle and supply almost overnight.  They have no friends, but have employed several criminal and semi-criminal freelancers.

The adventurers rest up, memorize spells, ask Monstcrom for guidance and purchase a lot of rope, grappling hooks, and a large amount of oil.  It's mentioned that the best oil comes from pressing fire beetles.

Returning to the brewery, the party notices the same tongueless hobo loitering out front, and quickly heads to the rear of the building, climbing over the tumbling back wall. Only the faintest light seeps through the upper story windows, as Nell prepares to climb to the roof.  Nell discovers a fairly easy route and makes her way up, lowering ropes for the other adventurers and soon the entire party is perched next to a large turreted dormer.  The windows of the dormer still have thick glass in them, and can be opened from within.  Only Drusilla's infravision can see into the darkness of the turret, but her observation shows that the room appears to be a dense greenhouse, full of some kind of large flowering plants.

Nell carefully slices open a panel of glass with her thieves' kit and opens the window almost silently.  Nothing moves within as Nell and Drusilla enter.  Thick foliage, all of the same sort and with large furled blooms fill the room.  Since nothing is in the room beyond plants the party enters and Lemon lights a hooded lamp.  As soon as the lamplight touches the thick fleshy leaves of the plants flowers begin to open and a sweetish scent fills the air. The adventurers start feeling woozy and Grimgrim stumbles.  Nell pushes open one of the room's two doors and stumbles into the well lit hall beyond, the light spilling through the door.  Lemon dashes through with his lamp, but the light from the hall has caused more flowers to open and their sickly scent is rapidly effecting the adventurers still in the room.  Drusilla and Gurgur make it into the hall with Nell and Lemon, but the rest collapse to the floor.  Nell quickly douses the hall lamps and opens the door a crack.  Greymol, Grimgrim and Huxley are stretched out on the floor, and Greymol is snoring mightily.

Pollen is still think in the air, and the plants are open.  Nell takes a piece of cloth douses it in water and ties it around her face.  She is able to grab and drag Huxley to the door, and soon the moktars follow.  The slumbering party members wake in a few minutes with headaches and stiff limbs but appear otherwise unharmed. With the poisonous flowers behind them the party explores the hall, finding it newly re-papered in a rich red velvet with gold patterns cut into it.  At the end of the hall the party finds a locked door, but Nell is able to pick it easily.  The room beyond is full of high quality furniture, including a bassinet.  The party rushes to the bassinet, but finds it empty, and the padding within cold.  Further search of the room reveals a set of coded ledgers that Lemon takes, and a set of knicknacks that Drusilla recognizes as of Northern Elvish origin. Faint noises from below encourage the party to move on, through the room's second door, but they mark the expensive furniture for later plunder.

beyond a short hall the adventurers find themselves in an opulent bedroom, also empty.  A discussion ensues and the party decides to search the room and set up an ambush for what is presumably the syndicate's leader when he returns.  Suddenly as the party is poking through the room, finding various odd valuable items - including a strange plant that appears to be producing lizards instead of flowers, a sharp creaking jars their ears.  Before the party can turn around the large iron coat rack has animated and smashed Nell across the back - stunning her and sending her flying.

It's an 8' tall black iron terror - two large arms covered in hooks, moving on tiny legs.  The animate furniture flails again, smashing into Hux's quickly raised shield before the party can get itself in order to fight the thing.  Nell's crossbow bolt glances off the iron surface with a spark as does Drusilla's spear while the automaton manages to elude the rest of the party with odd bobbing motions.  The coat rack smashes Huxley off balance with one arm and hammers his knee mightily with the other, tearing into flesh with one of its hooks.  Again the party's blows are ineffective - harmlessly glancing off the iron of the animated furniture. It hammers Grimgrim, almost crushing one of his pauldrons and spraining the shoulder beneath.  Huxley's sword finally lands on the coat rack and the ancient rocketman's blade slices cleanly through the iron of one arm, scattering several hooks about the room.  The adventurer's now realize that their mundane weapons are simply not sharp enough to damage the automaton, and only Huxley's saber can injure it.  Lemon calls up his his Hellbolt spell and rancid green fire lances into the rack's wounded arm, blasting it to pieces. The automaton is undaunted and continues to hammer at whatever party members are within reach.  Greymol is battered and stumbles back before Hux manages another pair of slashes that sever the trunk of the coat rack.

The party is disconcerted, they have been badly mauled by animate furniture and are wary about poking around in the room lest the ottoman from develop teeth. There are no other exists from the room, no evidence of a baby,  and only incidental items that display the wealth one would expect from a successful narcotics syndicate.  There's a closet full of fancy clothes, but most are in the terrible neon colors popular with elves and the suits are cut small.  Huxley still helps himself to some of the more garish suits and Greymol also grabs a pair of brocade vests with the stated intent of getting them let out.  The only 'treasure' the party finds is a nice jade dish with approximately 55 GP worth of various coins stacked in it, several strange nicknacks, and a liqour cabinet with giant honey mead and a bottle of strange purple liquor in it.

Not really sure what to do, the party decides to wait a few hours as silently as possible.  Nell rigs a tripwire at the door, and proceeds to sneak back to the plant room.  Lemon begins the process of re-memorizing hell bolt.  Nell finds that the plants gone dormant once more and the plant room is safe to cross.  With the rest of the party waiting beyond the greenhouse, Nell opens the other door in the greenhouse and determines that it leads to another opulent hallway. At the end of the hall is a sparsely decorated room with the top of the spiral iron stairway the party entered up the first time they came to the Brewery.  Nell is able to spot a velvet rope at the bottom of the stairs and hears the noise of a bustling night spot below.

Returning to the party, Nell, Drusilla and Huxley begin to rig crossbow traps, using the bows carried by Gurgur, Huxley and Drusilla.  The bolts are pointed directly at the door.  The party prepares oil, but decides against it when Drusilla reminds them that the furnishings of the room (the ones not smashed in the battle with the animate coat rack) are rather valuable and rather flammable.  After three more hours of tense waiting Nell (stationed by the greenhouse door) hears both male and female laughter coming from the landing.  She dashes back to the bedroom and the party prepares, Nell pressed against the wall ready to assassinate, and the rest of the party ready to assault anyone entering the door. 

When the door opens it's not a fierce gangster that takes three crossbow bolts to the chest mid-laugh, but a pretty young woman in upper class dress.  A growl comes from the hallway and a stinging purple mist rolls into the room.  The mist burns the adventures' nostrils and makes them reel.  The Moktars and Huxley drop to thier knees rubbing thier eyes and coughing but the rest of the party remains upright.  Drusilla runs to the large windows and smashes them open with her spear while the rest of the adventurers retreat out of the stinging vapor cloud (except Nell who pulls her wet rag over her mouth and crouches, waiting for the chance to strike).

The wind howling through the broken windows is successful in reducing  the clouds intensity, but it is not yet dissipated.  Before any additional action can be taken a cloud of purple motes appears in front of Grimgrim and hum momentarily before lancing through him in a welter of gore.  Grimgrim, is barely breathing and Drusilla runs to staunch his wounds.  It may be too late for the cleric as he is bleeding from several holes and losing consciousness.  With a dying breath he calls on Mostcrom (allowed him to roll against wisdom at 5 point penalty) and the god listens, sealing some of the worst holes with jets of black flame.

A snarling voice from outside the door says "Thought it'd be easy huh?  Who sent you and I might let you live!"  followed by a laugh.  Lemon nods to Nell and shouts "I bring hell baby eater!" letting off his hell bolt at the source of the laughter.  A noxious flash of green lingers in the doorway with the smell of burning flesh from the tattoo on Lemon's arm. Nell grits her teeth and manages not to succumb to the mist while Drusilla furiously pushes gauze into the holes in Grimgrim and tries to force giant bee mead down his throat, though he's now unconscious. The warriors are also still down, with eyes and throats afire, though Greymol has recovered enough to stand and has shaken off the worst effects.

With the cloud blown mostly away, a thin elf in a fancy chartreuse suit, a lavender scarf around his face pushes through the doorway, stepping cleanly over the tripwire while working his hands with sorcerous mastery.  Purple Sparks crackle around the elf's fingers as he steps forward seeking a target. Nell leaps, poisoned blade plunging for the elf's back, but he seems as if he's expecting it, his image splitting and stuttering so that Nell's assassination attempt passes through one of his shadow selves.  The elf smiles raising his hands, now sheathed in purple electrical gauntlets.  He is preparing to release the sparking power into Lemon's face when Greymol touches the kingpin with one long claw and a spinning web of glowing red lines flashes into existence before the elf's face.  Dazzled by the strange plain's shamanism the crime lord's last words are "I should have kissed her", before Nell's poison blade rips through his heart from behind.
This was the party's innocent victim .. they feel bad.

Mechanics cause that was close: Grimgrim was hit with a 5th level magic missile that's 2D4+1 x 3 HP damage - reducing him from 10 to -8 HP.  He dies at minus 10.  I allowed Grimgrim to get off a healing spell for 4 points with a lucky roll, bringing him to -4.  Drusilla's first aid was poor in round 1, with only 1 point plus 1-2 from the mead, bringing Grimgrim to -1 HP.  The next round Drusilla stabilized Grimgrim and he regained consciousness with 2 HP.  Then he casts his last cure on himself and is up to 7 HP, almost better. Still that brush with death and Monstcrom's presence has left him shaken, and slightly mad - losing a point of INT permanently.

Searching the dead elf the party finds several valuable gems set in rings and a platinum broach as well as a finely made mail shirt under the elf's suit and a silver rapier.  Grimgrim borrows Hux's sword and, his eyes mad with holy wrath, slices the crime lord's head off.  Carrying the head before him like a talisman Grimgrim declares that "This den will be emptied for Monstcrom's glory!" and the party follows him to the landing.  Grimgrim marches down the steps and the party almost immediately encounters a guard in splint mail.  The man is startled to be presented with the grim adventurers and barely has time to shout for help when Hux, Nell and Drusilla cut him down.  The rampage continues as the party pushes past a group of stoned revelers who part like water in front of the severed head.  Grimgrim smashes down the door the party spiked the last time as a pair of guards rush at them from down the hall.  Nell puts a bolt into one of the charging guard's knees, and Grimgrim lofts the crimelord's head through the open door, followed by a pair of sleep spells from Drusilla and Lemon. There are 12 guards and the Capo in the room, but eight drop to the winds of sleep hurtling through the doorway.  The party faces four guards inside and two charging down the hall, plus the Capo who is getting up from behind a card table and is unaffected by the party's spells.  Lemon begins furiously counterspelling and succeeds in cancelling both the Capo and surviving elven guard's sleep spells. Drusilla has set her spear and easily dispatches the wounded charging guard, while Nell kills the elven guard with a poisoned hatpin to the throat. With guards charging from both sides the party fights furiously.  Nell slashes the Capo, but he seems unfazed, Drusilla stabs the second guard coming down the hall with a decapitating blow. None of the other party members can reach the guards, but Lemon puts a bullet between the foremost guard's eyes and kills him instantly.

In return the Capo runs full force into Huxley smashing him winded to the ground with bruised ribs, but the other guards can't make it past to strike. Greymol manages to land a stunning blow on the back of the Capo's helm, and Huxley is able to push the enormous elf off of him with his shield. As the Capo stumbles back Huxley drives the magic saber into his side under the elf's hip armor.  When Huxley twists his blade free a splatter of dark elven blood follows.  The Capo is roaring with pain and rage now, clearly staggered, but still he hammers another blow back against Huxley's shield.  Lemon tries to draw a bead on one of the guards, but his pistol jams and he must drawn his dagger.

Grimgrim uses his flail's chain to tangle the Capo's left arm and drives his shield boss into the elf viciously, but the giant elf still stands, slashing furiously.  As the melee devolves the elf cracks Huxley's shield and slashes his arm open at the elbow.  Greymol grabs one of the guards in a tight embrace and a smiling Gurgur pounces, using his teeth to tear out the man's throat. The noises of battle and screams have drawn a crowd at the end of the hall, with the tuxedoed performer in the front rank.  The sheer brutality of the melee seems to stun them, especially as Drusilla makes a massive thrust straight into the large elf's back through his plate knocking him to the floor.  The final guard dashes back into the room but Nell sprints after and stabs him through the back, her scimitar emerging from his breastbone.

Surrounded by dead, with sprays of blood everywhere - Huxley turns to the crowd and shouts "Where is the baby!" The crowd edges back before the performer, raising his glowing wand, states in a dreamy voice "Well I have no trouble with you, but if you start something, you know I can end it, and I'll tell you about the baby..."  Lemon follows up with "Yes, if you do we'll not bother you."  The man lets them know that the baby was taken North in a carriage the night the party first attacked, but only the Capo and the crimelord would have any idea as to where.  He also suggests that the party not leave through the downstairs as the entrance has been trapped and security increased. The party turns to the Capo who is unconcious and suffering serious blood loss. They bind his wounds quickly and march the incredibly weak elf up to the third floor.  Before going the party plunders the gangsters' chamber, finding a small safe that is light enough for Huxley to carry, but too strong for Nell to crack without additional time and tools.  The Capo seems resigned, barely alive as the party waits on the roof outside the conservatory and sends Nell to get Monty's aid.

Soon a wagon full of hay and three carriages of heavily armed dandies are waiting below the roof.  A well paid fist officer stands guard at either end of the street as Joohanssanville's men receive the Capo with some glee and force hiim into a windowless coach.  The party begins to drag fancy furniture out of the crime boss's lair and lower it into the wagon.  They throw hideous suits down to the bravos and soon several are helping load the party's furniture and several more a clambering up the ropes to do their own looting.  Before dawn the adventurers have enough fine furnishings to decorate their home in style, assorted knickknacks and a small safe (Treasure report to follow).  The party has also failed to find either the deed or the infant they were sent to seek and it's likely they must return to the Brewery a third time.

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