Sandwarn and the curse of Insight

When I was in training in Neanton, I accidentally slept with someone I almost certainly shouldn’t have done. Not in any immoral or illegal way, just in a way that was not a great idea because of who they were (Heir of the family fortune. Engaged) and who I was (Hi, I’m Sandwarn. Bard. Not engaged.). As a result, for the next few weeks it became fairly obvious who knew the family, and who knew of the incident, because I’d be going around town, or performing, or shopping, or something, and one or two of the members of the audience would look at me, and recognise who I must be after a few minutes, and then would glare daggers at me. My only available defenses – I didn’t know who they were; I was the target rather than the arrow in this seduction; Once again with the not knowing – were neither helpful or given time for. Eventually I faded out of the zeitgeist, and life went on.

Then, for reasons that pass all understanding, I got on a caravan and got involved in an – increasingly spiritual – plot to turn the world to chaos. I’m out to save the world, and I’ve lost my previous desire to profit from that. I must be ill.

Anyway, after saving the city from the influence of this evil metal stuff, lobbying some senators, foiling a rooftop assassination, and helping pass legislation to make the world safer; we returned to the Branded Goat – our chosen hostilary – for celebratory beer and less celebratory sleep. When we got in the barman said our friend had rented a private room for our business deal, and like a set of expert level fools we went to talk to whoever this person was. After all, we were in a crowded tavern, it would be folly to start something. We left the door open, just in case.

We met a doddering wizard, confused as to our presence. Then, he stopped being a doddering wizard and talked as someone who knew what the hell was going on – more than we did, even – and wanted to see our faces. He said something about “them being unwilling to test for him anymore”, and that “if we survive the next 24 hours” we should just leave him alone. Then the doddering old wizard form was back.

This is where the introductory story comes in, because I could see the moment where he recognised us pass over his face as he turned to rage. Unlike the irritated burghers of Neanton, however, this wizard – covered in jewelry of the corrosive metal, we noticed – attacked. Kate made him doubt his existence a bit, attacking him with an illusion. I suggested using the image of the dark figure we saw in the cave, but this didn’t appear to have any super-normal affect. The wizard’s first attack (Some kind of ice magic) nearly killed Kate outright, and came within a stoat’s fingernail of doing the same to me. Dave sprinted behind him and did the usual Dave With Sword thing a bit, which caused him to doubt his life choices a bit, and I healed myself just in time to duck as Brek saw fit to summon a herd of fucking warhorses into a small tavern dining room. The Wizard’s next lightning bolt undid most of the healing, but also knocked out the guy who was coming in behind us from the tavern – whose face had *also* become a mask of rage when he saw us. Eventually we cleared up, and by that time the tavern had mostly evacuated itself. The guard were called, who recognised us, and helped us get to the palace without further incident.

The same wasn’t exactly true when the guard captain came to see us, and one of his associates did the rage-face thing. We befuddled him until we could put a bag over his head, which broke line of sight and thus the spell. Now we’re under guard in a secure room in the palace. The figure said 24 hours, and we only just survived the first nine…

It’s going to be a very long day, and I didn’t even get to sleep with anyone to deserve it.

Sandwarn and the Dunk In Charge

Ah, I do still have a diary. I should probably use it more, if only so I can get this right at my trial.

So, quick summary: There’s a corrupted metal filling being sold, wearing it makes people go crazy. it has *something* to do with the old dark god, and this all happened before, in ages past. Me and some old friends from Neanton have found outselves on point to unfuck this situation, and we’ve got as far as Pentelos. The head of the fortress just up the road from Pentelos was actually useful, and – once we rescued him from his subordinates who had gone crazy – has agreed to help us stockpile all this awful waste we’ve been collecting. When we got to the city, we found a helpful, useful and occasionally bribable government in place who – once we’d convinced them – banned the metal temporarily, and then scheduled a senate vote to ban it completely. Our story continues.

The new dawn of a new day, and we got to work. Have to say, the quality of the inns we can afford has gone up significantly, which is doing wonders for our rest. I woke up feeling like an entirely new man.

Anyway, the senate vote’s scheduled for today, so we agreed to check when that was, see if we can do a bit of lobbying to make sure it goes though, and then I needed to start deep research on how Pentelos fits in with the whole grand scheme. The old maps we got from the underground city say that this place had five roads out (thus “Pent”, I’d imagine). I was actually looking forward to the politics bit. I’d had a rough few days in fights, and the idea of spending a day entirely in the abstract world of bending people to my will with words appealed more than I can say.

So we wandered up to the government district and found the Senate – vote scheduled for 2:30 – Master of the Ways, who said there were four recalcitrant senators. So we went fishing.

The first Senator was easy. He wasn’t interested at all in the issue, and didn’t see why it warranted government interest. I went though the whole story. He seemed… over enthused by elven culture, so I leant a bit on the elvish-made amulets, and elven wizardry of the binding ritual and the events in the elven cities. He folded like a cheap card.

The second senator was… more difficult. Apparently the lobbyist for trading the metal was already present. We bribed the senator’s receptionist, and he let us in. I did a bit of a grandstandy bit, then threw a mild insult at the lobbist’s two guards. The plan was, roughly, to goad them into irrational behaviour and blame it on the metal. So, I said “And you can see some of it on these two bastards”, at which point they kind of drew weapons.

The resulting fight took a while. Elcathriel cast something on me that allowed me to do lots of things, so I sent the leader of them mad and got him to attack his own guard (Not, unfortunately, before he’d stabbed me), Brek mind-controlled one of them to our side, and Dave hit things with swords. We managed to incapacitate all of them (The rogue surrendered, then tried to stab us, then we tied him up, then he tried to stab himself) but one of the guards died from his leader’s poison blade. At which point the local guard turned up – the receptionist had heard the fight, The senator had escaped by a secret passage – and arrested us. Lacking the senator’s ability to confirm that we didn’t start it, we waited patiently in the antichamber for the rogue lobbyist to go crazy and attempt to stab everyone. Which he did. Our story then confirmed, I healed one of their guards – always a good way to get people on-side – and got an escort to see the other senators. (The rogue died in custody)

The third senator was being blackmailed by the lobbyist organisation, and couldn’t help. But he could – and did – give us the name of another senator – Ulrich – who hadn’t been seen for ages, but might be willing to vote with the right side.

The fourth senator had been bribed. We appealed to her sense of self-preservation (mentioned the riots in Tanacord. Not *all* the reasons for the riots in Tanacord, and implied it was all the metal. *ahem*) and noted that her previous briber was now under arrest for attempted murder of guards. She did the cheap card thing too.

Ulrich was harder.

We found his house and knocked. Nothing happened. We knocked again. Still nada. I asked Elcathriel to Knock. She obliged, and ingress was obtained.

The senator had made a considerable dent in his family wine cellar over the last year. Some personal tragedy, I would imagine. Being on the clock, I didn’t care a great deal.

We woke up the senator, gave him a drink, and explained the metal thing. He knew about the report from the fort, which was handy, but wasn’t really in any fit state to help us. I asked Dave to get a barrel full of water. The dragonborn obliged.

I explained to the senator that I needed him to be sober to save the city, and that if he couldn’t manage that, then I would need to put him in this barrel of water until he could. There’s a point where all my skills of diplomacy and persuasion are blocked by chemical imbalance, and I tend to lose my subtly at such moments. Dave dunked the senator like a digestive biscuit.

Unlike a digestive biscuit, the senator wiggled, and so Dave dropped him.

Fortunately, we then saved the senator from drowning, for we are Good Adventurers, and Rescue Citizens Like That.

Somewhat better, we get the senator on-side, and I wander off to buy a Restoration Potion (Cures: Curses, Scrapes and – aha – poisoning) but as I step out the door an arrow *dink*s off my armour. Bother. We were followed.

There’s a back entrance, so we sneak though the back streets (Brek has a spell that makes us more stealthy, which is good, because the armour that allows arrows to *dink* instead of *thud* has a tendency to *clink* instead of silence) and I pick up a potion of full restoration (1000 GP I doubt I’ll see again) and poor it down the woozy senator’s throat. The hangover evaporates from him and suddenly we have a useful person again. However, as we get to the senate, Dave spots an assassin on the roof. So close, and so not quite there yet.

We get some guards to provide some protection, and Dave immediately looms ahead, a walking dragon-shield. Brek throws up a wall of wind that blows any arrow off course (mine too, sadly) and Elcathriel starts throwing firebolts. We take the assassin out with him only getting one hit in  (on Dave. Enough to kill a normal person, and enough to annoy Dave a bit). Senator installed in Senate, bill passes, confetti everywhere.

But the Lobbyist was working for someone, and I still need to look into this city roads thing.

So to be continued, I guess.

Vines, Dryads, Goblins, Alcohol, FIRE, FIRE, FIRE , FIRE, FIRE

I’m still on the road with the people I started on the caravan with. There’s Stephanie, a somewhat crazed halfling with a weapons fixation and a truly terrifying tendency towards sudden surprise stabbings; “Kate” a city-born elf rebelling against her parents, apparently by setting things on fire; “Dave”, whose real name I have no concept of the ability to spell, is a half-dragon fighter; and Brek is a previously sensible dwarf.

We’ve been hired to guard the caravan, but have gotten involved in assayer’s guild politics which mean we’re now on the trail of some armour made from a mystical substance. Kate appears to think that this substance drives people irrational, but I suspect that’s an elven prejudice thing and it just drives people capitalist. Either way, there’s a faction of the guild who want to mine and sell it for all it’s worth, and a faction who want to study it. Both are currently stymied by the fact that the big delivery of the stuff that was due in to Gradfort was captured by goblins. We’ve now been hired to recover as much as we could.

So, we follow the tracks out of the city and off into a random dirt track in the forest, come to a clearing, continue down the path where we find the remains of the cart they stole the stuff from – and a dead goblin – and then doubled back to the clearing, where I got to try the ritual Candor taught me to put together a camp site with the aid of sprites. Up until now, we’ve been sleeping under the wagons or in forts, and before that I rarely left the city. Kate decided to attempt to get back to her eldrin roots – quite literally – and started talking to the trees. We put people up on guard and the rest of us slept. My watch was quiet as the grave, fortunately.

Notably, and this is partly to remind myself of “things to do next time”, one of the things we did not do was check what had killed the goblin, otherwise we might have been a bit more wary, but as it was it was still dark when Kate heard something suspicious and woke up Brek, who confirmed something was up – he’s more outdoorsy than any of us, despite Kate’s pretensions – who woke the rest of us up.

So, there I was, in nightshirt and boots, holding my song-blade and looking every inch the respected bard, when the fucking vines started attacking us.

Goblins? yeah, done goblins. Quite a lot recently, as it happens, both in pre- and post-death forms. Dragonlings, snakes, shape-shifters. Still, I was expecting more to be attacked by fauna than flora; I dived back into my tent to find my chain-mail and get dressed in it. By the time I’d got back out and shook it down around me, Brek was up to his eyes in vine and another was snaking towards me, half dead from having encountered Stephanie on the way. It caught me once, but a couple of piercing insults took it the rest of the way to its chosen arboreal abyss – I’ve no idea how insulting vines to death actually works, but I don’t question the magic and it doesn’t question me – and healed Brek as he cut and slashed his way out and Kate set up her useful field of fire that incinerated everyone in it. Eventually, and after some strenuous effort on everybody’s part, we’d got most of them knocked out or dead, when a dryad stepped out of a tree in order to aid us. Of course, none of us knew it was a dryad until Brek told us, but with the dryad’s assistance we cleaned up the clearing.

The dryad thanked us for our assistance, and we thanked her for hers, and this went on for a little while until we asked about the goblins. Apparently they were logging part of the forest a way further on, and the dryads would arrange a path between us and them in the morning when they were likely to be dead drunk. We promised to take the alcoholic haze out of that description, and retreated back to bed until morning.

In the morning there was a path that appeared to have been there for years leading directly out of our clearing, and there was breakfast, and then we packed up and wandered up the path until the stench of a goblin camp alerted us to the existence of the goblin camp. While we hid out behind some logs, I sent out my familiar – Did I mention I’d got a cat familiar? I picked it up on the trail – to look around the camp. undetected, the cat picked out six goblins drunk and asleep around the fire, another dozen in some kind of barracks, and a couple on watchtowers, two goblins in the entire camp were awake, and there were a number of barrels of alcohol outside a makes-shift still in a hut,the barrels were mostly empty. Stephanie creeped in after the cat, and managed to take out five completely silently before one noticed her. Halfway though the final one, though, she was spotted, and didn’t quite manage to kill her target straight off.

A few days ago, maybe a couple of weeks at this point, Stephanie had picked up a parasite of some description, the result of which – as we’d found out that morning – was that she could now shoot this horrible viscous goo from her arms. It was a bit horrible, and wasn’t without side effects, but it meant that she could shoot the goblin target in progress in the face with this stuff. I’d imagine that was a particular nasty way to die.

I took a suitably heroic pose on top of the pile of logs we were standing on, and insulted the mother of the goblin on the watchtower, who happened to have a very large longbow, and was shooting two arrows at a time, which I felt was excessive. Fortunately, he missed. Meanwhile Kate was blasting people from her position hidden behind the still, and Dave had blocked the door to the barracks and was sweeping his sword though anyone who attempted to pass him. The tower-guarding goblin took a couple more potshots at me, and while he only hit with one – yay chainmail – the logs I was standing on took a battering, and I was attempting to keep my balance as the ropes that held them frayed and snapped. Meanwhile, some of the goblins trapped in the barracks escaped out the back near the watchtowers, and one made it as far as the still.

This bit I’m still putting together a bit, as I was still balancing on these logs to some extent, but as far as I can tell, at almost exactly the same time, Stephanie got a grappling hook around one of the legs of a watchtower, and pulled. The tower fell towards the escaping goblins, depositing thelongbowman I’d been insulting on top of them. As she did that, Brek – who you will remember is the sensible, nature knowing, sane one – decided to throw one of the remaining barrels of alcohol into the still. There was a crash as it hit the torch, and a “Whomp” as it caught light. Brek screamed that he’d just done that.

I regained my balance on the logs, and rode the avalanche to the middle of the clearing; Kate ran full pelt from her position beside the still – which was about to go bang – into the corner of the clearing, Brek ran straight to hide behind the barracks, and Dave picked up the goblin in front of him and threw it onto the pile of goblins which had been hit by the watchtower, then ran to Brek. The remaining goblin on the remaining watchtower then decided to give up and launched himself from the thirty foot tower onto Stephanie, who didn’t quite move fast enough and was impaled by the falling goblin. I healed Stephanie as best I could, ran into the barracks and activated my teleporting amulet, swapping places with Kate, who then used her flaming fire field on the pile of goblins that had been under the tower.

There was an earth shattering kaboom.

The walls of the still expanded outwards slightly, and then blew into flaming splinters which evaporated as they spread out. The flat roof bowed upwards and then shot upwards, landing in pieces around an nearby, causing small fires where they landed, and the inside of where the building had stood was afiery inferno.

Stephanie was protected by a tree and a shield of dead goblin meat, both of which basically evaporated. The barracks ceiling collapsed, narrowly missing Kate, and Brek and Dave were protected by the barracks. I wasn’t quite so lucky. My perfect view of the massive explosion had the downside that the barrels were thrown straight at me, and I was hit by two of them, which hurt. a few brief skirmishes later we cleared up the rest of the goblins, and now the others are putting out the fires whilst me and Stephanie recover a bit.

Soon, we’ll have to explain to the dryads why we set the forest on fire, and after that we’ll have explain why we’re giving back what we can find of the armour in a somewhat molten state where it’s not smelling of roast goblin.

Meanwhile, I think I should sit down a while.

Born to be Bard

Tripped, fell, landed on a caravan.

I appear to have become an adventurer, which will please my parents no end. The same caravan that brought me in a few years ago is doing the rounds again, and so I’ve hopped on it – alongside some friends – to be guard duty for it. Possibly not the best idea we’ve ever had, given that the second day we got jumped by about twenty goblin things. Managed to fight them off without a scratch, though it’s beginining to worry me how I seem to be unable to use the bow outside the practice range.

Anyway, I got to bash off a few of them, though Stephanie – a halfling – managed to do a somersault off a wagon to – I’m told – drive her sword though a goblin’s head. Impressive, and I’m glad she appears to be on our side.

Stephanie sets upon a goblin
Stephanie sets upon a goblin

Otherwise, we’ve got a personable Dragon warrior in the form of “Call me Dave”, a somewhat boundary-stalking mage, and a quiet but effective dwarf. We’ve been asked to deliver some letters on the way, but in a record-breaking start, no bugger’s heard of the guy we’re supposed to be delivering the first to, this despite that he used to be in charge, which is a bit on the outside edge of believability to be honest. However, we leave in the morning, so no chance to investigate it more tonight. I’m going to try to get some sleep so if we get jumped tomorrow I’ve got more of a chance of getting out scratch-less again.