Dec 19, 2017

23rd Day of Reaping, 580 CY - The Party Hunts for the "real" Markessa

This week was a short session because we all decided to stop early and go see The Last Jedi. I highly recommend it. Go. Now. D&D can wait.

The party was hurting after the the fight with Blackthorn, the ogre mage. Cadwin was still unconscious from earlier, Jarrus was now at negative hit points - stabilized, but at risk (I recently updated the house rule on what happens when characters recover from death and near-death. Pontus was extremely hurt, Sarril was completely out of spells and Luapan was still a statue, so the party really had no choice but to find a safe place to retreat and rest. Upstairs was not an option, as they knew that Turrosh Mak would be marching an orc army into the keep first thing in the morning. The current level was not yet safe, as evidenced by a small patrol that came by (and saw the dead werewolves, so wisely decided to back away - for now). So, after searching the room and finding a secret entrance to a treasure vault that they had no way of accessing at the moment, the party decided to retreat back into the secret hallway they explored earlier, hoping that anyone else who knew about it was dead or gone. The plan seemed to work, as the party was able to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening there, and then get a full night's rest without being found. It would have been peaceful if it weren't for the torturous screaming coming from somewhere in the distance.

Getting to spend some quality time together, Sarril decided to ask the new thief, Cassius, about his background. He explained that he comes from a merchant family in Greyhawk, and were captured not long ago outside the city when they attempted to leave. Someone captured them and sold them to the Slave Lords. Sarril then asked for an update regarding what news he has missed from the city in the last year. Cassius informed the party of the following:

  • War broke out between the Shield Lands and the Horned Society about a year ago and has been raging continually since then.
  • Furyondy did not come to the aid of their ally, due to its own internal political strife. It is rumored that King Belvor is being influenced by his advisors to stay out of the conflict. It is no secret that most of his nobles are resisting any additional taxation as the economy has severely suffered since trade through Celene had been cut-off, and Keoland and Nyrond were dealing with struggles of their own.
  • In Nyrond, King Archibold was dealing with problems to its north and south. The recent collapse of the Theocracy of the Pale into civil war, removing a necessary buffer between Nyrond and the Duchy of Tenh to the north, and Duke Szefrin's move against Almor to reclaim the lands into Aerdy (the Great Kingdom) to the south. Without Almor, Nyrond was most certainly looking at a full-scale war with Aerdy in the near future. For these reasons, Nyrond could not send much help to The Shield Lands, though King Archibold did send a naval fleet to Admunfort to at least protect the capital, which may be the only thing keeping them from losing the war at this point.
  • The war has created a massive refugee crisis in Greyhawk, which is exacerbating an already strained economy. Desperate people also make good recruits for evil cults who take advantage of their situations. As such, the problem of evil cults within the city has grown, and has strained the City Watch
  • The city is in near economic collapse, and merchants have been leaving the city to seek their fortunes elsewhere - of course this is having a progressively negative spiraling effect, which is weakening the guilds as well. At this point, it is primarily the Rhenee who are bringing goods into the city
  • The churches, many of which have been helpful in fighting cult activity in the past, are mostly gone. The Temple of Pholtus was overrun by a renegade cult of proclaimed Pholtus followers, the Temple of St. Cuthbert emptied out to send all of the help they could to support the war effort, and several other temples, such as Xerbo and Zilchus, simply left without explanation, leaving only empty buildings behind.
  • The Guild of Wizardry and the College of the Magical Arts seem to be functioning, but people aren't seen walking around the campuses anymore
In summary, Cassius made it clear that going to Greyhawk is not advised, as it was quickly turning into a dump. Of course that made Sarril that much more interested in getting there as soon as possible.

Resting in the the hidden hallway worked as the party was able to avoid detection and get a full rest and prepare spells in the morning. After healing up, they headed out in the direction of Markessa's room, which Blackthorn had previously pointed them to. When they go there, Markessa and her bodyguard were prepared. Cloaked in invisibility from Dust of Disappearance, Markessa unleashed a lightning bolt at the entire party as soon as Pontus opened the door. The bolt hit everyone in a nice, clean line. It hurt, but everyone was still able to push forward. Jarrus and Pontus engaged the bodyguard while Sarril, Cadwin and Cassius focused on dealing with the invisible Markessa who was tossing spells in their direction. The battle took a minor toll on the party, but it was over quickly. Sarril, using his Gem of True Seeing, looked over Markessa's body. It looked like her, but like the woman they encountered upstairs, this one had no equipment of value on her. Pontus, who had seen Markessa loading up with magical equipment when he scouted previously, insisted this was not the real Markessa.

The party then searched the room and found some secret doors, one of which lead to what looked like Markessa's bedroom. They found a safe that they could not open (Cassius, the new thief, has not yet acquired any thieves tools). They then found another secret door behind the fireplace leading to a narrow passage which looked like it had some footprints from use. The party then heard a booming sound in the distance and felt the floors shake. Turosh Mak and his forces had arrived upstairs, they assumed. The passage led to an intersection where it forked south, and turned northwest, looping back up into the keep. They decided to follow the northern loop and ran into a minotaur lair. The minotaur was an easy fight, but the wounds are starting to add up again.

This is where we were forced to pause until after the new year. It is 8:00 am on the 24th Day of Reaping, 580 CY

1 comment:

  1. I would just like to point out for the benefit of any players who might read this that, as a DM, I am absolutely terrible at remembering to roll equipment saves. I am going to have to put a reminder on a sticky note on the back of my DM screen or something.