2007-01-05


Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Session: 2006-01-05, 2007-01-14
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Xame
Status: Rogue 1 / Cleric 4 / Divine Oracle 1

Part III: A most redoubtable opponent

Well, we were ambushed twice more in quick succession, once by human soldiers aboard the airship, and once by halfling barbarians led by an undead dragonmarked warforged on the lightning rail (yeah, sounds crazy, but not kidding). I won’t belabor these sequences of events too much, but to say that the dragonborn is quite a useful asset. Which makes the next part particularly… unfortunate.

After the lightning rail incident, Lucan absconded and fortified himself in a ziggurat in the middle of a lake. We made ourselves a ferry and were able to enter without much hassle, and proceeded to search for him. One encounter with an undead greataxe-wielding minotaur was particularly unpleasant, because I happened to be the one hurt by him. Must invest in more physical protection at next opportunity. After expending much of our magical energies, we managed to find Lucan in the top floor. He started off by slamming me and stealing some of my life force. Antinua managed to hit him with two bolts of Lights of Venya, and once again he turned into gas. This time, however, he had a new trick–he emitted a low moan that, while ineffective on me, caused Malik and Mike to act very erratically. The rest of us tried to pry open the stone coffin he seeped into, but alas, but the time we opened the casket, he was already healed and struck out again, this time capturing Antinua in a deadly embrace. I tried to mitigate the damage he was inflicting on the elf, but it was soon apparent to me that the battle was lost. I shouted for everyone to retreat and regroup, but alas, no one listened.

When Lucan finished with Antinua, he turned to Malik, and a much similar grisly scene occurred. Anson attempted to distract the vampire with his summons, but they were ineffective. Finally, when he finished Malik as well, Mike and Anson did realize the truth of my urgings and retreated with me. We were able to put some distance between us and Lucan quickly, but still a bit horrified by the turn of events. In particular, I learned through research that victims of vampires often become vampires themselves. Which means the next meeting with Malik and Antinua will most likely not be a friendly one.

Player’s Notes:

Gained Divine Fortune as level 6 feat, which means Xame is pretty close to impervious to effects allowing saves–I calculated that Xame had between 90% and 98% chance of being unaffected by the two negative levels Lucan inflicted, depending on the exact DC.

I’ve been thinking this all along, but I’m not sure how we were possibly to defeat a modified vampire that didn’t have the typical 2 hour downtime when he gets nuked to negative hitpoints. Especially with the constant confusion effect…

Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Sessions: 2006-12-02, 2007-01-05, 2007-01-14, 2007-01-27, 2007-02-03
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 4-6

Letter Posted to Viorr of the Dark Lanterns by Anethilzair Mykispar from the House Sivis Station at Vathirond:
Sir,

We have failed in our attempt to capture Lucan Stellos, who has become a vampire. We encountered him and his sister in Trolanport (where she was captured and left in the custody of the Aundarian ambassador, Neya ir’Krell). Lucan at this point was compelled to reach Karrnath, and took passage on an airship. We boarded the same vessel and located him. Just outside Sterngate, the airship crashed and Lucan escaped and got on the lightning rail to Flamekeep. We followed him this far and were on the same train. Across the Thrane border, he abandoned the train. Anson tracked him to a ruined Dhakaani ziggurat.

We entered the ziggurat, and searched it. Lucan has established himself in the uppermost chamber inside the massif. When we entered it, he had surrounded himself by rats and decreed that he would serve only himself, “not the Dark Lanterns, not Vol, and not the soul blade.” Malik cleared the rats with dragonfire, and Antinua blasted Lucan into vapor, which seeped into a coffin.

It was then that I did something of which I am greatly ashamed. I fell to the confusion of the soul blade, which is indeed both powerfully magical and powerfully evil, and did nothing to help my companions as they tried to force open the coffin’s lid. When they did, Lucan sprang out, apparently well healed, and grappled the wizard. Over the next minute, he sucked the life out of her, leaving her body on the floor, and then did the same to Malik, in defiance of his breath, the attacks of elementals summoned by Anson, and Xame’s attempts to heal him of being a vampire.

By the time I came to my senses, both Malik and Antinua lay dead and Lucan looked stronger than when we had first entered the room. Xame and Anson had fled as fast as they were able. I managed to get away, although Lucan slammed me. So now Lucan Stellos sits in the ziggurat, free, and two of my companions are dead.

If the rest of us can find a way to destroy or capture Lucan, we will do so, but I do not know what that would be. If we cannot, I at least will return to Sharn. If you have instructions for us, we will be in this city for at least the next day.

Note: Antinua carried the letter of credit you issued us. I doubt it would do Lucan much good in his current state, but you should consider it void.

Mike’s thoughts as the party works its way back to the lightning rail line:
Dol Arrah, I must do penance for my weakness in the temple. I foreswear these offensive magics, which are both blessing and curse. I will carry what I carried on the Walk of Four Winds: no food, none of the luxuries of civilization, only that which is necessary. I reserve your symbol and a single sai.

I feel strength in me. Grant that I will not foresake this vow and your favor.

Player’s Notes
I assumed that the party will head back to the lightning rail line and work south, and that our finances are sufficient to send the message, and to eventually travel back to Sharn.

Mike has now taken Vow of Poverty, with all that it implies. In some cases, his AC may actually pass that of Xame: AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 21, without things like cat’s grace, owl’s wisdom, and mage armor.

Lucan’s fast healing is not a fun thing to deal with: he goes into the coffin as mist and by the time we get the lid off he has healed enough to kill two PCs.

Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Session: 2006-01-07, 2007-01-14
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Xame
Status: Rogue 1 / Cleric 4

Part II: A possible alternative profession

Didn’t manage to get my hands on the gnome, and time to the masquerade was running short, so I had to let it drop. The ball was clearly by invitation only, and just as clearly, we didn’t have invitations. So I tried to get my hands on some archetectural plans of the venue from my newfound Zilargo underworld connections. Alas, none of my contacts had them, claiming that the security was so tight that theft wasn’t worth the risk there.

My companions, in the mean time, suggested smooth-talking our way past the guards. That required fancy (and rather expensive) costumes, and I never understood the point of spending more than 20gp on a set of clothing unless it offered other benefits than just covering body parts. I managed to ask around and get myself a set of kitchen servant uniform for the embassy, and infiltrated the place with hardly any trouble.

It was there, working with the rest of the kitchen staff, where I discovered another talent of mine—I may not be able to use a knife worth a damn against anyone living, but I am quite good at slicing inanimate objects. Specifically, vegetables and meat. Hadn’t ever thought about cooking professionally before, but it may be suited to me. I like carving things that don’t want to carve me in return.

Anyways, as night drew near and the ball started, I shifted my job from cutter to waiter, and used this position to check on the attendees for Lucan and his sister. I also had this ingenious plan… since holy water has no effect on ordinary folk, but burns the undead, I could use that as an identity test for Lucan, if indeed he is a vampire.

Some seven or so guests possessed magical items; I assumed my target is one of them. Thus, I carried a tray of drinks, one of which was mostly holy water, and offered it in turn to each of the magic-wielders. Two women accepted drinks while all the men refused, and neither picked the “special” one. I thought I recognized one of them to be Lucan’s sister, though I couldn’t be sure. Big bird et al. arrived soon after, and I pointed out to them the ones I found suspicious. They confirmed my locks on Lucan and Grilsha.

Mike went to interrogate the sister, while I tried my final test of identity on Lucan… I brazenly walked up to the dance floor and “accidentally” spilled the tray of drinks on a good number of people, including the vampire. He flinched a bit at it, but otherwise the results were underwhelming. Darn, I had hoped for a more cinematic display of burning and pain.

As I was busy mopping up in order to minimize attention drawn to myself, something unexpected happened. Apparently, we are not the only ones commissioned to find Lucan, for a human mage tried to cast a spell on Lucan. It failed; the blade Lucan stole suddenly appeared in his hand, and combat ensued. Remembering that last time Grilsha was able to hurt us quite a bit with fireball and lightning bolt spells, I took it upon myself to neutralize her first; this was done easily with a silence spell. Lucan, in the meantime, charged Antinua and managed to grab her and hit her with a life-draining punch. Well, that about nails his vampire status. I tried to cure Antinua, but it had less effect than expected; my powers are not strong enough to undo the damage. She did manage to retaliate with a strong beam of holy light that discorporated Lucan.. I tried to use a bottle to capture him, but was not successful (hm, that reminds me, I might want to get myself an adamantine bottle at some point…).

Ir’Krell, the ambassador, was less than helpful. Her guards decided that Malik was acting rudely (possibly with good reason—he had been breathing elemental power left and right), and attacked him. I asked her to tell her guards to stand down, but she would have none of it. After the fight, she offered not a word of thanks and instead accused us of attacking her friend Lucan. Hm, next time I see her, I’ll lasso her and feed her to some other vampire. OK, maybe not a vampire. But maybe a zombie. I can create those.

Lucan was headed for Karrnath on airship, and we arrived there as it was departing. A group of five gnome strongbodies blocked our paths, but we dispatched them with ease. As the rest of the party negotiated with the captain, I continued trying to find Lucan. A couple rooms in the lower floor registered magic—Malik told us that one housed the elementals powering the airship, but the other was dubious.

We decided to investigate. And by investigate, I mean Antinua turned me invisible and knocked the locker door open. I slipped inside making as little noise as possible. It was an extradimensional space of some sort—maybe 50 feet square room… with a coffin smack in the center. Lucan was certainly inside, according to my detect magic. Perhaps he was asleep, and I could prolong his sleep indefinitely. I edged to the coffin but as soon as I opened it a sliver, Lucan immediately jumped out and tried to grab me, invisible though I was.

Barely managed to shake him off, and wasn’t willing to risk a second attempt by him, so I ran out of the locker and loudly informed my companions that Lucan was indeed within.

Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Session: 2006-12-02, 2007-01-05
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Antinua
Status: Wizard 4

Dear Kanathas:

I apologize for having failed to write. I have been rather busy, and may not write again for some time. Further, since this letter is posted from Zilargo, I cannot send it through our regular courier. I am not certain when I will return to Sharn.

Some weeks ago, Vior Malik contacted the group with whom I have been working. We seem to have gained something of a reputation. As I am certain you already know, this man is the leader of the Dark Lanterns, who play a role in Breland similar to that of the Royal Eyes.

He had the group of us perform demonstrate our abilities by capturing a large ape. This was easily accomplished, and he awarded us a task on behalf of the Dark Lanterns.

However, he required an oath from us that we would not disclose the nature of this mission. I will honor that oath unless some greater good demands otherwise. Rest assured that it does not threaten Aundair.

I can let you know that our group seems to be returning to its normal state. This is the state where Xame is having a disagreement with someone. Some young gnome attempted to pick Xame’s pocket. This is clearly a case of one “commoner” against another. Xame caught the gnome in a lasso, but Mike forced him to release the gnome. They immediately started to argue. During the argument, the gnome was able to take a few of Xame’s coins and depart. Xame was quite annoyed. I left to discuss matters of more importance with Malik before the argument became more heated.

When Uthen returns, could you ask him about a spell of which I have heard? It preserves the secrecy of written material by destroying it if read by the wrong person and discourages that person from continuing to pry.

Your sister,

Antinua

Antinua’s Notes:

Received information from Vior Malik.

Lucan Stellos, skilled member of Dark Lanterns, tall blond human; has stolen the soulblade, demonstrated strong skills not previously observed, probably magic.

Stole soulblade, sword with ruby in pommel. Orignally belonged to Karrnathi warlord. Both strongly magic and strongly evil.

Sister, Grilsha, red hair; believed to be aiding Lucan, seen leaving Sharn through east gate.

Part of burned note found; mentioned Trolanport, “krell.” What is krell?

Mission to recover soulblade, Stellos, preferably alive.

Provided magebred horses. Excellent.

Valith concerned about cause, working for Dark Lanterns; turned down mission; Mike remained behind to attempt to convince; expect will catch up soon.

Anson enhanced horses, increased our speed. Mike may take time to catch up. Met, dealt with bandits. Heard rumors of man, woman and black coach. They are changing horses.

Caught black coach. Red-haired driver, probably Grilsha. Anson slowed coach with entangle. Very useful spell. Experienced demonstration of fireball. Would prefer not to do so again. Malik retaliated by burning the coach. In smoke and flame, woman vanished. See invisibility revealed nothing. Bat departed burning coach; caught by Anson’s air elemental; vanished by means unknown. Found coffin in coach. Vampire at all related to Raidith/Garrow? Peculiar. Must remember to research vampires at next opportunity.

Continued journey, assuming they would still be going east to Trolanport for purposes unknown.

Found pair of exhausted horses beside road; no additional indication of direction.

Reached Trolanport. No information regarding persons of given descriptions. Assumed reached Trolanport before them, waited by gate several days in hopes of catching. Assumption apparently incorrect.

Aided Xame in searching for information. Audairian ambassador in area, Naya ir’Krell. Krell? Masquerade ball planned in near future, less than a fortnight, involving people of importance. Expecting trouble. Still need to find way to gain admission other than bashing in door. Speak with ir’Krell?

Mike reached Trolanport. Apparently failed to convince Valith to rejoin group. Also had more trouble than we did on the road.

Many canals in Trolanport. Minor trouble with sahuagin.

How many pickpockets are there?

Player’s Notes

The secrecy bit prevents much of the “writing home” bit, since Antinua has no reason to break her oath. This means I had to come up with some other way to record the adventure. A set of notes on the goings-on is the best I could come up with. Presumably these are kept somewhere reasonably safe — such as tucked inside her spellbook. Considering their jotted-down nature, the handwriting is probably pretty terrible.

Meanwhile… yay, 3rd level spells! The small mention at the end of the letter refers to explosive runes, which, while she hasn’t bothered to study it yet, she will eventually, since that spell seems to have severe amusement value.

Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Session: 2006-12-02, 2007-01-05
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Xame
Status: Rogue 1 / Cleric 3

Part I: An audition and a chase scene

Some time after the journey to Whitehearth, after I tapped into the second tier of the Traveler’s gifts, we gathered again at an inn. Actually, I wanted called us together to discuss the possibility of returning to Whitehearth to retrieve Tuiluilan’s body (plus some magic items). Didn’t get to talk about that though, because a House Orien courier arrived with a message for an offer of employment. We traveled to meet our prospective employer, who demanded a test of our abilities to capture—not kill. We subdued the dire ape he set on us with relative ease, and gained his acknowledgment of our abilities, which lead to an offer of 2500 gp each for the successful capture of Lucan Stellos plus a magic blade he had stolen. Lucan had a head start of about 8 hours over us, so we had to make haste.

Now, what does the Paladin Vailith do but decide to chicken out. And what’s more, he absconded with the party’s most expensive item, a ring of protection +2. One would think that someone who proclaims himself a servant of goodness would have the grace to return the item on loan to him from the party that he’s certainly not earned, but I’ve come to expect these sorts of behavior by now. If time wasn’t so tight for our new mission, I’d make sure to retrieve the ring from him… along with his finger on which it’s resting. Ah, more chores lined up for if I ever have any spare time between employment.

Big bird Mike also didn’t show up at the appointed gathering location; this was somewhat unexpected, since we had adventured for a while together and I came to expect better of him. Later, in Zilargo, we’d meet up with him again, where he told us he had been trying to convince Vailith to reconsider.

Oh, another digression. I’ve recently taken to using a queer device, the so-called lasso. G suggested it in my dreams. It’s an ingenious contraption that renders those snared by it with near helplessness, and requires no great physical exertion on my part. And the best part is that it’s cheap, a mere gold piece each.

The remaining four of us headed out on magebred horses provided by our employer, with me double-saddling with Anson. We made incredibly good time, thanks to a few druid spells, and quickly caught up with Lucan and his sister, fleeing on a carriage. The sister singed us somewhat with her arcane spells, but Anson was able to entangle their horses. After that, I’m not quite sure what happened, but my best guess is that they both turned invisible and fled on foot.

Looking inside the carriage though, we saw something… odd. A coffin, evidently recently used as a bed. This did not bode well. I remember bedtime horror stories from my childhood, where vampires feasted on the blood of mortals during the night. I had thought they were fiction, but then again, until recently, I had thought gods were fiction as well. I know not what powers or weaknesses they possess, but holy symbols seemed like a good bet. At the next town, I bought a holy symbol for each of my companions (Sovereign Host ones… G is not so petty as to prevent me from disguising my allegiances, and my companions aren’t really cut out to be recruited anyway).

We headed to the city of Trolanport, where we expected Lucan to be heading, and followed up on a clue.. “krell.” After asking around some, I found out that there was a diplomat with that name, who would be holding a masquerade ball in ten days. Since we continued on our frenzied pace, I suspected we arrived before Lucan, if Krell was his objective, so we attempted to lay an ambush for him. Three days of futile waiting made me revise my opinion of our relative arrival times. I suppose all that’s left for us to do is infiltrate the ball and ambush Lucan there.

Oh, another infuriating turn of events. Some gnome managed to pick from me. ME! He did not succeed on his first try, and I lassoed him as he tried to take off, but then Mike hit my hands and made me drop the lasso! He had no good explanation for why he did so, and as I quarreled with the thus-far relatively sane monk, the gnome managed to make off with some of my gold.

That’s where things stand now, as I actively try to converge on the little sucker who lifted from me. Rationally, I know this is quite silly, since the pecuniary loss is trivial, but I could never live it down if word were to spread. I wonder too about Mike. First, he shows up a week late, and then he acts irrationally and uncharacteristically. Another story of vampires describe them as able to dominate the wills of others as well as changing forms at will. Perhaps we have already been infiltrated? I will need to keep my distance from the birdman.

Player’s Notes:

Wait, disarming your party members is lawful how? Especially when Xame’s using a non-lethal weapon? Xame may “accidentally” toss the lasso over Mike next time, or perhaps mis-incant a cure moderate wounds spell into a inflict moderate wounds spell…

OK, probably not the latter. But the former is a definite possibility.

Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Session: 2007-01-05
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Level: Monk 4

Dol Arrah, in your name, I do not understand.

When Valith decided not to accept Viorr’s commission, it seemed entirely reasonable to try and persuade him otherwise. When I found him unpersuadeable, it was even still justified being a day behind the others, because I had tried to secure an ally. But losing a horse to worgs, tracking my companions by burn marks and dead bodies, and only catching them because they needed to wait for two weeks before they could be sure of finding Lucan Stellos, seems an excess punishment for mis-judging a person.

Perhaps you mean this as a warning to stay with my companions and to no longer wander the wild, for I was not troubled during the two years I walked from Cyre. Or perhaps it is a blessing in disguise, for now I know that Lucan has become a vampire with a great obsession of avoiding the Dark Lanterns, while he does not yet know me.

I do not understand, and yet I feel strength in me, so I cannot have failed completely. I ask only for enlightenment.

Player Notes:

The real reason Mike was separated from the rest of the party was that I had to show up late to the game, but there had to be a plot to it as well. Reciting his prayers to the gods may be a bit much, but it was either that or make him talk to the winds.