Misfortune at the Fortune’s Wheel

After a brief hiatus over the Christmas period, we’re back!  And will shortly be wrapping up this Sigil adventure to resume the Dalelands campaign.  Now the group have reconvened at the guildhouse, Ro has more details to add to his records…

Assignment Details:
I was unsure how successful the party would be at infiltrating the Fortune’s Wheel, as I’m aware it is an establishment for the city’s elite; if your name’s not on the list, you’re not getting in.  Not much of a problem for a von Gutermuth or a Historia, but the others… Still, it seems my fears were unfounded.  Of course Friedrich and Celestia were entitled to plus-ones which covered Kazuko and Trev, leaving Lewyn to bluff his way in.  Elves are commonly known as nobles, so it shouldn’t have been too hard- unfortunately we didn’t count on an Androsphinx being the bouncer.  Thankfully, sphinx’s have a somewhat unlawful nature, and money talks so long as you look the part- which thanks to Celestia’s fashion sense, Lewyn certainly did.  The party made it in.

Now I’ve never been to the Fortune’s Wheel, so was eager to hear what it was like inside, and it sounds amazing!  They were given cool glasses that can detect magic to deter cheating, and the whole place is made to look like it’s staffed by devils, though apparently a lot of them are just dressed up that way.  The interior itself is apparently a sleek monochrome design of black obsidian and white marble, serving to make the centerpiece of the stage with it’s red curtain that much more striking.  No shows were on whilst the group were there, but they did tell me about an enthusiastic Rakshasa performing on a piano which I would love to see.  How would it look with their weird backwards hands?  I digress.  They were there to solve a murder before it even happened.

Scoping out the place, aside from the various political figures and businessmen, they identified a ‘high roller’ who was drawing in a crowd at a craps table, as well as an eager gnome who was betting a seemingly inexhaustible amount of money on the roulette table.  Wishing to look natural the group set to mingling; Lewyn and Trev hitting the tables, Friedrich investigating the high roller, and Celestia and Kazuko heading straight to the bar tended to by three genasi (sounds like the Storm Brothers based on their description.  I wondered what they had been up to, I’m not surprised they managed to weasel their way into a place like that).  Whilst at the bar there was a man that Celestia thought suspicious; turns out he’s one of the Sign of One and recruiting people to help him by standing around doing nothing.  Sounds like Reynaldo, a fresh face in the faction who has yet to understand our core principals.  Celestia asked me about the faction but although it pained me to do so I dismissed them quickly; as I said, I want this guild to have as little faction involvement as possible.

The investigation was going somewhat poorly, as although there were plenty of suspicious characters there wasn’t any clear involvement with the murders.  That is, until a pair of Gargoyles entered which caught the high roller’s attention.  Highly unusual for as uncouth a race as gargoyles to be in an establishment such as that… And when it was clear they had business with the high roller, naturally Friedrich and Trev moved to eavesdrop.  The high roller was clearly annoyed at their presence, saying something like ‘I told you not to bother me here’, but before more details could come out there was some commotion as a Vrock went crazy and started attacking people, causing a couple of casualties.  The official statement is that he was on a losing streak and lost his temper, but that wouldn’t make you dumb enough to pick a fight with a Pit Fiend; the boss of the casino, no less.  Needless to say, things didn’t end well for the poor demon, and by the time the fight ended the gargoyles had left.  The high roller was also making to leave, so the group decided to tail him- except Kazuko and Celestia who were still shaken by the appearance of ‘the boss’, so they stuck around the casino for a while longer to recover their senses.

The high roller was definitely acting suspicious, taking various back alleys and portals before eventually ending up in Plague-Mort, gate town to the Abyss.  Once there he seemed much more confident, and arrived at a lavish mansion covered in razorvine.  Of course approaching the front door would be a bad idea, so an infiltration plan was devised that would make use of Kazuko’s climbing talents.  At this point, Lewyn decided this was all getting a bit much for him- he was new here, and already there were raging demons and a serial killer on the loose.  He decided he would rejoin me here, and help out renovating and doing smaller jobs for the time being, for which I am very grateful.  Back at the casino, Celestia’s owl noticed a worker put something into her pocket from the aftermath of the Vrock’s fight; being the curious owl that it is, it managed to retrieve said item and bring it to Celestia.  It was a dart, that Kazuko identified as having contained some sort of aggression-inducing poison.  Curious.  Receiving the call that Kazuko’s climbing was needed, she set off for Plague-Mort whilst Celestia considered the next potential crime scene; a cursory glance at the map revealed the Arbor Tower to be a likely location.

Heading straight there, Celestia gathered as much information as she was able but to little use.  Back in Plague-Mort, it was clear the razorvine would prove too much a problem for infiltration via climbing, so Trev went with the classic method of finding a window with an easily breakable lock on ground level.  Within moments they were in the mansion’s library, and Celestia had regrouped with them.  The library itself held little of use, but footsteps could be heard upstairs, followed by a door closing and the same footsteps heading down the stairway immediately behind the door to the library.  Friedrich apparently got serious all of a sudden, saying he could detect two vampires present in the building, which did not bode well.  It is said the von Gutermuth bloodline has an almost supernatural ability to sense vampires, but I didn’t expect it to be anything more than hyperbole- Friedrich gets more and more fascinating by the second!  Thankfully the party didn’t appear to be noticed, allowing them to track the high roller further- back to Sigil, into the Lower Ward, where he would then be confronted.  Not that he had any useful information other than his name, which he gave simply as ‘Wolf’.  A game has been organised for tomorrow where we can hopefully get more out of him.

Which brings us back to the guild, where we’ve finally had a chance to rest up and share what’s happened.  We have many leads on this case, as well as a few things that just don’t add up.  Why did someone cause that Vrock to rage?  Was that anything to do with the serial killings?  Who is Wolf and why is he associating with gargoyles and vampires?  Hopefully we’ll find answers soon.

Assignment Details:
We were about to start the day’s investigations when the daily newspaper arrived; it seems there’s been another killing directly outside the casino- one of the female workers there, a half-elf- which would take Wolf off our list of suspects as Friedrich and Trev were talking to him at the time.  Incidentally Kazuko pointed out that Wolf is obviously a werewolf.  Who knew?  Celestia has a theory though; so far the victims have included a dwarf, a human, a halfling, and now a half-elf… A seemingly random collection, but in a city populated with angels and demons and all manner of extraplanar creatures there is one thing that links them all- they’re all Primer races.  Could these killings be racially motivated?  There’s certainly no love lost for Primers here.  And if the Arbor Tower is indeed the next crime scene, that would suggest an elf will be the next target.  Celestia is on her way there now to warn them and see if she can get information on suspicious characters in the area, or new employees, etc.  It feels like we’re so close to solving this, and yet so far.

Assignment Details:
I’ve just received a report from Friedrich who’s at the Fortune’s Wheel.  He’s not had a chance to investigate properly yet, but he immediately noticed flecks of stone at the scene, much like the ones at the previous crime scene.  There’s no doubt about it, those gargoyles are the ones responsible.  Stone that doesn’t quite feel like stone, missing spots on roofs where statues should be, and if they moved the statue behind the prison it would be easy for one of them to imitate said statue giving a perfect place to ambush an unsuspecting halfling from.  Harmonium have been informed, and assuming Wolf shows up to his game then it’ll surely be a very interesting encounter.  What I want to know is Why?  Why would a werewolf enlist gargoyles to attack primers? Are the vampires involved? Was the Vrock involved? Why are the locations following this pattern? And, most importantly to me, what exactly have Harmonium been doing to investigate?  Surely if they’re so concerned then they would have worked out a lot of these details sooner, plus it seems someone amongst them leaked info to the press…  I hope Friedrich gets in touch soon, and we can call this guild’s very first case a success!


New Beginnings

The Fraternity of Order require all businesses in Sigil to keep records of any developments, including new employees and work undertaken.  To this end, unbeknownst to the current guild members, Guildmaster Ro has been keeping notes on goings on.

From an OOC point of view, this is the new party for D&D with descriptions of each member, from the perspective of a slightly happy-go-lucky NPC that runs a currently unnamed guild in Sigil.  For reference, here’s a list of the new characters and the character’s their players previously played:
DM – Sabine/Ungus (me)
Kazuko – Jessie
Trev – Lasslyn
Friedrich – DM
Lewyn – n/a (new to the group)
Celestia – Arosea


Business Name: TBA
Nature of Business: Guild
Business Owner: Ro of Sigil
Reason for starting: Call of Destiny
Notes: As a proud member of the Sign of One, I don’t believe in coincidence; if I do something the rest of the multiverse will bend to accommodate, but I have to be able to see the multiverse’s signs when they come.  So when I’m looking to redeem my past mistakes and a flyer is pushed under my door advertising a vampire hunter, there’s two things I can do- ignore it, thinking it’s not relevant, or take it as a sign from the multiverse.  Obviously I have no need for a vampire hunter, so what else am I supposed to do with this? The answer is simple.  The person who is distributing these is clearly down on his luck, resorting to distributing flyers with crude drawings on them, and he clearly lacks confidence in the other guilds of the city; unsurprising given the various reputations they’ve gained.  I have a little money set aside from the old days, enough to buy a small property in the guildhall district- the signs are clear to me.  I had to set up a guild, a place with no faction affiliation, no prejudice towards specific races.  And I know just who to go to to get things started.

Owner Profile:
Ro of Sigil, Human, Male, Age 43.
Description: Average height, muscular build, mid-length red hair, brown eyes, goatee
Notes: Prefer not to disclose details of my background; I’ve made mistakes that I’m trying to make amends for.  Proud member of the Sign of One, but will keep faction and guild interests separate as much as I am able.

Employee Profile:
Kazuko, Tiefling, Female, Age unknown.
Description: Short black hair, red skin, curved horns.  Describes self as monk, so presumed Devil heritage.
Notes: She first came to my attention when I saw her fighting a Werewolf in a tavern brawl.  I have no idea what caused their disagreement, but the image of a werewolf writhing in agony as this petite tiefling is pinning him with a single foot left a strong impression.  She doesn’t say much, and I can’t really tell what she’s thinking, but she accepted my offer to join the guild regardless.

Employee Profile:
Trevor ‘Trev’ Trevalyan, Human, Male, Age early-mid 20s.
Description: Slender build, short red hair, clean shaven, classic ‘scoundrel’ attire.
Notes: I’ve seen him at various venues playing a lute for his living.  He was present for Kazuko’s fight with the werewolf, and I noticed a certain gleam in his eye and twitch in his fingers, like he was ready if the brawl should escalate.  He claims to have been travelling as part of a bard troupe but has become separated from his former companions, but from one professional to another I know there’s more to his story than that.  Regardless he was happy to accept my invitation, but made it clear he’s only in it for the money and a roof over his head.  Which is fine by me, I’d much rather have him with us than against us.

Assignment Details:
Things are already proceeding better than expected, as I have two new recruits already!  Obviously the place needs sprucing up a bit, but already I see huge potential for this place.  I’ve sent Kazuko and Trev out to gather more recruits and spread the word that there’s a new guild in town, as well as find any leads on jobs that need doing.  They’re not the most enthusiastic, but I’m confident they’ll be a big help regardless.

Employee Profile:
Friedrich von Gutermuth, Human, Male
Description: Mid-length blond curly hair, clean shaven, has an air of nobility.
Notes: Some may call it coincidence, but as I see it as proof of the Sign of One philosophy; this is none other than the same person who put that original flyer under my door!  By chance he happened to hear there was a new guild on the scene and he came to check us out straight away.  He also sees the grand potential of this place, and being from the prime-renowned von Gutermuth line of vampire hunters he has some considerable financial backing that he is willing to invest in my simple guild.  Naturally he requires some say over what jobs we take, but I’m unafraid to put my foot down if he makes a decision I disagree with; thankfully we seem to be on the same wavelength for now.

Assignment Details:
Friedrich didn’t hesitate to demonstrate his guild loyalty, as his first action was to check the Tempus Sigilian for any news items of interest.  The most obvious item was the subject of today’s headline- there have apparently been a string of murders in the Lady’s Ward.  Little information was available, but interested parties are to contact the local branch of Harmonium for details.  Other items of interest that have been put on our noticeboard are volunteers required in Broken Reach to help with reconstruction efforts, a talent show in The Hive, and guide/escort work for primes.  Hey, it’s not much but it gets our notice board looking a little more populated than just having Friedrich’s flyer there.

Employee Profile:
Lewyn Maeven, Elf, Male, Age 119
Description: Mid-long black hair, grey eyes, freckles, downwards pointed ears.
Notes: Very new to Sigil, Friedrich assures me he will be a useful new recruit.  And if not, the more the merrier, right?  He’s clearly not had much experience with the sort of races that frequent Sigil, but he has a bow and a concealed badger which I’m sure will prove useful.  His backstory is somewhat of a mystery, but I would hazard a guess that he’s on the run from someone? Regardless, people’s pasts are none of my concern.

Assignment Details:
It has been decided that our first case is that of the Lady’s Ward murders.  The information received from Harmonium indicates that there have been 3 murders thus far; a dwarven bartender at the Hammer of Lightning murdered in his room, a human noble murdered during a festival at Centaur Park, and a halfling of the Revolutionary League murdered behind the Prison.  All were murdered by the same method; ‘laceration by claw’.  My guildmembers have decided to check out the halfling’s murder first, being the most recent.  Exciting stuff!

Employee Profile:
Lady Celestia Historia, Half-Elf, Female, Age 18
Description: Long light-brown hair, blue eyes, a Wizard if her hat is any indication
Notes: A member of the highly respected Historia family, known for their extensive writings on Aber-Toril’s history hence the family name.  Presumably sent to Sigil to extend their histories to other planes, she has been mapping the streets to become better acquainted with the area.  I haven’t inquired further, but she seemed a little down on her luck and not too happy to be in an establishment such as mine; hopefully the others will convince her to stay as the guild will gain a quick reputation if we house both a Historia and a von Gutermuth!

Assignment Details:
Apparently at the crime scene the group discovered a suspicious spot on a nearby roof, and asked me to try and work out line of sight from that spot on a map.  Unfortunately this city’s layout confuses the nine hells out of me so I had some difficulty doing so, but ‘coincidentally’ just as I started to lose hope there was a knocking at our door- a new recruit, and not only that but one who has been mapping the streets of Sigil for some time now!  Thanks to her, we might even have pinpointed the location of the next murder: The Fortune’s Wheel!


The Demon Falls

The rightful council have been reinstated, though of course the imposters didn’t make things easy.  I am not entirely sure of the events that transpired as my mind was preoccupied with the previous day’s events, and I wasn’t particularly concerned with the excitement of looking through documents to find evidence of authority, but when Lasslyn got my attention I found the true council being threatened with strange metal devices, which I would later learn are the rumoured ‘pistols’ that the gnomes in Lantan have been working on.  Before I had a chance to react, the doors to the room were thrown open and guards came piling in; for once Jessie seemed to have everything under control, expecting a betrayal and making preparations should that happen.  As eager as I was to get away from this town, we were told that we would have to wait an extra day for our reward, as the council had a lot of work to catch up on.  As my mind wandered to thoughts on how to relax for the day, Arosea had to remind us ‘what happened to Keifer?’.  I felt all of our hearts sink at that moment.  Keifer is was a private investigator who tried to help us find the council, but he never made it to the rendezvous point.  We would have to find him before we could rest.

Our only lead was where he was last seen; the tavern that was home to the Teeth Shatterer gang.  The same tavern that I was turned away from due to a horrific attack that took place there and wiped out half the gang in one night.  On our return, there were just two gang members and it was clear disguises would not be necessary.  This time we were granted access so we could investigate, and indeed it was clear a lot of blood had been spilled though it was little compared to our experience in the mine.  The others got straight to looking for clues as to Keifer’s whereabouts, but I was more concerned with what caused the attack; indeed, based on the blood splatters it looked like most of the fighting took place near the walls which reinforced my theory on it being the same demonic entity we fought in the mines.  My investigation was briefly interrupted when I heard a loud gasp come from the back room, followed by Lasslyn shouting ‘Look at the size of it!  It’s huge! It’s magnificent!’.  Turned out she’d just found a greatclub.  Soon after Arosea came out from the back with a jacket, clearly Kiefer’s, and her head lowered.  She was asked if there was any sign of what happened to Kiefer or the Teeth Shatterer boss, but when she looked up there was somewhat of a gleam in her eye as she said ‘I need a dog’.

**Author’s note- I know that’s not quite how it went down and that Arosea was actually quite distraught, but hey you’ve been going on about that dog for weeks and I’m sure a small part of Arosea couldn’t help but be excited at the prospect of finally getting that dog**

As the rest of the group hurried off to the market, I stayed behind a while longer to talk to the Teeth Shatterers about what happened.  They confirmed my suspicions when I asked if the assailant had a beak-like feature and appeared to come out of the walls.  Although we had seemingly killed the creature, the boy in the church said there was more than one, not to mention the body in the mine mysteriously disappeared, but that was a thought I didn’t want to entertain.  As I turned to leave the Teeth Shatterers said that if we should find their boss then consider that they had been through enough, and they would avoid crime for a while at least; I reassured them that what petty crimes they were committing were no concern of mine.  After all, someone needs to keep the law enforcement busy otherwise they’ll find other ways of exerting their power… I have first-hand experience of that from my time in Sembia.  Thankfully, the guards here don’t seem as corrupt so the balance of power should remain.

I caught up with the others at the ‘exotic’ animal seller’s stall, though I would hardly call dogs, cats and birds exotic.  Still, it seemed Arosea had already picked out a dog to call her own; when I arrived it was sat on top of her and licking her face.  I couldn’t help but chuckle slightly as the dog appeared to be bigger than she was.  The others were also fawning over it, and informed me its name had already been decided… Magnus… That’s a name I had hoped not to hear any time soon.  I hurriedly started paying attention to the other animals, hoping the group wouldn’t see my expression.  It worked, though they now think I’m even more cold hearted than before. Probably for the best.  Mag The dog was outfitted with riding gear suitable for a halfling, and instantly seemed to obey Arosea’s commands.  To a certain extent.  The moment she said ‘track’ he shot off down the street with Arosea being dragged behind; it seems he only has two speeds, stop and go.  Lasslyn ran off after them, whilst Jessie and I followed at a normal pace, as we were sure they wouldn’t be difficult to find.

We were led to an area of the town we hadn’t visited previously, the lower east side, and very quickly something felt wrong.  It was quiet.  Too quiet.  The dog led us to a building and started pawing at the door; no-one answered to our knocking, so Lasslyn gave it a ‘dwarven’ knock which let us in, despite it being clear the door had been barricaded.  Immediately we were struck by a pungent smell and the sound of flies buzzing.  This place had an aura of death and decay, and looked like it had been abandoned for years.  Arosea went in to investigate first, and we soon heard her gasp, then cough as she got a mouthful of the foul air.  In her coughing she said ‘you’d better come see this’, though I already expected the worst.  Sure enough, in the next room was a corpse, sitting in a chair, his arms bound to it with thorns.  It was Kiefer, of that there was no doubt, but… old.  It was as if he had been here years, decades even, despite us only seeing him a couple of days ago.  Arosea left to get some fresh air as we started investigating, Jessie and Lasslyn looking to see if there was evidence of this being Keifer’s own house, whilst I used Detect Magic to find out more.  Sure enough, the whole area was saturated in Necromancy, with a faint aura of Conjuration; the same that surrounded the creature in the mine.  That would explain how the doors and windows became barricaded.  Before I could get a more defined result I was snapped out of my concentration by a blood curdling shriek coming from outside- as I regained my senses Jessie and Lasslyn were already running to the door.  Fearing the worst, I cast Light of Lunia on myself.

Outside, we were greeted by the sight of Arosea at a door on the other side of the street, writhing on the floor as if struggling with an invisible assailant.  As Lasslyn fumbled for a potion and Jessie put his hand to his temple- the universal casting gesture for Detect Magic- I acted on instinct and fired my rays of Lunia at whatever was on top of Arosea, but to no avail.  Indeed, Arosea’s armour now bears slight scorch marks which she thankfully hasn’t questioned me about yet.  Jessie then shouted at me to stop, saying it was an illusion, and that we must not touch the door by Arosea.  Hurriedly we ran to Arosea’s side as she continued convulsing.  Jessie grabbed her by the shoulders and attempted to talk her out of the spell, reassuring her with the sound of his voice- for a moment a flicker of recognition came to her eyes but it soon passed.  Finally Lasslyn found the potion she was looking for, pushed Jessie aside and force fed the potion to Arosea- whatever it was, it stopped her seizure and she was now in a peaceful sleep.  Lasslyn simply smiled and commented with ‘Remove Fear’.  Of course that’s what I was about to do, but I let her have this moment.

I directed the others to take Arosea back to the Room where she would be safe and could recuperate, whilst I attempt to purify the area.  It was a foolish idea, but I had to do something to stop innocent folk from entering the area… Unfortunately I didn’t have any relevant spells prepared.  I would have to pray for a miracle.  Fortunately, He was in a good mood today; I was permitted use of Consecrate, though at a cost of my own energy.  The spell was cast, and sapped of strength I started the slow climb up the town’s streets to the Room… I hadn’t noticed how steep this hill was until now.  My hand clutched my ring the whole while- I would be in serious trouble if I received a ‘message’ in this state.  Luckily I made it back without incident, and collapsed in the first bed I came to.

I woke to Mag the dog licking my hand, which did little to help my foul mood.  All I wanted was to get away from this town, let these people deal with their own demons… But I suppose ‘heroes’ aren’t allowed to rest.  Thankfully that gods-forsaken building was no longer an issue, as on the way out we received a letter from an anonymous ‘associate’ who Jessie and Arosea apparently had dealings with back in Highmoon; yet another group that has problems with the Naga’s Fang.  The letter simply stated that they had been watching us, and dealt with the problem we encountered yesterday- sure enough it was reported that a freak fire burned down that whole area during the night.  It was agreed that this means we could just get our reward, get what info we can out of the fake governor, then get out.

Getting to the council chambers, we were presented with our reward; a measly two platinum pieces.  I flexed my fingers by my side, suppressing the urge to lash out, when he said he was only joking and presented the rest; a total of 200 platinum.  An adequate sum for a town this size, but I still feel we deserved more after what we had been through.  Regardless, we accepted and moved on to the interrogation.  On the way it was decided we would do a good guardsman/ bad guardsman routine, as that always seems to work… Long story short, Arosea tried asking questions whilst Jessie punched him, I shocked him with some Inflict wounds, and Lasslyn was ‘distracted’ by Magnus.  The questioning was getting nowhere, and I’m ashamed to say I snapped at one point when he claimed to be more ‘righteous’ than me, the cleric.  I was prepared to blast him with my most powerful spell on the spot, but Lasslyn quickly saw the signs of rage and managed to calm me down before I killed him.  As I composed myself, Jessie pulled out a ring that he flashed at the prisoner before punching him some more and threatening him with destroying his reputation, family, and everything he’d spent his life building.  That seemed to do the trick.  He gave us the info we needed, though I stopped listening the moment he mentioned the ethereal girl I saw in the mine; he was terrified of her to the point where he would embrace death rather than betray her.  When the group were satisfied and took their leave, I requested to stay behind a while longer.  I asked him if he would rather die a quick and painless death by my hand, or wait for ‘her’ to come for him… Before he could answer, Jessie overheard me and tried to stop me, reasoning that we were asked to leave him alive.  I argued that if this girl wants him dead then presumably she would stop at nothing to get to him even if it means destroying the entire town- an argument that Jessie couldn’t dispute.  Though the man answered my original question, saying he would like to savour the time he has left.  He only lives because Jessie would have witnessed me violate my ‘code’, and it would cause too much hassle if questions were asked now.  I pray that I didn’t make the wrong decision.  Regardless, I made sure to stop by the clerical order to warn them of a possible evil that may be coming, and if it did then to not try and fight; just run.

Now, we are on the road again, to Scardale; another long, boring journey hence why I’m so eager to write today.  There we will continue the original plan of uniting the Dales, though it is no secret that Scardale already has ties to Sembia.  Harder still will be getting the events of Feather Falls off our minds.

A brief history of the planes

We’re reaching the end of the first chapter of our current game, and our DM wants a break, so I’ll be DMing again.  My game will be episodic rather than full-on campaign, as I’m keen for the current game to continue and don’t want to take over fully, so episodes will make it a lot easier to stop at any point without it affecting the main story.  These stories will take place in my usual campaign setting, but with a difference; it’s a prequel, set before the full-scale shadow invasion, where shadow activity is little more than rumour.

The first section below concerns a description of the cosmology providing some background to the setting, whilst the last section contains the campaign specific information; i.e the initial quests available to the new party.

To explain Sigil, first one must know how the multiverse operates.  The entirety of Faerun, indeed the whole world of Aber-Toril and any other worlds that may exist in the universe, exist on what is known by scholars as the Prime Material Plane.  Once the spell known as Dimension Door was mastered, research was undertaken as to how one could travel such distances instantaneously, and so the Astral Plane was discovered; a plane somehow linked to the material plane, in which miles could be covered by a single step.  This quickly led to the discovery of other planes linked to the Prime Material one, namely the Ethereal Plane and the Plane of Shadow.  These are so closely linked to the Prime Material plane in fact, that creatures lurking on them are often seen in the form of ghosts, and the monsters that children believe hide under their beds.  This led to the theory that when a mage conjures the elements seemingly from nothing, that energy is in fact being drawn from a specific plane containing that energy in abundance, these being referred to as the four elemental planes.  Once a reliable means of traversing these planes was discovered, wizards found mysterious portals on the Astral Plane leading to further realms- ones that uncannily matched the religious descriptions of Heaven and Hell and everything in between.  Intelligent beings were found in these places, and so portal magic was granted to mortals, having proved themselves responsible for this form of magic.  Of course, this gift would come at a price.

Millennia later, planar travel has become commonplace with the unfortunate side effect that it has made the Prime Material Plane a battleground of sorts for the multitude of creatures on other planes, being a newly discovered neutral ground inhabited by primitives.  For you see, if one was to imagine the cosmos as a great wheel, with each plane forming a spoke, each leads to the Astral Plane and therefore to the Prime Material Plane, making this plane of mortals a hub of key strategic importance should any one plane’s denizens gain control over it.  There is, however, another plane that served as a hub long before this one; The Concordant Domain of the Outlands.  All history of this plane has been lost over millions of years, but the fact remains that it is not the warzone that Faerun seems destined to become, and the reason for this is almost certainly due to the Lady of Pain and her city of Sigil.

The Outlands serve as a perfect visual representation of the ‘Great Wheel’ cosmology; a series of cities built around portals leading to their respective planes in a featureless near-infinite desert, save for an immense mountain in the centre known as ‘The Spire’, that drains all magic the closer you get to it including the divine powers of the gods.  Encircling the top of The Spire is a huge torus, inside which is the city of Sigil; a melting pot of races of every alignment from every known plane of existence, where angels and demons can live side by side.  The city itself covers the entire inside of the torus, meaning a visitor could look in any direction- even straight up- and see more city.  Naturally it could take weeks to walk from one side of the city to the other, which is why the denizens have commissioned portals that can be found in practically everything suitable- doorways, wells, even just a circle drawn in chalk, though attempting to navigate these without a guide could prove just as fruitless as walking.  The ruler of this city is the Lady of Pain, a mysterious being that is rumoured to be responsible for the magical dampening of the plane, and is therefore even more powerful than the gods.  Whether or not this is true, it is a fact that no God is allowed entry to her city.  And yet, despite likely having the power to conquer the cosmos, she is instead concerned with only one thing- the protection of her city, and balance of power amongst its citizens.  That is not to say that fights don’t break out, far from it, but these fights are rarely large enough to warrant the Lady’s attention.  And should they ever reach that point, the inciters are guaranteed to never be seen again, being sent to ‘The Lady’s Maze’; a demiplane from which no-one has ever escaped.

Naturally, this is a place where anyone could ask for anything without fear of judgment.  As such, it is the safest place in the multiverse for adventurer’s guilds to be set up, with access to anywhere imaginable, and receiving requests ranging from dealing with pest control, to providing entertainment for an event, to deposing demon lords from their thrones.  It is here that our band of adventurers comes in; all members of a relatively small upstart guild as yet unnamed, the postings here have thus far been for those that don’t mind an inexperienced group.  In time, this guild is sure to build its reputation, gaining a great many allies- and enemies- along the way.

This week’s postings include the following:

Civil Servants required to help reconstruction efforts in Broken Reach.  I can offer very… ‘enticing’ rewards 😉  Red Shroud x

Serial killer in the Lady’s Ward, targets seemingly random.  If anyone has any information or is willing to help in investigations, please contact your local guardhouse.

Do you have what it takes to be Sigil’s next big thing? Come along to Zook Scheppen Longfinger’s Talent Show at the Lady’s Tressel in The Hive! Every first-day at day’s wane.

Guides and escorts required for Primes.  Enquire with your preferred gate-town’s branch of Harmonium.  Must be willing to travel.

*Freelance work* Get our guild on the map!  Find work out in the city!  I don’t care if we become affiliated with angels or demons or even beholders, whatever gets the money in! -Guildmaster Ro
P.S- Still taking suggestions for the guild name!

That Escalated Quickly

It’s been an exhausting day, but I need to attempt to collect my thoughts.

A couple of days ago we discovered the people in charge of this town were imposters; the real council members went missing a couple of months ago.  None of the common townsfolk were aware of this, but the local clerical order had theories that it could be either Sembia, Drow, or local gangs; specifically the Naga’s Fang or the Teeth Shatterers.  From my experiences with Sembia, they could be ruled out, and this seemed too subtle to be a drow trick.  Considering Jessie and Arosea’s previous involvement with the Naga’s Fang, they seemed our most likely lead.

All this is irrelevant, however, as during our investigations I sensed a malevolent presence that I had only read about during my cleric training.  I had hoped it was paranoia brought on by lack of rest, but it was clear Arosea sensed the same thing, tenfold.  When the group reunited she was a nervous wreck, saying an infernal voice was talking to her.  I did not hesitate to contact the local clerics again to see if they knew anything about this.  Sure enough, there had been rumours of a supernatural entity in the lower parts of town.  The reports were consistent; in the words of the clerics, people felt as though ‘they were being watched as if from behind a pane of glass, where that glass is reality’.  Clearly some extraplanar entity was at work here.  The clerics introduced me to an eyewitness, who after some persuading managed to tell me there were multiples of these creatures.  They were wraith-like in appearance, and had smartly dressed people with them- by the sounds of it, probably the council members.

Our investigations led us to the mines, which immediately gave us a sense of unease as we approached.  All except Lasselin, as it seems dwarven minds are as stubborn as their demeanour.  The guards stationed outside were under the payroll of the Naga’s Fang, so were easy enough to get past thanks to Jessie’s deceptions.  Thinking about it now, it’s curious that a petty thieves guild would affiliate themselves with a demon and it is clear there is much we still do not know.  Regardless, I must continue this account so I can read this with rested eyes and see if I can make any sense of this.

Inside the mine, it was clear this was the creature’s lair as there were decaying corpses decorating the entrance and the ominous feeling grew stronger.  My training allowed me to block out its voice, but Arosea was not as strong-willed.  She kept clutching her head, saying ‘it knows we’re here’.  Sure enough, we were met by a couple of thieves that were under its spell, enough so that they resisted Jessie’s attempts to fool them with bardic magic.  They were easily dispatched, though not without a fire breaking out, Jessie sustaining a poisonous wound, and one of the thieves killing themselves before we could get information from him.  This suicide demonstrated the potency of the poison, as he dissolved into the dirt leaving a black tar-like substance.  I attempted to convince Jessie to ignore the poison, that it was nothing special, but already I could see him breaking into a fever.  We may not have had time to return to town and find a cure, so our only choice was to press onward much to the party’s dismay.

The poison acted quickly, as within a few minutes Jessie was growing delirious, talking about voices in his head trying to tell him to turn against his friends.  The voice in Arosea’s head was also growing louder, taunting her and goading her to continue.  Even Lasselin was starting to feel unease, and soon the whole group were pleading for us to turn back, that we were clearly walking into a trap.  I would have loved to agree with them, but I knew it would be a mistake.  If we turned back now, the creature would still know we were hunting it and would give it time to set up defences- or cause to enact its intentions upon the town.  During discussion the poison reminded us we hadn’t much time, as Jessie fell into a trance-like state, and started walking deeper into the mine.  Not willing to take any risk I ordered the others to stop him, and knew we had no choice but to knock him unconscious.  Only he knows what he saw in that trance-like state.  It was clear walking in the same direction would indeed lead to a trap, but the only other path was back the way we came.  We had to take a moment to rest and try and compose ourselves.

Thankfully Arosea managed to find a hidden passage that led further in without taking us past the ominous glowing light at the end of the main tunnel.  We soon found ourselves in what could only be described as a sacrificial chamber.  A bare room, other than a stone table in the center and blood encrusted walls.  We leant Jessie against the wall whilst we investigated, but found nothing of interest other than the next passage that would lead us further down.  As Lasselin and I turned to carry Jessie, we noticed Arosea stood in shocked silence, staring at Jessie, though to us the situation didn’t seem any worse than it was moments before.  We asked if she was ok, as she had crouched down next to Jessie and held his hand; we could barely hear her response as wide-eyed she was muttering to herself ‘he… he’s dead… I couldn’t save him… I couldn’t save Ungus and I couldn’t save Jessie…’  I noticed her hand moving slowly towards her dagger and knew I would have to act quickly.  I’d saved this spell until the absolute last moment as it only has a short duration, but now was clearly the time- I grasped my pendant and held it towards her- ‘Remove Fear!’.  The light shone from the pendant, engulfing both Arosea and Lasselin in a divine light that should let them keep their bearings a while longer.  I did not tell them that I was potentially sacrificing my own sanity to protect theirs.  Sure enough Arosea blinked and held her head to compose herself.  I think she apologised to me, but I couldn’t hear her over the deafening demon’s voice now in my own head. ‘It seems I underestimated you, cleric.  I will stop you’.  In a desperate attempt to turn my fear to rage, I simply said under my breath ‘I’m sure you will’.  I intended for it to sound sarcastic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was tinged with hopelessness.  We continued further.

By now the voice sounded desperate, demanding we turn back.  Thankfully my spell was enough to keep Arosea going, and Lasselin’s dwarven mind seemed oblivious, but my own will was taking a battering.  It wasn’t much longer until we approached a door that felt like it contained all the evil we had sensed, confined in one space.  With a deep breath, I kissed my pendant- ‘May the Light of Lunia give me strength’.  Normally I wouldn’t dream of siphoning the power of the celestial planes, but this was a special circumstance.  Thankfully my god agreed, as my body became enveloped in a warm silvery light.  The door opened.

I must try and focus now, to describe the creature that was in front of me so we may find more information.  It was… humanoid.  The first thing I noticed was its piercing red eyes, just as the boy had described back in the church.  It wore some sort of mask… I think.  It may have been its actual face, but I want to believe it was a mask.  The mask had elongated features, most noticeably a bird’s beak.  It uttered an inhuman screech… I don’t think it was trying to say anything, it seemed more a screech of rage.  I managed to hit it with a ray of light, and whilst effective it didn’t seem to have the effectiveness I had hoped, implying it was not undead nor a demon itself.  It leapt into a shadow, reappearing behind Arosea where it caught her with a poisonous blow, obscuring my sight meaning I couldn’t get a clear aim for my second ray.  Thankfully it fell just as easily to Lasselin’s axe, who seemed to be even more capable than I of converting fear to anger.  Perhaps it was the added frustration of being unable to comprehend what the rest of us were experiencing.  Regardless, the moment it was slain the voice and evil presence had ceased.  On investigation of the body, its eyes had returned to normal and appeared human.  Arosea attempted to remove the mask, but the axe blow seemed to have wedged it in place.  I believe this poor soul had been possessed by whatever this creature was.

The room behind the door was large and empty, save for several stone statues.  I had a sinking feeling, and used Detect Magic to confirm my suspicions; Transmutation magic.  These weren’t mere statues.  We had found the council members.  A moment of dread came across me, as anything capable of turning men to stone was well above my capability- we were lucky to get this far alive.  I distracted myself by reviving Jessie.  As the presence had gone, I felt it would be safe to bring him back to consciousness, and Arosea had nowhere near as severe reaction to the poison as Jessie did.  Sure enough, he seemed to have gained composure but was unaware of anything that had happened since becoming wounded.  On a more thorough search, runes were discovered on the floor that were likely responsible for the petrification.  Being the most capable magic user, it fell to me to recite the words in the hopes of it reversing the spell.

Reluctantly, I stood to the edge of the runes whilst the others watched from outside the room.  I have no idea what language the magic was, but thankfully a Read Magic spell allowed me to recite without issue.  For the briefest of moments I felt my whole body being torn through space… a feeling impossible to describe.  It would be almost entirely unlike being passed through a sieve.  If I seem calm whilst writing this, it’s because the feeling wasn’t entirely unpleasant, just unlike anything I have ever felt before.  I found myself in a place of swirling grey mist, and all I saw was a humanoid girl looking at me with an expression of seething anger; I could feel her hatred upon me.  Barely a moment passed, and I found myself back in the room with the statues back to their human selves.  The next few moments were a blur as the only thought passing through my mind was that we had to get as far away from this place as possible.

On returning back to this room… ‘The’ room… I was met by the entities that Arosea affectionately refers to as ‘Room Service’.  I have expressed my displeasure at them previously, as they would have us think of them as gods, but they are most certainly extraplanar beings and therefore could offer some perspective on my experience.  They removed the last traces of poison from Jessie and Arosea, extracting it like a black thread of miasma; fascinating, yet unsettling.  For the first time ever I saw emotion come across their faces, as they had a sort of disgusted fear at what they held in their hands.  I informed them of my experience.  I am too exhausted to process their response fully, but I shall write what I remember here in an attempt to understand later.

‘That, Sabine, is why you are permitted in this room.  We only allow those who have been touched by destiny to enter.  You thought a petty human war was cause enough for you to be here? Especially as insignificant a role as you consider yourself? The thing you encountered today is a threat to every plane of existence.  You and your companions will prove instrumental in stopping its threat.’

…I may be paraphrasing but one thing is clear to me.  This… thing is bigger than all of us.  However, if I am to fight it I must become stronger.  And if my companions are to join me, they will need a greater understanding of it.  It may be best we continue our roles in this war, but I have a new quest to prepare myself as best I can for what lies ahead.  Intentional or not, this thing has got involved in this war as well… I would like to find out its involvement.  I think a trip to Sembia might be in order sooner than planned though… there’s little I can do whilst I wear this accursed ring.

Disclaimer: To avoid a case of slander, I must point out that all the above are the opinions of Sabine as a character and do not reflect the views of her player and no insult is meant to the other characters involved in the campaign.  I can’t help that Sabine has a superiority complex and thinks she’s holding the whole group together, the rest of the party performed admirably given the situation.  As previously demonstrated, despite what her demeanour may suggest Sabine is in fact a total bitch.  Please don’t hurt me Beth.

Sabine’s Shadow Story

‘My adventurer friends encountered something… unusual in the lower levels of town’, said Sabine, ‘Do you know anything about some sort of evil ‘presence’ in town?’
The cleric’s face turned downcast.
‘Yes, unfortunately I know all too well of what you speak, sister.  A few weeks ago we started receiving reports of haunted houses, and a general sense of unease in the working class areas.  The one thing that’s been consistent about the rumours is that it feels like you’re being watched from behind a pane of glass, where that glass is reality; whatever it is, it is not of this world.’
So what I felt definitely wasn’t my imagination, thought Sabine to herself.  This had to have a connection to the missing governors, but why would this entity be so interested in Arosea? At the very least, Sembia could be ruled out of the list of suspects responsible for the chaos in town.
‘Is there anything else you can tell me about this… thing?’ Sabine asked.
The cleric shook her head.
‘Unfortunately all we know are rumours, and when we’ve investigated the locations there’s been nothing to be found.  We all felt the sense of dread, but there’s nothing we can do aside from a couple of Turn Undead attempts, but they had no effect.’
‘She could try the child’, another cleric chimed in.
‘Child?’ inquired Sabine.
‘Yes… there is a child who has seen this creature first-hand.  We are looking after him, as the experience seems to have left a lasting impression on him… He’s barely said a word since.  If you think you could get him to talk, you are welcome to try.  We may make progress with his recovery as well if he would just tell us what’s going on in his head.’
Sabine nodded.  No harm in trying to gather more information.

The clerics led Sabine to a small bedroom at the back of the church.  It had bare furnishings, clearly only meant for the residents of the church.  The only things that looked out of place were a small stuffed bear, some pieces of parchment with a pencil, and the boy sitting upright in the bed, a faraway look in his eyes.  As Sabine entered, the boy slowly turned his head to look at her, but his expression remained blank.  The clerics excused themselves, leaving Sabine alone with the child.  Sabine smiled awkwardly; she wasn’t used to dealing with children, let alone ones in this condition.
She calmly walked up to the bed, and pulled up the lone chair in the room.  All the while the boy was watching her movements carefully.
‘Um-‘ Sabine began, causing the child to jump slightly.  Sabine hesitated, then her eyes fell upon the bear toy.  She smiled with more confidence as she reached out for it, taking it with one hand and animating it like a puppet; hopefully both of them would feel more comfortable talking through this vessel.  Sabine spoke out of the corner of her mouth, putting on a squeaky voice as if talking through the bear.
‘Hello! How are you today?’
The boy’s brow furrowed as he focused on the bear, seemingly forgetting Sabine was even in the room.
‘… I… I’m tired’.  The boy said.  Sabine smiled.  This might work after all.
‘Ok then!’ Sabine said through the bear, ‘How about I tell you a story then?  This nice lady can help too!’
Sabine set down the bear, facing the boy.  She raised her hands to her shoulder and clapped, causing an orb of light to appear thanks to her watch lamp.  She cracked her knuckles, preparing to put on a show- usually she only practised shadow puppetry to pass time when bored, this was the first time she’d had to show anyone else.  She dropped the bear’s voice, instead speaking in a more natural and calming tone, and focused on the shadow she was casting on the wall.

‘Once upon a time, there was a small boy…’ Sabine folded her fingers to create the shadow of a boy on the wall.  It seemed fairly convincing to her, hopefully the child would feel the same.
‘This boy lived in a small house in a town by the sea.  He was a good boy that played with his friends, said his prayers, and did what he was told.’
Sabine glanced at the boy, who was intently focused on the shadows dancing on the wall. She lowered her voice.
‘But then one day, he decided to go somewhere he shouldn’t have; somewhere the boy had been told not to go because it was dangerous.’
The boy was growing visibly afraid, as Sabine made the shadow child look more mischievous and curious.  Sabine would have to tread carefully.
‘He was nervous, but thought to himself ‘tomorrow I will go! I need to see what’s there!’.  And so he went to bed, filled with thoughts of adventure.  But then that night a chill came into the room as a fog descended on the town…’ Sabine dimmed the light in an attempt to recreate fog-like conditions.  The boy was clearly becoming upset, but Sabine knew that to get any information from him he would have to be pushed to his limit.
‘The boy felt something was wrong, and could see something starting to come through the door… He couldn’t make it out at first, but it slowly became clearer and clearer as it grew closer to him.’
The boy started muttering to himself ‘this is like what happened to me and the others…’.  This was the moment Sabine would get the information she sought, but to do so she would have to try and work out the form of the mystery creature.  She tried to remember her education on demons, devils and undead, trying to think of creatures that might be responsible for this, all the while contorting her fingers into shapes that would cast shadows resembling these creatures.  Suddenly the child gasped and let loose a cry of ‘no!’.  Sabine looked at the shadow she was casting.  It resembled a hooded creature, long fingers outstretched… a wraith perhaps?  Time to wrap up the story before the child had a heart attack.
Sabine became more animated, exclaiming ‘But then, the door swung open, shining a powerful light on the creature that dissolved into nothingness!’  She increased the brightness to a dazzling level, enough for the child to shield his eyes with his forearm.
‘The light was coming from a beautiful woman, here to destroy the monsters in the dark and keep the child safe.  And so he would live happily ever after.’
Sabine lowered the brightness of the light, making it appear to come from behind her head almost like a halo.  She stood up and rested her hand on the boy’s shoulder as he lowered his arm and looked at her with tears in his eyes.
‘Are… Are you going to destroy the monsters?’ He said, whimpering.
‘Yes’, said Sabine, ‘but I can only do that if you tell me what you saw.’

“The gang gets a new member”

Officially introducing Ungus’ replacement, Sabine!  Yes, the same Sabine featured in previous blog posts; she has ascended from NPC to PC, and with that comes a whole lot more character development.  The reason for the delay in blog posts is because I hadn’t fully decided how her character should be played yet, and I couldn’t think of how to record her adventure without it feeling forced, or like a transcription of the game which, whilst fun, would not help my creative writing.  Arosea’s player suggested I keep another journal, but I wasn’t sure Sabine would be the sort to keep a journal and I don’t want to end up too similar to Ungus.  Likewise, she has no reason to send letters to anyone.  But then a thought occurred to me; this is Sabine’s first true adventure as part of a party, and part of her motivation is to experience things, but part of adventure is long periods of boredom travelling and keeping watch etc, so what if Arosea suggested she keep a journal just to keep from being bored?  So yes, I will indeed be keeping a journal but don’t expect it to be like Ungus’.  Where he thought of himself on the lawful good side of neutral and had a strong sense of family and friendship, Sabine is much more on the chaotic side (I wouldn’t go as far as to say evil, but she’s certainly not as pure as you’d expect from a cleric), and she is very careful not to get too attached to anyone for reasons that may become clear later… much later.  It’ll take a lot for her to trust anyone enough to reveal much of her past.

On the road again.  It’s cold and slightly damp.

…This is dumb.  Why do people get enjoyment from writing down their thoughts?  ‘It can be good to write down your secrets’, but then what if someone reads them?  Most secret place is inside my head.  Still, beats getting bored looking for imaginary threats in the middle of an open field.

So what do I write, when only I intend on seeing this?  I guess it might be amusing to say my first impressions of my companions.  See if I still think the same after travelling with them for however long.

First off, they’re the unlikely heroes of Tasselpeak.  Despite their appearance and seeming naivety, they successfully led the defense of the town and drove off the Cormyran army which is no mean feat.  Of course with Cormyr abandoning Tasselpeak I have no reason to remain there, so I’m travelling with them to find where else I can be of help, as they seem to have a knack for finding trouble.  And with the untimely death of Ungus, they could probably use some ‘divine guidance’.

Arosea appears to be the leader, now Ungus is gone.  She’s had run-ins with Sembia before, but has not elaborated further; I would be very much interested to find out more.  She rather blatantly has a crush on Arcanae, the governor of Tasselpeak’s secretary.  It’s cute, and I’m happy to help any way I can.

Lasslyn is the muscle.  She’s the one who beat the leader of the Cormyran army in a duel, but despite that she seems very friendly.  I expected her to be quite the intimidating warrior, but she’s innately likable; though admittedly I’m yet to witness her in battle first-hand.  We’ve already shared some stories of past adventures, and she clearly has an almost familial bond with her companions.

Jessie is… Actually I’m not entirely sure.  The face maybe?  He was instrumental in helping the townsfolk during the siege, and although he’s been drunk most of the time I’ve known him, I assume due to grief, he has come up with some terrible puns that I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t help but laugh at.  It must be his delivery.  During the celebration he demonstrated himself as a bit of a trickster too, which shows me he has some magical aptitude as well.  Hopefully he’ll sober up so I can get to know him better, and perhaps his cooking will taste better (though I doubt it).  I’ll also have to revise my spell list so he doesn’t outdo me.

I hate to admit it, but it seems Arosea was right.  I do actually feel better after writing, though that may well just be me thinking of ways I could prank Jessie.   Maybe I will continue this journal after all.

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