Carrion Crown

INTERLUDE: Golarion 3
In which our alt heroes meet a house with legs

Backing up several months, our alternate Golarion Three heroes have been sent to retrieve an artifact from a cave, enticed by a reward of 1000 gold pieces each. However, to their dismay they discover that it is not a simple cave full of monsters, but rather a lair for the home of Baba Yaga, linked here for anyone who may still be confused about her origins.

In their haste to claim the artifact, a toenail from Baba Yaga’s house, the party kills one of her daughters, Reece claiming a rather enticing mask in the process. Then they hightail it out of there on the assumption that if one of Baba Yaga’s daughters is in the vicinity, there may be more.

Back in the capital city of Whiterook, the party goes to visit the Jarl, presenting him with the toenail. As they claim their gold, a message suddenly erupts in Reece’s head, saying only: Failed heist in Oppara’s Museum of Golarion History. Pair of broken orbs, Riska and Marlin possessed by contents. Strange. Holed up in temple within museum.

Reece recognizes the voice of Obud Edri, a local tavern keeper who’d agreed to keep an eye on Riska during his absence. At the same moment, a boulder smashes into the throneroom. The party rushes outside to find a veritable army of frost giants, undead vikings, and a very angry woman with white hair. Penny identifies the frost giants as being strong against ice, at which point Simkin throws up his hands and decides to spend the combat reading a good book (although in the end it’s his flanking that allows Reece to do any damage whatsoever).

The party endures a grueling battle with the frost giants and wights, but emerges victorious after Kayl chops the last giant down to a couple of stumps. Reece awkwardly embraces Chhakuk, getting some more sweet heals for his trouble.

Baba Yaga’s daughter spins on Reece, shouting a demand for the return of her father’s mask, and the party decides that discretion is the better part of valor, which is to say turns tail and flees. They eventually find a cave in which to pass the night, and Reece explains that he’s received a message regarding his sister, and that he needs to head to Oppara immediately. Although the party isn’t sure exactly which of Reece’s stories are true, they recognize his urgency and agree to set off in the morning — by boat, in spite of Penny’s desire to fly.

About a week later, they engage in negotiations for the costly boat trip, with Reece tearfully convincing the hardened captain that he’s on his way to see his dying mother and desperately needs a better deal. Reece also asks Chhakuk if he can help him get in touch with Riska, which Chhakuk is willing to attempt — but he will need an expensive silver mirror that will be destroyed in the attempt. Reece purchases the mirror, getting a deal in exchange for the “magical pen of Hakes Pierce” (ie, an excellent bluff check).

As Chhakuk begins to scry, an overhead shot of a stone room comes into view. Although neither Reece nor Chhakuk recognizes it, it is the temple of Ahm Helmok. A creature sits on a throne, a split down the middle version that is half Riska, half Marlin, a gauntlet on either hand, apparently deep in thought. Reece erupts in a startled curse, prompting an inquiry from the Marlin-Riska creature, which speaks in unison.

The creature announces that it needs Reece, who demands an explanation for what is, even for this party, a particularly strange sight. The creature says that Riska and Marlin tried to steal two orbs from the museum, but the orbs smashed, the essence of gluttony gravitating to Marlin, the essence of greed to Riska. Immediately the orbs took effect, and Marlin began indulging everything while Riska robbed the town blind, becoming increasingly paranoid about losing what was “hers.” Realizing the current situation was unsustainable, they did some research and found that the only solution was to merge the orbs, allowing Ahm Helmok to incarnate in one of them. However, the temple in the museum had a heavily damaged altar, and this is the result of the attempt to perform the ritual on the less than perfect surface.

This caused a massive magical signature, catching the attention of the Dragon Emperor’s armies, who have now basically laid siege to the temple. The Marlin-Riska creature reminds Reece that there are sewers leading into the museum, and Reece uses the last of his spell to berate Marlin for not taking better care of his sister and order him to make sure no harm befalls her.

Reece and Chhakuk share this information with the rest of the party, who agree on a plan of action. After about six weeks of travel, they disembark in Oppara, albeit a far Oppara from any the regular characters would recognize. As a dragon flies low over the crowded docks, they set off in search of Reece’s family.

XP: 2640 each

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Into New Realms 09: The Gang Gets Their Faces Hugged
In which our heroes meet a new enemy

As our party gathers in the brig, Riska andReece re-examine the console Agiz was messing with earlier, discovering the equivalent of a big glowing HELP button. Unfortunately, without an access code the computer provides limited help at best. Reece is able to ascertain that they need to reach the central engineering chamber, with Kayl-1 (henceforth referred to as Winterbourne) realizing that engineering is probably housed somewhere near the ship’s rear.

Realizing they probably need to find someone who works on the ship, the party breaks through a hatch, emerging into an eerily silent corridor. Fortunately, they don’t go far before they notice a storage room; Riska works the lock open and the party finds their gear. Penny suggests heading to the bridge. With no other good option, the group sets off, Chhakuk banging away on his stump of a leg. They reach a lift and find it inoperational due to the power outage, so they climb through the hatch on its roof. As they ascend the ladder, Riska hears voices and hops into the hall. A trio of guards demands they step forward. When Reece complies, their leader, Commander Cherbetruss, sighs in relief and says “It’s just the prisoners” before demanding to know how they escaped.

Reece easily smoothtalks the guards into believing that his engineering expertise will be invaluable in restoring ship operations, and they agree to lead the party to engineering — with a slight detour to rescue the party’s animal companions. The guards also reveal that they’ve heard there are two creatures on board the ship, and that the problem originated with some sort of infection or parasite that began in medbay and vanished into the tunnels.

As the party proceeds, Penny struggles to overhear Riska’s and Reece’s conversation, but much to her annoyance, she can’t make out much beyond Riska’s occasional curses to the “sky.” Iora trails behind Penny in fascination, much to Penny’s annoyance.

Between decks three and four the party hears a sound.Simkin and Chhakuk clang a bit, but the sound nonetheless seems to move away, much the the party’s relief. They reach deck four, where the Captain Commander leads them past Cargo Bay 2, some living quarters, and hydroponics before opening Cargo Bay 1. EBK, an acronym which saves Caryn tons of paper, hears rattling from a crate with a red light, and the Commander Captain starts fussing with a nearby crate.

Before anyone can react, three strange, scorpion-like creatures leap out.Trapspringer chops one in half and its blood immediately starts to sizzle, burning through the floor. During the battle, both Riska and Trapspringer take a creature to the face. Iora and Chhakuk free Riska, leaving Trapspringer to rip the one from his face, causing some thoracic damage in the process.

With the creatures and the Commander Captain destroyed (and white fluid oozing from his body), the other two guards realize that their commander was secretly an android, a situation they find baffling as it should violate all known laws. Once again oozing charm, Reece convinces them that they need to demonstrate their own humanity, and both soldiers prick their fingers, bleeding red. The guards then ask the computer where the animals are actually located, learning, much to everyone’s irritation, that they are right down the hall in Cargo Bay Two.

The computer refuses to tell the guards what was in the crates containing the creatures, insisting that it is classified. As they stare in mystification Reece once again exercises his considerable charm to get them moving. The party ventures into Cargo Bay Two and have a joyous reunion with their beloved pets, except for Iora, who has forgotten that she even has a wolf…

Experience:
640 for all party members

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Into New Realms 08: The Gang Goes to Space
In which our heroes meet themselves

Prior to the events of last week’s campaign, a long corridor decorated in shades of black and grey stretches into the distance. In the far room stands Penny, flanked by two halfling guards and a human female, all wearing black uniforms with yellow stripes. They order her out of the room. After a moment, Penny smiles slyly and lets them lead her away. They pass more doors, more humanoids in similar uniforms, until they reach a cell containing ALT Kayl, ALT Reece, ALT Chhakuk, and ALT Simkin. Suddenly the lights flicker, and a voice announces: “We have another incursion. All non essential security personnel report to the temple.”

Flashing forward, both cells are filled. Blue forcefields block the parties from one another. Our party is wearing orange jumpsuits and missing all of their gear, not to mention Ambrosius and Iora‘s wolf. Trapspringer and Kayl immediately examine the cell, finding a tiny ventilation shaft on the roof and gray panels on the wall. By standing on Kayl’s shoulders, Riska looks into the vent. She sees a long vertical shaft crisscrossed by red lights, but when she touches the grate, a jolt goes through her and Kayl. Kayl then tries punching the forcefield and gets a massive shock for his trouble.

As Riska and Kayl start messing with the bench in the cell, a woman walks over, advises them to stop, and asks for a representative. The party nominates Riska, who wants to speak to the captain immediately, but the woman says she’ll have to wait half an hour.

As they wait, Riska paces, more anxious than usual. Iora stares at Penny, then moons her alternate self. The lights flicker periodically, changing the colour of the forcefield to purple. No one likes Trapspringer’s suggestion of a human battering ram, so they wait until the woman returns with two halflings, a dwarf, and an elf, dropping the forcefield and ordering Riska forward. Riska’s attempt to stare her down is thwarted when Kayl bellows and charges past her, toppling a halfling guard in the process.

Trapspringer happily snatches the guard’s weapon as the woman calls for security backup. The guards shoot the crap out of Kayl, who simply will… not…. fall. Meanwhile, Agiz discovers the security controls, but can’t activate them without the codes. Riska talks to their alternates, Penny opening the conversation with “Your Kayl is almost as much of an idiot as ours.”

ALT Reece tells her that he left his Riska and Marlin in Opara, possessed by orbs. He also tells her they’re on a spaceship with nowhere to run. Hearing this, Riska encourages the others to surrender, advice they choose to ignore. Trapspringer continues to fumble with his gun and the guards continue to blast Kayl until reinforcements finally subdue them both, leaving Agiz and Riska to surrender and Iora dizzy, having spent the battle spinning in circles in the cell.

The guards throw Kayl into isolation, return Agiz and Trapspringer to the cell, and take Riska to meet the captain. They also bring in a medical team to tend to their wounded, Kayl having largely decimated the guards. Riska overhears them discussing how in order to treat the wounds with magic, they’ll need to leave the detention area. As they walk, Riska notices that the guards wear the symbol of Ahm Helmok and tries showing them her own mark; they are unimpressed.

Off the ship’s bridge, a female captain drinks coffee behind a desk. Riska frankly tells her what they’re looking for, but the captain replies that they too serve Ahm Helmok and are spreading his word throughout the universe. They are carrying important classified cargo and their power grid was disrupted by the dimensional disturbance. Riska smoothly talks around her, arguing that they both serve Ahm Helmok, and that, as a god, Ahm Helmok is not bound by dimensions — they must both be serving his will, which means there must be a way for both of them to achieve their goals. The captain softens, introducing herself as Eileen Pyrll. Riska introduces herself in turn, once again refusing to give a last name. The captain tells Riska that the orb powers their ship, and replicas power other ships — she will have to speak to Pyrll’s superiors if she wants their most sacred object. Still, Riska is able to convince her to consider her words, and possibly to move them to better quarters if Riska can control her peers.

This is a rather ironic development, but nonetheless.

Riska is returned to the cell, where she relays information to Agiz and Iora, Trapsringer and Kayl remaining unconscious. The power flickers continue as the guards bring food. Once Kayl regains consciousness, the guards allow Riska to speak to him, and Kayl agrees not to engage in further violence for the time being. Riska returns to her cell. Riska also quietly speaks with Agiz, pointing out that there’s only one orb and that both they and the alt group are going to be after it. She suspects the others have figured out the same thing. Riska is willing to work with the other group to an extent, but she says that if only one Marlin can be saved, it’s going to be hers. Agiz asks her if Reece is intelligent, and she says more than he’ll initially appear. She also warns that Reece is a smooth talker and excellent liar — or at least, the Reece she knows.

After some time, they note that the power fluctuations have increased and that they haven’t seen the guards in some time. Riska watches the other group and notes that Alt Chhakuk seems protective of Penny, Alt Kayl seems protective of Alt Reece, Simkin seems disdainful of them all, and that there seems to be a power struggle between Alt Reece and Penny.

From his vantage point, Kayl alone can see that a single guard remains at the desk. Suddenly the power goes out entirely, leaving all the forecefields purple. Agiz attacks the forcefield, taking no damage himself but causing some. Trapspringer and the alt party begin to attack the forcefields as well.

The guard from the desk comes into the hall, but doesn’t seem concerned with the prisoners. Instead, he is staring up. All at once a panel comes loose and a huge black creatures lunges from the ceiling, attacking the guard. The Kayls chorus their surprise while everyone else retreats in silence. Agiz recognizes this hideous creature from a single page in a long since forgotten book, and knows it to be an insanely dangerous hunter with gooey saliva and acidic blood.

The creature attacks the alt group’s forcefield repeatedly. Although it seems as though the forcefield is weakening, the creature gives up in frustration, leaping into the ceiling once more. Everyone quickly smashes through their forcefields. Riska instantly goes to the fallen halfling guard and takes his weapon. Using what she gathered from watching the earlier fight, she asks Kayl to snap off the halfling’s finger, which she uses to unlock the weapon with the fingerprint scanner and set it to full power. Penny approaches, introduces herself to Riska, and asks if she wants to find the orb and get the hell off this ship.

Riska is more than ready to agree.

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Into New Realms 07: The Nature Orb
In Which our heroes obtain the orb

The party begins by trying to identify the potions they claimed from the town. Agiz is able to tell them, and after getting rid of two rohipviagrahols, they pocket the rest. The ziggurat stands before them, massive — at least 750 feet wide. The party enters a large open space. A copper statue of a stern looking man, old beyond his years, dominates the area. A plaque bears the name of the artisan as well as its subject: .Kalid-ma.

Agiz and Riska find a strange door with no visible means of opening. Neither Kayl nor Iora can identify it, although Iora is pretty sure it has some sort of summoning magic attached. Riska is able to peer through the doors, seeing some sort of lift with dead zombies behind it. She also picks the locks to the north and east, finding only more strange locked doors — and, to the north, a horde of zombies.

Agiz and Iora make short work of the zombies and the party sets up another flight of stairs, this one in an extremely wide hall with ornate carvings, where they encounter yet another closed magical door. Having had enough of this, Kayl decides to use the master key to open it. As soon as he strikes, the door grows eyes, fists, and a mouth. Thanks largely to Trapspringer and Kayl, the door is eventually defeated, dissipating to reveal three guards. The party makes short work of these three, binding the surviving guard.

A frustrated Riska lunges for the bound guard and starts torturing him in an attempt to learn where Kalid-ma might be — not to mention the location of the orb. Agiz breaks in with a particularly well timed bluff, convincing the guard that he too worships Kalid-ma. At Riska’s request, Agiz attacks her and claims to lead the party in service of Kalid-ma. The guard buys the story and agrees to lead them safely to his superiors.

They reach the roof the ziggurat, a lush, beautiful garden with a domed roof, a pair of babbling brooks, and a stairwell across the way. The roof is decorated with flying creatures, and about 180 feet up is a glowing orb that — although they can’t be sure — looks very familiar. Agiz fails to bluff the guard into stopping, and Riska runs him through.

Agiz casts fly on Riska, who drifts to the ceiling, works the orb loose, and carefully drops it into Iora’s bag of holding. Instantly, the natural world begins to shrivel and die, and the sigil ofAhm Helmok burns her hand. As Riska reaches the ground, a portal erupts behind her. Correctly assuming this to be their way home, the party jumps through and finds themselves once more in the temple of Ahm Helmok, who is waiting to reclaim the nature orb.

Once he smashes the orb, it flows into him and the Marlin/Ahm Helmok combo starts to look a bit more human. Ahm Helmok needs a night of meditation to prepare, so the party camps outside to recover. Upon their return, Ahm Helmok opens a new portal. Riska hopefully theorizes that he must be too tired to allow Marlin to rematerialize, but Ahm Helmok promptly dashes that hope by allowing Marlin to bleed through. Disgusted, Riska nonetheless jumps in and tells Marlin that she sold off everything in the house and pretty much trashed their reputations in Opara, primarily in the hopes of finding him. Marlin doesn’t believe her motivation at first, but eventually thanks her. Riska, flustered and also desperate to prevent Kayl from talking to her foster father, pushes everyone through the portal, offers Marlin a quick hug, and follows.

The party finds themselves in yet another temple of Ahm Helmok. When they try to step outside, alarms shatter the silence as they find themselves in a large metal building. A crew of armored halflings with strange weapons opens fire, knocking EBK (everyone but Kayl) — and then Kayl — into unconsciousness.

The party reawakens in some sort of cell, segregated by a shimmery purple wall. Across the hall is another cell, holdingSimkin, his raven, Chhakuk (minus an eye), Iora (remarkably unchanged), Kayl (minus an arm), and Reece. As the party staggers to the divider, they hear a smattering of conversation from the halfling guards: “So, another group came through, did they?” The two battered groups stare at one another in bewilderment…

Experience:
9040 each

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Into New Realms 06: Day of the Living... Something
In Which our heroes find shinies

After a terribly grueling battle with the tentacle monster (in which various feats of heroic daring are performed), Agiz and Riska find themselves wondering if the hideous beast is in fact edible. Turns out it is, so our heroes decide it’s time for a feast. Everyone but Kayl (EBK) soon hears thunder in the distance, and the party decides it’s best to get moving, since the halflings assure them they’re within reach of the city.

As they continue on, they realize that the dark and foreboding clouds seem to be strangely stationary, and that although they hear thunder, they see only one solid light that might be described as lightning. As they approach the city, they see a massive ziggurat surrounded by walls. A beam of light juts from its top and into the clouds. The halflings refuse to go any further, and with little ceremony the party abandons them to inspect the city gate. There’s no answer when they knock, and they find the gate tightly barred.

Riska uses her rope to climb into a watch tower. It seems quiet… TOO QUIET. Riska hears groaning and sees some people milling around, and asks the party to knock loudly so she can gauge their reaction, a suggestion they take to heart. The “people” do indeed amble in the direction of the sound.

Kayl, Iora, Agiz, and Iora’s wolf scramble up the wall while Riska scouts ahead, noting a large number of zombies in the wealthier area of town to the north. Kayl and Iora hear shuffling below them, then a loud thud. Iora races to get Riska’s attention, and Riska books it all along the watchtower as the zombies attack.

While the party fights off the zombie horde, Trapspringer climbs the rope, then casually sets about lifting Ambrosius to the top as well. He finishes and spins, ready to launch into action, only to find the battle finished.

After some discussion, the party decides to rig a distraction before proceeding. Kayl and Agiz examine the tower and decide to place charges to collapse it in hopes of attracting the creatures. The party sneaks away for several very tense moments before the bomb triggers, rocking the entire wall and sending a shuffling zombie horde (heard by EBK) in the direction of the collaposed watchtower. The party hides from an assortment of brothel zombies before Trapsringer, Riska, and Agiz head into the abaondoned marketplace to search for items, Riska making a point of informing the sky that it will just have to put up with the delay. They find a very nice mix of potions, ceramics, weapons, and armor before returning triumphant to the party. The group retreats to the shadows and heads into the shadow of the mighty ziggurat…

Experience:
silt horror 5 1550
12 zombies 8 3350
3 zombies 4 1150
3 zombies 4 1150
-———————-
7200/5 = 1440 each

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Into New Realms 05: The Desert Again
In Which Our Party Returns to the Desert

As the party ventures forth, one of the halflings givesTrapspringer a package for his friends to eat. Overcoming their initial trepidations, they find the packages to contain healing bread. Although concerned about Chhakuk’s disappearance and whereabouts, they decide the best thing they can do for him is push on to the city in hopes of finding someone who understands other realms and planes, so they set off with their three halfling escorts.

The halflings refuse to travel through the mountains at night, so the party camps, Agiz (AGEEZ!) taking the first watch with the halflings. When Riska doesn’t come to relieve him, he tries to rouse her, but has no success. He decides to leave her be for a while.

Upon hearing something nearby, Agiz wakes the others, but Riska still won’t stir. Just asKayl lifts her in his arms, two large cats leap into the clearing, finally waking Riska. Iora tries to speak to them, but it turns out they only want dinner — and dinner is the party. The party, however, makes quick work of the cats — particularly Trapspringer, who splatters everyone, especially himself and Riska, with mutilated cat. Iora and Agiz start off in search of the cats’ kittens, but change their mind and return to the camp.

Riska gathers the party and reports that the reason they couldn’t wake her is because she had a dream, or a vision — something.Simkin appeared to her and tried to explain what had happened to him and Chhakuk. Riska is confused, but as best as she can understand, Simkin bonded with D esna. There are now two forms of Desna: Simkin Desna and real Desna. The Simkin Desna gains strength at the real Desna’s expense. Both forms of Desna hope that Chhakuk will be able to separate them, and fear great consequences should he fail. Riska also believes that Simkin warned her against trying to follow Chhakuk into the other realm. She adds that she wandered off the beaten path a way during her vision and saw something that leads her to believe that Ahm Helmok is monitoring them from afar.

The next morning, Agiz accidentally draws too much energy in his magical preparations, decimating the campsite. The halflings are unimpressed and wonder why they’re putting up with this group, but Riska flashes the sigil of Ahm Helmok and they fall silent.

The party sets off into the desert, Kayl’s and Iora’s amazing survival skills protecting them from many encounters. At camp, Riska sets up her bedroll as far from Kayl’s as possible, much to his dismay. Riska points out that if Ahm Helmok can see her, so can Marlin, and Kayl is going to have to keep his distance until that mess gets sorted out.

The next night, a party of elves passes by, but Kayl intimidates them into leaving. Kayl and Riska have another argument about sleeping arrangements, prompting one of the halflings to proudly offer Kayl a sparkly, weird, glowing magical flower, which he enthusiastically passes on to Riska, much to the halfling’s delight.

During the night, one of the elves appears and offers to trade with Riska… repeatedly. For surprisingly little gold, Riska purchases Shatterspike, a bone longsword, a wooden +1 shield, and a + 1 glamered obsidian rapier. The former two go into party holdings, but Riska holds onto the latter.

As the party returns to the desert the next day, the halfling leader casts endure elements on the party, and they venture forth with only a few encounters, courtesy of Kayl and Iora. Ignoring Riska’s occasional curses and arguments with the sky, they reach camp on their seventh night in the desert. During watch, Agiz and a halfling hear a noise. Finding themselves compelled to investigate, they go in search of its source. The party awakens to a gurgling roar and chases after them to find a mass of tentacles emerging from the sand, Agiz and the halfling caught in their grasp…

XP:
From last week — 30 400 (6080 each)
From this week — 39 000 (7 800 each)

Karma:
Teamworker: Kayl, for his support of Iora
Embodiment: Riska, for her paranoia about Marlin’s sudden omnipresence
MVP: Iora, for her amazing survival roles

Iora: For achieving her goal of not doing anything stupid

Loot:
– Shatterspike (Party holdings)
– Wooden +1 shield (Party holdings)
– Glamored +1 obsidian rapier (Riska)

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Into New Realms 04: The Halfling Camp
In Which We Say a Sad Farewell

After the halfling falls to his knees before Riska, everyone’s skin begins to tingle. The halfling orders that his people “take them alive” — although only Trapspringer understands him — and a giant ball of energy surrounds Chhakuk. Riska and Kayl recognize the silhouette of Simkin inside. Simkin reaches for Chhakuk and asks for his help, something complicated involving Desna. Chhakuk takes his hand and disappears.

The halflings launch an attack, rendering the party unconscious (except for Iora, who surrenders). Everyone but Riska wakes in a tent, tied to poles and gagged, with four other prisoners: a hobgoblin, a ratfolk, a catfolk ,and an oread. The guards untie Trapspringer, who tries for the halfling secret handshake and gets himself knocked out.

Riska wakes in a wooden cell with a gray haired halfling woman staring at her. The woman speaks to her in common and Riska tells her about the orbs, leaving Marlin out. The woman says the orb has been gone hundreds of years. The temple was their home until an ambitious sorcerer destroyed it and took the orb.

The woman interrogates each of the party members in turn with little success. She leaves them tied up overnight, but decides to let them go in the morning and offers them a guide. Kayl and Iora demand the other adventuring party’s release, but the the woman is reluctant as they attacked her village in search of an artefact. Riska convinces her that Ahm Helmok has commanded they no longer eat the flesh of speaking creatures and she releases them. The ratfolk asks to study the artefact, and the halflings agree as long as Trapspringer remains as ransom for their good behavior.

She takes them to the Stone of Returning, which can return three people to their own world. The other party offers to let one of their members remain and assist with finding the orb, which is apparently the essence of nature (Riska theorizes at this point that each orb contains an aspect of Ahm Helmok, and that they have already encountered trickery and madness — she has no idea what the third orb on Marlin could be).

The party decides to invite Agiz Rerdahl, a ratfolk alchemist, to join their party. He bids his friends farewell and the halfling woman blindfolds the party and leads them away. She returns their possessions and warns Riska and Iora that the ritual in the book is very dangerous, and that if they perform it the sorcerer will know at once. She also mentions that he must have the orb on him and that it will give him great power.

With a final blessing she vanishes into a tree and the party continues into the forest.

Karma:
Spent: Two from Riska to convince the halfling woman that Ahm Helmok forbade the eating of speaking flesh
MVP: Riska, for convincing the halflings not to eat speaking flesh
Teamworker: Agiz/Russell, for being a team unto himself
Embodiment: Trapspringer, Lord of the Handshakes

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Into New Realms 03: Halflings are Assholes
In which the Party Nearly Wipes

The party continues along the road toward the town, but finds the gates shut tight. There is a sign, but no one can understand the language. Chhakuk realizes that the road, while travelled, does not seem like it’s particularly busy, so Riska scouts around the walls and finds another gate. She tries to communicate with the guard but comes up empty, so the party decides to spend the night outside the village walls.

During the night, Riska asks Chhakuk what he knows about the ritual they discovered in Iora’s book. Chhakuk knows that they need someone with arcane powers to perform it and create the device. As they talk, an Elvish caravan pulls up, and Riska tries to speak with them in broken half-understood Elvish.

Chhakuk: So what’d you find out?

Riska: That elves are assholes here, too.

Come morning, Chhakuk casts tongues on Riska, enabling her to speak and understand the local common tongue. The village guards allow them in, making it clear they are not welcome to spend the night, and giving them some information about a city called Tyr about two weeks north. Riska asks about magic and temples, getting a negative response, and realizes the guard is lying about there being no magic users in town. From the cost to enter the village, the party figures out that ten “bits” is equal to one ceramic “piece.”

As they proceed through town, everyone seems to be eyeing Chhakuk and Kayl quite closely. Later, they learn that this is because metal is incredibly valuable here, and Kayl’s armor and Chhakuk’s axes are attracting quite a bit of attention. The villagers seem to cluster around a certain building, so the party enters, finding stairs descending into caves. Trapspringer also notices two halflings in conversation. They don’t seem to be arousing any suspicion.

The elves and humans are ahead of them, negotiating the price of something (70 000 ceramic for four pounds). After chatting with the elves, Riska finds out that they are trading for gold, and that a gold coin here is worth about 100 ceramic pieces. She asks about magic and the elf pulls her aside.

Magic, the elf explains, is responsible for all of the destruction around them, and is unpopular. However, there are rumors of a cadre of magic users who protect the village, and the elf dabbles in magic himself. He vaguely invites the party to accompany them as they proceed to a city to the south. The party heads to the general store and purchases a tent before leaving with the elves, whereupon Riska shows him the book of Ahm Helmok. The elf explains that divine and arcane magic are different here; arcane magic is responsible for the destruction, and most magic users are not friendly — they will not be inclined to help the party. He suggests they go to Tyr, where he has heard rumors that a group of magic users may be more helpful — albeit hard to find.

The party takes his advice, retreating through the city. Kayl is able to save them time by cutting through the rocks, and Chhakuk keeps everyone moving with his spells. The dogs are not enjoying the heat, but Iora is able to keep them fairly healed. The party chooses to force march through the desert to cut some time off their travel. Aside from some encounters with very thirsty cactuses and hungry dogs, the next few days pass uneventfully, thanks in no small part to Iora’s affinity with the desert.

Riska and Chhakuk have a conversation during the night during which Riska asks Chhakuk not to tell Marlin about her encounter with Iora (and to make sure no one breaks the next damn orb). Chhakuk is amenable to her suggestion, but voices his concern about Riska’s violent attack on Iora. Riska admits to overreacting, but points out that she feels a lack of trust from the party — that she has saved their lives and they trust her only when convenient. Chhakuk agrees that Iora responded poorly, and admits that she may not be trustworthy, but adds that Iora has done nothing but helps them. Riska is unwilling to give her word that she will never attack anyone in the party again — if anyone stands between her and something that can help Marlin, she won’t guarantee that she won’t go through them to reach it, and she does not want to give her word if she can’t keep it. Chhakuk attempts to reassure Riska that Marlin is not the only person who likes her, which she quickly dismisses, and wrangles a promise out of her that she will speak to him before resorting to violence, which she willingly offers. The two wrap up their conversation, much to Trapspringer’s relief.

The next night, near morning, a tribe of incredibly vicious halflings attacks the party, catching them off-guard and mostly unarmored. The party struggles to maintain their footing, with Kayl being knocked into unconsciousness and Riska and Chhakuk nearly following. With only two halflings remaining, they run from Iora’s vicious spells, shouting something about Ahm Helmok. Taking a chance, Riska chases them down and yanks the glove from her hand, flashing the sigil of Ahm Helmok at their leader and shouting the halfling god’s name. The halfling drops to his knees before her.

XP:
35 000 (7000 each)

Karma:
Spent: One each from Riska, Chhakuk, and Iora to save Chhakuk from the thirsty cactuses
Chhakuk: For achieving his goal of speaking to Riska without it ending in disaster
Kayl: For acting on his instinct to be in the thick of battle, which got him knocked out
Trapspringer: For achieving his goal of finding other halflings in this world
Iora: For achieving her goal of not doing anything stupid to get herself left or killed
Embodiment: Trapspringer
MVP: Iora
Teamworker: Chhakuk

Items Found and Lost
No items found
Spent 4 ceramic pieces entering town, 15 on a tent, and a coin less two pieces buying information

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Into New Realms 02: Fred
In Which Our Party Journeys Onward

The party continues on with their decomposing air conditioning unit, crossing the next dune to find the area dotted with holes. After some discussion, they decide to cross the area, where cute little creatures resembling meerkats come out and growl. They attack the decomposing air conditioner and become increasingly aggressive. Once Trapspringer’s diplomacy fails and Ambrosius growls, the creatures attack, quickly poisoning the party. Chhakuk belatedly realizes he can cast airwalk on the entire party and does so, allowing them to flee.

As they continue on, Riska hears voices and sneaks ahead to find four four-armed, orange, bald, pointy eared giants. The party sneaks away, but Chhakuk decides to poke his head above the dunes and gets spotted. A giant comes toward them and hurls a boulder, and Riska shoots. The giants charge in, but the party makes short work of them, finding 2000 ceramic coins.

With the sun rising, the party sets up some (crappy) shelters. Riska watches uneventfully, and Chhakuk rises to commune with… someone, who feels even more distant today. Part way through the day, they hear clicking and find four large bugs heading their way (THEY WALK LIKE MEN!) Eventually Riska lays down her weapons and spreads her hands; the lead bug follows suit. Kayl shows them the ceramic coins and they agree to escort the party to the city, using a wand to acclimatize everyone to the weather — much to the dismay of Chhakuk, who has spent most of his spells for the day doing something similar. Later, for convenience sake, the party decides to name the Thri-kreen. They call them Klick, Klack, Klakukk, and Fred.

During the night, the party hears voices and wakes Riska, who finds four “elves” nearby. “Fred” then goes off to talk to them. The next day, they continue on until they reach a road. The insects part way with the group, bidding farewell to the party, although they seem dismissive and unhappy with Trapspringer. As they progress, Chhakuk mentions that there is a way to find the thing they’re looking for, as mentioned inIora’s book.

Riska is furious to learn that there is information in the book, which Iora previously refused to let her inspect, and demands that Iora hand it over. Iora refuses, offering instead to read the book to Riska. Riska draws a dagger and puts it to Iora’s throat and, after a tense confrontation, Iora throws the book at her and storms away. Riska settles down to read. Chhakuk leads Kayl and Trapspringer aside and tells Kayl he is concerned about Riska’s outbursts and potential violence to the party. Kayl isn’t sure he blames her in this instance, but while Chhakuk is not unsympathetic to Riska’s predicament, he points out that she actually held a dagger to Iora’s throat. He wants them to work together as a team, and not have violence between party members. Kayl doesn’t disagree, but points out that he does not control Riska and that Iora is, to say the least, equally suspicious, which Chhakuk admits.

Riska finishes with the book and returns it to Iora, who mutters an apology. In turn, Riska offers her a healing potion, which Iora refuses. A wagon passes by and its driver refuses to engage with them, glaring and muttering at Trapspringer. Riska, putting two and two together, suspects halflings are not well liked in this world, and asks Trapspringer’s permission to disguise him as a child. With Trapspringer looking much more innocent, the party heads on and eventually reaches the city.

XP:
2 480 each

Items Found:
2000 ceramic coins, minus 250 to the bugs

Karma:
Chhakuk, for (uselessly) achieving his goal

MVP: Kayl, for whirlwinding all the things and not wanting to cross a monster infested den to save an hour of travel

Embodiment: Iora, for stickin’ to her guns.

Teamworker: Chhakuk, for our escape from the meerkitties and the healz

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Into New Realms 01: Ahm Helmok
In Which We Meet Marlin and Journey to a Desert

Following the previous food challenge,Iora watches everyone ooze through a metal grate. The party finds themselves in a room with urns lining the north wall, a corridor to the east. Riska examines the corridor to find it lined with poisonous bugs. Iora identifies the plants in the urns, realizing that one is used to smoke bees from hives. She lights it in an urn and Kayl fans the smoke ahead of them to clear the corridor, thus defeating the challenge of nature.

In the next room they find a pedestal with a statue of a group of halflings. Trapspringer touches it and, naturally, disappears. The others eventually follow suit, finding themselves in rooms with an apparently burned and dying family member: Reece for Riska, Gavin for Kayl, Argus for Iora, and Chhakuk’s father (probably also named Chhakuk). After Chhakuk cuddles the dying body for a while, everyone makes the correct choice of healing their family member, defeating the challenge of family.

They find themselves in a room with a corridor to the south and three to the north. The party spends an inordinate amount of time wandering mazes to the north, finding statues emblazoned with the Halfling words you, are, a, and fool. After a lot of confusion, Trapspringer suddenly remembers the corridor to the south. The party heads down it to find a door.

Beyond the door, Ahm Helmok — wearing Marlin’s body — sits on a makeshift throne, Reece at his side. “Marlin” calls Riska forward and takes the cursed gauntlet from her arm. It forms over his face, taking on a reddish hue. Ahm Helmok explains that he has been split into eight across worlds, but is bound to this realm, as is Reece after too long of an exposure to Ahm Helmok’s essence. He says that if they retrieve his pieces, he will reward Riska with what she wants — Marlin. Riska is willing but insists on speaking to Marlin first. Ahm Helmok briefly retreats, allowing Riska a few seconds of tense conversation with her foster father. They learn that Marlin offered himself up for possession in order to help Reece — and, according to Marlin, Riska. He hugs her before losing himself once again.

Riska and Kayl accept the brand of Ahm Helmok, an X in a circle with another circle around it, which will allow him to retrieve them from other realms. Riska pulls Reece aside and offers a half-assed explanation and apology for the current situation, and Reece agrees to carry Kayl’s signet ring and a letter to Lady Winterbourne.

Ahm Helmok asks if they’re sure they can trust Iora — after all, she is a changeling. Iora is shocked, but doesn’t get much more information out of him. Riska offers everyone a chance to leave, warning that their journey will be dangerous with little chance of reward, especially as Marlin managed to insult half the party in the ninety seconds he was awake. Everyone decides to continue on, Chhakuk assuring Riska he is with her to the end.

Ahm Helmok opens a portal and the party travels into a similar but different temple. It’s hot as hell outside, a blinding desert. The party rests for a time, during which Chhakuk discovers he can no longer hear Desna. Someone is providing his spells, but it’s not her. Riska sinks into a deep depression, leaving the others to plan and talk without her. Chhakuk spends the day reading the book of Ahm Helmok, while Kayl scouts ahead and finds a mountain range to the west, getting heat stroke for his trouble.

The party decides to travel at night, setting off for the mountains. They are attacked by bright blue lizards who do cold damage. After they eliminate the monsters, Riska breaks down and starts screaming and stabbing a lizard until Kayl finally manages to drag her away. Chhakuk asks for Riska’s rope; she tosses it to him and walks away, allowing Chhakuk to tie the creature and drag it along as a bizarre sort of decomposing air conditioning for when they face the heat of day. Thus strangely assembled, the party heads over the next dune.

Karma

Riska: For achieving her goal of finding Marlin
Kayl: For achieving his goal of protecting Riska
Chhakuk: For achieving his goal of solving puzzles without losing any further appendages
Trapspringer: For achieving his goal of helping Riska find Marlin
Iora: For achieving her goal of not doing something stupid in the temple that gets her killed

Embodiment: Riska, who is now well and truly broken.
MVP: Trapspringer, for getting us out of the F*&@ing maze
Teamworker: Chhakuk, for bringing the healz

XP:
4800 each

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