Rise of the Planar Trade Consortium

Rise of the PTC, Run 13 - Synopsis: Winterludes Pt. I, "Yggdrasil"

Returning to Tradegate the party meets up with Fartooth, Estevan’s lion, who is accompanying a caravan of goods coming into the town. The caravan master, Timlik Vartus, gives Sioned a letter and a package from Estevan. The package contains a gift for Sim, magic. The letter explains how things have gone unexpectedly and Estevan can’t make their rendezvous. Estevan suggests that Sioned ingratiate herself further with Duncam and Melina and that he’ll have something more for them when he returns.

The next six months are a whirlwind of activity. Duncam and Melina both have a plethora of things that they need help with if Tradegate is to be rebuilt after the fires that cleaned it of the plague. Building projects needing supervision, caravans of materials to bring into Tradegate, craftsmen to recruit, and the multitude of day to day trade-work that maintains the PTC’s position of power in Tradegate; all of these fall to Sioned and her companions.

The exception is Pieter. A month or so after returning to Tradegate he departs again, bound for Port Liberty. It seems Cassius wasn’t as good as he thought, and no one made their insight checks to catch him on it. Grisalvo writes Pieter telling him that Cassius was killed in a skirmish with the remnants of the poisonscale tribe, several other militia died that day as well. Determined to not let Port Liberty perish Pieter takes ship with a trader out of the Crimson Port. Over the next many months he works hard to train the militia as best he can, while looking for a replacement for Cassius. As The Land spins, the seasons advance. Come winter Tradegate is mostly rebuilt, albeit roughly. Many folk are in dormitories rather than their own homes. The party takes residence in the House of Duncam for this time. Then one snowy day they receive a message from Estevan, he has returned and wishes to meet with them. He waits on them in a tavern, and he is still in the human disguise he uses. He tells them they’ve done well, and thinks that if they can just prove themselves to the only remaining Master Trader of the PTC here in Tradegate they should be able publicly claim the agent’s ring he gave to Sioned. He says he has some fairly quick business he needs to attend, and gives them a sealed letter to bring to Master Pizarro.

Pizarro greets them in his office, it is seriously luxurious. Pizarro is a huge man with white hair, he is in fact a goliath. Initially he speaks to them with his back turned, as he stands on a balcony overlooking the harbor, when he turns around it becomes apparent he’s blind from cataracts. He checks the seal on the letter Sioned hands him, then asks her to read it to him. It recommends her to him, and says ”.. . and I’ll claim my winnings on our bet, since I’m certain she wouldn’t break the seal and read the letter first.” Having passed one of Pizarro’s tests he informs Sioned that if she wants to gain his trust she’ll need to prove her loyalty to the PTC. He offers her a quick courier job to test her skills, if she succeeds he allows that he’ll have more (and more sensitive) work for her in the future.

Pizarro says he needs a letter brought to one of his ship captains, Eduardo Vasquez, who should be pulling into the port of Hjelmsfjord in the next few days. Vasquez is to return immediately to Tradegate. If Sioned can handle the courier job it will free the men he was planning on sending for other duties. On the party’s agreeing he brings in Captain Tomas Marik, the flight leader of the last remaining Griffon-Riders of Tradegate, who will brief Sioned and get her on her way. Before leaving he gives Sioned a sealed letter for Vasquez, and a gift for an old friend Rikitisk who lives on The World’s Tree.

Marik flirts a bit with Sioned as he leads the group to his units baracks. He tells her he and his men will fly her to the “Lair of Sylvith” in the nearby forest. He gives her a small metal box, and the key to open it, and says it’s a bribe for the hag Sylvith, to allow them passage to Yggdrasil. Then after a few hours flight he drops the group in a forest clearing and tells them Sylvith lives a few miles to the east.

After searching for a while the party approaches a tiny hut in the forest, snug up against a huge bole of a tree. Outside there is an ancient crone sweeping clear the dirt around a small fire with a broom of sticks and branches. Despite threatening them the party just barely convinces Sylvith that it’s not worth her effort to slay them when she could get their bribe by just letting them pass by safely. Greth and Sioned both manage to catch sight of the bribe as she pulls it from the box and pops it down her throat with great gusto, it seems to be a tiny worm-like creature with a human face that cries out in a tiny voice as she devours it. (Some knowledge checks reveal that is likely a larvae, the soul of someone condemned by their life to one of the planes of the Abyss.)

After fighting some fell taints that were inhabiting the bole of the tree behind Sylvith’s hut, and succeeding in a fairly difficult climb up the inside of the tree, the party comes out of a small crawlspace onto a massive branch jutting forth from an incomprehensibly huge tree-trunk, the branch itself is nearly 60 feet wide. Traveling up the branch they encounter a trio of hunters, the hunters are an odd race, they appear to be giant squirrels. Some negotiations later it is revealed that they are Ratatosk and that they do know Rikitisk.

Led by the hunters the group enters a small village of tents made from giant leaves. In one of them sits an aged Ratatosk, his muzzle is grayed and his fur is patchy. He huddles, swaddled in blankets, near the fire trying to warm his bones. Sioned greets him in Pizarro’s name and offers him the gift. He seems glad to hear Pizarro is still alive and asks many questions about his old friend as he shares the tea Pizarro has given him with the party. He also tells them of his people, and their duty to defend the World’s Tree. Lastly he offers that in the morning he’ll detail some hunters to guide them to the branch they must leap off of in order to get to Ysgard, the plane where Hjelmsfjord is, he says there are easier exits from Yggdrasil to Ysgard, but if they want to get to the earthburg where Hjelmsfjord is they’ll have to take a leap of faith off the branch.

As they speak a young runner rushes into the tent. He stammers out that the hunters have discovered the dark is rising, a great wave of insects and oozes is coming up the trunk devouring the World’s Tree as they go. Rikitisk immediately sends him out to gather the children and elders for an emergency move of the tribe, and to bring all the warriors to him. He then apologizes to Sioned and says that she is welcome to depart before the battle, he’ll draw her a map to the right branch to leap from, but that he would be most grateful if they stayed and helped, Sioned agrees to stay. Outside his hut he organizes his troops for battle. Paired groups of Ratatosk warriors will advance on the enemy advance and attempt to delay them. Individual runners will make for other tribes with the call to battle. He will remain with the warriors defending the exodus of the young and old until the full force of the tribes nearby can be mustered for battle. It is at this point that the group heads out with the skirmishing forces to engage the enemy.

After splitting off onto their own branch, still scouting for the enemy forces, the party encounters a raiding force of giant ants. Sioned successfully pulls one soldier ant off the branch they are on, it survives the fall but scuttles off out of sight. Warrior ants come up around the branch to flank the party as workers and winged drones advance. The winged drones prove particularly vicious and are hard targets to boot as they dart in to attack and then fly out of range again.

Their branch cleared the party re-unites with the other scouting elements and heads to the tribal rendezvous point. The main force of Ratatosk have gone to advance on the enemy. They return having slain or driven off most of the enemy. A celebration ensues amongst the gathered tribes that lasts until near morning. Before dawn the party departs, led by Ratatosk scouts, and as dawn breaks they leap off the branches of the World’s Tree Yggdrasil.

As they fall they pass through several worlds, before landing on the earthburg where Hjelmsfjord resides. Some time passes as they make their way down a snow-covered and forested hillside to a small settlement of vikings. The settlement is Hjelmsfjord, and they find Captain Vasquez already present, and nearly ready to depart. Giving him the letter they then board the ship and pull out.

As the ship passes out of the fjord it sails towards what seems to be the end of the world, a great cataract of water falling off into nothingness. Mists rise upwards on gales of wind at the edge of the earthburg. As the ship passes over the edge Vasquez has his men set sails from the side of the ship, like a pair of great wings, and the ship sails into the air. Rather than falling it begins to tack into the gales, making slow headway away from the earthburg. After a day or two flying it approaches another earthburg, which Vasquez tells them has a current from the Celestial Sea in it’s domain.

Sailing the current Vasquez steers his ship into the Celestial Sea, and in just a few more days of mundane sailing everyone pulls into Tradegate again. Pizarro is pleased with the party’s performance and gives them the purse of 1,000 gp he promised them. He also says that he has another job for them in a day or two, he’s not sure exactly when.

Greth apologizes, but says he can not help Pizarro any further. He tells Sioned that he feels he must return to the Plane Below to undertake more monastic training. There is some regret at his departure and much gratitude for his help so far, so in the end everyone parts company as friends.

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Rise of the PTC, Run 12 - Synopsis: Plague Times, Pt. V "The Republic of Rigus"

The night’s story begins in the Shadowfell, in the lands of Al Jah’ra, where Akalabeth (a powerful spell-slinger) holds open a portal to Rigus. Sioned, Rook, and Greth quickly move through while the villagers follow. Pieter and Sim work heroically to ensure each villager makes it out, combined with Akalabeth’s self-sacrifice in holding the portal open even longer they succeed in getting almost everyone out. At the last second they fling themselves through the portal, though seven villagers are lost, caught in the Shadowfell as the portal crashes.

Meanwhile in Rigus Sioned and crew are confronted by a togate half-orc, Tribune Gaius Magnus of the Julii. They try to convince him they mean no disruption, but noting the continuing influx of refugees and the effect on the market he calls out the guard. A unit of legionaries blocks both main roads in and out of the square, and after containing the villagers arrest Sioned, Rook, Greth, Pieter, and Sim and drag them before the praetor. Di’Ahna will beg off, and exploit a familial relationship of friendship with the Julii to get the Tribune to take her into his house and arrange transport for her back home to Tradegate.

Praetor Marcus Servilius judges them before The Pantheon in Rigus. Many arguments are made before his court. In the end he is convinced that no harm was intended, and that the people involved will be leaving Rigus soon. So rather than clap the villagers in chains and sell them as slaves, a fate he threatens everyone except Sioned with as well, he instead agrees to let them proceed with his blessing . . .. for a price. Some 200 gp worth of sacrificial animals later, Praetor Servilius and the group finish a grand offering to Erathis in his name. Thus discharged of their duty Sioned leads the party out of Rigus and down the road to the port of Ostia.

Returning to the villagers they find that Grisalvo has organize them and bought some amount of food for them with the small coinage they have available. But the food won’t last out more than two days. They also briefly ask around Rigus to see what trade looks like, Rigus imports raw materials of all sorts, and grain and food like there’s no tomorrow, it exports most finished goods and mercenary troops. That said, most of Rigus’s trade is already spoken for, and nothing is for sale at the cheap costs Sioned wants to get her buy price at.

They ask around Ostia for ships they could charter to Tradegate. They have no trouble finding four captains who will do so, but they’re asking 500 gp a ship for the fee. Discouraged, since they don’t have that cash on hand in platinum, though they do if you include gold, they explore other avenues. In particular they learn of a smartly turned out small three-master, a sloop called the Black Witch II. Remembering hearing of the original Black Witch as belonging to Res’Tar Blackrock they take a chance and, hiring a fishing boat, go out to meet the ship.

Lt. Carsbury, an eladrin of the Maelgrimm Empire, welcomes them aboard. After some time the captain of the ship returns as well, it turns out to be their old acquaintance Commander Darkleaf, now promoted to Captain Darkleaf of His Majesty’s Sloop of War Black Witch II.

Captain Darkleaf listens to their problem. Then makes them an offer. He claims, truthfully, to be scouting the seas for his king. He doesn’t mention he’s scouting for a division of cruisers holding offshore beyond the horizon of Rigus. Darkleaf does offer that he’s in a bit of a bind. He needs to send a “message” to one local, a Gnaeus Crassus, but can’t be known as having his men take care of it. He allows that if Sioned could go ashore and murder a few local thugs who work for Crassus, without causing too much of a stir besides that, he could find his way to help them out.

Sioned readily agrees, she’s killed alongside Darkleaf before. The thugs turn out to be a quintet of street scum, three Rigans and pair of human guards they employ. Bursting in through the wharehouse door they engage the Rigans. The combat initially opens well, but rapidly goes south as the two human guards drop Greth with a pair of halberd blows. The Rigans bloody Sioned and Rook. But with time and effort Sioned’s men win out. Turns out the lead Rigan was wearing a pair of Couters of the Second Chances, which Pieter takes.

Returning to the Black Witch the group discovers the squadron waiting offshore. Though it takes a few days, using local launches and the Witch to ferry the villagers out, eventually the population of Kurdu is loaded aboard the squadron of rebel Maelgrimm warships. Sioned is forced to put out another 200 gp in supplies and food, and not very high-quality food at that. Additional funds are put out for tools, like a sawmill blade, that couldn’t be taken from Kurdu and that will be needed on the Island of Kss’Thraak.

Additionally a new person is hired on. The villagers will need a militia to defend themselves now that the Lady Y’larra is no longer responsible for their safety. So, despite failing their Insight checks during the skill challenge, a local Rigan named Cassius is hired on to fill the slot. He consents, provided he can remain captain of the militia once they’re trained.

On arrival at the Isle of Kss’Thraak much activity commences. Several more villagers are lost over the following weeks as they build up a new village and harvest various goods from the forest. Many are saved. Merek approaches Pieter and says that although the villagers are inclined to name their new home Port Liberty they want to offer the honor first to him and his friends, but if they have no better suggestion Port Liberty it will be. In the end Sioned and crew depart several weeks later. They arrive in Tradegate just about a month after Estevan abandoned them in Kurdu diseased and helpless. They arrive with a ship-load of reagents, spices, rare feathers, some pearls, and raw timber logs to sell.

After buying some supplies for the ship to bring back to Port Liberty, more sawmill equipment plus building equipment like nails and such, they manage to make enough gold to refill the purse of 14 platinum that Estevan put in Sioned’s pack back at the start of the story.

Tradegate itself is busy, but devastated. Much of the city has been burned in the mass quarantines the disease warranted. Many important people are dead. Vast amounts of building materials are being bought and sold as the factors of the Great Houses spend gold like it’s water to bring in building supplies. Melina, of the House of Rhea, is particularly pleased with the raw lumber Sioned has brought it, and is even more pleased when she hears that Port Liberty should be exporting planks and boards when the sawmill comes on line, in fact she promises to devote a ship to making regular runs there for the goods. This friendship is furthered when Di’Ahna reappears and tells her mother of how Sim and Sioned kept her safe in Kurdu and then found her a route out of the Shadowfell so she could come home.

Some days later, while walking the markets of Tradegate, a large lion riding on a caravan wagon notices them. Chuffing loudly in greeting it hops down and approaches. Pieter looks a little nervous as it butts Sioned on the hip with a cheek as a greeting, not quite pushing her back a few feet. Not far behind is Estevan, who is in disguise and continues to hide from the factors of the PTC. He congratulates them on their success and offers Sim a magic item he’s picked up “in my travels” as a reward for doing everything he’s asked of them and ensuring Di’Ahna’s safe return to the House of Rhea.

We will begin next session with your conversation with Estevan, in a private room somewhere.

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Rise of the PTC, Run 11 - Synopsis: Plague Times, Pt. IV "Favors Owed"

The session opens with Sim waking, as the inn-keeper’s daughter is bathing his unconscious body. She manages to escape before he asks too many questions. Moments later Di’Ahna comes into the room and briefs him on the situation. They agree that staying in the village longer seems unwise and together they leave town in a cart Di’Ahna purchases from her privy purse.

In the camp the Vistani are finally settling down to sleep. Sioned is shaking her head in disgust as she sees Pieter approaching with “that look in his eye.” Indeed she’s right in her concerns, he’s out to save the world, or at least the village of Kurdu. As he starts to lay out his case Sim and Di’Ahna drag into the gypsy camp and Sim joins the conversation while Di’Ahna collapses exhausted from the journey. Together at last everyone concocts a plan, they’ll hire the gypsies to kidnap Julilla, then murder the Lady Y’larra’s messengers to the town. This will force the townsfolk to flee or suffer her wrath, along with some fast talking they hope to convince Grisalvo and Merek to lead their people away from Kurdu in a great exile. With luck they can convince Akalabeth to help them, and if not they’ll bring the people out through the pool to “Dirt”.

Baba Tasha has excellent ears, even if her stealth check isn’t what it used to be (as Greth notices her listening in). She sits down to rest her bones and offers to improve their plan. She notes that they’d never make it to The Black Tower and back to Kurdu in time to get the messengers. She offers that if Sioned agrees to owe her tribe a favor she could arrange for magical transport that would resolve the issue. Sioned agrees, Pieter agrees to ask her the favor of kidnapping Julilla, and as Nicola leads a small raiding party of gypsies towards Kurdu the party rides off on phantom steeds.

They race to Akalabeth’s, mostly without incident, although the steeds need magical replenishment at several points in the journey as they brush against various magical wards the party never noticed before. On arrival they are let in by the kobold door-ward and wait for a bit until Akalabeth appears. Her demeanor is quite different this time, she gives off strong vibes of “Hungry,” “Predator,” and “Mmmm, you look like prey.” Though they fail to convince her to help out of the kindness of her heart, a trait the group is growing increasingly convinced she no longer possesses, she agrees that she will hold open a portal at the Monastery of Iskillith that leads to the city of Rigus, for a price. She demands future, unspecified, favors from both Sioned and Greth. It may be worth noting that she seems visibly less hungry when it is revealed that the party wants to save Kurdu for profit-related motives.

Riding like the wind the party returns to Kurdu, in time to witness a black carriage from the Lady Y’larra’s castle clattering into the town square. As they ride in they see the towns-folk, gathered for market, cringing from the wrath of the Lady’s messenger. He is swearing vengeance in his lady’s name for the missing girl, and the other sacrifices, also missing.

The party rides them down.

(In fact the messenger proves to be a vicious opponent and everyone is very greatful that despite weakened by the disease Sim is present as he drops a -7 to it’s attack rolls on the blood-rager. Without that it’s almost certain Greth or Rook would have fallen. Good fight.)

Convincing Grisalvo and Merek isn’t easy. The townsfolk have many foolish fears, and a number of very valid ones. But in the end a combination of good skill checks, including a timely “Shut UP!” from Rook, manage to assuage everyone’s concerns and convince them they need to leave. A few hours later there is a heart-wrenching procession of refugees escaping the town. They mostly leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and some carts filled with tools to rebuild with, where they have space as the elderly and young take most of the caravan’s available space.

One old granny offers the party a “lucky charm” her grandfather gave her when she was a little girl. She can’t promise it’s magic, but she’s always been told it was. Turns out to be a +2 Amulet of Physical Resolve that Rook snaps up readily.

Hours more pass, nervously, as the refugees trudge the road towards the Lady’s castle. The townfolk breathe a sigh of relief as they leave the road and travel up the difficult path to the ruins of the Iskillith Monastery. Coming around a bend they see the ruins, and with a flash of lightning, and a stench of brimstone, Akalabeth is there. She stops the exhausted exodus towards the ruins with a wry, “So you intend to send the townfolk in to soften up the enemy within? Very wise.” Sioned calls everyone to stop, and Greth sneaks up, within is indeed a group of zombies and a blazing skeleton.

Too exhausted from shepherding villagers over a stressful journey to think up a clever plan Sioned leads her men forward into the teeth of the undead. They march on the ruined cathedral and eat a blazing ball of flame for their troubles, zombies charge, and a Zombie Hulk lumbers into the front line. The fight goes well though the Zombie Hulk does some damage before it falls.

Finally the way is clear to the great teleportation circle in the ruins. As the townsfolk gather round Akalabeth begins a ritual, with the party’s aid. She rolls a stunning Arcana check, with the +8 the party is giving her, and then reveals that she has something else going on as well as the gate remains open much longer than 5 rounds. This is fortunate as not even five rounds is near enough time to cram the near three hundred exhausted, terrified, and thoroughly lost (emotionally, spiritually, and physically) refugees from Kurdu through the gate.

As the party vanishes from the Lands of Al Jah’ra Akalabeth wishes them well and tells them to remember her to “dear Julius, if he’s still Consul”.

Thus endeth the session.

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Rise of the PTC Run 10 - Synopsis: Plague Times Pt. III

In the inn’s common room Greth and Rook are surprised as Di’Ahna, the daughter of a PTC Factor in Tradegate, comes downstairs clearly just recovering from the disease. They explain things to her. In the room above Sioned wakes from her relapse, she isn’t nearly as debilitated as previous attacks have left her, but has no memories of the past month or so. Reading the various notes, she starts dressing to go downstairs.

Pieter is lost in dark and dangerous dreams, brought on by the disease. Just as he is about to be trapped by the dream he’s fleeing he is arrested in his flight by a flaming angel appearing before him. “Be Not Afraid Pieter,” booms it’s angelic voice (speaking Celestial), “I bring thee healing from our Lady Erathis for your affliction. Wake from thy infirmity and go forth. Lead those lost to Our Lady from the darkness in which they dwell to the light of Civilization and the knowledge of Our Lady.” Charged, and healed, the angel vanishes from Pieter’s sight. Pieter sits bolt upright in bed, and wakes, to the sight of a half-dressed strange woman in his room. (and a creature in bed with him as well)

After some humor, and explanations, Di’Ahna returns upstairs to the room while Sioned and Pieter meet Greth and Rook downstairs. They debate their situation for a bit before Julia, a local woman, interrupts them. She slinks into the common room and throws herself at Sioned’s feet, sobbing and grasping Sioned’s knees she begs a boon, that Sioned take her daughter Julilla with the party when they leave. She says she’ll give them anything she can if they will just save her daughter from being taken to Y’larra’s castle for the great feast coming in two days.

Much debate ensues. Julia, banished to a corner of the common room, watches the party. Her eyes never leave Sioned’s form.

While they talk the town elder Grisalvo comes in and reproaches Julia. She admits what she has begged of Sioned, but is defiant, and unrepentant. Grisalvo then approaches Sioned and begs her not to take the child. He says that if she does the Lady Y’larra will surely punish the village of Kurdu by crucifying a number of them along the road to her castle. He begs Sioned not to take ”. . . just one or two, leaving the rest of us to the Lady’s punishments. If you can not take everyone, I beg you not to take anyone.” Sioned agrees for the time, and dismisses the distraught Julia.

Pieter, Sioned, Greth, and Rook, then depart Kurdu to search the wilds between it and Akalabeth’s tower for the rumored passage to The World. Up a hidden ravine they begin to sniff out magical traces indicating a portal is near, when they encounter a patrol of hobgoblins. Despite attempts to get a messenger away the patrol is slaughtered to a “man”. Entering into a cave system they search for nearly an hour before finding a pool of black water in a deep cave. Also in the cave are a zombie hulk, a flaming skeleton, and a few other skeletons. The zombie hulk puts the fear of the undead into people as it misses Rook with a colossal smash that crushes several nearby stalagmites, but with concentrated fire it soon goes down.

Swimming through the pool leads to a warm, sulfurous-smelling, cave system. Some quick exploration leads them to the surface where it is determined that they are on a prime, in a graveyard. Nearby is the town of Havelek. Havelek produces finished carpentry goods, furs, as well as finished copper goods from a mine not to far away. It is inhabited exclusively by shifters, the feline shifters appear to be in ascendancy over the lupine ones in a loose class system. Havelek lies in the Kingdom of Varsivaal, and (Gods help the dumb Primes) they call their world Dirt. (It’s always something “earthy” isn’t it . . . sigh) The current canon pantheon seems to rule Dirt.

Returning to the Land of Al Jah’ra they discover that Kurdu is rife with rumors about them, not all of them true by any means. Traveling onward they walk the road towards Y’larra’s castle. As they approach the stream the Vistani tribe is camped near they enter into a thick wall of fog. It cuts sight down drastically. Coming over the bridge they see the glow of the camp’s lights and can hear the Vistani, but until they’re right in camp can’t make out details.

Nicola welcomes them back. After introductions are made Sioned bargains with Nicola over the price for the portal they’ve found. He agrees that instead of taking them with the Vistani for a trip he will tell them of the ruins of the Iskilith Monastery, which has a teleport circle the Vistani used to come here. The deal done they exchange information, key-sequence for the circle for the location of the pool.

Meanwhile . . . . . Pieter approaches the elder of the camp, the ancient tiefling crone called Baba Tasha. He talks a bit with her as she bustles around the camp tasting a dish here, helping a young girl with pig-tails there, and so on. He tries, subtly, to ask after how she would feel if she were trapped here, and how the Vistani are as a people. His bluff check ain’t so good, doubly so when compared to her insight, and Baba Tasha asks him point-blank if what he really wants is to convince her to steal away the child Julilla and adopt her into the clan. He admits it.

Baba Tasha then grabs a seat on a log and pats the spot next to her for Pieter to sit down on. Greth and Rook smirk as they suppose, quite rightly, that he’s about to get a “talking to.” She then looks him in the eye and asks, “And were you also planning on telling me price the village would pay if I do this thing and have my family steal away with this child?” Pieter appears abashed, but says he was, and tells her. They discuss the implications, and the morals, a bit. Greth chimes in with his theory that the humans here are all dead and in hell, which Baba Tasha discounts saying they are living mortals and can go to The World if they can. She then challenges him to consider that perhaps everyone, including him, is dead and are now in the afterlife. Baba Tasha doesn’t go any further into Dustman philosophy, not being one herself, but leaves Greth to consider the topic as unfinished business.

The night ends as Baba Tasha gets up from the log. Looking down at Pieter she makes the following offer, “I like you young Priest of Erathis, and were I younger I’d think you quite cute as well.” (she winks) “So I will make you this offer. If you will grant my tribe a favor in the future I will let you ask one of me now. But if you ask me to steal away Julilla the blood it brings will stain your hands, not mine. I will not make the decision for you, it must be your choice. But if you ask this thing of me, I will save the girl.”

After more dancing, and drinking, and tale-telling (all lies this night), the camp settles to sleep. The party camps with them for the night. Darkness steals quietly over the land as the righteous sleep, and the undead wake . . .

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Rise of the PTC Run 9 - Synopsis: Plague Times Pt. II

(change of title from “Hippy Chick” to “Plague Times”, for obvious reasons)

Though Pieter’s nature skills are in fine form on the journey back to Kurdu, from the tower of Akalabeth, his health is not. As you approach the town it becomes apparent he is suffering from the plague, and that Sioned seems to be relapsing as well. Come morning both have collapsed into fever-dreams and can’t be woken.

Left alone, with a party of invalids, Rook and Greth ponder their circumstances. While doing so there is a cry from outside the inn. The Lady Y’larra has decreed a great celebration, and feast, for her husband has returned. The crying is from a young woman whose child is to be taken away in four days for the feast, along with a number of other villagers.

Considering themselves as non-humans, and lacking confidence in their ability to transport a number of invalids through the gate in Aglubiyet and then through Acheron Greth and Rook come up with another plan. They will go to the castly of Lady Y’larra and seek to learn more there.

The road to the castle is straight and well-kept. Although it’s nearly the same distance as the trip to the tower of Akalabeth it takes only a few hours journey to cover the distance while on the road. The trip is not without event as a pair of hobgoblin scouts, in the uniform of Aglubiyet, attempt to ambush them. The battle is quick, Greth and Rook soon down the hobgoblin archer, and the soldier doesn’t last much longer.

As they approach the castle they are hailed by an orc guard atop the gatehouse. They declare that they are travelers and have come to congratulate the lady of the castle on her good fortune. The orc passes them through into the castle’s courtyard. Surrounding them are a host of orcs, ogres, and various oni rushing back and forth on various businesses. At the far end of the courtyard is a great manor house.

As they approach the manor house the butler Ahksalaam, an oni mage, stops them and inquires more as to their purpose here. Again they assert they’ve come to congratulate the Lady of the castle and enjoy her hospitality. He bows and let’s them inside.

Inside they find a great court. Along a side-wall are multiple tables with spicy foods for guests, ogres circulate offering drinks, and a host of “people” mill about the court. They see shadar-kai, a devil, multiple kinds of oni, someone who initially appears human but is flanked by a pair of wraiths guarding him. At the rear of the hall they see a pair of staircases rising up to a balcony, and between them a great throne. On the throne sits a fearsome lady, terribly thin, blue-skin, horns, tusks, and surrounded by a number of oni courtiers and a quartet of spirits that whirl around her.

Rook and Greth split up briefly to quarter the room. Rook’s efforts are fruitless, but don’t cause any trouble. Greth is not so lucky as he rounds a group of guests and finds himself face to face with a trio of Githyanki in formal armor. He flees into the crowd. The Githyanki split up to try and pursue him. A slow chase of duck-and-cover ensues, which ends with Greth just about to be forced out of the hall to not get caught. . . . . . when he bumps into Akalabeth.

The middle-aged woman wastes no time after seeing the inbound gith. She charges them in deep-speak (with a Githyanki accent), “Be wary of violating the Lady’s hospitality towards a guest, lest you open yourself up to greater predators . ... . ”, she doesn’t say anything more than that, but the look in her eye seems to say that she’d find the three gith a Very Tasty Little Morsel. The three of them turning a very pale shade of yellow and scurrying away seems to indicate that they caught her meaning, or at least didn’t have the stuff to deal with her intimidation.

Akalabeth questions Greth about why in the world he is here. Then grabs Rook and drags the pair off to a library to talk. There she learns of the disease’s progress and when Rook acts cagey about his relationship to Estevan declares that he has clearly forgotten what she showed him when she did the ritual enchanting Greth’s Ki Focus, “I have far more resources than you can imagine,” she says. She declares she’s washing her hands of Estevan and his plan. And she then takes the intrepid pair to meet him.

Estevan is in a guarded room, that Akalabeth seems to have easy access to. (In fact the evidence seems to show that Akalabeth is held in high regard and effection by both Estevan and Lady Y’larra.) She leaves, pretending to a mild case of temper for the guard’s sake.

Within Estevan awaits on a balcony. He is in his true form, an oni mage, and looks wistfully out over the lands surrounding the castle. He is distressed to hear of the disease recurring, but thinks it’s more likely that he and Pieter came to close to contamination in Tradegate. He says he doesn’t need rescuing by Rook or Greth, but that if Sioned has fallen to the disease his plan is indeed awry. He doens’t go further into what his plan is. He does inform them that the portal in Lady Y’larra’s castle won’t help them, it goes to the capital of the Kingdom of Al Jah’ra and is no place they should consider escape from. He also confirms that Aglubiyet is currently gearing for war and would execute any intruders as spies if they could catch them.

He does come up with a new plan for them. If they can present themselves to congratulate the Lady Y’larra on her good fortune and offer her the heads of the two spies she would be in their debt. They should then immediately repudiate that debt by begging a boon of her, the use of her library to research another way out.

Before meeting Y’larra they meet up again with Akalabeth. She seems to be over her fit of pique and agrees to stand with them in the receiving line to speak to Y’larra. After some time the three approach. Y’larra sits in splendour, her clother are magnificent, her hair is spectacular, her courtiers are attentive, and Rooks Arcana check reveals that she is a Level 14, oni, elite, artillery, Oni Spirit Summoner (I might have missed “undead” in the list, check Open Grave to be sure, she’s in there). After a quick (“gulp”) he and Greth greet her. She is polite, but uninterested until they speak of the spies from Aglubiyet. They offer to bring her the spies’ heads as a present, which seems to offend her until they beg that in return they be granted the smallest of boons, to use her library. To that she agrees, and then, after some sweet words for Akalabeth, she dismisses them.

The bodies alas, have risen. So after trekking back to get their heads Greth and Rook find they now face a pair of zombies! This fight is a little longer than the first, but again they dispatch their enemies before taking substantial damage. Y’larra gracefully accepts her present and offers them rooms for the night in her house, and the use of the library….

Some time late in the evening Rook and Greth believe they have another route out of Al Jah’ra figured out. There’s reference to an ancient battle between a plan-walker wizard and “The Lady of the Black Tower, Akalabeth”. The plane-walker was said to draw power from a portal between here and The World. Some comparing of references to memories of the journey to Akalabeth’s tower convince Greth that with a few hours searching he could find the cave wherein the portal (a pool) to The World lies. The next morning Rook and Greth depart the Lady’s castle for the village of Kurdu.

Grateful to finally escape the castle, where they realize they should really never have gone, at least not yet, Greth and Rook depart for Kurdu in the morning. By late morning they are nearing Kurdu when they come across a caravan of gypsies that seem to have camped near the road, where it crosses a stream about an hour’s walk from Kurdu. The camp is led by a rascally human named Nicola. Nicola invites them to share lunch with his family if they are friends, and everyone sits down to drink, dance, eat, tell tall tales, and lie to each other, in a friendly way. Greth and Rook do well socializing and while they can’t convince Nicola to give them something for the mere rumor of a gate they do impress Baba ‘Tasha, a wily old tiefling woman. ‘Tasha says that she thinks their hearts are in the right place, and while they can’t join the caravan she instructs Nicola to let them buy passage for one trip if they can return before the caravan moves on.

Greth and Rook then return to Kurdu. They have found two possible routes out, the pool in the forest, and the gypsies. Assuming they can return to the gypsy camp with the location of the pool, their invalid companions, AND payment BEFORE the gypsies meet the “Oarsman” (you can hear the capital on that word) whom they are here to exchange goods with.

This is where we leave things.

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Rise of the PTC Run 8 - Synopsis: "Hippy Chick"

We open with Pietr, an up and coming young priest of Erathis on the world of Oerth. He is summoned to Prelate August Mirovar who tells him of a vision he was granted by Erathis. Pietr is taken to meet Estevan, a trader and traveller, who offers him a place out in planes helping link cities together with trade and founding colonies. Estevan also promises to use his influence to get Pietr to the city of Hestavar, where Erathis resides, at some point in the future so he can find out more of what his goddess wants of him. As is typical with Estevan, he fails to offer details of when or how, but Pietr still has his fingers after shaking Estevan’s hand so it all seems okay.

Greth is the first to awake. He finds himself weakened and dazed by disease, he’s still exhausted and feverish. He manages to wake Sioned and Rook, but Sim can’t be woken from his fever, and a young woman who was in bed w. Sioned can’t be woken either. They look around a bit, and after looking out the window discover they’re in the upper floor of a building in a small village.

Pietr asks Prelate Mirovar’s permission to follow Estevan, and after being granted the Prelate’s blessing he gathers his goods and follows Estevan through the Wardrobe Gate. On seeing Sigil, he has a moment of panic, but manages to hold himself together. Together they go quickly through the Lady’s Ward and the crowds of the Market Ward to the Tradegate. Passing through Estevan leads Pietr through the burg of Tradegate, which is still burning quarantined buildings but still has some trade, to the House of Rhea. He passes it and enters a small alleyway that has an iron door set into the stone of a building’s wall at the end of it. After some effort picking it’s lock and cracking the warding spells Estevan manages to open the gate and leads Pietr through it to the village where he says his agent is recovering. He warns Pietr that once he enters this gate there’s no going back through it again and that if he comes he’ll have to find his way out with Sioned for Estevan will be leaving them for a bit. Pietr agrees.

Back in the room Sioned discovers a letter from Estevan for her. It describes how she and her men have been stricken by a disease that has ravaged Tradegate. He says he bought cures for the four of them and Di’Ahna, the daughter of Melina. (Sioned recognizes the name, Melina is the head of the House of Rhea, a powerful PTC trading house in Tradegate. She’s very much a peer of Duncam’s.) He further says that they were all forced to flee down a one-way gate before a mob. He is off to find his way out. He leaves Sioned with instructions, find your way out, return to Tradegate with a caravan of goods for sale, and if possible also return with a permanent trade-route. He expects to see you in a month in Tradegate. He also leaves Sioned a small velvet purse with 14 platinum pieces in it inside her pack. He mentions he’s hired a healer and minder for Sioned.

A day has passed for Pietr when he returns to the upstairs room in the inn at Kurdu. He’s been off collecting leeches for his patients. He sits down briefly for a rest and some prayers to his Lady Erathis. Then the door opens and a badly diseased, but barely conscious, Greth is standing in the doorway. Behind him are Sioned and Rook, as ready for anything as they can be. After brief introductions they collapse into chairs to talk.

They learn a bit about the village of Kurdu, and it’s terrible mistress the cannibalistic Lady Y’larra. (if a non-human monster who eats humans can be called a cannibal that is)

The next day everyone is still feeling like hell, but not suffering from dazed or weakened any more. So they begin to investigate the village for a way out. They find few palatable possibilities, it’s said the Lady Y’larra has a portal in her castle. Pietr speaks with Merek, an elderly priest in the village who warns him away from the Lady, and begs his aid in destroying some undead that have recently risen in the local graveyard. He offers to help, and no one disagrees, so the party takes a break from their investigations and heads to the cemetary.

In a crypt they fight off a swarm of zombies, a wraith, and a corruption corpse. Though the fight takes a bit it’s never really in question. Much harder are the trio of ghouls that sneak up on them as they take a short rest, they drop both Greth and Sioned, repeatedly, before finally falling to the radiant power of Erathis. (aided handily by the rest of you as well, of course) In thanks for their help Merek gives them an ancient magic item, a pair of Iron Armbands of Power, which Greth takes. He also tells them that perhaps they should go speak to the wizard Akalabeth, who dwells a day’s travel to the northwest in a great Black Tower.

Sioned begins the day’s travel with a ritual to help them along. Combined with some good rolling on the party Endurance checks and a spectacular Nature check from Pietr the group travels the day and comes out into a forest clearing near sunset. Before them is a huge, like 20-30 stories tall, black tower. The door is warded with vicious and powerful magics. The party’s knocking is answered by a kobold who says he’ll let them in and will inform the “Lord” Akalabeth of their presence. Some minutes later Akalabeth, a gray-haired human woman comes down the stairs.

Akalabeth says she’s sorry but she doesn’t know of any portals out of here, but she will allow them to use her library to do some more research into the subject since Sioned was so charming. (a really exceptional diplomacy roll) The party begins searching and after some time find religious references indicating that the nearby city of Aglubiet has a temple to their god that contains a portal leading to Acheron where he dwells. Akalabeth offers to feed them and let them rest for the night in the Black Tower before returning to Kurdu to check on Sim and Di’Ahna, her fare is excellent and the conversation stimulating and provocative. Akalabeth has some interesting moral views, views a lot of people would regard as EVIL with all caps, tempered slightly by the fact that she is a highly refined and civilized character. She also agrees to help Greth by enchanting his Ki Focus to a +1, at the cost of the reagents, since she rarely gets visitors and relishes the chance to show off her arts to fellow practitioners. Her arcana check, from “take a 10”, is stellar, she is clearly an Epic tier character.

Returning to Kurdu the trip is even easier. And we will leave our heroes there, as they walk into the village of Kurdu late one day, just an hour before sunset…...

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Rise of the PTC Run 7 - Synopsis: Pirates of the Spice Isles Pt. III

(no Rel bursting out of the box took place after all, and thus the Wardrobe Gate was never there . . .)

Our heroes get off as the Phoenix pulls into the Crimson Port. After paying the docking fees of 200 gold for the Phoenix Sioned and her minders plan out their day. Blackrock departs, concealed, to set his own plans in motion . . . The party splits up to ask around town about how things are. Greth discovers little, Sim finds out a bit about the background of the Crimson Port and the legitimacy of Blackrock’s claim to the Throne of the Maelgrim Empire. Sioned finds out a good deal more about local politics and trade opportunities. Rook has a really crappy day dealing with annoying dwarves and arrogant eladrin and ends up finding a bar fight . . . . .

Sioned, Greth, and Sim walk into the bar to rendevous w. Rook and exchange information only to discover him involved in a bar fight with his new friends, the Bosun’s Mate Kar (half-orc) and Warrant Officer Lilya, both off of the Indefatigable. They, and some crew from the Inde, are badly outnumbered by the crew of the Redoubt. The party wades in and manages to take control of the room with non-lethal spells and blows by the time a shore-patrol, consisting of a Commander Darkleaf and men from the Renown, put a stop to all of it. They parole Rook on Sioned’s word to report to Captain Thorndike aboard the Renown and explain their actions since she explains that they have to meet with the Crimson Pact soon, this very evening.

The meeting is a non-event. Greth’s insight for the night is that the Pact itself, a council, is not truly holding power here. He believes that they will only make a decision on Sioned’s trade proposal after their principles, whoever they are, have time to decide behind the scenes.

The meeting with Capt. Thorndike goes rather better. Through some sweet, and some false, words they convince Thorndike to help them and Blackrock. He even agrees to help them assault the Isle of Kss’Thrak, provided they can prove themselves not to be spies for the foul “Black Prince Edward” (he spits) “the pretender to Res’Tar’s crown.” He offers them the chance to prove themselves by helping him and his fellow captains on a cutting out expedition against a Royal Squadron which has been sent to retake the Crimson Port from the rebels. Everyone agrees.

Paddling quietly up to the anchor chain of quiet ship the party passes over a shallow reef and comes at their target hidden by the darkened island behind them. They sneak up the anchor cable, a massive multi-strand hawser-rope, to the edge of the quarterdeck. Springing forth they gain surprise on an eladrin officer and a pair of armed dwarven watchstanders. The ensuing fight is brutal as several people are bloodied and Sim is shoved overboard into the ocean, the freshwater ocean. In the end the officer falls and though the dwarves do more damage they too succumb to coordinated attacks in the end.

The ship is captured and it’s flag is struck!

Returning to the Crimson Port with a prize crew the party spends the next few days waiting. During that time Captain Thorndike organizes his new ships into a squadron and returns one blustery day victorious after a battle with the Royal Navy’s Admiral Devreux. Admiral Devreux was soundly defeated as Thorndike sank one of his ships and sent the other two fleeing home to repair in dry-dock, leaving the Spice Islands to Blackrock and his men.

Thorndike then leads out three of the frigates and in a massive marine assault destroys the village where the elder Kss’Thrak lives. The lizardmen battle bravely, but futilely. Sim, assisted by Sioned and Rook, confirms that the fire you kindle at the Heads of Amn does in fact open a portal. Accompanied by Commander Darkleaf of the Renown they use the portal to go to the Outlands, there catching Mistress Zoot of Jalall’s Inn of the Welcome Wench in flagrante with a pair of burly, strapping, young men who were helping her maintain the fires on the Outland side of the portal. Darkleaf is astonished at the transition, but returns through the gate to his ship after taking some magical notes.

After a long day waiting for any vessel to pull into Jalall that is going downriver the party finally books passage, for 120 gold, to Tradegate. On day 28 of the journey the four explorers finally pull into Tradegate and take a brief and well-deserved rest. Master Trader Duncam, of Tradegate’s House of Duncam, repays the incurred expenses along with Estevan’s promised bonus for success. (He claims he’ll get the gold back from Estevan at a later date and that supporting the efforts of the PTC’s agents is just what a good Factor does.) He also offers the resources of his house for sale at cost in thanks for not costing him more gold in the hiring of Thorndike’s men and ships. The result is a total income of 1040 gold for the party, net.

Next week, Interlude 1: Tales From the Branches of Yggdrasil. (probably, unless I think of something cooler, of course)

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Rise of the PTC Run 6 - Synopsis: Pirates of the Spice Isles Pt. II

The session opens as people come downstairs from their rooms at the Inn of the Welcome Wench in Jalall. Rook is the last to wake, and when he comes down he finds Estevan and most of the group in conversation about a new job he has for you. Also present are an assortment of women of all sizes, shapes, and species who are sharing breakfast with you and a number of children, notably missing is Rel. (whom Estevan has sent off on a job, or so he says)

Estevan finishes briefing Sioned on what he wants and hands her a letter of recommendation for the PTC’s factor in Tradegate, a man named Duncan. Estevan has arranged riverboat transport to Tradegate where he wants Sioned to contact a Captain Res’Tar Blackrock to transport them to the Crimson Port. Once there they are to use a magic ritual to find the Isle of Kss’Thraak and attempt to activate the gate back to the Outlands at sunrise. Estevan has arranged for a fire to be kindled each day at the Heads of Amn at the same time. Additionally Estevan would like for Sioned to convince the pirates of the Crimson Port to raid and pillage the lizardmen for goods that they can then sell at Tradegate for a good profit, which also will help the PTC’s house in Tradegate as well. He offers the party magic items up-front, a purse for expenses, and promises a bonus if they can convince the pirates to sell to the House of Duncan. They are to meet him in Tradegate in a month to reconvene.

After a memorable, but uneventful, trip of a week down the river the party reaches it’s confluence with the river Elbruin. As they travel Outwards they see a low range of hills to spinward, and the walled city of Tradegate on the anti-spinward bank of the Elbruin. They dock and leave the riverboat to seek out Duncan.

A long chase scene ensues as they try to track Duncan around Tradegate. At Spingate they hire Timon, a local shifter boy as a guide, with some intimidating from Rook to help lower his price. But after pursuing Duncan fruitlessly they decide mid-afternoon to just return to the House of Duncan to await his return. They succeed in convincing his butler, Breme, to let them wait for him in the library. Late in the evening, long after dark, Duncan finally returns and meets with them.

Sioned gives him Estevan’s letter and explains their mission. Duncan inquires after Estevan asking if he’s found what he was seeking yet, to which Sioned has no answer. He agrees to get them the ritual scroll and resources Estevan requests, but informs them that Capt. Blackrock was ship-wrecked in Pandemonium after a bad voyage down the River Styx. He returned a broken man, and without any crew, and is now nothing more than a bubber on the docks of Tradegate. When Sioned inquires as to healing him Duncan allows that he can hire one Jerek, a priest of Dioncecht, if the group can get Capt. Blackrock to him.

After an evening searching for Blackrock they find him near the Drunken Apple Tavern. When they find him he is being menaced by some local toughs. A fight ensues during which Sioned and her bashers pretty much take names and kick ass. One halfling thief escapes the encounter, several local toughs are knocked unconscious and Rook outright kills two of the human bandits. They flee the scene of the murder with a passed-out Blackrock whom they carry to Jerek’s house near Eastgate. Jerek says that they can return in the morning when he’ll examine Blackrock.

The next day, day 9 of their journey, Jerek tells them that he can probably heal Blackrock, and that they should check back at the end of the day to see how his healing rituals have done. He also thanks them for Duncan’s “Most generous contribution to my mission to heal the poor and needy here in Tradegate.” During the day they check out Blackrock’s past and his allies, and discover that to sail the current of the Celestial Sea to the Crimson Port they need Blackrock himself. When they return Jerek tells them the healing was successful and they can speak to the Captain, but not if they exhaust or disturb him.

Blackrock is a broken man, once an Eladrin in his prime he has been aged and broken by the planes. He listens quietly as Sioned tells him of their mission, or some of it, and he agrees to help but warns that although he’s fairly sure he can remember the way to the current to the Crimson Ports he’s forgotten a lot due to touching the River Styx. He also laments the loss of his ship’s log books, the Black Witch, in Pandemonium. (bet that the “Log-books of the Black Witch” will recur again in the campaign)

That evening Sioned and her minders go seeking a captain who will agree to let Blackrock pilot their ship on the Celestial Sea back towards the Crimson Port. To a man the captains tell her that they once admired Blackrock greatly, as a pirate and trading captain, but that he’s a broken man now. They claim only a madman would let Blackrock pilot his ship on the Celestial Sea. In the end they find themselves entering a cantina filled with smoke and wild music. A bugbear first-mate directs them towards his captain who is sitting in a booth against the wall, one Capt. Jack Kormarr.

Capt. Kormarr takes some convincing (and is the spitting image of Han Solo). In the end he agrees to do the job, but at a ridiculous price (due to a failed skill challenge negotiating). The party complains that at his price they could buy a ship. To which he replies “Yeah, but who would pilot it. Sailing the Celestial Sea ain’t like crossing the river in a row-boat, farm-girl. One bad calculation and you could land up in the middle of Gehenna, and that’d end your trip real quick now wouldn’t it?” The party agrees to his price and will meet him with Blackrock the following morning to depart on the receding tide. Duncan is less than pleased at the price and warns them that if Sioned wants to keep his goodwill she’d best find a way to get the pirates to do their part that doesn’t involve him paying them as mercenary troops, though he’ll still pony up the gold if he must since Estevan has asked for his help.

Duncan also takes some pains to explain how the PTC has both “Factors” and “Agents”. He says he’s an example of a factor, a person who stays in one burg and becomes rich and powerful doing the PTC’s business. He tells them that agents are different and go around the worlds helping set up the factors and generally making the PTC successful. He says that if they want to become rich and powerful they should follow his example and become a factor, and that they shouldn’t let “that scoundrel Estevan” talk them into remaining agents forever. He also hints that if the group impresses him he might have a job or two for Sioned as well, if she’d prefer a more honest employer than Estevan. He finishes by saying that until they really sign on to the PTC instead of just being hirelings he probably shouldn’t say any more at the time.

Come morning the party, along with Blackrock, meet Capt. Kormarr and his bugbear mate ‘Mast’ (“Rrrronk“) at the docks. He shows them a beat up knorr, an ugly clinker built 40’ ship with a single mast. (for the historically curious a knorr is the merchant version of the viking longship, this is the ship that colonized America over the North Atlantic) He replies to criticisms of his ship The Phoenix by noting that “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts lady. I’ve made some special modifications myself, and she’s fast enough to avoid any imperial entanglements where you’re going.” (he mutters “I hope” under his breath) The Phoenix departs Tradegate and sails onto the Celestial Sea.

Mid-day, after Blackrock has been anxiously testing the water he declares that they’ve entered the current he needs. Jack puts the Phoenix about and she sails downwind for the day and the following night. Come morning it’s apparent to everyone that they’ve entered a new world. Blackrock says he can guide them to the Crimson Port from here, and they set out. As they pass a low, jungle-covered, island a pair of war-canoes filled with savage lizardmen set out for them. The swells of the ocean prevent contact until they are about 50’ apart.

The fight with the lizardmen is brutal. A poisonscale magus uses horrible magics that pull both Rook and Sioned off the Phoenix and into the ocean, which turns out to be freshwater. Multiple javelins nearly drop Sioned. Sim has a great day as his grasping shadows kills off lizardmen carried into it by the war-canoe’s inertia in the water. And Rook damn nears dies as the poison from the magus rages unstoppably through his body, long after the combat is over Capt. Kormarr finally manages to heal him, but not until after he’s taken a lot of healing and mucho damage.

Approaching the Crimson Port our intrepid adventurers can see three great ships at anchor, we’re talking three-masted frigates here, and a host of small-craft at work. They manage to convince the port patrol boat to not attack them but instead to allow them to dock. As they begin to tie up at one of the two rickety piers in Crimson Port there is a loud knocking sound from a large crate that Duncan has asked them to transport to the Crimson Port with them. They attempt to ignore it. The knocking turns into a smashing, and soon enough there is a crash as they see the head of massive war-hammer burst out of the crate. In moments Rel is revealed as he uses the Hammer of Ur to smash his way out of the shipping crate. Inside is one of the Wardrobe Gates.

Can our heroes convince the Pirates of the Spice Isles to help them? Where has Rel been all this time? And what did Estevan have him doing? Will Blackrock ever regain his power and influence in the Crimson Port? Or is everyone doomed?

These questions, and more, all will be answered at next week’s game!

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Rise of the PTC Run 5 - Synopsis: Pirates of the Spice Isles Pt. I

Before departing Silverton folks pool their gold and Rook buys a +1 Amulet from a local and Kesto Brighteyes reveals he is a spell-caster by transferring a basic +1 enchantment to Reliant’s suit of hide armor. The party then bids farewell to Silla, who is staying to run the town-hall, and accompanies Estevan down the road towards Jalall.

Along the way you are met by a number of wagons containing load upon load of firewood. Working a long night with Estevan and the teamsters you build a massive pyre inside a circle of huge stone heads, the Heads of Amn. Estevan says that there’s a portal inside the circle that opens only when you leap through a fire in the circle on the right day of a month, a month measured somewhere else. He asks Sioned to investigate trade potential on the other side and says he’ll meet you all when you return that night at the Inn of the Welcome Wench in Jalall, a shady enterprise he owns a share in.

After kindling the pyre and watching it grow larger, and hotter, most of the party decline to use their potions of Resist: Fire, and when Sim says he can see a portal take a leap of faith!

You all arrive near a large bonfire in a jungle clearing. Surrounding you are a tribe of lizardmen, dancing and chanting to drums. Their ceremony comes to a screeching halt as they notice you. Some quick negotiations begin, but the party’s right to speak in the circle is challenged by some of the warriors when Rel boasts of who he is (and fails an Intimidate check).

A nasty fight ensues between five champions of the lizardmen and the five party members. All meet in a circle of honor defined by the surrounding tribe. Initially the lizardmen do very well, downing Sim with a volley of poisoned javelins. But in the end Rel backs one of them down after bloodying him, and the party then just plain outlasts the rest although it is a close fight.

Negotiations continue, now that the party can speak to The People. They spend some time speaking with Kss’Thrak, the lizardman elder who understands the common tongue. He tells them that The People (as he calls the poisonscale lizardmen) live here. They don’t need much, living a primitive life, they have gathered tonight to sacrifice one of their tribe to the fire god that lives in the volcano. He warns the party that although they are safe tonight, Truce Night, while the tribe sacrifices come the following morning they will be hunted for trespassing on sacred tribal lands. (which is to say ALL the tribal lands)

Sioned spends some time asking after “The People.” Kss’Thrak is fairly open, and seems honest. He says The People need very little, and produce little as well. Trade with the people is largely personal, such as bride-gifts, or is between the Great Chiefs (or Kings) who trade resources and labor for projects devoted to the gods like raising statues or constructing temples. The local tribe prove exceptionally xenophobic and Sioned concludes, quite rightly, that remaining on the island after sunrise is a death sentence.

The group then leaves The People to their ritual and begins a survey of the surrounding lands. They discover a plethora of natural resources available for harvest. The list includes tropical hard-woods, reagents, spices, spectacular feathers, and there’s cause to believe that there are good pearls in the oceans as well. They do run into a spot of trouble when a quartet of stirges fly out of the jungle thickets to attack most of the group while Rel tangles with a crocodile down near some herb samples he was gathering.

Returning to the circle well after midnight they find the tribe has gone and the fire is burned down. The party gatherS firewood to build a new bonfire they can return to The Outlands through. They then pass through the portal and go to meet Estevan in Jalall.

We shall resume at breakfast the following morning at the Inn of the Welcome Wench. You arrived late at night and your night’s stay will have been refreshing, although when you came in it would have been quite boisterous downstairs. Breakfast is hearty, but simple, and is shared in the common room with Estevan and the working girls who live in the inn.

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Rise of the PTC Run 4 - Synopsis: Anchoring Silverton Pt. III

The session begins with the fight we left off. The party is facing Jall, a kobold slyblade, and some kobolds. The fight goes fairly well, and quickly, though Jall is able to land a mighty blow that fells Reliant leaving him unconscious on the ground. In the end the slyblade is too beloved of the gods (and your incredibly sucky dice-rollint) to be captured and escapes into the jungle.

During a short rest the party investigates Jall’s hammer, discovering that it is in fact a magic hammer, though more information remains to be learned. The investigation ends when Verminithrax comes soaring over the jungle tree-tops and into the savage village.

The battle with Verminithrax starts off ominously. He flies into the center of the group and catches Rel, Sioned, and Sim with a blast of icy wind and pure cold that leaves them all bloodied and frozen in place. Sim makes for the jungle, and never really comes out of it until the fight is over. Rel and Greth are forced to climb the walls of one of the huts to reach Verminithrax who is flying out of reach, this starts out going well until their weight causes the hut’s walls to destabilize throwing them both to the ground as it collapses. In the end the white dragon is slain, and the party spends the night in the savage village.

During the night Rel sits down to rest for a while and has the most remarkable experience, he has a dream (or vision if you prefer) of a great army. The army is of dragonborn and dragons and follows three great dragons towards a distant battlefield that lies before a range of volcanoes. When he relates the dream Sim identifies Bahamut, Tiamat, and Io from his vision. Sim then recalls a tale of Ur, a young dragonborn warrior from the dawn times who fought with the dragon army against the primordials. He says that the Tale of Ur speaks of his sacrifice and how his soul was placed into his weapon, a mighty hammer, and that the hammer has passed on down through the ages from warrior to warrior, and now seems to be in Rel’s hands.

After a fairly easy return journey to Silverton they are feted at a huge party the halflings hold for the heroes who have slain the white dragon. The next day the party and Kesto, badly hung-over, get together with Estevan and Silla to talk over how to anchor Silverton. Estevan reveals to the party the power of belief in the Outlands, and how it can be used to anchor Silverton into place. They come up with a three-fold plan: Create a town-hall and government, convince Jalall that Silverton is propserous enough to bring settlers from there to live in Silverton (and to make them believe that Silverton is a permanent town), and arrange for miners and a forge to be set up in Silverton.

The work in Silverton goes smoothly. In Jalall the party doesn’t do so well. They have initial success in convincing the town that Silverton is more than the temporary mining camp it is. They are also initially successful in convincing miners of the value of ore in Silverton, but only after faking some ore samples and passing them off as real. However both the forge and the settlers prove much more expensive than predicted, and they are forced to spend all of Estevan’s purse and promise even more glitter and concessions for the settlers and miners on arrival than Estevan will be happy with.

Nonetheless the caravan does set out from Jalall, and Silverton is indeed anchored in place next to the Sargasso Graveyard. (where it had drifted to before the PCs arrived) Estevan is unhappy with the extra expenses, and chides Sioned for not bargaining hard enough. He is pleased with how they dealt with the dragon though, and very pleased with their negotations with Qaida. So in addition to the promised magic sword and orb he also gives Sioned a magic amulet, which she gives to Greth. (since it was on his wishlist)

The session ends with Estevan telling Sioned that if she’s interested he has another mission for her. He has word of a gate near Jalall that will be usable soon, and he wants Sioned to go through it and explore what profits can be found there. He warns her that he can’t support any more heavy expenses at the moment, so she better bargain better than she did at Jalall. He also warns her that the gate can only be opened for one day, so she and her men had best be back through the gate before it closes.

We will begin the next story, “Pirates of the Spice Isles”, in a large circle of huge stone heads (all facing outwards) with a massive bonfire in the center of the circle…..

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