Baden Burning

Final Session: Baden Burning
The End of the Beginning

Well, there you have it. The PCs pretty much cleaned up, killing not only Sunulael but also pretty much every named evil NPC left in the city, and mounted their heads on the gate. They ushered in a new era of coordinated resistance. Midnight is not a hopeful setting, but there is hope for now.

Thank you all very much. I’ll put up Sunulael’s character sheet, and feel free to come back and visit. I’m very happy that we got the ending that we got – Maeve/Sheila is definitely a game-ender, in a good way.

I may add more, but I feel like we left off on a great note and I’m happy to have shared this experience with you guys.

Act 3 Session 3: The Turn
A big choice

Verrick teleports into the midst of midnight convocation of Shadow, declaring himself High Legate and demanding that members of the Cabal be rounded up, waving High Legate Cerano’s journal in his hand. In the ensuing melee/debate/threat-down, Verrick is struck with a warhammer, beats Legate Idris unconscious, absorbs Legate Cordia’s blows, and ultimately throws himself out his office window and flies away after a failed forgery attempt.

Needless to say, Verrick does not become the High Legate. Not having that particular job is not necessarily a great loss, given what is coming.

The city continues to fall into disarray. Hobgoblins have to usher Orcs through the city just to join the ongoing melee in the Worm Docks, which has essentially been given over to fire and blood.

Dozens, possibly hundreds, rally around Jin’s banner – yes, she has a literal banner made – and they join the fight in droves. Verrick attempts to begin creating new forgeries, sending Maeve to steal paper from the Government House. This does not go well, and Maeve is only saved by the intervention by some Dorn Hill Resistors who happen by, drawn to her screams for help.

Again the various leaders of the Resistance are gathered, this time sailing from the Stone Docks. At least a half-dozen members of the Resistance, including Callan, have been killed or rounded up, and those who remain debate the future of their activity in the city. Many support laying low, enduring the coming reprisals, and then rebuilding in the future.

Led by the PCs, however, they are moved to a very different tactic. They decide to bring the fight to Sunulael, if he comes, and to make Baden’s Bluff the start of a broader rebellion…

Or their grave.

Act 3 Session 2: Dragonrider

With a thumpf of displaced air, Verrick Appeared in the midst of the midnight gathering around the damaged Pale Mirror. Amidst the exclamations of shock he waves a ledger in the air, declares himself the High Legate, and calls for the immediate arrest of members of the Cabal.

With the groan of a thousand overburdened wooden beams, the roof of the Government House gives way beneath the weight of Zaindal the Drake. The massive undead wyvern crashes through floor after floor of the building, crushing dozens of people under it’s bulk, until it finally slams into the stone floor – it buckles beneath the dread weight, but holds. Amidst it’s feeble death-throes, a figure comes loose and crashes into the splintered remains of a storage room.

She staggers to her feet, and then waves her bloody scimitar above her heard. “I am ”/campaigns/baden-burning/characters/jin" class=“wiki-content-link”>Jin of the Dorn Hill Resistors – Dragon-slayer!"

Zaindal unleashes a blast-wave of sound that shatters the Orcs’ ear-drums and windows as far as a block away. It’s prety thus stunned, it alights at the pinnacle of the Spire and leans down to devour them at it’s leisure. There is a grinding sound and two large stones fall from the pinnacle, trailing loops of sharpened chain. Two chains snap taught around Zaindal’s neck and begin sawing in to it’s undead flesh. It tries to jerk free, only tightening the chains, and begins to thrash frantically, seeking how it might loosen the chains.

Verrick returns to his house in Hearthhome to find it being ransacked by Legates led by Denarius, responding to a sudden burst of magic (Verrick’s departure). He teleports into their midst and demands answers. He cows the Soldier Legates who have entered his home, but not Denarius. The two fight, but Verrick’s teleportation takes him by surprise, and he is able to knock Denarius unconscious before he is crushed by his heavy warhammer. Verrick frightens the other Legates into leaving, and then after a brief argument with Denarius, cuts out his tongue, tussels with him again until knocking him unconscious a second time, and then tells the Legates outside to return his body to Idris.

To guards die to arrows loosed in the night, and the next evening, four of their brethren follow them.

Jin and Maeve lead a dozen Dorn Hill Resistors in dragging up first dozens of feet of sharpened chain and then two enormous stone blocks, arranging them at the top of the Spire in a trap Maeve invented – what is, in essence, a huge animal snare. Large enough for a dragon.

Verrick leaps past Jen Almasi and Kenneth as they grapple, the sounds of their fight eerily muffled by Kenneth’s supernatural abilities. He slips into the door to Cerano‘s old chambers and locks it behind him. He immediately sees that his room has been ransacked, and sets about re-ransacking it. He finds some pages and scrolls detailing necromantic research as well as a hidden ledger detailing Cerano’s interactions with other members of the Cabal. He barely escapes Almasi, and teleports into the midst of those gathered for midnight worship at the partially melted Pale Mirror.

Emre and Verrick stretch their political muscles, and find similar information. Lord Werner Darlmark is the likely next ruler of the city, now having no viable competition for the position (in light of the death both of the Prince and the High Legate). Among the Legates themselves, the fight has begun to see who will be High Legate. Of the few who might claim the position, Idris is best positioned to take it, and feels she only needs to eliminate Verrick as a competitor in order to cement her position. Emre counsels Verrick to throw in his support – Verrick has plans of his own.

Underneath all of it is a deeper fear – that things in the city have gotten so bad that Sunulael will have to personally respond to restore order.

Baden’s Bluff is awash in terror and blood. At night, Zaindal hunts above and the sleepless Fell hunt below. Orcs and Goblinkin rule the streets, and public murders are becoming commonplace. Lights are outlawed at night so that Humans and Gnomes are unable to see well enough to be out even if they had legitimate reasons to do so. With a lockdown on trade and martial law declared, there is little legitimate business to be had. The Orcs are in a frenzy in the Worm Docks, Quarries and Steeps, having, from all anyone can tell, declared blood vengeance on everyone.

Messages go out in every direction, demanding support, aid, and reinforcements. The city has, for the most part, ceased to function.

Things are falling apart all around them.

The Ungral Isles
Act 2 Session 5: Yo Ho Ho

Having learned of Verrick‘s manipulation at the hands of High Legate Cerano, the heroes decided to convince both Asa and then with her help Kenneth to accompany them to the Corbran Isles off the coast of Fallport to attempt to intercept, and then sink, five dromons full of Orc soldiers bound for Baden’s Bluff.

Meanwhile, driven by his magical compulsion, Verrick’s desperation to find and betray Kenneth grew steadily, until he was forced to resort to having anyone with a name that is anything like “Kenneth” dragged in for “questioning” and taken before HLC. After a few days of this, HLC withdrew the compulsion – clearly Verrick had done all he possibly could, and had moved to digging in shadowy corners with his bare hands until his fingertips were bloody, looking for Kenneth, unable to think about anything else. Early on in his ordeal, his trial with regard to Legate Philibus went much as planned, resulting in the defendant being mutilated, blinded, and driven out onto the street. As “fate” would have it, Verrick took his position temporarily.

The other heroes sailed out to the Corbran Islands; there they created three fake light-houses which, in a dense fog and rainy weather, misled the dromons off course and into rocky shallows between the Isles. Catching four of them on the rocks, the pirates and Resistance swept in and a brutal battle ensued. Using fire-throwing trebuchets (not to mention Jin-throwing as well) and exploding firework-bolts shot from crossbows, the four pirate vessels, supported by some of the Worm Docks fishing fleet, boarded the dromons. Jin and the Miransil pirate captain led one boarding party, supported by Kendall Hunter shooting exploding bolts into port-holes, and took the undamaged ship after a brutal and protracted battle. Maeve, defended by Cyrus, tore a hole in the hull of another below the waterline while it was engaged with a feinted boarding maneuver; during a similar maneuver, Emre burned a hole in another ship, causing it to erupt in flames and causing maximum casualties. The third foundering ship was taken by a combination of Resistance and Pirates after a protracted battle. The fourth foundering ship was able to break itself free, and was ultimately overtaken and sunk.

Estimates are that nearly 2000 servants of the Shadow were killed. For many of them, the last thing they saw before death took them was a massive fireworks display celebrating another victory for the Dorn Hill Resistors. That same night, during the Hour of Shadow (the hour after midnight), a huge, identical display was set alight in the city of Baden’s Bluff, heralded by scattered cheering throughout the city.

50 of the 200 pirates were killed in the battle, as well as a dozen of the Resistance, including Victor Fausebender, who died defending Tomas Baden so he could continue using his magic throughout the battle, and Asa, who succumbed to accumulated wounds, whose body was found beneath the last Orc she killed, who hacked at her in his death-throes.

Ultimately, Prince Orn Umbar gained five trading vessels to add to his fleet, all of the salvage from five war-dromons taken in battle, and all of the supplies from two of the five trading vessels. The resistance gained all that was on three of the trading vessels, as well as some spoils each was personally able to take from the battle as the opportunity presented itself. Through Jin, a strong contact was made between the Pirate Prince and the Resistance, who both hope to work together again in the future.

As it stands, the plan the heroes have come up with is to try to use Kenneth to lure HLC into the open, and then to ambush HLC and whoever he has with him, killing the High Legate and freeing Verrick from his control. The challenge will be, apart from killing a very powerful spellcaster, to somehow work in the aftermath so that the result of his death isn’t worse than he was in life. There is a significant chance that if HLC is assassinated, one of the Night Kings might be sent to sort things out. Being that they are immortal demigods and the four most powerful servants of Izrador, that would be very bad news.

Many Meetings
Holy crap that's a lot of links!

The heroes return to Baden’s Bluff and return to their lives there, making up for their prolonged absence. Emre is able to expand his trade empire, and of the Gnome Traders he has contact with, one Delwen Todorovich is the only competition at his current level. he spends time in his new bar mind-reading, and also meets the Harbormaster of the Stone Docks, Ioriel, who is an extravagant douchebag with a sinister secret beneath the surface. He joins other traders to lobby The Shining Court in the Baden Court district, and finds that for now at least, in city politics, he is in over his head, and lacks the status to be listened to.

Jin returns to her work as a partner with Kaveh and Cyrus by day, and at night tracks the movement and activity of Zaindal the Drake as it swoops over the city, eating people who break the curfew. She determines that wearing plaid, or clashing colors, seems to deter Zaindal. She also arranged for a number of contraband Watch uniforms make their way into her hands, to assist her in moving around at night.

We return to Verrick being taken into the Temple of Shadow and gets to meet Snaga the Gentle, who over the course of an eternity of agony shows him what his innards look like. Verrick breaks down and does all he can to maintain his cover, but does not now what his screaming and ranting might have revealed. He wakes up in the Tussle House, having lost three full days from his life, and not remembering how his ordeal ended, or how he got there. He has a livid scar down his chest as a reminder. After talking him down from a flashback, Arla Dell lets him know that there is a meeting in the Worm Docks two days hence.

Maeve spends her time haunting the Worm Docks and the Quarries, learning about the city, and at length meets up with Asa, who has taken up leadership of what remains of the Avenging Knives. They agree to work together. For now, Asa’s driving motivation remains revenge on the Orcs. All of them.

The meeting happens out on the Sea of Pelluria, amidst fog and drizzle. The fishing boats are drawn together, and at their center is one Tomas Baden, who introduces himself as well as Colin Tanner. Serge dispels magic on all of the boats, revealing Arla Dell (Areala Duelhe) and himself (Sergoloth) to be Caransil Elves. Maeve and the other heroes are introduced to the others present: Delwen Todorovich and her friend Ebore Arbiter, Kendall Hunter, Cyrus, Niklas Dornill, Victor Fausebender and others dressed as beggars, one of whom is named Ortwin. Along with these named NPCs, there are a couple dozen more NPCs gathered.

Tomas praises the heroes, describes their exploits among the Resistance Outriders, and also explains the heart of their mission – to smuggle magical communication-stones, made by Arla, out of the city so that the attempt can be made to deliver them to other factions resisting Izrador – the Caransil and Erunsil, the southern jungle-dwelling Elves and Halflings, the Sarcosians of the south, as well as the Dorns and Dwarves in the north. If successful, it will be possible for all of these groups to communicate regularly using the stones.

The heroes are also given gifts – Niklas is given a fine battle-axe; Cyrus a collapsible recurve bow; Emre a Legate Bloodstone; Jin a false scrollcase holding three fine javelins; Verrick a book; Callan is given a box of Orcsbane; and afterward, Victor slips Maeve Kenneth’s old knife.

It is revealed, partially, that Verrick was tortured, and that he may have revealed information about the Resistance, but is magically prevented from speaking about it by a “Geas” of some kind. Maeve is tasked with following him without his knowledge.

A great deal of business is resolved between members of the Resistance. At the end of this, there is a large discussion as to how they will sink the troop-ships coming from Fallport (as luck would have it) to Baden’s Bluff. Plans are made, and Emre and Jin are able to convince Reidar Thorolfson to enlist the help of a Pirate and his ‘fleet’ of four ships. Jin is made an “honorary pirate”, and Emre bamboozles Reidar, securing for the Resistance at least 1/2 of the supply cogs, which will contain heavy loads of preserved food, weapons, armor, bolts and arrows, leather, cloth and iron ingots.

Act 2 Session 4
Act 2 Session 3
Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle - spurt.

Spotlight Character: Verrick

The heroes, still working with the resistance outriders, are sent by Gwylael back the way they came to face off against the Hobgoblin Rangers sent to kill them. They choose their ground, hiding archers in the trees and a few melee fighters among them, and then Jin lures them in. Atradees Khoyl challenges her to single combat, and loses because he is shot repeatedly in the back. The ambush begins in earnest, and by the end, 7 more Rangers are dead and Atradees is captured, half-dead. The rest retreat and regroup.

Returning to Gwylael, the heroes hand Atradees over to her, and are taken to have a glimpse of the Green Tears, three clear spring-fed lakes in the center of the forest which constitute a powerful Nexus. Gwylael draws her power from this Nexus, and explained that long ago more elves lived here, and the forest was larger, but that an army came, and she is the only survivor. She firmly believes that she is the last Elf left alive.

With the help of Gwylael and around 30 Trolls, the Hobgoblin army is routed, and outriders are sent out to hunt down any escapees or stragglers. Emre learns a couple of new spells, and the heroes return Baden’s Bluff – at this point, they are more than capable of smuggling themselves in and out of the city.

Meanwhile, Verrick is still held in the Temple of Shadow. He is again put to the question as to what happened outside the city, and he is forced to dig himself deeper by the Inquisitor Legate – he attempts to blame his forgeries on his superior, giving details that only he would know, among other things. At this point, he is able to regain some of his composure, and the Inquisitor seems satisfied.

While listening to Prince Helrion Baden‘s speech delivered in the city center near the Temple, Verrick is caught up in the Avenging Knives’ attack. The Prince is shot with a crossbow bolt that lodges in his armor, and Verrick, under the guise of helping him, drives it through the last bit of plate and kills him. He, two courtiers, the Prince’s corpse, and two Legates are taken back to the Temple to sort things out.

It is unknown what became of some of the Avenging Knives’ members – Asa, Kenneth and Victor Fausebender.

A week later, no one has seen Verrick.

Act 2 Session 2
Intimidation plus Aspergers

The heroes of the resistance and the resistance outriders began the session celebrating their victory in the smoldering ruins of Arwich. They drank, finished off the last of the guards, dueled and divided up the spoils. They have, generally speaking, enough armaments to arm and equip 50 guards – leather armor, spears, short swords, wooden shields and crossbows.

There are also around 40 slaves to deal with – 6 of whom wish to join the Outriders permanently, all of them relatively healthy young adults with a half dozen children that would be used as leverage. The PCs plan to return them to Baden’s Bluff, possibly in Emre’s employ, and to smuggle themselves back into the city.

Maeve rides ahead to scout out the city, slips over the wall and kills a Hobgoblin guard on her way in. She does some listening, and discovers that Atradees Khoyl, the Hobgoblin huntsman, has been sent out with his 35 rangers and 100 Hobgoblin light infantry to find the channeler, or channelers who have been aiding the resistance, and any allies they have with them, and bring back their heads or don’t return at all.

She also finds out about a semi-secret meeting of the Avenging Knives, where Jen Almasi is re-hashing a new version of her failed assassination plan from two years ago, seeking to kill Helrion Baden during a public address to the city. She has 30 supporters from a crowd of 50, and 10 of those are convinced to abandon her by Maeve, who has found herself a new enemy.

She returns and reports, and the heroes and outriders decide to fall back from the overwhelming force facing them to the Trollscarl forest, knowing that channelers cannot be tracked there by Legates, and hoping that the threat of Trolls would keep them away.

During their retreat, Jin leads a group of outriders to skirmish with three ranger scouts, killing two of them and bringing one back to be terrified by Emre’s magic until he gives up details of the Hobgoblin plans. Maeve, unable to restrain her desire for vengeance, kills another three of them on her own. (For those keeping track, that’s down to 29 rangers now left under Atradees).

They meet the Trolls, and are brought before a crazed, naked Caransil Elf (whose name is Gwylael, though she does not introduce herself). She accuses them of lying to her, threatens them very awkwardly, and demonstrates surprising magical powers. Emre notes a powerful flow and accumulation of magical energy near the center of this forest, which this Elven madwoman seems to draw upon. She is able to scry using a piece of mirror she carries with her, and the center of the forest has a distinct topiary feel, with decoratively-placed and arranged trees and plant life.

She makes a deal with them – prove they did not come here leading the Hobgoblins to her, and she will help them deal with them, wanting to kill the Goblinkin either way. She also demands the bloodstone, which she destroys, burying the shards.

Next session will open with a big freaking fight in the forest against some large number of Hobgoblins, hopefully with the help of Trolls.

Act 2 Session 1
Salt in the Wounds

The heroes, having met up with the Resistance Outriders, ride out to their camp, having distributed the stolen goods from Baden’s Bluff. As night falls, scouts come into camp reporting that a small slave caravan of three wagons will be passing by, and they seem to be trying to move quickly and are only lightly guarded by eight mounted guards and the usual two or three Goblin drovers per wagon.

An ambush is set, and Verrick and Emre open up with a mad dash to the front of the caravan, at which point Emre summons a tornado that hurls most of the Goblins out of the wagons and stuns the rest. Slaves in the cages are thrown around as well. They are able to ride out of range before the one Goblin who went through the tornado unscathed is able to hit them with any arrows.

The rest of the Outriders rid down on the caravan, at least two to each mounted guard. Being better riders and more experienced fighters, the Outriders overwhelm the slavers.

Among those set free is an exotic-looking Erenlander who calls herself Maeve. She is headed to Baden’s Bluff, seeking revenge, and is a natural ally to the heroes.

That night, Fariel shares his plans for the region, hoping the heroes will be able to help him accomplish one, or both. One, which is his favorite, involves the three core elements of every Sarcosial plan – cleverness, riding and taunting. He aims to round up a large number of Fell and to lead them to Grifang, one of the Orc fortresses along the Road of Ruin, in the hope that the Fell would swarm the fortress, killing two birds with one proverbial stone.

The other plan, Emre’s favorite, is to infiltrate and sabotage the salt mines west of the city, which are necessary for preserving meat that is sent to the Burning Line to feed the hordes of the Shadow.

The heroes refitted the captured slave caravan, manning it with armed, freed slaves and Sarcosian riders, and separating another group of Sarcosians on horseback to ride in when signaled. They traveled to Arwich along the Road of Salt and Tears and were allowed into the palisade, after Maeve had already taken the time to scout ahead.

Under cover of darkness, the heroes sacked the town, killing all of the guards as well as Legate Insaeros and his two acolytes. A half-dozen of their Sarcosian allies were killed in the fighting, but more than three times that number of enemies were killed. They liberated the slaves held at Arwich and then took their time to collapse the salt mine entrance. They stripped the town of valuables and portable goods and left, fading back out into the grasslands.

With so many involved, it is impossible not to leave a trail, however.

Intermission: While They Are Away

Yet another caravan waylaid is noted in the city, and a few Legate teams are dispatched to investigate the occurrence, which represents the loss of a great deal of supplies, particularly newly-forged weapons and armor for the front.

Within the city itself, the Cerogen family is in an uproar over the relatively recent murder of Lem Cerogen as well as a number of others, and the escape of dozens of slaves into the city. It is obvious that the Resistance is behind the atrocity, and they are being decried among the populace even as they are hunted down. Lem’s sons, Lem Junior and Landon, are gathering their resources to find the killer on their own as well as working through “official” channels.

The days of early summer pass. Some of the Cerogen slaves are located and are punished with whippings and mutilations which do not affect their ability to work in the foundry and smithies. Others are simply taken as losses, and more Halflings are purchased or sent for to replace them.

There are a few copycat attacks on the part of disgruntled slaves and angry members of the populace, but most of these are rounded up.

Word on the street is that they are being held until the next new moon, when there will be a mass execution. Those in tenuous positions, debtors and petty criminals, are encouraged to inform on their neighbors to bring those to be executed up to a large, round number.

When word reaches the authorities of the waylaid supply caravan, it is decided that some kind of threshold has been crossed, and more needs to be done. Atradees Khoyl is sent with a contingent of Hobgoblins and Orcs, as well as his steel-sniffing hounds, to track down those responsible.


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