Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Tears of Vummor Session 55: The Snout is Out (Shepard's Bad Day)

-Starting in their apartment, the party decided to head down to the tavern to give Dorcas, who was still feeling strange after her mysterious encounter outside of the Keep, some time to rest. 
[At this point Jenn realized the Zarn, warrior-cat of New Ulthar, was actually just the size of a large housecat and not way bigger. Even though his size was mentioned regularly. This led to a very important ranking of the party by size, just so we all knew: Grolt (8'), Shepard (6'), Ingrid (5'11"), Sheila (5'9"), Dorcas (5'8"), Ymanie (5'8"), Calai (5'6"), Oardale (3' at shoulder), Nimy (2' 4"), Zarn (13" at shoulder), Razzi (8").]

-Given the recent influx of people ushered into the Keep in anticipation of the siege, the tavern was packed. The crowd seemed somewhat indifferent toward the party; their attention was focused on someone telling a story at the bar. As they got closer, they heard a man spinning a yarn about their adventure defeating the entire village of Underdark-bee reanimated zombies from Diggstown. It was George ("George isn't the NPC we need, but he's the NPC we deserve" -Jamie), and as always George was stoked to see the ladies of the Sparagmos-Fweedom Collective. They bought him a honey mead and caught up. Between the unreliability of lumber work at Malaga (due to the mysterious elf attacks on loggers in the Tanglewood) and the boredom inherent in a backwater like Old Bend, George decided to strike out North and check out the Keep in search of excitement. There was some discussion afterward of hiring George on as their hype man.

-Realizing they forgot to loot the tent of the bounty hunters they had arrested last session, the party went out to the crowded courtyard. Two teenagers were spotted leaving the tent with a few handfuls of items, but they dropped them and ran when confronted. Inside, the tent had been ransacked and picked over, but they found some gold and a small black box amongst the things the teens were carrying. The box appeared to be trapped, so it was decided Dorcas should examine it before someone got hurt. They headed home.

-The party met up with the Curate Roderick (and Acolyte Peter) outside of their apartment. Upstairs, Roderick questioned Dorcas about her encounter. She didn't reveal much information and refused to let him inspect her. She agreed to let him check for any magic or curses, however, and he found none. Shepard tried to wink at Peter, which confused him, and then Roderick left to resume preparations for the siege. The party questioned Dorcas after the cleric left, demanding answers. She revealed that something important was happening, but she couldn't talk about it for fear it would change the course of things in an unfavorable way. The party were not comfortable with this, but Grolt stood beside Dorcas and argued that she should be trusted. The party eventually came around, but several members remained wary.

-Dorcas easily bypassed the needle trap on the box and opened it, revealing eight blowdarts tipped with a paralysis poison. Grolt agreed to carve her a blowgun, but only if she vowed to use non-lethal darts with it.

-Shepard spent some time working out a plan for her new goatmilk business and ate some of the dwindling belly meat from the big pink bounty hunter she killed outside of Diggstown. She immediately felt weak, nauseous, and developed a terrible toothache, so she decided to lay down.

-There was a tap at the window, and Nimy looked up to see a flash of the strange halfling outside before he climbed away. On the windowsill outside was a note addressed to Nimy tied to a small jar. 

-Carefully opening the window and seeing that the halfling was gone, Dorcas cut the note from the jar and handed it to Nimy. It read "Your skin is dry. Use this. -An Admirer". 

-While the party looked over the note, Ymanie picked up the jar and opened it. She claimed it was just lotion. The party told her to put it down and she complied. While the party discussed what to do about Nimy's stalker, Ymanie picked it back up and applied some of the lotion to her skin. It smelled like honeysuckle, and seemed to be nothing more than skin lotion--a fine one at that.

Shepard: On her way.
-After a while, Dorcas noticed something strange about Shepard; not only did her corpse-scent double in intensity, but her face changed. She now had a short, almost canine snout, complete with sharp teeth. Yeenoghu's curse continued to grow worse. Shepard put a scarf around her face and ran down to the trader and purchased a black veil, which he claimed was imported all the way from far Yoon-Suin. Despite the awesomeness of the hat/veil combo, Shepard was distraught, and the party decided to head back to the tavern to get drunk.

-At the bar, Shepard decided to order a White Tarnisian (liquor and goat milk) in an attempt to drive up demand for goat milk at the bar. It didn't seem to work very well, and after buying a round for a few patrons the reception was mixed. 

-A hard-looking Northern woman sat next to Shepard at the bar and struck up a conversation, claiming how comforting it was to hear a Fafhrd accent this far across New Solinheim. She introduced herself as Otlaka, a mercenary who came to the Borderlands seeking fortune at the Caves of Chaos. Upon finding them plundered, she came to the Keep hearing Lord Barenor was paying well for sell-swords who could bolster the ranks once word got out the Blood Face was on their way. The two split a round of White Tarnsians, and Otlaka casually invited Shepard back to her tent for some privacy. Needing something to get her mind off the curse, Shepard agreed.

-Knowing better than to let their impulsive friend go off alone with a stranger, Dorcas and Nimy snuck out after her. While hiding in the shadows outside, the strange halfling appeared on the wall above Nimy and asked if she tried the lotion yet. He was gone before the two could do anything.

-Inside of the tent, Shepard cautiously explained that something was wrong with her face, but Otlaka said it didn't matter, lifted her veil and kissed her. That was the last thing she remembered, as a blow dart hit her in the neck and she was knocked unconscious.

-Dorcas crept close to the tent and heard Otlaka making plans with a man named Pico and a halfling woman on how to smuggle Shepard out of the Keep. She snuck back to Nimy, who watched from nearby, and they came up with a plan to rescue Shepard. Dorcas moved silently back to the tent and waited, Scalpel in hand. Nimy threw a rock at the tent and started yelling, which prompted Otlaka to open the tent flap. Nimy concocted a story about Otlaka stealing something from her at the bar, and that she needed to come out and deal with her. Otlaka, remembering Nimy as one of Shepard's companions, explained that what she and Shepard were doing was between them, and that if Nimy and Shepard had a thing going that was up to them to work out. She advised that Nimy move along, but Nimy refused. With a sigh, Otlaka grabbed her sword and stepped out of the tent. Dorcas struck from behind, driving her thin blade through the warrior's throat and killing her instantly. Inside, a woman's voice commanded Pico to engage the attackers. He stepped outside and was swiftly dispatched by Dorcas. After entering they found the halfling had escaped through a small gash at the back of the tent. She had slipped off into the temporary tent city lining the streets of the Keep.

-Nimy and Dorcas took the unconscious Shepard back to the apartment. Ingrid and Grolt alerted the guards. Shepard slowly regained her senses and was majorly bummed.

-Since it was close to midnight, the party decided to settle in and listen to the third prophecy the mouth in Ingrid's hand would reveal. She unwrapped it, and it released a foul torrent of nonsensical profanity, but then quieted down and whispered "When the Bloodface arrives The Hand of Peace shall bear a false smile." It began screaming curses again, and Ingrid quickly wrapped it back up. Grolt was distressed by this, as the enclave of mongrelfolk they met named him as Meriadar's prophesied Hand of Peace. He expressed concerns that the impending battle was awakening impulses inherent in his bugbear nature that the teachings of Meriadar had helped suppress, and that this prophecy somehow meant that his baser nature would lead to him betraying those he cared for. The party talked him down, suggesting that perhaps it merely suggested he could move freely amongst the Bloodface as a spy when they arrived.

-Cries erupted outside; the party investigated and heard a great deal of commotion on the Keep's outer walls. A passing group of guards said the Keep was under attack, so the party headed out to investigate. Shepard remained behind, still feeling groggy from the poisoned dart.

-On the walls, black-clad bugbears were clashing with the guards. The party engaged on the southeastern wall and soon realized the bugbears were fighting while goblins snuck around.

-Shepard saw what was happening and headed out, running through the inner bailey and ascending to the northeastern wall. She killed a bugbear, noting the silver-embossed ghost on his leather armor. She realized this was the Wraithblood, a part of the Bloodface's advance force. Soon Roderick and Peter joined her in fighting the other bugbears.

-To the south, the rest of the party watched as a goblin (they now knew this was one of the Night Roaches, the other part of the Bloodface's advance force) planted something resembling a cluster of crystals above the main gate. Remembering Ingrid's first mouth-hand prophecy ("The Night Roaches bear poison/five explosions set to delay"), they realized the Night Roaches were planting bombs while the Wraithblood kept the guards busy.

-To the north, the bugbears pressed hard, killing several guards and severely wounding Roderick. Shepard and Peter struggled with the Wraithblood. Still lightheaded from being drugged, Shepard missed, and the bugbear nearly knocked Peter off the wall. The next round, he did just that, and Shepard watched in horror as her once-slampiece fell to the ground. With a scream, she charged and cleaved the Wraithblood's head in two.

-To the south, the party pushed back the Wraithblood and engaged with the Night Roaches. They killed one and drove off another one, which wore a dark cloak and had the ability to spider climb. Clearing that part of the wall, they found the crystal device and threw it off outside the Keep's walls.

-Meanwhile, Shepard abandoned the battle and ran down to check on Peter. He was barely alive, coughing up blood. She gave him a health potion and he slipped into unconsciousness.