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In which the benefits of working for the Lord Inquisitor are made plain, and Menander finally proves that he really does know how to use a sword.

A Shortage of Players

I expected to miss session 7 due to being in Perth for SwanCon (which was awesome). However two other players were also unable to make it that week, and three is too few for a combat heavy campaign like this.

As it is, the players for Kalmar and Ferus [1] were away this week, but four is a workable minimum, especially once certain story elements were revealed.

A New Companion

The party is met at the gates of Karinith at Damien’s orders by Kizen Dae, a silverback Kitsune Oracle of Life[2].

Karinith is a heavily militarised version of a classic elven city, built into rather than from the trees, and in concentric circles for defense.

In essence the outer circle is the trade centres, the middle circle is the population, the centre is the military holdfast.

A New Base

Damien has assigned a base[3] to the team located in the inner section of the 2nd circle. The base is mostly underground and includes a dormitory, common areas, workshops for alchemists etc, and even training areas.

Notes in the common areas provide directions to Damien’s “official” office, and also indicate that Kizen can lead the party to where Damien is really located.

Encounters and Engagements

Before reporting in the party deals with necessary business: the sad task of returning Clora’s remains to her temple. It is strongly implied that, by Damien’s will, that a resurrection will be occurring and that Clora will be drafted into another of Damien’s units[4].

Yangrit hears a disturbing rumour from other Oreads in Karinith: a new tunnel has been found in the mostly civilian city of Ryx.

Menander reports in to the Cavalier’s Order of the Shield, and is asked to be an intermediary between the Order and Lord Damien. Menander agrees with reservations, he will not reveal secrets in either direction as he needs to be trusted by both groups. That is acceptable to the Shield, for the moment Menander will only be carrying messages.

Menander also appears to be acquiring something of a reputation amongst the trainees of the Shield. Surviving encounters with the homunculi appears to be fairly rare, and generates some respect. Menander advises the trainees to be polite[5], since that’s what’s been working so far.

Sort of.

Treffen is chased down by Sora, the High Priestess of Nephis in Karinith. Sora proceeds to gush at Treffen[6] and persuades him to show up to the temple before skipping off.

The Briefing

The Lord Inquisitor’s base is, unsurprisingly, deep within the centre ring of Karinith, and also deep underground in a maze of twisty tunnels. These are also tunnels with a number of nasty defences built in – defeating divination spells like Know Direction is the least of them[7].

Kizen has clearly memorised one route, which apparently doesn’t always open, and brought the party to a set of meeting rooms. To one side was Alysia, an Aasimar Witch who is one of Damien’s chief lieutenants. The party were directed into the middle office, where a wounded, exhausted Damien was waiting for them.

Damien’s return to Karinith was apparently even more exciting than the party’s. Apparently there were two pit fiends involved, one was defeated and the other escaped but not before killing the captive shadow angel.

This was an opportunity to obtain a briefing, and Menander asked for precise locations of all the known Faery Circles, and is simply handed a folder with the necessary details.

Treffen sought information on the Holy Council[8], and again received a basic briefing. The one of greatest interest to Menander is Deandra, a sylph responsible for liaisons with the fae and the elementals.

Should Menander succeed in restoring a number of the faery circles, he’s likely to come to her attention sooner or later.

The party received some more background on the first incursion, and a glimpse into exactly why Damien has the 1000-yard stare that he does[9].

The party finds itself in the odd position of encouraging Damien to get some rest. Menander at least backs this up as professional advice, but it isn’t going to happen until after a meeting with Desi.

The party are not invited to that meeting, and instead find themselves being introduced to Alysia’s familiar. This large black cat will be taking messages back and forth to Damien.

Getting Paid and Gearing Up

On returning to base the party finds supplies, cash, and queue jumping notes from Damien to enable them to get gear quickly.

Menander uses this to acquire a set of muleback cords, gets his mithril chain shirt lightly enchanted, acquires a darkwood shield and then pays Treffen to enchant that[10].

Treffen has started coming into his abilities as a mythic crafter, and is producing magic items quickly and at a discount for party members.

After four days, the party heads out to the nearest faery circle.

Temporarily Off Limits

The nearest faery circle is only a day’s travel away. However rather than arrive at nightfall, the party chose to camp two hours march away.

During the night Kizen and Menander encounter the medium black homunculus. It has a message that the meeting between Treffen and the Big Bad is off. The contract is also off, and the homunculi won’t be bothering the party for a while.

The implication here is that the Big Bad isn’t quite ready to openly tackle the Lord Inquisitor. Yet.

Going after the party now would trigger open hostilities that neither is quite ready for. This gives the party a short term reprieve, but this doesn’t actually inspire much confidence in Menander (or anyone else).

Too Clever For Our Own Good

Fighting at night is bad, right? Planning to arrive at the Faery Circle in daylight was a reasonable plan, right?

It turns out: not so much.

Arriving at the circle triggered an attack by some Quicklings, these invisible fast fae initially focussed on Menander but didn’t do too much damage. In the ensuing fight Menander even hit them!

Twice, and one was a mighty blow. Still not as mighty as the blows that Yangrit routinely hands out, but still it was definitely an achievement.

Once the Quicklings were disposed of, Menander repaired the faery circle and Victa cheerfully popped out.

Then the Lurker in Light attacked Yangrit.

The Lurker In Light is a monster that is invisible in bright light. Like, say, daylight.

The party would actually have been better off arriving at night[11]. Well played, Caitlin, well played indeed.

This fight was significantly tougher than the Quicklings, the Lurker had Greater Invisibility and getting hits in required effort. Once Yangrit got those hits in, the lurker went down fast, but getting the hits was the hard part.

The Lurker also hands out strength drain/damage, much to Yangrit’s dismay. It could have been worse though, and Menander was able to use the Heal skill to assist Yangrit in stopping the drain sooner.

After being defeated the Lurker disintegrated into 5 pounds of dust that can be used as holy water against shadows. I suspect that the party should retain at least some of this for future use.

There was also a miser’s mask, and a headband of counterspells located close by.

Summary

A good session, with a good introduction of a new character.

I was wondering how Caitlin would deal with the issue of contract hits on party members.

Once that box is open, it is hard to justify it not happening again.

The Big Bad simply has too many resources for it not to be a casual thing to do. However the implied formal rules of the skirmishing between Damien and the Big Bad works nicely as a justification for the Big Bad calling the hits off.

This isn’t something that the party can rely on, but it does justify a temporary breathing space.

The next session should be interesting – returning to Karinith, getting Yangrit’s strength damage fixed, and probably the first official assignment from Damien.

Snarky Bits Start Here

[1] i.e. The Paladin and the Ninja, and therefore a significant chunk of the front line.
[2] Kizen Dae is Clora’s replacement, and will hopefully prove to be a somewhat less squishy medic.
[3] I suppose that, technically, this means that the party can no longer be described as armed hoboes. I would argue that since the party doesn’t actually own the base that the description is still good.
[4] Game Mechanics Translation: Clora is now an NPC, and will be acquiring Inquisitor levels.
[5] Actually I stole a chapter header from Jhereg by Steven Brust: “There is no substitute for good manners, except fast reflexes.” And then noted that the trainees were unlikely to have fast enough reflexes at this point…
[6] Treffen is an Eldritch Godling descendant of Nephis. If you can’t have the god, he’s probably the next best thing in the world as it currently is…
[7] Yes, Menander checked that.
[8] The GM will be sending a list through at some point, and I’ll post it here for reference later.
[9] Losing a brother to possession by the devils will do  that.
[10] Light encumbrance for the win! Base move of 30, oh how I missed you!
[11] Of course that almost guarantees that if the party does arrive at night next time, there’ll be a lurker in darkness instead. If such exists, but if Caitlin can find the Lurker in Light at such short notice…

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