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In which there are many discussions with chronomancer(s)[1], the Holy Council, and the party “accepts”[2] an “interesting”[3] commission from the council.

18.1 Menander did not appear in that film

I missed session 18, and the key event was the party fighting more of the mummies of the deep for the entertainment of the Holy Council. The party also spent some time talking to a Sea Hag that was part of the defence systems but trapped in a cage.

A new character, Pyren the Ranger, was introduced by the Chronomancer dropping him off with a “This will help”.

The plot explanation for Menander’s absence from the combat was that he stayed on the boat monitoring the duration of the water breathing spells.

19.1 Crossing the Lake

Once the party returned to the boat, it started heading across the lake to the Mages Castle. This was an interesting trip given that the entire Holy Council was onboard and being relatively informal.

The high points of this would be:

  • Deandra dressing down Nieth
  • The presence of an Oread known to be the head of the community in Ryx. Ivana will be the new Council Member, and was the cohort of the previous council member.
  • Gina, the Kitsune Ninja, discusses the fight and possible training with Ferus
  • Nieth is looking to experiment on both Kizen’s and Ferus’ fur. Neither is particularly impressed by this.
  • Treffen demonstrates the colour changing effect of prestidigitation on the flowers in Ferus’ tail. A colour war promptly starts amongst the arcane casters.
  • The human rogue Sara expresses interest in the Lich Lord
  • Sonya, the High Priestess of Iomedae, mentions a prophecy involving the Shield of the Sun, a paladin, and a gold dragon[4]. Speaking of which, Sonya also has a brief chat with the aforementioned gold dragon Solaris.
  • Azar, the Halfling bard, spends a chunk of time asking Menander to relate the party’s adventures in appropriate style[5]. Several members of the council end up listening in at various points.
  • Damien throws Nieth off the boat[6].
  • This leads into discussions of the Holy Council’s history as an adventuring party prior to the apocalypse

19.2 Back to the Defence Chamber

On arrival at the island the party is met by the librarian as the council heads off somewhere else. Daffyd thinks it is possible to restore both Treffen to his normal age, and the missing tower to the castle. On this basis Daffyd leads the party back to the defence chamber.

During this period some persuasion[7] was needed to prevent Kalmar from attacking the librarian. That would have ended… badly.

On Daffyd’s advice Treffen turns one of the cogs.

Time freezes for everyone except Treffen who has an… interesting chat to the female Chronomancer. Treffen is restored to his normal age, the Chronomancer disappears, and time restarts.

Daffyd believes that this should have restored the tower.

Kalmar, who hasn’t had much to do with the Chronomancers, and is somewhat sceptical of their powers, asks out loud why they didn’t prevent the apocalypse.

The female Chronomancer then pops in to explain why. There are limits to the changes that can be made whilst still preserving the tapestry of time. The party has the potential to be an anchoring thread for the timeline.

The Chronomancer does have an interesting side comment to Kalmar: “Your third death is a little messy, don’t worry about it, it gets fixed.”[8]

Menander asks if there are prophecies affecting other characters. The Chronomancers have left a book in the party’s base discussing these. However, it will only become readable when necessary.[9]

The Chronomancer also calls in Victa. After some discussion Victa turns Kizen’s fur to a silver/chrome colour. Victa wanted other colours[10], but was persuaded to settle for sparkly silver.

19.3 VIcta’s Grove

It turns out that Victa can invite people into a Faery Grove connected to the circles. This is running on Narnia time, and allows the party to rest for 8 hours or so without using time in the real world.

The grove is, well, psychedelic at best: lavender willow trees, emerald sky, sapphire blue glass[11]. The trees have faces and can talk in Sylvan.

Whilst chatting to trees Menander meets a faery dragon named “Graceful as a butterfly yet strong as a tempest”[12] that Menander abbreviates to Stormwind.

It appears that the grotto was damaged in the apocalypse, but has recovered since, partly due to Menander’s repair work on the faery circles.

There are other faery dragons about who know prestidigitation so Treffen shows them how to mess with the flowers in Ferus’ tail[13].

Menander asks about the other faery circles. There shouldn’t be any major dangers associated with these beyond the tracking stones. There would be dark fae at some of them.

Treffen asks Victa about the Big Bad. Victa doesn’t like him or her[14], and can’t help the party identify the Big Bad. Natura might be able to help, and is currently on the island with Deandra.

The party can also use the faery circles to teleport between circles, and the flowers in Ferus’ tail can activate the circles.

On returning to the defence chamber Stormwind is in Menander’s backpack.

20.1 Refugees from the Past

The Tower has indeed returned, although the rooms connecting the castle to the tower are… iffy.

A couple of students from before the Apocalypse have been discovered. The two students are a human and an elf. They were essentially caught between moments so have skipped hundreds of years in a blink.

The human is not handling the new world. Menander tries to cushion the blow but eventually quietly asks if he would be better off back in his own time. Menander at this point meets a Chronomancer resembling a child who says that, yes, he can do it but at the price of memories.

The human won’t remember anything of the new world[15], and no one else except Menander in this time will remember that he was here. The human takes the offer and disappears back to his own time.

The Chronomancer also offers help, maybe, to the party depending on the circumstances.

The elf, Nara, is happy to remain, and is also studying time magic, but doesn’t want to practice it[16]. Nara has also met a scion of Abraxis (Chaotic Evil god of Magic) and recognises Treffen as similar. Nara mentions that there used to be a group that tracked godlings, and that they may now be the holy council.

20.2 To the centre of the Castle

Nara has been to the centre of the castle[17], and can take the party there with the permission of the Chronomancers. Nara leads the party to the depths of the castle via a staircase in the library.

There is a pillar of multi-coloured light in this room, and Nara warns the party that detecting magic here would not be wise. Nara also remembers the creation of the homunculi but not who[18]. This was in the context of discussing the party’s activities and relative levels of insanity[19].

At this point Treffen considers doing something in the room. Three voices immediately say: “Please don’t”

Treffen is offered the chance to become a Chronomancer at this point, but at the cost of his personality. The stone given to Treffen earlier is the first step towards Chronomancy.

20.3 The Holy Council

On returning to the library the party are summoned to the council meeting. All weapons are surrendered, and all magic bound prior to entering the chamber[20].

The questioning by the council covered some interesting topics:

  1. Menander was asked about the conversations with the Homonculi
  2. Treffen about his dealings with the Son of the Prince, and about the construction of magic items
  3. Ferus about his experiences with the group
  4. Yangrit about the party’s commitment to fighting the devils
  5. Kizen reported on the loyalties and activities of each member of the party

Treffen questioned the sanity of meeting in this building.

The party was then asked if they were willing to die for the Council. A variety of answers were given seeking either justification or alternatives, but nevertheless expressing basic loyalty.

Outside the chamber the party started talking to the various artifacts owned by the Council. It seems that the council members also disarm before entering the chamber.

Yangrit spoke to the Ancestral Earthbreaker belonging to Ivana

Menander spoke to Natura, and was told to talk to Natura again after receiving an offer from the council.

Luciana’s cloak isn’t here, and the other artifacts miss it.

20.4 The Mission

Back in the chamber the party are asked to accompany Kali on a mission, but no details will be provided until the party accepts.

Which, naturally, the party does[21].

The party will be leading a forward reconnaissance base in the hellscape. Kali, Lorena, and Eric will be there as distractions, but ultimately the party will be the main leaders. The trio will be “reporting” to the party.

Transportation will be via Kali, teleports are unreliable.

There is also mention of a fortress filled with glowing, shining, people of various colours out there. Mosaic mages in other words, but the rumour is centuries old.

Fermin will provide a full briefing on the area.

Natura will be accompanying Menander. Natura also plays around with Kizen’s fur before settling on chrome.

The party meets up with Lorena, Eric, and Kali before returning to Karinith.

21.1 Chains of Command and Next of Kin

The first piece of this session was to set up some housekeeping. Specifically the chain of command within the party, and who has authority to act for a character when that character is incapacitated.

This played out as follows:

  1. Kizen is technically the leader, and nominates Menander
  2. Menander is the tactical leader, and nominates Kizen
  3. Treffen nominates Kizen
  4. Kalmar nominates Yangrit
  5. Ferus nominates Treffen
  6. Yangrit nominates Menander

21.2 Gearing Up

The party then spent about a week recruiting troops, and preparing gear. In summary:

  • Treffen makes stuff for the party
  • Kalmar recruits Saella, who is again a paladin and now has wings
  • Treffen recruits Desi, and three other tieflings (638, 752 (a young girl[22]), and 362 (her mother))
  • Menander recruits a unit of fighters from the Order of the Shield
  • Treffen recruits a bunch of goblin alchemists[23], possibly from Pyro’s clan
  • Kizen reports on progress to Alyssa
  • Treffen visits the Temple of Nephys to recruit spellcasters and also receives a gift of a scroll of True Resurrection
  • Menander finds out that Natura has an experiment in mind about returning the hellscape to normal. Natura advises the party to be wary of those that aren’t what they appear to be.
  • Yangrit recruits a bunch of tradesfolk/engineers/smiths etc from the Temple of Torag
  • The Commander of the Gorumites sends along 50 Gorumites.

21.3 Be Careful Who You Ask For Advice

Menander asks for advice from the Chronomancers. He gets it, but it isn’t particularly reassuring:

  • Menander may be forced to make a difficult choice.
  • Sometimes what is best for all is not what is best for one person
  • The council’s question about being willing to die was asked seriously
  • There are several timelines where not all of the party return from this mission
  • There are likely to be artifacts for each of the party members, and prophecies affecting most of them
  • Be careful of the one walking the knife edge.

At this point text is starting to appear on the scroll of possible prophecies left by the chronomancers, but it is still too faint to be read.

21.4 Getting There

After finalising the arrangements with Kali, the smallish army sets off.

Kali flies there with Ferus, Kizen, and Yangrit on board Libertas. This exciting flight is perhaps a little too exciting for Ferus.

Once the powerhouses arrive a massive, one-off teleportation circle is organised with Menander, Treffen, and Kalmar walking through.

21.5 Setting up

The base is primarily underground, which given the hellscape (and the seven visible hellgates) is something of a relief.

What isn’t a relief is the mixture of chaos, law, and evil in the magical setting. The current location is, essentially, a planar merging of the Maelstrom and Hell.

All magic requires concentration checks, and even then may get wonky.

This is when Natura asks to be planted, and watered, just above the centre of the underground base. This causes growth of natural greenery over about a 1 mile radius. There is a grove of massive trees at the centre.

Menander creates a new faery circle in the centre of the grove, and Victa connects it to his grove. This will provide a source of emergency healing/resting (noting that only those without malicious intent can enter Victa’s grove).

Within the grove, the flow of magic is now normal, which is something of a relief.

The trees themselves are the symbols of gods, and worshippers are drawn to the relevant trees, including one Neutral Evil god.

The trees appear to be sources of divine magic, whilst Natura (and the grove) are arcane.

Summary

This was a good set of expository sessions that build the world, and set the plot.

Unfortunately I missed the next session due to illness, and thereby missed out on a whole bunch of interesting stuff. I do however have an email summary that I’ll be editing and posting as a guest post.

The Very Many Snarky Bits

[1] It’s…complicated. There might be three. There might be a collective.

[2] And by “accepts” I mean “steers for the sound of the guns, er, plot”.

[3] To quote Makoto Mizuhara from El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, “We’re gonna die”.

[4] I wonder WHO that could POSSIBLY be referring to.

[5] Menander is a Bard (among other things) after all.

[6] Apparently Damien isn’t all that impressed by the Mages Castle.

[7] Mostly self-persuasion to be fair.

[8] Note to self: do not ask rude questions of Chronomancers. They can take revenge by throwing out nasty hints.

[9] So, not a massive hint, but Menander will take what intelligence he can get…

[10] Given that Kizen’s prefence is for white or black the alternatives were much worse from Kizen’s perspective.

[11] This explains Victa’s preferences for Kizen’s fur colour…

[12] It probably loses something in translation from Sylvan.

[13] You may be detecting a running gag here on Treffen’s part…

[14] It changes apparently.

[15] Whether this is a price or a hidden bonus is debatable.

[16] This is a wise choice.

[17] I note with some amusement that this is where Nieth is trying to get to without asking permission. Probably best if the party doesn’t discuss this with Nieth.

[18] There’s been some meddling going on here I think.

[19] It has to be said that this is something of a fair cop.

[20] If you’re effectively running a war against Asmodeus, a certain level of paranoia is justifiable.

[21] Hello! Gigantic neon flashing plot hook! Of COURSE the party was going to bite on it. See previous discussion with Nara re the party’s relative levels of insanity.

[22] Likely to be Ferus’ cohort should he acquire leadership.

[23] What could possibly go wrong? BOOM! Oh. That.