Session 28 - Manlet Mania
Foreword: Throwback to the immensely entertaining and non-lucrative Evil city adventures of old. Name is reflective of every PC being 5'4" or smaller.
Timekeeping: Session started on the 20/05/2022 and ended on the 22/05/2022. Downtime from 23/05/2022
Vick Sangin - 1/2 O F1/A1 - Short half-orc with exceptional strength
Bolshevik Pillypenny - Gnome T1/I1 - Completely hairless gnome with yellow eyes
Greg Chapel - H C2 - 5' and incredibly fat and bearded Cleric of Globulah
Gilthur Goldburrow - D F1/T1 - Greedy quartzite dwarf with a southern accent
Downtime Adjudication: No downtime to adjudicate - we had all new PCs except for Greg Chapel (who was spreading rumours about the Butchering of Baleah) and Gilthur Goldburrow (who turned up to the session late)
The game opens up with Vick Sangin (former player of Bale Tyrannus) approaching Greg Chapel at the Globulite stall in the Shale Quarter of Thropsford. He claims to have been drawn to the faith during the Blood Moon a few days ago. Convinced that Greg was a part of the Butchering of Baleah for no reason other than a convenient segue into the party and religion. Afterwards, Vick heads to the bureaucratic Assassin's Guild hideout and asks AAMI if there are any high level jobs available. She asks him to wait a moment, on the phone to some friends gossiping, before giving him a task - 200gp to assassinate a religious figure named Barter Gray in the middle echelon of the Shale Quarter. Church of Rasmus.
So he heads over and disguises himself as a peasant. Gets in past the gate and is totally lost on which building belongs to the Church of Rasmus. He asks a goth looking dude for help and the Follower of Ravos rolls above 90 on his reaction - totally happy to aid him. Tells him exactly where to go - the building with the symbol of a 3 eyed ram, and disciples wearing gold robes trimmed with blue filigree.
|Yeah nah mate.
A lot of what followed was social interactions that are hard to document retrospectively - suffice it to say, Vick, who was disguised as "Hugo Boss" found out that the head of the church, Father Dos Antos, created the religion himself, and it's totally a pyramid scheme selling ram oils and has government connections. Father Dos Antos insists that meeting Hugo was a divine stroke of fate by Rasmus himself. So "Hugo" signs a legally binding document to perform 6 months labour in the Ram Fields and before he goes, pleads that he be given the chance to interview the other priests, hoping to find Barter Gray. Dos Antos acquiesces. The other priests palm him off once they find out he signed a contract with Father, but Barter is soon found. He sticks out like a sore thumb. A tall Aussie bloke with a beefy moustache. Sun-tanned and thickly muscled. His priests vestments are actually denim and the sleeves are ripped off.
Anyway, conversation soon not-so-subtly reveals that Barter is up to something. Vick, disguised as Hugo Boss, feigns ignorance and devotion but also is intrigued by the prospect of circumventing 6 months labour. This information won't come free - "Go down to the Swan and Paedo and punch Anlo Gray. Not related."
With this, Vick makes it back to the Swan and Paedo with the rest of the party running amok within. We are introduced to Bolshevik Pillypenny, who is running scams with his dice cups. A peasant calls him out on it, gets angry that he is a gnome, and tries to swing at him. But as Bolshevik was standing on the seat I rule that highest dex goes first (unarmed combat rules) and the gnome just knocks this guy out. He tries to loot the unconscious body but other people inform him this is not what you do in a Good establishment. I think some of this behaviour is that this is an Evil party but also conditioning to not expect consequences built from video-games. Ultimately the inn-keeper gets involved, and all is resolved with drinks for half the tavern. There is a bonding moment between Bolshevik and Vick as they find that not only do they share names, but birthdays.
|Temple of Iron Devotee
The rest of the night is spent checking out suitable areas for their plan.
The next day, the plan is enacted - they send some of the party to act as bait in an alleyway (the "captured" assassin) meanwhile Vick hightails it to the Shale Quarter to try and bring Barter there. He doesn't bite at all and the plan totally fails. A new proposal is given - Vick wants to take Barter for a drink. Barter agrees and gives him some directions to a place in the Slagzone (a microcosm of civilisation within the city - a walled off ghetto where the impoverished and criminals run free). These are: 1. Tip the guards and ask for Old Bones Tones 2. Follow the gate south to the outside wall and knock on the trapdoor in the earth. (Now, I need to mention that at this point, Vick caught a glimpse of a draw full of gold in Barter's office.)
Vick can't help but agree with the location and runs back to the alleyway and rallies his companions - a new plan is hatched. The thieves are going to rob the Church of Rasmus that night while Vick, followed 5 minutes behind by Greg and Fitzpatrick, will go to the 'tavern' Barter suggested. I shall chronicle the two concurrent events separately:
The Robbery of Rasmus
The two thieves, Gilthur Goldburrow and Bolshevik Pillypenny head to the gate to Shale Quarter. On their way they are waylaid by ruffians in waiting in the darkness and robbed of their collective 30gp. When they arrive at the gates and it's dark, they plead "religious reasons" to enter the quarter. The guards are disgruntled by the system but can do naught but allow them to pass.
They creep over to the Church of Rasmus and case the place. No activity. Bolshevik picks the front door and they enter. Heading over to Barter's 'room' they rip up his documents (seeming to detail his enlisted novices) and set about looting. Gilthur straight up tries to open the top locked drawer where Vick said the gold was. He sets off a poison dart trap that he somehow survived and opens it. For his troubles is naught but a note that says "Nice try thief, could use your skills. Meet me in the Slagzone". I note Gilthur's carelessness as an infraction of good thieving principles. After this, the party scours the whole building and finds nothing but "Ram Essential Oils" and pamphlets. Except for the Father's room - which is the only one that has a door...
After a careful inspection for traps and some crafty lock-picking, they are in. At this point they hear numerous voices outside - it sounds like guards. They hide themselves inside Father Dos Antos' room and lock it. They left the front door open, which caused some friction as the players insisted they would have closed it behind them. I don't buy it and rule that it matters too much to not be specified case by case. Anyway, there is a lot of shuffling around but the guards decide to leave and alert their force. The thieves wait 20-30 minutes before lighting a lantern and sussing out the room. It's ornately decorated in ram products - gold filigreed ram's skull, horns, gold-flecked pelt, the whole lot. The desk is a stunning mahogany desk in the royal fashion. This time the players are very suspicious. They do take two of the horns.
They check the drawers from bottom to top. There is a book in one of them. The middle is empty. The top is obviously locked so it gets checked for traps - there is a small dart mounted inside it. They stand to the side and fidget around in there with some bent wire - the dart shoots out and begins dissolving some of the door. Lucky. They can't crack the lock though. So Bolshevik, whose player has shown ingenuity in solving problems as a player in the past, pulls the second draw out and cuts a hole into the bottom of the top drawer with a dagger. Eventually a golden key falls out. It's in a false bottom!
With this, they pile up furniture and papers in the middle of the building, douse it in oil, lead an oil trail to a window they open, and, with Bolshevik on Gilthur's shoulders (since he's too short) lights the oil. At the same instant as this is taking place, they both feel a presence behind them. Right behind them. There is a nondescript man just starting at the building. Nobody heard him approach. His eyes flicker yellow for a moment. The thieves scramble off into the night and the strange man just stays there.
They get back to the gate and are let through - I can't remember how they convinced the guard that they had nothing to do with the report of a robbery in the Church of Rasmus but anyway. Once they are arrive in the Shale Quarter they hike back to the Thieves Guild. It's just like in Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, with trap training, young thieves training, lockboxes etc. They go to Shayla the Fence whose office is full of wild artifacts. They cash in the two horns for 100gp each, ending up with 60gp after the guild's 40% taxation on all earnings. They also inquire about the key to which the fence has no answer... There are many keys in the realm. Something hilarious and epic about this was that the party sent the two
thieves to do a heist (obviously, right?) but the thieves just took the
treasure for themselves! That's gold. For the thieves anyway.
The two then decide they will go back to the Swan and Paedo and reconvene with the party, but we will get back to that.
Vick hikes to the gate to the Slagzone. He says the words he was told "I'm here for Old Bones Tones" and tips a gold coin. They let him through. A house is on fire in the distance. He reflects on the homeliness of this place. He navigates along the north-south wall and sees the trapdoor he was told of. Two sharp raps, a pause, then a hit, and it cracks open upwards. He descends stairs. It shuts behind him and a figure in black leather with a face mask emerges from behind him in a hidden cavity within the stairwell wall. At the bottom, he sees he is in a room with beds, dart boards, crates, and 9-10 men of similar trappings as the previous one. Barter is sitting there in full plate armour with an ornate shield next to him. What follows is a strange interaction that I will summarise:
- Barter is trying to rob Father Dos Antos - suspects he has a huge mother-load.
- Barter wants Vick (Hugo Boss) to help him in this
Now, during the chat, a guardsman in robes came and informed them that a short fat man tried to use the code to get in. This was Greg Chapel. But he stuffed it up! With such audaciousness too. Somehow this was perfect. The fat man fled back the Shale Quarter, and I estimated this would be similar timing to the thieves return. As per the Burroughs rule, they collide. At the same time as a random encounter - with a guard patrol! Bolshevik casts Wall of Fog at the guards and the party all flee to the Shale Quarter, which is just where the thieves came from. Anlo was with that patrol and is hot on their heels - while they are bickering at the gate with the guard, they are surrounded. Bolshevik flees into the dark streets while the rest of the party surrenders. They are let off and Anlo puts a hit out on Bolshevik. Meanwhile Bolshevik passes by a weird owl cult worshiping a totem in a
dark alleyway. He also runs into guards afterwards and he gets a good
reaction check (they aren't the same guards) and informs them of the
strange people. Afterwards he retreats to the Thieves Guild and lays low. The rest of the party made it to the Globulite tent.
Simultaneously, Vick is let out by Barter and a group of his men trail him. When he almost gets to the Swan and Paedo, a group of ruffians waylay him. Barter's men turn from prisoners to guards as they assault these scoundrels and a street fight breaks out. The lantern bearer falls and in the darkness Vick charges past them all. He doffs his disguise, and halls ass to the Assassin's Guild. On the way he passes by a tall robed man teaching some robed students. The tall man looks at him and grins. Vick's world shimmers around him and he is transported to a beautiful natural locale - then a huge eyeball closes him up and reopens with him standing before the man. The man winks at him and shoos him away. Vick makes it back to the Assassin's Guild and writes up his report - noting his failure and also omitting the heist he sent the thieves on.
Eventually, everybody except Bolshevik had regrouped at the Globulite stall where Greg, who is paranoid about all the heat flowing his way, is making some drastic changes. He's shaved off his beard and is having some personal training from Fitzpatrick. He's going to "become" Finin O'Conaghain, his deceased companion. Get some pigskin elf ears made up or something.
At this point it was midnight or something. I'm waiting for it to end while the party insists on having a suss of this book they got. It's totally blank. They put blood on it (because of course?) and nothing. They hold it up to light - nothing. Their final musings are that magic is probably involved and also that they need to get the heck out of the city.
Treasure & XP:
Gilthur - 60gp, 100xp
Character Performance Ratings:
Vick Sangin - E - Good use of Assassin disguise abilities. In reflection, I found his appreciation and respect of the Guild bureaucracy very Lawful - particularly in how he expressed disdain for the two thieves in the party burning down a building and attracting attention. Nice touch.
Bolshevik Pillypenny - E - Very clever dissection of stimulus. Good use of thief abilities.
Greg Chapel - E - Not ample opportunity to demonstrate clerical ability.
Downtime Requests: Vick will be self adjudicating assassination jobs.