Campaign of the Month: January 2008

A Deadly Affair

The Spring Festival
and the Dark Signs that Follow

Matters of Property (BrieCS)

Gräfin Ursula Mannpurtz has been spending a lot of her time working on business for the development of Far Point, much of it leading to her exhaustion, but it is primarily coming to fruition. She spoke to Inquisitor Merrennin Greenbeard whom she had worked with in the past (in the Deepwell murder investigations) about some of his relations coming to work with her miners in Far Point. As very talented gnome sappers, the team would blow away the permafrost and rock preventing her dwarven miners from mining out the diamonds.

She also commissioned a boat from Duke Francis Deepwell, hired a number of sailors and a captain, and many workers for Far Point. In a spur of inspiration, she posted a request at the Church of the Protector for any down-on-their-luck tradesmen to come to her scribe to see if they were a proper fit to be given properties in Far Point. The offer was well-received by a small group, and Ursula is hoping that this – combined with other efforts – will bring more lustre to Far Point.

She also spoke to the High Priest of Pact at the Church of the Nord about building a temple in Far Point, inviting their blessing on the new developments. She also spoke to some of the people at the University of the Archmage about bringing some of their more daring researchers to the Keep in Far Point.

Leg Work (jimtheduckie)

With his absolution achieved, his brain went into overdrive planning out his immediate future. Doing some VERY dirty leg work, he was able to track down the story of the man who sold him the sword, along with information about his unfortunate demise and the man who now held the 600g purse. Accompanied by Tobias, Terasian Goldbraid stole into the house, killed a sleeping guard, then made a fantastic attempt at stealth making his way upstairs, succeeding in alerting his target of his presence. Failing to impersonate the deceased guard led to a sword fight. Using the dark house to it’s fullest advantage though, the two rogues were able to slay the man, and his remaining cohorts, not feeling particularly confident, fled the scene. To the victors, spoils included the majority of his gold back, a magic dagger and a young girl bound up on a floor mat. The last of these he decided not to keep, and instead freed her and motioned for her to go home. Forced sex, after all, isn’t nearly as satisfying as sleeping with someone who thinks you’re a prince.

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Moving On
a new day, a new plot

Success at Last (Mousetrap)

Maurissen Blacktooth was invited to be the representative of her Collective in Pact. On a whim, she decided not to mention that Pact most likely had a higher-ranking member of Blacktooth already living there, and accepted the invitation openly. She slowly became a staple of the court’s politics, and phased out her heavy use of illusion magic entirely. Even when the Blacktooth’s representative did notice her position, he was esctatic instead of angry – they’d never before been represented in the royal court of Archos. Her opening night as a performer in Blackwash was received well, her arduous singing lessons paying off.

Noble Considerations (BrieCS)

When they returned to Pact, Ursula was rewarded by the King with a Keep at Far Point, and the accompanying title of Earl. She was terribly excited by the idea, and made immediate plans to go to the Keep with surveyors.

The land at Far Point was like a blank canvas, expansive and cold. There were mountains and plains and a shore with a village. When Ursula reached it, she was in awe of it’s fantastic possibilities. Her surveyors discovered that the mountains had great possibilities for diamond mining, and she commissioned Dwarven miners from the Valley of the Nord, as well as stonecutters, general labourers, carpenters, and numerous other talented workers to begin cleaning up Far Point and develop it to it’s full potential – nearly doubling the population of the small fishing village.

She arranged for work to be done at specific times throughout the year for all elements of the keep – new cooks and feasts, new guards, and architects and engineers to plan developments for the keep. Not only does she intend to enlarge the keep and build lodgehouses, but she intends to mine for diamonds and work out a trade agreement with New Andar that is more beneficial than their other diamond trades. She also intends to open the High Pass, with the help of Damien Ortra (the Black Judge).

Strange Reunions (jimtheduckie)

Arriving in Pact proved once again that teleports are not reliable. Terasian Goldbraid and Lady Adalia and the horse found themselves inside the attic of a poor tavern. After a rather uncomfortable period of time, a set of carpenters built a ramp for the horse to come down, and lured it down with a carrot. Finding himself in “Mud Valley”, the slums of the city, he made haste to get to somewhere that didn’t look like it would tear him apart as soon as night fell. Terasian was approached by a “salesman” with a cart, which held a fine magical longsword. He didn’t think twice of buying it for a mere 600 gold, though Adalia questioned how such a poor man could come across something worth so much.

Terasian found his way to Naufin Mannpurtz, whom he was told to speak with. Shortly after introductions were made in the inn, none other than Stavron Murra walked in the exact same door. A short discussion between Stavron and Naufin resulted in the Earl leaving the premise, though learning for the first time that Adalia was missing from home, he was undoubtedly suspicious of the Elf. If that coincidence wasn’t enough, Reynard, in the form of a bizarre foreigner, sat down beside Ter after the encounter, asking him how he was doing. Fearing that he might have been caught, he chatted pleasantly with the doppleganger, and learned that after leaving Blackwash the city became a hellhole, and that Reynard had made off with a sizable portion of his foolish “family’s” gold. Glad to see no direct harm was inevitable, he began plotting once again to use the doppleganger’s talents to their fullest.

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Risks and Rewards
The Death of Duke Reece Murra

A Tangled Web (BrieCS)

When Ursula arrived in Pact, she was fully prepared to accept the consequences of her actions, although still mentally struggling with what she had done. Killing a man in combat was one thing, but that had been murder, and she felt such regret. It hadn’t even been that man’s choice to be there, not to her knowledge – he was likely just following orders. It was unfortunate, and it added to her disappointment over having to hit Adalia. However, there were too many things to be done.

She went to the gate of the Fifth Keep, ensuring that the items obtained from the Duke‘s lab were safe in her possession, and asked to see the King. When this was refused, she asked to see her sister, and was redirected to the inn where Gräfin Naufin Mannpurtz was staying. When she arrived there, she was attacked by guards wearing the livery of House Murra. She avoided an altercation with them as easily as she was able, then she went to wait by her sister’s room. While waiting, she heard shouts downstairs, and her sister’s voice, so she ran down to witness the men attacking her sister, and her sister nearly dead.

She helped to dispatch the men, then assisted her sister before patting the men down. She found a death warrant concealed on one of the men and stamped with the three-masted ship of the House Deepwell. She pocketed it, and shortly thereafter was rushed to see to the King.

When introduced to the Council of Ministers, she set out all of the pieces of evidence and told her story. It was long, and arduous, but she was entirely honest, even admitting to the murder of the guard and hitting Adalia, She poured out the entire story, showing books with footnotes the Duke of Blackwash had written (handily translated by Sarth Grimjaw) about sacrifices, necromancy, and numerous other unsavoury things, as well as a series of potions (one of which was the Lich potion).

After the evidence against Duke Murra had been heard, she had one last note to address: the death warrant for her sister, sealed with the crest of House Deepwell. Duke Deepwell got took great offense, but Ursula stated that she did not believe that he had been the one who did it. At that point, Duke Deepwell’s son admitted to the crime – he had done it in some vengeful spirit to attempt to incriminate Duke Murra while repaying House Mannpurtz for their perceived betrayal (Gregory Mannpurtz’s marriage to the granddaughter of Earl Stavron Murra).

After the meeting, the King arranged for Ursula to go with the group of Inquisitors to bring the Duke of Blackwash to justice and prepare the way for the King’s occupying force.

A Thread Apart (jimtheduckie)

While in the city of Brightstar, Terasian Goldbraid held no coin back as he brought both Adalia and himself back into proper noble living arangements and attire. However in the process, the particularly entrepreneurial tailor who made their new clothes tickled Ter the wrong way, and he was quick to plan against the wealthy merchant. He also communicated via magical means with Ursula, and set his next destination for Pact. He did make a side trip back to his home city to touch base with his brethren. After paying his way through the ranks (“his fingers are lined with platinum!”) he spoke with the guild master, who was particularly impressed with the Pyramid scheme, and that humans were foolish enough to fall for it. As a result, Teresian was immediately promoted to the Guild Council, and given a sizable increase in wealth.

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Requiem for a Dream
After the Wedding

Calm in the Storm (BrieCS)

The night of the wedding, after the Duke had hurriedly chased everyone from the palace, Ursula walked leisurely to the shop of Valen Tydrom, where she insisted he come along with her to the Capital, and that he bring the items that he had obtained so tidily from the Duke’s lab. They stayed out of the way of the guards until morning, when they went to the Tower of the Archmage to teleport to Pact.

The Small Hours (Liam Rothspar)

The hours following the end of Ursula’s brother’s wedding were hectic, to say the least, and as much activity as the University of the Archmage had seen since one wizard pupil had decided to summon a pet imp and instead brought forth a hell-hound into a far-too-small circle of protection.

Around 2 of the clock following midnight, the Duke had his guards usher everyone brusquely from his palace, with no chance for Liam to slip into the caverns beneath the palace to deal with the Caller in the Dark. His apprentice, while “walking his familiar”, noted that the lich potion was missing. Within 15 minutes of the rough departure, Liam had sent word to Maurissen with news of where the cavern was and the disappearance of the lich potion. It seemed as if the Duke was pushing his ritualistic plans ahead.

During this time, the town watch had mobilized, mere minutes after the Duke had rushed off from the wedding ceremony and unceremoniously had everyone ushered out. Liam could only assume that this was connected in some way to the seemingly imminent sacrifice.

Unfortunately for Liam, the rumors seem solid that the palace is well-guarded, both by physical and magical means. Simply having his apprentice James cast invisibility upon them, or splurging for a more expensive teleportation scroll, may well be thwarted and bring retribution on their heads. But Liam, the wise one, decided to elicit the help of an infernal creature that he knew to be in the employ of the Earl.

Botis, he’d learned, was an imp, explaining his pitch-black skin and odd demeanor. But despite Liam’s slight hesitation to work with him, Botis was the Earl’s valet and the only other person in the city that Liam knew to have knowledge of the foul plot. And imps tended to have better abilities in infiltration than master sages.

Botis knew of the plot and knew the location of the spirit, and despite some hesitation to anger powerful mages, agreed to go to the spirit’s cavern and see if the ritual was underway. Afterall, if the Duke would likely perform the ritual in the caverns where the spirit already resided, as opposed to risking bringing it elsewhere. If the spirit still remained trapped and undisturbed, the Duke wasn’t in the middle of the ritual yet, and Adalia was yet safe… for now.

Far Away (Mousetrap)

While political gears were turning wildly in Blackwash, Maurissen was far away in the eastern mountain range. As she made her way through the range looking for a bandit camp, she found some unlikely friends: a group of cave-dwelling wild men called the Dog Clan. They led her to the warrens of their sister clan, Wolf, which was wiped out utterly by just four men. These, it would seem, were the “huge” band of well-organized bandits. Illusions and well-placed force were all they needed to terrorize the countryside. Maurissen hid, fully prepared to talk it out and convince them, as she did the dragon, that the Duke of Blackwash was only using them. It seemed to Maurissen, however, that the Red Dragon had higher morals. Enraged by their actions, she turned the four men to stone.

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A Wedding
as a backdrop

A Nation in Peril (IceBob – GM)

With the tales of dragon attacks confirmed reliably, and the Bandit attacks becoming ever more violent, King Denar Telloran could no longer wait to react. He summoned the great lords from all the reaches of his kingdom (except those who must deal directly with the bandits and the dragons) to his court to decide what must be done. Among those summoned, only Reece Murra declined, pleading ill health and sending his brother Stavron in his place.

(Earl Stavron Murra left his valet Botis Semiazas in charge of all his affairs in Blackwash for the duration of his absence.)

Final Preparations (Liam Rothspar)

Liam was approached by Ursula herself not long after her birthday bash, her aide having conveniently “overheard” his conversation with the Earl. Irate, she demanded to know why matters of “human sacrifice” were discussed at her events, and with due concern. What could Liam tell her? It occurred to him to try to lie, to say he was speaking of the dignity of nobles and how it was “sacrificed” when one was drunk… but years spent with a nose in the books had left him without much time to practice intricate lie-crafting. He settled on first trying to convince her that what the aide heard was sincerely out of context, but a combination of her stubborn disbelief and Liam’s slow-growing fondness for the girl negated that tactic. Finally, he could only tell her that it was directly a sagely, scholarly matter, something the Earl had bade him research for research’s sake. The specifics he was sworn not to divulge, and that she would have to ask the Earl himself. He wished he could assuage her concerns, but duty was duty and his word was his word.

Not that it would have helped for her to visit the Earl’s estate. Liam found out shortly after that the Earl had been sent to the King’s palace, a good many weeks’ journey, in the Duke’s stead (“ailing health”, the Duke had plead). This complicated matters significantly, particularly when he was supposed to now convey his information through the Earl’s valet, a rather unsettling man he later found out to be of infernal nature.

Matters became even more complex when Maurissen approached him not hours later and conveyed some unsettling twists to his research. The Duke indeed intended to use the lich potion in conjunction with the sacrificial ritual… and the intended victim was none other than the Duke’s daughter. Liam could distance himself from his scholarly research… afterall, many things were wicked and gruesome in the world, and his own moral feelings towards them would not change their nature. But when academic lore became relevant and dangerous, it was more than alright for him to apply his own sense of right and wrong. And since Maurissen seemed to know everything already, there was no harm in discussing it with her.

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After the Solstice and Yule
Something Foul Stirs

The Town Criers (IceBob – GM)

The streets of Blackwash are filled with tales of the unease spreading across the country. Already the city of Deepwell sleeps uneasy, it’s lord raging over the schemes of Duke Reece Murra. Now, frightening news of dragon attacks far up the Black River and well-organized banditry spreading on the eastern plains is setting the whole of Archos on edge.

Little has been heard from the King.

Birthday Bash (BrieCS)

In the week following the announcement of the dragon and bandit attacks, Ursula went to the University of the Archmage to speak to a dragon expert to find out some simple things about the dragons in question, based on her suspicions that the Duke of Blackwash had somehow enticed the dragons from the mountains to cause a distraction from his attempts on Duke Deepwell’s life.

Throughout the month of January, Vizegraf Mannpurtz has been preparing for her 22nd birthday celebration (with extensive planning done by Maurissen Blacktooth) and meeting with suitors from all over the land. On January 31st, she held a large ball to celebrate her birthday and announced her engagement to Damien Ortra, known as the Black Judge. The following day was a tournament in her honor, and there were some wonderful prizes awarded.

She invited Liam Rothspar, the sage she spoke with, to her birthday party. At Ursula’s birthday, she witnessed the Earl of Murra and Liam Rothspar having an aside during the festivities, and she sent her valet to listen in. Her valet reported that he could not hear much, but did hear the words “human sacrifice”. While Vizegraf Mannpurtz was very occupied with the events at hand, she did take note of it – and the Duke’s absence to the event – and intended to bring it up at a later date.

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Previously on "A Deadly Affair"
The latest developments
  • After being arrested for forgery and impersonating a noble, the doppelganger usually known as Reynard Mallefoot bribed his way out of prison, then impersonated the gaoler, got drunk in the middle of the day, hired a prostitute, and went back to the gaoler’s house – where his wife was still home. He fled after enraging her, then bumped into the gaoler on the street and spilled ale on him so he’d smell of alcohol. When the gaoler arrived home, his wife struck him fatally with a poker from the fireplace and Reynard summoned the City Watch to arrest her.
  • Botis hired a pair of half-wit ‘adventurers’ to distract the guards on Duke Reece Murra’s private chambers so he could slip in unnoticed (by using Stone to Flesh to weaken a wall). The ‘guards’ turned out to be a large clay golem, which quickly smashed the hapless distractions. Inside he found a tome detailing the terrible creature in the cavern under the keep and an alchemical apparatus containing a completed Lich potion.
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Chapter 2 - Blackwash
The story so far...

Social Pursuits (Mousetrap)

Maurissen Blacktooth grows even more disillusioned by the freely lawbreaking actions of the Duke of Blackwash, who indirectly had an attempt made on her life. In addition to the huge ball she threw for the sole purpose of putting her name on the lips of nobles, she made a deal with Earl Stavron Murra. She would “graciously” give her time to helping the Earl arrange the Winter Solstice events. Of course, the Duke of Blackwash hates everything nonhuman, and the Earl must have already known this.

All for Profit (jimtheduckie)

The city of Blackwash was ripe for the picking, and Terasian Goldbraid knew it. During the few weeks he was traveling with his new business partner, Reynard Mallefoot, he had developed a new type of scheme, one that would not only take money from the pockets of the people he interacted with, but also the pockets and purses of those who his targets engaged with. The premise would be something of a pyramid, with him sitting on top, and each layer down would bring more money towards the top. The “Pyramid Scheme” worked like this; the business would find a small number of targets. These targets would pay the business 50 gold coins, then find 5 other people to also pay 50 gold coins. After these 5 people were found, the initial person would be paid 150 gold. Then to put the icing on the cake, for every person in their pyramid who signed up, they would receive 2% of the profits. After explaining how simple the ploy would be, and how profitable it would become, convincing Reynard to assist in the up-front expense of purchasing an office and hiring an accountant was a simple task. Soon enough the scheme was bringing in large sums of gold. The secondary thing it brought in was an extensive list of Blackwash’s greedy, desperate, stupid, or curious people who would be most ideal for further ploys. And so Terasian sold “magic” rings, started a lottery, and began an extensive phony bank lending service (A Ponzi scheme of the sort) which sucked the income out of many of his targets.

Wedding Bells (BrieCS)

Vizegraf Mannpurtz has enjoyed great success in finding a prospective wife for her brother, settling on the granddaughter of the Earl of Murra. The marriage is planned for January of the coming year.

Since she’s been primarily uninvolved in the investigation of the Duke (even though she has made the Earl aware of her presence and willingness to help), she has been instead enjoying the noble life, exchanging gifts with the Troll prince, and enjoyed further victory at the Winter Solstice Tournament. While she did not place in the archery contest or the joust (not for lack of trying; she smelled of mare urine and dead animal for days – a trick to throw off other riders’ horses), she triumphed again in the melee. The competition allowed for another opportunity, however, when she beat the Black Judge narrowly once again during the melee, then was solidly trounced by him in the joust. His constant ability to match or beat her has brought him to the height of her interest for marriage.

At Maurissen’s ball prior to the tournament, Ursula announced that anyone who beat her in the tournament could be considered her suitor if they wished, and would be invited to a ball at the end of January for her twenty-second birthday. She seems most excited by the fact that the Black Judge was victorious in the joust, and is therefore a viable suitor.

A notable event during the joust was her victory over Kenaz the Wolf, in which she had a mage (a man she had beaten in the melee) light her on fire to frighten her foe, who was a frosty follower of Norric riding a winter wolf. She humiliated him thoroughly for his refusal to join her for dinner, considering him to have disrespected her rank as Vizegraf (Viscount).

Her current occupation is her brother’s wedding and finding the best way to marry the most worthy man she can find.

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Chapter 1 - Deepwell
A Synopsis

The characters met in the city of Deepwell, while most of them were guests of Duke Deepwell, Admiral of the Royal Navy of Archos and Lord of the Bay of Storms. There they met Earl Stavron Murra, younger brother to the Duke of Blackwash (and the oft-disguised elf swindled him out of a large sum of money and embarrassed him thoroughly at court).

Shortly after their arrival in Deepwell, the threat of a blockade of the Near Sea showed them that all was not as it seemed. In the course of time, they discovered that Duke Deepwell’s chief sage was in fact an agent of the Duke of Blackwash (of which the Earl was unaware), sent to disrupt his authority and set him against the other great houses of Archos.

After that discovery, and with the arrival of the Autumn storms on the northern seas, the characters departed, traveling individually across the Bay of Storms, then south over land to Blackwash to get closer to the source of the plot against Duke Deepwell.

Strong Arm (BrieCS)

During her time in Deepwell, Vizegraf Ursula Mannpurtz became well-known for her prowess in battle as well as in the hunt. She came to the city to find a husband for herself and a wife for her brother, but her time was spent instead initiating a trade agreement with the youngest son of House Gristuk, Prince Karrel. She gained his favor in a hunt on which she slew three boars, and began a smooth trade agreement that netted her a trollwood barge to haul ice and furs south to the Troll Kingdoms, a war rhino, and a trollwood bow.

She also gained renown at the Harvest Tournament held by Duke Deepwell. She placed second in the archery tournament, but took the purse for both the joust and melee. Both times, she beat the Black Judge for first place. She also participated very actively in the investigation of the murder of the Inquisitor.

While she did not achieve her goals for marriage in either case, she did develop a greater understanding of the south. She left Deepwell to follow the clues leading to Duke Murra, hauling her brother along to find the truth.

Trickster (Jimtheduckie)

The city of Deepwell was the perfect place for a lost Elf to figure out his new surroundings and make sense of the locals. They weren’t that different from what he was used to, and in fact they might even be more gullible. So after a few small deals with those outside the city, when he caught wind of a grand feast the duke was throwing, he made it top priority to get his way into the keep. Sneaking his way in with the large crowds surrounding the guards made the job relatively easy, and after a good meal, Terasian followed the duke and his court to a meeting chamber, and after searching around a bit, found a grate which gave him perfect clarity of what was being said in the room. And it was in this reconnaissance mission that he learned the Earl Murra was chasing after a doppelganger. Using this knowledge to it’s fullest, he managed to convince the desperate Earl to purchase a “magic amulet”. Of course instead of helping him save face after a few failed attempts to unmask the doppelganger, the amulet only made the earl look even more foolish.

Not satisfied though, Terasian used some of the wealth he’d picked up to buy some decent noble’s clothes, as well as taking a side trip to steal a few horses (which unfortunately lead to the first time he’s taken a man’s life). He then posed as a visiting elven noble from afar to get a permanent place in the keep. The ploy came up fruitless however, since instead of wealth he got a geas that locks him to giving Earl Murra a percentage of money he steals from the Duke Deepwell. The only chance he had left of turning a profit on everything was thwarted when the Duke’s master Sage turned out to use the very secret passageways Terasian had found to attempt to over-throw the duke. Dejected and longing for a workable scheme, Terasian joined forces with the doppelganger and headed south to the city of Blackwash.

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