the Way of the Wicked

The Ritual (Part 9)
The Tiger is an open country tank

 

Week Twenty Five

 

Sir Valin Darian, cousin of the King (and thus descendant of the Victor, and isn't that handy?) has been driven half mad knowing that there is great evil growing at the Horn but being tied to his duty as commander of the Hamarhall fortress. When a group of seven old comrades visit him he can stand it no longer – he leaves his most capable lieutenant in charge, and the knights ride immediately for the Horn intent on trampling whatever foulness lurks there. It may not escape the reader that this is not the most thought through of plans – they don't have much party balance, they don't actually know what lurks there other than “evil”, and the Tiger is an open country tank err I mean if your class is optimised for mounted charging attacks then maybe picking your way through boulders and difficult ground so you can enter the confines of a cave system isn't going to have its own entry in Sun Tzu.

To reach the Spire they have to pass the hangman tree, and unlike the Banner Verdant they don't have a druid with them to prevent it from attacking them. It duly releases a cloud of mind altering spores and prepares to grab a knight or two to snack on.

Combat is joined between the knights and the tree while sir Darian, his head swimming with the spores, looks at them confusedly. The tree strangles a knight a bit, but through bull headed persistence, weight of numbers, and brute force the knights hack the tree down. They've made enough noise doing this that the Frogloks are alerted, and one of them steps on the newly installed alarm stone, starting an earsplitting racket.

The knights and Sir Valin head into the cave and start hitting frogloks, but the knights are strongly affected by their frightening croaks. Two break and run and most of the rest are shaken. The party arrive by teleport, neatly behind the invading armoured do-gooders, but seem more inclined to spectate and offer “helpful” advice as Adelea takes them on and more and more frogloks pile in.

Sir Valin is paralysed by Hold Person; his horse steps away from Adelea but she follows up and strikes.

The following round she brutally cuts Sir Valin's horse from under him, then kills one of his knightly companions

Fitch and Creel join in the fight, with varying degrees of success

With the fight going badly, one of the remaining knights pulls sir Valin's paralysed form from his dead horse onto his own still alive one, intending to save him fron the fight. His comrade interposes himself between them and the killing machine that is Adelea.

Sam casts hold person on the “getaway driver” and Hexor then casts Hold Monster on the horse, leaving “a big pile of paralysed things”.

The battle is effectively over at this point. The knights are all killed, Sir Valin is captured and held in a cell awaiting sacrifice, and one of the two fled knights is anticlimactically killed when he returns. The other flees back to town to warn the abbess how scary the horn is and give her what little information he was able to gather while fleeing in frog-induced terror.

 

Week Twenty Six

Some wytch lights, will 'o wisps from the depths of the Caer Bryr, are drawn to the horn. Unfortunately for them, they are drawn directly to the specific area of the horn that contains a pack of wraiths, and wraiths could almost have been deliberately designed to be their kryptonite. Invisibility avails them little against creatures who can sense living things as though they have blindsight, wraiths don't feel fear so they cannot draw any energy from them, and their electric attacks don't work. Unable to leave the delicious magical energy and fear aura of the Fane of the Three Eyed Prince, they are made short work of by ex-high priest Ezra and his wraithy minions.

 

Week Twenty Seven

 

The magical energies of the horn draw the gorgimera Trithraxus from the deep forests, and he swoops into the third floor, roaring and preparing to go on a rampage. Sadly for him, however, he runs into those pesky wraiths and then Vexor, guided by the magic scrying power of the Eye, precision teleports Grumblejack and Adelea right behind him.

 

Grumblejack does an excellent Captain Kargeld impression, looking aggrieved as his greatclub flies out of his hands instead of thwacking the weird magical beast, but Adelea encounters no such issues as she finishes off the like-a-chimera-but-weirder creature, already hurt and weakened by being pawed at by wraiths with their freaky deaky wraithy lifey-drainy touches.

 

The attack does leave behind a couple of new wraith statues, dragged by Adelea to either side of the hallway so they'll look nice.

 

In the quiet aftermath of the attack Adelea and Sam can be heard discussing what they should do at the climax of the ritual, and who is likely to attack them.

The boggards? Probably – Zikomo wants to dedicate the horn to Dagon. Sam could talk to him and explain the plan? Nah, he's a loon.

Hexor and Vexor? Sam taps her chest, with a clunk as the two control amulets bonk together. Nope, they're definitely onside.

Tregellan? Who knows?

Ezra and his wraiths? Adelea is 100% sure he's going to betray them, and seems to be persuading Sam. He wants to bring back Vetra-Kali and to be high priest, and the Posse's plans are… not quite so straightforward.

Reading up on the ritual they realise they've got one spare request: Giving Vetra Kali the first eye will stop him slaughtering the Posse and their allies, and the second eye will get them the Tears they've been after since the start of this whole arc. The third eye gets another request that Vetra Kali cannot refuse.

True to form, Adelea wants this to be “stand really still so I can hit you with this sword”, but Sam is leaning towards the more traditional “leave this plane and don't come back”. Who knows if a coup de grace would even work on a powerful demon lieutenant of a plague god? Even if he is vulnerable to Adelea's primary spell "hit it really hard with a sword", how long will it take Vetra Kali to reconstitute itself and return for vengeance, and is a powerful plague demon with a grudge something you want on your trail?

Also "Welcome back. Now leave forever" is a very Samra'el kind of dick move, it must be said.

There's only a few weeks left to the very last ritual, but something tells me that they might be quite eventful…

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The Ritual (part 8)
Who knew 222 repetitions of a ritual would be so repetitious?

Some persuasion is needed in order to persuade Grumblejack to be medium sized long enough to be teleported by the Erinyes, appearing safely in the foyer of the inn with the rest of the Posse (sans Fitch, who's still ritualling away thrice daily). As promised, he is immediately turned back to what he feels is the minimum acceptable size for a Grumblejack, which is large.

The party adopt the traditional “buff up and charge” approach, with Creel making sure to cast a communal “protection from cold” in a pre-emptive defence against the wintery powers of the witch. Sam takes the opportunity to cast Stoneskin, although being stingy she eschews materials in favour of taking health and str damage, gulping a potion to restore her health

Dostan Alfson, the devoted half elf, sees the party coming up the stairs, rages, and charges! He lands a solid blow on Adelea but her stoneskin reduces the damage. Grumblejack and the erinyes start smashing open doors to look for Elise, with Grumblejack bellowing “ROOM SERVICE! Hur hur hur”

Sam casts hold person, and says “Adelea, will you do the honours?”

Adelea does the honours with a swift, though messy, coup de grace.

Trik somehow manages to sleep through the cacophony of screaming, charging, fighting, spellcasting, coup-de-gracing, door smashing and bellowing of “ROOM SERVICE!”. They say that sleeping longer is good for your health but it doesn't seem likely in this instance.

Creel starts bashing a door with his mace, but stops when he hears Elise's voice from the room directly across the corridor, asking “Dostan! What's going on?”, jerking his head in that direction. His comrades pick up on the clue. Grumblejack smashes the door open, and an erinye moves in to hit Elise with a sword. (Dostan does not answer, because he's lying in a crumpled and very dead heap on the floor of the corridor).

Sam uses suggestion to convince Trak that Elise has been possessed by the demon and he must stop her casting spells at all costs.

Trik wakes up. Well done, Trik!


Adelea calmly says “you really, really, shouldn't have betrayed us” and swings her sword in a whistling arc, starting somewhere down by her feet behind her. It cleaves the treacherous witch fully in half.

Trak rolls out of bed away from Adelea but she follows up and brutally slashes him with her sword. Unaware that this is precisely what she's hoping he'll do, he grabs for his bow and she swings wildly for him again, but in her excitement she's forgotten she's inside an inn, and her sword sticks firmly in the ceiling. Trak draws back an arrow to fire point blank at her, and she lets go of her sword and punches him full in the face. He slumps to the ground, bleeding heavily.

Trik Rackburn calls out that he wants to parlay, and is able to persuade Sam that he genuinely believed Elise's story that the 9th knot had betrayed Thorn. Seeing the Erinyes, servants of Thorne, and having heard what Adelea said through the wall, he is able to put 2 and 2 together and realise Elise had lied to him. He is still loyal to Thorn's plan and offers to join the Ninth, if they will only give his brother the chance to join up too.

Creel stabilises the ranger, pausing only to shoot burning rays at Elise's familiar until he finally catches it with one, and it tumbles out of the air of the increasingly scorched room.

The Erinyes teleport them back to the Horn the following day after selling some loot. Creel “interviews” Trak Rackburn in his torture room.

“your love has fled and left you for dead, and your brother has betrayed you”

She was the love of my life! She would never leave

“she faked her death and used a potion of gaseous form to escape!”

You lie! You killed her! She loved me and you killed her!

“look at your situation, you have nowhere to turn but us!”

You want me to work for you now?

“No I want you to work for Thorn. Join us”

Fine, OK then. I'll work for you. Give me my gear and I'll patrol the forest for your enemies.

“Nah, don't believe you”. Creel stabs him in the thigh and his life trickles out.

Sam has a very difficult conversation with Trik Rackburn, and persuades him (truthfully) that the Knot had no choice but to kill Trak as he was still infatuated with Elise. They gave him a fair and honest chance to join them, which is what they promised Trik they'd do. He signs on with the Ninth.

Week Nineteen

A note from the Baron notes that the town is buzzing like a hornet's nest, with conflicting rumours that a group of adventurers found and killed the serial killer, or the serial killers smashed into an inn and killed some adventurers, or something else happened involving demons and trolls.

He also mentions that his research has confirmed that Sir Valin Darian, acting commander of the fortress of Hamarhold in the (permanent) absence of the (very dead) Duke, is a cousin of the King and therefore a descendant of the Victor. His spies are yet to find a descendant who isn't forted up in the most secure fortress in the region though…

 

Juko Five Croaks, a boggard tribesman, approaches the Evil Posse of Evil with a shopping list. He requests 3500GP for some masterwork spears and food to help the tribe as hunting hasn't been great, and they've suffered with attacks and monsters.

Sam gets Zikomo to summon the tribe, and addresses them, with Juko standing to one side. She states “This one says you need more food and more weapons, is this true?”

Zikomo mutters something to the effect that that might allow the tribe to flourish more.

A column of hellfire roars from the ceiling and incinerates Juko where he stands.
“There's some food, and there's a spare weapon. Does anyone else have anything to say? No? Good”

 

It turns out that hungry boggarts are more vicious, so that works out pretty well.

 

Week Twenty

The Evil Organisation earns its keep by intercepting a message from the Abbess, pleading from help from the capital city of Matharyn to attack the foulness growing within the Horn. No help will be forthcoming.

 

Week Twenty-One

With the Duke dead and fear everywhere a crime wave hits Farholde

 

Week Twenty-Two

A local merchant, unclear on the exact aims of the Evil Posse of Evil and their Evil Organisation but aware that they exist and are powerful, contacts them to see if they'll do some assassinations for her. It turns out that at 1000GP a pop they will cheerfully kill people for money. Grumblejack, sent along to aid in the last and most difficult assassination, just fails to achieve success, but escapes without injury. The other five are efficently processed.

 

Week Twenty-Three

The silver dragon strikes against the Baron's manor, but the Posse's spies alert them just in time to warn him and get him to safety. With the Baron off-balance and shaken, Sam is able to persuade him to drop the tariff he is taking off the top of the magic item shop sales.

Reports afterwards indicate the dragon to be a young adult, a fearsome foe indeed. Can our party, even reinforced with their assorted minions and allies, hope to stand against it?

 

Week Twenty Four

A fair comes to Farholde, increasing the prices the Posse can get for selling items. Sam takes advantage.

 

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The Ritual (Part 7)
An attack - and a betrayal

Suddenly… nothing happens!

The trap on the second floor cycles but nobody falls through. (the ranger Vethia Dora has set it off, but has managed to avoid falling in through her sharp reflexes)

In the “receiving room” on the first floor, the orphans on guard are alerted by the trap cycling. One runs off to use the teleport throne and alert Hexor and Vexor, who bring the Party to the second floor. After considerable looking around, they decide it was probably a false alarm. (Vethia is long gone; extremely skilled in stealth, she has ghosted off before our villains have even been alerted)

 

The following day the frogloks guarding the cavern get a rude awakening, or more of an asleepening, as three of the four guards are struck by deep slumber. (Vethia has been in for a wee scout around, entirely undetected by the frogloks; unbeknownst to her, she was one room away from being caught by the CCTV sweep. The druid, Brunhild, has used Command Plant to make the hangman tree let them through unharmed, and the attack therefore comes as a complete surprise to the frog-men)

 

The fourth guard is struck by an arrow, but it just fails to kill him. Surprise is lost as he croaks the alarm and this is taken up by the other frogloks, with a deep echoing chorus of croaks resonating through the caves

 

Angus Madthorn, the dwarf barbarian, enlarged by his druid friend, charges into the cave and takes first blood. The party of adventurers moves cautiously into the cavern system, killing the occasional froglok as they go.

 

This attack is intended as a probe to see what resistance it will draw. This band of adventurers, calling themselves the Banner Verdant, expect a mid-level boss or two might appear as they probe the caverns. They believe there's a shaman in here who is in charge of the Frogloks and feel an attack might draw him out. Once they've dealt with him and killed a few more frogs they plan to retreat, using “pass without trace”, and attack another level of the Horn the following day, slowly weakening it over several days. This is not what actually happens, however.

 

Alerted by the croaking alarm call the shaman sends an animal messenger to Hexor and Vexor, who bring the Evil Posse of Evil down to the caverns. The Posse starts buffing.

 

Some frogs trickle into the cavern to keep the adventurers occupied in killing them while the Posse prepares to assault them.once they're nicely buffed up.

 

Adelea charges towards the adventurers, to be met with a Hold Person, and a bolt of lightning strikes her rigid form. Then demons and Grumblejacks start popping up all over the place and things start going south for our intrepid band of do gooders

 

Angus Madthorn does manage a solid hit on Adelea, doing more damage than any recent enemy has managed. Added to the damage from the lightning, this takes her closer to death than she's been in a long time. However her retaliatory attack wounds him savagely, and Grumblejack finishes him off. Zach heals Adelea and the danger seems past.

 

Sam casts hold person on the ranger, Vethia Dora, and she freezes, helpless and statue like. Soon she is slaughtered by Hexor and Vexor.

 

Fitch dances past a despairing spear thrust from the druid, Brunhild, and his pinpoint flank attack ends her life.

 

Adelea then moves up and kills Fineas Greenhold, leader of the Banner Verdant.

 

Fineas Greenhold's possessions include a journal which holds some rather interesting information:


What an interesting development today. We
were approached by a so-called holy man full of
talk about visions and angels and so forth. He
claimed these spirits had driven him to stop the
wickedness going on in the Horn and to rally us to
our “destiny”. Mentioned us almost by name the
angels did! I’m flattered.
He delivered us his pitch and then gave to us
an immense pile of information including maps,
names and so much more. Really he did everything but give us the keys to the front door.
Of course I don’t accept such gifts without a fair
degree of skepticism. I had Vethia trail the “Holy
Man” and our fears turned out to be justified.
She saw this angel-speaker slip into a side alley
and transform back into a dark haired and much
younger human.
My tracker followed the human through the
streets of Farholde and saw the young man rendezvous with a strange white haired woman with a
white raven on her shoulder. He called her “Z”.
They didn’t say much to each other. All he said
was “It is done. Te Ninth is finished.” I am unsure exactly what that means, but clearly we are
bing used in some sort of double-cross between
various factions of the cult that occupies the Horn.
Ah, evil-doers. They never change.
So, they want us to be their assassins, eh? Well,
its a job we don’t mind doing. We’ll be cautious
about this information obviously. But I think it’s
likely to pan out. They wouldn’t want their dupes
to fail after all, would they? Of course, when we’re
done, I think we’ll pay the “holy man” a little visit
as well. Vethia is pretty sure the woman in white
must be staying in the nearby inn — “The Auld Briarhall” in Auld’Irey.
What a piece of work is my elven tracker! She
tracked a shapechanger through almost a half mile
of city, managed to eavesdrop on a private guarded conversation and reported back without even a
ripple of trouble. Hah! Remind me to give that girl
an almost even share of the treasure!
Tomorrow we attack the Horn. I can feel it my
bones. Tis is the big one! After this, I just know
that our wee little band will never be the same
 

(There are some notes and sketch maps in the journal that suggest Elise has passed on all the information about the Horn she was able to glean. Good thing Sam has been careful not to tell her everything about the Horn's defences, and has also given her made-up information about the second floor being the “obvious weak point”.

 

Sam turns to Zach: “Right, NOW you can kill her”. She breaks the clay tablet. Soon an Erinye appears (Tiadora would seem to be otherwise occupied doing things for Thorn). The Erinye takes a message back to Thorn, and early the following morning appears with a second Erinye and a missive penned by Thorn himself:
 

“The Knot Hibernal is declared broken. In accordance with the Pact of Thorns, I release these traitors. They are no longer bound to my service or enjoy my protection. I send to you, my Nessian Knot, my furies. Make them suffer for their treachery and then return to the work at hand. Bring me the daemon’s gift!”

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The Ritual (part 6)
MINION QUEST AGAIN! (Sort of)

RIP Jiim, killed by a nightmarish apparition.

Week 15 – sacrifice.

At dawn on the 111th day the sacrifice must be performed. Sam volunteers to cut Sister Marta's heart out and places it in the bowl. The frst heart, black and shrivelled, still beats in the frst bowl sustained by black magic.
A voice echoes throughout the Sanctum — the same
alien and malevolent voice from the first prayer. This
time it says (in Abyssal): “Tezathra Vo” — “I see”. The
three eyes of Vetra-Kali flare with
green light, and Sam feels an unholy vitality flood through her slight frame.


The Horn trembles and once more a great beacon of
green light erupts into the dawn sky. The suns rays are barely seen that day. All across this region darkness blankets the land for the entire day. Today the sun has failed.


Vetra-Kali’s return to his dominion draws nearer.
 

Week 16

A lot of people have died in the Horn and very few
of them died well. They were either dragged screaming
onto flithy altars to be disemboweled for the pleasure of
remorseless daemons or slaughtered wholesale by ruthless fanatic invaders. Either way, the dead linger here in countless profusion. Usually, this manifests as minor poltergeist activity. Things move in the Horn when perhaps they shouldn’t. Doors open and close without
cause. Distant screams echo down dark corridors. But
once in a great while, a true nightmare manifests itself.
A dozen cultists died in room 1-6 in one flash of eldritch fire. There corpses were burned to ashes, fused into a grisly horrific charred mass. No one bothered to
bury them. No one ever shed them one tear. And now
eighty years later, these restless spirits celebrate that grim
anniversary by forming into a howling nightmare and
stalking the Horn destroying every living thing they can
get their hands on. Infused with the pervasive daemonic
taint of the Horn, they have become something monstrous indeed. This is the Ashen Nightmare

The Ashen Nightmare awakens and roams floor one, slaughtering some Orphans with ease, although one of them survives long enough to loose a terrified scream. Artephius is alerted and hastens to the attack, only to find his fists passing harmlessly through its incoporeal form

 

Stop that, you're embarrassing yourself, comes the scratchy, vicious voice of the apparition

 

“beep boop, processing witty retort….

processing…

this vessel will destroy you” whispers Artephius, in his own creepy monotone whisper

The nightmare teleports away using Dimension Door and appears in the room shared by Jiim and the rogue Thomas the Penitent. Jiim awakes screaming as the horrific touch of the Ashen Nightmare does negative energy damage and inflicts a curse

The screams awaken Thomas who bolts into the hallway shouting to alert everyone.

Tregellan, of course, charges in shouting “have at you you horrible great cloudy thing!” and doing appreciable damage to the incorporeal evil psychic apparation. First blood to Tregellan!

The fight continues. Thomas flees to the throne, as he knows the command word to get to level 3 and plans to raise the alarm. Tregellan continues to swordfight with the incoporeal monster, his rapier flashing. He even manages a parry, but screws up the riposte so badly that the monster counter-attacks and hits him after all. Crippling nightmares surge through his mind, thoughts of…. other people having nicer hats than him!

The hellhounds charge into the room and breathe fire at the nightmarish apparition and although it twists and turns to avoid the worst of it, it is appreciably hurt

Tregellan once again scores some hits while shouting heroic nonsense, then spectacularly parries and ripostes the nightmare. Louise drops her sword after spectacularly messing up an attack. However she soon picks it up, weathering a vicious attack to do so, and unleashes a brutal attack of her own. Even though the incorporeal Nightmare does not take full damage from a physical attack like this, her swing is so powerful that it still brutally hurts the apparition. It dissipates, unable to retain its hold on this reality, just as Vexor teleports in with Sam and Adelea.

“that was relatively painless, just Jiim and some orphans. And now we know our defences work well without us”

- yeah but will they work against a dragon?

Week 17 – gang war

Bergill Mott, headmaster of the Vandermir Orphanage, asks the Knot's aid with a gang war that has broken out with “Thatcher's Crew”, a gang of toughs operating from Drowington and led by one Mickey Thatcher. The Knot, susprisingly, instantly decide they should do something to help, and plump for negotiation over annihilation. They send Sam to negotiate, and Thatcher's Crew soon signs on with their organisation.

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MINION QUEST!!!
The Greatest Adventure Ever Told!

You are summoned before your Dark Masters in the Lower Temple of the Horn. Arrayed before you are the Small Scary Sorceror One, with her piercing eyes and an overpowering magical aura radiating from her collection of magical artefacts; the One With The Sword, in her terrifying black armour, with an air of barely leashed violence; the Dark Priest One with his scary scary mace, which you could swear is looking at you; and the Sneaky Talky One with his knives.

You stand now before your masters. Easily the most powerful people you have met, there is only one certainty. Opposing them is folly. You must obey. And through obedience no doubt they will reward you. Or at least, you hope they will. At last one of them speaks. The Small Scary One.


“‘We have a chance for you to prove your worth to us. Within Farholde even now a street preacher, Ezekiel Hawthorn, speaks against us and urges the people to rise and raid the Horn of Abaddon. This must not happen! He must be silenced!’”


The One With The Sword speaks at this point. “‘This Mitra loving weasel is nothing! He must be slain and made an example! When he is dead then we will be troubled by his voice no longer.’”


The Sneaky Talky One: “‘No no no. If he is merely slain he will become a martyr. That will only prove the truth of his words. Instead, he must be discredited.’”


The Priest: “‘Bah! You waste time! Who cares what those worms believe? By the time they summon any courage we will be done with the ritual!’”
 

“‘Do not speak of the ritual!’”


“‘I mean…we’ll be done with … whatever we’re doing here. Which is nothing really.’”

 

They all pause from their debate and look suspiciously at you. There is a very long and nervous silence that goes on for entirely too long.


“‘So,’” says the voice of the Sneaky One finally. ““That then is your mission. Silence the street preacher in, what's it called? The town. You know. Berengard? Honorton! No, wait. What's the town? Anyway, do not kill him. Instead, discredit him so that the people will not listen to him.’”
 

“‘And do not leave him alive! Make an example of him!’ Teach the people of Farholde what it means to fear…” says the One With The Sword


“‘Secrecy is of course paramount.” Says the Sneaky One

“Yes, of course.”


The Small Scary One: “‘You have your orders! We give to you now some gold for equipment, bribes and so forth. Further, to ensure success, we have assigned our servant the ogre Grumblejack to aid you. You will find him at Lord Drownington’s Manor in Farholde. Now go! And, minions? I strongly advise you not to fail”.


 

“so… we got orders to kill im and not to kill im” says the farmer

“yes, also to do it in secret and in public” the Criminal replies

“how we gonna do that then?”

“will grumblejack lend us his fancy hat that makes people look like other people?”

“Perhaps we can kidnap him then replace him?”

The Farmer is distracted by talk of magic beans, which does suggest that it was a good idea not to let him hold the money.

Making their way to Farhole, luckily untroubled by terrifying killer trees, and to Lord Drownington's manor, the worst pub in the bad part of town, they meet Grumblejack who immediately asks if they have any money. The Criminal utterly fails to persuade him that they don't have any, but does persuade him that they only got 50 gold pieces. Grumblejack takes this “for safekeeping”, leaving them with 100 gold for their own purposes. It is clear to the minions that Grumblejack, having finally had chance to visit the pub that serves ogres, and having found an audience that enjoy his stories and will even buy him the odd drink, is not going to much use on this quest.

They sneakily charge a round to Grumblejack's tab, figuring on being out of there before he notices. Then spend a surprising amount of time working their way around to asking about the preacher they need to find, but eventually get the info they need and leave just ahead of a bar fight.

At the mission the Criminal and the Aristocrat persuade the reverend quite easily that they want to help spread the word of Mitra, and that they have two less fortunate friends who need a bed. The Farmer and the Archer soon come to know the value of hard work and not smiling. And more work.

“You may stay here for as long as you have need. However, to remain here you must obey the rules of the house. First, no drinking, gambling or immortality of any sort. Second, you will attend the daily celebration of the light. At dawn. Every day. No exceptions. And you must remain for Brother Ezekiel’s edifying sermon to follow. Yes, all of it. Third, you must work four hours a day cleaning, cooking and so forth. The volunteers will have specifics. Fourth, Brother Ezekiel’s private quarters and my private quarters are clearly marked. Please respect our privacy. Also, you seem ft enough to work, we will be trying to fnd you honest work for an honest wage using our contacts in the community. Mitra bless, brothers and sisters, and may the days ahead be brighter and more blessed than those behind you.”
 

“What we trying to do, just wash up for these people”? Asks the farmer.

“We're here to observe the preacher” “I don't understand these big words”

“we're here to keep an eye on the priesty one and see what he does”

The reverend is slightly unnerved when, on a brief visit to the kitchen, the Farmer stops washing up and stands staring intently at him until he leaves again. This will be about as informed about the mission as the Farmer ever gets.

Night falls. The Criminal persuades the Aristocrat to pretend to be a bum and watch the rear of the mission, while he will watch the front. He pats him on the shoulder and gives him a friendly wink, then immediately scarpers to spend some of the party's gold on a nice hotel for the night and a good meal (and maybe some company).

The Archer gets a bed near the hallway and keeps an eye open. He sees the reverend escorted downstairs by Sister Shera, seeming a little agitated. He follows, quite stealthily, seeing them head downstairs into the kitchen. Following them and putting his ear to the door he hears another door open and close, then silence. Then more silence.

Sneaking into the kitchen he puts his ear against each door in turn and hears nothing. Opening the alley door he is hit by a stone flying out of the darkness! He immediately closes it again.

The aristocrat sees that idiot archer poke his head out of the mission, and chucks a stone at him to make him go back inside. Satisfied, he settles down to his lonely vigil again, confident that his associate will have equally diligently watched the front.

Meanwhile the Farmer has a nice sleep.

The following evening the Archer once again sees the reverend escorted downstairs by the Sister. He lets down the rope and shushes the Farmer long enough to get him to hold it while the Criminal climbs up. He then searches the reverend's and the Sister's room. The locked strongbox in the reverend's room ends up even lockeder, but in Shera's room he uncovers a book “Being the Complete and Entire Truth about Lycanthropy”. Though written in a pseudo-scholarly tone, this book is actually a work of sensationalism with little real information. Still, it consistently adopts a stilted formal tone, all the while claiming that “At last and verily, a tome that dareth to telleth thee the truth likest it is.”


Maybe this is why he isn't wearing a silver holy symbol like all the other priests? Maybe he's a werewolf? If we can get him to transform in full view of some respectable church ladies…

In the meantime, despite knowing for a fact that the reverend and the Sister hadn't gone into the alley last night, the Archer has shinned down the rope to go and search it for any trace of them. Surprisingly there isn't any. Remembering why, he sheepishly shins back up the rope.

..

With the Criminal returning with a bundle of silver arrows, a silver dagger, and a weapon quench for the farmer's spear, our intrepid minions settle in for the sermon and watch the reverend very closely. He doesn't seem any hairier than usual though.

“maybe SHE'S the werewolf and he's wearing the gold thing because he's her lover and he doesn't want to hurt her?”

Perhaps, but looking closely at the Sister doesn't show any obvious signs of wolfishness either.

“We're sure there's a secret door in the pantry but can't find it. Let the archer hide in one of the crates and watch to see where it is?”

Despite the Criminal's urging that the plan should involve more dead prostitutes, the crate plan goes ahead. It is also far from clear why they didn't just ping a silver arrow at the Reverend during the sermon, in front of witnesses, but crates, sure, why not?

Lurking in a crate the Archer sees Ezekiel and the Sister open a trap door in the south east corner.

He lets the Criminal in and wakes his two compatriots. Eventually they locate the hidden door and discover the preacher in a heavy duty cage!

“what evil is this? Explain yourselves!”

“he is afflicted, but he is a great holy man. You must never speak of this”

Let's just clobber the sister and then

CLOBBER SISTER SHERA?” shouts the reverend (his hearing extra sensitive due to the imminent onset of his 'condition') Overcome with emotion and with the moon nearly full, he transforms into a hideous man-wolf hybrid form.

The Criminal aims a non silver arrow at the sister. The Farmer, seeing this, and having imprinted on him like a baby duck as being the one it is probably best to copy, leaps down to clobber her but misses. The arrow strikes true though and the werewolf is so enraged he bends the bars of the cage! Heavy duty iron coated with silver they may be, but nevertheless they're unlikely to last against his maddened, bestial strength.

Roll initiative!

The farmer swings a haymaker at the nun and misses.

The Criminal fires an arrow at the werewolf, doing a little damage as the silver burns him.

The sister swings at the Farmer and connects with her sword, hurting him

The Archer lands a solid shot with another silver arrow.

The Farmer lands a solid stab on the sister with his spear, hurting her but wasting his silver weapon quench.

The Criminal thrusts his remaining silver arrows at the Archer and, claiming to have a plan, sprints off into the night

The werewolf lands a vicious bite on the aristocrat

The aristocrat flees, while the werewolf savagely attacks the Farmer and leaves him bleeding out on the floor. The Archer slams the trapdoor and tries to pull crates over it, but they're rather too heavy for him. The aristocrat tries to help but finds the manual labour entirely beyond him. The werewolf slams against the trapdoor and the sole crate on it bounces but holds.

He changes tack and smashes the trapdoor to splinters, but this causes the crate to land on him, giving the remaining minions time to flee into the night as he untangles himself. The maddened werewolf sets off in pursuit!

Left alone with the dying farmer, in the knowledge that the reverend's secret is now out and her dreams of curing him are in ruins, the Sister sighs and heals the Farmer enough to stop him dying, then sits staring blankly into space.

Outside the werewolf careers after the Archer, following his scent, and cuts a bloody swathe through the crowded street the Archer deliberately leads him down. Eventually he is brought down by the watch (surprisingly, the Criminal's plan was to go and get them, rather than simply to flee) and his terrifying werewolf form turns back into brother Ezekiel.

The preacher is discredited, and dead. And the minions technically didn't do it. Despite pretty much achieving all the conflicting goals they were set, however, their masters remain far from satisfied. The reward for a job well done (well, it was done, anyway) is another job…

 

“Fools! Idiots! Morons! We give you the simplest of tasks and what do I hear back? Werewolves rampaging through the streets of Farholde even as our efforts in the Horn are at their most delicate juncture! No doubt your buffoonery will draw yet more adventurers to our doorstep. I should have you flayed for this failure!” Another dark master clears their throat. “Wait…I have a better use for these minions. Our scouts have located a potentially useful creature in the nearby Salt Brack. There is a hydra there of uniquely unpleasant temperament. The local boggards call the beast ‘Ripper’ in their tongue. This creature would make a potent guard for the Horn and would keep adventurers at bay while we complete our … well, it’s of no import to the likes of you!”


“You will go to Ripper’s cave. You will capture the creature alive. Bind it in a wagon we will provide you and bring it back here to the Horn! Do this and we may reward you! FAIL…”
 

The master’s eyes narrow to slits. You can tell that even now they ruminate upon what horrors they will inflict upon you if you disappoint them.


“…Do not fail,” says a voice as poisonous as an adder’s strike
 

 

 

 

 

 

View
The Ritual (part 5)
least surprising surprise attack ever?

Week 10

Hunting One Eye

The party sets up an ambush for One Eye near his lair. They do a great job, taking into consideration the wind direction, and setting up an illusion so they look like more grass. However they neglect to take into consideration that One Eye has been following them for more than a day. He sneaks up on them undetected, making nary a ripple in the long grass, and pounces on Sam. She is instantly down and bleeding after a vicious bite and two rakes from the dire tiger's cruel claws. It growls something that sounds surprisingly like “revenge!”. (Which is odd, and a little worrying).

One Eye had planned to take out the easiest target then circle round to ambush another party member, but he clearly underestimated just how dangerous Adelea is. She attacks twice, doing serious damage, and Grumblejack finishes him off. Both have remembered to do non-lethal damage, so the unconscious tiger is dragged back to the Spire to be pressed into guarding duty.

The villains are called to the hall where Artephius has been assigned to keep guard. “Oh god has the golem gone nuts?”

He is standing there, untroubled, next to the corpse of one of the Orphans, with blood and brains on his metal robot hands. He, spectacularly unconvincingly, insists “an intruder killed him, master”.

“Right, we'll move the guards around so that no-one is ever anywhere near him. Good job Artephius you're doing great”.

Sam heads into town without Grumblejack, who is unhappy that he doesn't get to go to the pub. He has found out from somewhere that the Drownington Manor pub serves ogres and fancies getting drunk and having a bar brawl.

Week 11

A note is received from Elise

Silver dragon seen over Farholde. Uncertain of whereabouts. Be ready. He may be on his way to the Horn.
— Z

Sorry can we just read that again??

“Yeah we're dead. Oh yeah, nice, excellent”.

-Well Artephius has strong fire attacks.

“yeah but he's psychotic, he's started killing Orphans, he's not right! Do you want him near you?”

"By the way Adelea, next time I say anything about going on a hunt – just kill me."

Week 12

Father Harkon, inquisitor of Mitra, shows up armed with information about the teleport thrones which he plans to use to investigate the spire. He discovers the teleport throne in the ruined keep has been put beyond use by stone-shaping some stone around it. His party of soldiers starts chipping away at it.

The intrepid Ahglrlrlrhrhr, (-Hrahglrrhrrr? No, you racist, I can't believe you can't tell them apart) leading a boggard patrol through the jungle, hears the sounds of hammering. He sensibly sends one boggard back to inform the villains, and two forwards to investigate. One is seen and crossbowed to death by soldiers but the other survives to report back. The two boggards report heavily armed soldiers in the forest, hammering things.

The villains realise an attack is imminent via the teleport thrones, and set up their forces on floor one after alarming the teleport thrones on the other floors, ready to teleport to the invaders and attack them.

Can't we get the tiger involved somehow?
- no, fuck that tiger! That tiger's a bastard!

If you try that, that's definitely going to get you killed.

 

Nothing happens that day, but they take it in turns to nap and stay at high alert.

“Why didn't Witchy Mcwitchfiace warn us about these guys?”

-because she's betrayed us. It's worth asking the question anyway

The inquisitor appears in the throne, setting off the alarm, and stands up. (In the ruins, a nun sits on the throne and speaks the word, and the teleporter starts to cycle)

Vexor breathes electricity on him and then Ezra does a wraithy touchy attack, which does further damage – however the inquisitor is made of stern stuff and fights off the con damage. The three wraith mooks are less successful in their attacks.

Adelea sits in the chair to teleport up but gets a sort of waitingy feeling

Hexor hurts the inquisitor very badly but doesn't quite kill him.

The inquisitor hurts a wraith with his flaming sword.

A nun appears! Vexor attacks but does little damage

Brother Vyte sits in the throne and gets a sort of holding pattern feeling.

Ezra fails to wraithify the inquisitor.

Sam enlargifies Adelea (because it might be funny.)

The wraith mooks successfully kill the inquisitor, meaning he will soon rise as a lesser wraith

With the forces of the inquisition, expecting to appear unexpectedly behind enemy lines, instead being fed piecemeal into a wraith-infested meat grinder, the fight inevitably goes the way of our villains. They gain another wraith and a lesser wraith.

Thomas the penitent is quick-thinking enough (and lacking any loyalty to Harkon) to shout “I surrender!” as soon as he sees the odds. He explains, hurriedly, that he was working for Harkon as the choice was that or imprisonment and torture by the Inquisition.

The Villains give him an even worse choice – Death, or Tregellan! Thomas chooses “the one that isn't death please”. Tregellan is given the choice of whether to recruit him or have him killed, and asks perceptive questions like “are you any good with a knife? Are you sneaky? Can you do the thing with the locks, and find traps and stuff?” Thomas says yes to these questions, and Tregellan takes him on as a member of his crew, a fitting replacement for “whatsisname, you know, the Spanish one”. The last and hardest question is asked by Sam – what's your attitude to hats? – but Thomas is quick on the uptake and says “it's exactly what he says it is”, pointing to Tregellan.

After Fitch sinisterly points out that “we have eyes all over the jungle” Thomas even changes his mind about legging it at the first opportunity and decides to genuinely work for them.

(see? he's got a hood. smart man)

Week 13

The villains hasten to Farholde to ask Elise some tough questions like “why didn't you send a messenger?” and “well we didn't GET a messenger, did you REALLY send a messenger?”, not to mention “well WHY didn't we get a messenger? Hmm?”

Sam insists that Elise send Trik from now on, and Elise says she will take this suggestion under advisement. She also suggests they try tracking the messenger, who she did send, to see what happened to him after she sent him (which she totally did) and why he did not arrive, which is surprising considering that she sent him.


They do, and following his tracks they discover the grove of a Hangman Tree by the cunning expedient of getting attacked by it. However Sam surprises everyone, including the tree, by negotiating. If you've ever seen a tree cock its head to one side in puzzlement, it looks exactly like that. She offers to feed it one humanoid creature a week if it will agree to relocate to guard the spire, and the tree agrees.

Next week – our players get to experience life from the other side of the Master/Minion relationship, in an all-new exciting episode of… MINION QUEST!

View
The Ritual (part 4)

 

Week 7

The PCs encounter some wanted posters of themselves! There are some fairly good descriptions although thanks to the circlet none of the PCs other than Sam look anything like that any more. There is some discussion as to whether Elise should have taken these down as part of her job.

  • she'll inevitably betray us but right now she's doing a pretty good job

  • but will she betray us before we betray her

  • if we let her betray us then kill her we get to feel righteous

  • but we're evil, we don't need to feel righteous!

  • By righteous I meant Thorn won't give us a hard time about it

They attend the Baron's 105th birthday party. All the movers and shakers in town are there including sir Valin Darian, acting commander of the Hamarhold. The party is a great success, and Sam's diplomatic skills lead to some connections for her Evil Organisation

Week 8

The evil organisation kidnaps eleven peasants. (We can feed them to things. The monsters have to eat after all. “You've got to eat a peasant or two, or two, you've got to eat a peasant or twooo”)

The pirates attack! There is a battle of wits as the villains try to lure them in. “Oh my god, what are you doing to that hat?!? NO!!, don't do it!” and the pirates try to lure them out “come out come out wherever you are!”

The golem hurls a grenade in the general direction of the pirates, stinging Tregellan into attacking – “Have at you you clockwork acid hurling rapscallian! Oho!”

  • Sadly the alchemical golem turns out to be a very tough opponent, and Tregellan is outmatched. He falls, badly wounded.

  • De Streza, feeling the door in the corridor for traps, realises there is something very odd about it but does not quite realise it is illusory. His fumbling alerts Adelea, who swings and misses, and Grumblejack, who brutally hits.

  • Jiim fails to hurt the golem with his flaming sphere, and accidentally kills the invisible De Streza while attempting to run it up the corridor and into the group of villains.

  • The bosun attempts to get into casting range of the villains under cover of the mist but runs into Adelea groping along the wall, followed up by Grumblejack, and is killed.

  • Louise surrenders, saying she'll happily lend her sword arm to the villains if they'll save Tregellan. Jiim, being hopelessly outnumbered, says he'll also happily work for them in exchange for some treasure. A deal isstruck, and Tregellan is stabilised and healed.

“Anton Tregellan at your service! Quite literally, apparently.”

So in return for not killing us, and some treasure, we fight your enemies for 6 months? It's a deal. Shame for the bosun really, but life with Tregellan is a life of risk and excitement! Where are my quarters? Wait, was that hat thing a ruse? Damn, but you're cunning!”

Week 9


A group of Iraen barbarians and rangers intent on sacking the Horn arrive in Farholde. Trik once more does his wizened old holy man routine and lures the fools into a late night meeting. The White Ravens slaughter the Iraen.
In the morning at frst light, the town watch discovers a grisly charnel scene of slaughtered corpses, hanging entrails and a message written in blood “Stay away from the Horn”. For at least now, the message is effective. Several local group of adventurers do indeed depart Farholde deciding that there are easier pickings up north. “Sad” news reaches Farholde — the Fire-Axe has destroyed another army at the battle of Upandershire Ford. Many of the sons of Farholde sent to war were at that battle and will not be coming home. Counted among the dead is Lord Argus Welshire, Duke of Farholde. It is said the Fire-Axe himself hewed Lord Argus’ head off in one mighty stroke
 

Week 10

The evil organisation attempts a caper – and screws up enormously, hurting their secrecy and connections stats. Dear me.

The villains head into town and find out that the Seventh Knot did a good job. “Can we kill her now?” “No, still no. Let her actually betray us”

Heading back to the Spire the villains are approached by Zikomo. 3 boggards have gone missing; they'd been hunting over by the lake of Skye. Can the Messengers of Dagon please look into it?

The Messengers of Dagon look into it. Adelea's scary horse turns out to be quite good at tracking, and able to converse with Sam in infernal. The party realise the boggards have been ambushed by a particularly large tiger, and track it towards its lair. There is one slightly disturbing moment, as they realise that while they'd been camping overnight near the lake the tiger had managed to get within ambush range of Grumblejack but hadn't attacked.

The lair, discovered, turns out to contain the corpses of three boggards (damn it! we're down three boggards) as well as various other humanoid and animal bodies of various ages, and what very much appears to be a trophy pile of humanoid skulls by one wall.

The party decides to settle down and attempt to ambush the tiger. They intend t take it alive if possible as it will make an excellent guard for the Spire…

View
The Ritual (part 3)
strangely familiar pirates?

Considerable housekeeping type stuff is taken care of – hiring a smith, setting up a tattoo parlour/magic item shop, getting the materials for the ritual to create a nightmare, buying trap parts to fix up the pit trap. While in town our villains hear exciting news – an Illend and a group of elves came out of the woods and attacked the Sisters, killing some before being defeated.

 

The boggards head out into the woods and successfully capture a giant mantis and two venomous snakes for use in guarding the Spire

Week 3

Things are quiet.

A boggard is made an example of for not guarding the “back door” cavern like they were told to. The rest snap to their duty with considerably more alacrity. Adelea insists the corpse be fed to the crocodiles – on being gently reminded they don't have any crocodiles she demands the corpse be kept in the “fridge” until they get some.

Artephius the Alchemical Golem is activated:  The heart cog begins to whirr and click and soon the pump distributes the four alchemical fluids throughout the automaton like blood. Electrical fluid bathes the brain floating in its case and sparks begin to dance around it. Artephius flickers with life. The construct stands up and says: “Master, command thy servant.”

Adelea carries out the ritual to create a Nightmare! She gains the service of a scary evil horse creature thing calling itself Carnitheria Rex.

Week 4 is uneventful. Elise sends a message to say “New adventurers in town calling themselves ‘Brendam’s Breakers’. They have been broken. No further difficulties. — Z”
 

At the start of Week 5 a couple of boggards go missing. Zikomo's visions are not helpful: he senses they are being hunted but cannot say by what.

Sam gathers together the remaining boggards in the Froglok village and has the villains spend the night there to keep an eye on them (Fitch stays in the temple to keep the ritual going).

The following morning another of the mooks comes running into the caverns to tell them two of the guards are dead and the smith has been murdered! Nobody saw anything.

“We're being hunted! We've lost two orphans and a smith! They're invisible! Who can detect invisibilility? Wait, the Eye can give us True Seeing…

Sam casts Alarm on the entrances and the party station themselves at a teleporter throne with Hexor and Vexor in tow (they have constant see invisibility and detect good). The alarm goes off late into the night and they hasten towards the entrance. “I say, master, I can't help noticing there's a good aura over there. Perhaps we should hasten over there and tear whatever's making it into teeny tiny pieces?”

The moon dogs (for they are indeed being hunted by two of these odd planar denizens) have greater invisibility active, so the party cannot see them – but Hexor and Vexor can. The fight might be tricky for our villains until the invisibility wears off – except in the event it's very much not.

Hexor acts early and successfully catches the moon dog Bethaniel Dandra with Hold Monster. Vexor does the same with Darus Dandra. Hexor coup de graces Bethaniel, while Vexor hurts Darus, who then fails to break out of the hold. Sam intimidates Darus, leaving her shaken. “You have entered a realm of evil more terrifying than you could imagine and now you are doomed”. Vexor then snaps her neck before she can escape the Hold. The party are somewhat grumpy the following day from lack of sleep, but satisfied that their mook-lossage problem has been stemmed.

A note from Elise: “no immediate concerns, but there are some amusing pirates. Come and see? – Z”

Sam makes her way into the tavern where the pirates are holding court and listens in to their conversation.

A pirate captain with a very spiffy hat and a fancy rapier with its hilt in the shape of a purple sea snake is deep in an energetic conversation with one of his crew, who has a jaunty red woolen hat. A female ifrit barbarian with a pretty hat with a feather and a glum-looking magic user look on. Hunched over his beer is a sinister looking half orc whose hat, once fancy, has seen better days.

Now we finally have both halves of the map, the spire has lit up like a giant beacon! It's a sign, a sign we're meant to find it!

Aye it's a sign all right, a sign that somebody scary is doing a big scary magical thing with scary magic. It's full of octopus men I tell you, evil magic octopus men who are going to want to boil us for stew. Have you ever heard of a friendly big green glowing spire? And what was the point of even getting the map when the thing's all glowing like that? Anyone could find it – for instance that group of adventurers who set out the other week and didn't come back! This is a bad idea, Admiral.

Nonsense, Bosun! Gentlemen (and lady), the Tregellanspire awaits us and we shall triumph with panache and daring! With Tregellan at the helm we cannot fail. Now we just have to work out what this clue means:

Of all the spires it's best – I've ranked 'em

The treasure's in the Inner Sanctum

Give frosty greeting to the demon, ho!

To climb above, first search below

Why is there always a cryptic clue? I hate these maps. What the hell does it MEAN? At least we're on land for a change.

Chin up Jiim! Treasure's waiting! As soon as we meet our contact for this smuggling thi (Ahem! Admiral!) err as soon as the perfectly innocuous person we are awaiting for perfectly legal reasons shows up, we'll be off to claim it!

Elise is later able to tell Sam that the pirates are engaged in an elaborate quest for an unclear goal, and that this step involves handing over a magic key so they can get a riddle that will enable them to find a secret island with an idol on it? Something like that, she confesses that Trik hadn't been able to keep the whole bewildering story straight. Anyway, they have a key which they've smuggled into Talingarde, and they're likely to be waiting 2 or 3 weeks for their contact before they can set off for the Horn, which "Admiral" Tregellan intends to ravish within an inch of its life before making off with the treasure. The flamboyant pirate is too high profile to easily murder, but Elise promises warning before they set off.

View
The Ritual (part 2)
The Assaultening

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring - except the five assholes coming in the rear in standard 2 by 2 cover formation.

Elise's note, containing the fruit of Trik's spying, turns out to be deadly accurate. The group of adventurers arrives on the morning of the third day after the messenger. Sharp-eyed Bianca gets a brief glimpse of Fitch as he observes their approach, but can only tell her comrades she thinks she saw some movement. Sadly for them, this evidence they might be awaited does not persuade them to turn around.

Grumblejack has made a decent fist of blocking the caverns with rocks, and the group are funneled right where our villains want them: the "ambush room", with its freshly dug camouflaged acid-filled pit trap. Our villains wait behind an illusory wall as the adventurers approach. There was some talk of using the froglok warriors to pad out the ambush party, particularly as Creel points out they can just be raised  as undead if they die, but Adelea is confident these relative novices can easily be dealt with.

Hallack's crew

Hallack Amon, in the lead, is a sword-and-board fighter. He is followed by the brawny form of James O'Toole, who appears unarmed, with the dwarf smith Yorgun beside him. Bringing up the rear is Sister Marta Dian in a nun's habit, and the bard Bianca deVallya who is quietly singing and accompanying herself on a lute.

Yorgun, the dwarf rogue, fails to spot the pit trap. He is on Hallack's shoulder and so he is caught up in the trap as his leader triggers it. However he and O'Toole leap clear and only Hallack tumbles into the pit, taking damage from the fall and the acid.

As Hallack flails in the acid and Yorgun hastily unships his rope, James O'Toole drops into a fighting stance and looks around wildly but fails to spot Fitch lurking in the shadows. Bianca changes her song to one that should inspire Hallack to climb out of the pit. With the heroes distracted and in disarray, our villains strike!

Fitch hurls a dagger at Otoole but it skitters off a rock in a spray of sparks. Our villains charge and the intruders are caught flat footed. Sam hastes the party. Adelea and Grumblejack have closed on Yorgun and O'Toole respectively.

Adela moves in a blur with brutal precision and terrifying power. Her first attack almost kills Yorgun the Smith, her second is messy overkill, and her third attack unecessarily decapitates the extremely dead dwarf before his body has a chance to fall.

Grumblejack does massive damage to the monk, O'Toole.

Sister Marta casts hold person on Adela however her willpower proves surprisingly strong and she shrugs it off.

Zack: : In the name of Asmodeus, SILENCE, you annoying bardic person. Your song offends the master! The bard, skilled at resisting sonic attack, shakes this off.

O'Toole sprints off, abandoning his friends regretfully yet briskly. Fitch takes off in pursuit, acrobatically leaping over Sister Marta's swinging sword.

Hallack Amon tries and fails to get out of the pit, yelling “save yourselves! I'm sorry I brought you here” as the acid does more damage. Bianca flees with a last regretful look.

Sam casts oppressive boredom on Sister Marta who stands, sword dangling slackly at her side, as Adelea walks past. Grumblejack surges down the corridor past them, swooping into the air and landing in front of the fleeing Bianca with a deep chuckle.

Creel places the manacles of cooperation on Sister Marta, effectively ending her part in the one sided fight.

With Fitch in hot pursuit O'Toole turns at bay and unleashes a stunning fist attack. Fitch is hurt but not stunned.

Hallack flails about in the acid, slowly dissolving

Bianca manages to cast Hold Person on Grumblejack, and he freezes like a huge, ugly statue as on the other side of the cavern entrance O'Toole crumples to the ground bleeding out from wounds from Fitch's daggers

Sam wanders over to the pit and waves cheerfully down at Hallack. “Hello dear”

Creel drags the manacled sister over to the pit to join in the taunting. “You want some rope? You can't have some rope. Dance for your rope! I want to see big splashes”

Hallack Amon sighs and says “You've won. Throw me a rope at least”. This time he manages to get five feet up the pit wall and out of the acid.

Adelea may be wearing heavy armour but she is hasted. She blurs up behind Bianca, whose desperate second cast of hold person once again bounces off Adelea's adamantine will. (What is going on?). Adelea proceeds to brutally murder her to death.

Grumblejack eventually snaps out of the hold and drags the bodies back into the caves.

Sam and Creel are cheerfully applauding Hallack Amon's unsuccessfull attempts to climb out, but Fitch suggests getting him out of the acid before any nice stuff dissolves.

Adelea: “what prompted you to attack us? We just wanted to be left alone”

Hallack: Attack YOU? We had no idea you were here. We planned to beat up some frog monsters and head back to town with their treasure. Nobody said anything about whatever the hell you are!”

Pulled out of the pit and gasping like a landed fish on the floor Hallack has no time to collect himself before he is brutally killed by Adelea.

The villains thoroughly loot their bodies before dragging Sister Marta off to find a nice secure cell to await her starring role in the ritual.

Fitch has been somewhat punched in the face, but other than that the party has taken no real damage in the fight while easily despatching their foes. These are just the amateurs though – surely they can expect a more competent try soon? 

View
The Ritual (part 1)
The ritual begins

Ezra Thrice-Damned

Having made their way to the third floor via the teleporty thrones our villains do some exploring and find the main entranceway. (This is only accessible by flying or a difficult climb).  In an interesting departure they find the pit trap in the entrance by NOT stumbling into it.

Once inside, the entranceway is a large hallway with five doors. The baroque decoration continues and everywhere is found bas relief carving showing the doings of daemons. There is a great deal of abyssal writing here as well. Sam contemplates the hallway and realises it tells
the tale of the ascension of the daemon prince Vetra-Kali Eats-the-Eyes.
It is revealed that Vetra-Kali is a leukodaemon who through his savagery and remorseless cruelty rose from the ranks to be appointed an Archdeacon of Pestilence in service to the Pale Horseman. This hallway exalts and praises the many ruthless deeds done by Vetra-Kali to gain this prominence.

They then find the most baroque room of all – the Fane of the Three Eyed Prince.

As ornate and baroque as the entryway hall is it pales before this expansive and vaulted chamber. This is the Horn’s third temple — reserved only for the High
Priest and his elite retinue. Most of the Sons of the Pale Horseman never entered this temple and never experienced the strange rites conducted within. The fane is adorned with a riot of lurid color. Brilliant bas reliefs depict daemons of every sort engaged in countless acts of
wanton evil, callous destruction and inhuman savagery. Rows of pews allow a congregation of the chosen to gather. Te podium is doubtless where foul sermons of Abaddon’s wisdom and bile were delivered to those gatherings. At the front of the chamber are four shrines.
 A white shrine decorated with bas relief depictions
of open pits of the dead and lepers crying in anguish.
 A shrine of red stone decorated with cruel iron
weaponry and scenes of slaughter.
A shrine of black stone decorated with images of
mortals wasting away from hunger and starvation.
A shrine of pale green stone adorned with a skull
with two coins over its eyes and an inscription of jagged
abyssal writing which reads “Behold a pale horse. Its
rider is Death and all shall follow him.”
Between them is large bas-relief image of Vetra-Kali sitting crosslegged holding his greatest work, his masterpiece, a vial of some sort. Below the vial is inscribed a name ‘Te
Tears of Achlys.’ Vetra-Kali also holds three blades and a strange jagged key with an Abyssal inscription “Hail Vetra-Kali”. Te three eyed daemon prince pays homage to the four shrines, but there is no doubt that this fane is built primarily to honor him. 
On all the other walls are litanies of the deeds of this monster. It was Vetra-Kali who crossed the great void and came to the prime material plane to establish the Sons of the Pale Horseman. It was he who oversaw the construction of the Horn of Abaddon and it is because of this that the Horn superfcially resembles this horror from another world.

Sam realises there's a magical aura coming from the east wall. Careful searching finds a secret door. Eventually they work out how to open it by pressing the three eyes of the statue. Doing this while saying "hail Vetra Kali" makes the door open into a pocket dimension which contains the giant wraith Ezra Thrice-Damned, the tormented soul of the last High Priest.  He swirls menacingly towards Sam with his wraithy hands outstretched! Oh no, it is the death in the shadow that that prophecy foretold! Remember the prophecy? The one they decided not to take any precautions about whatsoever? Well now they're going to have to fight an advanced giant wraith and three wraith mooks (who used to be the fourth knot). 

However just as Ezra is about to do that "touch you with his wraithy hands and then you die and turn into a wraith" thing that wraiths are always doing, Sam quickly says "we'reheretorestoreVetraKali!" and he stops in his swirly, shadowy, tracks. A quick chat with the ever persuasive Sam later and the dread wraith is pretty much on their side.

Sam asks if he could possibly tell them where the third Orb of Vetra Kali might be.

Yessss. It's over there.” Hisses the wraith, who points at the clawlike podium in the middle of the room where the stone is prominently displayed. They take it. Also the room contains scads of treasure. Scads!

Ornate silver belt studded with obsidian (belt of giant’s
strength +2)
A plain golden ring (ring of mind shielding)
An ornate teak wood box holding a glass lens (a lens
of detection). 
A walking stick of hard black wood adorned with
silver fxtures and green semi-precious stones (rod of elemental metamagic [acid], lesser)
Two iron plates both carved in abyssal that read “Aticus” and “Andian” (Hexor and Vexor’s control amulets)
A ton (yes, 2000 lbs) of solid silver furnishings -
plates, silverware, goblets, candelabra, cirlets, jewelry and
the like worth 10,000 gp total
600 lbs of similar golden items – worth 30,000 gp
Six chests full of mixed coinage from dozens of nations worth 5,500 gp total (approximately 550 lbs of coin)
A carefully packed crate holding a dozen potions of
cure moderate wounds (labelled as such in abyssal)
 

Fitch will be adventuring with this held to his eye from now on, because the second thing he said was "could it be like a monocle".

The Horn is fully explored and the party have all the ingredients necessary to start the ritual.

Sam: "I think we should go back to town and do some shopping before we kick things off". The shopping list from last week is picked up, as well as a wagon which will be handy for transporting things back and forth between town and Horn. They also discuss recruitment with the Baron:

“what news?”

-The horn is ours. We are preparing to break the seal but we need some staff. Can you help with recruitment?

“expound”

-we'll need a master smith, possibly a tavern keeper, and some hired swords to fortify the place

“so what's the ritual?”

- it's basically waiting for 8 months with the odd bit of grisly dark shit, sacrifices and that. A Son of the Pale Horseman “well that's going to be tricky they've been wiped out” – no we have one, so that's OK.

-Also a devout follower of Mitra (“I can have my orphans bundle one up for you”) and a descendant of Markadian 1 (“I can look into this”)

-also if we can find a qualified trainer and someone of officer grade

The Baron advises it may take a while to assemble the necessary recruits, however “someone evil and mercenary capable of commanding the loyalty of your troops is quite likely to to stab you in the back and try to take over, you may be best advised commanding them yourselves”

However he is able to provide 5 of his “orphans” for now. These poorly equipped thugs accompany the party back to the Horn to form the nucleus of their evil organisation.

Before leaving Sam catches up with Elise Zakariah, who tells her that she and her knot have quietly disposed of a couple of adventurers so far without needing the serial killer ruse yet. However she suspects Hallack Amon might be planning to put a party together to loot the caverns for treasure and adventure. He's a bit too high profile round here to easily bump off plus he's not actually acted yet. She'll monitor the situation. (Sam also feeds Elise a complete lie about the second level of the Horn being a weak point that would be very difficult to defend, on the grounds that when she inevitably betrays them it would be nice to know where she'll aim her forces)

Hallack Amon was born in Farholde and has dreamed of escaping this backwater since he could stand. He worked for more than a decade as a soldier of the watch tower, rising to the rank of sergeant. Finally he scraped together enough coin to leave this town forever and to at last see the great cities of the south. And then fate intervened. Amon’s father died and Hallack inherited the family debt. Hallack could have simply fled. But Hallack was too honorable. The entirety of his savings paid the debt but only barely
 

Returning to the spire they tie up the statue and put one end of the manacles of cooperation onto it before returning the priest to life and quickly manacling him. He accompanies them to the sanctum while querulously asking them what's going on.

“it's been 80 years, the Mitrans won, we didn't know if you'd cooperate” – I'll cooperate, take the manacles off

“well there's no easy way to break this. We kind of need a sacrifice and… that's you”

The priest, Halthus the Flayer, is unhappy about this but has little choice as he is unable to escape due to the manacles. Screaming increasingly hoarsely, but basically cooperative, he is led away.

With all three eyes now returned to the statue of Vetra Kali they have the following effects

The Eye of Vigilance (the First Eye of Vetra-Kali)
Aura strong divination (evil); CL 15th
Slot none; Weight –
DESCRIPTION
This jewel at frst appears to be nothing more than an exquisite
emerald worth at least 20,000 gp. Only if the jewel is steeped
in the blood of a sentient creature does it reveal its true nature. The Eye of Vigilance was the magical focus used to create
the Horn of Abaddon in the frst place and so it is connected
to every square inch of the structure. The bearer of this jewel
may scry the Horn of Abaddon just as if he possessed a crystal
ball. The Eye is also a critical component of the ritual to destroy the Silver Seal and return Vetra-Kali to the prime material plane.
If all three of the Eyes of Vetra-Kali are united in the statue of Vetra-Kali in the Sanctum, then the Eye of Vigilance functions as
a crystal ball with true seeing again limited to the confines of
the Horn itself.
 

The Eye of Hatred (the Second Eye of Vetra-Kali)
Aura strong divination (evil); CL 15th
Slot none; Weight –
DESCRIPTION
This jewel at frst appears to be nothing more than an exquisite
emerald worth at least 20,000 gp. Only if the jewel is steeped
in the blood of a sentient creature does it reveal its true nature. The Eye of Hatred was the magical focus used to dedicate
the Horn of Abaddon to the Four Horsemen. It is thus sensitive
to any outside interference. The Eye of Hatred pulses whenever any divine magic of Mitran origin is used within the Horn
of Abaddon. The Eye is also a critical component of the ritual
to destroy the Silver Seal and return Vetra-Kali to the prime
material plane.
If all three of the Eyes of Vetra-Kali are united in the statue of Vetra-Kali in the Sanctum, then the Eye of Hatred not only pulses
when such magic is used but immediately directs the Eye of
Vigilance to show that magic being used .
 

 

The Withering Eye (the Third Eye of Vetra-Kali)
Aura strong evocation (evil); CL 15th
Slot none; Weight –
DESCRIPTION
This jewel at frst appears to be nothing more than an exquisite
emerald worth at least 20,000 gp. Only if the jewel is steeped
in the blood of a sentient creature does it reveal its true nature. The Withering Eye was the magical focus used to frst
summon Vetra-Kali from the lower planes to the prime material. It is thus attuned to Vetra-Kali and a powerful channel
for daemonic energy. The Withering Eye when placed in the
statue of Vetra-Kali descrecates (as the spell except it affects
both undead and daemons) the entire Horn of Abaddon. The
DC to resist negative channeled energy within this area gains
a +6 profane bonus. Every undead or daemonic creature gains
a +2 profane bonus on all attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws. An undead or daemonic creature created within
or summoned into such an area gains +2 hit points per HD.
Furthermore, anyone who casts animate dead within this area
may create as many as double the normal amount of undead.
The Eye is also a critical component of the ritual to destroy the
Silver Seal and return Vetra-Kali to the prime material plane.
If all three of the Eyes of Vetra-Kali are united in the statue of
Vetra-Kali in the Sanctum, then the Withering Eye not only
desecrates the Horn but also grants all daemons within fast
healing 1.
 

 

They start the ritual! 

As soon as the death priest dies on the altar and his heart is placed in the frst bowl, the Horn begins to burn. An alien voice of pure malice speaks in abyssal: “Kazara Vo” — “I hear.” Like a great unholy beacon, ghostly green flame flares upward into the sky. All the greenery and
overgrowth blending the stone spire into the Caer Bryrburns away in a single flash of dire radiance. The Horn is revealed in all its daemonic glory. Abyssal runes carved
in the stonework glow furiously. Wraith spawn dance outside the Horn cackling in glee. Te earth shakes and even in Farholde, they feel the shocks. Any hope of keeping the Horn a secret disappears in one blaze of balefire. Afer a while, the pyrotechnics are over. Te Horn still
smolders with a residual green fre but it is no longer visible from a distance. Not that this matters. Every soul in Farholde saw the eruption. Everyone can point the way
to the Horn. And by the morning every tongue wags:
“Evil stirs in the Caer Bryr.”

Tere is good news. The residual green fire is a natural magic barrier. None can teleport through or send a magical message (except using the Thrones).
Teleportation and summoning works fine within the Horn, you just cannot enter while the ritual is ongoing. And so the countdown begins. Te PCs must complete 666 rituals to break the Seal and then on midnight, more than seven months from today, Vetra-Kali will return. Any plan involving keeping their operations here a secret has failed. Everyone knows something is afoot
in the Horn. How long before the first explorers arrive?
 

One week. A messenger from Elise Zadaria arrives after 4 days to advise a group of local adventurers is coming in three days' time and is intending to explore the caverns. 

Hallack Amon – male human, retired watch sergeant,
warrior with military experience, the leader
Sister Marta Dian – female human, priestess of Mitra,
successfully destroyed a dozen zombies
Yorgun the Smith – male dwarf blacksmith, experience
unknown, big hammer
James O’Toole – male human, large brawler, famed for
taking on all comers at local faire
Bianca DeVallya – female half-elven, a local bard and
singer, knows a little magic, very fond of Hallack
 

In the meantime Adelea trains, Fitch manufacturers alchemical reagents for the mechanical man project (and puts the finishing touches to a deep acid-filled pit trap dug out by their frogmen allies), and Sam examines the murals in the mural hall, discovering some useful, once-per-year rituals.

<u>Call Forth the Hounds</u>: If three guard dogs (25 gp
each) are poisoned with a very specific preparation (costing 2400 gp in total) and then ritually slaughtered, they
will rise as hell hounds in life-long service to whoever cut
the guard dog’s throat.


<u>Call Forth the Steed</u>: If a fine heavy warhorse (worth
300 gp) is slain and then set aflame with a very specific
and exotic mixture of incense, powered gemstones and
prayer strips (costing 3000 gp) then from the flame will
emerge a nightmare who will serve whoever lit the pyre.
The creature who emerges calls itself Carnitheria Rex and
will serve faithfully for the life of its master.


<u>Cauldron of the Earth</u>: Tis ritual must be performed
over a pit of boiling mud (C8 above). A specially prepared concotion of rare earths and powered obsidian
(worth 1200 gp) must be poured into the boiling mud
while reciting a prayer to the Lord of Evil Earth Elementals. This calls forth four mudmen.

Sam also has Grumblejack pile large stones to block a passage, and has some froglocks block a narrow gullet with medium size ones, in an effort to funnel the expected adventurers into the "ambush room".

A more long-term approach to security will be needed (after all, a tunnel that can be blocked ban be unblocked, while collapsing them risks partly collapsing the spire and potentially ruining the ritual). A quick look around suggests some more places that might be useful spots for traps, areas that could be used for beast lairs, and sections the Frogloks err I mean Boggards should be persuaded to set up ambushes in. 

With 5 basic fighter mooks and a flying ogre Sam has the beginnings of an evil organisation. So we're going to need some rules for how those work!

Masters of the Wicked: Building Your Own Evil Organization
Would it truly be a villainous campaign without minions? I think not. But keeping track of an organization can be a tedious affair. So, with this optional system (ITS NOT OPTIONAL) we abstract the paper work and help you skip the bookkeeping and instead get back to the glorious business of evil.


How do I build an Evil Organization?
Mechanically, the answer is take the Leadership feat.
When you take the Leadership feat you receive a cohort
as normal but instead of receiving followers, you become
the master of an evil organization. If multiple PCs buy
the Leadership feat they must choose whether they are
each starting their own organization or if they are pooling to form a council of villainy.
There are advantages to both. Councils can hit higher
target numbers but control can be an issue. Individual
groups are weaker but there is no question of control.


The Six Ability Scores
Much like a PC, an evil organization has six ability
scores that define them. Every score ranges from -5 to
+10. These scores modify both action and skill rolls.
Where a PC has Strength, Organizations are Ruthless. Ruthless is the ability to get violent things done. If Ruthless ever hits -5, your organization cannot take any
violent actions.
Where a PC has Dexterity, Organizations have Secrecy. Secrecy is the ability to conceal your organization and its operations. If Secrecy ever reaches -5, your organization becomes a household name in Talingarde.
Where a PC has Constitution, Organizations have Survivability. Survivability is your organization’s ability to survive adversity. If Survivability ever hits -5, your
organization has ceased to exist.
Where a PC has Intelligence, Organizations have Connections. Connections is your ability to get nonviolent tasks done. If Connections ever hits -5, your organization can take no skilled actions.
Where a PC has Wisdom, Organizations have Espionage. Espionage is the ability to acquire information others don’t want you to have. If Espionage ever hits -5, your organization can take no espionage actions.
Where a PC has Charisma, Organizations have Loyalty. Loyalty is your minions devotion to their masters. If Loyalty ever hits -5, your organization falls apart.


An organization’s scores start at zero. Each master
with a positive charisma modifer has that many points
to spend increasing the scores. No score can initially be
raised above +4. After creation, changes to charisma no
longer effects scores. Scores change from game effects
and when a master gains a level — a master then adds +1
to a score of their choice. No score may ever exceed +10.
Actions
Actions represent an evil organizations ability to get
things done. Every week you command your evil organization to perform actions. Te maximum number is determined by adding the leader’s level + current Charisma
modifer and then consulting this chart.
Level + Charisma Mod. Actions per Week
9 or less 0
10 1
11 1
12 1
13 2
14 2
15 3
16 3
17 4
18 4
19 5
20 5
21 6
22 7
23 8
24 9
25 or more 10
If the evil organization is ruled by a council, every
leader contributes his actions to a pool. Tat is the total
number of actions an organization may take per week.


The Action Check
When an action is performed, this usually involves an
Action Check. Tis roll is the relevant score plus a d20.
A Secrecy Check, for example, is d20 + Secrecy.
Every action check will have a target number assigned
by the Game Master. To succeed an Action Check must
equal or beat that number. A natural 1 is always a failure.
A natural 20 ofen improves the checked score.
Target numbers are assigned by the Game Master based
on diffculty given the current circumstances:
Target Number Descriptor
8 Easy
12 Average
16 Diffcult
20 Very Diffcult
25 Almost Impossible


“You Have Failed Me for the Last Time”
Any time you are unhappy with any Action Check, you
can execute the minion who failed you and demand that
the other try again if they don’ t want to meet the same
fate. You may reroll the failure. You can only reroll once
per Action Check and executing the minion so callously
does shake the other minions — you take a -1 to Loyalty.


The Action List
This is a list of actions an evil organization can attempt. It is not comprehensive and with GM permission other actions may be permitted. Level always refers to
the level of the highest level PC leader of the organiation.


Abduct Peasants (violent action): You need peasants
(lvl 1-3 commoners) for your gruesome experiments or
perhaps as monster chow. Roll a Ruthless Check.
Success: You abduct 2d6 Peasants
Failure: You abduct no one.
Natural 1: Failure and -1 to Secrecy.
Natural 20: Success and +1 Ruthless.


Assassination (violent action): Your minions attempt to
kill someone. Roll a Ruthless Check. Important NPCs
are often immune to this action.
Success: The target dies. -1 to Secrecy.
Failure: The target does not die.
Natural 1: The target does not die and minions
are captured. -1 to Secrecy and Survivability.
Natural 20: The target dies and it looks like an
accident. +1 to Ruthless.


Criminal Enterprise (violent action): Your organization
uses crime to acquire funds. Roll a Ruthless Check.
Success: Level*1d6*10 gp is acquired.
Failure: You are revealed. -1 to Secrecy
Natural 1: Failure and -1 to Survivability
Natural 20: Success and +1 to Ruthless


Frame Someone (espionage action): Your minions plant
evidence to convince the law that someone is guilty of
some unsavory crime. Roll an Espionage Check.
Success: It works!
Failure: It doesn’t work.
Natural 1: It doesn’t work and your minions get
caught. -1 to Secrecy and Survivability.
Natural 20: Success and +1 to Espionage.


Gather Information (skilled action): Your organization
tries to gather three random rumors (see page 9) or tries
to answer three questions that might be know about town.
Roll a Connections Check.
Success: The questions are answered.
Failure: You receive 1 random rumor.
Natural 1: You learn nothing.
Natural 20: Success plus +1 to Connections.


Grave-Robbing (skilled action): Your organization
violates graves to acquire corpses and skeletons for you.
Success: 2d6 corpses or skeletons are acquired.
Failure: You are revealed. -1 to Secrecy
Natural 20: 4d6 are acquired instead.
Natural 1: As failure, but a number of minions
are caught and hanged. -1 to Survivability.


Guard Duty: You assign your organization to guard a
location for a week. This creates an encounter equal to a
CR of the level of the highest level master -2.


Hunt Beasts (violent action): You order the capture of
wild beasts to guard your base. Roll A Ruthless Check.
Success: Roll 1d10. The minions catch:
1 – 1d3 Snakes, Venomous (CR 1)
2 – 1d3 Giant Spiders (CR 1)
3 – 1d2 Crocodiles (CR 2)
4 – 1d2 Snake, Constrictor (CR 2)
5 – 1d2 Giant Leeches (CR 2)
6 – 1d2 Giant Toads (CR 2)
7 – 1d2 Tatzlwyrms (CR 2)
8 – Giant Mantis (CR 3)
9 – Giant Scorpion (CR 3)
10 – Chupacabra (CR 3)
Failure: Minions catch nothing.
Natural 1: Monsters catch minions.
Survivability -1.
Natural 20: They catch a hydra (CR 4)


Indoctrinate: Your minions have grown quarrelous and
forget their place. Teach them the meaning of obedience.
Loyalty +1 up to a maximun of zero.
Lay Low: You organization keeps out of the spotlight
for a while. Secrecy +1 up to a maximum of zero.


Legitimate Enterprise (skilled action): Your
organization uses legitimate means to acquire funds.
Roll a Connections Check.
Success: Level*(1d4-1)*10 gp is acquired.
Failure/Natural 1: no consequences
Natural 20: Success and +1 to Connections


Recover: Your organization stays out of danger and
focuses on recruiting new members. Surivability +1 up
to a maximum of zero.


Spread Disinformation (espionage action): You
organization tries to convince the populace of something
isn’t true.
Success: It works!
Failure: It doesn’t work.
Natural 1: Failure and -1 to Espionage.
Natural 20: It works! +1 to Espionage.


Torture Captives (violent action): Extract information
from “guests” of your dungeon. Roll a Ruthless check.
Success: You receive answers to three questions.
Failure: No results.
Nat. 1: The prisoner dies(50%) or escapes(50%).
Natural 20: Success and +1 to Ruthless.


Training (skilled action): Increase Ruthless, Competence
or Espionage by +1 up to a maximum of zero.


Trap Building (skilled action): Roll a Connections
check to fx a trap.
Success: Spend the money to build the trap.
Failure: The traps are not built.
Natural 1: Failure and half the cost is wasted.
Natural 20: Success and Connections +1


Trap Repair (skilled action): Roll a Connections Action
Check to fx three traps.
Success: Spend the money to fx the traps.
Failure: The traps are not fxed.
Natural 1: Failure and half the cost is wasted.
Natural 20: Success and Connections +1


Organization Events
Every month roll a d20 for organizational events. Tis
roll cannot be rerolled by executing a minion.


1: Disquiet in the ranks. Make a Loyalty Check.
Success: Lose an action next week
Failure: Desertions. All Scores -1.
Natural 1: Assassination Attempt. The Game
Master puts together a level appropriate encounter
based around the fact that your minions want you dead.
Natural 20: No penalties


2-6: No Events


7:Capable Leadership. Gain a bonus action next week.


8: Times are Hard. Your minions have suffered more
losses than usual. Can they endure this time of trials?
Make a Survivability Check.
Success: They endure. No effect.
Failure: Survivability -1.
Natural 1: Survivability -2 and Loyalty -2.
Natural 20: …but they’d follow you into hell.
Survivability +1 and Loyalty +1.


9: Revealed! You are being hunted. Can they fnd your
organization before its too late? Roll a Secrecy Check.
Success: You are everywhere and nowhere.
No effect.
Failure: The enemy are closer to the truth than
you’d like. Secrecy -1.
Natural 1: Survivability -2 and Secrecy -2.
Natural 20: The tables turn and the hunters
are the hunted. Secrecy +1 and Ruthless +1.


10: Recruitment Opportunity. Can you ever have
enough minions? Make a Survivability Check.
Success: Your ranks grow. Survivability +1.
Failure/Natural 1: No effect.
Natural 20: Rapid growth. Survivability +2.

11: Rumors and Whispers. -1 to Loyalty.


12: Your Organization is a Shadow. +1 to Secrecy.


13: Inflitration Opportunity. You have a chance to
get an agent amongst your enemies. Are you sneaky
enough take advantage of it? Make an Espionage
Check (DC 20).
Success: You have get an agent it their ranks.
Espionage +1.
Failure: The spy is caught and executed.
Survivability -1.
Natural 1: The spy is caught and talks!
Secrecy -1 and Survivability -1.
Natural 20: You get a trusted spy in their
midsts. Secrecy +1 and Espionage +2.


14: Talkative Minion. -1 to Secrecy.


15: You Give Them So Much. +1 to Loyalty.


16: The Cause Grows. +1 to Survivability.


17: Turf War. Other criminal organizations try to
take your turf. Can you defend what’s yours? Make a
Ruthless Check (DC 20).
Success: You defend it well. Ruthless +1.
Failure: You lose ground. Ruthless -1.
Natural 1: Your organization receives a
thrashing. Ruthless -1 and Survivability -1.
Natural 20: Those who dared challenge you
are now your minions. Ruthless +1 and
Survivability +1.


18: Unneccessary Squabbles. -1 to Survivability.


19: A Caper. This job could make you rich if you can
pull it off. Make a Connections check (DC 20).
Success: Level x1d6 x100 gp. Connections +1.
Failure: Bridges are burned. Connections -1.
Natural 1: A massive blunder. Connections -1
and Secrecy -1.
Natural 20: Masterfully done. Success plus
Secrecy +1.


20: Rare Opportunity. You have a chance to really
expand your power base. Make an Action Check of
your choice (target number 15).
Success: Opportunity Seized! +1 to the score
of your choice.
Failure/Nat. 1: Opportunity missed. No effect.
Natural 20: Success beyond your wildest
dreams! +1 to all scores.


Organizations as Skill Bonuses
Organizations can aid PCs in one more way. Tey can
provide circumstance bonuses to skill checks. For example, making an Intimidate skill check while being flanked
by a half-dozen of the most ruthless, infamous criminal
thugs in the city is defnitely worth a bonus. In that case,
you would your add your Ruthless score to the Intimidate
check. Being assisted this way can count as an action at
the Game Master’s discretion.
Using a Cohorts
A cohort can be assigned to aid your minions. Any cohort so tasked is unavailable for anything else that week.
Tey are busy with underlings. A cohort adds their revelant ability score modifer to an Action Check. For example, Grumblejack the ogre could add his +6 Strength
modifer to any violent actions. If an action aided by a
cohort loses Survivability, the cohort must make a Fortitude save vs a DC equal to the task difculty or die.


Councils of The Wicked
A council is formed when a single organization has
more than one master. Te advantage is that the organization has only one set of scores. Te disadvantage is
that the masters may disagree. Te council votes on any
proposed action. In case of a tie vote, an action is lost to
squabbling and indecision.
 

Note that as you have wrangled an alliance with the boggards, you receive one bonus ‘Boggard’
action a week for every eight boggards alive in the tribe. Since the maximum size is 32, that means a fully ‘stocked’ boggard tribe can provide four actions a week. The boggards are terrible at espionage and skilled actions (assess a -4 penalty if you allow the actions at all), but are perfectly capable of doing violent tasks. Hurting things is a venerable boggard tradition afer all.
 

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