Sundtar Cats

CRITICALLY IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
The text pasted below is incomplete because it does not include any PC statements, questions, actions, etc. performed during the actual session. This is all DM prep-text and needs to be updated by the players to have an appropriately-complete record of the actual session actions.

The theme song for this session may well be "Madness" by Muse.

My Wife

This session picked up with the party just coming into Sundtar Agamm. In fact, you’re walking up the pass, climbing into the mountains with less than a mile to go to the valley, when Saul’s brow furrows and his face falls slightly.

Saul raises his hand and starts to slow. The dharven in the caravan reluctantly slow down a little as Saul falls to the back of the group. Once the sounds of the nashorn pulling the wagons have died down, he quietly says “Hold here, please. Something doesn’t feel right.” He glances around suspiciously, slowly walking in a vague half-circle as he inspects the canyon walls.

The dharven beastmaster falls back with Saul to question him. “We’re nearly to the valley; the border guards are less than a mile ahead. Is this worth concern now, priest? We’ll be to the checkpoint in only a few minutes.”

Saul replies, “I’m not really certain. I just thought I saw and heard something. Perhaps it was nothing, but I wish to look around before I continue. I understand if you’d prefer to go on ahead. If it was nothing, there’s no reason for me to hold you up. If it is something, perhaps it would be better if you were closer to the border guards.”

The beastmaster shrugs noncommittally and signals the rest of the dharven to proceed. They rapidly funnel down the pass and around the last few turns before the guard gate, picking up the pace slightly at Saul’s words.

Saul meanders slowly over toward the walls of the pass, running his hands lightly over the walls, seemingly searching for something. Suddenly, a voice that sounds like ringing crystal resonates off the walls, apparently coming from nowhere and everywhere. Saul starts and turns, eyes darting everywhere, as the distinctly feminine voice sounds through the pass.

Meanwhile, Maleos has been searching for magic. He’ll see shimmers and ebbs of magic. Many spells have been cast in this area through the years, and some still remain, including some transmutation/abjuration wards that keep the canyon walls from collapsing into rockslides.

Braelyn: (frustrated laughter) “Oh course our paths would cross here of all places, my love.”
Saul: (looks around cautiously for the location of the voice, ready to go for his morningstar at a moment’s notice)
Braelyn: “Tell me, love, how did you find me? Are you cheating in our little game? I should think you would have been above cheating.” (as she says this, she manifests as a semi-corporeal nude woman made from magma, sauntering seductively toward Saul)
Saul: (Taking a defensive posture and raising his morningstar across himself) “Who are you? What are you talking about?”
Braelyn: (cocks her head to look closely at Saul as she approaches him, then her face falls a little as she shake her head) “Am I mistaken?” (pause as she looks more closely at him. She reaches for his chin and he flinches slightly but allows her to touch him, and she pulls his chin so that he’s looking into her eyes) “No, no, I’m not mistaken, my love. But you’ve been injured! Who’s done this to you?!” (Seeing the confusion in his eyes, she looks him over more carefully.) “Hmmph. This… this deserves further research, love. You know I could never let anyone hurt you.”

(NOTE: PCs also stepped in and asked questions, etc.)
If the PCs ask who she is: “You mean you don’t recognize me? I’m almost insulted! Wait… (as she inspects them more closely) why, you’re of the Hidden! (turning to Saul) I was wrong about you! You’re not cheating, you’ve brought me a puzzle! This is why I love you so, darling, you always know how to banish my boredom.”
If the PCs ask how she knows Saul: “It is often a prerequisite for marriage, isn’t it?”

more interaction leading to combat with summoned creatures; also, Maleos trades blows with Braelyn.

Braelyn appears to preferentially summon the demons between the PCs and the path to Sundtar Agamm.

When the demons start flooding the pass (and there are eventually many of them for the PCs to fight off), the dharven will start firing as well. Exploding shells and crossbow bolts fly in, and the shadow creatures fall as fast as they're summoned. The dharven commander will order his archers to “Aim at that explosion and fire! Fire!” This will drive Braelyn off with cries of unfairness, ending the assault.

The dharven will have guards escort the PCs to Sundtar Agamm proper, sending a message ahead to announce the attack and confirm to the authorities that the PCs were fighting against the demons, not with them.

Seeing Sundtar Agamm

Valley between three mountains. 3 entrance roads, each walled and guarded - NW, SW, and E. Main/biggest road goes to the E. The valley is long and narrow, and most of the passes are toward the south end of the valley. The dharven external city is clustered toward the north end. Along the north arc of the mountains, there are perhaps a dozen different entrances, maybe more, into the interior of Sundtar Agamm.

The Valley of Sundtar Agamm is a very shallow bowl valley with a wide river running through the middle. As you enter, you see dozens of dharven milling about on the roadways, heading both north and south. The roadways are well-made, as well paved as any you’d find in Violetford. The city itself is off to the north end of the valley, but there are signs indicating that two villages lie at the south end. There are even some farms visible nearer to the river, something you’ve not seen before in a dharven city… at least not aboveground.

Overhead, you see a trio of large, white-grey owls swooping in from the south. As you watch, they glide in over the city, spiraling in to land somewhere amidst the tall, strong stone buildings.

The rest of the valley is pine forest, though to your eye it looks scraggly and ill-tended. This may just be a consequence of having spent so much time in aelphin lands recently, as they seem to take great pride in their forested parks and berry-and-nut farms.

Sundtar Agamm is by far the largest dharven surface city you’ve ever seen. Despite the amount of land the dharven have on which they could spread out, the buildings are mostly heavily-built stones structures between 3 and 5 stories tall. You can see that the stories on the buildings are nearly 12’ tall as well; it seems that the dharven do not confine their grand, spacious interiors to their caverns and mines.

Your guide and guards are leading you to a market district within the city; when you reach it, you’re struck by its familiarity. It seems that Hallvar’s markets drew much design inspiration from the markets of Sundtar Agamm. You notice that there are two buildings in the marketplace that have no sign or designation. A pair of silk-clad orcs stand outside one of the buildings, leather-wrapped weapon handles sticking up behind their shoulders. Across the marketplace from them, four aelphin guardsmen stand at attention in formal uniforms, sword and poniard polished to a high gloss.

(Have the characters roll a Spot check, DC 17. Success means that they catch a glimpse of a lithe dharven woman wearing black leathers perched atop the aelphin building. When they look back, she is gone if she was ever even there). Everyone saw her standing there, if they weren't imagining it.

The guards lead you all to an inn two doors down from the orcs’ building. Upon entry, you see that the place is very nearly empty; everyone inside clearly works there. A definite look of relief crosses the bar matron’s face as the guards lead you to her. She greets you and asks the guard how long you’ll be needing accommodations.

The guards ask you to stick around the inn for the rest of the day, as they’ll be sending a messenger back with the results of your introduction. They don’t want anyone to cause the PCs trouble until the authorities are notified of their actions in the battle.

Bar Staff of the Snowcap Inn

  • Matron: Hildur
  • Older daughter: Asta
  • Younger daughter: Britta

Husband: Gustav (a city guard)
Also have older son who has moved out and gotten a job as a city guard as well; his name is Radoslav.

How the Treaties Are Made

The next morning, the PCs are notified that the authorities have been told of their actions. Moreover, the aelphin delegates have apparently requested that the PCs attend them. The PCs might initially think they mean that the PCs should head to the building next door, but that is not the case; the PCs are to be led into the inner areas of Sundtar Agamm. The PCs must be at the inn two days hence at the midday bell (around 9 am). Before then, the aelphin have requested that they all obtain new outfits, with the aelphin having provided sketches of example outfits that would be appropriate. They have been given a chit with a signet impression guaranteeing payment for whatever outfits they choose. The aelphin suggest that they speak with the orcs, as their tailors are “superb.”

TODO interactions with the orc tailors

Aelphin and dharven honor guards arrive as promised to lead the PCs to the inner sanctum of Sundtar Agamm. The PCs are led through the city and into the tunnels. Some of the tunnels are cloaked in magical darkness; others are sealed off and move under the PCs’ feet. This makes it impossible to reliably find their way back out from the throne room or into the throne room in the first place.

The PCs are given a grand entrance when they arrive, having been given the unofficial designation of Dubhilihas (in equaen), Tdolakör (in aodzhiv), or Demonslayers (in rough Islander translation). They are individually introduced.

Important Figures Present

  • Dharven
    • King Silke Vesela Nevena
    • Istvan Dextro, magical adviser to the king
    • Pista Sinese, tactical and strategic adviser to the king
  • Aelphin
    • Ambassador Adviser Donat-Nainsi
    • Ambassador Fionnan-Hywel
  • Orc
    • Ambassador Mef'(buzz)diy (approximated by King Silke as roughly "Mef'z'diy" or "Mef'tz'diy")

Side Note: LOW KING: King Silke Vesela Nevena - technically a "queen", but the dharven use a gender-neutral term for their ruler. But "Ruler Silke" sounds lame.

The Questioning

The dharven expect the PCs to designate a spokesperson and will direct their questions to that person. They do not mind if the PCs confer, but they prefer that they follow some rules of order so that they know who is talking officially, for how long, etc., etc.

Some of the questions for the PCs:

  1. What can you tell us about the attack from a few days ago?
  2. What can you tell us about the (other) demons you’ve battled?
  3. Have you seen anything that might explain why these demons, the tragn, the trolls, the maenae, the mantid, and the Þórar (approximated "thuorar") are acting up?
  4. Why have you taken up this battle?
  5. Where are you from?
  6. What is the goal of your quest? Are you merely hunting demons, or do you have a greater goal?

TODO note that these were not the only questions asked

After all of the questioning and discussion, the dharven will reward the PCs for their part in the defense of the city (as well as for their other actions). They will be offered a prize of their choosing worth 5,000 gp, custom-crafted by some of the finest dharven craftsmen in the city if necessary. The payment can also be made in cash, though the dharven will be obviously disappointed by this, or in raw materials, in which case the dharven will follow up on their particular needs and assist with their crafting. The PCs will then be dismissed politely and will be sent back to their inn.

The Counter-Questioning

TODO note that PCs also asked some questions.

Learned that there is a demon in the dharven parables and religious texts that might correspond to the lava lady Braelyn that the PCs encountered above. Her name is Majel, she's known to be capricious, and she's unpredictable about whether she sides with or against the gods in the various stories.

Assassination!

TODO scene with Maleos being shot at, roof chase, three-story bodyslam, guard interrogation, etc.

PCs eventually find out assassination was ordered by member of wealthy and influential dharven family named Mac Eanraig. TODO scene where Maleos "investigates" him

Explosions?

TODO bar scene with Darias and Aida w/ Dwarfbro guard - storytelling, drinking, asking about exploding shells - note the bar bet

Dharven guards:

  • Dharvebro: Gerlof
  • Captain: Henriette
  • Armorer: Nikol Gibb

OTHER NOTES

  1. PCs will, in total, be there 30-31 weeks. The first week is when all of this session (i.e, all of the above) happened. Maleos also did some side stuff (not yet run as of 2014-07-05) involving talking to the wizards about the Compass and a priest about dharven religion and religious tales.
  2. For other downtime activities, see Sundtar the Weather.

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