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Author Topic: Actual Play: The Fit Hits The Shan (#41)  (Read 767 times)

Abyssal Maw

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Actual Play: The Fit Hits The Shan (#41)
« on: January 19, 2007, 08:19:45 am »
Previous AP reports:

* Session #40 gamelog
* Session #39 gamelog

DRAMATIS PERSONAE! (this updates depending on who actually appears in the AP)

Player Characters:
Owyn Glydd: gnome trickster
Bernhard: nasty goblin fighter/cleric of Zunail
Vork Barkor: human ranger with a background as a sailor
Ganex Firemane: Elan Psychic Warrior/Psion

Non-Player Characters:
Kismet: bitchy Elan "girlfriend" of Ganex. Although she is angry with Ganex lately, she is still devoted to him.
Guinevere Vartagnan: aristocratic merchant princess, and somewhat of a girlfriend to Vork. Now captured by Vincent. Recently revealed to be 2nd in line to the Quadrite throne.
Queen Emerald: One of the four leaders of Karelon. She is known as "the people's queen" for her popularity and goodness. She is actually Guinevere Vartagnan's cousin.
Archcleric Parete: High cleric of Bremen. Er.. Not actually a cleric, but rather an especially high level adept (that's an NPC class, kids). Parete is a cloistered civilian, not an adventurer. Also, he's a bit of a doddering old fool.
Pontius: gnome operative of "The Jewelers Guild" - a secret smuggling/stolen goods network that runs throughout the region. Based in the capitol city of Evander.

Gods Of note:
Bremen: Lawful good deity of domestic civilization, who along with his brother represents the mainstream civil deity of the region, and the most powerful church.  
Subaris: neutral evil goddess of night, darkness, and the moon. Minor aspects of thievery. Somewhat based on Ratri.
Zunail: the mischievous fire spirit. Sort of a cross between Prometheus and Hermes. Owyn is a follower of Zunail, and Bernard is a cleric of Zunail.
Zumaloken: the forgotten god of secrecy and greed.  
Xalene: The Witchqueen. Goddess of snakes, magic and darkness. (Somewhat based on Hecate)

Important Villians:
Vincent Defabro: undead cleric of Zumaloken. (Formerly a PC!)
Orcish slavers: The Sea Bat tribe. An evil band of slavers who operate like pirates along the eastern coast of Karelon.
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Abyssal Maw

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Actual Play: The Fit Hits The Shan (#41)
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2007, 09:20:10 am »
[OOC notes for the session]
I was inspired by the Dwarven Forge discussion of this week and decided to go out and scratch build some scenery like I used to. My skills are rusty, but I built a foam-core form for the party airship with all the interior laid out and colored. I'll try and post a picture later. My plan is to build an overlay that will show the upper decks and somehow have them stackable so that characters can show what deck they are on, and in what position.  I also started work on some parallax cliffs, which I'll get into later.

Vork had returned after missing last week. Vork's player had had a rough week, and had some job stuff he had to take care of. Anyhow, we had a little sheet cake decorated with "Welcome back Vork" on it and one of the other players donated a D&D miniature and we stuck that on the cake.

*     *     *

When last we left our PCs, they had remounted their airship and were leaving their old hideout. The angel Asrafel was gone. They had a civilian with them. They were flying towards the regional capitol of Evander.  

Vork however, was left way back in session #39. At the end of that game, the main villian (Vincent Defabro) was getting away on an orcish slave galley, with Vork's girlfriend Guinevere Vartagnan captured and on board. We had left it at saying "Vork dives into the water and tries to sneak aboard the escaping ship" at the beginning of session #40, but I was prepared to let Vork say whether that's what he really wanted to try or not. He said "Can I do that? Because that's what I'd like to do. Solo adventure!"

(so part of this is another party split up. We handle this by alternating between groups, and part of the reason the party went to Evander was to do sell & re-equip, which gives me a chance to conentrate on the solo guy--  but for clarity I'm going to clump Vork's little adventure all together).

Ok, so starting with Vork:
He makes some skill checks: swimming out to he escaping galley is no problem, even with his gear. He wears a ring of swimming and has a few other helpful items. He also has high skills in swimming, moving silently, hiding and can hold his breath for a long time.

So I ran some spot checks for the Drowned (super-zombies who act as Vincent's bodyguards), for the orcish sea-captain, for the lookout, and for Vincent himself, and Vork beat them all. He catches up with the boat, makes his climb check, and manages to climb onto the galley.

Note: Had Vork failed his swim or got caught in the water, he could have called his animal companion (a dolphin named Echo) and easily caught up. He didn't mention this to me until later, though. I guess it's good to have a contingency plan.

Ok, so Vork reaches the Slave Galley, and (making climb check) climbs aboard. He searches for some hiding spots and manages to find a porthole near where the rowers are located. He slips in, and hides.

So now he's in the dank slave-hold of the galley, with gnome rowers chained to the oars. The gnomish rowers were all enslaved from Owyn's hometown of Jemro- this was part of Vincent's big revenge plan from around the time of the Christmas session. There are two orcish slavers- each armed with a whip and a falchion. One guy is beating that drum thing like you see in Roman movies, and the other orc is stalking up and down the aisle, bellowing at the gnomes.

Vork slips in, beat the orc's listen checks, but is noticed by a few slaves. He tries giving them a signal not to reveal him, and they do so. He hides behind some barrels.

After thinking it over, he whispers to one of the gnomish slaves "hey, can you create a distraction for me?". Gnomes can use prestidigitate and ghost sound 1/day, and there was a mid-level illusionist NPC (the mayor of Jemro) included amongst the slaves. So I figure, sure. Gnomes can create a distraction.

I had the gnome presto an ephemeral musical jack in the box surrounded by tweety birds in the middle of the aisle. One of the other gnomes ghost sounded some tinkly music.

The cruel orcish slaver stalked up to investigate, growling and bellowing and getting out his whip.

At that point, Vork jumped out of his hiding place, surprised the slaver, and cut him down. One chop! The other slaver suddenly drops his drum beater and runs down the aisle to attack Vork, but Vork kills him as well.

He grabs the keys from the dead slaver and starts unlocking gnomes. I figured it was one of those pull-chain deals

"I'm not sure where we're going to go from here... the Drowned are still onboard. Not to mention Vincent himself. I doubt I can take them."

[OOC interlude]
The other three players are like "Wow. Your'e screwed now." Ganex, who has been buying stuff during this time says "I might be able to help Vork out and reunite the party, whenever your'e ready..."

Vork "I'm all ears.."

Vork unlocks the gnome illusionist. This is an NPC he knows from a previous adventure. "Hey it's you, the mayor of Jemro. Your'e an illusionist!" (yes, I am.. )
"Can you change me into an orc?" (technically, no).
"Can you disguise-self into an orc?" (nope. I'm far too short).
"Can you make an illusion of an orc?" (yes!)

So Vork convinces the illusionist to keep a watch and if more orcs show up, to create a fake orc illusion, while the other other gnomes continue rowing so as not to arouse suspicion. He breaks a spare oar into clubs to arm the gnomes (in case the plan falls to pieces), and hands out some spare weaponry he had on his character sheet.

There are 8 other orcs onboard (along with the sea-captain), along with 4 drowned, and Vincent himself. The orc slavers are 5th-level warriors (thats an NPC class, kids), and the captain is a 10th level expert (another NPC class). The orcs & drowned are all concentrated on the top deck. Vincent has his personal cabin on the mid-level deck, and that's where Guinevere is.

Next up: Ganex's plan?
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Abyssal Maw

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Actual Play: The Fit Hits The Shan (#41)
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2007, 10:57:37 am »
During this time with Vork I had been switching back to the other group: Owyn, Ganex, and Bernard (with NPC Kismet, and the NPC Ex-Kurghite brought back from the dead) flying towards the capitol city of Evander.

Evander's Environs:
Evander is a walled city; the largest city on the region map, and the capitol of the region. The physical environ of Evander can be described as a series of concentric rings divided into irregular sections. The harbor areas are on the outermost ring, and the innermost ring is where the Quadrite Palace of Karelon is located.

The Quadrite Throne:
Karelon has four leaders; two kings, two queens. Usually only one or two of the four are in attendance at the Quadrite Palace at any given time. The youngest queen is the popular "people's queen", Emerald. Vincent has some kind of mysterious mission to kill her.

Next in line to the throne to replace Emerald (should she be killed) would be... Guinevere Vartagnan! That's Vork's girlfriend, currently trapped aboard an orcish slave galley, some 200 miles away at sea.  

The PCs have put together those two clues: Vincent wants to kill the queen, and has captured the next in line.

The Undead Menace
 It has been cursed since the very first session: certain low-level undead rise up at night and walk the streets, destroying everything in their path. So for that reason, special clerics and special clerical patrols are used to keep down the undead menace with turning and hallowed areas. Certain abandoned slum and 'grave-zone' areas of the city have been simply walled off and left to die.

Elan issues:
The person responsible for Evander's curse is in fact an Elan leader, who was revealed to be a vampire. This implicated the rest of the already secretive and alien Elan. To make matters worse, the Elan do indeed maintain a relationship with an influential and ancient group of wraiths (whom they share an affinity with as energy beings). So when people say "The Elan are in league with the undead", it's at least half true. Known Elan are banned from the city. Luckily, Elan can inhabit a series of physical shells throughout their lifetime, and they are indistinguishable from humans.

Ganex and Kismet (both Elan) recently had their original "human shell" bodies killed by Vincent, and now inhabit new human-like forms they generated in the Dream-Lathe back in session #38 or so. So they can only be spotted as Elan by someone who knows what to look for and makes a very high spot roll. Still, Ganex says they both decide to keep a low profile in town.  

Church of Bremen:
The most popular religion in the area is the Bremenite Church. This is a lawful good "civil" religion. The Bremenites are known for valorous paladins and an elite group of knights, but for the most part, the church is overseen by a cloistered cadre of non-adventuring priests. In D&D terms they use the NPC classes: Adepts, Aristocrats, Warriors, Experts and Commoners represent the Bremenites.

Evander is the hometown of both the Elan cabal (and thus Kismet and Ganex) and their enemy Vincent. Of all the PCs, only Ganex has actually been to Evander before, and it was in the first session, which was when he fled the city under accusations of being undead. So for everyone else, this is their first visit.
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Abyssal Maw

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Actual Play: The Fit Hits The Shan (#41)
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2007, 11:57:41 am »
Clues from the previous missions include

  • Asrafel's Book: The Codex Perilous, gained last session.
  • Vincent's handwritten 'Prophecy of Zumaloken', untranslated
  • Vincent's desire to kill Queen Emerald, not sure why yet

Ok, they fly their airship to Evander, and drop off the Kurghite guy they had 'traded for' in the last session. Owyn specified that he would keep the guys forwarding address but not otherwise deal with him as an npc for now, so we kinda put him aside.

They get to Evander. First things first: they want to sell and re-equip. So they are doing this. Owyn goes to visit his 'Jeweler's Guild' contact Pontius. This is a fencing/smuggling network that Owyn has been part of since early in the campaign.

They get the prophecy translated and delve into the Codex Perilous for a bit.

The important part of the Prophecy is this:

"When a Queen of Karelon gives birth to the consecrated heir of Zumaloken, the god will be reborn. The temple shall be raised from beneath the sea, and waters shall cover one third of the land. The half-god will rule the land as a mortal, and when he departs this world, he will take his place alongside his consort Subaris once again as one of the great Old Gods...."

The players are shocked! Vincent has been spending a lot of time in an underwater temple, he's already captured the next-in-line to the throne, and it all fits together! He's going to impregnate her somehow. Eww.
Meanwhile they are selling and upgrading gear, and going over bits of the Codex (which had more clues and mythological details and stuff)

Ganex has been listening to Vork's infiltration of the ship and has the idea to buy a psionic communication crystal (as he did in episode #39). It will allow them to talk for 12 rounds, and get a fix for a teleport spell (well within Owyn's range of 1200 miles).

So they're doing some other minor stuff around town, they move into a local Inn, and do some research.

Meanwhile, back with Vork:
Vork sneaks through the galley to near where Guinevere is being held and listens in on Vincent taunting her in his cabin, telling her she should be thanking him. "You'll be the queen of Karelon soon. You're going to give birth to a god. You ungrateful wench. And once I'm done with your mind, you'll be the greatest queen this world has ever seen. It's too bad I can't enjoy you myself in my undead state.. but once we reach the temple.. Hahaha!"

Vork is satisfied she isn't going to be personally molested by Vincent (which I confirm OOC, as none of us want to rp a rape scene. Egads).

Vincent explains: The deal is, there's a disembodied hand of the god Zumaloken down there at the bottom of the ocean- it's the size of a small building. The hand is made of stone, and it still carries some of Zumaloken's godly essence, and she's going to be magically impregnated through a ritual. Then he's going to use magic to alter her personality so that she becomes a fitting mother to the god of greed.

Just then, the Galley was reaching it's destination: this was a signal to Vork that he had to decide on some course of action. He had freed the gnomes, but they were still stuck aboard the galley.

Vork chose simply to sneak back to the top deck and hide/observe, hoping Ganex's plan would be better than following Vincent and Guinevere alone down to the sunken temple. He isn't seen.

So the galley reached a magically becalmed area of the ocean where a yawning pit simply opens up, and a set of stairs emerges. This was the opening to the underwater ruins of the temple of Zumaloken. Vork drinks a potion of invisibility so he could follow.

Anything yet, Vork? Not yet. Anything yet, Ganex? Ganex establishes contact. Vork begins describing what's going on.

The Drowned dive off the galley, and return to their home. Vincent arrives at the top deck with Guinevere in chains.

Anything yet Vork? Vork is frozen by fear at this point. He's not sure if he can take Vincent. Ganex wants them to teleport in now (as soon as the drowned are off deck), but he needs Vork to affix a star position. Luckily Vork
has skills in Profession sailor. Unluckily, it will take a round to get this all down and pass it over to Owyn.

Vincent pays off the orcs. "Keep the gnomes and do with them as you will. I suggest killing them. They are worthless as slaves really."

(haha, I'm so evil).

Vork makes his skill check and gives them a position. Owyn starts to set up a teleport.

Teleport is a full round action!

Guinevere is put in a stasis state and Vincent moves her down the passage, down to the ocean floor, to the now reclaimed sunken temple to begin her reeducation.

Vincent and Guinevere have gone down to the Temple. Theyv'e escaped!!!

The orcs prepare to turn the galley back towards the coast.

FINALLY, Owyn finishes the spell, and the entire party links hands. As the teleport goes off, Owyn makes his check, and the entire group warps in on the deck of the Sea-Bat.

Next up: brawl with Orcish pirates.
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Abyssal Maw

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Actual Play: The Fit Hits The Shan (#41)
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2007, 12:35:24 pm »
Ok, the battle with the slavers goes fast. The captain is a bit higher level than the rest, and has a magical falchion.

In D&D terms these orcish guys are 5th level warriors. The captain is 10th level. So theyre a bit buffed up.

The party warps in, and both sides are disoriented, so it's normal initiative.
Owyn wins the init, and targets the captain with an empowered Scorching Ray. Flat-footed, it also counts as a sneak attack.

Zot! Zot! Zot!

The captain is dropped in one round, with three smoking holes in his chest.

The rest of the orcs are no problem, as the party surrounds and destroys  the majority of the remaining orcs. Although Ganex is hurt and Vork is hit with a substantial attack, it's the D&D equivalent of a papercut. At the end, they've cornered all but two, and Owyn is trying to intimidate them into surrendering. He fails his intimidate, but the orcs are pretty much ready to run.

One of the orcs goes over the rail and tries to swim away, and is immediately picked off by an arrow from Vork. Fine. The last orc (already down to his last few hit points) could not escape except by suffering a pair of AoO's from both Owyn and Bernard, and Owyn's would count as a sneak attack.

He throws down his falchion and surrenders. "Mercy! Me not speak good common!" croaks the orc.

Owyn: You will not be harmed!
Bernard: (simultaneously) when he throws down his weapon I stab him.
GM: Seriously?
Owyn: yeah, seriously? I need info from this guy...
Bernard: I stab him! I'm one with the chaos of Zunail!

So Bernard indeed stabs him. The Orc dies.

Owyn initially tries to help the orc, but finally just gives up. "he deserved to die.." he finally agrees. The freed orcs from the slave hold cautiously arrive on deck at that point.

They look around at the deck. There's one last cage of enslaved gnomes, and Owyn recognizes several townsfolk.

Owyn: "are any of you from Jemro?"

Gnomes, including former gnome mayor NPC: "We're all from Jemro...!"

This upset Owyn greatly, especially after I had them describe how Vincent had convinced a certain red dragon called Magg Maul to lay waste to all of Jemro. The group had encountered Magg Maul on several earlier adventures, and done much to appease her, and keep her from bothering the gnomes. However, they were unable (and unwilling) to solve the Riddle of Rodnak, which was a dungeon I had associated with Magg Maul back when the group was around 7th level. I had Vincent go in, and trade the answer to the Riddle for Magg Maul's help in destroying/enslaving Jemro.

Owyn and Vork both advocated "We're going down to that temple to kill Vincent right now!"

Ganex and Bernard objected: Bernard felt they weren't prepared. Ganex counseled patience: according to what Vork relayed, Guinevere was safe and in stasis until the death of Queen Emerald (who Vincent claimed "would be dead soon, my dear.."). He outlined an idea by which they approached the prophecy backwards by keeping Emerald alive, rather than a direct on-the-spot rescue of Guinevere. "We must think our way around Vincent. Only when we have beaten him mentally, can we truly defeat him"

They talked it over and eventually went with Ganex's plan. (he really does do kind of a Martian Manhunter act that I think is pretty cool).

Their plan:
They would pilot the seized galley back to Evander, release the gnomes, go and visit Queen Emerald, and warn her of the plot to kill her. This was in the original plan. If it turns out she was already dead, they would return immediately to raid the sunken temple and rescue Guinevere. According to Augury and Divinations cast by Bernard, they had at least 3 days.

 Next (back to Evander, and a disastrous meeting with the queen).
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Abyssal Maw

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Actual Play: The Fit Hits The Shan (#41)
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2007, 01:23:26 pm »
Okay, I meant to finish typing this out.

Back to Evander. They pilotted the orcish slave galley back towards Evander. I ran a couple of wanderer/random encounter checks while they were at sea, but there was nothing.

They re-arrived back at Evander, and were immediately surrounded by armed Karelon frigates as they entered the harbor, since the Sea-Bat was a known slaver ship. Owyn ran up the flag of Karelon, and hove-to while the Karelones sent aboard a boarding party.

After explaining their situation, the party agreed to turn over the ship to the authorities (they'd already stripped it of the orc's wealth) in exchange for a monetary reward. Then they sought out the highest ranking member of the Karelon guard they could find, and tried to wrangle an audience with the queen.

Owyn made an impassioned speech, and everyone threw in a bit for a support roll on diplomacy. With a result of 30+ (I think they got 32), the admiral of the Karelones decided to see what he could do, and managed to wrangle a meeting for the players to make their case for Queen Emerald.

We immediately moved to the queen's audience chamber, where the players were announced and entered, accompanied by guards.

In turn each began to make their case that the Queen was in danger.

I missed a coupole of days with my writeup here, and in that time, the player of Owyn wrote his own version up as a session recap for our yahoo group: here's his version of the event:

"Unfortunately, their meeting with queen Emerald does not go particularly well. The Queen herself is young and lawful, and though resplendent in her green gown and emerald-studded tiara, she is mistrustful of the party right away. The presence of two adherents of Zunail and a pair of Elan seems to activate all her prejudices."

My note here: The goblin definitely did, and she was still leary about the Elan. I'm glad that the player picked up on that.

"Owyn, Ganex and Vork plead with her to show the Codex and the Prophecy of Zumaloken to her arcanists and clerics, and she reluctantly does so. At that point, the Archbishop Parete of Bremen appears. An old man
deeply set in his ways, Parete dismisses all talk of a conspiracy against the queen. Owyn loses his temper, calling the Archbishop a "doddering old fool," and passionately arguing that Emerald is in grave danger. Bernie is called upon to cast a divination spell, with
the question: "Is there a plot against the queen's life by Vincent DeFabro?" When he does so, an elemental servant of Zunail appears and says "The queen will die within three days." Even this is not enough to convince the stubborn Emerald, who dismisses the party without taking their dire warnings seriously."

What happened was they had a chance to convince her, and at the end, they ultimately failed. (It required a diplomacy check over 20. The total when rolled was more like a 6.) Not to mention, the evidence was a bit shoddy, and the party included two clearly marked followers of Zunail (a god of trickery), and two Elan.

It got heated, and Emerald demanded the party leave. So off they went. Time for plan B.

Bernard had a fnny idea for Plan B: "Well, if Emerald dies, Let's just find and kill Guinevere. "

This provided a funny bit of roleplaying when Vork took offense to the idea of killing his girlfriend. They had to be physically separated by Ganex.

Ganex had a much funnier idea for plan B. "Let's kidnap the queen."

Ok, now I as a GM had no set idea what they were supposed to do. I had actually figured the queen would be assassinated by a whisper demon (see Monster Manual IV) within three days, and the players would move along to the undersea temple and deal with Vincent at some point. I never expected "Let's kidnap the queen ourselves". But heck, let's go with that. I also had Kismet take part in this scene (she's my NPC when she isn't being used as Ganex's henchman). Kismet still hates the royals for their part in exiling the Elan. She does like a fistpalm and says something like "Yeah, let's kidnap her. I'd like to punch that bitch right in the mouth."

Owyn (shockingly?) responds with "for once Kismet, I agree with you." (He had really not liked being dismissed as a prankster by Emerald).

Vork had knowledge:architecture and Ganex was an expert researcher, so they worked out a floorplan of the palace on their own. Having been in the place, they could teleport in (both Ganex and Owyn have teleport and dimension door, although Ganex's range is fairly short.)

The idea was to teleport in invisbly, non-lethally subdue the guards, bag the queen and take her away to safety.

They picked an arbitrary time: 2AM.

As a GM I was a bit conflicted at that point. I wanted the Whisper Demons to come that night. But "kidnapping the queen" was such a cool plan.. AND it would make for a cool battle. So I left it up to a roll:

The whisper demons strike between the hours of 11PM and 6AM. (thats a roll of 1d8). If the players arrive after the demons strike, they find dead bodies. If the players arrive before the demons strike, they get to fight them. But still.. the demons will be concentrating on a mission of killing the queen. On a roll of 1d8, they'd have to roll a 4+.

So just before they quaffed their invisbility potions, and linked hands for the telport-- I had the players check the roll without telling them what it was for:  

They got a 6. I told them that was good for them and I'd explain the roll later.

Ok, so they warp in invisibly and make their way to the queen's chamber. The queen and handmaidens are there playing cards (at 2AM? I dunno. I just thought it would be better than having them asleep for some reason).

The players spread out and got ready to use some subdual actions to knock out the handmaidens. Then I told Ganex"you sense a psionic presence.. telepathic whispers of insanity.."

(Whisper demons! They are incorporeal! They use telepathic projections to make people kill themselves! Plus they have an incorporeal touch attack that hurts pretty bad too).

The whisper demons came at them through the walls, and affected Vork first (he was closest). He failed his save. He also rolled low on his check to attack himself. Instead he got the roll where he had to attack the nearest visible person.

Ok, remember how everyone was invisible? Vork picked the queen.

He could not be stopped because nobody else in the group could see he was attacking (he too was invisible).

So he ran up and attacked her. He hit her! (of course).

Now this was kinda great. Vork was connected to Guinevere, Emerald's cousin. Now the situation looked as if Vork was trying to kill the queen to put Guin on the throne. Haha! Bernard (still wanting to get some licks in on Vork from that conflict over 'let's just kill Guinevere") mentioned that he would be making these accusations later.

But Guinevere was not dead. Yet. She normally had like 19 hit points, but was down to her last 4 after Vork's assault.

Ganex and Owyn responded with great tactics: Thinking very quickly, Ganex cast time-hop on Vork and her handmaidens. They are removed from the timestream temporarily. Owyn moved up and dropped a 'Corpse candle' on the dais: this cancels incorporeality. Bernard ran up, healed the queen and bravely interposed himself between the queen and the two advancing whisper demons.

I had her tearfully thank Bernard as he was healing her and he responded with "Shaddup you! I'm just doing this to get back at Vork!"

haha. I love Bernard's player.

So the players close in and with assistance from Kismet (mind shielding them) they are able to hold off the telepathic assault. The corpse candle cancels incorporeality within a 30' radius.

The battle got crazy then with a lot of scorching rays flying around and the players having to stave off the whispers of madness once every other round. Vork managed to throw off the time-hop and the insanity at one point and rejoined. (But Emerald was terrified of him at that point, which made for a funny apology scene that took place during the battle).

As the last demon fell, Archcleric Parete shows back up with a group of guards. He's brandishing a letter saying he "indeed has uncovered a plot to kill the queen.. by the Elan!" The letter is from Vincent of course.

The queen intercedes, and the demons are proof that something is up. There is another argument with the old cleric Parete, but the players don't have to rely on diplomacy anymore. Something is up. Owyn does convince the queen to allow the party to act as her guardians for the rest of the evening. Parete eventually leaves in disgust, but the guards remain and nobody is to leave until he returns with the queen's brother. The guards all take up positions to guard the chamber.

Owyn then manages to get Emerald aside and tells her to start packing her things, especially cold-weather clothing.

"what for?" says Emerald. The guards and especially my brother will never let me leave. And it's perfectly warm outside right now."

The players all look around the table at each other and nod. "oh yeah, she's coming with us".

Thus ended Session #41.

Postscript: these sessions last from 7:30 to around 10:30, usually but we went to around 11PM this time.

Anyone who says gaming is fitting 20 minutes of fun into 4 hours is full of crap!
Download Secret Santicore! (10MB). I painted the cover :)