Golden Skull Campaign

Session 4: The Road to Merinhold
The Maze awaits...

SUMMARY: Tom Bagnell finally comes through on his promise to introduce the Trio to The Purple Maze

Characters in play: Elwyn Archer — Virtuous Monk of Onus, Raizel — Sociopathic Freebooter, Fernando Sylvio — Mind-addled Runaway Slave

Settings: Balitan Lower City, The Low Road, Lake of Woad, Merinhold, Temple of Demios: Merinhold Branch

  • Meeting at their usual table at the usual Ozark’s Mistress with the usual Tom Bagnell in his usual, overly conspicuous get-up, the Trio learns of The Purple Maze’s response to their gift: Come to us. Make haste.
  • Tom tells them that he has set-up the reason for his absence and why he would be taking the Trio along with him: He has claimed that a rogue wizard is on their way to The Maze, and that the only one who can stop him is the Court Wizard! … Along with a troupe of hired ruffians.
  • The Court Wizard leaves the Trio to their drinks, which is when Caruso takes the opportunity to speak to them. Apparently, recent actions in the city (including their known defense against the Three Foreign Bounty Hunters after Sylvio, as well as their not-so-known involvement in the recent murder of Jezebel Pace) have caused an new edict to be installed concerning bounty hunters and mercenaries of any kind. All individuals and groups must be recorded, named, and identified if they are to earn money within the land of Balitan.
  • Though disconcerted, each of the three allows Caruso to record the required information. Their name? The Burning Light.
  • Tom arrives at the Mistress the next morning, putting on a show, asking for aid in the capture of this rogue wizard. Elwyn speaks up, going along with the act and throwing in their group’s name. All seems solid, until Rickard Dabney and his own group drunkenly accost Elwyn and offer up their names. Tension and shouting increase.
  • To stop the threat of the two groups coming to blows, Tom offers up a challenge to settle the matter: A contest of blows! (That’s hand-to-hand combat, you pervs.)
  • Dabney, two of his fellows, Sylvio, and Raizel go out back for the “contest”. Even without Elwyn, the slave and the freebooter make fantasticly quick work of their opponents. Raizel skips around the said and jumps off of some crates for Dabney’s head while Sylvio flattens the two minions straight out. Tom declares them the winner.
  • Before they have a chance to leave, Dabney swears to “get them for this”, threatening to have his mother destroy them. Tom suggests they leave as soon as possible.
  • On the road with Tom and his carriage driver, the Wizard explains to them the depth of Rickard’s threat. His mother is Miranda Dabney, Battle Commander to Baron Ozark. He has yet to meet her, but understands that many people have described the tactics she employed in war, and the reason she was promoted to that rank, as ruthless.
  • They travel for some time. Tom refuses to tell them anything about what they’ll be facing, mainly because it has been so long since he was a member that his information would most likely be wrong anyway. He only tells them that, no matter what, they let him do the talking and ALWAYS take his lead.
  • After several days of relatively mundane journeying, they come upon the Lake of Woad. The Low Road was paved along the Southern edge of the lake, but the body of it stretches for miles North until the end of the Dekampe Mountains.
  • In their path lies a large, fallen tree trunk with a gruff man sitting atop of it. Forseeing the motives of this obvious Bandit, Sylvio cuts him off at the pass, claiming they’ll not be taken for their money. Raizel felt a more… subtle approached was called for, so he motioned for his companions to leave unseen out the back of the carriage.
  • While Sylvio continued his banter with the Bandit, Raizel slapped the horse into a crazed gallop headed straight for the fallen tree! It landed with a resounding CRASH and knocked the Bandit from his sitting post.
  • Wild and unseen arrows flew from the trees surrounding them and a fire sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere. Elwyn took to defense against what Bandits he could see on the ground while Sylvio arced throwing knives through the air at the hidden foes that sniped from the branches. Tom saw the fire and ran off behind the copse, screaming something.
  • Proving his worth with a blade tenfold, Raizel did away with the lead Bandit as well most of his fellow ambushers at little cost except for bloodying his falchion.
  • After the bodies hit the grass, they hear two sets of yelling close by. It’s Tom and, surprisingly, Boris Nevlo the Conjurer. They are about 15 feet apart, but locked in a struggle of arcane nature. There’s a perceived blue arua emanating from Tom’s hands that seem to be restraining the all-the-more vicious red aura flaming wildly from Boris’ entire body.

*

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SESSION 3: Requiem for a Ruse
If you thought their last plan was unique...

SUMMARY: At the suggestion of their new colleague Tom Bagnell, the Trio enact a plan to steal an extreme rarity from a visiting Lord to instead present it as a gift for The Purple Maze.

Characters in play: Elwyn Archer — Virtuous Monk of Onus, Raizel — Sociopathic Freebooter, Fernando Sylvio — Mind-addled Runaway Slave

Settings: Balitan Lower City, The Temple of Onus, The Low Road

  • Tom Bagnell, cloaked and conspicuous in his inconspicuousness, meets the Trio at Ozark’s Mistress. While they berate him for his long absence (roughly two weeks), Tom apologizes, blaming it on the festivities that have accompanied his new title as the Court Wizard of Balitan. He tells them that he has received word from his contacts at The Purple Maze, and there’s some less-than-good news: They require a gift before any consultation.
  • With hardly a lead to go on, Tom suggests one instead. It would seem that this week is the Baron Ozark of Balitan’s 40th birthday and that a good number of his vassal Lords will be in attendance. In particular, the Lord Kuzzo comes to mind, as he’s made a hobby out of collecting particularly magical creature trophies (Potenaxenobiology?)
  • To gain more information on this Lord, Elwyn goes to his previous home at Balitan’s Temple of Onus to speak with one the Baron’s Castle Priests, Donal Gallway. Donal speaks to him of the Baron’s previous birthdays and how Lord Kuzzo, between his wild interests and his flamboyant superstitions, always becomes the butt of joke and pranks.
  • With more knowledge in hand, the Trio pieces together their plan back at Ozark’s Mistress. Three Armed Strangers enter the homely tavern, completely out of place between their clothing and accents. They hold up a piece of parchment, scanning the room until they find Sylvio. They march up to the Trio.
  • These men introduce themselves in an aggressive, yet oddly formal, manner, stating that they will now be taking the runaway slave known as Fernando Sylvio into their custody and they have no quarrel with others. As Elwyn tries to reason with them and Sylvio is threatening them, Raizel digs a knife into the closest one’s chest. That’s more than enough for Sylvio who joins in, and Elwyn, who sticks his stave out to keep everyone away.
  • Short work is made of the strangers and, before slitting his throat, Sylvio learns that they are mercenaries sent by Don Adolpho, his Dwarven owner. Throat slit and dead men spit upon, Sylvio walks out of the tavern for fresh air. To avoid responsibility or consequence, Raizel follows.
  • Left to deal with the fallback, Elwyn cleans up the mess as best he can at the angered behest of Connie Primm. As he put the bodies out in the street, he notices the insignia sewn onto the hem of the leaders clothing. It is that of the Banded Fist. Though he only warns Sylvio and Raizel of his findings, it is obvious he has a personal connection to the famed Mercenary Guild…
  • To take Kuzzo’s gift, the Trio plans to exploit the Lord’s paranoid fears of the supernatural.

First Phase: The Trio will rent horses and ride out on the Low Road two days before Kuzzo’s expected arrival to Balitan. They will then split off, Elwyn keeping on the paved way while Raizel and Sylvio head into the Southern edge of the The Red Woods that borders The Road.

—This phase was rather straight forward and all goes off without a hitch.

Second Phase: Elwyn is to “run in to” Kuzzo’s camp just as they’re settling down for the night. He will then attempt to convince the Lord the that the portion of The Woods his party will head through to get to Balitan is haunted. The hope being that Kuzzo’s fears will begin to spark.

—Though his handiness in a fight is questionable, Elwyn’s more… charismatically charged talents are well in order. He approached the camp in the guise of a priest traveling away from Balitan on at the behest of a sickly girl in a small village to the East, and he would be most honored if he could bless his Lordship and followers in preparation for their journey ahead. This well-crafted lie served two purposes: (1) His offer to bless their party ignited a question as to why they would need to be blessed at all, and (2) adding a “sickly girl” to his “mission” planted the seed for the ghost story he would inflict upon the Lord.

—The tale was spun well, containing half-truths in order to create a full realized paranoia, and it successfully convinced Kuzzo, if not the rest of his party, that there was a Ghost Knight roaming the Woods. It went thusly.

—The Lord, thoroughly frightened, asked what could be done in the event of a confrontation with the Ghost. Elwyn told him what he must do: “You must leave a powerful gift, as the Knight was accustomed to in his land.” Elwyn left the Lord’s party, and continued East until he was certain he could double back unseen.

—Uncertain of his ability to stay hidden, Elwyn’s part was done and would meet the others in Balitan two nights from then. The Second Phase was complete.

Final Phase: Raizel would adorn Sylvio in his own armor (which is much more knight-like), and they would follow Kuzzo’s party to the area they make camp in. When night fell and the majority of the party went to sleep, Sylvio would play the grand role of the Ghost Knight and put a fear into Lord Kuzzo that would make him believe he had no choice but to use his gift as tribute.

—As much of a thespian that Elwyn turned out to be, Sylvio was anything but. But the only one who could attack from the shadows with enough speed and power was Raizel, so there was very little choice. They had until nightfall to set up and decide which of the Pods to use.

—The curtain falls and the first Pod is used, causing a great fog to appear throughout the camp. This alerts the lookout guards and causes a stir throughout the tents; going as planned. The second Pod is thrown with the intention to make Sylvio fly into their view, but the Pod works out better than expected and Sylvio flies too high. He waits until the effects begin to wear off before fully assuming his role.

—His attempts are excecuted with… mediocrity. The Lord is surely frightened, but he believes that he can over come this “spirit” without giving the gift. But due to spontaneous fog and the Knight who flies through it, the lead of Kuzzo’s guard puts his own Lord to the sword and states that he refuses “to die out here on this godforsaken road for a greed pig lord.”

—The Lord handed the Gift over quite quickly.

—The Trio and Tom meet back up again after the Baron’s birthday party, where they examine the “Gift”. It’s an ornate box, but looks ordinary at the same time. None of the Trio, nor Tom can open it. The Court Wizard states clearly that whatever lies within the un openable “Duemmer Box” (as he calls it), must be great indeed; a perfect gift for The Maze.

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SESSION 2: Sabotage of the Season
When confrontation arises, ruin it.

SUMMARY: The Trio must aid a member of The Blue Path in return for information regarding their recent acquisition: The Golden Skull!

Characters in play: Elwyn Archer — Virtuous Monk of Onus, Raizel — Sociopathic Freebooter, Fernando Sylvio — Mind-addled Runaway Slave

Settings: Lower and Upper City of Balitan, Ozark’s Mistress, The Blue Path; Balitan Chapter, The Tall Cricket

  • Having failed to bring back either the stolen vase or the Half-Elf thief alive, the Trio’s pay was paltry. The only thing keeping their mind’s away from their poverty level was a Golden Skull and a new set of matching tattoos.
  • Raizel ventured over to one of Billiom’s usual haunts to chat him up. Indeed, he was there, but so was his guard partner: Darion Kilm. Trying to ignore Kilm’s snide remarks and obvious distaste for him, Raizel asked Billiom who might be most knowledgable on magic-natured items. "They accept walk-in consultations at The Blue Path" he replied.
  • A tall board of a man, Manservant Po, questioned them at the front door of The Path. They told him their desire to speak to the highest of Sorcerers at this Chapter. The man led them to the basement dorms of the building, and into a musty room with every inch of wall and floor spaced covered up by books or parchment.
  • Tom Bagnell spoke his name aloud, but hardly anything near an introduction. He was busy preparing something; planning something. He had little time for walk-ins. To the Trio, it was clear from the get-go that this was not the highest ranking member of The Path. With little to lose, they put forth their query.
  • They didn’t show Tom the skull, only an etching of the scripture its backside. It was enough to stop the Wizard in his tracks. He admitted that he had no idea what it said, but he knew of a group that could. He also knew that no one else in this chapter of the Path would be able to assist them, because none of them had ever associated with the types that he had.
  • His services weren’t free. In return for his consultation and further assistance, they would need to set him up for a great victory: They would need to ensure his position as the official Court Wizard of Balitan. For that to happen, his main competition, Boris Nevlo need be dealt with.
  • Before they began their ploy, Tom informed them on Boris (what he’s like, where he goes, etc…), gave them Enchanted Pods, and mentioned that he had no preference as the nature of their methods, as long as it didn’t fall back on him. This was not enough for Sylvio, a man of odd honor, so he cut open his hand and requested (forcefully) that Tom shake this exchange of services. Though weary, Tom did so. Sylvio assured him that he would murder anyone who broke the deal, including himself.
  • The Trio split at this point, Sylvio and Elwyn paired up to observe Boris and keep him in one place while Raizel broke into the man’s room.
  • Raizel had little issue getting into Boris’ dorm at The Path without being seen. Inside was a simple room. Things of note: A well-organized case of Enchanted Pods, Boris’ Journal, and a wardrobe containing his clothing and patches of children’s clothing as well. Raizel couldn’t read the Journal, but he took it and a handful of pods with him before making off to meet with the others.
  • Sylvio and Elwyn sat at a table inside The Tall Cricket, quietly observing a very inebriated Boris pinch the barwench’s rear and boast about his assured, upcoming position as the Court Wizard. He finished his drink and made to leave, but Sylvio intervened, striking up conversation with the man about his position. Boris mentions something about how far his relationships with the Noblechildren goes…
  • Raizel comes in and the Trio informs each other. A plan begins to form as Elwyn mentions Boris’ weakness for a certain barwench. Sylvio and Raizel take things another step forward though when they bloom the idea of framing the man for rape. They detail a plan to kill the wench and place evidence in Boris’ room. Elwyn expresses his distaste for such a plan, and though reluctant to go in this direction at all, he proposes that they ask the wench herself if she would be a part of their ruse willingly.
  • Oddly enough, the barwenches have names. The motherwench of the bar is Cybil Hammond and the one of Boris’ affections is Jezebel Pace. Elwyn is the one to approach Jezebel and prompt her for a meeting in the alleyway. She asks what he means to talk about, and Elwyn tells her. She accepts immediately.
  • The plan goes off without a hitch. Sylvio buddies up to Boris again, getting him even drunker. Jezebel seduces Boris into walking her home, which gives Raizel enough time to sneak into Boris’ dorm again to plant a spare dress of Jezebel’s and her necklace that he’s bloodied up. Jezebel and Boris ensure they’re noticed leaving the bar together, but he barely makes it a couple of steps before passing out. And to top it off, Sylvio blackens one of her eyes for good measure (her own idea).
  • The Trio shuffles back to their own side of town as the sun is rising. Inside of Ozark’s Mistress, they run into Billiom’s partner Darion again. And, finally without being watched over by his partner, Darion digs a serious threat into Raizel: “I cannot wait for the day that I have cause to slit your throat, brigand.” But, too tired to fight back, Raizel simply alerts him that he may want to check up on some business at The Blue Path; that there seemed to be something fishy going on over there.
  • After a bit of rest, they head back over to Tom at The Path. He tells them that they did better than could be imagined. Boris was arrested and will have a trial, Jezebel came forward and spoke as the victim, and Tom swept the competition and will be named Court Wizard on the following week.
  • They finally show Tom the real goods, The Golden Skull. He’s even more taken aback by it than its script he saw earlier. They demand him to come forward and reveal the contacts he spoke of earlier. He tells them that no on in The Path would touch an item such as this, but that The Purple Maze would gladly take them in. Elwyn’s reaction to the mention of that organization is one of… unsettlement.
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SESSION 1: Bounty Hunters for Hire
They were supposed to bring him back alive...

SUMMARY: The Trio, sent out on a seemingly simple bounty, is instead thrust into the discovery of an ancient ruin and marked by the Gods!

Characters in play: Elwyn Archer — Virtuous Monk of Onus, Raizel — Sociopathic Freebooter, Fernando Sylvio — Mind-addled Runaway Slave

Settings: Balitan Lower and Middle City, Ozark’s Mistress, The Red Woods, The Ruins of Ho’Kem

  • Rival Hunter and general loud mouth, Rickard Dabney, busts into the Inn bragging about his recent capture of Bully Bromden. As per usual, he gives the Trio a hard time about their lack of success.
  • They start their investigation at the source: Furnished Farmine’s. Aside from trying to part them from what little gold resides in their coffers, owner and shopkeep Yumul Farmine informs them that the thief had been an erratic sort after he was told the vase wasn’t for sale. He stole it, busted through the door, and sped out the city’s North Gate.
  • At the North Gate, Raizel chats up Gate Guard Billiom, an old acquaintance of his, about the Elf they’re looking for. Billiom tells them of the Elf’s crazed look and how he bowled over another guard that was trying to stop him before heading further North into the Red Woods .
  • Not having covered his tracks, the Trio came upon the thief with ease as he stopped at a creek for water. Raizel and Sylvio hid in the bushes, respectively readying an arrow and a well-worn axe, as Elwyn approached the bounty in falsehood as a traveling monk.
  • Things did not proceed all too smoothly and the mark ended up with an arrow in his side. The arrow was non-lethal, though, and the Elf (who, for the record, turned out to be a Half-Elf), introduced himself as Layard, struck a deal with the Trio: If they help him get to where he’s going with the vase, they will be rewarded handsomely. Handsome reward is far more appealing than a hard day’s wages (not to mention that they can just kill their mark and take the vase back at any time). They agree to the deal.
  • Layard states their destination: “The Ruins of Ho’Kem”. Sylvio recognizes the name from Dwarven stories his owners would tell to their kids; fables about ancient holy temples, dedicated to their God Ho’Kem. Being a God of prosperity, there was thought to be treasure in each one as tribute for the deity. The Half-Elf insists it is real and leads them on.
  • Several leagues into a cave, of which the entrance had been completely camouflaged in forest overgrowth, the group comes upon dozens of meters of intricately carved Ancient Dwarven writings. Having been a slave to the Don Dwarves in the Mida Country, Sylvio had enough base understanding of the “troll-dunged gibberish” to find a hidden door and bypass it.
  • Beyond the door lied a completely undisturbed shrine, and disregarding the weary cautions of the Trio, the Half-Elf placed the vase upon it. The room shook, the vase shattered, and Layard smiled pleasantly as a fetid zombie of a creature hacked his head off from behind.
  • A clumsy battle ensued between the Trio (who were now cursing their Gods about the obvious nature of this predicament) and a small group of now-arisen, shambling undead; their worst threat being the most twisted of the bunch who wielded a Shamanistic stave of sorts.
  • Their lengthy battle ended in victory, and they proceeded to dismember the bodies and squash the heads. They checked in on their guide— And, yes. Definitely dead as well. They sever the head for proof of their “capture”.
  • Their bounty is dead and their reclaimed stolen goods have been smashed making them no longer reclaimable—-But, wait! What is it that now sits where the vase once was? A Golden Skull?! It has strange markings on the back of it that none of the group can readily identify.
  • As they’re deciding what to do next, the group notices similar tattoos on each of their necks. Each of the Trio claims that it wasn’t there before. One more mystery to throw on the pile…
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