Monday, January 30, 2012

Carrion Crown: Through the Shudderwood to Ascanor Lodge Part 3

So....werewolves DO live in the Shudderwood. And apparently they are embroiled in a conflict as to which pack will lead the rest. Of course the 'Scooby Gang' are caught up in this mess. And yes, the dwarf is Velma. We finally get into the lodge too and more hi jinks ensue. Also this is where the players may have broken the module and altered the course of the AP for the future books. Where you ask? Well that is a Julian's.

The Players

- Thredorik Trapspringer (male dwarven rogue 7 / uncouth / peeping tom)
Jess  -  Nisha  (female tiefling fighter(weapon master kit) 7 / combat monster....literally / professed her serious 'like' to Zuri)
Charles - Zuri (male aasimar wizard 7 / varisian wanderer/ harrow reader / admitted his 'like' to Nisha and that she scares him)
Charles - Dragos ( Zuri's raven familiar / smart ass / found out about gold leaf pastries in Caliphas/ LOVES pastries and shinies)
Me - Julian Du Marc ( male human cleric of Pharasma 7 / NPC/PC / stoic / has a secret)
Me again - DM (DM / rules dude / story mover-along-er / still bribed by pie or hot cocoa/ bribes of hot cocoa and cookies were offered by Jess and Charles........not Matt......not forgetting that snub)

Duristan waves us through the gates to Asconor Lodge and his help take all of our horses to be stabled for the evening. Duristan bids us a goodnight and hurries off to his room. All the normies who survived from the werewolf attack are visibly shaken. Belik the porter of the lodge is also looking shaken as he greets us at the door with hot cups of coffee and a very meek and humble apology for his earlier behavior. He tells us that we do have rooms and he acted in error on behalf of the lodge without the prior knowledge of the arrangement between Count Caromarc and the proprietor of the lodge. Speaking of which Belik asks if we would be willing to meet with Estovian Lozarov the head keeper of the lodge. The party accept the offer, finish their warm drinks and follow Belik to the reference library in the lodge.

Estovian apologized for the earlier events of the day, noting that the porter wasn't aware that he owed Count Caromarc a favor and this was the repayment. After apologizing again, he says that the lodges resources are at their disposal including the reference library. Estovian excuses himself and darts up the staircase in the back of the library up to his private office.
They head out where Belik was waiting for them where he escorts the to their rooms. Nisha and Zuri in one, Thredorik and Julian in the other. They turn in for the night.

The next day at breakfast the party meet some of the other lodge guests. Cilas Graydon the Margrave of Sturnidae a disposed former general of a evil regent. He couldn't follow orders to commit atrocities and rebelled. Corvin Tergsvor a nobleman in hiding and total ass hat. The Markiza Welgory and her much younger "boy toy" who is doing work on behalf of her ailing husband. And finally Madame Ivanja the varisian harrow reader and Madam of the not so secret brothel in the north tower at the lodge. Ivanja took a liking to Zuri and Nisha started to plot crushing her breakfast roll into a tiny, inedible ball. We then decided who is doing what today. Zuri is researching In the library, Thredorik is checking out the lodge grounds and investigating the out buildings and Julian and Nisha will look into the bloodied lodge invite they found in the web weavers lair.

Zuri's all day researching didn't yield any new information but he does note that this library does have records about the Whispering Way cult and that is impressive. He will return tomorrow. Julian and Nisha find out that the invitation was for a Echtmoor Dravin the guest, and good friend, of Silas Graydon. Later on the day Silas does find out about this and approaches the party. We explain everything and give Silas his friends personal possessions and he thanks and rewards us. Thredorik checks out the grounds, searches through the porter's home and finally makes his way to the north tower where he discovers its 'secret'. He meets Madame Ivanja who offers to make him an 'appointment' later in the evening but doesn't know any other info about the goings on in the area.

We all meet up for dinner and discuss the days findings and plan for the next day. After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast Zuri, Thredorik and Julian head to the research library to continue searching about. Nisha decides to wait outside the library as research isn't her thing. We also ask Estovian if he can point us in the direction of any reference books about the local werewolf tribes. He shows us a stack of adventurer journals and said they may be some help. He then excused himself and went about his business within the lodge. Thredorik noticed something amiss with one of the journals and upon a more thorough inspection found a few dog eared pages as well as a hand written note about researching something called the 'Halo of Dreams' in the upstairs library. He placed the note back in where he needed it to be so it looked undisturbed and Zuri, Julian and Thredorik surmised that perhapse more info will be found in Estovians private office upstairs in the back of the library. We alert Nisha to our plan of snooping about while he is away and have Dragos help keep an eye out for Estovian if he is returning.

Thredorik handily unlocks the office door and we do notice that this is a records room with a small library collection as well. A very high 'perception' check from Thredorik and 10 minutes of searching later and we find all we need. We first see Estovian likes the old ways of having a ruling monarchy and all his propaganda letters show this. We also find an old journal that belonged to a priest of Desna called the 'Halo of Dreams' that talks about a holy artifact of Desna known as 'The Dusk Moth' and how it was built into a temple called The Stairs of the Moon. And finally we find Estovian's journal that details his dealings with the Mordrinacht werewolves but also The Whispering Way cult and how he arranged a meeting for them within the past few days. Also inculded in this is the rough location of 'The Stairs' and notes this is where the werewolf tribes host their moots. It also mentions how the cultists visited Madame Ivanja as well before departing. Zuri and Julian agree we can't let Estovian know we discovered what is going on and have Thredorik put everything back the way it was found. ** DM note: for this I gave Thredorik a 'slight of hand' skill check and he rolled a ridiculously high number. This became my DC for Estovian to notice if anything was amiss in his office.**

We left the office, Thredorik relocked the door and wiped off the knob to remove fingerprints (by using Zuri's shirt) and we gathered Nisha and Dragos and went back to our rooms to plan. We agreed we need to visit Madame Ivanja to question her and Thredorik kept pushing Zuri to do it. Nisha didn't look too happy about that. We also agree we need to get to 'The Stairs of the Moon' as well as this pack moot will be taking place and we might catch The Whispering Way cultists who killed Professor Lorimar there. Estovian's journal gave a vague description of the area the temple is in but we don't know who in the lodge has seen it (and we don't want to alert Estovian to our findings). So we start to do some more Scooby investigating around the lodge. Starting with the lodge's master hunter Delgros.

Delgros was in the midst of sharing stories to the lodge patrons and after they dispursed he wanted to know what we wanted. After a quick question if he knew about the 'Stairs' he said he never seen them before and recommened we ask some of the other lodge staff before departing. We tried to speak with Madame Ivanja as well but she was 'busy with appointments' and to come back tomorrow by her well armed guards outside her tower. So we decided to speak with Silas Graydon as he was willing to offer any help to us in light of assisting him with his missing friend. After dinner we approached Silas in the great hall and asked to speak to him. He asked if we needed to speak in private and we followed him back to his chambers. When we got into the room he was talking about general pleasantries loudly while rolling up a heavy blanket and placing it at the crack at the base of the door. The he partially closed the flue in the fireplace because, as Thredorik noticed on our first day there, all the chimneys are connected and you can hear people speaking by the fireplaces from anywhere in the lodge. We ask him about the area and he noted his military experience and retrieved some topographical maps of the area and using the description helped to determine it is to the south west of the lodge approximately 8 miles away. We thanked him and he told us to keep him abreast of the situations here and he will keep an ear out for any rumblings around the lodge.

We returned to our rooms and apparently Zuri and Nisha began to have a 'discussion' of some kind about how much she dislikes that 'varisian whore' aka Madame Ivanja. Apparently the dwarf is blessed with Superman level hearing and trys to spy on this but is busted by Zuri. Thredorik goes downstairs into the lodge to get a snack and plan on how he can peep on this disagreement. However this fight ends as Nisha, who is failing to find the words, plants a long kiss on Zuri then tries to leave. Obviously he stops her and they talk it out. Both like each other but never knew how to breach it. Things have changed. Speaking of changing, while the discussion was on, Julian got dressed nicely and quietly left his room by around 10pm. Unfortunately Thredorik spotted him leaving the lodge proper and followed behind to see Julian going into Madame Ivanja's tower. Now Thredorik decides to be a letch and spy on this going on by using his grappling hook in the rear of the tower to climb up to a window. When he reaches the window he seeing Julian going into one of the rooms and the door closes behind. Thredorik then jimmys open the window and climbs in and listens at the door to hear a woman speaking in a foreign language. So Thredorik goes one floor down to the lounge area and waits for Julian who finally makes an appearance at around 2am. Julian is suprised by the appearance of El Sleazo waiting for him and he leaves the tower. Thredorik realizes if he goes out the front door the guard will get him so he goes back out the window and heads back to the lodge where Julian was waiting for him at the doors. 'Not a word.' is the only thing Julian says to the dwarf before heading inside. And this is where we broke for the night.

Now this was kind of a pain in the ass for me to run. I chose to go the AP route because all the information and flow of the story is laid out in a neat package that doesn't require the DM to write out copious notes about NPC's and such. This section of book three is also called 'a railroad' in the book by the author but is in no way laid out as such. All the NPC's are front loaded into the beginning of the lodge entry instead of being placed at appropriate spots during the 'events' at the lodge that triggers their meets. I guess it was going for a more organic feel but when railroading its not going to be organic. It moves at a specific pace. This book does a bad job of placing out info to the DM. And that was my failing: I assumed that I didn't have to do more work to run this AP than needed. For the first two books it wasn't a problem but the author of book three has made my life hell. I ran an AP to get away from campaign notes and adventure design, I didn't subscribe to Paizo's AP's so I could keep doing it. But that is my failing. I didn't prepare more. I didn't have a firmer grasp of the info and I had to wing it at a few points only to have their locations (the information I missed) pointed out by a player a few minutes later. I'm owning this. This is my fault. Apparently I need to do more work again. No 'fun' was lost so I still feel I did ok. I will try to correct this for our next game on Feb. 4th.

Now back to the player pointing out information to me I missed. I know this was done as a help only and wasn't meant as anything but.....but after the game ended and I started thinking about it I was bothered by the fact a player had access to the module I was running while they were playing it. I don't like that at all. And I'm going on record saying that I won't allow this in the future either. So to any of my players out there be it Carrion Crown, Runelords or any future players I may have that read this....don't bring any copies of modules to the game (physical or electronic). If you want to help out and show were I missed something wait until the end of the session. Same goes for rules disputes wait until the end of the game and we will go over it. I just don't want players to have access to the story and stats I'm using while I'm running it for you. That is not fair to me, not fair to the other players either and could be concidered cheating. I know it wasn't in this situation however but it bothered me none the less.

And this concludes all of the happenings of the last Carrion Crown game. Sorry it took so long but one gets burned out writing about varisian whores and peeping dwarfs after awhile.