Friday, September 26, 2014

The Adventures of Inquisitor Faustus: Session 2 (GMs notes)

Faust, still feeling fevered and flea-bitten, found a public fountain, scrubbed himself clean under cover of darkness, and burned all of his clothes save his new cloak. About two hours after leaving the Drowned Rat, he was hammering on the door of the shrine-keepers house until Rayko awakened and let him in. Rayko offered him the bed and passed out on a sofa without another word.

14 Eleint

The two of them were awakened late in the morning by the sound of more banging. Rayko went to check and found a Red Plume nailing a notice to the door, informing the citizenry that, due to ‘rioting at the docks’ and the burning of the University, the Maalthir were declaring a state of martial law. The games were canceled and citizens were warned to stay indoors unless absolute necessary.

Faust helped himself to one of Rayko’s spare robes and stoles, and mused about how he was going to get healed now that the university was gone. Rayko showed Faust his small library, and, in the log kept by the shrine-keepers, showed him a passage describing the old temple which was the center of Tormite worship before the rise of the Maalthir, which lay just a mile outside of town. According to the records, the body of St. Durham Waningstar lay interred in the church. Rayko postulated that the bones of the saint might bear the power to cure Faust of his disease.

Faust gave Rayko a platinum coin and asked the shrine-keeper to buy Faust some new clothes, citing Hillsfar’s “Great Law of Trade”, and then to meet him at the temple. Rayko set off and Faust took some time to relax in quiet. He then donned his armor, hidden under the shrine-keepers robes, and stashed his weapons and shield in a sack which he stuffed with the blankets and sheets from Rayko’s bed to disguise their shape and keep them from clinking together.

His “bundle of laundry” thrown over his shoulder, Faust managed to slink to the city gates unaccosted. He caught up to Rayko on the road, hid in some bushes, and quickly dressed himself in the new boots, breeches, and tunic that Rayko had purchased. They walked on and it began to rain hard.

Cresting a hill, they saw the doors of the old temple standing open and the flicker of torchlight from inside. As they neared, they heard sounds of digging, metal on stone. Faust looked inside to see ten men in the long heavy robes, wide-brimmed leather hats, and distinctive beaked masks of plague doctors digging up the foundations of the church right in front of the altar.

Faust rapped loudly on the doors and demanded to know why they were desecrating Torm’s temple. One of the men broke off from the digging and approached, slowly at first, inquiring what the problem was. Once he was close, he lunged at Faust with a sharp-tipped doctor’s cane. Faust reacted quickly and pounded the poor doctor into the ground with his hammer.

Two more, shovels in hand, rushed Faust and Rayko, One plunged into melee, while the other blasted Faust with a magic missile. Faust and Rayko ignored the shovel-wielder and ganged up on the caster, only to have Rayko laid low by a shocking grasp. Faust leapt into the air, his magical cloak unfurling the the darkness, and caved in the man’s skull with his hammer.

Faust squared off against the shoveler, then there was some cheering from the diggers. They jumped into the hole they’d been digging, threw aside something Faust could not see, then one stood up, holding a beautifully gilt and illuminated Tormish prayer book. There was a bright flash of light as Faust looked on the book, and suddenly he and Rayko were fully healed (including the lifting of the plague).

The two Tormtar leapt back into action, and the remaining diggers—armed with picks, torches, and shovels—charged them. The melee was fierce. Faust fought for every advantage he could find—kicking over pews, throwing blankets over the enemies’ heads, and even setting a blanket and pew on fire. Rayko was knocked out in the melee by a shovel-blow to the head. The fire (or the fact that it did not seem to harm Faust) proved too much for the remaining combatants though, and they broke and run. In the end five of the doctors lay dead, one captured, and four escaped (counting the one that vanished).

Faust contained the fire, patched up Rayko, again, and tied up the one still-living doctor. He searched the bodies of the others, finding a scrap of paper bearing the name ‘Hadonis’ and a partial floor-plan of a building, as well as a substantial amount of silver. The spellcaster of the group also had a yellow stylized ‘Z’ (the symbol of the Zhentarim) tattooed on his inner forarms.

Searching the area where they had been digging, he found an open sarcophagus, buried directly in front of the alter in the center of the aisle, containing an old and moldering skeleton—St. Durham presumably. Near where the one had vanished, he found another scrap of paper, matching the first, which completed the floor plan—showing a house built into a cliff face with a network of tunnels running back into the hill.

Once Rayko was awake, Faust resuscitated the still living doctor, and proceeded to interrogate him, first disguised in a doctor’s mask, then exposing his own horrific visage. The man, terrified, explained that they were hired by the Zhents in Yulash to destabilize Hillsfar by introducing plague-infected rats into the city. They were then told to find and steal the cannon of St. Durham, which was said to have the power to heal, and deliver it to the leader of the local Zhentarim cell, a man calling himself Hadonis. The one of them teleported with the book to Hadonis’s retreat, and the others were to reconvene in Hillsfar and await further orders.

Feeling he had got sufficient information from the man, Faust caved in his head. Rayko, meanwhile was praying over the body of the saint. When Faust knelt beside him, they experienced a sudden feeling of well-being as their wounds were healed yet again. The two of them closed up the sarcophagus and reburied it properly.

Outside, the rain had stopped. They built a pyre from the wood of the old pews and burned the bodies to the best of their abilities. They then investigated the various outbuildings that once belong to the temple. Two were inhabited—one by a passing squatter, and another by a family of six that had settled in the abandoned house. Faust asked the family to care for the temple grounds, giving them 4 gold as a “down-payment” and requesting that they make sure the remains of the doctors were buried once the fire ended.

The two then trekked back to Hillsfar, only to find the city shut tight. Rayko said he could stay with his cousin, who lived in a fishing village a mile down the coast. Faust bid him farewell, waited until nightfall, and flew back to the shrine in bat form.