Leylines

Descent Into Chaos IV

Shades of the Past

Last Saturday marked the triumphant return of Leylines, and DnD for that matter, to the lives of my friends and I. Unfortunately, the timing has robbed us of a few players; two to family gatherings, and one to WoW: Cataclysm. We’ve filled the gap with a new player who’s brand new to DnD, with only the short zombie one-shot I ran a couple weeks ago under his belt. He seems to have taken to it pretty strongly though, and had a lot of fun. He played the role of Ephraim, whose name still sadly reminds me of the Family Guy joke “Efram the Retarded Rabbit”.

This time around, I did a time skip a few days in the future. Martial law has been declared, and Jun Xi, Sed and Eli have all been deputized. Things in the city are still tense, but stable for the moment. Having the militia actively patrolling the streets and enforcing curfew has stemmed violent dissent and sent local crime organizations scurrying underground, although people aren’t happy about it. Meanwhile, the failure of the runes is causing widespread damage, the worst of which comes from the city’s restaurants and larders. Without runes to preserve them most of the city’s food is beginning to spoil. What’s worse, in the wake of the declaration of martial law most of the merchants are preparing to take their wares North to another city and try their luck elsewhere, which would cripple the city’s food supply. The only good news has been of the army spotted to the West; they’ve camped in the mountains, and have shown no signs of moving on from there.

The scene opened with a quick cutscene where an unnamed man pulled himself up from the refuse pile he’d been left in, cradling his broken arm. With a resolute mind seething with anger, he sought out the only people vicious and dedicated enough to carry out his revenge; Gandrake and Sed.

We then segued to the luxury barracks that Alex Iroe, the governor of Danton, supplied our heroes. Lieutenant Llewyn, the pro-vigilante member of the militia that helped Eli surprise and murder Petran Dula, is introducing the group to their new member; Ephraim. A member of the Queensguard who had been dispatched to the embassy as a representative of the Queen’s interests, he is now the only member of the embassy’s guard that hasn’t fled back home in the wake of this magical apocalypse. Unwilling to stand by, he offered his help, and Captain Trenton was quick to accept and assign him to this newly formed freelance branch of the militia.

A brief set of introductions went around the room, but before long they were interrupted by a knock at the door and found former information broker Ricky cradling his broken arm outside. When last they saw him he’d lured Gandrake into a trap, and told Sed he might have information on the Highborn man he was looking for. . . and now he’s following up on the latter of those issues. Apparently the Highborn, Torval, had beaten Ricky for information, then left him for dead in one of the fresh midden heaps that have started piling up around the city since the running water stopped. He told them Torval has been throwing a lot of money around the slums, seeking out disreputable types for something, and Ricky gave the group a list of contacts to speak with before going to get his arm checked.

I split it up after that into 10 locations across a map of the district. Each location had different NPCs, with different information, and the three taverns also had unrelated rumors that correlated to other events in the city. I gave them six hours to search, and since they stayed in a group, this allowed them to thoroughly search six locations. Ephraim quickly proved himself the group’s conscience in Jun Xi’s absence, talking them out of taking extreme action and even getting Sed to open up when their questions about this “Torval” threatened to boil over.

The story is that when he was younger, Sed and Torval were part of an adventuring group in the faraway country of Eldin, along with two others. One of those two was Sed’s fiance, but when they discovered an artifact and Torval got to it first, he killed the other two and wounded Sed before fleeing with it into the night. Sed spent the next few years of his life chasing him across the continent, and that chase has led him here.

Meanwhile, Eli and Snow proved very temperamental, often being held back by Ephraim from being too violent with those they spoke with. Eli seems changed after the torture inflicted on him by Petran Dula, thoughts of redemption drowned out by alcohol and regret. Snow, on the other hand, is just kind of a bitch.

After six hours, they’d found out several things. A man named Frederick Gramm was rousing a following among the dissenting populace, local syndicate Evard’s Dogs seems to be biding its time for something, and Torval, the man they were chasing, had been trying to hire mercenaries for protection and assassins to go after Sed. They still didn’t know where he was, though, and on their way to a seventh location they were attacked by the Redarms once again. Their leader, in his trademark Brooklyn accent, provoked the group, pressuring them into taking up a defensive position in an alley However then he got unceremoniously critted and knocked unconscious by an attack of opportunity by Eli. His crew fled, and they started interrogating him. . . only to find that he really is what he seems. A useless street punk with a chip on his shoulder, trying to prove that he’s their equal. And he doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job.

Joseph, Snow’s cousin, then came down from the rooftop where he’d been watching the fight. He introduced himself with another flourish, complimenting his cousin in flowery language as he gave them the information on Torval, and a warning that the family had been hired to take his case. Although “other business” will keep them from enacting the contract immediately, the threat remains, so before leaving to see to “urgent business” he implored them to hurry to stop the contract from coming to fruition.

The PC’s went to Torval’s apartment, and Eli set off the makeshift alarm the paranoid highborn had placed on his door. This started off a frantic skill challenge chase across the city. Ephraim quickly got all his failures by trying, and failing, to look for a bike for several turns. Meanwhile, Snow fell behind after falling from a zipline, while Sed and Eli doggedly gave pursuit. They managed to eventually corner Torval when he tried to barricade a door, inciting Sed to smash the door off its hinges with a natural 20 and trap the man beneath it. Only one problem. The man wasn’t Torval at all.

A quick interrogation later, the PCs found that the man here was named Bremen; his conflicting nature and a few hints of that name sprinkled liberally earlier on had all foreshadowed it beforehand during the rumor gathering phase. Torval had hired him, giving him a large sum of money and his own clothing after commanding him to lead Sed across the country. He was supposed to have caught a boat home, received his final payment and left the mess on Torval’s hands back in Eldin, but when he got to town no one was sailing because of the Disappearance. So instead he tried using what money he had left to kill Sed before Sed could kill him; he’d been told the opposite of Sed’s story, that Torval was the victim and Sed the monster, and was notably fearful when they interrogated him.

This revelation had little time to settle in before another distraction struck the group. Three men dressed in expensive suits strutted into their midst, announcing themselves as the Dula brothers, lieutenants in Evard’s Dogs; Tony, the eldest, Gio, the youngest and smallest, and Byron, a hulking brute of a man. “Rail Tracer” Eli had killed their brother, and although they were under orders not to cause a scene now, meaning no bodies, they want to take out a bit of their anger. Rushing forward, the trio engaged our heroes in a skill challenge fight, using Acrobatics, Athletics and Endurance checks as fuel for attacks.

Eli got battered unconscious with a quick pair of defensive failures as Byron drove him into the ground and head-butted him unconscious. Tony meanwhile strode forward, holding off Ephraim, Sed and Snow while Gio flitted back and forth, weakening the party. In the end, Snow proved the most fit of the group as she fought Tony to a standstill after taking an early wound, until she retreated to an alley and the Dulas decides not to give chase. Claiming they couldn’t afford to be seen and connected with what was happening that night, Tony drew his brothers back and left, the fight between him and Snow undecided.

And behind them, as they disappeared into a side alley, plumes of smoke rose above the government district. . .

All in all, a good session. Although I’d planned for the full adventure to take them to the climax at the Parliamentary Hall, we just ended up having to end early after spending a lot of time rping during the investigation parts. Not that I’m complaining. Our schedule is delayed by the holiday, but I’m hoping to get them together sometime next week to finish the adventure and get them ready for Jun Xi and Gandrake’s returns. Honestly though, I just really want to play through this next part. It’ll see the grudging familial relationship I’ve nurtured between Joseph and Snow reach a deadly climax, and mark the next step in the city’s collapse. . . although the PCs have a chance of preventing that depending on how fast they act. We’ll see how well they manage next time.

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