Wednesday, 7 September 2016

III.19: Shadowing the Dragonne

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 5
Scene setup: d10=8 (unchanged)

Newthrone, Q’barra
Nymm 7, 997 YK

The public face of House Tharashk in Newthrone was a broad-fronted townhouse, dark wood timbers contrasting with the white-painted wattle walls between them. Like Count Zuokas’ mansion, the upper floors were wood built over a lower floor of stone, and the steps at the front led up to a large double door.

There were guards out front, of course, but the doors were open at this time of day and Vaalyun was able to walk in without questions. The wood-panelled entrance hall might once have been that of a noble’s townhouse, but the mercenaries had repurposed it into a place of trade, where the townsfolk could come to seek the House’s services. Two merchants talked to a human mercenary, negotiating guards for a trading caravan; a page was talking to a tall orc, discussing bodyguards for his master. Off to one side, a nobleman was having a discreet conversation with a half-orc; Vaalyun thought that she might be an inquisitive, like himself, judging from the dark travelling cloak and the look of close attention that she gave to whatever account the noble was giving.

Through an open door to one side, there was a larger room with more Tharashk mercenaries sitting at tables, dicing and gambling away the morning. A human man at the nearest table saw that another customer had entered, and left his game, coming through to meet Vaalyun.

“You are of House Phiarlan, are you not?” Vaalyun was wearing his formal House robes, decorated with the five-headed hydra symbol of his House.

Defy Danger(CHA)(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 2) +2 = 10 Success!
You’re betray no fear or nervousness as you brazenly walk into the lion’s den.

“I am Vaalyun d’Phiarlan. I am establishing a presence for my house in the city.” Vaalyun spoke with authority, and the confidence that came from years of representing his House in places of power.

“I have heard something of this. I am Borurol Torrn.” He gave Vaalyuna a firm handshake. Borurol was wearing leathers and carried a scimitar on his back, and had a pouch of crossbow bolts at his side.

“Naturally, security is a concern for me in this new city. As a member of the Twelve, we respect House Tharashk’s existing presence here, and your reputation as a provider of mercenaries. As such, my first thought was to turn to your House for these services.” Vaalyun kept his tone formal and respectful.

“Of course.” Borurol nodded, seemingly pleased.

“I have no enemies here, but I am new here and I will have a high profile in the city; the unknown can be dangerous. Until I know the city better, I require the services of bodyguards for when I go about the city.”

“That we can provide.” Borurol looked at him thoughtfully for a moment, and added, “If you would be more comfortable, we have human mercenaries, and at least one half-elf, that we could put at your disposal?”

Vaalyun did not care about the race of the guards, but he did not want smart guards. His intention was to give Tharashk every reason to think that he was working with them, while he was working against them; but he did not want guards that would be smart enough to ask questions or pay attention to what he did.

“That does not matter; I want bodyguards that are strong. An appearance of strength is often enough to persuade troublemakers to think twice.”

Borurol smiled and nodded. “Very true. This we can provide.”

Vaalyun would like to be trusted by House Tharashk, so they might bring him in on some of their plans. And he’s offering his House’s services.

Parley(Vaalyun): 2D6(2 2) +2 = 6 Failure!
Present a challenge to one of the characters: Tharashk will take your coin, but they are suspicious of your arrival. They’ll assign guards with orders to keep their eyes open and report on your movements.

“And if there are services that my House can provide in return, please come to me. While I see that your men have their own entertainments”—there was a hint of disdain in Vaalyun’s voice, as he looked past at the mercenaries drinking and gambling in the room beyond—“these are not always the ones that work best when it comes to courting nobles and courtiers. This is where my House excels.”

Borurol’s smile slipped a little, and Vaalyun realised that he had given offense. The mercenary replied, “I doubt that we have any use for your services, but we will remember your offer.”

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 6
Scene setup: d10=8 (unchanged)

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 4) +1 = 11 Success!
What here is not what it appears to be?
Who is really in control here?

Vaalyun came away with two bodyguards, employed to protect him during daylight hours as he went about his business in the city.

One of them was a tall, brawny woman, a hired muscle of the sort that he had intended. The other, a half-orc woman, had a watchful look about her that quickly made Vaalyun suspicious. The human usually spoke for them, responding to Vaalyun’s orders, but Vaalyun noticed that the half-orc kept a watchful eye both on her surroundings, and on her new employer. She is here to keep an eye on me, he thought.

Followers, Do Their Thing(Vaalyun): 2D6(3 3) +1 = 7 Partial success.
Information with limitations

Vaalyun returned to the new chapterhouse, briefly conferring with Ryfon to get Imra and Ievos’ latest report—he could not meet them in person now that he had Tharashk bodyguards with him, and he preferred not to do so anyway since it might draw attention to his agents. They reported that a Tharashk expedition had entered the city through the north gate yesterday, with pack mules laden with something—dragonshards, Vaalyun supposed. Imra had approached one mercenary and tried to learn more about where they had come from, but could get nothing more specific than “the jungle”. It seemed unlikely that his agents could get specifics on where an expedition was going except by following it: and Imra and Ievos were urban elves, not skilled in jungle tracking.

In short, his investigation so far was not getting the detailed information that he needed. House Tharashk’s rejection of his offer to assist them with their diplomatic events in the city was frustrating, and forced him to consider more direct action. Nothing could be done in daylight, due to the bodyguards, but Vaalyun’s powers were more effective at night anyway. He needed to get inside the upper floor of Tharashk’s guild house and gain more information about their operation.

That night, Vaalyun returned to House Tharashk’s guildhouse. The night was warm, with a fair westerly wind blowing, bringing the hot humid air of the jungle rolling in over the city, smelling of damp earth and exotic plants.

This time, Ievos and Imra were with him, and they were not going to the front entrance. They were all dressed in dark cloaks, and moved openly but inconspicuously through the mostly-empty streets of the city. The House Tharashk guards were only employed for the daytime: another reason that Vaalyun had waited for the night.

The street behind the guildhouse was almost deserted; Vaalyun saw only one person walking ahead of them, further down the street. The street was lit by everbright lamps, and there were lights in the guildhouse itself—mostly on the first and ground floors—and in the surrounding buildings.

Dragonmark(Shadows and Darkness)(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 4) +2 = 12 Success!
You control the darkness

As they got close to the building, Vaalyun started to draw on the power of his dragonmark. He felt the familiar burning sensation down his left side, and the shadows around him suddenly seemed sharper in his vision, vibrant with potential. He pulled at the deep shadow in an alley opposite the guildhouse, pulling the darkness over to his side of the street, and enveloped the shards emitting light in two of the streetlamps at the near corner of the building, extinguishing their light.

Vaalyun turned his head slightly, the deep hood keeping his face entirely in shadow, and whispered to Ievos, “Climb to the second floor, and secure the rope there.”

They stopped in the darkness between the two extinguished streetlamps. They could hear some human and orc voices from within the building through an open window on the first floor, talking as they drank and gambled. Imra gave Ievos a boost up, so that he could reach past the stone ground floor, and Ievos drove a dagger into the wattle wall to create a handhold. He began to climb upwards, using his daggers to create handholds as he went.

Followers, Do Their Thing(athletic)(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 3) +1 = 9 Partial success.
You can climb, but draw attention

Once he was above the level where Imra could support his weight, Ievos found the climb harder. One of his feet slipped, and he scrambled a little to find a new footing, his soft boots scraping against one of the wooden pillars. There was a pause in the conversation that they could hear through the open window, and Vaalyun suspected that the noise had attracted someone’s attention.

Dragonmark(Concealment)(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 5) +2 = 13 Success!

Vaalyun drew on his dragonmark again; this time he concentrated on the open window above him, bending the light of the other streetlamps to create a dazzling reflection in the glass; they would not be able to see clearly to the right, where Ievos was climbing. Meanwhile he and Imra shrunk back further into the shadows below. The mercenaries’ conversation through the window resumed, casual as before.

Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities: House Tharashk is about mercenaries: they use guards, not magic, to protect their place.

Ievos finished his climb, reaching a window on the second floor. He quickly worked his dagger in between the window frames and had it open, and moved out of sight of those below. Soon they saw a rope being carefully lowered down to them.

“As we discussed—circle around and create a distraction if we need it,” Vaalyun said, dismissing Imra and then beginning his climb.

Is this the main Tharashk commander’s office? Very Unlikely (It’s a large building, and Vaalyun has no idea what room to target).
Fate d100(99)=Exceptional No!

It’s a barrack room. Good luck with that!

He made it to the second floor and, as he reached the windowsill and looked in, Vaalyun groaned inwardly. The room ran the width of the building on this side, with beds down both walls and the sound of snoring orcs and humans within. There was no light lit in the room, but Vaalyun’s elven eyes could easily make out the sleeping forms of Tharashk’s mercenaries within.

Order Follower(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 3) +1 = 5 Failure!
Put someone in a spot

Vaalyun dropped down next to Ievos; he could see that his agent’s eyes were wide under the hood of the cloak. Vaalyun calmly gestured down the room towards the door, but Ievos shook his head firmly, fear in his eyes. They looked at each other for a moment, then Vaalyun looked down and nodded, gesturing towards the open window.

Ievos climbed back out of the window and down the rope, as Vaalyun held the rope for him. But Ievos was panicked, and his climb down was not as quiet as his climb up. Vaalyun heard a shout from the floor below.

Sorry Ievos, he thought, and let go of the rope; the nimble elf should be able to take a bit of a fall. Knowing that he had only moments, he quickly closed the window and slipped quietly under one of the beds.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 6) +1 = 11 Success!
Silent as a shadow

Some of the mercenaries in the room were roused by the shout. Vaalyun stayed silent and out of sight, and dismissed the shadows that had been obscuring the everbright lanterns outside: he could not afford to leave any sign that might point to his House. The mercenaries in the room were grumbling in Orcish and Common at the disturbance, and asking what was going on; windows were thrown open and shouts were heard, presumably at Ievos who was, hopefully, now fleeing into the night. Vaalyun dared not move, and every breath was an effort as he struggled to stay calm and quiet.

Followers, Do Their Thing(stealthy)(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 5) +1 = 11 Success!
Ievos gets away and is not identified.

After a few minutes, someone came into the room and, in a female voice (human, Vaalyun thought), said “The excitement’s over. Some thief or troublemaker was climbing the wall. I assume they did not get into here?” There were replies in the negative. “They fled into the night. We have reminded the guards to be vigilant.”

With that, the mercenaries retired once more to their beds. After the better part of an hour stuck under a bed and barely moving, Vaalyun was stiff and getting a little tired himself; but he slipped out, crossed the room quietly, and let himself out into the corridor beyond.

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 3) +1 = 10 Success!
What should I be on the lookout for?
What here is useful or valuable to me?
Hold 1

Present riches at a price

Vaalyun stood outside the door for a moment, collecting himself. He was in the lion’s den, so to speak—inside House Tharashk’s guildhouse, with a dozen well-armed mercenaries in the next room. There was no guard posted in the corridor itself; he quietly moved away from the door to the barrack room, and stopped after ten yards or so as he got close to the stairs; voiced drifted up from below, but he could also see the large boots of a guard, possibly an orc, sticking out from around the corner on the landing; he must be seated by the top of the stairs.

Vaalyun turned around, looking the doors in the passage; he reasoned that, whoever was in charge here, they would have their office on the front side of the building, which looked over a more important street and also towards the Keep. There were two doors on this side. The one closest to the barrack room looked like a heavier door and the doorframe was marked by more than one dent: as if heavy boxes had been moved through here more than once. That made it seem like a storeroom, probably for something valuable if it was up here near and not in the basement. Vaalyun moved to the other door.

Is the door locked? 50:50 ().
Fate d100(7)=Exceptional Yes!

Spend hold(Vaalyun): What should I be on the lookout for?

Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask: Blast the door open with your magic missile wand and you’ll draw attention. Trigger the ward and you draw attention.

His first thought was to just try the handle, but as he reached for it, there was an itching sensation in his dragonmark. Magically warded, he thought.

Vaalyun already made a good Dex roll for stealth; let’s give him an Int roll this time, for how well he improvises now that his hope of an easy infiltration is foiled.

Defy Danger(INT)(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 5) +2 = 13 Success!
You get it

He looked at the two doors on the other side. Vaalyun was uneasy about opening more rooms than he really needed to, but with both rooms on this side locked, he had no safe choice here, not even to escape. The door opposite was likely to be the commander’s quarters, and perhaps he had a key that would open the door. That thought gave Vaalyun fresh confidence; knowing that his only safety lay in success, he pressed forward with this new plan without hesitation.

The room was not locked, and he slipped quietly inside. It was dark, but Vaalyun could see clearly enough that the orc in the bed was sleeping. The orc’s armour was laid out on a trunk at the foot of the bed, but Vaalyun moved to the bedside table and grabbed the key that lay there. He glanced only once at the orc, who was snoring loudly, then turned and slipped out into the corridor again.

The key fit the keyhole in the door, and the magical ward flashed briefly as the key was turned. Vaalyun took out the key and let himself quietly into the warded room.

Treasure: d6+d4=6 Useful information.

Well I would have given that regardless, since this is the office of the commander directing the expeditions into the jungle. So I’ll give more useful information than I planned.

The commander’s study was well furnished, though hardly to Vaalyun’s taste. There were expensive-looking hangings bearing the dragonne symbol of House Tharashk on two walls, and a cabinet containing a warrior’s mementos: broken weapons and sigils from fallen foes. There was a solid writing desk and it was this that Vaalyun turned his attention to first, searching for any information about Tharashk’s expeditions into the jungle.

Is there anything to tie this commander to the faith of the Gatekeepers? 50:50 (We know that this contingent of Tharashk is led by some from Clan Torrn, by previous rolls, and they are traditionally of that faith).
Fate d100(41)=Yes

Offer Aid from an Enemy, or Opposition from an Ally

The first drawer contained a small leather-bound book, though Vaalyun did not understand Orcish so could not read the words. The sigil on the cover was of a circle of arcane runes obscured by a tangle of vines. The book contained some maps inside, covering many areas of Khorvaire; the maps of the Shadow Marches were the most detailed, but there was one map of Q’barra with a few sites marked. The book seemed well-used, so he supposed that the information was important to the commander, but the book was old, so Vaalyun wondered if it could truly relate to the House’s current activities. Nonetheless, he took out a sheet of paper and quickly noted down the marked locations.

In another drawer, he found some loose maps of the Q’barra jungle. These were newer maps, and the markings drawn on them were in Common. These seemed to be maps to sites that Tharashk was currently harvesting for dragonshards; the names of nearby lizardfolk tribes were written on the maps. Vaalyun again took down some quick notes of the locations.

Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask: Are you going to return the key? There are more rolls ahead if you do.

A quick search of the rest of the desk found nothing else of use to him, so Vaalyun turned his thoughts to making his exit. He had to return the key and reseal the door—so he could not leave via this room. He cracked the door open, checking that the way was clear, then left the study, locking the door behind him.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 1) +1 = 7 Partial success.
Worse outcome
Dragonmark(Shadows and Darkness)(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 5) +2 = 13 Success!
You got it

He opened the opposite door again, intending to return the key, but this time he was a little too hasty, and the door creaked as he opened it. Even as he heard the guard down the hall stirring, Vaalyun drew on his dragonmark again, drowning himself in deep shadows. The guard looked around the corner, holding a lantern, as Vaalyun slipped through the door into the commander’s bedroom, the shadow blocking the light from revealing the open door or from spilling into the chamber beyond.

Shutting the door behind him, Vaalyun withdrew the shadow from the passage outside. Hopefully the sleepy guard would write it off as a trick of the light, but he needed to be gone from this place immediately. The orc commander was, fortunately, still asleep. Silently stepping across the room, he replaced the key on the table, moved to the window, and opened it, looking out at the ground below. There was still a good breeze outside, so he could not keep the window open for long; without hesitating, Vaalyun climbed out of the window. Drawing his dagger, he used it as Ievos had done before to make a handhold just below the window and, finding a foothold on the frame of the first floor window below, he was able to close the window above him as he clung to his dagger.

Is Imra waiting for him? Somewhat Likely (That’s a reasonable thing for her to do).
Fate d100(49)=Yes
Defy Danger(STR)(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 2) -1 = 5 Failure!
Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment: noisy, Stunned; also Deal damage: d6=6 damage

Vaalyun only had one dagger, though, and lacked the agility of his agents. He was still enclosed in a ball of darkness, but now it just served to stop him being seen, not to prevent any passerby from seeing that something odd was going on. He looked around frantically, and saw a slender cloaked figure crossing the street towards his location. Host be praised, it’s Imra.

As she approached, Vaalyun realised that there was no way to climb down, and simpy jerked his dagger out and fell to the street below. He landed heavily, feeling the shock of the impact and a sharp pain in his leg. There was no time to waste, however, as he had fallen past the light in the first floor window; even though all anyone there would have seen was a ball of darkness falling, that might still alert them.

Imra was with him in a moment, helping him to his feet, and he found that he had sprained his ankle and needed to lean on her for support. “Go, go!” he urged quietly, as he drew on his dragonmark one more time to cover their flight.

Dragonmark(Concealment)(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 4) +2 = 11 Success!
They don’t see you as you move away

They did hear a window open behind them, and puzzled voices as the mercenaries tried to understand what had happened. But the power of Vaalyun’s mark once again saved them from detection, blending the colour of their cloaks to match the stone pavement slabs, and pulling at the shadows of the buildings to dim the light around them. As the two elves rounded the corner into the next street, the stress and exhaustion of the night’s was catching up to Vaalyun, and Imra had to support him all the way back to the chapterhouse.

End of Session(party): Vaalyun used his House’s reputation, +1 XP

It occurred to me afterwards that I could have used one of those failures to make an offscreen move, rather than failing forward with Vaalyun’s escapade. I could really use a move to advance Elisea’s subplot. But I already made Vaalyun roll stuff for failures there so I won’t tinker with the session as played. I noticed when writing up that I missed a random Mythic event as well; perhaps I’ll carry that forward.

Vaalyun rolled really well to go through all that danger and get out essentially undetected. There was plenty of risk that he would get spotted and need to shoot his way out; he had that wand of magic missile handy...

XP: Anaya: at 4XP.
Esthana: at 9XP.
Nyseris: at 4XP.
Vaalyun: 3 failures, alignment goal met; level up; at 1XP.

Level Up(Vaalyun): +1 Dex; Above the Law: from the Eberron supplement. Briefly, this means he’s much less likely to be arrested by any state for crimes or disorder, as he is an important member of one of the Dragonmarked Houses. It doesn’t protect him against House Tharashk, though.

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