SSWAG Obsidian Portal

Pre Game
The Summons

My Dear Friend,
Forgive me for contacting you so abruptly, but current circumstances make haste the superior virtue over propriety, and I strive for virtue in all things. I look back upon our prior association fondly, and, Pharasma wiling, our possible future enterprises, because it is in the spirit of re-kindling an old friendship that I write to you now. I hereby formally invite you to visit me at my home, where I can share with you the results of my latest line of inquiry. It would surprise me greatly if you did not find it as fascinating as I do. I trust you will find your way to me in due time, and until then I wait with bated breath.
Yours in friendship,
Petros Lorrimor,
Prof. Emeritus, University of Lepidstadt,
Dept. of Cultural Preservation

That Professor Petros Lorrimor would remember you among all the others he had dealt with is, perhaps, a reflection of the trust and deep affection that he held for you and your talents, and of the friendship that developed all that time back to when you first met him. That the Professor is asking for you, specifically, out of all the dozens, perhaps hundreds of students, partners, employees, and acquaintances he had made over his career, makes your heart swell with pride nonetheless, albeit mixed with feelings of concern.
Were it not for the code phrase, “with bated breath,” you would never have thought to heat the paper, revealing the secret message Professor Lorrimor encoded therein. Several key letters appear emphasized and previously hidden symbols appear. Quickly snatching up a quill, you scribe the emphasized letters, hidden symbols and word breaks to discover the Professor’s true message:

COME TO RAVENGRO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. TERRIBLE DANGER. ENEMY. CANNOT SHARE MORE. FIND YOUR WAY TO ME. P.L.

Shivering, and not from the chill night air, you cast the paper into the fire, planning to depart for Ravengro in the next few days, dreading what the Professor couldn’t trust, even to a cipher… sadly news follows in its wake.

_I write on behalf of Kendra Lorrimor, the daughter of your friend, Petros Lorrimor. I regret to advise you that the Professor has died in a tragic accident. Kendra, mindful that her father mentioned you prior to his departing into the arms of the Pharasma, bids you come to attend her Fathers funeral.

In Sympathy
Your Servant
Vashian Hearthmount_

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Session 1 (21st-22nd of Calistril)
Reading of the will and Revelations

Our intrepid adventures arrived the 21st of Calistril [February] to the small town of Ravengro.. an unusually quiet and sullen locale in the wheat belt of Canterwall. Asking for directions they were directed to the house of their old friend and mentor, Professor Petros Lorrimor. It is cold and the weather promises either snow or rain in the near future.

On arrival his daughter, Kendra Lorrimor, greeted them with relief. The funeral is to be held today. She ushers you into the house. There were some mourners from outside of Ravengro who attended but there wasn’t much discussion with them before the funeral procession commenced. They were Embreth Daramid (apparently a Justice in the city of Lepidstadt) Madame Ivanja (a strikingly beautiful Varisian woman in her apparent 40s (who claimed to have a ‘special’ relationship with the Professor), Nico Garus (a military man if any of you were to guess from his behavior) from the city of Carrion Hill and Adivion Adrissant (who seems to have been a student of the Professor and seems to have been close to the family). The village priest, Father Grimburrow is there but departs as soon as you arrive to make arrangements at the grave.

You are joined by a small crowd outside in the street… though ‘crowd’ may well be too generous a term. A shopkeep or maybe a tavern keep by the looks of him in his apron, his son or apprentice, a fat formally dressed middle aged man who is rolling rapidly towards looking old and another middle aged man who has the look of a well paid scribe but with a mischievous twinkle in his eye – a man who never really grew up you’d guess.

They fall in with Lorrimors friends and the procession moves slowly through town. The weather is cold, the sky heavily clouded and the day is dark despite it being almost noon. The pale grey light of the sun paints everything in drab dead tones.

What happens is both sad and surprising. Normally what would happen would be the families of the community standing on porches or by the side of the road muttering a kind word or praise for the deceased, and making a sign of Pharasma as well as making some showing of respect. A doffed hat or a bowed head for instance. What you see instead is an absence of people – curtains are pulled aside revealing faces watching from inside their houses and of the few people who do come outside, most of them make signs against evil and spit rather than show any sign of respect.

Kendra does her best to keep her chin up but from behind you cannot see how it may be affecting her. Definitely there is a halt in her step with every supernatural ward made.

From funerary custom nothing should be said by those in the procession and any words you would say would only dishonour your fallen friend.

In due course you make your way to the Restlands, the town graveyard. On route to the burial plot you are confronted by a mob of villagers: Farmers and a few fishermen for the most part but there are a few hard men among them They are led by a tall middle aged man with a red nose and red veined checks, the sure sign of a drunkard.

“That’s far enough. We been talking, and we don’t want Lorrimor buried in the Restlands. You can take him upriver and bury him there if you want, but he ain’t goin’ in the ground here!”

Kendra is swift to respond, her sadness swifly transforming into anger. “What are you talking about?” she cries out. “I arranged it with Father Grimburrow. He’s waiting for us! The grave’s already been…”

“You don’t get it, woman. We won’t have a necromancer buried in the same place as our kin. I suggest you move out while you still can. Folks are pretty upset about this right now.”

“Necromancy!? Are you really that ignorant?”, Kendra exclaims, firing up.

Sensing an impending fight the pall bearers set down their coffin and either draw steel or aim crossbows. Many of the mob (once eager to fight), realising that violence against heavily armed and armoured adventures will not go their way start to disperse, leaving the erstwhile leader, Gibbs to curse and call after them… soon leaving him nearly alone… but he and a few die hards refuse to budge.

Thats when Gibbs is punched in the back of the head as he faces the retreating peasants, and dropped him to his knees. He is worked over by the half orc Inquisitor of Pharasma while Gibbs is also harangued by her brother, a priest of Pharsma. Gibbs takes a few hits and while unbroken, he departs as well. A stirring speech is made and a few of the remaining townsmen fall in with the procession and show their respect for the departed saying that its the ‘right thing to do’.

After the casket is lowered into the grave (quite an achievement given that it was dug from the frozen earth) Father Grimburrow gave the mourners a chance to share their impressions and stories of their life that was made better by the deceased. Each of the party gave a small speech, some more emotional than others and finally the man who was introduced to you as Adivion Adrissant gives the closing memoriam and then suggests that everyone get out of the rain that had begun to fall and head back to the house.

Those mourners who travelled from other parts of Ustalav are quick to leave, citing the need to complete their long journeys, leaving you with Kendra.

Kendra is downcast by the departures – sadly by the amount of food laid out for the wake it seemed that she was prepared to feed a great many people… people who never arrived. Such is the amount of food that you are able to eat and drink to your hearts content, with an assurance their would be more than sufficient food for the morrow as well. Kendra starts drinking while making an effort to talk to you to better understand how her father had changed your lives for the better, and you wait for the reading of Petros’ will.

During this time Kendra shares how the town has changed since her fathers death, becoming unaccountably sullen and abnormally suspicious and superstitious. Such things were always part of Ravengro but they had gotten worse over the last few weeks.

After a few hours Councilman Vashian Hearthmount arrives. Acting in an officious and somewhat disapproving manner he reads the will. While Kendra receives a townhouse in Lepidstadt and a stipend to last her the rest of her life (made possible by the selling of the Ravengro home), you are all bequeathed 100 Platinum coins! A small fortune! A key is presented as part of the reading of the will.

All that is required is to deliver some books of a controversial nature to people in Lepidstadt and to remain in Ravengro to look after Kendra for 30 days. Kendra offers to put you up at her house for the period, stating there is enough room in the house which is almost a library in itself.

Kendra fetches a small chest and gives it to the party. The key that Councilman Hearthmount presented fits and within are found five books. One is a thick leather bound tome with ‘Read Me Now’ scratched into the cover – it is the professors journal. There are three books on dark topics – the Dark Tapestry, the faiths of Zon Kuthon, Urgathoa and finally a sealed purple leather bound tome set with a scarab.

With the priest settling in the journal he finds that 10 years ago the Professor was in conflict with the Whispering Way, a cabal of necromancers who seek undeath as their ultimate goal. Communicating with the party they put their heads together and are unable to put together their stories on this nefarious group before heading out to the Restlands under cover of night to check on the Petros Lorrimors grave. All seems to be in order and the return home to rest for the night.

On the morning of the 22nd they are rudely awakened by a loud banging on the door. One of the town deputies has horrible news for Kendra… Petros Lorrimors body had been dug up, presumably after the groups visit to the Restlands, and is now missing. Kendra runs weeping to the graveyard, heedless of the icy cold sleet now falling. She is closely followed by several house guests.

You squelch through the mud of Ravensgro and along the road to the Restlands. The graveyards paths, though wet, are crudely cobbled or paved so the mud becomes less of a concern but your feet are both soaked and heavily caked in mud by the time the young deputy leads you at a slow run to the side of Lorrimors grave.

Kendra is a mess, he clothes muddy, she kneels in the dirt and clay by the open grave and its opened coffin keening and weeping, rocking back and forth. A man with a badge office, evidently the sheriff walks around in a gingerly stepping about 50 yards down path of the open grave, away from the entrance and towards the exit, his face turned down, looking at or for something.

As the group approaches he turns to berate them for the event, believing in someway that they are responsible for the grave robbing. Harsh words are exchanged on both sides, particularly by the Half Orc Inquisitor. The conversation breaks down and the sheriff goes back to looking for tracks.

Vester, the sheriff calls over, I can’t find a bloody thing – rains’ washed it all away. We’re going to have to go door to door but we’ll stop at Gibbs house. I had a word with him yesterday and it looks like he may not have listened.

Right you are Sheriff, the young deputy calls back (though he has the look and sound of a farmer), but there was plenty of folk who were talkin’ about it at the ‘Laughing Demon’ last night til Zokar threatened to never pour another drink for any man who didn’t shut up about Lorrimor.

Good man, that one, comments the Sheriff. Come on then – lets be having you.

He makes to leave but hasn’t yet, allowing you some time to get in any questions you want. The priest asks if they can be present for the meeting with Gibbs and makes an impassioned plea that finds favour with the Sheriff – he concedes that they can accompany him provided they do not interfere and keep quiet.

The group makes their way to Gibbs shack… a small rickety, and by all appearances, single room affair. Gibbs is waken from a drunken stupour and while he seems overjoyed about the professors body being dug up he claims no involvement – citing heaving drinking during the night. He does say that his two war buddies who were bunking with him are missing however.

The group move over to the Laughing Demon, the last location Gibbs was found at – they met with Pevrin Elkarid, the boy from the funeral procession, and his father Zokar Elkarid – the owner of the Tavern. He offers the group some food, each with dubious ghoulish names, as well as drink and refuses to accept payment.

Isn’t that Gibbs the LIMIT, says Zokar crossly. I may cut him off if the Sherriff can prove it was him that dug up poor Petrrros!.

His apron-ed belly jiggles up and down has he hustles along to his Inn.

He gets away with a lot you know but that’s just because he’s a war hero – we have two you know. Gibbs and Councilman Heathmount. Heathmount was an officer back in his day, up along the border in Belkzen. Gibbs did too but he was a corporral. Lots of stories about him and all of them nasty but he was a brave one by all accounts! His war buddies will swing through here every now and then.

Oh but I am gossipping now.’

The meal finished part of the group accepts Pervin’s offer to take them on a site seeing and introductory tour of the town. Some of the group accepts while Matt’s character heads over to see the town smith, who apparently is the oldest resident of the town.

Jorfa the dwarvish towns smith, who seems somewhat grumpy to be distracted from the work of prepping her forge for the day, puts Matts character to work. He sees that she makes good work with possibly even a few masterwork weapons but she is relatively closed mouthed.

On the tour of the town Ezekiel Dawnstar decides to stop by the temple of Pharasma to see Father Grimburrow. The visit is a pleasant one though the topic of conversation – the grave robbing is not, and he was quite angry about it, citing blasphemy.

It turns out that Father Grimburrow was something of an adventurer in his middle age and a zealot who took a hard line – a harder line than most and even believed the Faith had grown soft. He was transferred to Ravensgro for his pains. He gave a rambling speech about the history of the town and the ruined Prison nearby, Harrowstone, and while he admitted that local legend held it to be haunted, stated that he had visited it – WITH PERMISSION mind you, he says, he found nothing untoward. He advises that for safety reasons, visiting the prison is against local laws. Access to the temple archives was requested but gently denied until a valid reason could be given but there was an olive branch extended and Father Grimburrow said he was open minded on the issue to be reviewed later.

He also talks about Petros’ body was found – up near the prison walls. A gargoyle had fallen off the wall and crushed the lower half of the Professor face. The young priest noted that there was a possible parallel to the Whispering Ways practice of destroying the jaws of those who leaked secrets of their order.

The group re-assembled back at the Laughing Demon. Zokar mention that the funeral had delayed the local end of Spring festival where a cooking competition was pride of place. Zokar suggested that the party be sworn in as judges to improve the groups standing within the community – to date the reception had been very cold (apart from Zokar and Pervin). Councilman Hearthmount swore in the group and set them at liberty to visit those townsfolk who were participating in the competition.

Before heading over to see the cooking contest the group went back to Kendra’s house. A childhood friend, Jominda Fallenbridge had taken charge of caring for Kendra and had put her to bed. In a moment of keen insight Stephens character identified that Jominda was very protective of Kendra and harboured romantic feelings for Kendra.

Back at the village cooking contest the mood was hospitable and respectful. It appears that the ploy of acting as judges was working. Even Gibbs, who sat on the Gazebo with the Village Dog, Old River, was pleasant – though he stated that this was his way of showing respect for the office the group had been sworn to and that he still hated them and that he’d show how little he felt about the party after the festival.

As the group moved around town, Ezekiel visited the temple a second time and found the old Father Grimburrow , who was surely in his 80’s, preparing to go seeking Petros Lorrimors body. Stephen, approving the old Priests dedication agreed to go with him.

The festival continued for a few hours and all seemed well.

Meanwhile old Father Grimburrow had set a good pace and roamed the area around the town eventually leading Stephens priest up the hill towards Harrowstone. There they found two bodies lying on the ground, chalk white with several bloodless wounds on their body. At that point Grimburrow gasped, grabbed at his chest and collapsed. Leaving the young priest to deal with the emergency – without any skill at healing and without appropriate magic. He opted to try to drag Father Grimburrow back to town… hard going for the young priest character who was only of average stength.

At the festival someone looked up the hill and saw Ezekiel dragging the unconscious Old priest back into town, pointing it out to everyone – who erupted into concerned babble and leaving the new judges to deal with this new complication…

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Session 2 (22nd to 24th of Calistril)
Dreams, desecration and Lorrimors Diary

On seeing one figure carrying another in the distance (and then the pair collapse) the townsfolk burst into concern and some into panicked exclamations. Stiko Telyavitch, acting in his Role as Judge gave a loud stirring speech assuring the crowd that all was in hand and being taken care of while the Sheriff Benjan Caeller was interjecting that it was the groups responsibility to maintain order. While there were a few who dashed off to help Ezekiel Dawnstar carry Father Grimburrow into town, the crowd were mollified enough that they didn’t turn into a confused mob.

Ezekiel had found two corpses pale white and drained of blood where Father Grimburrow collapsed but he had more pressing and immediate things to handle in saving the life of the old priest.

Meanwhile two late coming beneficiaries to Petros Lorrimors’ Will had arrived in town. One Kron, son of Vald (a Kellid from the tribes in the north of Ustalav who had once saved Petros Lorrimors’ life) and Arranis Tallstag (an elven linguist who had worked for the professor on previous projects). They were picked as outsiders by the villagers and introduced to Vashian Hearthmount. He read to them a copy of Petros Lorrimors Last Will and Testament and then introduced them to Kendra (and Jominda Fallenbridge, who as tending to Kendra after the shock of her fathers body being stolen by grave robbers). Kendra extended to them the same offer of food and shelter that she had extended to the others.

They rejoin the Spring Festival and cooking competition in time to see the old and young priest being escorted into town by worried villagers (who try to help in their own clumsy way). Arranis follows the villagers back to the Temple of Pharasma where his offers of help (given his expertise is that of a translator) is politely refused.

At length Father Grimburrow is put to bed and seems to be resting as comfortably as can be expected but does not seem to be regaining consciousness any time soon. Brother Ezekiel Dawnstar is informed that he is the ranking member of the clergy and will have to act as TEMPORARY leader of the Temple).

Back at the Towns Spring Festival things are, for the most part, going well Yaria Breezesong regals the town with her wide range of songs backed up by a beautiful singing voice. She attracts the notice of many of the villages unmarried young men. Kron and Arranis are able to introduce themselves to the other people mentioned in Lorrimors will and join in the festivities. While Arranis finds it hard going to make friends with the villagers (everyone knows Elves steal children), the half Elven Addylyn finds favor with the village children, telling them stories of the wild and animals.

Ezekiel Dawnstar, waging a campaign to win Kendra’s regard, and assisted by ‘wingman’ Andrei Dezsőfi return to the house to make some warm mulled wine for both Kendra Lorrimor and Jominda Fallenbridge and to make conversation. While Ezekiel seems to be making some small headway (though Kendra is still in distress over recent events), Andrei’s efforts seem to fall somewhat flat.

Its around this point that ale gets the better of several of the villagers – they resent Stiko who they say feels he is so much better than them but turn on the Kellid Kron, whose people have been responsible for raids for centuries. A fight ensues that ends with Arranis trying his best to aid the barbarian (by dropping one of his foes when he punched one of the villagers in the kidneys) and then fighting another attacker to a stand still while Kron faced down four townsfolk. Mighty in combat he shook his foes with punches and by bashing two villages together before going into a rage and crushing the maxillary cavity of his enemy, leaving the man unconscious and choking to death on his own blood.

The fight ends with Sheriff Benjan Caeller’s intervention and a confession from one of the villagers. The severely wounded villager is stabilised by Luminita Agon-Savar and then carried to the temple for more long term care. Kron, the Victor, finds favour in the eyes of some farm girls, The Diesdorfer Twins,and is escorted to one of the barns on the outskirts of town to enjoy the sweet rewards they have to offer.

With that the evening of the 22nd of Calistril winds to a close with Kron staggering in several hours later.

Back at the Lorrimor house Arranis is sporting a black eye, the badge of his courage in helping Kron. Jominda Fallenbridge confesses that in addition to being the towns Apothecary she also also acts as a doctor of sorts. She says that she can help the bruising and, accompanied by the still trying to get in to her good books Andrei, heads back to her shop.

Andrei watches quietly as she grabs the needed ingredients but notes the dilapidated condition of the shop. He also notes a crate from the Silken Purse (the towns Pawn shop and financial institution), some straw packing strewn of the floor and an elaborate set of glass laboratory equipment.

With Arranis’ and his eye seen to, everyone heads to bed for the evening.

Some people experience a disturbing Dream of despair a few hours before dawn.

An hour before dawn on the 23rd of Calistril the entire house is roused by a loud banging on the front door and sounds of villagers moving past the Lorrimor house.Sheriff Benjan Caeller, again full of spiteful accusations and recriminations demands that the party accompany him to the village monument.

On arrival they find many of the village clustered around the monument, which has been defaced with a large “V”. The group assure the sheriff that they can account for their whereabouts (tactfully omitting Krons’ absence) and that the desecration of the towns landmark may well be the work of another person. The sheriff orders the towns people back home while the group (and sheriff) examine the site. A decapitated rat is found and it seems the killing stroke was done with an extremely sharp instrument. The party then too turn in for what is left of the darkness before the dawn.

At dawn, led by an outraged and irate Ezekiel, they confront Sheriff Benjan Caeller. While his half orc sister looms over her short priest sibling menancingly, Ezekiel demands that the lawkeeper cease his kneejerk accusations of the group. He points out that the desecration of the town monument could have been done by anyone, including a mischievous child hoping to stir up trouble at the town festival. Caeller grudgingly admits they may well have a point. Ezekiel then adds that they can be a help to the sheriff and offer whatever aid they can.

The rest of the day is spent in rest and research. In conversation with the townsfolk its discovered that Jorfa worked on the iron fastners that held the masonry together and lied earlier when she said she had nothing to do with Harrowstone prison. Confronted by this factiod she says that she hid the truth for her own reasons and that when the group knew the right questions to ask, she’d answer them. Andrei was interested to know why the monument was located by the river and spent some time looking into that. Townsfolk (and Jorfa) admitted that the village had shifted somewhat since it was first established and in the last 50 years or so had rebuilt old houses closer to what was now the towns square and away from the monument.

Arranis Tallstag spent an hour or more with the purple tome from Petros Lorrimors’ Will, trying to open its lock but was defeated by its complexity.

The group then headed up the hill towards Harrowstone to examine the corpses. As discovered the day earlier they were pale white with blood loss and with several bloodless puncture wounds, the corpses seemingly being out of towners from their clothing (something later confirmed by Sheriff Caeller, who said he didn’t know them). Curiously they had been untouched by the local wildlife.

Arranis Tallstag, having knowledge of diverse creatures identified the wounds and method of death as being consistent with Stirges. Interestingly some of the wounds were larger than normally seen with regards to stirges.

On the end of day of the 24th Ezekiel finally comes upon Petros Lorrimor’s last diary entries. It lays out his concerns that the Whispering Way were active in the area around Ravengro and particularly Harrowstone prison. It also mentioned a false crypt in the Restlands, the towns boneyard, where there was a possible cache of equipment the Professor had accessed. Setting off for the Restlands in the growing dark of dusk, the group was witnessed by several of the townsfolk.

To gain access to the Restlands Arranis Tallstag managed to pick the simple lock with little effort.

On heading into the Restlands proper the group witnessed rows of corpse lights marking the way from the gates to graves. Graves that all seemed to date back to the fire of Harrowstone. Two members of the group saw (or thought they saw) things that made their heart grow chill. A message for them alone perhaps? The appearance of the corpse lights generated fear in some of those who witnessed them, leading to a frantic escape through the tombstones with one of the party stumbling over a grave and bashing their head on the tombstone.

Access to the Crypt was easier than thought. The locking mechanism had been melted by acid and then reset to make it look undisturbed. On entering they found an elaborate tomb, complete with statuary and a mosaic floor. On further entry they found a set of foot prints in the dust that led to a raised bier… and four giant centipedes that had seemingly taken to using the crypt as a hideout. A battle ensued with both Andrei and Kron taking minor wounds and being affected by their poison but it was over nearly as quickly as it began as the adventurers overwhelming the insects by weight of numbers.

Within the funeral bier they found the promised stash of items, most of them magical, and gathered the Loot and headed back to Kendra’s house.

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