Dec 15 2020

GeekQuery — D&D Is a Team Sport

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Or, “You’re A hero, but you’re not THE hero.” This week InkBlitz and Gneech discuss group dynamics in Dungeons and Dragons.

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Dec 13 2020

Shady’s Solo Adventure: Titan Out of Nowhere

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Marid illustration from the 5E Monster Manual

Okay, after the last scene Shady has a goal and some obstacles: she needs to steal the shipment of alchemist’s fire back from Dragonwatch Keep, after it’s been delivered (or at least the deal has gone through), but without letting anyone at DW know she’s working for the LP. In a normal tabletop game, this would involve a lot of brainstorming among the players but… there is only me. >.> In the story world, I imagine Shady is going to her most trusted compatriots (presumably the other officers of the Moonlit Horizon) to hash it out, but in the tradition of heist movies, this would be a very boring scene and only revealed in flashback. But I still have to figure out at the very least where things are going!

At this point in her career, Shady has been around the Dreaming Sea a bit. FATE QUESTION: Has she ever actually been to Dragonwatch Keep? (Very Likely, Chaos 4: 22. YES) Does Shady have detailed knowledge of Dragonwatch Keep’s operations? (Unlikely, Chaos 4: 19. YES) Oh ho! That’s interesting. How about this: does Shady have any inside contacts she could bribe or otherwise finagle into getting her access to where the shipment will be stored? (Very Unlikely, Chaos 4: 34. NO)

So she knows enough to make an educated guess about how the deal will go down and where the shipment is likely to be stored, but doesn’t have an “in” to get her to it. She’ll have to work out access.

There also has to be someone else to take the blame when the theft is discovered. “Persons unknown” is the safest bet, but if the Moonlit Horizon is spotted sailing around Dragonwatch Keep, that would put Shady onto the suspect list. Shady kinda likes the idea of pinning the theft on the actual gunrunners—they are likely candidates after all, and causing them more grief might earn a few more points with the Lady P.

So Shady comes up with a cunning plan: go to the gunrunners offering to help them recover the shipment, “for a price,” only to turn around and capture their ship herself once the heist is done. Bad kitty!

That means that scene six becomes “Go to Saltar’s Port and find the gunrunners.” I don’t really want to play out a whole scene of Shady getting information about the gunrunners from Telekain, so I’ll just have Shady make a Persuasion check to see how much she gets out of him about it: 9. Whoops. XD Telekain was not forthcoming at all—sworn to secrecy by the LP, maybe? So off to Saltar’s Port with nothing but her wits to go by.

FATE QUESTION: Is there an encounter on the sea? 50/50, Chaos 4: 24. YES. Going to http://dndspeak.com/2017/12/100-sea-travel-events/ I find 36: “In the dead of night, a panicked bell toll rings. A massive beast is striding in the ocean. It appears the ocean depth only reaches up to its hip.” Meep. O.o Dragon turtle? Storm giant? Some kind of god astride the sea? Mother Hydra herself? Let’s check the event focus table for some clues: “NPC Action: Proposal of Fame.” Um.

“Captain! Captain!” The banging on Shady’s door caused her to leap to the floor, the Crescent Moon in one hand and a pistol in the other. “There’s something ahead! Come quick!”

Shady frowned, tucked the pistol into her armpit, and yanked open the door. “Something ahead? Why the hell are you… the… hell?” Looking past the face of her panicked crewman, she saw a titanic figure looming in the sea beyond the bow of the Moonlit Horizon. It was humanoid in shape, but gargantuan in stature, with green-scaled skin and massive fins protruding from the sides of its face. Bedecked in a turquoise silken sash that had more fabric than the entirety of the ship’s sails, and a similar turban that could cover a house, it was awash in massive jewels, seashells, and enormous gold chains.

The figure had crossed arms and was staring down at ship, clearly and deliberately blocking their path.

“By all the gods, what is it?” muttered a crewman. “What or who? Will it smash us to splinters? Does it want a tribute?”

“We’re not going to find out standing around gawking,” said Shady. “Approach the thing. Slowly.”

“Surely we should turn and run!” said another crewman.

“You think we could outrun it?” said Shady.

“I…?” said the crewman.

“Exactly. Approach it. Slowly. If you can slip around it while I’ve got it talking, so much the better.” She collected a hailing horn from a hook, then climbed out onto the bowsprit of the Moonlit Horizon. Once she felt they were close enough, Shady shouted through the horn, “Ahoy, titan!”

The creature seemed confused by this form of address. “WHAT DID YOU SAY???” it bellowed, with a voice that rolled like thunder.

“Ahoy!” Shady shouted again. “My compliments on a fine and starry night! Captain Shade-Of-the-Candle of the Moonlit Horizon, at your service! Be so kind as to state your name and purpose, please!” (SHADY CHARISMA CHECK: 5. Way to go, Shady. -.-)

“YOU DARE ISSUE COMMANDS TO ME, MORTAL INSECT?” the creature bellowed. “PRINCE MIBAKAAZ RULES THE SEAS! GROVEL AND MAKE YOUR OBEISANCES TO ME, IF YOU WISH TO LIVE THROUGH THE NIGHT!”

(SHADY HISTORY DC 15: 17) Shady blinked; “Prince Mibakaaz” was the name of a djinn in stories Brother Velas had told her years ago, exiled from the Plane of Water for reasons that nobody could agree on. The idea that such a creature was real had never even entered her mind… much less that she would ever run across him. Without missing a beat, she instantly dropped to one knee, making a grand flourish with her free hand.

“Oh mighty Prince Mibakaaz!” she shouted through the hailing horn. “Forgive me for not recognizing your magnificence instantly! We are but humble sailors, un-used to honors of such magnitude, and blinded by your eminence!”

“OBVIOUSLY,” replied the creature, but preened a massive frill nonetheless. “YOU ARE LUCKY TO FIND ME IN A GENEROUS MOOD.”

“For what purpose have you revealed yourself to us, Oh Mighty Prince?” asked Shady. “Surely our humble vessel can only be of minor service to you.” The djinn seemed to drift to Shady’s left as she spoke—her Pilot casually adjusting course as instructed.

“I NEED SLAVES,” replied Mibakaaz. “SLAVES FOR MY PALACE BELOW THE SEA!”

“We would hardly be suitable for that, Your Immensity,” said Shady. “We must have air to survive. Have you considered looking among the tritons?” She winced internally—Rulita would skin her alive if she got word of that.

“I KNOW THAT, YOU FOOL!” bellowed Mibakaaz. “AIR CAN BE PROVIDED. BUT I MAY NOT SET FOOT UPON THE LAND, THEREFORE I NEED SOMEONE TO PROCURE THE SLAVES FOR ME. YOUR SHIP IS BEDECKED WITH CANNONS AND A RAM FOR WAR. YOU MUST BE A PREDATOR OF THE SEA. SO YOU WILL FIND THEM FOR ME!”

“Er…” said Shady.

“IN EXCHANGE, I SHALL GRANT YOU A WISH. ANY WISH YOU DESIRE.”

“Any wish at all?” Shady called through the horn.

“YES, YES YOU STUPID MORTAL,” said Mibakaaz. “A MOUNTAIN OF GOLD? CONCUBINES AND ARMIES? I KNOW HOW YOUR MORTAL MINDS WORK. NAME IT AND IT’S YOURS.”

“Captain!” called out a crewman behind her. “A mountain of gold!” She turned at looked at him—Morely was the name.

“Are you serious?” she said.

“He could sink us with a whim!” said Morely. “Better to do as he says. Think about it. The world at our feet!”

“Uh huh,” said Shady. “At a pretty steep price.”

“It’s death or fortune,” said Morely. “I say we choose fortune! Agree to his terms! Make the accord!”

“WHAT ARE YOU TWO JABBERING TO EACH OTHER ABOUT?” demanded Mibakaaz. “I’M THE PRINCE HERE!”

Shady turned back to the djinn. “My apologies, Oh Tremendous One,” she called through the horn. “One of my subordinates speaking out of turn. I shall have him flogged for interrupting you!”

“AT LEAST YOU HAVE SOME SEMBLANCE OF DISCIPLINE,” Mibakaaz sneered.

“But there is something in what he says. So if Your Hugeness will cast the wish now, I shall immediately attend to the needed course of action.” (SHADY DECEPTION vs a marid’s passive Insight DC 13: 13 exactly!)

“GRANT THE WISH FIRST?” said Mibakaaz. “PRESUMPTUOUS OF YOU TO SUGGEST, MORTAL! BUT I ADMIRE THE BOLDNESS, IT WILL MAKE YOU A GOOD SERVANT.” The djinn performed a grand series of gestures, surrounding himself and the Moonlit Horizon with a vast glowing magic circle. “SPEAK YOUR WISH, SHADE-OF-THE-CANDLE, AND IT IS GRANTED!”

Shady stood up and smirked. “I wish for Prince Mibakaaz to return immediately and irrevocably to the Plane of Water and be gone from my life evermore.”

‘WHAAAAT?” demanded the djinn, as the magic circle flared. Both he and the circle suddenly vanished with a balloon-like pop.

A cheer went up from half the assembled crew; a handful of others looked disconcerted, and Morely looked astonished. “Captain!” he demanded, as Shady tossed the hailing horn to the Bosun and hopped down to the deck. “Why would you throw away—”

Morely didn’t get to finish his sentence: Shady had driven her knee into his groin, and then brought her elbow hard down across his back as he doubled over. “A mountain of gold? The world at my feet?” Shady demanded. “You’d happily turn slaver on the word of a giant magical fish?” She shoved him away with a foot and turned to the Bosun. “Put him in a longboat and set him adrift. Anybody else who doesn’t like what I’ve done tonight is welcome to go with him.”

The Bosun nodded approvingly. “Aye, Cap’n,” he said, and Shady returned to her cabin.

NEXT: Saltar’s Port does not help.

CHARACTER LIST:
Shady
Lady Patrician
Dragonwatch Keep
Captain Dryden Ainsworth
Wharfmaster Fean Wavecrest
Sea Lancers: Kia (Captain of the Recluse)
Sea Lancers: Sterling (Captain of the Silver Corsair)
Sea Lancers: Adric (Captain of the Blue Fin)
Telekain
Gunrunners
Cardinal Maraldo
Scullery maid
Patrician’s guards
Prince Mibakaaz
Morely

CHAOS: 4 (this was weird and out-of-nowhere)

THREADS LIST:
Steal the alchemist’s fire
The privateers’ rivalry
The L.P.’s intrigues
Ainsworth’s botched security vs. Shady’s spying
Gunrunners
Morely (and henchmen?) set adrift

Dec 07 2020

Stars-At-Dusk, Shady’s More Subtle Cousin

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SmartBlueCat's Inigo, showing off his prowess with one-handed weapons

After musing on why Iko wasn’t working for me, I noodled around with some ideas. One, which I’m pretty sure I lifted from Jim Pruitt of WebDM (but I don’t have a direct link for) was a black-furred tabaxi named Lucky (which was short for “Lucky-To-Be-Here” or “Better-Lucky-Than-Good,” depending on his mood when you asked), who was a suave gambler type, like Maverick or Lando Calrissian, a master of infiltration and smooth talking. His build would focus around the Lucky feat (obvs.) as well as a couple levels of Diviner in order to have portent dice, and his favorite trick would be to make other people unlucky by walking in front of them.

Unfortunately for Lucky, his playstyle and the campaign were a mismatch. So far the adventures have all been “Go to site, kill monsters, go home, go on to next site, repeat.” What is there for a well-dressed smoothie to do in a story like that?

So I went back to an older character of mine, who has manifested occasionally in various forms over the years but never actually had a chance to come to the forefront. His very first incarnation was as a Fantasy HERO character in 1986 who got played all of once; then as a Star Wars fanfic character, a fursona I came up with but never adopted, and most recently, as a very distant support character who appeared indirectly in my Storm King’s Thunder campaign. And that is Dusk, a wandering tabaxi/catfolk/khajiit/whatever swordsman. Usually Dusk’s fur is midnight blue or black with blue/turquoise highlights, but since the advent of Inigo I decided to avoid the blue angle and just stick with black and silver fur.

Dusk (5th level version)
CG Male Tabaxi Fighter 3/Rogue 2
AC 18 (studded leather, shield), hp 41 (5 HD; 2d8+3d10+10)
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
STR 10 (+0), DEX 16 (+3), CON 14 (+2), INT 10 (+0), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 14 (+2)
Saving Throws Dex +6, Int +3
Skills Acrobatics +6, Athletics +6, Deception +5, Intimidation +5, Investigation +3, Perception +4, Persuasion +5, Stealth +9
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Common, Orc

Abilities/Feats
Action Surge, Cunning Action, Feline Agility, Improved Critical (19-20), Second Wind (1d10+3), Sneak Attack +1d6

Actions
“Compelling Argument” (+1 Silver Rapier). Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d8+4 piercing damage.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 150 ft./600 ft., one target. Hit: 1d8+3 piercing damage.

As a child, Dusk (full name Stars-At-Dusk) was part of a tabaxi caravan who had the misfortune to be waylaid by bandits on the road. In a moment that could have been pity or could have been simply “waste not, want not,” one of the bandits took him in and taught him the ways of highway robbery, as well as scouting potential victims, the art of the pickpocket and the shell game, and more.

Dusk never felt at home among them, and as he grew to adulthood the gnawing at his conscience turned into a burning desire for escape and redemption. It all came to a head when the bandit troupe launched a raid on another tabaxi caravan—Dusk couldn’t stand by and let history repeat itself. He turned on his captor/companions, slaying several and giving the caravan warning enough to mount a defense. Severely wounded in the fight, Dusk was taken in by the tabaxi survivors and welcomed as a long lost cousin.

Now he travels where the fates lead him, on the lookout for a chance to do good and hopefully make a little coin along the way.

Personality-wise, he is generally cheerful and quippy, with a love for wordplay and a wry sense of humor. He is not what you’d call a crusader, but in order to make up for his dark past he has vowed to live a good life and help out where he can.

As he gains levels, he will go to Rogue (Assassin) 5, and then Fighter thereafter. His first priority will be the Mobile feat (giving him the poor man’s version of Rakish Audacity and crazy fast movement), then maxing out Dexterity, moving on to the Alert and Lucky feats. He’s basically intended to be a Crit Machine in combat, but also allow me to indulge my love of acrobatic moves and physical prowess. But even at 5th level he’s nimble and dangerous, while still being an excellent scout and a capable face for the party if required, giving him more flexibility than the one-trick Iko. On the other hand, he can’t Arcana his way out of a paper bag, so hopefully there’ll be some other brain in the party to take care of that stuff.

Whattya think?

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Dec 03 2020

Shady’s Solo Adventure: M’Lady’s Boudoir

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Tortuga by Glazyrin https://www.deviantart.com/glazyrin/art/Tortuga-149523283

Or, “The Chat Scene, Modified.” When last we saw Shady she had picked the lock on the Lady Patrician’s door. Rolling a 1 on the Chaos die (again???) indicates an altered scene. Since the premise was that Shady was sneaking in to see the Lady Patrician, I’m gonna say that the alteration is, the L.P. isn’t there! Shady decides that this is fine, just re-locks the door and waits.

Anastasia Hone, the Lady Patrician of Everkeep, had finally reached the end of another very long day. Council meetings, trials, audiences with entirely too many self-important people… it was exhausting. All she wanted now was a little something to drink, and to slide into bed. Even fumbling with the key to her room was more than she felt like coping with, and once she actually managed to get the damn door open, she didn’t even bother to re-lock it, just flung her keys across the room and flopped down in front of her writing desk.

“Careful where you toss those, you might lose them,” said a raspy voice nearby—and instantly Anastasia was on her feet, dagger in hand, ready to strike. At the far end of the room, leaning insolently against the wall and twirling Anastasia’s keys on the end of a claw, was the tabaxi privateer.

“Shade-Of-the-Candle?” Anastasia demanded. “What the hell are you doing? How did you get in here?”

The tabaxi casually tossed the keys onto Anastasia’s desk. “I just wanted to have a little chat,” she said. “Put that poker down, you’re not in any danger.”

“No, I’m not,” said Anastasia, “but you certainly are. One shout and a dozen guards will burst through that door.”

“Aren’t you even curious what I want to chat about?” asked the privateer.

“No,” replied the Lady Patrician. “If you want to chat, you can arrange for an audience like everyone else. Now get out of my chamber.”

“Yeah, but then Cardinal Maraldo might overhear,” said Shade-Of-the-Candle.

Anastasia narrowed her eyes. “Might overhear what?” she said.

“I thought you weren’t curious,” smirked the cat.

“Don’t mess with me, Lancer,” Anastasia snarled. “I am in no mood for it. If you have something to say, spit it out, unless you want to be hauled off in chains.”

“Are you gonna put down that knife?”

“Not until you give me a good reason not to shove it in your face.”

The tabaxi shrugged. “Okay, have it your way. I’m here to talk about Captain Ainsworth’s shipment of munitions.”

Anastasia’s expression didn’t change, but her voice became more guarded. “Go on.”

Shade-Of-the-Candle stepped forward, expounding cheerfully, but always staying well out of reach of the dagger. Gods, how that tabaxi loved the sound of her own voice. “Here’s how I’ve got it figured,” she said. “Those gunrunners, out of Saltar’s Port? You haven’t sent us to go roust them out. That’s what tipped me off.”

“Tipped you off to what? Make some sense.”

“I know how power works in this town,” said the tabaxi. “And I’m just thinking about what I would do in your place. I wouldn’t tolerate an outfit like that unless I had to. The gunrunners have a powerful sponsor. A merchant prince maybe, or someone on the Council of Lords, who’s making a tidy sum and who would be more than a little annoyed to have their operation busted up. BUT I can’t just let them stay there or Cardinal “Law-On-the-Seas” Maraldo will be all over my ass. So I split the difference, by hiring some adventurers from the Golden Compass Society to go harass them, without actually being able to really hinder them in any major way. That way I can say I’m ‘doing something about it.’”

“You’re doing a lot of wild guessing about stuff you don’t know anything about,” said Anastasia. “What’s your point?”

“I’m just painting the scene right now,” said Shade-Of-the-Candle. “Telekain’s adventurers aren’t enough to roust the gunrunners, but they DO capture a big ol’ pile of alchemist’s fire. Nice for laying siege to things, but Everkeep’s not about to go to war with anybody any time soon. All it does for me is take up space. But Thessalaine? They’ve always got somebody to contend with, and they have money, lots of it. What would make more sense than to sell a useless 200 tons of alchemist’s fire to Dragonwatch Keep for big pile of gold?”

Anastasia gave a slight nod. “Reasonable,” she said.

“Your arm must be getting tired,” said Shade-Of-the-Candle.

“So must your tongue, but here we are.”

The tabaxi’s tail flicked. “Okay, I’ll come to the point,” she said. “Maraldo’s already chewing nails because the gunrunners got away, and if I make him mad enough he’ll cause me plenty of trouble. But that gold looks soooooo yummy. So what do I do? I go through with the sale anyway… on the QT. I get my money, Maraldo THINKS he’s scored a point, and everybody’s happy.”

“That sounds like a pretty good plan,” said the Lady Patrician.

“Doesn’t it?” said Shade. “I’m pretty proud of it. But it’s got one big hole in it.”

“What’s that?”

The privateer gave Anastasia a broad smirk. “There’s a big ol’ empty storehouse where that alchemist’s fire is supposed to be.” Anastasia blinked, but said nothing, and Shade-Of-the-Candle continued. “Maraldo may only have one eye, but he sees plenty. There’s always gonna be that risk hanging over my head that he’ll find out I pulled a sneak on him.” The tabaxi’s expression turned dark. “I’ve seen what happens when you pull a sneak on Maraldo. It’s not pretty.”

Something in Shade-Of-the-Candle’s tone caught Anastasia’s attention, and she finally lowered her dagger, partway. “That IS a hole,” she said.

“But it’s a hole I have a way to plug.”

Anastasia raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“See, I’ve got a certain ship captain I can call on. Brilliant, dangerous, and not even a little bit modest, who has a cunning plan to deal with my problem.”

“And what is this cunning plan?”

“This brilliant ship captain, who has flashing golden eyes and lustrous coppery fur by the way, is going to sneak the alchemist’s fire right back to Everkeep, where it can go into the storehouse where it belongs and nobody will be the wiser that it was even gone.”

Anastasia smirked herself, at this. “This ship captain seems to have a very high opinion of herself.”

“She’s earned it.”

That raised a dubious eyebrow. “Has she. And what is she going to want in return, for getting this valuable cargo back after the sale is completed, WITHOUT Dragonwatch Keep knowing she operates out of Everkeep and suspecting any treachery?”

“Hmm… good question. Knowing this ship captain the way I do, I’d say she’d probably be willing to undertake this venture for… hmm… forty percent of the cargo’s sale value.”

“That’s pretty steep,” said Anastasia. “If I were you, I’d only offer her fifteen percent.”

“She’d never go for that,” said Shade-Of-the-Candle. “This is a dangerous operation, and she has me over a barrel, considering she could just go to Maraldo and blab her big mouth. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t go below twenty percent, PLUS she’d want me to send some plum jobs her way more often, instead of handing them all to Ainsworth.”

“Obviously, this would have to all be a verbal arrangement, and all denied in public,” said Anastasia. “You wouldn’t want a written contract that could be discovered.”

“Obviously,” said the tabaxi. “Purely an agreement between two ladies of quality. But mutually beneficial, and laying the groundwork for a very profitable future working relationship.”

Anastasia leaned back against her writing table. “So you broke into my room, just to tell me that’s what you’d do, if you were me.”

“Yup,” said Shade-Of-the-Candle. “And no other reason.”

Anastasia sheathed her dagger. “You’ve come up with a good plan, Captain. I think I may just adopt it.”

The tabaxi gave a satisfied grin. “I thought you’d like it,” she said.

“You never did tell me how you got in here.”

“If I told you which hole I slipped in through, you’d just plug it,” Shade replied. “Then how would we have these little conversations?”

“If I ever find you in here without my permission again, it’ll be a gun, not a knife, and I won’t be curious.”

The tabaxi shrugged. “That’s fair. I’d like to think that next time we need to talk, you’ll be a little more accessible.”

“Maybe,” said Anastasia. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some sleep. You know the way out.”

Next scene: Putting a plan together.

CHARACTER LIST:
Shady
Lady Patrician
Dragonwatch Keep
Captain Dryden Ainsworth
Wharfmaster Fean Wavecrest
Sea Lancers: Kia (Captain of the Recluse)
Sea Lancers: Sterling (Captain of the Silver Corsair)
Sea Lancers: Adric (Captain of the Blue Fin)
Telekain
Gunrunners
Cardinal Maraldo
Scullery maid
Patrician’s guards

CHAOS: 3 (by the rules it should go up or down, but there was no dice-rolling in this scene, just negotiations)

THREADS LIST:
Steal the alchemist’s fire
The privateers’ rivalry
The L.P.’s intrigues
Ainsworth’s botched security vs. Shady’s spying
Gunrunners

Dec 01 2020

Shady’s Solo Adventure Scene Four: Interrupt?

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Shade-Of-the-Candle, Like a BOSS

Continuing from where we left off

Rolling a 2 on the Chaos Die indicates that a scene pops up before Shady’s chat with the Patrician. EVENT FOCUS ROLL: 66, PC negative. What the hell, Event Focus Table? Why do you have it in for Shady? This is also a double, which means that something wild and random might happen. EVENT MEANING ROLL: 67/51, “Open of Jealousy.” So… something bad happens to Shady, presumably related to someone being jealous of her. Well, Shady’s got no shortage of rivals, enemies, or past victims; but the only even vaguely likely candidates that have been mentioned so far are Ainsworth, Maraldo, the other Sea Lancers, or these mysterious gunrunners. Rolling on Shady’s tags comes up with 6, “Crescent Moon,” her signature weapon. Rolling on Everkeep’s tags and Persons of Interest comes up with “pirates” and the Wharfmaster Fean Wavecrest.

Not gonna lie, ain’t feelin’ this one. The only idea that even suggests itself is that Ainsworth figures out that Wavecrest is where Shady learned about the shipment and causes trouble somehow, but it doesn’t seem worth pursuing. Ainsworth is too busy getting ready to leave on the evening tide. So I’m going to invoke the “I Dunno” rule here and just punt on this interruption.

Instead, let’s play out the mini-adventure of Shady sneaking into the Lady Patrician’s chambers, which I’m basically going to treat like a 4E-style skill challenge. It should be fairly difficult—the L.P. is the chief executive of this city and no doubt has guards, magical wards, and who-knows-what-else to thwart robberies and assassinations—but Shady also has some unique advantages, in the form of her natural climb speed, and being one of the Sea Lancers and therefore having an easy go-to reason why she might be in the Keep if confronted by guards. She also grew up in Everkeep and is very familiar with things like patrol schedules, where the Keep’s blind spots might be, and so on.

So I’m going to start with FATE QUESTION: Does Shady know of a secret entrance (e.g., through the dungeons or something)? Very Unlikely, Chaos 4: 69, NO. So she’s going to have to either bluff her way past the guards at the gate, or scale a wall. Shady’s Deception skill is not great unless she’s using her Distraction background ability, so straight up sneaking is a better bet. She doesn’t have to roll for climbing (thank you, claws!), but she does have to beat the guards’ passive Perception check to avoid being seen. The guards have advantage for having multiple guards with planned patrols to maximize coverage, making the DC 17, but Shady rolls a freakin’ 24 and slips by like the shadow of a ghost.

Shady knows the general layout of the Keep, but not precisely which room is the Lady Patrician’s, so she’s going to have to poke around some without drawing attention to herself. (SHADY Investigation DC 15: 16. Very slick.) The living quarters are on the upper floors of the keep, with stairs at either end of the corridor. Shady deduces that the Lady Patrician’s room is probably going to be the largest, accessed by a small sub-corridor off the main corridor.

Unfortunately, here’s where it gets tricky: this is a Dungeons and Dragons world, and the floor with the living quarters is protected by a permanent guards and wards spell! This fills the stairs with webbing, fills the hallways with fog, and magically locks and hides every door for anyone who doesn’t have the password! Shady stands there staring at the webs for a minute and tries to figure out what to do.

Her options are: find or figure out the password, or scale the wall outside and try to slip in through a window. Shady decides to attempt the first before resorting to the second, on the grounds that being able to bypass the guards and wards in the future as well could come in handy. So who would know the password? Anyone who lives on that floor, obviously, as well as the L.P.’s bodyguards, and any servants who may need to go there.

Bingo. Guards are trained to question people. Servants are trained to obey people. Servants are the way to go. Shady heads for the Keep’s kitchen, sneaking when there are guards, and just walking around like she owns the place any other time. (FATE QUESTION: Are there any servants awake in the kitchen? YES.)

Shade-Of-the-Candle strode into the kitchen; a scullery maid was there, rolling out strips of dough and placing them into a pan. “Oh! Captain, er, Of-the-Candle, ma’am,” said the maid. “Are you lost?”

“No,” said Shady. “I’m here to meet with the Lady Patrician. Unfortunately, we’ve run dry upstairs, so I’ve come to fetch a bottle of wine.”

“Come to fetch it, ma’am?” said the maid. “Why didn’t Her Ladyship just ring?”

(SHADY Deception DC 12: 20) “I volunteered,” Shady said. “You know what these after-hours conferences can be like, we’ll probably be there until dawn and still not come to an agreement. I wanted to stretch my legs.”

“Oh, well certainly, ma’am, let me just fetch you some of m’lady’s favorite port.”

“Thanks.”

The maid stepped away to the cellar, returning a few moments later with a small, dark bottle. “Here you are, ma’am. Do you need clean glasses as well?”

“No, that’s fine,” said Shady. “Oh! Hang on, I’ve forgotten the password for the wards upstairs. What is it, again? Some elvish word, isn’t it? I can never remember.” (SHADY Deception DC 15: 21! Dang, girl.)

“Draconic, ma’am,” said the maid. “Ashqualaka. I’m told it means ‘serene water.’ Ain’t it beautiful?”

“That’s some gods-damned poetry right there, you bet,” said Shady, giving the maid a lopsided grin. Bottle of port in hand, she said good-night and headed back for the stairs.

Now able to bypass the guards and wards spell, Shady bounds on up the stairs, rolling a natural 1 on her Stealth check (oops!) and being spotted by a guard, but quickly smoothing it over by telling a truthful lie: “I’m here to see the Lady Patrician.” She gets a 21 on her Deception check (dang again, girl!) and the guard, who has no reason to doubt her (especially since she clearly has the password to get past the wards), is kind enough to point out the right door. Shady rounds it all off by successfully rolling on her Thieves’ Tools proficiency to pick the conventional lock that’s also on the Lady Patrician’s door, and finally we can move on to the next scene.

CHARACTER LIST:
Shady
Lady Patrician
Dragonwatch Keep
Captain Dryden Ainsworth
Wharfmaster Fean Wavecrest
Sea Lancers: Kia (Captain of the Recluse)
Sea Lancers: Sterling (Captain of the Silver Corsair)
Sea Lancers: Adric (Captain of the Blue Fin)
Telekain
Gunrunners
Cardinal Maraldo
Scullery maid
Patrician’s guards

CHAOS: 3, Shady CRUSHED IT in that scene

THREADS LIST:
Steal the alchemist’s fire
The privateers’ rivalry
The L.P.’s intrigues
Ainsworth’s botched security vs. Shady’s spying
Gunrunners

Nov 30 2020

Shady’s Solo Adventure: Scene Three (Actual Play)

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Telekain, Guildmaster of the Golden Compass Society

Picking up where we left off…

The avian Guildmaster of the Golden Compass Society fluffed up into a happy puff of blue and orange. “Shady!” he beamed. “Shade-Of-the-Candle, it has been too long!”

“Hey, Telekain,” said Shady, tossing her tricorn hat onto his desk. “I like the new digs. Ol’ Kresthianze’s skull has never looked better.”

“I was thinking of some silver fittings to hold it in place,” said Telekain. “Too extravagant, do you think?”

“Nah, go big or go home, I say,” replied the tabaxi, with a grin.

“Maybe,” said Telekain. “But I know you better than to think you just randomly dropped into my offices. Looking for work, perhaps? ‘The Lightbringers’ may have gone their separate ways, but you know you’re always welcome here.”

“Not work exactly,” said Shady. “But you’re one of the best information brokers I know. I’m looking for some intelligence.”

“I don’t know how much of THAT you’ll find here, adventurers are not known for it,” said the bird, and made a click of a laugh in his throat.

“I’d resent that if it weren’t completely true,” Shady replied with a smirk, and sat on the corner of his desk. “But seriously tho, I’m trying to find out what’s up with a shipment of munitions going from here to Dragonwatch Keep. I thought maybe if you could put your ear to the ground—”

“Munitions? You mean like 200 tons of alchemist’s fire?”

“That’s… very specific,” said Shady. “But it sounds promising. What do you know about it?”

“My dear Shady!” said Telekain. “It was one of my teams that confiscated it!”

“Oh really!”

“You and your merry band of misfits aren’t the ONLY skilled adventurers in town, you know,” replied the Guildmaster, with no small amount of preening. “I’ve been cultivating quite the collection you know.”

“Uh huh.”

“But yes, two weeks ago now, one of the Lady Patrician’s scouts discovered a gunrunning operation out of a hidden cove near Saltar’s Port, and asked us to see if we couldn’t discreetly take care of it. It was a… mixed success. Most of the gunrunners escaped to sea with their wares, but they were forced to abandon an overladen barque. You probably saw it being brought into dock.”

“That ugly black-painted thing, looked like it would fall to pieces if the pilot sneezed?”

“The very one!”

“I’m amazed you could fit 200 tons of anything onto that deathtrap.”

“Just so,” said Telekain. “That’s why they abandoned it. Anyway, it was enough that the Keep paid us for the commission, even if we didn’t exactly dispose of the gunrunners.”

“Why isn’t there a public bounty on these guys?”

“That, you’d have to ask the Lady Patrician,” said Telekain. “I think she may be worried about reprisals if it went sour, they’re an imposing lot, with something like four ships. Well, three now, I imagine.”

“Reprisals? Phooey. Half the Sea Lancers are sitting around port bored… well except for Ainsworth. We could wipe out three ships of gunrunners in an afternoon.”

Telekain gave a shrug-like wave of a talon. “Like I said, you’d have to ask her, all I know is what I’ve heard.”

“Hmm,” said Shady. “So where’s this cargo of alchemist’s fire now?”

“In the Keep’s storehouse I would imagine,” said Telekain.

“Then why did you bring it up when I mentioned a shipment going to Dragonwatch Keep?”

“Because that’s where it was earmarked to go,” replied the Guildmaster. “Dragonwatch Keep was slated to buy it, and for a very good price, I’m told. Until Cardinal Maraldo stepped in.”

One of Shady’s ears flicked. “Maraldo? What about him?”

“Well you know his keen interest in piracy, smuggling, and the like,” said Telekain.

“Oh yes,” said Shady. “I know.”

“Well he knew about the shipment almost before we did! He must have a remarkable network of informants. Anyway, he brought the matter up to the Council of Lords and argued that the shipment was too valuable to just sell off, so they nixed the deal—much to the Lady Patrician’s annoyance. I suspect in her mind she’d already earmarked just where all that gold was going to go, only to get pipped at the post.”

Shady pondered this for a moment, as a predatory grin began to slide across her face. “Now THAT’S interesting,” she said.

“Hmm?” said Telekain. “What?”

“That’s very interesting,” she said again, staring into a corner and idly scratching the tip of her chin with a claw.

“What? What’s so interesting?” demanded Telekain. “Do you know something you’re not telling me?”

Coming back down to earth, Shady leaned forward and booped Telekain’s beak. “If I did know something I wasn’t telling you, would I tell you I knew something I wasn’t telling you?” She hopped to her feet and collected her hat.

“Shady! What IS it?” said Telekain. “After all we’ve been through, don’t I—”

Shady grinned. “If you don’t want me to lie, don’t ask me questions I can’t answer,” she said. “But I will say this: you answered my question beautifully. Thanks, Scissorbill, I owe you one!”

“If you were really grateful, you’d stop calling me ‘Scissorbill!’” Telekain shouted at her retreating back, but Shady was already gone.

CHARACTER LIST:
Shady
Lady Patrician
Dragonwatch Keep
Captain Dryden Ainsworth
Wharfmaster Fean Wavecrest
Sea Lancers: Kia (Captain of the Recluse)
Sea Lancers: Sterling (Captain of the Silver Corsair)
Sea Lancers: Adric (Captain of the Blue Fin)
Telekain
Gunrunners
Cardinal Maraldo

CHAOS: 4

THREADS LIST:
Steal the alchemist’s fire
The privateers’ rivalry
The L.P.’s intrigues
Ainsworth’s botched security vs. Shady’s spying
Gunrunners

Next Scene: A chat with the Lady Patrician