Chapter 2 – Seven Days to the Grave

Full Session Summaries

Commentary

In Part I, Annata and her friends were busy bees indeed.  First, they are trying to nip this darn Blood Veil plague in the bud.  Grau came to her and asked for her help because his niece was sick and needed help.  They set out immediately.  Grau was standoffish and wouldn’t talk to her much, which hurt Annata’s feelings a little.  He was just like “OK, here’s my sister-in-law’s house, get to healing, gotta go!”  Hmph!  She’s practicing her icy demeanor for the next time he shows up.

Next, Vencarlo asked them to come over!  Annata had been wanting to ask him about the political situation (and see him again on general principles).  When they got over there, he had the escaped assassin/victim Trina Sabor with him!  Blackjack had entrusted her to him to aid in her escape.  (Yes, it’s obvious to the rest of the party that Vencarlo’s Blackjack, but not to Annata!)  They promised to smuggle her out of the city.  Vencarlo said that things had gotten too hot for him politically and he was going to need to go underground in Old Korvosa for a while.  Annata’s breathless “Oh, Vencarlo, are you in danger?!?” provoked a round of groans and “Jeeezus”es from the other players at the table.  I am proud.  Anyway, we snuck her out of the city, the other characters largely foiling any of Annata’s efforts to learn more about the girl and what her deal is.

Upon reflection, this is the first major crime Annata’s performed.  She didn’t really think of it that way at the time, but all these postings about new capital crimes in town made her face that fact.  She had just talked with her spiritual mentor, Father Valdur (incidentally the head of the Bromathan family), who confirmed to her that serving the greater truth and good sometimes required some minor deception.  So she’s OK with it, but a little sobered now in retrospect.

The appearance of these “King’s Physicians” and “Grey Maidens” seems ominous.  Annata is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, despite her companions’ immediate ranting about cryptofascist conspiracies.  But it is fishy enough that she’s willing to check into them a bit more.

Meanwhile, Valash appears to be going totally and completely insane.  Obsessive/compulsive mania and paranoia.  Up till now Annata was tolerant of her friend’s quirks but now she’s getting concerned.

The dungeon crawl against the wererats went well.  Annata managed to save the lives of all but one of the wererats, still being very reluctant to have anyone die.  She was disappointed that she couldn’t talk Girrigz, the wererat leader, into repenting of his evil ways and accepting redemption.  But, the Mark of the Outcast she placed upon him will likely prevent any further shenanigans.  And we saved an otyugh!  Now that we know they’re sentient, to the rest of the party’s dismay they fall under Annata’s general umbrella of compassion.

Best quote from the session (pretty much verbatim):

Broken-Tail [a captured wererat] leads the characters into the Rat Warrens. Along the way, Annata asks, “So, do you have a name other than Broken-Tail?”
Valash grumbles, “You had a name, but I’ve taken it. You see this bag? That’s where your name is now. Until I give it back, you’re just Broken-Tail.”
Annata rolls her eyes. Again.
The wererat squeaks, “Once upon a time, long ago, I was known as Bob.”
Valash mouths, “Bob” and gestures at his bag.

In Part II, we go scuba diving!  In Korvosa’s equivalent to the Hudson River.  As is traditional, the ranger gets screwed out of actually affecting anything with his ranger powers.  Reefclaws?  Sorry, they’re aberrations.  A shark?  Sorry, it’s a hag’s buddy.  Poor bastard.

Annata used Speak with Dead for the first time, to demand the truth from the dead priest of Urgathoa we found.  We were not all that shocked to find out that the head of the Queen’s Physicians was implicated.  And the Red Mantis, some improbably-garbed assassin cult (they kinda resemble Ambush Bug, my favorite supervillain, but not because of his menace factor).

Worried that the guard might decide to arrest them at the Queen’s behest, Annata insisted on going into Citadel Volshyenek alone to tell the Field Marshal this information.  She thought Kroft had generally been fair with them, but had also turned over Trinia to the Queen’s goon squad when instructed.  Luckily, it appears she’s practicing being less Lawful and said we should go find more proof!

I had a long confusing exchange with the DM from trying to roleplay Annata’s relationship with Grau.  He was there in the Citadel.  I wanted him to want to see me so I could give him the cold shoulder.  I had trouble getting this across.  “Does Grau want to talk to me after?”  “Yes, what do you want to ask him?”  “No, no, I want him to want to talk to me, but I don’t want to talk to him.”  “What?”  It’s so hard being a chick.

Then we went to the cool zombie death house to find the Ocarina of Gypsies, and rescue Hugh Hefner.  Annata actually took that crossbow bolt from interposing herself between the crazy-lady and the lord; that’s not clear in the summary.   It was pretty entertaining how the villainess’ S&M act largely defused any Intimidation-based interrogation of her.  I am nothing if not persistent so I got her to open up more later in her cell.   And then comes the best quote of the session:

Once Annata is finished talking to her, Malcolm steps up with his cosh. “Sleepy time!” WHACK!
Annata protests, “But she’s already in a cell!”
Malcolm calmly answers, “Well, now she’s unconscious in a cell.”

Boys.

We started our first proper dungeon crawl in Part III!  Annata had hoped to somehow spy around in the Queen’s Physicians’ “hospital”, but we pretty much had to disguise up and go in the front.  That worked very well!  She gave Valash her doctor’s mask, and she used the glamered armor they had found to simulate a Grey Maiden’s armor (at the cost of a point of AC).  She was a little uncomfortable at how… form-fitting it was, but serving the Goddess requires personal sacrifice.  I made up Malcolm to look sick and Valash turned Thorndyke invisible.  And off we went!

We managed to penetrate all the way to the boss before we were discovered.  The session summary gets it a little wrong and it’s confusing what happened – when Valash brought out the disease-box he was like, “What could this thing be, Doctor Davalus?”  Apparently every single Physician is in on the plot and knows what they are, so Davalus decided to fight us.  Bad plan, we unloaded on him.  I was worried we wouldn’t get out of there after, but the Maidens and Physicians didn’t stay crunchy in milk and the nurse apparently didn’t summon the cops.   So we wasted them all and extracted the Varisian experimental subjects.  Annata’s still fretting about what to do about the 60 plague victims in there.  And then, the dungeon!

Best quote from this session:

Annata offers, “I need to contemplate the religious implications of these murals.”
Malcolm points out, “They’re going to kill everyone. You think too much. I never think about things, that’s why I’m such a good fighter.” Malcolm grabs one door handle and opens it. This triggers the trap: the skeletons breathe out poisonous gas, then animate. The creature’s arms and weapon spring from the door and cut through him.
Malcolm gasps and falls as his lifeblood sprays out against the wall.

And it happened exactly like that.  The scythe critted and did 63 points of damage to Malcolm!  We were really worried he was going to die, so worried we didn’t laugh and gloat at the time.  But now we can.  Mmmwah hah haaa!

Predictably, when we finally got to fight Rolf the necromancer he d-doored away.  I always hate that.

We wrapped up the chapter in Part IV.  It was a little disjointed, as we left and returned to the warehouse/dungeon sooo many times.  I halfway hoped the nurse that fled would bring down the Queen’s goon squad or something so that we didn’t have unlimited back-and-forth access.  It becomes too tempting to play it safe (clear a room, rest, clear a room…)

We fought Nosferatu.  Not sure if that is what it was called, but its pic was a total copy of the original from the movie.   Then we leave, and go back to free the ocarina player, then leave, and go back to clear the place.

I was a little unhappy with the writing towards the end, though.  In both chapters there’s been some “Korvosa is totally rioting and there’s starvation!  Well, not really.  Plague has closed down the city!  Well, not really.  They all hate the Queen!  Well, not really.”  Last we heard, the city was in flames because of the city being enraged that this new Queen was now in charge, but when we come up with proof that her own hand-picked SS guys and goon squad are behind the plague, Guard captain and populace alike are all “Oh, must be a coincidence.”  What!?!  But to no useful end, since immediately afterwards, in a cutscene we’re not there for, she reveals herself as evil anyway.  It seemed like a big “fuck you” to the players.

I am not allergic to story – all the “sandbox” or “old school” gamers out there say “story baaaad!”  Not me, I like me some story.  But this is really the first time in the APs I’ve felt like they were more in love with their own story than the PCs’ part in it.

Sure, Paul our DM hews very close to the written word and you could say he should just change it, but having to change it reveals a weakness.

Anyway, in the end it’s a minor nit – the chapter was still enjoyable overall – but it seems to me a bit of a warning sign.  Interesting characters and driving plots are great, but should never threaten the primacy of the PCs in the story.

Best session quote:

We find an operating room, and cells beyond with more hapless Varisians.  As Annata tries to calm them in Varisian, Thorndyke demands, “Stop speaking that dog language!”

Next time – Escape from Old Korvosa!

< Edge of Anarchy Escape From Old Korvosa>

7 responses to “Chapter 2 – Seven Days to the Grave

  1. Blake (Karui Kage)

    How did the group handle Girrigz? Sounded like it was a close fight. Ours nearly bought it if it wasn’t for a lucky Ghoul’s Touch that stuck, letting them coup-de-grace him. One of the players made the freed otyugh their official mascot. They now have an otyugh mini named Oti that randomly pops up in battles (though it is promptly removed before it can attack).

  2. Oh, the full fight sequence is in the session summary .pdf linked above, but the short form is that Malcolm whaled on him while I poured healing into Malcolm (often using both a channel and a cure spell in the same round, thanks to Quicken Turning). He certainly dealt out a lot of damage.

    Unfortunately the otyugh wasn’t friendly to us, so we had someone turn invisible to pull the lever to let it go and we all ran like the dickens.

  3. Blake (Karui Kage)

    I read the PDF, but as session summaries go it’s sometimes hard to gage exactly how difficult it was when you don’t know how close to death players were.

    He was a pretty high damage dealer if I remember, and his AC remarkably high as well. My guys got lucky with the spell. :)

    Too bad about the Otyugh. Those guys are awesome. I’ll always remember Max from Rappan Athuk as the smartest otyugh ever.

  4. It was definitely a tough fight, and I exhausted all my healing keeping Malcolm up. My Mark of the Outcast reduced rip-claw-rat-guy’s AC by 2, which helped. But Malcolm has Overhand Chop, so when he did connect he was taking half his hit points at a go.

  5. Pingback: Fourth Curse of the Crimson Throne “Seven Days to the Grave” Session Summary Posted « Geek Related

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  7. One of my players met secretly with the Nosferatu and paid him not to fight and move back to Ustalov. He even came back later to help the vampire move his stuff.

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