Monday, 26 September 2016

GURPS Free Cities Session 21: The Third Asilos Raid

Arc Sol - Human Cleric of Pelor, the god of the sun (330 points)
Aurum Red-Brand - Human Wizard (322 points)
Mor'ath Enanqua - Elven Swashbuckler/Thief (308 points)
Zaxod - Half-Orc Knight (320 points)

Day 47
Weather: Sunny
After Arc lamented missing the sunrise due to the party's escapades the night before, he set about healing the rest of the party and was eventually successful.  They decided to arrange for a meeting with the Grand Autarch to discuss the Asilos' plans to summon a war devil, but went to the Grand Library of Bazionax to make copies of the rituals they had discovered first.  Mor'ath hung around outside and heard a rumour from a group of guards that the Autarch's cousin, Morthos, was possessed by a war devil.

They met with the old clerk again, but after a while of searching discovered that all eight of the books they wanted were currently being viewed by someone else.  Aurum tried to do some Research on devils, but critically failed at Speed-Reading and wasted the next 8 hours, becoming crosseyed (-2 Perception, -2 to attacks) for the next day in the process.

Meanwhile, Zaxod and Mor'ath went to the Autarch's Palace on the western side of Zerakim to set up a meeting with the Autarch, and eventually made it past the heavily-armoured guards at the main gate.  With a two-man escort, they made their way up the hill, past the Game of Thrones betrayal garden, and into the palace proper.

The guards showed them to Chamberlain Wilt, and Zaxod made their claim that the Asilos were planning on summoning a devil.  While the chamberlain seemed to take their claim seriously, he also demanded evidence.  Sadly, without anything more than "a man was kidnapped but doesn't remember anything" and "we will have copies of the rituals later", Wilt declined to schedule an emergency meeting, and informed them that the earliest they could meet was in two weeks.  Zaxod and Mor'ath started back to the Grand Library, defeated.

Arc had been waiting patiently inside the Grand Library for several hours when the clerk finally informed him that the person who had their books was finished.  At the same time, a male tiefling in noble's clothes walked out the main entrance.  Arc, worried that this might be another ally of the man in blue decided to follow him after asking the clerk to hold the books.  Arc noticed that despite his noble bearing, the tiefling was built like a soldier (Zaxod: "So he's a beefling?"), and trailed him all the way across Zerakim, to a guardhouse on the outer wall of the Autarch's Palace.  Worried that they may be about to butt heads with a major conspiracy, he then headed back towards the Grand Library.

Zaxod and Mor'ath arrived at the Grand Library and were greeted by the clerk, who informed them that their books were available and that their mail-wearing friend had left.  They thanked him, and tried to find Aurum, but the library was huge and he clearly didn't want to be interrupted.  They argued about hiring a scribe to copy the information they needed, but realised that they didn't know what parts of the books were important, and that copying all 8 books in their entirety would take too long (though Mor'ath did suggest hiring 100 scribes to copy everything).  With nothing left to do but wait, Mor'ath grabbed a book of Elven poetry while Zaxod twiddled his thumbs.  Eventually, Arc arrived back at the Grand Library and informed them of the tiefling.

Several hours after sunset, Aurum finally emerged from his hidey-hole and came out to copy down the 5 pages they needed.  The party headed back to the Blue Pheasant to rest, and made plans to recruit Katerina's brother, whose name they forgot, to see if his noble rank would help speed things along.  After looking through their "notes" they eventually figured out that they had recorded his name as "Lizard-cus" (actually Photios Lezarios), and settled in for the night.

Day 48
Weather: Sunny, Light Wind
Arc and Zaxod went to the Marinos estate to get directions to Photios' estate, and managed to persuade him to come along with two guards.  Meanwhile, Mor'ath and Aurum went back to the Grand Library to find Aegert, after they remembered that he was the only one who had actually seen the inside of the ritual chamber.  Aegert claimed to know that they were going to do this, and came along.  Eventually, everybody met back up outside the main gate at the Autarch's Palace.

The guards let Photios pass, and assigned only one man to escort the group back to Chamberlain Wilt.  This time, the party offered all of their evidence:
-Leonidas had left a card game with an old mistress and been kidnapped
-That mistress apparently worked for the Asilos family, who were trade rivals of Leonidas'
-The man in the blue robe was also working for the Asilos
-Aegert saw both the man in blue and the mistress preparing the ritual chamber
-A copy of the summoning ritual, which involves a particular planetary alignment that will begin in 4 hours, as well as a human sacrifice

Eventually, a court wizard was called and confirmed that the ritual was valid, but wondered how that proved that somebody else was trying to use it.  The party responded that the various parts of the rituals were spread out over 8 books in the Grand Library, all of which had been viewed by the man in blue who had pieced together the same ritual and had a copy at the estate.  Wilt and the wizard had a muffled conversation, and asked the party to follow him further into the palace to give their statement again, under the watchful eye of several wizards who would use Truthsayer to verify their statements.

Mor'ath became bored, and went back outside and out the main gate, where he (briefly) conversed with the guards, and then practiced his swordsmanship.   Shortly after, he was approached and charmed by a beautiful elven woman.  After a short discussion about why sabers are the best weapons, she convinced him to go back to her place for a drink.  In a daze, he followed her, drank some wine, failed an HT-4 roll (even with Luck) and fell asleep.

Meanwhile, the party was escorted further into the palace, past a courtyard and down several staircases, this time with 10 guards.  Another two wizards, including one with a rather large beard, met them in a small room that resembled a very nice dungeon, and commenced verifying all of the party's statements.  Once this was complete, the two less-bearded wizards quickly left.

Several minutes later, a group of armoured knights led by the "beefling" entered the room, and the guards took their leave.  The Tiefling introduced himself as Morthos, and thanked the party for their diligence.  He explained that it was quite an embarrassment that their own agents hadn't discovered this earlier, and that he'd like for the party to assist him in arresting the Asilos later that night.

The party agreed, and Morthos "invited" them to stay in the palace until the raid, in a manner that sounded more like an order, and sent someone to go fetch Mor'ath.  Zaxod and Aurum were offered weaponry, but Zaxod turned it down ("I still have my throwing axes and a long knife!") while Aurum begrudgingly accepted a plain old quarterstaff.

A while later, the runner returned, and reported that Mor'ath was missing.  The long-bearded wizard then cast Seeker/Tracer to locate him (and succeeded, despite the fact that the party didn't have anything of Mor'ath's) and went out in a carriage to check where exactly the elf was.  Morthos identified Arc as a cleric, and they had a brief discussion about the sanctity Zerakim.  Morthos knew about it, and that the city had no churches as a result, but didn't know why the city actually was low sanctity.  An hour later, the wizard returned and informed the group that Mor'ath was currently inside the Asilos estate, somewhere underground.

With an hour to go until the cosmic alignment, the party, Morthos, and about fifteen knights boarded carriages to take them to the Asilos estate without tipping their hand.  On the way, Morthos also informed them that a large group of guards would be cordoning off the area, and that he'd expect similar discretion from the party.

The carriages came to a halt in front of the estate, and Morthos ordered the guards to stand down by showing an altered version of the Autarch's crest, which Zaxod identified as belonging to the Veiled Order, a rumoured shadow organization of spies and assassins.  Inside the main hall, Zaxod and Aurum noticed that their Signature weapons were on the wall as display pieces, and reclaimed them.  Most of the knights followed Morthos and the party to the basement and towards the ritual chamber, while several knights stayed in the hall or went upstairs.

They quickly arrived at the heavy, locked, ironbound door that Aegert had described as the ritual room, and one of the knights brought up a portable ram.  However, even with Zaxod, Morthos, and two knights they were unable to make more than a slight dent after many attempts.  Aurum had an idea, cast Shape Earth to weaken the door frame, and the ram easily knocked the door open.  Inside was a small room with a fireplace, a young man in fancy clothes (with armour underneath) with a sheathed saber, and a beautiful woman sitting and drinking wine.

The knights and Arc spread out to look for clues, while the man and woman stood up and demanded to know what was going on.  The party remembered that Aegert had described the room as roughly 20'x20', but it looked to be only 20'x10', and Arc noticed that the fireplace wasn't emitting any heat and touched it.  The "wall" that the fireplace was a part of fell away, revealing a sacrificial altar with Mor'ath manacled to it unconscious, the levitating disk, the man in blue, and 10 crossbow-wielding guards.

Thanks to good rolls, nobody was surprised, but the crossbowmen fired and hit Aurum once, Arc twice, and Zaxod four times, as well as Morthos and two knights.  The man drew his saber, swore that they'd never stop him now, and attacked Morthos but failed to penetrate his armour.  The man in blue cast Shield 3 on himself, but that wouldn't end up mattering.

Zaxod moved into the room, while Aurum started a Great Haste on him and Arc started readying a Major Healing Potion.  Morthos and the fencer duelled, and Morthos took a hit to the arm after critically missing.  The knights charged into battle and engaged the crossbowmen, who were currently drawing shortswords and therefore easy targets, while the man in blue began fishing around in his robe for something.  The woman asked Zaxod to protect her, and he decided that that was a great idea.

Aurum noticed that Zaxod had stopped advancing and decided to start up Dispel Magic to get rid of the woman's spell while Arc continued retreating and uncorked and drank the potion.  The saber-wielder and Morthos both played defensively, and a pair of knights moved in to help while the rest continued cutting through the guards until the woman cast a spell and two ran screaming out of the room.

Zaxod circled the woman and stared down anyone who came close to her, and Morthos landed a hard blow which almost knocked the fencer down.  The man in blue threw a jar of Alchemist's Fire at a knight, but missed and hit the wall behind him, lighting the floor (and one knight) on fire.  The woman sweetly asked Arc to kill the knights, and he eagerly attacked the two that were fleeing.

Aurum finished casting Dispel Magic, freeing Zaxod, while Morthos chopped the fencer's skull in two.  Some guards drew shields while the rest continued attacking the knights, and failed miserably.  The woman cast another spell, and the centre of the room became shrouded in heavy fog.  Aurum resisted his urges to burn everything and actually put out the Alchemist's Fire with Create Water (and a critical success), and then cast Purify Air to get rid of the fog, which revealed the woman once more.  She seductively asked Morthos to attack Zaxod, and he obligingly swung his sword and projected some sort of energy blade which Zaxod failed to dodge.

Zaxod hacked at the woman over and over, while she asked Arc to kill him as well, and Morthos landed another attack on him when his sword suddenly extended by a metre.  Luckily, Zaxod made all his consciousness checks and finally landed the killing blow, at which point the woman's body shifted to that of a succubus.  Strangely, despite the many powerful attacks that Zaxod had made, she appeared to suffer from only minor wounds.

Meanwhile, Morthos stepped towards the man in blue, who was still fumbling around in his robe for something, and landed five attacks, mortally wounding him.  With no more leaders, and over half of their force knocked out or dead, the remaining guards surrendered.

Zaxod interrogated some guards and found out that his other axes had been sold to some merchant, while Arc stabilised the dying, starting with the man in blue.  Mor'ath was freed (Aurum actually succeeded with default Lockpicking-5), and Arc used Esoteric Medicine followed by Neutralize Poison and Awaken to get Mor'ath back up.

Morthos and the rest of the knights arrested the surviving guards, and turned a blind eye while the party grabbed some sweet loot off the bodies (including some kind of gaseous pink potion that Zaxod threw into a corner and shattered).  Zaxod told Morthos that it was okay to kill the man in blue, but that he'd like to talk to him first, and the party headed back upstairs.

They passed Riffin Asilos being dragged out into the street claiming that there was no evidence, and headed back to the Blue Pheasant to rest.  Arc healed everybody up to (mostly) full, and they went to sleep for the night.

Day 49:
Weather: Overcast
With only one day until the tournament started, Aurum hung around the tavern and learned Games (Combat Sports) from a gnome with a mink coat named Amiable Akaios, while the rest of the group rested and sold their spoils.

Mor'ath got kind of screwed, unfortunately.  Against a succubus rolling Sex Appeal-20+, he didn't even stand a chance.  He walked right into the Asilos estate without realizing it.  It was also noted that he always seems to be the one to get mind-controlled.

The party was pretty worried about there being a bigger conspiracy, and yet still went right up to the Autarch's Palace.  It worked out, but it was a bold strategy.

Nobody has Hidden Lore (Devils), so while they know that the ritual requires a sacrifice, they're not sure why Mor'ath was kidnapped and drugged instead of some random peasant.

Part way through the fight I screwed up and called the woman "succubus".  Woops.  Luckily, it didn't matter!  Speaking of the succubus, it's another enemy that seemed to take way more damage than expected, similar to the vulture-demons from Session 17.  Nobody seemed too interested in asking Morthos about why that might be.

People complained about Mind Control being overpowered.  Eh, maybe.  The fight would have been over if not for Aurum freeing Zaxod.  That said, otherworldly beings have to be powerful, or else they won't be a threat.

The loot was indeed sick; several items worth tens of thousands of GURPSbux.  Items of interest include the succubus' jewellery (all enchanted) and dress (only marginally ruined!), the man in blue's robe, and the fencer's saber, which is apparently made of orichalcum.  Praise be to DF8.

1 for general progress
1 for roleplaying
1 for the hardest fight (boss-level, but with a numbers advantage)
X for loot, as they haven't actually sold any loot yet (though they did give the blue wizard's staff to Aegert)
1 for quests
MVP went to Aurum for freeing Zaxod from the mind control, and other misc wizardry.

EDIT: 0XP for loot, because they didn't figure out what they wanted to sell before the next session.

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