The Battle for Taltos

Session 1

GM’s NOTE: Given that this is such a large group, rather than trying to keep track of every little thing people did in the session and get it all down here, I’m going to “hit the highlights” in a condensed form and let the players edit and elaborate as they see fit.

PCs arrived in Port Gangrel by ship one afternoon and obtained rooms at the Whore’s Elbow. The druid had some difficulty convincing the innkeeper to let her keep her animals there, but won her over in the end. Some exploration of the town revealed that there are distinctive neighborhoods, some less savory than others.

The town is effectively run by various “bosses” who control different turfs. There is no central law or government, but residents and businesses pay their “dues” to their respective bosses and things get done.

Meanwhile, back at the inn, some thugs tried to kick the PCs out their rooms, wanting them for themselves. A brawl ensued, but the party managed to overcome the thugs without bloodshed and the toughs fled the inn.

Later on, some characters visited another tavern farther from the waterfront called The Rose. There they spoke with a few adventurer types and continued to get the lay of the land. Rafiqua encountered a few of her countrymen (Jalahandrans) who claimed to be tracking a tomb defiler.

By that time, it was growing late and the party decided to work their way back to their rooms.

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Session 2: Vedayn's view

As I sat thinking in the loft of the tavern, a ruckus arose more focused than the usual low rumble associated with a crowd of drinking fishermen and sailors. Grabbing my things and a candle, courteously provided by the tavern keep, I joined the growing crowds along the docks.

I found myself among a group of people, whom I guessed by their demeanor and accoutrements, were likely travellers and explorers much as I was. All of us were drawn by our curiosity to discover what had aroused such interest of the locals.

Across the narrow bay on the barrier islands was supposed to be a lighthouse standing ever vigilant, its light a magical everburning beacon. All was dark.

The group I was standing with began discussing finding a boat and going to investigate and being that I was not tired enough for sleep and genuinely curious, I asked that I be allowed to accompany them to offer what help I may.

Hiring a local shore boat, we set out for the island. While in route the beacon tender set fire to the backup signal.

We arrived to find the islanders quite disturbed, scampering about busily like a hive of ants whose mound has been carelessly toppled by running children. Inquiring of them we learned that the beacon was indeed magical and somehow had been extinguished by a source as yet undetermined.

Knowing that any inbound vessels would be at great risk of foundering on the reef, we borrowed another boat and rowed out to where we thought a ship had indeed grounded itself in the brief time no beacon shone.

We arrived shortly behind a couple of other would be rescuers or salvage seekers some of whome had already worked their way aboard the striken vessel.

I and three others stayed in the boat while two of the more vigorous members of our party crossed the reef and board the ship. As they were approaching the rope lines just behind the bowsprit, two screams in short sequence were heard, each quickly silenced.

We would later learn that what was left of the crew along with the first two salvage seekers had been beheaded, their heads tied into the rigging as a gruesome warning, and their bodies dragged below decks to become the fuel for a deadly blaze.

The attackers, who according to description were aquatic elves, departed the ship after setting firetraps that our intrepid investigators stumbled into, barely escaping with their lives.

We returned to shore only to be escorted to the office of a man named Jacko. A gruff sort who seeminly knows his business and tolerates little nonsense, he offered us 500 platinum as a group for the head of the person responsible for snuffing the beacon.

One of the travellers, Jonas by name, insisted that once our task was finished he would like to learn information from Jacko about the slave trade. I think I will attempt to sit in on that disc ussion as I too am interested in the topic.

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Session 3: Vedayn's view

My new companions and I began our investigation at the lighthouse. The guards that had been posted there warned us that the room and victim above were a gruesome, bloody mess and they were spot on in their description.

The lighthouse keeper had been murder in a horrifying manner. He was flensed alive by someone that must have considered the act one of either artistic or religious signifigance, perhaps both. We determined that the keeper had been alive for a long time throughout his ordeal.

We believe that a spell of holding was used to still the living victim as there were no ligature marks on his limbs. Further he may have been silenced by another spell, though I have my doubts since the nearest people were likely 20 minutes away and might have been too far to hear screams if he could even do that under the effects of the holding magic.

Gripped in the victms right hand was a white rose, each petal had been gently bitten to leave impressions from the assassin’s teeth.

Despite the massive amount of blood shed, it seemed apparent to those with more expert eyes that some was missing, obviously taken by the perpetrator, to what end we did not know.

As to the magial light, it had been cast onto an enourmous copper band delicately inscribed in an alphabet I did not know though obviously one of power. Onto it had been cast the powerful light magics or miracle if you prefer the religious nomenclature. A powerful counterspell had been used to permanently extinguish the bright emanations from the band.

Some searching revealed a very well prepared piece of vellum, made of human skin, that when examined proved to have recently held magic, perhaps the spell that doused the light.

Further investigation about the town brought us additional bits of information.

The ship that grounded on the reef and then was set ablaze was name Pride of Anhur and was likely carrying an item of power that would be of great harm to demons and those of demon blood. The Oder of the Ivory Crown were anxious for it to arrive and hoped to escort the artifact to Denelspire, the grand archive and home of archmage Vallendyl.

The information we gathered also led us to conclude that the assassin may be part of a cult known as Dark Spawn and maybe in league with Kardullis, a god of evil.

The Dark Spawn are also known as Isiry and most of them are elves, though they do have humans as thralls and wannabes.

We are discussing our next options for tracking the perpetrator.

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Session 4: Vedayn's view

After getting some rest we decided it would be best to take a closer look at the tavern Adran had discovered called the White Rose named for the white rose bush planted outside the door.

The plan was to have Pron, the druid, and I go inside and have a drink while waiting for Pointer and Rafiqua to arrive. They would be made up to look like a couple of wannabe cultists hoping to draw out a reaction that would provide more information to work with.

Things never got that far. That idiot Pron chose this moment to piss off the owner by vandalizing his pride and joy, the rose bush from which the tavern gets its name.

Having already upset the fellow, getting a seriously threatening dressing down, and being told to clear off, she follows me inside. I was about to make an effort at an apology by way of buying a round for the patrons, but before I could finish the offer, not only the owner, but his bar full of patrons rose up at the sight of Pron, and attacked us both.

Pron retreated out the door leaving me surrounded and at 7 to one odds against. I was lucky to escape with my life and a beating.

My face bruised, lip split, and nose bleeding, I moved a short distance away from the tavern while Pron managed somehow to win over the manager and his bar full of thugs and got to go back inside unmolested.

Pointer and Rafiqua who had been observing from a vantage point nearby noticed what hasd also caught my attention. Someone darted down the alley beside the tavern and in the darkness I could not see where this person went.

Some investigation of the alley led to discovery of a barrel with a false bottom covering a hole leading below the building.

Gathering our group together we descended into the hidden chamber below. There we discovered a rickety door, two barrels with scratching sounds emanating from them, some moldy sacks, and a tarp covered chest. We wasted a goodly amount of time examining things while the person we had hoped to follow below went where they wanted beyond the door of the chamber.

During our poking and prodding we managed to get attacked by venomous centipedes from the barrels and animated skeletons from the covered chest. Rafiqua suffered from a centipede’s poisonous bite and we finally retreated to get some rest.

Pointer remained behind, hiding on a nearby rooftop to observe comings and goings at the barrel entrance. When we finally rejoined him at the hiding spot he let us know that two persons had come out earlier.

We have again descended into the chamber and moved at last beyond the door.

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yay
Classic gaming...

Yay!

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Session 5: Jonas's Take
Jonas

Well, that was kind of messed up. I had been busy trying to learn about the slavers and how to bring them down when some Jalandrans showed up. They told me that the group my companions were seeking had absconded with a canopic jar, and intended to torture the spirit within the jar for eternity to generate power. I have to admit it’s creative, but it’s also just twisted and wrong.

So we headed down some long, dark stairs, under an inn in town, and eventually came upon my companions in the midst of battling some horrifying monstrosities and what seemed to be cult priests. We leapt in to help, but ultimately it was useless. My companions had created a series of obstacles in the entrance to the ceremony chamber, so we couldn’t even get into the fight—the way was blocked. Rubble and fire?! What a great idea.

Wait, that’s not fair. Tactically it makes sense. And if I had any kind of sense, I could’ve figured out a way to be useful. My magic—again—turned out to be useless, a waste of time. We won the fight, but the leader of the Jalandrans was killed. And I contributed nothing to the victory.

I hope these guys don’t realize that they could do a whole lot better with a different mage. I need their help, but I’m not sure they’ll keep me around much longer.

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Session 5: Vedayn's view

We descended the spiral stairs for a couple hundred feet. Being along the coast this put us well below sea level and into the local water table. The structure we explored was of ancient Hakiran design with tightly fitted stones. The walls were damp from gradual seeping and the smell of mildew and mould was everpresent. Upon reaching the bottom we found ourselves at the end of a long hallway.

Rafiqua scouted ahead seeking to learn more about the dim source of light spilling from beneath a door ahead and on the left. Unfortunately our relatively quiet approach was ruined when she accidentally scraped her scabbard along the stone wall.

Two cultists came out to investigate and the battle began.

We laid low our first two enemies and Pointer, Rafiqua, and Pron entered a great chamber over 100 feet long by 70 feet wide with four grand columns holding up the ceiling. Two fire pits, and 8 torchiers bathed the chamber in ruddy light.

Within were 6 additional cultists and their leader who would in the course of the battle sacrifice a woman to complete their demon calling ritual. The cultists would also run to the walls an throw levers that loosed 28 horribly mutilated additional adherents we learned were called the Broken.

At first I feared we had discovered our deaths as several of my companions had become swarmed by enemies. I called a retreat which only partially worked.

Pointer moved deeper into the chamber trying to close with and kill the leader, hoping he could prevent the completion of their foul ritual. The others fought their way back to the doorway and we set our trap in motion.

Pron threw a rope at the foot of the doorway, just to our side, and enspelled it to tangle anyone trying to cross it causing them to stumble and fall. As the hordes rushed at us and bottle-necked at the open doors I cast Enlarge upon the lintel stone increasing it by a third. The stress upon the stones shattered them, bringing large pieces down to crush several of the Broken, killing them and creating terrain difficult for them to pass without putting themselves at great disadvantage. We them set the rubble on their side of the doorway alight with flaming flasks of oil.

We could not see what was happening to Pointer, but he informed us that he faked his death causing his attackers, including the summoned demon to focus on us.

Spells cast at the beginning of the battle also began to prove themselves critical to our eventual success. Pron had managed to use Fey Fire to outline the cultists aiding our attacks, and had also afflicted their leader with a curse of burning metal that ended up setting him aflame and roasting him in his chainmail. She may be reckless socially, but in a fight Pron is very dangeous to our enemies.

Adran managed to smite the demon a couple of times hurting it and apparently Pointer had also done some damage with his bow.

Arriving late with some Jalaharan support was Jonas. This was welcome as despite our better tactical position we were rapidly being worn down by the vast numbers of foes.

Eventually we managed to take down the demon and the horde of crazed cultists.

We are investigating the room to see if they possess the artefact the templars were waiting for that was stolen from the wrecked ship.

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Notes
Scraps of information. Other players please add!

PORT GANGREL
Orba Sinhan: Biggest boss of the town; in the field with his army.
South Shore (docks)
• Whore’s Elbow: Inn near docks; former base of operations. Hostess: Reedie.
• Ernard: Dockmaster.
• Drew: Boss of the South Shore.
• Temple of the Sea God. Priest: Gof.
The Snarl (slum)
Makeside (working class)
• Jery’s Shoes: Two upper floors rented as party’s base.
• White Rose: Bar with rose bush in Makeside. Cultist lair underneath.
• Bullock: Owner of the White Rose. Protective of his rose bush.
• Cultists: Wear red robes, reversed to white in public. DARK THRALLS
The Upends (middle class)
• Cooper’s Lane, shops
• Espy’s: “second nicest” jewelers on Cooper’s Lane.
• Gaunt: Magic user and self-styled sage.
The Westing (nicer?)
• Church of the Three
o Father Reder
o Sister Ecil
• Templars of the Ivory Crown: Templars of the Three; expecting artifact to take to Denelspire
o Sir Kanel, Templar of the Ivy Crown — RIP
• Eddyn, caravan leader, route to pass Masor

CROW’S NEST ISLAND
People:
• Jacko, “fishing boss.” Native Taltian. Trademark: Fiddling with a coin.
• Payne, dockmaster
Places:
• Lighthouse
• The Hold: Bar where Jacko holds court in the back room.
• Dangerous reef: wreck of the Pride of Anhur, carrying artifact to the Ivory Crown at Denelspire: IVORY SCEPTER

FOREIGN POWERS
• Isiri, elf-demon hybrid faction. “Darkspawn.” Feed on pain. Tunnels to their realm in Oaknut Forest.
o Isiri followers, non-demon elves who admire and support the Isiri.
o DARK THRALLS: Cultist “wannabes,” humans who make themselves up pale and pretend to be Isiri.
o The Broken: Tortured, mindless servants of Dark Thrall cultists.
• Masor: Small town 1–2 days N. of Mitaur, near the Oaknut Forest.
• Denelspire: HQ of templars of the Three. Run by The Wolf Slater. Once taken over by Isiri.
• Tower of the Dawn library
• Craclaw, slavers. Worship evil god Khardullis from Malvernis.

CHURCH OF THE THREE
Priests, Templars, and Chroniclers

USE THE d30!!!

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Vedayn's view - session 6

Amid the carnage that was the 37 dead cultists, a dead and rapidly melting demon, we began a detailed search of the grand hall and entrance passage. At first we missed quite a bit until by luck one of us located an illusionary wall, and another found a hidden compartment in one of the 4 large pillars.

From the pillar, after an elaborate effort to avoid the trap, we managed to recover a pair of ornate bracers.

Behind the false wall we found a tomb. Magic detection showed a ward on the upright sarcophagus, and more magic on the canopic jars. We suspect the ward was something tied to the runes warning of a curse.

The party was low on castable spells so we chose to take watches and get rest without leaving the ruin.

First watch had barely begun when I heard movement that sounded like stone scraping across stone. I alerted Rafiqua who then heard it. We looked around and discovered that a large stone figure of a man was now seated in the previously empty throne in the grand hall.

We woke the others and began a detailed examination to see if it would react to our presence even going so far as to have one member of our troop sit in its lap. No response.

We marked an outline along one arm of the throne against the arm of the statue in case it moved when we were not looking so we would know if it was part of the throne and the empty throne had somehow been switched for the occupied one. We even searched for any indications that the thrones had been switched, but there were no grooves, no mechanisms, nothing.

It didn’t react when we retrieved the led box containing the bracers from the pillar (which toppled down and would have slain some of us had we not been incredibly cautious).

The statue also did not detect as magic.

When we opened the sarcophagus and tried taking the gold necklace from the mummy it awakened and attacked. So did the statue. A golem, immune to most spells, including Detect Magic.

It didn’t take long to decide we would be better off running away. The others followed behind me needing very little additional convincing than the prospect of being trapped between a mummy and a stone golem.

We did manage to escape with some very nice loot from the tomb. Now we just need to sell what we can and take our new found evidence to Jacko and collect our pay from him.

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Vedayn's View: Session 7

We have been selling the loot we recovered from the ruin and elsewhere along with trying to learn more about various people and organizations.

One of the animal figurines we recovered from the tomb went missing while we slept in the inn. It was of a cat and I suspect it went back to the tomb to convey to its mummified master where we thieves are.

None of the other treasures proved magical with the exception of the obsidian dagger the cult leader used to sacrifice the woman.

The only piece of treasure we have not yet been able to sell is the necklace from the mummy. Potential buyers have proven very concerned with potential repurcussions should any Jalahandrans see it in their possession.

We also took our collected evidence to Jacko concerning the culprit in the lighthouse incident. After a bit of talk he felt confident that he at least had a head to put on a pike to make it clear to other district bosses that he is handling his business. We received our promised pay of 500 platinum and got some additional information on people we are interested in talking to for various reasons.

We learned from two sources that the conclave of my countrymen from Craclaw often buy Jalahandran tomb treasures as a means of showing off. I think I might be able to help in selling the piece.

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