Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Zeitgeist: The Dying Skyseer - Session 02

In the previous session the Royal Homeland Constabulary investigated the death of a young woman who had tried to fly out of an upper floor window of the Danoran consulate when caught stealing there and ended up impaled on the fence. While nobody is really interested in the death of a thief, the fact that the woman flew further than a simple jump could have achieved links her to a known terrorist called "Gale", who is the only person known to have powers of flight.

In this session the group went to the district of Parity Lake, where the city's industry is located. They had two clues leading them there, one being a bail certificate from the Parity Lake police station, and the other the address of Nilasa, the dead woman, who worked and lived at Seward's Alkahest & Etchings factory. They passed quickly by the police station and picked up Nilasa's criminal record file, showing she had been picked up during a raid in the company of two known criminals and released on bail, paid by Heward Sechim.

Visiting Sechim's factory it quickly became clear that the factory was somewhat special: While other factories in the same street were being protested for bad work conditions, Sechim was treating his workers far more fairly (compared to the standards of a world in an early industrial revolution). Talking which Heward Sechim revealed that he had received money from his uncle, a well-known and respected skyseer, with the challenge of balancing the needs of industry with the needs of the workers. Nilasa had been one of the first workers, and had been treated like an adopted daughter by Heward, who let her live in a factory store room because she had nowhere else to go.

The constables searched Nilasa's room, but didn't find anything more special than a lesson book to learn Elvish. Being informed about government regulations regarding the acids that the factory made, which were considered goods of strategic importance and subject to government control of sales, the constables wondered whether Nilasa was in the factory for some sinister purpose, but couldn't find any evidence of that. Heward insisted that his inventory was in order and offered to show them his stocks. Asked about suspicious events regarding his acids, he could only tell them that he had been approached by people wanting to make an unregistered purchase, and had received threats when refusing to do so.

The players clearly weren't practiced in interrogating witnesses, so that I ended up having to play Heward Sechim as being extremely forthcoming with information linking Nilasa to Gale, as the constables didn't ask any questions in that direction. Heward told them that his uncle, Nevard, knows Gale and, being a moderate, might be able to organize a meeting between the constables and Gale. But they would have to hurry, as Nevard lay dying in his camp of followers in Cloudwood.

So off the group went to Cloudwood, a high-altitude sub-tropical forest at the edge of the city of Flint. Following a road up to a height were the clouds were touching the mountains, they encountered a panicked horse galloping past them, with an arrow in its flank and a snapped carriage harness trailing behind it. Moving forward they saw a now horseless carriage slowly rolling towards a precipice, with cries from a woman coming out of it. The coachman was dead with an arrow in his chest, and three other people from the carriage were shooting pistols at the archers attacking them. Crying out "Stop! Police!" didn't stop the fight, and so the group engaged in the fight.

The pistoleers were outnumbered by archers and bandits with hand axes, and the constables started by attacking the archers. Due to them being well armed with muskets, they quickly took out the first archer (who happened to be the bandit leader). The other two archers had some druidic powers and summoned swarms of hummingbirds to attack the pistoleers. With the pistoleers busy fighting the hummingbirds, and the bandits mostly attacking the pistoleers, the constables only took very few hits. The only serious injury was to the avenger who got hit by two special arrow attacks causing ongoing bleeding damage. By the time the archers and bandits had finished the pistoleers, the constables had already killed half of the ambushers, and quickly wiped up the rest.

During the fight they had temporarily stopped the carriage from rolling forward by summoning a wall in front of it, and after the fight they were able to pull out the bound woman from inside the carriage before the carriage went over the edge. But it turned out that this hadn't been a simple case of bandits ambushing travelers. The pistoleers were members of Lorcan Kell's thieves guild, who had tried to gain territory in Cloudwood by kidnapping the bandit leader's wife. The bandit leader had tried to free his wife, and that was the fight the constables had intervened in, ending with everybody but the wife being dead. Morena, the bandit leader's wife, understandably wasn't happy. But she was willing to accompany them to Nevard's camp. At this point we ended the session.

DM's note: The fight wasn't designed to be much of a challenge, with the player's being the third party to it. With a bit more effort they could have found out what was going on and allied with the bandits instead of trying to help the pistoleers, but killing the bandit leader on the first turn kind of removed that option. It is the beauty of the Zeitgeist campaign that there isn't a clear good vs. evil, and the players have the freedom to make the choice with whom to ally and whom to kill. Killing bandits will earn them a commendation from their boss, but won't make them more popular with Gale or Nevard, the dying skyseer.


Issue is, if the GM would get grumpy with the players if in other fights they spend rounds trying to figure out what is going on rather than 'do the fight'.

Next time there's some module with victims being attacked and the module just expects players to step right in and help, instead there might be rounds spend gathering information.
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