Or, “There is no such thing as a Diplomacy Crowbar”.
AKA, “I’ve got three fluid ounces of Diplomacy right here.”
In this session, I ran the first half of Forgive Us, albeit heavily Arabicised. Spoilers coming up after the fold. I used various random generators on Abulafia (link goes to the primary one) for the quick name changes, and changed the tavern to a whorehouse, but kept almost the entirety of the module intact.
On returning from their revels, the party were met on the deck by Sailmaster Miguel, who revealed:
• the party’s contacts were nowhere to be found
• they had 5 tons of liquor on board in a Dry port
• And the bribe to the customs inspectors would expire at sundown.
The party quickly agreed to head to the local smuggler’s den and investigate. They found the location abandoned, with a strange blue flag flying from the warehouse, and the locals mostly surly. Mostly…
[Hence there be spoilers and shit]——————————————
Ibrahim the Scribe and Achmed the Hunchback (foreman of the warehouse) reacted well, and invited the PCs to a quick council. They had heard gunfire and seen the “stay away” flag go up 2 days ago, and were now quite concerned. After negotiating for a short while, the party were commissioned to investigate and offered the services of the Foreman’s sons Achmed (ibn Achmed) and Ali, as well as keys to the scriptorum and warehouse.
Entering through the scriptorum, they fanned out rapidly. Hernando and the hirelings entered the courtyard, finding starving dogs in the courtyard (and shooting/stabbing them all). Ol’ Roy finally broke her dry spell and killed one of the war-dogs, sustaining serious wounds in the process.
Byron, meanwhile, went upstairs – finding secret doors and tinkering open one into the warehouse. He noted a heavy smell of death, but was called down to heal the wounded dog and Ali, whose brother had accidentally stabbed him in the confusion. Both recovered a single Hit Point.
Lady Elizabeth climbed to the roof of the warehouse to scout, and noticed another party at street level breaking into the carpenter’s shop across the quad from herself; she braced her rifle and waited to see what would happen next.
The party in the courtyard heard people kicking down the carpentry door and immediately fanned out around the door leading into the courtyard, out of sight of its upstairs window.
After a tense interlude, someone was heard vomiting upstairs.. and soon the sound of the bar on the inner door being removed. The other party’s leader had a discharging shotgun muzzle behind his ear, killing him instantly; as he fell, Hernando fired 2 barrels of The Monstrosity into the hulking, half-naked man (he had a gigantic scimitar..) second in line, killing him instantly but dropping the gun in the process and knocking the wind out of himself. The opposing party’s magic user promptly fainted (Morale check of 12, nowhere to run, failed a Paralysis save), and the final member shambled onto the spears of the hirelings. And kept going.
As the party recoiled from the awful stench he exuded, lady Elizabeth let off a shot from the rooftop – missing entirely – and cursed as she began reloading her weapon. Roy ran and hid, on the grounds that she had no intention of biting the mephitic, shambling thing..
A 5-round festival of beatings ensued. Brydryd tackled and pinned the beast, but the other hirelings failed their morale check and fled. Hernando, gathering his will against the smell, yanked him off and doused the walking dead man with kerosene and a cigarillo. Now burning, it missed all of its attack rolls; after some quick axe-work, another shotgun blast, and 2 pistol slugs, it finally fell. Brydryd promptly collected the fainted “actor” and tied him to the courtyard tree – next to a dead, half-cannibalized dog – while the other party members reloaded and were rejoined by Lady Elizabeth.
Note: the party’s level 1-2 at this pointm so a full L4 party seemed a trifle unfair; I lowered the leader and wizard to level 2, while giving the other fighter Dwarf/Savage HP. The revenant stayed as-is, but taking half damage from the piercing weapons the party deployed. Pretty much what I expected; the party’s lucky that the other fellows all failed Search checks on the top floor of the Carpentry, or the fight would have been much uglier. Also, it was glorious seeing these hardened bastards freaking out over, literally, a single bog standard zombie.
Doc B. frisked the non-burning dead men, finding 2 bits* in gold and some interesting tattoos..
How did Hernando choose to open negotiations with the magic-user? Stealing all his gear and having the remaining hireling break his hand. This pretty much set the tone for the interrogation. They attempted to hire him on after about ten minutes of threats and beatings, but he eventually managed to negotiate giving up all his equipment and most of his cash in exchange for rapidly vacating the premises and indeed the country.
*Gold coins are worth 50sp, the basic currency unit, in this ruleset. Large coins were often cut up into quarters or eighths for usability’s sake: these were quarters of a doubloon, worth about 12.5 sp each
Things the party (probably) learned:
• There’s another dog somewhere but it’s not barking (one broken chain, 4 intact ones in the courtyard).
• A plague cult has lost a major item (an idolatrous casket of unknown purpose).
• The cult is hiring mercenaries, even Europeans, for its ends.
• Their sign is a tattoo of a trefoil of pox
• The local vizier, Jifar al-Dhaoud, hired the opposing party.
• Someone in the town is capable of creating shambling undead monstrosities.
• The wizard is left-handed (ink-stains on his fingers betrayed him). This resulted in a quick discussion over breaking it as well, before the party decided to just splint the bad one and let him go. In return, he has chosen to let bygones be bygones and jump a camel train to Timbuktu. No doubt he’ll return at some point
• They now have a spellbook with Charm Person, Bookspeak, Unseen Servant, and Babel (Befuddle Language). This led to the party gagging him and leaving his hand tied when he was released.
• Their mysterious map (last session) is of the Canaries, in Greek, and likely encoded.
• No-one knows what the fuck the Scythian Lion does yet.
• There was a major fire last night in the wealthy quarters of the town, which has drawn off much of the local law enforcement in that direction. The distraction is fortunate, since the party has now discharged at least 6 shots in the Dhimmi quarter in a known area of bad repute, as well as obviously attacked/killed guard dogs and murdered several people.
Join us on Tuesday for (I hope) the exciting conclusion..