Saturday, July 15, 2017

Iron Gods - Palace of Fallen Stars 3

We continue with our Iron Gods AP - major spoilers ahead.

Among the belongings acquired from the Technic League captain killed in the ambush at the Night Market was a commset. The commander of the deceased captain, seeing that a dangerous new player had arrived on the scene, decided to use the commset to contact the party. She turned out to be Zernebeth, the recently-deposed leader of the League, someone desperately in need of allies at the moment. Seeing an opportunity to reclaim her position, she made a deal with the party, offering her assistance (or, at the very least, acquiescence) for whatever the party was intending, in exchange for removing Ozmyn Zaidow, the current leader of the League. Realizing how much easier it would be to take on Unity without interference from the Technic League, the party agreed. During the discussion, Zernebeth mentioned a secret entrance to the League compound from a tunnel under the palace. Since the Mockery had already explained how taking down the Black Sovereign would disrupt the Technic League as they struggled to regain control of Starfall, it became clear that their next step would be an attack on the palace.

The next day, they made their move. The main hall of the palace was open to the public and so they entered to do a bit of scouting. After wandering about aimlessly and unchallenged for a few minutes, they decided to initiate a confrontation (a fairly typical modus operandi for the company). They approached a pair of guards claiming to be on a diplomatic mission and seeking an audience with the Black Sovereign. When one of the guards left to inquire as to the availability of the Black Sovereign, Nils took it upon himself to go invisible and surreptitiously follow. Nils followed the guard upstairs, noting the presence of many guards including a squad of hill giant shock troops. The eventual destination of the guard was not an audience with the Sovereign, but rather, the office of the guard captain, a man named Ghartone. It was a name the party had heard before, a captain of the Technic League. Ghartone was consulting with a small group of robed clerics of some sort and told the guard to report back that the Black Sovereign was currently unavailable.

Meanwhile, another group of black-cloaked clerics attacked the rest of the party in the main hall. They made short work of them, and upon closer inspection, it was revealed that they were oracles of Zyphus and all were aged men. After a good laugh about a bunch of Zyphus-worshippers tripping on their hems and falling on Targus' sword (Zyphus being the god of accidental death), they reunited with Nils and headed off in search of Ghartone and the Black Sovereign.

There were many battles as they fought their way through the palace; palace guards and battle mages, hill giants and even a catoblepas. But eventually they found themselves in the main throne room. Arrayed against them were numerous guards, including elite gargoyle troops as well as Kevoth-Kul, the Black Sovereign, Tek Mekul, his cousin and second-in-command, Kul-Inkit, the Sovereign's Consort and Ghartone with a pair of gearsman battleguards. Smangtooth, sensing an opportunity for a grand gesture and knowing something of the ways of barbarian cultures, challenged the Black Sovereign to a duel. Kevoth-Kul could not refuse and the battle was on. It was a hard fought contest and both combatants suffered grievous injuries as sinew, flesh and bone gave way to great sword and chainsaw. When Kevoth-Kul fell, there was a moment of silence as the shocked onlookers stood in disbelief. Then Tek Mekul stepped forth and congratulated Smangtooth. He said Smangtooth would have the honour of selecting the successor from the qualified candidates, himself or the Sovereign's Consort. Smangtooth hesitated as she wanted to claim the crown for herself. The guards began to decide among themselves who they supported and in the absence of a clear successor, they sought to force the issue. The guards began to fight among themselves and during the chaos, Ghartone ordered his battleguards to fire upon Kul-Inkit.

One rocket struck the consort and knocked her down. Seeing this, the party knew that Ghartone (and by extension, the Technic League) wanted Tek Mekul to take the throne. Therefore, they decided to aid Kul-Inkit. They directed attacks at Ghartone and the gearsmen, while Kul-Inkit fought Tek Mekul. When the smoked cleared, Tek Mekul lay dead next to his cousin, the gearsmen were smashed and Ghartone had escaped in the confusion. No doubt, he would return to the League to report on the events that had occurred on this night.

The next day, the party took advantage of the chaos gripping the palace and the city itself to search out the dungeon and find the secret tunnel to the League compound. While down there, they uncovered the treasure room. Though somewhat depleted, it still held much wealth and Smangtooth (still grumbling about not ascending the throne the night before) cleaned it out completely. Moving on, they came upon a great inverted ziggurat which contained the remains of all the previous Black Sovereigns. They began searching this great chamber for a secret door when the restless spirit of the first Black Sovereign attacked. Given the power of the person in life, she returned as no mere spectre, but rather, a true undead horror, a dybbuk. The party fought hard, but the pain touch of the dybbuk was a fearsome attack and the incorporeal nature of the monster made it difficult to damage. Still, they were close to defeating it when it succeeded in casting dominate person upon Smangtooth and ordered her to kill Nils. Nils went invisible and fled the palace with Smangtooth in hot pursuit. For two days, the cat and mouse game continued through the streets of Starfall while riots raged around them. It was only after several attempts that Hala was finally able to successfully cast break enchantment and free Smangtooth from the domination. Time for a reckoning with that dybbuk.