Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Academae Campaign: Dopplegangers and Renegades

 [The game continues on Roll20 for our Academae campaign.  Our heroes are still at the castle in Korvosa trying to sort out the confusion surrounding the murder of the old king and accusations against his youthful queen.]

We are taken aback at the threats to the queen by the king's half-brother Venster.  We check again to see if the painter, Trinia Sabor could actually have seen the location of the hidden shrine to Asmodeus from the narrow hallway outside the queen's room and find that she really could not have done so in the manner described.  Talla asks the queen's bodyguard whether the queen ever ventures out by herself, other than the couple times she joined us on our crypt exploration.  The bodyguard says yes, but she is almost always accompanied by guards.

We learn that Venster claims he is half-brother to the deceased king because his mother Queen Domina, who is also mother of the king, had him before marrying and having the king. 

The castle seneschal takes Talla aside and asks for help in finding proof about the queen's involvement--either for or against.  He will see to the queen's coronation if she is innocent, but can remove her from the throne if no proof found.  Talla, half-seriously, asks the queen if she can just kill the seneschal off.  The Hellknight commander Severs DiViri is there with Field Marshall Croft, head of the guards.  The queen demands to know where the Peers are, who she summoned for the review.  A guard, fearfully, says the queen said to dismiss them.  Talla asks the bodyguard if she was with the queen all day yesterday; the bodyguard says yes.  And did she see any of the Peers?: no.  Croft says she saw the queen emerge from a room off to the side by herself--so we determine there must be a double.  Axios exclaims there must therefore be a creature called a doppleganger loose in the castle somewhere.  The queen orders a search of the castle, and that the Peers be sent for again.  Sanjay wonders how you can search a castle for a creature who can change its appearance to be anyone.

We talk with the queen about the possibility that the seneschal is actually plotting to replace the queen with the double and thus her life might be in danger.  [At this point DM Kirk accidentally moves a torch from the wall on the Roll20 map.  Turns out that some items are not fully fixed in place as expected.]  We decide to proceed to the chapel of the castle with the queen.  On the way we pass through a small art gallery--where we see the portrait of the king painted by the painter Trinia Sabor--then down a narrow staircase.  [On the Roll20 map, Dan's character disappears as we "teleport" to the next floor.  We spend some time finding him, then trying to find how to get to him on the huge black, unrevealed map.  Finally we all come together on the staircase on the next level, but it takes a bit to get the door on the map open and start revealing things.]    Finally we arrive at the chapel, which has a small fountain chamber outside the doors.  There is actually a statue here of a tall man with his arms out--the dead god Aroden!  The queen asks Axios if he can get it re-consecrated to Iomedae.  Axios is willing, but wonders if re-dedicating it might lead to trouble.  The queen formally puts him in charge of the re-dedication and Axios is pleased.

We head back from the chapel.  [Ashe's character gets lost on the map as we use the stairway "teleports" from floor to floor, apparently because he does not have a currently active light source.  Mike helps us get Light spells set up properly on our spell lists.]   We arrive back at the throne room, where the queen seats herself on the throne.  The queen asks Axios about Cheliax.  Axios realizes that the queen is supposed to be from Cheliax--which makes it odd that she would ask about it.  The queen asks if Axios knows Queen Abrogail of Cheliax.  Axios says he is here to train to become her champion--a champion magus--having been chosen from the gladiator pits.  The queen gets confirmation from Axios that he is, in fact, of noble blood.

The queen then draws Ashe, her former "boyfriend", aside into a side room for a private talk.  The queen thanks Ashe for keeping their clandestine relationship secret, but explains that she acted as she did because of the spell she was under--and besides Ashe is not of noble blood.  Ashe asks if they are over.  The queen confirms they are and asks him to please be discreet, particularly with Venster.  Ashe is openly thrilled they are breaking up, which surprises the queen but she is pleased it was so painless.

The queen wonders if she should arrest Venster, because of his threats and attempts to implicate her in the murder.  But she also wonders if this will make her seem unjust.  [In Roll20 we now have issues with hearability.  We find that if a person suddenly cannot hear anyone else, they need to exit the game and re-enter to restore connectivity.]  We argue that we don't have any real proof against him.  Ashe argues that the painter is an illusionist and thus there are probably illusions involved.  The queen suggests finding the source of the poison as a possible lead.

Field Marshall Croft returns and informs the queen that there is a problem: a renegade soldier, Verik Vancaskerkin.  In the confusion of the recent rioting he left his post and took some other soldiers with him.  They seized a slaughterhouse and are now, strangely, handing out free meat.  Croft is hesitant to send any other soldiers and asks if the PCs can help bring him in.  Sanjay is reluctant, but we think it will give us time away to think.  Seska volunteers to stay behind with the queen.  We head out.
[DM Kirk drags our icons to a new map.  It is all black except my icon.  Then Kirk reveals a starting area and we can see a narrow area outside "All the World's Meat".  Now there's a name for you.]  We enter the shop, and find a lot of flies, no meat in sight, and two people hanging around a little too casually behind the counter.  Talla says we are here from the castle, to inspect the warehouse.  One of then two men says that won't be necessary and we can't come in.  Talla says we'll have to arrest him--and he calls for reinforcements.  [Sanjay rolls a 1 for initiative.  So much for super-cool 3D dice.] 

Now we notice that the "shopkeepers" are clad in chainmail and girt with longswords--as one quickly slips through a door to the back to summon help.  Slade blasts the one blocking our way with a bolt of magical energy.  It is only then we realize that we weren't given any real description of Vancaskerkin--making it possible that we just killed him.  But then [quick Int checks all around] we remember being told he is skilled with bow and spear, making it likely he will be armed with one or both of those.

Axios steps into the back room, sees several guys, and tries to intimidate one into putting down his weapons and just talk to us.  Axios swears he won't hurt him, but it doesn't work quite as planned.  So Ashe just steps up and whacks him in the head with the flat of his glaive, knocking him out cold--and quite badly injured.  Crow-eye summons an earth elemental to grapple another fellow in the back room.  [We continue to have problems in Roll20 with people's sound dropping out.]  Another guy moves to attack Axios, hitting him with a sword.  Another two attack the elemental.  Sanjay and Slade size up the situation and position themselves for action.  Axios threatens to incinerate the renegades all with flame if they do not surrender, and sparks and smoke spurt impressively from his mouth as he speaks.  One fellow drops his weapon.  Axios then spews oral flame across the other two and the elemental.  The two men die in flaming agony.  Axios asks the survivor where Vankaskerkin is and the guy points upstairs.  Axios says to go get him, now.  The guy flees farther back into the building instead.  Axios yells to head upstairs and Slade leaps forward.  Ashe moves to his victim and uses his healing powers to save him from dying.  Upstairs Slade and Axios corner a man wearing a cloak with the insignia of the guard: perhaps our quarry Vancaskerkin!

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