Previously, on Shadows of Keron… Disguised as nobles attending a royal wedding, Nessime, Gutz and The Warforged believe they are about to become embroiled in a civil war, following a falling out between Valk warrior nobles and the disappearance of the intended bride. After dithering for some time about whether to steal the wedding gifts and run for it, they decide to head east with the army of Tokharim Shah, one of the aforementioned Valk warrior nobles…
Three days’ hard riding brings them to a border fort that has seen better days, where the leader of the other faction (as they see it) is in hiding, with his army camped in the open outside the main gate.
The war has be nipped in the bud before other enemies take advantage of the army’s absence and sack the city. In council with Tokharim Shah and his generals, the party decide on a spec ops mission to block the gate so that their foes can’t retreat inside to more defensible terrain, while their allies attack the camp.
The stealthier members of the group infiltrate the fort; Nessime simply teleports to the top of the main tower. While The Warforged bars the gates, Nessime uses Beast Master to turn the Valk ponies inside against their masters, and a savage melee of warpony vs rider erupts. Meanwhile, Gutz climbs the wall and by dint of rolling 34 on his Stealth, infiltrates the war council of the faction leader in the flickering firelight which is the tower’s only illumination.
Nessime fires a rainbow bolt into the foggy sky, signalling to their army that the battle may begin, which it duly does. The two contingents of Valk lay into each other with a will offscreen, while The Warforged uses Blast on both friend and foe indiscriminately – during the course of the campaign, the character has developed an abiding hatred of all Valk. Inside the tower, Gutz resolves the pending civil war in a direct and brutal manner, cutting the faction leader’s head off with an axe. The missing princess appears to be present, but during the course of the melee she assumes the form of a bat and escapes through the tower window.
"Dark sorcery," says The Warforged. "I knew it!"
The Warforged uses Blast on the armies battling outside the fort to attract their attention, and announces to them that the fort’s leader is dead and the missing princess is not inside.
GM: Are you making any attempt at all to avoid hitting your allies?
The Warforged: No. I hate Valk. I’ll tell them the bat sorceress did it.
While all this is going on, a ransom demand arrives by messenger from the guys who really have the princess. Her father, Tokharim Shah, is incapacitated; his rival is dead; the armies are uncertain what to do next, although they tacitly agree to stop killing each other while they figure it out.
The party go into a huddle and discuss their options. The Warforged, who has never been very keen on this mission, argues that they should loot what they can and make a run for it; the spirit of the sandbox is strong in this one. Nessime, a true-hearted paladin, is for rescuing the princess. Gutz’ player is by now doodling portraits of various characters and has no strong opinion.
Further debate results in the idea that they should return to their patron, the noble Gutz is impersonating, and ask for more money to reflect the ongoing mission creep. Shortly afterwards, The Warforged hits upon the idea of killing the original noble, substituting Gutz, and seizing control of his fief; however, the players decide that they would rather carry on having picaresque individual adventures and aren’t interested in ruling a city-state, so they speak to their patron and ask for more money and additional troops. His reaction to this stops short of having them executed out of hand, but not by much, so they leave the city under a cloud and make for the exchange point specified in the ransom demand; Nessime still wants to rescue the princess, The Warforged has decided (based on very little actual evidence, but having recently read all R E Howard’s Conan stories) that a cult of dark sorcerors are involved and he may be able to learn something from them, and Gutz “just wanna have fun”.
I was distracted while running this session by the gamer-in-training, young Leo, sitting on my lap gurgling at me, so I went quite a way off-piste myself. I lost track of where the princess was and put her in the tower, so had to recover from that by turning her into a bat and having her fly off; fortunately the PCs had by that point killed the people with her, avoiding awkward questions about why this substitution had not been discovered by her intimate friends. So there’s a spoiler for you; at no point during Shadows Over Ekul does Princess Karmella turn into a bat.
I think Shadows Over Ekul will be the last multi-session adventure I run for a while; sessions are short and disjointed at the moment due to our various real-life situations, so it’s getting hard for us all to keep track of the story. After the end of this scenario, Tenchi (Gutz) will run the next part of the Shadowrun adventure path Dawn of the Artefacts for us, then I’ll switch back to single-session adventures, starting with some one-shots from Beasts of the Dominions.
In broad outline then, June will be taken up with Shadows Over Ekul, July, October and December with Shadowrun, August with holidays, September and November with Beasts of the Dominions; by the end of 2013 we should have finished Dawn of the Artefacts and Gutz, Nessime and the Warforged should have reached Legendary in Shadows of Keron. That’s far enough ahead to be planning for now.