Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Strigastadt Play Report VI

Previous play report: [link] first: [link]

Session summary:
Belina (Jackson), printer
Celeste (Heather), fisherwoman
Jafar (Mason), apprentice sorcerer
Leonora (Bart), spire polisher
Lo Ren Zao (JT), initiate of Otun
Tom? (Mackenzie), fungus farmer
Zabina (Lauren), Sewer Militia recruit

After discussing plans for returning to the inhabited side of the city, the party spent the night on the upper floor of King Murod's building. After the party heard distant animal screams in the night, a messenger from King Murod appeared, requesting their presence. He informed them that the immediate area was controlled by Vorn Owls [taken in a half-ass manner from Fire on the Velvet Horizon, which I highly recommend], terrible predators that kill all that moves after sundown, and warned them to avoid the streets at this hour. The party offered to remove the threat for King Murod, who was skeptical they could do so and survive. The party bargained him up to offering four secrets of their choosing if they managed to succeed. I think the party decided the threat from the Vorn Owls was being exaggerated due to the rodent nature of the Rat King and his allies. Anyhow, the next morning they set off to take care of the threat before returning to the inhabited side of the river.

Situated in a tower overlooking King Murod's building, the Vorn Owls' roost was difficult to access. The party decided to scale the thick ivy covering the walls as the most expeditious way to the rooftop tower. Lo Ren Zao beseeched Otun, to strengthen the vines and ease their climb. Unfortunately Otun misunderstood and instead blessed them with blooming rose bushes entwined through the ivy. Beautiful, but unfortunately the thorns did not help. Jafar bravely volunteered to climb the two stories with a rope in tow, but had abominable luck and fell, injuring his pride as well as body. Eventually a rope was secured and the party found themselves at the door to the Vorn Owls' tower. Zabina cleared the vines covering the doorway and quietly entered...
The Tower
The first floor of the two-story tower was windowless and empty apart from huge owl-pellets littering the floor and a central spiral staircase. Breaking one pellet open Zabina found the skeleton of a curious creature, horned, clawed, and about 1.5' tall. Leaving the find behind, the party formed a column to storm the second floor. Lo Ren Zao and I believe Zabina led the way, and were engaged immediately after clearing the stairs by huge owls in a room with broken windows and nests of strange materials. Unfortunately when they attempted to cry out, no sound issued forth, and the rest of the party was none the wiser, save for Jafar watching from outside and working his sorcery upon the owls now visible as they dive-bombed his companions. Lo Ren Zao was hit several times by raking claws and fled down the stairs, and Zabina retreated as well when a pool of water spread on the floor next to her, reflecting unseen stars, from which a black tendril emerged. One owl and the tendril pursued and the owl was almost immediately downed by the combined firepower of the seven party members arrayed in front of the stairs, now including Jafar who rushed inside to assist. The tendril took a little longer, but was eventually hacked into and forced to retreat back up the stairs. As they finished it off another such puddle opened just inside the door, though this tendril fared little better than the first. After the tendril retreated the pool remained, and no more owls pursued. Experimentally the owl body was dropped in, which passed through the surface and disappeared as it arced away. Deciding to stay inside until the pool disappeared, the party had a few moments of rest while they regrouped. Belina and Celeste (I think) led the way on the second charge, and were immediately attacked by an owl surrounded by a crackling sphere of red energy, which burned them as it passed by. After a couple passes it flew out a window, but unfortunately for it was brought down by copious crossbow fire before it could reach the roof. It did, however, absorb one of Jafar's sorcerous bolts, seeming to consume the energy as it locked eyes with him.

At this point I think the party decided the 6 owls unaccounted for had fled, and started looting the nests. A fistful of gems were found in a nest of baubles, and two nests of torn papers yielded several juicy bits of information. Some figurines were also recovered, though regrettably no more stone cats. Deciding to leave the tower behind, the party was immediately ambushed by the remaining owls, who had been waiting on the tower's roof. First another owl enveloped in a red sphere swooped down, burning several. Another hexed Tom, who's vision degraded into symbols - instead of seeing objects, Tom instead saw the representative word. Like CELESTE for his ally, and BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD for the wound that shortly afterwards was rent in her side [spell adapted from a curse found in Fire on the Velvet Horizon]. Jafar and Lo Ren Zao ran inside to the second floor, not wanting to be part of the melee after already being wounded. Zabina bravely batted away owls but soon after was afflicted by the symbolic curse as well. Leonora scaled the ivy covering the tower in an attempt to reach the owls above. Belina rained crossbow bolts upon the owls with her repeating crossbow until her face was enveloped by small shadow-birds cawing loudly, effectively blinding and deafening her as she took out her shield and attempted to protect herself from unseen threats. Celeste was wounded and knocked unconscious, bleeding profusely while the battle raged around her. Lo Ren Zao again called upon Otun, who caused the roses to fling their thorns at one owl, downing it under the assault. Slowly the owls below were felled, though not without significant injuries to the party. Leonora managed to assassinate one owl still casting from the rooftop, and finish off another. Jafar and Lo Ren Zao unfortunately were not as safe as hoped, as one owl swooped in to assault them. A murderous struggle ensued, with it first biting off Jafar's middle finger on his left hand, then slashing through and permanently disabling his left arm, then (as Jafar hid behind Lo Ren Zao) slashing into and temporarily disabling Lo Ren Zao's left arm, then (as Lo Ren Zao and Jafar hid behind Leonora) ducking blows and biting off Lo Ren Zao's manhood, and absorbing a desperate last bit of sorcery from Jafar before finally falling to a blow from behind from Zabina. Jafar managed to bind his wound before bleeding to death, and Tom managed to staunch Celeste's bleeding as well, and somebody bandaged up Lo Ren Zao before he bled out. Shaken, the party still managed to emerge triumphant (though missing bits).

The Rat King was surprised they returned alive, doubly so they had succeeded. He now owes the party four secrets, yet to be determined. Lo Ren Zao, his faith shaken by the events, forswore Otun and pledged his loyalty to King Murod, agreeing to be transformed into a "more perfect form". What manner Otun's disfavor will make itself known has yet to be determined... Jafar and Celeste will take several weeks to heal in the Roost, and Jafar is considering making inquiries into having his arm replaced by one vat-grown from demonflesh by a diabolist. Tom learned some information regarding the tiny mushroom people he "rescued" from the fungus-infested place they burnt down, and is considering supplying them with organic materials and the skeletons of the owls in order for them to grow fungal protectors based on those frames. Jafar has gained enough knowledge to become a full-fledged sorcerer, so Belina has apprenticed herself to him. Other party members are interested in establishing themselves as a gang known as the Stone Cats, so that's another thing that may be pursued next session.

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