- An inhuman life form seems to be attempting to interface with the characters and is distressed to discover that it can’t because the characters have no memories. It probes them, causing terrible pain but jostling loose a series of images in their minds. Chief among these images: a city beneath towering mountains where an old woman stares at them in horror, a gray wooden hut squatting under a tree with human heads for fruit where some dude is laughing, and some other middle-aged guy looking down on them through some kind of rift or portal (maybe?), his face twisted in fury.
- There is more probing, and more voices (probably some their bodies are actually hearing in whatever room they are in), and another inhuman voice, and then they wake up.
- Except they don’t. Instead, they emerge into a shared nightmare, in a yellow city filled with yellow fog, wearing tight yellow robes and wearing featureless masks that seem to be sewn or glued to their faces, clutching weird objects.
- A laughing nightmare man hunts them all with a gleaming war razor and kills them each in turn, But then, with the feeling of being vigorously shaken, they wake up.
Campaign Day 1
- They really do this time! They find themselves each locked in their own dungeon cell, alone, watching an insane woman in a doctor’s coat torture a man to death, having no memory of who they are, where they are, or how they got there. Despite their circumstances, two members of the party manage to both kill the woman and get her keys to their cells into the Rotting Man’s hands.
- The characters leave their cells and explore their surroundings, collecting equipment (some of which they intuit to “belongs” to some of them) and searching for clues to who and where they are, as well as a means of escape.
- The characters continue exploring the level they woke up on before deciding to climb up the furnace chute.
- After a brief tussle with a zoog and two dire rats at the back end of a boiler room, Grip emerges into a hallway only to discover a barricade guarded by people with crossbows.
- A difficult (and painful) conversation with the people behind the barricade sends the characters off hunting doppelgangers in order to prove they aren’t shapeshifters themselves.
- The party battles a pair of giant centipedes in a ruined supply closet.
- The characters learn the hard way that basically everything here is a trap as they do battle with another doppelganger doctor and an exploding corpse, and the survivors behind the barricade remain unmoved by the challenges they are facing.
- Not even in rest are they able to find peace, and Grip suffers exceptionally from his own dreams.
Campaign Day 2
- The characters spend the day fighting disease, healing, acting shady, finding water, and getting to know each another through psychometry and hypnotism. They drag the body of Dr. Scaen up from the basement to deliver to their friends at the barricade before retiring for another night.
- As Ray gets sicker and sicker, his dreams grow nastier and nastier.
Campaign Day 3
- The characters fulfill their three-dead-doppelganger requirement, but not without another brutal fight—this time, in the laundry room.
- Gull remembers the dream he had while being knocked unconscious during the fight with Dr. Oathsday.
- Having cleared the laundry area, and survived a brief earthquake with Ray’s name in the thunder, the characters return to the barricade and are permitted to pass, though not without a few conditions.
- The characters pass the test of patience and sleep in the Briarstone chapel without fear of outside interference in their dreams.
Campaign Day 4
- The characters pass the test of charity and prepare to hear Winter’s tale.
Campaign Day 4, con’t
(Now known to be 27 Lamashan, 4718 AR)
- Winter explains what came before, and helps the party plan what will come next.
- Temporarily destroying the only obstacle between the chapel and the rest of the asylum (the wall of crying fungus), the party begins their exploration.
- The party survives an encounter with some Hungry Flesh, but it costs them even more of their dwindling resources. A strange new weapon appears on the scene with a big bang.
- Continued exploration through the asylum leads the party to the asylum’s Visitor’s Room.
- The party deals with the birdcage haunt in the Visitors Room and explores some more before they decide to split the party, sending Gull ahead to scout into the library on his own.
- Gull makes his way to Dr. Losandro‘s office and retreats from the weirdness discovered therein.
Campaign Day 5
28 Lamashan, 4718 AR
- The party rifles through the chaplain’s office and destroys the fungus haunt and remaining Pickled Punk before moving into the heart of the asylum.
- The party investigates Dr. Losandro’s office, including her journal and the rainbow fog. They learn there is something center of the fog when Grip throws books through it, and that entering the fog would bring both weal and woe.
- The party battles and defeats three yellow-sheet-clad people rifling through materials in the records room and personal effects storage.
- The party discovered their personal files in the records room, which universally spoke of the amnesiac fugue state that brought each of them to Briarstone, and which raised questions about Dora and Gull’s true identities that will need to be reckoned with.
Act 1 Interlude
4679, 4696, 4699 & 4705 AR
- Moments from the past are revealed, involving the visitation of being called “the Stranger” upon each of the PCs when they were 9-year-old children.
Sometime in the year 4703 AR
- We flash back fifteen years to four Andoran freedom fighters in Cassomir. They have come to stop someone known only as “The Stranger” from moving halfling slaves through a certain pier while the Stranger is believed to be off-continent. The mission parameters are: 1) free the halflings; 2) take out the slavers; and 3) escape, only if the first two parameters are met. The success of the mission currently remains unknown.
Back to Campaign Day 5
28 Lamashan, 4718 AR
- The party hashes out the information revealed in the Briarstone Asylum records room.
- Dora reveals that she shares her body with a being known as Thema Antea, and offers her up for questioning about their situation. Certain precautions are taken, and Thema is released. She clearly knows nothing more than Dora about their situation, and only uses the opportunity to beg for her release and stewardship of the body.
- Gull shares his theories about body-switching between Gulliver Vatticus and the person known as the Triangle Man. Dora performs a blood reading on Gull’s body, but very little information is gleaned. Grip discovers a record for the Triangle Man, which labels him a serial liar.
- The party sits for a moment with all they’ve learned, and comes to terms with it for the time being, before healing up and continuing the search of the records and personal effects rooms. The party clothes themselves properly for the first time.
- The party continues searching the area, finding some items of use and interest, and a small records room with a painting hiding a secret compartment full of records, including one for Ulver Zandalus, and a magical short sword.
- The party discovers that the passage down to the crypt they were looking for has collapsed into a pit, where Dora delves too greedily, and too deep, into the mind of madness, and suffers the consequences.
- Dora takes charge of caring for the fox, with whom she seems to be able to communicate, and whom she says is named “Reynard.” Gull shoots the insane man at the pit’s edge and the ground rumbles after his body falls into the pit, presumably landing on the thing below the earth.
- The party returns to Dr. Losandro’s office, where Dora uses detect thoughts to delve into the rainbow fog, where she determines there is someone in there with a low intelligence—as if it has been drained somehow.
- Returning to the chapel, they encounter a clothed ratling on the ceiling. Dora negotiates passage in exchange for a scroll, and the party is welcomed back to the sanctuary
- Grip and Denman discuss Airwynn and anger.
- Tolman asks for spiritual guidance from Ray, and ends up giving some as well. They pray together.
- Naysa and Mura share with Gull their discovery of the ecclesiastical records about people who came to see Briarstone's chaplain on matters of faith. Especially Patient #LKB20D9K, who is clearly Ulver Zandalus.
- Winter asks Dora’s advice on handling a situation with Airwynn, then asks Dora to take a look at Baisily, who she says they’ve had to drug. When Dora leans over Baisily to check on her, someone strikes her from behind with a deadly sneak attack.
- Dora is revived by her heretofore unidentified lesser talisman of healing power, and the party and the chapel survivors join together to take down Mr. Gabriel.
- Vaustin takes charge in the aftermath and the group develops systems for determining who is or isn’t a doppelganger.
- Grip approaches Airwynn, and pledges to protect her and the group. Airwynn acknowledges the change in him.
- The party, at long last, rests.
Campaign Day 6
29 Lamashan, 4718 AR
- On this day of rest, Gull spends eight hours training with Vaustin to help his aim at close range, in exchange for Winter’s ceremonial dagger from Maiden’s Choir. He then crafts ammunition for his alchemical torch with the assistance of the children, and he speaks with Tolman about marriage and divorce rites.
- Grip spends part of the day trying to make himself useful by accompanying Dora in the library. Later, Airwynn approaches him with an apology for telling others about the night Dr. Trice disappeared, and proceeds to tell him the story herself.
- Dora spends the day researching the history of Briarstone Isle and Briarstone Asylum in the library (while the ratlings eat the books she uses in her study) and speaking with Tolman.
- Ray spends his day preparing the chapel, and then in the evening, all the survivors gather with him for a memorial service for Winter.
Campaign Day 7
30 Lamashan, 4718 AR
- The day dawns with extremely high winds, forcing the yellow fog to eddy in unsettling ways, and due to Gull’s extreme illness, the party decides not to venture out.
- Dora spends 30 Lamashan in research and counseling, Grip keeps an eye on the ratlings in the library, Ray helps Dora with research, and Gull finishes the toy alchemical torch for Bates.
Campaign Day 8
31 Lamashan, 4718 AR
- The day arrives with a deific woman’s howl added to the winds outside.
- On 31 Lamashan, Dora continues her counseling with Tolman, and (with Ray’s help) her research in the library, learning more about the history of Thrushmoor and the Briarstone Witch. Afterward, the party talks though the information about Ulver Zandalus they’d recently found (while Grip expresses his restlessness with all the sitting around).
- Dora performs a psychometry reading on Ray’s morningstar, Hoarflame.
Campaign Day 9
1 Neth, 4718 AR
- On 1 Neth, Gull is finally recovered enough to be able to adventure. The party prioritizes finding medicine for Loic and the kids (Naysa says there’s a pharmacy in the East Ward), and returning to the rainbow explosion in Losandro’s office.
- Dora performs a psychometry reading on the office and the party learns the tragic history of what happened there on 17 Lamashan.
- After the reading, Ray steps into the rainbow fog and the party kills the oneirogen Dr. Losandro had become. During the fight, Grip, Ray, and Dora succumb to horrific visions from the fog (though Dora did not remember hers immediately).
- The party cleans up, and Ray removes his phylactery. Gull suggests they are adrift in the Dimension of Dreams and Dora tells Reynard it would be a relief if they all recognized the futility of their own existence.
- Gull scouts ahead into the Day Room and investigates the river of blood manifesting from a crumpled woman in a wheelchair (which Ray determines is a haunt). In the attached (and depleted) dispensary, Gull observes three Apostles in Orpiment partaking in the remaining pharmaceuticals.
- Gull also discovers a room filled with unnatural darkness and the sound of a crying child. He is attacked by some kind of creepy (ghost?) kid, but escapes.
- Moving into the Day Room as a group, the party unwittingly attracts a pack of ghouls.
- The party fights drugged-out Apostles in Orpiment and Ghouls in a two-front battle in the asylum’s Day Room. The apostles attack each other in their addled state.
- The party completes its search of the East Ward, discovering Brenton and Debis‘ former room, along with the Admitting Hall, where they fight horrific creatures made of wounds that may have infected some of the party with leprosy.
- The party comes to terms with what they know of leprosy, learning that if any of them have it, they are already contagious, and that won’t know for sure if they do have it until the next day.
- They break the western window in Dr. Losandro’s office, and head into the courtyard, intending to go north. Gull is immediately set upon by a Unicorn, which he shoots. It gores him in return, and he runs away while Dora uses diplomacy to diffuse the situation and gain passage to the north.
- The group enters the northern half of the West Ward, where a wall falls on Grip, and they enter combat with three Ghouls.
- The dream Dora had during the combat with Dr. Losandro comes back to her during a desperate moment of the ghoul combat, and it morphs into Thema’s dream, where Thema treats with the Tatterman.
- Gull hears ghoul sounds and pained animal noises beyond the next door, and Dora’s conference with Reynard has the others concerned about a mental break.
- Gull leads the group into the kitchen, directing them around a ring of stones on the floor, but when Ray tries to cast detect magic, he triggers a fight with an unknown creature from which he does not escape unscathed.
- Noise from the scuffle draws a group of Apostles to the party. The characters try to pretend they belong there, but a fight soon breaks out. The number of Apostles joining the melee grows larger and larger, and the situation seems quite dire, until a charming man claiming to be Dr. Elbourne rescues them from certain death.
- Dr. Elbourne takes the party to the Great Hall, where the Apostles are headquartered (learning that Ulver Zandalus resides in rooms above). Elbourne confesses that if the others learn that there are survivors in the chapel, the Apostles will go there en masse to kill and eat them.
- The party gains information from Dr. Elbourne about Zandalus’ activities since the earthquake, his defenses upstairs, and the location of the four “volunteers”—one of whom is isolated in the northwest tower. Elbourne offers his help in their efforts, in exchange for their promise to return.
- Returning to the chapel, the party must cross the North Courtyard a second time. There, they engage with the Unicorn again, but efforts at diplomacy and intimidation fail. They ultimately slay the creature, though it nearly takes Gull with it. The fight draws Thema out to play, as well as the Nightgaunt lurking in the courtyard.
- Thema releases Reynard into the fog, and when Dora re-emerges, she chases after him alone. She finds him wrapped around the corpse of a teenaged boy in a Briarstone patients’ gown.
- When they pass through the library, Ratch Mamby demands a scroll for passage. Dora is no mood to truck with him, and rudely denies him, but Ray hands one over anyway. The Ratling is not grateful, and threatens to eat the children if Dora doesn’t honor their agreement.
- After returning to the chapel and undergoing the doppelganger test, the party engages in some downtime activities.
- Gull trains with Vaustin (Day 2) and informs him and Naysa of the goings on outside the chapel. Tolman gives him a book of Pharasmin holy rites that he found in the chaplain’s office.
- In the chapel, Dora seeks counseling with Tolman, who uses Brenton, Maeve and Bates as intermediaries between her and Reynard.
- As Ray cleans the viscera and gore from himself, he realizes that Brenton’s shadow lantern may be the birds that Debis is looking for.
- Grip isolates himself alone in the chaplain’s office waiting to discover whether or not he’s been infected with leprosy. After his training session, Gull gives Winter’s cloak of resistance to him, and together they agree to kill Ratch Mamby in the next day.
Campaign Day 10
2 Neth, 4718 AR
- Gull confirms that Grip managed to avoid contracting leprosy, but breaks the news that he is infected with ghoul fever.
- Ray identifies the incense of open thoughts and Red Destiny.
- Gull approaches Dora for a psychometry reading of his wedding band.
- After the reading, Gull asks Tolman to assist him with administering a divorce proceeding between himself and Thema. This leads to a very strained conversation amongst the party.
- Immediately following the divorce conversation, Ray is approached by Maeve, who hands him a drawing of a rose and tells him that she had seen him before the events of the campaign, and that he had appeared glowing and flying “like an angel.”
- The party decides to launch an ambush on the ratlings. In the preparations that follow, Grip helps Dora secure Reynard in a carrying device that will prevent Thema from letting him go too easily.
- Grip and Gull attack a flat-footed Ratch Mamby in the library, but fail to assassinate him outright. Ratch warns Gull not to continue the attack, and says that the consequences will be on his head. Gull doesn’t back down, and Ratch and his fellow ratlings all vanish.
- Ray identifies that they had teleported (rather than turned invisible) and the party realizes that the ratlings are launching an attack upon the chapel survivors. The battle for the chapel begins.
- The battle for the chapel continues, with invisible ratlings casting spells, dire rats harassing Gull, and swarms overtaking the party members. In the end, all four ratlings are slain and none of the chapel crew is killed (though Bates ends up severely injured).
- While Ray heals the survivors of the chapel battle, Gull cooks and eats a piece of Ratch Mamby’s corpse (managing to resist the diseases transmitted by doing so).
- Ray informs Brenton of his brother’s death and Brenton gives Ray his shadow lantern in exchange for the toy knights.
- Before setting out for the day, Gull trains with Vaustin and Dora receives further counseling from Tolman, at the end of which she is able to recognize that Reynard is not really conversing with her.
- The party heads to the northwest tower through the library, whose knowledge they have exhausted, and the records room, where they find knowledge about the Bag Lady.
- The party puts the haunt in the north courtyard to rest with a ceremony over Brin’s body,
- Re-entering the northern half of the west wing of the asylum, the party gets embroiled with a pack of ghouls in very tight quarters
- The party finishes the fight with Klades and the ghouls in the northwest hall.
- They continue on and discover a champagne fox still alive. Reynard doesn’t like it, but Ray makes a gesture of welcome to it. They leave it in the room where they found it, and close the door, but it ends up following Ray anyway.
- The party finds the base of the northwest tower: a room of still yellow fog with twelve chairs rocking, but with no one in them. After tying themselves together to navigate the fog, they climb a set of rickety stairs to a room filled with boxes, crates, and barrels.
- Navigating the fog, they find an Oneirogen at the window, spilling yellow fog out of its mouth. Grip attempts to push the Oneirogen out the window but falls to the floor unconscious, and they are soon embroiled in another fight.
- When the party defeats the Oneirogen, they immediately see the fog out the window start to thin and reveal the thinnest ray of sunlight.
- A voice speaks to Ray in his head, seeming to come from the champagne fox that had begun following him around, briefly taunting him before grotesquely transforming into another creature all together. They defeat it in a brief tussle.
- The party decides to return to the chapel, but are forced to engage in an elaborate plan to deter the Apostles from following them. They succeed in their plan and also decide to barricade to the door to Dr. Losandro’s office.
- Before bed, Ray asks Gull about the elixir that Vatticus gave young Brayden during Dora’s psychometric vision. Gull thinks the color and effervescence of the brew were designed to appeal to a child and to mask the exact nature of the elixir. Gull wracks his brain to identify other references in the vision, including Market Street and the Wailing House.
- Dora asks Naysa about foxes used in patient therapy, with no satisfying results.
Campaign Day 11
3 Neth, 4718 AR
- When Dora wakes up in the morning, she finds she is spooning a naked man she’s never seen before in her life.
- The naked man is revealed to be Barnabus.
- The party deals with treating diseases, and Grip finally recovers from his ghoul fever.
- Dora performs a psychometry reading on Thema’s wedding ring and sees a book that fills her with an obsessive desire to claw at the sickly purple-gray flesh on the back of her neck. She sees an old Keleshite woman with leathery skin saying “It wakes… it wakes…” over and over.
- The party leaves the chapel and their allies seal the way behind them.
- They make their way through the courtyard and rejoin with Elbourne.
- Gull prepares to scout the area above the Large Hall before the party moves into the endgame, and some truths are told, in case this is the last time they see each other.
Chapter 35, Part 1
- Upstairs, Gull finds three Apostles and hears the sounds of the Tatterman screaming in the background. The party casts protective magic and ascends together.
- As the others approach, Gull sneaks to the other side of the room and catches a glimpse of Aggra Loomis hiding behind some rubble.
- Amidst the fog of the next room, he sees that the walls are covered with parchment pages depicting gorgeously beautiful scenes of impossible cities and ominous shapes. He goes limp, but resists the effect of the wall. He warns the others, but the Bag Lady overhears and a fight ensues.
- After they defeat the four cultists, Gull burns down the drawings so the party can pass through the next room without risk.
- Moving through the fog, Dora detects the presence of three Oneirogens ahead, and the party engages again, destroying them all.
- At last, the supernatural fog begins to clear from Briarstone Isle.
Chapter 35, Part 2
- Zandalus seems to be repeating some sort of pained prayer over and over, as if he is straining to hold someone (presumably the Tatterman) at bay. It strikes Ray as a prayer to Hastur, but it strikes Gull as lines from a play.
- When the party finally reaches Ulver Zandalus, he warns them of the “man with the glasses” (presumably Count Lowls) saying, “he’s going to do it, he’s going to find it.” Dora’s attempt to read his mind brings the Tatterman forward, and combat begins.
- Thema kills Ulver Zandalus’ body, fully freeing the Tatterman into the real world, and the fight continues.
- The party appears to defeat the Tatterman, but he is only feigning death. He rises once more with Dora poised over him… only to be utterly destroyed by Thema moments later.
- The party recovers The Chain of Nights and they take the shadow lantern to Debis, freeing his spirit to death.
- The people of Briarstone are able to step outside of the asylum for the first time in weeks. The party reunites with the chapel survivors, and Vaustin leads them all to a pair of rowboats by the pier, explaining that Thrushmoor is the closest settlement. Arrangements are made to transport everyone there.
- As they cross Lake Encarthan, the inhuman life form from the Prologue attempts to contact them again and each member of the party hears the sound of a bell and experiences visions.
- The Prisoner, chained in a cell, is terrified. It had just reached out to the PCs and failed to connect through the moment of their births as individuals—instead finding only memories from their later childhoods. It instead attempts to locate them by means of “another birth,” and the characters experience another vision, this one of meeting each other for the first time.
- Two rowboats cross Lake Encarthan towards Thrushmoor, and the real world works its way into their bodies as the party mulls over this new memory, what it means, and what awaits them.
- Thrushmoor appears unusually quiet. A fairly large ship is docked and lit up in the harbor. Some eerie glowing green lights are attached to a building on the shore. A tall standing stone is visible from the lake, the same as the one from the drawings at the Asylum. Rony spots a flickering blue light wending its way down the most inland hill.
- The party notes that halflings on the merchant ship are pacing the deck with crossbows in hand, but decides to approach with a white flag. They are greeted by what appears to be a human child wielding a hand-fashioned flag, who is deeply concerned with insect safety and duty, and who revealed themself to be a halfling.
- The party meets Skywin Freeling and Dabwick and are allowed to come aboard the Sellen Starling for the night, along with the survivors from the asylum.
- Skywin updates them on the grim state of affairs in Thrushmoor: Elaborate charcoal murals of weird cities have been appearing throughout the town. People are dying and disappearing, no one’s seen the new constable in weeks, and most of the militia has quit.
Campaign Day 12
4 Neth, 4718 AR
- In the morning, the party gets the lay of the land in Thrushmoor, and heads up to the closest Star Stela on a nearby looming hill.
- Before they can make an analysis of the stone, Dora spots an ashen man in red academic’s robes loping up the other side of the hill.
- Ray heals Grip and the party investigates the star stela, discovering that it is an artifact and that it seems to be tied to the worship of Hastur.
- The party checks back in at the Sellen Starling and reassures themselves that the halflings aren’t slavers.
- While heading into town, they spot an incredibly elaborate mural on a house depicting the city from their first nightmare, made of black charcoal and yellow chalk. These murals seem to be prevalent, but do not register as either magical or psychically significant
- Dora and Ray spot a humanoid figure with bulbous eyes scanning the star stela hill. Rony recognizes it as a Skum.
- When they reach Market Street, Ray is thrust back into a memory of one of his nightmares.
- The party goes to the Sleepless Agency, where Grip and Rony are immediately recognized. Grip intimidates most of the staff into dealing with them, and Cesadia Wrentz insists that Grip submit to some mental probing before being convinced that their story is true.
- Cesadia tells the party that people have been disappearing from Thrushmoor for some time. The party offers to help, and Cesadia tasks them with looking into the rumors about the return of the Briarstone Witch.
- Annie confronts Grip about the equipment of Winter’s that he is wearing, and asks for her faith knife and badge to be returned. Rony returns the badge and directs her to talk to Vaustin about the knife.
- The party goes to the Fish Market for information about the witch sightings, and meet a literal doomsayer that Ray terrifies. They question Toli Remsatter, who claims to have seen Ariadne at an old smugglers’ cave the previous week. He says he saw her dancing by a fire, and claims she tried to dazzle him with her mind powers but he escaped.
- Grip spots a 10-year-old girl in the fish market staring daggers at him, stifling tears. She turns out to be the sister of the boy Dora saw Grip tormenting in the badge vision. The girl begs Grip to let her brother go, and claims Grip took him “wherever he takes everyone.”
- Toli takes the party to the smuggler’s cave in his boat, where Ray notices hallucinogenic and poisonous fungi and leaves. After a short battle with an Assassin Vine, they enter the cave, where Rony is ambushed by an eight-foot-tall mushroom monster.
- The party defeats the Phantom Fungus and then investigates the cave to the north. Rony discovers a campfire and a spiraling mass of tendrils painted on the wall in what appears to be blood.
- He also discovers a woman lurking in the darkness with two squat, wolf-shaped fungal creatures. She recognizes Rony on sight, and after a brief conversation, she grows suspicious when they do not recognize her reference to something called the “Inmost Blot.”
- Rony shoots her, but she survives. She whispers, “All praise…” and the party immediately understands that she believes the next word out of her mouth will completely destroy them.
- The party engages in combat with Jane and the two fungal wolves, but they are not able to subdue or silence her before she speaks the name of the Inmost Blot and changes their lives forever. They defeat the fungal wolves first, and then Jane, and then they all suffer sanity damage from their first brush with an Elder God.
- The party recognizes the unholy symbol of Xhamen-Dor and discusses the ramifications of what had just been done to them. Rony destroys the symbol and the party loots Jane’s cave, discovering a note from Melisenn to Jane in the process.
- Toli takes the party back to the Fish Market after they clean themselves and assure him that the woman in the cave was not Ariadne. Word begins to spill out in town.
- The party delivers Jane’s corpse to Cesadia‘s office, as well as her diary and the letter from Melisenn. Cesadia recommends they convince the refugees to stay on the Sellen Starling at least one more night before dispersing, and the party returns to the ship
- Dora offers to demonstrate her psychometry ability for Captain Freeling on the polished finger bones she has been carrying, and learns of the existence of Thema's dead daughter.
- Rony visits Binter’s Smithy, and learns that he’d been developing the alchemical torch for nearly a year, and he begins to make amends to those he was rude to in the past. He then joins Dora at The Booklayer and spends the rest of the afternoon making ammunition.
- Watched over by Rony, Dora studies The Chain of Nights under the light of her crystal.
- Grip and Ray move through town, and stop at the smokehouse, where most of the workers are children. They go past the Wailing House, and at the edge of town, Ray recognizes a wall in Farmer’s Square as the border of the places he was allowed to roam as a child. Grip sells the party’s extra gear.
- Rony meets Ray and Grip at The Stain and go inside. They meet Risi, who pays Ray’s tab and invites them to her table. She offers her services for hire, and shares a story about herself while spending freely from a large coinpurse.
- As they’re leaving, Rony sidles up next to a man who had been watching him. Despite failing to give the correct password to a pre-planned interaction, Rony forces the name “Pier 19” out of him.
- The party regathers at the ship, goes to bed, and they all dream the dreams of Xhamen-Dor.
Campaign Day 13
5 Neth, 4718 AR
- In the morning, Rony and Bates work to improve Rony’s alchemical torch at The Booklayer, and Denman accompanies them as security. Meanwhile, Tolman counsels Ray, Grip, and Dora in group therapy, but only Ray gets anything out of it. Before leaving for the day, Rony pays Vaustin for his training and takes Winter’s blade back for Annie, along with his own black rapier, full of psychic significance.
- The party heads toward Pier 19, or “Worm’s Hook,” passing a new mural along the way. The mural does smear when touched, and it is not magical, but it looks like months worth of work and detail.
- At Pier 19, Rony and Grip venture out to investigate the dock while Dora and Ray, hanging back, see the mass of horribleness that is a Gibbering Mouther, which attacks from beneath dock. The entire party takes sanity damage and a fight engages. Dora and Thema dominate the battle and defeat the creature.
- Rony discovers a line of translucent thread wound around a plank at the end of the pier. Pulling up the thread, they find a case buried in the muck at the bottom of the lake. Inside, they find potions, a wand of invisibility, a coin pouch, a note with “Grip” on the outside, a sealed waterproof document case containing keys and the deed to 23 Bridgeview Road in Thrushmoor (dated 5 Lamashan 4718 under the name Remus Doppelman), and a small prototype alchemical torch.
- The party sets off for 23 Bridgeview Road, where they find tracks of many web-footed beings in the muddy surroundings. They enter the house and engage in a fight with multiple skum, killing them all, but not before Dora (reading one’s thoughts) learns of something known as the “Great Harvest.”
- The party searches the house and find a noticeable lack of personal items, as if the house were staged for sale and then abandoned—like it was a safe house.
- Dora detects the thoughts of one of the unconscious Skum and says the name Deggorhbaatha. They learn the Skum leader is in the Keep, and that the Skum access the building through a tunnel in the lake that leads to a well there.
- They head to the Sleepless Agency to return Winter’s blade to Annie, but as they approach they hear the sound of a large number of people making a commotion. They find a crowd gathered around the home of Lelwyn Hasok, pounding on the door, yelling and throwing rocks, accusing the artist of everything going wrong in Thrushmoor. Rony identifies the ringleader, Grip intervenes with aid from Ray and Dora, and the crowd is dispersed.
- The party interrogates the artist and discover that he has been painting faceless portraits of each member of the party. He tells them he was inspired by his dreams, which began the day of the earthquake. Concerned that something may be haunting him from the realm of Dreams, the party decides to stay the night with him, but only after running a few errands.
- Upon arriving at the Sleepless Agency, Allard Hagely informs them that “they got Cesadia.”
- The party gathers information about Cesadia’s disappearance. A holy symbol of Zon-Kuthon was found at the scene, with lipstick prints on it, and a brand-new mural has appeared on the second floor of the building. Dora asks the Sleepless folks about Risi and Gretchen Ostler, and what color lipstick Risi wears—which is the same color as the one on the holy symbol.
- The party notes that the other Star Stela is emitting a faint amount of light. It looks as though Iris Hill might form an equilateral triangle with the other two hills with star stelae on them.
- The party returns Winter’s faith blade to “Annie,” who tells them that she arrived in Thrushmoor with Omari and Winter on the same day the party was committed.
- Elbourne and Neysa report that the remaining Briarstone refugees are in agreement. Elbroune wants to stay on the ship. Neysa is for going to the Silver Wagon. Denman wants to go to the Stain now that the owner is missing. Tolman understands the chapel to Pharasma is abandoned at the moment. Maeve wants to go the castle so she can be a knight and Brenton a princess. Vaustin and Airwynn think Jared and Danae were right to leave. They want to gather as many as they can and hit the road to Rozenport. The party cautions them all to hold off on making a decision until they know more about what’s going on. Skywin agrees on one more night for sure, though she seems unimpressed by the party’s advice. Rony gives Bates the prototype pistol.
- The party returns to Lelwyn’s house. As he moves about the space, Grip notices that Lelwyn is trying to hide some acute pain, and hiding it well. Rony examines him and guesses he is suffering some Constitution drain. Dora guesses this was caused by a Night Hag.
- The party crafts a plan to draw out the night hag using their candle of spirit protection to force it to the Material Plane from the Ethereal, into a contained space with the windows covered and furniture re-arranged.
- An hour after Lelwyn falls asleep, the party traps the hag in the Material Plane and defeats her. She monologues for a bit, claiming “Ariadne is nigh!”
(Earlier that evening, Campaign Day 13)
- Captain Freeling gathers the remaining survivors of Briarstone asylum on the deck of the ship for a Desna/Shelyn/Asmodeus-oriented celebration of the winter solstice, the last long dark night of their experiences together, a hope for longer days to come.
- They begin with a modified version of Crystalhue. Bates shares a story and presents the Zonzon doll with his toy alchemical torch. He speaks of his seizures and reveals that he was related to a woman named “Momma Yopchick,” which prompts Mura to leave with the Zonzon doll and whisper a name to it. Tolman speaks of a great mercy shown to him by Ray. Skywin voices an apology to her family, who died in a fire at their farm while she was off having adventures. Denman apologies to his sister Beth. The Zonzon is pushed into the sea with a prayer
- Next is a modified version of the Days of Wrath, where stories are shared of wrongs unsettled, or contracts that need to end. Barnabas shares a story of a betrayal, underscored by his guitar. He cuts his hand, vowing that another solstice will not pass before he settles the debt owed to him by the betrayer Cororin. Elbourne cuts his hand as well, saying the name Jeremy. Joshua admits he needs to break off his betrothal to Susie. Lin and Din stage a silly prank.
- The Ritual of Stardust, where they watch the sparks of the fire float into the sky and share stories of someone they love who doesn’t know their feelings, or a journey they wish to take. Maeve professes her desire to fly a purple dragon to the moon. Brenton professes that he wants to go to the Boneyard to visit Debis. Dabwick tells the story of the great journey of their life, from Cassomir (which they call the greatest city on Golarion) and shares their visions of a great “Conglomerate City.” Vaustin tells of how he dreams of finding a place to be free of his family’s expectations. Naysa tells of a friend who was with her in a very dark time, of whom she’s never spoken of her love. Mura gives a little nod across the way. Stazi rolls a cigarette as she speaks of her childhood, and her relationships with the Church of Pharasma and with Winter.
- Airwynn says Grip and Dora and Gull and Ray deserve love, as she sprinkles the dust over the fire, for that which all they did for them, none of it they had to do. The survivors all take handfuls of ash and ground gemstones and throw it all up into the air, where a cloud of twinkling gemstones in dusky ash briefly hovers. They all hold hands and watch until Lin approaches with word that Skum are approaching the Sellen Starling.
Chapter 50, Part 1
Campaign Day 14
6 Neth, 4718 AR
- In the aftermath of the Hag fight, Dora and Rony determine that there may be some connection between their revival at Briarstone and a possible reemergence of Ariadne .
- Rony discovers that he contracted demon fever from the Hag. He puts on her Heartstone and his disease is immediately healed. Dora takes it, and her filth fever is cured as well. The party decides to bring the gem back to the ship to heal the survivors aboard the ship.
- The party heads out a little after midnight, whereupon they are ambushed by a group of Hastur cultists, the enemies appearing out of portals that leave charcoal portraits of Carcosa on the walls of nearby buildings.
- Ray hears the mad cackling of an insane elderly woman approaching from the center of town, and sees a faint bluish glow from that direction. As he warns the others that the Lowls family ghost is coming, Risi appears out of nowhere and assassinates him with the message, “Mummy sends her love.”
Chapter 50, Part 2
- Meanwhile, back on the Sellen Starling, a platoon of Skum approach from the water. During preparations for the battle, Bates has a seizure and collapses, and Stazi and Barnabas notice the ash cloud from the Ritual of Stardust is compressing into a humanoid shape that gestures towards Lelwyn’s house while speaking backwards. The ash shape soon explodes into an eruption of silvery goo that molds into the solid, translucent form of Brayden Vatticus as his backwards talking resolves into a cry about how much help he had left to give.
- The “Back-up Buddies” (Barnabus, Bates, Dabwick, and Stazi), along with four of the Sellen Starling’s halfling crew (Skywin, Joshua, Lin, and Din) and the Phantom form of Ray, defeat the Skum and save the refugees in the ship’s hold from the beginning of the Great Harvest.
Chapter 50, Part 3
- Back on Market Street, a dim blue light approaches from the center of town, and Risi stands with her bone-handled knife in Ray’s side. She withdraws it and he drops, the light in his eyes fading and dying.
- The party attacks Risi as the blue light comes ever closer, and they soon hear Bates’ gunshot from the deck of the Sellen Starling in the distance.
- As Grip drops Risi, the incorporeal figure of Countess Nemira Lowls reaches Market Street and attacks, while hurling accusations at Dora of soiling her house and reading her books. The sight of the creature drives Rony mad, filling him with an overwhelming sense of paranoia. The party decides to flee. Rony turns Dora and Grip invisible and they depart with Ray’s body. Rony stays behind to buy them time, eventually getting the eldritch projection to vanish.
- When Dora reaches the ship, she finds the ectoplasmic Ray looking into the distance and repeating the word “help,” while Bates tries in vain to reassure him. When Ray sees his corpse, his new form decays and evaporates. Ray floats off into the night as a glowing white spirit (likely a Ghost), as Dora vows to kill Thema somehow.
- Shortly after Ray departs, a blazing column of light blasts out of Iris Hill and into the night sky. Then another erupts from the star stela atop Gladiolus Hill, where humanoid shapes are seen to be gathered. The air in Thrushmoor lights up and wavers, vibrating in pockets where reality seems to oscillate between two locations—the Thrushmoor of here, and a Thrushmoor of Carcosa, and in the Thrushmoor of Carcosa, Iris Hill is replaced by a windowless tower with battlements. However, the stela on Crocus Hill fails to complete the triangle—because the heroes aboard the Sellen Starling prevented them from being there. The figures on Gladiolus Hill scramble away, as whatever was intended to be the Great Harvest ends.
- Dora performs a blood reading on Ray, Rony reads a letter he had written to Ray a week earlier (when he’d thought he was dying of tumor infestation), and Ray’s body is prepared for burial.
- The survivors aboard the Sellen Starling are cured of all illness by use of the Heartstone.
- Dora performs a psychometry reading on Risi’s dagger and the party finally rests.
- After sleeping, Dora revisits Risi’s dagger with a second psychometry vision.
- Dabwick approaches the party and asks about Carcosa. Rony, suspecting the halfling might be part of a “Grand Conspiracy” headed by Vatticus, welcomes them to party in order to keep them in view.
- Tolman gathers everyone and says a few words over Ray’s body before the party prepares to leave for the day.
- Allard informs the party that most people in town blacked out during the events of the night, and didn’t wake up until past midday.
- Dabwick tries to heal Rony of his remaining Charisma damage from the fight with the eldritch projection, but Rony talks them out of it. This clues Dora into something being “up” with Rony’s interactions with Dabwick, and she suggests Grip keep an eye on him as well.
- The party visits the star stela atop Crocus Hill, where they find that one Skum had sacrificed himself while touching the monument and that the stone was now slightly glowing.
- They travel to the star stelae atop Gladiolus Hill, and find four ritually murdered corpses at its base (Cesadia Wrentz, Emman Gulston, the priestess of Pharasma, and the town magistrate) along with a stone glowing significantly brighter. Dabwick and Rony find evidence of about a dozen other people having been there—mostly booted humanoids, but a handful of Skum among them, one oddly light.
- Rony puts on an unholy symbol of Hastur and touches the star stela, getting an almost electric jolt upon contact. He is flooded with an overwhelming flow of telepathic impressions and whispers, but they threaten to drive him mad and he can’t make sense of what they are saying.
- When Dora tries the same experiment, she is able to gain a clearer understanding of the functions of the artifact. She learns that anyone wearing the symbol of Hastur could use the monument to teleport around town, leaving a mural of Carcosa on the wall one steps out of. She also learns that anyone wearing the symbol can use the stones to communicate at a distance. Dora can sense that there are further levels of activation beyond the stone’s current status.
- The party scouts Fort Hailcourse. They get the layout of the place, and then return to the star stela on Gladiolus Hill to use it to teleport into the fort.
- Rony materializes on the northern-facing exterior wall of the second floor of the donjon tower in the eastern half of Fort Hailcourse and gets a lay of the land. Starving, abused dogs in the courtyard howl and whine, and humanoid sentries patrol the battlements, seemingly unimpaired by the darkness. He also notes a strange puddle at the base of the stairs heading to the third floor of the donjon and recognizes it as an Gray Ooze.
- The others follow through the stone and they all sneak into the donjon, finding themselves in the magistrate’s study.
- Grip soon hears a small group of Skum approaching from below and combat ensues. The party is in an easily defensible position at first, but the sound of a key in a nearby door threatens to turn the tide of battle unexpectedly.
- Dabwick casts Hold Portal on the eastern door of the donjon study, preventing a group of enemies from flanking the party.
- Through the locked western door, Deggorhbaatha speaks with Dora in Abyssal, demanding the party’s surrender. Dora refuses, and the wooden door begins to dissolve from the other side. Rony realizes they are facing an Id Ooze rather than a simple Gray Ooze.
- Rony discovers Barawyn Cesyll, looking as though she is trapped within a full-length mirror. Her image splits many times and she appears to be in distress, but Dabwick recognizes that it is all an act and she is not to be trusted.
- The western door is dissolved by the ooze and one of the militiamen sentries with a full face-covering helmet is seen, holding a longbow trained on the door.
- Grip is surrounded by Skum on the stairs to the first floor and Dabwick is soon set upon by a squat, muscular Skum with armor and a wand tucked into his belt. The tide of the combat begins to shift as Dabwick is raked for a serious amount of damage before Dora explodes the head of the Skum Ranger.