Basso, Zardoz, and Avigdor fight the treacherous Fucking Varkonius, free a baby dragon, and find it a home.
Steven, playing Bassianus (human fighter 1).
Marc, playing Zardoz (half-elven bard 1).
Laura, playing Avigdor (changeling wizard 1), who has many identities (unbeknownst to the party).
Last session ended in a cliffhanger, so we started in media res, in combat. Since Steppen (playing Markul) could not attend this week and Laura joined us anew, I said that Markul got mugged by gangers outside the “fine art” shop. Avigdor had personal reasons to hate Fucking Varkonius, so he was casing the shop when the action started.
Varkonius cast a powerful spell and summoned undead creatures from his nightmarish paintings. One zombie freed itself from the canvas and burst into the real world. Four others struggled to push through and ripped their flesh off coming over, and ended up as weak skeletons. Varkonius also was able to draw thunder and lightning out of paintings and burst the deadly magic on the party.
The undead and the bad wizard heaped a lot of pain on Zardoz and Basso, and at one point Basso fell unconscious. Zardoz leaped to his rescue, shouting inspiring words at him and stuffing one of Mama Lusia’s magic cupcakes into Basso’s mouth. Bassianus was soon on his feet and bringing down the pain on the enemy.
Varkonius fled through a side door in the shop and circled around to the front door, where he encountered Avigdor, who was checking various doors for a stealthy way in. The bad wizard halted in place and tossed a magic missile at Avigdor, who responded with some nasty magic: a ball of rolling thunder that swept Fucking Varkonius twenty feet down the sidewalk and back into the shop. There, he was stuck in the thick of combat instead of sitting at a safe casting distance.
Things coalesced for the party quickly after that. Before they knew it, they had destroyed most of the undead (which melted back into paint). Varkonius was on the run. He fled a good distance and took cover behind a large pillar and started casting some nasty spells. Avigdor interrupted him with some bone-crushing magic, heaving Varkonius back ten feet. He died, impaled on a pile of wooden cleaning implements. The last two undead dissolved with their master’s passing.
Combat. 1 human mage “Varkonius” (level 4 artillery leader with “summoning” addition), 1 zombie rotter (level 2 brute), 4 decrepit skeleton (level 1 minion). Varkonius won initiative. Party won encounter and leveled up to 2nd level.
With Varkonius dead, Avigdor introduced himself to Basso and Zardoz. They searched the body and the shop, including its second story. Upstairs, they found a dark bedroom with a large “drake” chained to the wall. The drake turned out to be a young blizzard dragon with its wings clipped.
Befriending the dragon turned out to be difficult. Varkonius had treated it very badly and it wasn’t about to trust anyone. They figured out that it was intelligent and could understand speech, but could not speak itself. Through coaxing, shows of trust, feeding it (Fucking Varkonius), and using a ray of frost to freeze and break the chain, they got the little dragon to trust them. But not before it had lashed out at Basso, who fumbled an attempt at breaking the rivet on the dragon’s collar. Eventually, though, they got the dragon to release Basso’s arm and relax.
They named the dragon “Coldsnap” or “Frostbite,” depending on whom you asked.
Role-playing. 1 blizzard dragon wyrmling (level 2 controller). Obsidian skill challenge: Social (Diplomacy, Insight), DC 19. Needed to destroy the chain and achieve 7 successes for complete success. Got all 7, but Zardoz had to “go for broke” on the final roll to earn 2 successes (and did, rolling a 39 on his Diplomacy check).
They searched the room and found a messy desk, a business ledger, a locked iron box full of coins, a ladder leading up to a trap door, and a spell book containing spells and rituals.
Coldsnap nosed the wall to show them there was a secret door upstairs. The party found the door’s mechanism and discovered a secret room containing another desk with more papers, and a giant 8′×8′ mirror on the wall. The arcanists in the party had heard rumors that people might be able to step into the mirror world, and their eyes lit up with the possibilities.
Now they wanted to find a home for Coldsnap, whom they feared would not fare well alone in the city. They explored the lower depths of the city for a nice empty cave for the dragon, but never found such an idyllic place. They did find squalor and filth in The Warrens, however, and fled back to the safer levels.
Exploration. Streetwise checks: failed.
Zardoz conceived an elaborate plan—a long con—to convince a rich noble family to take an exotic pet, sight unseen, and care for it (and not sell it for parts). He enlisted Kunathia, the beautiful and talented elven singer, as a partner. Zardoz and Kunathia purchased very expensive (200 gp) clothes and cased the wealthy families of the city. They managed to find a family and arrange payment and transportation, but now they had to break the news to the dragon.
When they went back to the fine art shop, they found corpses on the shop floor. They looked like thugs from one of the local gangs. It was obvious that Coldsnap had killed them and eaten at least one of them (there was an extra boot, with part of a foot still in it). Coldsnap dragged the bodies into a pile in one of the painting alcoves in embarrassment.
Zardoz explained to Coldsnap that he had a choice: live in the city while scavenging for food and risking being killed, or live with this family in safety but maybe have to live in a cage. Coldsnap knew what trouble the party had gone to and accepted their offer.
They put the dragon with Avigdor in the back of a small covered wagon pulled by slaves. When they got to the gates of Cerulside, Basso immediately knew they had a problem. His old friend, Captain Altarus, greeted them and asked what was in the wagon. He demanded to see, and then demanded to see their exotic pet license. There was some friendly banter about Basso joining the Cerulside Guard, and eventually the Captain “sold” them a license for 20 gold.
At the nobles’ house, Zardoz performed a spectacular ceremony to introduce the wondrous pet, and then they had to leave Coldsnap in the family’s courtyard cage. The dragon tugged pitifully at Basso’s pant legs as they left. It was a bittersweet moment. However, the group had found a safe place for the dragon to live and had made a lot of money to boot.
Role-playing. Diplomacy check for the main con. Zardoz rolled very well. Also used Streetwise to find the nobles, Diplomacy to get past Altarus, and so on.
With the dragon secured in a good home, Zardoz focused on his operetta at The Golden Beam. He invited Kunathia to sing with him (and Markul, of course). Kunathia made a big to-do about practicing, since she apparently didn’t have the natural genius that Zardoz did. When they went on stage later, Kunathia listened more closely to the lyrics that Zardoz had written, and wondered if he were saying that she should dump Basso and hook up with Zardoz instead—but she wasn’t sure, so she didn’t push the issue. This was exactly the cunning bard’s plan. The operetta was a huge hit, packing the house and making not a few fans.
Role-playing. “Perform” roll, DC 15. Zardoz rolled a 35.
While the band played, Basso gambled with Mariquus, again cleaning him out for 40 gold. Mariquus insisted on continuing but Basso refused, promising him that he’d give him a chance to earn back his money eventually.
Role-playing. A pair of Bluff vs. Insight rolls, each opponent rolling Bluff vs. the other’s Insight roll. The numbers were like 18-4 in favor of Basso for each pair of rolls.