02 December 2014

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 31 - Night Horrors

This is the thirty-first Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

The life of an adept is not an easy one, particularly when you are embroiled in local politics and the threats from other Namegivers, in addition to the gnawing threats at the very fabric of the world. There are many hard decisions which need to be made. At times, the hardest decisions are those to bury the truth and make deals with the proverbial devil at the cost of your own soul for the betterment of those around you. Sometimes those decisions come back to haunt you.

Adventure Log – 031 Night Horrors

Written By: Bongani Kreskas

Date: 01 Raquas –  06 Raquas, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Windmaster
Ting the Swordmaster

Bartertown has been terribly damaged, but the people are rebuilding. Maguk(1) has taken command of the city, but he is poorly suited for the role(2). Mismatched Steel spends a couple of weeks recovering, but we must continue on our way soon.

The white shadows continue to harm the people. I feel compelled to help. Children are killing their parents, then themselves(3). We require money for research and equipment, but we must travel to do so. Elmod and Honeysuckle go to Throal to sell some of our true elements. Ting and I try to track down the Horror in Bartertown.

The children murder their parents in their sleep. The victims all have an astral sigil carved into their foreheads. I was able to look away, but only barely. I go to Throal to give the information to Elmod. White shadows are from a family called despairthoughts.

We track the corruption to the poor section, where a concerned ork couple frets over their child. We have to break in, but are able to convince the father to trust us. He mentions Fazuul(4), a doctor in the city. I examine the child, but it appears to be a preventative measure.

Elmod looks into the astral plane and sees a white shadow. It attacks him. We leave the house with Elmod guarding the child, and the rest of us seek out the "good" doctor.

We come upon him in the midst of packing, and encourage him to stay and discuss the situation with us. He opens his mouth and screams. We put an end to his Horror-marked life. Maguk and Omasu(5) arrive and we are exonerated of any wrongdoing. He recommends that we meet with Fastoon(6) to craft a good lie.

We read his journal and learn that Fazuul visited the village that Mismatched Steel burned last year ("Shepherd," I'm told)(7). He notes a location in the final pages that might be the resting place of the Horror.

We take the body to Fastoon, who is happy to exchange favors for favors. Fastoon suggests we employ steel weapons against the Horror. He also provides a discreet way out of town and we head South.

We find the burned out husk of Shepherd. Using the journal we find the spot the doctor spoke of. It is a tainted place. We search the area and find a crevice. It is the source of corruption, and it whispers to us in subtle voices.

All is lost.

My friends have betrayed me.

I must kill them before they kill me.

I will not be a slave again.

We see the crawling pink beast before us, then leap to attack.

We are victorious.

Ting and Honeysuckle are grievously wounded, but Elmod's magic saves the day(8). We return to Bartertown as heroes.(9)

*     *     *
(1) Interim leader of Bartertown and Warrior adept in charge of the local mercenary/police force. He is a long time associate of this group. See entry cataloged under: Adventuring Groups: Miscellaneous: Mismatched Steel - 004 for the first entry.
(2) We don't even need our sources to know things are going to boil over again if he isn't replaced. This situation needs to be watched; whoever replaces him will have an agenda.
(3) This is not the first we have heard of this; see entry cataloged under: Adventuring Groups: Miscellaneous: Mismatched Steel - 029.
(4) Fazuul Chemyrl (non-adept) is an alchemist and physician has been a fixture of the community for quite some time, frequently donating time and resources to those who cannot afford his services. He often travels to the nearby mountains for rare plants with alchemical and medicinal properties.
(5) It's good to see Omasu is still around, but surprising. He is probably the only thing keeping things from going horribly. Once he leaves...
(6) Fastoon Julari Makanth Phunkot of Iopos is a known Nethermancer (possibly other disciplines, but unconfirmed) has a long history with this group and deep connections to the Denairastas family. The more I learn about this guy, the more I do not like the fact he is just outside. For additional information regarding his background and activities compiled from all sources, he has his own file in the Amber Threats.
(7) This was an unpleasant affair for everyone, including the Eye of Throal. See Adventuring Groups: Miscellaneous: Mismatched Steel - 005.
(8) It is distressing just how close to Throal this was operating. Fazuul was active within the kingdom during the period he was likely marked. He was likely operating where there was minimal chances for detection - the poor orks, which makes my gahad burn.
(9) Received and edited by Ela Pono

There was a considerable break (months) in real time since the last session. Instead of keeping it light to get everyone back, this was a rather dark session. In some ways, it felt like coming back for the new season. A threat which had been foreshadowed for quite a while finally had to be dealt with on the backdrop of a city putting itself back together. It was also raining the entire time.

The fallout from the closure to the previous arc was present everywhere in Bartertown, for better or worse. While the clash between the two factions was over, there was still a huge mess left behind. In particular, there was no good leadership in place. The person thrust into the role is, quite simply, bad at it and doesn't want the job. In the end, it is always those who have the least who suffer the most.

Everything about this was quite nasty and grim. From the families who were simply terrified and putting their trust in the wrong person, to the deals which had to be made to protect the little hope they had left, to the conflict with the Horror when it was found. A trip back through Shepherd dredged up some ugly memories as they recalled what exactly happened in that place and had to explain it to the new characters (and a new player). The story itself was an attempt at a noir-influenced investigation, Earthdawn-style. Which makes the despairthought the femme fatale?

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