Rise of the Shitlords: Part 2

Rise of the Shitlords: Part 2

by Jon Antonsen, Variety Editor originally published in Issue 2, Volume 30 of the University Register on Friday, October 10, 2017.

When we last left our party, they had just begun their journey through the Lost Coast Catacombs. Their mission: to stop the she-demon Nualia before she destroys the world. As you may recall, there are seven levels to the Catacombs— each with its own climate, time dialation, and quirks. To advance through each level, our party must find a statue of a monkey. Upon touching it, the players are sucked into an interplanar portal and spat out into the next level. What each level brings is unknown to the players beforehand—it could be anything. At the doorway of the Catacombs our players learned all of this. With apprehension, they touched the first statue, and into the first level they went.

Squall’s End

Through an interplanar portal, they travelled; a long, blindingly blue tunnel shot them through space and contorted their bodies. A light at the end of the tunnel appeared and began to increase in size until…

They were spat out onto a forest floor at great velocity, rolling across fallen leaves into tree trunks and bushes. Their heads hurt and their eyes were blurry. Upon recovering, they noticed that they weren’t in Sandpoint anymore.

A vast, vibrant green jungle surrounded them on all sides. A beast roared in the distance, a large millipede scurried across Maer’n’s garb and disappeared under a bush, a large multicolored bird cawed, and a beast roared again, this time closer.

Just then, a wood elf burst into the ravine. “Run for your lives! Gorgoroth is coming!” the elf screamed. As he finished flailing his arms, a large Tyrannosaurus Rex plowed through a tree and bit down on the poor elf, swallowing him in one gulp.

The party searched for a way out, eventually stumbling upon two elven guards standing near a hole in a tree, waving at them. Before they could think through the decision, they were already running towards the elves. The T-Rex bounded after them, but it couldn’t catch them before the party entered the tree.

As the T-Rex’s jaws snapped close, so too did the entrance to the cave. The party members, having dove through the entrance, were grateful for the elvish aid.

The room they stumbled upon was a large one. The hole didn’t go inside the tree; it went underground. The wood elves, accustomed to living in the wild among the trees, had ironically made a dwelling place in the trees. In front of the players were three staggered walls built from clay and two large guard towers on either side of the makeshift defense, each structure teaming with soldiers. “Whew, that was a close one!” Leo the Inspector exclaimed, turning to the guards. “Thanks for helping us out, we could’ve—“

A battalion of guards unsheathed their swords and pointed them at the necks of the players, and the archers on the walls and in the towers drew back their arrows, ready to fire.

Before any of the players could react, Captain Erlan Waesfir of the Squall’s End Guard approached them. “Who sent you?!” He interrogated.

Leo answered, but Waesfir wasn’t convinced. Big, stupid fighter Mices stepped forward and failed a Diplomacy check, pissing off Waesfir even more.

“Are you servants of Nualia?” He asked.

“No! We are, uh, trying to stop her,” Mices said, fearing for his life. Waesfir misinterpreted his reaction as nervous. He pulled his dagger, grabbed Mices’ head, and asked again. “Are you servants of the one you call Nualia? The one who brought so much pain and suffering unto my village?!” he screamed.

Maer’n came forward to speak, “Sir, the demon who you speak of is also our enemy. She took our friend and is going to use her to unleash an evil older than the world itself. Please, sir, allow us passage. We seek a statue that looks like this.”

Maer’n pulled out a picture of the statue. Upon viewing it, Waesfir sheathed his dagger. “Very well, follow me,” he commanded. The party members followed, surrounded by town guards.

Beyond the clay walls lay a wide main street surrounded by tents and ending at a tent perched upon a clay outcropping. This was Squall’s End: a quaint hamlet underneath the jungle. The wood elves moved down here a few generations ago (for elves, this is almost 200 years) because the jungle was becoming unruly.

At the front of the tunnel behind the walls were two enchanted farms and an enchanted jungle sanctuary, and beyond them lay the rest of the town: one side of merchants and the other of family dwellings. Their tents were made of dried reptile hide, and they looked like they were meant to be temporary.

As the players passed townspeople, they noticed that everyone was somber. As they passed the soldier’s camp directly behind the wall, two soldiers beat each other senseless. Upon passing the farms they noticed that once-full fields lay barren. Then, when the party passed the merchant tents, they passed a tent surrounded by mourners.

That’s when Mices saw her: a fair maiden with beautiful, curly blond hair and bright blue eyes donned in leather armor. She was sobbing. The Iliwreak family just lost two members in the blaze and they blame the owner of the local theater, Bethalus, who was also a member of the the rival family, the Ravalees. (Out of Game: This is where the adventure got totally fucked up and I basically threw away my DM notes.

“I want to tell them a joke,” said Mices’ player. After a long argument, I told him he could do it if he rolled a DC 15 Diplomacy check. He rolled a 2. Mices looked at me in disdain.

“Say your joke,” I prodded.)

Mices stopped and looked longingly at her, empathizing with her sadness. In a true Mices fashion, he tried to warm her spirits with humor.

“Hey,” he started. The mourners looked at him annoyedly.

“What sound does a pterodactyl make when it pees? I don’t know because the ‘P’ is silent!”

The mourners gasped in offense at his terrible joke, and his “love”—angered by the loss of her loved one—charged at him with hands magically aflame. Her family members successfully restrained her, but she said a lot of hurtful things to Mices which I cannot repeat here.

And for some reason, this gave him the resolve to court this woman, who he now referred to as his “wife.” This resolve will lead to the adventure-breaking.

Back to the story: the players finally arrived at the Magistrate’s tent. Sitting atop a clay fortress and decorated with lavish purple silks, this building was the most striking in Squall’s End.

Inside, the tent was adorned conservatively, but it was still very nice. Directly in the middle of the tent sat the Magistrate Andranath Daynore.

“Captain, who are these people you bring before me?” he asked. Waesfir explained they were interplanar travelers trying stop Nualia’s misdeeds— they sought the statue.

“Very well,” he said, turning to the players. “But first you must help me. To prove your cause, you must help my people. Since Nualia’s departure, my community has been suffering deleteriously. If you help my people, I will lead you to the statue.”

After some deliberation, the players agreed to help.

On the way in, Davor noticed that there was a medical tent in the soldier camp. Rather than go help that medical tent, Davor decided to make a better tent in front of the Magistrate’s tent. He charged a premium for clerical healing powers and a luxurious setting… however, that didn’t last long. His first would-be customers criticized his tent for being too expensive for bad healthcare. He acquiesced to their criticisms and left with Kaye to help the soldiers at the camp.

Maer’n, Gerald, and Leo the Inspector did what any party would do in a new town: they went to the local tavern to gather intel. The three went into the Wooden Boozer, the local tavern run by Otaehyrn Magpeter—an elf with a strangely Scandinavian accent. Leo asked Magpeter what was wrong around town. Magpeter was a little startled by the question, but Leo thought nothing of it (DM’s note: this will become important later). Magpeter shared with Leo a problem at the Fenquinal farm: the mill had stopped turning and a farmhand was found mutilated in the door. Mutilated by what, they didn’t know, but without that mill turning, the town was left without many basic foodstuffs. The three party members left the tavern to find the others.

Instead of accompanying Maer’n, Gerald, and Leo to the Wooden Boozer, Mices decided he wanted to go investigate the burned wreckage to find some sort of evidence or a locket or something to make his “wife” feel better.

(Out of Game: Without this stupid love motive, the adventure would have progressed normally: they would have gone to the bar, helped a lot of people, then found the real problem behind the town and from there would have investigated the wreckage. But no, Mices had to “fall in love” with some rando NPC. I was annoyed.)

The rest of the group, fearing Mices would do something really stupid, sent along a babysitter: Three Shiv Mac. It also just so happens that Three Shiv Mac has the highest Perception skill bonus out of everyone. So, when they go inspect the wreckage (when Three Shiv Mac does a Perception check on the wreckage) Three Shiv rolls high enough that they find a business card from the Bizarre Bethalium—the same Bizarre run by Bethalus Ravalee, the man accused of burning the building down… and that’s where I’ll leave it.