S.P.I.R.E.: Sharn Private Investigation and Risk Elimination

S.P.I.R.E. Perk Cards

I’m redoing how I’m awarding S.P.I.R.E. perks – instead of handing out arbitrary points assigned to some sort of piecemeal award system, the means of getting your perk cards will be much like how we did Drama Cards, back in the day – for those of you unfamiliar with Drama Cards, they were little printed cards given out that would give some manner of ability when you spent it.

For the permanent abilities that the badge can give you, that is when numbers will come into play – you can save up your perk cards, and trade them in for a permanent ability, if ever you so choose to. This whole system will make life a great deal simpler in regards to recordkeeping, and thus, let me focus on what you guys are going to blow up next.

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S.P.I.R.E. Forums

I’ve gone ahead and put down a few bucks towards Obsidian Portal so that we can have a localized forum that we can spam with wanton abandon. The Druid Wrestling forums will be closing down soon, simply because it’s such a pain to register and post on an auxiliary site, when all the resources for the game are here in one place.

So, I give you, the S.P.I.R.E. forums! If you’re playing in the game, and you haven’t registered to Obsidian Portal, now’s the time; I’ll be posting about upcoming games, changes in schedule, and other miscellany that doesn’t warrant a whole post there. You go. You go now.

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Shadows from Beyond

Steven’s got the DMing bug; it’s very serious, I’m afraid. He’s been coughing up campaign ideas all day, but, I think we’ve got the cure:

Shadows from Beyond is a new Eberron campaign being run by one of our very own players; the tabletop game of S.P.I.R.E. will take place every other week, with Shadows from Beyond taking the weeks where S.P.I.R.E. has off; as they’re both in the same campaign setting and timeline, keep your eyes peeled for some exciting cameos and crossovers!

Check out the campaign page, here.

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Juliet Potts

Still waiting on the colored versions of the drawing, but, here’s the pin-up commission for Juliet Potts (initial sketch and pencils). Edit: the inked version arrived last evening.

This is by Pablocomics (none of the following links are safe-for-work; deviantart, Hentai Foundry and his homepage.

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Theras: After-Action Report

S.P.I.R.E After-action Report

Dated: Eyre 14th, 998 YK

Operative: Theras Blacksand

Travelled out of Sharn per orders, weather was poor, but did not delay us. We met with Lyrandar contact, who was in the process of training Brelish Militia. Discussions concerned a tower near the Droaam border, rebuilding of tower was halted by Sharn-local gang: Bloody Knights. Six dwarves were contracted, one escaped. Bloody Knights reported to be working with undead.

Approached tower under cover of rain, discerned a number of Bloody Knights. Engaged from surprise, with good results. Hostiles were discovered to be holding a dwarven hostage, who was freed thanks to a distraction from operative Renaldo. Hostiles were joined by a small number of weak undead, none of which posed a significant issue. Hostiles were dispatched, but additional threats were below the tower, so after a short rest, S.P.I.R.E. operatives regrouped and climbed a rope ladder leading under the structure in question.

Bloody Knights below the tower were better prepared. They were lead by a better- armed Bloody Knight, and employed an animated trap and a dangerous rogue (wanted murderer) who inflicted significant damage on me after an ill-planned move on my part. Raan-Skag and I were nearly brought down by cumulative injuries, and the “hostage” turned out to be a changeling, which we found out when he/she/it plunged down the ladder at a dead drop, hoping to stab “King” in the head. Quick thinking, teamwork, overwhelming force and the Halfling luck won out, though, as the leader was killed, the rogue and changeling fled, and the Bloody Knights shot at us until subdued.

We checked on the dwarf who’d accompanied us to the area, and found him badly beaten but alive. After rousing him we discovered the only passable hallway under goldenhawk tower was trapped with fire-breathing gargoyles. Fortunately, Reldin came up with a plan. Raan-Skag and I did some heavy lifting, the elf did some herb gathering, and even the dwarf helped put the whole thing together. I’m still not certain what to call it, but we rolled most of a wagon down a flaming hallway while covering ourselves in wet tarps. The wagon crashed into a couple of luckless thugs, crushing and burning one of them to death on the spot. The remaining three were easy pickings.

Around the corner we discovered the rogue and changeling lying in wait. Attempting to close on them proved ill advised as sarcophagus traps pulled myself and one other out of the fight and chained us, briefly. The changeling fled again, but we brought down the rogue with help from the snapjaw trap, which Reldin had more or less subdued with a ten-foot pole. We collected the head for the bounty, and proceeded deeper into the complex.

In the next chamber, we found what could only be a puzzle: A bunch of colored skulls and a mystically burning cauldron of boiling goo. While Reldin and the elf tried to work out a solution, the changeling gummed up the works by leaping out of a pile of skulls and attacking. Raan-Skag tried a novel solution to the puzzle by grabbing the squirming changeling (disguised to look like me) and hurling him into the cauldron. This proved to be the wrong answer; a pair of gruesome undead…things crawled out of the cauldron and attacked, very effectively. I had just sounded the retreat when a third skull plunked into the boiling glop and the undead shrugged and walked back into the pot. The doors also unlocked, so after a short rest we pushed on.

The final fight of this job took place in a grand hall, where a necromancer had set up shop. We hacked and smashed our way through her zombie minions and managed to drag her pack of skeletal archers down from their perches in surprisingly good time. The archers and her two skeletal dogs continued harrying us even as most of us engaged the necromancer in close quarters. We overwhelmed her with numbers and force, then mopped up her creatures, claimed her loot, and reported back to the client.

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At the Scene of the Crime

Just a quick shot of the gelatinous cube fiasco. Note the badge on the table at the top of the pic – need to get better pictures of them.

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Pepper Pinchpenny

Another interpretation by an anonymous source (Mr_saturn@hotmail.com, in reality); this would be an interpretation of Pepper Pinchpenny.

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"Books'" S.P.I.R.E. Reports
Filed Under "001-006"

Client: S.P.I.R.E. (Employee Self-Interest)
Synopsis of Risk: The “Bad News”, having recovered from their recent run-in with the Daask, are sent on assignment to access the vaults of one Flex Mentalo. Due to the location of Flex’s possessions being technically in Droaam, a non-recognized nation, legalities aren’t an issue. Travel arrangements have been made, as Luca’s gift to S.P.I.R.E., her airship, has not been repaired to the point of flying outside of Sharn.

Reports:
Date: Dravago 10th, 998 YK
Location: S.P.I.R.E. Headquarters, Sharn, Breland
Details: The “Bad News” depart for the Greywall Mountains, a location identified as Flex Mentalo’s old adventuring group’s hiding place; for reasons unknown, it has been all but abandoned by Flex, and his partner in adventuring, Unique Swagga (an absurd a name as Flex’s). I felt this trip would provide a bit of cooling-off time between the “Bad News” to get their heads on straight, and to ensure that we are appropriately equipped to deal with the Daask issue when they return (which I have a number of plans for them to review with me, when they do return).

Date: Dravago 22nd, 998 YK
Location: Graywall Mountains, Droaam/Breland border
Synopsis of Risk: The party took a riverboat from Sharn to Moonwatch, then rented horses to travel to Galethspyre, then to Ardev, then finally to the Greywall Mountains. Following my map, the Bad News were able to find, and then breach the doors of Stormcrow Tor, the former hideout of Flex Mentalo’s adventuring party.

Once inside, they began the task of clearing out the current inhabitants, a number of kenku that had been squatting there for only-who-knows how long. They engaged the initial front guard, chasing them deeper into the fortress; however, this was apparently a lure, as Ironwood soon discovered, as he slammed into a gelatinous cube. He soon was able to escape with the aide of his companions, though the cube continued to harry them, as the kenkus tried to force them out. Most of the kenkus were standard skirmisher fare, however they were aided by a chain-weilder and a sorcerer of some variety. All told, however, things went badly for the kenku, the two more powerful of the group eventually being forced into the cube themselves.

Pressing deeper into the keep, they discovered what may have been at one time a wine cellar; however, time and neglect had turned it into a fungal playground, mushrooms growing upon almost every surface. It was to their great surprise, however, that the great mushrooms seemed both sentient, and hostile. Without any chance to explain their intrusion, they were set upon by a number of giant fungi, some spitting horrible spores, others controlling razor-sharp barbs. Still, sentient or not, they were still mushrooms, and were quickly scattered across the room, adding to the filth of the place.

Deeper still, they discovered a makeshift mausoleum; a great number of kenku congregated in this room, and, without even a nod towards the idea of diplomacy, the group launched themselves to attack the flock. In the din and confusion, however, Ironwood disturbed a partially exposed set of remains of some manner of dragon, and with that, he angered a number of spirits that were vaulted in nearby crypts. Despite being assaulted by ephemeral assailants, they dispatched the kenku in quick succession, and, with the aide of Pepper’s divine lore, were able to dispose of two of the ghosts, the third being beaten into a corner before it decide that fleeing through one of the walls was its best option.

After all these trials, it seemed now, that they had finally breached a part of the Stormcrow Tor that was secure; a passageway was discovered by Kos, hiding its nature from the rest of the party behind an illusory wall. This revelation came to him upon discovering a key amongst one of the tombs, and upon holding it, the room revealed its true nature to him. These were not the only security measures placed however.

Just beyond the illusory wall was another magical barrier, however this one was quite real, being made entirely of force. Another door, quite plain, lay to the room’s left. This would prove to be one of the most trying experiences throughout the exploration of the Tor, though not for reasons that were immediately apparent.

Choosing not to immediately challenge the wall of force, they decided the wooden door was more prudent to investigate first. I shall not go through each agonizing detail, but, the party endured countless poison needles (which Nocturne suffered the worst, thanks to the callous nature of Ironwood), a hallway heavily trapped with electricity, and a most frustrating teleportation device that made them suffer through all of the traps again, only to find, after all of that, a single bear room, bearing a particularly crude message:

“Flex Mentalo rocks your faces.”

While this message doesn’t make a great deal of sense, it does seem appropriate for Flex.

Finally making their way back to the wall of force, one of the party noticed a small keyhole next to it, Kos having the partnered key. With a turn of the key, the wall of force fell away, to allow them to press further into Flex Mentalo’s vaults.

Finding, beyond the wall of force, a room set with a number of summoning circles, they moved cautiously into the room, but, not cautiously enough. The circles began spewing out elemental horrors at a rapid pace. The centerpiece of the room, a cauldron, seemed to be the source of the rooms magic, so while the party defended him, Kos went about smashing the thing to bits, which, for the time being, seems to have done the trick.

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Florida Session Info - 6

Attendance: Colin, Steven, Shannon, Skippy, Rob
XP per Attending Player: 933

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"Books'" S.P.I.R.E. Reports
Filed Under "002-004"

Client: S.P.I.R.E. (Employee Self-Preservation)
Details: The Meanwhiles attempt, along with agents of the Bad News and the Waterworks, to extract members of the Bad News team.

Reports:
Date: Dravago 3rd, 998 YK
Location: Terminus District, Sharn, Breland
Synopsis of Risk: A meeting was held. I made it clear to the members of S.P.I.R.E. that they were at just as much risk going after the Daask at this junction as were the previous members that had tried to break up the alleged “protection ring”; I still suspect this to have been a ruse to have suckered in our employees, although to what purpose, I’m still at a loss. Once they were told of the situation, I instructed the employees to head to the location where Kos, Pepper, Nocturne and “John” were last seen, and to extract information any way they desired.

They were exceptionally successful in this task.

Upon arriving at the market where the Daask had laid the ambush, they came across a flock of kenku Daask members; a glorious beating took place, I’m told, with the new employees Sprocketmonger and Eya showing particular promise. After the feathers settled, Reldin, along with the presence of Ironwood and Theras, “convinced” one of the Kenku to take them to where the Daask had dragged off our employees. He was more than willing to cooperate. It is a shame that I have not heard any further reports as to the fate of this feathered individual after the fact.

Location: Daask Hideout, Depths, Sharn, Breland
Synopsis of Risk: The captured kenku led the amalgamated group into the depths to an old goblinoid building that was apparently being used as a Daask hideout. The fate of this feathered gangster has not been reported to me; I can only expect that they treated him civilly after his escort.

Breaching the doors of the hideout, the group explored the flooded building. The building was filled with the raucous and rowdy noises of a celebration being had, somewhere deeper inside. Spotting what was clearly an unmanned alarm gong, the group issued Thykim to retrieve, and then to dispose of the instrument. Turning on various light sources, the group then delved further into the depths of the building.

They spotted what they first imagined was an arcane patrol; avoiding it, they explored the westeren wing of the first story, where they discovered the patrol was in fact a number of kenku, set about the inner ring of the house to keep an eye out for intruders. They were apparently not expecting guests, however, as they did not keep a particularly good vigil; the group avoided detection by quelling any lights they had, and hiding “outside” in what was once a lobby containing an in-ground pool. Once the patrol had past, they crept up behind the path of the patrol, and set up an ambush.

The ambush was launched by the warforged Ironwood, who waylayed an unfortunate patrolman with a particularly heavy armoire, flattening the avain watchman in the darkness. Still, being set upon by flying furniture alarmed the remaining guards, who fled, attempting to reach the gong that they would not ever discover was absent. The rest of the group set upon the patrol far too quick for the kenku to escape; the building was once again filled with nothing but the noises of the celebration, directly above where they had attacked.

Pressing on further into the house, they scouted, with a combination of Reldin’s floating lantern, and Eya’s arcane eye familiar. The eye spotted a group of goblin guards, who had locked the warforged “John” up. The goblins noticed the eye/lantern scout, and the party prepared to ambush them as they went to see what manner of intruders would send the strange pair. However, the goblins never came. Upon sending the scout to check the room again, they found it abandoned, save for “John” who was still caged. They entered the room to free him.

This is where they found themselves ambushed. The goblins dropped into the midst of the party form a hole in the ceiling, and, amongst other horrors, the party stumbled upon a pair of idling slimes wading beneath the waters. An orc, who, until the party had moved into the room, had called the ambush, and was casting about with awful curses at the group, though with little effect. It was the goblins and the slime that were the greatest concern. At first, one had engulfed Eya, but her fey abilities allowed her to escape relatively unscathed, as, with a blink of an eye, she teleported away. Theras was there to receive the slimes remaining ire.

Meanwhile, the goblins launched a fervent attack into the rest of the party, coming close to outright overcoming the new kobold, Sprocketmonger; but with a flash and a bang of thunder, he helped to overcome them, as Ironwood and Thykim marched into the fray. Reldin was lifted up to a landing up high, where he shouted commands and encouragement, and a fair amount of arcane utterances that hindered the goblinoid guards; he also discovered Kos upon the landing, in a similar cage, but in a far worse state. Scalped, by the looks of it, and barely holding onto life.

The din of combat went on for a time, but this group was prepared enough to withstand even the most berserk and wild of the goblins; with their combined efforts, they even managed to turn one of the slimes upon the goblins, the slime not caring what it devoured. Dispatching the remainder of the threats, they managed to finally free both Kos and “John”, hiding them away until they could find their other quarries, Nocturne and Pepper.

Exploring the house further, they eventually stumbled upon them. In a small room filled with horrific devices, they found a number of slumbering hobgoblins and a single bugbear – the same bugbear that had stuck down Nocturne. They also discovered a severely mauled, but conscious Pepper Pinchpenny. Covered in blood, she was missing her right eye, apparently from an application of a hot poker, and two fingers from her left hand, her pinky and ring, had been severed messily. However, despite the apparent disgusting torture, Pepper struck up a fairly unconcerned tone with them, even going so far as to joke with the rescuers a few times (I’ll have to keep an eye on her future behavior, as that is simply not a normal reaction to such treatment).

She informed them that Nocturne’s body was unceremoniously disposed of in the sewers under Sharn en route (as she had garnered from conversations amongst her kidnappers); it was clear that his remains were to remain lost. Helping her out of the cage, they escorted her out along with Kos and “John”. It is not reported as to what the fate of her torturers might have been, nor do I feel the need to investigate that matter further.

Major injuries noted as in above report; Nocture’s body missing.

Postscript – I have awarded Ironwood with a battle standard, bearing S.P.I.R.E.’s emblem/badge. I am proud to be working with such adventurers. Additionally, I am aware of Sprocketmonger’s surreptitious acquisition of a magical pair of vambraces from the Daask stores; I am happy to let him keep them, so long as he knows that he need not steal things away from fellow employees in the future.

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