Dark Deeds in Last Hope

High adventure by Zoom, from the Faerûn to the Dragon Empire to the Lands of Rûl. D&D 5th Edition (Wizards of the Coast), 13th Age (Pelgrane Press), Shadow of the Demon Lord (Schwalb Entertainment)

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nemarsde
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Dark Deeds in Last Hope

Post by nemarsde »

An 0th-level adventure for Shadow of the Demon Lord using the official module Dark Deeds in Last Hope.

Who will play? Who will survive?

nemarsde
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Lunch Rush at The Ribald Reeve

Post by nemarsde »

The Ribald Reeve is Sister Hope's only tavern, run by hard-nosed, cigar-chewing landlady, Mercurial Blanche. Although the original establishment was founded around the time of the Imperial invasion, it has been rebuilt many times over the centuries. Its name now conjures images of a jolly, red-nosed civil servant, but its name may have originally been spelt Reave not Reeve. As in "joyous raping and pillaging".*

Lunch hour is always a busy time at the tavern. Who are some of the regular lunch-time patrons?

Gob of Lij
Goblin Adept
Often found squirming around under floors, in wall cavities and lofts throughout Sister Hope. Gob is always dressed in the same fancy, baroque clothes, that are covered in rats droppings, sawdust and worse. He may even be infested with rodents himself. He finds regular work at the town's only tavern.

Inge Bloodfinger
Jotun
Rents a room in the stables behind the tavern, the only place with a ceiling high enough for a jotun. Inge's massage and joint cracking is well-regarded in the town, and the landlady takes payment in services rendered.

Tosk White
Human Rogue
An unassuming but watchful-eyed youth who works at the stronghouse across the road, first as jailer under Constable Cray but recently promoted to. Master Whitey gets free lunches at the tavern, paid for by the town, and never misses it. In Session 2, he's promoted to Acting Constable by Mayor Clemp.

Walter Pots
Human Wizard
Late-middle-aged craftsman who lives alone but supplies all of the town's pottery, including that of the tavern. As such he makes regular deliveries and will stay for a pint or six.

Rook (aka Fistface, aka Cormac the Woad, aka James the Serving Boy)
Changeling Warrior
A somewhat wasted-looking orc, Fistface served with the town's maritime guard and so got free lunches at the tavern, paid for by the town. She often seemed to hold her tongue but when she spoke could be surprisingly eloquent for an orc. At the end of Session 1, she's revealed to be a changeling called Rook and has to start assuming new identities in town.

*Then again, Sister Hope herself is derived from Sista, a local word meaning "last".
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nemarsde
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Session 1

Post by nemarsde »

The usual lunch gang are at The Ribald Reeve (Gob somewhere under it), the sun already setting. Walter propping up the bar, Tosk and Fistface waiting on seal-meat casserole, Inge in the attached drying-room, drying her linen. Gob crawling around under the floorboards.

Small talk is interupted by a startled scream from outside from Margery, the baker's wife. On her way to the tavern with a bread delivery, she bumped into a deranged stranger covered in blood.

The lunch gang investigate, the stranger is a young man in fine but warmer weather clothing. He babbles about the priest at the Temple of the Holy Finger (Father Solomon) turning into a monster and attacking him. The blood is not the young man's, though he has a deep cut from his hand riding up onto the blade.

He's brought to his senses by Inge, but refuses to see the constable and has to be chased down and restrained by Tosk and Fistface.

Tosk manacles the young man and takes him to the gaol to speak to Constable Cray.

Inge and the others investigate the temple and find the vault broken into, the reliquary empty, and evidence of an altercation. The theory is that the young man broke into the vault, attempting to steal its treasure, but was surprised by Father Solomon. The blood on the floor is unearthly, neither human or rat, implying Father Solomon was stabbed and may indeed be a monster. Evidence is *cough* gathered by Walter.

Meanwhile Tosk presents the young man to Constable Cray. Cray has other strangers locked up and it transpires they're all one crew, who docked in Sister Hope a few days ago in a sorry state, and tried to force the boatwright to repair their ketch, instigating a violent affray. One of the troublemakers got away, the young man who the others call "Edgar". They all have slave brands, implying they're escaped slaves.

Tosk chains Edgar to the desk and leaves to rejoin the rest of the lunch gang at the temple. Together they follow the blood trail into the woods, stopping by the cemetary to verify that two graves have been recently uprooted.

Into the deep woods. Night-time, midwinter, snow falls heavier by the minute. They find the local woodcutter, Aengus, murdered and stripped, and Father Solomon's vestments disgarded. The monster has changed identity.

Then, the gang come across a hide in the woods, probably built for hunting but now with attached awnings. As they enter the hide, Tosk is attacked by an animated corpse that springs up from under the snow. Inge fells it with her axe.

In the hide they find books on necromancy, a grimoire of spells, and a ritual circle. The books are stamped by the Wizard's Guild of Freeport. Walter mars the circle and *cough* gathers evidence. Gob finds more body parts outside, from two long-decayed corpses, and from Father Solomon (a few weeks old).

The Mayor's son, Adelmar Clemp was recently sighted by Fistface aboard a ship bound for Sister Hope, in the company of a lovely young lady. He was supposed to be studying magic in Freeport. He must have returned and hidden out in the woods, practicing necromancy.

The blood trail continues on into the wilderness. The lunch gang follow, Gob acting as lookout from what shall henceforth be known as the rat's nest (Inge's shoulders).

Getting cold. A figure is sighted ahead in the trees. A lovely young lady in the woodcutter's clothing.

And from behind a stand of trees, wild, obscene, animalistic noises and firelight.

Scouting ahead, Tosk and Gob see a bonfire surrounded by sheep-headed beastmen in a homo-bestial orgy. Adelmar Clemp is trussed up and hanging from the bough of a tree, being milked by a beastman.

In the meantime, Fistface, Inge and Walter are approached by Mayor Clemp, dressed in woodcutter's clothing, who begs them to help rescue Adelmar. They see through the ruse and the shapechanger confesses...

She met Adelmar at the Wizard's Guild in Freeport, they became tight. When Adelmar found a necromantic grimoire in the library, he believed he could abandoned his studies, return to Sister Hope and master the magic in his own time. She accompanied Adelmar, murdered Father Solomon and stole his identity so she could come and go from the cemetary without suspicion, digging up bodies for Adelmar's practice.

Earlier that day, the shapechanger disturbed Edgar as he was rifling the temple and he attacked her. Fearing she'd been discovered, she fled the scene and sought out Adelmar. Adelmar was consorting with beastmen though, trying to make a breakthrough in his studies.


The shapechanger calls herself "Mock" and is unaffected by iron.

The lunch gang agree to undertake a rescue, getting Gob and Tosk into position with ranged weapons before Inge leads a charge with Walter, Fistface and Mock.

It's a brutal fight, the beastmen hold their own at first but succumb to fomorian panic. Their horned chief then charges out of the darkness, smiting Fistface with his iron spear and revealing her to be a changeling, made of soot and charcoal. Mock demonstrates teleportation magic, and the gang finally prevails, surrounding and slaying the chief.

Adelmar is freed and embraces Mock. Inge and Fistface are hurt but will survive, though struggles to regain her orc form. Her real name is Rook.

Town is in uproar when they return. Edgar and his crew broke out of goal, killing Constable Cray before invading the home of the boatwright and brutally murdering the entire family. They then stole a ship and fled out to sea. The maritime guard led by the Serjeant-at-Arms, want to launch a pursuit but Mayor Clemp has heard the rumours about his son being in town and wants to form a search party.

This is resolved when the lunch gang hand over traumatised Adelmar, with a story that leaves out necromantic practice. Mock disappears into the night. The maritime guard set out after Edgar's crew; Rook assumes a new identity. The Mayor must appoint a new constable and Tosk puts himself forward. A message is sent to the jotun jarldoms that beastmen have wandered into Blötland.
  • Just what breakthrough was Adelmar trying to make?
  • What is Mock and why is she so interested in Adelmar?
  • Is it aught to do with the spell grimoire now kept secret and safe by Walter?
  • Will Tosk be appointed as the next constable of Sister Hope?
  • Will Rook get away with assuming a new identity?
  • Will Inge have to shave her head to get rid of the rodents left behind by Gob!?
  • Can Edgar and his crew be brought to justice and the town's stolen relic returned?
Find out next time in... Shadow of the Demon Lord

nemarsde
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Session 2

Post by nemarsde »

Yuletide in Sister Hope, a couple of days after the murders. The maritime guards under the Serjeant-at-Arms have not yet returned. The Aurora blazes in the sky, pinks and greens, illuminating the snowy landscape below.



Gob crawls under the floorboards of the abandoned workshop at the edge of town and up into the interior, lighting a candle. This reveals Gob's cosy if messy den, decorated with trinkets gathered from the town. There is an elevated rat-run for his pets, and then two amber eyes light in the darkness.

It's a giant clockwork, built and abandoned by the mad inventor who has long since disappeared. Gob calls him Cog and they are friends. Cog communicates with blows of his pipes. Tearaways from town arrive, Cheerful Charlie, Mopey Manfred and then Evil Ella (who snowballs the other two in the face). They ask Gob to show them his faerie magic. He conjures a Will O' Wisp but it's a bit more powerful than normal and enthralls the kids and the rodents.



The deep snow on the south slopes overlooking the town. Inge is out foraging for reindeer moss when she hears the two-toned horn of her Uncle Ranveig, summoning her to a meet.

Dress only in knitwear, she trudges up the slope and through the wind-blown drifts at the top. A Jotun hunting party awaits her, Uncle Ranveig at the fore. He is called the Walrus for good reason, being an all-round massive Jotun sea raider with thick, braided moustaches. They discuss the Beastmen, Inge's family steading, and Ranveig tells Inge that the Seer has told that the end times have begun. As is the will of Tyr, Inge will venture into the North to confront the great evil of their time. Although not sanctioned by the clan, Ranveig has a personal gift for his niece. A coat of lames, thick leather scales crafted from walrus hide. Armour to protect her.

They bid each other farewell.



Along the town's northern cliffs, Walter walks along a coastal path having visited a geyser to gather clay. He detours to his favourite spot, a rocky outcrop giving him a panoramic view of the night sky. As he sits, the rock-face talks to him. A galeb duhr, a prehistoric nature spirit, that has taught Walter much about the earth and stars. It tells Walter that the stars say the Destroyer of Worlds is coming, and all will end by the time the South Star touches the Dragon's Fangs. Just over two months. The galeb duhr tells Walter he should hurry home.

But back home, pottery doesn't settle Walter's mind. Letting his pot slop off of the wheel, he goes to the grimoire of spells recovered from Adelmar's hide. Steeling himself, he opens it up and skims through. Inside the rear cover he's troubled to find the sigil of the Mad Monk of Old Edene, Rudebendius Mal, infamous for translating ancients dark texts brought from across the ocean. The spell Adelmar was trying to cast with the circle was indeed a summoning.



In the town's barracks common room, Tosk slumbers in front of the fireplace. Feet up, having eaten a fish supper and quaffed a glass of lakka. The barracks are quiet with most of the guards out at sea or patrolling the town's boundaries. He's suddenly scared out of chair by someone whispering his name in his ear.

He hears a groaning. The fire and lamps gutter, his breath mists. Time to leave, he grabs the doorknob. It becomes a hand and grabs him back. Pulling away, the ghost of Constable Cray steps into the room with Tosk. Cray's throat still slit, he bades Tosk to listen to his words of caution. Tosk bolts for another door, makes it through but finds himself in the boatwright's house, the scene immediately after the murders. The boatwright is on the floor of the living room, brains bashed in, the wife in the bedroom, raped to death. Tosk wanders down the corridor but won't enter the children's room. Tosk turns and is confronted his own victims. Half a dozen revenants, victims of witch-hunters, dobbed in by Tosk.

Cray tells Tosk he must mend his ways and seek to atone for his sins or Hell awaits. Logs spill of out the fire, setting the house ablaze around Tosk. Flames rise from the floorboards.

Tosk awakens will a jolt in his chair in the common room, his socks on fire.



Rook has taken the identity of Cormac the Woad, an exiled nomad and fellow maritime guard who was amongst those despatched to pursue Edgar's crew. Cormac keeps himself to himself, has no family or friends in Sister Hope, but is a handsome, flint-eyed man in his thirties.

Rook hears a tapping at the window. He opens up. A woman in a hooded fur cloak stands below and invites herself up. Climbing in through the window and shaking off her cloak, she's revealed to be Fiona, Mayor Clemp's lovely second wife (his first wife died years ago). So begins an awkward seduction of a school-girl in the body of a strong, virile man. Rook finally succumbs to the awesome power of the boob but not before learning that Mayor Clemp is a business associate of notorious pirate, Marcus Roberts, one of the ruling Captains' Council in Freeport.

Later Rook dreams of his/her(?) bedroom as a child. He looks down on a baby in a crib, Yuletide decorations. A fancy mirror. The shadows in the corner twist and a demonic figure emerges, clad in a black cloak. Black-scaled hands, tipped with talons and curved horns jutting from the hood. Glowering red eyes.

It swipes the baby and hides it in its sleeve. From its other sleeve it takes a doll made of charcoal, ash and soot, placing it in the crib. With a wave of its hand it takes on the form of the baby. The demonic figure retreats, so does Rook. Out through the window but it isn't Freeport outside; it's Sister Hope. The house belonging to the local groccer.



Sleigh bells jingle. The Mayor's sleigh, pulled by reindeer, arrives at The Ribald Reeve to pick up the Last Hopers. Being a 9-foot tall Jotun, Inge walks. To the Mayor's Yuletide Feast!!

The Mayoral Mansion is fancily furnished with sovenirs from along the East Coast of Rûl, and the food and drink is rounded out with exotic treats, including oranges. Gob immediately gets to work tidying up and securing loose items. Inge has to watch out for low-hanging chandeliers. Rook finds a model of the pirate ship The Black Dragon, once captained by Marcus Roberts.

Mayor Clemp and his wife, Fiona, are there. His son Adelmar. Town dignitaries also in attendence, merchants such as the groccer, and crucial tradesmen like the roper and blacksmith. No sign of Father Solomon, but Yule is a feast of the Old (and Dark) Gods.

Merriment commences with musicians and much feasting. The gathering gets steadily more inebriated. A tousle-haired serving boy hints that he is Mock. At the punch-bowl, Rook learns that the groccer's family moved into the house thirty-ish years ago, buying it for a bargain price after the previous occupants lost a child terribly and left Sister Hope.

After dinner. Out on the balcony, smoking cigars together, Tosk just about convinces the Mayor to appoint him Acting Constable. Halfway up the wall to an upstairs window, Gob hears this without being observed, climbing back down to try the Mayor's discarded cigar.

Rook is drawn off upstairs by Fiona to peruse the armoury, whilst Walter and Inge discreetly confront Adelmar about his necromancy. He agrees to talk to them in the library. There Adelmar explains that he wanted to learn necromancy so that he could ressurect his dead mother, but all his experiments created monsters. That's when he found a spell in the grimoire that would summon a demon called the Wishmaster.

He studied and prepared, triple-checked and practiced but the spell still failed. So Adelmar tried a much lesser spell, calling the Beastmen to Sister Hope. He met them in the woods and asked them why his spell had failed to summon the Wishmaster and they told him "because someone else had already summoned him".

Mock intervenes and breaks up the scene. They all return to the feast hall, as does a wobbly-kneed Rook. In the meantime Tosk and Gob have gotten into a game of Knaves, with Gob skimming off the pot and Tosk framing the roper for cheating, in an effort to show the Mayor how sharp-eyed and judicial he is.

This ends in chaos, exaccerbated by the arrival of a dogsled from town. The maritime guards's half-galley has returned.



With a sleet-storm coming in off of Iron Bay, the Last Hopers gather in the harbourmaster's office with the Mayor and the Serjeant-at-Arms. He explains that they chased Edgar's stolen ketch north along the coast to Sharktooth Island. There they saw a pirate ship moored and Edgar's ketch made straight for it, presumably to swear onto the crew in return for protection. The pirate flag was black with a red horned skull.

With equal odds at best and pirates involved, the maritime guards retreated. It's soon verified that the flag belongs to Bloody Annie, a pirate of savage reputation who routinely executes captives and once ripped out a man's heart, roasted it on a spit and had it for lunch.

Mayor Clemp asks Tosk to take a band of trusted men to Sharktooth Island and onwards to Freeport, to find Edgar's crew and bring them to justice, without ruffling the wrong feathers on the Captains' Council. The Mayor arranges passage on the merchantman Desverger.

The game is afoot.

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